And now, a plethora of book reviews and book review recaps. At the top of this list are some short reviews of some of my favorite books. So, for your summer reading pleasure, here are some books to pack up when going to the lake, to the beach, or to curl up with in a hammock on the back porch. At the bottom of this list are some of my favorite books and links to my lengthy reviews. Check them all out!
Be warned. Sean tackles some sacred cow (which sometimes makes holy hamburger) in this chilling, fast paced novel about a small town dominated by a powerful individual who claims to be a Christian but is more than he seems. This is the key. He CLAIMS to be a Christian but something nefarious is going on and David Louther arrives in Carlsville and begins to unravel this growing mystery. It all leads to a climax of good versus evil and to give you too many details is to spoil the story.
What the reader needs to know is that Sean tackles the “once saved, always saved” paradigm among some Christians and exposes what very well can account for rampant “hypocrisy” among Christians. Let’s face it. One of the most powerful accusations leveled against Christians is our hypocrisy. Sean asks the question, “If you are saved, then why isn’t your life any different?” Do we play the “get of out hell for free” card to cover a multitude of sins and a life that is detached from Christ? It is an interesting question and provides the foundation for a very interesting and gripping story.
The book will definitely challenge your beliefs on this issue no matter which side you come down on and it will leave you thinking. If there is any minor criticism it is the occasional slowing down as Sean tackles some theological and apologetic issues but, frankly, you need those breaks to catch your breath!
This book has been out for a while and was Tosca Lee’s debut novel. And, what a powerful debut it was! I read this book and could not put it down. The story is about Clay, a book editor recently divorced and struggling with his job. He is invited to a series of personal interviews with a demon named Lucian. Lucian appears in each interview in a different body and personality and this is part of the delight of the story. Clay finds himself increasingly obsessed with the demon’s story. The story begins with God and the rebellion of Lucifer and ends in the present times.
Tosca Lee admitted in an online interview that she loves dance. You can tell when you immerse yourself in her lyrical, moving and hauntingly beautiful prose. Her description of the creation of the universe and the fall of the rebellious angels is one of the most incredible passages of prose I have ever read. Moving and filled with powerful imagery, I found myself reading it over and over again just to allow the images to bathe my mind with their beauty and the horror of eternal loss.
The story does not disappoint as the Clay’s life begins to fall apart thanks to his obsession with the demon. The ending is disturbingly haunting and will leave you breathless for days. Don’t miss this incredible debut novel.
I’ve been to Barton Springs in Austin and the water is COLD. It comes right up out of the ground and is somewhere in the 60s. In her debut novel. When the Day of Evil Comes, Melanie Wells starts out with a college psychology professor, Dylan Foster, meeting her friends at Barton Springs. But, she is not prepared to meet the strange, pale man with the scars on his back who stares at her relentlessly from the cold waters. Soon, the man is appearing with regularity in her life and she finds herself haunted by his presence and inexplicable spiritual events. She receives two strange gifts, one of which was buried with her mother!
A student comes to her for counseling and she is soon accused of inappropriate behavior with the student. Her career begins to crumble and her life begins to fall apart as she is falsely accused by the boy’s parents. She follows the student back to his home town in the northern section of the United States only to discover something horrible has happened to him. Throughout, the pale man calling himself Peter Terry relentless follows her and shows up abruptly over and over again. Something about the secrets in the boy’s family’s life is tied in with this demonic presence and his desire to destroy her.
The tension mounts as her life falls apart and her career and future are in jeopardy. Melanie Wells builds a slow, creeping state of tension and terror to a satisfying climax as Dylan faces off against the pale man “when the day of evil comes.”
A strange man wanders onto a desert highway and is picked up an elderly couple. He is taken to a local small town where his behavior is very “old school”. He doesn’t seem to understand modern technology and is very simple in his ideas and interactions.
At the same time, strange messages begin appearing in the most odd places: at the end of an action movie; in the middle of an “I Love Lucy” episode; over the radio during a traffic jam. Where do these messages come from? Why are they seen and heard throughout the country? And, who is this strange man who seems to exude goodness and innocence in a world that is going to hell in a handbasket?
Pick up this exciting and intriguing book by Alton Gansky and find out if the real Enoch who “walked with God and didn’t die” has returned. He has a message to deliver and you don’t want to miss it!
Do NOT read this book in the dark. Marc’s novel won the top prize for the best speculative fiction novel of 2011 and it is easy to see why. This story is one of the most unusual stories I have ever come across in “Christian” fiction. It is dark. It is disturbing. It is filled with horrific creatures. And it is MERSMERIZING! I could not put this book down as disturbing as it was. Because, it is powerfully redemptive.
Marc Schooley takes us deep into a cave in the mountains of Eastern Europe at the start of World War II and tosses us into a mix of Nazi scientists, demonic forest creatures, and the world’s hottest oven. The main character, Sascha Konig is charged with developing the perfect oven for destroying anything placed within. The reader knows where this development is headed for the reader has the perspective of history. But, Konig has no idea of the purpose of the oven. As the creeping horrors of the primeval forest relentlessly attack the occupants of the cave, sealing them, Konig develops a hotter and hotter fire in the oven. When he discovers the fires true purpose, he must make a decision.
