Wednesday, April 27, 2011

‘The Damascus Way’ by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke – Book Review and Giveaway

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One of my favorite books of 2010 was ‘The Hidden Flame’ by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke, the second book in the ‘Acts of Faith’ series, which focused on the Early Years of the Church when followers of the Way were interacting with the Disciples, etc... So when the third book in the series, ‘The Damascus Way,’ was released, I knew I wanted to continue following the story line as seen through the creative minds of Davis Bunn and Janette Oke. 

Here is the synopsis of this book:

The fledgling church is being scattered by persecution spearheaded by a fanatical young Pharisee who does not realize he is helping to spread the truth “unto the ends of the earth.”
Young Julia has everything money can buy, yet she and her Hebrew mother are less than second-class citizens. When Julia discovers the secret her Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Her future is clouded with uncertainty.
Jacob, Abigail’s brother, is attempting to find his own place among the believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard? Hired to protect a wealthy merchant’s caravans on the secretive “Frankincense Trail,” Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing messages between communities of believers dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia is also a courier. Can they put their initial mistrust aside to accomplish their mission?
An Earthshaking Encounter on the Way to Damascus Has Repercussion Far Beyond the Lives of Julia and Jacob.

This book was written by a dynamic duo who have had a great deal of success both individually and together. 

Here is the biography for Davis Bunn:

Davis Bunn has been a professional novelist for twenty years.  His books have sold in excess of six million copies in sixteen languages, appearing on numerous national bestseller lists.
Davis is known for the diversity of his writing talent, from gentle gift books like The Quilt to high-powered thrillers like The Great DivideHe has also enjoyed great success in his collaborations with Janette Oke, with whom he has co-authored a series of groundbreaking historical novels.
In developing his work, Davis draws on a rich background of international experience. Raised in North Carolina, he completed his undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University. He then traveled to London to earn a master’s degree in international economics and finance before embarking ona distinguished career that took him to more than thirty countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Davis has received numerous literary accolades, including three Christy Awards for excellence in fiction.  He currently serves as Writer-in-Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University, and is a sought-after lecturer on the craft of writing.
(Photo courtesy of Chris Kidler, Florida Today)

Here is the biography for Janette Oke:

Janette Oke was born in Champion, Alberta, to a Canadian prairie farmer and his wife, and she grew up in a large family full of laughter and love.  She is a graduate of Mountain View Bible College in Alberta, where she met her husband, Edward, and they were married in May of 1957.  After pasturing churches in Indiana and Canada, the Okes spent some years in Calgary, where Edward served in several positions on college faculties. She has written forty-eight novels for adults and another sixteen for children, and her book sales total nearly thirty million copies.
The Okes have three sons and one daughter, all married, and are enjoying their fifteen grandchildren.  Edward and Janette are active in their local church and make their home near Didsbury, Alberta.

As in ‘The Hidden Flame,' the main character in ‘The Damascus Way’ is Abigail; also prominently featured are other early followers of the Way, including Peter, Ananias,  Martha, and the Samaritan woman at the well, whose name in this novel is Helzebah. 

I loved both of the parallel storylines following Julia and Jacob, and Jacob’s sister, Abigail. I was particularly struck by the faithfulness and love for their Lord and others of the followers of Christ. They all were changed by their relationship with Him and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There were major character improvements in all of the new followers; it was inspirational! Here is an example of one character, Linux, a Roman soldier, explaining his transformation:

The drover cackled once more. “And you are as strange a Roman as ever I have had occasion to meet.”
“I am a man remade by Jesus, the risen Christ.”
The elder studied him. “If this Jesus of your can turn two Romans into guardians of poor Judeans, then he is powerful indeed.”
“I stand as testimony to the truth of your words,” Linux said. “And I shall pray to Him tonight for the salvation of your soul, you and all your clan.” (p. 105)

This book is packed with valuable information pertaining to life in that era and area. For instance, I was interested in learning more about frankincense:

Jacob knew that perhaps the most valuable item in the world was frankincense. It formed the core component of virtually every perfume and was used as incense in Greek, Roman, and Judean religious rites. Frankincense was a key ingredient in embalming and burials. And, perhaps most important, for those who could afford it, frankincense was considered to have powerful healing qualities. It was used for the treatment of breathing difficulties, joint ailments, and chest inflammations.
The Hebrew word for frankincense was levonah, also the unofficial name of the ancient Phoenician kingdom to the north of Judea. Phoenician traders had held a virtual monopoly on its trade for over a thousand years. (p. 120)

I also loved the fact that this book was written by two excellent authors. I am not sure how Mr. Bunn and Mrs. Oke split up the writing, but it is seamless and incredible! I am naturally interested in this era of Church history, but I am particularly interested when the writing is so incredibly well done!

