Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blaze – Richard Bachman

Stephen King writes in the introduction to his pseudonymous book, “This is a trunk novel . . .” In a manner of apology, this works well, because Blaze is a trunk novel. One that King found hiding among his papers, edited with some minor updates from the Bachman days, and then had published by Scribner earlier this year.

Here we have the story of Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., the abused and abandoned child who after the “accident” becomes little more than a huge puppy who falls under the influence of other ne’er-do-wells who have more brains than brawn. Blaze tells by means of interwoven flashback the story of how the title character landed where he is, and the ultimate crime that would help him escape a life of wrong-doing. The crime: the brainstorm kidnapping of Joseph Gerard IV, infant son of Joseph Gerard III, developed by George—partner and guardian of Blaze, recently deceased.

Throughout the narrative Blaze carries on conversations with the now dead George who continues to guide and advise his less intelligent partner through the intricacies of the delicate plan. Sadly, often the advice (peppered with derogatory name-calling and berating that characterized the small man that had taken Blaze under his wing) came after the fact. Blaze unknowingly finds himself only a step or two ahead of the law.

What works in the book especially is the nostalgic reminiscences into Clayton Blaisdell, Jr.’s developmental years—spent mostly at Hetton House. As a matter of fact, it is during these flashback chapters that we find some of the gems that let us know that this might be an early work of the master wordsmith. These coupled with the tender moments showing the growing relationship between Blaze and his kidnap victim make the book worth the read. One particularly literary moment is the point at which Blaze sees little Joe as “a wonderful, terrible book where a story had been written in invisible ink.” The disappointment comes in the infrequency of these moments in the book.

Included in the volume that I read was a short story by King, “Memory,” which has been expanded for release as the novel promised in 2008 from Scribner. I must admit that I found little merit in the story itself and don’t really look forward to the book into which it has grown.

As for Blaze, its profuse use of rough language will turn many away. The vestiges of the master writer being too few and far between make it fall somewhat on the literary ladder. Is it worth the time to read? For King/Bachman fans, yes. For those who are looking for a good story, I’d suggest you look elsewhere. I’d rate it at two and one-half stars.

—Benjamin Potter, September 27, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Guardian of Light Blook Tour

Here's the new idea: a blook tour--it combines the fun of a book tour with the international reach of a blog (blog + book tour = blook tour). [Thanks to Dawn for the new terminology.] Now, here's the scoop. My buddy, Steve Hunt came to my neck of the woods for a book signing--between the two of us, I think we sold four books. Now I have some interview material that will help you get to know him and his writing style better.

Steve's debut novel Guardian of Light was released in July by Tate Publishing. I was privileged to be one of the early reviewers (see my thoughts here). You'll find that this novel is fast-paced and engaging. The author is offering a special deal for those of you who want to order his book because you've seen about it on this blog. The book retails for $17.99. Anyone who wishes to purchase a copy for $10.00 plus shipping should contact me before October 31, 2007, and I will feed you the details. In addition, for the next three weeks, I will draw one name from those who comment here to receive an autographed copy of Guardian of Light. If you want to receive one of these free copies, just comment on this post between now and October 12, 2007. Drawings will be by 3:00 p.m. CST each Friday (Sept. 28, Oct. 5, and Oct. 12).

On to the festivities (namely, the interview):

Benj-O: You referenced several aspects of law enforcement. Tell us a little about your experience in that field.

SH: My law enforcement career started in 1985 in the U.S. Air Force, when I was classified as a law enforcement specialist. The good thing about being a cop in the Air Force was that a person did not have to settle on only one aspect of the job. During my four year enlistment, I served as a patrolman, desk sergeant, and flight chief, which is just the Air Force’s term for a shift supervisor.

After I separated from the military, I joined the Broken Arrow Police Department, Broken Arrow, OK. There I served as a patrolman, field training officer, special operations team officer, instructor, and eventually as a sergeant. I worked primarily the midnight shift and loved it. The dayshift was known for taking crime reports, the evening shift for vehicle accidents, but the midnight shift was full of in-progress crimes. The crimes included burglaries, car thefts, and shooting calls to name a few.

After eight years on the police force, I was hired in 1998 as a U.S. Deputy Marshal, but the job didn’t last long. In the training phase, I suffered heat exhaustion and had complications from an injury I had suffered while in the military. Once I couldn’t continue the training, I was released.

Due to affects of the heat exhaustion, I was unable to work for several months. When I was able to return to my career, I went to work for the first law enforcement position that I could find. During the end of 1998, I became a Probation & Parole Officer. It was a learning job, not only for the convicts I supervised, but for me also. Having worked in law enforcement for thirteen years, I had developed a negative image of persons who were convicted of crimes as many cops do. I learned that some of these convicts were not bad people, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In 1999, I was hired by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office as an investigator. I was, and still am, assigned to a unit that investigates crimes in nursing homes and homes where the developmentally disabled live. While it does not have the adrenalin rush that working in a police department has, it is a very rewarding job. Just to look into the eyes of an elderly person, see them begging for help, and knowing that I can help them places a smile on my face. Also knowing that a person who was abused or has stolen from one of these victims will not be able to do that again is rewarding. When a police officer makes an arrest, a majority of the time those offenders are back on the street the next night doing the same types of crimes. However, when I make an arrest of someone who has abused an elderly person, because of the laws I know beyond a shadow of doubt that they will not be able to be in that position again.

Benj-O: How did you start writing? Was it a whim, or what?

SH: Dating back to my high school years, I have been interested in writing. Usually it was only a short story here, or a poem there, but nothing as long as a novel.

To be honest, I never knew that Guardian of Light was to be a novel. In 2005, I was studying my Bible when I read Revelation 3:15-16. Jesus was speaking to the Church in Laodicea when He said that He wished they were either cold or hot, not lukewarm. Because they are lukewarm, Jesus said that He was about to spit them out of His mouth. As a Christian, I could not think of anything worse than the Lord and Savior that I love and have witnessed for to spit me out of His mouth. I knew then that I could—and needed—to do more for Christ. I prayed for a new ministry—one that would glorify God and draw others into His fold. God gave me the ministry of writing Christian novels. Through Him, the story of Guardian of Light grew and grew until it was novel-length.

Benj-O: There is often a perceived formula in Christian fiction today. Did you follow a formula as you wrote your book?

SH: No, I didn’t have a formula that I followed. I listened to what God was telling me and prayed that He would use it as a witnessing tool.

Benj-O: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

SH: Write about something you know about. Include places that you have been and have vivid memories of. If you are writing a Christian novel, do not do it alone—ask God for guidance. He is the best co-author a writer could have.

Attending a writers conference will help. An aspiring author can mingle and pick the brains of successful authors.

If you can afford to take a writing class—such as the one put on by Jerry B. Jenkins—do it. A lot of times these classes also have a competition where the winner receives a publishing contract.

Benj-O: You often hear writers talking about how much they read in preparation for a writing project. What kinds of sources do you find helpful when researching for a book?

SH: What I read depends on the type of book I’m working on. The Internet is a valuable tool for research on just about anything imaginable. I will research places and some equipment I wish for the characters to use. If I have to purchase a new resource book, I can be sure to find the one that will help me the most on the Internet. I also use books on Old Testament, New Testament, Missions, and, of course, the Bible.

Benj-O: Spirituality also plays an important role in Guardian of Light. Is this a big part of your own life as well?

SH: It is a huge part. Christians are here to serve the Lord. If I was unable to serve the Risen Son, I would be miserable. Nothing matters in this life other than Jesus.

Benj-O: Why did you choose Michael the Archangel as the Guardian who helps people out?

SH: I wanted a character that the readers would not expect, plus a storyline that was new and fresh. I couldn’t use Jesus as the Guardian because that would be His second coming and the story was set before His returning. I see Michael as one of the strongest angels and very brave. He seemed like the perfect fit. I know I did not want an unnamed angel, but one that people could identify with.

Benj-O: Your writing style is very readable. Are there any authors that have influenced that style?

SH: I wanted to write a story that was easy to read and enjoyable. I do not enjoy a novel where I have to re-read a paragraph over and over because the words are too difficult or the text is verbose. I wanted a text that even the younger Christian readers would understand and enjoy.

I enjoy reading Ted Dekker’s novels. He is probably one of the best Christian fiction writers of this generation.

Benj-O: What’s next from Steven Hunt? What can we expect to see in the future?

SH: I’ve finishing the self-editing touches on my second novel, Identity Assault. While it is not the same characters as in Guardian of Light, it contains more action and more suspense. Identity Assault is the first of three novels that will have the same characters. After fielding many questions about whether the characters in Guardian of Light would re-appear in another novel, I thought that it may be good to continue the storyline with the Identity Assault characters in several novels. Identity Assault should be released in 2008. I have not ruled out using the Guardian of Light characters in another story sometime in the future.

As does Guardian of Light, Identity Assault also contains messages for its readers. As Jesus used parables for teaching messages, so do these books.

So, there you have it. Steven Hunt in a nutshell. If you'd like to find out more about this exciting new author of Christian suspense visit his website at

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Comeback Churches – Ed Stetzer & Mike Dodson

I bought this book in June when I had the opportunity to get it signed by the authors. It came with a bonus boomerang which was meant, I think, for advertising purposes. It's been sitting on my shelf for a few months and then . . .

I cranked through Comeback Churches in under a week because I wanted to finish it before I participated in an audio conference featuring Ed Stetzer (one of the authors) on September 18. I finished the read literally minutes before the conference started, participated and then wrote my review which is posted here.

I found Comeback Churches to rate 4 thumbs.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cover Survey

Click on the link below if you'd like to have input on the cover of an upcoming book by Michael Landon Jr. and Tracie Peterson. The book is entitled One More Sunrise and will be published by Bethany House. (If you take the survey you'll be entered in a drawing for a book giveaway.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Debating Calvinism – Dave Hunt & James White

I've finished my read of the debate between Dave Hunt of and James White of Hunt espouses a severe anti-Calvinist view as developed in What Love Is This? and White is the author of the Reformed theology defense The Potter's Freedom. In Debating Calvinism, the two go toe-to-toe to defend their own point of view. You can find my full review at Pastor Bookshelf.

I found Debating Calvinism worthy of only two thumbs.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Another Chance for Free Books

If you like free books, here's another chance at getting some. This drawing will have three prizes for the month of September:
  1. First prize, is all six books in this series.
  2. Second prize, is any three of the books.
  3. Third prize, the person drawn can choose one of the books.

The books are from a Reform point of view. I don't fully espouse this theology, but I like to read widely. If you are Reformed in your theology, or just want more commentaries for your library, click on the button below (or at the left) and you will be taken to the site to sign up for the drawing.

sept Giveaway

[HT: Our friends at Pastor Bookshelf]

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