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Book Review Round-Up: From Unnatural History to Sacred Causes

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The stack of great books on my nightstand… 

The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish  is an excellent literary novel written by Elise Blackwell, creative writing teacher at the University of South Carolina. She writes beautifully, despite her subject: the 1926 flooding of neighboring parishes to save New Orleans. Naturally, you can't forget the recent Gulf disaster while reading the novel. A major theme throughout the novel: History repeats itself, if we refuse to learn from it.

Wedgewood Grey: The Black or White Chronicles, Book Two, Exciting new Christian thriller by John Aubrey Anderson. One bleak night, in the middle of a wet April in a 1960s Mississippi community, evil is aroused. In the dark stillness of midnight, an innocent black woman is attacked by a mob of white men. Mose confronts the men from behind his twelve-gauge shotgun, and people die. You'll be swept in by Anderson's rich and descriptive style.

Secrets From Lulu's Cafe: Desperate Pastors' Wives by Ginger Kolbaba and Christy Scannell. The title is a little off-putting, but this book has more depth than its cover betrays. It's a very honest portrayal of the difficulties pastors' wives have dealing with the problems of life: except, that the rest of us, the non-pastors' wives, expect — no, we demand! –  that they be perfect. No mistakes allowed, and "she'd better speak to me first!"

The Watchers by Mark Anderson Olsen, bestselling author of The Assignment. This is an excellent spiritual thriller. It has the high-stakes suspense similar to the Left Behind series, but the writing is excellent. I love the opening passage that describes a murder scene through the unusual perspective of a freshly (but bloodied) murdered woman!

    The blue flickers of her television danced across the housekeeper's unmoving pupils. She never budged a muscle, nor leveled the odd tilt of her head, nor wiped the crimson trickles crisscrossing her neck, nor rose from the stain darkening the sofa cushions beneath her. Nor did she notice that, twenty feet away, a man gripping the weapon of her murder had now reached the bedroom door of her angelic one… No, deep in the final tremors of her death, the housekeeper did not hear her assailant turn the bedroom's door handle or seem him enter the room. Nor did she scream when he took two padded strides into shadow.

It gets much more intense after that. I can't wait to get back to it.

Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, From the Great War to the War on Terror by Michael Burleigh: An excellent social history detailing how religion can be usurped and camouflaged by politics. A tantalizing thought: The 1960s era brought to the forefront "forces that seemed to be turning Europe into a post-Christian desert, in which 'wisdom' would be represented by the lyrics of John Lennon."

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About Vicki McCollum