CFBA Tour – Rare Earth

A long time ago, in a blogosphere not so far away, I reviewed books for the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I haven’t done so for a while, mostly due to trying to get my own writing done, but also because I was waiting for a book to really catch my attention.

Author Davis Bunn has done that with his latest book, Rare Earth.

Marc Royce is a fixer. A former intelligence agent who works for the government in scenarios that need subtlety and finesse, he is a man who fights the good fight to help others and to quell his own pain.

He is sent on assignment to Kenya, an east African country that had slid into crisis in recent years. A refugee camp is overwhelmed with people displaced due to a local volcanic eruption. The situation is volatile – there is little oversight, goods being withheld, and a population growing desperate by the hour.

As Marc lands and begins to grapple with the immediate problem, he is drawn to Kitra, a beautiful Israeli nurse who holds a secret and a grudge toward his cover company. The camp pastor Charles is Marc’s only ally as he navigates tribal chiefs, political intrigue, and power brokers. When more villagers are displaced by government order, the region is primed to explode over something called “rare earth.”

Marc has steep challenges before him: find the mystery of rare earth and Kitra’s missing brother before he is the next victim.
—-

I didn’t realize when I ordered the book that I had read one of Bunn’s earliest novels in the 1990s (so long ago now…). I was excited to read some of his newer work, and I was not disappointed.

Rare Earth is a suspense/action book with heart. Marc Royce is one of those heroes who is well-trained and knows how to respond in every situation. Even though he is special, he doesn’t come across as a cardboard character. I felt Marc’s doubts and hurts, and it provided real depth. Still, I enjoyed how he tackled situations and did what was necessary, including kicking some butt at times.

The plot is very current and deals with real world situations regarding rare earth and the phenomena of people being displaced for their land or resources. There was one too many meetings between power brokers (tribal chiefs, other councils) that got a little repetitive, but I always wanted to keep turning the page and reading more.

The faith element of the book is very well-handled and organic to the story. There is no preachiness, but spiritual life is realistically depicted, and this is a book anyone could enjoy.

The CBA market is developing more writers and books outside of the Amish/historical/romance genres over time. Davis Bunn has actually been around for a while, and even though I lost track of his works for a while, I will be eagerly watching for his new material after enjoying Rare Earth. Fans of action and suspense should definitely check him out.

Disclaimer: The publisher sent me a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes, without obligation for a positive review. I just like it anyway.

CFBA Tour – The13th Demon

Jason says: I received this book too late to read it for this tour, but I have started it and will be looking to reviewing it soon. In the meantime, here’s the CFBA Tour promo for The 13th Demon.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The 13th Demon
Realms (October 4, 2011)
by
Bruce Hennigan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bruce Hennigan was born and raised in the isolated countryside of Shreveport, La., a place full of possibilities for the active mind of a young boy. The fertile imagination he cultivated while playing deep in the Louisiana woods would lead to a lifelong love of creative writing.

In 2006, Hennigan pursued the Certified Apologetic Instructor Certificate from the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has become a frequent speaker at regional and state events on apologetics and his strong point is in making these sometimes hard to understand issues easily approachable for the average Christian. Hennigan’s experience in apologetics inspired him to write his new novel, The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye, a supernatural Christian thriller that combines science and faith. Now, combining his love for apologetics and his love for the art of writing, Hennigan is pursuing a career as the “Michael Crichton” of Christian fiction building powerful, fast paced stories around the truths of Christian apologetics.

Hennigan currently resides in Shreveport with his wife and daughter. He continues to write and to practice radiology at the Willis Knighton Health Care System. He has secured Jeff Jernigan of Hidden Value Group (www.hiddenvaluegroup.com) as his literary agent and has signed a five book deal with the Realms imprint of Charisma Media for “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel”.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Jonathan Steel wakes up on a beach in a raging thunderstorm, naked, beaten, and bleeding, he has no idea who he is or how he got there. But just as he starts to make progress in his slow journey to recovery, tragedy strikes again, taking everything in his new life that he has come to love and rely on.
Filled with rage and a thirst for revenge, he searches the countryside for the entity responsible—an entity called only the Thirteenth Demon. His quest brings him to Lakeside, Louisiana, and a small country church where evil is in control and strange writing on the walls, blood-soaked floors, and red-eyed spiders have appeared in the sanctuary.

As he faces the final confrontation with an evil presence that has pursued him all of his life, he must choose between helping the people he loves or destroying the thirteenth demon.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The 13th Demon, go HERE.

