Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

To What Pilgrimage is God Calling You?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnI’m excited for the release of my new historical novel, The Pilgrim, on Friday, July 17. In these two reader reviews, Judith Ingram and Debbie Phillips beautifully reflect on their own journeys as pilgrims.

Judith Ingram, on Goodreads

Davis Bunn’s historical novel, The Pilgrim, reads like a poem—lyrical and layered with spiritual meaning. The plot moves slowly, allowing the reader to savor the characters’ subtle introspections and heart changes that are the real story.

The title at first seems straightforward, “the pilgrim” being the empress mother of Constantine, recently divorced and shamed, on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. As her journey progresses, however, the troubled young Roman soldier assigned to accompany her reveals himself to be a pilgrim, also, on a journey to recover his lost faith.

By the end of the novel, I realized that I, too, had become a pilgrim, following their journey in faith, waiting for God to act and recognizing His movement in factual church history, which Bunn artfully embellishes with fictional details.

I recommend The Pilgrim to readers who enjoy a thoughtful read that is rooted in historical fact and finished off with vivid descriptions and piercing truths that will linger long after the book is laid aside.

The Pilgrim Quote 9

Debbie Phillips, on her blog

Wow, what a book. This is a GREAT historical fiction novel by a favorite author, Davis Bunn. A wonderful, touching tale about Helena, the mother of Constantine; her companions; and her pilgrimage to fulfill the call of God on her life and to walk in the steps that Christ walked while on his way to Calvary. Constantine, her son, has found the Lord and is beginning to change the world. Helena has been given a noble quest, through a vision from the Lord.

Oh, what wonderful characters. Oh what glorious descriptions. A quest that would lead the characters not just to Jerusalem, but to a deep spiritual place that helps them to find a reason to live, a way to forgive themselves for their failings and their past, and a way to join together to make the world a better place, especially for the Christians under Roman persecution.

I love how Bunn weaves a tale and brings me along and helps me to travel with each character on their journey. I felt with each character. I empathized with them. I wished that I could join them on the journey. I wish that I could go now and travel the Via Dolorosa.

This book helped me on my journey to forgive myself; and forgive others who have wounded me in the past. This is a difficult thing for me to do. It is something I have struggled with for the past 3 years. I have not finished my quest. I have not fully forgiven, but I am making progress and this book was one tool that Lord has used on my path to forgiveness.

I have for you two of my favorite quotes from the book…

The Pilgrim Quote 5

“She had to forgive herself.

On one level, it was ludicrous. What had she done to deserve her fate? She had every right to be hurt, wounded, angry and even to seek vengeance.

On the other, she knew the truth of this matter. She did not need anyone to be hard on her. She was harder on herself than anyone else could possibly be. Nothing she did was ever good enough. She had spent an entire lifetime striving to do better, to rise further, to be more. Which, of course, was one reason why she remained so upset with her husband. Because he had both failed to live up to her expectations and dragged her down as well.” pg 63

“Helena sat apart and argued with herself. Personal forgiveness meant accepting that she was flawed. Imperfect. Destined to miss the mark, time and again. She doubted whether she was able to actually, honestly, take that step.” pg 64

“I have a world of reasons to worry. I know I am frail. What I want is to look beyond all that.”
Slowly, Macarius turned back. His good eye gleamed as he observed her in silence.

“I want to be ready to serve at God’s command. And I can’t do this if I let fear and regret and anger dominate my life. I want to turn from all that. I want to focus on God. But I don’t know if I can.”

Macarius took her hand and he had the previous night. “Let us pray on this. And keep praying. And trust God both to answer and to give you the strength to hear.” pg 73

I completed this book and find myself inspired, hope filled, forgiven and more ready to forgive others, more aware of this time period, and deeply grateful for the opportunity to read and review it.

The Mending of Lives: Key Focus of ‘The Pilgrim’

Friday, July 10th, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnI’m touched by the reader reviews of The Pilgrim that are coming in. Today, you’ll hear from:

  • Anne Rightler
  • Jared Beiswenger
  • Eddie Gilley
  • Jodelle Svenhard

Please click the link next to each reviewer’s name to read his or her full review.

Anne Rightler, on Goodreads

Not knowing what lay ahead her intent was to walk the path of Christ’s grief and suffering. Helena, rejected wife of a Roman emperor, mother of Constantine the Great, only knew it was the will of God for her to take this path.

Davis Bunn’s masterful historical novel, The Pilgrim, brings readers a glimpse in the life of a woman, now revered as a saint in some religious faiths…a woman who heard from God and would not be deterred. Helena admits to those she meets she has failed God more often than she wants to recall and is told God wants her to know and share in others’ suffering.

