Tag Archives: books

Blog Tour! Review: Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales

Secrets. Vendettas. Revenge. Anger. Danger.

Randy Singer, a lawyer-pastor-author, always finds a way to weave intrigue and mystery into a gripping legal thriller. I have read two of his other books, including The Last Plea Bargain. I love the knowledge that he is able to incorporate into his books, because I leave feeling like not only have I enjoyed a great story, but I have also learned something about the legal system that I hadn’t known before. So, I was definitely excited to jump into this novel when I heard it was coming out.

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales is an intriguing story about a football player criminal who gets a second chance given to him when he passes his interview after law school that let him become a practicing lawyer. Until then, he didn’t know if his dreams of changing the world by becoming a lawyer were going to come true. He changed while he was in prison. Somehow, when the Gospel was presented to him there, it made sense, and he decided that it was his mission was to instill hope in those who had been accused and felt like they had no where else to go. He decided the law was his avenue for doing this.

If being approved by the Character and Fitness Committee wasn’t enough of a second chance, after a month or so of searching desperately for a job, Landon got handed a great job with a top lawyer in a chance meeting at the courthouse. He was ecstatic; things were finally starting to fall into place. His news-casting wife and he were both doing what they loved, what they felt passionate about, and their family was starting to match their dreams. But all of that was going to change in an extremely short amount of time.

When lines start getting mixed and crossed both at home and at the office, Landon and Kerri start wondering if everything is actually as it should be. Landon gets mixed up in a case that leaves his office in a tailspin of horror and confusion when their best lawyer is murdered while working on a high profile case, and Kerri finds herself torn between supporting Landon and possibly being offered a journalists dream working for a secretive and controversial firm in Washington, D.C.  Landon battles between fear and the need to care for his family and a sense of loyalty and devotion to the man that offered him his first job out of the kindness of his heart. Things continue to escalate, people start to disappear, until . . . well, this isn’t a spoiler post. Read it for yourself! Here, I’ll get you started with the first chapter . . .

Now, for a review. As usual, I loved Singer’s fast pace and exciting story line. He is a master of weaving together a story of intrigue, and it is always backed with extremely good information, since he is writing from real experience. This fact has served him well in all of his books and lends a good measure of integrity to his writing. On top of all of this, he knows how to create and interact with characters on a very real and human level while still maintaining deep truths and ideas about faith and life.

I have only a few critiques of this book, and most of them are because I have already read his others, and so perhaps had higher expectations. The other two books that I have read: The Last Plea Bargain and The Justice Game both dealt with highly controversial issues. Though Singer doesn’t tell you what to think, he lays both sides out on the table and gives you just enough to force you to think through the issue on your own. I was really excited to see what issue he was going to deal with in Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales, but sadly it wasn’t there. There are definitely issues still, perhaps he was dealing with second chances or grace, but certainly there was no overarching issue like gun control or the death penalty as the previous books have had.

Another issue that I had with the book was that, the last few chapters try to weave in the Gospel. There are very small mentions of faith at different points of the book, but I was disappointed that the faith did not seem extremely real. It felt like it was an addition, rather than what faith truly is, a way of life. I appreciate Randy Singer writing from a Christian worldview, and I also appreciate him wanting to include the Gospel in his novel, but I feel that if it is not given priority and a high level of importance, than in reality we are just doing the Gospel a disservice. Faith is not an addition to life, it is life, and I felt that that wasn’t clearly portrayed through this story. (Please watch this, because although that was my own perception, that is not Singer’s goal at all!) 

My final criticism was that I felt at times that there were a few too many threads going on in the story, that perhaps it was a bit busy: too many affairs, too many angry characters, too much conflict. I know, how can I criticize a thriller for having too much action and conflict, right?! But, in my mind, each action needs to feed the story, the plot. If the affair or the conflict is extraneous, then it is weakening the important ones. But, that was just my personal opinion while reading the story.

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I definitely recommend this book. If you like thrillers and legal fiction, you will definitely like this story! But before you start, I encourage you to check out a little bit more about Randy Singer. Read this Q&A to get a little bit of an idea of where he was coming from, what his goals for this book were, and how he hopes it will impact his readers.

