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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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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:

Connect with the Author Online:



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

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


Saturday, 10 March 2018

The Light in the Darkness: Children of the light by Timothy W. Tron


The keepers of the Word continue their battle against the darkness in this sequel to Bruecke to Heaven. Jakob, Arktos, and the rest of the Huguenot force find their victory against General Lucier and his Papal army short lived. Lost in a blizzard, they seek shelter only to find their battle had just begun. Meanwhile, the survivors of the Vaudois massacre, both good and evil, seek to recover and rebuild, but not as you may expect. Each find their road to recovery wrought with life-changing choices. Those who have left their homeland to seek out others to enlist in their cause find a lost civilisation and become embroiled in trying to survive in a world much like their ancestors before them; yet, unlike those forefathers, they have God to see them through. Lastly, we find spirits colliding in a struggle of the light and darkness when a hermit and his wolf make a startling discovery, one that will change the fate of all who call themselves the people of the Vaudois, or the Children of the Light.

The Guru's Review:

This sequel has been highly anticipated and I am so glad it is has finally! It was such a joy to read Bruecke to Heaven again in preparation for this. I would suggest anyone do this as this second novel follows so well from the previous. After its cliffhanger ending, you are instantly immersed in the continuing events of the Tron family and other characters.

If any reader considers that Julia, Rebecca, Peter, Marik, Berg, Arktos, Jacob, Anna, Jean Paul, Albert, have been through enough, well, Tron does not let them off lightly in this novel. In fact, everything is upped and intensified. The darkness of the demonic forces is wrapped around them tighter than in the previous novel and they are further challenged in their faith and relationship with God. But God is faithful and they are strengthened by God's intervention in direct and indirect ways. Their bruecke (bridge) to heaven remains intact and is even strengthened further.

Tron sets up five plots arcs running concurrently. There is Arktos, Peter, Marik, Berg, Galack, Jakob and Anna on one quest, while Jean Paul and Albert on another. Julia, her daughters and the rest of the Vaudois community are still surviving in the upper levels of the mountains deciding to train and send out evangelists with the Word. We have Dabria and Lucier on their spiritual quest and later in the novel, Lucier is mandated to continue on his own then we have a new character, a hermit and his she-wolf, Lukos, tending to the physical and spiritual needs of a character from the first novel that readers will have to guess his identity until this is revealed later in the novel. This plagued me until I worked it out and was pleasantly surprised!. All these plot arcs deepen the mystery and suspense, action and adventure and totally absorb you. In each of the arcs, you wonder what is going to happen next. You become more endeared to these characters and share their emotions with them as if you are there.

Speaking of Lukos, the she-wolf, Tron has her as a side plot and if read just on its own, he proves himself as a competent author of animal fiction. This was one of the many highlights of this novel. I loved Lukos and the relationship she had with her master, the hermit, and as the novel progressed, with the one that the hermit was healing back to health. Lukos plays an important role throughout this novel and she becomes just another of the many characters that you become endeared to. Tron has developed this animal and her recognition of the spiritual and human realm very well without coming across as if Lukos is more than an animal. 

This novel is so much more infused with spiritual aspects and the Spirit of God than the previous. When I read of the spiritual warfare that Tron portrays here, it is surreal in the sense that we do not experience it in real life to this extent but it does show that it is attainable and available to us now as it has always been. Tron simply shows that it is due to having a pure heart towards God, in submission and trust in Him alone. But more importantly, through the Tron family characters, namely Arktos, Jakob, Jean Paul, Tron shows such a simple and proven way to do this and that is to live out our faith, exercise it if you will. It is just as the Word says, 
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. [James 1:22-25 New King James Version (NKJV)]
Another aspect that Tron shows in this spiritual warfare is that these same characters do not rely on their own strength but on God and God alone, and He responds not just by His power, but by His Spirit in many signs and wonders and the infilling and flow of His Presence and Power when they are in prayer, seeking His guidance and direction or when involved in attacks from the many forms of the demonic. Another aspect that supports this is when Arktos admits that he has placed all his hope in an artefact (glowing stone) infused with spiritual power and is surprised when God does not use it when Arktos commands the stone to express its power upon his command.
He continued to pray something would change or at least give them a sign, for he had put all his hopes on this stone providing them the power to slay as many of the Viscount's guard as posssible, yet nothing happened.
It was then, as the last thought had passed, like a cloud overhead, when he realised his error. 
"Puting his hopes in the stone.....and not God."
He had once again been putting his faith in something other than God the Father. He asked for forgiveness, knowing too well the scriptures that warned of such foolishness, the multitudes who awaited Moses descent from the mount were proof of that. 
And once he had accepted God's forgiveness, God acted on Arktos's plan and delivered them from their adversary.

