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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading debut author's novels or those author's who have not had many reviews thus providing them much needed encouragement 

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Sunday, 1 July 2018

Blog Tour: Heartsong by Annie Douglass Lima

Today I am hosting Annie Douglass Lima as part of her blog tour to promote her new novel, HeartsongIf you like books about space travel, aliens, or cross-cultural transitions, you’ll love this poignant science fiction adventure. 

It is always a pleasure to have Annie on this blog and I have done so 4 times previously. 

So sit back and explore Heartsong by Annie Douglass Lima.


Click here to get your copy of Heartsong now and start the journey today! (Shh! For July 1st and 2nd only, the ebook is available for free!)


Two alien worlds

One teen emissary.

No reality she can trust.

Thirteen-year-old Liz Smith has been ripped away from one foster family after another for years, so the idea of a permanent home is tantalizing. Who cares if that home is a colony sixty-five thousand light-years from Earth? The friends in her trusty e-reader will keep her company just fine on her interstellar relocation.

But when the adventure of a lifetime turns into the disaster of the cosmos, Liz can only retreat so far into the books that have always sheltered her from loneliness and loss. Trapped in half-truths and secrets that leave her questioning reality, can one orphaned bookworm find a way to stop two races from destroying each other … and somehow write a happy ending to her own story?

Read on for a sample of the story ...

Heartsong

Chapter One

My love of reading started the whole thing.

The best place to read on the Laika was in the lifeboats. I’d discovered that on the first leg of the trip, during the flight from Earth to the jump point off of Phoebe. I mean, what else was there to do when we couldn’t see much through the viewports? The view was exciting when there was one, but when you’re far away from anything, space all looks the same.

The hyperspace jump that shot us across the galaxy had been quick, of course, so no time to get bored there. And after we came out of it at the jump point off of Somav, the blue giant that would light my skies for the rest of my life, the flight toward the little moon Soma was pretty exciting, too. I couldn’t stop staring as we passed Somavia, the blue and white planet I knew none of us would ever see close up again. I wondered about the aliens whose home it was. What were they like? The pictures and video Forerunner had sent back, from the few passes it had taken in high orbit, left everyone with more questions than they answered.

Of course, we knew the planet had a breathable atmosphere. If it hadn’t been for the alien race who already lived there — and the tirtellium that we were going to mine on Soma, of course — New Horizons Industries might have decided to set up its colony on the planet Somavia instead of on its moon.

We passed Somavia three days ago, and we’d been orbiting Soma ever since. Which was also exciting, at first. I couldn’t wait to actually get down there and start life on my new home. A home I would get to help create, along with the adult scientists and miners and the rest of the Young Explorers. A home I would never be taken away from just when I was starting to settle in. My forever home. Normally I hated new beginnings, but this one was different. This would be the last new beginning of my life.

Even the colony’s name, chosen by the Samoan astronomer who discovered this solar system, was perfect. Avanoa, which apparently meant opportunity in the Samoan language, sounded to me like a kingdom from some fantasy novel.

Not that life in Avanoa was going to be a fantasy. I knew that starting a colony would be hard work, but that didn’t matter. A real home, with friends I would never have to say goodbye to, would be worth any amount of work.

Soma was interesting to look at, though not as pretty as the planet it orbited. The moon was mostly brown, with splotches of gray-green surrounding the dark blue dots that marked the location of its scattered lakes. With no actual oceans, the moon had just enough water to support a little plant and animal life. Nothing too dangerous, at least as far as we could tell from Forerunner’s pictures. Insects. Some fish and crustaceans that might or might not be edible. Small reptilian or maybe amphibian creatures that lived in and around the lakes. A handful of different mammals, all tiny, that made their homes in the hills. Nothing that seemed likely to bother two hundred human colonists setting up a new home on their world.

Of course, the aliens could be another story. We knew the Somavians had developed a limited form of space travel; we knew they had mines on Soma, too. But whatever they were mining for, it wasn’t tirtellium, and they only had a few tunnel mines in a few locations. We planned to set up our colony hundreds of kilometers away, where if all went according to plan, they wouldn’t even know we were around. Forerunner’s sensors had not detected any other artificial satellites in orbit around either Somavia or Soma, and as far as we could tell, the locals had no instruments capable of detecting Forerunner, no way to suspect we were coming. Its orbit was carefully programmed to keep it out of sight of any of their mines after dark when it might be visible from the ground as a moving point of light.

The adults all said that hopefully, we would never have to encounter any Somavians, but all of us kids hoped we would. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind not want to meet the first real live aliens actually confirmed to exist?

