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Christian book review: Waiting For Appa by Mirtika

WaitingForAppaIn fact it is better than that.

It is anointed godly writing of truth.

I highly recommend it for believer or heathen…oops! Said a naughty…

It proves what I’ve always thought: excellent content about the Lord plus good writing is always worth reading. The book is what I call in my head [never in public, of course] chick-lit. To me that means it’s all about relationships and no one does anything. But for this type of hard-hitting book about “what is faith?”, relationships are all that matters.

Then there’s the little Biblical thing, that we don’t get to take anything we do with us. But I’ll not think about that.

As Jeremy said the other night [at least I think it was him]:

You should read this!

Christian book review: The Place Of Voices by Lauren Lynch

PlaceOfVoicesIt must be a record for me—two chick-lit books in a row. Of course, my definition is probably very different than most. For me it’s a book about relationships and the characters don’t do anything—no saving the world, getting the girl, eliminating an enemy, or anything like that. There’s no swords or sorcery, no magic, no palace intrigue, no foreign worlds, no space travel, or anything like that.

It’s just an excellent story.

Those who have read my reviews know that I do not like poetry, lyric fantasy, or time travel. But it is done well in this book. Those who like this type of book will really enjoy these three characters and the allegorical Lord who changes their lives. It was a little struggle for me, but I’m glad I did.

The characters are marvelous. The only trouble I had with it was trying to figure out what was going on. One I realized there was nothing happening of the type I normally enjoy, I was fine.

Spiritual level: allegorical evangelical

There’s a strong allegory of our Messiah. The Holy Spirit is not seen. But, spiritual truth is readily apparant. This is very well done.

Christian book review: The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva

FallenAngelNo, Daniel Silva is not a Christian, but I have always really enjoyed his books following the fictional life of Gabriel Allon, Israeli spy and art restorer. Now that I rarely read anything but Christian books, I still find Silva’s books to be a breath of fresh air.

In fact, when compared to many so-called “Christian” books, The Fallen Angel looks very good.

There is a lot more spiritual truth in Gabriel’s Mossad-driven plots than there was in several of the books I’ve reviewed lately. Silva was raised Catholic and converted to Judaism. So, he knows about the Creator all the nominally Christian books talk about, though his characters definitely do not believe God exists. I have no idea about Daniel’s faith or possible lack thereof.

This is truly an excellent book. It’s a very complex and constantly exciting plot filled with deep and complicated characters. It’s clean, as moral as the deception of espionage work can be depicted, and I don’t really remember any bad language. I really enjoyed the read. I recommend the book.

A call to holiness

WritingInHoliness-Cover72I wanted to introduce my new book with a definition of holiness.

So, here’s the Introduction to:
Writing In Holiness: While Keeping It Real
due out some time in the next couple of weeks in KDP Select and Createspace.

 

How does holiness apply to me as an author?

The church has been confused about this for many decades. If you ask most strongly believing Christians what is meant by holiness or sanctification (both use the same word in the Greek), they will say, “Set apart.” If you ask them what that means you often get puzzled looks.

Holiness [in Strong’s]: hagioasmos; means 1. consecration, purification

So you can see where the set apart teaching comes from. Its meaning doesn’t really become clear until we look in Strong’s at holy [hagios]:

Sacred (physically pure, morally blameless, ceremonially consecrated)

Vine’s puts it this way (edited and paraphrased slightly):

Sanctification is about the separation of the believer from evil things and ways… it must be learned from God… and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly… it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God…

Jesus is the Word of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit  as we study the scriptures after thoughtful prayer for wisdom and guidance. But we must never forget that Jesus is the core of it all. As we are obedient to Him, we learn holiness. As Peter said, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” He was quoting something the Lord said centuries earlier. What Moses did not know was the mystery of the church and the part where we are made holy by His Holiness residing within us, in our spirits. He works His way out through our soul as we allow it and eventually shows us how to purify our flesh.

It doesn’t just happen

It is the result of each one of us individually pursuing and grasping onto the very character of God. It results in a consecrated focus, which is morally blameless, and we become physically pure.