She finds solace in servitude; the Empress giving freely that others may live and see Christ in her. The story is replete with characters in need of her healing balm. Broken people who needed to know the forgiveness of Christ in their souls and in their body. Broken people like the readers may be, in need of seeing God at work in their own lives.

Bunn writes of hope and healing and the mending of lives.

Jared Beiswenger, on Goodreads

“…the book has a solid Biblical message throughout. I think the themes will most resonate with those who have suffered great loss in their lives. I can’t relate closely myself, but nonetheless, I was emotionally invested by the climax. The Pilgrim also sparked my interest in the history of the Roman Empire and the early Church. After reading I was inspired to research the true stories behind the novel.”

Eddie Gilley, on his blog

There is drama, action, character development, and the gospel woven intricately within the story lines… There are moral messages of peace and reconciliation…”

The Pilgrim Quote 6

Jodelle Svenhard, on Goodreads

The Pilgrim is one of those books that “picks up” around word two.

Effervescent with historical characters you swear you studied in college, but suddenly you find they have emotions and lives and are not remotely similar to the gaudy figureheads you took for granted on the white pages of that dorm-room textbook. They live and breath before you as if someone found a way for them to “string theory” through history and sit by your side. And, indeed, someone did. The author, Davis Bunn, is the spellbinder.

“Sit,” however, is something this book rarely does. The characters charge, banter, ponder, blunder and bluster…. The life of a pilgrim is never dull… At least, not this Pilgrim.

Ha. what an unassuming name. About an unassuming individual…. in an unassuming world… But, it cannot remain unassuming, there is too much warmth. Embers from a forgotten fire that blazed through the pages of history so brightly that even dusty canvas, slovenly habits and our modern digitalized age cannot starved it completely cold or still.

Davis Bunn has found that fire, fueled it with words and faith. In The Pilgrim an Empress, a long buried kingdom and one of the most famous Generals in the world LIVE again.

Enjoy meeting them! I did.

‘The Pilgrim’ Causes Reader to Reflect on Sorrow, Miracles, and Christ’s Grace

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnI want to share a beautiful review of The Pilgrim, from reader Sue Stevens:

Complete disclosure here – I am admittedly a big fan of Davis Bunn’s writing – whether history, thriller, fantasy or other. If Bunn wrote it, I’m going to read it.

When I received THE PILGRIM in the mail, I was intrigued and at the same time disappointed that it is shorter than most Bunn novels. When I read a bit about the book and discovered it was based in history, a re-telling of the story of St. Helena, mother to Constantine and a key figure in early Christian history, I was doubly intrigued – I’m a bit of a history geek. And I dove in.

But this is not dry as dust, completely remote, has-nothing-to-do-with-me history. Bunn uses his substantial imagination and story telling talents to practically create out of whole cloth individuals about which there is little detail, if any, in ancient historical texts.

We come to know – and journey along side of – three individuals in particular, all of whom are struggling with horrendous grief and loss: Helena herself, former empress, now divorced, abandoned and stripped of everything she knew in life; Anthony, young Roman soldier who is looking for death to relieve him from his grief of losing his wife and child; and Macarius, former bishop of the now destroyed and scattered church in Jerusalem and crippled for his faith.

The Pilgrim Quote 4

Helena is on a quest, responding to a vision she received from God and seeking to walk the yet-to-be-named Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and bring the news of The Edict of Milan, that all Christians are no longer to be treated as criminals. So that’s the set up. But again – this isn’t dry history; this story is a page turner. I wanted to know what happens next, what danger – and what miracle – lurked around the next bend in the journey.

And yet at the same time, I was brought to my knees, reflecting on my own falling-short, my own griefs and sorrows, on Christ’s grace that reaches even me, on the miracles that God works in simple and wondrous ways.

I’m considering sharing it with some friends who are going through some very tough times right now – I believe it will be a comfort, not because the parallels between their experience and Helena’s are so exact, but because the journey we all take in life is so eloquently spelled out in these pages.

Timing: The Christian Blogger’s Key to an Effective Book Review

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

I recently received a review from a blogger who reviewed a book I’d published 12 years ago and is out of print.

While it’s wonderful to receive such support from readers and to have such treasured stories revisited, I have suggestion for bloggers who post reviews of my books: focus on the timing.

Bloggers who regularly review books are pressed by the PR people with whom they link to review books in advance of their publication. The aim of this is to generate that all-important whirlwind of initial interest.

