Thursday, December 31, 2020


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Friday, November 2, 2018

What's been going on

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It's probably not escaped attention that while in the first quarter of this year, I've managed to handle reviewing about a review a week or two, and had a flurry of books added to my queue, There's been a significant dropoff in that over the Spring, Summer, and Fall.

So I thought I'd take a moment to give anyone hitting this blog some idea of what's been going on in my Life... Interrupted.

Over the months of March through September I've been heavily involved at work with an implementation of software (that would be the job that pays me...) at a major division of our company, and it's had me traveling back and forth to Toronto Canada, about twice a month. What little time I had back home was devoted mainly to Family, to remind them there was still a Dad in the house, at least occasionally.

Take heart, I'll still be reviewing books, but my output is going to naturally be reduced to about half what it used to be, as I work on my own writing projects and reconnect with my family. In the next week or so I will dig through pending emails and toss some new reads onto my pile of books to read and review.

Additional Projects
I have Four books in the hopper I've been working on (writing, that is), and I'll give an encapsulation of them below.

365 Names of God
One of these projects takes about an hour each morning out of my day, but it's been well worth it. If  you connect with me on Facebook or Google+ (which I hear is sadly going away??), you will see a ton of posts from me this year, one per day, unpacking the Names of God. At the beginning of the year I hopped on YouVersion, a great Bible app for the phone, and tried to find a devotion for that, that I could use in my morning quiet time as a devotional. Well, there wasn't one, so my wife suggested I could create one instead. So, that's what I'm doing, and will compile them next year into a book. At that time, I'll likely pull most of the posts down, as it just makes sense to not post the entire text of a book online if you want to sell even a copy to your mom. Look for a finished product near Christmas 2019.

Unpacking Leviticus
Speaking of unpacking,  I began this year also working on a study of Leviticus. But, it's not enough for a Creative guy like me to just study, so I'm working on a story that does that. Here's the blurb:

The hastily written note meant nothing to Trecho as he delivered it to his master, Nicodemus. But the old man knew it was time to flee. Grabbing a few supplies, they fled out the back door as the soldiers kicked the front door down. Trecho tried to get the old man to drop the wooden case containing the old scroll of Leviticus, but Nicodemus insisted on bringing it along.

As they flee to Damascus, the old man shares the truths contained in the scroll to his doubting servant, who is bound by an oath and a crazy wager to deliver the old man unharmed to the distant city. Hounded by Saul of Tarsus, in peril at every step, Trecho struggles with the faith his master shares, concerned that embracing it will ultimately cost him everything.

This one is 75% complete and will suffer through several edits before finding a shelf to sit on, possibly also by Christmas 2019.

Of Dragons and Dopplegangers (Prince of Lynvia#4)
The long awaited conclusion to the Tetralogy. I've only got a few chapters remaining in a complete rewrite of this draft, and then a serious edit to follow, with an expected Release Date of Friday, September 13, 2019. (If you've read any of this series, you'd understand the significance of Friday 13...) Here's the blurb:

Kyne is finally getting his coronation - but the signet ring is a fake. The real one is still with Kyne's sworn enemy on the other side of the planet. A substitute ring won't do - the real ring is the treaty between Lynvia and the Dragon Kingdom.

Now, Kyne must travel around the world on a dragon's back to retrieve the ring... before there is war between the dragons and humans!

Back on Earth, Jason is beginning to have close encounters of the worst kind - the fairies from Lynvia's dimension are trying to rob Jason and his friends of the superpowers Kyne gave them. And they're doing it by impersonating people he knows.

Why are the fairies doing this, and how can he stop them when they can look like anyone... even his mom and dad?

Co - Cobalt, The Blue Door (Doors of Destiny#1)
This is the first in another series, MG SciFi, partially written. This work, first in the set, has gone through several renditions and is in the middle of a final edit. It's release date will fall sometime next year as well. Lord willing.

Here's the blurb:
Young Jack Shakleman is almost as brilliant as his grandfather, Professor Thomas Shakleman. Given an erector set and a few household electronics, he can invent anything. Including a way out of any work around the house.

