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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a Cleithrophobe
A couple of weeks ago Amazon had recommended "The Fire Watcher" to me so, as always, I looked into it. I'm always interesting in new authors and what they have to offer. What I found was a book that had 33 five star reviews (and nothing less, which is unheard of) but none of them were "Amazon Verified Purchases" so being the inquisitive soul that I am I questioned my...
Published on January 13, 2011 by Steve Taylor

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected.
I was so very excited to start this book, but I was about 20% through when I realized it wasn't what I expected. The book was listed under Amazon's horror fiction, but it should have been listed under Religious fiction. I don't have a problem with that, just not what I was expecting. I finished the book, and it was a good book. The story had an impact and a good message.
Published 18 months ago by djpayn


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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a Cleithrophobe, January 13, 2011
By 
Steve Taylor (Only visiting this planet) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
A couple of weeks ago Amazon had recommended "The Fire Watcher" to me so, as always, I looked into it. I'm always interesting in new authors and what they have to offer. What I found was a book that had 33 five star reviews (and nothing less, which is unheard of) but none of them were "Amazon Verified Purchases" so being the inquisitive soul that I am I questioned my findings. Chip graciously responded with a challenge... offering me a free copy as long as I gave him an honest review. I accepted and said I would buy another copy if I liked the book. I ordered the other copy prier to writing this review.

Many things stand out while reading this book. First of all the writing is superb. One would never know this was an author's first novel much less the author disguises himself as an electrician during the day. Chip says he took ten years to write it and I believe him. It's very well thought out and executed. Even with all the flashbacks the reader is never confused or lost. The characters are real people, rich and deep, not just names on a page. They are people just like you and me. Most of my reading has characters who are looking for serial killers, stopping terrorists, shooting star ships or riding on giant eagles. The Fire Watcher is made up of blue-collar workers in a realistic setting with real life situations. In my opinion capturing real life is much harder then simply writing actor's lines on paper.

A major aspect of this story bothered me. I suffer from Cleithrophobia and this story hit me in a most uncomfortable way. Small spaces don't bother me but being trapped in them does. Our main character, Jake, is locked in a small room underground. He is there for a reason and we are there right with him. We see his life and as we do we see our own. My life paralleled his more then I would like to admit but then I think it will affect everyone is some way, if not his, then the life of someone around him. Jake runs from God into the arms of Jim Beam and becomes addicted to alcohol, while being judged by others who over-eat, smoke like chimneys, cheat on their spouse etc. These characters are real. One may be you.

I only give five stars to books that are life changing. This book clearly falls into that category and I am not giving this rating because of pressure from Chip. The message of a loving God that seeks after us when we leave Him is very powerful. To what extent will Jesus go to find His lost sheep? What circumstances will He create and whom will he send to draw us back to Himself. He does not force us or bypass our free will but He does reach out to us with His love and forgiveness. All we have to do is answer the call. The question is "Will Jake answer it?" The ending may not be what you would expect but it is fantastic non-the-less.

The story is never preachy or contrived. The tale flows naturally and always puts the reader right in the middle of the situation. Approximately 33 pages in the beginning are all naration. No one talks. It worked for me but if it bothers you, do not give up. It's all worth it.

Now for the problems with the book. (Yes, it's not perfect) Catholicism plays a big part in this story. While I think Chip was gracious to the organization I think it was not very accurate. I was born and raised a devout Catholic. I firmly believe that it is a cult. It took years of man-made religion, drinking, drugs and near death before I came to Christ. It took someone outside the church to tell me the Gospel because no one inside knew what it was. This may offend some people but if you've ever shared the Gospel with a devout Catholic you'll know what I mean. Most of my family are still trapped, rejecting the clear Truth found in Scripture. I could go on for hours here but I wont. In the story we are exposed to confession (to a priest), novenas, mass, the rosary and even Ash Wednesday. If one were not familiar with Catholicism they would think these are innocent events but when compared the God's Word they are very dangerous. I'll leave it at that. Don't skip this book because of this, just be aware. Dave Hunt has a good book on the subject "A Woman Rides the Beast" if you are interested in reading more. For the record I do believe there are Catholics that are saved but not because of their church but in spite of it.

