Month: July 2020

Book Review: These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker

“These Nameless Things” by Shawn Smucker is one part allegory, one part re-imagining of Dante’s Inferno, several parts great storytelling, and all remaining parts pure inspiration.

On the surface, this is the story of a man who escaped a terrible place and now waits for his brother to do the same. However, there is a lot more going on here than what is evident on the surface.

The focus is on a few major characters, and all of them are drawn in vivid detail. Early on, I felt like I really knew Dan, Abe, and Miho. (That’s truly a gift, by the way….when an author is able to make you feel connected to characters almost as soon as you meet them.) As I read on, and learned more about each one, that connection deepened. Each one is realistic, unique, and well worth learning more about.

There are also mysterious elements in this book. As the reader learns more about the characters and their pasts, you’ll try to solve the mystery of what (if any) connections they have along with them. You’ll also try to figure out what the mysterious mountain actually is, and what happened there, as well as ponder the significance of leaving the village and heading east. I enjoyed trying to figure everything out along with Dan. Don’t worry….everything you don’t learn on your own will be explained in the end.

There’s a fair bit of action during one part of the book, but I won’t discuss it to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say that, in the end, you’ll come away with a complete understanding of what actually happened to the characters. Hopefully you’ll also come away with some new knowledge about yourself and your life.

My recommendation: Read this book! Read it for the story of a man and his brother fighting to overcome the odds. Read it for what you’ll learn from it, and walk away with. Most of all, read it because it’s just a really good, well-written story!

Book Review: The Heart of a Hero by Susan May Warren

“The Way of the Brave” by Susan May Warren is a wonderful, suspenseful, action-packed Christian romance. The main focus of the book is the story of Aria and Jake, who we first met in the previous book as side characters. (Note: Although I read and enjoyed the first book, I think this one works just fine as a stand-alone. Enough information is provided to fill the reader in on how Jake and Aria met, and what happened to them.)

The romance is excellent. Both Aria and Jake are well-developed characters with defined personalities and unique flaws. The reader can get to know them separately, and enjoy following along as they spend time together, grow closer, encounter obstacles, and respond to them. Both stay true-to-character, never doing anything that doesn’t make sense based on what we know about them.

There is plenty of dialog between the main characters, and it’s easy to see how and why the two come to care for each other. The dire circumstances they face together serve as another uniting factor.

The storyline beyond the romance is fabulous as well! Even though we begin the story at a nice family picnic, danger and adventure are never far away for these characters. Aria quickly finds herself alone and trapped in the middle of a major hurricane, and Jake is off to the rescue. Brace yourself for plenty of action as one dangerous situation follows another.

Having lived in Florida for a few years, I can say the author definitely did her research. Everything about the effects of the hurricane making landfall is accurate, as are the depictions of certain people who refuse to evacuate no matter what. I appreciated this attention to detail, and commend the author for getting everything just right.

The faith-based part of the story is more subtle here than it was in book 1, but it’s definitely present, primarily through the character of Mimi, who always has just the right spiritual insight to share with the others.

One final note: there is a small side-plot involving Ham from book 1 heading off to research something that started in the earlier volume. Just enough information is included about this to set up the next volume in the series, and I have to say I can’t wait to see how everything is resolved!

All if all, five out of five slices of yummy pepper-jack!