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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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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, GUY STANTION III

Guy Stanton III is the author of many novels, The Warrior Kind series (comprising 5 books) and The Agents For Good series (comprising 4 books). All can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in both printed and e-book formats or from your local Christian book store. 

I recently read his first book, A Warrior's Redemption (The Warrior Kind, Book 1) and was so impressed I decided to interview him. 

Please read on to get a glimpse of what makes this author tick! 

Okay Guy, how about we start this interview with you telling us a little about yourself?

- Well I’m the third guy in my family to be called Guy. People have been known to address both my father and I in public as “Hey you guys” and not even knowing that they’ve named us. I was born on a beautiful family farm and taught the meaning and the rewards of hard work at an early age. I grew up somewhat sheltered from the world outside of the farm, until I started branching out when I attended college. I really branched out when I got it in my head to join the online dating site eHarmony, where I met my beautiful wife Beth. We now have three children, who are our greatest blessings other than the gift of Beth and I being matched together to share the rest of our lives with each other. I belong to the Creator and His hand on my life shapes everything that I do and am. 

What inspired you to become an author and has it always been a desire of yours to write? 

- I was an avid reader growing up, but I lacked the confidence to think that I could ever be capable of enthralling people with my words. It wasn’t until I started dating my wife that I started dabbling with writing. I wrote her a short romantic story themed of all things in the World War I era, which I gave to her the first Christmas we celebrated together. She loved it. So I started another story, A Warrior’s Redemption. Three years later I finished it, and I haven’t stopped writing ever since. I love writing! I’ve always been able to express myself better in written form than by verbal communication alone and for me the action of becoming an author has been life affirming in so many ways.

Do you think there is anything significantly different about Christian Fiction, as opposed to non-Christian Fiction?

- Well to answer the question let me first talk about music. I used to be a big secular music fan before I met my wife. In the car she kept changing the radio station to Christian music, namely the radio network called Klove. It rubbed off on me. I didn’t even care to listen to secular music anymore. Whether you're listening or reading something that has the life fulfilling gospel of Jesus in it or a song of praise and worship to the Creator of us all, it has the power to change you and build you up in those moments when a worldly bandaid just isn’t enough to get through the hurdle of the moment. They say you become what you eat, but I think what you read and listen to has a bigger impact in terms of the actions that determine your eternal destination.

What kind of reaction are you hoping to receive from readers?

- In a word I hope it is a “positive” experience for them. My goal as a Christian author isn’t to be either preachy or beyond the reality that we all live and struggle in. Beyond being a positive experience I also hope that it will be an enthralling experience for them that helps to provide the entertainment that we crave as humans. I want to provide with my writing a safe place for others to enjoy letting go from the reality that we all face each day in our lives. Hopefully my writing will also inspire them to live life with a renewed perspective and not just be a distraction from it.

What has surprised you the most about becoming a self-published author?

- How hard it is. As a self-published author with a thin wallet starting out you pretty much have to do everything. In addition to writing my books I’ve had to learn how to properly format and edit them. I’m my own publicist scouring the internet and whatever other means that are available in search of a way to better promote myself and my literary work. I had to learn how to social network, commission artists, and build a website, all things I had absolutely no experience at before. While it is hard to be self-published, it is also extremely rewarding, as in a way I remain the captain of the ship and not just a spectator to my own literary success.

How has writing and being an author impacted your relationship with Jesus Christ? 

- My success as an author has come as a direct result of obedience to God. There have been things I’ve wanted to write that I heard a “no” to. There have been topics and situations that I didn’t want to touch with a ten foot pole that I heard “write it”. I’ve been obedient and as a result I know that my ability and God given gift to write has been taken deeper, as I have been led to write about deeply personal topics in ways that illustrate my own spiritual progression as much as it may chronicle a potential reader’s experiences. When you read my stories you are very much reading the story of me steadily finding my way into a deeper and more personal relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God has given me the gift of being a great writer and now I seek to bless Him with the gifts He’s given me, as I want to be faithful with what I have been so generously given. Not only a faithful servant, but also one that bears fruit and helps to sow the seeds of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the lives of others.

Obviously becoming an author has been a huge accomplishment for you, but can you tell us what a major goal of yours is outside of the world of writing?

- I want my last day alive to have been, but the end result of a steady progression of being faithful in all the things that my Savior has set down for me to accomplish in this life. Above all I do not want to model the early fire of Solomon’s reign only to drift into pitiful spiritual obscurity in my latter years. My goal is to be as King David, always in awareness of my Lord and seeking to do His will, even as I rely on His mercy to recover from the mistakes that I’ve made along the way.

So we know you like to write, but can you divulge to your fans out there what’s something that you like to do in your downtime, when you're not writing?

- It may sound strange, but I love to build stone walls. Call it a heavyweight alternate form of jigsaw puzzle mania, but I love looking at a pile of mismatched and oddly shaped rocks and somehow forming them together into a cohesive pattern that has both strength and visual appeal of form. Flower garden arrangement holds many of the same challenges and rewards as well. The two often go well together and fulfill the need within me to be creative. 

Can you give us a personal perspective of your own novels?

- There meant to be picked up and devoured by people with minds, who have not yet lost a youthful quality of imagination. My books are meant to transport the reader to the scene of action and catch them up in suspense for what comes next. Their addictive in a good and wholesome way that often ensnares me the author into re-exploring the realms of past imagination. My books will always contain a Christian influence of thought, which I pray never leads any astray from the straight and narrow path set before all Christians to walk down in life’s journey to eternity. 

