8 Reasons Regular Books Will Become an Endangered Species

electronic booksIf you’d asked me two months ago whether ebooks would ever fully replace regular books, I would have told you there was no way. Both my husband and my mom insist they prefer “real” books. None of my friends own a Kindle, Nook, or Sony eReader.

And then I got a Kindle for my birthday.

While I still don’t think regular books will ever go extinct, I do think ebooks are going to put “real” books on the endangered species list.

(1)   The Kindle Lets You Highlight Passages and Write Notes

I took my Kindle to church last Sunday and typed notes on the passage my pastor preached on.

Big deal, you say. I can highlight my paper books and write notes in the margin. Yes, yes, you can, but if you’re like me and hate to deface a book or you’re worried you’ll want to change the note later, you won’t write in a paper book. The Kindle lets you erase or change a note or highlight whenever you want.

(2)   You Can Buy A Book In A Traffic Jam

Don’t mock it until you’ve been sitting in a traffic jam for three hours with no end in sight, you’ve finished your current book, and your only other option is to listen to your husband yell at the other drivers about why there’s no reason for traffic like this when you have 12 lanes.

My Kindle came with EDGE technology that lets me buy a book anywhere a cell phone would work at no additional cost. In a traffic jam. In an airport. In a park. Instant gratification.

(3)   You Can Get A Cover With A Built In Light

With a regular book, you need to have a light on to read, which can really annoy a spouse who’s trying to sleep (take it from the spouse who’s usually the one trying to sleep). You can read your Kindle in places where you’d otherwise need to hold a flashlight (I hate trying to hold a flashlight and a book). You can read it in the car—where an overhead light would bother your driving spouse—or on a plane if your overhead light isn’t bright enough.

(4)   Kindles Are Perfect for Small Hands

Even by female standards, I’m small. I’m 5 foot 2 inches with hands like a child. Thick books (*cough* Games of Thrones *cough* Harry Potter) are uncomfortable to hold. They’re heavy and just plain awkward for me. Obviously this isn’t a deal-breaker, but if there’s a better way to read, why not take it.

My Kindle, even wearing its leather cover, is the perfect size—thin, small, and light. I can hold it comfortably for hours.

(5)   No Need for a Bookmark

Ever had a bookmark slide out on you, leaving you scrambling to find your page again? Hate to wreak your pages by turning down the corners? My Kindle holds my place, saved automatically.

(6)   Ability to Change Font Size

Setting aside the fact that I’m getting older and my eyes aren’t what they used to be, some books are printed with font that’s just too small to be comfortable even for fresh eyes. My Kindle lets me select the font size I prefer, along with margins and line spacing.

(7)   A Kindle Helps You Pack Light

My husband loves to tease me about the amount of luggage I bring regardless of where we’re going. Even if I’m only away for a weekend, I want to take at least four books with me. With my Kindle, I can take thousands if I want in less space than one average book takes.

(8) The Next Generation Is Tech Savvy

This is the number one reason regular books will become an endangered species. The next generation is used to gadgets. They love them, crave them, in the same way that a lot of us long for some of the simplicity that’s been lost. Very few of them are going to feel the same loyalty to “real” books that my mom and my husband do. (Plus, my Kindle feels like I’m holding a real book, and the leather cover smells wonderful. Just saying.)

In fact, I can only think of three reasons why ebooks might never fully replace regular books.

(1)   Sand and electronic devices don’t mix.

(2)   When you’re in the middle of a page-turner, and the battery on your Kindle dies . . .

(3)   Will the ebooks of today be compatible with the Kindle of a decade from now?

Why does this matter for writers?

If you aren’t thinking about ebooks when you negotiate your contract with a publisher or when you go to self-publish, you need to be. They’re here to stay. They’re a growing market. And any writer today who doesn’t adapt, dies.

Do you have a Kindle? Why do you love it or hate it? If you don’t own a Kindle yet, what’s stopping you?

