Friday 29 September 2017

Author/Novel Spotlight: Nathan Allen Olsen

Today, I am highlighting novelist Nathan Allen Olsen. I met Nathan in a Facebook group and showed interest in his novel, Death Is Not The End, Daddy. I offered him an Author/Novel Spotlight to encourage exposure to himself and his short stories. Nathan's short stories and novellas show speculative themes that make it very thought-provoking and show his journey of faith from a painful past to one of increasing transformation through allowing God to work in him.

So sit back and explore the mind of this emerging author, as he has been described. But first a little about Nathan: 

Since starting off on this journey nearly ten years ago at the age of sixteen, Nate Allen has three works of fiction under his belt as well as a collaboration with M.J. Elliott nearing release. He currently lives in South Carolina with his wife of nearly five years and his two-year-old little girl.

Nate's mission in life is to use the pain from his past to bring hope to as many as will listen. There is much more to come. If you want to join him on this lifelong journey, you can find (and follow) him here: (

Now let's have a look at Death Is Not The End, Daddy and a review. This novella is available in e-book format. Click on the title to be taken to the Amazon book description page, to buy or view using the Look Inside feature:

Death Is Not The End, Daddy

John Doe

John Doe is a killer. Fourteen children in the last twenty-six years. Teddy tells him to and he listens. He has to listen. He is parked across the street from the elementary school in Payne, North Dakota, waiting for Teddy to tell him the name of the next child. He hasn’t yet, but he will… 

Matthew Mills 

God is good. It's the only truth Matthew Mills needs. But, pain is still pain. It has only been a week since his wife had her second miscarriage in the last three years. She has become a shell of who she was. Only his daughter Marcy is a light in his life.

What would happen if she was taken away?

I asked Nathan why he wrote Death Is Not The End, Daddy and what are the Christian/Biblical themes.

I wrote Death is Not the End, Daddy to be an experience that shows how God can use even the most hopeless of situations and turn it around for His glory.

Nathan has kindly provided an excerpt to whet your appetite and the reason he chose this: 

These are the first two pages of the book. I believe it entices while giving very little away and sets up what's to come beautifully.

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

John Doe

I don’t remember much before Teddy, but I do remember the laced leggings I found in the backseat of dad’s Buick. They weren’t mom’s. She was already sick by that time. Sick and dying. But, he was out sticking his piece in someone else…

He stuck his piece in me, too. That was the day Teddy came into my life. He wasn’t just my faded brown bear anymore. He was Teddy. He understood the pain of watching mom die; he understood the hate growing in me after daddy stuck his piece in me. He helped it grow.

Even before mom died, Teddy told me daddy didn’t deserve to live. At her funeral, he cried. The fake! Those tears attracted someone else, who he stuck his piece in later that night.

After mom died, I only had Teddy. He has never spoken in the way a person does. But, he does talk. His voice is constantly in my head. The bear just sits. And when I look into his eyes, I see blood. Lots of it. Blood and pain. I fill with tingles. Teddy says that’s as normal as the hatred I still feel for daddy. Sometimes I question it, though. And sometimes, Teddy gives me horrible nosebleeds, where my eyes feel ready to pop.

Teddy told me to come to Payne, North Dakota, and park across the street from the elementary school. He hasn’t given me the name of the next child yet. But, he will. He always does. My identity is what Teddy tells me to be. When I question it, he makes the blood I see in my head come out of me. He told me to kill daddy. With mom gone, there was no one else. It was just Teddy. Daddy didn’t even say a word to me anymore. He was gone most of the time. And when he was home, he scared me.

Teddy promised me that it would help. I listened. He was only protecting me. Teddy told me when to kill him, and what to use. There was blood. Lots of it.

Matthew Mills

God is good. It is the only truth I need. It has kept me afloat through my wife’s second miscarriage in three years. But, pain is still pain. It’s only been a week since she lost the baby.

Sometimes I wonder how Job felt when everything was taken from him. He made it through and came out a better person. The Lord uses pain to mold us—

I worry about my wife. The light has left her eyes. She used to profess her faith. Now it seems like she is drowning, and no matter how much scripture I read, the light doesn’t return. I am the pillar of this house. The Lord gave me that job, and I will stand even as everything else crumbles around me.

The devil has filled my head with thoughts of suicide. He tries to convince me that the razors from her shaver will be the death of her. He tells me to leave the bathroom door open when she showers, just in case. And I do, just in case. There is weakness in me. I’m not afraid of the enemy. My victory is through Jesus Christ. But, sometimes I fear her death is in His plan. Anyone who tries to tell me He would never allow that, I refer them to Job. The Lord takes away, sometimes for reasons we can’t understand.

My bible is out; the highlighter has already run across a few Proverbs, and a comforting piece in John. I have found quite a few verses that reassure me of my place in Him. I believe I have two sons in heaven.

