Moonbow by Shelia Hollinghead

This started out with a bang. What a great, tension packed beginning. Then I thought it would continue building, but it fell a bit flat. I got heavily bogged down switching back and forth between Gisa and Raydon. Great premise, but it didn't follow through to the end.

The prologue is unnecessary. It does not add to the flow of the story, nor does it create anything but a deceptive understanding of what the storyline will be.

Character development is okay. The split between the two protagonists creates a story flow jam. No tension builds because the reader is yanked from one character's story to another every few pages.

I'm not a fan of this style of story plotting The dialogue is a bit stilted, and doesn't seem natural in places as if the author is trying to make characters do and say something that is just a a bit out of character for them.

Otherwise, the pace is fast and the writing is pretty good. It would be good for a fast, afternoon read. I give it 2 of 5 stars.


An Elegant Solution by Paul Robertson


I do like how Robertson writes. He has such a knack for painting pictures with words. For example, Leonhard has walked the streets of his town all his life. Robertson describes the scenery such as a boy might see, leaving out much detail. Then as Leonhard grows up from an 18 year old boy into an 18 year old man, Robertson describes more detail as Leonhard walks along the streets making the city come to life.

He illustrates thoughts that will lay in your mind rising to wakefulness when you least expect it. The story stays with you even after you turn out the light.

This story is not a light or fluffy read. There is lots of meat to chew on, and many points to ponder as you chew. Sometimes Robertson will not lead into an illustration well and you may find yourself lost, groping for some kind of foundation. Descriptions of what Leonhard sees (because he sees things not seen), do not seem to meld into the story well. You find yourself struggling to connect some dots. But, those are few and far between.

The characters are extremely well developed. No head jumping or hopping for the story is written in first person. As Leonhard delves deeper into the mystery, the reader is sometimes left to wonder what Leonhard has just discovered. It reminds me of sitting in Algebra class and everyone "got" the illustration, but I'm sitting there without a clue.

Mathematics plays a huge role in this storyline, but in this part of the story everything remains crystal clear. Robertson does an excellent job describing and explaining what the role in complete clarity.  No connecting dots or wondering if a paragraph or two was cut and laying on the editor's floor.

Frankly, the mystery is not the fascinating part of the novel. Leonhard's journey to maturity, and his deep faith through this journey is the most fascinating. Somehow when you get to the end, you aren't panting for "whodunit" but you are marveling at how gently, inexhorbaly you are drawn to understand how important faith, honesty, and God's will is to the believer.


When the Rules That Govern Men Are Shattered, All You Can Trust Are the Invisible Rules That Govern Life Itself

For math prodigy Leonhard Euler, the Bernoulli family have been more than just friends. Master Johann has been a demanding mentor, and his sons have been Leonhard's allies and companions. But this is a family torn by jealousy. Father and sons are engaged in a ruthless competition for prestige among the mathematical elites of Europe. And now, their aspirations may have turned deadly.

Lured into an investigation of the suspicious death of Jacob Bernoulli, his master's brother, twenty years ago, Leonhard soon discovers he's facing an elusive puzzle as complicated as any math equation. Surrounded by the world's most brilliant--and cunning--minds, Leonhard finds himself tracing an unraveling and invisible spiral of greed, blackmail, and murder. He'll need all his genius to find an elegant solution to this desperate battle of wills.


Critical Reaction by Todd Johnson


I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Courtroom suspense combined with a tightly woven action/thriller storyline makes for an excellent page-turner (or as in my case, a fast paced thumber on my Kindle). I found myself reading far into the night, which doesn't happen very often for me.

All things considered, the story is very interesting, and gripping. Johnson does an excellent job of painting realistic scenes of corporate management, courtroom drama, and blue collar worker motivations in small town America. Quite ingenious how he weaves these nuances into motivations. I'll be looking for more from this author.

Critical Reaction is written from several points of view. Although head jumping is not one of my favorite storyline ploys, there is no head-hopping within a single scene, praise the Lord! The writing is excellent and draws you into this very believable story.

Ryan The Attorney whose daughter, Emily, is also an attorney. Ryan lost his wife and was devastated to the point of basically losing his practice if not his reputation. He was so decimated by his wife's death, he almost completely alienated his daughter. He is extraordinarily perceptive, so much so that you wonder how he could have allowed his relationship with his daughter fall so far into the pits. 

Kierney who is on temporary duty at the Hanford plutonium, supposedly now defunct, factory finds himself in terrible straits after his first chapter harrowing experience. He calls his friend Emily who talks her dad into representing him.

Poppy is another security guard at Hanford. You follow his experiences after the first chapter explosion trying to juggle life, wife, family, and a search for his friend Lew who disappeared after the first chapter.

Another mid-management person whose name I have forgotten. This character proves to be crucial to the whole story, but I found his character development rather 2-dimensional. We are privy mostly to his thoughts and they don't seem to develop and then expose his motivations, except Greed. For all the nuances of this novel, the motivation is just too obvious. You know at the very first of his villainous personality traits but they don't become apparent until well into the book.

There is quite a bit of rehash. Three or four times we get Ryan's background about his wife and daughter. Enough already. The character I liked the most is Poppy. He is the most believable and direct. It is almost like an initial story centered around him, then was later expanded to include background stories of the rest of the characters.

I won't spoil the ending for anyone, but frankly I felt a bit ripped-off. Investing all my time in reading this story I wanted very much to have that satisfaction of Ryan and Emily wiping the courtroom floor with Hanford. Not. So don't get your hopes up. They do get just desserts, but just not in the courtroom... sigh.

Where to Purchase

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter. Visit his website at


Strait of Hormuz by Davis Bunn


A most exciting and satisfying sequel to Rare Earth. I highly recommend this offering by Davis Bunn. Marc Royce on another mission, this time to prevent global conflict and an Iranian nuclear arms attack... or would that be chemical warfare against the United States. Royce's love life is explored, and it is very well done, too.

You can read an excerpt here.


"They're out there. The danger is real... and inbound."--Marc Royce
An under-the-radar phone call from the U.S. State Department puts Marc Royce once again on assignment--ferreting out rumors of a clandestine operation stretching from Asia to the Mideast. At stake is Iran's threat to blockade the narrow Strait of Hormuz, cutting off vital shipping routes and escalating global tensions beyond the breaking point.