Now . . . if I haven’t persuaded you to buy the book yet, check out these other great bloggers who have also read it:

The Christian Manifesto

Cycleguy’s Spin

A Peek at my Bookshelf

Melissa’s Musings

I Am Believing God

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I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Twelfth Imam: Review

Most of you know that I live in Istanbul. Naturally, I have an interest in things related to the Middle East. The Twelfth Imam, which my husband had read a couple of years ago, was a really fun read. I’d been having a little bit of trouble jumping into a book as I had been swamped with research and writing for the last few months. But, thankfully, this one got me out of my rut!

The Twelfth Imam is written by Joel Rosenberg who has been studying and writing on issues related to the Middle East, Israel, and religion for the last several years. This book feels very well informed, which makes it a more interesting read. Rosenberg starts his book off with the great, but little known American story of Argo. (By the way, a great film! Something American’s should know about!) Argo was a secret operation undertaken during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. The Twelfth Imam starts here and follows the story of an American and Iranian family who escape the tumultuous country of Iran to the safety of America. Years later, the families have settled in small American towns, had children, and started new lives. When the youngest children are teenagers, the fathers get back in touch, and they attend a company retreat the weekend before America was forever changed by the acts of a few men on planes.

September 11 drastically changed the lives of some members of these families, and they set in motion the events that would drive the rest of the book. From a successful New England doctor’s son to a high-ranking CIA position, David Shirazi is going to serve his country and his family well by entering a country on the verge of perfecting their nuclear weapons base. At the same time, the Islamic world was turned upside down by the ascent of the Twelfth Imam, the prophesied leader who would come to usher in peace in the last times.

David is in a race to try and find the crucial information that will keep the world from seemingly falling apart, be it by nuclear weapons or mass conversion. Will he be able to protect those who mean the most to him? Will he be able to set aside the rest of his life for the good of his country?

The Twelfth Imam is a thrilling and fast paced book. The story line is well-developed, and there was little to criticize regarding the writing or the plot line. This is the first in a series of books, and I’m sure that you’ll be interested in picking up the second immediately after finishing the first! I think that this book would be especially beneficial to read as a family to address issues of faith, religion, and current events in the world. Rosenberg’s books do not contain any objectionable material, which makes them suitable for a family context, and while he does not dictate your thoughts, he does give a clear presentation of events that ought to be discussed with young people in today’s world.

My one criticism, if it can even be called that, is that Rosenberg does raise some issues (from a Christian standpoint) that are not easy questions to answer. Perhaps it is because of that that he does not give a clear answer as to what he believes is happening, but I think that some of his questions are really important to understand. The biggest issue is this: does God, and if He does, how does He use dreams and visions for His modern purposes? This is a real issue that we are facing in the world today. This issue is raised in The Twelfth Imam, but Rosenberg does not give much indication as to his own thoughts on the matter. He leaves it to us to run to the Bible and find our answers. What do you think? Does God use dreams and visions today? What would be your response to someone who said that they learned about Jesus from a dream?

I would honestly recommend this book to anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, or religion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story and your answers to some of the questions!

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Don’t forget, if you are looking for something good to read, check out my page of suggestions!!

Who Do You Think You Are: Review

My generation doesn’t know who they are. We are constantly trying to define ourselves by which start-up, which brand, which branch, which group, which career, which university, which personality . . . get it? We want so badly to be someone, but at the same time, we don’t want to be like everyone. It is a dilemma to be sure, and many of us are approaching adulthood and struggling through identity crises. But there’s good news. However, for Christians, our identity has been defined, and who we are has been cleared. We are in Christ.

This was a very timely read for me. I feel like I could read it again already, although I have just finished it about two weeks ago. Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Washington State, presents a very easy, clear, and challenging look at our identity as found in Ephesians in his book Who Do You Think You Are? I thoroughly enjoyed this journey through Ephesians because it challenged my ideas of identity and finding my identity in what I did or who valued me. Rather, as Driscoll points out, our identity is bound up in Christ and His finished work on the cross.

