Standoff by Patricia Bradley (BTSNBM)

Author’s note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Standoff, the first book in Bradley’s new Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, gets this new series off to a very, very rocky start. Brooke is a budding park ranger who wants to be taken seriously by her co-workers and do her job well. She has a wealthy boyfriend, a great family, and a promising future ahead of her. Her idyllic lifestyle comes to a screeching halt when her father is murdered and left for dead while in patrol one evening. Luke is a law enforcement officer (of sorts) who is currently working undercover to expose a big drug cartel that is bringing loads of heroin into the U.S. When he hears that Brooke’s father has been killed, he wants to help find the criminal responsible. The problem is, he and Brooke have a bit of a checkered past, and now that she has a corny villian wealthy boyfriend with a big family inheritance package, he believes any future they had together is now out of the question. She hates him, he has commitment issues, it would never work. You can pretty much guess what happens in this tale, so I won’t bore you any further. As to the plot and storyline quality, let’s just say that the only bright spot in this trainwreck are the chapters featuring the ‘unnamed’ villian. This adds an appropriate air of suspense, but unfortunately the concept isn’t fully developed. Other than that, there are only errors to note here. First, the storyline moves at an inconsistent pace, so much so that the reader sometimes feels like they are being jostled from one scene to another before they can fully understand what’s happening. Second, the author tends towards what I like to call the information-dump style of writing, which interrupts the pace of the story and distracts from whatever point she was trying to make. For example, she offers many unnecessary definitions of crime-related terms and foreign foods Americans may not be familiar with that interrupt the flow of the story. Third, heavy-handed narration is used throughout as the reader is force-fed the major plot points. Fourth, I’m not sure how this is suppsoed to be romantic suspense, since it’s made clear that Jeremy only wants Brooke as a babysitter for his daughter and Luke barely spends any time with Brooke throughout the story. Lastly, perhaps the most unusual facet of this novel is the borderline-racist depictions of non-white characters. Every person with a Cajun accent seems to eat only Cajun food (whose composition the author explains to us in detail), and every other non-white person is a drug dealer or other type of criminal. This messaging is very offensive and unprofessional not to mention bizarre. For these reasons, Bradley earns far below an average score in this section.

Character Development (0 points)

Similarly, Bradley’s heavy-handed, third person narrative tone means that character development is pretty much nonexistent. Brooke is a wooden protagonist who doesn’t know what she wants out of life. Despite her character’s feminist undertones, she doesn’t get much accomplished without the help of her male counterpart, Luke. ‘Luke Fereday’ (no I’m not kidding) has chiseled features, drinks a lot of coffee because “caffeine never kept him up at night,” and goes to a lot of mysterious meetings in bars that make him look really cool…NOT. Jeremy, one of the cheesy antagonists, wears a suit and has a double life as a politician and guy with a Cajun accent who runs a drug cartel. The minor and secondary characters are one-dimensional and add little to the plot. There is unfortunately nothing good to note here. This being said, Bradley earns zero points for character development.

Creativity & Originality (0 points)

In conclusion, there is nothing creative or original to note in this novel. As such, this book should most certainly not be made into a Christian film or series. It is always our practice to point out the good in every novel and commend authors for their strengths, but there was, regrettably, nothing here to commend. Christian authors, we believe in you and the gifts Jesus has given you. Please, don’t write a story unless you are absolutely certain that you have been called by Him to do so. A book you write with Jesus can change the world for good.

Wish List Rating: .5 out of 10 points

Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury (May 5, 2020)

Someone Like You: A Novel (The Baxter Family) by [Kingsbury, Karen]

Release date: May 5, 2020

Author: Karen Kingsbury

Plot summary: Kingsbury’s latest Baxter family novel takes on a popular pro-life issue. Maddie Baxter West is shaken to the core when she finds out everything she believed about her life was a lie. Her parents had always planned to tell her the truth about her past: that she was adopted as an embryo. But somehow the right moment never happened. Then a total stranger confronts Maddie with the truth and tells her something else that rocks her world—Maddie had a sister she never knew about. Betrayed, angry, and confused, Maddie leaves her new job and fiancé, rejects her family’s requests for forgiveness, and moves to Portland to find out who she really is. Dawson Gage’s life was destroyed when London Quinn, his best friend and the only girl he ever loved, is killed. In the hospital waiting room, London’s mother reveals that London might have had a sibling. The frozen embryo she and her husband donated decades ago. When Dawson finds Maddie and brings her to Portland, the Quinns—her biological parents—welcome her into their lives and hearts. Maddie is comforted by the Quinns’ love and intrigued by their memories of London, who was so much like her. Is this the family and the life she was really meant to have?

Star of Persia by Jill Eileen Smith (BTSNBM)

Star of Persia: Esther's Story  -     By: Jill Eileen Smith

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (2 points)

In Star of Persia, Smith retells the familiar Bible story of Esther in an everyday fashion that contains no conspicuous errors, nor does it contain anything particularly groundbreaking. King Xerxes is a mighty king with ample political power and influence. Though he has two wives and a full harem of concubines, he loves only Vashti. Vashti struggled to have children for some time, and finally succeeded in giving Xerxes a son. However, because Vashti is only half-Persian, her rival’s son will be his successor. One evening when he has been drinking too much wine, Xerxes gives in to social pressure and summons Vashti to appear before his nobles. She refuses, a fact which earns her eternal banishment from the kingdom. King Xerxes regrets his decision the following day and longs for someone to fill the empty space Vashti left behind. Hadassah grew up as an orphan in her cousin Mordecai’s family after her parents died when she was very young. Mordecai’s wife Levia has been like a mother to Hadassah, and though she is not close to his other children, her life has been pleasant overall. As Hadassah grows older, she begins to take on more household responsiblities in preparation for her eventual betrothal to an eligible male in their community. One day Levia suddenly falls ill, and despite Hadassah’s vigilant care, she does not recover. Following Levia’s death, Hadassah and Mordecai are left shocked and saddened. Hadassah is even more confused about her future when her best friend Jola is betrothed to a young man she liked. When King Xerxes issues a decree that will change the lives of all the unmarried women in the empire, Hadassah becomes Esther, and has her future decided for her. Star of Persia’s plot moves along at a steady pace and contains no continuity errors, but sometimes it fails to hold the attention. Additionally, it contains one historical error. (spoiler) The prologue depicts a young Hadassah visiting Queen Vashti on palace grounds at night. It is very unlikely that a peasant girl would be allowed to wander through the palace gate, let alone speak to and touch the queen. In contrast, the storyline follows the Biblical narrative almost to the letter, but tends to romanticize Esther and Xerxes’ relationship, and contains very little depth. Therefore, Smith earns an average rating in this section for writing a story that is fine at face value, but failing include any content that is especially memorable or unique.

Character Development (2 points)

Similarly, the character development in this novel is pretty good, but not great. Esther is the weakest character – not a good fact when she is the protagonist. She is continually portrayed as an almost perfect character who displays almost angelic obedience and complacency even as a child. What we need here is a little spirit and rebellion! Esther was human after all, and it must have taken some kind of gumption to appear before Xerxes uninvited. The girl had spirit I tell ya! Anyway, Xerxes is a slightly better character than Esther because he makes irrational decisions he later regrets and learns from these bad choices. Haman is a partially developed antagonist who lacks motive for his actions. The other characters, like Moredecai and Levia, are fairly good minor characters who have a clear role in the story. Because of this mix of good and bad, Smith receives an average score here.

Creativity & Originality (0 points)

Finally, there is nothing particularly original or creative about Smith’s depiction, so this section is awarded zero points. Likewise, we do not believe that this novel contains content that should be made into a film or series. There have been many unsuccessful portrayals of Esther in film thus far, and as of now we do not expect this to change. It would be pointless for someone to try again with incomplete content. If someone attempts to make another movie or series about Esther, they will need to avoid making it a romance, think outside the box, and depict the historical setting as it actually was.

Wish List Rating: 4 out of 10 points

The Water Keeper by Charles Martin (May 5, 2020)

Water Keeper  -     By: Charles Martin

Release date: May 5, 2020

Author: Charles Martin

Plot summary: A retired priest, Murphy Shepherd lives alone on an island tending the grounds for a church with no parishioners. But when his best friend dies and asks Murphy to scatter his ashes on the other side of the world, he takes off on his boat to carry out his friend’s wishes. Along the way he meets a dance instructor named Summer who is searching for her daughter. She believes she was abducted into the world of trafficking. As they search for Angel, they discover a stowaway. And its not coincidence that he chose Murphy’s boat. There is more than it first seems, but memories have long compelled him to keep the truth hidden.

The Hail Mary (2021)

The Hail Mary film by DR.jpg

Filming this summer, coming in 2021 from A Channel of Peace

Writer(s): Daniel Roebuck

Director(s): Daniel Roebuck

Producer(s): Daniel Roebuck, Tammy Roebuck, Samantha Edwards, Davie Cabral

Cast: Daniel Roebuck, Sean Whalen, Timothy E. Goodwin, Duane Whitaker, Joe Estevez, Wyatt Root, Harri James, Ashley Berman, Marsha Dietlein

Plot summary: A comedy about Sister Kathy, a Nun with a sense of humor and purpose, who finds an angry loner in need of redemption and leads him to his atonement by conning him into creating a football team for her All-Boys Catholic School.

