Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review - Angel in the Storm by Lisa Grace


I generally avoid Christian fiction like the plague.  It tends to be sappy, too good to be true, bad writing with worse editing.  There are exceptions, to be sure.  Frank Peretti and Tampa area writer Angela Hunt come to mind.  Recently I have added another Tampa writer to the Christian fiction ‘A’-list.  Her name is Lisa Grace and what caught my attention is her recently released, Angel in the Storm, book two of a three part series.
In Angel in the Storm, as with her first book, Angel in the Shadows, Grace sets out to apply her craft to the daunting task of writing a Christian Young Adult (Y/A) series that would give the Y/A audience an alternative to the popular vampire craze.  “The difference between Vampires and Angels,” according to Grace, “is that Angels are real.”
Angel in the Storm is not like anything I have come to expect from Christian fiction.  Well written and well edited, Grace picks up where Shadows left off and delivers the second punch of a one-two-three rapid fire sequence that is as spellbinding and captivating as it is fast paced and moving.
We are reintroduced to Megan, a high school teen who can see angels, and, because they are also angels,  demons as well.  Because of her gift, Megan is targeted by the evil fallen angel/demon, Judas.  Yeah, it’s an obvious allusion to Judas Iscariot, but it can be forgiven.
In Storm, Judas has caused Megan’s little brother Max to be kidnapped and sold to a pedophile ring that transports the boy out of state to New Orleans during a fast approaching hurricane.  The storm which while very real, serves as a metaphor for the physical and spiritual turmoil in Megan’s life, and the very real battle for Max’s soul taking place in the spiritual world.
Megan and a few of her friends are suspects in the kidnapping and presumed murder of young Max, but with the help of good angel Johnny and several other good angels, Megan and her friends set out on a frantic race from Clearwater, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana  to face the perilous, danger filled challenge of rescuing her brother from the pedophile ring, and ultimately rescue his soul from the evil Judas.
Good fiction regardless of genre is always a good story, well told, and Angel in the Storm like its predecessor Angel in the Shadows, meets both criteria.
I give the book 3 ½ stars, but only because I find the multiple first person present tense running narrative the writer employs as her vehicle distracting.  But, that’s a matter of preference.  I’m not her target audience, and other Y/A novels I’ve reviewed employed the same vehicle to tell their stories, so it must work for the target audience.
Both books in the Angel series would make excellent read and discuss material for any church youth group, or parents interacting with their teenage kids.  Less a theological treatise than Billy Graham’s Angels, Angels, Angels, and more personal than Frank Peretti’s landmark ‘Darkness’ angel stories because Megan can not only see both the good and the evil angels, she can interact with them as well.  There is a sense of realness to Megan’s angst that other Christian books don’t have without getting sappy.
A well written alternative to the mountains of paranormal fiction aimed at the Y/A audience, with a good, solid, moral Biblical perspective.
Book three, Angel in the Ice is scheduled for release November 1st, 2011.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Code Blue - Review

Part Bones, part House, part Fabio, Little House on the Prairie, and not really as good as any of them, Code Blue, © 2010,  ISBN-13: 978-1-4267-0236-5, published by Abingdon Press,  is book one of an ongoing medical series by by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

Few writers trying to do mystery and thriller but do it so it will be palatable for Joe Fundamentalist can pull it off, and Dr. Mabry, sadly, is the rule rather than the exception.

Dr. Cathy Sewell is returning to her home town of Dainger, Texas (yes, the town's name is Dainger - 'cheesy' flag to warn you that more of the same is to follow) to follow in her father's footsteps as a small town GP. Beginning with an auto accident of her own, if you were to make a random list of things that can go wrong for a single woman trying to fit into the good ole boys club, it's probably somewhere in this book, along with a tainted family history, a personal history of failed relationships, an old high school 'son of a preacher man' sweetheart who is now a hot shot lawyer who sill has the hots for her, another doc who is in a position to help or hinder her return hitting on her, and as Poirot once said while cruising the Nile, "there are too many clues here".

The idea is certainly sound enough, and the author clearly knows the medical side of his writing, but it reads like the author wrote a thriller and then when he was satisfied that he'd done a good job with it, went back and sanitized it for Christian audiences. Like so much 'Christian' fiction it is just too sappy. If the writer was trying for Robin Cook he badly missed the mark. This was sappy, predictable, and the Discussion Questions section at the end was a little much.

