Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Master's Wall, by Sandi Rog (DeWard Publishing)

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(Click cover for more information)

This is a keeper.

Ms. Rog skillfully blends coming-of-age, social inequity and tested faith into a delightful, heart-rending tale of courage, failure and redemption. Sound exhausting? Not in the least.

Alethea's father is executed by his own father for confessing faith in Yeshua. Her mother, brother, and she move into grandfather's villa, where Alethea meets David, a house slave. She becomes attracted to David, who views her as the younger sister he failed to protect when he was forced into slavery. As Alethea and David stumble into and through adolescence, their fumbling relationship travels an equally rough road to maturity. That maturity presents its own problems, as there is no socially acceptable resolution to their blossoming love for each other.

Finally, confronted with Alethea's forced betrothal to arrogant Demetri, the plot reaches critical mass and they must act--and quickly. But what can they possibly do to resolve an impossible dilemma such as this? Hmmm.

Ms. Rog has done her homework on the physical and social environment in 1st-century Rome. The reader learns a lot about a coarse society that, while successfully imposing Pax Romana onto the known world of that day, fails to deliver inner peace to its own citizenry. More wonderful, though, is her ability to capture this world through the eyes of an naive, immature girl growing up through issues no one of her age should have to face. The result is a humorous, frustrating, painfully realistic portrayal of emotional growth and spiritual awakening. One moment you want to hug Alethea to death, the next moment you want to turn her over your knee. So does David.

Delightful also is Ms. Rog's prose. She has a gift for subtle word painting that raises the reading experience to a new level. Just read her rendering of Aletha's betrothal ceremony. If you don't chuckle aloud, you've missed something.

The Master's Wall is the first in the "Iron and the Stone" series. Looking forward to number two!
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Deceive Me Once, by Valerie Massey Goree (Parson Place Press)

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Maricella "Chella" McDonough has a secret, one that's been eating at her for her entire adult life. Her husband Tom is none the wiser, nor are their two grown sons Jóse and Mike. But it's time for the secret to come out--prodded into the open by the body of a young woman that mysteriously ends up on Chella's property. A body linked to her past.

So begins a tale of intrigue and suspense, aptly entitled Deceive Me Once, for, indeed, once is all it takes. Once to bare one's soul, once to risk one's life and once to seek forgiveness.

Ms. Goree sets her story in the Hill Country of south-central Texas, not far from San Antonio. The land is rugged, in its own way beautiful, and often unforgiving. So is the tale she tells.

When Chella embarks on a covert mission to uncover the mystery surrounding a half-heart necklace found on the girl's body, more than solving a crime is at stake. She forces herself back in time to a horrific event she not only witnessed, but believes she caused: the death of her parents and the destruction of life she knew as a teenager. Aided by her godly and faithful daughter-in-law Teresa, Chella begins step by step to unravel the true circumstances surrounding the childhood tragedy and begins healing those wounds self inflicted so long ago. But there's more to Ms. Goree's story.

As is so true with deceit, Chella is not the only one affected by it. Her unconfessed sin has created a rift in the areas that matter the most: her marriage, her family and her faith. The question is whether she can untangle herself from the spiritual-emotional tenacles that have embedded themselves in her mind and her heart over the past 25 years. The answer to that question does not lie in this review, it lies between the covers of Deceive Me Once.

Look there for it. You'll be glad you did.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

KENS 5 TV Feature of "Katia"

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KENS 5 did a fabulous job of putting together the Katia feature on "Great Day SA" today! For those whom I haven't already nagged personally about viewing the segment, it's right here.
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Well, tomorrow's the day...

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For all who missed the announcement, please click here for details.

Hope you can tune in!
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

From Dust and Ashes, by Tricia Goyer (Moody)

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In May, 1945, advance elements of the 11th Armored Divsion rolled into St. Georgen, Austria. What awaited them there would be gouged into the soldiers' memories for the rest of their lives: the Gusen concentration camp.

Sergeant Peter Scott is among the first to arrive at the front gates. The skeletal remnants of men and women cling to the fence and clutter the main entrance to glimpse their liberators and beg for even a morsel to eat. He encounters the gaunt figure of Michaela, a Polish Christian, standing erect among the dead and dying, intent on thanking the saviors of the camp with her final vestige of dignity. He also encounters Helene, the recalcitrant wife of a former SS guard bringing soup and whatever comfort she can to the emaciated prisoners. The lives of the three are inextricably bound together from this point forward.

Sgt. Scott has fought the European war from the Normandy beaches to the Rhine River, his once-strong faith now smothered under too much carnage and destruction. Michaela fights her own war of physical and emotional restoration from years of internment, her faith still vibrant, but confusing in where it's leading her. Helene must deal with her own conscience at too many years of silence, if not acceptance, over the atrocities her husband has committed. Each leans on and learns from the others in winning their own personal battles.

From Dust to Ashes is a tender story of love, faith and redemption overlying a background of indescribable horror and bruality. It may not be the most recent work by Ms. Goyer (released in 2003), but it has to be one of the best. The book is not for the faint of heart, but neither is it overly graphic in its depiction of reality. Meticuloulsy researched and skillfully presented, From Dust to Ashes is an entrancing read. Highly recommended.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Last Cordate, by Alison Pickrell (OakTara)

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The Last Cordate is a highly imaginative allegorical tale that spans the gamut of human existence from pure innocence to unspeakable depravity and human experience from sublime ecstasy to utter despair. Striving for a suitable literary comparison, I found myself dithering somewhere between JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and John Bunyan’s A Pilgrim’s Progress. And yet, no. It's really in a class by itself.

The Last Cordate tracks the adventures of the beautiful Talasa of Ny-Da, who carries with her the message of hope that will usher in the final era of Diapason, when all creatures of the planet will once again draw into perfect communion with their benevolent creator, Da-Dat-Shee. Both natural and supernatural forces stand against her, they having successfully foiled the missions of the previous two Cordates. Talasa must face not only these external threats, but also the greatest peril of all—that of untested faith within herself.

Talasa travels with two noble companions, Jare and Worthy, as well as Secret, a scribe whose sole function is to record everything that is said and that happens on the journey to Quala-Da, the ultimate destination of her quest. They learn from each other what it means to listen and to trust not just Da-Dat-Shee’s leading within their own hearts and minds, but to the wise counsel of other Dations—followers of Da-Dat-Shee—along the way.

The previous two paragraphs hint that there is some vocabulary to learn. And, oh, there is indeed. At first I was somewhat nonplussed at the five-page glossary at the front of the book, concerned I’d be able to stay on track without having to keep a thumb wedged in the lexicon of players and place names. I needn’t have worried. Ms. Pickrell’s writing is so crisp, her allegorical ties so strong, I never referred to the word list until I’d finished the book. Then I checked back just wondering if I’d missed anything. I hadn’t.

Well conceived in theme and rigorous in detail, The Last Cordate drives you relentlessly along the road with Talasa from the moment she leaves her sanctuary in Ny-Da to the final step she takes on her quest. Oh, and prepare to meet yourself along the way--likely more than once.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Katia" News

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The long-awaited release of Katia is now a reality! Amazon.com was the first to offer it here. Booksamillion.com is also carrying it for a reduced price for club members. CBD hasn't caught up yet, but when they do, you'll get a better hit on the price.

