Friday, March 21, 2014

The Devil Walks In Mattingly - Suspense and the Supernatural Merge.

In the small town of Mattingly, Virginia, Sheriff Jake Barnett and his wife, Kate, carry the weight of a dark secret.  The secret threatens to crush them, chaining their conscience to a burden that grows greater with each day.

Just outside of Mattingly, in Happy Hollow, an area thick with a supernatural presense, Taylor Hathcock watches and waits.  Self-appointed caretaker of the Hollow, Hathcock has secrets of his own.

One evening when an apparent convenience store robbery leads to a murder, their secrets threaten to spread beyond their own tortured lives and infect the entire community.

In the supernatural thriller, The Devils Walks in Mattingly, Jake, Kate and Taylor’s lives are intertwined by their involvement in the death of a young man – a fellow high school classmate named Phillip McBride.

Although Phillip’s death was determined a suicide, each of them held themselves responsible for his life ending.  The struggle with guilt, fear, and anger is constant, wrecking their lives, and the lives of those around them.

Author Billy Coffey delves deeply into the souls tormented by the death of this young man.  The burden they each carry is palpable.  Coffey masterfully brings us into the minds of the main characters as they try in their own twisted ways to make amends in their own souls. All the while, supernatural forces – both good and evil, weave their way though Mattingly – fighting for those very souls.

As a thriller, The Devil Walks in Mattingly, hooks you in immediately.  You know something strange is going on, you know there must be a terrible secret, but Coffey plays the plot card close to his chest.  He feeds you just enough to make you hungry for more answers.  He deftly lays out the story to keep you on the edge.  It is a book that may cause real life to take a back seat for a while.

But The Devil Walks in Mattingly is much more than a supernatural thriller. This novel has an aching, yearning beauty to it.  Coffey successfully uses the pain of guilt and condemnation that haunt Kate, Jake, and even Taylor, as a mirror to reflect the destruction of guilt in the lives of all humanity – and skillfully brings the reader to that moment of redemption when the last page is turned.

A courtesy copy of The Devil Walks in Mattingly was obtained through Thomas Nelson in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I am thrilled to offer my very first book giveaway on Rapid Reader!!!

John Faubion's book, Friend Me, is a really pulse-pounder, I want want to share it with one lucky winner.
How do you get in the game?

1.Leave a comment below on this blog post

2. Go to Howards Books' Facebook page and click"like".

3. Go to Howard Books on Twitter and follow.

I will announce the winner on my blog on February 11th!!!!

Friend Me - A Profound Psycho-Thriller promises the perfect friend - always just a click away; always caring and totally concerned about you and only you.

Lonely and under appreciated wife and mom, Rachel Douglas, stumbled across Virtual Friend Me while on Facebook. Curious, she decided to set up an account and create a virtual friend modeled after her best friend, who had died several years ago.

Impressed with how real her new computer generated friend was, she shared the site with her husband, Scott, who became equally intrigued. 

So much so, that he decided to create his very own friend on the sly– a woman he named Angela. Angela, who looked like a model, who was delighted to hear about his day, and who lived to tell him how amazing he was. This virtual vixen made him feel like the most incredible male in the world.  His wife, it seemed, had recently rescinded her My Husband Is The Best fan club membership, and Scott needed a little female encouragement.

And what was the harm?  She wasn’t real, after all.  Right?

What Scott, didn’t count on, when he created his online dream girl, was falling in love with this cyber-Stepford Wife.  His relationship with Rachel continued to slide downhill, and because of some questionable dealings at work, he was in danger of losing his job.  And what complicated matters more – Angela was more real than he believed.

Friend Me, a novel by newcomer John Faubion, is a timely psychological thriller that is taut and suspenseful.  A cautionary tale of contemporary disconnect from flesh and blood humanity in favor of a fantasy Internet community.

Friend Me is a real nail biter to the end, but what I love even more than the many steal-your-breath-away moments, are the insights into our logged-in society.  Faubion masterfully captures our obsession with online lives - hours spent on social media connecting with people we don’t even know - creating relationships with personas that we only know through pithy tweets or Facebook posts while our own families become more and more distant. 

Faubion doesn’t stop there.  He paints a portrait of a Christian couple gradually moving apart.  Increasingly frustrated, Scott and Rachel don’t find solace in each other but online. 

