As I began reading The Damascus Way, the third and final book in the Acts of Faith trilogy, I soon found myself immersed in the richly detailed account of life among followers of The Way during the turbulent era after the death of Christ. As I walked along beside these early believers in my imagination, I experienced both the hardships and the joys of their lives. There were brief encounters with disciples Phillip, Peter, and John as well as the tangible fear of Saul that the early followers lived with daily. I witnessed multiple miracles and experienced the joy of seeing both strangers and family members become fellow believers. I experienced and survived a violent dust storm and encountered bandits. And I was there when Saul had his dramatic encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus.
Yes, The Damascus Way has been written so skillfully that the reader almost becomes a part of the story. Although many of the characters are fictional, everything about them and their lives is realistic and believable. Actual biblical events have been portrayed in a manner that remains close to actual scriptural accounts. Once again I have been challenged to look at my own life in contrast to those of the early believers. I am convinced that I would fall far short of their example.
As I have expressed in my reviews of the earlier books in this series, I believe that The Damascus Way would be an excellent resource in the study of early Christian history. I highly recommend all the books in the Acts of Faith trilogy.
This book was provided for review by Laura Christianson with Blogging Bistro, LLC.
The Damascus Way, by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
Book 3 in the Acts of Faith series
Young Julia has everything money can buy—except for acceptance by either Gentiles or Judeans in Tiberias. When she discovers the secret her beloved Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Julia and her Hebrew mother are indeed less than second-class citizens. Her future is dark with clouds of uncertainty.
Jacob, Abigail’s brother, is now a young man attempting to find his own place among the community of believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard?
Hired by Julia’s father to protect a wealthy merchant’s caravans on the secretive “Frankincense Trail,” Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing letters and messages between communities of believers now dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia, hardly more than a girl, is also a courier. Can their initial mistrust be put aside to accomplish their mission?
Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.
Reviewers, readers and friends use those phrases to describe Davis Bunn. An internationally-acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in sixteen languages, Davis is equal parts writer, scholar, teacher, and sportsman.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.
Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.
A sought-after speaker in the art of writing, Davis serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.
The Christy Award
The Meeting Place (co-authored with Janette Oke) – Best North American Historical fiction, 2000
The Great Divide – Best Suspense Novel, 2001
Drummer in the Dark – Best Suspense Novel, 2002
Q & A with Davis Bunn
What inspired you to write Acts of Faith, a series of three books set in the earliest days of the church?
Janette Oke and I have wanted to do a Bible-based series for years. Then health issues forced her to retire, and it looked like we would never have that opportunity. Three years ago, she came out of retirement, specifically so that we might do this final trio of books together. It has been an answer to a prayer for us both. We have so enjoyed this project.
How do you come up with the trials a character will face in growing in their faith? Do you draw on your own experience or similar situations that maybe you or friends have been through?
Each book was based around a specific portion of the Gospels and the Book of Acts. In our initial discussions, we winnowed down the lessons we personally gained from the passages to one specific issue. One core component that we felt truly represented the eternal theme. A good novel can only have one such message. This is a crucial difference between fiction and non-fiction. Stories require a weaving together of theme and tale, and having more than one theme results in a weak structure. Distilling our personal lessons down to this lesson was a great learning process for us. It really brought us closer to each other, and to God.
Many – in fact, most – of the characters in the Acts of Faith series are not believers. Why did you focus the books on them?
Janette came up with this idea. We wanted to get away from an inspirational book where all the characters were either of faith or moving in this direction. Life then, and now, was very different for a lot of families, and we wanted to reflect that in our characters.
What is the biggest personal lesson you have learned from writing the Acts of Faith series?
The greatest lesson I personally have gained from this series is how our world is reshaped through the vision of Jesus. This is a truth revealed time and again through the Book of Acts. We hope this same truth will shine within our pages. Our hope is that each of these stories will ignite in the reader a new hunger to enrich themselves through the treasures found in the Book of Acts.