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright (September 2020)

Image result for the haunting at bonaventure circus

Release date: September 1, 2020

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Plot summary: The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

Isaiah’s Legacy by Mesu Andrews (BTSNBM)

Image result for isaiah's legacy

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Andrews’ latest novel, Isaiah’s Legacy, takes a different turn than many of it’s counterparts by thinking outside the box regarding Biblical narratives, but falls a bit short in several areas. Manasseh is a young boy who lives mostly in his own little world and struggles to cope with noise and crowds – two things that are very prevalent in the life of a future king. Zibah, his mother, fears for his future and feels helpless to teach him how to cope. Hezekiah, whose is living on borrowed time, doesn’t fully share Zibah’s level of concern about their son, but knows that something must be done if he is to rule Judah successfully. Shebna is a jealous man of Levite heritage who has been scheming for an advantageous political position for many years. On a visit to his brother Haruz’s home, he meets his niece, Shulle, and learns that she has a way with people society rejects. Shebna brings her to the palace under the guise of being a companion for Manasseh, but is secretly training her to influence the future king as he sees fit. As Shulle grows older, Shebna and his servant Belit, a sorceress, lead Shulle astray; and as Manasseh grows older, Shulle leads him astray. By the time Shulle and Manasseh are adults, they are fully immersed in the cuttthroat world of politics and surrounded by bad influences. Will they choose Yahweh’s way before it is too late? As previously mentioned, this story contains both strengths and weaknesses. On a positive note, the latter half of the novel has strong Biblical themes of redemption and forgiveness. Additionally, it is clear that the bad decisions Manasseh makes in this depiction are not related to his disorder, but his bitterness against his Maker. In contrast, the plot and storyline contain four central flaws. First, the storyline starts out on shaky ground with an information dump from Shebna that seeks to give the reader a historical background for coming events – it would have been better to divide the vast content in this novel between it and a sequel. Second, the last third/fourth of the novel tries to cover over ten years of content, which makes the ending a bit rushed. Third, there is too much page time spent explaining how pagan rituals were carried out, and author also dwells on sensual scenes between Manasseh and Shulle (before they follow Yahweh) for a bit too long. Lastly, though it is a noble idea to portray one of Israel’s kings as having Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD], it is not clear why Andrews chose to do this. As a special ed major, I wholeheartedly affirm the inclusion of people who have special needs in literature, and think that they should be represented more than they are. However, every good story needs one or more specific reasons for why it’s characters exist as they do, and great stories will use these reasons as pivotal parts of the plot. If Manasseh having ASD does not directly tie in with the plot somehow, why does he have it at all? The answer to this question is never made clear. In summary, Andrews earns slightly below an average score in this section for numerous plot and storyline errors.

Character Development (2 points)

Comparatively, Manasseh is a fairly good protagonist who has realistic responses to change and tragedy. Shulle is a good secondary main character who makes realistic wrong decisions based on duty and the desire to protect her father. (spoiler) However, at times it is hard to know what her role in the story is, outside of calming Manasseh down and trying not to have children. As for the rest, Zibah is a relatable, flawed mother figure who wants her son to follow God and make good choices. Isaiah is a good minor character, but comes off as a bit too saintly at times. Shebna is a weak antagonist who is usually angry at someone or plotting…something. Lastly an additional error to note here is that Shulle’s father basically disappears shortly after the author introduces him, then reappears at the end of the novel with no explanation. This creates a plot hole. Overall, character development is mixed, which leaves Andrews with an average score here.

Creativity & Originality (0 points)

Unfortunately, there is not really anything creative or original to note in this novel that has not been done before in varying forms. Needless to say, this was not our favorite book by Andrews. As such, we do not recommend that it be made into a film or series. Early on in Andrews’ career, she had a rare talent for crafting original characters and deep, meaningful dialogue – see Love Amid the Ashes for an example of this. Because of this, we believe that she still has the potential to be a great author, and maybe even a screenwriter. But she, like many other authors, needs to consider collaboration as the key to future writing success.

Wish List Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

Socialite by Jnell Ciesielski (April 14, 2020)

Socialite  -     By: Jnell Ciesielski

Release date: April 14, 2020

Author: Jnell Ciesielski

Plot summary:

As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied to Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intentions of going back to the shacked life their parents dictate for them-but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home. Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting?

Rise (April 2020)

Coming to theaters April 10, 2020, currently in post-production

Writer(s): Randy Brown, Gregory Allen Howard

Director(s): Kevin Rodney Sullivan

Producer(s): TBA

Cast: TBA

Plot summary: This films tells the improbably true story of a janitor who took over a middle school basketball team and a won a state championship.

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

Image result for daughter of rome by tessa afshar

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

Tessa Afshar’s latest novel is a great concept that does not quite reach it’s fullest potential. The novel covers multiple different timelines, but centers around Priscilla and Aquila’s young adult lives and the early days of their ministry. Priscilla is the daughter of a revered Roman general and a Germanic mother – much to her brother’s chagrin. When her father died, he left her with her freedom, but no real way to make a living. As such, Priscilla lives in her brother’s home. Following a dark period in her youth that still haunts her, Priscilla decided to seek help at a local Jewish synagogue. She soon found that many of the attendees were secretly Christians. Despite her unfortunate home life, Priscilla found sincere friendship and support in this group of people who follow Yeshua. Just when she thinks her life is settling down, Aquila steps into it. Aquila, a recent convert to Christianity, comes from a staunch Jewish background and still has trouble treating Gentiles as equals. He carries his recent hurtful experiences deep inside, and sometimes lashes out at others instead of being honest with himself and God. While he is suspicious of Priscilla at first, he soon finds himself attracted to her against his will. The problem is, both Priscilla and Aquila are afraid to open their hearts to love again. To find out what happens, read the book, and leave your opinions in the comments section below!:) As I previously indicated, the plot and storyline in this novel contain both strengths and weaknesses. The plot starts out strong with a well-placed flashback to a tragic, life-altering decision Priscilla almost made, but fades to a pedestrian pace after that. While the storyline improves greatly in the last two-thirds of the novel, the first third tends to meander along through the daily lives of Priscilla and Aquila, all the while hinting at their shadowy backstories. For example, throughout the first third of the novel backstories are revealed in third person to the reader early on, then from one character to another via dialogue. There’s nothing wrong with this technique, but it does not hold the reader’s attention in this case. Furthermore, the secondary and minor characters’ sub-plots are interesting but feel incomplete. In contrast, the novel contains many well-placed Scripture references and a clear Christian message of Jesus’s grace and redeeming love. It also contains realistic portrayals of marriage relationships and friendships. Lastly, the attention given to historical detail – without lapsing into wordiness or boring narration – is impressive and adds much to the plot. Thus, Afshar earns just above an average score for her plot and storyline that improved as they unfolded.

Character Development (2.5 points)

In comparison, the character development in this novel is also above average. Priscilla is a great protagonist who is portrayed as someone earnestly seeking after Jesus, while also trying to pay penance for past sins. This paradox is a very relatable illustration of how people try to earn Jesus’s free gift of salvation and forgiveness. Antonia is a great antagonist who has a realistic motive and changes in response to her life experiences. Making the effort to craft meaningful antagonists is sometimes what saves Christian novels from obscurity. Aquila is a fairly good character, but throughout the first half of the novel we hear more about his life experiences than who he is. Although this error is nonexistent in the second half of the novel, his character feels incomplete in the end because of it’s rocky beginning. However, the minor and secondary characters are above average and round out the story well. Thus, Afshar earns a slightly above average score in character development as well.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

In conclusion, Afshar’s original idea to portray Priscilla and Aquila before they were married and in the early days of their ministry together earns her a half point in originality, while her effort to bring Biblical accounts to life in meaningful ways earns her a half point in creativity. While the novel could have been better, we here at BOR still think it could make a great Christian series. If the novel was converted to a series screenplay, the screenwriters would have more space to flesh out Aquila’s character and improve both him and Priscilla through the use of flashbacks. It is no great secret that the Christian film world suffers a great shortage of excellent Bible-based films. We sincerely hope that Christian filmmakers will look to Biblical fiction novels like these for inspiration on how to proceed in future.

Wish List Rating: 6 out of 10 points

The Islands: Betrayal (January 2021)

Coming to theaters January 2021 (or sometime in the near/distant future)

Writer(s): Timothy Chey

Director(s): Timothy Chey

Producer(s): Timothy Chey

Cast: TBA

Plot summary: Based on the true story of the betrayal of the last queen of Hawaii and her incredible faith and courage that inspired the world.

Image result for shrug gif
The world’s reaction

2019 Box Office Revolution Book Awards

Every year, many Christian books are released, and writers of the same show off their creative talents. Across the many genres, these novels are judged based on the presence of absence of plot continuity and exceptional storytelling skills, above average character development, and whether or not a novel correctly addresses an issue or issues that relate to current American Christian culture. These novels are separated into roughly three groups of authors and their respective works of art: the exceptional, the potentially great, and those chosen by the votes of our readers. Likewise, winning titles are listed according to their genre. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize the entertainment creators who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

Staff Choice Winning Books of 2019

Thriller of the Year: The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Rachelle and Ted Dekker and The Line Between by Tosca Lee are tied for first place.

Image result for the girl behind the red rope
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.jpeg

Fantasy of the Year: Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (#2 in the Ravenwood Saga)

Image result for Flight of the Raven (The Ravenwood Saga Book #2)

Biblical Fiction of the Year: The End of the Magi by Patrick W. Carr

Related image

Historical/Coming of Age of the Year: All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

Suspense of the Year: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51HrBbsM8eL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Staff Choice Honorable Mentions of 2019

Drama: The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

Image result for the words between us by erin bartels

Historical: The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Image result for last year of the war

Romance: Courting Mr. Emerson by Melody Carlson

Courting Mr. Emerson  -     By: Melody Carlson

Biopic/Romance: My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Lost Love  -     By: Amanda Barratt

Reader’s Choice Book of the Year: The Line Between by Tosca Lee

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.jpeg

Staff Choice Authors of the Year: Rachelle Dekker, Tosca Lee, Morgan L. Busse, Patrick W. Carr, Susie Finkbeiner, and Jaime Jo Wright.

Image result for rachelle dekker
Rachelle Dekker
Image result for tosca lee
Tosca Lee

Image result for morgan l busse
Morgan L. Busse
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Patrick W. Carr
Susie Finkbeiner
Image result for jaime jo wright
Jaime Jo Wright

Staff Choice Honorably Mentioned Authors of the Year: Erin Bartels, Susan Meissner, Melody Carlson, Amanda Barratt

Related image
Erin Bartels
Related image
Susan Meissner
Image result for melody carlson
Melody Carlson
Image result for amanda barratt
Amanda Barratt

Congratulations to all the authors mentioned in this post on their wins and honorable mentions! Thank you all for being committed to producing high quality Christian entertainment and for glorifying God with the gifts He has given you!

Selfie Dad (June 2020)

Coming June 12, 2020 from Kappa Studios

Writer(s): Brad J. Silverman

Director(s): Brad J. Silverman

Producer(s): Michael Curlyo, Amy Hunter, Patrick G. Ingram, Karen Long, Paul L. Long, Mike Sullivan, Geno Taylor

Cast: Michael Jr., Chonda Pierce, James Denton, Karen Abercrombie, Jamie Grace, Johnny Pacar, Dahlia Waingort, Shelby Simmons, Jalon Christian, Shelley Dennis, Emily Tosta, Pat Finn, Charissa Saverio, Maurice Hall, Peter A. Hulne

Plot summary:

Spiraling uncontrollably into a mid-life crisis, Ben Marcus, a reality TV editor, is convinced he can only be happy by fulfilling his lost dream of being a comic. Ben posts his stand-up comedy to a YouTube channel, and the videos fall flat until his tweener son posts Ben failing miserably on a home improvement project. Much to his teenage daughter’s embarrassment, this video goes viral, launching Ben into a new career as Selfie Dad. Soon Ben is an award-winning, social media comic phenomenon! Problem is, no amount of success seems to bring Ben satisfaction. Through an odd relationship with studio IT guy Mickey, a brash 25-year old studying to be a pastor, Ben is unknowingly mentored into daily Bible reading. As Ben gets serious about the Word, his heart is forever changed.