There needs to be unity in the body of Christ and maybe that was Chip's message but the way I see it unity needs to be based on Truth not compromise. Sure there are small differences and always will be but major Biblical foundations must be the same otherwise the unity will be fake and the world will be deceived.

One more thing I found odd but I can't mention much about it here because it would give too much away. Anytime I read something that an author writes I wonder if it's his opinion or that of the character. In this case I wonder if Chip believes in eternal punishment. The topic is brought up but not answered. Maybe when you read the book you'll catch what I mean.

In my closing statement I'll say this. READ THIS BOOK. Ignore the back cover synopsis because it's much better then that. It really is a page-turner and hard to put down. You laugh, cry and be moved. (Okay, I didn't cry but you might). I can't wait another 10 years for Chip Hill to pen another book so I hope he gets crackin'..

Note: This book is really heavy. I kid you not. It's twice the weight of another book the same size. Could be because the paper is a higher quality or maybe the gravitational pull of the earth is stronger at my house. Good news is it just came out for the Kindle. I heard those e-readers are very light.

1 Star = Pathetic
2 Stars = Fair
3 Stars = Good
4 Stars = Excellent
5 Stars = Life changing
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Read From Page One Through the Epilogue, August 12, 2010
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
I found this book to be a patchwork quilt of people, stories and human conditions that were so seamlessly woven together that resulting connection among the characters brought you great comfort. This is an unexpected level of craftsmanship for a first-time author, with a story that touches your heart and compells you from the very first page to keep moving forward to see how each and every story-line wraps up. The writing is detailed, imaginative, soulful; you find yourself emoting right along with the characters in the book. Further, the messages of the story are well played out without pigeonholing this story into one particluar genre. The Fire Watcher is a mystery, love story, story of redemption...it fits well with many interests.

The background of the story held particular interest to me as I found myself trying to ascimliate the real from the fiction. I liked the pace of the story and the alternating of present and past. My only regret was the conclusion. I would be more specific, but I can't give away the ending.

The Fire Watcher, by Chip Hill, is a great read that will hold your interest and challenge your heart from page one through the Epilogue. If this is Mr. Hill's first novel, I can only imagine what lies ahead for this young author.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book, August 7, 2010
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
I found myself unable to put this book down! The style & sequencing in which it was written, following multiply story lines, made it captivating. I felt like I knew the characters and couldn't wait to see how their lives played out. The complete heart change experienced by each throughout the book, as well as the unexpected turns the story took, made this a book definitely worth reading. I have reccommended this book to everyone I know!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious Page-Turner. Well Done!, September 17, 2010
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
I'm kind of a bibliophile, I will admit. I've worked in a public library for 14 years, I read an average of three books a week, and my personal library takes up more than two rooms of my home. I've read a lot of books. So when I say this book was gripping, dark, sometimes downright heartbreaking, but ultimately very uplifting, it comes from a background of reading the works of all kinds of "master" authors.

This book stands as an excellent first effort, without any of the "training wheels" feel that many first novels have. The characters are solid people, with very human reactions to uncomfortably human traits and weaknesses. The plot fits together neatly, not in the fake way that formula writers do, but solidly and properly, like a piece of furniture made by a master craftsman.