Under the guise of investigating money laundering via high-end art purchases in Europe, Royce finds himself in Switzerland with only sketchy information, no backup, and without a single weapon other than his wits.

His appointment with a gallery owner in Geneva is a dead end--the man is on the floor with a bullet through his chest. But it turns out Royce does have backup. The Mossad has sent someone to keep an eye on this undercover op, which is of more than casual interest to the Israelis. And it's someone Royce knows...

A small team gathers around Royce--
a single objective against multiple enemies.

Available in December... look for it at your favorite book store.


1. The first two novels in the Marc Royce series have been bestsellers and also won praise from
critics. Lion of Babylon was named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2011, and Rare
Earth won the 2012 Christy Award for Suspense Fiction. What do you see is behind this

The stories have certainly resonated with the audience. I have tried to develop a strong sense of
unfolding drama combined with a unique spiritual theme. This moral structure plays out both
in the story and the characters. My aim is to create an inspirational challenge that remains with
the reader long after the book has been set down.

2. All three of these stories focus on the missionary church movement in high-risk areas of
the world. Lion of Babylon explored the church in Baghdad, and Rare Earth looked at the
rising church movement in Kenya. Where does Strait of Hormuz take place?

Well, obviously the title gives this away, at least in part. The Strait of Hormuz is one of the
world’s most critical waterways. Stretching between Iran and the Gulf states, the Strait is home
to two U.S. fleets. More than one-third of all the oil consumed worldwide passes through these
waters. But the story actually begins in Switzerland, before traveling to the Sinai Peninsula and
then into the hotly contested Strait of Hormuz.

3. What spiritual theme is the focus of this third novel?
One growing area of the missionary church movement is with displaced persons. More than
five million Iranians have been expelled from their homeland or been forced to flee the current
regime. This includes virtually the entire Christian population. The missionary movement has
made enormous strides in bringing peace to these families and introducing Christ to those
Muslims exiled because of an oppressive government.

4. What drew you to the missionary church movement as a theme?
I actually came to faith in a missionary church. I was working as a consultant based in Germany.
The year I accepted Christ, the Southern Baptist Mission Board founded a missionary church in
Dusseldorf. I attended the church, I grew in the church, I studied under two amazing
pastors, and one of them returned to Europe to officiate my wedding. It was also where I learned
to write. Two weeks after coming to faith, I felt called to writing. I wrote for nine years and
completed seven books before my first was accepted for publication. The church, its members,
and the elders all played a vital role in bringing me to where I am now. I am living testimony to
their ministry.

5. All three of these novels have given significant insight into the Muslim world, something
critics around the nation have picked up on. What experience do you have with this region?

For the four years prior to moving to Germany, I lived and worked in the Middle East. I was the
only non-Muslim in the management structure of a family-owned company. They had three
major arms: construction equipment, shipping, and pharmaceuticals. I rose to become
marketing manager of the pharmaceutical division. One of the requirements of the job was to
take instruction in the Koran and Islamic history from an imam who taught at the local
university. I think this experience played a major role in my coming to Christ. And that is a story
I would love to tell.


The Shadow Protocol by Andy McDermott

(Editor's Note: I am conducting an experiment concerning secular books and Christian fiction books to see if there really is a vast difference between the quality and substance and author-skill. I am using books posted to (it's by invitation, I think) to do this. I am cautious because some books I've downloaded are full of graphic junk and foul language. The books I review on this blog that are not touted as specifically Christian Fiction or Christian Non-fiction are ones that have quality, no graphic sex scenes, and very little or no foul language.)

Great book.

It is touted as similar to Robert Ludlem's Jason Bourne series. Actually, it is not written that well, although it is close. The random use of foul language does not add to the story but creates some kind of shock value that is not necessary. The action is so tightly packed, there is no need for foul language, and frankly I seriously doubt it would be missed since it is so random and only interjected in places where the other dialogue is more important to the story flow. It does not illustrate some character's personality. It is just an exclamation point or two sprinkled through out. (I skipped over them, but I do not think there is any taking of God's name in vain. I notice those and won't continue reading the book.)

Description of the action is very good. There is little to no confusion as to what is happening. That is a very difficult thing to do. I applaud Andy McDermott for a riveting story with fairly believable characters. I like the reference to the Carpenter in the beginning. I think both women in the plot could be fleshed out more. Although, with so many characters, it is difficult to make all of them vibrant because it detracts from the storyline.

All around, though, I will recommend this book. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Move over Jason Bourne. Here from Andy McDermott, the New York Times bestselling author who “raises the bar to please adventure junkies who prefer to mainline their action” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), is the high-octane start to a new series starring American agent Adam Gray. Filled with intrigue, adventure, and non-stop action, The Shadow Protocol is perfect for fans of Robert Ludlum and James Rollins.


Adam Gray is a cipher, a disciplined loner conditioned not to betray abe America’s worst enemy—before he’s back to being Adam Gray again.

Now Gray and his team are racing to stop a plot to release a radioactive isotope that could kill millions. And in a nerve-racking clandestine meeting, Gray senses that his cover is cracked and that the mission—not to mention his life—may be in grave danger. But as they fight this violent conspiracy around the globe, another threat has emerged. This one has the perfect cover, the most unlikely double agent, and the most terrifying power of all. For a beautiful young scientist has discovered an unforeseen weakness in PERSONA: Adam Gray’s own past.
single emotion. Part of an elite team spearheaded by a brilliant neuroscientist, Gray is a covert agent armed with PERSONA, a device that allows him to copy the brain patterns of the terrorists and operatives he meets in the field. For twenty-four hours he can recall their memories. He can know every detail of their plans. He can

Beloved by Robin Hatcher

This is not one of Robin Hatcher's best offerings. It is the tail end of a series. The premise (read below) is excellent. I thought with Hatcher writing, this will be a great few hours spent reading. I have no idea why some authors feel the need to keep repeating some characters' thoughts/feelings about their situations over and over. I kept thinking "Let's move on! Quit wallowing and do something." Frankly, I got bored by the 10th chapter and quit reading the book. I've got other books to read and I do not have time to waste with a mediocre novel no matter who wrote it.