Beach Haven by T. I. Lowe (April 7, 2020)

Beach Haven  -     By: T.I. Lowe

Release date: April 7, 2020

Author: T. I. Lowe

Plot summary: Free-spirited Opal Gilbert seems to have everything she needs to keep living a happy life in Sunset Cove as she refurbishes vintage furniture to sell at her funky ocean-side boutique, Bless This Mess. Until Lincoln Cole, an ex-Marine nursing deep wounds and harboring hurts he can’t seem to shake, wanders into her shop. Opal knows a person in need when she sees one and offers Lincoln a job in her workshop. But the brooding former soldier has no interest in Opal’s offer. Thanks but no thanks. When a hurricane strikes, damaging Bless This Mess. Feeling guilty for how he treated Opal, Lincoln decides to help her repair the store. And soon it becomes clear Opal wants to restore not only her business, but also help Lincoln find restoration.

From Sky to Sky by Amanda G. Stevens (BTSNBM)

Image result for from sky to sky amanda stevens

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (1 point)

Stevens’ sequel to No Less Days makes a good attempt at humanizing brokenness and mental health disorders, but falls short when it comes to continuity and a well-constructed plot and storyline. While the novel contains many spiritual truths and fairly good characters, it is hard to understand what the point of this tale is – more on this later. Zac Wilson is having a hard time dealing with the execution he and his fellow longevites were forced to carry out on the previous novel’s antagonist, Colm. The incident has resurfaced all his old trauma flashbacks and is threatening to send him over the edge. However, he is trying his best to keep his inner turmoil buried away so he will not be a bother to his friends. When Zac and his friend David come across two other longevites who need their help, Finn and Cady, they decide to do the honorable thing even though they are suspicious of Finn. When their new relationship with Cady and Finn leads to news of what seems to be a terrible crime, they are thrown headlong into an investigation of the same. Little do they know that this case will not be easy to solve, and that the people they will meet along the way carry information that affects longevites everywhere. To find out what happens, read the book! Or don’t, your choice – this one is an entirely optional read. As I said earlier, the weakest areas of this novel are it’s plot and storyline. The plot limps along on Zac’s panic attacks and references to the previous novel, and unfortunately offers little else besides a few moments of interesting dialogue. In comparison, the storyline follows a lot of rabbit trails that coincide in a choppy conclusion which is both dissapointing and confusing for the reader. (spoiler) Furthermore, the only way to make the longevite concept believable would be to create a plausible explanation for how these characters are still alive, which has not happened thus far. In contrast, the only strength in this area of the novel is Zac’s spiritual journey, but this meaningful sub-plot is buried under a lot of sensationalism when it should have been the driving force behind the story. In summary, this novel had the potential to be better than it is, but sadly it is not.

Character Development (1.5 points)

Comparatively, the characters in From Sky to Sky are an improvement over the plot and storyline. Zac is a somewhat relatable character who makes realistic choices throughout the story, but his development and that of the other characters are continually hampered by the author’s seemingly morbid fixation on Colm’s execution. David is also a good character who displays a great relationship with God and a genuine care and concern for other people, however, his character offers the reader no more than it did in the previous novel. Finn and Cady are good additions to the story, as is Rachel, but all three of these minor characters are left unfinished. The main strength here is the atypical antagonist who has a realistic motive and relatable personal weaknesses, but we are not introduced to her until the story is nearly over. In short, the character development is this novel is sadly lacking as well.

Creativity & Originality (.5 point)

Finally, Stevens earns earns a half point in originality for her dialogue between Zac and Jesus. This brief bright spot is the strongest point of the novel, but unfortunately it is too little, too late. Needless to say, we do not recommend that anyone make this novel into a Christian film or series. Christian movie-makers should look to the novels rated seven points and above on this column for ample content that would make a great screenplay. Books like these exemplify the desparate need for Christian authors to let Jesus dictate their writing process. If God does not want you to write a book, please don’t write it. The world does not need more sensation, it needs what is real and true and eternal.

Wish List Rating: 3 out of 10 points

First Lady (February 2020)

Coming to theaters February 14, 2020

Writer(s): Nina May

Director(s): Nina May

Producer(s): Nina May

Cast: Nancy Stafford, Corbin Bernsen, Stacey Dash, Bejamin Dane, Melissa Temme, Jenn Gotzon, Burgess Jenkins, Tanya Christiansen, Gabriela Kostadiniva, Paul Milotte, Griffin Duy, Joel King, Robert Shepherd

Plot summary: A romantic comedy about a woman, not married to the president, who runs for the office of First Lady. However, she winds up getting a much better proposal than she ever expected. She is torn between a promise and her calling.

Cry of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Image result for cry of the raven

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (4 points)

The final installment in Busse’s Ravenwood Saga does not disappoint. Cry of the Raven’s well-constructed storyline, deep and relatable characters, and strong underlying message of freedom and light in Jesus cumulate to make an enjoyable read that points you to Him. The opening chapters of Cry of the Raven pick up where the previous book left off – Selene and Damien are both growing closer to the Light and letting Him use their gifts for good. However, their faith and endurance are being tested by worries about how they and the other Houses will fight against the invading Dominia Empire. At a meeting of The Great Houses where everyone discusses their plans for defense, Selene reveals the secrets of House Ravenwood – her dreamwalking gift can and has been used to kill others. In return, Selene finds out that the ancestry of each House – including hers – harbored darker and more complex secrets than she already discovered. Understandably, she is angry, hurt, and reluctant to trust anyone. Damien feels like something inside is keeping his gift of manipulating water to protect others from being all it could be, but isn’t sure what it is. He still struggles with flashbacks of painful events in his past whenever he uses it, and cannot seem to overcome the physical toll it takes on his body. When he is pushed to the breaking point, he must remember Who the Light is and make an important life choice. Will the Great Houses choose to do what is right and break up with the sins of their forefathers? To answer this question, read the book!:) It goes almost without saying that the plot and storyline in this novel are excellent. Busse does an great job of picking up where the last story left off, keeping track of a large number of characters, and utilizing varied settings without being overly wordy or choppy. Thus, she demonstrates above average continuity and fictional world-building skills. Busse also pens an intriguing plot that holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end and even inspires excitement about the conclusion. Thus, Busse earns a perfect score in this section for the reasons listed above.

Character Development (4 points)

Next, Busse’s character development is the strongest point of this book. She has correctly utilized the space given in the series format to deepen already strong characters by exploring their spiritual lives. Selene displays extremely realistic struggles and emotional responses. Moreover, the illustration painted by her arc of how Christians can only be strong through surrendering to Jesus’ strength is very meaningful. Damien continues to be a refreshingly atypical male lead who actually has more to offer to the story than having chiseled features. His spiritual and emotional battles are very relatable and his personality is clearly established. (spoiler) Comparatively, Busse’s use of childhood flashbacks with her antagonist helps this character avoid the pitfall of being a villian just because. Finally, her minor and secondary characters are very well-developed and have clear roles in the story. In short, there is not enough good to say here, and for that reason Busse earns a perfect score in character development.

Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)

Finally, Busse really shines in the areas of creativity and originality. This being so, she earns a full point in originality for crafting intelligent and relatable characters who have realistic emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical traits. Additionally, Busse earns a half of an x-factor point in creativity for her strong plot and storyline. Because of this, we here at BOR feel that Busse’s Ravenwood Saga would make an excellent multi-season Christian fantasy series. Step aside Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, there’s a new story in town!

Wish List Rating: 9.5 out of 10 points

Mulligan (2021?)

The Mulligan: A Parable of Second Chances, Wally Armstrong, Ken Blanchard, Good

Coming soon from Liberty University Film School and Reelworks; currently in pre-production

Writer(s): Ken Blanchard, Wally Armstrong, more TBA

Director(s): Stephan Schultze?

Producer(s): Rick Eldridge

Cast: TBA

Plot summary: This film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Ken Blanchard and Wally Armstrong. It tells the story of a father with a passion for golf who is offered the opportunity to have a “do-over” with his son.

When Calls the Heart, Season 7 (February 2020)

Image result for when calls the heart season 7 scenes
E: Be still, my heart, I’m hardly breathing. He’s such a tall dark strong and handsome brute Mountie!
E: I like looking at stars Him: Well that’s funny because I do too!

Airing on the Hallmark Channel Channel February 23, 2020

Writer(s): Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr., Kevan Smith, Jack Wagner

Director(s): Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr.

Producer(s): Brad Krevoy, Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr., Alfonso H. Moreno, Neill Fearnley, Eric Jarboe, Susie Belzberg, Michael Shepard, Jimmy Townsend, Annie Brunner, Derek Thompson, Elizabeth Stewart, Lori Loughlin, Erin Krakow, Amanda Phillips Atkins, Vicki Sotheran, Greg Malcolm

Starring: Erin Krakow, Lori Loughlin, Lori Loughlin’s replacement/memory (Kellie Martin?), Pascale Hutton, Jack Wagner, Kavan Smith, Mark Humphrey, Erica Carroll, Carter Ryan Evancic, Eva Bourne, Chris McNally, Kevin McGarry, Rob Estes, Jocelyn Hudon, Morgan Kohan, Aren Bucholz, Martin Cummins

Plot Synopsis: From the ashes of Jack’s death and Lori Loughlin’s Abigail’s departure comes new blossoms of romance – for literally every character. Elizabeth struggles to choose a new husband from the two lookalike bachelors in town…oops, three, I forgot about Gowan. Gowan is pursuing his on-again off-again relationship with his alter ego Mr. Nice Guy. Abigail’s daughter-in-law will likely be planning her wedding to that generic doofus whose name escapes me. Doctor White and Nurse Blonde are finally ‘secretly’ engaged and planning their ‘secret’ wedding. Rosemary and Elizabeth’s friendship is on tenterhooks as Elizabeth juggles being a MOM, a TEACHER, and the heart of the show. Lllllllllleeeee is trying his hardest to fill Jack’s large shoes by having important conversations with Bill, but he struggles with being everyone’s confidant. Will petty fantasy love and friendship survive all these first-world problems? Most importantly, will Elizabeth get married again, and who is the new Abigail?

