Sunday 30 July 2017

Cover Reveal: Full Circle: Book Six of the Adventure Chronicles By Jeffrey Allen Davis

I have reviewed the five novels in the Adventure Chronicles and found them to be a great read. They have appealed to the young adult that still exists within me. However, I would never have thought that I would love martial arts, specifically the art of the ninja. But, I must confess that this would be due to the passion for martial arts that Jeffrey Davis has grown up with that he succeeds in portraying in this series.

I love this series and feel that I know the characters intimately as if I was one of the Adventure group. So when Jeffrey, announced that the sixth book was about to be released, I offered to help promote this with this cover reveal. So without further ado, here is the cover reveal for

But what is a cover reveal without a description of this new release? Read on: 

Maria “Star” Gonzales is dead. The autopsy rules it a heart attack but Jamie, Dave, and the others cannot bring themselves to believe that the vibrant, young woman could have died from such natural causes. They decide to attend the funeral and do a little snooping while in Jameston.

In the town of their founding, the team of martial artists find themselves in the middle of a war between their old enemies, the Renegades, and the Japanese organized crime family known as the Yakuza. To add to the chaos, a former assassin for the Waruiyatsu ninja clan now works as a bodyguard for Hiroshi, the head of the Japanese syndicate. Could they be behind the death of Adventure’s friend? Or could Ben Shalley, whose hand is in all of the crime in the state, have faked the autopsy report to manipulate Jamie and the others? More importantly, could this all lead to the explanation of another mysterious death that has already plagued our heroes?

Finally, Yoshi has been talking with the elders of the Funakoshi family about a big decision that could lead her to the fulfilment of the prophecy that was given to her by Elvara Winterbreeze the day that she came to know Jesus. But how will this decision affect her friends . . . and Jamie, in particular?

As the members of Adventure face the past that turned them into a fighting team, they find a surprising ally. Will they now come Full Circle?

Full Circle will be released on August 26th. 

You can pre-order it now from Amazon. Go here to do so: Full Circle: Book Six of the Adventure Chronicles

If you wish to investigate more of this series, click on the links to investigate the previous novels in this series: 

Invasion of the Ninja, Book One of the Adventure Chronicles

Klandestine Maneuvers: Book Two of the Adventure Chronicles

Gateway To Thera: Book Three of the Adventure Chronicles

A Family Squabble: An Adventure Chronicles Short Story (The Adventure Chronicles)

The Quest for Yoshi: Book Four of the Adventure Chronicles

Buster's Legacy: Book Five of the Adventure Chronicles

I am looking forward to reading Full Circle and reviewing this. My anticipation for this new novel does not stop here though; I understand that Jeffrey has planned 9 books in the series! 

Here is the link again to pre-order Full Circle, release date, 26th August, 201:Full Circle: Book Six of the Adventure Chronicles

Friday 28 July 2017

Daniel And The Sun Sword by Nathan Lumbatis

Daniel And The Sun Sword

Thirteen-year-old Daniel is about to be adopted. But when he learns his new family wants him as a slave, he runs away with the help of his new neighbors, the naïve and cowardly Ben, and Raylin, a mysterious girl with a shady past.

He begins to second-guess his decision when the cave they hide in transports them to the ruins of Machu Picchu, where they find themselves embroiled in a battle between ancient gods of Life and Death. To top things off, the God of Life draws Daniel into the fray by adopting him as his son and setting him on a quest to complete a broken, mystical sword, a task that will pit him against the god of the underworld. 

Now, Daniel and his friends have just one weekend to find the shards before a hoard of supernatural enemies catch up. But that’s not all they face. A trap has been set that even Daniel wouldn’t expect, and he just took the bait. 

Will the power of his Heavenly Father be enough to save them?

The Guru's Review: 

The author asked me to review this novel in 2015 when it was about to be released but I was unable to due to a long list of author requested reviews. I have been able to now as he requested a review of the next novel in the series about to be released over the next few weeks. 

Now that I have read this debut novel, I realise what I have missed. This is a wild ride for a debut novel in this genre. Lumbatis writes as one who is a seasoned novelist. It is very hard to distinguish that this is his debut. On all the infrastructure that makes up a novel, a tick can be applied. The pace never slows down, the action never stops, the characters are well developed. Worldbuilding provides a solid foundation upon which everything rests. This is developed well and believable. The supernatural elements are based firmly in Biblical foundations. They are also rooted in the mythology of the geographical location and culture depicted. This is not surprising seeing that Lumbatis is writing from a Christian/Biblical worldview. 

