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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading new author's novels or author's who have not had many reviews or exposure and giving them much needed encouragement where appropriate.   
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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan M Litfin (Book 1 The Sword, Book 2 The Gift, Book 3 The Kingdom)







  


Description:

Four hundred years from now a deadly virus and nuclear war have destroyed the modern world. Those who survived have returned to a medieval-like age of swords, horses, and feudal kingdoms. Yet the breathtaking mountain realm of Chiveis lives in peace, protected from the outside empires and obedient to its own gods.

But when Teo, an army scout, and Ana, the beautiful daughter of a farmer, discover an ancient book, everything begins to change in Chiveis—old beliefs give way to new faith, persecution rises, and the kingdom’s darkest secrets begin to surface.


Journey with Teo and Ana as they discover a faith that was all-but forgotten—and see for yourself how the truth can set you free.
   
Review: 

The Chiveis Trilogy, I believe, should be considered a Christian classic. This is one very beautiful story. I had the joy of reading it one book after the other, having waited until all three were published. Litfin is a master storyteller. I look forward to more of his work now that he has shown us what he is capable of in this trilogy.

His characters are very believable, relational, not two dimensional. You will find yourself totally absorbed in the two main characters, Teo and Ana, but also the lesser dominant characters. There is so much more to love about this trilogy. Litfin describes the post modern world very well, throughout all three books you are transported to a medieval world and it is a world that is exciting, rich in its daily life, its people and its religion.


It is against this backdrop that Litfin has developed a wonderful story of God's grace, salvation, spiritual warfare, mercy and redemption. Teo and Ana discover an ancient book that belonged in the "Ancient" world as they call it. Their world is growing increasing disillusioned in the current religion of worshipping the three gods of their world. Teo and Ana begin to see these gods as tyrants, and once they find this ancient book, which is the Bible, they are set on a quest to know the God of this book more and this pits them against the wrath of the gods, mainly Astrebril, who is satan as we know him. The high Priestess of Chiveis, learns about the discovery of the Bible and sets out to stop it from being distributed amoung Chiveis. She has her own copy of the Bible and knows the message and the One True God.

The trilogy thus follows the quest of Teo and Ana to reintroduce Christianism (we know it as Christianity) to Chiveis. When the Bible is found, the New Testament had been destroyed by time and water damage. They set out to find this second book. This takes them out of Chiveis into the Beyond, as they call it, where they discover other lands, cultures and other minority groups who are followers of Christianism. Discovering the New Testament they also discover the missing dimension of their new found faith, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This further pits them against many more enemies of the One True God and places them in more danger from the evil manipulations of Astrebril and his followers.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Holy Warriors, Episode 1 of Werewolves of New Idria (A Novella) - by John E Chadwell

 


Description: 


A New Breed of Werewolf!
In the year 1063, a nineteen-year-old Spanish knight fought alongside the legendary El Cid against the Moors. After the battle near Graus, a Moorish village in Spain, El Cid blessed Roberto Aceves de Burgos and gave him a gift of the magical sword, Tizona, and told the boy that his father was dying and he must return home to Burgos.
On the journey home, the young knight was attacked by an infamous highwayman and werewolf. Aceves survived the attack, though badly wounded. He was convinced that he would eventually be transformed into a beast of evil. But a wondrous being appeared, healed his wounds and told him that his future was not ordained, that it was his choice to accept God’s grace and serve on the side of good rather than evil.
Aceves chose to fight evil and became an eternal Holy Warrior. He and his descendants fought for justice over the next nine centuries throughout Europe and into the Americas, always in secret, for they are still feared as werewolves.
One day, he and his clan were captured by a young army officer, George Patton, who offered them the chance to come out of the dark and serve in the open as the nation’s first Special Forces. They agreed and soon became known for their bravery and ferocity in battle during both World Wars and through Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Aceves clan eventually settled on a ranch in California’s Diablo Mountains, near the abandoned mining town of New Idria. In nearby Hollister, the annual motorcycle rally was taking place when a gang called The Devil’s Demons arrived. The gang’s leader was a demon, Satan’s own kin, seeking revenge and the destruction of the Werewolves of New Idria. When werewolves and demons came together in the toxic remains of New Idria, it was a battle to the death and the transformation of one to a divine creature.

Review: 
This novella is based on the graphic novel of the same name. Based on this, I am not sure if there will be further episodes in the series. There is no mention of this at the end of the book or anywhere I can find. 
This novel and the graphic novel lives up to its premise of a new breed of werewolf. 
After being bitten by Marcelino, a first generation werewolf, Roberto is fearful that he would be transformed into the same and therefore live a life of evil. However, having his wounds healed by Niniane, a fae, who she describes herself as a creation of God, encourages Roberto to accept God's grace as to use his transformation into a werewolf for good by being a warrior of God. The rest of the story follows Roberto over the next many hundreds of years as his family of werewolves grows and all become God's Holy Warriors. It culminates in the present age where one of the Nephilim who has possessed the body of Apollo Slayier, a fellow soldier who fought with Christian, Roberto's grandson in a previous war decades ago. Here the final fight ensues culminating in the defeat of this Nephilim and his band of human warriors.  
It was this premise that drew me to this novella. It shows a lot of promise for future episodes. However, I don't feel it converted well from graphic novel to written novel. The spiritual aspects are there and they are good, it is just that converting the story line from the graphic novel leaves the plot of this novella a bit thin and disjointed. This is evidenced by single chapters outlining the various historical ages that Roberto and his family have lived through since being transformed into werewolves and having their lives prolonged to hundreds of years instead of the mere double figures that we are used to. These chapters are not connected or flow into each other leading to this part of the plot being disjointed. This story then comes into its own when this history of Roberto's life over the centuries since becoming Holy Warrior catches up to the present age where the battle between Nephilim/demon possessed Apollo Slayier and Roberto and his family unfolds. 
The author has portrayed the fight scenes at the beginning of the plot where Roberto fights Marcelino very action packed and the especially the same at the end of the novella with the battle between the Nephilim and Roberto's family. This adds strength to the plot.

I would have liked to have had more inclusion and development of the elements of spiritual warfare of Roberto and his family and their faith in God, the history of the Nephilim and their origins. It would have also been better for the plot continuity if the chapters outlining the centuries of Roberto's life and family as Holy Warriors were connected showing further plot lines that showed the development of them as Holy Warriors.
As I have said, this series shows a lot of promise. I would love to see further episodes with the improvements I have mentioned. 
Recommended only if you like a Christian take on the werewolf genre.


My Rating:


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Song of the Seraphim, Book 3 in the Giants in the Earth Trilogy by Michael J Webb

 

Book Description:


When Paul Kingman’s wife, Gabriella, and son, Joshua, are kidnapped by Vaughn Aurochs, Paul must race against time in order to prevent them from being sacrificed as part of the billionaire’s demonic plan to rule the world. Aurochs wants the Nephilim Parchments so he can validate his claim that he has been chosen by the Dark One himself to ascend to the pinnacle of power. Vaughn intends to force Paul to hand over the parchments using Gabriella and Joshua as leverage. 

The problem is, Paul doesn’t have the parchments. 

Complicating matters is the fact that Gabriella’s father, David McDaniel, the newly elected President of the United States, is working with Aurochs. McDaniel is unaware that the billionaire intends to sacrifice his daughter and grandson in a bizarre ritual in a cave located near the summit of Mt.Hermon in Israel, a site believed by many as the place where the ancient Watchers first came to Earth millennia ago.

Paul must find the parchments in order to save his family, but knows that handing over the ancient documents to Vaughn Aurochs could unleash an unimaginable horror. He must battle supernatural enemies determined to stop him as he travels to Israel to save his family—and the world. However, he has a powerful ally, the imposing and mysterious Yuri ben Raphah, an angelic warrior assigned by God to watch over the Kingman family.

Will Paul be able to stop Vaughn Aurochs in time, rescue his family, and save the world from a terrifying nightmare? Find out in the exciting conclusion to the Giants in the Earth trilogy.

Review:

This is a great finale to this trilogy. Webb ties up loose ends as well as develops further the plot lines outlined in the first two books that also are connected to these loose ends. All throughout this book, I kept wondering how this was going to end and how Aurochs was going to be stopped. As far as biblical spiritual warfare is concerned it would be by the power of God and His Spirit just as the verse says, and Webb is true to this biblical doctrine and characteristic of God. And of course Yuri would have something to do with this, being sent by God to be look after Paul and direct events according to what he is permitted to do so by God.

Before Yuri was introduced again into this instalment, I had a feeling that this was the same angel, Uriel,from the first book. And I was right, he even admitted that he was one and the same, just that he changed his name in the second and final instalment. It was so good to have him back again! One very likeable character and angel!

Throughout this trilogy I had been wondering who the fallen angel is that possessed the body of Vaughn Aurochs from conception. I was not surprised when this was finally revealed at the end. Throughout this plot,Webb leaves an obvious clue that is not so hidden in plain sight of the reader.

I also wondered during this second and third instalment if there was a connection between certain main characters of the second and this third instalment and the main character of the first, Deucalion Quinctus Cincinnatus. You will have to read this final book to find out if yes there is or isn't!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Samson Effect by Tony Eldridge


The Samson Effect: A Novel

Since discovering an ancient scroll in a cave in Hebron, Israel, American biblical archeologist Thomas Hamilton and his trusted friend and colleague, Israeli biblical linguist Michael Sieff, have been consumed with the notion of the Samson Effect—the idea that a long-lost elixir can allow an ordinary person to perform superhuman feats. When they happen upon a worn Hebrew parchment that not only confirms the existence of the Samson Effect but could potentially lead them to its source, the scholars embark on an impassioned crusade for the truth behind the myth. But Hamilton and Sieff aren’t the only ones intent on uncovering the secret of Samson’s strength. An unrelenting sect of Jewish protectors will let no one stand in the way of their mission to reclaim what they had hidden nearly three thousand years ago, and a brilliant but ruthless Palestinian leader will stop at nothing to find and use the Samson Effect to empower his army of soldiers for a jihad against the world in the name of Allah. 


It isn’t long before their joint pursuit becomes a deadly one, and Hamilton and Sieff come to the grim realization that the Samson Effect is more powerful and far-reaching than they ever anticipated. In the wrong hands, it could trigger a worldwide catastrophe. A chilling and suspenseful tale of political and religious intrigue set in the unforgiving landscape of the Middle East, The Samson Effect wanders the boundaries of obsession and love, betrayal and allegiance, and vengeance and justice.






Review: 

I don't believe you could not give this book less than 5 stars! I will do things backwards here and state my recommendation first in this review instead of adding it last as I have in my previous reviews: Highly Recommended!

What a ride, Eldridge takes you on in this book! I thoroughly enjoyed it and could not put it down. It held me every day I read it on the train to and from work without me nodding off to sleep that I am prone to do!!

There are some good twists in the plot; one especially I did not see coming! I won't spoil it for anyone here.

I liked how something hinted at in the first few chapters of the book set the scene for future plot development especially at the end of the book. I regard that as good plot development.

For a first novel, Eldridge has done a fine job. I look forward to successive novels.

I have one question for this very promising and talented author:

Tony, you end the book with a hint of what a possible sequel could be? Am I correct?

Eldridge's knowledge and in-depth studies of Old Testament history pays off in this novel. He has developed the history of the Samson Effect well and is very believable. At first reading of the blurb, I did consider that growing a plant after thousands of years would be the Achilles Heel of his plot, but having since been to his website, I read that what he proposed in his story has recently come true:

"In June of 2008, Dr. Sarah Sallon of The Louis L .Borick Natural Medicine Research Center at Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, Israel announced that she had successfully grown an extinct tree from 2000 year old dormant seeds found in Masada, Israel. The high quality Date Palm of the first century, important to the region and prominent in biblical history, became extinct over the next two millennia."

This fact adds so much credibility to his story even though he wrote this without knowledge of the above discovery!!

I liked the character development Eldridge has created. They are not presumptous, over the top or too good to be true. Just ordinary people like you and I.

I can see why author Clive Cussler has endorsed this book and agree with that endorsement. I can also see why Hollywood has also bought the rights to it as well! It would make a great movie!

Highly Recommended



Monday, 21 October 2013

Angelguard, Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Angelguard, by Ian Acheson

 

 My Rating:  


I read this on August 4th, 2013


Description: 

Within a period of weeks, three horrific bomb blasts devastate areas of London, Los Angeles and Sydney. No explanation is offered, no victory claimed for these acts of terror. Yet behind the scenes a Machiavellian European businessman is planning to bring the G8 nations to their knees for his own larcenous purposes, aided by the dark forces to whom he has sold his soul. Jack Haines, an Australian academic, is grieving the loss of wife and children in the Sydney blast. Against his will he finds himself thrown into a war that transcends the physical world, a conflict in which angelic guards have a special mission for him.





Review:

A very good debut novel by Ian Acheson. The pace is more than enough to keep you wanting more and coming back for same. The plot is well constructed and flows well. Characters you can relate to and are believable.

I feel it is inevitable that any novel that concerns angels versus demons, both interacting with humans, the former to strengthen the Christian's relationship with God or to bring an unbeliever to God, and the latter to destroy a Christian's relationship with God and keep the unbeliever from God, there is bound to be comparisons. I have read many novels of this genre and can see the similarities and differences. Ian has added some differences that I have not encountered before. One noticeable is female angels. I am not against this and in one sense cannot really criticise any author for doing this as there is only one mention of female angels in the bible.



