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The Church Builder: A Novel (The Church Builder Series) Paperback – July 8, 2014

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Product Details

  • Series: The Church Builder Series
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (July 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031033912X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310339120
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,496,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


""The Church Builder is a roller-coaster ride of plot twists and surprises, written with awe-inspiring skill."" - Terri Blackstock, New York Times bestselling author of Intervention and Truth Stained Lies
""Outstanding. Riveting and disturbing in equal measure. The Church Builder illuminates the battle between church and those that wish to crush it with gripping force. Highly recommended."" - Davis Bunn, bestselling author of The Book of Hours
""Don't miss this provocative tale by a craftsman at the top of his game. Besides being riveted and entertained, you will be challenged by The Church Builder to think in new ways."" - Jerry B. Jenkins, novelist and biographer. Owner, Christian Writers Guild
""Serpents. Sin...and Redemption. The Church Builder has it all. I love this book. Bethany is my kind of superhero: smart, compassionate, and oh so wise."" - Lis Wiehl, New York Times bestselling author and FOX News Legal Analyst
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

A. L. Shields is a pseudonym for Stephen L. Carter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught for thirty years. He is also the author of seven acclaimed works of nonfiction and five best-selling novels. His first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002), spent eleven weeks on the New York Times best seller list.

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Customer Reviews

Cannot wait for the next book to come out in the series.
Pamela J Ferris
On occasion I thought there was too much unnecessary or redundant detail for the main story and would much rather have seen attention spent on supporting characters.
Built By Story
It's a riveting page turner with twists and turns galore, as the reader keep wondering what's coming next, all the way to the end.
Mark O. Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kratzy on October 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I got this book through and while this publisher is usually handling books with a religious angle, I have gotten some really good books for review. This book was described as the first book in a "thrilling new series about a secret war between the forces of faith and those who would destroy it." So I expected a religious angle, but more along the lines of the Ken Follett books, such as Pillars of the Earth. Ken Follet also has religious themes in his book, after all Pillars of the Earth is all about building a cathedral.
This book is definitely more explicit in terms of the religious tones than the books by Ken Follett, but it is still enjoyable and certainly does not feel like reading an updated version of the bible.

The book starts off with Bethany Barclay, a lawyer, trying to figure out what happened to Annabelle. Annabelle was Bethany's best friend and was murdered by unknown forces; the same forces that Bethany will have to deal with throughout the remainder of the book. As Bethany comes closer to determining what really led to Annabelle's death, she also becomes involved in the same struggle that caused her friend's death. What Bethany is up against is the century old battle between two organizations. The Garden is a group of individuals led by the Builder that are intent on protecting the church and religious freedom. On the other hand, the Wilderness are a group equally determined to destroy all religious faith. Bethany becomes involved in the ongoing fight between these groups and in the process assesses her own belief and character.

This book is definitely entertaining and does not have such strong religious overtones that it at any time appears to preach to the reader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By gayle pace on November 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover

This first novel of A.L.Shields (Stephen L. Carter, Professor of Law at Yale) is going to carry on in a wonderful series. The plot revolves around two secret societies opposing each other while involved in a religious battle. There is a wide variety of characters that is hard to know who is good and who is evil. The story moves at a fast pace which at times it is hard to keep the characters straight.It is a roller coaster ride with lots of twists and turns. The book is full of evil and good. The problem is, how do you know which is which?

Now we have two deaths. Six months ago, Bethany Barclay's best friend was murdered. Bethany now finds the body of her ex-boyfriend on the floor of her home. Alongside him is her gun. Her friend Annabelle had told Bethany something before she died. On the wall is painted a strange symbol that reminds her of what Annabelle had said. Bethany thinks the two murders are related but the police think she is the killer. She knows she must find the connection to the two murders but she must get away so she runs. On top of the murders she is now linked with a bombing. Can things get any worse? Bethany realizes she has been set up and there are several groups after her. One group is composed of individuals whose leader is the Builder. This group called The Garden are trying to protect the Church and the right to religion. Then we have the Wilderness who are just as determined to destroy religious faith. Why are they chasing Bethany? What has she done? Does she know something that they want or need? Bethany becomes involved in the fight between The Garden and the Wilderness. Does she have anyone to turn to? Her best friend and her ex-boyfriend are dead. Where does she go now?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Built By Story on January 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Church Builder by A.L. Shields

Honestly, it was the cover of this book that first intrigued me. After reading the brief description, I realized it was definitely a book I’d be interested in.

The Church Builder follows Bethany Barclay, a lawyer in a small town. However, despite her profession, this is not a court room drama. Rather, she gets pulled into a large conspiracy. She discovers her ex-boyfriend dead with a strange symbol near her. She believes the symbol relates to the murder of best friend, Annabelle, and flees, causing the FBI to label her as the main suspect. While on the run, Bethany is watched by two organizations, one bent on destroying religious faith, the other trying to save the church. As Bethany falls deeper into the conspiracy, she begins to wonder if she can truly trust anyone.

After an exciting opening, The Church Builder never seems to let up, with Shields keeping his foot on the gas through most of the story. Twists and turns come frequently. While this helps keep the story moving, there are times I kept mixing up characters because of how infrequently the appeared.

I found Bethany to be a strong and well-rounded character, but didn’t always connect with all of the supporting characters. Some of them felt a little too exaggerated while others felt underdeveloped. I also found myself growing a bit bored with the story when I reached the halfway point of the book. Despite the twists and turns, they did not consistently keep my attention. Additionally, while I thought Bethany was well developed, I also did not always find her interesting. I would have loved to see more done with the secret organizations, as they often received too little page time.
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