Marcy

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Mary DeMuth Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to all our winners of this month’s Mary DeMuth books!

The 11 Secrets to Getting Published – Linda Billson

Watching the Tree LimbsChrista Allen

Wishing on Dandelions Joanna Clark Dawyd

We’ll be attempting to contact all winners today. If we’re unable to reach you within 2 weeks, we’ll have to choose a replacement winner.

Munnin’s Keep – A Review

Do you love The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, or any other number of epic fantasy stories? I read the first chapter or two online and was hooked by Munnin’s Keep, so when it came across our desks I had to barter with Marcy to get to review this one.

As a huge fan of historical fantasy, I am familiar with all the standard epic fantasy fare: unfulfilled prophecies, spiritual quests, mythic creatures, reluctant heroes, and epic battles. And Munnin’s Keep delivered. (The wingless dragon was pretty cool, I have to say. Sounds much more intimidating and fearsome than a really big lizard, don’t you think? 🙂

Set in the turbulent ninth century in Britain, Theodric awakens as a slave near death with no memory of his own past or current circumstance. With the help of a collection of colourful characters, Theodric discovers he is the fulfillment of an ancient prophesy, and works to see that prophesy fulfilled in his own way.

While I was excited to see the afore-mentioned staples of the genre, I was disappointed by the lack of unique twist to those same epic devices. Without the unique twists the unfulfilled prophesy becomes predictable and the reluctant hero annoying. (In all fairness, I felt like smacking Aragorn after a while when it was obvious he would be King and refused to step up. I’m not the most patient of readers.)

However, what I really loved about this book, was the spiritual quest the hero undertook. I thought it was an honest, insightful and intelligent look at the traditions and customs of the Church. With rich historical details, the author excellently debunked the false nature of pagan cultures that thrive on fear and subterfuge—and then exposed the hypocrisy in the Church.

I would have liked to see that debate through. We knew what didn’t work for the pagans and for the Church, so what does? The hero never explored Christianity with the same insight and introspection that debunked the pagan cultures and would have given Christos credibility in that early polytheistic society. I would have liked that storyline more developed. That’s what made this story truly unique.

I enjoyed the small romantic sideline and thought the characters well-rounded and colourful. I found the suspense elements a little flat, but the spiritual journey of Theodric kept me reading. All in all, a novel that will make you think on certain levels, and at the same time provide that pleasant afternoon escape fiction lovers crave.

Munnin’s Keep by Brian C. Austin

Lisa

Rape and Childhood Abuse

As a book reviewer, sometimes you dread opening up a new book. It could be amazing. You always hope for amazing. But more often than not, you find yourself facing the mediocre, or worse, a book that you can barely force yourself to finish. That’s why it’s a relief when I hear that someone wants a book by M.D. Meyer reviewed. To give you just a taste . . .

In The Little Ones, in their first experience as foster parents, Colin and Sarah Hill find themselves caring for the two daughters of the man who sexually abused Colin as a child. Less than six years old, the girls already show the signs of severe neglect and abuse—Emmeline lashes out physically; Verena eats from the garbage like a stray dog.

Chief of Police Colin works to solve a kidnapping, only to begin to suspect that not only is the girls’ father out of jail and back in the remote Native reservation town of Rabbit Lake, Ontario, but that he is also behind the kidnapping. Worse, he’ll do whatever it takes to get his daughters back.

In The Little Ones, Meyer effortlessly weaves together suspense, the contemporary issue of the lasting scars of child abuse, and theology as her characters seek to answer the question “Can God be both merciful and just?”

And after saying just that in a review for Maranatha News, I had the opportunity to write an endorsement for Meyer’s next book—Jasmine.

Eight months after her rape, Jasmine Peters has isolated herself from everyone who loves her. When her childhood friend Andrew Martin returns to the remote Native reservation town of Rabbit Lake, Ontario, after finishing his training with the RCMP, he hopes to ignite the sparks of romance that used to exist between them, but he barely recognizes the woman he finds. She’s gained weight and is filled with fear and anger.