I cling onto my Marcy. She is eight and a bundle of silly and sweet. I feed her the Lord daily. And His light shines from her in every way. I love her more than I thought possible. She is my little princess, and I try my hardest to make her feel that way, especially now that Janet has shut down…

Something is stirring tonight. I can feel fear trying to slip into my house. It’s trying to claw up the back of me and enter through the front. I have a job to do tonight. My bible is highlighted on almost every page. If a battle is coming, then I will win, because greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. I am the pillar, and I can feel the pieces beginning to crumble. Help me stand tall, Lord. Help me stand tall.

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

Nathan has one positive Amazon review: 

I love books that give me a glimpse into somebody else's mind, compassionate books about authentic characters. This novel is just awesome. We look into the minds of Matthew who's daughter has been kidnapped and in John's, the kidnapper's, mind. While Matthew is struggling to keep his faith and trust in Jesus, John experiences that freedom and forgiveness are possible. A surprisingly good book about faith, fear, trust, forgiveness, God's plans, the invisible world and God's unconditional love.

This is not the only novel Nathan has authored. Here is another:

Andrew Jeffery Stephenson, a stupid man, by his own admission, is in critical condition from gunshot wounds. He’s entirely alone. His wife left him for someone more successful, someone better. When he’s honest with himself, he knows he’s just waiting to die…

And he does. With the sound of a fading flatline beep and the post-life urging of the woman he still loves, he finds himself in a paradise of his own making. He wakes up on a beautiful beach with her by his side. Oh, paradise indeed!

Shortly after, a man simply named D comes onto his property. A self-proclaimed “realtor for your post-life needs” D quickly shows Andrew just what this paradise is. It’s not heaven; it’s a miraculous accident. Paradise doesn’t belong to the religious but to the creative, to men of logic and reason. And because of this, his beach is just one small piece to an endless collection of beautiful properties, or “timeshares” as D calls them.

D’s game is realty. And the piece of property Andrew brought with him is an excellent bargaining chip. Andrew’s interested in choices; D’s interested in getting him the best deal possible. 

There’s only one problem. While searching out different timeshares, they come across a man on the side of the road who’s dressed like an angel. He’s holding a cardboard sign that reads:

3 Days…

And the countdown continues.

They say that the world will end when the countdown hits zero. Are they “crazy” as D claims? Or are they trying to warn Andrew that the end is near?

Nate wrote this novel with this idea in mind: 

The Counterfeit tackles the idea of paradise without God. 

Here is an excerpt:

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

There are many things I want to do with Angie on this beach. I start to untie the slim string on her top half, as she kisses me deeply, moving her hand downwar—

“Welcome, friends!” a strange voice interrupts us as if nothing were about to happen. Angie immediately stops kissing me and uses her forearm to hold her top half on as she gets up from lying on top of me. I get up too. A black man with dirty dreads and a greying goatee is running toward us from inland. He is wearing black swim trunks and a red plain t-shirt.

“Who are you?” I ask as I walk toward him. I am beyond confused. What is anybody else doing here?

“Just call me D. I am here to welcome you. It’s always interesting to see the expansion. It’s always getting bigger, always adding new territories, new places to lease. You brought with you a pretty piece of land. I love the beach. Great attention to detail, by the way.”

“What are you talking about, D?” I ask as I look out toward the ocean.

“This world is always expanding. Just as life was a wonderful accident, post-life is an even better accident. Everyone who makes it here brings with them their own paradise, their own little piece. By itself, it would be an adequate final destination. But, as a piece to a much bigger puzzle, we are in the process of something amazing. You brought with you this beach. Someone else brings a mountain view, or even the mountain itself. We have a colorful variety. Cabins on the lake. Mansions as far as the eye can see. We have the most beautiful skies, both night and day. An astronomer has a very simple paradise. He had a small house, far away from everyone else, so that the night sky would come to life. His paradise is studying the stars with his trusty telescope.

“Some people are touchy about visitors though. I hope you won’t be like that, friend. This beach is plenty big enough to share, don’t you think?”

“Share?” I ask. “For how long?”

“Well, indefinitely, friend. You share your land, others share theirs. For example, if you let the couple next door, who have a stunning view of the Himalayas, come to your property, they lend you time in theirs. I’m sure they would love a beach getaway.” he smiles. “Think about it as a timeshare. Post-life is a vacation that never ends. But, everyone likes to change the destination from time to time.” he chuckles, seeming to expect me to do the same. 

“D? Me and my wife just got here. This is all still very new—

“Say no more,” he interrupts. “I just want to know that you’ll be open to a timeshare deal in the near future. I know quite a few interested clients who would love to rent out a place as nice as this.”

“We’ll see,” I say, hoping he takes the hint to leave.

“Good.” he smiles strangely. “What was your name? I forgot to ask.”


