All posts tagged: Fiction

Does Dr. Strange Villainize the Truth? | Movie Review

I’m a Marvel fanboy, through and through. Like many thirty-somethings I enjoy watching my childhood reading material come to life on the big screen, and I love sharing the stories with my kids. We’re a Marvel family for sure. Now that I’ve established my loyalty to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, er… multiverse?… let me say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I’m not a Dr. Strange fan. I never liked the comics or the characters. You might say that my Evangelical roots left me disinterested in a superhero fighting evil with, well, evil — magic spells and goat-head hands. Who needs strange stuff like that when there’s Spider-Man? Really. Ok, so now you have a handle on my presuppositions. Oh, wait. There’s one more vital piece of information that you need to know: I’m a Lutheran pastor. Though I grew up as a fundie, I’ve repented of my pietistic tendencies and find peace and joy living in the feeedom of the Gospel. There you go, now you have all the pieces at play in this post, …

The Black Star of Kingston | Book Review

After reading S.D. Smith‘s first children’s novel, The Green Ember, (read my thoughts on it here) I quickly ordered this little volume, as well as book two of The Green Ember Series, Ember Falls. The Black Star of Kingston is a great read. It’s a prequel of sorts, taking the reader to a time before Heather and Picket, a time when The Green Ember’s familiar motto was just being formed. If your kids like swashbuckling adventure, they’ll love this book. The characters are great and the story is true to S.D. Smith’s tagline, New Stories with an Old Soul. I enjoyed getting to know the new cast in this fantastic story! Zach Franzen’s illustrations were excellent additions in this regard. It’s a good, clean, exciting read for the whole family. When it comes to books about talking animals it would seem that a new author has successfully taken up the mantle.

The River | Book Review

This is the fourth Pastor Stephen Grant Novel (see my reviews of the first three books here, here, and here), and I got to say, it’s the best one yet. In this volume, Ray Keating delivers an action-packed adventure set in Las Vegas that’s full of God, goons, girls, gambling, and of course, gunplay. It’s brimming with ministers, mobsters, and military maneuvers. Okay, enough alliteration. You get what I’m saying. It’s a great read! Your favorite (fictional) Lutheran pastor, Rev. Stephen Grant, and Mrs. Grant find that Sin City lives up to its name. Pastor Grant struggles against the sins of others and his own as life and love hit with intensity. If it wasn’t the Hollywood-esque action that kept me turning the page, it was the intrigue surrounding how God’s Law and Gospel worked on the pastor and those in his life. Five Stars, friends! A few weeks back, when I finished reading The River, I had only one more Pastor Stephen Grant Novel left to read, Murderer’s Row. However, that’s not the case anymore. I’m excited to …

The Green Ember | Book Review

Let’s start where ancient wisdom tells us not to and judge this book by its cover. If I didn’t know anything about S.D. Smith‘s first children’s novel or about Story Warren Books, the cover would’ve been enough to convince me to give it a chance. Zach Franzen‘s art is warm and crisp, inviting viewers to explore the world of these rabbits with swords. Okay, so only one rabbit has a sword on the cover. Not the point. The cover art is superb! That’s the point. Young ones will enjoy finding more of Franzen’s art throughout the book as well. As it stands I actually did know a thing or two about this book and it’s publisher before I purchased it. For instance, Story Warren says they exist to serve you as you foster holy imagination in the children you love. Awesome! Or how about the author’s claim to write new stories with an old soul? Okay. I’m in. It was a no brainer from there. I had to purchase the hardcover edition of The Green Ember, which is a high quality product and …

An Advent for Religious Liberty | Book Review

Ray Keating’s third Pastor Stephen Grant Novel, An Advent for Religious Liberty continues to bring to life this heroic pastor. What pastor doesn’t want to be like Pr. Grant? What parishioner doesn’t want him as his shepherd?! At only 157 pages this book is just about half the length of book two, Root of All Evil? (read my thoughts on that book here). I don’t know if it was originally released during Advent, but I wish I would’ve read it during Advent. As a novella it packs an intriguing story into a quick read, perfect for the busy-ness that comes with December! Mayor-elect Adam Pritchett’s over the top personality is Trumpian (for lack of a better word), which enabled me to buy into the rapid and overt attack on religious freedom in the story. How it’s stopped, well, that’s on par with how I’ve come to expect Pr. Stephen Grant to handle things – like a boss. A great teaser story between Root of All Evil? and The River, which I can’t wait to read. Perfect for the faithful who want a seasonal book consumable …

Root of All Evil? | Book Review

Ray Keating’s second Pastor Stephen Grant novel, Root of All Evil? is a fantastic follow up to Warrior Monk (click here for my review of that work). It’s a well crafted political thriller full of intrigue and theological truth. Keating’s world has proven profitable for contrasting good theology with bad. In this book he tackles money and how it impacts the Church. I was impressed with the skillful and varied way the author deposited the money theme into the story: from global economics, to the prosperity gospel, to expenses that come with operating a parochial school, to the concerns laity have regarding their pastor’s salary. Keating’s economist background pays offs big! I can’t wait to crack open the next book!

The Messengers: Discovered | Book Review

On the back cover of Lisa M. Clark’s debut thriller, The Messengers: Discovered, published by Concordia Publishing House, there is a word printed in small type: futuristic. It’s there under the ISBN barcode. A genre classification. But just how futuristic is this adventure? Clark tells an exciting and believable story centered on the Word of God. The setting, though a dystopian future, isn’t hard to imagine. In light of the rise of ungodliness in America, it’s easy to see the world Simon Clay lives in as one we may well inhabit in the not-too-distant future. Discovered delivers God’s life-forming truth, demonstrating it’s transformative power and the significance it has on those who believe. In fact, it does it with such precision and skill that it begs the question: why doesn’t CPH publish fiction regularly?! With each turn of the page, readers, especially young readers (Clark’s primary audience) are built up in the understanding that there is no darkness that can overcome the light of Christ (John 1:5). A much needed message for all believers today! I bought this book …