In relation to the supernatural elements, I loved Lumbatis's take on the Gospel message. The same for those of angels and demons and their various forms and names. Using poetic licence that includes artefacts that are supernaturally empowered by God to assist in defeating the power's of darkness, does not detract from the Gospel message or compromise its tenets. To me, this shows Lumbatis's motive to adhere to his faith and belief in the Bible and its doctrines. 

One thing that Lumbatis does well in this novel depicts the correlation between Incan mythology and the Bible. Here is what he had to say in a guest post in 2015 on my blog: 
Speculative Fiction begins by presuming the basics of a Christian worldview and then asking "What if?". One of the central "What if's...." of Daniel and the Sun Sword, and the Sons and Daughters series as a whole, has to do with the origin of worldwide mythologies: What if every culture's myths grew out of man's fallen memory of the one true God and his plan for redemption? Wouldn't there be traces of the thread of redemption in those ancient stories?`
No doubt some believe as much. ....For nerds like me, the real fun starts when you begin to untangle those similarities and consider how the cultures of ancient societies lost the truth.
So, what are we looking for? Let’s set our parameters as the following:
1) An all-powerful Father-God
2) A race of lesser beings; mortal and in peril
3) A god-man who plays some sort of saviour role
4) A god or an immortal filled with evil and postured as an enemy of mankind.
Here (is one) myth that fit the bill, the Incan myths woven into Daniel and the Sun Sword:
Viracocha: The Incan creator-god. After creating the natural world and the cosmos, he turned his mind to mankind. His first attempt at creating people displeased him, as the first versions were brainless giants. So, he wiped them out with a flood, and created a less barbaric race. Then, he took to wandering the world as a kindly beggar, helping those in need, and appearing in times of trouble.
Mankind: Men were created when Viracocha breathed life into stones. They were seen as his children, and he loved them as a father.
Inti: The god of the sun and the son of Viracocha. After being sent to earth by his father, he and his sister-wife, Mama Killa, taught mankind the basics of life and founded the great city of Cuzco.
Supai: The Incan god of the dead, king of the demons, and the ruler of the underworld. He was such a nasty fellow, in fact, that the Incans would sacrifice their children to appease him.
It seems that this foundation has enabled Lumbatis to create such an enjoyable read with a strong spiritual message. It very evident that Lumbatis has achieved what he set out to do, not just in the above speculative elements, but in exploring the themes of adoption, laying down one's life for others and what it really means to be free. All this from the instruction and counsel of Inti and The Father (God). And both these accounts are not just a glossing over but some good spiritual insight and truth. The account of The Father encouraging Daniel to submit to Him and give Him his anger is very powerful. It is how I imagined God dealing with issues like this in one's life if He was to directly talk to us as described here. Having Daniel give his anger over to The Father after hearing that His Son (Jesus) dealt with it (as in the Cross) is almost as if Daniel had his conversion to being born again. But there is no acknowledging Jesus as Lord, no admitting his sin and need for Jesus as Saviour.

I do feel that Lumbatis could have taken him and Ben, to this final step of accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour. This could have been after they heard the Gospel message from Inti. After his explanation of this message and the background to their mission, all the foundations were laid down here for the next step which is to enter into a spiritual relationship with Jesus. If not at that point, it could have been later or even at the completion of their mission or in the final battle scenes as described in the previous paragraph. The Father (God) had direct communication with Daniel throughout this novel once the Sun Sword was in his possession. I wonder how much convincing Lumbatis needed to include in this character or even Ben for them to be convinced of their need for Him? I am hoping that this is established in the next novel.

Looking at what Lumbatis does for a living, a child and adolescent therapist working with adoptees, foster kids, and children from broken homes, you can see where these themes come from and why he has included them in this novel. This is why this novel is directed at the adolescent/young adult audience. I admire this in an author. To write what you know is always a firm foundation to build on. It also reinforces the theme of his website, Exploring Faith Through Fantasy. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward now to reviewing the sequel, Daniel And The Triune Quest. Lumbatis has become an author for me to follow and support.