“Good to hear, Andrew. Just know one thing. No matter how wonderful your little piece of paradise is, there is always the opportunity for more. With the right planning, I could get you into two or three more pieces of paradise. One is kind of boring, wouldn’t you say? There are quite a few vacancies at this time.”

“How are there vacancies? People willingly give up what they own?”

“Not exactly,” he says as he begins to walk away.

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

One Amazon review shows the positive nature of this novel and the potential of Nate as an author:

ByAlexander Preston September 19, 2017

Heat: There were a few scenes of sexual innuendo. They were comparatively minor and not gratuitous, but the word pictures were just enough to make me uncomfortable. In retrospect, I see how their presence actually served the storyline, but it’s just something to be aware of for more sensitive readers.

Profanity: None.

Violence: Some frightening imagery and references to violent acts.

Genre: Christian Paranormal

Age recommendation: 15 and up, due to imagery and sexual innuendo.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Counterfeit with a request for an unbiased review.

The Counterfeit turned out to be a singularly fascinating read. The opening had me immediately hooked through its stream-of-consciousness narrative style depicting the inner thoughts of a man in a coma. The framing was artful and taut, with a fast-moving pace and clever use of minimalistic language. I immediately found the main character (narrating the story from the first-person) to be real and relatable. The backstory of his marital and self-image problems is spot-on in portraying the struggles of many people in the real world. There was also an immediate sense of suspense as we see him awaken in a “Paradise” realm that is stated to be neither Heaven nor Hell. He is told by others he meets there that this is the “real” afterlife as opposed to those other, “imaginary” places. But various clues begin to indicate that things are not quite what they seem… I read on with an intense curiosity as the mystery behind this strange place. What followed was a very intriguing scenario, suggesting the afterlife could have more levels of detail to it than we are inclined to think; highly speculative, yes, but clearly well thought out and perfectly compatible with Biblical orthodoxy.

There were some weak points, of course, many of which could have been addressed through a longer, more detailed narrative. The sequence of events seems a bit rushed and forced in places, with the protagonist’s actions and decisions not seeming to logically follow from one another – this cropped up several pages after his first entry into the “Paradise” realm. The dialogue started out strong but became progressively more wooden towards the middle and downright syrupy towards the end – for some reason, the characters seemed to be selectively avoiding contractions in their speech (i.e. “he is” as opposed to “he’s”, etc). This made things a bit awkward and stilted and seemed out-of-place given the established characterization. I also noticed that protagonist became increasingly weepy and emotional as his character arc progressed – a lot of this made sense giving the story itself, but I often found myself cringing and wishing he would grow a spine.

The story structure itself turned out to be a bit different from what was suggested in the synopsis. I was expecting a steady build-up of suspense culminating in a “Twilight Zone”-style twist ending. The big “reveal” turned out instead to be at about the very middle of the narrative, but the author did a good job of providing another, equally significant source of tension until the very end.

Throughout the entire 66 pages, this novella is suffused with thought-provoking, highly spiritual themes that make it in many ways a masterwork of Christian Fiction in the tradition of C.S. Lewis. I was particularly fascinated by the portrayal of God as representing ‘fullness’ and the Devil representing ‘emptiness’ – it reminds of J.R.R. Tolkien’s thoughts on the ‘nothingness’ of evil. When imagining Hell, we often think that simple ‘non-existence’, ‘annihilation,’ or ‘oblivion,’ would be a preferable fate for lost souls – the truth, I think, is that Hell is all of these things. It represents complete and irrevocable separation from the very Source of existence. To experience nothingness is to experience torment beyond imagining – what Christ meant when he used imagery of a ‘lake of fire.’ The author explores this idea not through didactic lines placed in characters mouths, but by weaving it into the very fabric of the story. I will also continue to ponder his thoughts on maintaining a heavenly as opposed to earthly perspective when it comes to reaching the lost with the Truth.

At the same time, he features extremely vivid and well-imagined descriptions of what Heaven will likely be, masterfully portraying what many of us tend to think of as indescribable. Christ himself makes an appearance and is portrayed in the same manner. I will say that I’m instinctively sceptical of attempts to ‘humanize’ God and Christ and put words in their mouth as story characters, and I might have preferred a more subtle or ‘poetic’ approach that recognizes their place above human understanding. But this is a minor quibble in comparison to everything else.

All in all, I give this book four stars and will readily recommend it to any Christian reader who wants to see their beliefs explored and re-confirmed in a new and original way. An excellent tour de force by an emerging author!

Let's take a look at Nate's latest Work In Progress that is to be released very soon: 

Nate has described his new work as 
Think of TV seasons. Each tells a singular story, provides a climax, and sets up the arcs to come. I will be releasing A New Beginning in parts or "seasons". Once the story is done, I will release the entirety as a book. I wouldn't do this for any other story but no other story I am working on is as timely or spiritually relevant as this.
A New Beginning. 