Tron delivers this with enough action and adventure, suspense and thrills while being extremely entertaining and does not detract from the lessons of spiritual warfare he wants to deliver in this narrative. I pray that readers will not compartmentalize these, leaving them in the confines of this novel and character traits but realise that this is how we need to be living.

When I look at the various forms of the demonic that the various members of the Tron family were confronted with, it all boils down to this same factor mentioned above, being submitted to God, trusting in Him and obedient to His Word, practising a lifestyle of prayer, being doers of the Word by living out their faith and applying the principles that God has structured the Bible in how to live. And yet there are specific principles used for each to defeat this evil and its perpetrators throughout this novel and its predecessor such as
  • quoting specific Bible (verses) appropriate to the situation at hand, 
  • putting on the Armour of God (Ephesians 6: 10-20), 
  • singing songs based on the Psalms and others while under the Anointing of the Spirit (as Jakob did), 
  • playing musical instruments (again as Jakob did with the Lyra while under the anointing of the Spirit).
  • walking in the Spirit. Physically as well as spiritually. Many examples of this through Jakob, Arktos, Jean Paul, Lucier. However, the most noted are Jakob and Arktos. They both had overcome their human frailty, their fears and looked past their physical senses. They acted solely in total obedience to God's prompting and guidance. 
Tron is very competent at describing and showing what this demonic looks like as the reader experiences all the evilness that accompanies it. His description is not short, shallow or implied. It is in your face, and explicit. It is shown through Shamus, and Pope Lucius III, the former being possessed by the spirit of a fallen angel, Semyaza, while the latter is oppressed by the demonic and fueled by his own greed and pride. 

Shining through all this as well as its predecessor is the Sovereignty of God. Tron is encouraging us to consider this in every aspect of our lives as we live out His Word. God is Sovereign and any outcome is His if we are living according to His precepts and direction and are in His will. He has everything under control despite our wavering faith, sense of hopelessness, or our finite vision (not physical only) that is incapable of seeing the whole picture of our circumstances and its future. Just as in our lives, God will not leave nor forsake us and when He gives us a quest, mission or task, He will not allow the enemy to thwart our attempts. Tron has portrayed this truth almost as if all these Biblical principles are fabricated as part of a purely fantasy novel. 

After reading both novels this is the impressions I have experienced:  
  • I have been entertained immensely, 
  • My faith and relationship with God has been strengthened and uplifted, 
  • Tron has not deviated from established Biblical doctrine, and his content will not, lead a non-believer astray or promote false doctrine, 
  • He writing and content honours God and portrays God as He is from the many character traits outlined in the Bible (Deliverer, Provider, Redeemer, Sovereign, Healer, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscience, Warrior, Conqueror, 
  • His writing does not encourage worship of the created (eg angels, man, animals) but of the Creator (God) instead. 
  • it promotes the power and practice of prayer  as a lifestyle and to an unadulterated relationship with God
Christians know the power of the Word and of the Spirit in transforming the spirit of unregenerate man. Tron shows this very powerfully in the conversion of Lucier. It is one of the most descriptive conversions I have read for a while. Then seeing him have a heart after God reminds me very much of the Psalmist, David, including Lucier's Godly remorse at his adultery and how he dealt with this spiritually. His remorse is tender, sincere, heartfelt and it is tangible as you read it. It is not directed at himself but at God and it reminded me so much like David the Psalmist felt when he wrote to God in Psalm 51:4, 
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight
It struck me as how it should be and needs to be whenever a Christian falls into sin, no matter what type.

