Category Archives: Guest Reviewer

Befriend by Sauls

Befriend will challenge and encourage us to examine our hearts when it comes to moving towards “other” with the same love Jesus has towards us. Saul’s honesty and vulnerability makes it easy to swallow and stomach the hard truths we ignore when it comes to our prejudices towards “others” that don’t fit in to our norms. Very good book that I highly recommend.

Victoria Mason is a married, stay-at-home mom of six who loves learning, reading and studying God.

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Oxblood by Grant

OXBLOODVictoria Asher and her older brother are untimely orphans when their parents die in a plane crash.

The Victoria Asher Novels
by AnnaLisa Grant
Open Road Media Teen & Tween
September 2016

After a settlement and after her brother is old enough to take custody of her, Victoria finds herself on her own for a summer while her brother is on a work assignment. When she receives a package with his journal and the word “oxblood” she comes to believe he’s in trouble. When she calls around looking for him she can’t find him anywhere – it’s clear he hasn’t been honest about what he was doing in Italy.

Victoria travels to Italy to find her brother [SPOILER] only to find herself in front of a man who works for interpol, where apparently her brother was working to combat sex trafficking. She joins the team to find her brother and stop the criminals. [END SPOILERS]

There are a lot of plot twists to keep the young reader interested. Comedy and a little bit of romance as well. Victoria Asher is a good heroine – fearless, smart and tenacious. Only a few minor cuss words are spoken by the bad guys.

Overall a fun, clean novel for middle schoolers aged 14 and up.

Freckles is a long suffering wife of twenty years and mother of four children in every stage of adolescence who enjoys coffee and silence. She gets coffee sometimes.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Faith of Our Fathers by Pure Flix Entertainment

Faith-of-our-fathers-movie-posterArmed with high hopes and a bag of snacks, I attended a pre-screener of the faith-filled family film, Faith of Our Fathers.

Faith of Our Fathers
Pure Flix Entertainment
July 2015

I genuinely enjoyed it; however, I left feeling grieved that it fell short of what it could have been. I have the unsettling conviction that it will draw scathing criticisms from people outside the Christian faith, many of them merited.

It cannot be denied that, at times, the acting is stilted, the plot under cooked, and the credibility almost totally lacking. (For example, Rebecca St. James’s cameo as a sultry car thief, though well acted, was pretty ridiculous).

Be that as it may, it held my interest throughout and made me laugh out loud more than once. More importantly than that, it is a movie that glorifies Jesus Christ and proclaims the gospel message. Also, what with its messages on faith, patriotism, friendship, and fatherhood, Faith of Our Fathers has more substance than most of the drivel that one can find in movie theaters these days.

(Be forewarned, this movie contains war violence, so you might not want to show it to the younger kiddies).

Jaime Jane Motok is a violin teacher by trade, a lover of Narnia, funny movies, Simon and Garfunkel and the perfect cup of Joe.

A preview version of this movie was provided by the producers for review.

The War Room by TriStar and Faithstep Films

WarRoomThe War Room is an excellent, feel-good family film that will likely make you laugh and cry.

The War Room
TriStar & Faithstep Films
August 2015

It almost crossed the line towards the too-long side, but if you are like me you will not want it to end. The character arc of Tony (the father) pushed the boundaries of believablility – [SPOILERS] his transformation from selfish, abusive, lustful con-man to the kind, generous, jump-roping community center direct he is at the movie’s end is somewhat silly in its stark suddenness. [END SPOILERS]

However, as this a movie about miracle and the power of prayer, I have decided to forgive the Kendrick brothers and declare this and excellent film. Don’t miss it!

Jaime Jane Motok is a violin teacher by trade, a lover of Narnia, funny movies, Simon and Garfunkel and the perfect cup of Joe.

A preview version of this movie was provided by the producers for review.

And the Mountains Echoed by Hosseini

And the Mountain echoed is a saga about the unseen umbilical cord that ties the hearts of siblings, no matter how far they are drawn by circumstances, distances and time. It is about a ten year boy named Abdullah who is parted from his three years old sister Pari who is sold under dire circumstances to a childless couple in the city, and how the events leading to it and the ones thereon intertwine, part and define the fates of many characters related by blood, circumstances or just helpless love. It is a mesh of many short stories narrated from the perspectives of these characters across continents, set in time before, during and after the soviet invasion in Afganistan, and tied together as part of a higher plan, a larger quest for love and one’s identity and purpose in life.

