The figure of Barabbas, in my view, is the most intriguing in all of New Testament history.  We know so little of him, he is almost a footnote, and the connotation he was given over the years is decidedly negative. And yet, when looked at from a certain perspective, he suddenly gains symbolic weight: he is the one person who directly felt the power of the love of God on that fateful day which Christians have come to know and revere as Good Friday.  From what we are given in the Gospels, we know him as a „robber” who „committed murder in the insurrection”, which, given the time period in which the Greatest Story Ever Told takes place, could have only meant that he was a Zealot.

From this alluded, but intriguing idea, Mr. Kevin Brooks has embarked upon a journey of epic proportions to uncover the truth of who Barabbas may have been beyond the obvious negativity he was portrayed with over the years.  The novel Mr. Brooks wrote is called THE LOST GOSPEL OF BARABBAS, and boy, oh, boy, does it ever deliver.

We meet Barabbas as the son of a ship-builder, and find that Barabbas is not actually a name in itself, but more of a „moniker”, so to speak, that his father, Jeshua, gives him. Barabbas, as per the richness of Jewish culture, has a very profound meaning. „Son of the Father”.

The young Barabbas is devout as can be and truly believes in the coming of the liberating Messiah  who will give Israel its glory days of long ago back.  He is taught by his father to stand against the pagan idolatry of Greeks and Romans and remain steadfastly devoted to the One true God of the Jews.

What I loved the most about the book was how easy it was to relate to Barabbas. Mr. Brooks has taken a character that the Bible gives us little to nothing about and turned him into one of, if not the most  compelling angry young man that has  ever graced the pages of a Biblical novel. Reading what Barabbas goes through at the hands of the Romans, one truly gets to understand how and why the young Zealot first felt the fire of vengeance burning his heart. Oh, and  his supernatural visions are absolutely chilling.

Readers will experience a story they have always wondered about, and see one of the most mysterious figures in the Gospels in an entirely new light. The highs and lows of the life of Barabbas, as they are presented here, will put a compellingly human face upon a name known only through the crime of its bearer in the Scriptures. This is a young man literally battling for his soul, and it is utterly heartwrenching to feel the anguish he goes through when the Romans commit the ultimate injustice against him, fueling his desire for revenge. Tormented by visions of crows that flock madly around him, Barabbas is almost always on the edge in this roller-coaster of a novel.  At some point, one wonders how much bitterness and death one man can go through until he finally snaps.

I loved the character of Samuel, the priest who takes care of Barabbas after a very traumatic event in his life. The idea of a servant of God actually teaching someone survival skills, such as hunting, is a breath of fresh air in Biblical fiction, where we often see priests arguing semantics with the Lord.

To those who enjoy their Biblical fiction as sharp as the edge of a dagger,  THE LOST GOSPEL OF BARABBAS is a must-read, as much as it is to those who want their faith challenged and then refreshingly confirmed. This is one of those books that linger in the mind long before they are closed.  Great, great job, Mr. Brooks. Solid 5 out of 5!

Though Mr. Brooks was kind enough to send  me a copy of his work for review purposes, the thoughts herein are mine in their entirety. And I am a spiritually richer human being having read this book.

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My experience as a reader has taught me one thing above all: when one knows that there is a sequel to a great novel, the expectations for it grow greatly. So when I finished BRUECKE TO HEAVEN, the amazing historical novel by Mr. Timothy Tron dealing with the Waldensians, I knew what I expected from it: greatness.

And boooy, did the sequel ever deliver. It was absolutely epic in scope and cast of characters, significantly upping the proverbial ante for the characters. There is a great subplot about a hermit and his wolf that I absolutely adored. There are epic battles with pagan barbarians.
But what I loved the most about this book was the struggle that one particular character from the previous one was going through, and I am talking about Lucier, the general with the mission of hunting down the Waldensians. His long, arduous transformation, full of twists and turns, is among the most intensely written spiritual crises I have ever had the blessing to read about. He comes across as painfully torn between duty and conscience.
The reason I love these two books so much is the fact that although the villains are part of the Catholic Church, the books are not by a long shot anti-Catholic per se. These books were meant as a reminder of the power of true faith in the face of blind literalism. These two books are more than simple historical fiction novels to me. They are part of a legacy that the author does his best to honor, and of a faith so intense and so personal that one would have to be made of stone not to feel it. Do not let the size of this book get to you. Its 700+ pages move at a blistering pace to reveal a world that is long gone by, and yet so vividly described that it seems like it is part of the here and now. It is a sweeping epic of faith, hope and love that pulls no punches on the gritty side of life. Readers will be transported to a time when dying for faith was not just an ideal, but a cold, harsh reality that is too often taken for granted nowadays. The world needs more books like these.

I usually give a star rating. These books are worth constellations. Thank you, Mr. Tron. You have written a tale for the ages.
Disclaimer: While I do thank Mr. Tron wholeheartedly for agreeing to send me his books for review purposes, I must state the views herein are my own, and I am tremendously blessed to say so.

My Christian faith has led me to many awesome stories over the years. Real-life examples like those of Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor and later embraced Christianity, and Richard Wurmbrand, who stood as a pillar of Christ in an era of rabid persecution against Christians, were nuggets of authentic inspiration to me.