Driscoll walks through each section of Ephesians and shows us what our new identity in Christ looks like. What does it mean to be redeemed? How does my interaction with others change? How do I act if I really believe I am forgiven? This book was really helpful for me to hold up a model for what my life ought to look like since I have been bought with a price, and since my identity has been changed. It was an encouragement to see how I could let go of the things that were holding me back, and at the same time it was a challenge to actually let go of those things that are holding me back. I am now a child of God. What happened in my past cannot weaken His power or grace. I cannot grovel in my past failures, or boast in my successes, because all of it has been stripped away, and I have been given a new persona. I am Christ’s image-bearer here, in this world, for this time.

Driscoll has also been preaching the same series at his church in Washington, so I have been listening along online. It has been great for me to really revel in the Gospel and in the finished work of Christ and what that really means for my life. Listening and reading to the same message has challenged me to seriously think through how I am living and who I view myself as. Because that view really does invade and influence the rest of my life and interactions.

I would highly recommend this book for any Christian who has ever struggled with their identity in Christ and what that practically looks like. If you have ever wallowed in guilt and wondered how to rise up from it? If you have found yourself struggling with pride and wanted freedom to truly serve Christ, then this book will help you to explore who you now are and what the new you should do and look like.

28 Days of LOVEliness: Love in Literature

So, today, I’m going to share with you my top few picks for love in literature. Let me know your own picks in the comments below!!

IMG_6798Classics:

  1. Scarlet Letter 
  2. Phantom of the Opera
  3. Dracula
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo

Modern Lit:

  1. When Crickets Cry
  2. Maggie
  3. The Dead Don’t Dance
  4. The Hunger Games (kind of :-))

Marriage and Christian Living:

  1. When Sinners Say I Do
  2. Sheet Music
  3. Becoming the Woman of His Dreams
  4. This Momentary Marriage

Although, thinking about it now . . . with the exception of a very few books (like Billy Budd, Sailor) I think you can work love into almost every story!! Anyways, these are a few of my favorites with good love stories woven in. Enjoy! 

Where Treasure Hides: Review – 28 Days of LOVEliness style

So, I think that this fits into the 28 Days of LOVEliness just fine, since the book I’m about to review is definitely a love story! Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander Donley is a historical Christian fiction novel set right before and during the second World War. It is a story that will take you from England to Holland to Germany, through France, and all the time it will keep you wondering how everything is going to work out in the end.

Alison Schuyler was born in America, but moved to Holland to live with her grandfather when she was just a child. Her family has owned an art gallery for ages, and she is a budding artist herself. She works closely with her grandfather and a few other close friends at the gallery, but as the war approaches, they find it necessary to start protecting Holland’s art legacy from plundering Nazis. Among that legacy are some famous and irreplaceable works of art, but just as irreplaceable are some of the family’s own additions to the gallery.

Across the water in England, a young man named Ian is serving Britain in the Queen’s army. A chance encounter while traveling puts Ian and Alison in the same train station in Waterloo, and ends up changing both of their lives. Though they both return to their respective duties and lives in Holland and on the war front, they will never be the same after having scones together near Waterloo station.

During the long hard war, Alison and Ian both face their own struggles and challenges, sometimes life-threatening. But all the while, they hold out hope that eventually they will meet again. As it happens, they do. But, it is not as easy or as “happily ever after” as we all would have hoped.

I’m going to let you discover what happens to them for yourself, rather than spoil the story.

Where Treasure Hides is definitely an intriguing and interesting book. Especially if you are interested in historical Christian fiction. I was not blown away by this book. The storyline was not completely new nor gripping, but I did enjoy the story, and it did bring out a new aspect of WWII that I had never really contemplated or considered. The book also comes with discussion guide in the back. This book, being Christian fiction, is completely clean. It would be a great family book, especially if your children are studying WWII or have questions about that time of history (I think that probably pre-teens and above would enjoy this book most). It is a little on the long side with 357 pages, but if you can carve out some time, and you are interested in the topic and genre, then I would recommend picking it up.

Have you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!!

