Saturday, December 03, 2005

Christmas Gift Ideas

As well as the books reviewed previously on this site, here are some of my other reading highlights this past year. If you are looking for some Christmas gifts, perhaps you will find that perfect book listed here.

Click on the cover to learn more about the book and where you can purchase it.
I've also added links to my reviews elsewhere on the Web below the relevant titles.

OBSESSED by Ted Dekker

Find my review here: Focus on Fiction

MONSTER by Frank Peretti

Find my review here: Focus on Fiction

BOO HISS by Rene Gutteridge

Don’t forget to check out the two previous books in this series: Boo & Boo Who


Find my review here: Amazon

DISTANT ECHOES by Colleen Coble

Find my review here: Focus on Fiction

SAHM I AM by Meredith Efken

EKATERINA by Susan K. Downs & Susan May Warren

THE DUET by Robert Elmer

Find my review here: Focus on Fiction

ALWAYS GREEN by Patti Hill

Find my review here: Infuze Magazine

FIESTA MOON by Linda Windsor

Find my review here: Focus on Fiction

I hope you all have a blessed Christmas and New Year.

Don't forget to snuggle up with a good read.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Spotlighting: Eric Wilson

Dark To Mortal Eyes

A game of Chance. A game of Skill. A game of High Stakes.

Chess. A game masterfully played out and used as an intriguing backdrop to this extraordinary novel.

Twenty-two year old Josee Walker wants to meet the parents that gave her up for adoption at birth. She arranges to meet with her birth mother, Kara Addison, but before the meeting can take place Kara goes missing. Suspicion is cast upon Kara’s husband, and Josee’s reluctant birth father, Marsh Addison.

Josee is suddenly plunged into a game for which she is ill prepared.

Expiration Date

People are about to die, and Clay Ryker knows when.

Fleeing from both a failed marriage and business, Clay returns to his home town, Junction City. But the peace he desperately seeks eludes him.

Instead, he’s empowered by a gift he doesn’t want. Through the simple act of touch, he can read a person’s expiration date … the date they will die.

Strange notes alluding to a dark secret in his past begin to arrive and townsfolk start dying. But are the deaths accidents as they first appear, or is there something more sinister behind them?

Can Clay overcome the burden of knowing when those closest to him will die, or will he conquer his own struggles and win the race against time to save as many lives around him as possible?


Eric Wilson has the gift of taking a story and twisting it in such a way that you’re kept guessing from start to finish.

When I first picked up DARK TO MORTAL EYES, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the book. It took me a while to become accustomed to Wilson’s style, but once I had, I couldn’t put the book down.

In an interview with Eric, I asked him how his two books differed. “My first novel was more convoluted and abstract. The second book is more concrete, or so it would seem at first. There are a few surprises that flip things around, but you'll have to read it to find out.”

EXPIRATION DATE certainly contained a few surprises. I found his second book a smoother read and a little more down to earth for my liking.

In both these books, Eric masterfully blends together unforgettable characters, plots and subplots that won’t let you go.


I was drawn into Eric’s use of the senses for this series. Through his books, I have grown more aware of the spiritual battle over all parts of our body. When questioned on his use of the senses, Eric explains “Each book follows one of the five senses opened in a supernatural way. We live in a physical world that numbs our senses to the spiritual. I wanted to merge the two worlds in a thought-provoking way.”

And merge them he does. Thought-provoking? Absolutely. I dare you to come away from reading these books without them impacting you or opening your senses to God’s hidden workings.


Eric originally planned a series of five books based on the senses, each a stand alone with some recurring characters, but he is currently taking a break to start a new mystery series.

Set around a protagonist named Aramis Black, the new series explores Romans 12:21: “Do not let evil get the best of you, but get the best of evil by doing good.”

For a sneak peek at the first scene in this new series, check out this page on Eric’s Web site: Bookshelf

Following a recent successful trip to Romania, Eric has a biblically-based Vampire Trilogy planned, which has already attracted some interest from publishers.

With so many ideas, it seems we will be seeing a lot more of this talented author in the future. I’ve already made an Eric Wilson section on my bookshelf.

To discover how Eric explores earth’s tension between heaven and hell in his books, visit

Buy these books on Amazon:

Monday, November 07, 2005

Spotlighting: Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer

"We thought you were dead."