Jessie, who loved science fiction movies almost as much as I loved reading, had often kept Maria and Shaliqua and me awake late into the night back in our dorm room discussing all the possible alien-related adventures that awaited us if we ever made contact. Most of those possibilities were a lot more fun — though some were scarier — than the idea of living in isolation and never letting the locals know we were on their moon.

Anyway, judging by Forerunner’s footage, Somavian culture seemed peaceful, with no evidence of any wars going on down on their homeworld. If they did find out about the humans in their solar system, hopefully they wouldn’t mind us being there. We wouldn’t bother them, and with any luck, they wouldn’t bother us. And if they did get mad, well, the Laika had some weapons. Not enough to wage war with, but hopefully enough to convince them to leave us alone.

So much to wonder about. So much to look forward to. I could hardly wait to get down to the surface and start my new life. But here we all were, stuck in orbit for three whole days so far. Three painfully long and boring days. Earth days, that is. It had been nearly five Soman days, though we wouldn’t officially switch to using Soman time until we landed.

Atmospheric storms. Who would have thought that storms would be this big of an issue on a world with virtually no precipitation? Our science team had come up with a theory about minerals in the soil reflecting particles and wavelengths from the solar flares that Somav had been throwing out since our arrival. Whatever the case, the result was some pretty impressive windstorms in parts of the atmosphere. Since the spot picked out for Avanoa was directly underneath one of the worst storms, Captain Tyler insisted it wouldn’t be safe to try to land yet.

But no one had anticipated that the flares and storms would go on this long. At first, I was glad of the opportunity to orbit my new home and see what it looked like from space. But after a while, the excitement faded, and everyone turned grouchy as we all grew more and more bored and impatient. The movies and games preloaded on our Horizon-brand tablets weren’t good enough to keep everyone happy, not while we had to put the adventure we’d all waited over a year to start on hold indefinitely. And I’d never been a big fan of video games or movies anyway.

So I did what I always do when real people get too annoying. I pulled out my old-school Novareader and turned to my true friends, the ones who never got annoying, who would always be there for me no matter what, who I never had to say goodbye to. And I escaped to the one place I had found on board where nobody would bother me or interrupt my adventures to ask what I was reading or exclaim over their new high score in who-cares-what-virtual-adventure on their RizeTab.

The Laika was designed to be taken apart when we arrived. Its decking and bulkheads would be used to help create Avanoa’s buildings until we could construct permanent residences from local rock, and that was one of the reasons the ship was so large. But big though it was, it had no extra empty space. Every compartment was full of freeze-dried food items, mining equipment, packages of seeds for genetically modified crops designed to grow well in the moon’s dry soil, and educational resources for us youth because even on an interstellar adventure, there was no escaping school in some form.

So I had discovered in between Earth and Phoebe that the lifeboats were the best place to read. I wasn’t sure if I was really supposed to hang out in them, but they were unlocked, because after all, what would be the point in locking something that people would need to get into in a hurry in an emergency?

I sat curled up on a seat in Lifeboat 1, alternating between reading and looking out to see if anything interesting had come into sight down below. But from this angle, the one window — a wide viewport at the very front — was mostly full of stars, only a tiny sliver of Soma visible from one edge. I could have turned on the screen at the lifeboat’s navigational console and adjusted it to show me any view I liked, but that might trigger some sort of alert, and I didn’t want anyone showing up to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be in here.

So I joined Caz and her friends on their travels across the Granbo system, caught up in their space adventure on my Novareader screen since my own space adventure had turned pretty dull. Lunch was another two hours away, so I might as well enjoy myself in the meantime.

And I did — until the ship vibrated more vigorously than usual and the fasten seatbelts sign flicked on.

I often felt as though several of me were debating inside my head. For a moment, Cautious Liz wondered if I should return to my seat. But what was the point? Practical Liz reminded me that I would be just as safe here in the lifeboat, and if the turbulence got bad, walking around with the Laika lurching under me would not be the smartest idea.

I already had my seatbelt on, since that was the best way to keep from floating around. Not that floating around wasn’t fun, but there was too little room in the lifeboat to do mid-air flips and spins without banging into things, and drifting around while I read made it hard to focus on the book. Of course, my magnetic-soled shoes could have kept me anchored to the deck, but not when I wanted to sit cross-legged.

So I just tightened my seatbelt a little and turned back to The Gypsy Pearl. We had encountered turbulence lots of times in the last few days, thanks to the solar flares. It was no big deal.
But the vibrations grew stronger, and then the ship started lurching under me. I lowered my Novareader and looked around, but there was nothing to see here in the little lifeboat. The stars jumped and jerked outside the window, and if it hadn’t been for my seatbelt, I knew I would have been thrown about and probably injured already.