Highly Recommended. 

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5 

Overall Rating 4.6/5 Stars

To read an excerpt or buy this novel, click on the BUY/PREVIEW  icons below:

Sunday 23 July 2017

A Marriage in Time by Anna M. Aquino

A Marriage In Time

In a time where Lacy Stevens is plagued with doubts, impulses, and stress:

ONE DIVINE ENCOUNTER that thrusts her into Biblical history, will change her life.

ONE TEMPTATION that ripples from her past, will force her to stop hiding behind pretence.

AND ONE ANGELIC ENCOUNTER will prepare her for her future.

The Guru's Review: 

Some sequels end up being a dismal failure and almost put its predecessor to shame. So many readers give up on a series based on its sequel. This is not the case here. A Marriage In Time takes the standard of the previous one and builds on it very nicely. It also provides a firm foundation for the final novel, A Legacy In Time. 

I loved that this novel involves another member of the Stevens family. This time it is Jon's wife, Lacy. In the first novel, there is not any indication that she has any serious issues with being a Pastor's wife, or anything from her past. In this novel, Aquino describes in detail and very convincingly, the issues that contribute to her discontent with being a Pastor's wife, and its origins. 

Despite it being part of the plot development, Aquino outlines from where this originates. She shows how easy it is for us to lead ourselves into temptation, all the while knowing what the outcome most likely will be. What starts out as a simple, on-the-surface innocent gesture, spirals into deceit on Lacy's part. Her unresolved guilt from an action in her past, surfaces and spills over into her relationship with Jon. It is at this point that God decides to intervene. He sends into biblical history so she can learn about her issues, resolve them and in the process be a help to someone else. Sending her to Bathseba's time is very appropriate as it follows on a few years from where Jon's time with her and this period of history. It also continues the plot of this trilogy being set in King David's time. 

I can see a pattern in this trilogy. In An Ember In Time we had Jon interacting with Uriah mentoring him in how to pursue Bethseba to marry him. In a Marriage In Time, we have Lacy helping Bathseba deal with the consequences of her adultery and in doing so heal her past. In a Legacy In Time (Aquino's work in progress) we have one of the Stevens' children sort out their issues with one of the sons of King David who is having similar issues or such. From this, we have each gender dealing with its biblical gender counterpart and familial status: 
  • Jon, mentoring another man to become a husband, (male to male, husband to future husband) 
  • Lacy to mentor a wife (female to female, wife to wife), 
  • and I presume one of Steven's children (? sons) to mentor one of the sons of King David). 
The outcome of this is that over the course of this trilogy, we experience the period of King David in greater and intimate detail. It is very engrossing reading about this period and how Aquino has depicted it. She succeeds in bringing it alive. I have really enjoyed this in both these novels so far. I am eager to see this continuation in the next novel. 

Aquino's research into this period is translated very well into this novel. I gained a working knowledge of the conditions of the court of King David, especially the structure of the harem and the dynamics of his wive's hierarchy. Aquino shows the same interpersonal dynamics that exist in any group. There is the self-appointed leader, (in this case, alpha female and wife) then the next important down the line to those who are deemed least important. Yet, this is not so much evident from King David's point of view as it is from the wive's. It does become evident that King David shows preference to Bathseba much to the chagrin and indignation of Maachah (alpha female and wife). Here Aquino, shows very well how women behave toward each other in dealing with this dynamic in typical female form. Seeing this from Lacy's point of view as the new kid on the block and outsider gives a bird's eye view of it for the reader. I especially related to this as I have been a male in the minority in my occupation as a Registered Nurse and the only male in my immediate family. I agree with Lacy, most women's language is in subtext and body language and like Lacy, I am not a fan of this approach or behaviour. Sometimes, there can be just too much oestrogen in the room!! And yes, women say the same about being in minority with men. Sometimes too much testosterone! Even I agree with that sometimes!

As with the previous novel, I laughed at the humour that Aquino has included. She is very good at including this. I also cried (again!) at the grief and guilt Lacy experienced in dealing with the loss of her child. Reminded me so much of the two children that my wife and I lost before God blessed us with our two daughters. Different circumstances, but the grief can be similar. Again, I felt as I was being ministered to in this novel as I was in the previous one. I admired Lacy (and Jon in the previous novel) for being open to the Spirit here and allowing Him to have His way with them. It is through the ministry of Sergio, her "time travel angel" as she calls him, coupled with the circumstances of Bathsheba's pregnancy, being a new bride and the death of Maachir that God is able to minister to her. 

