Sunday 26 February 2017

The Third Strand by Jane Woodlee Hedrick

The Third Strand (Book II in The Omega Watchers Series)

The Third Strand’, sequel to ‘The Omega Watchers’, is a high-suspense Christian novel based on Biblical prophetic events of the end days.

The Psalms 83 war has just occurred and Israel’s stunning victory has triggered the beginning of the end days, ushering in the worst years that will ever be upon the face of the earth.

After days of being in what appeared to be a coma, Gabriella awakens to her new reality: strange surroundings, everyone she loves has vanished, and she is entombed in a hidden bunker with a man she barely knows - Chris, the officer assigned to protect her research team. 

Quickly, a spiritual bond forms between Gabriella and Chris. Together they secretly witness the False Prophet’s preparations to introduce the Satanic One World Leader and the demonic plan to initiate the mark of the beast. Gabriella knows she is ‘chosen’ to expose the powers of darkness, but how does she begin?

During the day, Gabriella lives end time prophecies coming to fruition. At night in vivid dreams, she continues to struggle with reality returning to the days before the rapture. Time and untime will continue to haunt her until...

The Guru's Review: 

When I sat down to write this review, I did not know where to start. There were so many thoughts going through my head. Now, before any reader considers this to be a negative statement, it is not! All good! In fact, great!

Authors and readers want the sequel to be better than the previous or at least on par with. Well, for me, this sequel exceeded my expectations. It would not surprise me that every reader who has read and praised The Omega Watchers (TOW) will be doing more of the same once they finish The Third Strand (TTT). It sets the bar above its predecessor. 

Present are the characteristics of Hedrick's writing that we have become used to and appreciate from TOW:

  • Fast paced, well-constructed plot, 
  • characters that you become endeared to, 
  • biblical eschatology interweaved into the plot that actually forms one of its solid foundations, 
  • research well sourced and integrated into the plot
  • the gospel message is interwoven into the events without detracting from the plot. 
  • the prayers of Christians in full, not hinted or suggested, 
  • For believers their faith is strengthened, their knowledge of eschatology increased. 
  • For non-believers, a challenge to their belief system and for some the seeds of faith that were planted from others and events elsewhere will be watered and a decision for Christ made. For others, encouragement to continue to seek after Him. 

However, all those above characteristics are further developed in TTT. This only makes it more of a joy to read and become totally immersed. One of those aspects is that it is very noticeable and a real joy, to have more of the presence of the Holy Spirit active in the lives of Gabi and Chris. Both showed total obedience and submission to God and to the leading of the Spirit. I pray that not only would a Christian reader see from this that they need to be like this in the end times, but in all aspects of their current lives, no matter what their circumstances, the good, the bad and the ugly.

In this novel and its predecessor, I was in awe at the amount of research that is evident and the way Hedrick has intertwined this into the plot. There is so much to comprehend that I am pleased I reread TOW before this one. Not only did it reinforce the eschatology from that, but enabled me to understand more of what is contained in this new one. It also enabled me to enjoy this sequel better than if I had not reread the first. 

In actual fact, I can see from reading these first two, that they do form a very entertaining yet comprehensive study of all the biblical prophecies and eschatological themes relating to what is about to unfold in these last days before the return of Christ. I can imagine that there are more that Hedrick will be including in Books 3 and hopefully Book 4. This is definitely something to look forward to and digest. 

For those Christians who find a formal study of eschatology difficult to grasp, novels like these can bridge this gap with a successful outcome. I would have no issue rereading this series from Book 1 to Book 4 just for this purpose. From this angle, I really do appreciate the passion, drive and obedience to God of the author's calling in the area of eschatology. To me, she is a Watcher in this field. I know other readers and those in TOW Facebook group may feel the same way.

The events that follow on from the Rapture at the end of TOW flow like a movie and a very good one at that. I became quite frustrated that I had to stop and either return to work from lunch or get off the train! Such a joy this novel (and TOW) if it could be read in one uninterrupted sitting! 