A little while ago, I heard about the Waldensians, a community of Christians spread throughout the Alps, who copied and memorized the word of God during the Middle Ages, when the authority of the Catholic Church was considered absolute.
I had the blessing of coming across a series of novels about the Waldensians, written by one of their descendants, Mr. Timothy W. Tron.

The first book in the series, called BRUECKE TO HEAVEN, is one of the most gripping Christian novels that I have ever been blessed to come across.

Set in the Vaudois region that gives the Waldensians their name, in the 11th century, it tells the story of an epic struggle between worldly power and the Power of God in a truly memorable manner. I loved every page of it and felt deeply for every character, from young Jakob, who we see in the opening of the book struggling to memorize Scripture, to wise old Arktos, with his unwavering faith. Even the villains are compellingly fleshed out, from the power-hungry Pope Lucias to his loyal general, Lucier, who is struggling deeply with his conscience.

What I love the most about this book is the fact that although it is Christian fiction, it pulls no punches in regard to the things that people are willing to do to each other in the name of a misguided approach to faith. There are scenes in this book that are definitely not for the faint of heart, but those who stick with it to the end will have read one of the most captivating historical novels ever written. I had no idea that there was a proto-Protestant community long before Martin Luther thought of his reforms. This is a surprising, entertaining and educational read that should grace the shelf of any Christian.

Ten out of five for a masterpiece of faith-based historical fiction. Although Mr. Tron was gracious enough to provide me with a copy of his work for review purposes, it is my blessing to say that the views herein are my own.
Thank you, sir! May God bless you abundantly.

The Bible is ripe with great stories. I believe there is a very good reason for it to be called The Good Book. It is filled with larger-than-life tales that just scream to be given an epic fantasy treatment, while holding onto the Truth that is at their core.
Among those tales, the biggest and boldest, in my view, is the story of Noah and his iconic Ark. It has everything: adventure, faith, impossible odds and a truly inspiring ending. And it is my great honor and blessing to say that I have found a novel that truly does justice to the story of Noah, giving it a fresh perspective while keeping the Truth in it intact.

The book is called ARMY OF GOD, and it is written by Mr. Dennis Bailey, to whom I extend my gratitude for the copy he graciously provided. With this in mind, DISCLAIMER: The views herein are my own. This kind of book deserves nothing less.

I think the author chose the style of the novel very well. From the very beginning, it all feels so cinematic, as people seek to take Eden by storm.
I loved how the author tried his hand at a bunch of different genres altogether with the book. At some point, it gets going in a sort of whodunit direction, as a mysterious killer leaves a trail of bodies behind, as if in a ritual. And the whole concept of an „Army of God” just SCREAMS IMAX material, and would make an infinitely better version of the Noah story than the confusingly lukewarm movie that came out some years ago, with Russell Crowe in the leading role. This story is never mind-boggling and never preachy. I love the struggle that Noah has with coming to terms with his mission from God. A cardboard-cut, Sunday School Noah would have just gone with it, and his family would have followed him without hesitation. But this interpretation gives them all flesh-and-blood human faces, and Noah is often considered mad by his own family. This is only hinted at in the Bible, as far as I can remember it, but fleshed out in an amazing manner here.
But what I loved the most about the book is how gradual the whole story arc with the animals is. It starts out with two lions, which is a big enough challenge for a family still struggling to figure out what God wants from them. And then it slowly but surely encompasses all of the living things on Earth. The final battle between the animals and the enemies of Noah is worthy of the big screen without any hesitation. The whole feud between Eden and Enoch comes crashing down in a final epic confrontation worthy of Tolkien.

I think this book has the most compellingly drawn villain I have ever read in a piece of Christian fiction, in the person of Bohar. I have never enjoyed the feeling of being disgusted by the appearance and actions of a villain as much as I did here. You are gonna love hating this dude.

This solid, amazingly well-written piece of Biblical fiction that hardly feels like a debut has earned my appreciation and respect. 10 out of 5 solid stars. Thank you, Mr. Bailey! Great work!

In my previous review, I was talking about a novel called THE OCCUPIED, the first in a series featuring a character named Trevor Black, written by Craig Parshall. That book was all that a solid Christian thriller needs, so my expectations were naturally high.
The sequel, called THE EMPOWERED, did not fulfill those expectations. I should say that it did not ONLY fulfill them. It surpassed them completely.

The thing I loved the most about the first book returns here in spades. I am talking about the relationship betweeen Black and his gift. He is, indeed, a holy warrior. But he is hardly the perfect, spotless and invincible kind of warrior that could be expected. He struggles with his gift, which is a breath of fresh air to read. Plus, the stakes are much higher, as his daughter, Heather, a cultural anthropologist researching voodoo in New Orleans, enters the fray. As Black investigates a voodoo-based murder, he and his daughter enter a race against time to uncover a sinister plot involving two very dark enemies: voodoo and child pornography.
As its predecessor does, this book tackles controversial and intense subjects head-on, and that is something to be applauded. Evil is not turned into a cartoon character here, it is shown in all its ugliness and perversity. And I loved how the author captured the spirit of New Orleans, both its vibrant side and its dark, gritty underbelly. The twists and turns in this book feel like riding shotgun in a high-speed chase. I loved every page of it. A true testament to the power of God and the blessing of fatherhood, THE EMPOWERED will surely be remembered as a classic of Christian thrillers.
Solid five outta five for this one too!