Yet, more importantly, Jon and Lacy were teachable to what He wanted them to confront and overcome. Here is one very important spiritual practice and heart attitude to have. God can only work if we have a teachable heart and a willingness to open ourselves to Him and confess our pride as sin. The end result for both Jon and Lacy is that they are restored to Jesus and are more like Him. As that saying goes, that we are to decrease and He increases in our lives, attitudes and behaviour. And, as in the previous novel, at the end of this one, we have Sergio outlining what the future holds for the Stevens family now that God restored them. As in real life, once restoration happens, God uses our past to minister to those who suffer from the same issues. 

As with the previous novel, I laughed at the humour that Aquino has included. She is very good at including this. I also cried (again!) at the grief and guilt Lacy experienced in dealing with the loss of her child. Reminded me so much of the two children that my wife and I lost before God blessed us with our two daughters. Different circumstances, but the grief can be similar. Again, I felt as I was being ministered to in this novel as I was in the previous one.

I can see from the way that Aquino has developed and dealt with Lacy's issues that this is a real issue for women. Again, she is writing from past experience or from what she has seen first hand. I obtained a first-hand knowledge of what it must be like for Pastor's wives. Aquino outlines comprehensively what the expectations they experience from their congregation and the wider Christian community. I pray that this will minister to Pastor's wives who read this and those women who identify with Lacy's issues. I could extend that to any male reader as they also need to know what women go through in these situations. It would increase their understanding of ministry life and marital relationships and be proactive if their wife or girlfriend is involved in any of these issues. 

My concern of how time travel was depicted in the previous novel has not been included in this one. This time it does not include a physical machine but more of a supernatural means. I appreciated this. I mentioned in the previous novel that I did not understand why they could not have been translated supernaturally from one place to the next as outlined in the Bible. Aquino has used this in one instance stating that Sergio was translated to a particular place. These supernatural depictions add more credibility to the story. I pray that this can be translated to the next novel (could not resist this pun!). 

This, like the previous novel, is well constructed and well written. As Jon was one well-developed character together with the others in that novel, Lacy and her characters have been treated the same. It is a joy to read. 

I hope that the third book in the series, A Legacy In Time, is not too long in the wait for fans of Aquino. I am really loving this series and the content and message that Aquino delivers. 

Highly Recommended. 

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 0/5 

Overall Rating 4.7/5 Stars


Spiritually, based on my review and on the following reference booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that A Marriage In Time contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Spirit-filled Fiction outlined in this booklet, I award Anna M. Aquino with

The Reality Calling Spirit-filled Fiction Award

Congratulations, Anna Aquino!

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

Saturday 22 July 2017

Guest Post: Melinda Inman: Her New Novel, No Longer Alone

Today my guest blogger is Melinda Viergever Inman. Her new novel, No Longer Alone, will be released on July 26, 2017. In this post, she explains the background to this novel. It is based on a true story, and here's the rub, it is based on her great grandparents! Not having experienced grandparents myself, I can see how they can enrich their grandchildren's lives. I do not know much of my grandparent's genealogical history and spiritual heritage, so to have an author write a fictional account of hers based on true events, is something that I am drawn to. I am intrigued to see how this love story forms the foundation for the spiritual heritage that has impacted Melinda's family and remains a great testimony to the faithfulness of God. 

So without further ado, sit back and let Melinda talk about this foundational novel of her grandparents. 

The Story of No Longer Alone by Melinda Inman

I was blessed to grow up in a sprawling family of storytellers descended from American pioneers. The roots of all my stories were planted in the rich red soil of the Oklahoma prairie and the Kansas River bottom. There I learned about family, loss, hardship, and perseverance. Covered wagons were a part of my heritage and so were tragic death and lifelong wounds wrought by disaster.

Oklahoma didn’t become a state until 1907. Before then it was Indian Territory. Like many Oklahomans, there is Cherokee blood in my veins. No Longer Alone begins in 1913 when my Great-Grandmother Avery was a young woman in her early twenties.