The interview with KENS 5 went very well. The host and camera man were at the house for over three hours. I guess it took that long to get 5-10 minutes of useful information from me.

In any event, the segment will be broadcast on the morning show, "Great Day SA", between 9:00-10:00 am CST on November 9th, the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. There's a live-streaming feed online of the show, as well as a live-chat feature where viewers can post comments. It's kind of neat--no commercials and you can see/hear the cast and crew bantering and setting up for the next segment between spots. It would be so cool if those who are of a mind and can tune in at that time and drop a comment that includes who you are, where you're watching from, and how studly the interview subject is. Or, for those of you with any shred of integrity left, just who you are and where you're watching from.

I'll post an update as we get closer to the time.
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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pearl In the Sand, by Tessa Afshar (Moody)

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I read Sibella Giorello's blog post pronouncing Tessa Afshar "a name to remember." As Sibella has this disturbing habit of being right about things like this, I checked out Tessa's Web site. To my utter joy, I found a kindred writing spirit--historical, Old Testament fiction. A godly woman I tell you, godly.

So I bought her book. And I read it. I highly recommend you do both of those things, too.

Ms. Afshar has taken the story of Rahab and created a thought-provoking, spiritually uplifting, and dramatically poignant story of tender divine redemption overcoming stubborn human resistance. Liberally sprinkled with snippets of unexpected humor (what a unique writing voice!), Pearl in the Sand digs deeply into the tortured soul of a woman who simply cannot believe that there could be a future for one with such a past as hers.

Through no fault of her own, Rahab is slow to win the hearts of her newly adopted people--and especially the heart of one in particular (cf. Matt. 1:5). When she does win their--and his--love, she has no idea what to do with it. Shamed by a past she cannot erase by her own power, her life crumbles until, like the walls of her hometown, Jericho, almost nothing is left standing. It is not until she and her husband receive by faith the grace God extends to both of them that she comes to understand her value through His eyes.

If you click the link in the first line above, you'll see a  fascinating interview with the author. You'll also have the opportunity to click over to her Web site. There you'll discover she has an MDiv from Yale. She ministers to women. So does her novel, but it's not only for women. There are priceless nuggets of wisdom for both men and women on relating to God and relating to each other, all woven seamlessly into the context of Rahab's and Salmone's story. And if that's not enough to move you, guys, there's also a battle scene, okay? Okay.

Tessa Afshar is indeed a name to remember, but I think she'll prefer you remember the message she delivers so powerfully in Pearl in the Sand. The book is a gem in and of itself.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Memory Between Us, by Sarah Sundin (Revell)

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I have a new book to add to my list of favorites and a new hero to add to my list of exemplary writers. The question is, which/who do I fuss over first? (Flipping coin...fumbling it onto floor...picking it up...flipping it again...book wins!)

When I reviewed her debut novel, A Distant Melody, I noted that Ms. Sundin had set the bar so high, I was concerned she'd be able to match it with her second installment in the "Wings of Glory" series.  I needn't have feared.

A Memory Between Us excels on several planes. (No pun intended...well, okay, maybe it was a little bit intended.) The tale revolves around Major Jack Novak, a B-17 pilot (and brother of Walt Novak, our hero in Memory), and Lieutenant Ruth Dougherty, the nurse who tends to his wounds after a rather rude burst of Nazi flak grounds him. Jack notices the attractive Ruth through his morphine-induced stupor, but she has fended off the advances of so many male patients that she has a withering retort prepared before the first words are even out of his mouth. Imagine her surprise when he slurringly professes God's love fore her instead of his own. Then he drops off to sleep.

Thus begins the stutter-stopping relationship between a woman so emotionally incapacitated by guilt over a horrible childhood secret that she can barely function in a social setting, and a man so self-absorbed he can't figure out whether he's falling in love with the woman or just trying to charm her into falling in love with him. Enter a well developed supporting cast that includes the lovable May, who chips away at the wall around Ruth's heart, and stolid Charlie, who chips away at the pride around Jack's, and you've got a great recipe for an even greater storyline.

Now for the author. As in Melody, Ms. Sundin delivers the raw grit and terror of WWII aerial warfare with all the skill of one who must surely have been there, seen that. She paints an equally vivid picture of the imperfect human heart as it trips along in all its glorious failings on the road to redemption. But another interesting facet of her writing surfaces in Memory that was only hinted at in Melody.

In addition to adeptly portraying the gamut from heart-wrenching turmoil to heart-warming love, Ms. Sundin displays a unique versatility in that she can present the reader with a playful scene--yes, playful--without it coming across as trite or goofy. That's not as easy as it might sound. What do I mean? Shall I share an example or two? Sorry. Read the book.

A Memory Between Us is a worthy sequel to A Distant Melody--and that's saying something. Thanks for a great read, Sarah. Can't wait for the third book!
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This oughta be good...

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On October 13th, the CBS affiliate here in San Antonio, KENS 5, will tape an interview with me regarding my experience and participation in the events surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The interview will feature my new novel, Katia, which includes scenes from that historic event. The segment is scheduled for airing on their morning show, "Great Day SA," on November 9th, the anniversary of the Wall's opening.

With a little luck--and even more cajoling--Jeannie may appear, also. That will make the piece bearable to watch.

KENS 5 live-streams "Great Day" on their Web site, for those beyond viewing range. I'll provide the link as we get closer to air date with a reminder. If you have a free moment between 9:00 and 10:00 am Central Time on November 9th, pour a second cup of coffee/tea/Coke/hot chocolate--well, you get the idea--and tune in. Should be fun!
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Katia, by Bruce Judisch (OakTara)

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A saying I use as part of my signature block on a writer's forum  goes, "Editing your manuscript is the revenge your characters get on you for thinking you're running their lives."  How true.

This is the reason my blog has been silent for nearly a month. When the heat is turned up under a project going into production, life elsewhere ceases. It's appropriate that Sunday marks the resurrection from that ceased life. Thanks to a tireless editor and a phenomenal design artist, Katia is on her way to the printer.

For those of you who aren't yet acquainted with Katia Mahler, you're in for a treat. I'll enter the synopsis below:

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“Seek the truth, embrace the pain, cherish the freedom.”

Spirited Madeline “Maddy” McAllister is a twenty-one year-old journalism major completing her year as an exchange student at the Freie Universtität, in Berlin, Germany. She has a career to launch.

Stalwart Katia Mahler is a sixty year-old German invalid who grew up in post-World War II East Berlin. She has a story to tell.

Enigmatic Oskar Schultmann brings together the journalist and the storyteller. Maddy’s task: to chronicle Katia Mahler’s life.

All three of them discover more to Katia’s story than they bargained for.

Cultures and generations clash, as the young American and the German matron strive to understand each other’s present and past. Maddy learns more than a personal history; Katia receives more than a memoir. And always in the background is Oskar, who gets drawn into the story in ways he never intended.

Peek behind the Iron Curtain and over the Berlin Wall as Katia’s story—the story of a lost generation from a failed state—comes to life through the scribbled notes of a girl struggling to grasp the significance of what she has written for her own life, as well as for future generations.

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Writing this story has been one of the joys of my life. It's based upon a scene I witnessed in Berlin, Germany, on November 10, 1989, the day after the Berlin Wall fell. A photo of the inspirational scene, along with a photo gallery depicting the events of that historic event, are on my Web site.

