Friday, July 31, 2009

Christian Fiction Library and the future of The Bedford Review

Christian Fiction Library?

What is it and what does it have to do with The Bedford Review?

It is my new review site. I follow numerous review sites (CBA and ABA). Some of my favorites are the ones that only post reviews. So, I decided to start a site that has all of my reviews of new and old books. With all of the internet resources, I believe there is a place for reviews of both new and old books.

The CFL will not have blog tours or commentaries. Blog tours(with reviews of featured books) and commentaries will remain at TBR. TBR will also be the home of my non-fiction reviews. I will be trying to do more commentaries, listings of Christian book reviews by other bloggers and more at TBR.

My full review of Pirate Hunter by Tom Morrisey is the first review to appear on the new site.

So if you are looking for fiction reviews without all of the other things, visit the Christian Fiction Library. If you like tours, non-fiction reviews, and commentaries keep on checking out TBR.

God bless,

CFBA Tour-Any Minute by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Any Minute

FaithWords (June 30, 2009)


Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than seventy inspirational books, including The Confident Woman, I Dare You, the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books, her first venture into fiction with The Penny, and many others. She has also released thousands of audio teachings as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life® radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Deborah Bedford is a career fiction writer who began her professional life as a journalist in a Colorado mountain town.

A Rose By The Door, Deborah's first with Warner Book (name changed to FaithWords in 2006), hit bookstores in November 2001. A Morning Like This was released by Warner Books in 2002. Deborah's short story, “Connor Sapp's Baseball Summer,” is included in Multnomah Publisher's The Storytellers' Collection, Tales From Home, alongside stories by Chuck Colson, Terri Blackstock, Randy Alcorn and Karen Kingsbury.

Deborah and Jack have two children, Jeff and Avery. When she isn't writing, Deborah spends her time fly-fishing, cheering at American Legion baseball games, shopping with her daughter, singing praise songs while she walks along the banks of Flat Creek, and taking her dachshund Annie for hikes in the Tetons where they live.


Sarah Harper is driven to achieve success no matter what the cost. She wants to do good and not hurt the people she loves--especially children and her husband, Joe--but her desire to succeed in her career too often leaves little time for family.

One cold, autumn afternoon, all of that changes when Sarah's car plunges off a bridge and into a river. She is presumed dead by those on the "outside," but Sarah's spirit is still very much alive. What she discovers on the other side transforms everything about Sarah's view of life--past, present, and future.

When Sarah is revived, she is a changed woman. And the unsuspecting world around her will never be the same again.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Any Minute, go here!

Monday, July 27, 2009

CFBA Tour-Offworld by Robin Parrish

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Bethany House (July 1, 2009)

Robin Parrish

Wow. Talk about a book that cries out to be made into a movie. The fast-paced storyline combined with the scenes the author has described would make an excellent film. The vision of a world that has no people or animals will stay with you long after you finish reading Offworld.

In addition to the atmosphere, the characters stand out. It does not take too many pages until it seems like you have known these people for a long time. Parrish's characterization was dead on. He has joined my must read list of authors.

Parrish has written one of the better books of 2009 with this effort. I will be curious to see where he goes with his next novel.


Robin Parrish had two great ambitions in his life: to have a family, and to be a published novelist. In March of 2005, he proposed to his future wife the same week he signed his first book contract with Bethany House Publishers. They contracted him for the rights to not only that first book, Relentless -- but two sequels including Fearless and Merciless. A trilogy that unfolded in the consecutive summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Robin Parrish is a journalist who's written about pop culture for more than a decade. Currently he serves as Senior Editor at, a community portal that fuses social networking with magazine-style features about entertainment and culture. He and his wife, Karen and son live in North Carolina.


"Every Person on This Planet Has Disappeared."

