There are certain things you can expect in a Travis Thrasher novel. Music and film references, melancholy, sarcasm and snark, terrific authentic writing, twists, and truly good dialogue. Those are a given.
In 40 the protagonist Tyler Harrison is a music producer. His memories are structured around songs that document the time and place, the scents and sensual, the emotional responses to different events in his life. He's been given an ear for sound, a need to draw the maximum from the singers, and he pursues lofty goals in a business that affords few the opportunities to realize them.
Tyler experiences a supernatural encounter while at a Lollapalooza concert where he's surveying talent and hoping to find a unique gem of a band to produce. He's there with his studio co-workers and friends, wandering off to find a friend of a friend but instead encounters someone else.
This begins the journey of Tyler's life leading up to his turning 40. The story covers the period from the concert to his 40th birthday which takes place over about a year's time. There is excessive folly, stark remembrances of his father's hellfire preaching, a deep-seated rebellion which he acts out in the accepted norms of his career choice, regret he refuses to address, and a stubborn ill-advised series of reactions to spiritual knowledge imparted to him.
It makes for excruciating reading because you just want him to come to his senses so badly, but . . . There's an expression people often use referring to some having to hit bottom before they want change. Tyler Harrison cruises like a bottom-feeder across a vast ocean of disappointment and depravity, neglecting everything of value and importance while reflecting on how he's screwed up everything of value and importance. Life's a struggle carried on in his favorite music, recorded on his i-pod, somehow providing him temporary solace.
The supernatural occurrences are fascinating reminders to this reader of both This Present Darkness and Prophet by Frank Perettibut set apart from those novels with Travis Thrasher's own voice, settings, and interpretations.
I highly recommend Travis Thrasher novels to readers who appreciate good writing and the atypical approach to Christian fiction. He captures good and evil and in between in his characters enticing the reader to get involved with them, often establishing a love/hate relationship with many of them. In 40 Tyler Harrison's journey leads him away from himself to find where he was meant to go. 40will linger both during the breaks from reading it and after the final page.
Father, I pray you would continue to bless Travis' writing and the insights you inspire. Keep him and his family safe from all harm and watch over him as he writes to honor you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
If you've read more than one of my books, I have a request for you. Please tell me which one is your favorite. Just because I want to know. Okay? Thank you!
Father, you know I'm grateful for every story you've given me to tell. You know I can't write a single word without you. Not one. Thank you for each reader you've given me. They may not be many in number, but they're so important to me. I cherish them. Please bless them and allow them to take away something worthwhile from those words. Apart from you, I can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Not only is he the Master of Melancholy, author Travis Thrasher adds snark, sentimentality, and supernatural events to his work. One of my favorite authors because he's dared to do all kinds of genres and write from his - what could be construed as - rebellious heart, his voice is unique, refreshing, and definitely his own. There are maybe a couple of his novels I haven't been crazy about, but, as a whole, I admire his work.
Travis puts you in his characters' skins. You're there even if you don't want to be. Even if you don't like the characters. He uses first, second, and third person points of view to tell his tales and no matter which he uses or combines within a story, you feel them all.
He does "love" well. Again, you feel it. In all of its human imperfection, angst, desire, vulnerability, and ache, he captures it all.
Weaving the maze of spirituality, faith, the supernatural elements of God and the devil into his stories, the process shows both sides of souls on the journey of life.
I haven't read a Travis Thrasher novel for awhile but am reading one he published in 2011 (Faith Words, Hachette Book Group). It reminds me how much I've missed his writing. I'll have a review up soon.
Father, you know all about Travis and his journey. I pray your continued blessing upon his life and family. May he continue to write boldly and tell the stories you have just for him to write. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
CBS Films and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) announced that Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor, True Detective) is joining Dylan O'Brien (Deepwater Horizon, The Maze Runner) and Academy Award®-nominee Michael Keaton (Birdman, Spotlight) in the adaptation of Vince Flynn's massive bestseller AMERICAN ASSASSIN.
Father, please help those who don't know you to find you. Help those who are involved in duplicating this Vince Flynn novel for the big screen to do it well and with the spirit in which it was written. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I'm re-running this review because I think everyone should read this novel. It's poignant, possible, and particularly pressing for people to be aware of their surroundings, who is near them, what they look like, what they're wearing. Not to accentuate the fear factor but rather to emphasize the more you see around you, the more you're aware of the plots and plans of our enemies, the better able you are to make a difference in this wicked world. Either you save yourself and others or you perish in crisis situations. Joseph Courtemanche knows what he's talking about. And with the recent San Bernardino and Orlando massacres, we need to be smart and aware. The Lord will give us insights and direction so we can do our part while we're here.