If I Were You by Lynn Austin (June 6, 2020)

If I Were You: A Novel  -     By: Lynn Austin

Release date: June 6, 2020

Author: Lynn Austin

Plot summary: In the wake of the war, Audrey Clarkson leaves her manor house in England for a fresh start in America with her young son. As a widowed war bride, Audrey needs the support of her American in-laws, whom she has never met. But she arrives to find that her longtime friend Eve Dawson has been impersonating her for the past four years. Unraveling this deception will force Audrey and Eve’s secrets―and the complicated history of their friendship―to the surface.

The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler-Younts (BTSNBM)

Image result for the bright unknown elizabeth byler younts

Plot & Storyline Quality (0 points)

Byler-Younts latest novel is a real doozy. From the confusing storyline that can’t pick an identity to the spastic character arcs, this novel is all bad and no good. The opening chapters of the book introduce the reader to Brighton, the daughter of a longtime patient living at Riverside, a mental asylum. Brighton was born at the facility and is used to hearing the cries of the insane as they undergo ‘treatments’ that are questionable at best. The things she has seen and heard there will never be far from her mind. Her days are spent caring for her mother’s needs, talking to her best friend – a boy named Angel who is called an albino because of his bleached skin tone and features – and finding reassurance in Nursey, a nurse who is a mother figure of sorts for her. When Brighton finds out that one of her friends has built their life on lies and deceit, her life will never be the same. Unlike most of the other titles on this site, I do not recommend that you read this book. At best, it’s a waste of your time, in reality, it’s like a fever dream. As for the specific flaws…oh, where to begin. Earlier I mentioned that the storyline can’t pick an identity – this is a major error for many reasons. Is this an expose of the cruel practices used in historical mental asylums? Is it an honest look at how circus employees were/are manipulated for profit? Is this a coming of age tale in a bizarre setting? What is it? An author should always answer this question before writing a story. In comparison, it almost goes without saying that the plot is extremely discombobulated. As the reader is pulled from one climactic and sensational moment to another, the author forgets to include pertinent information about exactly how key events in the story were accomplished (and do we really need so many scenes of people being dragged kicking and screaming to solitary confinement??). Finally, the dialogue swings back and forth between a melodramatic view on life and an unusual narrative tone that sometimes makes inappropriate, crude remarks about the private aspects of a person’s life. This is not only distracting to the reader, but something that should never be found in a Christian novel. In summation, Byler-Younts receives no points in this section for the reasons listed above.

Character Development (0 points)

Similarly, Byler-Younts’ character development is just good enough to keep this section from receiving negative points, but that’s not saying much. Brighton has the most potential to be a good character because her dialogue gives the reader a first-person perspective on what’s happening. However, her character arc is inconsistent. One minute she’s fighting tooth and nail against everyone, then she’s depressed and crawling back to dysfunctional relationships for comfort. Angel isn’t a bad character concept, but that’s all he is – his character never moves beyond an idea to gain a personality and tendencies. Unfortunately, it seems like Grace only exists so the author has a reason to mention how biracial asylum patients were sterilized at one point in time. Most of minor characters are either forgettable or incomplete concepts because of their short lifespan. It is never a good idea to steadily introduce new minor or secondary characters all the way through the end of a storyline as a way of filling in plot holes – this is nothing more than a lazy method of writing. In short, there’s really nothing good to say here. As such, Byler-Younts earns zero points in this section as well.

Creativity & Originality (-1 points)

Finally, because there is no creativity or originality to speak of here, numerous writing errors, and no spiritually uplifting moments, Byler-Younts earns a negative point in this section. Please know that we tried our best to find something positive about this novel and are always willing to give authors the benefit of the doubt, there just wasn’t anything good here. It is truly disheartening to see how some Christian authors will abandon any talent they had in exchange for a sensational story that will make some fast cash or gain them social recognition. The lesson that the fictional Jo March learned long ago is still true for today’s authors – “aim at the highest, and never mind the money.” If Jesus has placed a story on your heart and compelled you to share it with others, this will be obvious to all who read it, and money will be of no consequence.

Wish List Rating: -1 out of 10 points

Don't Say My Name (2020/2021)

Currently being filmed

Writer(s): Patricia Landolfi

Director(s): Federico Segarra

Producer(s): Marty Jean-Louis 

Cast: Brooklyn Wittmer, Cory Kays, Anita Cordell, Joel C. Hunter, Samuel Morales, Josh Morales, Luis Morales, Jenny Porrata, Rasheda Issac, Ariana Ruckle, Dominick LaBlanca, Jason Barbeck, Ariel Kelly, Melissa Pagan, Creisson Soni, Raymond Pozo, Tony Russilo, Halyn Rose, Courtney Dawn

Plot summary: This film follow Adriana, a human trafficking survivor, as she escapes her captors and begins a harrowing journey of survival as she navigates the road to recovery and healing.

Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

Image result for echoes among the stones"

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (3 points)

Wright’s latest novel is an excellent example of how to weave life lessons into an intriguing story that would make a great Christian suspense series. The first few chapters of Echoes Among the Stones make it seem like a typical murder mystery, but as the story unfolds it becomes clear that there is much more to this book than meets the eye. When Aggie Dunkirk loses her realty job and is left floundering, she receives a letter from her grandmother, Mumsie, saying that she has broken her hip and needs help. As thoughts of her mother’s recent death crowd her mind, Aggie reluctantly makes the journey back to her hometown of Mill Creek, only to find upon her arrival that Mumsie has neither broken her hip, nor does she appear to be in poor health. Aggie is angry with her at first, but her anger turns to concern when she discovers a skeleton lying in Mumsie’s back yard. The local police brush off the incident as ‘kids’ pulling a prank, but she isn’t so sure. At her new job restoring Mill Creek’s flooded cemetery, Aggie observes more unusual occurrences and begins to wonder if something or someone is targeting Mumsie. Imogene Grayson is a young woman living during the aftermath of World War 2 who has just experienced the violent, completely unexpected murder of her younger sister Hazel. With the war barely over and her brothers just home from the same, Imogene is left grasping for sanity. She vows that she will bring Hazel’s killer to justice, and begins to take great lengths to fulfill this mental declaration – but resolving the same will prove to be nigh on impossible. To find out what happens to these women, read the book! Echoes Among the Stones has a very detailed plotline that holds the attention from cover to cover. There are no lull periods as even the slower-paced scenes are full of meaningful dialogue – one of the novel’s biggest strengths. (spoiler) Another big strength is the fact that the killer is a surprise, and they are not the only one at fault. In comparison, the novel contains a few weaknesses. First, the ending feels a bit rushed as the climactic question asked throughout the novel is answered in an old video on someone’s cellphone, and there are a few moments of sensual thought processes on Aggie’s behalf that we could do without. Lastly, Imogene’s mental murder reenactments are extremely raw and may not sit well with younger readers. In spite of this, this storyline has plenty of potential to be a Christian series, thus earning it an above average score.

Character Development (3.5 points)

Similarly, the character development in this novel is very well done. Aggie and Mumsie’s character arcs make a great parallel because they have very similar, if not the same personalities and tendencies, and have made similar choices throughout their lives. The comparison between an older and younger woman who have similar struggles is a much needed message for our times – neither older nor younger people are better than one another. Furthermore, the minor characters add humor and vitality to the story – which is much needed because of the rather morbid subject matter. The twist with the antagonist adds a lot to the conclusion as well. In comparison, there are a two weaknesses in this section as well. First, although Collin’s character is saved from being entirely stereotypical by his above average dialogue, he continually leans towards the fairy-tale hero/good guy role (he’s a British guy named Colin Collin, I mean, come on). Any-who, the other weakness is the fact that Glen’s character is somewhat shoehorned into the plot – we needed to know more about him as a person outside of his father’s looming shadow. In summary, the weaknesses here do not have a major impact on the story as a whole, therefore, Wright earns a nearly perfect score in this section.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

In conclusion, Wright earns a half point in creativity for writing a suspense story with many meaningful and humorous moments, and a half point in originality for her effort to focus the reader’s attention on Who holds our lives together in the midst of life’s most difficult and dark moments – an aspect that can be seen all throughout the story. As such, BOSs (Box Office Sass) thinks that this would make a great Christian suspense series. Some aspects of the novel would need to be toned down a bit to be palatable on-screen, and Wright would have to be a part of the writing process to ensure that the integrity of her story is upheld, but it can be done. We here at BOR long for the day when Christian movie-makers will start looking for movie ideas in the right place – exceptional Christian novels.

Wish List Rating: 7.5 out of 10 points

When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Image result for when silence sings"

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (2 points)

When Silence Sings is a very creative novel that displays a refreshing Biblical worldview and an openness to diversity that is rarely seen in Christian fiction; however, the novel is a mixed bag that had the potential to be much better than it is. Colman Harpe is a young man caught in the middle of a clan battle between two prominent mountain families – the McLeans and Harpes. He feels called by God to be a preacher, but isn’t quite sure what to do with that calling…until God tells him exactly what, Tell the McLeans about Me. Colman resists this message because he believes the McLeans don’t deserve forgiveness and love, and when he does, one disaster leads to another until he’s lost in the mountain caves with no hope of escape. On the outside, Serepta McLean is a hardened, bitter middle-aged woman who enjoys establishing control and dominance over everyone and anyone she comes in contact with by any means necessary. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to see. On the inside, Serepta is a hurting, vulnerable young girl who has never been able to escape her past. When Colman and Serepta find their carefully constructed lives shaken by the One who loves them most, will they choose to withdraw or look up? This novel is an interesting mix of excellent characters and a creative storyline and too great of an emphasis on physical attraction paired with some unusual elements. It was a creative idea to parallel Colman’s character arc with the prophet Jonah’s, but while the author seems committed to making this an allegory in the beginning, the Jonah themes fade away and she turns to other Biblical illustrations as the pages go by. Thus, plot inconsistency is the first major error here. The second major error is harder to explain, but is in existence. The author writes in a whimsical, mysterious tone that is not inherently bad, but leans towards sensuality during conversations between characters and their love interests. In contrast, the plot contains several strengths. First, her messaging is very good. The way she illustrates the absurdity of treating so-called different people as such through her dialogue and mental imaging is excellent. Finally, her unique take on both the Gospel message and God’s grace is very meaningful. In culmination, Thomas earns an average score for a plot that had roots but no blooms.