Commander Christopher Burke and his crew are humanity's greatest explorers. They've finished their mission on the red dirt of Mars and now they just want to get back to Earth. To see friends, family, and loved ones. To be home. But even with communication to ground control cut and a perilous landing, nothing could prepare the crew for what they discover when they step foot back on planet Earth. gone.

It's not a dream. It's not a trick. Now Burke and his team have one mission:find out who or what is behind the disappearance of all mankind.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Offworld, go HERE

Watch the book trailer:

Friday, July 24, 2009

CFBA Tour-The Enclave by Karen Hancock

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Enclave

Bethany House (August 1, 2009)


Karen Hancock

This book is a good example of Christian speculative fiction. One of the themes I liked seeing was the way a Christian has to stand up for what he belives no matter what the consequences are. Standing up for Christ in the workplace is one of the toughest places to witness. Some might have a problem with one of the solutions to mystery (I don't want to spoil it for people who have not read the book) but this is a work of speculative fiction. Whether or not you like the explanation, you will enjoy the book. It is very well written.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story with well developed characters.

A longer review will appear at Christian Fiction Library at a future date.



Karen Hancock has won Christy Awards for each of her first four novels--Arena and the first three books in the Legends of the Guardian-King series, The Light of Eidon, The Shadow Within, and Shadow over Kiriath. She graduated from the University of Arizona with bachelor's degrees in biology and wildlife biology. Along with writing, she is a semi-professional watercolorist and has exhibited her work in a number of national juried shows. She and her family reside in Arizona.


When Lacey McHenry accepts a prestigious research fellowship at the world-renowned Kendell-Jakes Longevity Institute, she sees it as a new start on life. But a disturbing late-night encounter with an intruder leads to an unexpected cover-up by Institute authorities, and she soon realizes there's more going on than she ever imagined.

She finds a supporter in genetics researcher Cameron Reinhardt. However, Reinhardt is a favorite of the Institute's director, and she can't help wondering if he, too, is in on the cover-up. The brilliant but absentminded researcher turns out to have his own secrets, some of them dark and deadly. The Enclave is characterized by adventure, intrigue, spiritual analogy, and romance, all set in an unusual but fully realized world--one that may have its foundations on earth but which, the more one learns of it, doesn't seem much like the earth we know at all.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Enclave, go HERE

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour-The Enclave by Karen Hancock Day 2

While reading the other bloggers comments on this book (my review won't appear until probably next week), I discovered some interesting responses.

Overall, the majority thought it was a well written book. Hancock's continues to build on her reputation.

Some have a problem with her theology.

I think she explains herself very well on her site (Writing from the Edge). When I read a book dealing with this kind of theme, I try to keep in mind that it is a work of speculative fiction. I don't have a problem with this storyline. From what I have read of other's comments, the message the author is promoting is Bible based.

What I have read so far is well written. Now we just need to find a way to get it out there where the Crichton fans will find it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CFBA Tour-Pirate Hunter by Tom Morrisey

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Pirate Hunter

Bethany House (July 1, 2009)


Tom Morrisey

I am still reading this book. My review will appear over the weekend. Based on what I have read so far, I can tell you that I highly recommend this novel.


Tom Morrisey is a mountaineer, aviator, shipwreck diver, and explorer, who holds a Full Cave certification from the National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section.

He has launched, edited or contributed to numerous national publications and is an award-winning adventure-travel writer. A popular speaker, he is also active in both evangelism and the arts. Morrisey earned an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, and his fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines.

His first novel, Yucatan Deep (Zondervan, 2002) was a finalist for the Christy award, and he is the author of six novels, including Wind River and In High Places. In addition Tom has also written two nonfiction books: 20 American Peaks & Crags (Contemporary Books, 1978) and Wild by Nature (Baker Books, 2001). He and his family live in Orlando, Florida.