Writing good Christian fiction can be done. I offer Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt and Lisa Grace as evidence. The author should read those writers to get a feel for how Christian fiction can also be good fiction.

Two stars for Code Blue.  I read the Kindle edition that was released after the free edition Barnes & Noble gave away as one of their Free Book Friday promotions.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mist


By David Roth
© 9th August, 2011

I dreamed of gently sloping hills
with laurel buds
and huckleberry fruit
a laughing brook
and newborn trees
and clouds that hide the hilltops.

where water weeps through speckled stone
and gathers in a pool
where bullfrogs croak
and robins sing
and forest creatures stop to drink.

A mist that strains the morning sun
in silver luminescence
while dew drops dance
from heather lips
of purple flavored kisses.

And from the creaking porch side swing
that overlooks my mountain home
of silken moss, and bramble spikes,
I dream the lonely broken dreams
that drift as smoke in moonlight
and carry me to evergreen
and sloping hills
fast swallowed in the mist.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Squall


By David Roth
© 7th August, 2011

It looked like a summer squall
to anyone else – the uninitiated,
the elderly – old farts – that’s
what we called our parents,
because we knew it was more.

Five minutes of torrential rain
in the street in front of our house
while the back yard remained dry.

We watched it walk,
like a moving wall of water;
Niagara falls on our neighborhood street
creeping down the block,
a flood left in its passing
with minutes to spare before
the thirsty gravel road
sucked it dry.

So we grabbed our boards.
Thirty-six inches of half inch plywood
cut in as close an approximation of a circle
as our limited skills would allow,
and we tossed them,
ran behind them,
jumped in place,
and rode the homemade waves of 28th Place.
Skimboarding surfers in the hood.

And when the surf ran dry
and the pipelines
we dreamed we rode
dried up,
we headed up to the A&P
and the flooded lot
we knew was waiting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Diversity


Today is the my friend Cynthia’s birthday.  Cynthia is a black woman I worked with in a department store in Pittsburgh.  She’s a Christian, and I ‘think’ she’s a single Mom.  I could be wrong about that.  I know she’s a very spiritual woman who loves her Lord.  I know I miss working with her when I was in toys and she was in Children’s and Infant’s clothing.  She’s a good woman, and when we worked together in that store – now closed – it was like being with family.  She shares the birth date of August 4th with the President of the United States.  Allegedly.  He does not impress me.  Cynthia does.  Happy birthday, Cynthia.  God Bless!
Oh, and happy birthday, Mr. President, if indeed this is the day.  It is my opinion that you, sir, are a sham, a liar, and have no more right to the office you hold than the leaders of the socialist Islam nations who hold your true allegiance.  I say this and then remember the words of the prophet, Daniel, who told Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon 2,700 years ago that Jehovah God (not Baal, who Nebuchadnezzar worshipped, or Allah, to whom the President has demonstrable familial ties) Who establishes kings and kingdoms, and removes them.  By extrapolation, one can also exclude a very na├»ve American voting public from that equation.
I’m finally finished with the ‘busy’ part of my high school graduating class’s 40th Reunion.  Oh, we still have to do the autopsy and prepare a report to which future committees might refer in their planning, and there will be a celebration bash for the committee members, but today when I mailed out the photo DVD’s to the committee members, I  think I’m all finished but for the fat lady doing her requisite part.  Something Ellington might be nice.
I’ve read two amazing books since the Reunion.  Where’s the Birth Certificate by Harvard PhD Jerome Corsi, and Deviations: Second Covenant, by Tampa area poet/author Elissa Malcohn.  The former is an extremely well documented presentation of the case that Barack Hussein Obama/Barry Sontero is a foreign born citizen who never refuted his foreign citizenship, which disqualifies him by US Constitutional law (Article 2, Section 1), and the latter is a frighteningly dark work of speculative fiction – perhaps the best I have ever read in that genre.
And since I keep returning to the Reunion, I have to conclude with a quote from a classmate who attended the closing day picnic.  “Dave.” She said, “diversity is not a question of skin color.  It’s a condition of the heart.  A state of mind.”
I couldn’t agree more.  Thanks, Cathy.