Character Development (2.5 points)

In comparison, Thomas’ characters are her biggest writing strength. Colman is a very human prophet who has just as many strengths and weaknesses as the next person. Serepta is an excellent antagonist whose backstory – while incomplete – gives clear reasons for her behavior. (spoiler) Additionally, the fact that everything in her life isn’t fixed at the conclusion of the tale is much appreciated by us here at BOR (which now stands for Box Office Razzmatazz😎). The minor characters are also slightly above average because their character arcs are unpredictable and each one has at least a partial backstory. However, there are a few flaws here as well. First, the romances between characters are portrayed as being based mostly on physical attributes, and some of the same relationships display some unusual behavior. Lastly, while each character displays consistent themes, it is hard to get to know them because of how many there are. This novel would have been better if the content in the same was broken up in a series – we could get to know the characters better if they had an individual voice. Likewise, the third-person narrative style of writing makes all the characters seem a bit impersonal. In spite of these flaws, Thomas shows much potential for future novels and or screenplays because her spiritual foundation is strong. Therefore, she earns a slightly above average score here for making an effort to include substance alongside whimsy.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Thomas earns a full point in originality for her obvious grasp on good character foundations, and for her effort to portray diversity as being multifaceted – as not only involving race inclusion, but acceptance of behavioral, cultural, and other factors that make all people unique. For this reason, we here at BOR feel that Thomas has the potential to be a great screenwriter and recommend that she collab with other good authors like Francine Rivers and Susie Finkebeiner to create scripts based on her novels and creative ideas.

Wish List Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Box Office Sass on Christmas

Well its that time of year again. Every time I turn around someone seems to be caught up in the ‘Christmas spirit’ – buying presents for people

Not to mention the fact that most of those gifts will show back up at their original locations when the returns line at Walmart stretches all the way out the door and down the sidewalk. Anyway, I couldn’t let Kirk Cameron and BORe have all the Christmas fun. I just had to get my two cents in!:) So let’s take a closer look at what appears to be Christmas-themed fluff.

Christmas Floats/Christmas Parades in General

Image result for christmas floats"

Picture it. You’re standing or sitting in/on a lawn chair outside in the dark by a roped off stretch of the road. It’s very cold and windy, and you think that might be snow that’s starting to fall. Nope. It’s sleet. Anyway, you’ve been waiting over an hour for your city’s local Christmas parade to start, and you’re getting a little antsy, and cold. In fact, you can’t even feel your face anymore. But that’s ok! Because you’re not just here for you. That’s right! Waiting for the Christmas parade to start symbolizes how the world was waiting for the Messiah to come! When the parade finally does start, remember – as huge trailers covered in inflatable lawn ornaments pulled by trucks wrapped in Christmas lights go by, and the suspicious characters on the ‘floats’ throw useless plastic necklaces and confetti in your face – the joy you feel when the parade finally started (or maybe it was relief) is the same joy all humanity felt when our Savior came down to earth as an infant to save us all. If you don’t see anything that resembles the true meaning of Christmas in Christmas parades, don’t worry! ‘Cause

So

The Elf on the Shelf

Image result for elf movie"
No, not that one (shudders in revulsion).
Image result for elf on the shelf"
This one (shudders in slightly less revulsion)

I know what you’re thinking, this has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. Well, put on your Kirk Cameron Worldview Glasses for a minute, and let’s look a little deeper. Picture it. You’re a parent who has jumped on the forming-new-traditions bandwagon. This year, despite your misgivings, you decided to hide ‘that little elf thing’ in various places around your house so your kids can go on a scavenger hunt everyday. Yet every time you do so, you wonder if there isn’t more to Christmas than hiding and seeking a little bendable figure who always

Chestnuts Roasting

Image result for chestnuts roasting"

Ah, that old Christmas classic. What was once just a mediocre nut has become world famous all thanks to a Christmas song. First of all, who here has ever actually roasted a chestnut? Be honest. Alternatively, who here has ever seen a chestnut in it’s original form? Leave a comment below. I for one actually live on a property that is home to several chestnut trees. Because of this, I know that a chestnut is not a cuddly little friend. How do I know this? Well, just take a look at this picture…..

Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh? Yes, it’s true. A chestnut falls off the tree imprisoned in a creepy sea-urchin like casing. Did I mention that when a chestnut tree sheds its ‘fruit’, it sheds every last nutin a thirty-foot radius. This wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t for the searing pain that pierces your foot should you happen to step on one accidentally. Not to mention the swelling and stinging that occurs for days afterward. Anyway, let’s just say I won’t be singing any songs about chestnuts, because stepping on one is just as bad as stepping on a Lego.

Now, I think it’s about time someone reminded us what Christmas is really all about.

That sums it up folks. Christmas doesn’t need saving because Jesus already came and saved us all. I can’t save Christmas, and neither can any of you (or Kirk Cameron). What we can do is donate all those inflatable lawn ornaments to Goodwill and celebrate the real reason for the season with those we love.

This Christmas season, despite my pride in thinking I wouldn’t get caught up in all the madness I just criticized…I did. I got so focused on buying gifts, finishing college finals, and trying to do good works that I forgot Jesus already saved Christmas. This weekend, at a church service in a small local church Jesus has has placed us in currently, He reminded me of three things we all must do if we really want to experience peace at Christmas and all year. We have to (1) respond to His gentle nudging, i.e. slow down, (2) receive the gift of His love, which is all we need, and (3) remain in Him.

As the pastor at said church put it, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is there room in your inn for Jesus this Christmas?

Let earth receive her King!✝️

Box Office Sass (BOSs)

Being Trump (March 2020)

Coming to select theaters streaming services in March 2020

Writer(s): Jason Campbell

Director(s): Jason Campbell

Producer(s): Jason Campbell

Cast: POTUS? more TBA

Plot summary: President Donald Trump’s Space Force program has quickly become a reality and when the first mission to MARS is introduced our President insists on being the first man to walk the red planet.  However, the framers of our constitution never imagined a sitting President leaving the planet and if so, would Trump really need to transfer his powers…or could he just find a look-a-like to fill in for a few days? This political comedy unveils the truth and mystery about Donald Trump’s politics and policies.  Go beyond the seal, the fanfare and all the propaganda to see the real Donald Trump and the policies and politics guiding America. 

Image result for trump face on queen elizabeth"
BREAKING NEWS: Trump’s Body Double Spotted on London Streets

Messiah (January 2020)

Season 1 is coming to Netflix January 1, 2020

Writer(s): Michael Petroni, Bruce Marshall Romans, Michael Bond, Brandon Guercio, Amy Louise Johnson, Kelly Wiles

Director(s): James McTeigue, Kate Woods

Producer(s); Brandon Guercio, David Nicksay, Bruce Marshall Romans
Irene Sommerfeldt, Mark Burnett, Andrew Deane, Roma Downey, James McTeigue, Michael Petroni

Cast: Mehdi Dehbi, Michelle Monaghan, Jane Adams, Mahdi Chalkhaoui, Sayyid El Alami, Melinda Page Hamilton, Fares Landoulsi, Stefania LaVie Owen, Tomer Sisley

Plot summary: When a CIA officer investigates a man attracting international attention and followers through acts of public disruption, she embarks on a global, high-stakes mission to uncover whether he is a divine entity or a deceptive con artist.

The Star [2018] (Movie Review)

Related image
Our reaction to this movie

Plot Summary

Around 4 B.C., a miniature mill donkey is tired of walking in an endless circle as he and his partner grind grain. With the help of a bird who can’t stop dancing and waving his behind at the camera (more on this later), the donkey manages to escape. While he’s running away from his owner he accidentally stumbles onto the aftermath of Mary and Joseph’s wedding feast. Mary adopts him and names him Bo. Joseph doesn’t like Bo because he steals Mary’s attention away from him. As time goes forward, Bo soon finds himself caught up in a very unusual depiction of the Nativity story with no way of escape.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

All things considered, the production in this film is a mixed bag with the animation quality being it’s strongest point. This being said, the animation is fine and has no major errors, and outdoor scenes look mostly realistic; however, the transitions between scenes are either very abrupt and choppy or follow no logical train of thought. The soundtrack is a hodge-podge of several songs by big-name Christian artists, and the said songs don’t usually match the mood of the scene in which they are played. For instance, in one scene where the donkey is depressed, we hear a Casting Crowns song about happiness (?). It’s as if the filmmakers were trying to squeeze as many pseudo-Christmas songs as they could into the run-time with no regard for proper editing. Moreover, the film could have used some instrumental music instead of only songs with lyrics because the viewer is confused as to whether they’re supposed to be listening to the radio or watching a movie. In short, there are more continuity errors than successes. Finally, audio quality contains no notable errors, but editing continues to be a problem here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

What exactly is the plot of this film? Is it a donkey coming-of-age tale? Is it an unusual interpretation of Mary and Joseph’s relationship? Is it about a donkey and a bird who long to join the ‘royal caravan’? Anyway, the plot and storyline are absolute madness, so hold on to your hats. First, it is highly unlikely that Mary was six months pregnant before ever telling Joseph about the angel’s appearance and her new future. Furthermore, the Bible says that Joseph went through a period of indecision before deciding to remain engaged to Mary. In this depiction he says a very brief prayer and hears a one-word answer, then he’s hunky dory. Second, what’s with all the references to animal’s rear ends? From the old donkey in the mill to that obnoxious dove who won’t stop waving his at the camera (sometimes at very close range) and making frequent jokes about pooping on people, we were left slightly repulsed and scratching our heads. Moreover, why are there so many characters in this plot, and why are some minor characters focused on while others have like two scenes? Third, we have no explanation for the weird singular Roman wannabe super soldier who hulks around with a mask on for the entirety of the film, while grunting and leading two ‘evil’ henchman dogs around on chains. Apparently King Herod sent him on a very evil mission to kill Mary, or Jesus, or something. Because said soldier never speaks we are frequently tortured with dialogue from the uber-serious wolf and his unfunny bulldog sidekick. The main question here is why has this soldier singled out Mary and Joseph to follow around??? Finally, no one knows why Elizabeth and Zechariah are only in one scene – Zechariah is apparently a dim-witted guy who loves to gorge himself on free food – or why Joseph hates Bo so much. This maddening tale comes to a screeching halt with a Band-aid style ending that doesn’t make up for everything else.

Acting Quality (1 point)

The acting quality is fine in this movie, but no voice actor portrays much depth beyond reading their lines in varying tones of voice. As is typical for movies by this filmmaker, a whole bunch of celebrities and Christian celebs are thrown together in a mish-mash cast. On a side note, its really too bad Christopher Plummer was wasted on this film because he would have made a great King Herod in a live-action Christmas film. Any-who, there’s nothing particularly remarkable to speak of here. Yes, there’s no glaring errors, but there’s also nothing that makes this film stand out from it’s counterparts. Overall, acting quality is fine, but the performances – with the exception of Zachary Levi, who actually tries – are pretty much phoned in.

