Connect with Me on Facebook!

Posts from

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Book: An Eye for Glory by Karl Bacon

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
An Eye For Glory
Zondervan (February 28, 2011)
Karl Bacon


A word from the author:

I grew up in the small picturesque town of Woodbury, Connecticut. After graduating from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, I returned to Connecticut and found employment in manufacturing. “Just a job” turned into a professional career, much of which was spent working for a Swiss machine tool company. In 2000 I started my own business to provide services to manufacturing clients across the USA. This change also allowed time to develop my writing craft.

From youth I’ve been a serious student of the Civil War. The draft of An Eye for Glory took ten years from conception to completion. Thousands of hours were spent researching every detail through copious reading, Internet research and personal visits to each battlefield so the novel might be as historically accurate and believable as possible. I live in Naugatuck, Connecticut with my wife of thirty-three years, Jackie.


Michael Palmer is a good man, a family man. But honor and duty push him to leave his comfortable life and answer the call from Abraham Lincoln to fight for his country. This 'citizen soldier' learns quickly that war is more than the battle on the field. Long marches under extreme conditions, illness, and disillusionment challenge at every turn. Faith seems lost in a blur of smoke and blood...and death.

Michael's only desire is to kill as many Confederate soldiers as he can so he can go home. He coldly counts off the rebels that fall to his bullets. Until he is brought up short by a dying man holding up his Bible. It's in the heat of battle at Gettysburg and the solemn aftermath that Michael begins to understand the grave cost of the war upon his soul. Here the journey really begins as he searches for the man he was and the faith he once held so dearly. With the help of his beloved wife, Jesse Ann, he takes the final steps towards redemption and reconciliation.

Using first-hand accounts of the 14th Connecticut Infantry, Karl Bacon has crafted a detailed, genuine and compelling novel on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Intensely personal and accurate to the times, culture, and tragedy of the Civil War, An Eye for Glory may change you in ways you could have never imagined as well.

If you would like to read the first chapter of An Eye For Glory, go HERE.

Watch book video trailer:

My Review

I was pleased to see this new novel offered for review since I've seen little Civil War fiction offered in the Christian market, and I've always enjoyed reading about the Civil War. A longtime fan of Michael and Jeff Shaara's Civil War novels, I was eager to get my hands on this offering from Zondervan, and I wasn't disappointed. Karl Bacon spent ten years researching and writing this novel, and it shows. From Antietam to Gettysburg to Cold Harbor, I enjoyed experiencing the war and its grim realities through the eyes of soldier Michael Palmer, with everything described in meticulously researched detail (from the endless diet of crackers and salt pork to the faulty ammunition needed for a public execution).

Torn between doing his duty and succumbing to the lure of vengeful killing, Palmer is a sympathetic character who loves his God and his family. He knows he is doing the right thing to enlist, but what he is unprepared for (as most of us would be) is the reality of killing or being killed. One by one his friends fall victim to the grim war, and as soldiers die around him (often in grisly detail though never over the top) Palmer finds himself being promoted in rank, more because of his longevity and age than for any other reason. He thinks of his dear wife endlessly and writes her letters before each battle, anticipating that he will be next to perish. Ultimately, of course, he survives the war but as a broken shell of a man, who no longer cares whether he lives or dies and teeters on the edge of disillusioned faith. He goes on a mission to return a Bible to the wife of a man, a fellow believer, he killed at Gettysburg in a moment of rash vengeance. Her godly (though somewhat predictable) response and this redemptive act represent healing in Palmer's life in spite of past scars, from which he will never be truly free this side of heaven. In that sense the novel succeeds to end on a high note, which is just what the doctor ordered after readers have followed Palmer on this long, dark, and often grisly journey.

Though the novel is rich in history, it succeeds more as a commentary on the dilemma any believer would face when determined to serve one's country and fight in a war. The ethical questions Bacon raises are worth pondering and will stay with me long after I finished this novel. (The questions are relevant considering how many of us are touched by loved ones who continue to fight in Afghanistan and other places.) Though I've read plenty of Civil War fiction, this novel gave me a more realistic picture of war's realities and the grim conditions of those fighting in one. If not for Palmer's sustaining faith, the novel would have been oppressive and bleak indeed. But even as a broken, disillusioned man, he ultimately finds his hope in Christ. In that regard, I was truly impressed with this novel: it stayed true to the gospel and didn't shy away from the power of Scripture. The message came through clearly: though there are no easy answers to the horrors of war, we serve a God who is above it all and will sustain His children.