For a Christian author you address some rather adult situations such as sexual temptation, demon possession, and violence. Do you think you’ve gone too far for Christian fiction?

- No I don’t. I think to much of what’s available in the realm of Christian Fiction is bound up in a false utopia of thought. The reality that we all face each day deserves to be addressed, especially from a Christian perspective. Being tempted into committing sexual sin, confronting demons and even the power of satan in our lives, as well as the violent aspects of life often needed to preserve liberty and the right as Christians to worship our God are all concepts that need to be discussed within the confines of the Christian world. I’ve termed my fiction as “Reality Fiction” and to that end I’m going to use my writing to minister to not only Christians, but to those who are lost and have suffered damage at the hands of worldly forces and the lies of demons. God meets each of us in the ruin of our own life calamities, in turn I want my writing to be pertinent to the people, who are going through those calamities, as yet one more tool at God’s disposal to reach another life with the saving knowledge of Jesus. 

Your fans, I’m sure, want to know if there is more to come. Would you mind giving an exclusive glimpse for us of what is to come?

- I have lots of ideas, with more coming every day. I’ve got my Water Wars series set for release Summer 2014. I think I’ll open a lot of eyes in terms of a Biblical point of view in terms of the lost city of Atlantis and other ancient mysteries. Further out I’ve got a Science Fiction space trilogy that I’ve loosely named Guardians of the Truth. It’s early, but that series may perhaps have a tie in with my series, The Warrior Kind. I have several standalone books planned. One will take place in a Biblical setting around the time of The Tower of Babel another will be more of a Contemporary Thriller with lots of suspenseful action and conspiracies. I have two epic novels that’ll have plenty of sword and battle action. One will center on a fictitious rendering of the Apostle Phillip’s later ministry in India, and the other will illustrate in allegorical detail the seven New Testament churches transposed over into a Lord of the Rings type setting. At some point I intend to write some westerns, as I grew up and was inspired by that genre. I find inspiration from many sources, but by all means if fans of my work would like to suggest book themes for the future be my guest.

Wow! You’ve got a lot planned for the future. Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans? 

- God-willingly the journey that you have begun with my words has yet many exciting twists and turns for you to experience. I have no intentions of becoming a less prolific author. The time to work to affect positive change in the world for Christ is now, and it is my hope that my words will help promote that change within the hearts and minds of many, while still being an entertaining and encouraging pastime pursuit for those already saved.

Do you have any words that you’d like to leave us with?

- I’ve had two repeating words that God has used to educate me for quite some time. They are, “patience and trust”. These are hard concepts for me to seemingly come to grips with, but I continue to endeavor to learn and master them. Patience for the things needed and the desires that I’ve asked for. Trust that in God’s good timing all will be accomplished as it should be, as patience is born out into experience, which leads to a deeper faith in God able to move mountains.

You can keep in touch with Guy Stanton III at http://www.words-of-action.com/

Saturday, 25 January 2014

A Warrior's Redemption (The Warrior Kind, Book 1) by Guy Stanton III

When Roric was born little did he know that his family would die violently as he watched and that his world would crumble only to later find himself chained into the life of a slave forced to survive in the world of the arena where every match meant death for someone, but he survived and one day he escaped.

A Warrior’s Redemption is the beginning of a family saga that starts with a boy named Roric. He lives on a distant world that is full of unrest, where disputes are settled by the sword. Little is known of how they came to this world, only that they came from a place known as Earth, in the distant past. How they came is a mystery that some want to discover again while others would gladly die to keep those secrets from ever seeing the light of day. Roric’s father tired of keeping the secrets of his ancestors, from the people of his nation, forsakes his family’s oath, and leaves to find peace in another land. Little did he know that the wickedness of the land that he settles in would kill him and all his family, except for his oldest son, Roric. Roric, embittered by seeing the death of his family, finds himself sold into slavery. He becomes a survivor in the arena, where man is matched to the death against man and beast alike. He escapes only to pursue a life of vengeance against those who afflicted him and killed his family. 


Tormented by a life without peace, he remembers the guiding words of his mother, which open up a path of redemption that becomes the guiding influence of his life. Through acts of intrigue and deception he is lead to the awareness of the darker menace within a spiritual world that is unseen, but that he is no less involved in. He travels to the land of his ancestors, a place of majestic mountains and the valleys that lie between them that are settled by a people that exist in peace only because of the warriors that have fought and died to keep them so. It is in protecting these people that Roric finds a reason worth fighting for. He grapples with the long held secrets of his family and unlike his father before him, decides to fight so that his people can remain free. He rises above his humble past to become a leader that inspires a nation in its fight for survival and becomes a legend.

Review: 

An author friend of mine contacted me informing me that Guy Stanton had asked him if he knew of anyone who would be willing to review his books. My friend mentioned my name, and my friend contact me and gave me Guy's details. I checked out his books. As soon as I read the blurb for A Warrior's Redemption, I knew this was a series I had to read. I have not been disappointed. 

When I started reading, I was instantly impressed with Stanton's writing style. It is not overly descriptive (as some author's are), but it is well constructed yet simple in its execution. His descriptive style lends well to this book, and I presume this series. I remember stopping reading, being stunned as how beautiful his writing style is. 

