Tag Archives: terrorists

Review: Two From Isaac’s House, by Normandie Fischer

Two From Isaac's House, by Normandie FischerTwo From Isaac’s House, by Normandie Fischer (Sleepy Creek Press, 2015)

Rina Lynne’s father insisted they had to live on limited funds, but she inherited a fortune when he died. She’d always lived a safe, predictable life, so now, before she marries her fiancé, Jason, and settles down, she’s off to see the world.

First stop: a small town in Italy, for a month of language school. But a passenger on the train is murdered, and the man she shared a carriage with looks like a terrorist.

Favourite line, from when she spots the man’s gun. Can’t you feel this?

She tried to smile as she recovered, but her upper lip caught on too-dry teeth. [Kindle location 134]

Rina blossoms in Italy, away from the restrictions of home. She makes new friends, including the handsome Tony Rasad, who seems to have connections with the same Palestinian group which may be behind the death on the train.

From chapters in Tony’s point of view, we learn that he’s a reluctant spy for Israel, trying to infiltrate the terrorists’ ranks. He’s torn between desire to get to know Rina despite her distant fiancé and the need to stay away from her for her own safety.

Danger chases Rina from Italy to Jordan to Israel, where she tries to find her Uncle Adam.

Two From Isaac’s House is an intriguing romantic suspense with a strong sense of place. The title refers to Rina’s and Tony’s heritage: he’s a Jew, and she’s half-Jewish. The danger they face draws them both to depend on the God of their people. Rina’s uncle is seriously considering the claims of some friends who are Messianic Jews (believing Jesus is the Messiah). The spiritual thread is low-key, and shouldn’t be a barrier to non-believing readers.

Author Normandie Fischer writes women’s fiction and romantic suspense. She’s also an avid sailor. For more about the author and her books (and boats!) visit normandiefischer.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Suspense Novelist Sara Davison

Canadian suspense author Sara DavisonSara Davison is the author of the romantic suspense novel, The Watcher, and the romantic suspense trilogy, Seven. She has been a finalist for three national writing awards, including Best New Canadian Christian author. Sara has a degree in English Literature from Queen’s University and is a member of The Word Guild, the largest organization for writers and editors who are Christian in Canada. She currently resides in central Ontario, Canada with her husband Michael and their three children, all of whom she (literally) looks up to. Her favourite way to spend the days (and nights) is drinking coffee and making stuff up. Get to know Sara better at www.saradavison.org and @sarajdavison.

Janet: Welcome, Sara, and thanks for taking time to join us. We chatted in 2011 about your debut novel, The Watcher, and I’m excited to find out more about your new novel, The End Begins. Would you tell us a bit about it?

Sara: Thanks for having me, Janet. I’d love to tell you a bit about The End Begins, Book 1 of The Seven Trilogy, which released on Sept. 1 as an ebook and releases in print on Sept. 15. Essentially the three books tell the love story of a Christian woman, Meryn O’Reilly, and Jesse Christensen, the army captain sent to her city to keep an eye on the believers after a radical Christian group claims responsibility for a series of terrorist attacks in Canada. Jesse is equally amused, intrigued, and terrified by the fiery Meryn. When she breaks one of the new, anti-Christian laws, he races against time to convince the authorities to show leniency to her, and to convince her that their love can overcome all barriers between them.

Janet: This is an uncomfortably believable plot. What do you say to readers who are beginning to fear this sort of thing happening?

Sara: It can be scary, witnessing the erosion of the freedoms we have always held sacred in this country, namely those of religion and free speech. And Christians do seem to be the one acceptable target of hostility (actually a good thing, because it shows that the world sees us as different from other religions). But it is far more encouraging and productive to view these developments as incredibly exciting, as the unfolding of God’s plan to bring all people and nations to the point where they must choose whether to accept or reject Jesus Christ. Persecution, while not necessarily something to seek out, would likely be the best thing that could happen to the church in North America as it very often serves to strengthen and unite believers, and draw them back to utter dependence on God.

Janet: Valid points! With a title like this, I have to ask if it’s an end-times series, or simply the end of religious freedom for Christians in North America.