God bless you, Mr. Parshall. Keep them coming!

The views herein are my own, and I am grateful to Mr. Parshall for the copy of his work he was kind enough to send.

The supernatural has always fascinated me. Ever since I was a kid, stories of the battle between good and evil were instrumental in my spiritual development.
The character in the book that I am about to review, Trevor Black, knows all about spiritual warfare, because he finds himself at the forefront of it.
The main character of the eponymous series by Mr. Craig Parshall(who was gracious enough to send me signed copies of his two novels in the series), Trevor Black is a man apart. Once an accomplished criminal lawyer, Black is able to sense demons, and thus selected by God to do battle against the forces of darkness.
The thing about supernatural Christian fiction, and something that Mr. Parshall does with gusto, is that preachiness should especially be avoided, lest the threat comes across as cheesy and one-dimensional. This is definitely not the case here. Trevor is plunged into a world that, at first, is beyond his understanding. And I loved how the book begins with a young metalhead reading a cheap-thrills type of horror novel scoffing at Trevor for reminding him of the reality of evil. The sort of stuff that he has to face is straight out of a Stephen King novel. In fact, I think the book reads very much like what would happen if Stephen King, William Peter Blatty and Lee Child were to team up and write a supernatural story. I loved how Black and his walk with the Lord are portrayed, starting with him as a rebel youth and continuing with his reluctance to accept the gift he is given. This is not the hokey-pokey „I saw the Light and now I am kicking demon butt” stuff some people might be tempted to take lightly.The villains are truly horrifying, and the suspense is really well done. Readers will follow a struggling, deeply flawed hero on a journey he is initially less than willing to embark upon, and cheer him on as he grows into a confident warrior of God. This is a book that does not shy away from heavy topics, so those who expect a Sunday-school, simplistic tale in which evil is cartoonishly ridiculous and good means spotless should look somewhere else. The trials and tribulations of Trevor Black are not for the faint-of-heart, as he faces a horrible string of ritualistic murders, with friends and enemies coming from the most unlikely of places. Oh, and the ending? That will set you up for the second book just fine, as our hero makes a discovery that will change everything he thought he knew about himself. What that discovery is, and how Trevor Black cracks his first gritty, scary case, I will let you discover on your own. You will be a spiritually richer person for it! Five of five for a solid Christian supernatural thriller. Thank you, Mr. Parshall. Great job!

Disclaimer: The views herein are my own and it is a blessing to say so.

I have previously stated my fascination with Beethoven. I see him as the most iconic figure in music, and a living monument of perseverance and tenacity. I think he is the closest thing to a rockstar ever to emerge from the classical music scene. The intensity of his Fifth Symphony is earth-shattering and the triumphant vibration of the Ode to Joy can literally bring nations together. If there is a name that is worthy of being called a musical titan, that name is Beethoven.

What fascinates me more than his unmistakable music, however, is the sheer humanity of Beethoven, the consuming passion within him, the stubbornness befitting a tortured soul, the desire to be the foremost of his craft, the thundering anger.

I had the pleasure of rediscovering this startlingly human Beethoven in the debut novel of Ms. L.A. Hider Jones. The book, called MY INTERVIEW WITH BEETHOVEN, is one of the most vivid historical novels I have ever had the pleasure to read. The premise is awesome, and tantalizing without being lurid, and it turns a story about Beethoven into a profound, humorous meditation about the nature of truth and what makes human beings tick.

George Thompson is a young journalist who has had quite a run with bad luck. His mother is mentally ill, his stepfather is a bitter, harsh man, and he is in trouble with his boss. On top of it all, he finds out that he might be the son of the Lion of Vienna. Yes, that is the premise of this book: what if Beethoven had a son that was kept secret? How would that affect the life of the most iconic composer of his time? Is Beethoven more or less than the man he is made out to be? Is there any truth to this incredible tale? What is his true connection to Hannah Bekker, the troubled mother of the protagonist, who is seeking the truth? What is truth? All of these questions collide in an adventure that is filled with drama and humor, centered around the majestic, and yet overwhelmingly human figure of a Ludwig van Beethoven in the twilight of his career. I LOVED the portrayal of Beethoven. He is meant to stand out, he is a mess in an era where music and those who composed it where meant to be very orderly. If I were to make a comparison, I would say the Beethoven readers have the privilege to see here is a Pitbull among poodles. A larger-than-life, yet deeply flawed figure, who you will feel richer by knowing. A genius of staggering humanity. Oh, and I have been listening to his Fifth while writing this review. The feeling is beyond any words.
Although I am deeply thankful to Ms. Hider for the copy of her novel she provided me with, the views in this review are entirely my own. Ten out of five for a triumph of historical fiction. Thank you, Ms. Hider. A great job, if there ever was one.