It is addictive and forms a great backbone to the plot and character development. This novel would lose the richness Stanton's description of the environment, numerous scenes, plot twists and especially to the well developed characters. Without this, it would one very weak and mediocre novel. 


Stanton is a master at adding depth to his characters. It is a hallmark of a talented writer who provokes emotions in you where you relate to those in distress and want to protect them such as Krista, respect, admire the strength of character and humility of Roric and want to aspire to be like him, admire the loyalty of Roric fellow slaves, Rolf being one of many, who he set free and who became brothers in arms and fellow warriors. You hate and despise the demon possessed Marfoul, Esmeralda, the sex slave mistress who exploits Krista, the many men who treat the slaves including Krista and Roric so badly, and in humanely. These are just a few of the many and varied characters where the reader finds themselves experiencing a wide variety of emotions. 

Stanton is also a master of describing the richness and complexity of the different environments of this novel, such as The Valley Lands, the Plains of Zoar and The Attorgron Forests. But on the whole, Stanton succeeds in transporting the reader to this world, and it is this as well as what I have outlined above that is all absorbing and enthralling. So many times, I was not aware of my surroundings and nearly missed my train station! You can definitely become part of this world and not want to return to reality.

If there is one thing that Stanton really shines in is the spiritual elements. This book and I presume the entire series is very God and bible focused, and that is one of the strengths of this series. Stanton has depicted God as not only as he has experienced Him in his life but also as the God of the Bible. There does not appear to be any difference between the two. I have said before in other reviews that one thing that impresses me about a Christian author's writing is that it reflects the depth of their relationship with God. Many of my favourite authors have this characteristic in their novels and for me that is an assurance that their writing will have depth, be biblically sound, honour God, strengthen a Christian's faith and not lead a reader who does not have a relationship with God astray. Stanton ticks all those boxes in this novel. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Joseph (Sketches of Glory) by Clifton Voshen

This is a short story about Joseph - husband, father, carpenter.

Review: This intrigued me reading of Joseph's perspective being the father of Jesus while on earth. This was so beautiful and it really touched my heart. It was good to have my new found friend, Thor, the warrior angel back in this novella too.

This is a really beautiful story and I can imagine Joseph being like this! We don't have much to go on in the Bible about what Joseph was like; he is quite the background character.

I read this in 30 minutes; I would have loved this to have gone on for much more than this.

I gave this four stars for this reason. I respect Clifton's reason for having it as a novella, but for me this would have been great in a longer story.

Highly Recommended.


My Rating:  

Egypt (Sketches of Glory) by Clifton Voshen

Laden with gifts from the mysterious men from the East, Joseph and Mary travel to Egypt with orders from on High.

Review:

This one was very tender. Mary's perspective looking back on her encounter with Gabriel, being told she would bear the Son of God, falling pregnant supernaturally, bearing Jesus and being His mother. I can just imagine these thoughts, feelings she would have had, more than fond, more than love, more than tender.

It is good to have an author to write from this perspective. I wrote in my review of Joseph, that we don't have much to go on in the Bible concerning Joseph, well the same can be said for Mary. I have often wondered what they would have experienced and thought about being Jesus' parents. I have not read or know of any other author who has written from this perspective. Not saying they have not or that another novel does not exist.

I loved the way Voshen has portrayed the interaction of the lionness and bull with baby Jesus. That was beautiful and I do believe that animals would recognise their creator and know nothing else but love and submission to Him. Similar to the relationship our dogs and cats and other pets have with us, but on a grander scale.

I gave this novella 4 stars, from a very subjective POV, just because it was a novella!! I wanted this story to go on for longer! Voshen writes well and weaves a rich and powerful story in all its simplicity and you want it to not end so soon!

Highly Recommend

My Rating:

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Milo (Sketches of Glory) by Clifton Voshen

I had a thought years ago, 'if I could have anything that Jesus used or had during His walk here, what would it be?' This is a story about a Roman centurion on just such a quest.

Review: 

This is a Supposal as termed by C.S. Lewis. Suppose a centurion wanted to search out what he had heard and experienced about a certain carpenter and see if there was anything of his he could find.

Voshen does this well. He has created a character with a sincere desire to investigate the claims of who Jesus is and any physical/material proof of his existence. I loved the twist at the end. That was very unique and creative.

My only complaint is the shortness of the narrative. But it is a novella!

Highly Recommended.

My Rating: 

Julius (Sketches of Glory) by Clifton Voshen

Julius was the centurion charged with escorting Paul to Rome. This is a fictional account of his later life

Review: I absolutely loved this one! Voshen's imagination creates a wonderful account of God's grace, mercy and love, not to mention His Sovereignity and power.

This is a favourite now. Voshen really does bring to life these Bible character's. You forget they are fiction; it is very convincing as if it is their actual account of the biblical event.

Highly Recommended.

My Rating: 

Gideon (Sketches of Glory) by Clifton Voshen

A short story about Gideon, Judge of Israel.


Review: 

This was a good novella portraying the life of Gideon and his reluctant call to follow God. I have not read the biblical account of Gideon; all I have known is the part about using the fleece to confirm God's assurance of his doubts about what God wanted him to do.

I found it interesting that Gideon considered himself the "least of the least" yet after his victory in battle he became proud and rather selfish, enjoying the attention he drew to himself from the accolades of winning God's battle against the enemy. He went from one extreme to the other.

