Second Chances (spring 2020)

Coming to theaters in spring 2020 from Steadfast Pictures

Writer(s):  Morgan Giesbrecht

Director(s): David Holston, Elijah Holston

Producer(s): David Holston, Elijah Holston

Starring: Cal Jennings, Richard Swingle, Ethan Drier, Abigail Hovey, more TBA

Plot Synopsis: A family tragedy three years ago left Cameron Taylor a hardened teenage with a chip on his shoulder. In trying to escape home pressures and past nightmares, a single mistake shatters his world, leading him on a desperate search for answers.When his mother suggests a change of scenery for the summer, Cameron reluctantly agrees, but country life holds more in store than he could have imagined. New friends—Alan and Elise—help to ease the pain of the past, but a freak accident one morning brings Cameron face-to-face with his biggest nightmare once more. Will Cameron succumb to the tragedies of the past or have the courage to trust God and face the future?

Advertisements

My Brother’s Keeper (expected in 2020)

Coming to theaters in early 2020 from Manns/Mackie studios

Writer(s): Ty Manns

Director(s): Kevan Otto

Producer(s): Robert C. Bigelow, Troy Duhon, Joel M. Gonzales, Robert Katz, Bishop Charles Mackie, Ty Manns, Pat Mathews, Brandon Riley

Starring: Joey Lawrence, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Robert Ri’chard, Gregory Alan Williams, T. C. Stallings, Shannen Fields, Blue Kimble, Karen Valero, Jeff Rose, Ty Manns, Derrick Gilliam, Stephanie Katz, Delone Manns, Nate Jones, Justin Clark, Roz Williams, Amberiell Hudson, Jermal Martin

Plot Synopsis: Travis Fox is a returning veteran struggling with PTSD and his faith in God.

Jack Jonah (coming in 2020)

This cover tho

Currently in post-production

Writer(s): Jason Campbell, Dorian Cleavenger

Director(s): Jason Campbell

Producer(s): Jason Campbell, Kirk Jonah

Starring: Dean Cain, Gary Lee Vincent, Pete Lataigne, Kathy Sanders, Faythe Renee, Braxton Michael, Michael Sigler, Kathy Patterson, Nicole McDonald, Arissa Page, Christopher Demerski, Jonah Robinson, Courtney Caruso

Plot summary: This film tells the true story of Jack Jonah, a young man who suffered from an accidental overdose while using opioids.

The Shift (expected in 2020)

Currently being written, soon to be in pre-production from VidAngel studios

Writer(s): Brock Heasley

Director(s): Brock Heasley

Producer(s): Orlando J. Gomez

Cast: TBA

Plot summary: This film is an allegory about the book of Job and will be a film about choice. In this case, the choices made by Kevin Garner, a man who is approached by Satan himself and offered fame and wealth in exchange for doing the devil’s bidding.

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Image result for last year of the war

Plot & Storyline Quality (3 points)

Susan Meissner’s latest novel is perhaps her best and most creative work to date. The Last Year of the War has a strong storyline, realistic and relatable characters, and a poignant underlying message. Elise Sontag is your average American teenager in the 1940’s. She has a strong and supportive family, good friends, and a positive outlook on life. There’s just one problem – in 1940’s America it is not good to have German ancestry. Elise’s late paternal grandfather was a decorated hero of the first World War, and her paternal grandmother, aunts, and uncles still live in Germany. Her parents immigrated to Iowa before her birth and have only recently applied to become U.S. citizens – a fact they will later come to regret. When the American government comes to a hasty conclusion based on five instances involving Otto Sontag (Elise’s father), Elise’s world is torn apart. Otto is suddenly shipped off to an unknown location out west and the rest of the Sontag family – Elise, her mother, and younger brother Max – are left to fend for themselves. Eventually Elise, Max, and their mother join their father at an internment camp in Texas that is home to Japanese, German, and Irish Americans. Otto and his wife are assigned jobs, Elise and Max are enrolled in a federal school in the camp, and the family is given a small house to live in. In a way, the family’s new daily tasks are not all that different than their old ones, but they are doing them behind a barbed wire fence patrolled by guards and dogs. Elise begins to wonder if her life will ever be normal again – until she makes an unlikely friend named Mariko. Mariko is a second generation Japanese American whose story is similar to Elise’s. She makes a plan for how the two girls will live independent lives going forward and gives Elise hope for a better future. (spoiler) When the war comes to an end, Elise and her family and forced to go back to Germany and Mariko and her family to Japan. As a result, Elise decides that she can no longer rely on her family or Mariko. As one circumstance leads to another, Elise makes a rash decision that will change her life forever. What does Elise decide, and will the two friends ever meet again? To answer both of these questions, read the book! Meissner seems to have hit her stride with this biopic-style novel, a fact that is evident through her use of first-person and her excellent continuity. Likewise, she does a good job of balancing the backstories of multiple characters with the large amount of time covered in the novel. Meissner gives great attention to detail by leaving no plot holes along the way and holds the reader’s attention from cover to cover with her above average dialogue and unexpected twists in the storyline. In contrast, the weaknesses in the storyline are minor. First, the middle of the novel contains a bit too much information, which implies that it needed some more editing. Lastly, the brief language in the latter third of the novel, although realistic in the context it is used, is unnecessary. Thus, Meissner rounds out with slightly less than a perfect score in this section.

Character Development (3 points)

Meissner’s character development is also quite good. Elise is an excellent protagonist who displays realistic emotional responses to traumatic events and has above average dialogue for a female lead. Additionally, the hard lessons Elise learns from her mistakes are very realistic and relatable. (spoiler) Furthermore, Meissner’s creative personification of Elise’s illness gives her and the plot depth. Mariko adds a lot to the novel as well and just as good of a character as Elise – this is a rare sighting in this genre. (spoiler) For instance, when asked whether she is a tomboy, Mariko replies: “I am myself.” This response encompasses the whole of her character and demonstrates the author’s grasp on real, authentic people who do not conform to social norms. Much like the last section, the errors here are minor. First, some of the minor characters get lost in the vast amount of time covered in the storyline, thus making it difficult to keep up with roles of secondary characters. Lastly, characters like Pamela and Teddy are only partially developed and needed a bit more depth; however, as their role in the story is very small, the flaw does not have a grest effect on the plot. Therefore, Meissner earns just short of a perfect score in this area as well.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Meissner earns a half point in creativity for her unique use of plot devices and for the pleasantly unexpected twists in the plot, along with a half point in originality for her exceptional dialogue and outside-the-box characters. We here at BOR think this novel would make a great Christian biopic film or series that depicted the lives of Mariko and Elise. The film would need to pick up the deep yet dubtle themes Meissner weaves through the novel – this could be accomplished through a little editing of the storyline and a great cast. In spite of this, Meissner has set up a great framework for success, so it can be done.

Wish List Rating: 7 out of 10 points

The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler-Younts (October 22, 2019)

The Bright Unknown   -     By: Elizabeth Blyer Younts

Release date: October 22, 2019

Author: Elizabeth Byler-Younts

Plot summary: The only kind of life Brighton Turner understands is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of a rural Pennsylvania asylum. A nurse has thoughtfully educated and raised Brighton, but she has also kept vital information from her in order to keep her close. Brighton befriends a boy whom she calls Angel–he doesn’t know his name–and as the two of them learn more about what lies beyond the walls they call home, they fight for their release and eventually escape.

VeggieTales: The Best Christmas Gift (October 2019)

Coming to TBN and DVD release October 22, 2019 from
TBN and Big Idea Content Group 

Writer(s): Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki,

Director(s): Todd Waterman

Producer(s): Tom Newman

Starring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Lisa Vischer, Dan Anderson, Kristin Blegen, more TBA

Plot summary: Bob and Larry are preparing for their first Christmas show in Mr. Nezzer’s theater and the show seems to be headed for disaster. Bob begins to wonder how to celebrate Christmas when everything is going wrong. It’s only when the Veggies go back to the very first Christmas, where times were tough and things didn’t seem to be working out, that they all learn the promise of Christmas – God is with us. It’s a timeless story of hope that every family will enjoy! This is the first in a line of all new and original VeggieTales episodes that will be released on the TBN channel and DVD through 2021. These include a nine-episode series on the fruits of the Spirit, as well as new adventures starring LarryBoy and the League of Incredible Vegetables. 

Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller (October 1, 2019)

Hope's Highest Mountain #1  -     By: Misty M. Beller

Release date: October 1, 2019

Author: Misty M. Beller

Plot summary: Ingrid Chastain readily agreed to accompany her father to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory. She never could have anticipated a terrible accident would leave her alone and badly injured in the wilderness. When rescue comes in the form of a mysterious mountain man who tends her injuries, she’s hesitant to put her trust in this quiet man who seems to have his own wounds. Micah Bradley left his work as a doctor after unintentionally bringing home the smallpox disease that killed his wife and daughter. But his self-imposed solitude in the wilds of Montana is broken when he finds Ingrid in desperate need of medical attention, and he’s forced to face his regret and call on his doctoring skills once again.Micah can’t help but admire Ingrid’s tenacious determination despite the severity of her injuries, until he learns the crate she brought contains smallpox vaccines to help quell a nearby outbreak. With Ingrid dead set on trekking through the mountains to deliver the medicine–with or without his help–he has no choice but to accompany her. As they set off through the treacherous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains against all odds, the journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known. 

Unscripted by Davis Bunn (October 1, 2019)

Unscripted by [Bunn, Davis]

Release date: October 1, 2019

Author: Davis Bunn (I see you Thomas Locke!)

Plot summary: Young line producer Danny Byrd is well-known in Hollywood for being someone who gets things done on time and under budget. But when his reputation takes a beating after his partner–and former best friend–makes off with their investors’ money, Danny has but one chance to redeem himself and restore his ruined career. LA lawyer Megan Pierce has sacrificed years of her life proving herself to her impossible bosses only to find herself disgusted at their snobbery and their specious business practices. When an opportunity to actually make a difference comes her way, she knows she has to grab it–even though she’s not entirely clear what “it” is. Danny and Megan are each other’s best hope for redemption.

Synapse by Steven James (October 8, 2019)

Synapse by [James, Steven]

Release date: October 8, 2019

Author: Steven James

Plot summary: Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway must come to terms not just with what machines know, but with what they believe. Soon after experiencing a personal tragedy, Kestrel witnesses a terrorist attack and is drawn into a world of conspiracies and lies that she and Jordan, her Artificial, have to untangle. With a second, more brutal attack looming on the horizon, their best chance of stopping it is teaming up with federal counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon. But the clock is ticking—and all the while, Jordan is asking questions Artificials were never meant to ask.

Home to Chestnut Grove by Christy Barritt (October 1, 2019)

Home to Chestnut Grove by [Barritt, Christy]

Release date: October 1, 2019

Author: Christy Barritt

Plot summary: When Faith Winters returns to Chestnut Grove, Virginia, for the community’s annual Christmas celebration, she’s desperate to get in and out as quickly as possible. She’s failed at making it on Broadway and is certain her hometown will never accept her again after her sudden departure eight years ago. Despite that, she’s vowed to honor a promise and face the heartache she left behind. Jake Whitmire is the sheriff in Chestnut Grove, but keeping the area free of crime is the least of his worries. Most days are filled with trying to keep the community’s spirits up as businesses have closed and jobs disappeared. He never expected to see the woman who broke his heart return home to lead up the town’s Christmas concert, nor is he sure he can ever forgive her. As someone in town begins sabotaging the community’s celebration, Faith and Jake work together to find the person responsible and ensure their friend Aimee’s last request is fulfilled. Can holiday hope heal the broken spirit afflicting Chestnut Grove residents? Or is it time for everyone—including Faith and Jake—to treasure the memories of the past but to move on? This book looks like a mostly typical small-town plot, but moving on from the past is an interesting concept I hope Barritt capitalizes on.

Catching Faith 2 (September 2019)

Currently in post-production from RLJ Entertainment

Writer(s): Alexandra Boylan, Andrea Polnaszek

Director(s): John K.D. Graham

Producer(s): Alexandra Boylan, John K.D. Graham, Andrea Polnaszek John Thomas Schrad, Meredith Riley Stewart, Nicole Weider

Starring: Bill Engvall, Lorena Segura York, Lauren Chavez-Myers, Garrett Westton, Dariush Moslemi, Erin Ross, Lea Hutton Beasmore, Nicole Weider
Denise Morris, Alexandra Boylan, Deaton Gabbard, Chelsea Crockett, Terri Minton, Brandon Armstrong, Lizz Carter, Conroy Kanter, Bethany Peterson
Shane McCamant

Plot Synopsis: Everything seems to be going wrong for the Taylor family right now. Just as Alexa is starting work at her dream job, she’s overwhelmed by caring for her mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Her son, Beau, has just lost his professional football career to an injury and her daughter, Ravyn, needs help planning her last-minute wedding. Only with the support of friends and the guiding grace of their faith can the Taylors find the strength to cope with the tidal wave of drama and tragedy that is rolling over their lives.

Shades of Light by Sharon Garlough Brown

Image result for shades of light sharon garlough brown

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

Plot & Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Sharon Garlough Brown’s latest novel is a raw look at the everyday life of those who struggle with mental health issues; however, the storyline needed more depth and better continuity. Brown attempts to normalize depression and anxiety by showing how many people struggle with varying degrees of one or both at some point in their lives, but neglects to show the reasons why people struggle with depression, anxiety, and or panic attacks. Wren spends a big part of every day listening to the painful stories of abused women and children who come to find healing at the counseling house where she works. Lately it has been harder and harder for her to see the light amidst all the darkness in the world. When she begins struggling with activities of daily living, she checks herself into a psychiatric hospital with the goal of getting back on track; however, the medications they prescribe don’t help her deal with fellow patients or have good emotional responses. Wren begins to lose hope that she will ever lead a normal life again. When Wren is finally released from the hospital she arrives home to a personal crisis that sends her over the edge. Will she find her way out of the darkness and into God’s glorious light? To answer this question, read the book and decide for yourself.;) On the whole, the novel is an artistic depiction of depression and anxiety that struggles to tie up the fraying edges of the story. The biggest weakness in Shades of Light is the lack of basis for Wren’s condition. According to the professional counselor on our staff, people do not suddenly start having panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, and the inability to cope with basic tasks. This type of behavior is usually the result of some sort of trauma in an individual’s past; therefore, a series of flashbacks to a traumatic experience in Wren’s childhood was what was needed here. The implementation of this concept is the only way that her behavior would be believable. Additionally, there are some continuity errors in the form of a scattery beginning and abrupt ending. In comparison, the novel’s greatest strengths are it’s honest look at the flaws in American churches and the outside-the-box spiritual truths that are woven into the fiber of the novel. These strengths give the shaky storyline a boost, but overall it rounds out to a below average score. In summary, were it not for the plot and storyline errors, this novel would have been groundbreaking.

Character Development (2.5 points)

Likewise, Brown’s characters are arguably the strongest part of the novel. Although the storyline does not always give them much to work with, the depth, honesty, and intelligent thinking displayed by Wren, Kit, and Jamie (Wren’s mother) is refreshing. Wren is a true artist because she sees the dark and light parts of life in equal measure (many Christian authors try to craft artistic female leads, but end up with a flighty, ditsy character who searches for substance). Kit is a great example of someone who is letting God use her weakness and past struggles for his glory by helping others in similar states. Jamie is also a good character because her imperfections are equal to her strengths. Furthermore, Jamie’s husband is not the typical pastor character because he has an identity outside of his job. Finally, the minor characters, including Jamie’s other children, are good and have above average dialogue. (spoiler) The main weaknesses to point out here are the ever-changing Casey character whose codependent relationship with Wren is excused, and the fact that arcs of all the characters come to a hasty conclusion. This being said, Brown rounds out with an above average score in this section.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Brown earns a half point in creativity for her unique storyline and a half point in originality for her great dialogue and outside-the-box characters. We here at BOR think that this novel would make a great Christian drama series that focused on weaving together the storylines of Wren, Jamie, and Kit to show that everyone has their own struggles, but everyone can be used by God in amazing ways. The storyline would need some rewriting, and the characters a first-person perspective, but it can be done. We here at BOR hope that authors like these will recognize their potential to be great Christian screenwriters.

Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Duchess of Criminality (Christmas 2020)

Image result for timothy chey
T.C.: ” I think I finally broke the spine of my new script!”
Image result for fungus monsters inc meme
“What is it sir!?”
Image result for timothy chey
“You’re not going to believe it, it’s my best idea yet, why, it could even win us an Oscar!”
Related image
“Sir…..”
Image result for timothy chey
“What do you think it is? Come on! Take a guess!
Related image
“Let me think, is it an apocalyptic survival plot, no, it can’t be, you already did that. Oh I know! A sports movie! Nope, done that too. Oh wait! Is it a sensational and bizarre look at a social issue? That’s gotta be it! Right?
Image result for timothy chey
(laughs without answering)
“Uh, sir….”
Image result for timothy chey
“It’s about a little-known women’s suffragist who pulled off multiple bank robberies in 1905! She made off with $19 million! I’m going to call it the DUCHESS OF CRIMINALITY!!! Hahahahahaha….so, whatcha think?
Related image
“…….”
Image result for governor ratcliffe laughing gif
The world’s reaction
Image result for evil laughing disney gif
T.C.: “Those little people won’t even know what hit them!”

Yet another Timothy Chey film is currently in pre-production

Writer(s): Timothy Chey

Image result for put that thing back where it came from or so help me meme

Director(s): Timothy Chey

Image result for don't let it happen again gif

Producer(s): Timothy Chey

Related image

Starring: Random people yet to be cast

Image result for animal yawning gif

Plot Synopsis: Cassie Chadwick steals $19 million from the banks in 1905 at the height of the woman’s suffrage movement

Related image

She pulls off the greatest bank robbery in history!

Related image

And becomes BOSS!

Image result for cool cool cool storks meme

Timothy Chey be like

Image result for how ya like me now pigeon toady gif

Final Frequency (August 2020)

Coming to select theaters and streaming services August 23, 2020

Writer(s): Christine Fry, Penny Gibben

Director(s): Tim Lowry

Producer(s): Rachel E. Lowry, Tim Lowry, Joth Riggs, John David Ware, Derrick Warfel,

Starring: Lou Ferrigno Jr., Kirby Bliss Banton, Charles Shaughnessy, Luke Guldan, Richard Burgi, Nikki SooHoo, Mark Krenik, Anne Marie Howard, Thomas Haley, Brenda Lorena Garcia, Josh Murray, Kim Estes, Carmen Moreno, Greg Allan Martin, Abhay Walia, Peter Xifo, Eddie Buraye, Kyra Locke, Calvin Harrison, Nicolas Alexandre, Jon Mohr, Jacqueline Price

Plot Synopsis: A ph.D student investigates unusual seismic activity in Los Angeles, leading to a cabal of elitist scientists, who plan to weaponize Nikola Tesla’s most secret research to manipulate thought patterns and earthquakes.

Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson (September 3, 2019)

Memories of Glass by [Dobson, Melanie]

Release date: September 3, 2019

Author: Melanie Dobson

Plot summary: As war rips through the heart of Holland, childhood friends Josie van Rees and Eliese Linden partner with a few daring citizens to rescue Eliese’s son and hundreds of other Jewish children who await deportation in a converted theater in Amsterdam. But amid their resistance work, Josie and Eliese’s dangerous secrets could derail their friendship and their entire mission. When the enemy finds these women, only one will escape. Seventy-five years later, Ava Drake begins to suspect that her great-grandfather William Kingston was not the World War II hero he claimed to be. Her work as director of the prestigious Kingston Family Foundation leads her to Landon West’s Ugandan coffee plantation, and Ava and Landon soon discover a connection between their families. As Landon’s great-grandmother shares the broken pieces of her story, Ava must confront the greatest loss in her own life—and powerful members of the Kingston family who will do anything to keep the truth buried.

Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson (September 3, 2019)

Christmas in Winter Hill by [Carlson, Melody]

Release date: September 3, 2019

Author: Melody Carlson

Plot summary: Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager oversees. As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn’t always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, “Where’s the snow?” Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista’s Christmas spirit before the big day?

Vindication (August 2019)

Coming to Amazon Prime August 9, 2019

Series trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5051400/videoplayer/vi2597436697

Writer(s): Jared O’Flaherty?

Director(s): Jared O’Flaherty

Producer(s): TBA

Cast: Todd Terry, Peggy Schott, Emma Elle Roberts, Venus Monique, Steve Mokate, Masey McLain Stanley, Matt Holmes, Lauren Fiddes, Paul Flanagan II, Kim Jackson Davis, Megan Dalby, Austin Terry, Major Dodge

Plot summary: Vindication is an episodic faith-based crime drama series that follows the small town investigative work of Detective Travis. This season has 10 episodes that depict Travis’ investigation of a double homicide.

Pardoned by Grace (coming in 2020)

Movie about the life of a Michigan City priest films in the Region, Porter County Jail

Coming to select theaters in 2020 from Graham Family Films

Writer(s): TBA

Director(s): Kevan Otto

Producer(s): Ben Graham

Starring: Joey Lawrence, Michael W. Smith, more TBA

Plot Synopsis: This biopic film tells the true story of Scott Highberger, a man who was in and out of jail for a big part of his life. Based on his memoir, the film will cover his 35 arrests, eight felony convictions, five prison sentences, and his path to drug addiction and personal turmoil. The film will end with his new life as an outreach pastor at Road to Life Church’s Michigan City campus who ministers to inmates at Westville Correctional Center.

The String by Caleb Breakey (BTSNBM)

Image result for the string caleb breakey

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

Plot & Storyline Quality (0 points)
Caleb Breakey’s first foray into Christian fiction has been hyped as a page-turning suspense novel that’s refreshing to the market, but we beg to differ.  From start to finish, its plot closely follows an expected progression as the macho male lead and a bunch of extra characters deal with a maniacal madman who’s intent on killing certain people for personal reasons.  Literally every other page is either an explosion, a fight scene, or a redundant villain monologue, so it feels like the same things happen over and over again. The repetition is wearing and makes the reader feel like nothing’s really being accomplished as the plot stirs characters in circles ahead of an inevitably predictable conclusion, complete with a dramatic villain reveal and a quick epilogue that reminds the audience how the important characters impossibly survived great peril without much consequence. There’s also the nauseating romantic subplot to contend with that reduces the female lead to an accessory needing to be rescued by the perfect male lead who can do no wrong even when it seems like he has a checkered past. Needless to say, there’s nothing much going for this part of the book. Therefore, Breakey earns zero points in this section for his offensive portrayal of women and his sensational, meaningless storyline.

Character Development (0 points)
As previously alluded to, the character department also suffers for authenticity. Every character fits neatly into a predetermined suspense mold: the chiseled male savior, the funny male sidekick, the mindless, emotionally fragile female lead in need of saving, the stereotypical child, the cheesy, cringe-worthy villain with a vague vendetta against life. Oh, and there’s also the obscure character you don’t notice at first who’s briefly included early on in order to set up a later dramatic scene that shows their connection with the overall plot. Dialogue does nothing but drive home these stereotypes, and all the other characters besides these feel very extra and contrived – the minor characters need serious work. Hardly any of the characters make their own choices; the plot makes them for them. Also, perhaps the worst element of this section is the fact that a dark past for the male lead is teased and then completely explained away in a way that fully absolves him of any wrongdoing. This suggests a fear of having flawed characters and is very offensive. In the end, there’s little good to mention about this unfortunate book.

Creativity and Originality (0 points)
Thus, there’s also virtually no creativity to highlight in The String as this has really been done before ad nauseam. No plot twists are unexpected or well-thought-out, and no characters are dynamic or engaging. Characters survive unrealistically harrowing experiences with little injury or problem, and coincidental connections form the fabric of the storyline. Essentially, if you think of the most predictable suspense plot you can conceive, it’s The String. As you may have guessed, we here at BOR do not recommend The String as Christian film or reading material. If there are future novels in store for Breakey, he should take a page from Tosca Lee’s The Line Between and learn that the secret to a great storyline and realistic characters is the art of subtlety and a little thing called substance.

Wish List Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Quantum (coming in 2020)

Coming to select theaters in 2020

Writer(s): Ralph Strean?

Director(s): Ralph Strean

Producer(s): Ralph Strean, more TBA

Starring: TBA

Plot Synopsis: This crowdfunded series will take viewers back in time to Biblical events in history from the perspective of a time-traveling pair from the dystopian future.