My only quibbles with this novel would fall into the realm of style and characterization. Though Palmer is a well-chosen hero, he ultimately fails to provide the complex layers of characterization one anticipates to make him a truly memorable character. At times the first-person viewpoint, though often effective, contributes to many pages of telling the reader facts and details with little reflection or emotion from Palmer. For example, when an execution fails to commence as ordered and Palmer is practically accused of providing less-than-desirable ammunition, he reveals little emotion. I personally would have preferred more time "in his skin": seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting his experiences on a deeper level. Sometimes I could almost smell the gunpowder, but at other times Palmer seemed distant. Yet as a first novel, this is still an impressive work.   

Bacon is to be commended on many levels for this outstanding labor of love. He does justice to the many hundreds of thousands who perished in this struggle of brother against brother, and the novel is a marvelous tribute to the fallen as we approach the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This is a highly recommended novel, especially for those who seek a realistic taste of the Civil War without wading through strong language and other objectionable content in comparable novels. The message of hope shines through. This novel is a keeper I plan to pass along to family and friends. Great job, Karl!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Book: Blood of the Prodigal by P. L. Gaus

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Blood of the Prodigal
Plume; Reprint edition (September 28, 2010)
P.L. Gaus


Paul took an interest in writing fiction in 1993, and with the advice and encouragement of author Tony Hillerman, he began writing mystery novels set among the Amish in Holmes County, Ohio. The first of Gaus's mysteries, Blood of the Prodigal, An Ohio Amish Mystery, was published by Ohio University Press in June of 1999, and a total of six novels have appeared in this series: Broken English, 2000, Clouds Without Rain, 2001, Cast a Blue Shadow, 2003, A Prayer for the Night, 2006, and Separate from the World, 2008. A seventh novel in the series is in preparation.

All of Paul's stories have now been republished by Plume (a division of Penguin Group USA) as The Amish-Country Mysteries, and these editions have been embraced by Christian retailers such as, Family Christian Stores, and LifeWay. Future mysteries in the series will still first be published in hard cover editions, as The Amish-Country Mysteries by Ohio University Press, with Plume bringing out the soft cover editions some time later.

Paul and his wife Madonna still travel frequently in Holmes County. He lectures widely about Amish culture at libraries, bookstores, literary societies, and the like, and his books have been featured at Book Expo America and similar professional shows around the country. Paul's novels have been reviewed in prominent journals and newspapers, for instance, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Ohioana Quarterly, and the New York Times Book Review.


For Jonah Miller, shunned by his Old Order sect and cast into the wider world, the summer begins with his decision to kidnap his ten-year-old son from the home of the bishop who had exiled Miller a decade earlier. In his desperation to retrieve the boy, the bishop appeals for help to the only "English" men the sect would ever approve.

Professor Michael Branden and Pastor Caleb Troyer had been looking forward to the kind of sleepy rural summer they had enjoyed as boyhood friends growing up in the small college town of Millersburg. Instead, they plunge into the normally closed Amish culture to find the boy. When the kidnapping leads to murder, they can no longer keep the case from the law. Working sometimes at cross purposes with his friend Sheriff Bruce Robertson, Professor Branden digs through the past to uncover truths that many would prefer to leave undisturbed. Little does he suspect that even the anguished bishop, torn by an insoluble moral dilemma, tragically does not tell everything he knows about the case. Suddenly the vast tangle of Amish and Mennonite settlements that sprawl among several thousand small farms and homesteads seems less bucolic than unknowable and impenetrable.

As they inquire delicately among the peaceful ones, Branden and Troyer learn that the troubles of Jonah Miller began far earlier than the kidnapping, with his Rumschpringe - the customary wild year before taking Amish vows. But his grand Rumschpringe had exploded into a decade of drugs, whiskey, and women, in the company of people no Amish person should meet.

In the tradition of Tony Hillerman, P. L. Gaus depicts a culture that successfully stands outside the mainstream yet interacts with it in complex and fascinating ways, a culture that is every bit as susceptible to the undertow of the human spirit as any we might know.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Blood of the Prodigal, go HERE

My Review

This novel was well done and will certainly be passed around among the many readers in my family. Great job, Mr. Gaus. This isn't typical of the term "Christian Amish fiction," but that's a good thing. It's nice to see a departure from the norm and an offering that ventures into new territory. Though it had little message, it offered no strong language or disturbing violence.

Sale! My novel for $6.04

Smartphone pictures pose privacy risks

Scary stuff.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Publisher Has Declined the Sequel

Due to inadequate sales of my first novel, my publisher has decided not to publish my sequel, which they said they would have otherwise accepted. This news is a downer after all the time and hard work poured into the project, but God must have other plans for good. I'm now shopping the project to other publishers, but the market has narrowed significantly due to the recession. Yet if God wants the novel to be published, He can open the door.

Thanks to all who have supported my writing journey thus far. My dad's terminal brain cancer has adjusted my perspective in many ways. Getting published is exciting, but there are far more important things in life, like people, souls, and pursuing things of eternal value. A friend recently pointed out, "Remember, books will burn." I appreciate the reality check.