Best-selling author Robin Lee Hatcher returns to the adventurous
American West in the final book of her Where the Heart Lives series. This story is filled with Robin’s trademark heartwarming and emotionally charged message of faith, courage, and love.

When Diana Brennan’s husband returns eight years after abandoning her, can she find it in her heart to forgive him?

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him for eight years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when her husband returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom. He agrees with one condition––she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.


A Man Called Blessed by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright

My Review -
I was a bit confused at the beginning of this book because it sounded
so familiar, like something I had read before. However, it quickly became evident that it was not, although it has a copyright for 2002. That may be why I thought I'd read this before.

The door to what might happen if the lost ark were every found is unlocked with this sequel to Blessed Child. There is a plethora of novels centered around the happenings in the Middle East. As God said would happen, the bitter conflict between Ismael and Isaac affects the entire world.

In this novel the conflict is not only between Ismael the Muslim assassin and the Jewish archeologist Rebecca, but also between long held Jewish tradition and Christian faith. Rebecca has to decide in her heart to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Caleb helps her to "jump off the cliff" and believe through several miracles that only God could make happen.

I found it intriguing to imagine what might be, and to see unfold the mighty outstretched arm of God orchestrate love in those who are open to His redemption, and to allow hate to run its course to destruction.

Well written, exciting to the end, fast-paced to the point of lack of sleep. Don't start this book late at night or you'll read until it be morning.

I give it 5 of 5 stars.

About the book -
One man holds the key to finding the Ark of the Covenant.

In this explosive sequel to Blessed Child, Rebecca Soloman leads a team deep into the Ethiopian desert to hunt the one man who may know the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. But Islamic extremists fear that the Ark's discovery will compel Israel to rebuild Solomon's temple on the very site of their own holy mosque in Jerusalem.

They immediately dispatch Ismael, their most accomplished assassin, to pursue the same man. But the one in their sights is no ordinary man. His name is Caleb, and he is also on a quest—to find again the love he embraced as a child.


In Retrospect by Ellen Larson

This is not a Christian book, but it does have considerable religious overtones. It stops short of good vs. evil. In fact, the story line travels along  the path of scrappy underdog fighting the evil giant... and winning. No spoiler alert... you know most stories these days have a "happy" ending because those obscure, ambivalent  endings went out of style ages ago.

I would describe this story as ... Compelling. Intriguing. Fascinating.

Although, I am allergic to foul language--this has its fair share of it--the foul language is a character development tactic to highlight a character's moral degeneration... and another character's anger and desperation. It is used more like pepper than mayo smothering bread. There is no taking God's name in vain, which I appreciate no end. I couldn't have finished the novel if there had been.

It is written with few head jumps, and that makes me sing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah. There is a huge amount of flash backs, which at times makes it very difficult to sort out the story line and keep the characters straight. I find that incredibly annoying. I do highly recommend the book trailer before reading the book because there is much there that helps to sort out certain aspects of the story that will become apparent as you read.

You are drawn quickly into Merit Rafi's world from the prologue... such a compelling opening for this story (written in future tense--very rare). You just can't help turning the pages. The story is crafted like an Oscar winning film in that each page/chapter answers a reader's question but offers another so you are compelled to keep reading.

Intriguing character: Merit Rafi is a scrappy, sassy, tiny, 30-something woman who is the only one in the world who can use the Vessel to go back in time through the Continuum. Her training lasted for 9 years as a child. The woman is a psychological mess, though, and how she handles her guilt feelings, her anger at the betrayal of her country's president, and the choices she makes (whether good or bad) lead toward an astounding climax that rocks you in your seat.

Fascinating in that the story is a bit unique. It is not a rehash of a revenge story, although revenge and justice play huge roles in Merit's choices. It is not some pitiful, self-recrimination study, although that too plays a part. It is a fascinating depiction of one woman's handling of these intense emotions while trying to offset some rather strong drugs she's forced to take for her "rehabilitation". How she handles reason over heart matters and vice versa so that she finally makes a choice that leads to peace in her soul, and overcomes the manipulations and betrayals.

Do not plan on getting much sleep while reading this book, you won't be able to put it down. It is definitely gritty, and a bit steamy in a place or two but not graphic. 

4.5 stars out of 5 stars. I took off .5 star because of the language character ploy. I think Larson could have done a better job of character development of Thad than his foul mouth and his obvious lack of self-control (read that adultery). AND because the book cover says it is an "old fashioned whodunit" when it is most definitely not a spectacular whodunit nor is it old fashioned. I abhor back covers that lie like that. Although the composite is excellent writing and superior story telling (even though there is an ad nauseum amount of flashbacks), the real story is more about Truth-finding, and Accepting the real Truth, and working through problems to appropriate solutions rather than passive accepting in seeming hopeless situations. Sadly, the triumph depicted here is finding trust in true, but earthly love. God is love and forgiveness... the plot could have had such a tremendous impact if Merit had found the power of that Higher Power... but, I guess that would have been a bit different story.


Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself.

The year is 3324. In the region once known as Turkey, the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders. Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans work secretly to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert their control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection.

Merit, though reinstated to her old job by the despised Rasakans, knows she is only a puppet. If she refuses to travel back in time to identify Zane’s killer, her family and colleagues will pay the price. But giving in to Rasakan coercion means giving them unimaginable power. She has only three days to make this morally wrenching choice; three days to change history.

As the preliminary investigation progresses, Merit uncovers evidence of a wider plot. How did the Rasakans defeat the technologically superior Oku? Why did the Oku surrender prematurely? How did the Rasakans discover her true identity? Merit realizes she will only find the answers by learning who killed the traitor, General Zane.

In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future.
Kindle download from


I was going to write here "little information available", but decided to do a Google, and viola! I found some interesting background information located here.


Otherworld by Jared Wilson

I love the premise of this book... Four men with completely different perspectives faced with bizarre happenings, trying to decipher the truth from fiction... Trying discover who or what is behind it all.