Sara: I believe the two go very much hand in hand. Most biblical scholars and teachers agree that we are in the end times, and have been for a long time. The closer we come to the end, the more difficult it will become for believers. In fact, Revelation suggests that there will come a time when society believes the Christian church is dead, and will celebrate in the streets as a result. Of course we know this will not be the end of the church, that despite intense persecution, including the loss of religious freedom, the church will endure to the end.

Janet: Were you concerned that researching bombings and extremists might bring a visit from someone in law enforcement?

Sara: Ha! I am deeply aware as I conduct some of the online searches I need to conduct, that I am probably being red-flagged by CSIS. I won’t be a bit surprised if they show up at my door some day. I’m sure murder mystery writers face the same possibility of the police coming to question them about some of their research. It’s an occupational hazard, I guess. The great thing about being a writer is that all frightening or horrible things that happen to you are just fodder for the next novel.

Janet: What’s the novel’s theme? Or what do you want readers to take away when they’re done?

Sara: This goes back to the question you asked earlier, about what to say to readers who are beginning to fear what is happening to Christians in our society. The theme of all three books is that, whatever happens, however difficult or even deadly things become, believers will not have to face any of it alone. God will be there to help them through whatever they are facing and will give them the strength to endure. Story after story of believers facing persecution in other countries bears out the truth that, when needed, Christians will be given a supernatural strength and peace to carry them through. In fact, this happens to one of the characters in The End Begins, and it is definitely what I hope readers will take with them when they’re done reading the series.

Janet: “Whatever happens, Jesus will be there” is one of my key themes in writing, too. It’s a truth that makes all the difference. Of course we can’t face our fears on our own. We were never intended to, but sadly, we forget that! The End Begins was a RT Book Reviews’ Top Pick in August. Congratulations – what a great kick-off! What else has been happening around the book’s release?

Sara: Thank you. I was thrilled with the RT review, and humbled and grateful for all the other positive reviews and endorsements the book has received. I will be doing two, fairly informal, launches in October, as well as a blog tour. Of course I am also looking into various ways to promote the book through social media. Like most writers, self-promotion and marketing are not my strong suits, but I am committed to doing what I can to get the word out about these three books, and the publisher and my literary agency are promoting them as well.

Janet: What was the best part of the story to write?

Sara: I love writing suspense, but I’m a sucker for the romance too, so I did enjoy writing the scenes between Jesse and Meryn as their relationship developed. Probably my favourite scenes to write, though, were between Jesse and his best friend and commanding officer, Caleb Donevan. Jesse and Caleb grew up together and are like brothers, but the fact that Jesse is Caleb’s subordinate means they have to balance those two roles very carefully. It was a challenge to have them be able to slip in and out of their superior/inferior relationship and their best friend one, but from feedback I have received, they achieve this balance well. These scenes add the most humour to the book too, which is always fun to write, especially after creeping myself out with some of the other scenes in the books.

Janet: A little humour definitely helps readers recover from the tense parts! This is book one in your new Seven Trilogy. Without giving spoilers for The End Begins, what hints can you give about the rest of the series?

Sara: Jesse and Meryn’s relationship will continue to face challenges and serious ups and downs throughout the series. While book one portrays the gorgeous but deadly Scorcher as the female antagonist, a new enemy will rise up in book two, The Dragon Roars. Each book introduces new characters and storylines, but it is Jesse and Meryn’s story, and the love story of God and mankind, that will thread through all three books, concluding in book three, The Morning Star Rises.

Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Sara: The absolute most important thing I always tell any beginning writers who will listen is to be teachable. I’ve written six books now and still learned so much through the editing process on The End Begins. It never ceases to amaze me how much you don’t know that you don’t know, especially when first starting out. The biggest mistake a new writer can make is thinking their work is good enough to go out into the world without having undergone serious, intensive editing by professionals. You aren’t doing yourself, the market, readers, or other writers any favours by putting out work that isn’t ready, and you may be doing serious harm to all of the above. Be patient. The journey is long but if you relax and enjoy it, instead of trying to take shortcuts, you will never regret it. Instead, you can look at everything you have produced and be proud of your efforts. Most of all, you will honour God if what you publish is excellent and the very best you can make it.

