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FORBIDDEN by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (W/ Giveaway!)

The world is no longer as we once knew it.  After an apocalyptic experience, the world seems to have lost that sense of impending doom….  all that is left in a civilization of people who live in peace and fear…. can you have both?

The people left on earth seem to believe so… but really who are these people who are left other than the walking dead… merely shells of what people once were…

Many years have passed since civilization’s brush with apocalypse. The world’s greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace… and fear. But a terrible secret has been closely guarded for centuries: Every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity.

Then a young man comes across a vial of blood with a coded message that he does not understand.  Yet when he drinks the blood (mmmm hmmmm… bear with me here) it seems to lead to real life returning all the human emotions that have long been gone!  The sensation is exhilarating!

… but will it also resurrect the old feelings of hate and greed?

Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author best known for mystery and thriller novels, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans. Early in his career he wrote a number of books that would best be categorized as Religious thrillers. His later works are a mix of mainstream novels such as Thr3e, Obsessed, Skin, Adam, and BoneMan’s Daughters; and fantasy thrillers that metaphorically explore redemptive history. Best known among these are his Circle Series (Black, Red, White, Green), The Lost Books (Chosen, Infidel, Renegade, Chaos, Lunatic, Elyon), and The Paradise Books (Showdown, Saint, and Sinner), as well as House (with Frank Peretti). One of Dekker’s most notable works is his mega-series, the Books of History Chronicles.

As found on wikepedia –

click here to learn more about this fascinating author

In recent years I have had a love/hate relationship with Ted Dekker.  The first books I ever read by him were Blessed Child and A Man Called Blessed… both books took my breath away.   Since then I have found some of his books to be good, others to be a bit confusing, and some just downright… WHA?

Which brings me to FORBIDDEN.  You have to hand it to Dekker, he does know how to strike where the iron is hot and dystopian style reads are a big draw and honestly, I think a great genre to touch on for a Christian fiction author… 

the question is… does Dekker deliver?

I did like the pace of the read.  Within a few pages you have a firm understanding of what has happened to the world.

Fear is a big component of FORBIDDEN and while in this read scientists had figured out how to eliminate the need of human emotion, oddly they never could figure out how to dispose of fear… which in its own self is rather interesting when you think about it and rather smart of Dekker to layout the book this way. 

Fear plays a huge role in our current world and while some are devoured by the overpowering fear of the unknown, others in today’s society seem to live on it like adrenaline junkies… waiting for the next big tragedy so they can feel alive… 

In the end,  I have to say I appreciated what Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee built here in this first book in a series.  I found the message of “blood giving life” to be deeply symbolic of the blood of Christ bringing each of us life. 

I would recommend this book to not only those who enjoy Christian fiction, but also Dystopia, thrillers,and sci fi.

I have a copy of this book to give away – if interested, please leave a comment letting me know if you have read Dekker before, and if so what have you read – and if not… what appeals to you about his books to give them a try?

 

Other Faith and Fiction Participants:

This book was read as part of the Faith N Fiction Group

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Lacey Anne Byer is known for being a good girl.  Her dad is the pastor of the Evangelical church. Having just turned 16, drivers license in check, and a possible leading role in her churches annual Hell House event, things are looking pretty sweet for Lacey’s Jr year.

Then a mysterious boy comes to school.  Ty is good-looking, drives a red 80’s BMW, and has a glint of trouble in his eye that makes Lacey’s heart beat double time.  After all, everyone knows that Lacey is this good girl…. but Ty is new to town.  With Ty, Lacey can reinvent herself to be anyone she desires.

With Ty…

everything can change.

 

Hell houses are haunted attractions typically run by American, fundamentalist Christian churches or parachurch groups. These depict sin, the torments of the damned in Hell, and usually conclude with a depiction of heaven. They are most typically operated in the days preceding Halloween.

A hell house, like a conventional haunted-house attraction, is a space set aside for actors attempting to frighten patrons with gruesome exhibits and scenes, presented as a series of short vignettes with a narrated guide. Unlike haunted houses, hell houses focus on occasions and effects of sin or the fate of unrepentant sinners in the afterlife. They occur during the month of October to capitalize on the similarities between hell houses and haunted attractions.

The exhibits at a hell house often have a theme focusing on issues of concern to evangelicals in the United States. Hell houses frequently feature exhibits depicting sin and its consequences. Common examples include abortion, suicide,use of alcoholic beverage and other recreational drugs, adultery and pre-marital sex, occultism, homosexuality, and Satanic ritual abuse. Hell houses typically emphasize the belief that anyone who does not accept Christ as their personal savior is condemned to Hell.

Wikepedia

 

I read this book as part of the Faith in Fiction group read.  I loved the look of this book… the cover… the title… honestly, both gave me the sense that we were in for a good Christian YA read that would push the boundaries, those are the books I appreciate the most in the genre of Christian Fiction.

First of all let me say that I had never heard of Hell House until I read this book.  I grew up as a casual church attendee with my family, and later in life, after I was married my husband and I became more committed to a church, and now I work as the Family Life Administrator/ Special Event Coordinator  for our church.

What Melissa Walker captures in this book is the innocence of small town life, and what happens when a boy, Ty, who once lived there a long time ago returns with a different look on life and faith matters than what the church is teaching.  While main character Lacey has grown up surrounded by a life of church and faith… Ty gives her a different look at things…  (I was slightly reminded of Footloose)

The adults of fictional small town “West River”, are RELIGIOUS.  They hold their belief system high… teenage pregnancy falls mainly on the girls shoulders (after all, girls are supposed to be more mature and boys… well, they will be boys ;) ), being gay is a choice and there is no such thing as being born “gay”, and alcohol is STRICTLY prohibited, even in moderation.

Lacey has grown in to this belief system as well.. but Ty opens her eyes to the fact that not all things are black and white… this is demonstrated well as Melissa Walkers characters all have some sort of “trial” in their own life or in their families (abuse, addiction, alcoholics, teenage pregnancy, and one friend may be gay).  Even Lacey’s own family had her life cookie cutter perfect for her … actually trying to choose her friends because they were different in their eyes. 

I liked that the book brought up tough faith questions, in a YA manner that allows us to question our faith and explore it.  While I do wish the book would have dived in a little more to these questions, I felt the author did a nice job of leaving it open for interpretation… enough that I as a reader am still pondering over the book, days after I finished it.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a second book come out of this story line… continuing on with how this story could be more fully developed as Lacey is more open to exploring her faith and her relationships.

 

As I mentioned, this review was a book discussed through the Faith In Fiction group.  To see other reviews on this book (and some great thoughts and opinions) check out these posts:

Books and Movies

Book Addiction

My Friend Amy

Book Hooked Blog

Roving Reads

The Ignorant Historian

Wordlily

The 3 R’s Blog

Linus’s Blanket

My Random Thoughts

Tina’s Book Reviews

 

I received my copy of this book for review from the publisher

Bloomsbury Publishing

What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey

When tragedy strikes as we see all over our world it is a question that plagues all walks of faith.  How does belief matter in those who suffer?  Phillip Yancey takes us within these pages to the aftermath of the Virginia Tech school shooting to impoverish communities to a convention for former prostitutes – who prefer to be called former sex workers.

His travels open up opportunities to see God in ordinary people, sometimes bruised and battered, but time and again there is a spirit of faith and hope that is humbling.

This book was read as part of our Faith N Fiction group.  I come into this read a little bias as I have enjoyed Yancey’s writing in the past and even taught a class for two years based off his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Yancey likes to take a topic, and break it down into bite size pieces for us, many times in story form of real people in real situations and that is what he did here.


Any one of us can recall something during our life time either personal, or globally astronomical that would make the strongest of faith question, “How can God be in the midst of this?”   I found it interesting the title of the book was part of our pre-review discussion as a group as the question came up, was this a good title for this book and does the question get answered.

Great question.

I for one think yes, while Yancey does not come right out and give the answer, I feel it is demonstrated throughout the stories in which he shares.  Time and again he travels to be with the hurt and the broken and their stories come through.  It reminds me of people I know such as Patty Wetterling (in 1989, while I was pregnant with our second son, hers was abducted while riding his bike not 70 miles from my own home and never found).  Wetterling went on to found the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, and continues to this day to be a well known advocate for child safety.  My friend Connie Stanz, the amazing lady who I am writing about, contacted AIDS in 1981 from a blood transfusion.  This year she has lived 30 years with AIDS and runs a camp locally for children and adults with AIDS.  Year round she speaks on stigma, taking care of yourself, etc….

Where is God when it hurts? Where God’s people are. Where misery is, there is the Messiah, and now on earth the Messiah takes form in the shape of the church. That’s what the body of Christ means.  Page 34

Ok – maybe I digress but what I seen in this book was people in all situations maybe not on the track that they thought they would be on due to life “opportunities”, I see God using us the ordinary and making us extraordinary.  This is faith in tragedy’s wake.  Early on in the book Philip Yancey talks about a near death experience when he rolls his SUV he is driving.  While waiting for help three questions came to mind:

1.Who will I miss?  2.How have I spent my life?  3.Am I ready for what happens next?

Those are questions that give me pause as well and as he wrote them I had to ask them to myself. 

The book has some interesting chapters and one that stuck with most of the Faith N Fiction group was the one about the former sex workers.  I enjoyed parts of this book and the stories that went with it.  I liked the thought of Philip going into these different parts of our world and seeing that God does work within the brokenness of our circumstances.  

So what Good is God?  I believe He builds us up through the ashes of broken lives and dreams.  Look in the book… look at the things that people have faced and how they came through.  I seen this read as showing that God does show up – not always in the ways we had hoped, but always as He had planned.  Advocates, strong people of faith are built in many cases through hardship.

Romans 8 reminds us that all these things can be used for good.  All of them are redeemable.

The book is not perfect, I liked it but as I said earlier, I have liked some of his other writing better.  My takeaway comes a lot from who I am and where my passions lie and how God works within these passions in me.

(I apologize if this review seems scattered, I booked myself pretty tight with commitments this weekend and had a class last night and today again from 8 – noon.  I had a small window to come home and write this before I have to go and pick up Chance…. the proactive side of me should have written this days ago and it is totally on me that I waited until the last minutes to organize my thoughts here.  :))

There are some wonderful thoughts around the blogesphere today on this book… please stop and check them out!

The Faith and Fiction Round Table :

Amy at My Friend Amy
Heather at Book Addiction
Julie at Book Hooked Blog
Carrie at Books and Movies
Jennifer at Crazy for Books
Ronnica at Ignorant Historian                                                                                                                                                                                                               Hannah at Word Lily
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket
Thomas at My Random Thoughts
Liz at Roving Reads
Sherry at Semicolon
Florinda at The 3 R’s Blog
Tina at Tina’s Book Reviews
Brooks at Victorious Cafe

Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle

David Wheaton is on his death bed.  From his boat in the Pacific Ocean, he shares his life memories – hopes and regrets with his daughter Emma who has come to be with him these last days.  Having had 9 wives and eleven children, David has had quite a life.  As an actor, there is one role he had always hoped to play and now regrets deeply he never had the chance to do so – and that was the role of King David. Emma’s husband had struggled writing a play for David Wheaton to create the much coveted role for him.

While Emma works to gather the family for David’s final moments on earth,as readers we see the parallels between the two David’s – in some cases even hitting a little close to home for the Wheaton family.

Luke 24:22:  Certain women made us astonished

I read this book as our first read of 2011 with the Faith N Fiction group.   Madelaine L’ Engle is most known for her work with children’s books, probably mostly known for writing A Wrinkle In Time (a book I have never read).

I thought this would be a book I could read within a couple of days and be done in plenty of time for our discussion that started in early February.  This turned out not to be the case.   I spent much time getting to know the characters as tends to happen for me when a book is loaded with characters such as this.  I back track and try to capture who each person is as they are introduced.  That fact, as well as just a busy time of life caused me to pop in late to the discuss points of what was an interesting read.

A theme that was brought up that I personally enjoyed was how as David recalls his marriages (all eight of them!) as they often reflected the life and wives of the Biblical David.  You could almost hear the whispers of the Biblical David’s wives coming from between the lines.  Written with a witty and lyrical pen, I found L’Engle’s writing to be just what I would have expected from a family such as David’s who was deeply embedded in the arts of acting, producing, and such.