This helps new titles to be placed in the minds of readers in those crucial early days. Small privately-owned Christian booksellers limit their shelf-space for fiction titles these days. Which means if a title of mine is to be widely read or even sold, it must garner the attention of buyers in those early weeks.

In order to have a genuine impact, and help your favorite authors, it would be great if your first focus was upon reviewing the most recent titles.

Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

P.S. If you’re looking for a book to review, may I suggest The Pilgrim? It releases July 17, 2015, from Franciscan Media.

First Reader Reviews of ‘The Pilgrim’

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnIn my upcoming historical novel, The Pilgrim, I recreate an important “scene” from the life of one of Christian history’s most important women: Helena, the mother of emperor Constantine.

The novel releases July 17, 2015, and early reader reviews are streaming in. Below are excerpts from seven reviews. Please click the link next to each reviewer’s name to access the full review.

Click the link to read Chapters 1-3 of The Pilgrim, free!

Tina Hunt, on Goodreads:

This is not a long book, but it’s deep. It’s not a difficult story, but it is rich and full.

Passionate and submitted. Regal yet humble. Life-changing. Hope filled. These are words that come to mind when I think about how Davis Bunn unfolds this story. There is a power that leaps from the page.

The characters in this story each make a pilgrimage, a journey of faith, whether it is across the sea or from behind a tree. There is the presence of evil and the battle to overcome fear and even find forgiveness.

When I was done, I was ready to go buy a gray traveling dress.

Judith Barnes, on Goodreads:

…It is the story of grief turning to a faith to forgive and to rebuild… The book is appropriate for Lenten reading. Believers and seekers alike will find a solid Christian message in this book while enjoying a lively tale.

Dave Milbrandt, on Goodreads:

…In The Pilgrim, we are introduced to Helena, mother of the famed Roman emperor Constantine, who travels to the Holy Land to fulfill her own destiny and help others to do the same. The charm of The Pilgrim is how Davis takes a timeworn story sitting on the edge of our collective memory and breathes new life into the tale through his flowing, almost lyrical prose. This is a concise, well-told tale that likely will inspire you to seek your own purpose in life.

Tracie Heskett, on Goodreads:

…This gripping story has a strong theme of forgiveness and serving God. It gave me something to think about even after I finished reading…

…The ending was a little disappointing, in that it read more like a biography and less like the story I had just read. I still give the book 4 stars, though, because Bunn does a good job incorporating research to tell this story of a little known piece of history. For lovers of historical fiction, The Pilgrim delivers that fresh taste of something that hasn’t been overdone.

Sherry Arni, on Goodreads:

…The characters are one of the strongest aspects of the book. Their enemies are powerful, overwhelming, though I expected a little more from them at points in the book. Still, The Pilgrim allows us into the lives of Christ-followers in a most difficult period of history. It delights as Bunn’s novels invariably do.

Cindy Eberle, on ChristianBook.com:

I love history, and learned of Helena’s contributions when we visited Rome.  But unless you are willing to plow through the long historical documents, there is little available about the believers of this era.  This book fills the gap AND is an enjoyable novel with memorable characters… My only wish?  I would love a summary, at the end of the book, to know which events are historical fact and which are filling in artistic details.

Shelley Walling, on Goodreads:

…This book filled my spirit as I pictured Empress Helena traveling to Judea and saving countless Christians along the way. I know for a fact she angered Satan in her quest to follow God’s plan for her life.

Video Book Trailer of ‘Emissary’ by Thomas Locke

Monday, December 15th, 2014

In January, I’m entering a new realm with my stories: an epic fantasy series targeted to the mainstream market, written under my pen name, Thomas Locke.

Hot off the press, here’s the video trailer for Emissary, book 1 in the Legends of the Realm series:

News of the Realm blog

If you’d like to learn more about Emissary, subscribe to my new blog at http://tlocke.com/blog/.

Reviews of Emissary

Here are links to early reader reviews of Emissary:

The Captive: Free ebook Short

Get a free peek of Emissary; visit http://tlocke.com/ and download “The Captive,” a free ebook short, to your digital device.

Romantic Times Gives ‘The Sign Painter’ 4 Stars

Monday, October 6th, 2014

The Sign Painter by Davis BunnI’m thrilled by the review Romantic Times (RT Book Reviews) gave The Sign Painter:

Reviewer Sarah Eisenbraun writes:

“In The Sign Painter, Bunn brings readers into the heart of humanity — helping those who cannot help themselves. Amy and her daughter are believable characters. This novel moves quickly with twists and turns along the way that keep readers excited and engaged.”