When his grandfather disappears mysteriously, and exactly a year later, his dad vanishes too, Jack, his mom, and his siblings must travel to the eccentric old man's cottage and follow a set of clues to find out where they went. But when the trail leads them past the old man's mysterious Cobalt door, the world beyond will take every ounce of Jack's considerable brain power, and possibly some hard work, to survive.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Review: Throne of Grace (Cliff Walk Courtships #1) by Cecily Wolfe

Throne of Grace

(Cliff Walk Courtships #1)


My Take:
Josie Warren is just a solid Christian girl who works as a maid for the 'Cottagers', those who vacation in the idyllic Rhode Island town of Newport, on the coast. Each day she walks from her side of town, with the have-nots, along the coast walkway, to the ostentatious summer cottages of the 'haves'. She happens to meet a well-dressed man out for a stroll, who unfortunately happens to be the son of the incredibly wealthy woman she works for.

Arthur Davenport, once a wild playboy, has come home from a European trip a completely transformed man. On fire for God, he has decided that rather than follow in his wealthy father's footsteps and take over the family business, he wants to benefit the less fortunate by running a shelter for the homeless, the jobless, the poor.

When these two meet, the stiff social walls dividing their castes come crashing down. But will their resolve to be friends and partners in Arthur's dream survive the onslaught from both worlds?


G - There's none.

G - Squeaky Clean.

Drug Content:
PG -  The Davenports and other high society families throw parties that get a bit wild, though all of those occur not only off set, but pre-story. They only bear some oblique mention, but drinking and drunkenness and carousing happen there.

Adult Content:
PG - All references to any untoward sexual activity are completely oblique, and do not in fact occur, they are merely hinted at, gossiped about.

Christian content:
Both main characters, and several of the other supporting cast are devout in their faith. Some characters seem to have little. An occurrence at church exposes significant issues with hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and ostracization. Gossip and character assassination  are strongly depicted in this novel, and the characters use faith and trust in God to carry them through and reveal the truth. God plays a major role in the book, but his hand is not overt. Divine providence provides when things seem hopeless.

Final analysis:
Throne of Grace is a poignant story of love against a caste system determined to stamp it out. Repeatedly, the characters are ordered not to see one another, at risk of great personal cost. The pace is steady, and the scenery well-depicted. The characters, especially the main two, are quite three-dimensional. The stakes are high, and the conflict is palpable. i found this book an enjoyable and uplifting read, well worth a look. Five Stars!

About the Author:

Upcoming releases:


American Girls
The Library War

The Silver Sea
Precious Things 
tumblr (That Night):

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: JESUS IS BETTER THAN PORN by Hugh Houston

JESUS IS BETTER THAN PORN: How I Confessed my Addiction to My Wife and Found a New Life.

My Take:

Porn is a pandemic addiction assaulting men (and women) around the world, especially with the onset of the internet and the availability and anonymity it provides. Where once a person had to brave the back magazine racks and adult book stores, now that person can navigate to porn with only a few taps or clicks, from the privacy of their own room or smart phone.

But though it is pandemic both outside and inside the church, it is rarely discussed either from the pulpit or among close friends. Many men think that they are alone in this struggle, but as more material becomes available concerning it, evangelical efforts such as Celebrate Recovery, XXXChurch and literature such as this one and Every Man's Battle make it clear they are not.

Hugh Houston shares his courageous story of coming clean, and the struggle and victory he's found in Christ. His story makes it clear that every Christian man is susceptible to this dark battle, whether a pastor or a lay leader, or a pew warmer. With powerful examples and liberal doses of scripture, Hugh provides constructive help and hope for any man or woman wanting freedom from this addiction.

This is a non-fiction book, but it's subject matter requires ratings on content, of course.

G - Squeaky clean.

Adult Content:
PG-13 - The book covers subjects like adultery, divorce, and masturbation, the last point there is what  gives it a PG-13 rating. None of the material is graphic but it is subject matter that needs guidance. 

Christian content:
This is a solidly Christian book by a respected pastor who has been in the thick of this addiction. Scripture and faith fill every page, and deliverance is offered only through the power of Christ and the work of the Spirit. The theology I found in this work is clearly evangelical and biblically based.
Final analysis:
This work gives solid help for any man or woman struggling with a sex addiction, especially pornography. It is hard-hitting, clear, and effective. Each chapter ends with discussion questions and suggestions for further work, and it would make an excellent men's small-group study book. I consider that it can stand beside Every Man's Battle as a help in overcoming this tragic addiction. Five Stars!

