Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

Discovering the secret of a Man's Soul...

I read that and thought, "WOW! Finally someone who can explain why men think and do the things they do." Since I am a member of Book Sneeze at Thomas Nelson, I thought I'd see what this was all about.

John Eldredge wrote this book about ten years ago, and he has now updated it for today's man (and woman). I discovered that men today need permission to really be men. I heartily agree with that statement. Feminists have de-genderized society to the point that I'm not sure who is who anymore.

I have observed within my own experience the three things a man must have in order not to lose his being: 1. Battle to fight, 2. an Adventure to live, and 3. a Beauty of rescue. Each of these three things work together to make up a man's character. One can see perfectly what kind of man a man is when you study the fights he chooses, the adventures he takes, and the kind of Beauty that he links arms with through life.

There was something so satisfying about this book, simply because my 50+ years of observations rang true to what Eldredge was saying. He also does an excellent job in correlating Manly Jesus to manly things, all the while leaving room for tenderness with the Beauty and the Children as he succinctly states, "And all his wildness and all his fierceness are inseparable from his romantic heart...music, wine, poetry, sunsets, those were His inventions, not ours. We simply discovered what He had already thought of."

Its enough to make a maidenly heart flutter. And enough to give men permission to be all they can be, and still be lovely and comely in God's eyes as well as woman's. This is a keeper. Buy it, and give it to your son or husband or nephew or son-in-law. They will appreciate it and so will their wives.


The Sword by Bryan Litfin

This novel was an interesting foray into the What If world. What if all except a few in the world were annihilated? What if those who survived didn't know much if anything about God? What if a demon of incredible power suffused... no, wait, that isn't right. What if an evil person who knew about God was influenced by Satan to suppress everything having to do with the one true God? But then one young man who happened to be a professor at a college found out about God. What a great concept!

In fact you will find two such books on Christian Book Stores shelves with this premise. Neither relate to the other and the story lines actually are a lot different.

In The Sword, you have all the elements of adventure and intrigue almost from the first page. The protag, Teofil, is rather two dimensional at first because we just don't know what he looks like, we don't know his name, but boy we've got an excellent man and bear fight over the fresh wild boar kill. The man was salivating over roasted pork ribs. The day is saved by a slip of a girl/woman who fires an arrow into the bear's chest.  I'm thinking this is going to be a most satisfying read. But, I'm only on page 29.

The characters are numerous, so much so, that if you don't read straight through you are likely to forget who is who. I am not saying this is a bad thing. Any reader knows that when a character is given a name, then you will meet that character again, so you try hard to remember who is who. Because this is a trilogy (book 1) I realize there will be a lot of characters, and it could be because I'm getting old, for me it was hard to keep track of them all.

The story takes place on earth 400 years after the catastrophe. There should be some things that are the same, but everything--building, landmarks, everything--was overgrown or completely gone, so there wasn't any geographic connection. I couldn't envision where this took place. Again, I'm not saying that it is a bad thing, it was just a little disconcerting for me because I knew it was earth, but nothing recognizable not even places. I know there is an analogy in some of the names, but I didn't catch them... like the place called Toon. My first thought was, "Wonder if we'll meet Daffy?" Call me sacrilegious.

For me, the story was good. I love good vs evil stories. I love it when the heroine isn't this weak-kneed, screamer. I love it when she's fiery and womanly. It is very hard to write, but Litfin captured this very well. There was nothing cartoonish about our Ana. I also love it when the rogues are truly, thickly evil.

I do recommend this first novel by Bryan Litfin. I warn you, if you'll be up late at night. Once you get all the characters straight, it is a delicious read.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Sword
Crossway Books (April 30, 2010)

Bryan M. Litfin


This novel of page-turning action and adventure poses the question, "If a society had no knowledge of Christianity, and then a Bible were discovered, what would happen?"