And, here is where the novel triumphs in its embrace of redemption. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? Konig and his two colleagues must decide between following the edicts of their Nazi commandant or following their conscience and doing what is right. To counter the commandant is to end up in the fire.
Filled with unforgettable imagery and a growing sense of anxiety and urgency, this novel deserves the accolades and awards it garnered. Marc Schooley has done a masterful job of putting the reader right in the middle of a moral dilemma that challenges our every precept of human decency, “turning the other cheek”, and our need to merely survive. You will not soon forget your visit to Konig’s Fire!
Susan Mitchell is an ordinary mother who wishes to find a little peace in her life. Her husband has set up an area in the attic as her “retreat”. Unfortunately, when she decides it is time to relax, she finds herself pulled through a “portal” into another world. In the world of Lyric, Susan discovers she is fated to become a guardian, a “restorer” and she must learn how to survive in this strange world. She is trained in the use of weapons and a sword and never really grows accustomed to her new role. But, the people of this land look up to her for triumph over a growing and deceptive evil.
Sharon Hinck has written a richly detailed story about a land filled with good and evil; loyalty and betrayal; politics and deception. Her prose sings with details that fill your senses with joy. And, her characters are complex and compelling. To give away any more details is to spoil the joy of exploring this rich world. Join Susan as she finds her destiny as the Restorer!
Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos
The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell
Enemies of the Cross by Greg Mitchell
The Resurrection by Mike Duran
The God Hater by Bill Myers
Beckon by Tom Pawlik
Frantic by Mike Dellosso
The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead
Corus, the Champion by D. Barkley Briggs
Oh, and don’t forget to add MY book to your list: The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye.
As I mentioned yesterday, I will be posting a two day review since I am still in the process of finishing up this excellent book. Yesterday, I spoke about the four outstanding qualities of Tolkien’s work: Names, Songs, Geography and Companionship and I covered the first two yesterday. Today, I will cover the final two.
Geography. There are Nine Worlds connected by arches that move one not only through space, but through time to other worlds parallel to ours. There have been a spate of parallel dimension type fantasy books in the past couple of years. But, in my opinion, D. Barkley Briggs has created a multiverse that is deep and complex and believable. His descriptions of the mountains, the valleys, the cities filled with canals and decay; the frozen wastelands; the bloody battlefields and yes, the deep, dangerous forests once again reminds me so much of Tolkien. The places have faces; they live and breath; I can see them and smell them and taste them. And there are places I long to see and places I would never visit. Here is a description of the White Woods where the Fey dwell:
“Finally, they drew near the bulk of trees — vast acres of beech and white birch, a few grand oaks — laid like miles of rumpled blankets on the high plains. Far beyond sight, Sorge said, the woods began their slow ascent along pine- and fir-covered slopes toward the Frostmarch.”
The Frostmarch! What a glorious name for a frozen wasteland of mountains! The city of Faielyn is patterned after Venice with gondolas and sinking buildings and canals but the similarity is so superficial and this city begs one to visit. There is a wonderful chase and fight scene through the watery canals and the cramped alleyways of Faielyn. I felt like I was there!
Companionship. Here, D. Barkley Biggs has created more than your average fellowship of travelers. Each character is complex and layered with subtle surprises that spring forth and just the right time to surprise the reader. The four brothers are each distinct and, quite frankly, are not that interesting at the beginning. After all, they are but pre-adolescents. But, as the story progresses, they grow and mature and grow on the reader. Each brother has a gift, a strength and I will leave the discovery of that to the reader. There are monks of the Circle who differ over seemingly trivial religious matters. One rogue monk, Barsonici reeks of body odor and yet spouts philosophy with the best of philosophers. His rival monk, Sorge, has many surprises in store and there is a very good reason he believes Corus is still alive and sets out to find the Champion to awaken the Sleeping King. And Corus, trapped, tortured, broken for over twenty years by the Deceiver himself, Kr’Nunos, the horned king daily tortures Corus, also known as the son of Lotsley (have fun figuring out who this person REALLY is!) Here is a snippet of the dialogue between these two:
“ . . . here you are, trapped in chains. Abused. Emasculated. Enfeebled. Why don’t you just die?”
Corus clenched his teeth. “Because I am a frayed patch in the garment of your glorious plan. My chains mean you fear my doom may be true, that I may one day stand beside a king, and the land unite.”
I could go on with more examples of this excellent story. Each brother has his own part in the story and it is worth discovering their journey on your own. If there is one weakness in my mind, it is the omniscient point of view from which most of the book is written. But, after reading Tolkien, I realized D. Barkley Briggs’ style is very much the same. And, that is nothing but a compliment!
Step slowly and carefully through the arch into the Nine Worlds and enjoy one of the best fantasy books I have read in years. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish “The Book of Names.”