Valuable to reading this novel, it's important to note the information preceding the story. Knowing who Joseph Courtemanche really was and is will bring even more life to this bona fide thriller. Assault on St. Agnes is a very good novel from an author who's been there, done that. What takes place in this book has been a topic of much discussion in recent times from all counterterrorist groups in the USA. Joseph doesn't pull any punches in this story. We all know who the majority of terrorists are and we get a harsh and realistic picture of them in Assault on St. Agnes.
Bobby Kurtz "happened to be" visiting a Catholic church when all hell broke loose. He was messily extracted from the scene and plunged into something he didn't expect. Coerced into assuming a task that used his linguist skills and called on for his previous covert understanding, there's something going down during this snowy Christmas season in Minneapolis, and it can't be good.
Time pressures his new bosses and co-workers to stress Bobby's preparation. They realize terrorists are plotting something big, and they desperately need a lead. Bobby uses his past battle-worthy contacts and brings them in to help zero in on what it is all their overload of information is failing to capture. An off-hand comment from one of them about an in-law gives them that coveted hope for a break.
This thriller allows the reader to observe the vile and psychopathic makeup of terrorists motivated by demonic hatred and perversion while staying patient to make sure they can execute their grand plans of destruction upon the United States of America and its infidel inhabitants. The intense scrutiny of information studied and re-studied by those who secretly disseminate huge volumes of data in various languages reminds us how daunting it is to keep America safe.
Assault on St. Agnesgives us a unique hero with a brilliant brain, an obnoxious personality, a tender heart, but a savvy outlook on the natures of terrorists. High-intensity action, sharp dialogue, and tragic occurrences combine to make this thriller both realistic and meaningful. Highly recommend Joseph Courtemanche'sAssault on St. Agnes.
Father, I pray you would continue to bless Joseph as he constructs more life-like tales. Give him what he needs to write those stories you have just for him to tell. Bless his work as he gives all the glory to you. Keep him and his family safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Out of Circulation, Book 1 in the Hemlock Creek Suspense Series, releases individually for KINDLE today (it’s still also in the Smoke and Mirrors boxed set). So you can pick it up here for only 99c/Kindle!
Heather Day Gilbertis a good writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed her AMurder in the Mountains Series (Miranda Warningand Trial by Twelve). This novella begins her Hemlock Creek Suspense Series and starts with the somewhat handicapped daughter, due to a foot injury, flaming redhead Katie McClure who once thought she'd like to follow in her father's footsteps and become an FBI agent. Now she's a librarian in need of a bodyguard - or so it seems. And as armed masked men invade her small hometown library, there just happens to be an attractive bodyguard on site.
Through an odd set of circumstances, Katie's deceased father is implicated in an unsolved heist. Since his partner is also dead, someone is trying to find the money since it's not where this someone left it. Through threats and a sophisticated cover-up, the bodyguard is trying to solve the case while avoiding his attraction to Katie. Meanwhile, the rest of the McClure family - Molly, the femme fatale sister, and Brandon the estranged brother, plus Katie's mom - are all equally worried about Katie's safety when more threatening actions take place.
Heather writes female characters who pack guns and aren't afraid to use them - even if their character isn't particularly brave and daring which Katie McClure learns she isn't. Throughout this story, the heroine discovers herself not as she'd originally hoped to be but instead how God designed her to be. That discovery enables her to shed her latent bitterness and reinvigorate her life as she truly is.
Although not my generally preferred reading - and that's nothing against the novel - Out of Circulation is a kind of sweet little romantic suspense that takes no time to read for the waning days of summer at the beach or wherever you prefer. It has a clever ending to solve the mystery, and if romantic suspense with a certain innocence is your genre of choice, you won't be disappointed in Out of Circulation.
Father, you know Heather inside and out. Please continue to bless her life and continue to inspire those stories you have just for her to tell. Please provide what she needs to do what you have for her and protect her all along the way. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Those of you who are familiar with my reading tastes know I rarely go back in time - or forward, for that matter. I prefer the here and now. However, every now and then I break my own tight-fisted reading mold because the premise of a novel catches my eye. Gumshoe by Michael Compton happened to write that little number with a seductive description of an old-fashioned noir mystery.
Definition of noir: a genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity
And what's a dark mystery without an alcoholic Hollywood Private Investigator, a Packard, some heroin, an aged rich Colonel, his young knockout cold-as-ice conniving wife, a missing son - or is he? - a club singer, the inconvenient bastard daughter, and a rare artifact?
Before I go any further I must say I loved Michael Compton's writing. You know I don't rave about writers here, but Michael's good. Expressions, metaphors, tone, he did it all. If I had to fault him, I could only say there were just a couple of times our contemporary slang expressions infiltrated the prose but not enough to lurch me out of the moment.
