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review 2018-06-12 23:39
The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer
The Earth Bleeds Red - Jackson Paul Baer

This story is a slow pace all the way through which I wasn’t expecting for a thriller. There’s tons of detail, which I normally don’t mind, but so much of it didn’t add to the plot or character development. The extra details often added to the setting (Pacific Northwest) but even then some of the details were extraneous. I really don’t need to know how much Scott spent on each meal or trip to the book store or on tips and I really don’t need to know how much he got back in change.

The thriller part of the tale eventually comes along. Ashley, the 17-year-old daughter of Scott and Jessie, goes missing and initially the cops have a suspect in custody. Instead of having a thrilling hunt for the real culprit, the Hail Mary serial killer, we have a lot about what the parents are going through. At first, I thought this was an interesting and thoughtful take on this kidnapping. Alas, things were pretty drawn out and gone over again and again.

Finally, in the last third of the book we get a look into the life of the serial killer and what has happened with Ashley these many months while her parents have been grieving. We do get a little thrilling police action for a few short scenes but even then there’s so much detail that things get bogged down easily.

Nearly the entire tale is told through Scott’s voice. He’s still deeply in love with Jessie and he loves being a father. He’s very proud of his daughter who will soon be going off to college. I liked Scott’s character and I felt that he was three dimensional. The other characters in the story are pretty much one dimensional. Both Jessie and Ashley are beautiful…. and eventually we learn something more about them. But being beautiful seems to be their main job in this story. They both have some humor and Ashley puts up a fight with her attacker later in the story but those aren’t the character traits that are stressed. Sigh….. Then there’s that little side thing where Jessie gets ticked at Scott because a coworker gave him a surprise kiss. Scott wasn’t flirting, didn’t expect it, and avoided that character afterwards yet Jessie was still upset for weeks. Ugh! Jessie was a nitwit.

There’s plenty of Christian themes and going to church and trying to live a Christian life stuff in this book. I’m not into religious fiction in general, though I don’t mind a character or two having religion be a part of who they are. In this case, I really feel this story is Christian Fiction first and Thriller genre somewhere down the list. For me, this aspect of the tale was overbearing and boring.

I did like that the story shows how people can get past horrible things. The cast in this story is small and each character has something terrible in their past or that they experience during the story. Jessie’s and Scott’s daughter is kidnapped. Ashley has to go through being held against her will, etc. The Father at their church has a significant event in his past. Even the killer went through a terrible event as a kid (though he hasn’t dealt with that in a healthy way). Even as much as I liked this aspect of the story, I felt that it totally glossed over a significant repeated attack. Ashley’s captor wanted her pregnant and yet this repeated rape isn’t even talked about. So, to keep things real, I would have appreciated seeing Ashley’s feelings on this.

All told, I struggled to get through this story. It was slow, I often felt that I was being preached at, the women had no depth, and the thrill was taken out of the thriller part of the tale by so much detail. 2.5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Dan Carroll was very good at Scott’s voice. However, Carroll had a small range of voices. His female voices almost always lacked femininity. With more than one character in a scene, I had to listen carefully to keep track of who was talking. He did well with the myriad of emotions in this story. There were no technical issues with the recording. 3/5 stars.

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review 2016-07-04 20:03
Tullus: Adventures of a Christian Boy in Ancient Rome
Tullus: Adventures of a Christian Boy in Roman Times - Joe Newton,Bob Magnusen,Danny Frolich,Rick Norwood

Teenage Tullus and his friend Nereus are off on adventure in the ancient Roman empire. They’ll go through many sidetraps and pitfalls as they do their best to assist Ajax and his daughter Helena to retrieve a hidden treasure. They’ll have to pit their wits against Roman soldiers, bandits, and a wolf-worshiping clan.

I’m not Christian but I absolutely adore ancient Roman empire stories. So going into this comic, I had a little concern that the Christian views would outweigh the story. Not to fear! I really enjoyed this tale and while Christian values are incorporated, I didn’t feel they took center stage and detracted from the story.

Tullus himself kind of reminded me a young Jim Kirk. Indeed, he and Nereus have hairs cuts similar to Kirk’s and they run around doing good deeds while holding to this high moral code. While there aren’t any Red Shirts to be sacrificed to Drama, the two young heroes do manage to sway a great number of people to their way of thinking, gaining assistance throughout the story.

One of my quibbles with the tale is that there are only 2, maybe 3, female characters. Helena features at the beginning and then at the end. She has a maid servant that’s in one or two frames. If there was a third female character, I don’t recall who she was. Now, this comic was originally published 1940s-1970s, but even keeping that in mind, it’s still a little sad to see the female gender underutilized.

Helena herself doesn’t get a real personality until towards the end of the story. She does keep her wits about her (which Nereus seems to have trouble doing) and is instrumental in getting the guys out of a fix. Yet once that is accomplished, she goes back to being background.

