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Christian book review: The Blood of a God, Book #1 of the Nephilim Chronicles by Lance Burton

BloodofaGodThe year is 2047 and Earth’s fate hangs in the balance. Commander Tarakia Sol, a girl who has the power of a celestial coursing through her, leads a special team called Talon Squad in a battle to stop invaders from the Orion Constellation – invaders who are the descendants of an angel. Will all of her training and faith be enough to stop them? Where do these events place mankind’s existence in the universe? The answers are within…

This official description begins our journey

Here’s a quote from chapter one,

“…the final battle that determined the fate of humanity and all of Earth just took place and only I and a handful of fellow warriors know that the war is actually just beginning. I work from the shadows, sometimes barely ahead of the law, and constantly at war with the forces of darkness. And, just in case I don’t make it back alive I want everyone to know what really happened. I want everyone to know the truth of just how close we came to losing everything – and what still must be done.

My name is Tarakia Sol…and I hunt angels.”

It is yet another book using the brief, incomplete mentions in pre-flood Genesis: The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. [Genesis 6:4 NASB]

However, in this book, the “angels” gave up their immortality to become superhumans — the “reality” behind the Greek and Roman myths of the gods. These beings have immense power. Some of them even figured out that the Flood was coming and escaped into space with their incredible technology. They’re living in Orion and coming to conquer the Earth. If you’re still with me, the book moves on from those non-credible assumptions. Extra-biblical doesn’t begin to describe this spiritual mess.

The story is designed to present as many “popular” fleshly lusts as possible (gorgeous female warriors, hunky men, spec op warriors, martial arts, demonic power, telepathy, magic, aliens, amazing technology) within a story which is basically clean and acceptable to the CBA (Christian Booksellers Ass…). We have the incredibly gorgeous, impossible strong woman warrior, who was trained by a descendant of one of these angels-become-man who has repented and become one of the good guys. The formerly angelic, evil Nephilim are attacking Earth as aliens from the stars — roughly taking the place of some of the characters from Jesus’ Revelation to John. The action is fun, exciting, and toward the cartoonish comic book style a bit too much for my taste. I imagine many Christians reading the book will find it spiritually comfortable—but I don’t consider that a good thing.

The spiritual level is solidly evangelical

Of course, you need to get past all the extra-biblical speculations. The book is narrated, in a very chatty manner, by Tarakia the leader of the Talon squad who is the larger than life heroine. In the list of the characters before the story begins we are told that Tarakia is  the “Leader of Talon Squad and member of the Masarri Order. She inherited DNA containing elements of celestial-human hybridization granting her great benefits to strength, agility, and intelligence, as well as telepathic and empathic capability. Daughter of a former U.S. President.” She is a believer. In her narration she tends to plop down some of the standard evangelical doctrine. But it’s not overly preachy. She does tend to tell too much before it actually happens in the story. But that’s handled fairly well.

Once you accept the extra-biblical speculation for the purposes of the story, the tale moves fast. However, it does not show us a realistic relationship with our Savior—and the Holy Spirit is not mentioned anywhere in the text of the book. Most doctrinal boxes are checked off, but for a young mind I would consider this book a bit dangerous without parental discussions about the content. On the other hand, it is not nearly as bad as the Noah movie or the common hollyweird spiritualisms found in the superhero movies and TV shows. It is definitely a Christian book.

What bothers me is that the truly powerful beings in this book are these aliens. This “DNA containing elements of celestial-human hybridization” found in Tarakia offers power which is amazing. But the “aliens” are virtually unstoppable. But I’ll let you find that out for yourself. For me it was a bit tedious, but I imagine many CBA readers will like it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Christian book review: Mad Tinker Chronicles by J. S. Morin

Mad Tinker ChroniclesChristian review? You’re kidding right? Not really. On the surface it is good clean fun. No language or sex and the violence isn’t too bad.

Epic steampunk fantasy science fiction

No, it’s not Victorian. Yes, it has magic; Mad Tinker scientist mechanics; Four parallel worlds. OK so they have something called brightsteel. Magic has lightning and some of the worlds have spark which is rudimentary electricity. Runes have power. There are remarkable machines which can do incredible things. There are dragons, various and sundry races, interbreeding. Worlds of magic but backwards in technology meet worlds of technology with very little magic.

The characters are a lot of fun. This is almost swords and sorcery run amok. It sounds like a lot of fun, right? Not really.

Pretty much non-believers flailing about

Most people are non-believers. There aren’t really even many religious and they are looked upon as idiots. Some of the peons on the technology world worship half-heartedly Eziel, the god of war. Demons are more like archmages—demigods of sorts. The gods are barely mentioned but stronger than demons. All magic is about controlling the chi or force or power or something like that. It’s called aether.

It’s a dark, dreary, depressing world with no hope. Trudge, trudge. The “good guys” are the tinker and his daughters, I think. Actually, as in most of these books, they are all bad guys. So goes the world…

 

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So God Almighty has called you to write

WritingInHoliness600x800“Writing In Holiness: While Keeping it Real” is a passion of mine. It focuses on the basic idea,

“If it is truly God Almighty who has called you to write, what does that mean?”

I mean, we’re talking about the Creator of the universe and the Lord of lords, King of kings, right? Surely He wouldn’t call you to write books for Him without giving instructions and having expectations. It should be a fun read if you have ever met the Lord.

As we approach the end of the Age of the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit is leading people to get involved with preparing for the final harvest. In the new millennium, an incredible opportunity has appeared to the Body of Christ:

The new self-publishing paradigm.

It is my belief that the Lord intends to use this ability as a tool to disciple the church and to plant seeds for the final harvest. Only time will tell about this.

Regardless, the role of Christian author in the midst of all that is going on in the world needs careful examination. If the Lord has called you to write, what does that mean? You have been called by the Lord of Lords to do this work He has given you to do. That’s real serious. This is God talking to you.

  • What does He expect from you?
  • How are you to respond?
  • What skills will you need?
  • How will you get your books to sell?

The questions keep appearing before our eyes one after the other as we struggle to make sense of it all.

So, who am I to try and help? One compelled to write about these issues and to encourage Christian authors to walk the strait and narrow path. I’ve been teaching scripture since 1974, which is almost as long as I have been working for publishers and designing books. I was a teaching pastor for over a decade. But, none of that matters. What matters is how you react to the message.

It’s in Kindle Select until the first of the year, so you can borrow it or read it Kindle Unlimited.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

 

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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.

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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.

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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…