Our first book, The Centurion’s Wife, dealt with the forty days between the resurrection of Jesus and the arrival of Pentecost.
The key component of our second book in the series, The Hidden Flame, was what I called the passing of the torch. Jesus left, and his disciples took over. They moved from the position of followers to leaders. What an enormous challenge that must have been, and yet how similar it is to the challenge any leader faces today.
In The Damascus Way, the third book of our trilogy, we create a story based upon outreach. We look at what it means to engage in evangelism, and seek a clearer understanding of the challenges and mysteries faced by those earliest believers. And we seek to enrich the glorious moment when Saul, the early church’s greatest enemy, was called to faith by our Lord.
Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.
She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.
Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she’s added sixteen more titles to her credit, including four bestsellers: All Things Hidden, The Real Enemy, The Last Word, and The Right Call.
Kathy’s husband Paul is her manager and most ardent supporter, and the former manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five almost-perfect grandchildren, a cat named Samantha. They enjoy cruising, deep sea fishing, and birdwatching—sometimes incorporating these hobbies into one big adventure.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Zoe Broussard loves the life she and her husband Pierce have built in her beloved Louisiana hometown. She owns a thriving Cajun eatery in South Louisiana and is married to the love of her life.
But it’s about to become hell. One day, out of the blue, she receives a series of anonymous notes that sends her life into a tail spin. Five simple words, “I know what you did.” Zoe has a secret so terrible it could leave the business in shambles and tear her marriage apart. Unbeknownst to anyone, even Zoe’s husband, Pierce, she has a past—a past she had covered so well she never thought she would have to confront. How could anyone know what she did? Can she find the courage to face her past?
I have enjoyed Kathy Herman’s novels for several years and own a copy of each one of them. I was happy to see her newest, False Pretenses on my March CFBA review calendar. As expected, I found it to be chock full of riveting suspense and spiritual truth.
Featuring Zoe Broussard and her husband Pierce as well as Vanessa and Ethan Langley (from the Sophie Trace Trilogy). Zoe and Pierce own and run Zoe B’s Cajun eatery in Les Barbes, Louisiana and Vanessa and Ethan have recently moved to the area to restore historical family home Langley Manor and immediately encounter a mystery there. When a much loved young man is found murdered, racial tensions in the small town escalate. At the same time, Zoe finds herself confronted with secrets from her past. Forced to deal with her past mistakes, Zoe learns that her careless choices have placed her very life and possibly her marriage in peril. When Ethan and Vanessa learn of her predicament, they immediately get involved.
A rapidly escalating plot with three mysteries to solve, interesting down-home characters and setting, and emotional distress make False Pretenses a page turner. With a bit of history and local color added, the book is irresistible. This one is definitely on my list of recommended books.
In the past I have had the reputation of being the person who is in the know about Christian music. Somehow Jesus Culture escaped my notice until two different Facebook friends posted about them in one day. Once I watched just one video, I knew I had to have one of their CD’s. To my surprise Come Away included a CD and a DVD that showcased a nearly two hour worship service. My husband and I watched the video the night our order arrived and were blown away. We have been hungry to experience this kind of worship again. I just can’t say enough good things about this worship band and have now ordered three more of their CD sets. They are all just as good as this one. If you are craving a powerful worship experience that is more than just lip service, Come Away is the CD for you.
Watch as Kim Walker sings “Show Me Your Glory” from Come Away:
When Liz Johnson asked me to participate in the blog tour for her newest novel Code of Justice, I was happy to do so and already had a copy thanks to my subscription to Love Inspired Suspense. She generously sent me an additional autographed copy to give away, so be watching for instructions later in this post.
One thing I like about the Love Inspired Suspense books is that they are easily read in an evening because they get right to the point and have few of the extraneous details that longer novels contain. So what if the hero and heroine’s relationship develops a bit too quickly – there is no time for a slow courtship in one of these shorter length books. In my opinion, it might just take more skill to tell a good story when your number of pages is so limited.