And the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini
Riverhead Books
May 2013

To me, reading this book was like reading 400 pages of poetry that makes you feel things you would feel while watching a movie or experiencing something in person. Khaled Hosseini is a master of emotions; he can make you feel all warm inside with the mention of a memory of a kid trading his shoes for a feather for his beloved sister’s collection, and at the same time have you plunge in despair on the reality of the siblings being forcibly parted to places that seem much farther in one’s imagination. I found each character in his book as imperfect and vast as a human being. As his previous two novels, the main themes that this book revolves around are love, loss, memories and moral obligations that are profoundly captured by his ability to express complex and ambiguous human emotions through stark comparisons and descriptions that certainly left an echo in my mind.

I highly recommend this book to all who love to flow with the tide of a book, get caught up in its music and be in the afterthoughts of the vastness and diversity of human emotions.

Shivani Ahuja is a freelance writer and an avid traveler who loves Art & Craft and all things Recycled. She is a post graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology in India. Her writings can also be read at her blog.

Comic Con Nashville – Friday Interviews

Wizard World brought Comic Con to Nashville for the first time ever and we were there for it. Check out the interviews from Opening Night!

I (Scott Asher) was joined by David Mason, a comic book expert (and fanboy), in interviewing many of the artists on the show room floor. Here are some excerpts.

WP_20131018_18_01_13_Pro Daniel Leister (Artist: Hack/Slash, Army of Darkness).
Scott: Are you working on anything new?
Daniel: My own book? I hope so. I have a four issue mini-series that I wrote – I had to put it on hold for Army of Darkness – probably I’m gonna start a Kickstarter up soon for the series in another months or so. Put it up in December or January.:
Scott: What’s that one called?
Daniel: Werewolf Run.
David: Through Image?
Daniel: Probably. I’ll try to get it through them first.


WP_20131018_18_19_48_ProThony Silas (Spider-Man, Batman Beyond)

David: So what are you working on now?
Thony: I’m working on a mini-series… [issues] 6, 7, 8 of Daredevil Dark Knights. It is so hard to finish it [following the great art by Lee Weeks].
David: Are you working on Batman Beyond?
Thony: “Yes. You saw the movie? Bruce was the teacher of new Batman. Now Dick Grayson will be like the uncle… Batman beyond… Dick is more mature. He leave Bruce. Dick Grayson will try to [work through] forgiveness. Grayson will try to get together again with Bruce.”
David: Is this still their own universe or are they trying to mix it in with the New 52?
Thony: “Movies is one time. Comic book is another time. This moment, two years after the last one. I will draw what will happen.”
David: Your art is great for Daredevil. All the air shots.
Thoney: “Very different Batman beyond and Daredevil. It’s less. You see. A lot less line art. More brush.”


WP_20131018_18_17_27_ProHarvey Tolibao (Danger Girl, Uncanny X-Force)

David: So what are you working on now?
Harvey: Danger Girls the Chase. They put me on the new arch. It’s going to be what’s in the briefcase the whole time. It is cool that it’s written by the real writers; the originals. I’m on issue three and every night I don’t know what’s inside the case.”
David: You’ve been good for Danger Girl. You gotta have a certain type of artwork.
Harvey: “Yeah. But Marvel just announced this morning that I’m going to do Uncanny X-Force for them. They told me that they have a project for me; a secret project. I was so happy! I don’t know who is going be the writer but I am very excited!”
Harvey: “I’m going to do the next four books.:
David: So how long does it take to do one issue?
Harvey: “Marvel gives you six weeks usually. But it takes about one month [for art]. You have 30 days. The writer takes a week then passes it to you.”
Scott: Describe how Marvel gives you scripts.
Harvey: “Sometimes there are writers like that… Sometimes they give just a couple pages. It happened that [the script] got leaked to a website. I think it was Electra was a Skrull. So Marvel sometimes does it 5 pages… 10 pages. Sometimes I’ve done certain panels with a kick ass motorcycle in the background [that later] Abby Chase would ride it. It’s good when the artist and the writer have a link.”


WP_20131018_18_29_15_ProJackie Lewis (Play Ball)

Jackie: “What I’m working on now is a historical, kinda adventure one that’s based on a massacre that happened a couple hundred years ago…”
Scott: What is it called?
Jackie: “Um, I don’t know if I can talk about it yet! I don’t think it’s a secret, but my editor always says don’t talk about it until we announce it.”
Scott: I’m a big fan of Oni. I think Oni put’s out some really good stuff.
Jackie: “I love Oni. It’s really fun to work them. Their philosophy is the same as mine. The way they work and the way they communicate is like a family.”


WP_20131018_18_48_32_ProEric Powell (The Goon, Action Comics, Avengers)

David: So how are things coming with the Goon movie?
Eric: They are doing animatics. Everyone’s still involved. It’s been a while. What I’m hearing is that it’s not a lot different than a lot of [movies]. It took Hellboy 5 years. Still plugging away.”