Andrew slowly begins to bring her out of her self-imposed exile, then loses all the ground he’s gained when he has to arrest her father. Unable to face yet another loss, Jasmine’s desperate attempt to escape the pain endangers not only her life, but the lives of Andrew and two others as well.

Although some of the plot twists near the end might be a stretch, I rushed to see what would happen. Meyer had once again tackled a delicate topic with sensitivity and grace. I think Jasmine’s struggle can help woman who’ve been raped know that they’re not alone and that healing is possible.

As the author of five books, M.D. Meyer has never shied away from addressing difficult issues. That’s something that I really respect about her writing. Jasmine was the first in a new series, and now that it’s on sale, I thought you might be interested to know what drives her to also tackle those tough, touchy topics.

MK: You’re not of First Nations’ ancestry. Why did you choose to set this new series in a First Nations’ community?

MDM: I worried about how my books would be accepted by readers since I’m not of First Nations’ ancestry, but I seem to gravitate there. Maybe because I spent the first four years of my life in a First Nations’ community. Maybe because my mom was a foster parent, so the brothers and sisters I spent my days with were First Nations. The Northern lifestyle is familiar to me and comfortable to write about.

MK: Where did you get your inspiration for the plot of Jasmine?

MDM: It actually came in the form of inspiration for a whole series. After attending two Rising Above conferences and leading support groups for people who’d experienced sexual abuse, I thought up the idea of a fictional support group with a separate story for each step in the healing process. The books are short and can easily be read in one week, so my dream is that these books can be used in a real support group for weekly discussions.

My focus for this first book was on the first step in the healing process – telling your story. Jasmine, at the beginning of this book, is very much in denial. I chose the issue of rape to start with because I’d focused on child sexual abuse a lot in my previous books, and I wanted to balance this with the adult sexual abuse.

MK: What research did you conduct to understand what women who’ve been raped go through?

One book that I read was Surviving Procedures after a Sexual Assault. I was also studying a lot about depression and post-traumatic effects. But how could I possibly write with the voice of someone who’s suffered through something I haven’t? I rely a lot on the stories that people tell me of their experiences. As I write their common thoughts and feelings in my characters, my story becomes the story of the thousands who’ve gone through a similar trauma.

MK: Can you give us a sneak preview of the plot of the second book?

MDM: In Lewis, I ask the question, “Why would a young woman leave the security and love of her home to sell her body on the streets?”

MK: What motivates you to tackle such thorny issues in your novels?

MDM: The love of God for a hurting world. As I come to accept that God truly loves me and accepts me, I want that for others too. I want them to know God’s amazing, unconditional, and abundant love.

To learn more about M.D. Meyer and her books, visit her website at www.dorenemeyer.com.

Caught Dead – A Review

Sometimes congregational life can be murder. Author Jayne Self’s debut novel, Caught Dead, was shortlisted in the 2009 Best New Author contest sponsored by The Word Guild. The book was published as a weekly online serial by The Presbyterian Record.

Between pet disasters, congregational politics, nosy neighbours, and parenting his sometimes lucid father, Dean has more than enough to deal with when his childhood friend is killed. Paige, the victim’s young, attractive and single sister, drags Dean into the heart of an investigation many people would rather leave closed. Was Justin murdered? If so—by who? I’m not telling.

Caught Dead is a sweet whodunit you could give your mom or pastor’s wife without hesitation. I found Dean Constable to be a well-rounded character with depth and genuine appeal, but other prominent characters came off as rather one-dimensional. I found the story rather predictable overall, but Self delivered a few well-timed surprises to keep me reading.

If you’re looking for a safe, entertaining read, then I definitely recommend Caught Dead; but for those whose tastes wander closer to the thriller or suspense genres such as those delivered by the likes of Ted Dekker, Terri Blackstock or Brandilynn Collins, Caught Dead might not hold your interest.

I had a chance to interview author Jayne Self, and chat about Caught Dead.