Conclusion

In summary, there is no reason to even try to make a kids animated film unless you’re going to commit to making it high-quality in all respects – the world has enough B-grade Christian kids movies. We don’t really know why this movie was made or how it possibly got back into theaters this year. I guess the Christian kids entertainment genre is really that starved for content. One of the most offensive things from this movie (out of many) is the fact that they felt the need to include the statement “We tried not to stray too far from the original story”. Not too far?!?! They went way off the road! Needless to say, we don’t recommend that you watch this film, for it may cause your kids to become confused about how the Nativity story actually happened and expose them to inappropriate ‘humor’.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

The End of the Magi by Patrick Carr

Related image

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (3.5 points)

Patrick Carr is back and is trying out a new genre – Biblical fantasy. Biblical fiction is a literary genre that desperately needs creativity and new kinds of writers. Thankfully, Carr does both. His story, set around the time that Jesus Christ was born, is a revolutionary idea that paints the traditional, but historically and Biblcally inaccurate “three wise men” in a whole new light. Myrad is the adopted son of Gershom, a secret member of the king’s magi. The magi are an elite group who are advise the king and approve his decisions. However, this is only part of their job. As we all know, they’re keeping track of time to see when the Messiah will come. Myrad has suffered from a clubfoot all his life, and it has kept him one step behind (literally) everyone else. When he has a dream about the future, Gershom sees his gift and takes him to the palace to become a magus. But on the very day when he is to become such, Gershom and the majority of the other magi make a decision King Phaartes and his wannabe queen Musa don’t like. As punishment, the king orders the mass slaughter of all the magi, save for Myrad and a handful of others. Myrad escapes (mostly) and runs into a merchant named Walagash. The two join forces, and Myrad soon learns that life on the road is unpredictable, and the course of his life has been forever changed. After all, he’s following the star. To find out what happens to Myrad and the other characters, read the book!:) No really, read it, it’s actually worth your time.😃 The End of the Magi wades through this section with few errors. The plot is excellent, per usual for this author, and the storyline holds the attention from cover to cover. There are no continuity errors, and the story takes several unexpected turns up to the very end of the story. Additionally, there are several reveals throughout the plot that make for an exciting read, and the startling attention given to historical detail is impressive. The main error to speak of is minor – the eventual romance feels a bit tacked on, but the dialogue between the two characters in question is so good that there’s not much else to say. Other than that, there is a sequence that it is hard to believe the character lives through – but this is fantasy, after all – and a few dialogue sequences that are just a hair long. In spite of this, there is not space here to list the remaining positive aspects. Suffice it to say, Carr earns just short of a perfect score here.

Character Development (4 points)

In comparison, Carr’s character development is excellent. Myrad is an imperfect protagonist who learns from his good and bad decisions and – realistically – changes as a person throughout the story. Walgash is a great minor character and father figure who adds a lot to the plot, but in my opinion we could use fewer references to his hugeness and strength. However, as this is not an error, but an opinion, Carr isn’t marked off for it. Rashan is a surprisingly good character who gets better as the story continues. Additionally, the antagonist(s) are believable and the secondary characters make meaningful contributions to the plot. In short, there are no errors to speak of here.

Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)

Finally, Carr earns a half an x-factor point in originality for actually having the magi visit Jesus when he was a young child instead of an infant, because nobody does this. He also earns a full point in creativity for his unique depiction of the magi and his commitment to historical accuracy. As such, we believe this novel would make an excellent Christian series. The storyline would need very little alteration, and Carr must be involved in the screenwriting process if the characters are to be interpreted properly. Excellent novels such as these leave no excuses for filmmakers to continue to ignore this valuable moviemaking resource.

Wish List Rating: 9 out of 10 points

Home Sweet Home (February 2020)

Coming to Pureflix streaming February 2020 from 5×5 Productions and Purple Crayon Pictures

Writer(s): Lesley Ann McDaniel

Director(s): Juan Mas

Producer(s): J.D. DeWitt, Robin McLain, Suzanne Niles

Cast: Natasha Bure, Ben Elliott, Krista Kalmus, Saint Lorenzo, Sarah Kim, Chauncy Jones, John Reddy, Gabriel Cortez Jr., Josphine Keefe,

Plot summary: Bored with her social butterfly lifestyle, Victoria Tremont longs to find that special someone. Naturally, when a handsome stranger walks into the coffee shop where she works, she turns on the charm. But when he fails to respond to her flirting the way men usually do, she’s perplexed. She finds out that he runs a ministry that builds affordable housing, and sees that if she wants to get his attention, all she has to do is volunteer. So what if it’s a faith-based ministry. Pretending to be a “church person” isn’t any different than pretending to like sports or a guy’s friends, right?

Peace River (coming in 2020)

Coming in 2020 from FaithWorks Pictures

Writer(s): Benjamin M. Jones

Director(s): Douglas James Vail

Producer(s): Benjamin M. Jones, Margaret B. Jones, Douglas James Vail

Cast: Cazzey Cereghino, Sabastian Neudeck, Virginia Tucker, January Loomis, Trace Carper

Plot summary: Peace River is the story of a young, modern, champion rodeo cowboy and Special Ops soldier who is crushed by war and personal loss and must draw on the cowboy way and a profound faith in Christ to recover the will to live and love of his life.

The Shepherd's Wife by Angela Hunt (in progress)

Release date: Winter 2020/Spring 2021

Author: Angela Hunt

Plot summary: This novel, the second installment in Hunt’s new Jersusalem Road series, will depict the life of Jesus’ sister.

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser

Image result for when i close my eyes elizabeth musser

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

Musser’s latest novel is an intriguing blend of imperfectly unique characters and a creative suspense-style storyline that communicates an outside-the-box message about humanity’s need for God’s grace. While it has several strengths, perhaps When I Close My Eyes‘ biggest strength is how the author humanizes the struggle many people have with depression. Josephine Bourdillon loves to write. For her, writing is more than a hobby, it is how she makes sense of life’s joys and sorrows. Holding onto God’s promises and putting her pain in story form is how she has survived her difficult life. Josephine has a happy existence overall – she has several close friends, a devoted husband, and two loving daughters, Paige and Hannah. Though her troubled older sister is a continual rain-cloud in her otherwise sunny life, she really can’t complain. When Josephine is suddenly shot in the head by a scapegoat named Henry Hughes, her family is horrified and the world wonders if her stories will die with her. Henry is pinned as the key suspect in the case as everyone tries to find out who tried to kill Mrs. Bourdillon, and her family tries to hold onto hope that sue will survive. To find out what happens to the Bourdillon and Hughes families, read the book!:) On the whole, this storyline is a very interesting idea that wasn’t fully carried out. For instance, Josephine and Paige have very well-done stories; the former’s is established with timely and meaningful flashbacks, and the latter has a clearly outlined personality and relatable thought processes. However, Paige’s story is a bit rushed, and the audience needed a bit more information about both her and her love interest as children. In spite of this, the dialogue between characters is exceptional and Henry is a refreshingly original antagonist. In comparison, Josephine’s story tends to be quite morbid at times. (spoiler) Although her flashbacks give ample reason for her struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, the reader is left to assume that this was just a natural tendency for her as a person, rather than a result of her difficult childhood. It is our opinion that the latter plot device needed to be more clearly emphasized for her story to be truly relatable. (spoiler) Lastly, the misdirecting plot twist towards the end of the story is an intriguing idea, but I must say I’m glad the novel ended the way it did for a number of reasons; however, the epilogue is unnecessary. Thus, this combination of strengths and weaknesses earns Musser an above average score in this section.

Character Development (3 points)

In contrast, the character development in this novel is better than that of many, but it still leaves some room for improvement. First, the author employs excellent development of Josephine’s through flashbacks and shows how she weaves pieces of herself into her novels as a way of coping with trauma. This is an excellent plot device that humanizes her character and demonstrates the author’s deep understanding of people’s response mechanisms. Furthermore, Musser’s subtle explanation of how Josephine deals with her past by trying to help others reconcile with theirs helps make this character believable. In addition, Paige is a great alternate lead, and minor characters like her boyfriend and Henry’s wife are above average. In comparison, it is hard to get to know Josephine’s husband as a character in the midst of the fast paced plot, so it is clear that he needed a bit more development or an even smaller role in the story. The same is true for Hannah, for though she is an interesting idea, her character never fully comes to fruition. Therefore, Musser earns just under a perfect score here.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Musser earns a full point in originality for writing a true contemporary novel that is not fully a suspense, romance, or thriller. Instead, it somehow contains aspects from all three of these genres in a very surprising way. While this novel is not great, it is good, and there are many recent novels of which we cannot say the same. Likewise, we feel that this novel would make a great Christian drama/biopic film if the screenwriter took a little time to develop the minor characters further and cemented Josephine’s life as the main focus.

Wish List Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

The Encounter Season 2 (January 2020?)

Coming to Pureflix.com January 29, 2019?

Writer(s): Timothy Katajczak, Keith Ray Putman

Director(s): TBA

Producer(s): Andrea Logan White, David A. R. White, Bradley Dorsey? Bruce Marchiano?

Starring: Brooke Becker, Gina Simms, Bruce Marchiano, Shari Rigby, Michele Gomez, Ashley Bratcher, Bradley Dorsey, Brooke Becker, Ty Anaya, Josh Tipis, more TBA

Plot Synopsis: What would you do if you had an encounter with Jesus? In the first episode, Lily is devastated when her idea of a perfect wedding doesn’t go so perfect. She and the other characters will discover what happens when Bruce Marchiano Jesus steps in. Currently slated for 8 episodes with the first one airing January 29th, 2020 (maybe) on Pureflix.com.

The Baxters, Season 1 (2020)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is baxter.png

with Roma Downey and Ali Cobrin on set of "The Baxters"

Coming to the LightWorkers streaming service sometime in 2020

Writers: Karen Kingsbury, Christina De Leon, Marilyn Fu, Olumide Odebunmi

Directors: Rachel Feldman

Producers: Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Will Packer, Christopher Boyd, Brendan Bragg, Rick Christian, Ashlee Cohen, Karen Kingsbury, Kevin Mann, Dominic Ottersbach,

Starring: Trevor Donovan, Ali Cobrin, Brandon Hirsch, Taylour Paige, Roma Downey, Kai Caster, Ted McGinley, Masey McLain, Cassidy Gifford, Damien Leake, Asher Morrissette, Josh Plasse, Sheila Cutchlow, Victor Rodriguez, Jaime Primak Sullivan, Jake Allyn, Orel De La Mota, Emily Peterson

Plot Synopsis: This series is currently slated for 36 episodes that are based on Karen Kingsbury’s famous Baxter family book series that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a large family with six adult children.