A new beginning? With the Credit Chip, anything is possible! Buried in debt? Erase it! Terrible credit score? Start over! In trouble with the law, now weighed down by a felony charge? POOF! There it goes… 

Ken Cardiff only wants to see his older brother get better. He can only hope the Credit Chip can help, but he can’t escape the chill settling on his spine. Since his brother got the Chip two days before, something in him has changed. 

Kyle Cardiff is lured in by the promise of a new beginning but he doesn’t know the cost. Only twenty-two years old and already more than familiar with the inside of a jail cell, he will do anything for just one more chance.

Rosy Matthews knows what the Credit Chip is. Trying to convince Ken, her Ken, that it’s the mark of the beast has brought more scoffs than anything else. She hopes it isn’t too late for Kyle, but she knows that it already is. 

When President Francis Abraham Pummel was only six years old, he should have died. But, the day he should have died was the day he lived. Now forty-two years old and approaching his second year in office, he has a plan to bring real change to anyone who will listen.

To buy or preview more of these novels, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icons under the covers below:

Death is Not the End, Daddy can be purchased at the following links:

Smashwords    Barnes and Noble

The Counterfeit can be purchased at the following links: 

Smashwords    Barnes and Noble 

Readers and reviews are an author's best asset, so I encourage any reader who likes reading in the genres of Christian science fiction and fantasy, to consider reading Death Is Not The End, Daddy or The Counterfeit 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 23 September 2017

The Lost Medallion (Christian Fantasy Series, Book 2) by Bryan M. Powell

The Lost Medallion (Christian Fantasy Series Book 2)

The Lost Medallion

Beneath the Hill of Endor is a Temple,
Inside the Temple is a Chamber,
Inside the Chamber is a door,
Behind the door … the abyss.

And the key to the door is the witch’s medallion.

Former sheriff Randy Baker steals the witch’s medallion. Using the Book of Incantations, he summons the powers of darkness to open a passage which takes him in search of the Temple of Endor in Israel. His intentions ... to use the medallion to unlock the door to the abyss and unleash legions of evil spirits. 

Knowing they only have days to stop the former sheriff, the three wise men follow him. Unbeknownst to them, Colt O’Dell stows away in the cargo hold of their flight. Once in Israel, the four of them race into action, but quickly find themselves caught in a desperate battle for their lives. 

Top-selling author Bryan M. Powell adds yet another gripping novel to his impressive list of Christian Fantasy spell-binders. He once again peels back the veil and gives his readers a glimpse at the spiritual war being waged over the souls of men. Using tragedy in the lives of his characters to demonstrate the power of faith and forgiveness, he skillfully weaves a captivating tale that builds to a breathtaking climax. If you liked Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, you will love The Lost Medallion.

The Guru's Review: 

If I thought that The Witch and the Wise Men was a gripping tale, this one is even better. Powell continues the storyline from the previous and never lets you go. It is gripping and engrossing.

Powell definitely knows how to hook you into his plot. He combines the plot and characterisation together well so that you do not see any demarcation. The result is a fast-paced ride that you cannot get out of and when life takes you away from this novel, you are annoyed and cannot wait to return. 

Again, in Powell style, he is brilliant at the spiritual aspects just as he did in The Witch and the Wise Men. He places a great emphasis on prayer as a weapon against satanic/demonic attack and relying on the Spirit and not on your own strength. Again, he has those Wise Men falling into this trap but they also take measures to get themselves out of this as well. What do they do? They repent of their foolishness, they spend time pouring out their hearts, confessing their dependence upon the flesh and trust in human "instrumentality" as Powell call it. Then they pray specifically for their charge's needs and plead God to protect them and these charges with angelic hedges. Important here is not just repentance and specific prayer but praise and worship. This latter can be a deficit in our prayer life and one that is not to be neglected. How many times are we encouraged to add this in our prayer life and living? For some, this would be a given but others not so. 

