Lorilyn's Book Reviews
Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta
by Lorilyn Roberts
Janet Eckles lost her eyesight at thirty,
became the victim of an unfaithful husband, and endured the horrendous murder of her precious 19-year-old son. Who could endure
all of that and not be bitter, angry, and hopeless? How could a loving God allow this to happen?
In Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta, Janet Eckles shares her very personal
story and tackles these probing questions—and many more that we have all asked when going through unimaginable crises.
With Biblical insight, rare sensitivity, appropriate humor and Latino wit, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s
Fiesta will help you to know God’s perfect love in the quagmire of tragic circumstances.
Some of my favorite quotes included:
“But amigas, joy has nothing to do with a trouble-free life. Joy has everything to do with the absence of fear.”
“In all areas of life, unfairness abounds. And justice may be blind. But injustice
allows us to discover the beauty of forgiveness.”
“No amount of
fear can increase our bank accounts, and no amount of losses can decrease God’s provision.”
“Those bumps aren’t all bad. If they jostle us, that means we’re moving ahead. And we’re
not broken down on the side of the road of grief.”
“And with the
same strength we use to remove the cheese stuck at the bottom of the tamale casserole, we must scrape away the “loves”
that give us a false sense of purpose and satisfaction.”
Are you a woman
who longs for a deeper relationship with God? Are you a desperate wife who has been spurned, suffering in silence, or groping
through the nightmare of abandonment? Are you reeling from the bruises of broken dreams, shattered goals, financial ruin,
or strained family relationships? Are you on the road of dead ends, confusion, and personal mistakes? Have
you dug your own grave of despair? Is hopelessness your middle name?
Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta will help you to learn the power of forgiveness and the secret to being
made whole. Janet Eckles, through her physical blindness, has given those of us who see an uncanny spiritual vision into God’s
redemptive love in a fallen world.
To order Simply Salsa, click here
As a Christian, I
found Midheaven a fascinating read. The protagonist is a 17-year-old girl, Jodi, in her senior year of high school
on the threshold of adulthood. The story begins with her hiding in a cabin of the Toiyabe National Forest,
barely surviving on cans of food brought to her by her longtime friend, Charley.
life is miserable, like a beastly animal, rather than the beautiful young lady attending Mount Rose High School the year prior.
Little by little, the reader is introduced to the people in her life: Her dysfunctional parents;
Mr. Oswald, her favorite teacher; Charley, her friend but not “boyfriend”; Maggie, her best friend, who marries
Geoff, a Christian “freak”; and other, less important characters in plot but important in development
of the theme of the book.
The characters represent a type or archetype worldview
that is flavored with a distorted understanding of Christianity. Each person in his own way has been either enriched or destroyed
by the perversion of his beliefs that justifies his sinful actions.
have all seen these “types” in our own life: The holier-than-thou Christian who judges and beats you over the
head with the truth; the woman, as in the case of Mr. Oswald’s mother, who is the epitome of a Jezebel; Mr. Oswald,
who will never accept Christianity because of his mother’s influence; and Charley, who doesn’t profess to be a
Christian, but who is more a “Christian” than most; and Jodi, who longs to be loved and accepted. To gain that
love, she compromises her virginity with a jock at school, who later taunts and bullies her.
Underlying the main plot are multiple subplots—each person struggling with his own sin, making poor choices,
and hurting others in the process. The one thing that seems to be missing in everyone’s life is “love,”
except for the forbidden love that arises between Jodi and Mr. Oswald.
Jodi is shown a video of herself secretly taped by someone making love to Mr. Oswald, her world begins to unravel. She becomes
shamed by her actions and conflicted in her new-found faith, knowing what she is doing is wrong, but unable to conquer her
guilt or feel God’s forgiveness.
Mr. Oswald is a coward, and it’s his cowardice
that destroys him—without God’s love, we will do cowardly things that ultimately hurt ourselves and others, shattering
lives and dooming us to death.
The long-planned escape to Paris to live “happily
ever after” never happens, and Jodi becomes a victim of everyone’s expectations for her, living in her own self-imposed
But there is hope: She kills the charlatan who attempts to destroy
her; she sees God’s beauty in the animals of the forest, in the trees and the flowers and the lake that bring her comfort
and peace. And Charley is there, the always faithful friend and not her lover. She asks herself, “Every
day I wonder – what kind of man will sacrifice to help me please a God he doesn’t yet believe in?”
Jodi sees the berries in the forest, “still tiny and green.” A dog
attacks her that she fights off, and she discovers beneath his snarly teeth a scared creature, “whimpering and cowering.”
She loves the unlovable, and cleans the trash from the meadow. The reader is left with hope for Jodi, and
to ponder what it all means.