WP_20131018_18_51_54_ProMike Grell (Green Arrow, X-Men, Action Comics)

David: What’s happening with Green Arrow?
Mike: “They stopped the stop for the summer thing was a ‘oh yeah, we are just stopping for the summer.’ [It is actually more permanent.] It was so tightly drawn to the plot of the show. When there was no show on they [lost their audience.] Foolish.”
David: It was good seeing you do Green Arrow again.
Mike: “Yeah, me too.”
David: What are you doing now?
Mike: “I’m working on Tarzan next.”


WP_20131018_18_54_36_ProNeal Adams (Superman, X-Men, Batman)

David: I would always get disappointed when I’d buy Superman and see you covers and then a different artist would be doing the inside.
Neal: “All right, enough of that! You can’t compliment one guy but put down the other guy.” [Said with a smile]; chiding but playful.]
David: Oh, I know the other artists were great I’m just saying you are great. Personally. You and Garcia Lopex are my two favorite Superman artists.
Neal: “I agree about Garcia Lopez.”
David: Did you do the insides or just covers?
Neal: “I did the inside of Superman vs Mohammed Ali. If you look it up on the internet and figure out how many pages I did on a given year it would be… I did five covers a week. Usually that’s enough for one guy. But I did the insides as well.”


shadowA.J. Scudiere (God’s Eye, Vengeance, Resonance, Shadow Constant)

Scott: So what are you working on now?
A.J.: “Have you seen the graphic novel? I wrote the story. [A company we worked with on the graphic novel] is running a thing in Fort Meyers right now. They are running RPGs, FPS. Games. They will eventually have roller coasters… They did the setup. They built these worlds. The five worlds that encompass all the possible worlds. The fantasy, tech, cartoony. I just wrote a live play event.”
David: So like a theme park?
A.J.: “Yeah. Basically they are going to kidnap people and send them through the game and act out part of it.”
Scott: Like a Murder Mystery?
A.J.: “Yes. Except video game. First Person Shooter. It’s a game.”




WP_20131018_19_59_50_ProMike Miller (Injustice: God’s Among Us, Game of Thrones)

Scott: So what are you working on now?
Mike: “Game of Thrones prequel stuff.”
Scott: So it’s a prequel to the Game of Thrones? Who’s writing that?
Mike: “The original novella is written by George R.R. Martin. Then they are adapted. I did the first one ten years ago. Then the second one six years ago. We’ve been on a hiatus until now.”
Scott: That guy will write every other story other than the ending of his series of books! His most recent book told the story of characters that hadn’t been written about in ten real years!
Mike: “Did you hear that he wrote another novella about the Targaryen reign. I said I’m drawing that!”
Scott: That series is now 10 or 15 years old.
Mike: “Maybe he doesn’t want to let people down. You know how they end series and people are like man, that ending sucked. Like Lost.”
Scott: When it never ends it is definitely going to be one of those series that the ending sucks!
Mike: “That’s like life!”


WP_20131018_19_54_08_ProGreg Horn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers)

David: Are you doing anything new?
Greg: “I worked on Avengers 1. I worked on Guardians of the Galaxy 1. The big thing I’m working on right now is War of Heroes. It’s a video game you play on an iPhone or Android. Nobody even knows about this!”
Scott: “Tell me about it.
Greg: It is a video game by Disney. I describe it as Candy Crush for men. Because you play it and you get addicted and then spend all your money. You buy the damn lollipop.” [joking]
Scott: I’m not sure men will buy a lollipop…
Greg: “It’s Thor’s hammer.”
David: It’s Disney? Does it have Marvel characters in it?
Greg: “Yeah. I did the artwork.”

The Archived by Schwab

Mackenzie Bishop is skilled in the art of lying. Her habitual deception weighs heavy on her soul but it is the lies that keep her alive. She guards a secret that few could handle and even fewer are chosen to bear.

The Archived
By Victoria Schwab
Hyperion Book
January 2013

To the outside world Mackenzie looks like any other teenager troubled by the death of her little brother. However, her struggle goes much deeper as she seeks to come to terms with her dead brother’s fate as a resident of the Archive. The Archive is a realm only known by a select few, like Mackenzie, called Keepers. When people die they become Histories-empty shells of their former selves, bodies containing only memories. Filed away like books in a library, Histories only purpose is to remain shelved until a Librarian chooses to read their memories. Histories are meant to exist in a state of rest but sometimes they wake up. As a Keeper, Mackenzie must capture and return these Histories to the Archive before they escape into the world of the living. As Mackenzie copes with her brother’s death and new home in the Archive, Histories begin waking up at an alarming rate. Mackenzie must race to uncover the truth of the Archive before the world she has sacrificed so much for collapses and the secret of the Archive becomes known to the world.

