“The Collins Case” by Julie C. Gilbert

"The Collins Case" by Julie C. Gilbert — Kimia Wood — Christian Despite having a “Mystery/Thriller” cover and blurb, this book is actually a “Christian/Inspirational” story. If I had known better what to expect, and if the pacing had moved faster, I might have enjoyed this much more.

Slow Start

The story is ham-strung from the very beginning, where for the first chapter and a half, the only conflict is that Rachel Collins is unequally yoked – married to an unbeliever.

The scenes of the “happy little family” living their lives and unaware of the calamity awaiting them is a classic writer move to get readers to connect to the characters. Unfortunately, I had recently read the blurb and knew they got kidnapped – and I was aware of the author-ly tricks at work – and so was very un-invested.

If I was advising the author, I would suggest beginning with Mr. Collins coming home and discovering melted groceries on the counter, his wife’s car in the garage, her phone on the counter, and his family nowhere to be found. (This scene already exists, but is sapped of tension since we’ve already witnessed his family be snatched.) This kind of scenario is visceral enough to connect with readers without the lead-up…a lead-up that lost me before the plot even began. Continue reading

The Huge Crisis for Christian Romance

The Huge Crisis for Christian Romance

There’s something rotten in Christian fiction. Personally, a romance in a book has to work pretty hard to impress me, but I want to specifically address the authors who claim the name of Christ publicly while including romance in their fiction.

Romance itself is not bad or disrespectful to God; evidence: Ruth, Genesis 24, Ephesians 5 (vs. 25), etc. I’m looking at a few specific issues I’ve noticed in some recent Christian romance novels that I think every sincere follower of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to take seriously. Continue reading

“God’s Not Dead”

Movie For Christians, Not the Unchurched

 A Christian freshman sits down in his Intro to Philosophy class, to find the professor insisting that every student write “God is dead” on a piece of paper and sign their own name.

This one student decides this act violates his conscience, and refuses.

The professor challenges him to prove to the class that God actually exists – or lose 1/3 of his semester grade right off the bat.

While “Christian” films have gotten their share of grief over the years for sappy plotting or lazy writing, my personal reaction to this film was mostly positive. Continue reading

“Hazardous Duty” by Christy Barritt

A Cautionary Tale for Writers

 Surfing Amazon one day for “Christian mystery” (or some similar keyword) I came across this book about a crime scene cleaner who finds evidence that the police missed – and it was free! I downloaded it, eager to start reading, and went to load it onto my e-reading device.

BLAM!

File is locked with DRM (digital rights management), meaning I couldn’t read it on my Nook (it’s a Kindle/.mobi file), nor on my dad’s Kindle (device registered to him, book registered to me).

Almost a year later, I did finally get to start reading (because AT&T got me a smartphone, long story short)…but needless to say it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Gabby St. Claire is a professional crime scene cleaner, and an interesting enough character. The perky go-getter type, with an interest in chemistry and forensics, she uncovers evidence in one of the houses she’s cleaning that seems to shed light on a murder investigation.

She then immediately jumps to a conclusion, and pursues that conclusion through the rest of the book. Most sleuths pursue a mystery: she pursued her conclusion…and guys. Continue reading

“Primordia”

Snarky and Bittersweet – Two Great Emotions…

Primordia_cover On a sand-swept wasteland, Horatio Nullbuilt, version 5, and his floating companion Crispin Horatiobuilt, v. 1, live in their broken rocket-ship of a home – until the day a big robot with laser-shooting claws steals their power core, leaving them with days or weeks to find a replacement before they and their home are left helpless and drained.

It’s MacGyver in the post-robot revolution-apocalypse, or Pajama Sam‘s more intellectual older brother, and a slow start didn’t prevent this point-and-click puzzle game from having a profound, slam-bang ending.

Plus, I and my “gameplay associate” completed it without consulting a walkthrough (ahem – personal achievement right there)! Continue reading

“Necromancer Awakening” by Nat Russo

NecAwake_61Av9vyX4AL I’ll admit Necromancer Awakening has one of the most gripping opening chapters I’ve seen. Nicholas Murray, archeology student, is getting ready for his adoptive father’s funeral – a man who took him on as a teenager and got him where he is now – when supernatural visions cloud his sight and he’s sucked into another world before his girlfriend’s eyes.

I’m afraid the first third of the book was a struggle to get through. While I acknowledge that being yanked away from everything you’ve ever known would be stressful and disorienting, the cliché of whiny, clueless protagonists and grumpy, impatient mentor-figures gets old fast. Continue reading

Reflections on “A Christmas Carol”

Three Things to Think On This “Holiday Season”

51ycpilxgcl If you’re like me, you’re pretty familiar with the mythos of A Christmas Carol, but have never actually read the original. This year, I remedied that.

Charles Dickens’ original story of rich, cantankerous, “Bah-Humbug” Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas, and the joy of celebration is available on Project Gutenberg and on Amazon as free ebooks (or as an audiobook!), so there’s no barrier to enjoying this classic tale.

As I read Dickens’ version of the story, three things jumped out at me. Continue reading

“Operation Zulu” by Ronie Kendig

51mp1f2omsl When the book opens with someone getting gunned down in the street clutching a laptop, you figure it’s going to be good. Operation Zulu Redemption focuses on a team of female Special Forces soldiers who have gone into hiding after a mission accidentally took the lives of twenty-two innocent bystanders. Living new civilian lives, they hide from the past and from whoever was responsible for sending them in – until someone starts killing them.

Continue reading