This is the only story by Voshen that I did not get frustrated with the length of the narrative. To me this length was just right.


My Rating: 

 

Enoch (Sketches of Glory) by Clifton Voshen


This is a story of the Pre-Flood days when giants walked the earth, alien invaders posed as gods, and the prophet of God stood against them.

Review: 


This was the first novella of Clifton Voshen I read. It had me hooked. Voshen creates a very believable world where the masses were totally deceived into believing that their gods were really gods, until Noah confronts them face to face in totally defiance to their claim of being gods.


This is very powerful and well written. I really wanted this go on for longer than it did, but it is a novella. Apparently there is more of Enoch in Voshen's new full length novel, the End of All Flesh.

I am really looking forward to that!!

Highly Recommended

My Rating:
 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Secrets of Heaven: The Book of Gabriel (Deceit Series, Book 2) by Michael Barber

Not even the angelic hosts of Heaven, could have imagined, the chaos that now consumed, the planet earth. The angels argued their case against mankind and now have become their gods. Arkadia, the son of a slave, is faced with the biggest decision, of his life. Shall he Choose to stand by Sotiria and confront death, face to face? Or shall he choose the way of the gods and face his fears in terror? Listen to the archangel Gabriel, give his witness to the Living God as he describes who the tree of Christmas represents. Listen to him as he describes why people show triangles with the all seeing eye. Listen to his witness, why our Presidents face the Washington Monument, during the inauguration. Read the second instalment of the Deceit Series, and you will look at the world, in a whole new way.






Review: 

In movies, usually the second instalment is not as good as the first, but occasionally the latter outshines the former. I am glad to say that this is the case with this novel. It is very noticeable that Barber has upped everything here. I did notice that he has employed the services of an editor. An author friend of mine believes that every author should employ the services of an editor. Barber seems to have reaped the benefits of this in this instalment. 

The plot is tighter, the characters developed further and more relational. There is noticeably less grammar mistakes.This novel runs at a faster pace than the previous and generally the overall effect is that the reader is engaged more than in the first. 

Barber successfully advances the plot showing a further spiral into sin and depravity as the fallen angels gain more power over the human population suppressing them into blind obedience as servants of them as "gods". 

As just as this happens to this degree, the same happens to Arkadia and Sotiria. They both develop a closer relationship with God, but before this happens Arkadia is seduced into becoming a warrior but for the wrong reasons despite this role being foretold to him by Enoch via God's direction. Kasdaja, the fallen angel posing as a god, learns of this prophecy and encourages Arkadia to be a warrior for his purposes in order to derail Arkadia's relationship with God. He succeeds and Arkadia's bitterness and anger at the treatment of his marriage by Sotiria's parents fuel his motive for being a warrior and despite him becoming well respected and successful in this role, these negative emotions nearly overtake and destroy him. Meanwhile, Sotiria is forced to marry another in a prearranged agreement between her father and the future husband. They move to Enoch and start a family while Arkadia is away for many years fighting the Barbarians who are freed servants. 

Barber does a good job of showing how some of the 'deities' that are recorded history and mythology have come to be. An example of this is Istahar who becomes Isis and the Queen of Heaven. It is her that destroys the relationship between Sotiria and Arkadia by granting an answer to Sotiria's prayer to her, but not the way she expects. Barber portrays this well, and this is an example showing the degree of hatred and deceit that even a human will allow to spiral into such a low level of depravity.

By the end of this novel, the power and deceit of the gods is firmly established, and both they and their human subjects have spiralled to a level of sin and depravity that will lead the way to God being saddened with the human race and decides to wipe the human race off the face of the earth which will be in a future novel in this Deceit Series. 


It is good to see the novel being an improvement from the previous one. I look forward to the third novel, a snippet which is given at the end of this one.

Again, an enjoyable novel showcasing the improvements that Barber has identified and worked on from his debut novel.

Recommend. 
My Rating:   


The Rise of Bacchus (Silent Screamers Book 1) by Dante Fortson

Silent Screamers (Book 1: The Rise of Bacchus

Sixteen year old David has just had a fight with his father about attending the first open contact between earth and an extraterrestrial race. After storming out of the house, one mishap after another leaves him stuck in a bar with a strange man, watching the event on TV. Little does David know that these aliens have something sinister up their sleeves. David becomes an unlikely hero as he is forced to choose between hiding or saving his dad and his best friend Cassy. On his journey, he must survive vicious animal hybrids, satyrs, witches, and even a giant in order to save his loved ones.




Review: 


Once I started this novella, I could not put this down! It grabs you from the start and you are drawn in, needing to know what is going to happen next. Written in the first person narrative, this works well as the main character David Johnson. Doing this way, places the reader right next to David as he accounts this story. 


Fortson writes well. No fluff, just straight to the point, simple English. Sometimes that is necessary to describe fast paced plot lines and to move the plot along. The apocalyptic world that Fortson creates is very reminiscent of other novels or TV/movies especially those that involve special ops teams and secret hideouts with modern technology thrown in, in an attempt for the survivors to keep one step ahead of their oppressors.

Fortson does a good job of setting the scene of this invasion and the deception of who is behind this. I liked his inclusion of the invaders being disguished as aliens and then David and his team discovering that this is just not so. Fortson then successfully introduces the reader to who these invaders really are by introducing the truth from different sources, including the Bible and ancient mythology from recorded history of ancient civilisations. I guess the reader gets a main clue from the Prologue and joins some dots when the "character" introduced here makes a profound appearance towards the end of this novella.