Assassin 33 A.D. (January 2020)

Coming to select theaters January 24, 2020

Writer(s): Jim Carroll

Director(s): Jim Carroll

Producer(s): Jim Carroll, Brad Keller

Cast: Jason Castro, Heidi Montag, Donny Boaz, Morgan Roberts, Geraldo Davila, Lamar Usher, Ilsa Levine, Cesar D’La Torre, Jacob Hashem, Jonny Rey Diaz

Plot summary: Ram Goldstein and the greatest minds across the world are employed to create a matter transfer machine.  But the Institute is really a covert organization funded by Extremists. Ram accidentally stumbles upon the secret agenda, but the same day, he succeeds in transferring matter and accidentally creates the world’s first time machine. Ram refuses to share the code so the extremists kill Ram’s parents and threatens to torture his friends. Ram gives in and agrees to build the time machine. As soon as it is finished, Extremists sends a group of assassins on the ultimate Jihad by killing Jesus and his disciples before his resurrection. Ram along with his genius team; commandeer the time machine and race back in time in an attempt to change time back before it rewrites itself.  They fail to change the assassination of Jesus and must return to the future were they are killed, but not before they warn their original selves in the previous timeline. Now the original Ram and his team must transfer to back 33 A.D., to kill the assassins, save Jesus and restore the timeline. 

A Single Light by Tosca Lee (BTSNBM)

Image result for a single light tosca lee

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (1 point)

Lee’s latest novel is a far cry from her usual finesse. A Single Light is a bit of a disaster area in general (pun intended). From the meandering storyline, to the meaningless characters, to the Band-Aid style ending that seals the story’s festering wound, there isn’t much good here. Wynter, Chase, and all the rest pick up where they left off in the last novel. Everyone is underground in Noah’s interactive bunker of sorts, hiding from the prion disease and general mayhem above ground. Everything goes well until one day Noah doesn’t show up on the nightly live video feed that is their only contact with the outside. The residents grow restless and anxious, which leads to suspicion and accusation. When a woman goes crazy and stabs a fellow resident to death, her peers decide to serve up justice by locking her in the freezer (!?!?). Needless to say, her husband joins her, making the death tally read three (so far). When someone recognizes Wynter from news specials about her so called crime, she and Chase are put in custody. Wynter soon learns that Chase is not who he appears to be, and begins to wonder who she can trust. As one accident and catastrophe leads to another, Wynter will have to fight tooth and nail to survive. Needless to say, this novel contains endless violence – innumerable fight scenes, impossible survival sequences, and lots of blood and weaponry. If the reader can disregard the novel’s morbid tone and cold attitude towards the value of human life, they may come down with a case of motion sickness from the chaotic storyline. Additionally, the pointless cursing and edgy content do not fit in the supposed inspirational genre. Moreover, the cheap suspense elements, unusual characters, and corny romance scenes are not inspiring. As if this isn’t enough, we experience numerous rehashings about things that happened in the previous novel in the series. The main positive note here is the ending – typical though it may be – because it gives the reader reason to hope.

IT DOES GIVE A PERSON REASON TO DOUBT | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

The novel also has a fairly complex storyline and a few mildly interesting dialogue sequences. These factors earn Lee a below average score in this section

Character Development (.5 point)

Because our goal on this blog is not to spread negativity, this section will be brief. First, Chase, the corny male, seems exist only to be the character with two-day old stubble and military muscles shining in the moonlight. Second, the protagonist is rash and wishy-washy. Wynter seems to teeter between the edge of sanity and a normal person’s conscience throughout the entire novel. While she is the best character, it us hard to get to know her in between explosions and mortal wounds. Third, the antagonists are numerous, but don’t worry, most of them die quickly. Finally, Otto is a great minor character with a senseless tragic end. Absolutely the very last sentence…

ABSOLUTELY THE VERY LAST SHOW WITH THE POSSIBILTY OF A SECOND SHOW TO FOLLOW | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

…Lee earns a half point here for her Otto character and for her reasonably good protagonist.

Creativity & Originality (.5 point)

Finally, there is not much creativity to speak of here. Any that does exist comes from the previous novel and is repurposed in this one – thus earning her a half point in creativity. Lee is better than this. We have seen great work from her many times before, and know she can do it again. But in the meantime, we do not recommend that anyone make this novel into a movie. Instead, they should look at her last novel, The Line Between, for content that would make a great Christian movie or series.

Wish List Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Irena Sendler (2020)

Image result for irena sendler 1942

Coming in 2020 from Pilot Wave; currently in pre-production

Writer(s): Justine Juel Gillmer, Agatha Dominik, Stuart Hazeldine, Rachel Long, Brian Pittman

Director(s): Stuart Hazeldine

Producer(s): Christopher Lemole, Jeff Most, Ewa Puszczynska, Jeff Rice,
Jaron Varsano, Gal Gadot, Gareth Wiley, Tim Zajaros, Marc Platt

Cast: Gal Gadot, more TBA

Plot Summary: This film tells the true story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who also headed the children’s section of Żegota, the Polish Council to Aid Jews. Sendler used her role to enter the Warsaw Ghetto — created by Nazi Germany for the city’s Jewish population — and helped children escape.

A Week Away (summer 2020)

Coming to theaters summer 2020

Writer(s): Kali Bailey, Alan Powell, Gabe Vasquez

Director(s): Roman White

Producer(s): Alan Powell, Steve Barnett, Gabriel Vasquez, Tameron Hedge, Roman White

Cast: Sherri Shepherd, Bailee Madison, Kevin Quinn, David Koechner, Jahbril Cook, Iain Tucker, Kat Conner Sterling

Plot summary: With nowhere left to go, Will Hawkins finds himself at camp for the first time. His instinct is to run, but he finds a friend, a father figure and even a girl who awakens his heart. Most of all, he finally finds a home.

The Flood (October 2020)

Image result for the flood timothy chey

Currently in pre-production, coming to select theaters October 17, 2020

Writer(s): Timothy Chey

Director(s):  Timothy Chey

Producer(s): Timothy Chey

Starring: Dennis Quaid?

Christian Bale?

Nicolas Cage?

Chris Pratt?

Pierce Brosnan?

Image result for timothy chey
Uhhhhh…..

John Schneider?

Image result for timothy chey
Can you do crazy?
Image result for timothy chey
He’s perfect!

Plot Synopsis: During Noah’s time, the Bible speaks of a time of great violence and Godless behavior on the earth. The Lord destroyed the entire earth through the flood, but spared Noah and his family due to Noah’s righteousness. This film will focus on the total devastation from the worldwide flood.


When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker

Image result for when through deep waters rachelle dekker

Plot & Storyline Quality (3.5 points)

Rachelle Dekker’s first standalone novel is a bittersweet adventure with brilliant underlying themes that hides life lessons in unlikely places. While the story discusses some very gritty topics, it does so with taste and class. Alicen is prosperous by the world’s standards, but spiritually, she is suffering. On the outside, she is a wealthy socialite who doesn’t have a care int he world, but on the inside, she is very unhappy. Alicen married a man she does not love, had a daughter with him she doesn’t have time for, and lives constantly under the fear of what her mother thinks. When her young daughter Jane dies in a sudden drowning accident when Alicen is not watching her, Alicen goes over the edge and tries to take her own life. When this doesn’t work, her best friend from childhood invites her to come stay in their hometown and consider checking herself into a mental health program. Alicen refuses at first, but when she begins seeing Jane and other children that no one else can see, having severe emotional breakdowns, and becoming so lost in her own mind that she loses track of her whereabouts, she reluctantly agrees out of fear. (spoiler) Unfortunately, the mental facility is not entirely reputable, and the path to healing is not as simple as Alicen may think. She will find that she must face her deepest fears and darkest moments to experience the healing light of God’s love. To find out what happens to Alicen, read the book!:) On the whole this storyline is very well constructed – from the intricate plot details to the excellent flashbacks Alicen experiences, Dekker spares no expense when it comes to quality over quantity. Her extremely realistic portrayal of strained and or unhealthy relationships across generations adds depth and relatability to the story, and the time she spent on giving each character a unique personality makes the novel very meaningful. I could continue to praise the novel’s strengths, but it would be best for you to read it yourself. In comparison, the weaknesses here are very minor. First, Victoria (the antagonist) is somewhat unrelatable until her backstory is explained, so Dekker probably needed to give us a few more hints about her past earlier on in the novel. Lastly, some of the fantastical elements are hard to believe, (spoiler) but thankfully these are balanced out by the ending, which depicts Alicen as not being able to enter an alternate reality after being healed. In summary, this is an excellent Christian thriller that I would recommend to a non-Christian – and that’s saying a lot.

Character Development (3.5 points)

In contrast, Alicen is a nearly perfect protagonist because she has realistic perceptions of herself, others, and the world, and her past experiences are inseparably intertwined with her present. Additionally, it is highly realistic that Alicen must face her past in order to move on with her life. Louise is an excellent minor character who has a clear role in the story that goes beyond being simply a best friend to Alicen. It is clearly established that she is someone God uses to help Alicen through her life storm. Furthermore, Alicen’s grandmother is a excellent minor character. Even though she is only in the flashbacks, her personality and role in the story are clearly defined as important by the author. In comparison, although the antagonist is not perfect, her character is rounded out with an unfortunately realistic backstory. It is my opinion that there could have been a greater emphasis on Victoria than her uncle, for her character has a rather hasty development and conclusion. In spite of this, character development is Dekker’s strongest suit. Therefore, she earns just shy of a perfect score in this section as well.

Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)

Finally, Dekker earns a full point in originality for writing an excellent psychological thriller that stands apart from it’s genre and communicates a unique Christian message. Moreover, she earns a half an x-factor point for her excellent characters and movie-worthy storyline. As such, we here at BOR think that this novel would make an excellent Christian series as it is. Some of the gritty factors, like Victoria’s past, would need to be subtle on screen, but it should be included in the film. Additionally, the screenwriter would need to be experienced with creating excellent flashback scenes, as this is vital to the plot continuity and depth. This would be a great project for a filmmaker who has made a few things before and is looking for something that will get them on the map.

Wish List Rating: 8.5 out of 10 points

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner (June 2, 2020)

Release date: June 2, 2020

Author: Susie Finkbeiner

Plot summary: Betty Sweet is still recovering from the loss of her husband when she becomes the temporary guardian of a five-year-old nephew she never knew she had. As they struggle to move forward, they build a relationship upon the foundation of storytelling and its special kind of magic.