CFBA Tour – The13th Demon

Jason says: I received this book too late to read it for this tour, but I have started it and will be looking to reviewing it soon. In the meantime, here’s the CFBA Tour promo for The 13th Demon.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The 13th Demon
Realms (October 4, 2011)
by
Bruce Hennigan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bruce Hennigan was born and raised in the isolated countryside of Shreveport, La., a place full of possibilities for the active mind of a young boy. The fertile imagination he cultivated while playing deep in the Louisiana woods would lead to a lifelong love of creative writing.

In 2006, Hennigan pursued the Certified Apologetic Instructor Certificate from the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has become a frequent speaker at regional and state events on apologetics and his strong point is in making these sometimes hard to understand issues easily approachable for the average Christian. Hennigan’s experience in apologetics inspired him to write his new novel, The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye, a supernatural Christian thriller that combines science and faith. Now, combining his love for apologetics and his love for the art of writing, Hennigan is pursuing a career as the “Michael Crichton” of Christian fiction building powerful, fast paced stories around the truths of Christian apologetics.

Hennigan currently resides in Shreveport with his wife and daughter. He continues to write and to practice radiology at the Willis Knighton Health Care System. He has secured Jeff Jernigan of Hidden Value Group (www.hiddenvaluegroup.com) as his literary agent and has signed a five book deal with the Realms imprint of Charisma Media for “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel”.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Jonathan Steel wakes up on a beach in a raging thunderstorm, naked, beaten, and bleeding, he has no idea who he is or how he got there. But just as he starts to make progress in his slow journey to recovery, tragedy strikes again, taking everything in his new life that he has come to love and rely on.
Filled with rage and a thirst for revenge, he searches the countryside for the entity responsible—an entity called only the Thirteenth Demon. His quest brings him to Lakeside, Louisiana, and a small country church where evil is in control and strange writing on the walls, blood-soaked floors, and red-eyed spiders have appeared in the sanctuary.

As he faces the final confrontation with an evil presence that has pursued him all of his life, he must choose between helping the people he loves or destroying the thirteenth demon.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The 13th Demon, go HERE.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love on the Line
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
by
Deeanne Gist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm–all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a “corporate executive” was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man’s world … which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He’s a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love on the Line
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
by
Deeanne Gist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm–all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a “corporate executive” was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man’s world … which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He’s a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.

Book Review – Pattern Of Wounds

Sophmore slump?
Look somewhere else.
J. Mark Bertrand hit the CBA scene big-time with last year’s Back On Murder. I reviewed it here, and it ended up as one of my favorite books of the year.

His latest book, Pattern Of Wounds, looks to continue the…pattern.

Houston homicide detective Roland March is still battling. A year ago he was on the verge of being booted out of his department. He solved a high-profile case and solidified his position, but he isn’t out of the woods yet. His lieutenant is riding him, and his captain is angling for a promotion, leaving March on an island.

When he responds to a woman’s body found patially floating in a pool, he sees more than any other investigator. He sees a parallel to a murder he worked 10 years ago, one that was popularized in a true crime book.
He works the leads in the case, but promising trails grow cold. Another detective suggests a serial killer link, one that includes his old case – meaning the wrong person could be in jail.
March presses ahead, determined to prove the doubters wrong, but he may be alienating allies in the process. Even as the killer presses a little too close to home, March struggles to see the pattern of wounds in time.
I said last year that Bertrand was pushing some boundaries of Christian fiction. I hold to that statement this year, but I want to clarify it: he is pushing the borders of quality, not just borders of content.
I don’t read a lot of this genre, the hard-boiled detective mystery. However, if I knew it was all like Bertrand’s work, I would have to change. He has elevated his craft since the first book. The book is told in the first person view of March. Bertrand keeps March as a character we empathize with, even as he has demons and conflict, and a few views or habits we may not like. He’s real, he has the feel of a real homicide detective. It isn’t sugar-coated, but it is gritty without being gratuitous.
The plot moves along nicely, not a burning pace, but evenly stretched between action, investigation, and introspection. He paints wonderful detail to place us in March’s eyes. I underlined a line mentioning “a puff of [shaving cream] foam clinging to the cap.” Such a small detail, but it helped me see the eagle eye March has as a detective.
The book is deeper than a crime drama. The title is a powerful metaphor for the case March is working on and the battles in his life. He’s wounded, and in showing us his dirty laundry, it allows for exploration of why evil exists, the power of faith, and the struggle of life.
There was one complaint – a thread that was developed for a time early on seemed to disappear in the end. I like books that don’t tie every thread into a tidy little bow, but this wasn’t loose, it seemed lost. It wasn’t a big deal – I didn’t realize until after finishing, but I wanted to temper my otherwise high enthusiasm for this book.
Bottom line: if I wrote crime fiction, I would study Mark Bertrand’s novels, because the craft and enjoyment springing from that is so good. If you like this genre at all, you should really check this book out. Even if it isn’t your main reading flavor, it is worth reading.
Legal mumbo-jumbo: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for promotion via the CFBA Tour, but with no promise of a good review. My thoughts are my own (anyone else wouldn’t want them anyway!)