I chuckled when Fortson introduced a book with an all familiar title (one of his own books!) to David, the main character, and I pray that readers will take this clue and go to Amazon to buy this. It will provide a lot of background to this novel and give the reader a grass roots introduction to the end times deception we are living in now. 

Fortson leaves some open clues to what will be in further Books in this series (these Books seem to be novellas that are part of one larger book he wrote years ago and now decided to release). Why is Robert, David's father, not his real father? Why did Zeik hide this from him until they meet when the invasion starts? Will we find out more of the lineage of David to the biblical time of David? What is the bad blood between the General, Zeik and David's father? Who is Sarah and what is her real story? What is the past history of working special black ops between David's father and Zeik? 

Some of the secrecy surrounding the coverup between the government and the Roswell incident is revealed and this gives some background to the past history between Zeik and Robert. It also provides some clues as to the background of these invaders and their motive for being here as well as hinting of what is more to come in future Books/novellas.

The pace of this novella is fast and reads like an action packed movie. Fortson successfully translates into fiction what his website is about, "Spiritual Warfare, Apologetics, and Other Cool Bible Stuff" (http://ministerfortson.com). 

Sometimes fiction can be a very effective way to reach those who would not read a factual book to be enlightened about a topic. This novella succeeds in doing this and I am sure that when all these Books/novellas are read as one this will be seen as being very successful to informing in an entertaining way all of what Fortson needs to reveal. 

All in all, a very entertaining, revealing and thought provoking novel on issues that need to be exposed and revealed to all those who need to listen.

I encourage all readers of this first novella to post positive comments on Dante Fortson's website mentioned above to encourage Fortson to release more of this entertaining Silent Screamers novel and get the truth of the end times out there.

Don't miss this! 


Strongly Recommended.



Friday, 17 January 2014

The Secrets of Heaven: The Book of Raphael (Book 1 in the Deceit Series) by Michael Barber

An unimaginable series of events have been taking place all over Europe. From north to south, divine beings are revealing their existence to humanity to deliver a message that shakes the foundations of mankind: we are your gods. The terrifying occurrences that take place after the revelation, push Arkadia and others to question the authenticity of the gods. Are these really their gods? Are they being manipulated by evil? Overwhelmed by the recent loss of his family during the events, Arkadia leans on the only thing that he has left in this world, his love for Sotiria. Will their love for each other help them survive the fall, or will it be the very emotion that destroys them as they try to inhale this new found way? Find out as the Archangel Raphael, gives his witness and testimony to Almighty God of the bloodshed, during Genesis chapter 6; what ultimately became known as the mythologies of the world. The mythologies that knew the beast of Revelations. 

 Review: 

 This is a hard review to write. I can see that Barber has the passion for writing, and promoting his work and the Truth of the Word of God and explaining the Bible in relation to end times (eschatology). 

I like the format of this novel. Getting his point across through fiction. I can see where the main plot has come from, The Book of Enoch, an extra biblical text that used to be in the Bible, but later regarded as not inspired by God and removed from the Bible as we know it today. Barber has used poetic licence to flesh out the main points of the Book of Enoch to convert it to a fiction base. Nothing wrong in that, it provides for a good story line that engages the reader. 


It is the story line in this plot that is very effective and keeps you interested. Granted, Barber admits that his grammar is not good, and encourages us that we should excuse this in order for him to write this novel for the reasons he states in his Dedication. While this is not a total distraction from the story line, having better grammar definitely improves the plot, adds credibility and engages the reader. I feel if Barber wants to continue writing for the reasons he states, he will need to develop these skills. I can see that he has the basics and can use this as a launching pad to this improved grammar and writing skills. 

I am interested in seeing what is in store for Arkadia and Sotiria. It is this that will make me read Book 2, The Book of Gabriel. 

My main concern of Barber's writing is the explanation of the eschatological issues that are found in the Book of Enoch and the Bible. He states in his Editorial Reviews on the book description page of this novel on Amazon many things relating to this, but all this becomes a very difficult to interpret and understand from Chapter 12 onwards. He does not explain well what these issues are and what they mean. It is not clear, and I am not unfamiliar with eschatology or its themes/issues/prophecies/symbolism but I found this very difficult. From this point of view, I don't feel he has succeeded in achieving his aims as he outlined in the aforementioned Editorial Review. 

I will say however, that yes, I did understand his explanation of the symbolism of the Apple icon (apple with one bite taken out, icon of Apple Inc) that he describes in this novel and the importance and symbolism it implies. I had heard similar about this Apple icon (on all Apple products) from an author friend of mine, Steve Goodwin, so I don't doubt both these authors knowledge and veracity of what they say here. 

I really do hate writing reviews like this that do not showcase the author's skill. But I feel Barber has great potential, and I don't believe we should give up on him. If God has given him incentive and His will to write this Deceit Series then we do need to get behind him and do encourage him in this. Just as with us, God is not finished with Michael Barber and under His direction and guidance will achieve far better in the future of what God intends for Barber's writing and his passion for revealing the Truth of God's Word, even those of the extra biblical texts. 

Recommended 

My Rating: 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Coptic Martyr of Cairo (A Brother Half Angel Thriller, Book 5) by Martin Roth


Four Americans in Egypt on an archaeological dig. In the blistering summer heat they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they unearth a body. It is an old priest who has been murdered.

