Monday, January 24, 2011

RIVER RISING by Athol Dickson

Athol Dickson's River Rising is a haunting and redemptive novel that is fast becoming a modern-day classic. River Rising won the 2006 Christy Award for suspense novels.

I've read River Rising twice, and Dickson's vivid scenes have stayed with me, even years after my first reading. Dickson's unique voice lends to his rich storytelling; his symbolic narratives ring with truth and beauty; and his messages prompt a stirring and ache in the soul.

In a long-forgotten attic, Reverend Hale Poser stumbles across a clue to his missing family tree. Armed with this new information, he returns to his roots in a small village in the Louisiana swamp. He takes a job as a janitor at the local infirmary and is soon deemed a miracle worker after helping with the birth of a little girl. But when she disappears without a trace, Hale is thrust into a dark and evil conspiracy. His search for the missing baby leads him into the expansive bayous and to a place that time has forgotten.

Dickson excels at allegorical storytelling, and River Rising's spiritual themes include pride's deceptive nature, racism, the nature of miracles, and Christ's humility.

5 out of 5

Saturday, January 15, 2011

THE JUSTICE GAME by Randy Singer

Christ Award winner Randy Singer's The Justice Game is a high adrenaline legal thriller that explores the passionate debate over gun control and the Second Amendment.

Singer kick starts his book with a murder at a TV news station and never lets up. Tension builds as the gun manufacturer is taken to court for turning a blind eye and selling weapons to a gun store that enabled felons to make illegal purchases.

The characters are well developed, and underlying mysteries fuel the suspense as two vying attorneys defend their clients and try to keep an unknown blackmailer from revealing their own long-buried secrets.

Singer, a career lawyer, knows his stuff and writes compelling legal thrillers. The conclusion seemed a little too perfect of an ending, but the story is well developed and the plot kept me more entertained than any of the legal shows now on TV.

4 out of 5

For more information, follow the links below:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS by Robert Liparulo

In the first book of Robert Liparulo's young adult Dreamhouse Kings series, Liparulo takes readers over the threshold of adventure into a room of suspense, mystery, and danger. Actually, it's a whole bunch of rooms, with a touch of magic, horror, and boyhood dreams thrown in.

When the King family moves to a new town and into a new home, it's not long before Xander and his brother David discover that the abandoned Victorian house is hiding secrets. Spooky, goose-bump secrets. And when the boys discover a twisting hallway with room after room of odd antechambers, things begin to spiral out of control. Each room is a passage to a different world and a different time - and none of them are safe. Before the Kings understand the house's secrets, Mom is kidnapped by a monstrous man into one of the rooms and disappears.

Liparulo's House of Dark Shadows is Act 1 of the six-book series. Many mysteries and oddities are introduced, and Liparulo will explore these enigmas in future editions. It appears that Liparulo is going to take readers on a wild ride into a house of every boy's dreams - a place that bring adventure and risk to life.

The dialog feel a little stiff in places, but overall, this is the start of an exciting and imaginative read.

Don't take long to find this book's address. Wipe your feet on the welcome mat and enter Liparulo's fascinating House of Dark Shadows.

4 out of 5

THE BISHOP by Steven James

Steven James' novels are smart thrillers with tight writing, engaging characters, intelligent twists, and stories that never let up. In The Bishop, the fourth installment of the Patrick Bowers series, James introduces his first female serial killer as half of a diabolical murdering duo and explores the notion that there is no honor among the cutthroat.

FBI special Agent Patrick Bowers is back, using his understanding of time and place to track down the killers. But they always seem multiple steps ahead, cross contaminating the crime scenes and disguising the ultimate game. With Washington DC as a backdrop and the inclusion of political and scientific aspects, nothing is ever as it seems.

As with his previous books in the series, James allows his characters to struggle with the line between good and evil, darkness and light, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Although the killer's actions are never glorified, the murders are gruesome and disturbing, so readers of tame Amish books beware.

With compelling side stories and links back to his previous works, James creates a story with multiple layers that will stay with you long after you close the book. An excerpt is available.

5 out of 5

NELSON'S BIBLICAL CYCLOPEDIC INDEX

I'm taking a break from my normal fiction book reviews to offer my thoughts on Nelson's Biblical Cyclopedic Index, which is labeled as the best Bible subject index.

When I study Scripture, I enjoy keeping a Bible dictionary, encyclopedia, concordance, and handbook nearby. This book combines many of those resources into one guide. This reference book includes more than 8,000 subjects, names, places, concepts, events, and doctrines, and includes 300 word studies.

For example, this morning I was studying the word "know" from a Bible verse. The cyclopedic index listed the word as one if its word studies, identifying the Hebrew translation and its meaning. Nice. It helped me dig a little deeper.

In addition, I was studying the word "path." The index listed various subheadings for path and where to find correlating scripture references. Subheadings included path of the wicked, path of believers, path of righteousness, and path of the Lord.

Obviously, this cyclopedic index is not exhaustive. Scripture references only offer one correlating verse, regardless of how many references there may be in the Bible associated with that subject.

Path
A. of the wicked:
Brought to nothing........Job 6:18
Becomes dark.................Job 24:13
Is crooked.......................Is. 59:8
(and so on)

For anyone seeking new ways to study scripture, prepare lessons, or write sermons, this small, compact book could be a good place to start. For anyone wanting to really dig deep, keep your Bible dictionary, encyclopedia, and concordance nearby. Overall, this is a nice resource to have in my library.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson publishes as part of their blogger review program. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use and Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."