The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

Image result for the words between us by erin bartels

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)

Erin Bartels’ second novel has a strong storyline and good characters that make for a pleasantly imperfect read that shows much potential for the future. Robin has lived an atypical life from the beginning. She spent part of her childhood as the daughter of a U.S. senator and his wife, and the rest of it surviving under different identities with different caregivers. When Robin’s mom and dad are arrested and put in jail indefinitely for murder and other charges, she is shipped off to her grandmother’s trailer in Michigan. It doesn’t take long for her to meet her new neighbor, Peter, who comes to visit his dead mother in the cemetery in her front yard. The two quickly become friends, but Robin holds him at arms’ length, covering her insecurities and lack of identity with sarcasm and resilience. When Robin’s grandmother dies suddenly, she can’t handle the fallout and strikes out on her own. As one circumstance leads to another, Robin will find herself unable to let go of the past, and scared to believe in a better future. Overall the storyline has good continuity, and the author’s attention to detail adds a lot to a basic plot structure. Additionally, the subtle, self-aware observations by the author of typical plot twists that she purposely avoided adds unique humor and displays a refreshing, transparent writing style. The main weakness that keeps this section from a perfect score is the somewhat rushed, Band-aid style ending. In spite of its flaws, this is a unique, enjoyable story that rounds out with an above average score.

Character Development (2.5 points)

Bartels’ character development is also above average. The dialogue between characters is exceptional because it is the core of the developing relationship between the protagonists. Likewise, Robin is the best character because her childhood trauma has lasting effects on her life and shapes who she is as an adult. Additionally, Bartels’ use of first person for Robin adds depth and should be the rule for novels in this genre. (spoiler) In comparison, the weakest part of Robin’s character is the way her long-held trauma seems to be fixed by renewing an old relationship. On a positive note, Peter is a very unique male lead that avoids the usual pitfalls and demonstrates both intelligence and relatability – both hard to find qualities in Christian fiction’s male protagonists. Furthermore, Dawt Pi and Sarah are exceptional minor characters who actually have a real role in the story…and stories of their own! Therefore, Bartels rounds out with an above average score here as well.

Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)

Finally, Bartels earns a full point in creativity for her unique storyline and a half an x-factor point in originality for her great characters and dialogue sequences. This being said, we feel that her novel would make an excellent Christian drama film that brought to light everyday trauma(s) that people deal with throughout life and the affect this has on their decisions and relationships. The screenwriter would need to alter very little, as the novel is already written like a screenplay. The main thing to focus on here would be an excellent cast. We hope that a budding or established Christian filmmaker will recognize the great potential this novel has to become a film.

Wish List Rating: 7 out of 10 points

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham (BTSNBM)

Image result for yours truly thomas by rachel fordham

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)

Fordham’s latest novel, the second installment in the Azure Springs series, is a bit of letdown after her promising start. Penny has just suffered the death of her beloved father, and as a result, has become the household breadwinner for herself and her mother. The death of her father means that she and her mother have not had the funds to enjoy the high society life they were used to, and her mother has been depressed about this ever since. Her grief over her late husband causes her to treat Penny harshly and without consideration. This has left Penny feeling hurt and somewhat confused as to what the future holds. On the bright side, she enjoys most things about being a clerk in the dead letter office, however, she doesn’t enjoy throwing letters away. One day she stumbles upon passionate letters from a man named Thomas to a woman named Clara. After learning more about him through his writing, she decides to ensure that his letters reach Clara as soon as possible. Thomas is a broken individual with a colorful past who ends up in Azure Springs by chance. When Penny runs into Thomas on her search for Clara, she conceals her real reason for traveling and pretends to be an author. As time goes on, the two get to know each other better, and Thomas falls in love with Penny. On the whole, the storyline is pretty basic and predictable. It was a nice touch to use someone’s journey to Christ as the basis for a storyline, but the whole story seems a bit too good to be true. Additionally, the overused falling-in-love-right-after-breaking-up (or while still in a relationship) plot device is unrealistic and gives hurting people false hope. It is not healthy to seek fulfillment in relationships with people. What the world needs is fiction that points people to God’s healing power. Healing is not found in the arms of a man or woman, but in the arms of Jesus. Therefore, what Fordham is missing is depth and a balanced writing worldview – more reality, less fantasy. For these reasons, Fordham earns a below average score in this section.

Character Development (2 points)

Fordham’s character development is the strongest point of the novel and saves it from complete mediocrity. Penny is a good protagonist and the best character because other’s actions and decisions affect her own, and she changes in response to her good and bad life experiences. Additionally, the flashbacks to her childhood are a nice touch. It would have been nice to see these as a continual, rather than sporadic feature. Thomas is a character with a lot of potential who feels unfinished. Much like Penny, it would be very helpful to have flashbacks of his past life throughout the novel, for this would give him depth and believability. In comparison, the worst minor characters are Penny’s mother and her boss. Both of these characters seem unpleasant without basis and drag down the overall plot quality. In contrast, Penny’s friend and co-worker Dinah is the best minor character because she is down-to-earth and realistic. Overall, these characters are a good try that need a little more work to be great. Likewise, since Fordham’s characters are better than her storyline, she earns an average score here.

Creativity & Originality (.5 point)

Finally, Fordham earns a half point in creativity for her use of flashbacks with the protagonist, and no points in originality for using the same plot structure as this novel’s predecessor. Additionally, this novel turns over a new leaf in the Box Office Wish List section. We will now be including books that should not be movies for the reasons listed in the corresponding reviews. These reviews will be indicated with the initials BTSNBM in parentheses by the book title. It is not our desire to hurt anyone’s feelings or be overly critical. However, the overcrowded world of fiction demands, unfortunately, some negative reviews. This being said, we here at BOR do not feel that Yours Truly, Thomas should be made into a film. The novel is reminiscent of the TV series Signed, Sealed, Delivered, which had potential, but mostly fell flat. Christian filmmakers should spend their time bringing books to the big screen that will change the world, not empower romantic fantasy.

Wish List Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

Until the Mountains Fall, #3  -     By: Connilyn Cossette

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)

Connilyn Cossette’s third installment in the Cities of Refuge series is a mixed bag that shows both potential and room for improvement. Continuing where the last novel left off, this one starts a new plot with more members of Moriyah’s extensive family. Rivkah is a young widow who feels that her father is forcing her to marry her late husband’s younger brother. She feels that her time with Gidal was too short, and her time with his brother Malakhi will be much too long. Rivkah can’t see any way out of the situation, so she goes ahead with the betrothal ceremony, however, during and after the same she does everything she can to discourage Malakhi from marrying her. Malakhi has loved Rivkah since they were children, and doesn’t understand her cold attitude towards him. From his perspective, his continual needling and teasing on Rivkah as a child was to help keep her spirit alive after her mother’s death. However, from Rivkah’s perspective, he has always been a silly boy who can’t take life seriously. Rivkah sees her way out when her friend Nessa announces her plans to escape her own impending arranged marriage to a less than desirable mate by looking for job opportunities at the festival in Laish. The two depart as planned, but the two women soon find themselves in difficult situations that lead to hard decisions. Overall, the plotline continues in a mostly predictable fashion, and unlike the previous novel, this is just a romance. There is no mystery or intrigue to speak of here. The storyline in this novel is not as good as its predecessor, and leaves room to be desired in creativity. While some good ideas are displayed, and at times implemented, the reader is left wanting depth. It was a semi-interesting idea to use a levirate marriage as the basis for a storyline, however, at times this part of the plot feels like a book of Ruth redux. Furthermore, the plot feels a bit rushed – there is a five-year time jump halfway through the book – and the romance a bit forced at times. Cossette has shown us that she has more potential than this, so she earns an average score in this section.

Character Development (3 points)

In comparison, Cossette’s characters remain her strongest point. Even though the plot leaves room to be desired, the main characters are quite good. Rivkah is the best character because she makes realistic choices and displays many relatable though processes throughout the story. It is also important to note that Rivkah’s character is based off of real events from Cossette’s life. This gives the protagonist depth and believability. Malakhi is a good character because he has a defined personality and consistent tendencies, however, he seems unfinished in the end. In contrast, Cossette does a good job of contrasting how scenarios are viewed differently by various people throughout the novel. On the whole, Cossette’s female leads are always good, but her male leads always feel unfinished. For instance, Eitan has more depth as a minor character than he did as a protagonist. Furthermore, the other minor characters are a mix of good, average, and unnecessary, so a little more editing was necessary here. These strengths and weaknesses level out to an above average score for Cossette in this section.