The gruesome discovery sets in train a sequence of events that leads to a deadly Islamist attack on the ancient church where the Americans are working.

The leader of the expedition, Professor Rafa Harel, must decide whether to withdraw his fractious team or continue on a mission to unveil a controversial series of wall paintings, all the while knowing that these images have the power to spark even greater violence.

Meanwhile, watching over all of them is a dreamy young Egyptian Christian named Amir. His only quest in life is to become a martyr.

Review: 

In my review of Roth's previous novel, Festival In The Desert, I stated that this was the best in the series and Roth shines in that one. Well, this last book in the series, The Coptic Martyr of Cairo, is definitely the best and Roth further shines. This is one well written, well researched and very compelling account of the conflict between Islam and Christianity in a predominantly Islamic country. 

It is ironic that in this story, the archeological finding in the St George Church proves that Christianity existed in Egypt well before Islam took root and yet it is this fact that Muslims do not want to acknowledge as this would be detrimental to their belief that they have more right to be in Egypt than Christians do. It is against this backdrop that adds further kindling to a long term political/religious conflict that brings to a head the controversy whether the persecuted Christian Church accept and do nothing in response to persecution or do they fight back. Roth explores this controversy very well in this novel, and it is quite clear that his research is well applied here. 

The entire five books in the Brother Half Angel Thriller series give any Western Christian who may not have any idea of what the Christian Church endures in countries where they are persecuted for their faith, a dramatic eye opening revelation. Roth portrays it well through one of the main characters, Father Paulos Nazeh who says to Rafa, a Western Christian,

"....Our faith is in God, not governments. You are in a relationship with God, and you seem to believe that He tells you to lobby politicians. We are in a relationship with God, and He tells us that we shall suffer, and that some of us - perhaps many of us - will die. That is why the Egyptian church has lasted for two thousand years and will continue until the glorious return of Jesus. How long do you expect your church to last?”

Further on in the plot, when tensions between the Muslim and Christians escalate and Rafa is wanting to take his team home, Father Paulos states,

"Go. Americans are scared of death. They celebrate life, and that is good. So do we. But we also celebrate death. Because it marks a passage to a better life. We are not scared like you." 

and a little further on, 

"Go,.....Protect your lives. We are different from you. We read our Bibles about the beautiful kingdom of the resurrected saints and in our heart we yearn to be with them, if possible wearing the robes and the crown of the martyrs. Even our young think like that, because they know that 25 years or 75 years makes no difference to God. Death is the greatest gift that God can bestow on His people. It is an opening of the gate to our beautiful, eternal home. So we do not cling to life. We are in God's hands, and if He chooses to open that gate for us then we shall rush forward for our eternal reward." 

And of Father Paulos' resentment to the worsening of tensions that the New Mercedarians have caused, he says this to Rafa, (concerning the difference between Western and Eastern Christian attitudes), 

"...Your Korean friends have not especially helped us, but I will say one thing about them. I do not feel they have the same attitude to life and death as us. Unlike Americans, they are not afraid to die."  

Roth's well applied research can also be said to have added depth to the characters portraying the tenets of the faith to the Christian characters of Rafa, Father Paulos, Amir, Riad, Mikel, Brett, Elly and of the Muslim characters of Mohammed, The Turk, and the local Imam. In the character of Susan, Roth portrays the typical ignorance and arrogance of the Westerner who does not have any strong religious bent and who is rather ambivalent and arrogant towards this religious/political conflict. 

My only negative is that the ending was very sudden and very unexpected. I was heartbroken to discover that the New Mercedarians had failed to prevent the murder of kidnapped Mikel, and the reaction of Brother Half Angel was very sincere and realistic, but then the novel just quickly and suddenly ended! I really do hope that Roth continues this series. More of Brother Half Angel and his team would be great to follow and learn more about the persecuted church.

I loved what Roth included at the end of this novel, his final message to all of us who are Christian towards the persecuted Christian church, from Rafa, 


"God is calling us to pray," he sobbed. "All of us. Everyone. We must all pray. It's what God wants." 

After being enlightened to what the persecuted Christian Church endure gladly, as reinforced by Father Paulos' statements  and Rafa's above, it is the least we can do. 

Highly Recommended. 

My Rating:  


Friday, 10 January 2014

Festival In The Desert (A Brother Half Angel Thriller, Book 4) by Martin Roth

West Africa and the Sahara Desert – where the Muslim north meets the Christian south. Where drought, famine and poverty meet drug-runners, terrorists and Muslim extremists.

Captain John Fisker, a US military officer working to strengthen the forces of moderate Islam in the region, is kidnapped by terrorists. At the same time extremists are threatening the Christian mission hospital where John’s brother Bobby works as a doctor.

It is time to call for the New Mercedarians, the clandestine military order dedicated to fighting for Christians under attack around the world. Operatives Brother Half Angel and Brother Luiz fly urgently to West Africa.

Add to the mix a Korean holy man who communes with God at the summit of a sacred mountain, a crazed Russian drugs courier, a young American studying to be a Sufi mystic and a CIA officer on the run from his own superiors, and you have the exciting new book in Martin Roth’s acclaimed Military Orders series.


Review: 

Having read four books now in the Half Brother Angel Thriller series, I consider this one the best so far. This might be surpassed by Book 5, but that is next on my review list. 


