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on September 18, 2012
First of all, I will let you know that my review of the novel The Reason is definitely influenced by the place I am in at this time of my life. I have just finished spending two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital with my mother. The things we as a family witness and experienced during that time and after have caused us to be more aware of the miracles around us than we were before that.
Having said that, I really enjoyed The Reason, and would recommend it to everyone. There was one place where one of the characters acknowledges that they know who the carpenter really is, and then shortly afterwards they question him again, which threw me off but other than that, I found the story line flowed seamlessly, the plot and the characters were well devolped and believable.
I resonated with Alex's mother as she hopes for a miracle, just as we hoped for a miracle with our mom and realized together with Macey Lewis the oncologist James Lindy the churche's blind minister and the friends of Alex and his mom, in the novel, that truly, no matter how much we try on our own, we must come to the conclusion that God is ultimately in control! What a mighty God we serve!
No matter what you have experienced I think this novel will give you fresh hope and courage in God's Love.
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on September 8, 2012
I'm not a huge book reviewer and first heard about this through people at church. This is a beautiful story that is written well. When the cross outside of the church is destroyed during a storm, a handful of very realistic characters (it seemed like I actually knew them) are brought together to help fix it. Each has their own problems and are encouraged to "only believe" by a mysterious carpenter that is there to help. As the story progressed I became completely hooked. I must admit I shed some tears, but by the end of the book I was left in a great place. I would highly recommend this book to not only Christians but anyone who is looking for a great read.
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on September 21, 2012
I wanted to read "The Reason" for two simple reasons. First, one of the main characters was blind. My son is blind in one eye, so it struck my interest. Second, the story is set in Michigan. I live in Michigan and used to work in Downriver area from which Sirls hails.

But it wasn't for those two reasons alone that I truly enjoyed this book. Frequently, I put the book down to reflect on my own life, and how I would have reacted to certain situations. I laughed. I cried. The Reason captured my thoughts and attention from beginning to end.

STORYLINE: In a small town, Carlson, a church's wooden cross is obliterated by lightning strike. The church is too small in number and too poor to fix it. One of the members of the church meets some medical professionals and they endeavor to repair the cross. The small band of comrades elicits the help of a mysterious carpenter, who shows up unexpectedly at various times throughout the book. As the story proceeds, characters lives are changed as they struggle with items of faith and doubt, hope and reassurance.

MY STRUGGLES: I'll be honest, as I read the story, there was a part where a miraculous healing occurred. When my son recently lost his sight, I cried earnestly for God to heal him, to restore his sight. I had never cried so hard in my life. As the months progressed since that time, I had learned to trust God's sovereignty in allowing my son to endure this partial blindness. But when I got to the point in the story of a particular miracle, those emotions of heartache for my son's vision flooded me once again. I cried, "Why, God? Why do you heal only in fiction novels? Why can't we be those characters and see your healing?"

It was raw emotion. I know God heals in our world today. But I want healing brought to my son now. A repeated phrase in the book was, "Only believe". I cried, "God, I DO believe! Please heal him." I found myself facing the similar struggles as those of the main characters in The Reason.

THE MIRE OF LIFE: I've read plenty of Christian Fiction over the years, and am usually turned off by how the main characters act as though life is a bowl of peaches and cream. You've probably read those same fluffy novels, the ones where people have no real problems at all. The characters in The Reason are not like that. One is a suicidal drunk, one is a skeptical doctor, one is a proud doctor, another is a faithful mother who is smacked with doubt and fear. The characters take on a very real form from various walks of life. I appreciated that about this novel.

Sirls is a talented writer. One of the characters is a young boy. When writing from the boy's point of view, Sirls employs childish language. This literary freedom escorts the reader into the young boy's head, and sees the world the way he would have seen it.

STORY CONCLUSION: I wondered how Sirls would conclude The Reason. I was delightfully surprised when I got there, actually. It was not at all what I expected! The antagonist quietly faded into the background around two thirds of the way through the book and re-appeared at the end. In fact, he wasn't involved in the story much, but he had a profound impact on the characters. I found myself wishing someone would punch him in the nose, actually. Well, the end of the story leaves the reader to his/her own imagination. What happens to him once he receives a gift at the door from the "mystery man". Does he die? Is he introduced to forgiveness and change? I think Sirls concludes the book with the possibility of writing a sequel.

RECOMMENDATION: I absolutely enjoyed reading The Reason! It was a great, easy read. But it had profound affect on my thought processes in wading through some of life's mire. I highly recommend this one to all readers. It would even be a good one to share with friends who are not believers. Without question, I give The Reason 5 stars out of 5!

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Booksneeze in exchange for my unbiased review of it. I was not threatened or coerced or promised favors in exchange for a favorable review of it. All opinions are mine.
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on September 20, 2012
How often do we stumble upon a debut novel that touches the heart in the very deepest places? Maybe I was a little skeptical when I started reading this one. I wondered how a fictional story could evolve around a wooden cross that is splintered in half when it's struck by lightning. That mysterious cross and a string of miracles are just a small part of an amazing story that challenged me personally.

The Reason is so much more than a mystery of the cross, it is also a study of human nature and how we respond to hard times. It is about relationships with others and with God. Through an unlikely collection of characters that at first seemed to have nothing in common, a believable and loveable community of friends is brought together as they face their individual trials. Their faith is tested to the limit, and the test is heartbreaking as they struggle to understand.

I must admit that my copy of this book is now stained with tears. It might be a fictional novel, but it made me take an honest look at my own beliefs and even question why things happen the way they do.

The Reason has earned a place as one of my all time favourite books, and I will be purchasing several copies to share with friends ... and maybe even some strangers.