The Archived was a rare find and I count myself lucky to have been introduced to the work of Victoria Schwab. Schwab’s imaginative plot was a welcome treat and sets her apart from many other contemporary YA authors. As the story unfolds it is clear that every detail has been chosen with great care and intention. Her creative use of flashbacks throughout the novel helps develop a complex back story in a simple and engaging way. The novel builds in suspense as Mackenzie discovers more about herself, her family and the world of the Archive she thought she knew. The developing plot makes this book impossible to put down; with the end of each chapter I found myself compelled to find out more.

Upon finishing Schwab’s book I immediately preordered the upcoming sequel to The Archived. I highly recommend this book for teenagers and adults and have already loaned my copy to several friends.

Gracie is a passionate reader who believes that life is better with books. Nothing is more soulful to her than cuddling up with a good book, a cup of tea and her cat. She is a United Methodist minister who seeks to know God through both the extraordinary and the mundane. Each time she opens a book she discovers more about God, herself and the world God so beautifully created.

Real Life Real Miracles by Galrow and Wall

This book is not just a “feel good” book with stories to make you smile, it is full of TRUE life stories about how God works in people’s lives to bring glory to Him.

Real Life Real Miracles
True Stories That Will Help You Believe
By James L. Garlow and Keith Wall
Bethany House
November 2012

There was one story that should pique anyone’s interest about life and God’s power to heal. In this story, the lady’s name is Noelle and she was living out a generational curse of deafness that had started generations earlier. As soon as she turned 20 years old, she started losing her hearing, and this was quite an adjustment for someone who loved music! At the age of 50, God changed all of that. She went to a song service expecting great things, and God came through in a big way — she could hear again!!

This reminds me of the story in the Bible of the 10 lepers who were healed and the ONE that had to go and tell EVERYONE what God had done for him.

This book will bring you peace and happiness and help you to remember that when God moves in your life, YOU WILL KNOW IT. It will also inspire you to want Him to move in your life and to remember to ask Him to and to expect great results! That is how I felt when I read this book.

Shelley Walling is a 43 year male who is on disability retirement from complications from brain surgery. He was an Electrical Dispatcher for 11 years until the surgeries, he now enjoys spending time with his wife and two girls who are still at home along with four grown boys as well. He and his wife have an interest in sustainable and off-grid living and hope to live off-grid one day. He likes to read books about nutrition and medicine, Christian fiction and end times theology.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse by Knott

As the newly appointed marshals (Hitch and Cole) on their first assignment involved escorting Mexican Prisoners by train to their new location.

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse
By Robert Knott
Read By Titus Welliver
Putnam Adult | Random House Audio
January 2013

After the first “easy” assignment they find themselves in the presence of two beautiful women accompanied by there Father who is a successful politician. Things heat up when twenty armed gunmen take the train by storm. Hitch and Cole are now faced with the unexpected challenge of keeping the Governor and his family safe, as well as the $50,000 in cash the Governor is carrying safe. This turns out to be a true test of the duo’s skills, with a very polished ending.

I was excited when I first received “Ironhorese”, I had herd that the “Hitch/Cole” series by Robert B. Parker was amazing. Ironhorse had a decent story line, and was overall amusing. However I found that the story lacked creativity, and was a typical western involving two good guys that get to save the two beautiful damsels in distress, and of course there was a lot of money involved. I would have to say that I was disappointed after the amazing reviews I had seen on the Hitch/Cole series. But it was well written, and I am sure that the plot and character development would have made more sense had I read the series before starting this book. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

The book was not horrible but it was not exactly a Louis Lamour classic either.

Brian Trstenjak is a father of two, an avid reader, and fan of sci-fi, supernatural, and mystery novels. He attended Bible College, and is currently studying at Liberty University. You can follow Brian on twitter @briant1985.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Almond Tree Michelle by Corasanti

This is a tragically touching story about how a Palestinian family learns to cope with having to start over during the Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip and how two people learn to get along despite the history their people’s suffered at the hands of one another.

The Almond Tree
By Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Garnet Publishing
September 2012

One is a young Palestinian man and the other an older, wiser Israeli teacher. Each grew up hating each other for what had transpired between their countries. They reluctantly end up working together and do so for 40 years with amazing results.

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend this to others.

Shelley Walling is a 43 year male who is on disability retirement from complications from brain surgery. He was an Electrical Dispatcher for 11 years until the surgeries, he now enjoys spending time with his wife and two girls who are still at home along with four grown boys as well. He and his wife have an interest in sustainable and off-grid living and hope to live off-grid one day. He likes to read books about nutrition and medicine, Christian fiction and end times theology.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.