I waited for the crackle of the intercom and Captain Tyler’s voice to explain what was happening or issue instructions. But I heard nothing, and I wondered if the flares had damaged the lifeboat’s intercom system. They had interfered with the Laika’s electrical systems before, after all. Now I wished I’d returned to my seat while I could. If something dangerous was happening, I would rather face it with the others in the main cabin, where at least I would know what was going on.

Without warning, the lights flickered and then went out. Now that was a first. An instant later, an alarm screeched, making me jump. I gasped, really worried for the first time since we left Earth. The screeching continued as the stars swirled and zigzagged, sending faint but frightening shadows thrashing around me like alien spirits trying to take over the ship. For a second I wondered if that could actually be happening. Maybe the Somavians had powers we didn’t know about. Maybe they were trying to drive us out of their system … or worse.

Then the emergency lights embedded in the deck glowed to life, and I let out my breath in relief. The navigational computer two rows ahead of me powered on automatically, its screen lighting up green.

My relief was short-lived, though. The alarm kept blaring its intermittent warning. Screech! Silence. Screech! Silence. Screech! The turbulence was worse than ever, as though the Laika was a wild horse, bucking and leaping and trying to throw its rider off. And that rider gripped the edge of her seat all alone there in the lifeboat, wondering what in the universe was happening.

Suddenly the whirling stars vanished and Soma swung into view, filling the viewport ahead of me, a blur of brown-blue-gray-green-brown. I barely had time to notice before it was gone and the streaking stars reappeared. Then the moon appeared again.

My stomach was spinning as fast as the ship. Thank goodness I had inherited the Smith Stomach of Steel, or my breakfast would probably have ended up all around me. I could only imagine what a nasty experience that would be in zero gravity with the ship thrashing around like this.

A new noise caught my attention. A mechanical noise, a series of clicks and clinks and the sliding of metal against metal. I had only ever heard it before in simulations, but I recognized it right away, and my heart lurched in terror. “No!”

Words flashed across the computer screen, large enough to read from where I sat. LIFEBOAT LAUNCHING.

“No! I yelled again. I fumbled for the seatbelt clasp and flung myself across the tiny cabin, lunging for the manual override button beside the door. Not a smart move, I have to admit, considering how wildly everything was jerking around me. But I panicked. Can you blame me? None of our training, none of the simulations, had dealt with what to do if the lifeboat you were sitting in alone accidentally detached from the ship.

I knew what to do if a lifeboat didn’t detach when it was supposed to. I knew which lifeboat I was supposed to board in an emergency. Not this one, though they were all the same. I knew who my lifeboat buddies would be — a fairly even cross-section of the ship’s crew in terms of age and abilities so we would have the best possible chance of survival in case not every lifeboat made it. I knew how to steer the lifeboat and bring it down for a controlled landing, even though I wasn’t the assigned helmsperson in my group. We had all learned all those skills, just in case.

But I didn’t know how to survive in deep space or on Soma’s surface on my own. The cupboards contained emergency rations and survival gear, of course, but not enough to live off of indefinitely. Of course, the lifeboat would emit a signal that the ship’s sensors would pick up — I knew they were picking it up already, as of the moment my craft started to detach — but what if no one could come and get me right away? What if I landed on Soma, but the Laika couldn’t land for days or even weeks? They would have no way to rescue a stranded teenager who shouldn’t have been reading in a lifeboat in the first place.

And what if the aliens found me before my people did?

All that went swirling through my brain within a couple of seconds as I slammed my fist into the manual override button again and again. But nothing happened. That is, the hatch didn’t open to let me out into the ship’s corridor. But the incessant alarm finally went silent, and the frantic jerking and thrashing stopped, replaced by a slow, gentle twirl.

For a second, Optimistic Liz dared to hope that the trouble was over. But I knew that wasn’t it.
The lifeboat was no longer connected to the ship.

Too horrified even to yell again, I watched the Laika drift past the window, Somav’s light tinting her silver-white hull a metallic frostbite-blue against the blackness of space. She was still spinning and dancing like some huge bird as the solar flares played havoc with her electrical systems. And then I saw only stars, and then the mottled brown of the moon, then more stars. And then there went the Laika once more, further away this time.

Grabbing the back of a seat for leverage, I shoved off from the deck, thankful for the zero-gravity training. Floating was faster than clomping along in magnetic shoes, and I had to get to the controls now. I had to steer myself back to the ship.