Janet: Well said, and so true! Tell us a bit about Sara the individual. What does life look like when you’re not writing? How do you like to spend your time?

Sara: I do a lot of editing work for people, especially fiction manuscripts, and really enjoy that. I love coaching/mentoring new writers especially. Apart from that, I try to spend as much time as possible with my husband, Michael, and our three kids. Our oldest son is leaving for college next year and our daughter in a couple of years so it feels like this time with them is so precious and fleeting. I don’t want to waste a moment of it. Michael and I are also deeply involved in ministry at our church and that takes up a lot of time. Any spare time I have I like to meet friends for coffee, read, watch the Blue Jays (huge fan!), and go to the movies.

Janet: Coffee or tea? And what’s your favourite season?

Sara: Coffee. Absolutely.  I recently found a mug that says, “I just want to drink coffee, create stuff, and sleep” which perfectly sums up my life.

My favourite season is fall, although there are aspects of every season that I like. I could never live in a place where the seasons didn’t change.

Janet: If you could go anywhere, to any time, what might you choose?

Sara: Mayberry in the 1950’s. Or at least the small town Canadian equivalent where everyone knows everyone and has a picket fence and a station wagon with wood panelling on the sides. I’ve always said I was born after my time. I love shows like Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show because, although I’m sure it wasn’t as idyllic a time as we imagine, it does seem like the last age of innocence, in our part of the world anyway.


When your beliefs are at war, does love stand a chance?

The End Begins (The Seven Trilogy, Book 1) by Sara DavisonBookstore owner Meryn O’Reilly and Army Captain Jesse Christensen are on opposite sides of a battle. After a series of terrorist attacks in 2053, martial law has been declared in Canada and the military has taken over. When a radical Christian group claims responsibility, Jesse and his platoon are sent to Meryn’s city to keep an eye on the Christians and ensure they are not stepping outside the confines of the law.

Fiery and quick-tempered, Meryn chafes under the curfew and other restrictions to her freedom. Jesse is equally amused, intrigued, and terrified by her spirit. She could find herself in prison if she shows defiance to the wrong soldier, namely Lieutenant Gallagher.

Jesse watches out for Meryn when possible, although she wants nothing to do with him. His worst fears are realized when she commits a crime he cannot protect her from. Now they both face an uncertain future and the very real threat of losing everything, including their lives. With time running out, Jesse works feverishly to convince the authorities to show leniency to Meryn. And to convince her that love can overcome any barrier that lies between them.

The End Begins released Sept. 1 (digital formats) and releases in print on Sept. 15, and is available online or in print through your local bookstore.

For more about author Sara Davison, visit her website, Choose to Press On, or see the feature article on the Ashberry Lane site.

Review: Triple Threat, by H.L. Wegley

Triple Threat, by HL WegleyTriple Threat, by HL Wegley (Harbourlight Books, 2014)

If you like novels that kick up the adrenaline on the first page, this one’s for you. Triple Threat is book 4 in the Pure Genius series, and it features Jennifer and Lee’s adopted daughter, Katie, who’s about to turn 21. Timeline-wise, it’s five years after Moon over Maalaea Bay.

Katie is doing her doctoral research on tracking terrorist messages on the Internet. When she discovers a triple threat aimed at the US (fire, power blackouts and disease) she and research partner Joshua West don’t have time to convince the FBI. They have to get proof – and stay alive long enough to deliver it.

Triple Threat reads like a movie. Some of the action is a bit past the believable point for me, but it’s good, clean fun. There’s a spiritual element too. Katie and Josh discover a mutual attraction, but she isn’t willing to have a relationship with a man who’s not a Christian. Josh thinks faith is for people who can’t see it doesn’t work. They have some interesting chats as Katie shares how her brilliant mind sees reasons for her faith.

Because the novel deals with cyber crimes, there are technical terms that get thrown around to give context, terms the characters would likely use. Confession: those sentences were over my head, so I skimmed them. Didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story any more than if the characters had been talking medicine or botany.