Julia's reaction to Lucier's confession is just as tender, sincere and heartfelt. Both of their reactions to this sin is devoid of any of the usual human emotions we experience today that can become stumbling blocks to being restored to God. But then again, this situation described by Tron shows the work of the Spirit in the hearts and minds of these two and their submission and obedience to Him.

I have not singled out this situation as the only time such reactions towards human shortcomings and sin are in these novels. It is an example that shows how we can have such a humble, tender, submitted and pure relationship with God when we fall to sin or allow our humanness to take over. It is described by Tron as not idealistic or unrealistic. It resonated with me and was very relatable. And so it should be to all who read this novel.

I must make some mention here of the radio interviews that I would encourage any reader to listen to. It enriches the enjoyment of both these novels when you understand the background to them as Tron describes his genealogy and spiritual heritage. It adds power and credibility to these novels and their poetic licence does not detract or minimise this heritage.

Both can be found here: 


Spiritual Heritage -- The Parker J Cole Show

Once this novel took off after the first chapter, I was totally absorbed and on the edge of my seat, figuratively speaking, and I was exhausted many times throughout. Despite the frustration of having to stop reading to either return from lunch or to and from work, this was a blessing as it gave me time to reflect on the spiritual side of the many topics that uplifted me, encouraged me to know Jesus better and to have a tender heart towards Him. I must confess, the relationship Tron described between the Vaudois characters towards each other and them towards God, convicted me and I found myself having some conversations with God regarding this.

There is definitely the power and presence of God in this novel. I said similar in my review of Bruecke to Heaven: 

I knew when I read the description of this book that I would be blessed and that this book is unique and special. This book has not let me down. I finished this speechless due to being in awe of everything related to it. Truly, this book is inspired by God and many times, I could feel His presence with me. I have had that with only a few books. I will never forget this book. It really does have a profound effect on how you see God and how you have experienced Him. It has made me want more of Him and a desire to increase my faith and always be in His will.
I can apply the same here in this novel. 

When I finished this novel, I posted this on Facebook and Goodreads,
Words cannot express how brilliant, how powerful, how epic, how divinely inspired this novel is! It is definitely the most spirit-filled novel I have ever read.
I said that the first novel, Bruecke to Heaven, was special and unique, but now this novel takes it to the next level and this series is so unique, so special, it has impacted me like no other novel! Spiritually uplifting like no other Christian novel has!
This is one highly impressive novel. But then if it reflects the power of God, His wordm and the character of God, then we can expect nothing less!

Truly, an unforgettable novel and one that has impacted me like no other, together with its predecessor, Bruecke to Heaven. 

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
_______________________________________________________

Spiritually, based on my review and on the following reference booklet,

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that The Light in the Darkness: Children of the Light contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Spirit-Filled Fiction outlined in this booklet, (click on the title below to see what this is based on), I award Timothy Tron with the

Reality Calling Christian Spirit-Filled Fiction Award



Congratulations, Timothy!

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

Friday, 2 March 2018

Blog Tour: The Gevaudan Project by Alexander Preston

Today, I am featuring novelist, Alexander Preston in his blog tour promoting The Gevaudan Project which is being released on March 3rd, 2018. I have reviewed the previous edition, published as Harvest of Prey in October 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I jumped at the opportunity to feature him in an interview for this blog tour. 

So sit back and let Alexander explain what makes him tick as an author and the background behind The Gevaudan Project. 

Over to you, Alexander! Tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Preston Klopfenstein. I’m originally from central Illinois but have lived in Sioux Falls, SD since 2013. I met my future wife almost right after the move, we married at the start of the following year, and have since been blessed with two wonderful children. In my day job, I work in operations at a local bank. I’ve been working on the story that became The Gevaudan Project for about four years now. 

What inspired you to become an author?