When I was a child, she told us about the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893 and how she rode in the back of the covered wagon as their family rushed to claim a parcel of land, free for the taking. Hearing stories that are larger than life straight from the mouth of a participant is breathtaking for an inquisitive child. The scenes of panoramic paintings and movie screens are real to me, having listened to a primary source describe the experience.

But what intrigued me, even more, were the love stories behind the scenes.

One day we headed for nearby Enid, my mother at the wheel with my grandmother beside her in the front seat of our 1956 Ford Fairlane. In the back, I sat in the middle, my little legs straight out in front of me on the spacious seat. A great-grandmother sat on either side. My mother was in a hurry. Our large car went sailing over a wooden bridge as we sped up the narrow dirt road.

When we crossed that bridge, one great-grandmother said to the other, “Isn’t this the bridge where you and Prentis used to park in his buggy?”

Park in his buggy? What does that mean?

My little head swivelled toward Grandma Avery to hear her response. With wistful eyes, she gazed out the window, sorrowful longing in her voice as she recalled what a good kisser Prentis had been when they sat in that buggy. A widow now, she remained quiet for a great while afterwards, staring out the car window.

I’m sure they had no idea I was listening, but a light went on inside me. That moment was etched in my little brain. Our ancestors have histories. They were young. They fell in love. They made lives. That’s how we all came to be.

The stories of my ancestors fascinated me. Throughout my childhood I sat with the adults, a lone audience, listening to their stories. That’s where I wanted to be. I put together the pieces and formed in my mind the reality of my pioneer ancestors. I helped clean out their homes and sort their possessions when they passed away, finding pieces of their lives—letters, beautiful negligee, personal Bibles, obituaries.

As I wrote No Longer Alone, my aunts, uncles, and parents watched over my shoulder, thrilled that I was able to capture the personalities and character of Prentis, Avery, and all the rest. How did I do it? I merely listened, filling my imagination with their tales. Then I put together the pieces and wrote with the intuition of an observer. I’ve used the pet phrases, intonations, and cadence of speech used by these real people.

In No Longer Alone, I’ve woven in family stories and tragedies, world news, and local events, but this is no biography. This is fiction. Some of the characters of this novel are purely fictitious, though the events may be real. Fiction is blended seamlessly with real life, crafted to make a story that teaches the lesson of a lifetime: Can God be trusted?

Be transported into the world of rural Oklahoma just as the Great War begins. Come discover life on the prairie before electricity and other modern conveniences. Turn back time as you read No Longer Alone, available now.

An introduction to No Longer Alone:

Manhood arrived prematurely. At the tender age of fifteen, Prentis lost both his father and his confidence that God loved him. He grew up fast after that day, abandoning his education to take on the responsibility and hardship of supporting his mother and siblings.

Now, in Prentis’s twenties, Avery reenters his life. A Sunday School teacher with a passion for learning and theology, she is intelligent with a captivating spirit. Prentis finds her irresistible. The audacity of attempting to court such a woman in no way weakens his resolve. He’s determined to win her heart. But male competition, vicious gossip, Avery’s unspoken fears, and the ruin of his livelihood hinder his efforts. How can Prentis win her? And if he does, how will they overcome their differences, the hard life on the Oklahoma plains, and a world at war?

Set in 1913-1916, No Longer Alone is based on a true story. At the core of this historical novel is a love story that brings to life love’s healing power - both God’s love and human love. The tale also demonstrates the damage that can be done by the Christian church through judgment and harsh treatment of others and how that can impact for life those in vulnerable life situations.

Three early editorial reviews praise Melinda and her novel:

L. B. Johnson, Award Winning author of Small Town Roads

“Soft stunning and lyrically captivating, No Longer Alone: Based on a True Story, grabs onto the reader as quickly as a prairie thunderstorm. Avery and Prentis’s journey to love and renewed faith in the days leading up to World War I resonate as much today as it did one hundred years ago. A wonderfully engaging reading complemented by Inman’s vivid depiction of Oklahoma history and richly layered Christian characters.” 

Katie Andraski, author of The River Caught Sunlight

“In No Longer Alone, Melinda Inman imagines what her great-grandparents’ early marriage and courtship were like a hundred years ago when men courted women and worked to earn their heart. Set between the Oklahoma Land Rush and the beginnings of World War I, her novel explores how people lived as pioneers who wrestled with the land, the weather and their own history. I cared deeply about Prentis, Avery, their families and even their animals because they were so well drawn.