But, because I love the premise, doesn't mean that I love the book. There is just too much going on and too many perspectives, and that causes such a tangled web that as the reader is juggling the head jumps from one perspective to another something gets terribly lost.

There are some great things about this book. The writing is very good. Character development is top notch. This study of demonic affected psyche is so on target. There needs to be much more of this kind of in-your-face dealing with how demons work in Christian lives.

However, as you know, I hate head jumping from one character to another especially when the transitions are poor. I hate editorial tactics that try for some unique storytelling but actually makes the story appear jumbled and disjointed. This story line is full of them. As a result, the story flow is jerky, and hard to follow at times. Reading a start-stop-jerk-stop story is very annoying and tiring. For this kind of story, it would have been much better to have charted a storyboard using two characters instead of seven. You have the main four characters, and then there is the supporting cast so you have a jumble of people you are trying to keep track of, and it clogs the story flow so it is more of a seepage rather than white water rafting. The premise of this story promises white water rafting, but you don't get those thrills.

I blame the editor not the author for the above problems. These are things that could have been smoothed out before going to press.

I give it 3 of 5 stars.

Publisher: David C. Cook
Pub Date: September, 2013
When a wave of bizarre phenomena hits Houston, Texas, four reluctant strangers are brought together in a surprising battle against deadly spiritual forces.

Something strange is happening in Houston and its rural suburb, Trumbull. It starts with the bizarre mutilation of a farmer's cow, sparking rumors of UFO sightings and alien visitations. It's all an annoyance for the police, who would prefer to focus on the recent murders in the area. Mike Walsh is a journalist with a nagging editor and a troubled marriage who finds himself inexorably drawn into the deeper story creeping up on all who dare get close enough: a grizzled small town police captain, a depressed journalist, a disillusioned pastor, and a little old man. They are unlikely allies against the otherworld.

Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont and the author of the books Your Jesus is Too Safe, Gospel Wakefulness, Gospel Deeps, The Pastor's Justification, and the Bible study resources Abide, Seven Daily Sins, and Knowing the Bible: Romans.

His first novel, Otherworld, a supernatural thriller, is recently released from David C Cook.
Jared's articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in Rev! Magazine, Tabletalk, Exponential's Leadership Learnings, Pulpit Helps Magazine, Disciple Magazine, Collegiate, Family Life, and at among numerous other publications.

You can encounter his passion for the ongoing reformation of the evangelical church almost daily at his blog, The Gospel-Driven Church.


The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice

This is not a Christian book. Pub date is October, 2013.

Although I am allergic to foul language, I was very intrigued by this book because I grew up in Louisiana and currently live just a few miles from New Orleans. Many things mentioned in the novel, I recognized and it was neat. But, there is more than necessary foul words. You have to excuse Rice; he lives in L.A. where foul language is a common occurrence apparently since movies seem to be filled with it as well.

The story line is intriguing. Something in an Artesian  spring that feed a swimming pool attaches itself and makes people do strange and violent things.

However, when the character Shire describes Katrina he gets it ALL wrong. The hurricane did not last for days and days. There was no flooding in New Orleans from the hurricane. The flooding came from a burst levy and it did not flood all the way to Midtown (which Rice got right earlier in the novel).

I couldn't get past this gaffe. I tried reading more, even pages and pages more, but the gaffe kept me from concentrating. The main problem was when the reader is in Shire's head and Shire "recites the cold, clinical details of this cataclysm" (Katrina), he gets the "details" wrong. It's a show stopper, a story flow dam.

The character Marshall is very well developed, Ben is greatly loveable. The problem is that Rice tries to get inside the head of a young teenage girl and miserably fails. He tries to get inside the head of a black woman journalist and miserably fails because her thoughts seem trite and formulaic, rather like something he thinks would be in the mind of a black woman journalist. It doesn't ring authentic.

Rice has not mastered the art of head-jumping, although the transitions from one part of the story to another part are mostly smooth but not in every instance. One genuis example is when the story transitions from Marshall's vault through the window, and then Ben is looking out his window. That is such a smooth, effortless transition for a reader. Another one is when we jump from the black nurse Arthella to Shire the private detective. But there are numerous others that don't work well.

If you are not allergic to foul language and a graphic, almost-rape scene, along with some incredibly graphic descriptions of animal heads exploding do not bother you, then you'll probably read long into the night.

I give this 2 stars out of 5 stars. The reason is the foul language and graphic content. The story does not seem to have much value beyond those two things. Although, it is compelling, and character development is quite good for the most part.

I received this book from NetGalley to review for the publisher Simon & Schuster.


Dangerous: Engaging the People and Places No One Else Will by Caleb Bislow

MY REVIEWAt first, I thought this was going to be sort of a missions story on steroids. I was not even close. This is far more than a missions story. This is a story about God going about His business using His children who are ready, willing, and able to listen to His urgings and obey His commands.

I have never been so moved reading a nonfiction as I was devouring this book. I read it in one sitting... I couldn't put it down. My heart, my mind, and my soul have been stirred beyond imagining.

This should be a "must study" for every youth group, and every church group.

Yes, it is graphic in places, but God's work is not always G-rated. The hurting, the downtrodden, the lost are not found in clinically clean places, sitting around waiting for some good Christian to come along and share the Gospel. Jesus ate with the prostitutes, the demon-possessed, and the tax collectors. We should do no less. Funny how Christians think setting on pews, and hatching out nothing is doing God's will. Where is the fruit???

Caleb Bislow listened to God's voice, and obeyed the summons, "As you go make disciples." He followed Paul's example by discipling a few then challenging them to "Go make disciples." Only Caleb did it with some dangerous people in despicable places. 

Any problems in your church?
Complacent church members -- tell them some of these stories.
Shy youth -- challenge them with some of these Bible verses and the illustrative true stories.
Dare devil young men -- let them read of some Dark, Dangerous, and Despised Places... Places that burdened the heart of Caleb Bislow.

Bislow’s debut book, Dangerous (Bethany House, September 2013), written with Ted Kluck, is part inspirational memoir, part devotional, and part field guide for the aspiring evangelist. Since that first trip to Africa, Bislow has founded a missionary organization called Unusual Soldiers that trains American Christians, and increasingly foreign nationals, to minister at home or abroad and almost always under adverse circumstances. Bislow’s vision for the organization is to take humanitarian concern and Christian teaching to places with no Christian contact.

