Story Engineering With Larry Brooks: Interview By Joanna Penn

May 12th, 2012

Hey, folks, I’ve got a major migraine today, but I didn’t just want to leave everyone in a lurch. I decided to post Story Engineering and Tips for Writing Your Novel with Larry Brooks a video interview by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn in response to a comment about Story Engineering on my post Monthly Mash-up: 10 Writing Craft Books And Blog Posts.

Here’s the Larry Brooks being interviewed by Joanna Penn:

Hope to be back on schedule next week. Have a great weekend!

Upon Review: Prophecy by Joanna Penn

January 11th, 2012

I love to request free books to review. In fact I subscribe to two review sites: Book Crash and Book Rooster, but sometimes I have the privilege to review a book by an author I know.

I was among several who received a preview copy of Pentecost and I fell in love with the heroine, Morgan. When Joanna asked if I’d review Prophecy, I was ecstatic. The first book was wonderful. Would book 2 be as good or would my friend rush to fill the void left by the first book’s end? Enquiring minds wanted to know.

Here’s the description that so intrigued me on Prophecy by Joanna Penn:

“I looked, and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:8

The prophecy in Revelation declares that a quarter of the world must die and now a shadowy organization has the ability to fulfill these words. Can one woman stop the abomination before it’s too late?

From the catacombs of Paris to the skeletal ossuaries of Sicily and the Czech Republic, Morgan and Jake must find the Devil’s Bible and stop the curse being released into the world before one in four are destroyed in the coming holocaust. Because in just seven days, the final curse will be spoken and the prophecy will be fulfilled.

If the last bite of food is as heavenly as the first, you know you have a culinary masterpiece. Books aren’t much different and Prophecy left me wanting more.

The Good…

While we got to know Morgan and her allies somewhat in Pentecost, each of their characters are deepened in Prophecy. We’ve gone from Prince of Persia two-dimensional characters to Lord of The Rings multi-dimensional people. Every major player pops off the page and makes you feel something.

The action is just as intense, just as Indiana Jones/Lara Croft as before, but the transitions from one scene to the next are even smoother.

I was also thankful that Joanna didn’t go into explicit detail about how certain minor characters looked or felt when they died. Those instances were better left to our imaginations.

Slightly disappointing…

***SPOILER ALERT***

I was haunted by many of the images in this book, but the final battle wasn’t one of them. It was well written and certainly did the job of being climactic, but perhaps just a little B-movie-ish. Noble’s transformation into a demon was too on-the-nose and it felt rushed, as did the rest of the battle.

However, after it was all over, the aftermath scene was perfectly executed. I particularly liked that Jake Timber wasn’t super-human and didn’t easily bounce back from being crushed by the Noble/demon character.

The overall…

If you want a great can’t-put-it-down book and love kick-butt heroines, then pick up a copy of Prophecy by Joanna Penn. It’s money well spent.

Upon Review: Pentecost by Joanna Penn

January 11th, 2012

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to know anything about what will happen in Joanna Penn‘s book, Pentecost, then don’t read any further. Suffice it to say it’s a fast-paced, enjoyable read with plenty of cinematic scenes worthy of Ron Howard’s direction.

The Full Review

If you like Indiana Jones action, a Lora Croft style heroine and a mystery steeped in Christian myth and mysticism, then Pentecost is the book for you.

Full of fast-paced action this book hits the ground running from the prologue where we are instantly captivated by the failed escape of a nun, one of the 12 Keepers of the Pentecost stones, and her resulting grisly death. From there we are launched on a whirlwind race around the globe with Oxford University psychologist Morgan Sierra and Jake Timber from the mysterious ARKANE, a British government agency specializing in paranormal and religious experience. It is up to them to trace the journeys of the Apostles and collect the Pentecost stones to save Morgan’s twin sister and 2-year-old niece from the sadistic Joseph Everett, who plans to use the stones to bring about a new Pentecost. Along the way the duo must also keep a step ahead of the mysterious Thanatos, an organization intent on using the stones to start a holy war.

If the aim of a good story is to take a protagonist, give her a goal, and then throw as much stuff between the protagonist and her goal so as to make it look impossible to reach it, then Joanna Penn has accomplished it with flare. Her use of both expected turns and surprising twists made this story haunt my dreams at night.

There were a few drawbacks that kept me from fully enjoying the entire book. First was some jarring “head hopping” where the POV switches between characters in the middle of a scene. Second was the need to “humanize” Joseph by making his goal to heal his brother with the Pentecost stones and revealing an abusive childhood. Third was that Thanatos’ attempts to liberate the stones from Morgan and Jake were almost laughable considering this was supposed to be a high-powered secret organization. Lastly was one glaring error in biblical attribution — Daniel was thrown to the lions, not into a fiery furnace.

Even with those drawbacks I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action-packed adventure stories, though if you tend toward biblical literalism and need your heroine to believe in God as main-line churches preach I would read something else. All in all, a most enjoyable read.