Creativity & Originality (.5 point)

Finally, Cossette earns a half a point in originality for her good characters. However, there is, unfortunately, not much creativity to speak of here. Most of the storyline feels like it was made with the purpose of writing an epilogue for old characters – I believe Cossette has more to offer than this. This flaw may exist because of contract constraints. Therefore, I still believe that the Cities of Refuge series has potential to be a good Christian series. The screenwriter would need to downgrade Rivkah and Malakhi to minor characters, and use characters from previous novels as protagonists, but it can be done. Additionally, he/she would need to use the potential in the city of refuge foundation to craft a story that contains more than romance.

Wish List Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

Shades of Light by Sharon Garlough Brown (August 20, 2019)

Shades of Light: A Novel  -     By: Sharon Garlough Brown

Release date: August 20, 2019

Author: Sharon Garlough Brown

Plot summary: Social worker Wren has been overwhelmed by bouts of depression before—but this time her anxiety is spiraling out of control. Amidst crying jags and mind-numbing lethargy, she’s lost all hope. Seeking a way forward, she finds solace in art, spiritual formation, and pastoral care. But will a complicated relationship from her past threaten to undo her progress?

The House on Lowell Street by Linda A. Keane

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)

Linda Keane’s debut work of fiction has both strengths and weaknesses, but is overall a very intriguing depiction of the strike of the Kalamazoo corset workers in 1912. Mildred and her sister Harriet have been working in one factory or another for most of their lives. Currently they both work in this corset factory with superiors who expect much work for little pay. Rose is a recently widowed mother in her thirties who runs a boarding house. She and her son Don have been struggling to make ends meet ever since the death of her husband, and she fears that without an increase in income they may lose their home. Rose is momentarily distracted from these troubles when Harriet’s bout of influenza leads Mildred to tell all about their past. Rose is horrified at what the sisters have experienced, but her decision to help them may bring her more harm than good. When circumstances seem to go from bad to worse, the characters will find themselves wondering if change is worth the price. Overall, the storyline is well-constructed and accurately reflects factory working conditions during this era. However, the plot is a bit choppy at times. For instance, the story begins with a focus only on Rose and her immediate life happenings, then switches to an almost tunnel-like view of Mildred and Harriet’s lives. These choppy moments are smoothed over as the story continues, however, the reader may find it hard to keep track of who the protagonist is during the first half of the novel. This is the novel’s biggest weakness and the reason why it received an average score in this section. Additionally, the beginning of the story does not fit with the rest of the plot. In contrast, Keane’s biggest strength is that it is not just another historical romance, rather, it is a great attempt at portraying real life. Keane’s effort to portray an often overlooked period of history in a relevant way saves her novel from being commonplace.

Character Development (2 points)

Likewise, Keane’s character development shows promise for the future, but needs depth to be great. Rose’s character arc throughout the book is good because she changes in response to what life throws her way. However, the biggest flaw with her character is the unaddressed death of her husband – the event seems to have no significant impact on her life. Mildred is the best character because the realistic outcome of her rebellion against tradition ups the storyline quality. Additionally, the factory owner is, unfortunately, a strawman villian. Finally, Harriet is a bit one-dimensional, but is fine as a minor character. Overall, Keane’s first attempt at developing fictional characters is better than many in her position, and could improve over time. Therefore, Keane earns an average score in character development.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Keane earns a full point in creativity for her unique portrayal of a little-known historical event, and her creative use of real places and people to build her story. Because of this, we here at BOR think that her story could be used as the foundation for a Christian historical drama film that uses characters to drive an awareness-based plot. The characters would need depth for this to be accomplished, but it can be done. This would be a great project for a new filmmaker to start out with because the material is already there.

Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Rachelle and Ted Dekker (September 3, 2019)

The Girl behind the Red Rope by [Dekker, Ted, Dekker, Rachelle]

Release date: September 3, 2019

Authors: Rachelle and Ted Dekker

Plot summary: Ten years ago, Grace saw something that would forever change the course of history. When evil in its purest form is unleashed on the world, she and others from their religious community are already hidden deep in the hills of Tennessee, abiding by every rule that will keep them safe, pure–and alive. As long as they stay there, behind the red perimeter. Her older brother’s questions and the arrival of the first outsiders she’s seen in a decade set in motion events that will question everything Grace has built her life on. Enemies rise on all sides–but who is the real enemy? And what will it cost her to uncover the truth?

Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills (September 3, 2019)

Fatal Strike by [Mills, DiAnn]

Release date: September 3, 2019

Author: DiAnn Mills

Plot summary: There’s a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down. Authorities have reasons to believe the Veneno gang is behind the hits, and FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down those responsible. Their best lead is an eyewitness who identifies a young man dumping the third body on a church doorstep. But their suspect has gone into hiding, and those closest to him are reluctant to reveal anything that might help investigators find him. As Leah and Jon check connections among the victims and dig deeper into motives, they discover appearances may be deceiving. Someone is desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and Leah and Jon must face their greatest fears in order to stop the next fatal strike.

Daughter of Cana by Angela Hunt (March/April 2020)

Release date: Spring 2020

Author: Angela Hunt

Plot summary: This novel picks up right where The Silent Years series leaves off and begins a new series called The Jerusalem Road. The series will begin with Daughter of Cana. The storyline explores Jesus’ miracles in Cana.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

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 (3.5 points)

Susie Finkbeiner’s latest novel has a great multi-dimensional storyline that uses many threads to create a uniquely beautiful tapestry. All Manner of Things portrays the main moral and social issues of the late 60’s and early 70’s in a realistic and non-patronizing way. Instead of using the jump-scare method of issue-based storytelling, Finkbeiner provides a realistic backdrop and a subtle, yet powerful central message. Annie Jacobson is is not your average American high school student. Others may assume that she lives a normal life because she goes to school, works at the local diner, and has late-night conversations with her best friend through their bedroom windows – but appearances can be deceiving. What makes Annie different is this; in the midst of a surface-over-substance culture, she has depth and a life purpose outside of her own interests. This is partly her nature, and partly because she has been forced to grow up without a father. One day while Annie and her older brother Mike are performing their usual tasks at the diner, he confesses that he has secretly enlisted in the U.S. Army because he knew the draft was coming anyway. Annie and her family are shocked, but manage to pull together as they always have to give him a good send-off. Shortly after Mike leaves, Annie’s paternal grandfather dies, which in turn causes Annie’s long-estranged father to show up in town for the funeral. As one event leads to another, the Jacobson family is torn between cautious hope and desparate faith. Will they be able to weather this attack on their lives and their hearts? To answer this question, read the book!:) Throughout the novel, Finkbeiner avoids giving too much information and uses the subtle placement of letters at poignant moments in the story to deepen the characters and the overall message. Additionally, her excellent portrayal of American family dynamics is rarely seen in Christian fiction. The only flaw to point out here is that a few of the minor characters in the story seem to fade away near the end. However, as people do move in and out of one’s life in a seemingly random fashion at times, Finkbeiner earns just shy of a perfect score for her dedication to plot and storyline development.

Character Development (4 points)

Likewise, Finkbeiner crafts excellent and realistic dialogue between her characters, and possesses the rare talent of crafting fictional people who leave the page to become reality…for just a moment. Annie’s first-person perspective on the story drives the plot, and her decisions reflect a perfect balance of strength and weakness, thus making her a perfect character. (spoiler) Frank’s (her father’s) realistic struggle with PTSD, and the long-lasting effects of the same on his life, are never seen in fiction. (spoiler) Additionally, Annie’s realization that Frank has maintained his relationship with God during their estrangement saves him from being a stereotype. Furthermore, the reactions of the rest of the Jacobson family to the issues at hand are realistically varied depending on personality, etc., and add even more depth to the story. In short, there is not enough good to say here. The Jacobsons are a family with a lot of emotional baggage who are doing their best to honor God, love one another, and share His love with others in the midst of it all. For all the reasons listed above (and even more), Finkbeiner earns a perfect score in character development.

Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)

Finally, Finkbeiner’s core message is this: In our lives we will experience periods of light and darkness, and although we assume God has left us in the darkness, it is on the other side of the same that we will realize He was there all along, working for our good. The author does not try to convince the reader that her worldview is correct, rather, she questions many societal norms of the past and speculates as to their impact on the present. In the end, she leaves the reader to make their own decision(s). This fact earns her the rarely awarded x-factor point in originality. Finkbeiner also earns a half point in creativity for her big-picture portrayal of the everyday and creative writing style that avoids many common errors in new ways. Additionally, we here at BOR feel that this novel would make an excellent Christian series based on the content in the same. Excellent job Ms. Finkbeiner! The Christian writing world needs more novels like yours.