It wasn't exactly the welcome Will expected when he returned home eight years after running away. Didn't the prodigal son get a fatted calf? Wasn't there supposed to be a party thrown in his honor?

Instead, his father turns his back on him, walks away, and says, "Don't bring that in my house."

Will's life has fallen apart. Eight years of lies have finally caught up with him, and threaten to destroy everything he has worked for. Now he must face the mistakes of the past and seek forgiveness.


Set amongst the Old Order Amish, LEVI'S WILL is a superbly told story of generational sin, and the forgiveness and love one can only find through God. In a recent interview with Focus on Fiction, W. Dale Cramer reveals that this was a fictionalized story of his father's life.

Cramer opens the book in 1985, before taking us back in time to 1943 when Will makes his break from the Old Order Amish community, leaving behind a rigid father and pregnant girl.

Throughout the story, we are transported between present and past; following Will as he makes his way in life, struggling to overcome the judgmentally under which he grew up. Will leans on the one thing he understands, hard work, but fails to notice that he's making similar mistakes to those of his father. It soon becomes apparent that the sins of one generation carry over to the next.

Cramer drew me into Will's story, capturing my attention from start to finish. It's not often you find a book that has you genuinely caring for the characters, silently screaming at the unjustness of actions, and praying that God's love will soften hearts. LEVI'S WILL is one of those rare treasures.

Grab yourself a copy, settle into a comfy chair, and be transported into another world that will touch your heart and stay with you long after you turn the last page.


Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we are called to do. The deeper the hurt, the harder it is to forgive.

But without forgiveness, we become tangled in rebellion and hatred. Resentment will alienate us from those around us. For me, it also brings bitterness.

Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally, and it isn’t always easy. But it is necessary.

LEVI’S WILL is a timeless lesson in one man’s search for forgiveness. A lesson we can all gain a measure of wisdom from.

To see more reviews, visit

Christian Fiction Reviewer

Focus on Fiction

Buy this book:

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Spotlighting: Dark Star - Confessions of a Rock Idol by Creston Mapes

Imagine if you will, a heavily tattooed rock star with long hair and a metal ring in his nose. Intoxicated on drugs and alcohol, he leads the frenzied crowd, refutes the existence of God, and indoctrinates the multitudes in the belief that there is no heaven or hell, but simply the Other Side.

You've pictured Everett Lester, lead singer of DeathStroke.

Would you spend your life praying for this man? Would you regularly take the time to send him gifts and write to him about God's love and Christ's redeeming grace?

Karen Bayliss does. Karen realizes the danger Everett places himself and thousands of his devoted fans in. But Karen isn't the only one trying to influence Everett's life.

Endora Crystal is also battling over his soul. As Everett's personal psychic, Endora leads him deeper into the occult and tells him everything he longs to hear. His fans love him; he is their leader, their savior. It is his destiny to lead them to the Other Side. The spiritual battle over Everett's soul comes to a climax when Endora is found dead and Everett is charged with first-degree murder.

~/~ Contains Spoilers ~/~

Written memoir style, Creston Mapes's debut novel pulls readers into a two-fold story. DARK STAR leads us through the present day courtroom battle, worthy of any John Grisham novel, while taking us back to recount Everett's life leading up to his trial.

Although DARK STAR was a riveting read from start to finish, there were a couple of minor stumbling blocks for me.

Everett's dialogue didn’t seem realistic of a drug addicted rocker. It seemed too polished. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t expect Ozzy Osbourne language in a CBA novel, but a certain amount of grittiness is expected to make Everett a believable character.

A plot twist toward the end also struck me as a little unrealistic. Throughout the novel, Karen claims she is only interested in Everett’s salvation. She has no starry-eyed, romantic illusions. It came as a bit of a surprise then, when Everett and Karen meet for the first time and romantic fireworks ignite. At this point I felt I had been misled.


Long after I closed the back cover, DARK STAR continued to invade my thoughts. Its characters remained in my mind, forcing me to reflect on the power of intercessory prayer and the spiritual battle continually fought over each of our souls. Included at the back of the book is a set of discussion questions that deepen your understanding of the book's themes of sin and redemption, and God's unconditional love.