My favorite secondary character is the Roman war horse Blaze. He definitely has his own personality! The guys save him and in turn he adopts them and assists them throughout the story.

I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t more ancient Roman empire stuff thrown in – there’s no Roman myths, holidays, or customs. There are the wolf-worshipers at the end though the author doesn’t tie them to a specific culture. While Nereus and Tullus stay in character with their views on the worshiping of a wolf god, not all the worshipers are portrayed as evil or ignorant (which is good and realistic).

Over all, I was pretty entertained by the story. It’s definitely G rated with no cussing or nudity and only mild violence. Yet the story itself is compelling enough to propel me through to the end. The inside back cover gives a short history of the Tullus comic strip, including the fact that Newton’s wife illustrated the first few runs of the comic. As a bonus, this issue has some panels of another comic, Sir Bagby, on the back cover.

I received a copy at no cost from the publisher (via Word Slinger Publicity) in exchange for an honest review.

The Illustration: The front cover, credited to Danny Frolich, is done in luscious colors and highlights. I like the image that was selected from the comic as it has a sense of mystery and imminent action to it. The internal artwork, attributed to Bob Magnusen, has a catching attention to detail: face wrinkles, arm hairs, folds in clothing, etc. The colors are rather muted compared to the cover, but enough of a pallet remains to distinguish each character. There are some frames that use predominately black and white to illicit suspense and concern for our heroes (for example, a thunderstorm scene). I was most satisfied with the illustrations for this comic.

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review 2015-10-07 00:15
The End of Satan by Benjamin Mishler
End of Satan - Benjamin Mishler

This has got to be the strangest Christian end times novel I have ever read. I gave it 2 stars only because it had some good biblical truths to it and the plan of salvation was laid out, otherwise the rest of it was just weird, strange, and not biblical at all in my opinion. And for those who care enough to want to know: there is bad language, gore and torture in this story...enough so I wouldn't even put it in the "Christian" genre.


Not recommended...at all.

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review 2015-05-22 23:38
A Time of Demons: Before the End by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
A Time of Demons - Kathryn Griffith,Lisa Jackson

In St. Louis, MO, the Graystones are musicians playing at a local bar and taking care of their elderly aunt and uncle. Cassandra and Johnny lost their parents and siblings in a fire when they were kids and ever since then, Cassandra has been plagued with a few supernatural powers: she can sense when someone is about to die, and (more recently) she can see demons (often disguised as humans). But now things are getting scary with more and more demons about and freak storms and accidents that force the Graystones and their friends on the road.

This book starts off pretty slow and stays that way for much of the story. On one hand, we get to know the main characters, especially Cassandra, pretty well. On the other hand, the long spaces between the bits of action were a bit tiring to get through as the characters are simply rehashing events and feelings we have already heard about. I place this book firmly in Christian Fiction first and paranormal fantasy fiction second. The only non-Christians in this book are the demons. While I understand this is a fiction based on the idea of Revelation, I was surprised that none of our non-demon characters were of a different religion, nor did any of our characters discuss any friends or family that were of another religious persuasion. I found this odd since our characters are musicians, fortune tellers, and circus clowns, all professions that at least rub elbows with a variety of folks. Plus St. Louis is a fairly large city with plenty happening.

Since there was lack of variety in religious backgrounds, all of our good guys were on the same page. This meant that the only conflict was between our heroes and the demons and that was pretty straight forward. This lack of differences meant no real conflict among our characters and this added to the dullness of the book; they were all on the same page. This also means that the character growth is limited to their religious take on the events they live through. The most interesting character was the blood demon Rayner and he is interesting because he has both internal conflict and conflict with his fellow demons as well as the humans going on. Unfortunately, his page time with readers is limited.

In short, if you enjoy Revelation or Christian fiction stories, then this might be right up your alley. There is some character development for our heroes and they do have to go through one travesty after another as the world approaches Revelation. However, for me, this book didn’t work. I like more diversity, which leads to situations where the characters face not only conflict with the forces of evil, but internal conflict and conflict with their friends and allies.

The Narration: Wendy King did a great job narrating this book. It is a quality performance with plenty of individual, distinct voices for the characters. She also has some great creepy voices for the demons. 

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review 2015-05-09 03:24
Good, but not great.
The Fallen and the Elect - Jerry J. K. Rogers

What does the appearance of angels, the unexplained deaths of certain people, genetic research and the Catholic church have in common? You will have to read it to find out. Seriously, if I say too much it gives it away.



The book was slow in the beginning, but it picked up eventually. The characters were ok, but I didn't really care for any of them. I just enjoyed the conspiracy aspect of this thriller. Although there were several characters of the Catholic faith, this book was not "preachy" at all, but it does talk alot about angels.


Good, but not great. 3 stars.



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