But as I seized the arm of the helmsperson’s chair and maneuvered my body into it, I realized I had no idea how to reattach a lifeboat to its socket on the ship’s side. They had never taught us that. Were lifeboats even designed to reattach once they were separated?

Well, somebody must know the proper procedure for this kind of emergency. Captain Tyler or one of the other adults could talk me through the process. Right?

I fumbled for the seatbelt, twisting my ankles around the legs of the chair so I wouldn’t float off in the meantime. Jabbing the intercom button, I called, “Help! I’m in a lifeboat that just detached! What do I do?”

Realizing how panicked and little-girly I sounded, I took a deep breath and tried again. “I mean, 
this is Liz Smith on Lifeboat 1, calling anybody on the Laika who can hear me. Come in, please.”

There was no response, and I realized that the communication light wasn’t even on. The intercom was offline.

Great. Dang solar flares.

I took another deep breath. I had never felt so alone.

But the controls in front of me looked exactly like the ones in the simulator. I could do this. It would be just the same as I had practiced.

Except this was no game, where the only real struggle was to beat my classmates, to be the first to land my virtual lifeboat safely.

This was a real emergency.

This was my life at stake.

Buy Heartsong from Amazon in Kindle or paperback format here:


About the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published eighteen books in a wide variety of genres (science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.



Annie can be found at these social media platforms: 


Saturday, 23 June 2018

Future Schism by Jeff W. Horton



schism: pronounced: s(k)izÉ™m

Noun: split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.

The year is 2076, the year of The Great Schism, the year the struggle between liberals and conservatives, the culture war, split America in two. It’s also the year the Second American Civil War began. By the time it’s over, the United States of America is no more, having been divided into two provinces.

Nearly a century later the Corporate Synod forces citizens in the Red Zone to accept mandatory genetic modifications. Some “mods” greatly enhance intelligence but strip people of their humanity. Other mods increase physical strength and stamina that make workers in the factories more productive but significantly decreases their lifespans. Meanwhile, The New Zion Church imprisons or executes anyone caught worshipping the God of the Christian or Jew, or anywhere other than the NZC.

In the Blue Zone, however, life is good; if you’re one of the very select few who are members of the elite Gentry Class. For the vast majority who are not, however, food is increasingly scarce, disease and starvation are rampant, and government slavery is spreading rapidly.

Daniel Washington leads the People of the Founders, the Red Zone resistance movement. At first, he works only to topple the corrupt Red Council and restore freedom in the Red Zone. After he meets Kayla Ross, however, leader of the Militiamen Freedom Fighters, the resistance movement against the Gentry in the Blue Zone, they join forces, and together they discover they can do far more together than falling in love, they can start a revolution. 

The Guru's Review: 

This novel took me completely by surprise. I was taken by the description and knew it would be an entertaining ride. But it ended up being more than that! This novel really packs a punch! It would make a great movie. I encourage Horton to promote this to those in Hollywood for this to be optioned for being made into such. 

I have said in a previous novel of Horton's that it was his best, but this novel surpasses that and is now his best! This does not read like a Horton novel of previous novels but that is not a negative criticism. It is quite a compliment as it shows Horton has improved his craft as a novelist. He has really come into his own with this one and increased his versatility.

Horton has used this novel to send a message as to what could happen if the current deconstruction of the social ideologies of our society, in the case The United States of America, are allowed to progress unchecked and unchallenged. Seeing the progression of how the USA in the novel was separated into two regions both vastly different from each other and both evolved into corrupt, dictatorships with inhumane policies and policing leading to abuse of the masses and their oppression while the governments in both zones live in wealth and privileged lives. While reading this novel, I cannot ignore the reality that the seeds of this is now happening in society, especially in America. This novel is a sobering account of the progression of these seeds of unrest and deconstruction and taking one full century for the country to realise the error of their ways and to have the country rebuilt into a New United States of America based on America's original Founding Fathers. Not surprising that the only way for this to happen is, as history has repeatedly shown, that people have to take action, form a Resistance and start a revolution to overthrow the corrupt governing bodies and take back what is rightfully theirs, their freedom.

It is this that the novel is structured and forms the basis of all the action and depiction of its themes. I was totally enthralled by this and to quote a cliche, I could not put it down. It is here that you start to imagine this as a movie!

In any novel, it is essential that the characters are well developed, relational and believable. In the genre of this novel, it is even more important that this is the case. Horton excels here. I found myself endeared to Kayla and Daniel and empathised with them in their endeavours to command the Resistance while falling in love, establish their relationship and become parents. I must confess that as much as I love this novel, I spent the entire time tense as the speculative elements of its themes paint a picture of a bleak reality that would be our lives if this became real. It is a scary thought after a novel like this that shows the possible outcome of the seeds that are taking root in today's world!