I found it very intriguing how Hedrick integrated current news items that she mentioned in TOW Facebook page into TTT. These include, as stated in the novel, 
........the Abrahamic Covenant, Gog and Magog War, the rise of the Antichrist and his mark, the return of the lost tribes, rebuilding the temple-he (Gabi's father) had given detail by detail the events of the final days. It was so precise she believed she could have made a movie script from his notes. 
and later in the novel, 
The Black Pope (prophesied by St. Malachy) and CERN 
Some authors struggle to connect events such as these together to show how the prophetic works in reality, but Kedrick has done so seamlessly and without a hitch. This makes it all the more convincing and makes you wonder if her depiction is close to how it will happen in the future and not just her opinion and/or poetic license. Reinforces my view that she is an effective Watcher of eschatology and the times we currently live in.

There was one more news item that Hedrick included that made headlines only last week. This was that the current Pope states Mary (Mother of Jesus) is a co-redeemer with Jesus! In TTT, Hedrick has Mary stated (I think by the Pope) as the savior of mankind and the one to unite all religions into one and all peoples into the one belief, paving the way for the Antichrist to continue this deception and control all humankind that receives his mark. 

When I discovered the title of this novel, it intrigued me about what this meant. I could think of no connection to TOW. When Hedrick explains, it really does make sense. I won't go into detail here as this would be a spoiler. It does show how the human race will be controlled and dominated physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally by Satan himself. If a discerning Christian joins the right dots from Hedrick's explanation, they will see it reinforces satan's mimicry of everything God does to mock Him and as part of his rebellion and hatred towards Him and mankind. Once the Christian reader discovers how this Third Strand works, resulting in its recipient being unredeemable by God, I would pray that this becomes a sobering moment that encourages them to pray, witness and present the Gospel to their unsaved family and friends and others. Once they receive this mark, it is a point of no return. 

One thing that I did not foresee was the ending. What a twist! Totally blindsided! It left me with my mouth open in awe and disbelief but also of joy and satisfaction. It is one of the most clever cliffhangers and plot twists I have read for quite a while! Great finish to this sequel and lead into the next novel. I predict that it will make any reader of this novel waiting in high anticipation for the next instalment more than they were this one!

Looking back on TOW and now TTT, a study guide or commentary either at the back of each novel or as a separate publication would enhance all that Hedrck has included about eschatology. I know that Christian author, Brian Godawa, did this with his Chronicles of the Nephilim series and it has been a great success and resource. 

Hedrick is on a winner with this novel and series. I have been richly blessed and uplifted in my faith and knowledge of eschatology. It not only meets but exceeds what I like to see from Christian fiction:
  • it has entertained me immensely, 
  • it has encouraged my walk with God, 
  • it has not deviated from known biblical doctrine, and it will not, from what I can discern, lead a non-believer astray or promote false doctrine, 
  • it honours God, 
  • it does not encourage worship of the created (eg angels) instead of the Creator (God).
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 Third Strand 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 Jane Woodlee Hedrick with the

Reality Calling Christian Spirit-Filled Fiction Award

Congratulations, Jane!

To read a preview or buy this novel, click on the BUY or PREVIEW icons below.

Saturday 18 February 2017

The Omega Watchers by Jane E. Woodlee Hedrick

I originally published this review on 13/06/15. I have read it again in preparation for the sequel, The Third Strand, soon to be released. I have added minor additions to the review and an Award as this novel now meets the criteria since The Reality Calling Christian Fiction Awards have been instigated. Please see below. 

A mysterious Dead Sea Scroll revealed prophecies of the return of the fallen angels and the timing of their release from the abyss where they have been imprisoned awaiting their final judgment. But, there is a missing piece to the prophetic puzzle!

Gabriella’s cave exploration leads her team on an ominous journey to discover a lost prophecy from the days of Noah and find her own spiritual truth. In her search, she opens her mind to a “Watcher” that captures her with his mystical powers of universal knowledge as they travel between time and untime. 

This deceiving spirit proclaims the coming of the Ascended Master who will usher in a new age of peace for all mankind. Gabriella feels totally alone as her friends believe Yahweh as the one true God and they struggle to convince her she is falling deeper and deeper into a pit of destruction and is about to cross the point of no return.