This dark story held me captive with P.I. Ellis York's impressions, insights, and descriptions of other characters and their motives for wanting what they did. His liquor inevitably landed him in trouble, but it seemed there was no escaping trouble anyway on the two cases which somehow intersected - just outside of his mental reaches to discover exactly how. Typical of noir, figuring out who was doing what to whom seemed as impossible for this reader as it was for the gumshoe in this story.
Remembering the introduction to the story remained, wondering if there would be a reprieve, but I confess I never saw this ending coming. Unusual, well-done, and carefully constructed, Gumshoe is almost a two-part novel with the second part coming near the final pages. While not the ending I would've chosen - or even preferred - it's still a fascinating and well-written story. Surprisingly clean for a general market novel in spite of the suggestion of unintentional incest.
Father, you know my heart. You know everyone's heart. I pray your continued blessing upon Michael's life, that he would understand that every good and perfect gift comes from you, and that you would continue to inspire him. Keep your hand upon him and let him know how much you love him. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner."
Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you, go in peace."
Lord, music is yours. Some make it beautiful with your gift. Those who don't fail to realize who created it. Please lead hearts to your Son. Holy Spirit, we're desperate for your leading. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Yes, it's only pre-season and all that it entails. No matter. We're fan-addicts when it comes to the Seahawks. GO HAWKS!
Lord, thank you for all the talents you disperse to all of your creation. Thank you for those who worship you in what they do. Help all of us to be faithful and to serve you with our whole hearts. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
There are too many places of pain in this world as it continues on its voyage to extinction and rebirth. Sounds so fatalistic, doesn't it? But those of us who've read the account - the biblical one - realize we're only allowed so much time on this earth, and those that come after us, if we survive our current state of affairs, will at some point experience the end of all things as we have known them.
It would take either naiveté or utter stubbornness to deny the deterioration of societies, cultures, and countries around the world. From the sexual slave trade of children both males and females to the butchering of Christians, this is clearly a world gone mad from the supernatural influence of demons. There is no other explanation and certainly no excuses for the perversions foisted upon the human race by the embracers of evil.
It's too much. More than we can handle. Heartbreak, tragedy, perversion, rage, murder, exploitation, selfishness, cruelty, victimhood, criminality, lies upon lies, diseases and addictions, depressions and anxieties. All combine to create chaos and hopelessness, providing easy marks for the enemy of our souls.
But . . . there is one hope, one unchanging factor, one comfort zone. Yes, if you've traveled this blog at all, you know what I'm going to offer. And if you stop reading here, you've decided it's not good enough for you. But He is. There's a scripture in the Book of Colossians I use for my signature scripture because, although written thousands of years ago, it speaks so importantly to this world today.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8 NIV)
Jesus is the only answer to personally conquering and surviving the depravity of today's world just as He was when He came to earth as the God-man. He said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)
He's the Redeemer, the Savior, the Light of the World. When you ask Him to forgive your sins and take over your life, He intends to guide you while you're here. When speaking to His Father, He prayed, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent them into the world, I have sent them into the world. . . ." (John 17:15-18 NIV)
You have a purpose while you're here. You're not built to be idly passing the time pursuing pleasure and lusts. You were given life and created for a specific reason even though you entered this world in corrupted flesh. It's a constant battle to seek out the right things to do over the wrong. Life is not easy for anyone even if it seems it is for some. Nothing minimizes the pain involved in experiencing trauma or tragedy. It simply means all things have meaning and can serve a divine purpose, even though unimaginable while happening.
Pain can be excruciating and unmanageable. Hurting inside or out, pain debilitates. Spiritual pain is often ignored and pacified with Band-Aids with no effort to get at the root of it. Doctors do multiple tests to determine the source of the patient's pain in order to treat it properly. Spiritual pain can only be healed by the Great Physician Jesus Christ. His heart surgery is painless and heals without physical scars. Jesus is the only way to freedom for the aching soul.
But it's always your choice. Your choice won't change who He is or the truth of what He offers. He offers healing from the spiritual pain and help through the rest of the world's pain.
God, help us all. We're desperate for you whether we know it or not. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The first book in Brenda S. Anderson's romance series is ready for pre-order. Although not the genre of Brenda's heart, she stuck to the general format of romance novels and kept the conflict alive almost up to the final page.
Risking Loveis the story of four individuals - yes, really - who form an unlikely triangle. Not a good visual, I know. Here's why it has to be four. One of the individuals in this story is deceased which establishes the risk to love again for one of the characters (Caleb). The heroine (Lissa) in the story is as tightly wound as her 6th grade goals list requires, allowing the rules of her life to dominate every decision she makes. Playing it safe is her topic du jour of every single day. Until . . .
