So… you’re stuck at home. COVID-19 has you in isolation or something approaching isolation. You have spent countless hours surfing around social media sites. You’re tired of depressing newscasts and dire warnings. You need a break from it all.
Here’s a suggestion. Maybe it’s time to take a trip—not just any trip. This is a journey to the Holy Land—not the Holy Land of today, but the Holy Land during the time of Jesus. In fact, let’s visit during the most pivotal week in human history—the week of Palm Sunday through Easter Monday.
Let’s see the events of that pivotal week through the eyes of the Roman centurion who knelt at the foot of the cross and made this confession, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (See Matthew 27:54.)
That’s the premise behind my passion of Christ novel, “The Soldier Who Killed a King.”
So what do others think of this book? Well, the reviews are in and the scores are high. With 62 reviews on Amazon.com “The Soldier Who Killed a King” scores 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Amazon rating system. In Canada with 51 reviews posted the score is even higher at 4.9 out of 5 stars. Numbers like that are rare in the literary world.
Here is a sample of a 5 star review:
‘The Soldier Who Killed A King’ is one of the very best books we’ve ever had the privilege to read! Insightful, captivating, inspiring, historically accurate, so very satisfying and engaging… A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to David Kitz for having written this most incredible account of the crucifixion of Christ… A great read for this time of the year as we approach Easter! — Don & Jan MacGregor 😊😊
Despite an international travel ban, now might be the very best time to take that trip to the Holy Land.
To learn more and purchase in the USA click here.
For anyone who is serious about developing a career as a Christian writer, this book is a true gem. From start to finish, authors Patricia Paddey and Karen Stiller provide a host of tips, and sound advice that can benefit any writer. This holds true for the novice writer as well as the grizzled veteran.
The book is broadly divided into three sections: craft, cost and call, that match the title. The authors don’t hold back in exposing both their successes and failures as writers. It’s great to see your own struggles mirrored by these two professionals. There is an integrity and a candor to their writing that I truly admire.
I was left wanting more from these two authors, especially in section on our God-given call to write. But I see wanting more as a good thing.
Before my historical novel The Soldier Who Killed a King was released, I had a conversation with the marketing manager of Kregel Publications. One thing she stressed was the importance of book reviews, particularly Amazon book reviews.
Since that conversation I have been diligently urging readers to post book reviews. Here then are three things I learned in the process.
- There’s something magical about 50.
Fifty is the first major breakthrough point which takes you to a new level with the Amazon algorithms. The day after I hit 50 reviews on Amazon.com the number of reviews suddenly jumped because the site drew in additional reviews from Canada and the U.K. Similarly, my review numbers on Amazon.ca jumped from 36 to 46, because ten American reviews were added to the Canadian site.
Take away: International websites cross populate when you hit 50 reviews.
- Not all Amazon reviews carry an equal weight.
Simply put some reviews are deemed more credibly, or are more highly valued. For example, a verified Amazon purchase carries more weight than a non-verified review. Also a review from a top tier reviewer is pure gold. Top tier reviewers review a lot of books, so they are highly trusted and their opinion is valued and weighted accordingly.
Take away: When possible encourage reviews by verified purchasers and top tier reviewers.
- Reviews don’t need to be long to be effective.
My one 5 star review from the United Kingdom reads as follows:
Title: Nailed It
Excellent crucifixion description.
That’s all it says. But in a total of five words, this review captures a key element of the story. Of course longer reviews are also much appreciated.
Take away: If you read a good book, show your appreciation by writing a review. The author will appreciate it, and so will prospective readers.
This morning I came upon this book review by Pam:
David Kitz’s devotional, “psalms alive” is a book I bought for my friends and family this past Christmas and I plan to read it a second time. It is one of the best devotionals I have ever read for the following reasons:
* The Scripture is printed at the beginning of each devotional. This makes it so convenient and for me it meant reading and then re-reading that Psalm many times as I studied Kitz’s devotional which followed. Many devotionals only quote the reference which you are to study. Tell me – how many of you actually look up this passage? Lol. It’s too easy not to get your bible and look it up. It’s such a simple thing to print the Psalm right in the devotional but it made the study so much more helpful.
* Secondly, this was an excellent resource because of the cultural and historical insights Kitz provided. These brought the Psalms to life and helped me remember and apply them.
* Theologically, I believe Kitz is sound and credible; he often cross-referenced his thoughts with other biblical passages.
* The whole picture – Kitz provided each Psalm in light of the sweep of biblical history and revelation, often showing how the Psalm prophesied Christ. I appreciated this and it helped me see the relevance and power of the Psalms in my daily life.
Reading “psalms alive” was a highlight of October/November 2017. I looked forward to it every day; it was a feast every morning that I will indulge in again. My copy is highlighted, underlined, tear-stained, and I have several pictures I drew in response to the insights I learned. It is a treasure that I recommend with the highest confidence.
A book review by Tina Williams
Psalms Alive! Connecting Heaven and Earth by David Kitz explores the Psalms through personal vignettes of the author’s reflections on various Psalms. As I read I felt that the author was sitting across from me in a comfy chair sharing the great goodness of God from the heart of a shepherd. The author includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter which helps the reader connect heaven and earth by spending some time meditating on scripture and driving those truths deeper into our hearts so that we are not merely readers or hearers, but also actors in God’s great drama of life!
At times, a sentence or two seems out of place, when the author laments the current state of affairs with our culture, but the main points are brought home in pointing us to the character of God.