Another interesting aspect of this book is the fact that it looked at Paul’s conversion on the Road to Damascus. I am so inspired by the fact that God took this Pharisee that was so damaging to the Church, and converted him to such an extent that he became one of the most important Christ followers who ever lived! That turnaround gives hope to all of us who have made mistakes in life (and none of us are exempt in that category). I was hoping to see more of Saul of Tarsus in ‘The Hidden Flame,’ but am grateful that he was included in this last book in the series.

I really loved this book! As noted, I did read the second book in this ‘Acts of Faith’ series, ‘The Hidden Flame’ (you can read my review here). I have not read the first book, ‘The Centurion’s Wife;’ it is definitely on my Wish List!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Bethany House and provided by the Blogging Bistro for review purposes.

I have one copy of this book to give along; many thanks to Laura at Blogging Bistro for generously providing the copy!  You will WANT to read this excellent book!

There are several ways to gain entry:           

1) Leave a comment here on the blog, telling me what is most intriguing to you about this novel. Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com. 

2) Add my blog button to your blog or website. You can grab the HTML code on the right hand side of the blog. Please leave a comment (with your email address) letting me know your URL where the blog button has been placed. Thanks!

3) Follow me on Twitter; if you are already a follower, that counts, too!  Please leave a separate comment to that effect.

4) Send a tweet on Twitter. Please feel free to use this one:

Win a copy of ‘The Damascus Way’ by @davisbunn and @bethany_house from @andrealschultz. Please RT!

Please leave a comment with the link to your tweet. You can tweet up to once per day. Please add a new comment for each tweet.

5) Follow me as a Google Friend on this blog; if you are already a Friend, that counts, too! Please leave a separate comment to that effect.

6) Become my Facebook friend. Please leave a separate comment to that effect.

7) Follow this blog as a NetWorked Blog Follower after you’ve become my Facebook friend. Please leave a separate comment to that effect.

So there are many, many chances to enter and therefore win! Please limit one entry per option (except for the Twitter option), and don’t forget to include your email address, or, sad to say, the Random Number Generator will have to choose a different winner.

This giveaway is for U.S. residents only. The deadline for entry is Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST. One winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on Thursday, May 12, 2011 and will be contacted via email. The best to all of you!


Katy said...

Ohh, please enter me!! :-D

~ Katy

J-ME said...

I've always enjoyed his books as well as Janette Oke's. This book would be interesting to read since it deals with the early church and the persecution it faces. Thanks for the opportunity to enter your contest.

luvs2stmp [at] yahoo [dot] com

J-ME said...

I am a blog follower.

luvs2stmp [at] yahoo [dot] com

J-ME said...

I am a facebook friend too!


Meredith said...

The synopsis mentions secrets that Julia's father kept...secrets are always intriguing!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

Twitter follower @tessaa99

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Meredith said...


meredithfl at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

GFC follower

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

FB Friend

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Jenn said...

I ADORED Janette Oke-haven't read any of her stuff in a while and I'd love to read about the persecutions of the early church. What an interesting time period.

What an awesome giveaway!

Gail at Gail-Friends said...

Since I love both authors, I would LOVE to win this book.

gail(dot) golden (at) yahoo(dot)com

shirleymc said...

I love knowing that when I choose a Davis Bunn novel that I will not be disappointed in it - happy to know it will be a clean read that will challenge me to be a better person! Reading about the struggles of the early church make me thankful for my freedom to worship.

Charity said...

I would love to be entered in this giveaway. The thing that most intrigues me is the history. I love reading about Bible times! Thanks so much!


Charity said...

Already a FB fan as Charity.


Charity said...

Already a GFC Follower.


Charity said...

Networked Blogs follower.


Charity said...

Twitter follower as well-kingsdaughter24


Charity said...

Tweeted as well.!/kingsdaughter24/status/68394302149115904


Nora said...

I've really enjoyed books written by these authors. I first was a fan of T.Davis Bunn.

Now that they are writing biblical fiction their talents have brought the bible stories to life. I love that. It's made me think about things a different way. I like that.

Thanks for entering me

Nora St.Laurent
norafinding hope (At) G

Diane said...

Reading more about Paul's conversion would be great! :O)

estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

Diane said...

I follow you on twitter.

Diane said...

I am your facebook pal too!
Diane Estrella :O)

Anonymous said...

I love T.Davis Bunn and Janette Oke's books both when they write together and their many other novels too. Please enter me for this giveaway.

Lisa from Oklahoma

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