Wish List Rating: 9 out of 10 points

Be Still and Know (October 2019)

Direct-to-DVD release October 14, 2019

Writer(s): Brittany Goodwin

Director(s): Brittany Goodwin

Producer(s): John Goodwin, Brittany Goodwin, Gil Johnson, Miranda Dixon, Richard Chilton

Starring: Kelsey Steele, Elizabeth Potthast, Kelly Bartram, Olivia Arokiasamy, Jacob Briggs

Plot summary: 19-year old C.J. has lost touch with her childhood best friend, Sophia, ever since she left small-town Willow Springs for college in the city the year prior. Realizing how much they’ve grown apart, Sophia insists that C.J. spends fall break at her late grandfather’s cabin, where they used to spend every summer together. CJ and her new city girl friends Jocelyn and Amber embrace the wooded retreat but their excitement quickly turns to dread when they discover a vagabond living in a run-down trailer on the property. Heeding his warnings against them, the group of girls’ decision to cut their trip short is foiled when Sophia disappears into the vast wooded terrain. As their fear and suspicions turn the girls against each other, C.J. and her friends must find Sophia and decide if they are safer inside the cabin or out. The story combines suspense with personal conflict and explores how faith is tested and relied on in times of trouble.

Cry of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (February 4, 2020)

Release date: February 4, 2020

Author: Morgan L. Busse

Plot summary: Lady Selene Ravenwood has come into her full power as a dreamwalker just as the war with the Dominia Empire begins. Working with the other Great Houses, Selene and Damien use their gifts to secure the borders and save those devastated by the war. But conflict, betrayal, and hatred begin to spread between the Great Houses, destroying their unity as the empire burns a path across their lands. At the same time, Damien Maris starts to lose his ability to raise the waters, leaving the lands vulnerable to the empire’s attacks. The only one who can unite the houses and restore her husband’s power is Selene Ravenwood. But it will require that she open her heart to those who have hurt her and let go of her past, despite the one who hunts her and will do anything to stop her power. Will Selene survive? Or is she destined to fall like the dream-walkers before her?

Star of Persia by Jill Eileen Smith (March 3, 2020)

Release date: March 3, 2020

Author: Jill Eileen Smith

Plot summary: In an effort to complete a war his father had planned to win, King Xerxes calls every governor, satrap, and official in his vast kingdom to his palace in Susa to strategize and feast. When they finally leave, he decides on one more week of frivolity, which ends in the banishment of his favorite wife, something he never intended to do. But when he discovers Esther, Xerxes is sure he has a second chance at happiness. In her wildest dreams, Esther could never have imagined that she would end up as queen of Persia. Yet she knows better than to become complacent. Another of Xerxes’s wives is vying for position, and his closest advisor has a deep and dangerous grudge against Esther’s adoptive father. Caught in the middle of palace politics, Esther will find herself in an impossible position: risk her life or consign her people to annihilation.

Author’s note: This post will be updated as more information is released.

A Murder of Innocence (June 2019)

img

Coming to DVD June 17 and select streaming services June 18

Writer(s): Shawn Justice, Aimee Anderson

Director(s): Shawn Justice

Producer(s): Aimee Anderson

Starring: Frank Chiesurin, Rachel MacMillan, Xander Steel, Katie O’Grady, Marc Steele

Plot summary: A community is rocked by the double-homicide of a prominent couple, and the local police struggle to find the killer. As darkness settles over the town, Albert, the new resident pastor, must help his church and family overcome the aftershocks by providing stability, healing and hope while his wife, Aimee, must come to grips with her own fear through her faith.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Image result for becoming mrs. lewis

Plot & Storyline Quality (3 points)

Becoming Mrs. Lewis has a great storyline that holds the attention all the way through. Callahan takes the time to develop deep, relatable characters that leave a lasting impression on the reader. Furthermore, each person is shown as a multi-dimensional figure who weaknesses are covered by God’s grace and whose strengths are a gift from Him. These are the strongest points of the novel. Joy Davidman is an aspiring author who is married to an alcoholic. Bill’s constant emotional swings and verbal abuse keep her on her toes, along with the responsibility of raising two sons. Joy and Bill are both atheists – until the day Joy has an unmistakable encounter with the Holy Spirit. Joy becomes a Christian, but still has many questions about life. After reading a few books by C.S. Lewis, she and Bill agree to write and ask him some of their questions. Lewis’ answers surprise Joy, and as they send letters back and forth, an unlikely friendship develops. Joy comes to depend on Lewis’ wisdom and advice as her home life becomes increasingly chaotic. When poor health sends her to London for better medical care, Joy decides to meet her pen-pal once and for all. Will their friendship develop into something more? As previously mentioned, storytelling is Callahan’s strength. However, the presence of some mild language, alcohol consumption, and sensuality keep this section from a perfect score. In contrast, because these factors aid in giving each character depth, they are not all bad. Callahan understands that imperfect characters and real-life elements are vital to the strength of a story. Her candid and effective depiction of two real people who impacted literature in big ways adds up to an above average score in this section.

Character Development (3.5 points)

Callahan employs a great first-person narrative from Joy throughout the novel. Her comedic and poignant uses of famous literature in conversation and life happenings also add much to the development of C.S. and Joy’s characters. In the same vein, her accurate portrayal of Lewis as an eccentric genius who is afraid of romantic relationships, and of Davidman as someone who struggles with seeking the temporal over the eternal is what makes her characters great. Warnie and J.R.R. Tolkien are also good minor characters that add much to the story. Additionally, all the characters have excellent, steady arcs and realistic relationship development – or detriment – that happens over the course of several years. The main weakness here, as previously mentioned, is found in some unnecessarily sensual thought processes from the characters. Despite this flaw, Callahan earns a nearly perfect score in character development.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Callahan earns a half point in originality for giving Joy Davidman a voice and defining her personality. She also earns a half point in creativity for portraying Lewis as more than an author – he was also a friend to many and a devoted husband and stepfather. For these reasons, we believe this novel would make a great Christian drama film based on the content of this book. This would be a great film to add to the roster that Douglas Gresham is currently compiling with Netflix. Good job Ms. Callahan! We look forward to your future novels with interest.

Wish List Rating: 7.5 out of 10 points

Discarded Things (2019?)

Currently in post-production from Earth Mother Entertainment (distribution is currently being discussed)

Writer(s): Karen Abercrombie, Tara Lynn Marcelle

Director(s): Tara Lynn Marcelle, Joanne Hock

Producer(s): Karen Abercrombie

Starring: Sharonne Lanier, Ian Grey, Alexandria Benford, Silvia Dionicio, Madison Bailey, Jemarcus Kilgore, Thomas Ford, Karen Abercrombie, Cameron Arnett

Plot summary: When the life of Grace Wyatt, an esteemed music professor, is disrupted by tragedy, she finds herself thrown out of her lavish academic world and into the harsh reality of teaching at-risk youth

Redeemed (coming in 2019)

Redeemed

Currently in post-production

Writer: Ty Manns, Monice Mitchell, Jacqueline D. Moore

Director: Ty Manns

Producer: Vickie Adams, Joel M. Gonzales, Bishop Charles Mackie, Ty Manns, Jackie Moore, Kevan Otto, Pejman Partiyeli, Brandon Riley, Tim Warren

Starring: Keshia Knight Pulliam, Jeff Rose, T.C. Stallings, Eaddy Mays, Roshawn Franklin, Shannen Fields, Karen Valero, Cameron Arnett, Ty Manns, Nereida Velazquez, Johann Mikaiel, Shari Dyon Perry, Deetta West, Joel M. Gonzales, Thom Scott II, Jef Holbrook, Mayra Nuñez, Ole Goode, Bishop Charles Mackie, N’dia-Marrie Farr-Cannon, Sara Lynn Herman, Will Oliver, Sam Beman

Plot Summary: After becoming the youngest female, minority judge elevated to the bench in her state, Angela Sylvester quickly finds herself trapped into a ‘Kids for Pay’ prison scam orchestrated by her boss, Judge Cynthia Paulino. Fearing her legal career and dream of becoming a federal judge is over, she struggles and her career spirals out of control. Afraid, she takes the advice of a close friend and turns to her faith to find the strength needed to redeem herself of the crimes committed.