When you read this novel, you will identify that Horton has not created this novel for just an entertaining read but one that shows his concern for the future of America and a deep patriotism. He is obviously very concerned about what he sees happening in America and this novel is his way of showing what is most likely one very plausible outcome if the rejection of religion and especially Christianity and other societal ideologies are deconstructed and abolished.

Perhaps his greatest solution is shown in the theme of returning to the reason America was founded in the first place and a return to its Judaeo-Christian roots and its Constitution. The way Horton does this and embeds it into the story is very clever. The speeches he has composed as spoken by Daniel, Kayla and especially Christian is brilliant and shows Horton's passion and love for his country and how founding a country on Biblical principles is guaranteed for safety, security and success/prosperity. Reading these speeches/narratives, I imagined that Horton could be quite successful as a speechwriter for politics or such. The speech at the end of the novel by Christian is the best out of all of them and is very inspiring. Surpasses the speech by actor Bill Pulman in the movie, Independence Day, not that you could possibly compare these two speeches!!!

Horton adeptly described the corruptness, greed and evilness of both governmental regimes (Red and Blue Zones) and it is this that contributed to the sense of unease and tenseness I experienced reading this throughout. He brings this evilness to a head when he describes the torture of Daniel. I cried at this but also tears of joy from the peace that surpasses all understanding that both Kayla and Daniel had from their relationship with God and their submission to Him, accepting His will for them. This peace is found in a prophecy delivered to Daniel through a dream/vision and which leads to both him and Kayla learning about the Gospel of Christ and accepting His gift of salvation. It is this vision that gives Daniel the instruction from God on how to overthrow this evil regime, which led to an action-packed and climactic finale, albeit a very satisfying one. This prophecy shows what can happen when we take on the mind and character of Christ (by submission to Him in obedience, allowing ourselves to be a vessel for the Spirit to act through our lives) and we accept with His peace what outcome He wants for us and for lives of those around us. In this novel, it not only meant for the overthrow of both evil regimes but it affected the populations of other countries. Even though the spiritual/Biblical/Christian elements in this novel are not extensive or frequent, they are there and form a solid undercurrent that guides the novel to its final outcome.

Horton has successfully crafted a novel that is relevant to the times we are living in now. He shows one possible result when countries dispose of/deny/eradicate God and everything He is and stands for in their countries and lives. This novel is Horton's alert/wake up call to his countrymen of what he is seeing happen to America's way of life. It is also an analogy of what could happen worldwide. He also shows the hope we have when we repent and are restored to a relationship with God, not only individually but collectively as a people and even as a Government.

Future Schism is Horton at his best. This is now one of my favourite novels and I look back with fondness at its entertainment value, cleverness in construction and the message it delivers about the hope of Christ within us when we take a stand for Him.

Highly recommended.

To buy or preview this novel, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icon on the image below:

Monday, 4 June 2018

Blog Tour: The Nameless Soldier by Annie Douglass Lima


Today I am hosting Annie Douglass Lima as part of her blog tour to promote her new novel, The Nameless Soldier. This is Book 4 in the Annals of Alasia young adult fantasy series. It is always a pleasure to have her on this blog and I have done so 3 times previously. 

If you haven't read all (or any) of the others, that's okay! The books can be read in any order, and each one can stand on its own.

So sit back and explore the latest instalment in the Annals of Alasia fantasy series!




Description:

What do you do when you’re the only survivor?

Nineteen-year-old Tarvic bears the name of a mighty hero from Alasia’s past. However, the young soldier feels anything but heroic when he regains consciousness to find himself the lone survivor of a brutal attack by invaders from the neighboring kingdom. 

Forced to leave his identity behind, Tarvic is thrust into civilian life in the role of protector to three war orphans. When the four of them encounter a mysterious stranger, he must choose between keeping the young girls safe and taking on a mission that could help free his kingdom. Can Tarvic live up to his noble name and find a way to balance his duty and his dreams?




Where to Get a Copy:

Click here to buy the ebook or paperback from Amazon. (The ebook is $2.99 just $0.99 through June 6th!)


Not sure if you'll like the story or not? Take a look at the first chapter and see!

The Nameless Soldier
Chapter One

     Tarvic woke to the sound of a distant yell, abruptly silenced. He pushed his blankets aside and sat up, puzzled, but heard only the light patter of rain on the canvas. “What was that?”


     Drevel, his roommate in the barracks and tentmate out on campaigns like this, stirred and rolled over. “What?”

     “I heard something. Someone shouting.” 