LW: Where did you get the idea for Dean Constable?
JS: I got the idea for Dean Constable while sitting on my friend’s veranda, staring at the tomb stones in the cemetery across the street from her Nova Scotian house. I was trying to find a protagonist who embodied the things I know best—church life and being adopted—but someone who could still legitimately solve crimes, hence Dean’s past as a homicide detective. My husband is a Presbyterian minister and my husband’s cousin, is a police officer with investigative and undercover experience.

LW: Will we see more of Dean in the future?
JS: A second Dean Constable Mystery, Hit ’n Miss, is in the finals revision stage and I have plans for other Dean Constable mysteries. I don’t know at this point.

LW: Caught Dead was published as an online serial. Would you do that again?
JS: I would do it again, yes. It’s a new and novel (excuse the pun) way for me, a previously unpublished author, to get my writing to an audience. When The Presbyterian Record expressed interest in “experimenting” with the online serial format I was thrilled to be their guinea pig.

It was fun. I connected with readers from Scotland to India and USA, though I suspect most were Canadian. I think people found waiting for the weekly chapters dragged a bit. It was sometimes hard for readers to keep track of details. I look forward to the day Caught Dead will be available in paper.

LW: I loved the video trailer you made for Caught Dead. How long did you spend on the video, and in hindsight was the process worth it for you? What were your goals in producing that video?
JS: Actually, Lisa, you inspired the video when you commented on Ted Dekker’s website. After watching his, and investigating those by a few other authors, I decided to give it a try. So I wrote a brief script, my son video-taped and created the end product. My goal? I was trying to take that next step in self-promotion that everyone talks about. I’m not sure it has significantly impacted my career, but personally I love it and still chuckle whenever I watch it. At this point in my life I think it honestly reflects me.

LW: What do you hope readers will take away from reading Caught Dead?
JS: Caught Dead is about belonging. It’s the struggle Dean and I, and I think most people, have in common. So I hope that through sharing Dean’s experiences people will come to understand that belonging isn’t about who you’re related to or where you and your family live, it’s about who you are in Jesus. And that is something that develops and grows and changes each day we spend with Him.

LW: Why a mystery? Caught Dead could easily have worked as a high-octane thriller or gritty suspense novel.
JS: That was one of the problems I had marketing the manuscript. With slight modifications Caught Dead could have been slotted into a number of different genres. Caught Dead is a mystery because that’s what I enjoy reading and because, knowing how much time I would spend with my characters and plots, it was where I felt most comfortable. High octane thrillers and gritty suspense novels make a great read, but I’m not sure I’m ready to live in that mental space for the months/years it would take to see a book birthed.

LW: What part of Caught Dead was the hardest for you to write?
JS: I found the faith element hardest to write. Trying to find the authentic voice for Dean’s questions and God’s responses without becoming schmaltzy/preachy. I hope I have achieved that.

Caught Dead will be available online until December 31.

Lisa

Interview with Shawn Pollett

Each year Word Alive Press, a self-publishing book publisher, runs a competition and awards a free publishing package to one fiction and one non-fiction author. I tend to be . . . skeptical about self-published books, so when I was asked to review one of their winners (Shawn Pollett’s Christianus Sum), I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting much. (Please no angry emails from all the self-published authors out there–this story has a happy ending.)

Christianus Sum caused a stir by winning three awards at the 2009 Canadian Christian Writing Awards (Best Romance Novel, Best Historical Novel, and Best Suspense Novel). Word Alive Press offered Pollett a traditional contract to write the remaining two books in the trilogy. And I loved the book so much that I ended up interviewing Pollett while he was writing What Rough Beast, the next book in the series (now available for purchase).

Here’s what he had to say . . .

MK: How did you get started on your journey to becoming a Christian writer?

SP: I guess God plugged the “writer circuit” into my brain when He made me. My first published short stories and novellas were all horror, fantasy, and science-fiction, but after I became a Christian, my writing naturally shifted.