The Guru's Review:  

I cannot remember whether the author contacted me for a review or I contacted her stating I will be reviewing/interviewing her after I purchased this book. Either way, I am glad I found this book. The Nephilim mentioned in The Omega Watchers is a favourite topic of mine as well as eschatology. Some Christians would not know what the Nephilim are or may not have studied eschatology and therefore may not be aware of the connection between these two in relation to the verse in Matthew 24: 37,
As it was in the day of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
I have read quite a bit about both topics and this connection to Matthew 24:37. The growing number of bible researchers/scholars and even devout bible students who study eschatology seem to all agree on the major details relating to these topics. It is from this perspective that I was hoping Hedrick would have shown in The Omega Watchers. I am pleased to say that she has! She has done a great job of it too! There is always the risk that when a complex topic/s like these are converted to the fiction arena, that the plot gets bogged down in too much information, derails the plot, becomes detached from it and the characters and is counterproductive. Not so in Hedrick's well-crafted novel. Both the plot and all the details relating to the Nephilim,  Matt 24: 37 verse, alien visitation, end times deception/eschatology is carefully intertwined and forms a solid basis for this fast-paced, suspenseful edgy, speculative based novel. 

However, I would not just leave it at that. Hedrick successfully entertains throughout even when delivering the vast amounts of information relating to the aforementioned topics. She has made it one engaging read and through this educates the reader in these issues and how the Gospel is embedded in this as well without it coming across as preachy or bible bashing Gabi and Caleb. It very much reminds me of how to witness to those who do not believe, be non-judgmental, non-condescending, not self-righteous, but love them, accept them as they are and build a relationship so there is a neutral platform to share the Gospel. 

It is from this perspective that I believe this novel could be instrumental in ministering to the unbeliever in Christ,  by exposing false doctrine of various New Age theologies and practice such as astral travel, ascended masters, everyone possessing godhood and god-like power of healing and peace. All the above are designed and constructed to deceive and encourage the human race to believe this lie while being bound by demonic strongholds. She successfully does this through the character of Gabi and her vulnerability from losing her mother when she was 5 years old and her father many years later. 

I have always felt that when learning is made to be fun or enjoyable in a format that the student/learner is comfortable with, then the uptake and retaining of the learning is more successful and understanding is greater. I have had a better understanding of the topic outlined in this novel than if it had been in a non-fiction account. Putting in a fictional setting like this novel, then I can fully grasp this better. I believe that Christian fiction should not just entertain and educate as is evidenced successfully in this novel, but it should edify the believer as well. It should encourage their walk with Christ and their relationship with Him as well. For me, Hedrick is successful here.

Another aspect where the above characteristics of what I expect from Christian fiction is the spiritual aspects of this novel. Some Christian authors do not have the Christian's prayer stated in full as they feel it detracts from the action of the scene or plot and some readers don't like this either whether they are Christian or not. There may be some novels where it is appropriate to just state that there was prayer for peace, healing, salvation etc but in other novels, where it would be appropriate for full prayer inclusion and there is not, I feel this omission is a shame as this is real life for the Christian, and for the non-believer who may be offended by this, well, this is the Christian's reality and I don't believe a novel based on Christian/biblical themes should be watered down to be politically correct. Thankfully, Hedrick has not succumbed to this practice. In this novel, it is very appropriate for prayer to be included in full. I found this refreshing as the instances where they were praying were in times of spiritual warfare concerning their research, the car accident involving the Professor and when Gabi was under the influence of the spirit guide/demon. Spiritual warfare is serious and affects every aspect of our lives, whether we know it or not, and to have prayer shown in its fullness adds a necessary aspect of reality to the plot and to portray what happens in real life. 

It was also refreshing to have God very much a part of this novel and not just mentioned. I appreciated that the author included the presence of God in a tangible way when the Omega Team prayed for the aforementioned instances and the final conflict when this demon disguised as an angel of light was in the final stages of encouraging Gabi to cross to the demonic side. Again, this shows the supernatural side of reality and the warfare of the spiritual realm.  It was great that the Spirit of God and the power of His might was shown as it is in defeating the demonic stronghold over Gabi and for her to see the spirit guide for the demon that he is and that the truth of the bible and what had been witnessed to her by the Omega Team members was true.

My only criticism is that Gabi has been depicted as rather emotional and high demand and this becomes a bit annoying after a while, but I can see what could contribute to this with the loss of parents at an early age.