High Seas Adventure Meets a High-Tech Quest for Pirate Gold West Indies, 18th century Young Ted Bascombe is rescued by notorious pirate Captain Henry Thatch, finding himself caught up in a world of crime, adventure, and a daily fight for freedom.... Key West, 21st century Marine archaeologist Greg Rhode embarks on a treasure-hunting expedition in the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys, but he's as beguiled by a beautiful diver with different-colored eyes as by the lure of pirate gold...The Hunt Is On! Interweaving these two stories, pro deep-sea diver Tom Morrisey spins a multilayered tale of two young men's quests to escape their past by losing themselves to adventure on the high seas. Romantic and thrilling, this unique novel explores the timeless truth that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pirate Hunter, go HERE

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FIRST Tour-Refuge: A True Story of Faith and Civil War by Bruce Beakley

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Refuge: A True Story of Faith and Civil War

Bruce Beakley (March 1, 2009) (WinePress Publishing)


Bruce Beakley is not your typical author. As an engineer by trade, the possibility of writing a book wasn’t even on his radar. “Truthfully, I’ve never even been what you would call an avid reader. An engineer that reads; that’s an oxymoron,” he laughs. “To me, reading a book is making a serious commitment. What if you get to the end and find out the book wasn’t all that good?” A divine encounter in an airport terminal changed everything. Beakley and his wife, Debra, have been married for 32 years. The couple has one grown son and resides in Houston, Texas. Beakley’s penchant for adventure is expressed in his love of international prison missions in Central and South America. He enjoys tennis, hiking mountains and volcanoes, and trying out his Belgian-imported hip on the ski slopes.

The Gonlehs currently reside in Montgomery, Alabama, where the membership of First Baptist Church has embraced them and helped to meet their needs. Bessie works at the church daycare, while John, an ordained Baptist minister, is a groundskeeper at Tuskegee University. After several years of waiting, John Jr. and Miracle were recently able to join their parents in the United States.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Bruce Beakley (March 1, 2009) (WinePress Publishing)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1579219306
ISBN-13: 978-1579219307


Chapter 1

#72 Soldiers’ Barrack

July 11, 1990
Putrid aromas from sweat, urine, blood, and infected sores mingled to rouse me from a fitful night. Moans and curses in the dimly lit room let me know the others were awake.

“You should pray with me, because only God can save us now.” I spoke softly but deliberately to the group of eleven men huddled into the cramped, muggy cell. So, as the early-morning sun peeked through the palm trees, I prayed one last time. Our captors had told us today was the final investigation.

“Father, here we are, committing ourselves into your hands. We have no one else but you. Save our lives from these wicked people. And let these men know you are God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

I didn’t actually lead the men in prayer. It was just that no one raised any objection. No one had any energy left for theological arguments. Mine was a prayer of unyielding stubbornness. After all God had done for me, I refused to give up on him, like the others.

Our cell was one of ten. Several weeks earlier these had been the living quarters for Liberian army soldiers. The rebels had turned them into a makeshift prison.

About a hundred men were being held in the ten cells. Some were wealthy—government officials or prominent businessmen. I had been Assistant Prayer Leader with a volunteer group at the executive mansion chapel. That was my crime. I was a collaborator with the Liberian government of President Samuel Doe.

After the war began six months ago, I spent many mornings at the chapel with my group. We prayed for soldiers and government employees. Sometimes I delivered the message at the midday service. In the afternoons, I worked at my construction block business. I never saw President Doe.

Years before, I met President Doe once, though I doubt he would remember me. I wasn’t one of his wealthy friends, his generals, or his political enemies. I was merely a volunteer Christian. Inconsequential.

I don’t think the rebels expected to get much information from me. I was a collaborator and my wife was one-half Krahn. These crimes justified the beatings and torture. I could only hope justice would prevail during the final investigation today. Perhaps, afterward, I would finally be free from the terrible mistake that had brought me here.

We were being held in the #72 Soldiers’ Barrack outside Paynesville, an upscale suburb on the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. My house was close by. It was so near, and yet I struggled to remember details I’d never paid attention to before. I had carelessly placed my house and neighborhood in the background scenery. Now I longed to remember the color of the flowers Bessie planted in our yard. After a brief failed effort, I gave up.

My mind kept going over the events of the past week, the moment when the rebels came for me. I tried to logically process what had happened, but nothing fit together.

Where are you, God? Why are you allowing this to happen?

I alternated between faith and doubt.

Of course he was in control and could save me. But that didn’t mean that I, Bessie, or the children would survive.

The rebels had entered Paynesville nine days ago. We heard automatic gunfire in nearby neighborhoods. Three weeks before, we had heard their long-range artillery shells hitting the city center. Everyone knew the rebels were coming, slowly but steadily advancing.

The first two days, we escaped the bullets coming straight down through our roof. Victorious over the government troops, the rebels celebrated by firing their weapons into the air. Bullets fell from the sky like tiny meteors. Our family was lucky. A neighbor’s child three doors down was struck and wounded by one of these projectiles.

Bessie and I took the precaution of packing all our important papers into one of the children’s book satchels. We included our marriage certificate, the children’s birth certificates, school report cards, our deeds, and cash. That was all. There wasn’t room for anything else.

Then, on the morning of the third day of the attack, I happened to be looking out my living room window when an army jeep drove right onto our front lawn. Rebels started piling out.

Wide-eyed, I screamed, “Bessie, get the children and hide.” A frantic commotion ensued for a few seconds. Small bodies ran past me as Bessie yelled her orders. In just seconds, it was quiet again. I stood alone, watching.

Four rebels stood on our lawn. Each carried an automatic rifle, a Kalashnikov. They fired their weapons into the sky. They looked crazed and terrifying.

The AK-47 was the favorite among revolutionaries. Firing up to thirty bullets per trigger pull, and outfitted with a wicked-looking and effective bayonet, it was simple and cheap. At only twenty dollars each, it was light enough for a small child to handle.

A month earlier, I had nearly been killed by an AK-47.

I had taken a taxi to the open market to purchase a hundred-pound bag of rice. Food had gotten scarce as the rebel offensive drew near the city, so the rice cost triple its normal price. I placed the heavy bag of rice in a little wagon and turned to pay the merchant. When I turned back, I saw a man walking away, pulling the wagon and taking my rice. I yelled for him to stop and ran toward him. He abruptly halted and slowly turned around.

His face was streaked with white clay, his long hair matted in clumps, and his clothes were filthy. A rebel! Fear suddenly gripped me. Bessie and I had heard from neighbors that rebel excursions into the city were becoming common as their army approached. He had come to the market to get food by any means he could.

He was big, almost a foot taller than I and heavier by thirty pounds. His AK-47 was slung over his right shoulder. Ignoring my fear, I ran up to him and told him the rice belonged to me—as though he didn’t already know. He didn’t speak but calmly reached into his flak-jacket pocket with his right hand and started to unsling his rifle with his left.

Blinking and dumbfounded, I realized the bullet clip wasn’t in the rifle, and he was retrieving it. I didn’t know what to do. Should I run? Try to reason with him?

Just then, the clip snapped into the rifle.

Inside my head I heard, Are you just going to stand there and let him kill you? Startled by the unexpected voice, I snapped out of my stupor. I mouthed, “Help me, Lord!” Before I knew it, I had grabbed hold of the rifle with both hands.

Now, the rebel was the startled one. We both gripped the gun tightly. We wrestled back and forth, each trying to gain control without success. As large as he was, he couldn’t shake me or twist the gun free. After a few moments, a Monrovia policeman saw our struggle and rushed in. He yelled for the crowd of gaping merchants and customers to grab us and pull us apart.

Once we were apart, the policeman quickly ascertained the situation. He yelled at me, “Get your rice and go. Just go!” The merchants released me on his command. I ran, snatched my bag of rice out of the wagon, jumped in a taxi, and sped off. All the way home I trembled.

Whereas that incident had been a chance encounter, the rebels on my front lawn now were not there by accident. After shooting their guns into the sky, they walked across my yard toward the front door. I saw bandoliers of ammunition draped over their shoulders and around their waists.

I’ve never owned a gun and never handled one other than in the market. I did know, however, those weapons in the hands of the teenagers standing in my front yard had defeated Liberia’s national army. The sight of the rebels paralyzed me with fear.

At least when I first saw them, I had the presence of mind to yell to Bessie to get in the back bedroom with the kids.

“Thank you, Lord, for letting me see them,” I prayed.

I breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled, trying to control my emotions and thinking of what else I could do.

“Nothing. There is nothing I can do,” I told myself.

So, alone in my living room, I sat down in my favorite comfortable armchair. I waited. I watched the rebels through the large front window as they walked toward the door. One wore a uniform. His face and arms were streaked with white clay. I recognized the clay as Juju, witchcraft, designed to make its wearer impervious to bullets. Another wore a crimson church choir robe with an ammunition belt cinched around his waist.

What an odd spoil of war, I thought, looting a choir robe.

Choirboy’s hair was wild, almost like spikes coming out of his head. It wasn’t clear if this was his hairstyle or just happenstance from living months in the bush. Strange, the details we notice in a crisis.

With each step the rebels took toward my house, I grew more frightened. I couldn’t move, still paralyzed by fear. At that moment, it wasn’t an expression or figure of speech. I was truly paralyzed. My muscles were so constricted, it seemed as if each possessed its own little mind and instinctively knew what to do in a moment such as this. I was a fawn hiding in the Liberian savannah grass and being stalked by a leopard.

There was no chance of escaping. All I felt was stark terror, not breathing, everything shutting down. I couldn’t even form a prayer. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” was all I whispered. Did those words reach my lips or were they just in my mind? I couldn’t tell.

The rebels were at the front door. Suddenly one called out, “Come out and bring your Krahn wife. Bring out the bank money and tell us where President Doe is. Otherwise, we’re going to kill you and burn your house down.”

I didn’t move or speak. I couldn’t. I was paralyzed. The rebels didn’t ask twice. With a swift boot to the front door, the door jamb splintered and the door swung open. With bloodshot eyes from drugs or sleep deprivation, their eyes locked on mine as they approached. Oddly, my eyes apparently were the only part of my body not frozen. As time slowed down, they followed each movement as the two converged on the helpless creature staring back at them.

It was as if my body floated. I was weightless. They jerked me hard up and out of the armchair. The force must have torn my shirt because I heard a rip. I felt my feet bouncing across the floor, through the front door, across the porch, and down the steps.

My short weightless journey abruptly ended. Once in the front yard, they dropped me. I tried to use my arms to break the fall, but they wouldn’t respond. I remembered the saying about dropping something like a sack of potatoes. Now I knew what that meant.

I fell face forward straight down onto my chest and tasted grass as my head bounced. My eyes saw the bottom half of a small figure approaching. The two larger rebels who dragged me were walking away. The approaching figure had small skinny legs and mismatched oversized boots.

I guessed the child to be about twelve years old. As I started to lift my head, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sudden blur. The concussion from the butt end of the assault rifle snapped my head back to the ground. My right temple started to throb.

Taking aim a second time, the child struck once more with the ease of someone possessing supreme confidence in his ability to perform this most basic of warfare skills: Stand over your subject. Hold the barrel in the left hand near the muzzle, the right hand holding the stock just above the trigger guard. Now while keeping a firm grip arc downward like you’re planting a flagpole in the ground. You should hear a good solid crack as you make contact. That’s correct. Now try it again.

At once, their leader demanded again, “Where is your Krahn wife? Where is the bank money? Tell us where President Doe is.”

Jarred to my senses, my head now reeling and throbbing from pain, but shocked out of my frozen, paralyzing fear, I once again was able to think.

“I…I’m alone in the house. We have no bank money. It stays at the bank. I don’t have anything to do with President Doe. I have no idea where he is.” The pain loosened my frozen arms and they now hurried to protect my head, but the damage had already been done.

These particular rebels were so ignorant they thought Bessie, a bank teller, brought the bank’s money home at night and took it back the next day. While they certainly needed it, they weren’t asking for a lesson on the Liberian banking system. They just wanted the money.

I blurted out these answers as fast as I could. If I thought immediate compliance to their demands would preserve me from another head blow, I was wrong. The efficient and skillful assistant found an open spot and replicated his technique. Once a skill is perfected, it is only a natural human tendency to want to show off to your superiors. The child was rewarded by their grinning approval. Rising weightless once more, I was dragged to the jeep and thrown in the back.

The teenage leader was the passenger, of course, as was befitting his rank. He should naturally be chauffeured during these roundup excursions. In the back with me were the skillful assistant and the cherub choirboy. They had successfully bagged their prey, and now it was time to take it home, victorious once more.

Knots were already forming, slowly rising off my skull, and I felt blood trickle down one cheek. The warm liquid mingled in my mouth with dirt and the grass I’d planted when we first built our house. Silently through the pain, I breathed a sigh of relief. As odd as it seems, I also shared in their victory.

Driving away from the house, my prayer and those of Bessie and the children were answered. The rebel soldiers forgot all about searching the house. Bessie and the kids weren’t discovered. They certainly would have been found if the search had taken place. In a closet and under the bed aren’t exactly unique hiding places. My basic house just wasn’t constructed for such a clandestine purpose. It was such a simple mistake really and yet one that would affect everything to follow.

“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord,” I silently prayed as we drove away. I glanced up and noticed the sky. The sun was just starting its climb. It would be another typical summer day in Liberia, hot and humid.

Monday, July 13, 2009

CFBA Tour-Who Made You a Princess by Shelley Adina

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Who Made You a Princess

FaithWords (May 13, 2009)


Shelley Adina


Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages.

Shelley is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She writes books about fun and faith--with a side of glamour. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, watching movies, and making period costumes.

The All About Us book series has its own home over on the Hachette website. Stop by and see what the five fabulous girls at Spencer Acadenmy are up to! Series Website.

Her other books in this series includes book one, It's All About Us, oook Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick, and book three, Be Strong & Curvaceous. This present book is book four.


Shani Hanna returns to SpencerAcademy for her senior year after an amazing summer spent with her friends Lissa, Gillian, and Carly. But the best part about summer was meeting Danyel Johnstone. Danyel is cute, smart, cool, and super nice. All Shani has to do is get him to see her as more than just one of the gang.

But when the girls return to school, they find a new addition to the distinguished student body: Prince Rashid al Amir of Yasir, an oil-rich desert kingdom in the Middle East. Prince Rashid moved to California to prepare for an eventual MBA at Stanford...and to romance his future wife: Shani Hanna!

It turns out, Shani's family and the prince's go back for generations, entwined in tradition, obligation, and family honor. In each generation, members of the two families have expanded their business interests through arranged marriage. Will Shani put aside her feelings for Danyel to pursue her family's wishes? Or will God answer her prayers for an intervention?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Who Made You a Princess , go HERE

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fatal Illusions by Adam Blumer

Fatal Illusions (Using an illusion to show the reality of forgiveness)

Fatal Illusions is an excellent first novel by Adam Blumer. This book is a suspenseful page-turner. I read it while on vacation and that is a good thing. Since I did not have to get up for work in the morning, I was able to stay up late and read a few more chapters each night. The author kept increasing the intensity with each chapter. The short chapters that changed between the different viewpoint characters also helped contribute to the pacing. I personally like the short chapters when the storyline is fast-paced.