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I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Birds Without Wings: Review

I cannot now bury my friends without bringing to mind the atrocities and the realities that they lived through. I cannot leave them in the ground without thinking of the joys they experienced, the pains they knew, and the questions that they never had answered.

This is the feeling that I was left with when I closed the last page of Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres. The book is set in the early 1900s in Southwestern Turkey. de Bernieres chose a really unique style of writing that mixes the reader into a small, tight community and instantly builds connections with the different families in the town. He then zooms out and looks at what is going on in the world at large and what is happening on the bigger scale. The story follows not only the small town of Eskibahçe, but also the life of Atatürk, the battles of World War 1 and the Turkish War for Independence. I won’t share too many details, because that is the beauty of the story. If you’ve read my review of Island of the World, I would say that this book falls into a similar category. The driving storyline is not so much towards a main action, but rather centers on people and life.

I have very mixed feelings on sharing this book. I absolutely loved it. I found it fascinating and enthralling, especially because I am living in this part of the world and I found it completely relevant and enlightening for my own personal life. The book is so beautifully written as well. de Bernieres has a profound vocabulary and a beautiful story-telling style that is very pleasing to a literary mind.

However, I must also offer up a disclaimer. This is not a  family book. The book is candid and raw and honest. It shares realities of a time that people shouldn’t be proud of. As de Bernieres shares, there were very Holocaust-like atrocities that took place in this part of the world that no one talks about or knows about. de Bernieres doesn’t hold back on his descriptions of what happened, nor does he camouflage realities with gentle language. So, if you have any qualms about reading books with vulgar depictions and language, than I would advise that you not read this book. I will say that my intrigue was heightened by my living in Turkey and my understanding of the area and the cultures that were being referenced. If this is not a topic that you are interested in, then this is not a book that you should just pick up out of the blue. It is significantly long, and it will work its way into your heart and mind, so choose carefully. However, if this is an area of the world, or a time period that interests you, don’t hesitate to pick this book up, because it is a beautiful and honest depiction of life in this part of the world.

If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts below!!

8 Books for the Christmas Break

So, I officially finished all work for my master’s classes last night. That means – time to read for fun!! So, I thought I’d share my top 8 books for the Holiday Season. Let me know your picks in the comments!!

8. To Be Perfectly Honest: This is a good, beginning a new year, fun, light, but thought-provoking read.

7. The Chronicles of Narnia: You know I love these. Especially The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is perfect for this time of year.

She made it always winter but never Christmas.

6. The Hunger Games: If you’ve been reading this blog for any time, you’ll know that I flew through these and absolutely enjoyed the ride. You won’t even need the whole break to get through all three (and you MUST read all three!!)

5. The Patrick Bowers Files: You will also have noticed that I have been a big fan of these books for the last 2 years or so. These are great thriller novels that go really fast and are great for a snowy afternoon with a cup of coffee.

4. Story: Recapture the Mystery: This is another Steven James book, but it is more of a Biblical Theology that walks through the story of the Bible. I read it around Easter time two years ago, and it was really great. It is a great reminder of what we believe and why it matters.

3. The Judge Who Stole Christmas: This is a good Christmas story revolving around conflict over a living nativity in a small town. The questions the book raises are really interesting regarding faith, religion, and politics, but at the same time it is a good Christmas story. I have posted reviews on books by Randy Singer before, and have really enjoyed the legal perspective that he incorporates into his books.

2. Classics: If you’re looking to read up on some classics over the Christmas Holidays, let me suggest my few favorites. Dracula, The Scarlet Letter, The Phantom of the Opera.

1. Island of the World: if you are looking for something a bit heavy and substantial, then this is the book. This is an excellent description of recent history, an deeply moving book, and just a beautiful, if heartbreaking story told by a masterful storyteller.

Right now, I personally am reading Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres and The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, and Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak is the next one on my list. How about you? What are you reading right now?

(You can find review of most of the books listed in this post by searching in the search bar on my blog.)

Walking on Water When You Feel Like You’re Drowning: Review

Christians usually do not talk about depression, because believers are – so I thought -not supposed to experience it. Depression is seen as a moral failing. To admit to it is to admit weakness and sin.