A lifelong love of books and an imagination that just couldn’t sit still. The concept of “what if?” has fascinated me as long as I can remember. As a kid, I actually made a game out of constantly asking my parent's hypothetical questions (driving them a bit batty in the process, I’m sure). I still gravitate to these basic questions as an adult “What could have been?” “What might be?” “What would happen if”, etc. Fiction to me is the single most powerful medium for exploring those very questions. 

I see that you write under a pen name. What is the reason for that? 

For one thing, my real name is a mouthful and takes up oodles of extra space! I’ll also confess that I’m a lifelong introvert and consider myself a very private person – it’s taken time to build up enough basic courage to put myself out there and openly express my ideas. A little thing like this helps by shifting the attention from me to the books I write. 

What is your favorite genre?

Science fiction, primarily action-oriented, Dean Koontz-style technothrillers. I also enjoy well-written fantasy in the tradition of both Tolkien and Lewis. For now, science fiction is my own genre of choice, though I may branch out into fantasy in the future.

What role does your faith play in your writing? 

I view my writing as, in a sense, an act of worship, using my creative talents to honor the Creator who gave them to me. My stories are meant as an exploration of the mystery and wonder implied by a biblical worldview. With that being said, I write “fiction written by a Christian” rather than specifically “Christian fiction.” I have a few different reasons for this, but the primary one is the following: I’m a member of the Apostolic Christian Church, which holds to a literal “non-resistance” interpretation of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, a belief we share in common with the Amish, Anabaptists and Mennonites. At the same time, following Romans 13, we also believe that God has ordained ministers on earth to combat evil by force (this passage primarily refers to government authorities, but I believe it can also embrace individuals). This created a bit of a challenge for me that doesn’t come up for most authors of action-oriented Christian fiction. For this reason, I’m not comfortable portraying my characters as “Christians” with doctrinal beliefs identical to my own. In The Gevaudan Project, I’ve made my main character a Roman Catholic even though I do not subscribe to the tenets of Catholicism. In the future, I may feature protagonists of Protestant, Orthodox and perhaps even Jewish beliefs. I draw my reasoning from the way the Bible shows God using such individuals as Cyrus of Persia and Alexander the Great to accomplish His purposes. A Christian can find much to admire in the lives and deeds of both these men without making them a model for his own – and acknowledge their very significant and un-Scriptural shortcomings in other areas. 

With that being said, I have hit upon a few ways of more explicitly expressing my true beliefs in my writing. The Gevaudan Project and its associated short stories, for example, introduce a new “mystery character” that was entirely absent in Harvest of Prey – his presence is used to illustrate what I believe is the most powerful role played by believers when it comes to earthly affairs. He appears only briefly, but I’m planning to include him in most of my future books as a common thread connecting all the events. Another long-term project I have in mind is a series of speculative historical fiction based on the Scriptural accounts. I would focus primarily on Genesis (particularly the pre-Flood world and time of Noah) but may perhaps continue on through the entire Bible. Here, I anticipate an opportunity to more fully express my beliefs through my characters. 

How have family and friends responded to your writing?

Quite a bit different, actually, from what I was expecting! I come from a very traditional and mostly rural faith community. I can think of only one other person within it that has written a work of fiction, and I can’t even remember his name at this time. I had a perception for some time that a fiction writer’s pursuit was “out of order” and it took time for me to see my imagination as a gift to be embraced rather than a temptation to fight. Think of someone from an Amish community deciding to write in the speculative genre (though I have heard of at least one such author who writes “Amish science fiction. The main turning point came when I had been wrestling with my creative urges for some time and finally went to my local pastor (“elder” as they call them in my church) to seek his counsel. He listened as I laid out everything in front of him, including the most far-out and seemingly bizarre of my story ideas. As it turned out, he gave me the most supportive response I could have hoped for – that my talent (and imagination) was indeed a gift from God and that I should seek to use it. He actually told me I was sincere enough that I would have fully accepted things if he had given me the opposite instruction – but then I would have left thinking “he just doesn’t understand me.” 

Since that time, I’ve received similarly positive responses from my church family – from both the younger and the older generation. I’ve even found some older members whose favorite genre is science fiction – something I never knew until I told them about my book, which they are eager to read. I’ve been blessed to find that a lot of my assumptions were based on nothing more than baseless fear. In some ways, I’ve tapped into a significant unmet demand I never even knew existed!