For us as authors it means that we must maintain a pure, laser-like focus on the Truth—so we can share that with our readers.

You may, “That’s not my call.”

I say, “It’s the call of all believers—of which you are one if you claim to be a Christian author.” That’s why Paul and Peter call us saints. This is the same word, hagios, and means the holy ones. That’s you and me, brothers and sisters.

Your calling as an author may be a subset of your broader calling. But, the call is always to holiness, purity, the strait and narrow path which leads from the narrow gate. You will not be fulfilled as a Christian author until you answer this call to holiness.

That’s what the book is about…

 

Christian book review: Thunder In The Morning Calm by Don Brown

Thunder in the Morning CalmDon Brown writes nice gently Christian tales of the Navy in the Pacific. They are not exceptional other than the fact they depict a Navy officer who’s a Christian (sometimes more than one in other stories) in life and death situations. His characters are realistically drawn. They are nice, honorable, and moral. Some are Christians. As military thrillers, Don’s books are just quietly good entertainment. There’s no glorification of sin. In the military situations people die, commonly in a brutal fashion. But the descriptions are not particularly gory. They are excellent fill for a voracious reader like myself when I run out of books I really like.

You’ll enjoy this book about a Navy officer called to find out if the rumored presence of Korean War POWs is true, and the Christian underground helping North Korean believers escape the horror. It takes place during the near future when North Korea and the American Navy are having a major flare-up of tension and conflict.

The spiritual level depicts mainline Christian believers with no preaching, just living it out. It is traditional Christian-retail approved, Zondervan-style Christian fiction. There’s nothing controversial or radical in their faith. It doesn’t quite reach evangelical, but it’s definitely Christian.

Sparseness: yet another disturbing trend with Christian speculative fiction

Cover scan of Planet Comics, No. 53, Fiction H...

Cover scan of Planet Comics, No. 53, Fiction House, March 1948. Cover art by Joe Doolin. Doolin, Matt Baker, George Evans, and Maurice Whitman art. Cited in Seduction of the Innocent. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve read several Christian fantasies lately, especially those supposedly for children, which have been written in a style which severely hurts the quality of the books. Now, I’m not advocating the type of story seen in the comic cover to the left. But it is certainly better than some of the dry Christian speculative fiction books with impeccable writing and editing I’ve read recently. No, I’m not going to point fingers or mention names. If the Holy Spirit convicts you, fix the problem!

If you eliminate all adverbs and descriptions,
you’re normally left with nothing worth reading

I see all the writing advice: no passive verbs, minimal adverbs, no unnecessary descriptions, tight, concise, and boring. Someone needs to tell the current crop of Christian self-published authors that until they gain a lot of writing experience, all of these things are probably necessary for their story. People who have been sold this bill of goods probably look down their noses at Lord of the Rings, Narnia, The Warrior Kind, and most of the rest of the really good speculative fiction.

Speculative fiction requires immersion into a world

As a reader I need to experience and understand the smells, sounds, sights, culture, landscape, and weather of your world. Is it good to have tight, concise writing? Yes. But it is not nearly as important as telling the tale in enough depth to develop true reader immersion into that world you so painstakingly created. Guy Stanton’s books will drive editing snobs crazy—but the worlds created and the stories told are the best I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read his books yet, shame on you! How many times do I have to tell you, these are wonderful stories.

Yes, you should write as well as you know how. If you can afford a good editor, by all means hire one.

But don’t let these concerns ruin your story!

Tell your tale well, read a lot, and your books will become better written as you develop as a writer. But, it takes practice—and several books, in most cases.

Christian book review: FirstBorn: A Novel by Lorie Ann Grover

FirstBornHere we have a potentially very good book which has seemingly been ruined by the editing policies of a large traditional publisher. I have no idea if Zondervan did it, or Lorie, but regardless, it was done. It is very sad.

An excellent book ruined by editing out spiritual reality

It happens over and over again. The cover is compelling—other than the fact that it shows a sexy woman in her twenties and the book is about a young girl (pre-teen) coming of age. It covers very well the indecent things forced upon a young woman to survive in a culture which kills firstborn girls—and forces firstborn boys into harsh military service for the conquering evil at twelve years old or so. Of course, the characters act and react more like older teenagers or even young adults, but that’s the normal confusion of current YA books.