I haven’t yet read book 1 in this series, but the others have been good reads. HL Wegley writes clean, action-based fiction that tackles real-life issues like terrorism and human trafficking. If you like novels that tackle grittier subjects yet won’t leave you traumatized, check out the Pure Genius series. If you want to start at the beginning, book 1 is Hide and Seek.

Author HL Wegley describes his novels’ atmosphere as “A climate of suspense and a forecast of stormy weather.” For more about the author and his books, visit hlwegley.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Dark Justice, by Brandilyn Collins

Dark Justice, by Brandilyn CollinsDark Justice, by Brandilyn Collins (Broadman & Holman, 2013)

When Hannah Shire and her elderly mother stop on a deserted road to assist the victim of a car crash, they’re pulled into a terrorist plot to take down the entire US power grid and send the country into darkness.

The victim passes on a message—and a warning not to tell anyone, even the police. With no idea what’s at stake or who to trust or what the message means, Hannah and her mother, Carol, are soon on the run. She tries to keep her daughter Emily out of it, but all the three are in danger.

The story is told in the first person from Hannah’s point of view, interspersed with portions of a hearing taking place after the fact, investigating police handling of the events. This builds the suspense and allows the reader access to information that Hannah doesn’t have.

Dark Justice is a high-stakes terrorist thriller, made more gripping because of the ordinary women protagonists. Hannah misses her dead husband. She’s not used to handling everything alone, and the strain of caring for a mother with dementia has her near breaking before the story even opens.

Brandilyn Collins does an excellent job crafting Hannah’s increasing strain and paranoia while keeping reader sympathy. The pairing of vulnerable characters with the high-stakes threat makes the threat that much more real in readers’ minds. This sort of attack could actually happen, and odds are that real-life people wouldn’t be able to stop it. (Does that mean Hannah, Carol and Emily succeed? I won’t tell.)

Best-selling author Brandilyn Collins is known for her Seatbelt Suspense® fiction. Dark Justice is her most recent release, available in paperback and e-book formats. For more about the author and her other books, visit her website.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: The Lightning File, by Eric E. Wright

The Lightning File, by Eric E. Wright

The Lightning File, by Eric E. Wright (Hidden Brook Press, 2007)

“My discovery of terrorist cells operating in Canada coincided with Stephanie’s request that I move out.”

And so begins journalist Joshua Radley’s harrowing adventure.

Well-liked by almost everyone at the Toronto newspaper where he works, Josh is in the boss’ bad books. He’s been spending too much time chasing a hunch about a new drug ring linked to international terrorists. With a few tenuous leads and a faceless hacker friend, Josh slowly begins to piece together some clues.

As gifted as he is with news stories, Josh isn’t so good at relationships. His wife can’t take his workaholic ways anymore and says they need time apart. All he wanted was to track down this terrorist threat before it’s too late. Now, he’s dealing with writer’s block on the stories he’s actually been assigned, a tumult of emotions over his separation, a shaky faith, and temptation in the form of a beautiful woman who shares his commute.

The Lightning File languished in my “should read” pile too long because I thought it might be traumatic. Terrorists, after all, get pretty intense. But Josh is our narrator for the whole story, and although he’s shaken by his experiences it’s not an upsetting book to read. Instead, it’s a fast-paced puzzle he’s racing to solve.

His investigations take him into nuclear power plants and other places that require a lot of detail. Author Eric E. Wright does a fine job of keeping it all understandable, although at times the volume of facts got a bit too much for me.

Perhaps it’s the weight of facts that makes me feel there’s more “telling” than “showing” in this novel, although Josh tells us a lot about his feelings too. The plot gets very complex as it progresses, but it’s all part of unravelling the mystery. And the details could come out of today’s newscasts – or tomorrow’s.

The Lightning File is a well-crafted, high-stakes novel that will appeal to men and women both. It’s the winner of the 2007 Canadian Christian Writing Award in two categories: best mystery/suspense and best independently-published book.

Canadian Eric E. Wright is the author of five non-fiction books. The Lightning File is his first novel, and his second, Captives of Minara, also featuring Josh Radley, released in November 2009. You can learn more about Eric at The Country Window site and read an interview with him at the Hot Apple Cider site.