     “It’s probably just another drill.” But Drevel sat up too, shoving his own blankets away, as Tarvic crawled over and untied the tent flap.

     A blast of wintry air and raindrops greeted him as he leaned out, peering across the tent-studded hillside. Clouds hid the moon and stars, and on every side, the thick dark of the forest leaned in from the edges of the large clearing. But the telltale flickering light of distant torches sent shadows leaping over tents and across the open spaces between them. Why would someone be using torches out here? Any soldier in camp had easy access to lanterns among the supplies. 

     Something was wrong. Very wrong. Tarvic pulled back into the tent and yanked on his breeches and jacket.

    They both heard the next yell, closer this time, and then the unmistakable clash of swords. Both men snatched up their own swords, jamming their feet into their boots and fumbling for shields. From all around them, shouts of alarm erupted as men in their company woke up.

     And then the enemy was upon them. Horses exploded through the camp, trampling tents and the soldiers just crawling out of them. Riders leaned low off their mounts’ backs, swinging swords and waving torches.

     Halfway out of his tent, Tarvic threw himself flat on his face to avoid a slash that would probably have decapitated him. He scrambled to his feet, only to be knocked off them again by a blow that he barely caught on his shield.

     Light, shadows, horses, blades, rain. Chaos raged through the clearing to the sound of crashing metal, pounding hooves, shouts of challenge and desperation. Tarvic regained his feet and fought as best he could from the ground while enemy riders thundered around him. Dodging and ducking, he aimed for the men’s legs and tried to keep out from under their horses’ hooves. With no idea who he was fighting or why, his only goal to stay alive for the next heartbeat, he dodged and darted through the tumult looking for spots where horses and enemy swords weren’t. All around him, men fought and ran and crumpled to lie as limply as the trampled tents.

     Slipping and stumbling in the mud, Tarvic felt a surge of satisfaction as his sword met flesh and an enemy yelled in pain. And then the man wheeled his horse and charged back toward him, and Tarvic turned to flee. 

     He tripped on something soft that groaned. Pain shot through Tarvic’s wrist as he caught his fall, and only a quick roll saved him from being trampled as the man’s horse cantered over him. 

    Its rider wheeled again, and Tarvic rose to his knees, barely raising his shield in time to protect his face. The force of the blow threw him backwards, jarring his already sore wrist.

    Another horse leaped over him, and Tarvic cried out in pain as a hoof struck him on the shoulder. He stumbled to his feet, ducking low to present as small a target as possible, and ran through the melee.
  
   He saw fewer people on foot now, more obstacles in the mud. Was it cowardly to flee from a battle you couldn’t win? Nothing in Tarvic’s eight months in the military had prepared him for this. Not counting occasional minor border skirmishes, the kingdom of Alasia hadn’t seen an actual war in six generations. Besides routine patrols, city peacekeeping, and the frequent drills and training, the military’s primary duties involved escorting merchant wagons through robber-frequented stretches of rural highway and keeping an eye on the sections of coastline where seafaring raiders were known to attack. Tarvic had never fought in a battle that involved more than a handful of opponents at a time, and none of those opponents had been anywhere near this organized — or this deadly. 

    If we escape, we can regroup somewhere safer and — A hard blow to the back knocked him to the ground again as another horse pounded over him. Giving up all pretense of courage, Tarvic scrambled to his feet once more and fled for the edge of the clearing and the relative safety of the trees beyond. I can’t do anything here. They’re going to slaughter us all!

   He was practically there when another rider appeared in front of him, leaning low with sword outstretched. Tarvic almost impaled himself on the blade, raising his shield just in time. He fought back frantically as the man slashed, swinging his weapon again and again. I need my horse! Military training had included nothing about how to fight a mounted enemy from the ground. But Lightning was tethered in the row of makeshift stalls on the far side of the camp, probably prancing restlessly under his blanket and wondering why his rider didn’t come to spur him into battle.

  Tarvic didn’t even see the blow that almost killed him. His ears barely registered the thudding of more galloping hooves from behind, nearly drowned out by the rain and the sounds of battle. But the world exploded in light and pain as something struck the back of his head harder than anything had ever hit him before.

    He lurched forward, feeling his sword drop from limp fingers. Managing two steps before his legs buckled, he was just conscious enough to recognize the urgent need to crawl. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Or they’ll kill you out here. That was the only thought left in his mind as he pulled himself toward the concealing shadows behind the line of tree trunks. And then even that faded, giving way to darkness.

Want to know what happens to Tarvic? Click here to purchase the book and find out!

About the Author:


Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published seventeen books (four YA action and adventure novels, five fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.