Click here for a synopsis of the story, reviews, and online purchasing links.

Readers Give ‘The Turning’ 10 Stars

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

The Turning By Davis BunnThe Turning… A highly recommended read for even non-readers

By Pris Phillips

Wow. The story was incredible. (The word “awesome” comes to mind – but that word is far too overused to be appropriated here.)  I could hardly put it down.

Prepare yourself for a fast-paced read, with twists and turns in a plot that leads to an unexpected end.

Powerful… moving… believable. Though a work of fiction, I believe The Turning accurately represents a taste of what’s ahead for followers of Christ. The battles will be strong; the enemy powerful. In the natural, we should lose…

I found myself caught up emotionally with ALL the characters, both the “good” and the “bad” … caring what happened to each major player on both sides as they struggled with their personal demons; making choices that would impact others in powerful ways.

I think even a non-reader would be caught up with this one!

I give it five stars, but it really deserves a ten. I liked it that much!

Another page-turner from a master storyteller! 10 stars

By Mary Kay Moody, Jottings from the Journeys blog

In his new novel, The Turning, Davis Bunn presents a story which is paradoxically as familiar as age-old fairy tales yet as astonishing as tomorrow’s news.

He brings together an unlikely group of five ordinary people. Ordinary, but dissimilar. Ordinary, except that they’ve each heard God. When they converge in New York City and encounter each other, they recognize that God has put them together. But they don’t know why? They only know they’ve been summoned.

Bunn says that each task assigned them is demanding, though not particularly grand. And each act of obedience brings forth the next measure of guidance. They discover that their tasks are linked and challenge the cultural direction of the nation.

With control of power and money at stake, malicious forces align to oppose them. As the five encounter threats and try to remain steadfast in their faith, the public debate and media frenzy place an unprecedented spotlight on them, on knowing and doing God’s will, and on the movement some call The Turning.

The Bible relates occasions when God gathers a group of individuals who are to use their skills and gifts to accomplish God’s purpose:  Moses assembling ten spies; Gideon’s army of 300; Jesus’ twelve disciples. But it’s history. We read it—we don’t live it. Reading THE TURNING just might cause us to rethink that.

As always, Bunn delivers a story that coils tighter as it flows. This one has plenty of surprises that will keep you flipping pages at a brisk pace.

And he continues to astound me with his skill—not only of storytelling, but also crafting realistic, compelling characters. This cast is culturally dissimilar yet familiar, and whether Black, Caucasian, Jewish, Chinese, or Arab, they all ring true. To draw such diverse and distinctive characters—elderly widow, driven businessman, spinster choir director, young career woman, refugee surgeon, transportation manager, motorcycle thugs, or biker friends—with precise language and economy of detail is master craftsmanship.

In The Turning, Davis Bunn pulls back a veil and shows that God uses the common actions of ordinary people to accomplish great things. I highly recommend it—as does my husband. Between us we give it ten stars!

First-Time Reader Reviews ‘The Turning’

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The Turning By Davis BunnToday’s reviews of The Turning include one from a first-time reader, and several from readers who liked the book’s antagonist!

You’ll hear from:

  1. Laura Noelle
  2. Cynde Suite
  3. Marie Sontag
  4. Lynn Riddick
  5. Gary Gilmore
  6. Margaret Nelson

I invite you to click the link next to each name to read their full reviews.

Compelling story, inspiring message

By Laura Noelle, Amazon

Having never read a Davis Bunn novel, I was unsure what to expect. I shouldn’t have worried because this story had my attention from the first paragraph. I’m always skeptical about Christian novels…will I be bored by pages of lengthy descriptions? Will the characters be images of perfection? But as I read “The Turning”, I found myself compelled by the characters who were real–full of flaws, doubts, dreams and glories.

This novel was so easy to read–the chapters are broken down, short and clips are shared from multiple characters’ perspectives. Truly a breath of fresh air from the many laborious books I’ve never been able to finish! I felt for these characters, needing to know what events would take place, and how the awful deeds of heartless people would be overcome by good. It’s not preachy, but it has a solid message of hope and shows God’s hand at work. Definitely worth a read!

Review Excerpts:

“The antagonist is brilliant because Bunn sets you up to like him (or at least pull for him) up until you read what he is about; then you are appalled!”

-Cynde Suite, Cyndecat’s Reading blog

“His flawed yet heroic protagonists and his almost empathetic, yet soul-darkened antagonists had me identifying with both, and turning pages long after the time I had allotted myself to read.”