Unscripted by Davis Bunn (BTSNBM)

Image result for unscripted by davis bunn

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (1 point)

Bunn’s latest fictional work has a few good ideas but is mostly uninspiring. It was an interesting idea to write a novel about what happens behind-the-scenes while films are being made, but the plot and storyline are hard to decipher at times and the characters are not very easy to relate to. Danny Byrd is a budding movie producer who has already been involved in several successful projects; however, everything goes awry when he’s betrayed by his partner and best friend, JT. When JT makes off with most of the production funds, Danny is ‘left holding the bag’ and thrown in jail under false accusations. Megan Pierce is a lawyer with more than a little experience under her belt and a longing to do something lasting. Frankly, she’s tired of working with the big business goons playing the big city lawyer game. Megan wants to help someone who cares about the everyday person – oh, and if that person also ended up being her boyfriend it would really seal the deal. When she gets involved in Danny’s case, she recognizes that he isn’t just in the movie-making business for himself, but wants to use his talent to help others realize theirs. It doesn’t take long for Megan to fall in love with Danny, and it takes an even shorter amount of time for him to fall in love with her. Danny and Megan soon realize that many of the puzzle pieces surrounding his case have yet to be discovered, and that getting out of his predicament may be easier than they previously thought. Will their love survive the trials ahead? (pun intended) First off, the plot of this novel is very hard to follow. One minute Danny is in jail, and the next minute he’s making a movie with a recently discovered starlet. Additionally, the list of characters keeps growing as the story continues, which makes it hard for the reader to keep up with who is who. (spoiler) Why, even on the last few pages two characters we’ve never heard of before appear. Another reviewer observed that this story began in the wrong place, but we here at BOR think that it continued in the wrong direction. It wasn’t a bad idea to start out with Danny in jail, but why not switch to how he got in their and come back to him in jail later in the novel? The jury’s still out (pun intended) on whether or not that’s what actually happens in this storyline. Anyway, positive aspects of the novel include the creative idea behind the storyline and the author’s detailed descriptions of scenes as they play out. Besides what we’ve already mentioned, other weaknesses include some too-detailed descriptions of female characters appearances and the author’s tendency to make the reader feel like they’re on the outside looking in. Therefore, for these reasons and others, Bunn earns less than an average score in this section.

Character Development (.5 point)

Next, among the long list of characters the good ones are hard to find. The protagonist, Danny, has the most potential because he has an interesting backstory; however, his backstory needed further development. As it is we only get a few snippets of his past that are explained in a heavily narrated style. If Danny and Megan had had fully developed backstories, the novel could have been much better than it is. Megan is a bit of a wooden character who seems to fall very easily for her male counterpart. It is hard to get to know her because of her sudden appearance in the story, and hard to understand her purpose in the story – she is basically just an observer. Furthermore, there are some odd undertones in this area of the novel. For instance, the male lead seems to perceive females and males as only good at certain things – women are good at portraying emotions well on screen, and men are good at being intimidating and or playing the hero (or the no-account). Lastly, the dialogue is very uninteresting. Readers, please know that we really tried to find the good here, but there wasn’t much good to find. Therefore, Bunn earns just short of zero points in this section.

Creativity & Originality (.5 point)

Finally, Bunn earns a half point in creativity for his attempt to craft an interesting story, but no point in originality because of the errors listed above. Likewise, we here at BOR do not think a screenwriter should adapt this novel for the big screen because there is really nothing here that will point people to Christ. We encourage Christian filmmakers to look to novels on our Wish List that are scored at six points and above for content that would make a great film.

Wish List Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Lost Heart (coming in 2020)

Shane Hagedorn and Melissa Anschutz in Lost Heart (2020)
Victoria Jackson in Lost Heart (2020)

Coming to select theaters and streaming services in 2020 from Collective Development Incorporated

Writer(s): DJ Perry

Director(s): Jesse Low

Producer(s): Melissa Anschutz, Debbie Thomey Bennett, David Gries Shane Hagedorn, Anthony Hornus, Rebecca Lawlor, Jesse Low, John Mashni
DJ Perry, Nathan K. Robertson, Dean Teaster

Starring: Melissa Anschutz, Shane Hagedorn, Victoria Jackson, DJ Perry, Josh Perry, Don Most, Christine Marie, Dean Teaster, Anthony Hornus, Melissa Anschutz, Lauren LaStrada, Michael Rene Walton, Abigail Mason, Greg Mason, Tonya Hawkins, David Gries

Plot summary: Hannah, a burnt out, mega-music star, returns to her small Northern Michigan hometown of Lost Heart, for her estranged father’s funeral. There she will confront the ghosts of her past and perhaps find her peace and balance once again.

Latest News on The Chosen Series

Image result for the chosen series
Image result for the chosen series still shots

Derral Eves, executive producer of The Chosen, announced this week that the much-loved series is slated for seven seasons! The subsequent episodes will be filmed in Parker County, TX – Capernaum Village, etc. – and will portray the entire life of Jesus. Click this link to watch, share, and support the show! https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen

Angels Everywhere (coming in 2020)

Image result for touched by an angel
R: Hey Della look! A dove! D: Well look at that sugar! Hey where’s that guy we hang around with?
Image result for touched by an angel
D: Oh there he is. Random guy: Anyone else feel awkward? R: When can I stop smiling like this? Its exhausting! D: What is this I’m wearing? A curtain?

Currently being filmed in a galaxy far, far away

Writer(s): Debbie Macomber, Roma Downey

Director(s): TBA (probs Mark Burnett)

Producer(s): Roma Downey

Starring: Roma Downey, hologram of Della Reese, more TBA

Plot Synopsis: This series will adapt Debbie Macomber’s book series of the same name for the big screen. According to Roma, Fans of Touched by an Angel will love seeing Surely Shirley, Goodness and Mercy come to life on screen. The real question is, will Della Reese’s angel make a surprise appearance on set?

King’s Shadow by Angela Hunt

Image result for king's shadow angela hunt

Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

Angela Hunt’s latest novel, the last installment in The Silent Years series, has a pretty good storyline and average characters, but does not reflect the usual pathos demonstrated by this author. Hunt set a high bar for herself with novels like Uncharted and The Offering, a standard that has not been reached by this or her other most recent novels. The Silent Years series as a whole has been a mixed bag; some novels have been better than others, but none have demonstrated the author’s true potential. Egypt’s Sister was a very slow-paced novel, Judah’s Wife was the best of the series but had a predictable ending, Jerusalem’s Queen was wordy, and this novel is average. Salome is the sister of King Herod and the wife of her uncle, Joseph. She navigates tumultuous palace politics by knowing everything about everyone in order to ensure her own survival. Salome is a hard, selfish woman who rationalizes other’s deaths when her life is on the line. Her world is rocked when her longtime servant and friend dies suddenly, but she finds consolation in the young girl who takes her friend’s place. Zara is a young Jewess who has just been betrothed to a shoemaker in her village. She has suffered the loss of her father in the recent war, which also left her mother paralyzed. Though her aunt helps out here and there, Zara shoulders most of the responsibility around the house; however, when the opportunity to leave her mundane life presents itself, she takes it. Zara has always found solace in working with her hands, a talent that serves her well as Salome’s new hairdresser. Together these two women from completely opposite social spheres must carefully navigate the dangerous waters of Herod’s court if they expect to come out alive and sane on the other side. On the whole, this story holds the attention and contains only minor plot errors. Additionally, the unique depiction of Herod as a human, not a tyrant, is much appreciated. Similarly, Hunt makes an effort throughout the novel to portray people as neither all good or bad, a choice that demonstrates her grasp on crafting excellent characters. In comparison, the novel’s pace is inconsistent at times, likely due to the vast amount of time covered in the same. Moreover, there are no ‘wow’ moments here – just a good bordering on average story. Nothing that happens to the characters is unexpected, and nothing that occurs in the plot especially groundbreaking – there is no particular climax. Therefore, Hunt rounds out with just above an average score in this section.

Character Development (2 points)

In contrast, Salome is a very interesting character with a clearly defined personality and consistent tendencies. Zara is also a good character, but she seems a bit too good at times. It would have been nice if Hunt had made her a little more imperfect like she did with the other characters. Hunt’s portrayal of Herod is one of the best I have seen, but without a first-person perspective from him the novel feels unfinished. It is my opinion that the novel would have been great if it revolved around first-person perspectives from Herod and Salome. The main errors to point out here are few, but they do affect the quality in this section. First, Alexandra is a weak villian who needed further development, and Mariamne needed a bigger role in the story – she has little involvement in the plot overall. Lastly, these characters do not stand out from the others Hunt has crafted in their genre – they are good but not great. Thus, Hunt earns an average score here because we know she can do better.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Hunt earns a half point in creativity for her portrayal of little known pieces of Biblical history, and a half point in originality for her well-balanced characters. Despite the fact that this is not the best novel in the series, we still think The Silent Years book series would make a great Christian series or show. Some of the books would need to be heavily edited and all the characters given greater depth and emphasis. Additionally, the filmmaker would have to give Hunt a place on the screenwriting team to ensure quality is upheld, but such a project is possible. Even when Christian novels aren’t perfect, we continue to hope Christian filmmakers will realize the film potential in the same.

Wish List Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Washington's Armor (2020)

Currently being filmed; coming in 2020 from Capernaum Studios and Tammy Lane Productions

Writer(s): Andrew Librizzi

Director(s): Tammy Lane

Producer(s): Theresa Hayes, Tammy Lane, Aaron Burns

Cast: Stephen A. Elkins, Ashley Bratcher, Alex Ryan Brown, Nick Caldwell, David Dittmeier, Amanda Joy Erickson, Andrew Flagg, Jeremy Gauna, Eddie T. Gomez, Jourin Hannah, Micah Lynn Hanson, Ryan T. Johnson, Wayne Matychuk, Willie Mellina, Nathan D. Myers, Jeff Pearson, Darrell Philip, Sophie Proctor, William Row, Nicolas Shook, Todd Terry, Kevin Toy, Colton Vaughn, Kimberly Gail Williams, Tim Ross

Plot summary: Follows the trajectory of George Washington as a boy and a young man as he develops his relationships and ideals.

Game Changer (status unknown)

Game Changer

Status unknown

Writer(s): Joel DeVisser

Director(s): TBA

Producer(s): Richard Tavernaro

Starring: Corbin Bernsen, Ashley Bratcher, Joel DeVisser, John Smoltz, Isabella Zentkovitch, more TBA

Plot Synopsis: Game Changer follows the best, richest, and possibly most self-centered quarterback in the pro’s as he’s forced to coach an inner-city little league baseball team. A hilarious comedy for all ages that showcases how our lives are better if we live to help people around us.