Professor Valentine’s lecture drew to a close and soon students were emptying out into the halls. Outside the windows, the sun was setting. A violet curtain shrouded the heavens, save where the horizon blushed coral in the west. Pivoting a desk, Ransom sat atop it and threw one leg up on the chair.
“Why take me here?” asked Corwin. “If a philosophical debate is in order, I feel that I may require more bourbon.”
“Before you attended this university,” said Ransom, “you already had your doubts about God and Christianity, but here something changed. Those doubts solidified into a worldview, turning you from an agnostic into a hardened atheist. Do you recall what spurred that change?”
“I guess it was the first time that I’d applied critical thinking to religion. Once you stop trying to justify the fairy tales, all that’s left are contradictions and wishful thinking.”
“Yes, yes.” Ransom waved a hand dismissively. “That’s all very enlightening, but it’s not really what I wanted to know. What changed you wasn’t anything that you realized about religion. It was something you realized about yourself.”
The angel’s words struck a chord and Corwin understood at once what he meant. It wasn’t any clever argument or decisive piece of evidence that had swayed him. To question a creed was easy, and the merit of such arguments could be endlessly debated by those who felt compelled to do so, but to look in the mirror and question one’s innermost self . . . that took a bit more resolve.
“I came to see that I’d been accepting beliefs, or at least entertaining them, simply because they were comforting. They were what I had always been told, and easier than seeking my own answers. At first it was scary letting go of religion’s promises, walking the tightrope of life without a spiritual safety net, but if I was to be honest with myself, it was a step that I had to take.”
“Good!” Ransom clapped him on the shoulder. “That’s more like it!”
Corwin blinked hard, unsure whether the angel staring back at him was still playing for the same team.
“Humans are creatures of passion,” said Ransom. “Whether finding faith or rejecting it, the decision is often more a matter of the heart than of the head. Take the atheist who scorns God on account of the foolishness that men do in his name, or the believer who clings to faith because the harshness of life without the hope of Heaven is too much for his fragile spirit to bear.”
“People believe what they want to believe,” affirmed Corwin.
“When perceived truth differs from the truth one desires, a person must choose. You chose the right master, Corwin. In your self-reflection, you stumbled upon a simple and profound, yet seldom followed principle.”
“And that would be?”
“That the only good reason to believe something is if it’s true.”
When outspoken atheist Corwin Holiday dies an untimely but heroic death, he’s assigned a chain-smoking, alcoholic angel as his defense attorney in the trial to decide the fate of his soul.
Today many cast Christianity aside, not in favor of another faith, but in favor of no faith. We go off to school or out into the world, and we learn that reality is godless and that free thinking means secular thinking. But must faith entail an end to asking questions? Should not the Author of Reason be able to answer the challenge of reason?
Dead & Godless is a smart and suspenseful afterlife adventure that explores the roots of truth, justice and courage. In these pages awaits a quest that spans universes, where the stakes are higher than life and death, and where Christianity’s sharp edges aren’t shied away from, because we’re not called to be nice. We’re called to be heroes.
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Genre – Christian Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Book Excerpt: (Chapter 1)
Onyx stood on the cusp of the dance floor and took in the sights and noises of the club. It was beautifully done. They really took the whole green monster/envy/serpent theme and ran with it. By the time she snapped out of it, she had lost track of Angel. Knowing her friend, she was either in the middle of the dance floor or up in VIP by now. She scanned the room, trying to spot the florescent pink and purple hair, which usually made her stick out in any crowd. Mid-scan, she locked eyes with a stranger across the bar. Her breath caught while her heart jumped into her throat. She tried to look around, to confirm that it was her he was staring at, but she couldn’t move. His eyes bore into her, holding her attention as he floated through the crowd straight for her. He never dropped his stare. The party goers parted, making way for him to move with ease as though he was Moses crossing the red sea.
The stranger approached her: tall, well built, with perfectly tan skin. His blonde hair was buzz cut. His cheeks darkened from a days’ worth of stubble, adding to his rugged handsomeness. She felt the urge to run her teeth along his jaw line, just to feel the texture. Philip was always so well-manicured.
The handsome stranger reached where she was standing. Their intense stare was broken by his cocky smirk as he glanced down at his hand, which is waiting to meet hers. She followed his gaze and without thought, placed her hand in his. The sleeves on his plaid shirt were rolled up to his elbows, revealing impressively detailed full sleeve tattoos.