In some novels concerning spiritual warfare, the Christian author portrays the demons or evil entities as stronger and more devious than the angelic hosts and/or the Christian characters (and I wish they would not, there is no such need for this). I did not find this to be the case in this novel or the previous one. Yes, he depicts them as devious, evil and powerful but only as far as Christians and the angelic host do nothing or very little or in their own strength. However, looks what happens when both these parties are in tune with the Spirit and fight in the way set out in God's Word and with His instruction? The demonic forces do not stand a chance when this happens and it is very powerful. This is all based not only on the victory over sin and death that Jesus' achieved on the Cross but through the fact that God is God and sovereign over all, is all powerful, all knowing and ever-present. I loved the instance where Prince Laina (in human form of Sasha) confronted Beelzebub and the disembodied spirits with God's instruction and Word, 
"The Lord God Almighty liveth and commands everyone, everywhere to bow the knee, whether it is in heaven, or earth or things under the earth."
Despite their objections and resistance at first, Laina holds his ground under God's instruction and finally these spirits 
".....joined in forced subjection acclaiming Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords"
All the instances Powell depicts showing this type of spiritual warfare principles as outlined is available to all who are in right relationship with Jesus and novels like this outline how we need to be living like this 24/7 and not just when demonic attack arrives or is identified. Kudos to Powell for including this in his novels not just to add entertainment but to edify and educate the Body of Christ on how to live in Him. As a side to this, it also bears great witness to those readers who are searching for their meaning or are disillusioned with life or have dabbled in the occult as it highlights the deceptiveness, destructiveness, and bondage that being involved in the occult is characteristic of. More importantly, it also highlights what is the end result when one allows themselves to be totally taken over by the demonic forces and reject the saving grace of Jesus.

I like the fact that Powell also shows the relationship between the angelic hosts and God. They are depicted truly as they are in the Word, they are messengers and warriors and only act in complete obedience to God and not of their own volition. In this manner, it is easy for the reader to see that angels are in submission to God and not an authority in their own right and separate to God as sometimes depicted by non-Christian authors. This is one reason why I included in the criteria for why I read Christian fiction on my blog, that I want to see angels depicted as they are biblically and not to be worshipped at all or as a detraction from the main object of our worship being that solely of God for whom we were created to worship. 

In all the spiritual warfare novels that I have read from Christian authors, they have depicted these angels as relational, personal, friendly, firm, authoritative and combative (when required). I cannot see how they would be any other way as we are created to be relational with each other, with God and even towards animals so to be understood by angels in their mission towards us as directed by God, they would need to be so. This is depicted as such in the Bible as well so Powell has depicted them correctly here and forms one of the many strengths of this series.

Powell seems to not just concentrate on spiritual warfare between the demonic, angelic and humans but also on how we are prey to this through our own shortcomings and rebellious/sinful nature. I loved one example of this when Glenn O'Dell was in a coma and God ministered to him in this state and gives Glenn an opportunity to right himself with God. While this is happening, He is working on Karen, his wife and Colt, his son as well. And these events are not individual, separate events to fluff out the length of the novel (Powell does not do this) but are included solely to show how God weaves all these events into His purposes and to deal with the sin that so easily ensnares us and separates us from God and then places us in line for demonic influence. When this brings us back to God in a righteous relationship we are then better equipped to be an instrument of warfare by God and through God.

Powell shows this very well with the conversion of the doctor who was part of the coven from the previous novel. I appreciate how Powell showed the internal conflict with the principles of his profession that he swore an oath to on graduation and his own conscience. It is good to show that not everyone involved in the occult has a hardened heart like Randy Baker towards God and humanity. Not only was how this doctor converted uplifting and joyous, but the spiritual warfare that ensued showing deliverance from demon possession was portrayed realistically.  

Sadly this was dampened by an event that showed the extent the ministers of the occult will go to when one of their former converts is freed from their satanic bondage. 

Powell again showed another aspect of how to witness to a Jew/Israeli through the character of Simon Levi. I loved this conversation. It was worth the page or so of Melchior's explanation and witness. Beautiful and inspiring. I was near tears with this conversion account especially with Powell's depiction of the angels folding their wings and bowing their heads as God sang His song of redemption in celebration. If this is what happened when I accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour then it shows more of the depth of His love not just for me but for all mankind.

I thoroughly enjoyed the spotlight being on Colt in this novel. I viewed him as one courageous but neutral character in the previous novel, but Powell has developed him as a warrior of God in this one.  He shows much more of his relationship with God and is prepared to count the cost of this in dealing with the demonic and taking responsibility for what he feels is his for the medallion falling into the wrong hands thus contributing to events spiralling out of control in his town and family.

Powell shows the Wise Men adapting sometimes somewhat awkwardly to modern life. He adds humour to their efforts to understand the modern lingo, not wearing shoes but sandals only, taking the modern idioms literally and of course Melchior and Balthazar ganging up on Gaspar when he complains or is impulsive especially towards his love interest, Felicia. These three are further developed and even spiritually they press forward in their faith and being of the Brotherhood of Wise Men. I love the spiritual prowess they show in confrontation with the demonic and the remaining members of the Coven from the previous novel, especially towards Randy Baker. 

One aspect relating to Balthazar that was hinted at with his genealogy in the previous novel, is further expanded in this novel and is very touching and moving. Especially at one pivotal moment where the plot twists. This twist I was not expecting and another other relating to it. This leads very well onto the next novel in this series, The Last Magi, to be released mid-October 2017. And Powell has ended this novel based on this very well. 