What inspired you to write The Gevaudan Project

Where do I even begin? Originally, my genre of choice was classical space opera – basically a fully-fleshed out galactic setting with a detailed ‘future history’ and multiple planets. I put this partially on hold so I could recover from “world-builder’s disease” – I was spending so much time constructing the setting that I wasn’t accomplishing any narrative writing. So I took a step back and started thinking about some more small-scale stories I could write. A thriller of some sort had the most natural appeal to me – Dean Koontz and Tom Clancy have become some of my favorite authors over the years, and I’ve also enjoyed Frank Peretti and some books by Michael Crichton. A somewhat more detailed account of how I determined the storyline specifics is available in a guest post here, but my basic idea was for a speculative story that would appeal to both the scientific and moral imagination. To summarize things heavily, I combined thematic elements from Peretti’s “Monster” and Crichton’s “State of Fear,” (Dean Koontz’s “Watchers” being another formative influence). The result was a genetic engineering and environmentally-based plot that explores the human use of knowledge for both Good and Evil. 

What kind of research did you do for this novel? 

Most of it took place online, where I read through multiple sources on environmental science, genetics, zoology, and artificial insemination – one scene is based almost entirely on a single YouTube clip I found depicting a collection procedure at a tiger sanctuary in Indonesia. Since most of the book actually takes place Indonesia, I was able to draw upon some previous knowledge from a college course where I wrote some papers on that country. I also did some research on political history, particularly as it relates to the environmental and population control movements. Robert Zubrin’s Merchants of Despair proved a very informative resource in shaping the characters of my antagonists. 

One of the hardest parts of the process was getting information on the real-life physical locations appearing in my novel. Being that my travel budget is virtually non-existent, I made heavy use of Google Earth and filled in some gaps with my imagination and logic. Going forward, I hope to write about some places I can actually visit in person. 

How long did it take you to write the book? 

That’s actually a story in itself! The manuscript has gone through two different versions. It took me approximately a year and a half to write the original, which was about 150,000 words. I was very much a newbie to the publishing world, so I thought I could immediately self-publish through CreateSpace (without promotion or marketing of any kind aside from my blog and Facebook profile) while still pursuing a traditional publishing contract. I initially released the book as Harvest of Prey in October 2016 - You can actually find the original guest post [Guest post: Novelist Alexander Preston ] and review [Harvest of Prey by Alexander Preston ] for it on this very blog. I then sent a query to the Steve Laube Agency early the following year. 

Steve Laube expressed interest after seeing the first three chapters, though he recommended some key revisions. At the time I originally wrote it, I had Dean Koontz and Dostoevsky on the brain and was deliberately trying to make the book as long as possible. This resulted in multiple overwritten passages, particularly the dialogue. So I went through and did some editing that brought everything down to about 137,000 words before I sent the complete manuscript. 

Steve got back to me in July 2017 and said he really liked the book. There were some follow-up questions, however, regarding my decision to self-publish. Any previous sales figures would need to be reported to a potential publisher. That’s when I got my first big lesson in the publishing industry. Many traditional publishers only take on one first-time author per year, which makes the competition for that slot extremely fierce. It’s a big enough risk for them to take on an unknown writer with no previous sales history – but if they see someone who has sold books before but with anemic sales figures, they take that as a red flag that this person won’t give them a return on their investment. It’s by no means an in-depth or fully accurate process, but it’s all they have the time and resources for. 

Ultimately, Steve had to tell me “not yet”. He didn’t want to put either of us in the position of seeing me fail for non-writing-related reasons. He did leave the door open for the future though – he said I had a great story, but he’d be better able to bring me on board if I came back with sales in the thousands. 

You can probably imagine what I was thinking and feeling after that kind of a setback – so close, yet so far! But I picked myself up and decided on a new approach. I made a few revisions to the manuscript in addition to those Steve already recommended to me, retired Harvest of Prey from Amazon, and took the time to construct a detailed launch and marketing plan under a new title. That process has taken me just under seven months, and the result has been The Gevaudan Project. All in all, the total time I’ve spent working with both versions comes to about four years. 

