Edge Of Apocalypse – by Tim LaHaye & Craig Parshall (2010)

Edge Of Apocalypse

It had been awhile since I’d read an apocalyptic novel, and this one caught my eye as I browsed the shelves at my public library. It’s the first in a four-book series, “The End”. The novel begins with New York City nearly being obliterated by nuclear warheads fired by North Korea. The United States fights back with an experimental weapon invented by Joshua Jordan, and the city is saved. Suddenly every country on earth wants it. Congress demands the schematics for the weapon, which Joshua is loath to give out, lest it fall into the wrong hands. That begins the political struggle between those who see Joshua as a hero, and those who want him arrested and punished for refusing to share the technology with the country and its allies.

Although I would call the book a political thriller, it does also include a fair amount about Joshua’s relationships with God, his wife, and his son Cal. There is also a friend who is struggling with addiction to anti-depression medicine in the story. The themes of globalism and big media control are also woven into the story.

Author Tim LaHaye is best known for his “Left Behind” series, which I read back in the 90s, when it was on the New York bestseller’s list. This series seems relatively unknown. I have read one other book by the co-author, Craig Parshall – Trial By Ordeal – and found it very entertaining.
https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/trial-by-ordeal-by-craig-parshall-2006/

If you like reading end-of-the-world book, you might give this one a try.

Just Shy Of Harmony – by Philip Gulley (2001)

Just Shy Of Harmony

The story that began with “Home To Harmony” continues on in “Just Shy Of Harmony”. The first book was the feel-good one, the one that made you want to live in the quaint little town of Harmony. But the second book has a decidedly different feel about it. Life is not so rosy. Pastor Sam is underpaid, overworked, tired of tending to the problems of everyone, and is beginning to question if there is a God. During Sam’s spiritual crisis, other members of the congregation take over the Sunday morning preaching.

But Sam’s not the only having troubles. There’s Dale Hinshaw, who is trying to get his scripture-chicken-egg evangelism program off the ground. Jessie Peacock, through no effort of her own, has won millions of dollars in the lottery, but wants to refuse the money. Wayne Fleming is struggling to raise his kids after his wife Sally runs off, but is shocked when she returns and wants to just go back to normal.

Mixed in with the problems of the church folk are the heartwarming parts of the book, like when one of the women at church took Wayne’s children under her wing. Also very touching was when the women’s group from church took over the hospital kitchen to make homemade noodle and chicken for a woman who was a patient there. (That didn’t seem like something the health department would allow in real life, but hey, this is fiction.) And I loved that the church members were willing to anoint Sally with oil and lay hands on her in prayer, even though their church had never done that before.

Overall, I enjoyed this Philip Gulley novel just as much as the first one!

https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/home-to-harmony-by-philip-gulley-2002/

My Hands Came Away Red – by Lisa McKay (2007)

My Hands Came Away Red

What do you do when you’re 18, aren’t sure that you want to get more serious about your boyfriend, and haven’t a clue what to do with your life? You go on a mission trip. Cori commits to a ten-week assignment with a team of young people going to an island in Indonesia to help construct a church. First comes boot camp, to help the team learn the customs, language, and physical hardships of the task and area they will be going to.

Then it’s off to the island. The work is hard, but rewarding. They not only finish the construction project, but build close friendships with some of the islanders. Everything seems perfect – until the day that a conflict between differing religious groups boils over. At that point, the only option for the team is to run for their lives.

This book, although fictional, had an intensely real feel to it. It’s almost as if the author has lived the story, or is close to someone who went through a similar experience. The flavor of the book seemed like a cross between a couple other books I’ve read in the last few years – “If We Survive” by Andrew Klavan
https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/if-we-survive-by-andrew-klavan-2012/ and “Tomorrow When The War Began” by John Marsden.
This book had it all – great characters, deep friendships, lots of action, psychological terror, and spiritual struggle. I would highly recommend this novel to readers of almost any age.

Home To Harmony – by Philip Gulley (2000)

Home To Harmony

Welcome to the little town of Harmony! Sam Gardner grew up there, went away to college, and is now returning (with wife and kids) to be the pastor of the small Quaker church congregation. He’s getting re-acquainted with many of the people he knew as a child, and meeting new folks.