MK: Where does your passion for writing historical fiction in particular come from?

SP: When I was a child, my parents purchased the World Book Encyclopaedia, and whenever we went on a road trip, I’d pick a volume at random and rifle through it, paying particular attention to the historical articles.  Even then, history was more than just a dry recitation of “what happened when” for me.  I wanted to know what motivated the historical figures I was reading about, what caused the events that filled the history books.  So I would close my eyes and picture the people and events I had read about, talk to the characters, ask them questions, throw them into different situations to see how they’d react.  That passionate curiosity about history (my mother called it “nosiness,” God bless her!) never left me.  To this day, I still approach my characters, real and imagined, in the same way . . . and I still feel the same passion toward them that I did as a child.

MK: When I read Christianus Sum, the courage that it took to stay faithful in the face of death impressed me. What inspired you to use the value of perseverance in the faith as a theme for your books?

I haven’t always persevered in the faith, and my historical studies exposed me to the persecutions of the Christian confessors of third and fourth centuries. I felt embarrassed by the ease at which I had turned away in favour of sex and drugs, compared to the ease by which so many of these martyrs had shouted Christianus Sum, two little words for which they died.

After re-dedicating my heart to the Lord, the theme of perseverance in the faith really began to haunt me.  What would I do if I was forced to choose:  Deny the Christ or die?  Deny the Christ or your wife dies?  Deny the Christ or your child dies?  The answer?  I honestly don’t know.  Yes, I’d like to think that I would be brave and true and stand up and shout Christianus Sum . . . but the truth is, until the day that choice becomes reality rather than conjecture, none of us knows how we will react.  But that does not excuse us from the obligation to search our hearts and assess our  loyalties while there is still time.

MK: How did writing What Rough Beast differ from writing Christianus Sum?

I wrote Christianus Sum soon after I re-dedicated my life to Christ. The idea of publishing it didn’t even cross my mind until after I finished.

On the other hand, What Rough Beast was written for publication. When the dust of negotiation cleared, my publisher had set a deadline for What Rough Beast that made me gasp for breath.  I honestly wasn’t sure I could pull it off in the allotted time.  Having said that, I thrive on deadlines, and this particular deadline became a race between me and time.  I loved it!  I left daily updates on my Facebook fan page—20 pages today . . . 30 pages today—and my fans spurred me on.  It was exhilarating and terrifying all at once!

There’s more of “Shawn the Writer” in What Rough Beast, more technique. Christianus Sum was like a surprise party, while What Rough Beast was more of a gala.

MK: Can you give us a sneak preview of the third book?

It takes up the story again about a decade after the end of What Rough Beast. This time the story takes a new twist—an emperor who tried a different way of dealing with the Christian Problem.

MK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

My goal is a good story written well. I want my readers to react emotionally—even viscerally. I also want them to join me in examining themselves. I want them to see how Christians in another time lived and how they were not so different from us. I hope I can infect my readers with passion for history. History is so much more than the boring progression of dates and events. It’s people and lives and loves and passions and death and salvation and . . . come and read and enjoy and find out for yourself!

Interview With Mary Haskett

Sit down a while and have a cuppa, Bible in hand. Reading this book on prayer was like sitting down to a warm cup of tea with a trusted friend. Mary Haskett’s warm style, sprinkled with sage, relevant and real personal anecdotes made for a quick read. Her honesty and compassion were refreshing.

Because We Prayed: Ten Considerations for Effective Prayer covers a wide range of topics ranging from judging others to spiritual warfare to why pray at all? I found Mary Haskett’s experiences as a prayer warrior compelling and impactful. Though apparently written from a Pentecostal perspective, I wondered could I do something like that? Can a Baptist, or an Anglican or a Catholic enjoy prayer like this? Haskett answers with a resounding YES.

I found Haskett’s willingness to share her own heartaches and how she dealt with those hard times encouraging. I am tired of these books written by people with triumphant lives who never face any serious trials of faith. Not that those books don’t have value, they’ve just never resonated with me.

My only regret with this book, is that it was so short. I felt as though I had met a new friend and was reluctant to end the relationship when I shut the book. Definitely one to keep on your shelf.

I met with Mary at a Tim Horton’s over a cuppa and chatted about her book. Here are some of the highlights.

LW: There’s one scene you share in your book that I loved. You saw a man on television dressed in biker leather with tattoos telling people about Christ.

MH: We know people that have been saved from street life and all that sort of thing, and we can’t really witness to those people because we haven’t been there, but people saved from that life can go where I can’t.

LW: What do you hope readers will take away from reading this book?

MH: I think it will encourage them to know that there’s power in prayer and that prayer is exciting. It’s exhausting when you’re really interceding for people, but the results are wonderful. It brings you really close to the Lord.

LW: For those reading this, thinking about picking up your book, what would you say to them?

MH: I don’t touch on every aspect of prayer, but I have touched on things that affected me personally, and that the Lord revealed to me. Those scriptures have really stuck with me and remind me, and hopefully remind others, to get their mind off the problem and on the problem-solver.

This book is available online from Word Alive Press or maryhaskett.com

Monday, I’ll blog about how to have a great interview on sensitive topics. Be sure to check it out. Send us your questions. Maybe yours will be our next blog post.

Lisa

Sanity Secrets for Stressed-Out Women

In the past eight months, I’ve had dental surgery, planned a wedding, planned a 3-week honeymoon in a foreign country, traveled to Virginia and back five times, lost my dog to bone cancer, helped my husband navigate unemployment and find a new job, searched for an apartment, battled a shady landlady, and slogged through immigration paperwork (that one’s still on-going). If anyone needed sanity secrets, it was me. And into that chaos stumbled Sue Augustine’s book Sanity Secrets for Stressed-Out Women.

Augustine provides twenty-five sanity secrets to help women manage their time better, prevent or deal with burnout, take control of their thoughts and emotions, and learn to be more content. She undergirds it all with Scripture and uplifting reminders to turn to God in prayer.

This book’s strength is in the way Augustine gives a variety of examples of how to apply her concepts, ensuring that each reader can find at least one that suits her. Augustine recognizes that women aren’t mass-produced dolls who all have the same strengths and defects. She’s provided additional insurance that there’s something for everyone by giving twenty-five “secrets.” Maybe you don’t have a problem with drooping body image, but you do have a problem with procrastination. Maybe you don’t struggle with negative self-talk, but you do need hints on how to develop healthy coping mechanisms or find more creative solutions to your problems.

As someone who considers herself a member of Augustine’s target audience, my biggest problem was the length of the early chapters and her verbosity. I sometimes found myself wanting her to get to the point rather than making me wade through piles of adjectives and phrases. Yes, her language was pretty, but when my time is short, I want solutions fast.

Overall a useful book. I tend to be skeptical about self-help books, but I liked this one enough to donate a copy to my church’s library.

Sanity Secrets for Stressed-Out Women by Sue Augustine

Published by Harvest House

Girls With Pens posts book reviews from Canadian authors every Thursday. Are you a Canadian author? We’d love to review your book. Shoot us an email.

Marcy

Two Roads: One Man’s Journey From Drug Lord to Salvation

I’m not a huge fan of autobiographies, generally, but this book is a hidden treasure for sure. When it came across my desk, I began flipping through the preface and the first chapter. The writing grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Two hours passed before I looked up, and I’d read all but the last thirty pages of the book.

Two Roads: One man’s journey from drug lord to salvation captivated me. Robb shares about his early childhood growing up in an alcoholic family with weekend parties, and having beer bottles strewn across the house. As a youth he coped with his own problems and emotional turmoil the only way that had been modelled for him—and then he sunk to even deeper lows.

Robb moves beyond the sensational and seemingly glamorous details of being a drug dealer with a biker gang to the raw grit and emotional turmoil that’s an addict’s reality, and allows the reader into his own thoughts and feelings as he relives these turbulent and painful years on the pages.

