Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CFBA Tour this week: Illuminated, by Matt Bronleewe


August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine


Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.

Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.


Sometimes, after you've read a novel, you feel satisfied, warm and fuzzy, or tired from the frantic pace and can succinctly explain what made it so good. When the book is awful, you can usually tell someone exactly what the author did wrong--where the plot fell apart or examples of shoddy writing.

I can't classify Matt's novel in either of those categories. Truly, it falls somewhere inbetween. Everyone who knows me knows I'm a huge suspense fan. And there was a lot of hype about this book. So I probably came into it with high expectations. I really wanted the book to be a blockbuster. It wasn't for me.

I can't say exactly what was "wrong" with it, only that it perhaps left me wanting more depth in the characters, more believable situations (like, how many people can have a complete historical conversation while running full-speed from bad guys through a building?), a better portrayal of the broken relationship between the main character and his estranged wife, and a few other things.

The plot made for a great idea, perhaps even the stuff of movies. Something was lost, though, from concept to finished product. It pains me to even be honest because I know what time and effort went into writing this. It's not bad. It's just not one of my favorites.

Go buy it and be your own judge.

The Book Link


  1. Thank you for this review. I had the same experience with the book...high expectations, disappointing outcome. :( Perhaps the sequels will be better fleshed out. I have a review up on my sight too.

  2. Good way to put it Karri. I felt a lot of the same way. What did you feel about the violence level? I'm going to be blogging some about that over the next week.

  3. I found the violence level disturbing, personally. I'm reviewing the book tomorrow and will possibly go into that further. Glad to see I wasn't the only one! =)

    I guess everyone has their own levels of violence-tolerance and lately mine has seemed kinda low! lol

  4. In response to those who wondered if I had an issue with the violence--in a word: no. The violence didn't bother me in the least.