I recently read the book Walking on Water When You Feel Like You’re Drowning by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt. The book addresses the topic of Christian depression. As the quote above signifies, this is a topic that is often avoided, or written off as a spiritual problem, without addressing the physical issues that are at times connected to clinical depression. In my opinion, it is true that depression can come from spiritual issues, but after reading this book, I have also realized that depression can also be a very physical problem, and it may require medical help, and it will certainly require time and love in dealing with the problems.

I had always been of the opinion that if someone suffers from depression, that is their problem, and they need to just toughen up and get over it. Tommy Nelson, a pastor from Texas, and Steve Leavitt, a Christian counselor, both give detailed accounts of their journey through depression. Through their stories, it was clear that even people who are serving God can fall into severe depression, and they can require medical help to get back on track. This part of the book, the story telling part, helped create the backdrop for all of the advice and help that was offered in the second half of the book.

In the second part of the book, Leavitt provides a lot of details and advice concerning depression and how to deal with it. Leavitt looks at where depression comes from, what it feels like, how to know what it is, and what is actually happening physically in your body.

In the third part of the book, Leavitt looks more specifically at how to recover from depression. He addresses the issue of medicine and how to know when and what to take. He also looks at strategies to implement into your life to help you deal with depression in relationship with those around you.

Overall, I felt like the book was well-written. I found it very easy to read, and interesting. I do think that this is a topic that is important for Christians to understand. The book was grounded in Scripture, but also dealt with very practical issues for people going through depression. Anyone who has been feeling like this is a problem in their life would benefit from this book and the advice it has to offer. I certainly think that anyone who is struggling would realize that they are not alone, and this book can offer some encouragement and direction for where to go next.

My one biggest critique of the book was that the tone presented by Pastor Tommy Nelson was difficult for me to swallow. I have looked him up online, and he has indeed been very successful as a pastor and spiritual guide, but I still found it difficult because his tone came across as arrogant. In my opinion, it was the biggest problem of the book. I kept expecting that he was going to resolve his self-sufficiency when he talked about how God helped him through the depression, but it never really came.

I still recommend the book, especially for anyone who is going through, or has a loved one who is going through depression. It was helpful and informational in a way that often seems to be lacking in Christian spheres. Nelson and Leavitt honestly do offer helpful advice and ideas. But in the end, it does all come back to God, and who He is, and what He’s doing in your life.

Remember this: Anything that feels like the end of the world is not what it appears to be. Have hope. God is the God of hope. He is not a God of fear, worry, and stress. Grab onto his hope like a lifeline, and cling to it.

The Invested Life: Review

I just finished reading The Invested Life: Making Disciples of All Nations One Person at a Time by Joel Rosenberg and Dr. T. E. Koshy this morning. It was an extremely helpful and thought-provoking book. It was obvious through the testimonies shared in the book that both Rosenberg and Koshy are highly qualified to write a book on discipleship as they have been both the discipled and the disciplers at different points of their lives.

“Who is investing in you? and Who are you investing in?” These are the two questions that Rosenberg and Koshy center their book around. Using biblical principles, these men outline in this book what a discipling relationship should look like. They believe that it is the prerogative of every Christian to be actively engaged in discipleship. They believe this because this is the pattern that Jesus and other New Testament believers followed as well as the directive that Christ left us with before He ascended into heaven,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Once Rosenberg and Koshy made their case for the importance of discipleship in the Christians life, they proceed to give very practical and helpful advice for how to both seek out someone to disciple you, as well as how to begin discipling others. The book reads as a manual for any Christian who is ready to begin obeying the part of the Great Commission that commands us to be a part of the disciple-making process. Interwoven in the directives of disciple-making are testimonies of the authors and their friends and families who have been involved in discipleship. The real-life stories give credence and life to the advice and promptings given in the book.

I would not say that this is an emotionally gripping book. Rather, it is very factual, Biblical, and motivating towards discipleship relationships.  If you read this book willing to learn from it, you are going to leave feeling the need to be more involved in the lives of your fellow believers.