About the Author:

Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: Wolf of the Tesseract by Christopher D. Schmitz

Wolf of the Tesseract

My Take:
Claire Jones is about to marry the man of her dreams. Excessively wealthy, attractive, and famous, James represents the pinnacle of the best husband one could land. She is head over heels in love with him, and yet... something about him just seems a trifle 'off'.

A homeless person named Rob tries to warn her about James, but his warning sounds crazy. If Rob were telling the truth, reality is just one of many dimensions, and James is actually a sorcerer trying to get a powerful locket her father gave her, one that will allow him to rule all the dimensions. That's the bad news. The worse news is, it will require her blood to activate.

As Rob and Claire flee the wrath of the warlock, an invading force of his minions give chase, and Claire  begins to realize that the stakes are much higher than she anticipated: the existence of all the dimensions.

Drug Content:
PG - One of the characters in this book is a drunkard, and several of the villains. An astral projection scene may involve drugs to achieve a heightened state. Some homeless people are sedated heavily while their blood is slowly drained.

PG-13 - One of the characters regenerates rapidly, and goes through horrific damage and is ok later. A man is blown up, another is set on fire, by magic.

G - squeaky clean.

Adult Content:
G - There's some love interest between the Princess Bithia and Claire and Zabe the wolf-man, but it's tame.   

Christian content:
While Wolf of the Tesseract makes no claim to be a Christian Fantasy, there are some elements of faith in it. The worlds were created by the Architect King, and there is a discussion about Satan, God, and Shlogath, who appears to be an anti-god, equal to God in power though he does not, exactly, exist. Astral projections and dream-walking occur a few times, and the villains use these methods to pursue and track. There is a dimension that is similar to hell.
So, while this novel has some basic references to a Creator and Sustainer, who is self-sacrificing, and the existence of Jesus and Satan are mentioned, there is some content that is cross-grain to the basics of the bible. There is a lot of positive faith-based content here, though. Bithia prays often and has faith the King will see her through somehow. There is self-sacrifice, loyalty, and a clear depiction of good vs. evil.

Final analysis:
Wolf of the Tesseract was a gripping fast-paced fantasy with believable characters and outlandish settings. The stakes could not be higher, the plot is well-thought out. I found this a barn-burner page-turner,  Five Stars!

About the Author:
Christopher D. SchmitzChristopher D Schmitz is the author of fiction and nonfiction as well as a regular blogger. 

Following completion of his first fantasy novel in the early 2000s he began working on lots of short fiction in order to refine his craft and went on to publish many pieces from 1,000-15,000 words in a variety of genres and outlets as writing exercises. Putting fiction away for a while, he pursued post-graduate work where he received a new appreciation for nonfiction, wrote Why Your Pastor Left, and then returned to his love for fiction, writing several new books.

Schmitz attained a Biblical Studies degree and a Youth Ministry minor from Trinity Bible College in 2003 and went on to gain a Masters of Arts in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014.
Other: he is generally known as a decent guitarist and played/sang in a rock band for several years. Schmitz is also an ungraded bagpipe player and has been known to pop up in random places and play them--sometimes while dressed as a pirate... because normal is boring. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: A Coronation of Kings (A Kingdom Divided #1) by Samuel Stokes

A Coronation of Kings (A Kingdom Divided #1)

My Take:
The golden throne has stood vacant for a hundred years, but a power-mad baron will stop at nothing to take it.

Tristan Listar watches helplessly as his family is massacred and his home burned to the ground. The villains who performed this heinous act were soldiers of the Baron of Belnair. Bereft of family, home, and even country, Tristan must unite the most unlikely allies to prevent the murderous baron from ascending the throne.

Drug Content:
PG - One of the characters in this book is a drunkard. 

PG-13 - There's a war going on in this book, so there's a great deal of fighting, especially in the latter half. A man is decapitated. A person is shoved through a window and falls to his death. A battalion of soldiers burns alive. A man with a sword buried in his chest manages to battle several opponents. A man is tortured and beaten nearly to death. A magic wielder destroys a ship full of pirates. Cannon and cutlass abound. But for the most part, the violence is not gratuitously graphic.

G - squeaky clean.

Adult Content:
G - There's some love interest between Tristan and the girl he likes, but the level of romance in this novel is what you would expect in a Disney movie.   

