christian fiction

Book Review: The Awakened


I have a rule of thumb that I always review a book within a few days of reading it. It keeps me accountable to not be late and the story is freshest in my mind.

That said- it has been much longer than a few days since I had the opportunity to read The Awakened. Which means it already feels like it has been forever that I have been waiting for the second book and why is it not here now.

I had serious doubts about this book. End times fiction? Flashbacks that are essentially Biblical fiction? The author having Christ as a character in the story and having fictional scenarios? Why don’t we just throw in an adultery plotline and we can have all my least favorite things. The cynicism was high people. I am making such a big deal about this because I was less than 10 pages in when I had to stop and marvel at the grace and skill that the story in front of me was being handled. I got a lot of joy out of when my sister was reading it and she’d periodically text me and go “you’re right. This is amazing.”

The concept is: what if Lazarus didn’t die again. And what if there are a chosen few believers throughout history who were raised from the dead to stand against evil until Christ comes again. The story is told both through flashbacks to Bible times and modern day.

Confession time: the concept of writing historical fiction featuring people who actually lived terrifies me. This is because I know how hard I am on the genre. History isn’t just a playground for us to take pieces and put them together as a puzzle for our amusement. These are actual lives of people who once lived, just as you or I. And my personal conviction is the standard is even higher when your playground is events from Scripture. The respect Richard Spillman clearly has for Scripture is some of the best in fiction I’ve ever read. I’m still not entirely sure how he did it.

That alone would be enough for me to give this book high praise. But everything, the characters, the scenarios, the author is clearly well researched and gives humanity to situations that would be very easy to just slap on in the background. I kept getting blown away with how well done everything in this book was.

Count your blessings, you can go buy this today and you will have less a wait for the second book than I have had to wait thus far. If you like good, well researched, grace filled fiction that is going to make you pause and be like I didn’t know you could do that and it work, read this book.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

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Book Review: Porch Swing Girl

Olive Galloway’s life has been turned upside down and she has been dumped at her Gramma’s house in Hawaii, along with her little sister. Her mother just lost her fight with cancer and her dad has deposited them with their grandmother so he can go deal with things at home in Boston. “Deal with things” being something which has Olive in a complete panic that her dad will deconstruct what is left of her world by getting rid of her mothers things and selling their house.

Full disclosure- Olive annoyed the ever living daylights out of me for the beginning of the book. Her behavior toward her sister, her gramma, her dad, the people who were trying to be her friends was so petty that any sympathy I would have had for her plight never had time to take root. She is dead set on getting back to Boston to make sure her dad doesn’t do something she would regret. And she will let everyone know who will listen.

But the book doesn’t end there, and neither does this review. Taylor Bennett shows the skills of a true storyteller and if this is the talent she is showing in her first book and as a teenager? I look forward to seeing what comes from her in the years to come. It is revealed that Olive’s new friend Jazz is also going through a severe trial, and we see that intensity that Olive portrayed at the beginning of the book being all about her redirected into her new friend. Olive has to process the death of her mother, and shows that she is a true friend by giving up what she wanted most for her new friend.

There is clear growth from the characters and showing how home can mean more than one place and mean people more than a place.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.