Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review - A.D. 30: A Novel - By Ted Dekker

When it comes to books, I have certain authors that I count on for different experiences.  I have grown to count on them to bring me exactly what I look for from each genre that they excel at to such a degree, you almost can't think of that genre without thinking of them.  When it came to suspense with a fantasy or speculative fiction component, I always picked Ted Dekker.  When given an opportunity to review "A.D. 30: A Novel" I jumped at the chance.  

Here's a few details:

About the book (from  Goodreads):
A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.

A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.

Step back in time to the year of our Lord...A.D. 30.

The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father's warriors--Saba who speaks more with is sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

But Maviah's path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people--and herself.

My review:
This is not what I have come to expect with Ted Dekker.  I have expected excellent writing and compelling characters, but I have never read anything like this.  From the beginning I was drawn into the world of Maviah a slave and outcast whose own father, a Sheik who truly wants little to do with her.  She is doubly cursed by being a woman and from the outcast group of the Bedu (a child out of wedlock no less).  I felt an immediate sense of compassion for this woman who, through no fault of her own, had no honor.  When really there is no one else to turn to, Maviah is dispatched on a mission that surely is impossible, but she and her companions have honor and that compels them forward.

You can read what the book is about above, here is what I enjoyed.

Realism -   A.D. 30: A Novel propelled me into biblical history in a way I had not been ushered into it before.  The story of Maviah was compelling and heart wrenching.  I would expect a journey into the desert to be tiresome and full of danger, and Dekker delivered such a journey.  Nothing happened easily in  in the entire story.  This I enjoyed.  It wasn't that I wanted Maviah and her companions to go through hardships, but if it is going to be believable, things have to happen that are believable.  

Tight story - I have read books where things seemed very contradictory in order to get to a desired result.  This book was clear and on point from start to finish.  I didn't find myself turning the pages back to fact check.  I have done that in other books and it has been disappointing.

Characters - The characters are believable and sympathetic.  As a reader I never felt manipulated by character description or actions.  Nothing was ever forced.  They behaved according to the way they were drawn.  There was never a feeling of betrayal over a character suddenly doing a 180.  Both my feeling of sympathy, anger, joy and a little jealousy (they are after all going to meet up with Jesus, I wished it was me) were ignited through this book.  

Spiritual tone - I am a Christian.  I am a Christ follower, and I am happy to read a book that digs into my faith.  Dekker did this richly in A.D. 30.  I found myself making notes for my own growth and development.  It was exciting reading about how someone would picture my Jesus.  

All in all A.D. 30: A Novel, is a compelling historical novel with deep truths linking together an incredible story.  Knowing that there is so much truth made it a bit of a pilgrimage on paper.  If you like adventure?  This book has it in abundance.  Do you desire to read fiction with biblical truth?  You will find it here.  Do you want to have a moment with Jesus?  This made me dig deeper.  Dekker is a master storyteller and through this work you will be entertained but also learn from THE master storyteller, Jesus.  

And good news, a sequel is on the way with A.D. 33.  I for one will anxiously await it.

Lastly, when you pick this book up, be sure to read the opening "My Journey Into A.D. 30."  It was mesmerizing. 

Full disclosure:  I received this book from the publicist to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was given.  The opinions here are completely unbiased and my own.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Trying Something New

*Feeling excited and small*

I am taking part in the 21 Day Intentional Blogging Challenge with Jeff Goins and in doing so, I am taking a leap to self hosting!  Big yikes here.

Here is the link where I am getting started:  Kelly Blackwell

And here is that post from the new blog (pray for me would you?):

The Big Step

Hey there!  This is it.  This is my first step into getting serious.  I am one of those souls who have often found themselves to be an enthusiastic starter but not so much of an enthusiastic finisher.  It is all about the spirit being willing but the flesh becoming easily exhausted.  Here’s the thing.  I want to be a writer.  Wanting isn’t enough though.  I need to act like it.

Yesterday I decided to jump into a challenge via one of my favorite encouraging writers, Jeff Goins.  It is basically a 21 Day Challenge for intentional blogging.  Yep.  This is serious stuff and there are like over 300 people already participating with intention.  Over 300 people to draw encouragement from!  Over 300 people to grow with!  Can you imagine that?  I love that idea!  I need that!  Oh I also kind of dread it, but there are so many participating, I imagine I will kind of just blend in.  Probably a really good thing there.

–Have I mentioned that this scares me a bit?–

I read and reread Jeff’s post time and time again.  I starred the email and looked at it about 30 times this morning.  Finally I looked myself in the mirror and challenged myself to move.  I challenged myself to really do this and do it with a bang.  I decided to jump in with both feet and a new blog.
The new blog is via WordPress (yes, I guess I figure you can tell that, I’m just nervous).  I have never used this platform which will be abundantly obvious as you look around.  I did this to force myself to really commit.  See…I also jumped in with both feet into…gulp…self hosting.  The very idea freaks me out.  This has now just turned into a financial investment.  I am as frugal as they come.  I could have opened up a free site, but I’ve done that and I’ve wimped out.  I am putting my money where my mouth is.  I am committing financially, and now I need to commit with the time.  Oh and lots of prayer.  For now though, I am just going to try to figure this place out.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.  Kind of talking to you and me here.  I need to stick with this.