Christian content:
Nada. I'd place the belief structure in the book somewhere between the Norse mythology and that of the Greeks. The basic premise of this world is one in which the AllFather creates a race of demigods with incredible powers, which they abuse and are somewhat disenchanted. On the positive side, there is self sacrifice, honor, duty, depicted against villainy, deceit, and intrigue.

Final analysis:
I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced fantasy. Great world-building, exciting action, sterling characters vs. classic villains. A solid plot line leaving you satisfied yet wanting more. Stokes has painted a solid picture of good versus evil, and   Five Stars!

About the Author:
Many people love to read a great fantasy book. I love to live it! When I am not glued to my keyboard busily writing my next work, I can be found clad head to foot in armor, LARPing like a mad man. For those not familiar with the notion, LARP stands for Live Action Role Play where people get in costume and armor and fight over real-life battlefields. It's action packed and amazing, which is exactly how I like to write.

In my work, you will find yourself submerged in thrilling new fantasy worlds. Each coursing with conflict that transpires at an incredible pace. I draw on experiences from my life and time spent living in Australia, the U.S.A, and Japan to enrich the narrative of my books and provide you a taste of familiarity, as you plunge headlong into a scintillating new world. 

If you enjoy my work, and I very much hope you will. Please take the time to connect with me via Amazon, Facebook or my website ( I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Review: A Window to Your Heart by Sean McKissack

A Window to Your Heart


My Take:
Jason Dennereck has a serious problem. He can't seem to get past the word 'Hello' with the girl he wants to spend the rest of his life with. As chance after chance to push the relationship past that word pass him by, he begins to realize that she may slip away without even knowing how he feels. His best friend informs him that everyone, including the girl, is aware of his infatuation, so why can't he summon up the courage to just ask her out? But for Jason, that moment never can seem to come.

Enter Lydia, the strange, Goth girl who promises she can help him achieve those dreams, his own way, without any fear of rejection. At the same time, a new teen at school, named Gabe, tries to encourage him to do things God's way, and let the relationship grow organically.

As Gabe pulls out a flaming sword and opens a portal to show Jason his past, and Lydia brings him a tome she promises is a recording of his dream girl's entire life, and the easy way into a future with her, Jason begins to realize these two are not average students.

Jason is given the rare opportunity to choose the future he wants, or accept the future God gives him. If he chooses to do things his own way, he may gain everything he's ever dreamed of, but lose himself in the process.

Drug Content:
G - squeaky clean.

PG - There is a fist fight at school. There is one scene, a dream, where a student is cut to pieces by flaming daggers.

G - squeaky clean.

Adult Content:
G - It's clean. Pre-teen angst is about as far as it goes.

Christian content:
Gabe is obviously a younger rendition of the Angel Gabriel, and his encouragement to have Jason follow the guidance of God is clear Christian content. Lydia is never truly described as the demoness she probably is. The book of Life is referred to. The importance of a life, of the destiny of an individual, temptation and character, longing and patience, are discussed and dealt with. The battling of Good and Evil is clear, and the spiritual forces are represented well. An event in the past concerning a church youth camp is visited.

No scripture is quoted, God is not given center stage, and church attendance is only present during a wedding. But that does not mean that Christian values or an eternal perspective are not here.

Final analysis:
Window to Your Heart explores the struggle most boys this age go through. I certainly went through it myself. The struggle to overcome the fear of rejection enough to tell a girl how you feel about her. The struggles Jason goes through, the trauma and drama of Junior High School is very real, painful, dimensional. Trips through time, alternate realities, life-altering decisions, all make for an exciting and spellbinding MG fantasy with some life lessons thrown in. Jason is likable, realistic, and has to go through a very real character arc to navigate the dangerous waters of Middle School.

I would love to have given this a five star rating, but I found some of the scenes, carried primarily by dialog, to be a bit confusing, and I got lost trying to follow who was saying what, and where they were, to the point where it pulled me out of the story for a bit. This was an excellent read, though. Fast action, a quick read, real characters, and a solid plot. Four Stars!
About the Author:
Sean McKissack's ability to view the world around him and find a story and truth enables him to prepare the stage in a reader's mind for a heart-felt life cinema. Inspired by God, music and his experiences, he captures teaching and growing moments commonly found during adolescence. His writings epitomize the good and the bad in life, the joys and the pain, culminating in the coming of age and wisdom.

Sean hails from Southaven, Mississippi and he's always thinking of new stories to write