This book will grab your attention, make you sweat, make you smile, (at times possibly disgust you,) break your heart, and in many other ways MAKE you care. This book does the job. You'll be different after you read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, engaging, hard to put down, August 10, 2010
By 
K. Z. Conrad (Hagerstown, Md.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
This is an excellent novel - well-written, with multiple story lines that are woven together seamlessly. Much of the story is told in flashbacks, but the author transitions from present to past and back to present so deftly that the reader is never confused, just pulled deeper into the story, which is captivating, poignant, and hard to put down. Mr. Hill's writing is crisp and fast-paced, and he really knows how to weave a story. Hard to believe this is Mr. Hill's first novel. I certainly look forward to reading more of his work. Great job, great novel!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read in a LONG time, September 2, 2010
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
I'm an avid reader, so I read a LOT of books. Most sit in a certain room, where they get read a little at a time, as time permits. The Fire Watcher was a wholly different animal. From the minute I started reading, I couldn't stop, and would have gone from cover to cover in one sitting had time allowed. As it was I finished the book in less than 24 hours. Couldn't wait to get home from work and finish it. Every character is fleshed out perfectly, but without the superlative use of describing everything about them. Instead it's done so with their reactions, discussions, experiences, and memories. Each storyline in the book, each character, all woven so perfectly together. The story moves back and forth between present and past seamlessly, with no jarring, "Wait a minute, when is this" effect from other stories I've read which try to do the same.

The author writes as if this is his 30th novel, crafting the story perfectly, causing you to become emotionally involved with each character, and even to the point of forcing you to change how you feel about certain characters, as you learn more about them. I'm chomping at the bit to read more by Chip Hill. EXCELLENT page turn, you will NOT be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story - flows smoothly - great read!, August 16, 2010
By 
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
This story will capture your attention from the opening page and hold it until you come to the final ending. I was impressed with how seamlessly the author put together the characters lives and how well-developed the characters were. You truly get to know all of the characters and understand their lives and struggles they go through. It is a gripping tale of a man who has lost much, but has so much to gain.

If you are looking for a book for the beach, or a lazy weekend, or practically anything, I highly recommend this one. It will not take you long to complete it, because you will continuosly want to keep reading to find out what is happening next.

The only downfall is being finished...I look forward to more from the author!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic page turner!!, August 15, 2010
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
I read the last 20 chapters of this book in one sitting! I had to find out what would happen to the characters in the next chapter and then in the chapter after that. The character development of Jake and Porter was truly unique and fascinating. I love how the author was able to seamlessly move from present to past and back again with each of the main characters. The writing easily allowed me to draw pictures in my mind of Jake's "days". Jake's struggle with alcoholism (and his faith) opened my eyes to what the disease can do to families. I can't wait to read more from this author!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll find yourself..., February 19, 2011
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
Somewhere in this book you'll find a microcosm of your own experience. No matter where you've been or where you're headed; lost, found, or somewhere in between, Chip Hill has it penned. I was thoroughly captivated by Chip's ability to use the main character's gut-wrenching and heart-breaking human experiences, and the other characters' interactions with him, to convey humanity's common need of love, communication, understanding, and hope.

Without spewing personal experiences into this review, I can just say this book brought tears to my eyes and a confirmation that although I may not understand the actions and motives of others - even when they are so hurtful and destructive - there is an underlying cause and my job is not to judge, but to be compassionate.

Without being preachy, Chip shepherds the reader into wanting to be a be a better person, into wanting to reach out to others and above all helps us remember that there is One who totally understands how we got to the place we're in and how we can move forward from there.

It's a book for ANY kind of reader on life's journey.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping story, solid writing! Read it!, September 7, 2010
This review is from: The Fire Watcher (Paperback)
As an electrical engineer, this book fit perfectly into my interests, but you certainly don't have to be an engineer to appreciate the gripping story line and Mr. Hill's exceptional skill at character development. Due to a busy schedule, I had to read this book in short spurts when all I wanted to do was keep turning the pages to see what would happen next! It was very hard to quit each night and move on to the other things that I had to do. When I read the last page, I really felt that the story ended just as it should and I was able to set the book down feeling completely satiated. The ending doesn't leave anything hanging out there where you have to guess at what happens next. Well done, Chip! I am already looking forward to your next novel, because you have proven without a doubt that you can write as well, if not better, as the big-name authors.
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The Fire Watcher
The Fire Watcher by Chip Hill
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