Sunday 21 May 2017

Triple Time by C. Kevin Thompson

Triple Time (The Blake Meyer Thriller Series, Book 2)

A Looming Attack. A Loathsome Abduction. A Lethal Assassin. 

Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer has an impossible choice to make. After thwarting a massive biological attack on the continental United States, the contagion is still missing and in the hands of the enemy. So is his family. Abducted as an act of revenge.

The clock is ticking, and the chances of finding his wife and children wane with every passing second. The assassin behind it holds all the answers.

Or does she?

Three demands. Three choices.

Blake Meyer knows what must be done...but can he accomplish it before it's too late? Time is literally of the essence. And double time will not be fast enough.

The Guru's Review: 

Mama Mia! Can this series get any better? I reckon that readers of the first novel will agree that this is as good as or better than its predecessor. 

Thompson takes the reader on another action-packed, thrilling ride as the plot deepens with more twists and turns. Will the events of 1999 in Ireland ever end? What more could come out this event? When you think Thompson has revealed everything, he adds more details! And does this not deepen the plot and strengthen it so? You bet it does! Managing all these twists and turns shows Thompson to be quite a master. There are much to-ing and fro-ing from the various plot lines. While this can be problematic and annoying in other novels, Thompson avoids this. He turns this into a strength. Not only for pace but for the action and thriller aspect as well. When you start wondering about such and such, lo and behold, there is the update in the next chapter! 

Other pillars of this series are Thompson's writing talent and his creativity. This is coupled with how he has applied the influences from TV shows such as The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, 24, Criminal Minds, and even that of Star Trek. He is also a fan of Sherlock Holmes.

One thing, amongst many others, that Thompson has remained consistent, is the amount of research he has conducted. It is one thing to do this in preparation for a novel but quite another to apply this effectively to it. Another one of Thompson's strengths. He has seamlessly integrated this so that it forms a rich and solid environment that is realistic and against which this plot flows well. 

In novels such as this, it is tempting for it be constructed as plot driven rather than character driven. Like it predecessor, this novel is the latter. This allows for the exploration of Blake's emotions and reactions as a husband, father and soldier. I was really impressed how Thompson showed the conflict of emotions that Blake experienced as these three aspects/roles reacted against each other while he tried valiantly to find his family, 
Furious and frustrated, his battered mind staggered about like a bludgeoned boxer. Thoughts of the last week swirled into a hazy, static-filled mass of conflicting rhetoric. The soldier wrestled with the husband and father inside his soul as he strode down the hallway. 
The inner struggle between the family man, the agent, and the soldier inside Blake intensified. This turmoil made him indecisive. For the first time in a long time, he didn't know what to do next. The soldier inside screamed orders: Get off your butt and find the people who kidnapped your family! They're terrorists, and they need to be shot! The agent shouted back, No! They need to be brought to justice! Capture them, and they may help you find the contagion. 
The family man-the husband and father-covered his ears with this hands as he sat in his own shower, lamenting his condition. He didn't care about the country anymore. He didn't care if his family's abductors lived or died. 
He just wanted his family back. Safe and sound. Without them, not much else mattered."
And it continued, 
With his body weary and his emotions raw and unruly, he knew that once he got into "combat mode," the soldier in him would override everything else. Getting to that state of mind was the difficult part, though. The feelings of the father inside kept getting in the way. The father wanted to kill everyone who hindered the rescue of his family. The father was about to lose his mind. And that's what the soldier could not afford to do. Nor the agent. 
And at times, he had to force the issue with himself, 
Blake closed his eyes. His emotions swelled. You have to be the soldier now. Not a husband or a father. That's too painful. There will be time for grieving later. 
There are many more examples. I found these instances heart rendering as I could relate to the husband and father side of Blake. What an overwhelming and fierce struggle it must be to have the soldier part of him fight these two sides. I was almost in tears. These examples show how well developed he has characterised Blake as the main protagonist. This is powerful writing and shows how this plot being character-driven is one of the successful pillars of this series. And while it is like this, I will drop everything to read the next instalment. I am so glad that Thompson has planned 6 books in this series. 

Great to see some favourite characters back in this instalment as well, such as Scarfano and Kelly. These two form a solid support system for Blake. I am further endeared to them as see them more as an essential part of this plot and Blake's success as the operative that he is. Yet, they do not detract from Blake being such an independent operative and self-made man's man. I am glad that at least these two will continue in the remaining series and even have larger roles as this seems to be a natural progression from the last novel to this one. 

I did not cope well with the attack on Blake's family, relatives and friends, the bombing of his household and the kidnapping of his wife and children. I hate plot lines like this but accept that this is part and parcel of this type of genre as well as real life. This kidnapping is part of the main theme of these two novels which is human trafficking. This is a subject dear to Thompson's heart. He has teamed up with World Hope International on this issue and will contribute 10% of his authorly earnings to this cause. In this novel, Thompson depicts the rawest, grittiest and most inhumane side of human trafficking compared the more political type of HT as depicted in 30 Days Hath revenge.

He has described and depicted this inhumane side of human trafficking well in this plot. Using Blake's family as its subject, he exposes the mentality and attitude of the human trafficker, 
First, make all you can while you can in one of the most hellish, heartless, and horrific business operations ever created by sinful man. Even if that means greasing some wheels and palms along the way. You may have to get out quick someday. 
Second, don't allow do-gooders to judge what you do. This business has been around forever, even in biblical times. So, if Joseph's brothers-his own flesh and blood- could sell him to a band of Midianite merchants on their way to Egypt, surely he (Morozov, human trafficker) can do this same with people with which has no relationships. 
And last but not at all least, don't look too deep into your victim's eyes. For as a trafficker, one wrong move could make Compassion is a worthless emotion. 
Thompson uses Morozov's character to exemplify these characteristics. He also shows how a human traffic network works. And this seems to be one very carefully structured mafia-type operation. Morozov's character is depicted as one evil creature motivated by money, greed, hatred, and a sadistic, contemptible disregard for human life. I fully supported Sarah in her many reactions towards him. He really pushed my buttons with his behaviour! 

Thompson also uses a main character to show what it is like for the human trafficking victim. As much as I was angered and incensed by Morozov, I was equally empathetic towards this victim. Her testimony is sad, tragic and devastating, 
......there is no crime more inhumane. Murder, stealing, rape are all single acts. Selfish acts. They are bad. but human trafficking commits all of them at once-and more. Stealing, rape, torture, drug addiction, and ultimately a slow death. And if you are fortunate enough to escape or are released, you never recover fully. How can you? Your life has been forever altered, forever, scarred, forever ruined. The memories haunted you. You wake up in the night sweating from the nightmares. And you can never get your innocence...your purity back. 
I was not surprised at the twist that occurred with one of the main characters. I was suspicious of this character in the previous novel. Seeing that this current novel ends with a cliffhanger, the full extent of the betrayal and deceit of this character will become clearer in the next instalment. This is another of the many reasons I am looking forward to Book 3. Bring on August! 

Speaking of cliffhangers and twists, the events that comprise this twist I did not see coming. It forms not only the cliffhanger but sets the entire pace and flavour for the next novel. Another part of this ending is that Blake is no closer to finding his family. Their demise is left with one highly emotional response from Sarah. 

I have the same comments about the spiritual aspects of this novel as its predecessor. From those comments, Thompson made mention on his website to these spiritual shortcomings he says, 
I am very encouraged with this statement. Harrison, like in the previous novel, continues to witness to Blake in various small ways. And like real life, these small opportunities can reap huge rewards in relation to one's eternal future when God has his way. 

All in all, this novel takes this series to the next level of mystery, intrigue, suspense and sets the flavour for the rest of the series. This is one great series. Thompson has found his niche in life. 

Strongly Recommended. 4.5/5 Stars.
World Building 5/5

Characters 5/5 

Spiritual Level 3/5 

Story 5/5 

Enemy Spiritual Level 0/5

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

To buy or read a preview of 30 Days of Revenge, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icons below:

Monday 15 May 2017

Harvest of Prey by Alexander Preston

Harvest of Prey

A team of naturalists find themselves facing a nightmare beyond anything they have ever known - and the product of unspeakable evil.

Philip Caster, a former Green Beret now working as a zoologist, leads an international team in Indonesia whose revolutionary new program may spell salvation for the endangered Sumatran tiger. They will release six artificially-conceived cubs into the wild, accompanied by their surrogate mothers. The effort will prove the feasibility of in vitro breeding as a new tool against extinction. But its success is overshadowed by the sudden emergence of a horror beyond reckoning. Something has been unleashed in the forests of Sumatra. A life-form never meant to walk the earth. One that claims humanity as its only prey. 

As death unfolds around them, Caster and his circle of friends must uncover the truth behind an abomination: the instrument of dark and all-too-human forces pursuing a twisted ideological vision. Their creation has killed already - and their plans will consume millions more.

The Guru's Review: 

I first came across Alexander Preston when he advertised this novel in one of the Facebook Christian author/reader groups. I was intrigued by the description and the topic. I offered Alexander an Author/Novel spotlight post in this review blog to highlight the themes in the novel and why he wrote it. This gives a very good insight into the novel and the various influences that it is based on. 

One of the very first things that I noticed about this novel is how well it is structured and written. Preston has a competent and confident command of the English language. It is not just the words he uses but how he includes them into his sentence structure. I have not read a novel like this before in this regard. I had to read the same sentence or paragraph twice in some instances. I used the dictionary feature of the Kindle also many times on each page and you appreciate this feature when you read a novel such as this. There were so many words that I have never come across before. When you discover their meaning you can see how masterfully Preston uses them to his writing advantage. This has led me to see how the English language can be used to progress a novel above what we commonly see. By saying this, I am not saying that other authors who do not write like Preston have written mediocre or substandard novels. 

I find that when an author describes the body's physical reaction to a severe, even horrific situation, it needs to be exactly what the human body experiences as the reader can then relate. They may have even experienced the same or similar. It should not be depicted as something foreign or that the reader might think "what?". Preston's depiction of having Caster experience a physical reaction that only affected his bowels when seeing many horrific scenes seemed to me to be a bit unrealistic. I would have expected a few more physical symptoms such as diaphoresis (sweating), pallor, elevated heart rate (tachycardia and palpitations), dizziness, to name a few, but not all in every circumstance. Here are the examples, 
"....he was aware only of a gnawing, cavernous feeling in his bowels....."
"It did nothing to dispel the hideous sensation that rose up from inside his bowels..." 
"Caster felt a cold tightening of his bowels which sent a near-nausea climbing up the back of his throat..." 
"His bowels gurgled in protest, and he was forced to divert his gaze and clench his teeth."
Preston wrote these examples in such dire, horrific circumstances, but I could not relate to this as a single physical occurrence to this stressor! I can overlook this as it is not a major flaw and does not detract from anything relating to the plot or the author's message. He at least showed that the circumstances Caster were in evoked a strong physical reaction to a severe/horrific event. This type of inconsistency can be easily fixed in his future writings. It is his first novel after all, and I understand what a minefield authors go through when composing a novel and getting it right, albeit for the first time. 

Preston has developed the entire plot very well. There is good cohesion between the events with the suspense and horror of the killings. This is balanced with suspense and intrigue from the manipulation of science, the evilness and corruptness of the scientists involved and those in the corporations pulling the strings. It more than keeps you reading and coming back for more. Amongst all this, Preston has developed the main characters well, especially Philip Caster. I was instantly rooting for Caster as he was so masterfully framed for murder and his determination to prove his innocence and bring all to justice. Preston shows how military training can form the basis of this determination or enhance it when it is part of his character (as in personality, not character as in a novel). This manipulation of science brings up the themes that undergird the message of this novel. In the Author/Novel spotlight mentioned previously, I asked Preston why he wrote this novel and he replied, 
Harvest of Prey has been written as a kind of “modern parable” to illustrate the moral implications of certain contemporary ideas, primarily the more radical wing of environmentalism and the value (or lack thereof) it places upon human life. At the same time, it also touches upon the ethics of genetic modification as well as the philosophy of science itself (primarily the different approaches implied by atheistic materialism vs. Judeo-Christian theism). These have all been featured before in fiction, but few have explored their full potential for a powerful story. I’m hoping to break new ground by introducing a gripping, visceral theme of Good vs. Evil that can reach the moral imagination of readers across a variety of faith (or agnostic) backgrounds.
Preston achieves this very well in this novel. His presentation of these themes through the plot and characters clearly defines the issues at hand and the ethics involved. It was quite an education that added much more layers of information to the little that I knew of these issues. His solution to these issues is brilliant and shows a depth of research and much thought out and applied reasoning and logic. From this, I am reminded from the same Author/Novel spotlight of the influences that shaped Preston's writing and ideas, including the novels that these authors have written on similar issues or inspired him. These include: 
When I read why Preston wrote this novel, I was expecting some Christian/biblical themes or portrayal of faith in the main characters or minor characters. But there is none. Preston has deliberately omitted this in this novel and plans to do so in those novels that follow in this series. He has reasons for doing so, which I have no choice but to accept. He offers some explanation as to why this is so, 
Harvest of Prey is not, strictly speaking, “Christian fiction” but rather “fiction written by a Christian”. I’ve taken this approach for several reasons. The primary one is that denominational boundaries (and their accompanying doctrinal disagreements) can make the term “Christian” a dicey one. It’s fully possible to place two self-described “Christians” in the same room and have each of them deny the other’s right to that label. Calvinist Christians, for example, have fundamentally different views on salvation from, say, Roman Catholic Christians (incidentally, I myself embrace neither of these two doctrines – I belong to a little-known denomination with precursors among the Anabaptists and Mennonites). Also, Harvest of Prey, although it discusses faith (at length, in a few places), is not concerned with the protagonist’s attainment of personal salvation – I’ve omitted that particular element for the prior doctrinal reasons (I intend to use it, however, for a future historical fiction series set during the biblical era).
Despite accepting these reasons, I am disappointed somewhat. The consequences of omitting Christian/biblical content, (specifically the protagonist's attainment of personal salvation and not constructing this as Christian fiction due to "....denominational boundaries and their accompanying doctrinal disagreements making the term Christian a dicey one") just reduces this novel (and any other novel for that matter for the similar reasons) to a clean read. While there is nothing wrong with this as such and on its own, there are novelists out there who are not Christian who also create clean reads. For me, due to Preston's reasons for this omission, places Harvest of Prey on the same level as these other clean read authors. I just question whether a Christian novelist should let obstacles such as these, stop them from basing their novel solely on Biblical principles, themes or doctrines. However, Preston does plan to include the "...issue of personal salvation" in a "...future historical fiction series set during the biblical era". I am looking forward to this. 

I am by no means attacking or undermining the author by these comments, just giving my perspective. 

Moving on from this, I regard this novel as a well-written, masterfully constructed, full of action and adventure, mystery and suspense, with controversial scientific and environmental themes dealt responsibly and intelligently. 

Even though it is not written as Christian fiction as such or written from a Christian worldview, I highly recommend this novel. 5 Stars.

To buy or read an excerpt, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icon below: 

Saturday 13 May 2017

Guest Post: Author Parker Hudson on Spiritual Warfare

If you follow my reviews in this blog and have checked out my bookshelves on Goodreads, you will have discovered I read novels that involve spiritual warfare.

I love the plot, the depiction of the biblical principles of spiritual warfare. This not only entertains but increases and strengthens my faith. It shows me how these principles are lived out in the characters and storyline. These novels also show me the background of the author on this topic.

They must know about spiritual warfare to novelise its principles, right?

Well, I managed to find (rather stumbled across) a blog post that proves my point. When I read this, I knew I had to ask Parker if I could post this.

It is one very concise and informative piece and it forms the basis of Hudson's novels. It definitely honours the Word of God.

Another reason I asked Hudson, is that too many Christians either do not know about spiritual warfare or deny its relevance. And as Hudson points out below, this is exactly what Satan wants.

So sit back and let Hudson enlighten you about the reality of spiritual warfare. We can only be better equipped to fight the enemy and know more about his tactics by doing so.

Over to you, Hudson: 

This post is written primarily to believers. It will make little sense to others, and even believers don’t typically spend much time focused on Spiritual Warfare, which is exactly what Satan wants and makes his destructive mission much easier.
Satan particularly hates believers because we will spend eternity where he began but can never return: in Heaven with God.  He does everything he can to lie and to confuse, ensuring that as few people as possible accept Christ’s free gift of salvation.  Despite his lies, if someone nevertheless becomes a believer, Satan then does all he can to make that person feel ineffective in telling others.

His goal is to take as many with him as possible, including our families, to an eternity without God—an eternity of indescribable sorrow and pain. Our critical role as believers is to fight back, particularly for those we love.
My friend Ken Boa has a very full and concise section on Spiritual Warfare in his advanced discipleship book Conformed To His Image, which I strongly recommend.  This is a huge subject, worthy of many words, not just a short post. Some of what follows, therefore, borrows from Ken’s well-written summary.
I want to touch here on three important aspects of Spiritual Warfare.
First, Satan is real. He is a personal, created being, with intellect, emotion and will. Christ refers to Satan’s fall in Luke 10:18, and the New Testament mentions Satan 120 times.  For a believer to deny or ignore the daily reality of demonic forces at work to destroy us is to parse Christ’s teachings in a way that would not be condoned on any other subject.  If one believes that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins, then as a sinner saved by grace, one also has to believe in Jesus’ many teachings on Satan.

Second, there are really three separate but related aspects to Spiritual Warfare: the world, the flesh and the devil. 

The flesh is our inherent sin nature.  As Boa writes, even as believers, “no one has to be forced into selfishness, pride, gluttony, self-pity, lust or bad temper.”  The flesh can never be reformed or improved through some self-help program; it can only be overcome and buried on a daily basis by walking in submission to the rule of the Holy Spirit.  As believers, to battle the flesh we need to pray daily for the fruit of the Spirit and give Him free reign to overcome the temptations that inevitably come our way.

The world refers to the external forces which promote an attitude of independence from God, the result of all our individual sin natures working together.  As the world becomes darker and more secular, there is ever more fertile ground for indulging the flesh and pulling people away from God’s principles and truths.  Media, entertainment, education, weak families, peer pressure—all combine to make a world in which the Creator is at best a second class after-thought. And His good purposes for us are lost in constant temptations or just plain busyness.

To push back against the world’s lies requires believers to renew our minds with the truths of Scripture. Boa writes, “We need to internalize biblical values through a daily program of reading, memorizing, meditating, and personalizing Scripture.  This has a price tag:  it takes time and discipline.”

The devil and his demons then use the first two–our inherent sin nature and the ever darkening world’s enticements–as ports of entry to influence, oppress, and ultimately, in the worst cases, to control us.  Like Satan, demons are real and personal beings, with intelligence, emotion and volition. According to Boa, approximately 25% of Jesus’ ministry deals with deliverance from demonic affliction—hard to ignore!

At the first level, using both our flesh and the world as pathways, “demons seek to plant thoughts in our minds, influence our emotions, and weaken our wills.  They inject deceptive, accusing and condemning thoughts and attitudes that are opposed to the truth of Scripture.” If given freedom to continue without being checked, their work can lead to oppression and control, and they then must be confronted directly and commanded to leave, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the saints.

Being saved from demonic influence—whether their influence, oppression or control—is a large subject.  But Boa lists seven conditions which are always needed for deliverance:

  1. Salvation. Without Christ, there is no hope of victory over the powers of evil.
  2. Willingness. We must want to be set free.
  3. Confession. To reclaim any ground that we have yielded to the adversary.
  4. Renunciation. Make a clean and permanent break.
  5. Forgiveness. We must forgive all who have wronged us.
  6. Submission. Acknowledge our complete dependence on Him.
  7. Resistance. When the other conditions are met, we must use Christ’s authority to command the demonic forces to leave.
In my own life, I’ve found that I need to pray, study, and then pray some more.
Third and finally, I am struck by how the family is designed by God to be the first line of both defence and offence when battling spiritual darkness.  By weakening and destroying the family, Satan furthers all of his purposes. So it is our daily responsibility to defend and build up families, starting with our own.
Husbands and fathers, the family is our first and most important responsibility.  God has put us in charge.  What will we report about our family on the day that we meet our Judge face to face?  Can anything be more important than where our wife and children spend eternity?
We’ll look at Spiritual Warfare and the family more in a later post.  For now, there is no better place to start than on our knees.

The original post can be found here

Thank you, Parker, for composing this blog post about a very significant but important principle of our Christian discipleship. I pray it encourages the Body of Christ to embrace this and incorporate this in our daily walk with God.

Saturday 6 May 2017

30 Days Hath Revenge by C. Kevin Thompson

30 Days Hath Revenge

Book 1 of the Blake Meyer Thriller Series!

A Clandestine Mission. A Cryptic Message. A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyers dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction--a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy family life.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in his London flat, Blake's secretive past propels him into the middle of an international scheme so twisted and sadistic, it will take everything Blake possesses--all of it--to save the United States from a diabolical terrorist attack.

The Guru's Review: 

Reading this novel gave me yet another confirmation that just because this is a debut novel it does not have to be a dud or you feel the author needs to put in more hard yards before they publish next. 

I was immediately taken in by this novel. Not just with the plot and charactersation but with the writing. Thompson writes very well. It is immediately evident. This is one very strong asset to him as an author. His command of the English language and how he constructs it for this novel forms one very solid foundation upon which the plot, pace and charactersiation rest. It did not surprise me to discover that Thompson has won Awards for his writing, the first edition of this novel was a Silver Medalist in the Readers' Favorite 2013 Book of the Year Awards in the Christian Fiction category. 

The pace in this setting is frenetic. It never lets up. It is this that keeps you coming back for more. In some novels of this genre and calibre, it can end up with the characters being in a plot driven storyline and the main character being taken for a ride with the fast paceness of the plot. Here, the reader can feel that everything is happening to the main character or characters and they have no or not much control over what is happening to them. In this novel, Thompson has avoided this pitfall. It is very much a character driven plot. This lends itself very well to Blake being able to use his extensive experience and knowledge of his field to find out answers to the terrorist threat to his present and that of the world's population.

Just as Thompson has an excellent, competent command of the English language, the same degree of expertise can be said for the construction of this novel, the characters but especially the plot. There are no thin areas of plotlines, characterisation or pace. There is depth to all these aspects. Blake is one self-made man who knows who he is and what makes himself tick. He is extremely relational and even before the events and characters of his past start to influence him, Thompson has developed him enough to have the reader endeared to him and on his side. This bides well when the events of his past threaten him and the rest of the world. You are already on his side and rooting for him. Doing it this way establishes his credibility as a character and gives the reader the confidence to continue to read without any doubt of Thompson's development of Blake. 

Another aspect of Thompon's characterisation is the layered construction of the plot and how this affects Blake. The terrorist plot that exists in Blake's past that is now affecting his present also adds layers to the professional and personal life of Blake and his family. It sets the stage for him to show how versatile and resourceful an agent he is, in simultaneously fulfilling the responsibilities his profession as an Agent and protecting his family. 

I can see why Thompson is successful with this novel. He as researched it well and applied it effectively. Clues to this success can be found from his Amazon bio: 
He is a huge fan of the TV series "24," "The Blacklist," "Blue Bloods," "Designated Survivor," and "Criminal Minds." He loves anything to do with Star Trek, is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, and reads lots of books.
Apart from Blake, I have a soft spot for Harrison Kelly. I really enjoyed this character. It is an asset for an author's ability to successfully depict the nationality of the character. While reading the sections involving Kelly and Blake, I felt very much at home with his mannerisms and language as Thompson has depicted Kelly as pretty much how us Australians speak and behave. 

I also enjoyed Agent Julee Scarfano. She seems a more than capable operative and is very good as being a go-between for Blake and Connell when Blake needs to bypass the restrictive rules and regulations of the FBI in order to go rogue. I hope that Thompson includes Julee in the remaining 5 novels in this series. The almost love-hate relationship between Connell and Blake adds another layer of suspense that I enjoyed. This seems to be a characteristic of novels in this military, special ops genre. I never get sick of the main character thwarting and bypassing rules and regulations to get things done in dire circumstances of a mission when rules and regulations would restrict its outcomes. Connell seems to waver between sticking to the confines of the FBI operation procedures and giving Blake what he needs within this. He fails miserably and nearly loses Blakes respect for him or at least has it damaged. 

This novel is described by Thompson and others as a Christian thriller due to its exclusion of sex, profanity and other gore. I would challenge this. These exclusions make this a clean read and that does not make it Christian. Some secular authors write clean reads with these exclusions and their novels are far from being Christian. 

What makes this a Christian thriller is the inclusion of spirituality based on Biblical themes and doctrines and who God is. There is only a little of this in this novel. I felt that if it was omitted, it would not have any great impact on the overall plot or even on Blake to whom it was directed. Consequently, this omission would have made it a clean read and indistinguishable from a secular novel. However, with this inclusion, Thompson gets Blake thinking about the meaning of life (cliche not intended!), the question of evil and its effects on the human race and where he all fits into this. There was potential there for Thompson to develop this further and as a result, develop the character of Harrison who is the sole Christian character and who provides the spiritual/ biblical input to Blake. I hope that this is included more and developed further in the sequel, Triple Time, and the remaining books 3-6 that are to come over the next few years. 

Maybe I expected more of these Biblical themes and spirituality due to the fact that Thompson is an ordained minister. I have found from reading other novels from Ministers/Pastors they have no problem including Biblical themes of redemption, salvation, evil, death, spiritual warfare, sexuality and other themes concerning the ills of this world (suffering, addictions, domestic violence, to name a few) in greater detail than what Thompson has, without it being preachy or "fire and brimstone" type narrative. 

The above is the only shortcoming I see in this novel. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and the writing ability of this author. I am glad to have approached him to write a review and be part of his launch party for this series. 

Strongly Recommended. 4/5 Stars.
World Building 5/5

Characters 5/5 

Spiritual Level 3/5 

Story 5/5 

Enemy Spiritual Level 0/5

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

To buy or read a preview of 30 Days of Revenge, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icons below:

Monday 1 May 2017

Author/Novel Spotlight: Dony Jay and The Warrior Spy Thrillers

I reviewed the debut novel of Dony Jay, in March this year. The Warrior Spy was a great read and a very successful novel in the genres of action and adventure, military, special ops, mystery and suspense. The second novel in this series, Artifacts of Conspiracy, is most anticipated amoungst Dony's fans. It is being released on May 1st, 2017. In celebration of this release, I offered Dony to have Artifacts of Conspiracy in another Author/Novel Spotlight to help promote it.

So sit back and explore the world of novelist, Dony Jay and his Warrior Spy novels, especially Artifacts of Conspiracy.

But first, a little about Dony: 

Dony Jay is a graduate of York College of PA, with a B.S. degree in criminal justice. He serves as a detective for a suburban police department in Pennsylvania. When he's not reading or writing, Dony loves spending time with his family, staying fit and cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles. Above all, he's a follower of Jesus Christ. According to Dony, the tenets of a rich & rewarding life include faith, family and freedom. In that order. He resides in south-central Pennsylvania.

Before we look at Dony's new release, here is a little about his debut novel, The Warrior Spy that gives the background to Artifiacts of Conspiracy:

The CIA has a problem. It's best clandestine operatives keep turning up dead. And now, as if things couldn't get any worse, a Defense Department scientist, specializing in high-energy lasers, has gone missing. America needs answers. And fast. 

Delta Force operator Reagan Rainey, on temporary duty assignment with a secret CIA entity known as Directorate Twelve, is tasked to do just that--get answers. But to do so, he not only has to outwit and outmanoeuvre a dangerous cabal of foreign actors believed to be at the center of it all, he must contend with a deadly assassin who is bent on destroying him.
Relying on his bedrock faith in Almighty God, Rainey is forced to race against the clock to uncover what is really going on and why, before his beloved America is pushed to the brink of war.

The Warrior Spy is the first book in the Warrior Spy thriller series. It is jam-packed with heart-pounding action, all-out spy warfare and a new American hero that is sure to please.

It's comparable to thrillers by such authors as Robert Ludlum, Brad Thor and Vince Flynn, while also containing a clear faith element. If you love for-God-and-country-type books, The Warrior Spy was written for you!.

 Amazon reviews have been very favourable. The image below from the Amazon book description page shows just how so: 

Go here to read them. My review can be found here.

Warrior Spy was so well received that readers were impatient waiting for the next instalment. This became a highly anticipated novel. Well, now it is here, Artifacts of Conspiracy.

Book Description: 

Reagan Rainey was eleven years old when CIA men came to his house and broke the news that his father was dead. And so for the past twenty years, he and his family believed just that. But when a Russian spy named Moses suddenly comes forward and teases a tightly held secret from the past, Rainey’s world is turned upside down.

As part of the ensuing internal CIA investigation, Rainey—Delta Force special operator turned CIA operations officer—is dispatched to Great Britain to find out what really happened to his father and why. After narrowly escaping gunmen in England and an ambush in Spain, Rainey mounts his own operation that will lead readers through the spy-rich streets of Vienna and Prague and to the doorstep of Moscow. And leave Rainey staring face to face with a killer.

In his most daunting mission to date, Rainey will do whatever it takes to discover the truth. For his country, his family and himself. A truth that will challenge the very fiber of his faith and just might shake America to its core.

Here is a book trailer video to further whet your appetite: 

I asked Dony what influenced the plot of this second instalment and what are its Biblical themes: 

I love the Reagan Rainey character. He is very much intended to be a modern-day George Washington, a man of honor and valor. A man of God. But he is also as deadly a killer America has in her arsenal. I think the world—especially Americans—need to see more characters like Rainey—people who are honorable and just and fearless in the face of evil, individuals with integrity and strong moral fiber, who are just as eager to seek God’s will as they are to battle the enemies of freedom and liberty. The Hand of Providence created America; it’s our responsibility as Americans to be good stewards of its ideals and founding principles. Mresolution is to espouse the goodness of America and God’s love through compelling fiction that is also entertaining and inspiring.