“I sold $8 million in drugs. Put over $1.2 million worth of drugs into my body.  All in 3 years.” -Randy Robb

Robb describes why and how he was able to find drugs and inevitably begin dealing in every small town he chose to outrun his addictions—small Ontario towns like Keswick, Guelph and Owen Sound. His account proves that drugs and alcohol are problems everywhere, not just the big cities. And this was before the popularity of designer drugs and the prescription drug crisis surrounding Oxycontin and other drugs.

Most recovered drug addicts that I’ve met are willing to share their story, but Robb tells his story with depth and detail and therein lies the power of his story. I recommend this for any parent struggling with a teen’s drug use, for teens who think there’s no harm in experimenting or who have said, “It’s just marijuana.” Church leaders and laypeople wishing to understand the pervasiveness and danger of drugs from a new perspective will find value in this book also.

I don’t know if this book was entered in the Canadian Christian Writing Awards sponsored by The Word Guild or not, it wasn’t shortlisted if it was. In my opinion, this little book deserved to be on the shortlist for sure, even an award winner.  Find it on amazon.ca. Check it out for sure.

In an interview with Robb, I asked him if there was any message he wanted to send to church leaders and parents about the dangers of drug addiction. He said:

“In the old days, when I was an addict there were two kinds of addicts. There were the ones who smoked pot and hash and the guys who used needles. And we hated each other—not our kind of people. Nowadays with so many pills out there, parents have given their kids pills for headaches, for colds, to avoid catching a cold. So by the time they’re teens, they’re already used to taking pills.

So take ecstasy, there’s not this phobia attached to taking a couple of blue pills, or purple pills and having a good time. All you need is a glass of water, stay hydrated. All these young kids need now is a bottle of water and these two little pills to have a good time. It’s so easy. There’s no longer this fear of taking drugs. They’ve been so programmed to think that this is acceptable behaviour.”

100 Huntley posted a recent interview with  Randy Robb about his book on their youtube channel. Check it out if you’re interested in learning more.

Girls With Pens posts book reviews from Canadian authors every Thursday. Are you a Canadian author? We’d love to review your book. Shoot us an email.

Lisa

What Rough Beast

Would you deny your faith if someone held a gun to your head? No? What if someone held a gun to the head of your husband or wife or child? Not quite as easy, is it?

Shawn J. Pollett, award-winning author of Christianus Sum, is back with the second book in his Cry of the Martyrs trilogy, once again making his readers question their determination and sincerity in a way that we all need to do once in awhile.

In A.D. 253, Julius Valens and Damarra anticipate the birth of their first child, but their household and the church are in conflict over how to deal with the lapsi, those who denied Christ to avoid execution during the recently ended persecution. Their relative peace shatters when they learn that Valerianus—the man who sought to kill them—has become emperor of Rome.

Valerianus’ son and co-emperor, Gallienus, promises Damarra (his half-sister) that he will protect them, but Valerianus’ subterfuge soon convinces him that Christians are once again a threat. Valens and Damarra attempt to escape to Germania, not realizing that a traitor lurks in their midst waiting for a chance to turn them over to Valerianus.

Fans of Christianus Sum won’t be disappointed. Pollett once again brings to life history and the bitter struggle of staying true to your faith regardless of the consequences. For those of us who currently live in North America and can go to church and write blogs like this one without fear, he also gives us a peek into what Christians are still going through in other parts of the world.

My one major critique is that Pollett falls back on deus ex machina at times to get the characters out of trouble. I have no problem with the occasional Christian novel containing a single, well-placed, carefully chosen miracle, but I draw the line at characters turning invisible so that the enemy army runs right through them.

Still, expect to see What Rough Beast as a finalist at next year’s Canadian Christian Writing Awards.

What Rough Beast by Shawn J. Pollett

Published by Word Alive Press

For more information on persecuted Christians in our time, please visit Voice of the Martyrs.