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner

Image result for cadie mccaffrey

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)

Bethany Turner’s latest rom-com has interesting storyline that contains a lot of mixed messaging. While the novel holds the attention from cover to cover, when all is said and done the reader is left wanting depth. Cadie McCafferey is a thirty-something redhead whose life is built around her sports reporter career – its just too bad she doesn’t like sports. Most of her friends double as her co-workers, and she even met her current boyfriend – Will Whitaker – at work. After four years of dating Cadie feels the the spark is dying between her and Will and decides that maybe its best for them to break up. Will Whitaker’s life revolves around Cadie, at the end of every long work day he looks forward to spending time with her. When he misses a planned dinner with Cadie one night she takes his slip-up as confirmation that their relationship is over. Shortly after this, in an attempt to revive the spark between them, Cadie and Will make a big mistake that alters the course of their relationship forever. Cadie is left confused and hurt, so Will decides to do anything he can to win her back. Will their love survive? One of the strongest points of this novel is Turner’s portrayal of the realistic fallout that occurs after a couple makes a desparate attempt to stay together. Additionally, there are many humorous moments and an accurate, relatable perspective on a legalistic upbringing. On the downside, there are a few instances of forced humor that could have been better – sometimes the author seems to be trying a bit too hard to use ‘young-people’ dialogue. Furthermore, the story-line’s pace is inconsistent as the central message is sometimes overshadowed by too much filler dialogue. Overall, the novel has a good central point that is downplayed by the weak ending.

Character Development (1.5 points)

Cadie is the strongest character in the novel for multiple reasons. One, her struggle against social expectations adds much to the novel. Secondly, her character arc is steady throughout the storyline, and it is obvious that her fictional life was based on reality to some extent. Will is two-dimensional rather than multi-dimensional because his character has no foundation. His sudden appearance in the story actually works, but the reader knows neither his family background nor who he is outside of his love for Cadie. In short, his past is only hinted at, rather than woven into his present. Furthermore, the minor characters are forgettable and need further development. On the whole, character development – which should be the forefront of a rom-com – is the weakest area of this novel.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Lastly, Turner earns a half point in originality for her realistic portrayal of someone whose legalistic church upbringing has influenced many of their poor choices, and a half point in creativity for creating a rom-com that has an atypical central message – true love is not based on fantasy. This is the strongest area of the novel for Turner because it is here that the central message is found. Through this story, Turner seeks to show the necessity of asking God’s forgiveness, and forgiving oneself. We feel that this the message could be more clearly communicated in a Christian rom-com film. The screenwriter would have to add depth to the characters and ensure the presence of an exceptional cast, however, it can be done. Good job Ms. Turner, I see much promise for future novels!

Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Not For Sale (July 2019)

Coming to select theaters July 2019

Writer(s): Jason Campbell?

Director(s): Jason Campbell

Producer(s): Jason Campbell

Starring: TBA

Plot Synopsis: A new feature film made exclusively by law enforcement depicting multiple true stories of underage victims of sex trafficking in America.

20 Minutes (February 2020)

20 Minutes

Coming to select theaters February 21, 2020

Writer(s): Timothy Chey

Director(s): Timothy Chey

Producer(s): Timothy Chey, S. Marc Clooney, Todd Kim, V. Carol Rosenthal

Starring: Dia Frampton, Michael Camp, Hitomi Miller, Jake Red, Lehi Makisi Falepapalangi, Teuira Shanti Napa, Aaron Braxton
Bernard Aderhold-Lindsey, Mihara India, Dean Testerman, Kaz Maruta, Mia V. Pattison, Ricky Sua’ava. Jordan Marzan, Mark J. Bush

Plot Synopsis: An incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii changes twelve people’s lives when they discover they have 20 minutes to live.

Isaiah’s Legacy by Mesu Andrews (February 2020)

Release date: February 2020

Author: Mesu Andrews

Plot summary: Zibah’s son Manasseh becomes king of Israel and goes against the ways of his father by worshiping false gods and committing every kind of evil under the sun.

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

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

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

Plot & Storyline Quality (3 points)

Barratt’s latest historical has engaging characters and a down-to-earth storyline that give the reader an in-depth look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s personal life. My Dearest Dietrich goes a step further than other Bonhoeffer depictions by giving his fiance – Maria von Wedemeyer – a voice. Maria is a confident young woman who loves her father dearly and is devoted to her grandmother. While she is staying at her grandmother’s house one day, as she often does, Maria has an unexpected run-in with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, her grandmother’s friend. Despite the significant difference in their ages, she is surprised to find that they have much in common. When Providence continues to bring them together in the most unlikely of places, Maria realizes that a chance encounter has changed her life forever. Dietrich is a scholarly, thirty-something bachelor who lives with his parents and is part of a secret resistance that hopes to assassinate Hitler. His days usually consist of writing, conversing with family members and old friends, and resistance work. This pattern is broken the day he meets Maria. He suddenly realizes what it means to love another person, but fears that a romantic relationship will further complicate his secret life. Despite all that tries to drive them apart, Maria and Dietrich cling to God and their love for each other throughout one of the darkest periods of history. Will Dietrich be found out? Will Maria survive the tragedies that befall her? To answer these questions, read the book!;) A major strength of this novel is Barratt’s portrayal of both Dietrich and Maria as ordinary people who are passionate in their beliefs and in their love for one another. This is a true romance based not on physical attractiveness, but on heart and depth. Additionally, Maria and Dietrich’s realistic defiance against the status quo and gender molds for the era is much appreciated. The only flaws to point out here are minor. First, at times the pace of the storyline is inconsistent, while at other times it flows smoothly. Finally, while the dialogue between characters is quite good, a reader without background knowledge of Dietrich and Maria’s lives may become lost at times. Likewise, because the strengths in this novel outweigh the weaknesses, Barratt earns an almost perfect score in this section.

Character Development (3 points)

Barratt has crafted relatable, real characters with a deeper purpose than falling in love with each other. This is evidenced through the fact that Maria and Dietrich have clearly defined personalities and tendencies that remain constant throughout the storyline. Maria’s unique personality and beliefs that go against social expectation drive the plot. Additionally, Dietrich is seen not as a saint, but as an ordinary, somewhat eccentric man who loved Jesus and believed that a better world could be accomplished through ethical reform. Furthermore, most of Barratt’s minor characters are memorable and add much to the plot. The main flaw to point out here is that the high-ranking members of the Gestapo are basically painted as strawman villains. However, Barratt counteracts this to a degree by including Nazi soldiers who are portrayed as ordinary people. Therefore, Barratt earns just short of a perfect score in character development.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

This novel is a creative take on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but it’s greatest strength is found is bringing Maria to life. (spoiler) Because of this, it earns a full point in originality for displaying how Dietrich’s beliefs changed as time went on, and for giving Maria a voice. The author shows great insight into the non-fictional lives of her characters by remaining as true as possible to who they were. For these reasons, we here at BOR feel that My Dearest Dietrich would make a great Christian multi-part series that draws on the content in the same. Good job Ms. Barratt!:)

Wish List Rating: 7 out of 10 points

The Healer’s Touch by Connilyn Cossette (December 2019)

Release date: December 2019

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Plot summary: Tikva has been suffering from blood loss for years and no physician has provided relief or a cure. Tikva’s encounter with The Healer will change her life forever. This novel is a fictional depiction of the woman with the issue of blood in the Gospels. More info to come.

When Calls the Heart, Season 7 (coming in 2020)

Image result for when calls the heart season 7 scenes

Coming to the Hallmark Channel in 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 because plot and are 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?

On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Image result for on a summer tide

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)

Fisher’s first book in her new Three Sisters Island series is a dramedy of sorts masquerading under the guise of a contemporary romance. The storyline is a mixed bag, but it contains many funny sequences and well-placed moments of subtle wordplay that make for an enjoyable read. Cam, Blaine, and Maddie are three sisters who have been trying to survive ever since their family crisis. Each has dealt with the trauma in their own way. Cam by charging doggedly ahead, Blaine by concealing her true feelings under a belligerent attitude, and Maddie by over-analyzing the emotions and actions of others as a distraction from her own. When their estranged father wants to meet with them as a matter of urgency, they all assume that his health is failing. However, the sisters are surprised to discover that Paul Grayson is not dying, but has embarked on his latest adventure – buying a far-off island on Maine’s coastline. At first they all think he’s crazy, but the sisters may discover that their father’s seemingly crazy decision is the best thing that ever happened to them. On a Summer Tide’s main strength is the eccentric humor therein and the subtle parody of commonly known wordplay sprinkled throughout the storyline. In contrast, it’s biggest weakness is the inclusion of overused plot devices – the attractive bachelor who is good with kids, the single overachiever who’s afraid to give her heart away, and the troubled child character, to name a few. However, if these elements are supposed to be viewed in a parody context, then they are the novel’s greatest strength. Overall, Fisher has turned out a nice read for her fans. Still, this novel’s biggest struggle will be standing out in it’s overcrowded genre. Thus, Fisher receives an average score for her storyline.