But Friend Me is not a preachy, stuffy novel.  It moves quickly with moments that defy you to put the book down.  And Faubion’s scissor-wielding, cyber-psycho is one creepy chick.

Friend Me kept me in suspense and got me thinking as well, a great combination.  I’m hoping and praying Faubion has more in store for his readers.   With his first book showing such promise, it would be a shame to let the friendship fade.

Home Run - A Leadership Book That Hits It Out Of The Park

Being a Christian is supposed to be all about abundant life – a life overflowing with joy and peace, right? 

So why is it so many Christians find themselves banging their heads off the wall wondering when things are going to turn around.  Wondering when that life of abundance is going to kick in.   Are they not sincere enough, dedicated enough?

Pastor Kevin Myers was both dedicated to God and sincere in his faith, but yet he found himself knee deep in self-doubt and frustrated faith after trying to plant a church in Georgia.  He was ready throw in the towel. He was burned out and low on hope.

But according to Myers, during this time of trial, God was revealing to him a pattern of living that would turn his life and ministry around.

Home Run: Learn God’s Game Plan For Life and Leadership, co-written by Kevin Myers and John C. Maxwell, shares that revelation in a way most Americans can relate to – through the game of baseball.
Does a trot around the bases seem a little simplistic for a life-changing epiphany?  Not being a fan of the National Pastime, I was skeptical of the import of this metaphor.  But a couple pages into Home Run and I was ordering peanuts and Cracker Jack….metaphorically, of course.

As Myers struggled to plant a viable church in the suburbs of Atlanta, he had the opportunity to be mentored by John Maxwell, the preeminent authority on Leadership, highly respected in both the secular and Christian spheres. Throughout Home Run, Maxwell offers his insights on Myers offerings, relating stories from his own experiences, which give credence to Myers’ observations.

Myers offers his readers a realistic game plan for life involving running the bases.  Starting with Connection With God at home base, Myers presents a succession of life commitments (Character, Community, and Competence) represented by first, second, and third bases.  His contention? We mess up our lives by running the bases in the wrong order.

Home Run has the potential of helping many overcome slumps in whatever inning of life they find themselves.  Myers has a winner here.

Home Run is an enjoyable read packed with scripturally founded advice.  Myers’ theory of base running is simple – without being simplistic.  And with sidebar contributions from heavy hitter Maxwell, Home Run puts it over the wall.

Home Run was received courtesy of FaithWords in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

His Promise True - Predictable Story, Characters You Care About

Maggie Boon’s got a tough life.  In 1823, a poor, mountain girl doesn’t have a lot of options, especially if her pa is determined to marry her off to an abusive widower with a passel of kids.

So when Maggie laments her fate to the handsome son of a farmer at a barn raising party, his sympathy is not unwelcome until her pa spies them and gets the wrong idea.  Pulling the magistrate from the festivities, Maggie and John David get hitched on the spot, John David befuddled by whiskey and a White Knight complex, Maggie seeing this marriage as a way of escape.

It takes just a few hours of sobering up for John David and Maggie to realize they made a mistake, but John David insists on rescuing Maggie from her predicament, and Maggie is eager to get off the mountain.   With a promise of an annulment and a better life, she sets off with her new groom.

Greta Marlow’s novel, His Promise True, follows the relationship of young Maggie and John David.  The storyline is not untypical of the genre.   Love kindles gradually over a period of time.  Several conflicts arise threatening their fragile relationship.  However, the historical setting gives the reader a taste of pioneering spirit as the couple set off to settle in Texas, overcoming many obstacles in the less than accommodating frontier wilderness.

Their journey is overflowing with peril as they make their way down the river navigating the shoals and snags of the waterways - and their relationship.

His Promise True follows the path of most romance novels, but the characters draw you in – especially John David, young, brash and flawed.   He’s not the heroic perfection populating the genre.  He’s trying to do the best he can – often falling short. And I liked him better for it.  Noble one minute, rash the next, John David was believable.  And Maggie’s scrappy attitude added definite spice to the mix. He and Maggie make mistakes, make the best of it, and move forward.  Like real human beings.

If you like frontier romances, His Promise True is an enjoyable read.  If you like characters who grow as they go, Marlow’s book shows true promise.