Four hundred years after a deadly virus and nuclear war destroyed the modern world, a new and noble civilization emerges. In this kingdom, called Chiveis, snowcapped mountains provide protection, and fields and livestock provide food. The people live medieval-style lives, with almost no knowledge of the "ancient" world. Safe in their natural stronghold, the Chiveisi have everything they need, even their own religion. Christianity has been forgotten—until a young army scout comes across a strange book.
With that discovery, this work of speculative fiction takes readers on a journey that encompasses adventure, romance, and the revelation of the one true God. Through compelling narrative and powerful character development, The Sword speaks to God's goodness, his refusal to tolerate sin, man's need to bow before him, and the eternality and power of his Word. Fantasy and adventure readers will be hooked by this first book in a forthcoming trilogy.

Visit the book website at The Sword to see amazing videos and a wealth of information about the trilogy!

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Sword, go to HERE


Bryan Litfin was born in Dallas, but lived in Memphis, Tennessee and Oxford, England, where he discovered that the house of his favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien, was only five doors down from his own. Bryan still enjoys epic adventure stories, as well as historical fiction. However, most of his reading these days is taken up by academia.

After marrying his high school sweetheart, Carolyn (a true Southern belle), he went on to study for a master’s degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. He is the author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), as well as several scholarly articles and essays.

In 2002, Bryan took a position on the faculty at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he is a professor in the Theology Department. He teaches courses in theology, church history, and Western civilization from the ancient and medieval periods.

On the morning of January 6, 2007, Bryan woke up with an epiphany. Having finished writing his primer on the ancient church, he had the idea of trying his hand at fiction. The thought occurred to him that the writer of speculative fiction typically has two options. He can create an imaginary land like Middle Earth (which offers great creative freedom but is unrealistic), or he can delve into genuine history (which is realistic, yet limted to what ‘actually occurred.’) However, if a writer were to create a future world as in the Chiveis trilogy, it could be both realistic and creatively unlimited.

This little dream stayed in Bryan’s mind while he researched how to write fiction, and also researched the European landscape where the novel would be set. He planned a trip to the story locations, then went there in the summer with a buddy from grad school. Bryan and Jeff rented a Beemer and drove all over Europe from the Alps to the Black Forest with a video camera in hand. With that epic setting fresh in his mind, Bryan returned home and began to write.

Today Bryan lives in downtown Wheaton in a Victorian house built in 1887. He is blessed by God to be married to Carolyn, and to be the father of two amazing children, William, 11, and Anna, 9. For recreation Bryan enjoys basketball, traveling, and hiking anywhere there are mountains (which means getting far away from the Midwest – preferably to his beloved Smokies).


3-3-3 You Are Free by James Bars

This is a message so very simple, and yet so many people fear it, and think it is the hardest thing in the world to do--Live Free.

God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7. This is one of my all time favorite verses. I was delighted to see it quoted in the Hidden Chapter. I believe the principles laid out in this book are so very simple to understand, not very hard to follow, and so very easy if we rely upon the Power of God to live free. That is the message in a nutshell. Who needs it? Everyone does, not just Christians. It is a bit elementary if one has been a Christian since 1902, but, then what person doesn't need a gentle reminder every now and again of how much God loves us?

There is an old saying that practice makes perfect. Well, the godly definition of perfect is Complete. Jesus makes us whole and complete. This book is chock full of guidelines on how to allow Jesus to reign in your life. Every Christian needs that! What's truly great about this book is that you can give it to every lost person you love and just maybe you'll be taking them along with you when we meet Jesus in the air.

I recommend this book for anyone. It isn't a fluffy afternoon read, you'll need to dig into it, but that is part of the journey in building your relationship with our LORD.

Blake Bars has this to say...

