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Book Review Submission Guidelines

I know that it's nice to have someone say warm and fuzzy things about our books.  I like it just as much as anyone.  That is not the purpose of a review.  A review is done so that someone in the publishing and writing industry can give their opinion on any particular book.  When we review a book we look for things like plot continuity, word flow, redundancy, credibility, characterization and, of course, grammar, spelling and punctuation.  No one is perfect so no book will be perfect.  A reviewer reads with the idea of rating that book against the above mentioned criteria.  Since I am well aware of the over-sensitive nature of the writer and I know how difficult it is to write a book, I will not post a negative review.  Having said that, it doesn't mean I'm going to white-wash my reviews.  No.  I will simply review only the books I have thoroughly enjoyed.  A review can be a wonderful marketing tool or it can be the mark of death for a book depending on the kind of review given.  I will not undermine another writer's work and that is why I won't post reviews for books I didn't enjoy or didn't find particularly well-written. 

If you are offended because you know I have one of your books and have not reviewed it here--too bad.  If you wish, I could do the review and justify your offended feelings.  Let's just look at it this way: I won't write something that damages your work and only you and I will ever know that I didn't enjoy the work.  You can feel free to email me and ask me what my suggestions are for improving your writing and I will be happy to do so.  If you are looking for a perfect review, give the manuscript to your mother.

Lynne Collier

           Raising Benjamin Frog by Lynne Collier (ISBN 9781494443795) is a fun and educational read.  While there are parts of the books that tug at the heart strings, Ms. Collier has presented her life, as the parent of a child with autism, with humour. 

            Ms. Collier directs us to her son's unique personality traits and tastes in music, education styles and love for quoting Monty Python characters.  She leads us through her journey with the education system, telling us with candidness what works and what doesn't.  She shares her frustrations and the triumphs Benjamin experienced and leaves us with a sense that more could be done in order to understand this misunderstood condition.  We are left seeing Benjamin as a complete person, capable of brilliance and resolute in overcoming personal barriers.  We are challenged to look within at our own struggles and stop making excuses for them. 

Raising Benjamin Frog is filled with practical tips and insights that are seldom conveyed through the medical industry.  This book is a must read for anyone who has a relative, friend or acquaintance with autism.  Raising Benjamin Frog can be found at amazon.com, or at the author's website at LynneCollier.com. 

 

T. G. Cooper

The Pastor Who Hated Church By T. G. Cooper Reviewed by Donna Fawcett www.donnafawcett.com Few novels have caught my attention like this one. Few novels can carry off such a touchy subject as church leadership while making the reader laugh and, well, keep reading. Author, T. G. Cooper presents us with a common scenario. He introduces us to Pastor Elvis Jung, new seminary graduate about to face his first church position. If anything could go wrong in a pastor's first church, it does and Jung scrambles to keep pace. In his second church, the pendulum swings the other way. Instead of being a 'we don't do things that way' church, it's an 'anything goes' church. Jung hungers for the kind of Christianity the Bible portrays. Cooper brings a personal perspective into the story. While he writes that he is not the character in the book, he is a Pastor and, I'm sure, has his own experiences of the challenges that coming with leading imperfect people. Cooper writes with a clipped style and laces the book with dry humour. I laughed my way through this tale while never losing sight of the sobering reality of flawed humanity within the church. It's a fast read and well worth the time taken. The Pastor Who Hated Church can be found on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Pastor-Who-Hated-Church-Redemption-ebook/dp/B00KWNBBAS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403782747&sr=1-1&keywords=the+pastor+who+hated+church

Heaven's Prey

Heaven's Prey by Janet Sketchley (Choose Now Publishing)

 

Review by Donna Fawcett

Former creative writing instructor

Award winning novelist

www.donnafawcett.com

 

            For those who love a good redemption story this is the book for you.  Heaven's Prey (ISBN 978-0984781645 Choose Now Publishing 317 pages) isn't a light read nor is it for the faint of heart.  Thick with emotion, it has that edgy feeling suspense novels are supposed to have.  There is a comfortable predictability about the story making the difficult scenes easier to read.

            Enter Ruth.  She has lost her niece to a serial killer and is struggling with forgiveness.  Her therapy?  Prayer.  Her husband Tony doesn't share in her methods and is irate at her church prayer group for encouraging her prayers for Harry Silver. 

            At first I wanted to say 'It's not possible!' when Ruth gets kidnapped by the same man in a chance meeting at a convenience store.  But life is stranger than fiction and so I read on. I wasn't disappointed.  

            Just when we think Ruth is going to escape we are hit with the choice that all Christians are called to face—can we forgive?  Can we love as Jesus loved? 

            There are some good twists in this story and some faith building moments.  The dialogue is real for the most part and the writing skill is well practiced.  I would suggest italics when the character is thinking and noticed this hadn't been done.  While it isn't required, I have found that this is the clearest way of indicating thought process.  The flashbacks were done well but I caution all readers to use them sparingly.  (I didn't and it gave me a headache when I read my own book years later.)

            I liked this story because it kept me interested without the need for gore and description of crimes committed.  Hollywood would do well to realize that the best plots are ones that don't need sex scenes and graphic violence.  Heaven's Prey gave me the edge of my seat feeling without telling me more than I wanted to know.