I would definitely recommend this book, but only if you are committed to changing where you see a need to change. If you have been looking for an opportunity to be involved in discipleship, or have been looking for ideas regarding how to disciple someone, this book will be a great asset for you. However, you should not read this book if you are not willing to step outside of your comfort zone and get involved in the process of discipleship.

We have been put here on earth for a reason, and we have been chosen to be a part of this Christian community for a reason. God did not intend for us to “go it alone.” Not only did He leave us the Spirit to guide us, but He has also given us a host of fellow Christians with whom we can, and should be ministering, fellowshipping, and growing . . . that is, we need to be involved in discipling and being discipled.

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I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Summer Reading Wrap-Up

Surprise, surprise, I did not read as much as I had hoped to. But! That’s okay, because we had an amazing summer, and I got to spend a lot of time with family and friends, and it was totally worth it. But, I wanted to give you a quick run down of some of the books that I read this summer and my thoughts on them. This is not going to be a full review of all of these books, just a paragraph or so on my initial thoughts. What did you read this summer? Let me know in the comments section!!

 Honour by Elif Shafak: (my apologies because this is really hard to find in the USA, I bought it at the airport in Istanbul) I read this because I was really interested in getting a Turk’s perspective through literature. It was a very interesting book, but written in a different style than I am used to. It was deep and sad and eclectic. I recommend it, but it is a little heavy and the reader needs to be committed to appreciating culture and perspective and not expect the book to cater to their own wants.

Here is my review.

No Greater Love by Levi Benkert and Candy Chand: I really liked this book. I have a lot of interest in both orphans and Africa, so this memoir really captured my attention. This is the story of how Levi and his wife Jessie moved to Ethiopia to work in orphan care with children who had been condemned by their tribe and were going to be put to death. I thought this was a gripping and heartbreaking story, but one of hope and one with a sliver of encouragement that things can be done to change the plight of unloved children.

Read my review here.


 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: This was a NY Bestseller that Jeremy and I purchased for a road trip. I have to say I really enjoyed the story. It is emotionally engaging and the character development is extremely well done. I do have to caution you that I would not openly recommend this book because there is objectionable material and language. We read the book within two days, though, and it’s the kind of book that you can attach yourself to and will be really sad to finish. But, overall I really liked it.

Beyond the Summerland (The Binding of the Blade, Book 1) by L. B. Graham: This book was recommended to me by a friend who I usually share tastes in books with. However, I am sad to say that I was quite disappointed with this book. It took me forever to read this one and there were aspects of a good epic storyline, but I had a lot of critiques as well. Sadly, I do not recommend this book very highly.

 Becoming the Woman of His Dreams: Seven Qualities Every Man Longs For by Sharon Jaynes: Maybe this is weird, but I love this genre of books. I love marriage and relationship books! So, I thought that this one was great. It went really really fast for me, and it has a lot of good material in it. It walks through 7 qualities that guys desire in a wife and practical ways and lists of ideas to incorporate those qualities into your life. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for any wife who is looking to grow in her relationship with her husband.

In Between: A Katie Parker Production (Act I) by Jenny b. Jones: I loved this book! I read it so quickly. Now, it isn’t really classic or deep . . . it is just a fun story about a foster girl and her struggles to adapt to a new family and a new way of thinking. It is a Christian fiction book and is funny without being cheesy, and incorporates ideas of faith without preaching. Every now and then I just need a light fun book to read to relax from my heavier reading, and this was perfect! I definitely recommend it.


Now, I am just biding my time until tomorrow when Opening Moves: The Bowers Files (Patrick Bowers) comes out. I am pretty sure that you will not want to miss that book. I do not have a negative word to say about any of Steven James other books (in fact, he is the only author so far that I have committed to buying every novel that comes out for the last three years!! I have currently purchased or been given 8 of his books.) so I am EXTREMELY excited about this novel coming out tomorrow!! Go pre-order it now at Amazon!! I did . . . as well as the first book of his new series that comes out in November: Placebo: A Jevin Banks Novel (The Jevin Banks Experience).