I have read other end-times novels and every author seems to have a different take on the bible verses that are relevant to the eschatology and their poetic license in translating this to the fictional setting. I liked what Hedrick has done in the novel. Her take is very concise and specific and adheres very well to the biblical record. The culmination of all the plot lines in this novel come together for one very memorable climax and leaves the reader on a cliff hanger. I only hope that the sequel is here sooner rather than later. I cannot wait to see what happens next and be further entertained, edified and educated in eschatology, spiritual warfare and demonology.

Putting all this together with relational characters and romance as a subplot, this is one very enjoyable read.

I am looking forward to the sequel, The Third Strand, to be released in the near future. If this current has left me on a cliffhanger, then I can feel assured that the next one is going to start on one as well and continue with a fast paced, thrilling, supernatural ride like this one.  

Highly Recommended. 

World Building 5/5 

Characters 5/5 

Spiritual Level 5/5 

Story 5/5 

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.8/5

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

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that The Omega Watchers contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Redemptive Fiction outlined in this booklet, (click on the title below to see what this is based on), I award Jane Woodlee Hedrick with 

The Reality Calling Christian Redemptive Fiction Award

Congratulations, Jane!

To read a preview or buy this novel, click on the BUY or PREVIEW icons below.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Author/Novel Spotlight: Sean Young

Today, I am spotlighting Christian novelist, Sean Young. He contacted me via this blog requesting a review of his new novel, To Fear the Dawn. When I checked out the link to his Amazon author page, I made a surprise discovery. I recognised one of his previous novels, Violent Sands. I read this many years ago and loved it. Good news is that this novel will be revised and released as a trilogy. I am looking forward to reading this new edition later this year. 

So now that I have been reunited with one of my previous authors, I wanted to find out more about him and this new novel. To Fear the Dawn. So let's get started. First, a little about Sean: 

Sean Young blends his life-long love of novels with a strong Christian worldview to produce gripping thrillers anchored in a Biblical core. A thirst for adventure and deep personal faith create his unique brand of action-packed page turners that make the reader's pulse race, while quietly shining the good news of the gospel and remaining free of profanity and offensive sexual scenes that have become so prevalent in modern fiction.

His first novel was a seven hundred page Historical Suspense Thriller that took three years to write. This was first published first in the USA, and then in Europe where it was translated into Spanish.

Sean lives with his wife and two children in Surrey, England. 

Now let's have a look at To Fear the Dawn. which was released on January 3, 2017, in the Kindle format at Amazon:

In a world of religious freedom, he found it easy to ignore the light. But the coming darkness will be far less forgiving.

"If you like political intrigue, conspiracy in the halls of power and a sizzling plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat, then you’ll love Sean Young’s powerful portrayal of a world on the verge of cataclysm."

When Nicholas Gallagher, spots an opportunity he grabs it with both hands. The self-made billionaire has just learned information that could save a lucrative business deal — but he didn’t realise his newfound knowledge would change the world as he knew it. It turns out Nicholas has unwittingly crossed a dangerous group of financiers, united in a mystical faith, who have quietly taken over the banks, the media, and even the laws that could protect him.

Before he can take action, his accounts are frozen and he is branded a murderer in the international press. Just when Nicholas thinks all hope is lost, help comes in the form of a priest with a sinister past. Could this canny ally be the only thing that keeps him alive?

In a treacherous adventure that takes him across the globe, the former billionaire has one chance to reveal the truth, to save himself, his family, and all humanity from a holocaust that could shake civilisation to its very core.

I asked Sean why he wrote the To Fear the Dawn and whether there are any Biblical themes:

The theme revolves around God's sovereignty. His will comes to pass despite all of mankind's best efforts to thwart Him. On a micro-level Nicholas, my protagonist is an atheist who has no interest in God. However, God has his number and everything Nicholas does - every direction he turns - he is forced to face the truth until he can no longer ignore it. 

On a macro level, consider the Babylonian empire in Old Testament times. The greatest political and military force the world had ever seen was little more than a pawn in God's hands used to turn His people back to Him. While Babylon does not feature in this book per se, it is the Biblical narrative from which I drew my antagonist for To Fear The Dawn.

