Monday, July 14, 2008

Two Fiction Picks & New Theme

This week, we're featuring novels of all sorts here at Pix-N-Pens. Here are two great picks for a summer vacation read. And after I share them, I'll give the contest details.

by Kathryn Mackel

The press about this book is highly interesting, so I'd like to share some of it:

The Department of Homeland Security has made inroads in its effort to protect citizens, but it remains under scrutiny from many different sources. Responsible for border security, emergency management and biodefense, one of the biggest weaknesses is coordination of communications. Since 9/11, creating a system that enables local and government agencies to coordinate their efforts during times of emergency has been a challenge. Perhaps no event better typifies this weakness than what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

According to author Kathryn Mackel, most Americans look to the government to bail them out of difficult situations - terrorist attacks or natural disasters. She says, "America's vulnerability to terror is far from over. This country has still not grasped the notion that the greatest act of terrorism would be one that systematically shredded their economy." While 9/11 created a temporary glitch in the stock market, the long-term effects (other than the war effort) have not been lasting. A second attack might have a more lasting effect.

In her book Vanished, Mackel says, "Order restored means order that could be blown apart." Yet, far from being a doomsday prophet, she simply believes that most Americans are under the false belief that someone will step in to help in times of catastrophe. In Vanished, the residents lose water, something most Americans take for granted. "We take for granted many thing things: food, water, communications."

What happens when basic services, including medical help, are suddenly unavailable to us? In Vanished, Mackel draws a pictures of just how devastating a terrorist attack can be to basic services and the disruption of life as we know it. Mackel's book asks many "What ifs?" For example, what happens if you are isolated from medical care during an emergency? She suggests our dependency on government has made us less dependent on one another - extended family or community.

While the community is not a panacea for solving our every problem, when the government fails to help, most people become angry or turn toward God. Mackel deals with the God question and suggests that during crises our hearts become open to God.

About the book:

After a bomb explodes in a working-class neighborhood of Barcester, Massachusetts, Police sergeant Jason Logan fights to keep order and assist the injured while desperately waiting for aid to arrive. Is the mist from the bomb preventing ambulances and fire trucks from coming in? Or has something far more dire occurred?

As the hours tick by, Logan tracks the terrorist mastermind—whom he learns is not done wreaking havoc. Cut off from modern medical resources, nurse-practitioner Kaya de los Santos treats the injured and soothes the fearful, unaware that her teenaged son Ben is on the run from both the cops and the terrorist.

The vanished begin a battle for survival against enemies they’ve always known—and forces they’ve never even imagined.

About the author:

Kathryn Mackel is an accomplished screenwriter and novelist who has worked extensively in both mainstream and Christian-themed entertainment. Kathhryn has written for Disney, Fox, and Showtime. She was the credited screenwriter on her own novel, Can of Worms, and for Frank Peretti's Hangman's Curse. Kathryn was also part of the story team for Left Behind: The Movie. Her novels include Christian chillers such as The Surrogate and the Christy-nominated The Hidden, as well as the fantasy series The Birthright Project. She is the acclaimed author of Can of Worms and other novels for middle readers published by Putnam, Avon, and HarperCollins.

Learn more about Kathryn at her Web site, and on her blog.

Our other equally exciting feature book this week is:

Alton Gansky

About the book:

An earthquake shakes Southern California, setting the stage for the appearance of Aster, a stranger from a world far from our own. Miracles happen around him, spectacular promises are made, and wisdom flows from his lips.

He says he has come to complete our knowledge, to explain our beginnings, and to correct our spiritual errors. And the world is ready to receive him: politicians seek his advice, religious leaders wish to call him friend, scientists want to study him, and philosophers wish to debate him.

But not everything is what it seems. This messenger seems too good to be believed. Priscilla Simms, an investigatory journalist, is the only one close enough to the stranger to get at the truth. But unraveling the truth may cost her reputation, and maybe even her life.

About the author:

Alton Gansky is the author of twenty published novels and six nonfiction works. He has been a Christy award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and and Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice.) He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies and has served as senior pastor for three Baptist churches in California, with a total of over twenty years in pulpit ministry. He and his wife live in the High Desert area of Southern California.

Learn more about Alton on his Web site.

Now for this week's contest:

The theme this week is "WHAT IF...?" You may write your entry as a factual essay, or as a short story - either is acceptable, just let me know which it is when you enter. Please keep entries 2000 words or less.

"WHAT IF...?" your world ceased to exist as you know it right this moment - due to terrorist attack, natural disaster, some other major catostrophic even out of your control. What actions would you take? What would be your first concerns? How would you cope?

Recently, our state has been pushing the "Get 10" program, urging residents to collect and store 10 essential items in case of emergency. They're promoting it so much (billboards, television, newspaper, magazines, radio, flyers in grocery stores, and more!), it's a bit creepy. We want to be prepared, but it also makes me wonder if they aren't telling us the whole story. Is there a fine line between being prepared and being fanatical? Between being aware/alert being considered a doomsday prophet?

Write. Share. We want to hear YOUR opinion, YOUR ideas, YOUR story. Feel free to leave your comments, too!

Submit your entry by sending an e-mail to tracyruckman[at]gmail[dot]com by Friday, July 18th for your chance to win.

Each entry will be entered into our grand prize drawing on July 31st for a huge box of books. The book count is up to 22 this week, and still growing. You won't be sorry you entered.


Jessica said...

Kathryn Mackel always seems to have the coolest covers. :-)

Anonymous said...

I dont think I've heard of those authors - thanks for the review :)
jessy morse 5 at yahoo dot com

buzzd said...

I like the review of Vanished. I agree with the authors point about Americans thinking someone will bail them out. Look at our economy right now to see an example of that. I definitely need to look into this book and author.

samsakara said...

I love the cover for the book Vanished. It appeals to me for the fact I take to many things for granted. So many of us have become very materialistic when for more things are important. So many other people in the world do not even have the basic things such as a good source of food or even clean water.

Charlotte said...

The covers of these books grabbed me initially, and after I read the descriptions I'd like to read them both! I am going to suggest them for our monthly book club. Thanks!


sweetsue said...

This is the first I have heard of this author. The book Angel sounds wonderful, I am going to put it on my wish list.

Tammy said...

Thank you for featuring these two books -- I have not heard of either of these authors or their works before -- I am always looking to try out some new books - so off to the library website to see if they have either of these!

robin_titan said...

i had heard of angel but not the other one i liked your reviews of them i still haven't gotten around to reading angel though i need to get to reading those books on my tbr list :)

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