Bislow writes that his first experience in Africa, which led to a church being planted there, “wrecked” him, and set him on a course to raise $50,000 in order to conduct more work among the Maasai. “As we hiked back up a trail, my mind raced. How many years had this village been waiting to hear the gospel? How many generations had come and gone by without Christ? A sense of brokenness came over me. It was as if these people had just been waiting for someone to come and bring them the good news. Just waiting. I found myself angry that no one had ever taken the gospel to these people. That all of the churches and people with Jesus bumper stickers on their cars had forgotten [them] . . . I was even angry with myself . . .”

Caleb Bislow, a farm boy from Nebraska, went from a restless life as a Christian youth pastor in the Midwest, to quitting his job, emptying his bank account, and traveling deep into Africa—a long flight plus a two-day, bumpy car ride with a translator—to tell the Maasai people about Jesus. Was he a fool or was he courageous? Bislow wondered that very thing as he took his first steps as a missionary with little idea what he was doing. He has since gone on to minister around the world, often to places he calls “despised, dangerous, and dark,” including the Congo, and Guatemala’s Pavon Prison, which is literally run by the inmates.

Bislow has been humbled to advance God’s kingdom on every inhabited continent in the world. He was trained in survival by former British commandos, is the director of Unusual Soldiers training events, and is a sought-after speaker through Kingdom Building Ministries. Caleb and his wife, Jessica, and their three children call Franklin, Nebraska, their home. Learn more at

Jude by Jeff Nesbit

If you frequent this blog, you know there are some things that I absolutely cannot tolerate in the books that I read. One of them is the bandwagon for global warming or other kinds of dire, ecological planet danger. As a Bible-reading, believing Christian I know that the earth has a limited time table and only God is able to destroy this planet in His good timing. Perhaps because Nesbit was director of public affairs for two science agencies, he knows better. Nesbit actually mentions McKibbons, which I found interesting. When an author like McKibbons or those like him write books, I steer clear of their books because they make my blood pressure soar.  Thank goodness, Nesbit doesn't stay on this kick more than a couple of chapters. However, there is an underlying reason for this ecological flag waving, which I address in a moment.

The main character is Thomas Asher (the book is written in first person, and praise God stays in first person point of view) who has a twin brother that basically becomes the financial ruler of the world with the help of powers and principalities that Thomas calls regents. This is a good premise because right from the start the reader meets these principalities and what they can do. It is not graphic violence, just the suggestion, and that can be more terrifying than the actual depiction of it.

The characters are developed very well, the reader gets an excellent sense of the inner core of each brother. But, I often wondered why Jude even cared what Thomas thought, and why Thomas was drawn inextricably to Jude when their core values seemed to be polar opposites. However, they are twins. Too many clinical studies have provided empirical evidence that twins have some kind of connection that regular siblings do not have. However, to explain why Thomas is not completely repulsed by Jude's dependence on the regents' prevailing succor, Thomas admits to being agnostic with no penchant for Christian things. This makes his unemotional narrative of the happenings surrounding Jude's rise to power even more chilling. The reader is drawn into this fascinating tale with a bit of trepidation as if this very personal look into their lives is similar to voyeurism.

You don't want to look but you can't look away. It is the same feeling the reader gets from Thomas. He tries to separate himself from his brother, but he can't. It is a very interesting, psychological thriller. Thomas sets aside the ecological flag waving for more crucial and life-threatening things to study and write about, and that puts everything into a more godly perspective.

This is the first book by Jeff Nesbit that I've read. I believe I will read more from this author. I give it 4 of 5 stars. The reason is because the flashbacks which happen every other chapter do not transition well. Jumping back and forth in time is too jarring. It would be so much better if present day happenings would lead into the happening depicted in the flashback. Better still, in my opinion, if all the flashbacks were told together leading up to the present day.

Jude Asher first called on outside forces to change his destiny as a child. Now a wealthy entrepreneur with his star soaring, he's prepared to make his most daring bet ever to reach the pinnacle of earthly power. Jude's twin brother, Thomas, has chosen a different path as a reporter for The New York Times. As much as he's tried to cut himself off from his brother's trajectory, he finds himself drawn back in ... and troubled by the secret that only he knows.

Surrounded by principalities and powers, each brother must choose their own path—for good or for evil.

Publish date: September 20, 2013

I received this eBook from NetGalley specifically for review.

Jeff Nesbit has written 19 inspirational novels for various publishers. He and a colleague opened a publishing house in 2006 to encourage new authors and bring back into print books from established authors.

Nesbit was the White House communications director for Vice President Dan Quayle, director of public affairs for two federal science agencies, and a national journalist with Knight-Ridder and others. He now writes a weekly science column for U.S. News and World Report ( and is executive director of Climate Nexus.


Poison Town by Creston Mapes

You may have met Jack Crittendon back in June when his life turned upside down because his wife had shown a boy some kindness in high school. Here's my review of Fear Has A Name. In this tension-strung, nerve-wracking sequel, Jack and Pam are trying to get on with their lives... but something is just not right. There's a huge log jam in the flow of life and Jack's strangle hold on unforgiveness, and Pam's tightly packed down fear just could be the cause of the problems in their family. Or it could be Jack's job. Or it could be Pam's fear-ridden mother.

This roller coaster ride is a must read. Mapes has perfected the head-jumping to a finely tuned craft.
Sheer genius. In this book, he's also perfected the way the story lines are interwoven and how they come together. Far, far better than anything he has written before. Be prepared to read far into the night. Be prepared to consume this book like a tall glass of chocolate milk: You just can't drink it slow.

There is only one draw back... You have to wait until February, 2014 to get your hands on one. Be watching for it. Pre-order yours. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Another 5 of 5 stars for Creston Mapes!