I enjoy writing characters who find themselves on the cusp of faith in Jesus; people who have been confronted with God's truth but who have not yet embraced it or who have not yet allowed God to transform their lives in any meaningful way. There is a brutal honesty in these characters that simply makes them more interesting to me as a writer. They simply don't know, what is or is not acceptable in western Christian culture. They say and do inappropriate things without even realising how another might judge their behaviour or find it offensive. I enjoy exploring how God brings about that change as we slowly morph from the old into the new.

It's just a personal preference as a writer. While I acknowledge that there is plenty to explore in that seasoned Christian stereotype who has learned to adhere to the socially accepted norms of church culture, I simply find such characters less interesting. As such, most of my protagonists are people on a journey to faith rather than stalwart believers.

To Fear The Dawn deviated from that slightly as one of its protagonists is a priest (seasoned Christian stereotype) who is forced to confront a rather sinister past. This character was supposed to play second fiddle to the main protagonist but, I confess, he actually stole the show for me. In this character, I found an opportunity to explore that aspect of our Christian walk where we are confronted with our past; those things that we know are sinful but with which we still privately struggle despite our best efforts to live the life God has called us to.

For most of us, these issues are relatively easy to hide from those around us. They may be lustful thoughts or a propensity for gossip - or maybe an overly materialistic attitude. All of these can be tempered and easily hidden behind a Christian facade at church on Sunday. But what happens when the issue an individual struggles with is a far more destructive or socially unacceptable one? Does that make them a lesser Christian? My second protagonist was such a character and I revelled in exploring the often questionable choices he made - and guilt after the fact - when he was thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

If what you have now read has whetted your appetite for more, here is an excerpt and Sean's reason for choosing it: 

I chose this scene because it shows the protagonist at his absolute weakest. Nicholas Gallagher is a man who is accustomed to being in full control of his own destiny. Atheism comes easily to him in such a position. Suddenly, all that control is stripped away and he is thrust into a situation where others determine every aspect of his life; when he eats, when he sleeps, his freedom -  even his very life and death are in the hands of his captors. 

While God did not bring about the circumstances in which Nicholas finds himself, He will use the situation to bring about His purposes. Even though Nicholas doesn't realise it yet, his rebirth has already begun. This is the start of a journey that will lead Nicholas, spiritually, to the place God wants him to be.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~Start of Excerpt~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nicholas awoke at the distant sound of a clanging door. He opened his eyes, but it made little difference. He could barely see the edge of his bed in the shadowy cell. The slits between the bars on his door were little more than slightly lighter shades of black. There may have been a moon outside, but the prison's interior was like a dank cellar with the door fastened shut. He could hear, however. Things moved in the night and he'd learnt to sleep lightly. Even now, he could hear the scuttling of tiny feet as some sort of unidentifiable vermin moved about the floor.

He shivered slightly and pulled the sack-like prison blanket to his shoulders. It smelled like dirty socks and provided all the comfort of sandpaper. Prison was certainly the great equaliser, he reflected bitterly. All his money and power outside were worthless to him in here.

Nicholas had heard about the corruption inside prisons, but so far had experienced none. The guards had refused to treat him any differently from the rest of the prisoners and had become openly hostile at even the hint of a bribe. He hadn’t been allowed so much as a telephone call outside his legal rights.

If anything, they seemed more ruthless with him than most of the other criminals in the establishment and had taken pleasure in taunting him with the threat of bringing some of the more hardened criminals to visit his cell in the night.

Nicholas understood all too well, what such a visit might mean. The thought terrified him, but so far, their threats had been empty. On two occasions, the night staff had woken him in the small hours by jiggling keys in the lock. They had rattled the door to his cell, but it had been nothing more than their sick idea of a joke.

He refused to give them the satisfaction of showing his fear, but he'd cowered under his blanket, waiting for the moment to pass. The worst part of prison was how powerless it made him feel.

He'd discussed the incidents with his lawyer, but the man had told him to keep quiet about it. A complaint laid with the warden would achieve little, as Nicholas had no proof. It would merely be his word against that of the guards. In fact, such a complaint might even annoy them enough to want to teach him a lesson and invite more serious aggression.

“The best thing you can do is keep quiet and show no fear.” Those had been Jason Kreely’s words.

But you’re not the one stuck in a cell while potential rapists rattle the keys outside your door.

He longed for Jessica. Not a minute went by that he didn’t think of her. Jason had advised against bringing her to the prison, even in visiting hours. The mere sight of her would cause enough jealousy among the guards and other inmates to make Nicholas a target. The price of marrying a supermodel.