Powell has included some current topics in this novel. He depicted well, the resistance towards Christian students praying on school premises and biblical creation being taught in the same premises by the Wise Men. This attitude is interwoven into the spiritual blindness and rebellion towards anything to do with God and how this is enforced in the demonic control of the town and its people. Such is happening in today's world and I note it is progressing in my own country of Australia. The other topic portrayed is what happens when a wolf in sheep's clothing is allowed to be in ministry in a church. I loved how this was handled biblically and the perpetrator exposed and dealt with. It shows the importance of spiritual discernment in choosing church leaders and relying on the Spirit to direct a Church's path here. Again, this event was interwoven in the plot to show how the demonic are all out in destroying the Christian church and anything relating to God. 

A very successful sequel and continuation of this series from the Witch and the Wise Men debut. Powell is definitely on a winner with this series. I am looking forward to reading The Last Magi in a few days time, ready for its release mid-October.

Highly Recommended. 

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 5/5 

Overall Rating 4.8/5 Stars 


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

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that The Lost Medallion contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Redemptive Fiction outlined in this booklet, I award Bryan Powell with

The Reality Calling 
Redemptive Fiction Award

Displaying Peter-Redemp-LostMedallion.png

Congratulations, Bryan!

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

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Guest Post: The Catastrophic Thunderstorm of Christian Fiction by Anthony R. Howard

Today, I welcome Anthony R. Howard, an author who is a Christian (he explains this distinction below!). Anthony approached me to either review his new novel, Devil's Diary: The Coming, interview him or allow him to provide a guest post. After reading the book description, I chose to review this novel and allow Anthony to provide a guest post concerning a topic relating to his novel or Christian fiction.

Well, he has not disappointed at all in this guest post. I have had similar discussions myself and read much more concerning the status of Christian fiction today. This topic has even led in part to the creation of The Crossover Alliance publishing company that I belong to. 

So sit back and be challenged by what Anthony has to say about his own experience as an author, his novels and what he currently sees afflicting Christian fiction and provides one solution to this issue.

But first just some shameless promotion of Anthony's new novel that I am very much looking forward to reading: 

What Would Happen If The Creator Returned Tomorrow?

In the current world plagued by war and civil unrest, the divine arrival of the Son of Man restores hope to mankind. Like most others, Oniva Mering is not prepared to face judgment or the violent threat of an ancient secret society. Left in the company of her smooth and streetwise high school friend, Oniva must bear witness to the most catastrophic turn of events humanity has ever experienced. The stage has been set. Sides are being chosen. Angels and their worst enemies prepare for The Coming.

Are You Ready?

Each reader will face their own internal journey as they are enticed to look inside themselves, and realize where they stand in the battle of Good versus Evil. We are all a part of the book of life. But what if there was another book...The Devil’s Dairy.

Now onto Anthony's post: 

The Catastrophic Thunderstorm of Christian Fiction

Beyond the Bible, do spiritual and Biblical Christian stories sell? As we are now being pummeled by several powerful hurricanes and tropical thunderstorms (Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose), I couldn’t help but see a metaphor as I write this, as I see cities being devastated, and lives being tragically lost. According to weather experts, there are three key ingredients in the creation of a catastrophic hurricane. Similar elements are alive in the Christian fiction arena and have a similar effect. 

In an online Christian magazine Relevant an author titled his article: Where is all the great Christian fiction? Basically, the author of the article is disappointed in the state of Christian fiction, indicated that innovation is needed and specifically “Christian fiction authors need reprisal”. It was interesting no one had written a response to this article, not even one comment on the popular website. I don’t have the golden solution, I do have some ideas. More importantly, I wanted to open a conversation that’s currently not being had. It’s uncomfortable for many to even talk about this. There are rules. There is a wall of silence and conformity. 

This is the first step in the tropical thunderstorm: Convergence. In this stage, a low-pressure area must have formed in the low levels of the atmosphere to start winds converging. This is a metaphor for the reason of the current state of Christian fiction. To many folks, the fiction that Christian authors are putting on shelves and marketing as Christian fiction isn’t great art; it’s popular, genre fiction. What causes this state is the Christian Fiction paradigm, or thunderstorm, that many authors get caught in. 

The book that got me my first book deal was Devil’s Dairy: The Coming. With the civil unrest going on now, the novel is about what would actually happen if the Lord returned tomorrow. How would we receive Him, and what would His enemies do? The publishing house decided to come out with the spy series (The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox) first as a business decision, because of my background with technology, the Dept of Defense, plus the degrees and awards behind my name. I speak at technology conferences on a regular basis but I wasn’t a famous ordained minister, nor did I attend seminary. In their minds, I didn’t have a guaranteed platform to generate book sales. The spy books hit two bestseller lists, so in hindsight, they weren’t necessarily wrong. 