He couldn’t be sexier if he tried, she mused.
As he led her to the bar, she stumbled after him, eagerly trying to keep up like an excited puppy. His hands were warm and she could smell his cologne waft off of him: a salty fresh combination that instantly reminded her of a hot beach day.
They reached the bar, and Onyx noticed on either side of them were crowds of people waiting to be served. Yet they walked right up. It was like there was a gap reserved just for them. She glanced at him in admiration, he must be good luck, she told herself. The young, blonde bar tender came right over to take their order. That never happens, she thought.
The stranger ordered two of something and handed one over to Onyx. The dark purple drink tasted of lychee and other berries. She could hardly focus on the taste; too busy drinking the sight of her companion in. The man’s lips were thick, lusciously pink and incredibly enticing. She watched him as he took a sip of his drink. His eyes were so light blue they were almost white giving him a softer, ethereal look that countered his otherwise edgy appearance.
Only one or two drinks, I have to keep my wits about me around this one. Onyx told herself.
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Genre – Urban Fantasy
Rating – PG – 13
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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.
Posted February 15, 2014on:
“Stand up and drop the weapon.”
A long shadow stretched over the grass, followed by a second. Breton loosened his grip on the weapon and let it fall. Careful to step on the blade as he rose, he held out his hands to show he wasn’t armed.
A second robed figure emerged from the knee-tall grass, and the tip of a second arrowhead glinted in the sunlight. Breton ran his tongue over his teeth. The first stood close enough for Breton to reach, if he could avoid being struck.
The second man would prove the true problem. If Breton was hit — or if the archers missed him and hit Ferethian instead — he’d have more than his survival to worry about. While he needed to find Kalen, he didn’t want to lure the Rift King back to the Rift through death.
“That’s right. Easy now. Keep your hands where we can see them, Rifter.”
Breton glanced out of the corner of his eye at Ferethian. The Rift King’s horse stood rigid, the animal’s dark eyes staring beyond the two outsiders.
The pair of large shadows moved closer, and it took all of Breton’s will to stare at the two figures in front of him.
“Hands up higher, Rift King,” the man snapped.
Breton hesitated, glancing at each figure in turn. They thought he was the Rift King? He frowned and considered the two men. They didn’t exactly go out of their way to describe Kalen to anyone. However, he could recall a few missives talking about how unusually small the Rift King’s horse was. Had they learned of Ferethian, but not of the man who rode him?
The shadows solidified to the towering forms of black horses. The taller of the two Breton recognized from the familiar warmth in his chest born from being near his horse. Perin’s teeth were bared and both ears were turned back. The second horse was covered in river mud and dust, with black patches showing through.
Breton held his breath.
Ferethian lifted his hoof and struck the ground once. A chill ran through Breton. The two large animals took their placed behind the robed figures, their movements silenced by the ever-present hiss of the wind.
“Halter your horse,” the man ordered.
He lifted his hands to his shoulder to grab the ruined halter. Ferethian snorted and reared back, slamming both hooves down at the same time.
The outsiders fell to the heavy blow of hooves to the head. Angry squeals broke the silence, and Ferethian surged forward to trample the fallen, his long tail bannering.
Breton shivered, stooping to pick up the poisoned blade and the outsiders’ bows and arrows. One of them was carrying a small pouch tied to his belt. He grabbed it and tucked it away in a pocket. Pivoting on a heel, he left the bodies for the nibblers. The three Rift horses flanked him.
He hurried to where the Foristasa cut its way through the plains. The weapons vanished beneath the white caps of its waters. Perin draped his head over Breton’s shoulder and sighed. There was only one reason he could think of for outsiders to make their way to Blind Mare Run. They wanted the Rift King, dead or alive.
If the outsiders learned the truth of the Rift King’s disappearance, he didn’t want to think of the consequences. Breton knelt by the river’s edge and clucked his tongue at the horses. Perin came without complaint, letting him clean the blood from his legs.
The other two horses refused, as though unwilling to wash away the evidence of their devotion to the King no longer within the Rift.
He glanced in the direction of the bodies, shook his head, and headed back towards Blind Mare Run to call for the other Guardians.
Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.
When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.
But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.
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Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG – 13
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