I found that Roth's writing style is more refined in this novel. Clearer, sharper and to the point. I found myself riveted to this one with a slightly faster pace than the previous novels. I loved the plot (despite the West African setting, which does not appeal to me at all) and found this to be riveting and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

When an author applies his research to the plot of his novel, it really does add to the structure of the story. Adds depth and credibility. Roth's degree of research shows here and achieves this aim. Roth has depicted the political and religious climate of Mali well, and it is this that is the backdrop of this novel that plots Christian against Muslim, father against son, Christian doctrine against Christine doctrine, CIA against a rogue operative, Church against the State. Quite a diverse mix, but Roth deals with this very well.

I loved Roth's description of the life of the hospital and the motive for its existence. The discussion/arguments between the Medical Officers regarding how they operate under such a limited budget and dealing with the threats from the Muslim extremists against them being Christian is very realistic and an eye opener. Here again, Roth poses the question, as Christians do we endure persecution for the sake of Christ or do we fight back even literally with physical weapons if necessary? This was the issue that confronted the Medical staff when the Islamists started harassing the Nursing staff about working in a Christian hospital and later when they physically attacked the hospital with rocks, rammed the gates and infiltrated the building, trashing the hospital. The arguments put forth by Dr Bobby Frisker for enduring this persecution for the sake of Christ versus taking action by Dr Steyn successfully portray this issue that would confront Christians working in the mission field in political and religious environments that are hostile to the Gospel and Christianity. On a smaller scale this issue is one that confronts all Christians where they are when they are persecuted, and physical violence is initiated upon them by others hostile to them being Christian or representing the Gospel. 


This issue was introduced in the first book in this series, Brother Half Angel, and it is very much an integral part of this fourth book as a continuation of this. 

I really enjoyed the subplot concerning the relationship between the Frisker members, father Harry having to deal with the consequences of losing his position in the CIA due to the actions of his younger son, Bobby and the resulting deteriorating relationship between them that this caused, his concern for his kidnapped eldest son, John and engaging Bobby to do something to help find John. I found it very appropriate that Harry highlight to Bobby that he is asking his son to help for the sake of his brother and not out of any guilt or remorse concerning the reasons for their estranged relationship between himself and his son. Roth has portrayed these family dynamics very succinctly with the provision for forgiveness and reconciliation. I guess the final scene at the end of the book shows that this family succeeded in achieving this. This was a fitting end to this novel.

However, this ending did not explain what happened to the Desert Mission Hospital. Did it close? Did the governing Christian organisation in Germany withdraw their financial support? And further still, what happened to Brother Half Angel and Luiz? The compromise to the undercover existence of The New 
Mercedarians was left hanging and the fallout from this on the mother church in Korea. I am hoping this is answered in the next novel, The Coptic Martyr of Cairo. 

Despite this, I still felt it was worth the five star rating. As I said in the beginning of this review, this is the best novel out of the four so far. Roth really shines in this one. 

Highly Recommended 

My rating:  


Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Angelic Gene by Steve Goodwin

An orphan girl unsure of who she is or why a man wants her dead, carries a secret. She will experience humanity. 
Are you ready? 
Join Sophia in a heart thumping adventure across England exploring faith, doubt, love and fear set in the 1870’s. A story you’ll continue to contemplate long after the journey unfolds. 

The Angelic Gene is really something special.










Review:

This is the long anticipated third book in the Elijah Hael series, however it can read as standalone without having read the previous two books. Having said that, this is a great introduction to this series, and I would encourage any reader new to the Elijah Hael series to start with this one. It definitely gives the background to Sophia, and you will understand her better in the Elijah Hael books from reading this one.  The other advantage is that the reader should pick up some connections from this book to the previous two, so Goodwin states and is quite proud of this fact. He throws it out there to see who picks up these connections. I must confess, I am still working on this as it is within 4 months since reading the previous two. I have mentioned this to the author, and he has allowed me to mention that "The crucifix Anne gives to Michael is the same one that Seth uses in The Genetic Code".  

Goodwin has stated that The Angelic Gene is different from Elijah Hael books and after reading this, I would agree. Set in a much earlier time than the previous two, Sophia is much younger, her age spans from birth to age 16 years in this novel compared to a much older and mature age in the other two books. In this novel she is human and in the other two in another form. You will have to read these novels to know what I mean by that statement. No spoilers!

I really loved this novel! One of my favourites! It really is a beautiful story. There is a gentleness in Goodwin's writing but a firmness or solidness in its delivery. It flows well, and Goodwin has, without too much detail, transported the reader into the 1870s.

Some of these are done well by adding historical events such as who the character of Jack really is other than Memphis' pawn and what he is known for in history is connected to Memphis' plans. 

I have a soft spot for Jack. Despite his infamy in recorded history, the background Goodwin provides for this character encouraged me to see him as a lost soul caught in desperation of his condition and a slave of his fear of dying and of the afterlife. This develops in him a hatred of God and of Christians, but it is this that actually enables him to consider over the course of this book, that these Christians have the peace and freedom that he so desperately desires and that God might just be who He says He is. Memphis, who hates God with his entire being, actually unknowingly and unwittingly gives Jack a clue to this revelation. And it is this that gives him the motivation to make divisive action against his master. I did admire him for this but was heart broken that despite this, his outcome and end was the same as if he had not done this action. I consider Jack one of Goodwin best developed characters. 

