Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jack's Life: The Life Story of C.S. Lewis

Title: Jack’s Life: The Life Story of C.S. Lewis
Author: Douglas Gresham
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-8054-3246-6
Genre: Biography

While browsing on Amazon, I came across the name Douglas Gresham. Immediately I wondered whether it was the same Douglas Gresham portrayed in the movie Shadowlands, which just happens to be one of my favorite movies. I clicked on the name and up came the book Jack’s Life. I knew by that title that it was the person portrayed in the movie, and I knew that I had to get this book.

Jack’s Life is an excellent book about the life of C.S. Lewis, written by Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham. The author met Lewis when he was eight years old, and he was part of Lewis’ life for ten years – up until Lewis’ death. Gresham provides a unique and unequaled perspective on the man who gave the world The Chronicles of Narnia and many other classic stories. Gresham also sets the record straight about the untruths of Lewis’ life that were portrayed in Shadowlands.

There are too many positive aspects of this book to possibly mention. C.S. Lewis, or “Jack” as he preferred to be called, was an amazing person who led an extraordinary life. I confess that I have never read anything by C.S. Lewis, but reading about his life has had a profound impact on me.

The only negative thing that I can say about the book is that Gresham sometimes comes off as preaching to the readers about what a good Christian should or shouldn’t do, but I easily overlooked those moments. If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, or the movie Shadowlands, then you are going to love this book. I highly recommend it.

Afterlife Crisis

Title: Afterlife Crisis
Author: Steve Mayfield
Publisher: Synergy Books
ISBN: 978-1-934454-24-4
Genre: Spiritual Fiction
Release Date: 9/1/08

Afterlife Crisis is a unique book about how our time on earth is seen in the afterlife, with a soundtrack of seven original songs included. The book is a fast read, with only 137 pages (not including the soundtrack lyrics.)

I’m not a fan of books about the afterlife, or all the new age stuff out there. I found this book stretching, and almost breaking at times, the limits of my imagination, but as a reviewer, I put aside my own personal beliefs and judge a book by its content. The author has a very fertile imagination about what happens when we leave this life, and I think that there is quite a market out there for Afterlife Crisis. The book kept me thinking of it as a sort of imaginative mixture of “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The plot was easy to follow and the main character was very likeable.

As far as the spiritual fiction genre goes, this book will be well-received.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Second Chance

Title: Second Chance
Author: Joy Collins
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 978-0-45602-4
Genre: Mainstream, Contemporary
Websites: &

Second Chance is a complex story with interweaving subplots. It is about the trials and tribulations of a woman stuck in the “sandwich generation.” Sara Weber has a seemingly perfect life and marriage, at least up until the time her stepdaughter moves in, bringing with her all of her problems. Sara is now faced with the reality of not only having to deal with a college-age-party-girl stepdaughter, but also with the ex-wife who epitomizes the word “bitch,” and who could have garnered several Oscars for her drama queen moments. Add to that a spineless, non-confrontational husband who appeases his ex-wife to the detriment of his wife’s feelings, an ever increasing senile mother, and a stepmother of her own who may have kept her from her own father, and you get one fantastic novel.

Sara’s emotions run the gamut as she is condemned for her actions, whether good or bad – right or wrong. When Sara’s stepdaughter moves in to go to the nearby college, Sara doesn’t know whether to try to be a stepmother to the young lady or to emotionally keep her distance. She did not want to have to deal with the evil ex-wife and all of her machinations, but she wanted to get to know her husband’s only child. When the stepdaughter moves in and Sara sees the father/daughter relationship (however complicated it might be), she finds herself having to deal with her own complicated memories of her own father, mother and stepmother. While all the drama of the stepdaughter/husband/ex-wife is playing out under her roof in Arizona, Sara has to deal with placing her senile mother in a nursing home back East. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an attorney for Sara’s deceased father calls Sara’s sister. The attorney has information that causes a great deal of confusion, and the only person with answers is Sara’s own stepmother (a woman she hasn’t seen or spoken to in thirty years.) The answers Sara’s stepmother possesses hold the key that opens Sara’s eyes to the reality of her life. Will there be a second chance?

I liked that the novel was narrated by Sara. I actually laughed out loud at some of Sara’s unspoken witty quips. It was laugh out loud funny at moments, and poignant at others. I found it very easy to relate to Sara and the mess she found herself in, even though I have never had such experiences.

Second Chance is a well-constructed story with a solid plot and excellent subplots. All of the characters were incredibly contemporary and real, and the minor characters advanced the plot very well. There are a lot of comparisons to be made of the characters’ actions, and it is interesting to see how the choices that were made affected many lives. The author did a stellar job of weaving a tightly knit plot and bringing everything to a final resolution.

I was hooked from the first page, and I could not wait to see what twist and turn was coming next. Therefore, I highly recommend this book.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Title: Orientation
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Amber Quill Press, LLC
ISBN: 978-1602729377
Genre: Paranormal, Gay

Orientation is the first book that I have read that involves love, reincarnation and a murder plot. It is about falling in love with someone without the presence of passion and physical love. Being truly loved, even without the romance and passion, can transcend the need for physical love between two people. The love between Robert, the gay, aging, sugar-daddy, millionaire heir with a distaste for confrontation, and Jess, the young, artistic, twentysomething lesbian is both deep and meaningful. They fill a void in each other that no one else can.

Robert and Jess knew from the moment that they met that some guiding force had pushed the two together. Could the guiding force be Keith, Robert's deceased lover who succumbed to AIDS in the early days of the disease? The timing is also very significant. Was Robert sent to save Jess, or was Jess sent to save Robert?

Christmas plays a big part in the story, with most of the action occurring on three separate Christmas holidays - 24 years apart. One Christmas holiday is very tragic and heartbreaking, another is potentially fatal, while yet another makes one believe in the magic of the holidays.

I thought this book was magnificent and very poignant. I'm not one who goes for the supernatural or who believes in reincarnation, but I was thoroughly impressed by the way in which the author made it work, and dare I say (within the confines of this book) it was believable. Orientation is definitely a roller coaster ride of emotions from the first page to the last. If you enjoy a good love story, mixed with a fair share of angst, go ahead and buy this book. You won't be disappointed.