Other books by Annie Douglass Lima : 


Student poetry anthologies edited by Annie Douglass Lima:

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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Bound by Barry Napier

Bound

A shaken faith. A terrorizing evil. And one dark secret. 

As John Brighton is cleaning his church one night, a distressed and frightened man shows up looking for help. John reluctantly decides to lend a hand and as a result, comes face to face with a dark side of spirituality he hardly knew existed. 

A young man named Donovan has been possessed by what John assumes can only be a demon. When John learns Donovan and Sean, John's son, are connected, he begins to understand just how close to home this possession hits. And he can’t ask Seth for answers because his son has been in a coma for nearly a year. 

Through a dark maze of spiritual warfare and shaken faith, John discovers the accident that placed his son into a coma and led to Donovan's possession is linked to a dark secret he must unravel to not only rid Donovan of the demon, but to save his son's life.

The Guru's Review: 

I chose this novel at the author's request to review one or more from his published works. I am glad I chose this one, it has proved to be a wise choice. The reason for choosing was I love the genre of spiritual warfare, especially when it is based on biblical principles and its worldview. The other reason was that I wanted to see if this account of demon possession would be dealt with based on those two previous criteria. Napier succeeds very well here. 

Napier does this with flair and even on other aspects of pace, action, characterisation, plot. This is one easy to read novel, well constructed and flows well, the pace has no peaks followed by troughs, just one action scene after the other, that takes the reader on a journey to discover how Donovan became demon possessed, how John's comatose son is involved and why the attempts of Pastor Paul and Cal, Christian "exorcist", are not succeeding spiritually in delivering Donovan from his demonic bondage. However, the action from the second half of the novel has the thrills and action intensified as the plot gears up for its dramatic conclusion. 

Napier spends the first half of this novel setting the scene for how John becomes involved in this demonic possession (from the first chapter), how this possession is expressed in and through Donovan, the attempts from Pastor Paul and Cal to deliver Donovan, how John and his wife attempt to piece together the puzzle as to how their son Sean is involved, including why he is comatose. It is also here that we see the true nature of the demonic spirits, their hatred of the human race, especially of Christians, represented by Paul and Cal, their supernatural powers and abilities, foul stench in the area where Donovan is, the cold, frigid, oppressive temperature of the house, a vase floating in mid-air then shattering, magazine pages being fanned out slowly.

Other manifestations include the convulsing of Donovan's body and body parts being slapped against the furniture, arching of his back, having urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control), his teeth chattering, while the demonic spirits, who call themselves the Six vocalise deep-throated growls that become streams of obscenities, with each of the voices alternating with every word. When Cal attempts to get close to Donovan, the spirits controlling him physically attack him by slapping him across the face so violently that blood is drawn and he almost falls back onto the floor but manages to maintain his stance. 

These, of course, add tension, suspense and evoke fear in the reader. Normal reaction. This is heightened when all the attempts of Paul and Cal are unsuccessful in using the Word of God, prayer and to deliver and banish the demons from Donovan. Every failed attempt provokes in the reader the question of why this is unsuccessful when the Word is clear that using the Name of Jesus and many other verses together with prayer and fasting are more than enough to exorcise demons from humans. Napier has a reason for this that becomes evident in the second half that springboards the plot to its dramatic and satisfying conclusion. I must confess that I was beginning to lose faith in Napier's ability up to this point that he was basing this novel on Biblical principles and began to wonder if he was adding poetic licence to these. To me, that would have been one big "No No" and would have considered abandoning reading the rest of the novel.

However, just when I was about to do this, I had reached the second half and a twist in plot occurred that had me hooked again. This time, Napier provides the backstory to how Sean and Donovan are involved in the demonic that leads to Donovan's possession. From this point on, the tension and suspense escalate as we learn in intimate details what Sean experiences being comatose, which he summaries as being in a darkness where it was not life, but it was not death either. Sean compartmentalises the dark as his Grandfather's barn, that has two doors, both opened slightly. One he avoids, while the other door has the opposite effect, it is inviting. However, he felt that to understand why he was in the darkness, he had to open the first door and venture through it. And once he did, it was a point of no return. 

And it is through this door and in the next chapters, Napier describes the events that led to both Sean and Donovan being confronted with the demonic that led to their possession. It is one creepy tale and my heart was pounding as I read this entire account. The alarming thing that Napier succeeds in doing is describing how easy it is to "invite" these demons into your body/life even if you had not intentionally sought them out. In the case of Donovan, Sean and the other person possessed, Jack, all they had to do was visit a known place of demon worship and that had unexplained, supernatural phenomena and venture in, unarmed, unprepared, ignorant of the existence of the demonic or how an innocent "mocking" of its demonic symbol (pentagram) was enough to have these demons interpret their behaviour as an open invitation for possession. 