What are some themes you explore in this novel? 

You can call The Gevaudan Project a straightforward monster story, but the book is first and foremost, a story of Good and Evil (most of it of a very human variety). One thing constantly on my mind throughout the writing process was that eco-terrorism and its related movements rarely receive an intelligent portrayal in fiction. Hollywood depictions, in particular, are either entirely positive or strongly sympathetic. Few of us have any concept of just how toxic these ideas are or their roots in literally fascist [Fascist Ecology: The "Green Wing" of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents] ideologies. Most environmental groups of modern times have either abandoned human exceptionalism or, worse, perverted it to place an opposite value on human life. My story is meant to vividly illustrate the moral consequences of this worldview. What sort of actions follow from the basic idea that human beings are nothing more than vermin infesting an otherwise pristine planet? 

One thing observant readers will also notice is that my antagonists, while seemingly committed to the same ultimate goal, all have their own set of priorities and agendas, some of them diametrically opposed to the others. In one corner, you have the fanatical true believers, in another the cynical, self-interested manipulators and in yet another the amoral “useful idiots” who really don’t care what happens so long as they’re given a free hand to exercise their proclivities (most of the scientist characters fall into this category). Which of these groups truly controls the other? Can there, in fact, be any form of honor among thieves? This, incidentally, has allowed me to explore other ideas in addition to the main environmental element, namely the shortcomings of materialistic Darwinism and the ethics of genetic engineering.

To tie things in a bit with what I’ve said earlier regarding my faith and my writing, I’ve also sought to explore the ways in which God uses different individuals on earth (with all their flaws and shortcomings) as instruments for good in the face of seemingly overwhelming evil. We’re told in Job that “He disappointeth the devices of the crafty so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.” In the end, even the best-laid plans of the wicked are doomed to failure. Though Scripture gives us no guarantee of earthly justice, neither does it say that God assigns no value to it – quite the opposite, in fact, as can be readily demonstrated from both sacred and secular history. Evil may seem triumphant for a time, but judgment is inevitable, both in the long-run and in the short – ultimately culminating in the Final Judgment at the end of time. 

Do you plan any more books in the future? 

The working title for my next book is “TALOS” which I plan to start in earnest once I finish up the launch for The Gevaudan Project. I expect the writing process to take at least as long as it did for the initial version of my first book, but hopefully not a full four years! Similar to how The Gevaudan Project explores ideas like radical environmentalism, this one will explore transhumanist ideology – focusing especially on Artificial Intelligence and human augmentation. All I’ll say beyond that is the book will be set in my current hometown of Sioux Falls, SD. 

What advice would you give to other Christian authors? 

There are good points to be said in favor of both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Based on my own experience, I would just recommend choosing one or the other. If you take the self-publishing route, make sure you take the time to go all the way. If you prefer a traditional publishing contract, be sure to make that your singular focus – you can shoot yourself in the foot if you move too fast in other areas. 

Even more important: don’t let your fear of others’ opinions prevent you from writing – your church family may be far more supportive than you think.

This comes to the end of our interview. 

Thank you, Alexander, for such a revealing behind the scenes view into yourself as a novelist and background to The Gevaudan Project.

For readers who want to explore more of this novel and the background to it, Alexander was interviewed by Parker J Cole on The Write Stuff radio show. Click here to listen.

Another interview can be found here: 


Writers Authors Onfire: A. K. Preston


Alexander can be found on these social media platforms: 

Author Website: Empyrean Voyager





To preorder this novel, click on the icon below:


Alexander, what a great interview! Thank you so much for introducing us to the world of The Gevaudan Project and insights into your world as an author. I am sure once readers read this interview they will want to investigate this novel and look forward to your future novels. You are one new author to follow and support. 

Readers and reviews are an author's best asset, so I encourage any reader who likes reading in the genres of Christian inspirational, science fiction and fantasy and futuristic fiction to consider reading The Gevaudan Project and submit a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (or any other social media you subscribe to).