The conquering evil race serves a ridiculous god in typical despicable acts. They are all nasty except for one female. The girl’s race puts up with their servitude by denying their faith. Even her father, who is depicted as one of the last believers, recants his faith. It is a very intriguing premise. My hope is that future books in this series will develop Tiadone’s spiritual knowledge past the current Old Testament level into a faith in a savior and a personal knowledge of the Lord through a Holy spirit. We all know this is unlikely from a large company like Zondervan. The spiritual reality of this book is very similar to Bethany’s Prophet by R J Larson.

Tiadone is a marvelous young woman. Her bonded raptor, Mirko, is a wonderful bird who does seem to have a more direct relationship with the Creator. She comes to faith through direct acts of the Creator, I think. But God is actually very mirky in this book. This could so easily be a powerful spiritual story. Please, Ms. Grover give us some meat! Self-publish it if your contract allows…

Christian book review: The Land of Flames by Cynthia P. Willow

LandOfFlamesThis is a story where the dragons were abused by an evil wizard and in revenge have killed all humans and become as bad as the wizard ever was. The fairies, elves, dwarves, centaurs, and so on desire their freedom back to the state the world was in before the evil wizard appeared, was killed, and nasty dragons living on revenge took over. The desire is to go back to when there was a good king who lived his people. It’s a children’s story. So, it’s not complex, a bit obvious, but fun.

Spiritually, there is nothing strongly good or evil. The spiritual levels of living are not mentioned at all. But the forgiving, helping, and the actions in general of the good characters are strongly and positively moral. Evil is curtailed in description to avoid scaring children. The results are positive and uplifting. The good witch and her son save the day. In a Christian setting there is a lot of explaining to do to avoid spiritual confusion in the minds of young readers. Simple things like: there is no such thing as a good witch.

This is clearly a children’s story for pre-teens mainly. For a good reader, it’s a very quick read.

Christian book review: Celtic Cross by Tammy Doherty

After living in New Mexico for twenty five years, a good western always feels like going home. This is a very nice Western. The Christianity is low level evangelical. In other words, there’s no rebirth transformation and no personal communication with the Lord.

But it’s a far better than average tale of the Old West. You’ll enjoy it.

Christian Book Review: Collide: Birth of a New Race by L. A. Ramsey

CollideOK, I snookered myself into a romance. Under the guise that it is a fantasy, I promised accept a free copy—then read it and review it.

It’s a fun read

Though it’s classed as a historical romance, there’s little history here. What is presented is vague history of an unspecified different world. The cultures are only defined very loosely. There is no map. Seekers of fantasy will be disappointed.

I kept having questions like: How does a two-legged person with hooves for feet ever balance himself well enough to even walk? There are no answers to issues like these. A reader looking for fantasy will be disappointed. But…

As a romance, it’s a fantasy

This is fairytale romance, and well done. Even though I don’t like romances, I enjoyed this one. Two delightful people are prophesied to form a union and it’s a fantastic event. Please remember the definition of fantastic. Modern, informal usage aside, it means: imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality. Yet, Ms. Ramsey pulls it off. It’s just a believable story that the reader accepts. That’s a feat in itself.

The characters are compelling. The romance is joyful. Through all the problems, it’s ultimately very hopeful. As a romance, this one is a lot of fun. It’s good, clean fun.

Spiritually, it’s at the lowest level

This is unspecified deism, with a Creator who is actively working in His world. He communicates with His Creation through prophecy. The centaurs and elves trust Him to bring the prophetic to pass and praise Him for who He is and what he does. They are presented as naturally pure and undefiled believers in the Creator and His power and love.  There is no evil spiritual force mentioned. The enemy is human intolerance. The humans in the tale consider prophecy a joke at best. This is a nice story, well told—and that is enough. It gently broadcasts seed, and that is its intent.

If you like your romance with a touch of fantasy, this is a book for you.