Once Napier is finished with this backstory, Napier lays the foundation for the final confrontation between John, Paul, Cal and the Six. More twists and turns as the latter up their resistance to the Word of God, Paul is spiritually attacked by them causing him to become unconscious. Cal, nearly ready to give up, is given a Word from the Spirit to remain calm, deliverance is nigh and to be patient. 

What happens next is where the true Biblical principles come into action and where the Spirit again shows His Sovereignty over everything, in this case, demonic possession and demonic strongholds. Napier shines in his account here. He shows that the reason for the previous failure of Paul and Cal and to a lesser degree John's involvement was the status of their faith and their heart towards God and how unprepared they were to go into combat. It is only through John getting right with God, being prayed up and resubmitting to the Lordship of Christ did the Spirit infill Himself into John for him to be His vessel and the Six having to obey and submit to the commands of the Word of God that flowed forth from John via the Spirit and were banished from Donovan and Sean. Even the Six released there was something different about John that was not there before when they would taunt and weaken his faith. They now began to feel threatened and insecure about their victory in possessing Donovan and Sean. John delivered the Rhema (specific Word of God or Bible verse) he had received from God to the Six and this was successful in banishing them to where they belong and freeing Donovan. So it is the power of the Word and the Spirit that conquered the demonic possession over Donovan. I was pleased that Napier used two of my favourite Bible verses to show the authority we have from God to overcome demonic power,
I have given you the authority to trample snakes and scorpions and to destroy the enemy’s power. Nothing will hurt you. (Luke 10: 19, God's Word Translation)
and 
For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earthand every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, Broadman Holman Translation)
I wondered about the spiritual attack on Pastor Paul and what happened there, but Napier explains yet another defence against the demonic that is not just specifically against the deliverance against demons but is for everyday life and that is the Armour of God, 
10 Finally, receive your power from the Lord and from his mighty strength. 11 Put on all the armor that God supplies. In this way you can take a stand against the devil’s strategies. 12 This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world. 13 For this reason, take up all the armor that God supplies. Then you will be able to take a stand during these evil days. Once you have overcome all obstacles, you will be able to stand your ground.
14 So then, take your stand! Fasten truth around your waist like a belt. Put on God’s approval as your breastplate. 15 Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace. 16 In addition to all these, take the Christian faith as your shield. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Also take salvation as your helmet and God’s word as the sword that the Spirit supplies.
18 Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request for all of God’s people. 19 Also pray that God will give me the right words to say. Then I will speak boldly when I reveal the mystery of the Good News. 20 Because I have already been doing this as Christ’s representative, I am in prison. So pray that I speak about this Good News as boldly as I have to. (Ephesians 6: 10-20)
Paul states that yes, he was attacked but what protected him was this spiritual armour of God, it protected him from the spiritual effects of this demonic attack. He suffered physical effects without these being permanent and spiritually unaffected. Such is the power of the Armour of God. 

There are only two concerns I have about this novel and it does not concern the theology of this tome. The first is the numbers that the Six were repeating over and over to John and company. Once John had finally worked out what they meant, I could not see what relevance they had to the story or why the Six were repeating them. But this did not detract from the plot or alter the outcome. The only point to this plot discrepancy was that it led John and Maggie to consult with Sean's girlfriend for more information but that could have been achieved in a much simpler means that through these numbers from the Six. 

The other concern I had was no mention is made of what happened to Jack, who was also demon possessed. He is not mentioned at all following their escape from the demonic stronghold and he was the first one showing physical signs of possession. 

I am glad that Napier showed another positive outcome of demon possession. It would not surprise me that in reality those affected by seeing loved ones, friends or otherwise who have gone through deliverance who are not Christians or do believe in the Bible become believers and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour following this event, including those who have been possessed. I could be daring and say what more proof do these two groups need to believe the Gospel of Christ after this event? It was so good to see that Donovan's uncle, Bob, see the reality of the situation and where this demonic event comes from and accept the offering of salvation after discussing this whole event with Pastor Paul. 

All in all, a very cleverly constructed account of demon possession and the use of Biblical principles to deal with it. Kudos to this author for adhering to these principles on this important spiritual issue.Any poetic licence would just water down its importance and make a mockery of the Sovereignty of God over everything, including the demonic.

Very happy to have been introduced to this author's writing and it won't be the last! 

Highly recommended.  

World Building 5/5

Characters 5/5

Spiritual Level 5/5

Story 5/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 5/5

Overall Rating: 5/5

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