Nicholas had been incredulous at the outlandish statement, but Jason Kreely had been firm. “Forget everything you understand about human nature, Nicholas. These people have no moral compass; that’s why they’re here. And remember, the guards are not much better than the inmates. There is very little difference between the two. Don’t give them a reason to bully you. If you do, they will torment you until you break under the strain and then silence you before you have a chance to speak.”

“Why can’t you get me out of here?” Nicholas had been on the verge of tears. It was unlike him, but weeks of stress and constant threats on his body and very life were beginning to take their toll. Not to mention the fact that he stood to spend the best years of his life in prison.

Nicholas had to constantly remind himself that not everyone was his enemy. He'd actually fired Jason at one point and accused him of conspiring with the courts against their case, before coming to his senses and apologising. Jason had been gracious and never mentioned the incident.

The idea of a conspiracy still hovered over Nicholas like an oppressive tyrant. He was unable to shake the idea that other prisoners were watching his every move as if waiting to strike the moment a chance presented itself. He tried to convince himself that they were merely curious of the newcomer, but it was impossible.

He felt like one fighting the tide. Willow's documents had vanished and so had his witnesses, the policemen he'd given the documents to. He had considered mentioning the Anglican minister to Jason but was afraid that Kanabas might meet the same end as the policemen. Decklin Kanabas was his only hope and Nicholas refused to risk giving him up to the people who had put him in prison and sealed his fate.

One thing prison had taught him was to trust nobody. He wouldn’t even risk a phone call, as his movements and conversations could be monitored far too easily inside the prison walls. When the time came, he would contact Kanabas, but not before.

Nicholas knew enough about the law to know that he needed to be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. It was a long shot, but if a priest could testify and be convincing enough to a judge – even one who was perhaps less than impartial – he still had a chance.

Footsteps interrupted his thoughts. Three or four sets. He held his breath as they approached his cell. They stopped outside and once again, he heard the keys jingling, searching for the lock.

He had played out the scenario every night since the first incident and knew what he needed to do. With quivering hands, he reached for the loose slat carefully positioned near the top of his bed within easy reach. All the while, he wished fervently that this was just another sick prank on the part of the guards.

The slat had been easily concealed. It had, in fact, been a handle from a broken broom. Nicholas had been told to get rid of the item and had quietly slipped the handle down his collar and the upper part of his right leg. One became inventive in prison. It had taken several nights of scraping, but he had managed to sharpen the broken end to a point and kept it hidden under his mattress.

“Kom ryk seun, come rich boy. It’s time to work for your money.” Constable van Rensburg. Nicholas recognised the guard’s voice. The man had tormented him from the moment he’d arrived.

Several chuckles echoed in the darkness. Some were the voices of guards, but others were of a more sinister timbre that bore the mark of prison inmates.

The keys rattled in the lock once more. Nicholas closed his eyes tightly. Then he heard the click. This was no joke, he realised. This time he faced the real thing.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~End of Excerpt~~~~~~~~~~~~

To Fear the Dawn has a good ranking on Amazon: 

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,625 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

And some very positive and encouraging reviews. Here is just a sample:

To read more go here: To Fear the Dawn Reviews

on January 26, 2017
Just finished reading this book and was super impressed at author Sean Young's ability to hold my ADD brain's attention span captive. It's definitely the kind of book that you need to block out some time to read. While there are many changes of settings with characters on the run, overall, I felt like the passage through the plot was realistic. The premise at the beginning seems a bit out there, but, the farther you read, the more plausible it becomes and makes a person really think about who really controls world-influencers: the people with power, the wealthy and the like. I must say it was very unsettling. Using a priest to aid and abet the main character, Nicholas who was truly seeking the truth and the right path, but couldn't always use a virtuous route, was such an interesting character development. Mr Young developed his characters into full-dimensional people--so much so, that at times I wanted to cheer for them and, at other times, I wanted to wring their necks for their stupidity. Seeing a man-of-the-cloth developed so thoroughly was a pleasant surprise. It created a paradox in my mind initially that led me to some greater self-discovery. It is a thriller so there is obvious evil and the consequences of it throughout the book. Which "right" will you side with? When will the truth finally be revealed or will it? The climax and ending took me completely by surprise. However, it doesn't leave you hanging and needing to buy a sequel which I really appreciated. Kudos to author Sean Young on an excellent thriller that will appeal to both men and women and keep you riveted while reading.