It's not often you come across such a powerful book by a first time novelist. Creston Mapes is a rare find, an author to keep your eye on.


Buy this book:

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Spotlighting: The Martyr's Song by Ted Dekker

Do you ever feel left out? Rejected by the ‘beautiful’ people? Made to feel inadequate?

In the opening chapter of The Martyr’s Song, we meet Marci, a girl who knows first-hand what it means to feel rejected. With lowered eyes, she forces herself forward, through the crowd and toward the school building and her locker. The new skirt she had saved up for months to buy no longer gave her the courage she had hoped for. Instead she is met with taunting comments.

“Nice skirt.”
“You wearing that dress tonight?”

Nothing they could say could embarrass her any further. Of the entire eleventh grade, she was the only one not invited to tonight’s party.

“Please, she isn’t even going. And if she showed up in that, we’d have to lock her in the bathroom to keep the boys from throwing up.”

They skip away, leaving behind painful wounds and an empty school.

As she stands in the vacant school hallway, a woman approaches. “Come to my flower shop tomorrow, and I will make you beautiful,” the woman promises.

Marci is stung by the woman’s words, angered that even this stranger has the nerve to call her ‘ugly’. The next day Marci does go to the flower shop, not to let the woman ‘make her beautiful’ but to tell the woman exactly what she thinks of her, and her offer.

But when Marci arrives at the shop, she discovers that the woman, Eve, wasn’t talking about physical beauty, or even inner beauty.

Eve tells Marci that true beauty will come to her only when she embraces a long-forgotten story. Eve then tells Marci the story of Father Michael and thirteen-year-old Nadia, a child considered ugly with her coarse looks, blotchy freckles, and left leg two inches shorter than her right.

And so begins Dekker’s story within a story, a retelling of a tale contained in the opening pages of Ted Dekker’s When Heaven Weeps, the second title of his earlier Martyr’s Song series.

The story is set in war torn Bosnia, in the 1940s. A group of soldiers, lead by Commander Karadzic, comes across a small village, untouched by the combat that surrounds it. Karadzic is intent on restoring Serbia, purging anyone he doesn’t consider a good Serb, especially Franciscans who approved the murder of hundreds of thousands of Serbs by Yugoslavia’s Ustashe army.

Unable to understand why this church remains standing when all the others within a hundred kilometres have been burned to the ground, Karadzic becomes convinced it is a Franciscan church, protected by the Ustashe. When he finds Father Michael and the remaining villagers in the church courtyard celebrating Nadia’s birthday, he decides to put the villagers’ faith to the test, with deadly results.

As Karadzic’s inhuman game unfolds, readers glimpse life beyond the present through the eyes of Father Michael. The skin of this world peels away to reveal the world that awaits; a world full of laughter and a song that caresses the soul. A world where Nadia is beautiful.

By the time Eve finishes the story, Marci knows a secret that will change her life forever. She learns that in the eyes of heaven we are all beautiful, even her.


The Martyr’s Song, poignant in its first telling within When Heaven Weeps, is even more so in this novella which includes a CD of a song performed by Todd Agnew and co-written by Agnew and Dekker exclusively for this book. A list of discussion questions at the back of the book draws readers deeper into the book’s theme. Dekker invites us to search our souls and discover if we are in true anticipation of heaven, or simply enamored with our temporal life on earth.

This book struck my heart in a powerful way. Like Marci, I struggled with feelings of insignificance, and fought to fit in when considered the ‘outsider’. Unlike Marci, I didn’t have an Eve in my life to teach me what every child in this situation needs to learn.

I believe this book is a must read for any teenager who struggles with issues of self-worth, or who faces peer pressure to conform to today’s standards. Once more Dekker reaches out through story to expand our imagination and teach a timeless message. Once more I have been changed as a result.

Featured by World Vision during its 30 Hour Famine campaign, THE MARTYR’S SONG is set to reach the youth of today with a powerful message to love all that cross our path.


Buy this book:

Thursday, September 15, 2005


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If you are looking for a soul touching story that will entertain and enlighten, then you have found the right place.

From time to time, I will post reviews of novels that have touched my heart and retaught me timeless truths.

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