Ken Kuhlken earned BA and MA degrees in English at San Diego State University and
an MFA degree in Fiction Writing at the University of Iowa. He is the author of novels, short stories, feature stories and
book reviews. His stories have been honored with Pushcart Prize nominations, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature
fellowship, as a finalist for PENs Ernest Hemingway Award for the best first published novel, as a finalist for the Shamus
best novel award, and as the recipient of the Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin’s Press Best First PI Novel
Award. He has taught in the MFA program at the University of Arizona and in graduate and undergraduate programs at San Diego
State University; California State University, Chico; University of San Diego; Christian Heritage College; and Azusa Pacific
University. Ken teaches writing and literature at Perelandra College. Visit Ken at: www.kenkuhlken.net
Frankenstein, A Psychological Christian Thriller, Book Review
When my professor asked
me to read this book, my first thought was, “Why would I want to read Frankenstein? He is a monster and I don’t
like those kinds of books.” But I downloaded it on my Kindle and began reading, expecting to be bored and thinking I
probably would struggle to finish it.
to the contrary, Frankenstein is a suspenseful, psychological thriller. As an author wanting to study and emulate the best
classics ever written, I have attempted to highlight some of the strengths of Frankenstein and the techniques Mary Shelley
used to draw the reader into the story, creating a book whose name 150 years later is still synonymous with the word “monster.”
Writing in the first person, Shelley’s
words are descriptive and pregnant with feeling. The reader is immediately propelled into the story, wanting to learn who
this eccentric protagonist is that’s planning a trip to the North Pole.
Shelley uses the technique of letters written by the protagonist, Walton, to his
dear sister to set the stage and background. Later on the voyage, Walton meets up with Victor Frankenstein. The creator of
the villain, Victor, pours out his tearful tale to Walton concerning the monster he created, where the reader is taken on
a journey of emotions that vacillates between compassion and abhorrence.
What makes a good book is what the reader continues to ponder and reflect on afterwards. I
began to personalize Victor Frankenstein – what monsters have I created in my own life? What wreck have I made of others’
lives? What will follow me all the days of my life? What enticements have I pursued against the advice of others because I
was foolish? What consumes me that is beguiling and evil? How much control does the devil have over my heart that sends me
down lonely paths of destruction and despair?
The theme of this book is haunting.
There is never a word spoken of Christianity or the Bible or Scripture; yet so much of the content is based on the nature
of man and his need for redemption—the concept of man’s depraved nature, but also his unquenchable thirst for
Even the antagonist is a victim,
and the reader has pity and compassion on the monster despite his demonic nature. It’s a shame that the name “Frankenstein”
is so associated with the grotesqueness of the creature and not as an incredible classic that anyone aspiring to be a great
writer should enjoy. Too few books today delve into the psychological nature of man and the condition of the human heart in
such a profound way. My hope is to embrace the challenge of writing with a Christian worldview without the reader being told
they are reading such a book. To show rather than tell, as is the case with this story, is the penultimate example of great
by Lorilyn Roberts
feel humbled and chastised – things that bothered me about The Brothers Karamazov make more sense now, as the
meanings are so much deeper than my superficiality; i.e., I didn’t like the ending. There wasn’t the redemption
I was looking for. Dmitri was found guilty; thus, the court system failed.
I wanted to know what was going to happen to him. I felt
like Dostoevsky didn’t know what to do, so he just left it open for the reader to conjecture—a cop-out. I didn’t
agree with the theme of the book, that we are responsible for other’s people’s sins in the sense that he was so
I felt like there were a lot of extraneous people in the book that served no real purpose; i.e., why
did the little boy have to die? What did that add to the story – you get the picture. I did like the book, it’s
just I wanted it to be nice and tidy, and it wasn’t.
So now I am confronting my own set of doubts – maybe I am my
brother’s keeper. But you know what? I don’t want to be my brother’s keeper. That means I have
to love some people that are quite unlovable. So that means I am a fake. I apply my own beliefs to loving those
I choose to love, and that means I am no different from Ivan or Dmitri. That is disturbing.
Ken (my professor), I think I am having a
crisis – sure, I can write a nice little script for the course that will satisfy the powers that be for the school certification,
but suppose I don’t want to? Suppose I want to risk being real? Maybe I am in search of something that doesn’t
exist and I have just been kidding myself. I felt like Alyosha was weak and Zosima was a dreamer out of touch with reality.
And freedom – Christ set men free, the opposite
of that is totalitarianism. Perhaps the fight is greater than we realize. Maybe we really are so enslaved to sin in our thought
process that we don’t even realize it.
I shall have strange dreams tonight.
was Professor Ken Kuhlken’s comments back, with some personal references omitted.
Ken: This is wonderful. If Dostoyevski
could wish that his readers would come away with one message, I would bet it would be that if we want to see the world as
a tidy place, we had better buy into the Grand Inquisitor's theory (which would soon, in Russia, be essentially the theory