Character Development (2 points)

Cam, Maggie, and Blaine all have a defined personality and tendencies, yet, each one feels unfinished. Seth is an interesting take on the typical handsome bachelor character, but his late entrance nearly halfway through the story makes it hard for the reader to understand who he is. Paul is an interesting eccentric father character, especially if his character is meant to be comedic. However, if not, then his character is very one-dimensional. Fisher’s greatest strength in character development is her use of flashbacks with Cam. Of all the characters in the story, Cam is the most believable and the most well-developed. In comparison, Fisher has room for improvement with her minor characters. While many of them contribute humorous dialogue, they barely exist outside of these moments. Therefore, Fisher earns an average score in character development for her good ideas.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Lastly, the great paradox of this novel is whether or not it is intended to be a parody of all the characters and scenarios found therein. If so, then Fisher earns a full point in originality for her subtle comedy and a bravo from us here at BOR. If not, then she earns a half point in creativity for her use of flashbacks with Cam, and a half point in originality for her unique sense of humor. Either way, Fisher earns an average score in this section as well. However, if our former theory is true, then we believe this novel would make a great Christian dramedy series that emphasized the eccentric humor already in the storyline and parodied contemporary romance stereotypes.

Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Encounter Season 2 (Fall 2019)

Coming to Pureflix.com in October and November of 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.

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette (March 2020)

Release date: March 3, 2020

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Plot summary: Strong-willed Tirzah wants to join her people in driving the enemy from the land of Israel and undergoes training for a secret mission inside the stronghold of Shechem. But soon after she has infiltrated the ruthless Aramean commander’s kitchen, she makes a reckless decision that puts her and her allies in grave danger. Fresh off the battlefield, Liyam returns home to discover his beloved daughter is dead. After his vow to hunt down her killer leads to months of fruitless pursuit, his last hope is in a family connection that comes with strings attached. Strings that force him to pose as a mercenary and rescue an infuriating woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted. When an opportunity to pave a path to a Hebrew victory arises, can Tirzah convince Liyam to fight alongside her in the refuge city of her birth? Or will Liyam’s thirst for vengeance outweigh his duty to his people, his God, and the woman he’s come to love?

POST UPDATED 6/4/19

Lessons Learned From Two Mainstream Romantic Comedies

Select mainstream romantic comedies have much to teach Christian filmmakers. The truth is that the Christian romantic comedy and or comedy genre(s) are sadly sparse. The movies that do exist in these genres are usually awkward and or obnoxious. While there are a few diamonds in the rough, such as Heaven Bound, Altar Egos, and The Matchbreaker, the norm is….well….if you don’t know, then I won’t torture you with the knowledge. Today we’re going to take a look at two mainstream romantic comedies that got it right, and the lessons Christian filmmakers can learn from the same.

Leap Year (2010)

Image result for leap year movie
Image result for leap year movie

Screenwriters Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan gave this rom-com their all – a fact that is evidenced through many truly funny sequences and the time spent on developing a relationship between the main characters. The main characters are a purpose-driven, successful apartment stager engaged to a ‘cardiologist’, and an equally sarcastic and broody owner of a failing Irish pub. These two eccentric people drive the plot and have realistic dialogue and responses to life’s curve-balls. While the film received mixed reviews from critics, it is our belief that it is mostly misunderstood. While it cannot be classified as a Christian film – due to some language and a few scenes where characters are partially clothed – the screenplay contains some important lessons that many Christian screenwriters have yet to learn.

A true comedy is built on authenticity –real people

Audiences want authenticity. The most important step towards authenticity is creating real characters. A real character is someone who is neither an emotionless Hallmark clone nor a saintly, persecuted believer in a message-pushing Christian film. A real character is found in the messy in-between because real people are imperfect in a beautiful way. They mess up and say and do things they regret, but they are also capable of great love and good. Once this concept is implemented, the second branch of authenticity is real relationships. Real relationships don’t follow a spreadsheet – but they’re worth it. This movie establishes authenticity by paralleling an obligatory partnership and a real romantic relationship with the goal of showing the audience why the former is never worth it. As a screenwriter, whether you write the story or the screenplay, make the time to craft real people who have real relationships, the end results will be lasting.

Romantic comedies must have exceptional dialogue

This movie doesn’t waste time on ‘filler’ dialogue. Every conversation is both humorous and meaningful to the plot. The main characters go through the perils and joys of each day, reflect on their past and present, and learn to accept each other’s imperfections. What can a screenwriter learn from this? That real relationships are established through relatable dialogue. In this genre, conversations between characters should be neither high-brow nor punctuated with slang and cliches. Regular, average communication is what is needed – and a little sarcasm never hurt either. Overall, a screenwriter must remember that exceptional dialogue is paramount to building great characters.

My Fake Fiance (2009)

Related image
Related image

Howard March’s romantic comedy/parody stands out from many other mainstream RC’s because it contains truly comedic sequences. What is a truly comedic sequence? Something that is still funny the second time you watch the film. Additionally, his portrayal of self-loving opportunists and parody of dysfunctional parenting is nearly unmatched. The two main characters – a down-on-his-luck gambler on the run from the town thug and a cynical, single woman who has never quite lived up to her family’s standards – drive the simple storyline and have many truly funny conversations. March uses authenticity and exceptional dialogue to build his characters, but his screenplay contains further lessons for screenwriters in the romantic comedy genre.

Self-awareness is the key to parody

A true parody is one in which the characters are self-aware of unbelievable, ironic, or unrealistic scenarios or situations. March’s The Monkey character and his subtle trolling of Joey Lawrence through his corresponding character are examples of how to do this. Real people are self-aware, whether they admit it or not, and yes, when push comes to shove people are always looking for a way to benefit themselves. As a screenwriter, if you characters do not meet this criteria, then they can never be meaningful to the audience – they will never be real. I know that sounds like a quote from The Velveteen Rabbit, but its true.

Insecurity is the lifeblood of romance

A romantic comedy should be built around the insecurity of the characters. This may sound a little strange, so let me explain.

Image result for no it is too much let me sum up meme

When two people love each other, they are forced to decide if they will open their hearts and break down walls that they have always held on to, or turn away in fear and remain in solitude. When someone is truly in love with another they are both afraid of and in awe of the sensation. They long for what they feel they cannot have or do not deserve. In the words of Emmett from the Lego Movie 2, “its easy to harden your heart, the hardest thing you can do is open it”. This is a simple, but profound truth that a screenwriter should keep in mind when writing a romantic comedy. It is the center of everything that matters. It should be the underlying message in every romantic comedy. Ok, you get it.

In light of all this, what can we conclude? Simply this: select mainstream romantic comedies are more far-reaching and influential than most Christian films in the same genre because mainstream screenwriters understand real people. If Christian movie-makers start respecting their audiences by using real people and portraying real relationships in their storylines, then they will be following Jesus’ command to, “in humility, value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, New International Version).

Faith Ba$ed (coming in 2019/2020)

Currently in post-production

Writer(s): Luke Barnett 

Director(s): Vincent Masciale

Producer(s): Tim Kerigan, Tanner Thomason, Giles Daoust, Catherine Dumonceaux, Matthew Emerson, Lance Reddick

Starring: Tanner Thomason, Luke Barnett, Margaret Cho, David Koechner, Jason Alexander, Lance Reddick, Danielle Nicolet, Carly Craig, Danny Woodburn, Christoph Sanders, Danny Woodburn, more TBA

Plot Synopsis: Two idiot friends who realize that all faith-based films make ‘buckets of cash’, set out to make one such movie of their own. According to the creators: “This is not a movie making fun of people who have faith, it’s a commentary on supporting something blindly”.

This post is being continually updated as more information becomes available.