Caleb donates his availability for a fundraiser auction and lands a date with Lissa via her mother's "purchase". Although Caleb used to be an adrenaline junkie along with his wife (Jeanette), the sorrow of losing her and raising their toddler daughter without her has produced a significant lessening of anything wild and crazy. Lissa isn't happy about "the date" and will let this guy know in no uncertain terms she is not a risk taker. Besides, she has her eyes set on her safe, straight-laced, former boss (Haven) who intends to get together with her as soon as they can arrange it.
There are extenuating circumstances with both of the men in her life - aren't there always? And when she learns of these, she reacts in near hysteria, wondering why these guys would've kept the information from her. It takes an accident and her mother to talk her down off the cliffs of her thoughts and help her realize the heart doesn't always desire to play it safe. With good reason.
Faith is a definite part of this story, albeit fairly shallow at times in Lissa's life. She's fiercely independent and clings to legalism believing crossing all her t's and dotting all her i's according to her definition of order is the safest and best way to live her life. Until . . .
It's not. That supposed safety net she's built for herself leaves her hopeful but empty and when she comes to terms with those choices she's made, she rushes to correct them - if it's not too late.
Father, you know Brenda inside and out. You know her faith, her abilities and talents, all of them, because you gave them to her. I pray your continued blessings in her life, your refreshing of her spirit when she needs it to keep the desire strong to do what you have for her to do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
"To what then can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance: we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.'
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say. 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and 'sinners'. But wisdom is proved right by all her children."
Many of you will remember Erin Healy as being Ted Dekker's primary editor before becoming an award winning, bestselling author in her own right. I haven't read all of Erin's work, but I've read enough to describe what I've read as speculative/supernatural fiction. She's a terrific writer. I'm not one that gravitates toward speculative novels, but I definitely appreciate when an author interjects the supernatural from a godly perspective into a story. If done well, readers get a picture of either the terrifying horror of the enemy of our souls or the unequaled boundless and benevolent love of our Creator. For me, regarding speculative fiction, the genre sometimes takes too many liberties when trying to mesh the speculative with the supernatural. I'll stretch to a point, but then I'm done.
Afloat by Erin Healy takes an ensemble group of characters thrown together by an outrageous circumstance of an earthly and heavenly collision. Between foul play and foul weather, the beautiful construction of a "floating" apartment development on a scenic river designed and engineered by Vance Nolan for the financier Tony Dean is threatened by a ravaging impromptu flood and a crane truck catastrophe. Taking a look at each character's perspectives and motives in this situation is a study of the human psyche and heart at its best and more prevalently at its worst. Add a blind man Zeke with his rescued assist-dog Pit Bull Ziggy who's petrified of water but accompanies his master and a friend in a small boat at the start of the storm to get a message to Vance. The connection between Vance and Zeke is slowly revealed in flashbacks of Vance's life.
Life and death, murder and mayhem coagulate during the scary storm where daylight disappears in the middle of the day, rations are combined, a child experiences the supernatural, and Zeke sees visions. There are twists and turns and secret connections culminating near the end of the story which grows more intense when the group is effectively cut off from all knowledge of what has happened.
The ending is unexpected but adds a convenient solution and a fitting conclusion.
I will leave you with this sample of Erin's impressive writing skills:
Rain dripped from their noses and chins. It flattened hair and clothing and clung to everyone's flaws. It coated their thick-skinned natures in a high gloss.
Father, you know Erin's heart and soul, and I ask that you continue to bless her and her family as she works for your glory. Please give her those stories you have just for her to tell and watch over her, keeping her safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
There are still changes from these pictures taken just a week ago. The stairwell is now painted a shade of grey that accentuates the wood and complements the light metallic grey (Ralph Lauren's "Silver Wedding") on the entry wall (where the front door is). The orange in the dining room is Ralph Lauren's "Burnished Copper" which highlights the cedar slabs. In the before pictures of this area the chandelier was extremely low and even I, at 5' 4", bumped my head on it walking through the room. We removed links in the chain to elevate it to a reasonable level. So far, we've used five shades of grey, four metallic shades from the Ralph Lauren collection, and one warm light brown (Miller Paint's "Mantra") on three walls in the kitchen to contrast the Ralph Lauren's "Gilt Bronze" on two walls and the inside of the door leading to the deck. We also used "Mantra" on one side of the hallway and in the living room on two walls.
A partial view of and from our deck:
Special thanks to my BFF Debbie Anderson for her beautiful shots of our home. There will be more!
Father, there are no words to describe the gratitude and utter awe of what you've provided for us. No words could possibly be adequate. Thank you is never enough. Beyond grateful, gracious Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Romance lovers, here's the newest from Brenda S. Anderson. Slipping away briefly from her Women's Fiction genre to do a series romance, Brenda's new release is ready for pre-order.
Father, continue to direct Brenda's efforts in her writing and indie publications. Bless her hard work and devotion to her craft always with the mindset to glorify what you've done. Keep her safe and motivated. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.