-Marie Sontag, Sontag Writing Dreams blog

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing to admit but I actually quite liked Trent. I even found myself wanting to pray for him (if he’d been real) and was hoping very much for his redemption. I don’t know whether or not there will be a sequel, if so I would love to see hearts changed and converts made, not just a business that succeeds or fails but a true Turning from darkness to light in unlikely individuals.”

-Lynn Riddick, Goodreads

“Be prepared to question your own standing with the Lord in the matter of Lordship. Be prepared to hurt deeply with what you may see about yourself. And be prepared to renew your understanding about/and desire to be involved in true Lordship.”

 -Gary Gilmore, Gary’s Thoughts blog

“Davis does a great job of keeping up the reader’s interest while exploring themes of hope, choices, how God communicates with His followers, how God uses the least likely people to accomplish His will, and the wonderful fellowship and unity that can happen in the Body of Christ. If you don’t think that a few followers of Jesus can make a difference in our culture today, I challenge you to read The Turning! Reading thus book just may result in your life turning a new corner!”

-Margaret Nelson, Amazon

 

When You Feel Called to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The Turning By Davis BunnToday’s reader reviews of The Turning are by bloggers, Kathryn Eriksen and Lonzine Lee.

How Do You Make a Turning?

By Kathryn Eriksen, Walk With The Master blog

Have you ever been called to step out of your comfort zone…for no logical reason other than you felt a strong desire? If you followed that desire, what was the result? Did it benefit you and those around you?

What if that strong desire was actually God whispering for you to go…and take the turning? Puts a different spin on it, doesn’t it?

The message of The Turning is that you are not strong enough to go alone. Instead of asking God to solve the problem, turn to God so you can grow closer to him. It is a simple shift in perspective but a profound one. And that same shift is experienced by the characters, who also struggle to hear God’s response to their pleas.

The clash of good v. evil is portrayed vividly in the book. The power of the media is pitted against the power of God. Darkness seems to overtake everything, until one man’s soul lights up with God’s purpose. Nothing can stop him from doing God’s will. And in those moments of pure courage, he discovers his own will is the same as God’s.

And his life is never the same.

The Most Significant Davis Bunn Novel to Date!

By Lonzine Lee, I’m Just Asking blog

Here’s what I like about reading a Davis Bunn novel. It takes less than one minute to get pulled into the story. His characters are well-drawn. He really knows how to capture the voice of people (the gender, the ethnicity and the generation); and he provides more than one perspective.

The Turning, Davis Bunn’s latest book, is significant, gripping, heraldic, hopeful and intentional. I’ll just tell you point blank, you need to read it. There are so many directions I can go with this review, but I’m going to go the way of my heart. Imagine being inspired to perpetuate a viral mindset that revolves around the death of all hope. It is an invitation to entertain all that is dark, fearful, evil and devastating to the psyche and life of mankind. At heart, you are launching an attack against God, His Word and His people. Now imagine being invited by God Himself to be part of a team of individuals gathered to confront that viral message.

You are caught up in the fast pace of one man’s unsavory ambition to take down the church and then you are called to a front row seat to watch the Almighty’s strategy unfold. John, Alisha, Jenny, Ruth and Yussuf, the five men and women central to the story respond to God’s voice inviting them to “take the turning, and walk the unlikely road…and you will find Me there.” Each individual knew precisely what He wanted them to do, and they obeyed.

The scripture speaks of those without God being without hope. It also speaks to the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. The story revolves around those two positions, with the adversarial camp seeking to capitalize on the hopelessness of this generation. It may seem like a small thing, but I believe it captures the essence of our current day societal mindset. Mr. Bunn heralds the message to those who choose to listen to get ready, for this same confrontation is being played out in social media today. Because that is so, I found it inescapable that I would also have to make a turning of my own before I finished the book. And I did.

Some may find this book “preachy.” It isn’t, it’s simply that it confronts the reader and challenges the comfort zone, even as it shows the love of God and the delineation between His Light and darkness. This is uncomfortable for some, outrageous and pushy for others. Why? It is because God is intentional and He wants His people to make His position clear to all. He desires that none should perish, so everyone gets a chance to accept or reject His love and His message of hope.

Even Trent, the ambitious young man in the story gets an invitation to turn toward hope. In this book, there is no happy ending, just a deep breath between one accomplished victory and the next onslaught. The adversary is not vanquished for good…yet. Hopefully this means a sequel.

What if God asked you, “Who will go for Me,” and you responded like the prophet Isaiah: “Here am I Lord, send me.” And then God said to you, “Take the turning, and walk the unlikely road. Take the turning, and you will find Me there.” Would you do it? Are you ready to take the turning?