Friday, March 20, 2015

Christian Historical Fiction Review: The Trouble With Patience by Maggie Brendan

Maggie Brendan provides a predictable story with endearing characters in "The Trouble with Patience." The plot is one you can find in many n old-west romance novel, following a murder and stolen cattle, and it does not really start until halfway through the book. Brendan tells the story from multiple points of view, which do not always serve the story. One supporting character has great potential for deeper development, but only takes the lead in the point of view a few times. Other than that, the characters are fully, and slowly developed. Patience starts out on a rough not with lawman Jedediah, but quickly develops humility and before long falls in love with the man, although there are other men in her life who are friendly enough. The first half of the book is spent solely on character development, which not all readers will enjoy. But Brendan's writing style is enjoyable, and her characters are relatable. Jedediah has a guilty past, while Patience deals with a strain family relationship. It's nothing new, but it's enjoyable.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Christian Fiction Review: Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

Dina L. Sleiman basically provides a female version of Robin Hood in her charming historic romance, "Dauntless." Lady Merry Ellison continues to hide from King John with her band of children and teenagers. They steal only what they need to live in the forests, eventually becoming known as the local ghosts. But when Merry runs into her old lost flame, Timothy Grey, things change forever. Timothy has moved on with his life, seeking position and power, which will come even faster if he can capture the ghosts.

The story moves slowly, but once Timothy and Merry reunite, things become interesting. Sleiman's writing style is engaging and descriptive, and her characters (the story is told from four different points of view) have deep, interesting life issues to deal with. Merry deals with whether or not God would allows evil in the world. Timothy tries to balance justice with a god-honored king who rules unjustly.

Sleiman easily puts the religious themes in the context of the time without losing accuracy, and when her characters speak, they often use just enough old-fashioned English flair to make them believable. The author's Charismatic background (she attended Oral Roberts University) does come in to play maybe two short and hardly noticeable moments in the book, but they serve the plot of the book and will not make the orthodox conservative too uncomfortable.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Christian Nonfiction Review: Foundation by James L. Nicodem

I feel a bit fooled by James L. Nicodem. While his writing style is easy and enjoyable to read, and Nicodem includes plenty of stories and examples to keep his book interesting, the book is not really what its description promised. Only the first half of "Foundation" actually deals with the reliability of Scripture, and Nicodem merely covers the basic points that I have read hundreds of times before. Any skeptic would walk away still a skeptic from reading this book. The second half of the book is written for beginning Christians and reads like a pamphlet encouraging Christians to read their Bibles and to understand the salvation story presented in the Bible. Apparently, this book is a part of a series which probably covers even more pamphlet topics. Again, this is for beginners, and it does not deliver what it promises. Also, the small group discussion questions at the end of each chapter are typical and pointless, mostly finding their answers within the text rather than provoking any thought from the reader.

*Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Christian Fiction Review: Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black

Chuck Black's writing style is nothing special. The only things he every takes the time to describe in great detail are the guns involved. But his plain sense of telling a good story can capture the right reader, and Black stole my undivided attention with both his first book, "Cloak of the Light" and now the second book in the "Wars if the Realm" series, "Rise of the Fallen."

The second book follows some of the first book's events from the point of view of angel, Validus, but does not require reading the first book to understand (although it does help). Black goes back and forth between Validus' back story in Old Testament and New Testament times and his present day mission to protect the mysterious unbeliever Drew Carter, who can somehow see into the spiritual realm.

Some of Black's choices in depicting the angel's world were a bit strange to me. The angels seem far too human. But Black's chapter notes and bolded Scripture-inspired portions helped me on that account. And Black does a fabulous job of not only keeping his reader on the edge of her seat, but also describing one possible version of what it must have been like to see God create. Black ends with a major cliff-hanger. It will be interesting to see where he takes the third book. I am anxious for its release.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.