I'll keep you posted on the release date for Katia. I hope you'll give her a try!
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Unwanted, by Daniel Carter (OakTara)

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My time spent with speculative fiction is somewhat limited; however, The Unwanted is probably one of the most imaginative works of the genre I've ever read. This book has more twists and turns in it than four Bavarian pretzels--and it's only the first book in the trilogy.

Tibon, a fiendishly brilliant scientist, is on a quest to avenge the politically motivated and officially covered-up murder of his family over 25 years ago. He selects the genetic engineering and ultimate control of a race of super humans to achieve that revenge. But one day something goes terribly wrong with his plan. Two nurses flee with five of his infant subjects, all of whom had been marked for termination. The nurses lose themselves and the babies in the backwoods of Oklahoma, where, with the help of a few friends, they raise the children. Thus is the beginning of the Family.

The core of the Family comprises these five genetically altered children, each with their own unique giftings. The nurses, Janet and Michelle, had no knowledge of the genetic experimentation. Until, that is, strange things begin to occur as the babies grow and their "abnormalities" begin to manifest in shocking ways. Janet chronicles the infants' unnerving development in her journal as the women strain to cope with what is unfolding before them. Now, enter the FBI and Tibon's forces, both of whom are searching for the missing children for counterpoised purposes, and you have the makings of a volatile situation bound to explode at the crux moment. And rest assured; explode it does--in more ways than one.

Mr. Carter blends depravity and greed, love and redemption, treachery and guile, and innocence and loyalty into a fast-paced tale that will keep you turning page after page. Ultimately, you'll discover how a single man's fanatical arrogance fares against Divine purpose, and in ways you'd least expect. Cool!

I must confess that people who write this kind of stuff, and write it well, worry me. I mean, c'mon; how does a mind living in the everyday world come up with a scenario that seems so far off the wall, but then so successfully roots it in the real world that it doesn't even nudge incredulity? Does Mr. Carter know something we don't? I wonder...nah!
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Clubs Note!

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If you're involved in a Christian book club, or know someone who is, there's a great new Web site called The Book Club Network. Its purpose is to bring together book clubs and authors to review each other's needs and offerings. There are some great discussions on organizing book clubs and meeting authors whose work may interest your group. Worth checking out!
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Heading Home, by John Robinson (Sheaf House)

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Just when you think the Last-Days genre has been pretty much exhausted, John Robinson slips one in under the radar that knocks your socks off. Clearing the high bar he set in his previous novels, he infuses brutal force into his prose and remains steadfastly unapologetic in his message--both of which are essential to pull off a story like Heading Home.

Mr. Robinson does a great job of working on two planes of spirituality simultaneously in this story of healing and redemption. You've likely already identified the higher plane from the first sentence of this review: the redemption of mankind and the healing of a created order groaning and suffering as it eagerly awaits revelation of the sons of God. (Rom. 8:19-23). The second plane is at the personal level, and it's where Mr. Robinson excels at the storytelling. While God is attending to the cosmos, Nick Castle and CT Barnes are hard at work on the ground. Christ's return is imminent, and there's no time to lose as these closest of friends seek out former comrades-in-arms from their days in Viet Nam. Nick and CT consider it paramount to witness to the men with whom they shared the most intense days of their lives before it's too late. That's what you do for your buddies. It's what you do for God.

But there's a new battle looming, one with potentially devastating consequences. While Nick and CT search for their old friends, a satanic cult has targeted their home church for destruction, including their families, their dearest friends and themselves. No one is aware of the plot until the cult lauches its attack at the crux point of the story.

You. Will. Not. Want. To. Miss. The. Final. Showdown. Oh no, you will not.

In short, Heading Home achieves in one concise, high-powered novel what it took Left Behind to do in--how many volumes did the series finally turn out to be? All due respect and credit to Messrs. Jenkins and LaHaye, but, honestly, I gave up somewhere around number three or four. Sorry if that offends any die-hard LB fans; chalk it off to my limited attention span. In any event, if you ran the marathon with Left Behind, you'll enjoy the sprint with Heading Home. And it will leave you breathless.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Fisherman’s Testament, by César Vidal (Zondervan)

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There are many excellent reasons César Vidal is an international bestselling author, and The Fisherman’s Testament is one of them.

In The Fisherman’s Testament, Señor Vidal blends superb storytelling with Scriptural truth into a powerful novelization of Mark’s Gospel. Originally penned in Spanish, nothing is lost in translation in this novel that garnered the Martinez-Roca Spirituality Prize in 2004. Consider the first sentences of the novel for a flavor of the author and his main character:

“I, Marcus Junius Vitalis, known amongst my men as the “Asiatic,” veteran soldier in the service of Rome, faithful companion of Cæsar Claudius and Cæsar Nero, know that I have arrived at the last stretch of this winding and bitter path we call life. Others will live on, be it for a shorter or longer time, but my life is ending. Before I know it, it will be utterly extinguished, and I will find myself cast onto the shores of a different world.”

It is from this perspective Vitalis relates his story of an encounter that upended his world view as a die-hard defender of Rome and staunch adherent to the ideals of the Empire, and framed his view of the “different world” now poised to receive him.
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The setting is 62 AD Rome, in Nero’s palace. The Emperor commissions Vitalis to investigate a neo-Jewish cult who profess to follow the Christos. One of the last survivors of the original inner circle of the Christos, a fisherman named Petros, is imprisoned in Rome. Nero decides to lead the prosecution personally to ascertain why this cult that calls itself “The Way” did not die out after the crucifixion of its leader 30 years earlier, as so many other rebellions had in the past. Indeed, it continues to grow, with its influence now reaching into even the capital city. Vitalis joins Nero in the interrogation and hears the tale from the mouth of Petros through Mark, his companion and translator. Nero and Vitalis walk away with completely divergent impressions of the story they’ve heard.

Only 167 pages, this is a ‘quick read’; however, its impact will linger long after you reach the back cover. While nothing can replace Scripture, The Fisherman’s Testament is a worthy alternative text to recommend to someone who may never otherwise crack open the Bible. The power in hearing the Gospel is presented through the divinely inspired words of Petros and Mark, anticipated objections and misunderstandings of the message are delivered through the humanly understandable reactions of Nero and Vitalis, and the joy of reading excellent prose is delivered through the enviable literary skill of Señor Vidal. Tough combination to beat!
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vanishing Act, by Liz Johnson (Steeple Hill)

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Vanishing Act is a fun read for the inspirational suspense/romance afficiando. Ms. Johnson does a good job of keeping you guessing throughout the story as to who is the bad guy and who is the good guy.

The storyline is imaginative. Our heroine, Nora James, witnessed the shooting of her father in a back alley and barely escaped the same fate herself. Now on the run from an assassin hired by the crime boss who shot her father, Nora must disappear and stay disappeared.

Enter FBI Special Agent Nate Andersen, whose job it is to find Nora and protect her from the assassin. A twist of fate has him stumble upon her unwittingly, and so begins the cat-and-mouse game of uncovering the identity of the assassin without becoming victims themselves. True to a romance, an 'impossible' attraction develops between Nora--who cannot become involved with anyone for fear of endangering them--and Nate, who has a troublesome background of his own when it comes to romantic involvements.