However, because of the spy series success, I ended up having to start my own publishing company to put Devil’s Dairy: The Coming out, and have it edited by the Harvard Divinity School. The point is, even though they knew it was a great work (we know this because that’s the book that got me signed), it was considered too much of a risk in the end. There are simply not too many folks with the ready-made platforms (guaranteed book sales) publishers want to see to get the great Christian work out there. This is the convergence of the storm. Convergence onto profits, and onto mass media behavior - serving up readily available fast food dogma, easy consumed, economical, profitable, but not much nutrition. One of the key purposes of literacy is to bring people to something new. Something great. One of my goals in writing is to broaden the experiences of my reader community and add to the literary art form. It’s key to not only present a fascinating story to the reader but to bring value to the reader aside from entertainment. I thought I was a Christian author. But that has very specific man-made rules (such as no aggression, no kissing below the neck, etc). Many of the rules prevent an author from being different, or fascinating. Then I became an author who is a Christian (which is different from a “Christian Author”) so I could keep writing fascinating stories and bring the Word to everyone. 

I believe this is one of the key differences of my style of Christian writing. This is component #2 of the hurricane: Impermanence. In other words, low stability or volatility. In a hurricane, this will allow deep convection or cumulonimbus clouds to build to great heights in the atmosphere. Because of this decision to keep writing fascinating stories, I was banned from Christian bookstores and Church bookstores. This poses the question: If you are ONLY writing for the Saved (as the Christian Author rules dictate) – who are you ministering to? One of the primary purposes of ministry is to spread the Good News. The rules make many books in Christian fiction very similar, and less popular to wider audiences. I’d rather not be the same. This causes a disequilibrium, taking the storm to new heights. I write to take the reader deeper. Topics where you finish the book and want to know more. If a writer isn’t different, why should anyone invest the time to read the book? Christian writers cannot continue to recycle what is already out there as Hollywood does. 

This brings us to the final conundrum. Divergence. Air Divergence in the upper atmosphere intensifies the storm. When publishers and many audiences are focused on books like the Da Vinci Code, divergence comes to life. The Da Vince Code touched on religious history (okay, some say pseudo-history), and was an interesting story (I read the book, never saw the movie). Though Christianity was discussed, there was no ministry or spirituality in the novel, nor discussion of salvation. It was popular because it was controversial. It even challenged the Vatican in some ways and disputed traditional Christian history, which also highlights the volatility storm element (#2). If you want to sell, be different. With the divergence factor, the success of these kinds of books push publishers to look for more novels like this (no ministry, no salvation, etc) and inspires writers to create a book like this to try and be popular and gain a following. This creates the perfect storm. Convergence, Impermanence, and Divergence. 

So what’s the solution? My particular solution was to start my own publishing company to release Devil’s Dairy: The Coming, put my own capital behind it and produce my own cinema trailer (below). 

I encourage others to do that. If I didn’t, the book may never have seen the light of day, even though it was great enough to land a publishing deal, which is no small feat. We have to be different if we want the Christian fiction genre to thrive. Just as hurricanes take lives, think of those who will not pick up Christian fiction, even by chance, because the rules in place don’t make them relatable to readers outside the church, which limits ministry. As a teacher of the Bible, this storm is serious and takes lives in the way of those who don’t reach salvation, because they never picked up the book. Let’s have a discussion.

About Anthony R. Howard:

Bestselling, Award-Winning author Anthony R Howard has studied Christianity for over 15 years, as well as secret societies, basic theology and angelology (the study of angels).  Howard has won several awards, appeared on many national media outlets and is also the bestselling author of The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox and The Invisible Enemy II: Vendetta. Howard also has a passion for Christianity, prophecy and spirituality.  Howard has served on ministry teams and religious leadership groups, each which give astounding insight into many of the characters developed in Devils Diary. Presently in Atlanta, he is a leading Technology Specialist for one of the world’s largest Information Technology firms where he was rated #1 IT Super Hero by InfoWorld and ComputerWorld, was the winner of the National Federal Office Systems Award (FOSE - Nation’s Largest Information Technology Exposition Serving the Government Marketplace), and the winner of Government Computer News Best New Technology Award. Several case studies have been published on Howard’s solutions across the Information Technology industry. Currently, he provides enterprise technology solutions and advisement for America’s most distinguished clients including a sizeable amount of work for the U.S. Defense Sector, Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security. 

Friday 15 September 2017

Daniel and the Triune Quest (Sons and Daughters Book 2) by Nathan Lumbatis

The past year of Daniel’s life has been anything but normal. Adoption by his Heavenly Father? Check. Become the Vessel for the mystical Sun Sword? Check. Charged with a quest to fight the source of all evil? Check. But hey, he made it look good. Now it’s his best friend, Ben’s, turn to become the Vessel for the Triune Shield, and Daniel’s ready to lead the charge on another adventure. But, they only have three days to find the shield before the Enemy catches up, and obtaining it will require the last thing either of the boys is ready for: self-sacrifice. Daniel must die to his pride, and Ben must pay the ultimate price. They’ll need a miracle if they hope to survive.

