Monday, April 23, 2012

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

The organism of a literary series owns a curious personality.  One may birth well, but struggle to keep its pace, its conclusion hinting that author was relieved when it finally ended.  Another begins a little off-balance, perhaps from too much anticipation of its conclusion, but matures from volume to volume until it ends with so strong a finale, you sense the author wished it hadn't--and the reader empathizes.  Others begin to languish soon after the beginning, dragging on from volume to seemingly endless volume until you give up and set it aside before you even find out what the conclusion might have been.  Mr. Lewis' Biblical-fiction series, "The Seeds of Christianity," displays a unique personality as well: a solid start with Witness, acceleration and anticipation through Disciple and Apostle, finally a heart-wrenchingly poignant finale with Martyr.  Just what you want from a series.

Mr. Lewis has novelized the founding and early growth of the 1st-Century Church with an excellent blend of meticulously researched fact, and well-written, imaginative fiction.  Remaining true to the Scriptural account, we experience with Rivka and Shemu'el the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, then travel with them to Antioch and finally Rome with Peter, Paul, Mark, Barnabas.  Mr. Lewis provides us with fascinating renderings of the early church fathers, but he delivers the real joy  through a solid supporting cast of fictional characters whose lives reflect the uncertainties, frailties, victories, and failures of our own--those to whom we can relate when the historical heroes of the faith seem so much bigger than life.

Martyr presents a very satisfying conclusion to the series, tempering the poignancy and sadness implied by the title with the certainty of hope we have not only through the arc of the story, but the knowledge of church history.  Vividly portrayed, deeply instructive, emotionally satisfying; there is much to commend the entire series.  It's a journey that will change you--for the better.

Martyr is available in Kindle version through, but also in softcopy directly from Cape Arago Press.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Legacy Road, by Graham Garrison (Kregel)

Fine book; really good story.

Mr. Garrison has crafted a tale well worthy of its prequel, Hero’s Tribute, in depth and thought-provoking poignancy.

Set near Athens, Georgia, Legacy Road follows Wes Watkins, the sportswriter who had delivered the eulogy of hometown hero Michael Gavin in Hero’s Tribute.  Now a freelance writer, Wes is on an even keel and doing well—until the end of the first chapter.  His world begins to crumble with an disrupted attempt to propose marriage to Emmy, an ER nurse soon due to deploy to Afghanistan, and her awkward rebuff of that proposal.  Close on the heels of this jolt is the forced reappearance in his life of his wayward father, his mother’s suddenly deteriorating health, and the pressures of an overly demanding professor supervising Wes’ post-graduate studies.  All of these stresses combine to shake Wes’ personal world and his young faith.
Legacy Road examines the issues of forgiveness and trust with brutal, yet compassionate, honesty.  Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, part of his post-graduate studies, Wes’ own journey is mirrored through letters his father had sent him from prison, some of which he’d never read, and letters preserved from an ancestor who fought for the South in the very campaigns his course work focuses upon.  These thrust upon him decisions regarding that forgiveness and trust that he finds himself ill prepared to face.

If you’re looking for a novel filled with jeeps blowing up and grisly murder scenes, skip this one.  However, if you dare look past the sensational into an evenly written, thoughtful reflection of human fallibility, and how interpersonal relationships suffer but can recover from it, Legacy Road is a sure bet.
Happily, Kregel Publishers sent me this copy of Legacy Road free of charge to review.  I was planning to purchase it anyway.  J

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

For Maria, by Bruce Judisch (OakTara)


Shameful, isn't it? Two entries in a row of the same thing. Well, not quite the same thing.

Look what I got from my publisher today! The cover design for For Maria. So far, we're still on track for a May release date. Lots to do betwixt now and then, so please pray for me.

I'll keep you posted!