            I would certainly recommend the book to teens and adults.  Heaven's Prey can be found at:

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Violet Nesdoly

" target=_blank> Destiny's Hands

Review by Donna Fawcett

2013-07-10

 

 

            The Bible is rich with stories about people from all walks of life.  It's easy to dig into the history of those who are best known but what about the secondary characters?  Author Violet Nesdoly has taken on the task of ferreting out the details of the life of a little known man named Bezalel.  Raised in the days of Moses, this talented man was called by God to create the accoutrements for the tabernacle.  We don't think much of him since his mention in scripture is brief and yet, Nesdoly, through research and imagination has managed to weave a story of his life in her novel Destiny's Hands (Word Alive Press ISBN: 978-1-77069-452-1). 

 

            If I have any criticism of this 203-page book, it would be that it is too short.  Nesdoly's writing voice is that of the non-fiction writer—tight and crisp.  I found myself wanting far more details—more words to keep me reading. 

 

Nesdoly used her skill as a researcher effectively, giving us a look into the world of the book of Exodus.  Her writing craft has been well-honed leaving the reader with a well-planned story line, clear and smooth flow from scene to scene and very rounded characters.  I now have faces to put to names as I read the account of Moses. 

 

Her story follows the life of Bezalel up to the building of the tabernacle.  As he struggles to free himself from bondage to the love of his position as idol craftsman in Egypt we become aware of just how difficult it must have been for the Israelites to give up the known for the unknown.  We walk with him through romance and through the challenges of upholding his new faith.  We see him as he learns about mercy and grace and God's incredible love.

 

Nesdoly has done a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the era and pulling the reader into it.  This is a book that could be enjoyed by all.  Violet Nesdoly can be found at her website.

Benjamin Collier

" target=_blank> My Life A.S. Is

Review By Donna Fawcett

(c) 2013

            Too often, the world views autism and its variations as a form of disability or disease.  Not so, says author Benjamin T. Collier, in his book My Life A.S. Is (Word Alive Press, ISBN 978-1-77069-778-2).  Mr. Collier should know since he is one of the many born with severe autism and later diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.  He states in his book about his life as an autistic that he feels it's a personality trait as much as anything—a characteristic that makes him a specialist in a world where specialists aren't always welcome.

            This 122-page book is a fresh look into the minds of those who don't see life the way the rest of society does.  Mr. Collier can be honest to the point of refreshing bluntness.  While some readers might not like some of his points, especially in his analysis of women, he is able to soften them with his good humour. 

            Mr. Collier shares the frustrations of a mind which doesn't grasp hints, sarcasm or innuendo.  He allows us into his feelings and thoughts and gives us an understanding of the genius that walks side by side with the shortcomings.  He shows his journey to the cross and the child-like faith that comes easy. 

            There were moments where his honesty caught me off-guard—when he talks about the social cruelty women can display—when he shares his thoughts on modesty and humility.  I can't disagree with him and that in itself was worth the read.  He challenged me to look at those around me—and myself—through eyes that refuse to see double meaning but only what is truly there.  It was refreshing and pointed and very, very good. 

            My Life A.S. Is is a book I would recommend to anyone.  To be able to glance inwardly with such an uncalculated prompt is a gift.  Mr. Collier guides the reader into a place where they can acknowledge they are human and need a Saviour.  Readers can find Benjamin Collier at benjaminfrog.wordpress.com.

T. L. Wiens

 

 

In Search of Truth                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Reviewed by Donna Fawcett

I am always a bit nervous when I am given a book by a fairly new author and a very new publishing house.  I was no less nervous when I received T. L. Wiens' novel In Search of Truth (ISBN 978-1-927510-02-5 Dream Write Publishing--336 pages)My nervousness often has good reason for being there.  Usually a new company doesn't understand the industry and makes mistakes which affect the writer.  Picking a poor cover, choosing an unusual font, using a strange format or inserting icons onto the page which distracts from the reading are all examples of mistakes I've seen made.  Those mistakes are then attributed, by the reader, to the person who wrote the story which then affects future works.  A poor cover is especially a big faux pas since it is the first contact with the reader.  If it is ugly, busy or bland, the reader isn't interested.  Icons and formats are smaller issues since the reader is already interested in the theme of the story.  In this case, I would say the company has kept their errors to a minimum allowing me to actually read the book with a critical eye.  And read it I did--pretty much all in one sitting--something I rarely do since time is at a premium for me.  That, in itself, should say much.  Overall, it has my blessing (not that the author and publisher should really care that my blessing has been bestowed).

This is a novel that should be passed around schools for a number of reasons.  We have the victim--a girl named Shevie.  She is a perfect example of the lost masses we are called to reach.  We have two different types of Christians--the ones who help people to get the pat on the back and the ones who truly care about people and aren't interested in publicity.  Then we have the bystanders--people who see tragedy in action and do nothing to prevent it.  Sometimes these characters overlap. 

I love how Ms. Wiens helped the reader understand that addiction is often formed in the womb and a child can crave drugs, alcohol and cigarettes from birth.  I am equally thrilled that Wiens addressed that the church is too often unwilling to meet people where they are at--that they think they need to 'clean everyone up'.  Wiens makes it plain that change belongs to God and we are here to show his love--not to enforce that change.  Wiens doesn't pull punches.  She deals with many social issues.  Substance abuse, wife beating and street life are all core themes in this book. 

I have had the opportunity to read a few of T. L. Wiens' manuscripts and can say that her writing continues to mature.  Each story shows improved editing, better plot flow, richer characterization, clearer point of view--all the technical things which separate a professional writer from an amateur.  Wiens has written a novel that has the chance to make a difference in people's lives.  In Search of Truth is a book I will pass on to my grandchildren when they are of age to understand the importance of it.

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