Another event recorded in history is that of Kate Kibble, one of 37 women, banned from Birmingham pubs for being habitually drunk and yes she did have one eye! I thought the inclusion here of Kate's demise while Jack was contemplating his situation in the pub and to have to attend to Kate was well done and strengthened my affection for him! Yet another, was the reference to William Booth, who we know as the founder of The Salvation Army. All these events have added credibility to the era that Goodwin has successfully transported the reader to.Goodwin has depicted Anne and Sophia as very realistic children of their age groups throughout the novel. Developing their characters right from the beginning, their innocence, vulnerability and frailty due to be orphaned is well done and endears you to these two. You cannot do anything else except feel for them, support them and want to protect them and Goodwin's development of Michael as guide, protector and mentor helps the reader here in developing the reader's rapport with these two orphans. Goodwin has also depicted the closeness of Anne and Sophia very well as inseparable friends (and something deeper, but you will have to read the novel to find out in what way this is!!) and this adds a great depth to the plot and their important role in the fight against Memphis and fulfilling the prophecy. 

I must make mention here of the dog, Dash. This adds another "character" to become endeared to and I discover from the author that Dash is based on his own dog of the same breed and name as his own. I can see how Goodwin has portrayed Dash here as pretty much the same as he experienced Dash in his life and the depiction of the relationship between Dash and the two girls. Very nicely done.

Memphis has been developed successfully as the demon bent on destroying Sophia and all connected to her in achieving his dominance of the world and Goodwin provides him with a great degree of evilness that does make you feel creepy, especially in his mastery of the demonic practices of sorcery and necromancy. 


I love the way Goodwin has introduced the angelic involvement. With one angelic character, there is a twist that I did not see coming, but once you do, it makes sense and I chuckled at the cleverness of Goodwin to include and add another layer to the plot and relationship between the characters. 

I loved the ending, the final confrontation between Sophia and her band of warriors against Memphis and his demonic army and the aftermath. I did cry at the demise of one loved character and the happiness of another and how this could flow into a sequel.

All in all, the loose ends are tied up, but I can see that it is possible for a fourth book in this series, especially one to follow on from this one but also to fit in with the previous two. 


Goodwin has stated that The Angelic Gene has a special place in his heart and I can understand why, I can say the same for me as well. Won't forget this one in a hurry. I would love to see this made into a movie!! It would be a ripper! 

The author gifted this novel to me as a Kindle edition and this has not influenced my review. I have made it known to him that this review is based entirely on my opinion and how I interpreted his novel. 

The Angelic Gene: Highly Recommended. 

My Rating: 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

At The Appointed Time by Ginger Chiveral


Travel Back To April 6, AD 32 And Witness The Betrayal of All Time

What if you could go back in time and change events to suit your on purposes? Paul Carroll invents a machine to do just that - at the expense of his family. Just when he’s ready to put it to use a mysterious man hires him to go back to the time of Jesus’ death in order to prevent Judas’ betrayal and thereby prevent the crucifixion. Confused and doubtful, Paul agrees to the job because of the money offered. Despite culture shock, he learns that not only was Jesus a real person, but maybe he is more than just a man. In this action packed story, Paul witnesses the events surrounding the last week of Jesus’ life – events he never believed were real. As he tries to complete his mission he finds there are forces working against him. Meanwhile, in the present, his estranged wife is on a spiritual journey of her own. Can Paul stop the crucifixion? What will happen if he does? Who is this mysterious man who wants the crucifixion stopped and why? Can Paul live to complete his mission and get his family back? Find out – At the Appointed Time.


Review: 

I was speechless when I finished this novel. It took me a while to get myself together. Fantastic, brilliant were two words that came to my mind immediately. I was completely blown away by this novel.
The author has done a great job this being her debut as author. The plot is fast paced and never a dull moment. I could not put it down.

I did not want this to end. The idea of a man inventing a time machine and going back in time to change an event is not far fetched and has been a plot in many books in the past. Having satan use this to go back in time to prevent Judas from betraying Jesus so there would be no crucifixion, therefore no death of Jesus and therefore satan to rule the earth is what satan wanted in the first place and forms the main element of the plot.

There is drama, suspense, spiritual warfare, the gospel story, murder. I laughed in places, not because of included humour but because of two incidences where I knew where the author was coming from, and it was very clever.

I cried at the crucifixion scene which the author has dealt with very well. I softened and felt warm all over when Jesus spoke to Paul as if He was speaking to me and only me. Ginger has portrayed Jesus as the Bible portrays Him and this is exactly how I experienced Him and still do. The relationship that develops between Paul and Jesus is beautiful, especially when you see the change in Paul as he turns from the hardened heart of an unbeliever to a repentant, surrendered man who acknowledges his need for a Saviour.

Just as the author has portrayed Jesus as the Bible does, she has also portrayed satan and spiritual warfare in the same way and is theological correct as far as I can determine. How I got angry with satan and his deceitfulness, manipulation and lies!!

My only criticism was one spelling mistake (pallet instead of palate) and some of the grammar and minor story plot lines was a bit simplistic, which made some parts of the story a bit thin, but these were only minor and did not detract to any great degree. I consider these to be signs of a new author who is learning the ropes!!

Ginger shows great potential, and it is greatly displayed here. Definitely an author to watch and follow.

I look forward to her future work and pray the time span between novels is as short as possible without compromising her talent.

At The Appointed Time: Highly recommended.

My Rating: