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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 debut author's novels or those author's who have not had many reviews thus providing them much needed encouragement 
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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Book Promotion: The Crossover Alliance Anthology Volume 1

The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 1

I have been on the submission panel of this project and the
day is finally here!

The Crossover Alliance is proud to announce the release of The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 1. This is a seven author, nine story project that began shortly before the start of the new year. Each short story in this awesome collection falls within the edgy Christian speculative fiction genre. You'll find science fiction, fantasy, and horror. You'll find Christian themes. And you'll also find real-world content. All of it comes together to bring to life unique fiction that the Alliance guarantees you have never read 
the likes of before. 

This Collection of Stories Includes:

Snow and Ash by Nathan James Norman
Doors of Babel by David N. Alderman
Broken by Travis Morrill
If it Causes You to Sin by Jess Hanna
Blood Ace by Allan and Aaron Reini
Sanguinem Inimicum by Mark Carver
Spellbound by Jess Hanna
Proverbs - A Fairy Tale by Nathan James Norman
The Spigot by David N. Alderman

The Anthology is available in paperback and digital formats from the following booksellers:

Amazon (Paperback)
Createspace (Paperback)
Kindle
Nook
Smashwords (free)

Description:
By traversing beyond the boundaries of Christian and secular fiction, this phenomenal collection of edgy Christian speculative pieces will transport you to the furthest reaches of space, the chilling snow-drenched plains of fantasy, and the deepest, darkest corridors of the human heart. While journeying through these fantastical worlds, let this prolific gathering of authors shine a glimmer of light your way and reveal Christ in a very dark, very real world.



The Crossover Alliance is a community built around readers and writers of edgy Christian speculative fiction - in general terms, science fiction/fantasy/horror/supernatural fiction with Christian themes and edgy content, such as sexual themes, language, drug use, and violence. The term 'edgy' doesn't only encompass this type of content though - it can also be applied to certain situations/themes/character deficiencies that are not typically found or allowed in Christian fiction. Edgy Christian speculative fiction crosses the lines of both secular fiction and Christian fiction, and creates a new breed - not just to appeal to a wider audience, but also to shed light on realistic, entertaining writing that has the power to appeal to both Christians and non-Christians alike.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Devil Moon (Preacher Man, Book 4) by Murray Pura

Preacher Man - Volume 4 - Devil Moon


Any quiet that may have descended on Anaconda County is shattered when the body of a person burned alive is found in the hills overlooking the city of Diamondback. Sheriff Youngblood asks for the help of the ministers and all agree it is ritual or Satanic abuse. The hunt begins to find the perpetrators of the terrible dead. But Pastor Jude Aaron Blackstone finds connections between the killing and the infamous Walpurgisnacht celebrations in Europe, many of which honour witchcraft and the devil, and suddenly a murder investigation turns into a spiritual battle that spans oceans and continents and cuts deep into his very soul.


The Guru's Review: 

The long awaited fourth volume in the Preacher Man series! This volume fits in very nicely with the rest of the series and has all the hallmarks of the previous volumes, supernatural intervention, spiritual warfare, the obedient, totally submitted to God, servant of the Most High, spiritual warrior, come Christian special ops vampire hunter, Jude Blackstone, fast paced plot and the same suspense thriller that we have all come to know and expect from Pura. 

Due to the shorter page number in this volume (40 pages compared to all three previous being in the 70s), the reader hits the road running at a fast pace. Blackstone is plunged into a plot to sacrifice him during the Walpurgisnacht celebration to worship and honour witchcraft and the devil, as explained with glee by high priest of Satan, Mephistopheles, 
We've wanted your blood a long time. Now we have it. The idea is to have human sacrifices take place all around the world at successive witching hours, which means things are already locking into place in nations like Australia and China. All that sacrifice, all that blood, it feeds our Lord Satan's spirit, give him immense leverage over world events, oh yes, more than he already has. But your sacrifice will be the crowning touch - a vampire hunter burned alive while his veins and arteries drain his soul into our cups and saucers and bowls and Satan lick the platter clean. 
Does this scare Preacher Man? No, just makes him more determined to abide more in Christ, and remain prayed up.  He even states as much when being captured at gun point, 
Gibson grinned. Better yet, get down on your knees and pray.
Blackstone didn't move. 
 Now why would I do that, deputy? I'm all prayed up.
What is the spiritual warfare message here? To abide in Christ and be prayed up 24/7, so no matter when we are faced with the most dire circumstances, we remain surrendered to Him while He is in control over our circumstances and we have His victory. Spiritual Warfare 101! I love this when at face value, a scene like this adds to the suspense and plot development, but upon closer inspection educates in a spiritual warfare principle as well. 

Pura has depicted the evilness of Mephistopheles and La Salle well. They are both very dark, creepy and this depiction of evil is the best so far in characters in any of the Preacher Man series. These two characters instantly polarise the reader into which side of "like" scale they need to be on. Both exude evil and are defined by it. Satan and sin have taken them over. 

This instalment comes to a head very early and quickly due to its short length and right at the end we learn a very disturbing piece of information regarding a character from a previous volume and this also sets the stage, I believe, for a Book 5 as the ending is quite a cliff hanger! This twist really does up the anti and deepen future plot lines. This piece of information I found quite disturbing and one I did not see coming. 

My only negative is the shortness of this volume. It needs to be the same length as previous. Just feels a bit rushed. Still thoroughly enjoyable though and a worthy addition to the Preacher Man series.

Now bring on Book 5!


Strongly Recommended

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Rise of Robert Jr. (Silent Screamers Book 4)


The Rise of Robert Jr. (Silent Screamers Book 4)
Now four years into the invasion, David finds himself in prison after failing to assassinate Ambassador Yorgensen. As our hero awaits his televised execution, an unexpected visit from a powerful enemy, presents him with an opportunity to escape his fate, but only if he publicly renounces his new found faith. No matter which path our hero chooses, his life will be changed forever.


www.silentscreamers.net




The Guru's Review:

This instalment marks the end of Saga I: David (The Rise of Bacchus, The Rise
of David, The Rise of Yorgensen, The Rise of Robert Jr). Book 5 is on its way and begins the next Saga: Helel

I understand from the author that Saga I: David (books 1-4) will be combined into a omnibus (together with the journal entries that are unique to the Silent Screamers site) and this will be unveiled at the Vegas Valley Book Festival on 10/18/14. At this Festival, you will also be able to grab a few limited edition extras such as bookmarks, posters, an autograph, so if you are in the vicinity, drop by, meet Dante, and grab this omnibus and these extras!

New readers to this omnibus will have a great advantage as they will be able to read this first Saga from go to whoa and get a good grounding in this captivating, apocalyptic series. I reckon it would be worth reading this entire series when finished from its beginning to fully get the worth out of it and to be well versed in all the spiritual themes and end times concepts. 

I remember writing the following in my review of Book 1, The Rise of Bacchus and I feel it is still just as relevant and effective for Book 4 now: 
Sometimes fiction can be a very effective way to reach those who would not read a factual book to be enlightened about a topic. This novella succeeds in doing this and I am sure that when all these Books/novellas are read as one this will be seen as being very successful to informing in an entertaining way all of what Fortson needs to reveal.
When I finished this book, it felt like I had read more than the four short books that make up Saga I. From this I perceive this is because Fortson packs a lot into such a short "space" of up to 80 odd pages or thereabouts in each book. For me, this is a good thing and shows that Fortson is efficient with plot development and structure and characterisation. This adds strength to the overall flow and fast pace of Saga I's books. 

I pray that this entire series will encourage Christians and non Christians to consider that this is not just an entertaining spiritual science fiction saga but one that is based on the Bible, extra biblical texts and other sources of credible content and authorship and stimulate the reader to investigate further. If such a reader does this, there is no better place to start than Fortson's book listed on his site, ministerfortson.com

When I read the title of this book, I had two thoughts, this series is going to take a further development twist by adding David's younger brother as a main character or is something dramatic going to happen to David! Well, the reader will definitely find out in this book. And it does provide a twist in preparation for Book 5. I can see from the events in this book that yes, the events in Book 5 will include
stronger, more sinister bad guys in addition to more powerful good
guys 
to quote Fortson from the Silent Screamers website. All I can say is, Bring It On!
Plenty of intrigue and Special Ops action in this instalment and Gladiator type fighting. A plan to obtain the upper hand on Supreme Pontiff Yorgensen, Helios and President Stevenson. All executed very well and end with the stage set for a great opening to Book 5, where more twists and turns will happen. Another cannot put down instalment. We also find out the identity of a very minor character introduced in an earlier instalment who is now a major character in the last two instalments and the lineage of another major character introduced in Book 3. The plot thickens as the saying goes! This is one thing I love about Fortson, he knows when to up the action and just when you are cosy, he takes you out of your comfort zone!

There was something mentioned right at the end of this book that I found rather alarming and I hope is explained further in Book 5 and I am sorry for the spoiler here: 
the angel Gabriel had a hand in the Crucifixion
At face value, I don't like what this could imply! However, knowing Fortson as an author and man of integrity through his books and website and webinars, I have no doubt that he will provide an answer that is based on biblical truth and support of the Gospel or in support of an aspect of eschatology (a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of mankind). I have not found any of Fortson's books or statements to be contrary to the Word of God or coming from him and him only. 

All in all, another satisfying, entertaining and educating instalment of this ongoing saga. 

Highly Recommended. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dragon's Touch by A.R. Johnson

Dragon's Touch 

"Dragons, mages, and estranged siblings collide in a struggle to control the Kingdom of Rioch."

The Guild of Mages is determined to destroy the dragon race at all costs. Queen Christine, keeper of the peace and leader of the dragon riders, strives to maintain stability in Rioch. Amidst this struggle, Zharah is torn between the anti-dragon teachings of her childhood and her unwitting bonding with the dragon hatchling Elihan. She must cross the kingdom in search of her long lost brother and the answers to her future as a Dragon-Touched human. She finds both friends and enemies along the road, but above all she finds herself.


The Guru's Review: 

It is only in the past two years that I have seriously begun to read Christian fantasy, apart from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit 25 years ago, but that was because it was a classic and everyone was reading it. However, both those books are a great introduction to the world of fantasy fiction. And it is Tolkien and Lewis that seemed to have started it all and inspired many more writers since many decades later to write successfully in this genre. 

Ariel Johnson can now class herself as one of these successful! If someone had told me after I read this debut novel, that she was only 16 years of age, I would have not believed them. This novel has the level of depth and maturity in plot structure and writing style of someone of more advanced years than she has lived. I know there would be established older fantasy authors who would be very envious to be able to write with this expertise and sophistication at this age or to have even been published at this age! I pray that Ariel will have already been, and continue to be, an inspiration to other budding young aspiring authors who want to write and be published. 

All I can say is that if Ariel continues to write like this, develop her stories with this vivid imagination, she will be an author to watch out for. For a debut novel, I have been very impressed. Her characters are real and believable, relational, the pace is consistent and keeps you returning with expectation and anticipation for more action, suspense and intrigue. Her good guys are not squeaky clean, they have their faults and foibles, her bad guys have enough degree of evil to polarise the reader. I loved the characters of Ryce, Daric and Albin. I was surprised to find that Albin was as young as he was, I pictured him being in his mid 20s or a bit older. And I was not surprised and hoping that the spark of romance would ignite between Zharah and him. Nice plot development for the next book. 

I doubt that any reader would dislike Ryce and Daric, Ryce is instantly likeable and they both compliment each other. Ariel depicted very realistically the mixed feelings of betrayal, shame and affection of Daric for what he has done to Ryce and Zharah. Very well done and this will no doubt be further developed in the next book. Looking at how the teenage characters interact with each other, shows to me that Ariel has a good grasp of what it means to be a teenager and her own age and experience would be a real asset here and just one area where she shines. 

I loved the mythology of the dragons and their connection to the human race. Despite this having a parallel to one other dragon fantasy series, I don't believe that Ariel has copied this. In fact, from now having read both of them, I can see that she has added more depth to this dragon connection than the previous.

I loved the following explanation as to the relationship between a dragon and its rider as explained by Alpin, 
I imagined that Elihan already filled you in on this when he first hatched and you two bonded. You didn't know that a dragon and his rider or her rider are bonded for life? When a dragon willingly bonds with a human, it is called the Dragon's Touch. This life bond goes beyond just the telepathic connection. You literally are bonded for life. Because of the Dragon's Touch, you will live forever, never aging, until one of your is killed. But as another effect of the touch, if you are killed through violence or magic, Elihan dies, and vice versa. 
I pray that Ariel can tie in this dragon lore with poetic licence to Christianity or some biblical connection but would not be disappointed if she did not, but this would be a great avenue to explore for future novels. It is going to be a great plot point seeing the relationship develop between Zharah and Elihan, her adolescent dragon, in subsequent novels. Elihan is such a likeable and loveable entity with his own unique personality and character that I can see this be one of the favourite parts of this series. 

The subtle inclusion of biblical/Christian doctrine only enhances this novel and it impressed me that she gave credit for where the powers of the characters came from: God. This is one example where this novel honours God, adheres to biblical doctrine and does not lead Christian and non Christian astray or promote false doctrine. From my perspective, this is one of the hallmarks of effective Christian fiction. Seeing this in a Christian fantasy novel from an author so young shows the depth of maturity of her as a Christian and this is a credit to her as an author.  

All in all, I loved this novel and I can see it doing well in the future. I would love to see the next installment be released quicker than it will be but that is every reader's hope to an author who has entertained and engrossed them in a wonderful world of imagery and pure escapism. It was very hard returning to the real world once this novel ended.

Highly recommended.