Book Review – Pattern Of Wounds

Sophmore slump?
Look somewhere else.
J. Mark Bertrand hit the CBA scene big-time with last year’s Back On Murder. I reviewed it here, and it ended up as one of my favorite books of the year.

His latest book, Pattern Of Wounds, looks to continue the…pattern.

Houston homicide detective Roland March is still battling. A year ago he was on the verge of being booted out of his department. He solved a high-profile case and solidified his position, but he isn’t out of the woods yet. His lieutenant is riding him, and his captain is angling for a promotion, leaving March on an island.

When he responds to a woman’s body found patially floating in a pool, he sees more than any other investigator. He sees a parallel to a murder he worked 10 years ago, one that was popularized in a true crime book.
He works the leads in the case, but promising trails grow cold. Another detective suggests a serial killer link, one that includes his old case – meaning the wrong person could be in jail.
March presses ahead, determined to prove the doubters wrong, but he may be alienating allies in the process. Even as the killer presses a little too close to home, March struggles to see the pattern of wounds in time.
I said last year that Bertrand was pushing some boundaries of Christian fiction. I hold to that statement this year, but I want to clarify it: he is pushing the borders of quality, not just borders of content.
I don’t read a lot of this genre, the hard-boiled detective mystery. However, if I knew it was all like Bertrand’s work, I would have to change. He has elevated his craft since the first book. The book is told in the first person view of March. Bertrand keeps March as a character we empathize with, even as he has demons and conflict, and a few views or habits we may not like. He’s real, he has the feel of a real homicide detective. It isn’t sugar-coated, but it is gritty without being gratuitous.
The plot moves along nicely, not a burning pace, but evenly stretched between action, investigation, and introspection. He paints wonderful detail to place us in March’s eyes. I underlined a line mentioning “a puff of [shaving cream] foam clinging to the cap.” Such a small detail, but it helped me see the eagle eye March has as a detective.
The book is deeper than a crime drama. The title is a powerful metaphor for the case March is working on and the battles in his life. He’s wounded, and in showing us his dirty laundry, it allows for exploration of why evil exists, the power of faith, and the struggle of life.
There was one complaint – a thread that was developed for a time early on seemed to disappear in the end. I like books that don’t tie every thread into a tidy little bow, but this wasn’t loose, it seemed lost. It wasn’t a big deal – I didn’t realize until after finishing, but I wanted to temper my otherwise high enthusiasm for this book.
Bottom line: if I wrote crime fiction, I would study Mark Bertrand’s novels, because the craft and enjoyment springing from that is so good. If you like this genre at all, you should really check this book out. Even if it isn’t your main reading flavor, it is worth reading.
Legal mumbo-jumbo: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for promotion via the CFBA Tour, but with no promise of a good review. My thoughts are my own (anyone else wouldn’t want them anyway!)

CFBA Tour – Vicious Cycle

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Vicious Cycle by Terri Blackstock

ABOUT THE BOOK

When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she’s the newborn daughter of a meth addict he’s been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan—the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.

CFBA Tour – Vicious Cycle

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Vicious Cycle by Terri Blackstock

ABOUT THE BOOK

When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she’s the newborn daughter of a meth addict he’s been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan—the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.

CFBA Tour – Save the Date

We interrupt this blog tour with another blog tour.

I also review for the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. This week they are featuring Jenny B. Jones and her latest book, Save the Date.

I hope it has been established now that I’m a dude. I like explosions, football collisions, and helicopter/car chases. All three mashed together is awesome sauce.

I found out about Jenny B. Jones through Chip MacGregor, fiction agent extraordinare who is enough of a dude that he wears a kilt. In public. He highlighted her as a very funny writer. So I decided to get her book to review, likely having my wife read it.

*Ahem*

I didn’t get it in time to finish it for the tour, but I am laughing out loud while reading it. And it is a ROMANCE. Now, it does have an ex-football player, which gives it a few manly points, but note that he is an EX. I don’t care. I’m enjoying her writing style, the prose, the witty sense of humor. And I really want to see what happens to Lucy and her girls’ home.

*Sniff*

Take that for what it’s worth, and check out her book.

(Time to blow something up…virtually…like in a video game…hey, don’t look at me like I’m weird…)