Daniel and the Triune Quest is a young adult/Christian fantasy exploring redemption through Christ’s sacrifice, adoption into God’s family, and eschatology. It is the second book in the Sons and Daughters series, which includes Daniel and the Sun Sword.

The Guru's Review:  

Every author and every reader anticipate that a sequel will be just as good or better than the previous. I am sure Lumbatis is no exception here. Well, I can say that this is a better story than its predecessor (Daniel and the Sun Sword). Lumbatis have used the success of the previous to improve not only his writing skills but also concerning plot development and characterisation.  But the most noticeable improvement is the spiritual aspects. These not only impact greatly on the plot but further expand on what the author established in Sun Sword.

Lumbatis has shown more of the biblical aspects of who God is, the Trinity and the Gospel message. I really enjoyed how Lumbatis has done this. There is no overt preachiness that would interrupt the plot or make it disjointed and these inclusions are seamlessly incorporated into the plot as part of the plot arcs. And because Lumbatis' novels are geared towards the teen/young adult audience, this is very appropriate and works well. This age group switches off instantly when preachiness is present. Lumbatis again portrays the relationship between The Father and himself as a relational one and where he gets frustrated due to his age and maturity, Lumbatis shows very well how God encourages us to trust Him and lean not on our own understanding but His. Again, for this reader age group, this is very appropriate and needed.

The relationship between Daniel and Ben is more complex than previous and shows Lumbatis understands adolescents and their dynamics. The conflict between the two is typical of their age and maturity and one I could relate to well. In my case it was reversed, being the younger sibling, I experienced the jealousy from my older brother. I definitely understand what Daniel went through. 
The account where Daniel meets Jesus is powerful but gentle and bypasses the head and ministers straight to the heart. Very memorable and I loved through this account, Jesus leads Daniel to a greater understanding not only of the Gospel message and of who He is and His death on the Cross but of the quest Ben has in seeking the Triune Shield, but what he had to do to resolve this conflict between them. Daniel matures when understands this dynamic. And Ben matures throughout this adventure and earns Daniel's respect and vice versa. Lumbatis shows more of these instances where they are connected to the spiritual aspects of the novel. As I stated in my review of Sun Sword, you can see why Lumbatis has done this. His occupation of a child and adolescent therapist (working with adoptees, foster kids, and children from broken homes) lends the Gospel to this demographic very well. 

While on this issue, Lumbatis also includes some very illuminating messages on dying to self, being self-sacrificing all based on who Jesus is and the reasons why He encourages us to be like this. I loved how this is challenged by The Enemy and his rationale seems convincing but is very deceptive and Jesus shows Daniel the truth of His message and the Enemy's deception. Lumbatis shines here as well. 

My only concern remains the same as I stated in my review of Daniel and the Sun Sword. It is that through all the interaction with angels (Granny, Inti, Chandra and Candi), The Father, Jesus (Champion) and The Holy Spirit (The Blessing) and the Gospel message, and other detailed explanation of some of the sub Gospel themes and doctrines,  Lumbatis does not have Ben, Daniel taking the final step of accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour. I cannot even see any implication of this. Lumbatis has them acting as if they have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. This type of novel lends itself to this natural progression with all these aforementioned factors including those of spiritual warfare, demonology, demon possession and oppression and spiritual bondage.

The pace is faster than the previous novel and I must confess, I had to take a break as I felt I was affected getting breathless the more I read. The spiritual and physical warfare is also frenetic and further developed than previous. I know Lumbatis researched well the mythology and culture of Sun Sword and it is evident from this current novel that he has done the same here. In both, he has translated this research into the plot and setting of the novel very well. It is great world building. This allows this plot to flow well on this backdrop and environment. Makes it very credible and real. 

The spiritual warfare aspects are the same as in the previous; relying on prayer and the use of the supernaturally empowered weapons to deal with the demons. The demonology aspects based on the culture is very convincing and any poetic licence Lumbatis has employed only strengthens this and the plot. Definitely, adds to the plot and action. I love the deception the manifestation of these demons as local gods show and is reflective of the current environment that exists today.

I loved how one plot arc from Sun Sword left dangling was further developed in this novel and becomes a major part of the plot. Its resolutions at the end set the scene for a third instalment in this series and provide for even more complex development from this novel.

You might be wondering if anything further happens between Gabriela and Daniel in this novel and where is Raylin?  Don't despair, Lumbatis explains but it may not be what you are expecting. And the new character introduced adds more suspense especially the next novel. This novel really is pivotal for the series so far. I cannot wait for the next instalment. 

Fans of this series are not going to be disappointed with this novel. Lumbatis proves more of himself as an effective, competent and talented author in this novel. 

Strongly 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: