Monday, September 28, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: THE GHOST BOX, by Mike Duran

This one pushes the envelope. I admit, I like weird, other-worldly stories, but most of the time there has to be some humor, some silliness. I like Warehouse 13, not X-Files.

GHOST BOX tends more toward the X-Files side of things.

This book and author were talked about a lot at the recent Realm Makers conference, and not just because the cool cover art was a finalist for the Parable Award. The book really pushes it into Christian horror -- yeah, there is such a category -- and spiritual warfare. Beyond Peretti.

What's a ghost box, anyway? It's a means of hearing the voices of the dead, trying to communicate with the living world. And a gigundous one is being built in LA, as a building. Where else would it be built? It outdoes that huge spire in Dubai. Yeah, that big. And weird things are going on underground, and strange creepies are being drawn to the tower in preparation for the grand opening. Think the explosion in the first Ghostbusters movie, cubed, to the 10th power, and remove all the cuteness. Yeah. Like that.

Reagan Moon, our hero, is a reporter for a paranormal newspaper called the Blue Crescent. The thing is, he's pretty much a skeptic. At least, until he gets drawn into the weirdness going on with the tower, with the serial murders of mediums throughout the city, and the murder of his girlfriend a year before. That's just the tip of the slimy, occultic iceberg.

Just shows how good this book is, that despite knowing it's going to get really freaky in a few more pages, I kept reading. And not just because our book club chose this book to discuss this month. I could follow Reagan Moon on a few more adventures. No problem at all.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: DIVINE DESIGN: God's Complimentary Roles for Men and Women by John MacArthur Jr.

This book was one of many resources obtained free through my Bible study software, Olive Tree. I've had these books for several years now, and haven't taken the time to read them. My goal is to get through them, some of them rather short, by the end of the year -- in alphabetical order as they appear in the index of the software.

Ever pick up a book, suspecting you were going to argue with the author or at least get uncomfortable reading his arguments? This is one of them. MacArthur confronts some of the problems we have in the church today, pointing out the infiltration of poison, weakness, heresy and other types of attacks which are the many weapons of Satan to destroy the church, destroy our witness, and make us ineffective, destroy the salvation message, make us look like idiots in the world. And thanks to the feminist movement, make us look like sexist bigots on top of it. Oh, heaven forbid we should be sexists. Get a clue: men and women ARE constructed differently and have different minds and different abilities and different responses to the world. They are made to work in HARMONY, not unison. Like, duh!

There were places I did argue with him, but he brings out scripture and looks at what it says, rather than doing what so many teachers on both sides of the issue do, and decide what they WANT scripture to say, and then twist and ignore and rewrite and add to what's there. I read a review of one of my books and I was horrified when the reviewer made reference to events that weren't even in the book. Obviously she had been thinking of someone else's book, or decided she wanted those scenes in there, and she was going to act like they were ... yes, weird. But isn't that what so many people nowadays are doing to the Bible? They chop out what doesn't fit how they want God to be, and use the rest of scripture as a weapon to dominate and attack and browbeat anyone who disagrees.

I had to rethink some of my ideas about women's roles and men's roles in the church, but found some clarification. There are many roles men and women can both fill OUTSIDE the church. There's nothing wrong with women writing books and teaching, and speaking at crusades and revivals -- but those aren't worship services, those aren't part of the regular church structure. They're special events.

Here's how I see it: women have stepped into leadership roles in the church and replaced men for TWO reasons: first, the men have wimped out, gotten lazy, and put their own desires first, so that there is a vacuum in the church leadership. And second, men have used the Bible as a weapon (ignoring their responsibilities and focusing on their authority) to crush women and abuse them, so women have fought back. Hey, if England had treated the Colonies properly instead of being abusive and greedy and dictatorial, there wouldn't have been the American Revolution. Like, duh!

If men follow the example of Christ as they fulfill their responsibilities in the leadership of the church, then women won't have any problem acting as the Bride of Christ.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: A LITTLE BIT OF CHARM, by Mary Ellis

I love reading a book written by a friend and discovering that even though it is not my type of story, either setting or sub-genre ... wow, I love it anyway! Now, that's a mark of a good storyteller.

Mary Ellis and I are part of the Ohio chapter of ACFW, plus we're geographically close enough we can get together semi-regularly and talk about writing. If you're a writer and you don't have writing friends close by, FIND SOME. There is nothing more encouraging and stimulating than people who know what you're going through -- even if they don't write the same type of books as you.

Anyway .... A LITTLE BIT OF CHARM is part of Mary's New Beginning Series, featuring Amish sisters whose lives are torn apart when their parents die in a fire. They create their own lives, taking chances, exploring different Amish communities and cultures, and even follow their hearts and dreams. Rachel is the third King daughter, and she decides to have an adventure after the wedding of her older sister, Nora. Instead of heading home to Lancaster, she decides to go to Kentucky -- why? Because she loves horses and wants to be near Thoroughbreds, maybe even get to work with them.

Rachel gets her chance, gets a job at a horse farm ... and soon enough finds herself pulled between two worlds. What has a stronger hold on her heart? Her Amish heritage, her family, her faith, her love for horses, her non-Amish friends, her growing comfort in non-Amish ways and clothes? And who of her three hopeful suitors will win her heart?

I'm not gonna tell you. But I will tell you that even though Amish romances are definitely not my "thing" (even though I do have plans to write a book with some Amish characters in them someday) I do look forward to reading more of Mary's books. And not just because she's my friend!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: CINDERELLA SCREWED ME OVER, by Cindi Madsen

Haven't we all, at one time or another, felt that the faerie tales totally ruined us for romance? Don't we all wish for a prince -- and without even realizing it, looked past or stepped over the decent guy who would certainly consider us his princess -- and who might just turn into a prince if we gave him a chance?

Yeah, Cinderella and other faerie tales that promise happily-ever-after without considering all the problems that arise when you actually have to LIVE with the guy ... mess us up.

Then, as Darby, the heroine of CINDERELLA SCREWED ME OVER, discovered ... all those princes turned out to be problems in the making. She's been hurt, betrayed, abandoned by so many guys who started out as a faerie tale prince, that she's somewhat cynical. So when Jake comes into her life and rescues her shoe and then her ... she's hesitant to take the chance that this time, he's the real deal.

Throughout the book, as Darby runs into situations that remind her of the un-princely princes in her life, she offers readers a case study, referring to the faerie tale and just what prince un-charming did. The entire book is clever and fun. Well worth curling up on the couch on a rainy day or taking to the beach, or in my case, sitting under the ceiling fan indoors in the shade on a hot summer day.