The Oldest Enemy by Michael J Webb




 My rating:  


I read this on September 27th, 2013

http://www.michaeljwebbfiction.com/


Description:

David Lighthouse was once a hard-hitting investigative reporter for the Denver Post—back before he was accused of the brutal murder of his fiancée and his life unraveled. Now, six years later, he is the assistant pastor of a small church in Florida. Armed with faith, sobriety, and a resurrected sense of purpose, he’s putting together a new life.

But when one of his young parishioners is murdered, David’s old instincts reemerge. Once again the prime suspect, he fights to clear his name even as disturbing clues at the crime scene reveal a haunting connection not only to his fiancée’s unsolved murder but to his estranged father’s secret past.

David suddenly finds himself the target of sinister, supernatural forces as he tracks down a conspiracy to release an ancient evil upon an unsuspecting world. Along with his father, the murdered girl’s sister, and a fierce Auschwitz survivor, David faces hell itself to prove his innocence and stop a reclusive German billionaire from unleashing a worldwide holocaust.





Review: 

In The Oldest Enemy, author Michael Webb, takes the main character, David Lighthouse, on a journey that will connect the murder of his fiancé six years earlier to the current murder of one of his parishioners, together with the secret past of his estranged father that all leads to reveal the deceptive motivation of a German billionaire who seeks to unleash a worldwide holocaust.

All efforts by David, his father, Michael, Lauren , the sister of his murdered parishioner, Beth Barkley, and stranger Ben Landers are thwarted by supernatural forces in cahoots with this German billionaire.

Along the way, the reader learns about the weapons of spiritual warfare straight out of the Bible, the nature of demons and their modus operandi and what Christians need to do to be empowered with these biblical supernatural weapons to fight and be victorious in spiritual warfare. All this builds to one very climatic ending that reads just as if it was a movie and it would make a very good movie! It has many successful elements; suspense, mystery, romance, spiritual warfare, demonic possession , political overtones, action and adventure.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

One Day in Budapest, An Arkane Thriller Novella By Joanna Penn




 My rating : 


I read this on September 13th, 2013


www.thecreativepenn.com


Description: 

A relic, stolen from the heart of an ancient city.
An echo of nationalist violence not seen since the dark days of the Second World War.
Budapest, Hungary. When a priest is murdered at the Basilica of St Stephen and the Holy Right relic is stolen, the ultra-nationalist Eröszak party calls for retribution and anti-Semitic violence erupts in the city. 

Dr Morgan Sierra, psychologist and ARKANE agent, finds herself trapped inside the synagogue with Zoltan Fischer, a Hungarian Jewish security advisor. As the terrorism escalates, Morgan and Zoltan must race against time to find the Holy Right and expose the conspiracy, before blood is spilled again on the streets of Budapest.

One Day In Budapest is a chilling view of a possible future as Eastern Europe embraces right-wing nationalism. A conspiracy thriller for fans of Daniel Silva, where religion and politics intersect.

If you love a fast-paced thriller, download a sample or buy One Day In Budapest now.


 

Review: 

Typical style of Joanna Penn and in style of the ARKANE Thriller series. A well researched history of Budapest, the effects of WWII and the country's Jewsh history and its legends and myth all wound together in a fast paced novella outlining one day's adventure for Morgan Sierra.

This ending lays a clue to the next ARKANE thriller, and by the sounds of it, this next one is going to be a good one!!

Elijah and the Last Judgement By Steve Goodwin






My rating: 



I read this on September 15th, 2013


http://www.stevegoodwin.org/
 
Description: 

A thought provoking Christian story of love, life and death, the afterlife, and spiritual warfare.

I am dead. This is my funeral.

Elijah turned to look at Castiel who looked back at him and nodded gently.

And in that instant everything changed, in ways that Elijah Hael and those who read his story could never anticipate or imagine.

Enter a world of intrigue, suspense, wonder and living energy where our souls are battled over, unseen by many but experienced by all.

Don't miss the opportunity to join Elijah Hael on his spellbinding, dazzling and unforgettable journey through his life to his destiny. An adventure, infused with Christian values, you'll never forget. Those who enjoy an uplifting, challenging, touching story will adore this novel.

See more at ElijahHael.com





Review: 

I discovered Steve Goodwin's books advertised on Facebook. I was immediately drawn to them after reading the plot and also because he is an Australian Christian author. In my Christian fiction library, I do not have many Australian Christian authors, so to find another who writes in the genre I follow is worthy of my support.

Elijah Hael and the Last Judgement is the first in a series of novels. This one concerns the death of Elijah from a bicycle accident. He finds himself in a strange place being interrogated over incidents in his past. Confused, he does not understand why this is happening. Another man, Castiel, interrupts this interrogation and takes him away where he is shown significant aspects of his life where Castiel and Elijah comment on these events. We see how these events, both good and bad, have impacted Elijah and made him the man he is. All these events range from childhood through to his death.

Elijah begins to understand that he is in the afterlife and Castiel is an angel. Through these observances of Elijah's life, clues are laid as to why this is happening leading to a decision Elijah has to make.

This comprises the first half of the novel. It is very absorbing. I could not put this half down. Goodwin seamlessly blends in various topics of dysfunctional family life, sexual promiscuity, (nothing graphic or descriptive), abortion, physical abuse, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, that Elijah was an observer to with his family. Goodwin writes this without it being a hard read and successfully portrays Elijah's feelings and how he coped. Throughout this half, he also blends in the spiritual aspects of sin, the interaction of demon spirits in these sinful acts and the effects it has on the characters in the spiritual plane and how this is manifested in a physical sense, causing ill health, and how sin enslaves them to this lifestyle.


Infernal Gates, by Michael J Webb



My rating: 


I read this on October 6th, 2013

http://www.michaeljwebbfiction.com/

Description: 


IS ETHAN FREEMAN AMERICA'S WORST TERRORIST, OR SOMETHING MUCH MORE EXTRAORDINARY?

Ethan Freeman, ex-Special Forces Ranger, wakes up to discover he is the sole survivor of a fiery commercial airline crash that killed his entire family. His nightmare is only beginning when he becomes the FBI’s prime suspect. Only Ethan knows he’s not a cold-hearted murderer, but he has no idea what happened to him--and why he alone survived.
He finds an unlikely ally in Sam Weaver, the NTSB Chief Investigator. An ex-military pilot, Sam senses Ethan is innocent. She tries to remain dispassionate in her investigation of the crash even as she finds herself attracted to the man who may be America=s worst homegrown mass-murderer.
Neither Ethan nor Sam realize that shadowy spiritual forces are at work which will alter their lives forever.
A monstrous evil, imprisoned since the time of the Pharaohs, has been released by The Nine, a sinister group of powerful men and women who believe they are the direct descendants of the Anunnaki, ancient Sumerian gods. The demon they have unleashed intends to free The Destroyer from The Abyss, the angelic prison referred to in the Book of Revelation, and unleash a worldwide reign of terror and annihilation.
Facing impossible odds, time is running out for Ethan and all of humanity as he is drawn into an ever-deeper conspiracy--millennia in the making--and learns that he is the key to stopping The Nine. Will he overcome his deepest fears and find reserves of strength he never knew he had as he confronts pure evil in order to save himself and an unsuspecting world?

Review: 

Michael Webb states that readers will love his novels if they enjoy a plot with a "... Christian world view, with lots of action and adventure, fascinating and flawed characters, with more than a dash of the supernatural...". 

Infernal Gates lives up to this statement. This is one well researched and well-constructed story. 

The first half of the plot centres on Ethan Freeman, an ex-Special Forces Ranger, who finds himself the sole survivor of a plane crash but instead of waking up amoungst the plane wreckage, finds himself at home and has no idea how he got there. In order to work out what had happened, he shows up at the crash site and makes himself known to the crash scene investigators. What follows is the crash scene investigators trying to pin the crash on him, proving he has the motive, means and opportunity. 

Interspersed amoungst this is the subplots that introduce their own various characters resulting in the intersection of, as Webb says in his Amazon Bio, “…traditional and forbidden history, the origins of demons and their influence on mankind throughout the ages, quantum physics, and the unseen war in the heavenlies between angelic forces and agents of darkness…..”. This lays the foundation for one fast paced, multi layered but all connected plot where you wonder how all the pieces and characters could fit together. 

Webb is a master at depicting the spiritual environment based on the Bible and what is known of angelology/demonology in history and culture. His demons are real to the reader, his angels are also real, but so is the character and personality of the God that Christians know and love. There is power in all this that strengthens your faith about who God is, the power of His victory over sin and death, His love, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion for his creation of man, but also of his judgement and condemnation for those of mankind and fallen angels for their sin and rebellion.