If anything, I found, as well as a few in our group discussion that the parallels between the two David’s became a bit much.  Not so much the parallel itself, but the fact that the author had a habit of pointing out that this was a parallel with things like “…. much like the David of the Bible….” I prefer to figure these things out for myself more than feeling like I am led by the hand through a read.

Another part of our group discussion was a heavier topic in the book that I do not wish to give away but unfortunately is a topic that is all to real for many of us.  Some felt it was tiring to constantly see this come up, while other found it as I mentioned here – something that is real.  (Hope I was not too cryptic here but trying  hard not to give anything away.) :D

A well-rounded read that covered many topics.   David has really had the life and Certain Women, being told in a reflective manner is a brilliant way to write this particular story.

I found the book descriptive and while more work to read than I had planned for, I am glad I had the opportunity to read and discuss this book.

For me personally I recall the part where David (Wheaton) reflects on how badly he has screwed it all up and how he wishes he could change the way he handled many things in his life.  David in The Bible also lived with much regret, and this reminds me of how God used those of us who are broke, damaged, vessels and fills us up.  A reminder, that we all are human – we are going to screw this thing up, and God will still be able to use is if we only let Him.

Please stop by and see what the other Faith N Fiction Participants have to say:

Amy at My Friend Amy

Hannah at Wordlily

Heather at Book Addiction

Carrie at Books and Movie

Julie at Book Hooked Blog

Jennifer at Crazy for Books

Ronnica at Ignorant Historian

Nicole at Linus’s Blanket

Thomas at My Random Thoughts

Liz at Roving Reads

Sherry at Semicolon

Florinda at The 3 R’s Blog

Tina at Tina’s Book Reviews

Brooks at Victorious Cafe

I purchased my book from Amazon

Faith n’ Fiction Saturday


Faith n’ Fiction is a weekly meme hosted by My Friend Amy.  Today the question on the table is:

Why read?

I am currently on vacation and I was talking to my Cousin In Law (my cousin’s wife) yesterday on the phone.  She asked me how many books I brought with me and when I said 11 she almost choked.  “I don’t think I read 11 books in a year!” she said.

For me reading started a young age.  My sister and I were 7 years apart so reading was my “friend” and “companion.”  In my later youth years when tragedy struck – books became a source of safety. I could escape in a book.  Now these may not sound like the best reasons to read – but that is how it all began…

As I grew older I never lost the passion to read and always have a book with me.  Through books I have traveled to places I can only hope to some day see.  I have learned about people of interest in memoirs, and learned not only through non fiction – but in fiction books as well.  (In fact I challenge our book club each month to learn something new in every fiction book they read).

There are books to match every mood I am in and taking them in is like making new friends.  I even learn more about me.  I love going somewhere new and when my husband I travel I love to point something out and say “Wow – I have read about that!”

Why do you read?  If you would like to write a post about this today – be sure to link to the Faith n’ Fiction post over at My Friend Amy’s!

Faith In Fiction Saturday

Faith In Fiction Saturday is presented by My Friend Amy.  This weeks question was:


What Christian Fiction books am I looking forward to in 2010?

So…. I thought I would list a few here.


Beguiled by Deeanne Gist, Mark Betrand:   Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston’s wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her. Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything.As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?



As Young As We Feel by Melody Carlson:   Once there were four Lindas in a first grade classroom. Inseparable, they laughed and cried through their tweens and teens—and then went their own ways. Forty-seven years later, a reunion has brought the successful attorney, empty nester, frustrated artist, and aging starlet together again. Join them as they discover that friendship knows no statute of limitations


Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers:  The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations. Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta’s experiences convince her that only the strong survive. Hildie, Marta’s oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie marries and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter never to doubt her love-but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each woman is forced to confront her faulty but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her God-given place in the world.


In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small-town Christian home and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

These are few that I am looking forward to.  I also currently have Ted Decker’s The Bride Collector.  I havent read Decker in a while but have his last three books on hand.  I am looking forward to visiting his works again.

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