As with most inspirational romances, it's not the destination, it's the journey. The satisfying ending must be reached in a believable, thought-provoking and entertaining way. Ms. Johnson achieves that in Vanishing Act.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Be Not Afraid, by Deborah Lynne (OakTara)

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I don't need to tell you Be Not Afraid is suspenseful. Just look at the cover. Neither do I need to tell you it carries a thread of hope and inspiration throughout the story. Just look at the title.

Ms. Lynne has conceived a fascinating storyline that captured me at the very beginning. Our heroine, Samantha Cain, is the widow of a policeman. The entire 3rd Precinct where her late husband, Martin, worked blames her for his death. Now, her own life threatened by a serial killer who thinks she can identify him, Samantha is forced to rely on the protection of Detective Matthew Jefferies who is not only from the 3rd Precinct, but is her husband's former partner. How does conflict get any better than that?

The psychotic killer is not interested in doing away with Samantha immediately. He plays with her mind, wants her to know he can drop her at will and there's nothing she can do about it. Reminiscent of the movie Play Misty for Me, at every scene you're on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the next physical or psychological attack, wondering when he will make the final move of the game.

Samantha leans on her faith to sustain her, as her trust in the police force is at an all-time low from the treatment she received after Martin's suicide. Matthew struggles with his own insecurities and prejudices as he protects Samantha and tries to track down the killer before he strikes again. And neither of them understand nor welcome a growing attraction they discover for each other.

Ms. Lynne develops a great story culminating in an unexpected showdown scene between Samantha and the killer. She keeps the tension up throughout, but doesn't exhaust the reader--at least, not unduly.  ;-)

Good show, Deborah! When's the next book coming out?
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Disciple, by EG Lewis (Cape Arago Press)

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Disciple is a worthy sequel to Witness, EG Lewis's well researched and skillfully told novelization of the early Christian Church as recounted in the Biblical book of Acts.

This second book in the "Seeds of Christianity" series finds Shemuel and Rivka becoming followers of The Way of Yeshua. In doing so they endure the persecution of the ruling religious elite and shunning by their common Jewish brethren. No longer able to sell his lambs to the Temple, Shemuel moves his family to Jerusalem, only to discover life is no easier as a wood carver and physician there than shepherding was in their hometown of Bethlehem. When the twelve apostles spread out through the known world in obedience to the Great Commission, Shemuel and Rivka accompany Peter to Antioch. There they meet both tribulation and victory as they plant and nuture the congregation that will become the first to be dubbed as "Christians." The plot tightens and reaches its catharsis in intense crises affecting not only Shemuel's personal life, but that of the young church.

Mr. Lewis faithfully tracks the events of Acts, filling in realistic scenarios and vibrant characters that propel the New Testament accounting in a fresh and entertaining way. If you enjoyed Witness, you can't help but revel in Disciple. Well done, Ed!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Fox's Honor, by LD Alford (OakTara)

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A fascinating read for the science-fiction buff happily suffering from a debilitating touch of the romantic notion.
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In The Fox's Honor, Mr. Alford transports an unbending code of chivalry and honor to a futuristic world light years displaced in time and distance from the Avalon in which such Arthurian ethics were born.
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The romantic will not be disappointed in the love story between Sir Devon Rathenberg, alias "The Fox," and Lady Tamar Falkeep, the woman who has stolen The Fox's heart. Denied any chance of a future due to social station and propriety, Sir Devon and Lady Tamar must conceal their love. But when, in a twisted turn of events, The Lady thwarts Sir Devon's planned death, a new course deciding the fate of the Human Galactic Empire is demanded--a course that will take them and their noble houses into collision with the tyrannical faux Emperor Perod.
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Neither will the sci-fi buff be disappointed with Mr. Alford's detailed account of escaping the constraints of physical space via null space transportation, meticulous attention to the demands of orbital dynamics, and descriptions of the astro-/aeronautical nuances of intergalactic spacecraft. Those Star Trek afficiandos owning a copy of Hayne's USS Enterprise: Owner's Workshop Manual will demand a similar work from Mr. Alford. I take that back; they won't need one. Mr. Alford, a test pilot himself, renders treatment only an aeronautical engineer's mother could love to the technical aspects of space travel and the vehicles that conquer it.
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The Fox's Honor is Book Two in "The Chronicles of the Dragon and The Fox." It's prequel is The End of Honor, and it's followed by A Season of Honor. I didn't need the prequel to enjoy The Fox's Honor. I am, however, driven to purchase the sequel. I suspect you will be, too.
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Brendon Forrest Judisch, by Neal & Janice Judisch (N&JJ, TLP*)

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This most recent release is a marvelous sequel to N&J J's already extensive collection of interactive works. The initial softcover edition (shown above) features artwork of beautiful intricacy truly worthy of a Master Designer. The interior layout comprises blank pages eagerly awaiting the first lines of what we trust will be a tale of inspiration and hope, brimming with ample doses of humor, pathos and, undoubtedly, spirited action.
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Packaging and transportation will be figured at an initial weight of 9 lbs. 11 oz., and a size of 22 in.--a veritable tome; however, N&J J reserve the right to adjust these calculations, as they will most certainly increase as the blank pages are filled. N&J are sure, though, that all interested parties will agree the unfolding story will be well worth any additional costing.
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Brendon Forrest, although clearly a competitive work, will not be submitted for any earthly awards--although he will surely garner those serendipitously over the years he is in print. Rather, the authors intend to reserve their best writing in honor of and in dedication to the True Publisher who ultimately made this release possible.
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An enthusiastic readership looks forward to the continuing saga of Brendon Forrest Judisch, not the least of whom is this reviewer.
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Welcome aboard, little guy! (Did I say "little"?)
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(* Tender Loving Parents)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Hidden Flame, Davis Bunn & Janette Oke (Bethany House)

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A great and fitting sequel to The Centurion's Wife. Gripping storyline, quality writing; a story with a soul.

The Hidden Flame picks up the tale in the "Acts of Faith" series with Abigail, the lovely servant girl, struggling to maintain purity in her faith and perspective in her family. She struggles to release her haunting fear for the safety of Jerusalem's fledgling community of Believers to her Lord's care, and to keep in check her brother, Jacob's, wayward desire to become a Roman legionnaire. Elevating the stress level are the attentions of two competing suitors, neither of whom is acceptable for the same reason. You will love Simon Peter's resolution to that little dilemma!

For those who've read The Centurion's Wife, you'll recall that Abigail is nearly crippled from a disasterous encounter with a pot of scalding water. She toils through her pain to provide for the physical and emotional needs of an exploding population of followers of The Way amid the intrigue and dangers of open persecution by the Jewish ruling elite and under the distrustful scrutiny of the city's Roman occupiers, until she is finally rendered infirm by the injury. You will love Simon Peter's resolution to that little dilemma, too.

The Hidden Flame faithfully tracks the Scriptual account of the early Church, as recounted in the book of Acts, filling in vibrant characters and realisitic scenarios to propel the story along. And, as in its prequel, Ms. Oke and Mr. Bunn combine their masterful storytelling talents that make the journey a most enjoyable one.

One word of warning: if, for some strange reason, you've already decided you're not going to read the third book in the "Acts of Faith" series, don't read this second one. Its ending will change your mind.

