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.

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No Less Days by Amanda Stevens

Plot & Storyline Quality (2 points)

Amanda G. Stevens latest book, No Less Days, is both riveting and dissapointing. The novel has much untapped potential, and could have been so much better than it is. It feels like the author stopped short of all she has to offer. No Less Days tells the story of David Galloway – a 167 year old man who lost his ability to die in his thirties. Oh, he has had more than one opportunity, but each injury – no matter how serious – remedies itself after a brief amount of time. David leads a simple life. He owns and operates a bookstore in a small, isolated town whose residents live mostly in the past. David hates fire, loves books and his pet turtle, and questions many facets of his existence. He has only one true friend – his sole employee Tiana – and keeps mostly to himself. David follows nearly the same routine every day, and asks God why he is still alive every night. Then…everything changes. During a typical day at work Tiana tells David about a viral video she just saw in which a popular celeb named Zachary Wilson attempted to walk a tightrope at a great height and fell to his death – only to appear alive soon after. David doesn’t believe it at first, but curiosity soon probes him to examine the facts for himself. He too watches the video, and cannot believe his eyes. In a flash of comprehension he dares to ask the question: “Are there others like me?” After a brief inner battle with himself, he travels by car to Nevada in hopes of discovering whether the man is a fraud or genuine. He discovers that the latter is true, and he and Zachary become fast friends. Zachary introduces David to three other ‘longevites’, and the group quickly forms a bond. Little does David know that these new friendships will lead to danger, adventure, and perhaps the hardest decision of his life. Overall, the plot is engaging because it holds the attention from cover to cover. However, there are some continuity errors. At times the plot meanders in multiple directions without a clear objective, and some of the reasoning behind the characters’ longevity feels forced and simplistic. (spoiler) For instance, the only reason these five people are still alive is because they all had a fatal injury/health condition in the same era and were treated by the same doctor who discovered a magical healing serum in a body of water. In contrast, David’s role in the story begins and ends well because the beginning is enticing and the conclusion open-ended. In spite of this, it would seem that Stevens tried to include too many sub-plots that tend to clash with David’s purpose at times throughout the story. However, the moral questions asked in this novel are very creative, and it has much potential as a Christian film. These facts round out to an average score for Stevens in this section.

Character Development (2 points)

David is the best character in the story because he has a steady but powerful character arc that drives the plot. Tiana is also an above average character because she is a non-typical female lead and adds humor and life to a slow-to-develop story. Zachary is a good start, but not quite there. He has a developed personality and his character is consistent, but left unfinished. The other longevites drop abruptly into the story and are also left unfinished. These facts earn Stevens an average score in this section. We here at BOR believe that these character and plot errors could have been remedied through breaking up the vast amount of plot content into a series. For example, this could be a three to five book series that contains a book for each longevite. In this way, the reader would come full circle in knowing each of the characters equally, and the publisher would likely see greater revenue as a result. This idea may still be in the cards for this author, but if it is not, this book could be made into a TV series that applied the suggestions listed above.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

Finally, Stevens earns half a point in creativity and half a point in originality for crafting a book that contains fresh plot ideas and a well-constructed conclusion. This author’s strength is that she is not afraid to ask and answer the hard questions in life. Additionally, Stevens is obviously committed to changing the world of Christian fiction by daring to be different. I commend this author for her big ideas, and believe that she shows much promise for the future – with a little guidance, she could create an entirely new genre. This is why we believe that a Christian filmmaker should work with Stevens to bring this novel to the big screen in the form of a TV series that has a season or several episodes for each character. To conclude, well done Ms. Stevens, I believe that you are capable of more than you think.:)

Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Why the Erwin Brothers Should Make a Mark of the Lion TV Series

Image result for the mark of the lion series

Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Series changed the way people looked at Christian fiction. The safe and meaningless romances of the past were challenged by her raw storytelling and love that arose from the ashes of pain, suffering, and heartbreak. Rivers fearlessly portrayed real life – everything, even the messy stuff. Likewise, the Erwin brother’s recent blockbuster I Can Only Imagine – which is based on a true story – showed Christian audiences that the only way out of the dark is through it. Movies cannot avoid the hard things in life and focus only on hearts and flowers, or on sadness and worldly pleasures. No one will learn anything if entertainment continues to do this. Sadly, Christian movies often fall into the former situation, and if not, their portrayals of real life issues are often half-baked. For this reason, I continue to believe that Christian filmmakers should use the content that is already there. Rivers has proven that people can write relevant fiction based on historical fact, and the Erwins have proven that true stories revolving around social issues make the best movies. Therefore, the Erwins should use their new platform to make Christian miniseries/TV series based off of Christian books. They can start by bringing the Mark of the Lion to the big screen. This book series contains plenty of social issues to choose from – abortion, homosexuality, dysfunctional families, unhealthy relationships, slavery, etc. However, it would likely need the rough edges sanded off a bit for the big screen, for not all of Rivers’ raw content would translate well to movie form. Likewise, some of the secondary characters – namely Marcus and Julia’s friends – might need to be edited out or toned down. However, I firmly believe that the Erwins have the editing skills to make this happen. Second, I have no concerns about character development, for it is already there in the books, and the Erwins are masters in this area. Third, production would need great attention and some artistic flair. Additionally, they would need to branch out to a new filming location that at least looks like Rome and the surrounding areas. Finally, casting would need careful attention. I would suggest their usual mix of good secular and Christian actors, along with several racially diverse cast members that include some Israeli and other Arabic ethinicities to make the movie more culturally sound. I have full confidence that the Erwins could pull this off. Plus, a challenge would be good for them. 

Dream Cast for a Mark of the Lion TV series

 Hadassah: Keisha Castle-Hughes would make a great Hadassah. She is good at portraying a quiet, unassuming personality that hides an inner strength. Plus, she has already proven her acting skills in the Nativity Story movie. 

Marcus Valerian: Joseph Fiennes is good at portraying men of Marcus’ personality, plus, he has the look for it. 

Mrs. Valerian: Nicole Duport would be perfect for this role in every way. She has the look (her Amy Grant portrayal) and the talent to pull it off.

Mr. Valerian: Olivier Martinez would be great at portraying this character. He has already proven his ability to portray a confident, strong-willed character who likes authority in Paul, Apostle of Christ.

Julia Valerian: I leave this character up to the masters of casting. The actress playing this role would need to have the ability to portray a selfish, thoughtless, impulsive, and strong-willed female who is up for anything that goes against her parent’s wishes.

Alexander the physician: Jim Caviezel, he would draw attention to the film and is also good at portraying a prideful, self-confident character such as this. 

Calabah: Shohreh Aghdashloo, I have no words for how well she could portray this character. She’s a great villian/evil mentor. 

Atretes: This role needs to be filled by someone of German or similar heritage who can portray a character who has emotional ups and downs – who gets easily angry and tends to go on emotional highs. I must stipulate that such an actor be cast not only for his appearance, but primarily for his acting skills. It would be easy to fill this role with a generic muscled man who can’t act. 

Caius (Julia’s first husband): James Faulkner could fill this role, if he masked his British accent like he did in his most recent Christian film. Likewise, 
Robert Bathurst has the perfect personality for this character – if only he wasn’t British. 

Theophilus: Ralph Fiennes has the look, talent, and imposing presence to fill this role very well. Though he is an English actor, he is not actually British. His family tree includes people from Irish, Scottish, and Norman heritage.