No Longer Alone is a fast, lyrical read that explores how people on the eve of the Great War worked out their salvation, with as much thought, prayer and angst as we do today. Even though happiness is nearly impossible to write, Inman draws a beautiful portrait of a couple who fall in love and start a happy marriage, that was as refreshing to dive into as mountain lake.”

Carol Johnson Parker, Educator

"It was a pleasure to read this book from start to finish. Readers who come from a background of the homestead era and prairie farming traditions will recognize this story as an authentic portrayal of the dreams and struggles of a young couple as they forge a life together. The author's descriptions of everyday life on a farm in the early 20th century are rich in detail. It is as if we were there, witnessing daily occurrences. The conversations in the story come across as genuine and underscore the importance of constant communication in any relationship. One section that was particularly delightful involved the young couple discovering things about each other they didn't know before they married. So true to life!

The incorporation of historical events lends additional authenticity to the story. It demonstrates how people's personal lives are affected by both positive and dire circumstances at home as well as on the other side of the world.

The faith element of the story is especially strong. There are many couples who enter into marriage hoping to meld their families' different religious beliefs into a healthy whole. This is not an easy process, as all of us are influenced by our early experiences. Many families keep the peace on religion by not getting involved in any faith tradition. The author has used Avery and Prentis as models of not giving up on God and seeking a way to live together in faith for the benefit of their future family.
No Longer Alone is an outstanding example of family memories incorporated into an intriguing novel."

Pre-Release Reader Amazon Customer Reviews: 

A fascinating historical novel that grabs your heart and your mind! 

By Mountain Grandma on July 10, 2017, 

Format: Paperback

No Longer Alone, a fascinating historical novel that grabs your heart and your mind. Avery is a strong attractive young woman whose gentle and patient love is just what Prentis desires and needs. Prentis is a gentle and quiet man who had to grow up overnight when his father died, and his strength of character and insights are just what Avery needs. Learn what it is like to get a Model A Ford when most people are still using horses and buggies and what courtship in a buggy is like. Enter a one-room school house where Avery is a strong, intelligent and capable teacher able to handle big boys in their teens nearly twice her size. See what it is like to be a farmer making decisions regarding the planting and harvesting of wheat to the selection and breeding of livestock and how the weather can affect one's plans for marriage. World War I is on the horizon, and the uncertainty of the times affect a young bride's emotions. Inman handles the intimate moments with modesty but deep emotion. Prentis has been alone so long, on several levels, having been raised in a home where his parents separate religious beliefs left him very wary of any attachment to a church, yet he has known God as a loving Father as he worked the fields alone. Find out about the miracle that happens to this young couple. Certainly did not want to put this novel down!

on July 8, 2017 

Format: Paperback

I enjoyed this book because it was set in my home state of Oklahoma. I didn't realize until I finished the book that it was based on a true story. It made me want to go back to those days and fall in love again. I don't think you will be disappointed. I anxiously await the sequel.

ByKarina Hon July 10, 2017 

Format: Paperback 

Melinda elegantly writes a historical love story all while reminding us that Gods plans are undeniably perfect. In hardship, loss, and joy His divine provision is a thread that binds us all, regardless of generation or race. A wonderful example of a relationship done well, No longer alone is the type of story you want readers to take note of. What more will the characters teach us in the sequel? It will be difficult to wait and find out.

Order your copy now at:

Amazon,   Barnes and Noble, or Apple iBooks for the July 26th release!

It has been a pleasure to have you as my guest, Melinda! I look forward to reading No Longer Alone. I pray that this novel will encourage a deeper relationship with God for those who read it. Thank you for allowing God to use your writing talent for His purposes in building up the Body of Christ and encouraging those who do not know Jesus to consider who He is and making a decision for Him. 

You are welcome to be a guest any time in the future where this blog may serve your novel endeavours! 

Tuesday 18 July 2017

An Ember In Time by Anna Aquino

In a time where Pastor Jon Stevens feels like he has lost his hope . . .
One Divine Encounter will change his life.
One mistake that started with a simple flower, will begin to unravel history.
And one spark will illuminate the way home.