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Monday, May 31, 2010

Now Available - The Word Fulfilled

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Yup, it's finally here! The second and final part to A Prophet's Tale was released on May 26th. The two best ways to get your copy are:


  1. You can order a copy from Amazon for the full cover price of $21.95, plus shipping. This is the fastest way to receive the book, but most expensive.

  2. You can order a copy from Christian Book Distributors for $15.99, but there are shipping fees and there's sometimes a delay in receiving books from CBD until they get fully stocked.

Thanks again to everyone for your encouragement during this project. A Prophet's Tale took nearly eight years from the time I typed the first line of Ben Amittai: First Call until this release of The Word Fulfilled. Jonah was very patient with me and so were you all.

God bless and I hope you enjoy the story!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Long Road Home, by Judi Ann Ehresman (OakTara)

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(Click cover for more information)

The Long Road Home is a gentle, heartwarming novella about the bond between Christian brothers and sisters that transcends social order, skin color and self-limitation. Set in the 19th-century Indiana wilderness, the story is of a young woman, Mandy Evanston, eking out a living alone while her husband works on the westward-expanding railroad. Mandy receives word that her husband has been killed in a construction accident, and now faces an uncertain future with her child who is yet to be born.

Enter Deidre, a runaway slave, who, with her young son, Jedediah, goes into hiding in Mandy's barn. Mandy discovers the pair and a mutually beneficial friendship begins. The two women work the farm and draw close, as they both mourn the loss of their husbands.

Meanwhile, Mandy's husband, Ethan, for his own reasons, has allowed Mandy to think him dead. He slips away morally, pushed by his own selfish struggle with restlessness, yet guilt-ridden at his deceit. At the depths of Ethan's depression, God draws him and turns the struggle to one of returning to his wife and confessing his sin.

Ms. Ehresman paints a lovely picture of the forested Indiana countryside, but also relates a convincing story of what it took to survive in the midst of such stark, unforgiving beauty. The Long Road Home is a comfortable read, one you can curl up and smile with at the end of the day. Enjoy!.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Progress Report

I know I've been kinda quiet on the blog lately, but there's a really good reason . . . :-)

The Word Fulfilled is finishing its final edit and will be heading to the printer very soon. I'm apologizing in advance for the spam mail I'm going to send out when I have a release date.
I thought it might be fun to have another Amazon Surge Day, like we did with The Journey Begun. We'll have to see if we can beat the lowest ranking (low is good!) that we got last August with The Journey Begun.

Will keep you posted and thanks to everyone who's been asking about when The Word Fulfilled will be out. Should be within the next month.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Distant Melody, by Sarah Sundin (Revell)

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(Click cover for more information)

Oh boy, was this good! Where do I start?

I've already confessed to being a softie for stories of the Greatest Generation, but that aside, this is a marvelous book. Strong storyline, excellent writing, impeccable research--A Distant Melody has it all. In fact, Sarah Sundin has set the bar so high in this, her debut novel, that I'm a little nervous for her follow-on work. (Not really)

The story opens in 1942 with plain Allie Miller, heiress to a fabulously wealthy estate and a disasterously arranged engagement, visiting friends in the rural California countryside. There she meets Walt Novak, an unremarkable B-17 pilot on furlough from flight training. A friendship ensues and they leave behind promises to write each other, as Walt heads to England to fight the Luftwaffe over Europe and Allie returns home to fight herself over her future. Over the months and the miles, their faith and their relationship blossom and grow, albeit hindered by stutter-steps mostly of their own making. Finally, Walt returns home from England to an unexpected and breath-robbing climax.

By the bottom of page two, I knew I was going to like Sarah Sundin the Author. Smooth phrasing, great word choice, clever dialog, yes. But most impressive was her ability to finesse a consistent, yet subtle, thematic metaphor throughout the story, one hinted at by the title of the book. I was reminded of a marvelous cinematographic technique used in filming the movie The Age of Innocence, where the poignancy and theme of the story were underscored by brief snippets of seemingly unrelated graphical representations: a shifting collapse of burnt-through logs in a waning fireplace, the cold ash of a dying cigar breaking off into the ashtray. Ms. Sundin employs her obvious familiarity with the elements of music in the same way and to the same effect. Really well done.

Finally, Ms. Sundin knows her aeronautical and military lore. Full and accurate descriptions of the dynamics of powered flight, the anatomy and personality of the B-17 Flying Fortress, and the intensity and horror of aerial combat in World War II, set in concrete her right to author this story. Sound mechanical? Instructive? Dry? Oh, my goodness, no. She doesn't teach you about flying, you feel the wind tangle your hair during an open-cockpit landing. You don't mentally picture a Fort's cramped bubble turrent, your muscles stiffen in sympathy with the belly gunner. You don't read about somebody getting peppered by flak shrapnel through the plexiglass nose, you grab your leg and look for blood. She's that good.

You've probably gotten the picture that I liked this book. If you're looking for a story with as much romance, faith and action as you can possibly get into 415 pages, you've found it. No, you don't need to be a World War II buff to love this book. You just need to love great books.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Exposure, by Brandilyn Collins (Zondervan)



(Click cover for more information)

There are many good reasons Brandilyn Collins is recognized as a master of Christian suspense--and you'll find at least one of them on every page of Exposure.
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Exposure sets the tension bar high from the beginning and doesn't let up until about three days after you've finished the book. I made the mistake of selecting it for bedtime reading. Don't do that. I still haven't caught up on lost sleep, and I hit the back cover last week.
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Ms. Collins, bless her slightly warped heart, chose a storyline that pricks at a fear I think everyone owns at some level of their subconscious: the fear of being watched. By someone. From somewhere. For some reason.
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Our heroine, Kaycee Raye, sports that fear way above the subconscious level. It pervades every waking moment of her life. Kaycee confronts her paranoia by writing a syndicated column entitled "Who's There?" (Okay, admit it. That title is freaky enough by itself.) In her column, Kaycee helps her readers deal with their phobias by laying bare her own. But someone else is reading her column. Nearby. For a definite reason.
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The shadow reader exploits Kaycee's neurosis for a nefarious purpose that Ms. Collins springs on us through a gargantuan twist late in the story. That's the point at which you don't put the book aside until you've finished it--despite your wife's post-midnight beseeching to please turn off the bedside lamp and go to sleep. That's also the point from which Ms. Collins may well become the defendant in a class action suit for inflicting chronic insomnia on an unsuspecting readership.
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So, it's Jeannie's turn to read Exposure. I put it on her stack of to-reads that sits on her bedside night table . . . then I took it off the stack. It's now banished to the reading nook in our living room. It was either that or stock up on Tylenol PM.
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You really need to read Exposure. I'll know if you don't. Because I know who reads these reviews. And I'll be watching. From somewhere.

The Word Fulfilled, by Bruce Judisch (OakTara)

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The Word Fulfilled is up to bat in the production process at OakTara. It should be coming out within the next couple of months. Whatcha think of the cover? Should I keep it? Be honest.

Okay, so it's not a review, it's a preview. It's also my blog, so I can self-indulge on occasion. And, no, I have no idea why this cover came out so much larger than the other ones I post for my reviews. Must be an ego...er, I mean a technical-glitchy thing.

Forget Me Not, by Vicki Hinze (Multnomah)




(Click cover for more information)

In Forget Me Not, Vicki Hinze spins an intricate web of intrigue, pitting against each other two extremes on the spectrum of human behavior: the indiscriminant destruction of innocent life and the benevolent protection of the same.