When it comes to screwing up one’s life, my Dad, Jim Bars, is pretty much an expert.  As his son, I didn’t know him as the mess he had been.  All I knew was what I heard from stories and there were a lot of them.  Throughout my youth I saw that God was important to him; I knew he went to AA meetings a lot and was involved in prison ministries. 
 I knew he wasn’t perfect, but I saw that he continuously strived to improve himself.  The Japanese call this kaizen, which is the practice of continuous improvement.  
 His example was and still is a living testament to me: No matter how broken and how hopeless a man becomes through trials and sufferings here on earth, through God he can be restored to a life of wholeness and hope. – Blake Bars
Jim is an expert at making a mess out of life and then cleaning it up.  He has been almost as broken as one person can get and still be alive.  In a desperate search for hope and wholeness, Jim studied psychology, philosophy, Biblical phenomena and neural-science for nearly thirty years.  During this time he also facilitated Bible studies and personal growth groups. 
Jim has found the Way to joy, peace, love, future, health and true prosperity.  He writes with one purpose: to help enable his readers to also find the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Jim has authored 3-3-3 You Are Free!!!, its companion the 3-3-3 Daily Life Planner, Whose Are You? and the Recovery Journal.  Jim is a member of the National Bible Association and Christian Writers Fellowship International.

not a sparrow falls by Linda Nichols

Right now, I am standing and applauding Bethany House for finding such a jewel as Linda Nichols.

I believe Linda's grandmother and my grandmother were best friends, for she has captured the sights, sounds and smells of my girlhood between the pages of this book regarding the grandmother character.

The reader is caught up into the sphere of spiritual warfare from the very first page, and then reads how it all plays out in the earthly realm. I know I have read the first few pages of this before and I'm thinking it was a contest that Dave Long held on conversion experience. It was so gripping then that I remember it to this day.

This story is very unique and, yet, it is the oldest story since time began because we all get caught in Satan's web of seduction, we all think there is no way out, we all bargain with God at one time or another, we all get angry at circumstances and must fight to forgive our loved one's choices, and we all find out sooner or later that only God can cure all ills, heal all wounds and change all hearts... if we just allow Him the elbow room to do it.

This story is very well-woven. The characters are first rate developed and we see personalities clash in a most believable way. What I love most about this story is that every character grows, blossoms, and finds sure footing on their life path.

The main character, Bridie Collins, is worn out from the bad choices she has made. One day, she's had enough of buying ingredients for cooking meth and being the maid for two slothful drug dealers, so she bides her time until they both crash from too much of a bad thing. She steals the drug money and makes her getaway, calling a hot tip line to make sure that Jonah is arrested and put safely away so he won't come after her. The drug money is stolen so her plans for getting far, far away go awry. She settles in Virginia. Bridie is not her real name, it is her mother's. Somehow, taking on the name of her mother settles her spirit and infuses her soul with a modicum of peace. She is still running away from her bad choices and not facing the music, but we realize that she has some spiritual growing to do before that can happen. It may be the middle of winter, when snow swirling around, but what a garden grows in the little family that is blessed with her.

There are a couple of things that distract somewhat, and keep this story from being 5+ stars. When the paths of Bridie and Jonah part, we follow Bridie and then we're jerked from that story into the jail cell of Jonah. It does not lend to the storyline at all knowing what Jonah is thinking. The tension is better built with the fear from Bridie rather than Jonah's intentions. Also, there isn't a thing added to the storyline by knowing what Jonah's attorney is thinking or that she finally winds up out of the public defender's office and in the prosecutor's office. Those were major distractions.

In my opinion, it doesn't matter how excellently a story is written if we are led down dead end paths which do not include the protagonist. In crafting a believable story, the writer should understand that the reader feels cheated and bewildered when we don't know where we're going, there isn't any light at the end of the tunnel, and we're in the company of a character we do not know.

But don't let that keep you from buying this book for your Keeper Shelf. It is an extremely good character study of a pastor who is man-called, not God-called and of a woman who is coming to terms, with God's help, with her bad choices and how God works in our lives for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Excellent read. Time well spent.

Linda Nichols, a graduate of the University of Washington, is a novelist with a unique gift for touching readers' hearts with her stories. She is also the author of the acclaimed novelsIf I Gained the World and At the Scent of Water. She and her family make their home in Tacoma, Washington. Visit Linda's Web site at www.lindanichols.org
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