Trial Run by Thomas Locke

Fast Paced Drama

Thomas Locke’s use of language to paint a picture and emotional scene without wasting words engages readers in this speculative read. The strong development of character interaction lends a human dimension to the right-at-the-edge technological nature of the story.

The back cover of Trial Run has a descriptive sentence that is remarkably true. “Davis Bunn writing as Thomas Locke delivers a thrilling psychological journey that will leave you turning the pages and grasping for solid ground. The reader is never sure which people are good guys and which are bad guys until the end. I did indeed find myself grasping for solid ground. Once I found it, I enjoyed the story.

I had trouble keeping the characters straight for the first half of the book. Perhaps some kind of overview / simple chart would have been helpful, even just a list of who worked on the Swiss team and who did not. I agree, the story is mind-bending in scientific concepts, and it took some rereading for me to keep track of what was happening. I’d like to see more information (perhaps in future books?) about the psychological aspects, what happened to the people who were in comas, the prion that had deadly potential, etc.

Trial Run provides a different kind of escape for those who read for pleasure. It takes readers into the world of what if? in a new way and leaves the door open for human potential and creativity to take the next step. Even though I had to hang on to any threads I could find to make sense of it at times, I give Locke’s latest work 4 stars for the excellent writing and enjoyable read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.




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The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn

Intriguing topic handled well


Even before I opened the book, I was curious about Davis Bunn’s The Pilgrim. When I previewed the back cover, I was surprised to learn I would be reading about a historical figure. This gripping story has a strong theme of forgiveness and serving God. It gave me something to think about even after I finished reading.

The story begins by laying groundwork for the major characters and their roles. It felt a little slow at first, but Bunn’s excellent writing kept me reading. Throughout the journey, description adds specific details that help set the mood and stage. I loved reading about the spiritual growth and development of the main characters. The ending was a little disappointing, in that it read more like a biography and less like the story I had just read. I still give the book 4 stars, though, because Bunn does a good job incorporating research to tell this story of a little known piece of history. For lovers of historical fiction, The Pilgrim delivers that fresh taste of something that hasn’t been overdone.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Franciscan Media in exchange for my honest review.

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Amish Promises by Leslie Gould

Leslie Gould’s ability to weave a good story and keep reader interest is evident
in Amish Promises, the first book in her new series Neighbors of Lancaster County.
I enjoyed the development of the neighbor relationship as the author showed
characters working through real struggles. Oh, that we all could have best friends
like Charlie and Eve. The story has a believable blend of Amish and Englisch. One
of the story strengths is how people can find their way through difficulties with God’s
help. Looking forward to reading more about these neighbors!

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making the leap

As in, how to cross the bridge between real people and fictional characters. Transferring what I’m thinking about the character’s situation to words on the page in the novel. I find “making the leap” one of the most difficult things in life:

  • from what I’m thinking (or what the character is thinking and feeling) to words on the page
  • from what I hear played or chords on the page to notes played on piano
  • from ideas to a plan that gets set into motion

End result = word for the day: frustration

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Dandelion Moon

Good book to curl up with on vacation

Hannah Alexander tackles the tough theme of forgiveness with honesty and encouragement in this latest novel. The story also touches on the theme of grieving as the characters come to terms with loss they have experienced in their lives. The second in a series, the story stands on its own, although readers who have read the first book will enjoy getting to know the characters better. Medical topics include fugue state and pharmaceutical interactions, as well as a bit on standard of care. Set at Christmas time, the story can be read and enjoyed any time of year. I enjoyed the way complex relationships were handled by the author.

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5 stars – excellent

Thomas Locke gives readers the ingredients for great fiction in his new epic fantasy, Emissary: characters we care about, an inward and outward quest for the hero, and meaningful relationships between characters. The author’s signature writing style, in which every word counts, carrying action and emotion, only adds to the story. I especially love the character development of the three main characters and would read more about these three. There is one thread left unresolved regarding the main character, although there are hints. This reading experience left me wanting to reread the other Thomas Locke books (one of the Spectrum Chronicles and two mysteries) on my shelf!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

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Minding Molly

Minding Molly, set in Amish Lancaster County, is based on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Leslie Gould handles a large cast of characters expertly, keeping identities clear enough for readers to easily follow along. The main character is well developed, with her goals staying in focus. The love triangle conflicts are resolved in a way that makes sense based on the characters’ personalities and story, yet not too predictably to spoil the reader’s enjoyment. One of Leslie’s strengths is character development, and the reader comes to know and appreciate several characters as the story progresses. There’s also plenty of conflict to keep the story interesting. I’ll look forward to reading more of Leslie Gould’s work!

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Light and dark

Part of fall is getting used to the shorter days. It gets light later and gets dark earlier. Eventually I adjust and don’t lose all my energy for the day the moment the sun drops in the sky. Over the weekend I read a book in which one of the characters felt she could see darkness in certain situations. At first she thought it came from the shortcomings of people around here. Toward the end of the book she realized the darkness came partially from within, from a mysterious disease she had inherited. A few days before I read the book in some other context I heard the question:

What is the most impossible thing that could happen with God?

The context was that of daring to dream of fullness of life (and light) with God. Drawing near to God. Reading His Word as part of that drawing near.

I had to ask myself: Why are we satisfied without God’s presence?

Whatever our “impossible” dreams, they dim in the light of God’s presence. Saying this and living it are two entirely different things. My challenge: to learn to live it.

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New start

One of the things I’m most thankful for with God is the opportunity for new starts. When I taught at a Christian school we called them “do-overs.” Every day is a new day with God. Life got crazy the past couple of months, in some very good ways. But now it’s time for a new start (again) on this blog.

Often when people think about a new start with God, this verse comes to mind:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22

There’s nothing wrong with this verse. It is because of God’s great compassion that we can have a new start with Him whenever we want. When I think of a new start, often I think of this verse:

See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.  ~ Isaiah 43:19

Sometimes I don’t even know I need a new start. Or I’m off doing my own thing, not looking for God. This verse reminds me to look around in my life and notice what God is up to. It reminds me that He brings new life and refreshes the dry desert times.

Whichever verse(s) I read, if I will just read His Word, that in itself brings new life! In closing, a quote from Janet Petersen (A Book of Yes):

“You constantly refill the me You made with daily beginnings. So various are Your gifts to me, I am breathless to arrange them all… But You blow LIFE into my little projects, and my hand — held by Yours — can shape things well — sometimes.” (pg. 86-87)

It’s time to create with God. Write with God. Walk with God.

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Living with Purpose

Recent readings in Davis Bunn’s devotional book, The Turning, have talked about the idea of purpose. “We seek to do that for which we were made.” (Lesson 27)

“We develop a discipline of listening in order to be receptive to God. In so doing, we learn what it means to be still and know His glory on an entirely different level—that of direct experience.” (Lesson 28)

“We are designed for a purpose. “ (Lesson 28)

As I’ve spent the last few months considering what it is I’m supposed to be doing during this time of sabbatical, I’ve determined a good part of my purpose is to glorify God. That means to bring glory to Him. (Romans 15:6-7, Philippians 2:11, Psalms, Ephesians 1:11-12)

In the quotes from the devotional reading I see two things:

1. Be still and know His glory.

2. Our purpose is to bring glory to God.

How can the same word be used in these two different sentences? How are they related?

1. Be still. Rest in His Presence. Know and experience His Presence.

2. Bring His Presence (glory) to others. Glorify (magnify) the Lord. Make it easier for others to see His glory and experience His Presence.

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