Three years ago, Benjamin Brandt lost his wife, Susan, and his son, Christopher, in a senseless act of violence, and he still hasn't recovered from the loss. When a woman, beaten and left for dead, appears at his crisis center bearing not only an uncanny resemblance to Susan, but the personalized necklace he had given his late wife, his emotionally scarred defenses go up. Suffering from trauma-induced amnesia, our Jane Doe struggles with Ben's acute reaction and her own bewilderment at her loss of identity.

Nothing and no one are as they seem. Ms. Hinze counterpoises an array of supporting characters, some of whom want to finish the job on Jane Doe, and others who, for their own reasons, want her alive. Bearing its own pressure in the background is an international terrorist organization with their own agenda, and their own reasons for wanting the mystery woman dead--and alive. Sound confusing? Let Ms. Hinze sort it out for you.

Forget Me Not is the first in the "Crossroads Crisis Center" series. You'll look forward to more.

Leave a comment on this post indicating your interest in owning the book before 5:00 pm on Friday, April 16th, and earn a chance to win a free copy of Forget Me Not.

Note: This review copy of Forget Me Not was provided free of charge by Multnomah.

Friday, April 9, 2010

We interrupt this broadcast...

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New development on the publishing front! OakTara, the publisher who is releasing A Prophet's Tale has teamed with FamilyAudioLibrary.com to provide e-books for our titles. The Journey Begun is now available in PDF as a download directly to your computer--no Kindle or Nook needed.

You can see it by going to www.familyaudiolibrary.com and clicking the E-Book tab on the left side of the page. Then enter the title in the search window.

Cool beans! :-)
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Monday, April 5, 2010

The Centurion's Wife, by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke (Bethany House)

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(Click cover for more information)

You'd expect a collaborative effort between two authors as accomplished as Mr. Bunn and Ms. Oke to be something special, something uniquely satisfying in both form and expression. The Centurion's Wife does not meet that expectation. It leaps far beyond it.

In form, the authors have done seemingly the impossible. They've taken a historical era trodden upon by so many authors from so many angles and in so many ways that it seems there'd be no verdant literary soil left among all the typewritten footprints to sow, and yet they still created a fresh and intriguing story. The central characters are Leah, a niece of Pontius Pilate driven to servitude in his household, and Alban, a centurion from the conquered territory of Gaul. They have irreconcilable amibitions. Leah's precludes marriage, and Alban's necessitates marriage--specifically to Leah. Oh, it gets better. Leah is pushed by Pilate's wife to discover the means and intentions of the followers of the Christ her husband has put to death, and Pilate forces Alban to do the same. Neither Pilate nor Procula know of the other's scheme, neither Alban nor Leah know of the other's mission. But the servant's and soldier's divergent goals paradoxically force their paths to merge where they encounter an irresistable force: the lure of a fledgling Gospel, and a purity of love and acceptance among its adherents--the very community Leah and Alban are to spy upon.

In expression, such beauty flowing from a single pen wielded by two master craftsmen of the literary art is something to behold. As I read, I made a distinct effort to try to identify those passages where I thought Mr. Bunn was manning the keyboard, and those points where Ms. Oke nudged him aside to color the text in her own way. Huh uh. They wove the tapestry so skillfully, that even the most subtle shifts in shading melded together seamlessly. One story, one theme, one narrative born of two minds united by the same irresistable force that ultimately united their heroes.

The Centurion's Wife is the first book in the "Acts of Faith" series. The second, The Hidden Flame (2010) carries the story forward into the early days of Christianity, and promises to be as satisfying as The Centurion's Wife. Tell you what: I'll let you know. While you're waiting, get a copy of The Centurion's Wife. You won't be sorry.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Clouds Roll Away, by Sibella Giorello (Thomas Nelson)


(Click cover for more information)

FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is back in Richmond, and it's about time.

In The Clouds Roll Away, our intrepid forensic geologist turned special agent finds herself once again embroiled in a racially charged federal crime. And, at first blush, everything seems normal, predictable: on the surface, the notorious Ku Klux Klan is on a crusade against a hip-hop mogul who has the audacity to move into and garishly rennovate a historically sensitive plantation along the hallowed James River; on the surface, the ensuing hate-crime events intone yet another social lamentation of 'how things are' in the South, and; on the surface, our hero's best efforts are hindered by those who can't understand her and by those who simply refuse to.

But authors as accomplished as Ms. Giorello rarely spend much time on the surface.

In her previous two books, The Stones Cry Out and The Rivers Run Dry, you could sense an underlying spiritual metaphor of the human condition like a subterranean stream flowing just close enough to the surface to disturb the soil, but not dampen your feet. In Clouds, the stream splits into multiple layers and, at the just the right times, breaks the surface of the narrative like an artesian spring. Then it gently soaks back into the storyline, leaving just enough of a remnant to moisten the path. Raleigh's story has come into its own, as has the author's skill in telling it.

Example? Perhaps the widest branch of this multi-thematic stream is the Hope of the Advent Season, whose vibrant current underlies the tale and contrasts the despair we earn when we choose to ignore it. Ms. Giorello infuses the Yuletide into the story in a variety of ways that are just plain cool. Strategically placed snippets of familiar Holiday lyrics sporadically lift our minds above the dogged grit of Raleigh's world as they briefly capture her own attention. An inexplicably resurgent Christmas spirit defeats dormancy in Raleigh's mother, Nadine, who is just emotionally unstable enough that I think we're eventually going to find out how together she actually is. Then there's...oh well, enough. You just need to read this--and not only for the message, but for the sheer enjoyment of reading Sibella Giorello.

I've noted Ms. Giorello's unique writing voice before. In Clouds she has honed it to a razor's edge. The reader's thoughts of the destination are nearly forgotten amid the joy of the journey. As an author, it's hard--not to mention a bit selfishly depressing--to grasp how this much raw action, dry wit and gutty poignancy can be finessed so seamlessly into a single story. When I grow up, I'd like to be able to write like this. Until then, I'll just tap my fingers and wait for the next book–which, oh-by-the-way, is The Mountains Bow Down, due for release next year. Not soon enough.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Here Burns My Candle, by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook)

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(Click cover for more information)

Those who have read Ms. Higgs' "Lowlands of Scotland" series, in which she spirited the Biblical story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel from the pages of the Old Testament into 18th-century Scotland, will nod in agreement that historical fiction doesn't get much better. Well, you can stop nodding.
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After a finger-drumming four years since Grace in Thine Eyes, the final part of the "Lowlands" series, the Bard of the Brogue is back--and the brogue never sounded so good. Here Burns My Candle, turns the clock back 'a wee bit' from the 1760s of "Lowlands" to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46 in which Bonnie Prince Charlie laid claim to the throne against King George. Caught up in the political intrigue surrounding the Rising is the family of the late Lord John Kerr. The Lady Marjorie, Lord John's widow, with her sons, Donald and Andrew, and their respective wives, Lady Elisabeth and Janet, enjoy the comfortable life of Edinburgh's nobility. The Kerrs are staunch loyalists to King George, but for one: the Lady Elisabeth, whose roots cling to the verdant soil of Prince Charlie's Highlands. All is well until the charismatic Prince Charlie shreds the delicate fabric of Scottish society, laying bare the true sentiments and loyalties of not only the Kerrs, but all of Edinburgh's populace.
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Secrets thread themselves through the Kerr family as deeply and darkly as the forest green of the clan's hunting plaid. The Lady Marjorie's hidden stash of gold, Donald's covert waywardness, and Lady Elisabeth's private devotion to the superstitious 'auld ways' of her Highlands past all come to light in their own way and in their own time. At the crux of the story, tragedy strikes, and Lady Marjorie must flee with her daughters-in-law to the Kerr's country estate in Selkirk. But what awaits them there? Sorry. You'll want to hear that from Ms. Higgs, not from me.
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Some readers of this review might recognize a similarity to another Old Testament story. There's a free copy of the book to be had for the first person who leaves a comment on this post, telling just which story that is. If you're uncertain, check the trailer below for a clue.
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Note: WaterBrook provided this copy of Here Burns My Candle for this review, as well as the giveaway copy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Found on 16th Avenue, by Karen Roth (Watercress Press)