on January 4, 2017
Sean is able to write a story that has many twists and turns and keeps the reader engaged. It was hard to put down the book once I started reading it. The book makes the readers pulse race at the many dangers faced, and continually desire to see the good overcome the evil. If you enjoy reading suspense, then pick up a copy of "To Fear the Dawn" and be prepared for a wonderful journey through the intrigues of good vs. evil. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Christian Suspense.

on January 28, 2017
I love mystery & action, I love twists & turns... And a good story. This book has all of it. Without the garbage - without vulgar language or smut. Add in the quiet foundation of a Biblical worldview of faith, integrity, & strength and its a very enjoyable read. Sad it's over! Thank You!

You can follow Sean on the following social media platforms:

Web Sites

Has this whetted your appetite to buy Harvest of Prey or to read further excerpts? If so, then please click on the BUY or PREVIEW icons below:

Readers and reviews are an author's best asset, so I encourage any reader of Christian mystery and suspense, political intrigue, conspiracy theory, Christian inspirational, to consider reading To Fear the Dawn 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).

Saturday 11 February 2017

To the Close of the Age by KennethT. Zemsky.

To the Close of the Age

In spring 2033 husband and wife scientists Jason and Rebecca invent the world's first time machine.  After a few brief trials sending inanimate objects through time, and with fuel for only one trip, they decide to visit the most significant moment in human history: the first Easter in 33 AD, to see if Jesus actually rose from the dead and to bring back proof to the modern world.  

It turns out time travels in waves, and en route Jason makes a brief visit to 14th century France, where he helps a young couple attacked by brigands.  In return, they present him with a gift of woven fabric.  Jason continues his journey to the time of Christ, landing near Bethany during Holy Week.  He visits Martha, Mary and Lazarus who provide him directions to Jerusalem where Jesus is praying in solitude before the high holy days. 

A freak accident knocks Jason and another bystander unconscious.  When Jason recovers, it is Holy Thursday and with his knowledge of history, he heads to the Garden of Gethsemane, unwittingly leading members of the Sanhedrin to arrest Jesus.  It turns out the other man who had been injured was Judas, on his way to betray Our Lord.  

Jason is unsuccessful in trying to prevent Jesus' execution.  He helps carry the lifeless body to the tomb, where the fabric he had received is used as the burial shroud. Overwhelmed with grief he fails to witness the Resurrection. However while bemoaning his fate, he comes in contact with the risen Lord. Convinced that time travel entails too much risk, Rebecca destroys the device and the couple decides to remain in the first century, where they become part of the earliest Christian community.

The Guru's Review: 

The author asked me to review his novel. I had my reservations as it had a Catholic flavour to it. However, when I discussed this with the author, he assured that despite him being a Catholic, his intent was for it to be a Christian book, not just a Catholic one. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. 

This novel is well constructed. Zemsky writes well and the plot flows like a babbling brook, no peaks or troughs. The pace is steady and keeps you coming back for more. I appreciated the humour included and it was a good balance to the suspense necessary in a novel like this. The author has three major plot lines that run alongside each other. As you read, you can see that at some stage these are destined to intersect. You also perceive that when they do, the collision is going to make the outcome explosive and suspenseful. That is exactly how it occurs and it is done well. I appreciate the research the author conducted both on the historical and the scientific aspects of the plot.

I did enjoy these aspects of the novel. 

What I did not enjoy about this novel is the spiritual aspects of the plot. I became very frustrated and disappointed with these. 

As stated above, this novel does have a Catholic flavour. It does show some of its doctrines. One example is Peter being appointed as Pope by Jesus himself. Many commentaries suggest that what Jesus based His church on was the testimony of who Peter states Jesus is and not based on Peter because he said this. 

Another is Father Carlo's attitude to prayer. He feels unworthy of coming into the Lord's presence and confessing his sin.Yet, it is just this that the bible states we are to do. Instead, he prays to two "saints", Thomas Aquinas and Peter the Apostle imploring them to act on his behalf to God. 