The only problems I had with this book was a couple of the scenes involving the antagonist, Haydon Owens. Haydon’s amazing ability to drive through the blizzard when the police were having problems with the road conditions surprised me. This does set up Haydon as an unstoppable force of nature but it made him appear less human. I can’t really hold this against Blumer. The same type of antagonist have been used by many more experienced authors such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz. So this is more a matter of personal preference.

The other scene I did not care for was the appearance of Ryan (I do not want to give away the plot, but you will know which scene I am talking about when you read it) to save the day. Although I prefer shorter books, in this case I would have liked another chapter added that would have set up Ryan’s appearance. I think that it could have been included a few chapters before. This would explain his later arrival without it seeming like a surprise pulled out of nowhere.

Despite the few problems I had, this book was a very good first novel. Probably the most surprising part to me was the theme of forgiveness. In a suspense/thriller type of book I don’t expect that to be a major theme. I was impressed with the way Marc was worried about Stacey even after her attack. Gillian realization of the lack of forgiveness Haydon expressed led to his problems. If he had been willing to forgive, many lives would have been spared. It was interesting to watch how forgiving or a lack of forgiveness guided the lives of the various characters.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

CFBA Tour-Fatal Illusions by Adam Blumer

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Fatal Illusions

Kregel Publications (March 5, 2009)


Adam Blumer


Adam Blumer lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia.

He works full-time as a freelance writer and editor. A print journalism graduate of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC), he served in editorial roles for fourteen years at Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI) and Awana Clubs International Headquarters (Streamwood, IL).

He has published numerous short stories and articles. Fatal Illusions released by Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI) is his first novel.


An amateur magician, an unassuming family . . . a fatal illusion Haydon Owens wants to be the next Houdini. He has been practicing his craft and has already made four women disappear. All it took was a bit of rope and his two bare hands.

The Thayer family has come to the north woods of Newberry, Michigan, looking for refuge, a peaceful sanctuary from a shattered past. But they are not alone. Little do they know that they are about to become part of Haydon's next act. Time is running out and already the killer has spotted his next victim. Who will escape alive?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fatal Illusions, go HERE

“Fatal Illusions is an engaging, fast-paced read with a captivating storyline that grabs you from page one and doesn't let go. Highly recommended!”--Mark Mynheir, homicide detective and author of The Night Watchman

“An awesome ride!”--Rosey Dow, Christy Award winning author of Reaping the Whirlwind

“Adam Blumer tells a fast-paced story that weaves together a serial killer, a physically wounded pastor and his spiritually wounded wife. The twists and turns will keep readers guessing.”--Rick Acker, author of Blood Brothers

Monday, July 06, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour-Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Valley of the Shadow

Tyndale House Publishers (May 13, 2009)


Tom Pawlik, winner of the 2006 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest has drawn praise from critics with his first novel, Vanish. Novel Journey has declared, “Tom Pawlik writes a scary, fascinating, suspenseful story; one you won’t want to miss” and Faithful Reader said Vanish “…delivers a Christian message and certainly succeeds in stirring the imagination and the spirit.”

Tom Pawlik has a BA in communication and works in the marketing field. He has been active in Christian teaching, youth work, and music for over twenty years. In addition to writing fiction, Tom is an accomplished songwriter and musician who writes and records at his home studio. He and his wife, Colette, live in Ohio with their four children and a dog.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (May 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414326793
ISBN-13: 978-1414326795


Freezing. Devon Marshall was freezing.

Darkness enveloped him. Thick and heavy, wrapping around him like a blanket. He could feel its weight pressing in on him. Squeezing him. Smothering him. And far off in the darkness, he heard sounds. A deep rumble mixed with a jumbled, muddied squawking. The noises were muffled and distant but growing steadily louder. Like a train approaching: the thunder of the engines and the clacking of its wheels on the tracks.

A pinprick of light blazed in the darkness. Tiny at first, but getting closer. Every second it grew larger and more intense. The sound roared now as the light rushed toward him and then . . .

Everything exploded into chaos.

Light and sound washed around him like a giant whirlpool. He could feel himself spinning inside it. Being buffeted and pulled along by a current.

And he was still freezing.

Lights flashed in his face. A dizzying array of reds and blues. Light and darkness. Shadows loomed over him and moved about. He tried to focus on the shadowy images as they swirled around him. Then he recognized them.


He was surrounded by people. Actual human beings! They were speaking to one another. Devon could hear distinct voices but still couldn’t make out the words. And the voices sounded worried. Anxious.

Devon’s vision was becoming clearer. Several people with uniforms and badges hovered over him. An ambulance was parked nearby, and two police cars, their lights flashing.

Paramedics? And cops? Was there an accident somewhere?

His mind was a jumble of thoughts and he tried to recall what had just happened. Images flashed through his mind. Terrifying ones. Disjointed and vague memories of huge, empty buildings. Skyscrapers. An entire city, void of life. A dull, overcast sky. Gray, faceless creatures reaching out hands with long, bony fingers like enormous spider legs.

And a farm out in the middle of nowhere . . .

Terrell. Where was Terrell? They had been together just a few days ago. Or had it been only a few minutes?

Devon tried to turn his head but couldn’t. Something was holding him in place. He struggled to move but was too weak.

He had to get out of here. He had to find Terrell.

He could hear the voices better now. One of them called for help. Something about a stretcher. Legs and feet shuffled out of view, then back in again. More lights.

Not far off, a row of strangers huddled together, watching. Devon scanned their faces, and one of them caught his eye. One face seemed out of place in the group. One man was standing off a little ways by himself. Standing in the shadows, staring right at Devon. His face seemed to draw Devon’s gaze toward him, as if pulling him down into a pit.

It was long and narrow. Pale skin almost glowed against the shadows behind him. His cheeks were gaunt and sunken. And his eyes . . .

His eyes shone a pale yellow. But they seemed hollow. Then he smiled. His thin, puckered mouth expanded into a wide grin. Rows of brown, rotted teeth dripped with black saliva.

Devon couldn’t take his eyes off the man. Then someone passed between them and he was gone.

Suddenly Devon felt himself moving. Floating. He could see several people standing around him. Cops and paramedics. They slid him into an enclosed space where white light surrounded him. Two people climbed up beside him.

What was going on?

Devon heard doors slam shut with a thud and a click. A moment later, he could feel himself moving again.

His eyes widened and his breathing grew more rapid. The crowd. The paramedics. The cops . . .

They were there for him!

They had put him into the ambulance!

One of the paramedics leaned close. He had reddish brown hair, green eyes, and a broad, freckled face. “. . . what I’m saying? You’ve been shot. . . . going to be all right . . . Cook County Memorial . . . understand?”

He was pressing something against Devon’s chest. Devon glanced down. Now in the light he could see his shirt was cut open and drenched in blood. A large, white piece of gauze was taped to his chest.

Devon looked back up at the medic and his breath caught in his throat.

The man’s face had changed. His eyes glowed yellow. His lips parted in a twisted grin, showing dozens of teeth. Dark and rotted, all jammed together in his mouth. Black liquid, like tar, dripped onto his chin.

“The door is still open,” he croaked. His voice was gargled and deep.

“Leave me alone!” Devon squeezed his eyes shut. “Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”

He felt a hand on his forehead and opened his eyes again. The medic’s face had returned to normal. The guy was working on Devon as if nothing had happened.

Devon tried to slow his breathing. His chest burned and a sharp pain knifed through his ribs with every breath. He struggled for air as darkness began to close in around him. Sounds grew muffled. The medic’s voice sounded urgent but began to fade. Devon could feel them moving around, trying to save him.

And he could feel himself slipping away.

Excerpted from Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik. Copyright© 2009 by Tom Pawlik. Printed with permission from Tyndale House Publishers. All Rights Reserved.