(Click cover for more information)
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Gritty and inspirational, Found on 16th Avenue brings to vibrant life the archetypical underdog we love to root for, but for whom we hold little hope.
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If anyone "didn't have a chance" at a normal life, it was Joseph Vesely. Illigitmate son of a cast-out homeless woman, Joe scratches out an existence on the streets barely this side of survival, while he watches his mother waste away from a life of abuse and alcoholism. At her passing, he is taken to live with his aunt, uncle and grandmother--a Czech family who lives in a world he didn't realize even existed, let alone understands.
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Set in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, during the 1930s, Ms. Roth immerses us in the life and times of the town's Czech community as they eke out their own existence in the throes of the Great Depression. John Mark Martin, Joe's uncle, pastors a small church during the day and provides for his family by working in a factory at night. Joe's irascible grandmother, Josephina Vesely, and his stoic aunt, Kate, struggle to maintain a meaningful family life for their two sons, Johnny and Stephen. When Joe shows up on their doorstep, the family's delicate physical, spiritual and emotional balance is put to the test. Their meager larder must stretch to fill another hungry mouth, their patience to win the emotionally scarred and withdrawn youth into their hearts, and their faith to lift him where he needs it the most.
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Ms. Roth does a fantastic job of pulling the reader into the story. Her characters are vivid and multi-dimensional, her descriptions acute. We recoil from the ambient stench of the factories along the river with John Mark as he trudges wearily home from his mid-shift. We choke and sweat through the dusty heat of a Midwestern summer as the boys chop and dig at the hard soil of the family garden. And we shiver in the sub-zero winter in the drafty house as Kate scrapes for just one more lump of coal to put in the furnace. But mostly, we hold our breaths as Joe takes one faltering step after another on the road to redemption.
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What's really great about this story, though, is that it doesn't end at the back cover. Ms. Roth has blessed the reader with the continuing story of Joe's coming of age in My Portion Forever, the sequel to 16th Avenue. Get 'em both and do what I once again failed to do: read Found on 16th Avenue first . . . (sigh!).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Deadfall, by Robet Liparulo (Thomas Nelson)

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(Click cover for more information)
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Don’t start this book unless you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, ‘cuz you won’t be putting it down any time soon.

In Deadfall, Mr. Liparulo delivers an intense, captivating thriller that nails you to your seat from the first chapter all the way until you come to a screeching halt at the back cover. Indeed, after the first couple of chapters, I seriously wondered if I would continue or set it aside. I’m glad I continued.

Set in the far northern reaches of the Northwest Territories, Deadfall drops an unsuspecting foursome of friends out for ten days of stress-free camping and male bonding directly into the middle of a hotbed of evil intrigue. A gang of brigands has taken the remote town of Fiddler Falls hostage and uses the town as an experimental base for testing and refining a fearsome new weapon—but with a terribly twisted purpose you’d never suspect. The two groups collide and the race for survival and dominance is on. The camping party, armed with only a bow and arrows, pits its skill and mettle against an unknown deadly technology driven by a cold malevolence that is all but beyond comprehension by the rational mind.

This story is not for the faint of heart. It’s raw and reveals an ugly side of human nature that decent folk wish really wasn’t there. But it is. The reader can take heart, though, that the counterbalance of decency and all the virtues we like to think we possess are also evident. It’s this virtue and the unpredictability of decency that comes into play at the most crucial point.

Well written and meticulously researched, Deadfall doesn’t describe the Canadian wilderness to you, it pulls you in. You can smell it, see it, and feel it. You can also smell, see and feel the fear, grit and determination of those who will not see evil triumph.

Great read. Gird your heart; you’re in for a ride!
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Hungry River, by Millie Samuelson

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(Click cover for more information).

If you're looking for an inspiring, thought-provoking story that's so closely written from the author's heart it almost has its own pulse, Hungry River is a must read.

Ms. Samuelson has crafted a wonderful story based upon real characters and events from her own family's past—missionaries in China at the turn of the 20th century and the years following. History buffs will recall that tumultuous era as the setting for the bloody Boxer rebellion during which thousands of Chinese Christians and missionaries were slaughtered. Millie touches on these events through the eyes of those who endured them in the pages of Hungry River. But mostly you'll read of the missionaries' quiet work in China's back villages, as well as her large cities, and of the steadfast faith that sustained them through tribulations and victories.
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Millie does a remarkable job of setting the stage of each chapter by interweaving and counterbalancing excerpts of two sets of journals. The first is a contemporary diary by Abbie, the storyteller. The second comprises letters, journals and other memorabilia of her father and her grandparents, who are the main characters of the novel. Abbie is reading through the family records and, in addition to telling their story, records her impressions of their significance not only to her own heritage, but to the larger cause of worldwide missions.
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Self-published novels carry an all-too-often well deserved stigma of poor quality. Hungry River shatters that stigma. The word that kept creeping into my mind as I absorbed Millie's writing style was "gentle"—but don't confuse "gentle" with "boring"; nothing could be farther from the truth. The great writer and writing teacher, Cecil Murphey, commented that one of the best compliments he had received was when a publisher told him his writing was so very easy to read. Reading Ms. Samuelson's prose is effortless. You never trip over awkward phrasing or burdened vocabulary in Hungry River. The story is authentic and captivating, the reading experience a joy. This book is a treasure.
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Bad news and good news. First the bad news. Ms. Samuelson has discontinued printing Hungry River in its current form. Now the good news. She still has copies available through Amazon.com, and would also be pleased to send an autographed copy by contacting her here. More good news. Millie has expanded Hungry River by nine chapters and is seeking traditional publishing through the Hartline Literary Agency for the book under the new name Dragon River.
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If you're an editor who has stumbled upon this review, take this as a good lead on a winner. If you're a reader who loves excellent writing and engaging storytelling, you can take the same lead.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Check Out the Web Site!

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At long last, my Web site has been updated. Still waiting for a cover design on The Word Fulfilled to post, but there's now a home page that links to separate pages for each book--including Katia.
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Especially check out the Katia page. There's a synopsis of the story and a photo gallery of pictures in Berlin before, during, and after the Wall fell.
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Monday, February 1, 2010

Witness, by E.G. Lewis (Cape Arago Press)

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(Click cover for more information).