Biblical Theme #1: Trouble will come in life and sometimes that trouble is severe and lasting, but God’s promises are true and eternal. The hope for all of mankind is that Jesus Christ has overcome every evil thing, every sin, even death itself. He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Biblical Theme #2: God loves us. He desperately wants us to love Him back. (John 3:16)

Here is a book excerpt for those who want to investigate this new release further:

     A burst of gunfire clamored from behind him. Rainey flinched, but still kept hold of the man and the pistol. With his left foot, he swept the man’s right leg, forcing him to the ground then looped his left elbow over the man’s extended right arm. Rainey pivoted to his right and pointed the man’s gun toward the car that was racing into the lot. A man armed with a submachine gun was leaning out from the front passenger-side window.
     Bullets slammed into the cars beside him. Glass shattered. Sparks flew.
     “Get down!” yelled Saul.
     The man began to squirm within his grasp. Rainey elbowed him hard in the face then looked back up at the fast-approaching car. Both of them still locked onto the pistol, Rainey squeezed the man’s hand inside the trigger well but the gun did not respond. It was jammed. He quickly ripped the pistol from the man’s grasp, cleared the stoppage and aimed at the car. Several rounds found the windshield. Bullets spotted the hood and grille. The vehicle swerved then slid sideways, careening right for them. At the last second, Rainey released the man and leapt onto the hood of the vehicle next to him. The speeding sedan slammed into the gatekeeper full-on before smashing into the vehicles behind him, each one striking the next in a domino effect.
     Rainey jumped from the hood of the car, rolled to a crouched position with the gun up and ready.     
     “Pappy! You okay?!”
     Saul grunted. “I’m good.”
     “Stay down!” Rainey popped up. A man with a submachine gun was alighting from the back seat of the car through the broken-out rear windshield. Rainey fired three rounds, striking him in the head and neck. The man fell forward onto the trunk with a thud and hung there, dead. Rainey ducked back down, quickly scrambled behind another car. This time when he popped up, he caught the front passenger still focused on where he had just been. He fired two more rounds then dropped back down.
     The man yelled in agony then screamed, “GO! GO! GO!”
     The vehicle’s engine whined loudly. Its tires chirped against the cobblestones as the driver managed to untangle the vehicle from the ones he had crashed into and sped off. As the car slalomed through the lot, the dead man on the trunk was thrown clear. He rolled like a rag doll over the surface of the lot until he struck the gatehouse with a loud crack.
     Rainey glanced back at Saul. “Pappy, throw me the keys!”
     Saul hurriedly fished the keys from his pants pocket, threw them to him.
     Rainey jumped into the Skoda, turned the ignition and revved the engine. “Get in!”
     Saul dodged over to the vehicle. He clawed opened the front passenger door and scrambled inside.
     “Put your seatbelt on. Tight!” Rainey sped out of the lot, blew past the gatehouse and whipped down the lane in pursuit of the other car. The vehicle’s tires screeched as he slid sideways out onto Hull Road. “You okay?! You hurt?!”
     “I’m okay. I’m okay. Just drive!” Saul was breathing heavily. “He set us up, Ray. He set us up.”

As usual with any book release, there are always reviews from readers who were given advanced copies. Like The Warrior Spy, these reviews are very favourable: 

Advance Praise for Artifacts of Conspiracy

“A smart, fast-paced thriller…fans of Joel C. Rosenberg will devour this book!” —The Real Book Spy

Artifacts of Conspiracy is all thriller, no filler. Guaranteed to satisfy the most discerning literary palate.” —Joshua Hood, author of Clear by Fire and Warning Order

“Special Forces Operator Reagan Rainey is back in Artifacts of Conspiracy, the exciting second installment of Dony Jay’s Warrior Spy thriller series. Like Joel C. Rosenberg, Jay has found the perfect balance of well-crafted military and covert operations thriller and faith-based fiction. In Rainey we see an operator true to his faith, but with the frailties and weaknesses of all of us, making a realistic character we are eager to root for. Jay has masterfully crafted a non-stop thrill ride that will keep you turning pages well into the night. This second book in the series proves that Dony Jay is a rising star in the genre.” —Jeffrey Wilson, Wall Street Journal and Amazon #1 Bestselling author of the Tier One thriller series

“Crisp, smart and loaded with action.” —Steve Wilson, author of the Michael Neill Adventures series

I also received an ARC and my review can be found here

If you want to follow Dony Jay or investigate more about his books, he can be found on the following social platforms: 

Author Newsletter: Dony Jay’s Reader Intel Bulletin


If you want to buy The Warrior Spy or Artifacts of Conspiracy or read further excerpts of both, click on the links below: 

Readers and reviews are an author's best asset, so I encourage any reader who likes reading in the genres of Christian inspirational, action and adventure, military, special ops, mystery and suspense to consider reading The Warrior Spy and Artifacts of Conspiracy 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).