There’s More Than One Kind of Poison in This Town People are sick and dying. Rumors are swirling. Some claim chemicals leaking from a manufacturing plant are causing the cancer that’s crippling people on the poor side of Trenton City, Ohio. Yet nothing at the plant appears amiss. The problem remains a mystery until reporter Jack Crittendon’s long-time mechanic falls ill and he investigates. Soon Jack becomes engulfed in a smokescreen of lies, setups, greed, and scandal. The deeper he digs, the more toxic the corruption he uncovers. As he faces off with the big-time players behind the scenes and tries to beat the clock before more people die, he realizes the chillingly unthinkable—he knows too much.


One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are by Ann Voskamp

I have no idea where this book came from, or who asked me to review it.
It was released last year, and I usually receive books that are soon to hit the book shelves.

I am forever grateful, though, to whomever sent me this book.

Voskamp highlights a little known Greek word that is packed with superior Christian meaning: eucharisteo (with grace, thanksgiving, joy). She has opened my eyes to the beauty of deliberate choosing how one reacts to any kind of situation... deliberately choosing grace.

I have written a lot about forgiveness, but this surpasses that small, tightly focused study to encompass an entire life and every second in that life. It is a lifestyle beyond worship of the holy God, but experiencing how deeply God loves us, then sloshing that love all over our loved ones and even strangers. When that deliberate decision is made, then the pain of having to decide to forgive and work through all that junk is no longer necessary.

Excellent, stupendous book. Buy it, now! It is so very worthy!

I give it 5 stars of 5 stars.

Drawing heartbreaking beauty out of the simplest of details, Ann Voskamp invites you into her grace-bathed life of farming, parenting, and writing---and deeper still into your own life. Here you will discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings you deep and lasting joy.

 Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times 60 week bestseller. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, she's a writer for DaySpring, a speaker with Women of Faith, and partners with Compassion International as a global advocate for needy children.Featured on the TODAY Show, in WORLD Magazine, and Focus on the Family magazine, Ann loses library books, usually has a sink full of soaking pots, and sees empty laundry baskets rarer than a blue moon. There are gifts everywhere and the sky and the fresh mercy over the farm is large and all is grace. Her blog is a global well for the weary and soul-thirsty seeking the quiet grace of the Giver: More at


Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering

I thought this would be a most interesting book because it was touted as Downtown Abbey meets Agatha Christie. Not at all. This is a very transparent mystery, and that means it is no mystery at all. To be fair, I have been reading Agatha Christie eBooks, Greatest British Mysteries, and 100 All Time Great American Mysteries. I've been entrenched with mysteries since January.

Deering is a pseudonym for an author who has multiple books published, this is her mysteries name. She notes in the back that Knox was well known for writing a 10 commandments for mystery writing and then she says she broke or bent them all. Well, it shows. It is not the best offering from this experienced author. I was disappointed because the premise is so great.

The twists are not that twisted, and there are no surprises. I give this book 1 star out of 5


Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie in This Sparkling Mystery

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew's stepfather's company come to light and it's clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer--and trying harder to impress Madeline--Drew must decide how far to take this game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rules of Murder, go HERE.

JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, 2014).


Angels in Fire by Dann Stadler

My Review

This is an amazing account of a true story. I love stories like this
because it makes me so glad that I know my Father in Heaven, and to know that His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
This account is well written, has all the drama and suspense of some fiction stories. However, there is no doubt that God is the main character here, the Worker of miracles. I recommend this book to anyone who would like see how God works wonders in His children's lives. Of course, this is not something that happens everyday. But, then the story of Job wasn't something that happened everyday.

I give it 4 of 5 stars.

About the book


There was no way Dann and Tracey Stadler could avoid the drunk driver speeding toward them. Moments later, with Tracey trapped in their burning car, a lone figure walked out of the nearby woods and saved her from certain death. Seconds later, he was gone. But the disappearance of this stranger was not the end of God's tangible intervention in their lives.

As the Stadlers struggled through grueling recoveries and heartbreaking setbacks--even years after that fateful crash--the miracles and divine encounters continued. For the first time, the Stadlers share these incredible moments, offering an inspiring testimony to anyone enduring heartache and loss.

If you are facing hard times--if you need assurance that God still ministers through His angels today--let this true story provide the hope and encouragement you need.


Trouble in Store by Carol Cox

MY REVIEW will be post here a little later today...

Historical Suspense and Romance in the Wild West

The acclaimed author of more than 25 novels, Carol Cox is a trusted name in historical
romantic suspense. She combines lively romance, suspense, and humor to create compelling
stories set against fascinating historical backgrounds. Cox’s latest novel, Trouble in Store, is a
thrilling new mystery surrounding an 1880s mercantile. When the owners of the mercantile die
unexpectedly, a disputed inheritance turns out to be the least of the troubles in store…
After losing her position as a governess, Melanie Ross turns to her last resort: the Arizona mercantile
she inherited from her cousin. Unfortunately, Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile…
and he’s not interested in sharing.
Melanie and Caleb are forced to set aside their differences, however, when someone starts sabotaging
their store. And as they spend more time together, Caleb begins to realize that Melanie could be the
perfect partner for him, and not just in the mercantile. But will their business—and their budding
romance—survive the trouble ahead?

“For a fast-paced story full of fun, action, mystery, and love, I highly
recommend you treat yourself to Trouble in Store by Carol Cox. Her delightful
characters and historical accuracy provide a delightful read!”
—Judith Miller, bestselling author of the Home to Amana series

“Cox has fleshed out a fascinating cast of characters that move readers through
a novel that dispenses romance and wit in the intriguing context of a Wild West
mystery. A most delightful and engaging read.”
—Publishers Weekly on Love in Disguise

Available at your local bookstore, or by calling 1-800-877-2665.

Carol Cox has an abiding love for history, mystery, and romance. The author of more than
25 books, she believes in the power of story to convey spiritual truths. A pastor’s wife and
homeschooling mom, she makes her home with her husband and daughter in a remote
spot in northern Arizona, where the deer and the antelope really do play—within view of
the family’s front porch. Learn more at


Pieces of the Heart by Bonnie Calhoun

This is the second book from Calhoun, and I think it indicates her diversity as an author.

I deeply enjoyed learning more about the racism during WWII which I had studied several years ago. I also enjoyed the story as it progressed through Cordelia's life from little girl to young woman, and the story line details were no surprise or different from my studies.