Liz Johnson is an expert at getting her story across within the prescribed parameters. Her characters are realistic and well developed. The plot is well crafted and moves at a steady pace, building the suspense with each page. Unexpected twists and surprises lurk around every corner. A strong message of faith is deftly woven through the story and a helpful spiritual lesson is illustrated through the tribulations of her characters. Code of Justice is a riveting tale with a strong theme of forgiveness and relying on the Lord rather than oneself.
In Code of Justice injured FBI agent Heather Sloan convinces deputy Jeremy Latham to allow her to help him discover the person responsible for her sister’s death. As they move closer to finding the killer, their lives are also threatened. Heather is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice – but is it really justice or revenge? Is she willing to risk everything, even her newly realized love for Jeremy, to see her quest through to the end?
As mentioned earlier, I have one autographed copy of Code of Justice to give away to a reader of this blog. Just leave a comment on this post telling me why you would like to read this book. Contest deadline is Friday, April 1. U.S. residents only please.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Her sister’s last words shake FBI agent Heather Sloan to the core. They also convince her that the helicopter crash only Heather survived wasn’t an accident. Sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Latham is assigned the case—he’s the one who can help Heather find the person responsible. Once she convinces him they should work together. As they dig for the truth, they learn to trust and care for each other. Will they lose it all when the killer targets Heather? She’s willing to risk her life to find her sister’s killer—but her code of justice could cost her the chance to win Jeremy’s love.
After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, Liz Johnson set out to work in the Christian publishing industry, which was her lifelong dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-being an author. Along the way to having her novel published, she wrote articles for several magazines and worked as a freelance editorial consultant.
Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys exploring her new home, theater, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nephew and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings.
Shuttled between foster homes, Roxi Gold will do anything to fit in. Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society—and not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run. Will the power of forgiveness set them free?
I have looked forward to reading Bound by Guilt since the first announcement of its publication. I enjoyed the author’s first book Thicker Than Blood so much that I couldn’t wait to see what she had to offer with her new one. Once my review copy arrived, I had to force myself to wait until I had read the earlier scheduled books on my review calendar. Only by strictly adhering to my calendar am I able to meet review deadlines. When I was finally able to open Bound by Guilt, I was not disappointed by what I found.
With several returning characters from Thicker Than Blood, the second book of the series also returns to the familiar setting of The Book Barn and the world of valuable first edition books. However this installment has some interesting twists with the introduction of new characters and events. One of the primary players in Bound by Guilt is Roxi Gold, a teen who has been shuffled from one place to another after being abandoned by her mother at a young age. Then there is Abby Dawson who believes she has failed at everything in her life – in her marriage, as a mother, at her job on the police force, and her relationship with her father. And I can’t forget Jan and Keith Mercer, the couple who took Roxi into their home and exhibited the kind of unconditional love and acceptance that should characterize each and every Christian. Each of these characters will find their lives forever changed in the aftermath of one devastating decision in the Book Barn.
Bound by Guilt is more than just a good mystery/suspense novel. Darlington delves deep into the thoughts and emotions of her characters and portrays each one in all their strengths and weaknesses. The well crafted plot moves at the perfect pace and every aspect of the story is believable. Spiritual content is woven naturally and unobtrusively into the story without being overdone. While truly an enjoyable read, this book is also one that gives its readers a bit to mull over.
I am looking forward to Darlington’s next release and recommend that you run out and pick up a copy of Bound by Guilt (and Thicker Than Blood) for yourself if you haven’t already done so.
Great job! You kept me turning the pages. —Francine Rivers, Internationally best selling author
C.J. is a wonderful, talented writer . . . extraordinary . . . —Bodie Thoene, best-selling author of the A.D. Chronicles This one engages your senses and reaches your heart. —Jerry B. Jenkins, NY Times best-selling author & owner of The Christian Writers Guild
Watch the book trailer:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
C. J. Darlington won the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest with her first novel, Thicker Than Blood. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site www.TitleTrakk.com with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Visit her website www.cjdarlington.com