These two doctrines alone reminded me of the reasons I left the Catholic church of my upbringing. Amongst other reasons, I see that these are contrary to what the bible says about these issues. I was hoping I would not experience this while reading this novel and it was one of the reasons I had doubts whether to read it or not. When the author stated above that he wanted to write a Christian novel and not just a Catholic one, I was hoping that Catholic doctrine would not be included or blatant if included. 

I find it difficult to reconcile his comment concerning the Muslim and Christian faiths, 
Jason himself had read the Qur'an. He'd been surprised, quite pleasantly, to see how peaceful and poetic the scripture was and to realise the high regard it accorded Christians and Jews. The Qur'an referred to the latter two as "the people of the Book," referring favourably to the Bible.
I find this disturbing. I am not sure how the author can make this statement. Would love to see how this is shown in reality. The reality I and millions of others see shows something very different and more disturbing than this statement. I believe that it is not difficult to discover what the Qur'an is about, the religion it represents, how it is practised and the deception and evil that is at its core. Hardly peaceful and poetic or showing high regard to Christians and Jews. 

Further into the plot, I became ever more disappointed and frustrated. 

Zemsky has Jason, the main character, time travel to Israel during the week of Jesus' crucifixion. He wants to prove that Jesus' resurrection did occur and to bring back evidence. So why then does he portray Jason trying to prevent the arrest and subsequent trial of Jesus, trying to prove to the authorities, namely Pilate, that Jesus is innocent and a travesty of justice was being carried out and therefore Jesus should not be crucified? If Jason prevents Jesus' execution, then he effectively destroys this evidence and invalidates the reason he time travelled. If Jesus's death is prevented, then mankind is not saved from the effects of sin and death. Surely this latter fact is part of the basic understanding of those who have a relationship with Jesus and forms some of the essential underpinnings of their faith? Why mess with it?

To me, it would have been more effective having Jason solid in his faith with this underpinning, not interfering in Jesus' arrest and trial and therefore being able to gather evidence of the resurrection's veracity. But more significantly, it would show that faith is more important than emotive reactions (in this case to what Jesus went through) that can derail one's faith. Either I have missed something or the author's intention has not been clear in its delivery with this plot line.

The other aspect that I found frustrating was that due to an accident out of Jason's control, he ends up as taking Judas' role and betraying Jesus while the biblical Judas still hangs himself but for a different reason than what the Bible states! 

Zemsky also has a subplot of The Shroud of Turin but I am not so concerned about this theme as I don't consider it amounts to much as in reality, the jury is still out as to whether the Shroud is what it is purported to be, the burial cloth of Jesus. 

The other aspect where this poetic licence from Zemsky is out of control is having Jason write one of the gospels (the Book of Jason) and the Gospel of Luke did not happen! (Matthew, Mark, Jason and John, as stated in this novel). By this stage, I had had enough of this rewriting of some of the main constructs of the Bible and its main tenets. If my copy of this novel was in the printed format, I would have thrown the book against the wall.

I loath to add this next bit. The author stated to me in an email, that he "wanted to be pure as to God's Word" and to "honour God". Well, to me, this falls short of that. His attempt to "present scripture in an entertaining way, to get non-churchgoers to think about Jesus and his message", (again his words an email), misses this as well. Entertaining to a point but this ends when his poetic licence becomes over the top. I appreciate that this was his motive but it is not convincing. If Zemsky wanted non-churchgoers to think about Jesus and His message, then where is the gospel message or presentation?

Despite the above, I did enjoy the portrayal of Jesus, including that He would have a sense of humour and how he interacted with Jason and Rebecca. That portrayal honoured God. From talking to authors, I fully understand that portraying Jesus in a novel can be one of the most daunting aspects of characterisation and most feel they never do Him justice. I can understand why; they are trying to depict God who they have only experienced from the Bible and their own personal experience of Him and/or of other experiences/revelations. However, these are only the tip of the iceberg of who He is. 

This author shows a lot of promise in his writing. The technique of writing and creating a novel he has more than the basics for a new author. I just pray he can tweak the spiritual/biblical poetic licence into something that does honour God, His Word, encourage the reader's faith and lead them to consider who God really is and what He achieved for them on the Cross.

If you like a Catholic flavour to your novel, you will like this. Not for me, though!

Mildly Recommended 2/5.