The Guru's Review: 

I bought this novel in April 2016 and had not read it yet. The author contacted me through my blog to ask me for a review of the sequel, A Marriage In Time. This has been released this month. I agreed but stated I would need to read An Ember In Time first. 

I can honestly say that I am very happy that Anna contacted me. I don't know when I would have read this novel. I have a very large list of novels waiting to be read.

Now having read it, I am in awe at this novel. I agree with one of the Editorial reviews on Amazon who suggested that this novel is destined to be a Classic. This is simply a humbling experience.There are so few novels around where you feel the Spirit in the novel and I felt Him in this one. 

This is the first novel of Aquino's I have read and it won't be the last. I am so looking forward to its sequel, A Marriage In Time and the third novel, A Legacy In Time. These three novels are based on the events surrounding Bathsheba and Uriah (An Ember In Time), King David and his adultery with Bathsheba (A Marriage In Time) and which of his sons to succeed him (A Legacy In Time). This first novel is a very imaginative creation on Aquino's part and so is the description of its sequel. 

I am not one for biblical historical fiction but when an author like Aquino adds a unique twist to it, then I am hooked. Aquino has grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go. Two twists here did this for me. The first is time travel. I love time travel novels as the whole idea of it opens up vast scope for plot, action, suspense, speculative imagination and fantasy. The second, in that, going back in time and having the main character inadvertently affect the outcome of the Bible that would have grave and disastrous consequences for God's plan of salvation and everything connected with it does more than pique my interest and curiosity. It engages me totally and I have to see what happens and how this situation is reversed. 

Aquino pulls this off with humour and humility. I love her writing style. Through this, she brings to life the time of King David, the Jewish culture and customs, Uriah's family and Bathsheba's. Most authors are very successful in embedding you in the story through the development of the main character so that you see everything through them and to them you become endeared. I can say that Aquino is the master at this. I have not become so endeared to a character as Jon Stevens for quite a while. This character has so much depth and realism, you finish the novel feeling as though you have known him intimately (platonically) all your life. Aquino is successful as she is writing this character based on her experience as a Pastor. You can feel the depth of her experience from this. They say authors need to write what they know. Aquino is very competent here. More importantly, you experience the love she has put into this character for God, which of course just shows the same love she has for God. Ironic (planned by the author? ) that this novel is set in King David's time and who is attributed out of all the characters of the Bible to have a heart after God than anyone else!

I love reading novels from authors who are also Pastors. I find their novels provide a different aspect of Christian Fiction. I did not know Aquino was a Pastor until I read her Bio from her request for me to review the sequel. So I was more than encouraged to read this novel. Just as a Pastor is masterful at delivering a message in a sermon, I feel this same talent takes on a whole new meaningful aspect when a Pastor uses this to write fiction. I am not saying that an author is any less of an author if they are not a Pastor. A few times, while reading a novel, without realising the author is a Pastor, I start to think, "I wonder if this author is a Pastor? "and find out that they are. 

What is it about the writing of an author who is a Pastor? Firstly I feel the Shepherd side of the Pastor's calling comes to the fore in their novels. Secondly, their experience with dealing with people from this perspective. Thirdly, they see things from God's point of view in all things. Fourth, they need to show us the truth of the situation we are in and point us to Jesus. 

Aquino's humour adds great flavour to this novel and as part of Steven's personality. It adds a lightness to the suspense and seriousness of Steven's dilemma while adding a cohesiveness that works well. I would love to see what type of Pastor would graduate from seminary if all the extra topics and skills that Stevens suggests from some of the humorous experiences he encounters while trying to convince Bethseba to marry Uriah! It might just make them even more relational to their congregation and be well rounded and better adapted to their occupation! You will have to read the novel to see what I mean here! Aquino definitely has a great sense of humour and one that is seasoned by her Pastoral experience! Reading this novel, you cannot but laugh as you relate to Stevens' awkward, but well meaning, attempts to right the wrong he inadvertently caused.

I found this one well-constructed novel. Aquino's research of the biblical time frame has been applied appropriately and expertly, providing a solid foundation for the story. This adds a great measure of authenticity to the backdrop of this novel and makes it easy for the plot to unravel against. 