As the reader is drawn into Cordelia's life, the sense of God's hand, the prayers and faith, and the pine cone quilt are fascinating facets of how older women mentor younger women, and how wisdom is conveyed and learned. Practical application of wisdom learned is another facet that Calhoun stitches into the storyline. Character development is fairly good. It doesn't take long to care what happens to Cordelia and Bernard, such as when Bernard is off to war and Cordelia has to deal with the church removing her from the house that she had grown up in because her pastor father and mother had passed away. It is touching how Cordelia deals with the loss... no more spoilers :)

I did find difficulty in correlating the back copy blurbs with what the story is actually about, which is the growing up years of Cordelia and Bernard, her knight in shining armor who saved her from bullies and kept her heart safe. Then the couple are separated when Bernard goes off to war. His travails are interesting, but it is hard to grapple with the two main characters as a couple when they spend most of the last half of the book apart. When Bernard comes back from the war, their marriage and the subsequent trials from dealing with the PTSD is much more brief than the cover leads you to believe.

4 of 5 stars

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pieces of the Heart
Abingdon Press (June 1, 2013)
Bonnie S. Calhoun


Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year,” President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network, and Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference(GPCWC).

For the last six years she has taught workshops in Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and creating Social Media promotions at both CCWC, and GPCWC, and in 2011 at the Montrose, Pa Christian Writers Conference. She also taught a Facebook workshop at the 2012 ACFW conference.

Bonnie and her husband live in a log cabin in upstate area of New York with a dog and cat who think she’s wait-staff.

Her sites are:


Cordelia Grace watched Bernard Howard, the love of her young life, go off to fight for our country in WWII. And she has spent the last three years creating the Pine Cone quilt that will grace their marriage bed when he comes home. Each row of triangles signifies a layer in her life, sets of memories, hopes, dreams, and prayers for her future, enough spoken words to cover them forever. Her image of their “happy-ever-after” grows proportionally as the quilt expands.

But is the man that returns from the war, the same man that she remembered? Are the dark shades of color that she had to use for the outside edges of the beloved quilt prophetic of her life to come? Can love and faith overcome all?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pieces of the Heart, go HERE.

Fear Has a Name by Creston Mapes


I have loved Creston Mapes' books since his very first one. He has such a marvelous talent for expressing what should be obvious in tender and poignant ways. I think God is using Mapes' work to point out all the deficiencies in Christians, but doing it in a godly, tender way. I am continuously amazed at his insight into Christian motives, and Christian responses to those who need Jesus in the most desperate way. This novel exceeded my expectations, and anticipations.

Who has not known that person in junior high school or in high school that was the "outsider", that person just weird enough to not fit into any group? How often have we all seen that person bullied or treated badly and didn't raise a finger to help or protect? I can distinctly recall a time when I only offered a feeble protest, hardly audible and it did no good.

In his latest novel, Mapes asks the question, "What happens when that misfit person grows up and never finds love, never finds a place to fit, never has friends to count on?" Then he opens the door for the reader to a most believable and intense life.

I really do not like head-jumping in a novel. We all know the bad guy is really bad, so why do I need to read what the bad guy is thinking? I know there are much better ways for authors to create tension so tight it is frayed at the edges; you do not need to head-jump to create that environment of fear for the reader. Mapes does a lot of head-jumping in this novel, but he has crafted it so ingenuously that I never realized I'd passed through several head-jumps. Genius! Another thing I do not like are numerous story lines and the constant jumping between story lines. Mapes has crafted the multiple story lines in such a way that they compliment each other, adding insight to each other. I had never realized this type of story telling could be done in a way that I would literally love it. He did it.

I believe Mapes should find a place on your bookshelves right alongside all your classics like Dickens, and Dumas, and Kipling. He holds his own in that company.

This ranks a 5 of 5 stars novel.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Fear Has a Name
David C. Cook (June 1, 2013)
Creston Mapes


Creston has fond memories of his boyhood in Bath, Ohio, where he became enchanted with his future wife, way back in the fourth grade. His father, Bernie, owned and operated The Weathervane Furniture Shop in town. The whole family lived right upstairs in the century-old house known as "The Shop."

Creston studied journalism at Bowling Green State University, then began his writing career. During the past 30 years, he has worked as a reporter, corporate copywriter, creative director, freelance writer, and author.


From popular suspense author Creston Mapes comes another faith-building thriller, a tale that follows journalist Jack Crittendon as he fights to protect his family from a stalker's terrifying schemes, investigates a pastor's mysterious disappearance, and struggles to keep his faith amidst unthinkable fear.

With his family's safety on the line, Crittendon realizes there are secrets behind "Christian" walls--secrets with painful, deadly implications. He must find the faith to trust a God who allows inconceivable trials, and the courage to guard his family, with danger exploding at every turn.

Through it all--the sharp, character-driven writing for which Mapes is known--takes fans and new readers on an edge-of-your-seat journey that explores the harsh, far-reaching consequences of bullying and the Christian response to fear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fear Has a Name, go HERE.


The Judgment Stone by Robert Liparulo

Here is another winner from Liparulo. I have so much enjoyed the last two books from him. The wild imagination of Liparulo is unmatched in today's Christian fiction. The Judgment Stone is one of Liparulo's best efforts. I love every one of his novels. All are exciting and riveting. However, I really love these last two that are more in tune with faith in action.

The storyline is developed very well with a little more background for the characters. I do not like jumping among three story lines: Owen/Jagger; The Tribe; and The Clan. Although, Liparulo does an excellent job with the transitions. It does keep the pages turning. However, head jumping is an easy tool to use to keep the plot churning. I believe Liparulo is a better writer than that, and can keep the action with a minimum of viewpoints.

You should read the first  in this series because The Judgment Stone starts almost where The 13th Tribe closes (click the link and you can read my review of that book.)

The Judgment Stone has a fascinating premise with an object being an open door to see into the spiritual world. I like how Liparulo describes the spiritual warfare, and how angels foil demons interference with humans. I love the way he describes angels ministering and succoring humans, with the spiritual direct connect with God. It is fascinating reading.