This book has a similar feel to the “Mitford” books written by Jan Karon, although the male characters are more dominant in this book. My favorite character – beside Sam of course – was Sam’s ancient male secretary, who didn’t always see so well but had a real heart for encouraging people around him. Reading about Harmony made me wish the town really existed so that I could visit it.

Excerpt from the first page:

“I liked living where I did, in Harmony. I liked that the Dairy Queen sold ice cream cones for a dime. I liked that I could ride my Schwinn Typhoon there without crossing Main Street, which my mother didn’t allow.

I liked that I lived four blocks from the Kroger grocery store, where every spring they stacked bags of peat moss out front. My brother and I would climb on the bags and vault from stack to stack. Once, on a particularly high leap, my brother hit the K in KROGER with his head, causing the neon tube to shatter. For the next year, the sign flashed ROGER, which we considered an amazing coincidence since that was my brother’s name. He liked to pass by at night and see his name in lights.”

The Good Nearby – by Nancy Moser (2006)

The Good Nearby

I have to admit that I picked this book because I really liked the picture on the cover. Who wouldn’t? The little girl looks so carefree. The story begins with seven-year-old Gigi. She’s an only child who is mostly ignored by her parents. But Gigi has a grandma that loves her to pieces, and tells her that she can be “the good nearby”. Whatever is going wrong in the world, she can be the “good” that God put in someone else’s life.

The book jumps back and forth from her childhood to adulthood. She endures a miserable marriage to a man who treats her like garbage. Then some other women who care about her come into her life. They are a blessing to her, and in the end she blesses them in an unusual way.

The themes of domestic abuse and supportive friendship run side by side throughout the book. The love of a grandmother and her strong faith in God also were a major part of the story. The novel reminded me that each one of us has the ability to share the love of Jesus with those around us.

 

 

The Christmas Bus – by Melody Carlson (2006)

the-christmas-bus

Charles and Edith live in the small town of Christmas Valley, and usually close their bed and breakfast to visitors for two weeks around the holidays. But this year, not a single one of their grown kids are coming home. So Edith decides they will be open for business as usual. Their rooms are quickly snapped up by an elderly man, a quarreling couple, a mother with her little girl, and a nosy, domineering older woman named Myrtle who drives everyone crazy. On top of that, a young couple with a broken-down hippy bus parks in front of their bed and breakfast. Christmas goes from being a comfortable time with family to being an unpredictable but unforgettable time.

 

Excerpt from pages 72-73

“I heard there was a problem…” Edith spoke in a quiet voice as she took the empty stool next to Myrtle. She was well aware of the eyes that were watching her now. And she felt certain that they wanted her to get the crazy woman out of here, the sooner the better. Still, she didn’t want to do anything to rock Myrtle’s boat. That would probably just make things worse.

“Wasn’t much of a problem,” Myrtle said in a matter-of-fact voice. “I just wanted to set the children straight. Grown-ups shouldn’t be lying to children.”

“It’s just for fun,” explained Edith.

“Well, I told those kids that they should come to church and see the Christmas pageant if they wanted to know what Christmas was really about.”

“You didn’t?” Edith was horrified. What a terrible way to invite people to their church! Good grief, Myrtle might as well have been carrying a gun. No wonder Mayor Drummel was so upset. As far as Edith knew, that poor man had never set foot in church in his entire life. And this would probably set him back light-years.

“I did,” retorted Myrtle. “And I’d do it again if necessary.”

 

Prayers Of A Stranger – by Davis Bunn (2012)

prayers-of-a-stranger

It’s almost Christmas, but Amanda’s in such a deep depression that she can’t enjoy the season. It’s been a year since she lost her baby, and she hasn’t been able to return to the job she once loved. Her husband Chris is preoccupied with work, with his company approaching bankruptcy. Their neighbors across the street – Frank and Emily¬† were supposed to go to the Holy Land, but Frank’s painful arthritis makes him pass on the trip. Amanda is invited to go in his place. In Israel, Emily and Amanda rediscover the power of prayer as they pray for others and others pray for them.

This short novel is a good reminder that there are always people around us hurting, and as we focus on their needs and pray for them, we also find that God is taking care of us.