One of my favorite quotes which encourages all believers, like athletes, to be engaged with scripture is found in the chapter, From Strength to Strength. “The busy, world-engaged laity is far too often content to coast on the second-hand faith of church leadership. In reality, our own faith muscles need development and regular exercise. If regular spiritual conditioning isn’t taking place, we become weak in our faith. We are fit for the couch, not the pilgrim’s route. We stumble when others question our beliefs. Temptations overwhelm us. Doubts drain us of our spiritual vitality. We conform to the thinking of this world. We are not reaching the world with the message of Christ; the world is reaching us, and pressing us into its mold.”
This book will encourage and inspire the reader to dig deep into the Psalms as the author draws from personal object lessons which help further understand and connect the word to the heart.
Take a moment to vote
Psalms Alive, has been nominated for the Book of the Month award hosted by Interviews and Reviews.
To cast your vote for Psalms Alive, click here.
Thanks! Note: You can vote daily until September 30th.
A Book Review
Some books pass through your mind without provoking much thought, or reflection. Others do just the opposite. They are meant to be savored. I place Lament for Spilt Porter in this latter category.
At its heart this is a book about nostalgia. The subtitle is Longing for Family and Home. Larry J. McCloskey explores that longing by reflecting on his own family growing up in the 1950s and 60s in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.
Maybe the book appealed to me because I grew up during the same timeframe. Maybe it appealed to me because for the last 30 years Ottawa has been my home. But I suspect that this book has a more universal appeal, because it addresses the deep longing for home that is in all our hearts, regardless of age or geography.
A Meaningful Read
McCloskey not only laments the loss of his parents, he also laments the loss of their values—values that are rooted in family, church and an unflinching faith in God. Above all else, McCloskey wrestles with the very idea of God—the God that modern society has turned its back on. His is a restless faith, racked with doubt, but seeking God nonetheless. That pursuit is an underlying theme throughout.
If all this seems rather heavy and dour, breathe easy. There’s plenty of humor in these pages, and some unforgettable characters too. But be forewarned: McCloskey packs more meaning into a single sentence than many authors capture in an entire chapter. There’s very little fluff, and plenty of mental nutrition that a reader can draw from every chapter.
If you are still longing for home, this is a most meaningful read.
How do you connect with God?
For three thousand years, God has been connecting with humankind through the prophetic prayer, praise and poetry of the biblical Psalms. Come follow David, the shepherd king, the man after God’s own heart, as we begin a journey to intimacy with God. Discover for yourself what a soul-bonding relationship with God looks like.
As never before, let the psalms come alive for you!
Psalms Alive! can be best described as a 237-page devotional study of thirteen selected psalms spanning a total of twenty-six chapters.
In typical devotional style each chapter begins with a psalm or psalm portion. Then for five or six pages the author discusses this portion by bringing other scripture to bear, drawing from his personal life experience or relating powerful stories that illustrate the key thoughts highlighted in this psalm. Each chapter then ends with a number of questions or action prompts that are aimed at bringing the psalm to life for the reader. By including these questions, the book lends itself easily to group study and discussion.
The twenty-six chapter format provides a half year of curriculum material for churches or study groups that wish to grow their love for God through engaging with the Psalms. Of course Psalms Alive! works equally well as a personal study anchored in the unchanging truths of God’s word.
Endorsements for Psalms Alive!
“A timely call to stop our mad rush and encounter God in the stillness of prayer and Bible study. David Kitz paints pictures with words, taking lessons from Scripture and nature to offer us a three-dimensional, multi-sensory relationship with God.”
Robert L. Briggs, Executive Vice President, American Bible Society
David writes with a dramatic and compelling flair, enticing us to meet with God and therein find life. His intent to let God’s Word speak through the psalms is accomplished with theological sensitivity to the sitz im leben and creative application to the context of our lives today. Well done, David! Psalms Alive! helped me inhabit the Word and know Him more.
Rev. Dr. Lawson Murray, President – Scripture Union Canada
American readers can click on this link to purchase Psalms Alive! Connecting Heaven and Earth.
This 237 page devotional study is also available directly from the author by clicking here.
Pleasant surprises are just that—pleasant. This morning I woke up to a pleasant surprise on my Facebook page. That surprise came courtesy of Greg Thurston. He posted the following review of my book:
What a compelling story of the Passion, told by the Centurion who drove the nails into Jesus’ hands. To say it was gripping, riveting, real, and fresh is completely inadequate. Kitz manages to skillfully draw you through a familiar story with uncommon drama, unexpected turns, and brings tears along the way.
This singular story is simultaneously the story of us all: seeking to deal with our guilt, our inner conflicts, and to find the elusive peace we know must be out there.
I highly recommend this book. You may think you know the story, but you don’t know it at all. Read it and see what it does to you.
This book review of The Soldier Who Killed a King caught my eye for a number of reasons. Sabrina Wade captured the spirit and the essence of this book. Here is her five star review:
At first, the beginning of this novel took my mind back to the movie Risen. As I kept reading, the novel blossomed into so much more.
Kitz, did an excellent job staying super close to the biblical accounts surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ. The fictional details of the ”what ifs” concerning not only the centurion, but also the many bystanders held me captivated. Those scenes were like coloring outside the lines. They gave the reader an additional piece of art without tampering with the original.
If hearing the truth about Jesus Christ through Bible study, around Easter, or from a neighbor isn’t appealing or worth believing PICK UP A COPY. Kitz will have your heart in his hand from the beginning until the end. He will make you question why you are still in denial. And for others he will lovingly remind you why Grace is sooooooooooo AmAzINg!
For more details visit Interviews and Reviews.