I get very particular with the depiction of angels. I rejoice when an author adheres to the biblical depiction of them as Messengers (Malak), advisers and warriors. No such problem with Aquino's depiction here. There are examples of these roles in the novel. Initially, where the angel Sergio delivered God's mission to Jon. Then during his time in Khirbet Qeilyafa, Sergio gave him much needed counsel during Jon's many and varied difficult situations where he struggled with the details of his mission. And when the demons attacked Jon, Sergio fought them off in warrior mode. 

The other aspect that I appreciated being true to the angelic Biblical record was that Sergio only acted under the instruction of what God instructed him. Kudos to Aquino for adhering to these principles. She honoured God and showed respect for His Word and creation. 

I do have one concern though. I appreciate that authors take poetic licence with various aspects of a plot and it constructs. In a few other novels, I have found the depiction of angels having technology for various functions. I do not understand why this is associated with angels. In this novel, Sergio uses a machine to transport Stevens through time. He also uses a text-like device (controller) to receive instruction from God. I find this frustrating and annoying. God is sovereign, supernatural, and omnipotent (as well as omniscience and omnipresent). Why would He need these devices for His angels to use? With the attributes and qualities just described, He would be able to give instructions to His angels supernaturally. Just as described in the bible to various human characters. The Bible talks about being translated from one place to another so why does Sergio need a machine to transport Stevens? It could be interpreted that the use of technology by God or His angels undermines the Sovereignty of God. If our God is a supernatural, omnipotent God, He does not need technology for any act on His part or an angel's to act on His instruction or Will. The Biblical depiction of angels in the Bible is totally technology free and they operate in the supernatural power given to them by God.  The use of technology can be left to the human race who needs it! 

I am certain that Aquino's inclusion of technology was not to undermine the Sovereignty of God. If it was, it would contradict all the other God honouring aspects that she has included in this novel and her experience as a Pastor. Despite this, I am not too concerned with this issue as Sergio only uses this technology a few times and it does not detract to any great degree from the main tenets of the plot. Or from my total enjoyment of it. 

I read in the Amazon Editorial Reviews that this novel,
transforms you and reignites the fire and passion of your purpose
As you read you will be led on a journey that is sure to kindle a greater passion for the Lord and His purpose for your life 
I was very excited about this. I wondered while reading when the message behind this would occur. There are bits of it interspersed throughout, but the full message comes when all the plot lines converge leading to Stevens being powerless and at the end of himself. It is here that he has an encounter with Jesus. Aquino's narrative is very powerful and shows an intimate knowledge of what a person is like when they lose their way from God's will and plan for their life. Aquino has depicted powerfully the mercifulness of Jesus, the love and compassion for a broken soul and I feel her account of this is Spirit led. From being in ministry up until a decade ago (not as a Pastor, but as singer/worship leader), I can identify with the dilemma that Aquino has depicted in Stevens. Throughout this narrative and plot line, I felt as if I was Stevens. I cried throughout this section. I felt I was being restored and ministered to by Jesus as Stevens was as depicted by Aquino. I can definitely see the truth in the authors of these Editorial Reviews. 

This section has touched Aquino deeply as well. As much as a Christan author allows themselves to be used by the Spirit to deliver a message in fiction, they are affected too. Such is the ministry of the Spirit! In an email to the author about receiving a review copy of A Marriage In Time, I made the comment how affected I was by the narrative explained above. She replied, 
That scene with Jon in the cave makes me cry still. I bawled when I wrote it, and so many people come back to me that it has that same touch to them. I am so glad it ministered to you.
I can see by this, that Aquino has found her niche as a novelist. This just backs up what I have said in previous reviews and from my Why Christian Fiction? tab on this blog, that I expect 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, I believe, 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). 
Aquino ticks all these boxes for me in this novel. It is one fun, uplifting, humbling experience. She has quite a talent for delivering a Spirit filled message without it being preachy or a 'how to' scenario. 

I am very much looking forward to A Marriage In Time and A Legacy Time. Aquino is one author I have added to my favourite list. 

Highly Recommended. 

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5 

Overall Rating 4.6/5 Stars 


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

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that An Ember In Time contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Redemptive Fiction outlined in this booklet, I award Anna M. Aquino with

The Reality Calling Redemptive Fiction Award

Congratulations, Anna Aquino!

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