"An Old Story told in a New Way--" goes the tagline on the back cover of E.G. Lewis's Witness. The only thing that description leaves out is "--and told really well." I had the pleasure of reading the manuscript of Witness during its development. I then had the pleasure then of reading the final product. The Law of Diminshing Returns suspended itself in this case. The second read was as enjoyable--if not more so--than the first.
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Ed Lewis has crafted an wonderfully entertaining, thought-provoking, and deeply informative novel of a young Jewish shepherdess, Rikvah, who witnesses the angelic announcement of Christ's birth. As the only female among the shepherds who go to see "this which has happened, which the Lord has told us about," she becomes the first human being after Mary and Joseph to cuddle the Infant. This would not be the last event Rikvah witnesses in the life of the Christ.
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Witness follows Rikvah's life in the years following the Incarnation, and that of Shemuel, a childhood friend and, she hopes, someday her betrothed. A catastrophe at the Temple yanks Shemuel from Rikvah's life, but not from her heart. What follows is a poignant tale of faith, loyalty, and finally redemption in more ways than just one.
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A friend once told me, "When I read historical fiction, I want to learn something." If you share that viewpoint, this is the book for you. Witness immerses you in Judean village life in the 1st-century AD where you learn everything from spinning yarn and making cheese to coming of age under the yoke of Roman oppression. But the storyline never disappears behind the education. Mr. Lewis weaves the lore seamlessly into the adventure, blending meticulous research and practiced storytelling into a delightfully statisfying tale that you won't soon forget.
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Great read, Ed! Thanks.
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Storm Surge, by Rene Gutteridge (Tyndale House)

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(Click cover for more information)

If the name 'Rene Gutteridge' does not appear on your list of reading credits, your literary dossier is woefully incomplete.
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Ms. Gutteridge's veteran pen has once again produced a superbly entertaining work with a wonderful balance of humor, poignancy and mystery. Storm Surge, the third in the "Storm" series, follows FBI Special Agent Mick Kline in a race against the death-row clock. The condemned prisoner, Sammy Earle, has been incarcerated for a crime in which Agent Kline himself was once implicated. Only now doubts begin to surface as to Sammy's guilt, and Mick personally takes on the case against everyone's advice, including his own.
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The web of intrigue began to weave itself in steamy jungles of Vietnam with the murder and disappearance of two American soldiers. In the intervening years, it expands and stretches taut, ensnaring more hapless victims who stumble--or are pushed--into it. It finally snaps amid a Category 4 hurricane on the Texas coast, where it threatens not only Mick, but the woman he loves. The action is intense, the drama poignant, and the characters multidimensional. Having said that, my next comment may seem a little odd: it was really funny. By that I mean Ms. Gutteridge has mastered the tricky art of diffusing tension at just the right points with appropriate humor. How? By knowing how to write.
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I've commented on an author's writing voice in a few of my posts, with notables going to Liz Curtis Higgs and Sibella Giorello. Put Rene Gutteridge right alongside them. I rarely laugh out loud when I read a crime novel, but my uninhibited reaction to Ms. Gutteridge's subtly witty narrative style and glib repartee between characters drew more than one raised eyebrow from my wife, who was lying next to me trying to concentrate on her own book. I kept saying, "Listen, you've got to hear this passage! You'll crack up!" I guess I said that too many times, as she finally exhorted me to stop before I read her the whole book. (Sorry, Jeannie, but just wait until you read it . . . )
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I had the pleasure of sitting through a couple of Ms. Gutteridge's seminars at an ACW writers' conference two years ago. If I had taken better notes, perhaps I could write as well as she does . . . in a few years . . . or longer . . . maybe. (Sigh!)
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Friday, January 22, 2010

There's Movement...again!

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Heard from my editor today! The Word Fulfilled is scheduled to start the production process next week. Won't speculate on an exact release data yet, but once the process starts, it usually flies.

Thanks to all who have been asking about the book. Apologies in advance for the spam you're going to get from me. :-)
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Portion Forever, by Karen Roth (Eagle Rock)

(Click cover for more information)

Now here's a book that has it all: trucks blowing up for guys, romance for women, and inspiration for everyone--not to mention a great story line and excellent writing. What more could we ask for?

My Portion Forever follows Sana Toledo, an Algerian-born American girl living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sana, destined to suffocate in servitude to her uncle in his tiny grocery store, runs away after high school, becomes a nurse, and ends up choking on the dusty grit of the North African desert attending the "boys" fighting Rommel's tanks in the early days of World War II. Surrounded by a colorful cast of unforgettable characters, Lt. Toledo endures the horrors of war, the exhaustion and frustration of front-line hospital life, and her own personal struggle with a beckoning faith she doesn't understand. Her path criss-crosses that of Ranger Lt. Joe Vesely, a high-school friend who becomes more than just a friend, from their training in the rainy cold of England, through the first taste of combat on the beachhead at Arzew, and culminating in the bloody battle of Kasserine.

Reminiscent of Jack Cavanaugh's Dear Enemy, My Portion Forever provides a seldom-seen look at the hope and heartache, perseverence and peril, of the medical corps' doctors and nurses as they fought to save the lives of young soldiers maimed in a war thousands of miles from home. You'll be fascinated by the initiative the medical troops took, the innovativeness they displayed when proper medical supplies and facilities dwindled or were altogether lacking--like beer bottles for IV containers and human hair for sutures. Ms. Roth doesn't shy away from the devastation and gore of battle and its carnage; however, neither does she cross the line into gratuitously bloody descriptions for shock value. Meticulously researched and skillfully delivered, My Portion Forever rounds out the story of The Greatest Generation from the viewpoint of those who fought so hard to preserve it.

Finally, as an author, I was struck by how Karen Roth can immerse love, honor and faith in so much grit, blood and tears and still have them shine through unblemished. It's both inspiring and intimidating. Readers, take heart; writers, take a lesson.

Great book. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Sleeping Matchbook by Patricia Stebelton (OakTara)

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(Click cover for more information)
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In The Sleeping Matchbook, Patricia Stebelton pens a wild and witty mystery young readers of all interests will enjoy. Secrets abound in this inspirational tale of two girls setting out to solve a cold case--but not so cold that it doesn't heat up in a hurry the moment they start poking around.
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Samantha "Sam" Westbrook" lost a best friend when her neighbor and 'big sister,' Amanda Griffen, left for a birthday party--and never came back. Her boyfriend was found the next morning behind the wheel of his Mustang, shot to death. Amanda hasn't been seen since. What's really strange, is that the school jacket Amanda was wearing that night mysteriously reappears in her closet bearing the only clue as to what might have happened: a single matchbook lodged in the lining beneath a pocket.
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It's now four years later. Going through Amanda's closet with her mother, seventeen-year old Sam finds the coat and the matchbook, a discovery that sparks a quest to discover just what happened that night. She enlists the help of her new friend, Tracy, and together they face danger and the threat of violence as their sleuthing breaks open old wounds and creates waves that ripple all the way into the highest levels of the police department itself.
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Physical, emotional and spiritual challenges dog their steps along the way and provide the most meaningful lessons of all for both Sam and Tracy. The Sleeping Matchbook accelerates and explodes in a dynamic ending that neither of the girls expect. You won't either.
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Good read for the tweenager and teenager, and parents won't have to worry about this one. The moral and spiritual lessons come through loud and clear, but not so loud that they drown out the story. Nice job, Patricia!
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