Bob, great job! I want more!
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Judgment Stone
Thomas Nelson (May 14, 2013)
Robert Liparulo


Former journalist Robert Liparulo is the best-selling author of the thrillers Comes a Horseman, Germ, Deadfall, Deadlock, and The 13th Tribe, as well as The Dreamhouse Kings, an action-adventure series for young adults. He contributed a short story to James Patterson’s Thriller, and an essay about Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy to Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner. He is currently working on the sequel to The 13th Tribe, as well writing an original screenplay with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive).

When not writing, Liparulo loves to read, watch (and analyze) movies, scuba dive, swim, hike, and travel. He lives in Monument, Colorado, with his wife Jodi and four children: Melanie, Matthew, Anthony, and Isabella.


What if praying became a curse instead of a blessing?

Former Army Ranger Jagger Baird thought he had his hands full with the Tribe—the band of immortal vigilantes fighting to regain God’s grace by killing those opposed to Him. But that was before he encountered the ruthless group of immortals called the Clan. The Clan is after a prize that would give them unimaginable power—a piece of the Ten Commandments known as the Judgment Stone.

Those who touch the Stone can see into the spiritual world: angelic warriors, treacherous demons, and the blue threads of light that signal the presence of believers in communion with God.

By following the blue beam radiating from those closest to God, the Clan plans to locate His most passionate followers and destroy them.

Jagger quickly realizes his high-tech gadgetry and training are no match for these merciless immortals. But how can he defeat an enemy who hunts believers through their prayers . . . and won’t stop until they’ve annihilated all those close to Him?

In this high-action thriller, best-selling author Robert Liparulo examines the raging battle between good and evil on earth . . . and beyond.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Judgment Stone, go HERE.


Craft: Would the Godfather Really Do That? by Randy Ingermanson

3) Craft: Would The Godfather Really Do That?

It's 1953 in Birmingham, Alabama. Sherlock Holmes, Scarlett O'Hara, the Godfather, and Uncle Tom walk into an exclusive whites-only restaurant. It's 4 PM and the place is nearly empty.

The maitre d' hurries up, throws a scowl at Uncle Tom, and says to the Godfather, "I'm sorry, sir, but there are no tables available at the present time."

The Godfather grins amiably and hangs his head. "Gosh, I had no idea! Should we come back later when it's less crowded?"

"Let's just think things through rationally," says Scarlett. "I'm sure that
if we slip this gentleman a large enough bill, he can find us a table. Or maybe we can find some dirt on him and blackmail him."

Sherlock shakes his head dejectedly. "They don't seem to like us, so let's leave. It's boring here anyway.
Let's find some place that's more fun!"

"Leave this to me." Uncle Tom puts on a pair of brass knuckles and slugs the maitre d' in the jaw, knocking him out. "These people are going to serve us or else."
He leads his friends to the best table and shouts for a waiter to serve them, pronto.

What's wrong with the picture above?

Yes, the characters are behaving out of character. But how do you know? You've never read a scene in which any of these characters were in Birmingham in 1953. Yet you know roughly how each of them would behave in this situation. The way I wrote it above is completely wrong.

Different people have different "social styles" -- patterns of social behavior.

The Godfather is a Driver. He makes things happen and he's not too concerned about just getting along. He'd be the one to pull out the brass knuckles.

Scarlett O'Hara is an Expressive. She's highly sociable, and when she's rejected, she feels it keenly.
She enjoys fun and would be the first to suggest they go elsewhere.

Sherlock Holmes is an Analytical. When he has a problem, he thinks it through. He might try a bribe or blackmail or anything else he could think of to solve the problem rationally.

Uncle Tom is an Amiable. He likes to get along with people, and he always asks permission, so he never needs to ask forgiveness.

Most people fit into one of these four categories -- Driver, Expressive, Analytical, or Amiable.

As a novelist, you probably find it easiest to write characters who fit your own social style. You might find it harder to identify with characters with other social styles.

But you have to. You can't write a whole novel in which all your characters have your social style. That would be implausible, and it would also be boring.

Why boring?

When you have characters with a variety of social styles, you have a lot more chances to create conflict.
More conflict means a more interesting story.

A couple of examples are in order ...

If Uncle Tom and the Godfather are working together to solve a mystery, they're not going to agree on how to do it. The Godfather will be action-oriented and won't much care about whom he offends. Uncle Tom will be relational-oriented and he'll care very much about other people's feelings.

If Sherlock and Scarlett are dating, they're going to face all sorts of obstacles. Sherlock prefers a quiet evening at home with a pipe and a good conversation, while Scarlet wants to go out somewhere fun and dance, dance, dance. Sherlock may think he's complimenting Scarlett by telling her that she's not as scrawny as she was last month, but Scarlett won't love him for saying she's put on weight.

Most people tend to have a dominant social style and a secondary one. I'm an Analytical Amiable. I'll probably beat you at chess, but at the end of the game, you'll be my friend.

There are 16 combinations of dominant and secondary social styles. And of course there are more aspects to a character's personality than their social styles.

This means that you'll never run out of quirky combinations of character traits. Every character you ever create can be an original.

Yet by studying typical social styles, you can create believable characters that ring true.

If you want a successful salesman who can take rejection in stride and push on to the next customer, make him a Driver Amiable.

If you want an unsuccessful salesman who staggers at each rejection and finds it hard to ask for the sale, make him an Analytical Expressive.

If you want a boring, dull, narrow-minded accountant who obsesses over details, start with an Analytical Analytical and pile on from there. (We Analyticals are sometimes considered fussy and obsessive by flaky, unfocused people. Hmphh!)

Let's be clear that you don't stop with your character's social style. It's a nice place to start, but people are much more complicated than a category.

But knowing the social style of each of your characters will give you a running start on understanding them.

There is very much more to say about social styles, so if you're interested, try Googling the phrase "Driver Analytical Expressive Amiable" and see what you come up with.

One nice summary I've found online is here:

Sherlock says this resource explains a lot of things that have always puzzled him about stupid people.

The Godfather says it'll be useful in figuring out how to manipulate his minions.

Uncle Tom says it'll help him get along better with people.

Scarlett says it's boring.

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 32,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Get widget