Review copy received courtesy of Book Sneeze, in exchange for my honest review.
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on September 29, 2012
William Sirls in his new book, "The Reason" published by Thomas Nelson takes us to into the lives of the residents of a small town in Michigan.

From the back cover: When facing the impossible, will you believe?

Storm clouds gather over a small Michigan town. As thunder shakes the sky, the lights inside St. Thomas Church flicker . . . and then go out.

All is black until a thick bolt of lightning slices the sky, striking the church's large wooden cross--leaving it ablaze and splintered in two.

When the storm ends--the search for answers begins.

James Lindy, the church's blind minister, wonders how his small congregation can repair the cross and keep their faith in the midst of adversity. And he hears the words "only believe."

Macey Lewis, the town's brilliant young oncologist, is drawn to Alex, a young boy who's recently been diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia. She puts her hope in modern medicine--yet is challenged to "only believe."

And Alex's single mom, who has given everything she can to her boy, is pleading with God to know the reason this is happening . . . to save her son. But she only hears silence and wonders how she can possibly "only believe."

The Reason is a milestone debut novel, opening with a thunderbolt and never letting up as it introduces us to everyday characters who are wrestling with the questions: Where is God when bad things happen? And does God ignore the prayers of the faithful? The answer each character receives will astound readers while offering an unforgettable call to hope, to change, to . . . only believe.

Sometimes all people need to stir up faith is a catalyst. In the case of this town in Michigan it is a lightning bolt that hits the church's cross and sets it afire during a storm. William Sirls has loaded "The Reason" with images that are allegorical. It doesn't take a lot of work to decipher the meaning of most of these images but it is so worth it. "The Reason" is filled with great characters brought to life in the hands of a very skillful author. Each character comes alive on the pages and we care about every single one of them, even the not so nice ones. "The Reason" is a marvelous read full of atmosphere and details. Mr. Sirls knows how to tell a story that is both interesting and thought-provoking and I recommend it highly.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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on September 19, 2012
A fairly large cast of characters,who are all drawn to the central focus, a Cross. A Cross in front of a small church in Michigan, which is suddenly hit by lightening and severely broken in a ferocious storm. This small church has no way to pay for the cross to be fixed either. As the story unfolds, everything all goes back in their lives to " Only Believe". Different people, different difficult situations but all given the same message, "Only Believe". The minister of the church is blind, and one of his congregation members is a single mother named Brooke and her 5 year old son Alex. Alex is soon to be diagnosed with leukemia. Macey Lewis is a successful Doctor in her field, a cancer doctor. These are only a few of the interesting people in this story, who begin to meet and their lives begin to be woven together. Believers and unbelievers alike come to the church to take a look at the Cross; some even come to help fix it. Right in the middle of it all is " Kenneth". Every where he goes, interesting, unusual things begin to happen. Part of this is a story of the fight to hold onto your faith in the midst of the impossible.

Well, written. Very well written. The people in the story, very interesting. You get drawn into their own personal stories. As usual for me, when there a lot of different people with their own stories being introduced, it takes me a little while to keep them all straight, but it was fairly easy to catch up and was well worth it. I give it 5 stars *****. Some may say that it was predictable in some ways, but while that may be true I still totally enjoyed it. Totally enjoyed the friendship between Alex and Charlie too. Who is Charlie? I guess you'll have to read it to find out!!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
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Late one stormy night, a small Michigan town is shaken to it's core when lighting strikes a church's fifteen foot wooden cross, splintering it in two and the upper section falls to the ground.

The congregation is small, and the blind minister, James Lindy, doesn't know how they are going to afford to repair the cross and keep their faith at the same time.

A young boy, Alex, who attends the church with his mother, Brooke, has been diagnosed with leukemia. A young oncologist, Macey Lewis, wants to help him with modern medicine, while Brooke puts her hope in faith.

Word of the mouth about the cross goes from one person to another, some believers and non-believers offered to donate money. Suddenly (within a few minutes), a man named Kenneth mysteriously (single handily) repaired the cross. How did this happen?

Within the first few pages of The Reason, I was hooked into the story about this small community. The author has created many likeable characters that readers can connect with. Despite being a Christian novel, the characters aren't perfect as they drink, smoke, etc. Overall, I enjoyed reading The Reason as it was different than any other Christian novel I have read. I recommend it to everyone!

*I would like to thank Thomas Nelson for sending me a free copy to review.
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on October 31, 2013
What a powerful book! Truly a heartwarming and emotional story.

Bizarre things were happening. A large wooden cross at a church is struck by lightning and seemed unfixable, but is suddenly repaired. Was it an act of God? A woman awakens from a five month coma - unusual, but not impossible - act of God? A blind pastor has his sight suddenly restored - act of God? There seems to be no logical reason for these happenings.

Alex, a five year old boy, is diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia and there seems to be no hope. The family is told to "only believe," that's all they have to do for Alex to get well and be healed from this horrible cancer. But why does a child have to suffer? Do things happen for a reason?

Faith is believing without seeing. "Only believe" is reiterated throughout this story. Our prayers will be answered in His perfect timing. Sometimes we don't receive the answer we want, but it will happen if it is God's will.

This is a story about faith and miracles. A compelling and inspirational read. I highly recommend. 5 stars.

Other reviews can be read on http://www.bookreviewsbywanda.blogspo... and Twitter @ghsmstudio.
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on September 14, 2012
When facing the impossible, will you believe?
Storm clouds gather over a small Michigan town. As thunder shakes the sky, the lights inside St. Thomas Church flicker . . . and then go out. All is black until a thick bolt of lightning slices the sky, striking the church's large wooden cross--leaving it ablaze and splintered in two. When the storm ends--the search for answers begins. James Lindy, the church's blind minister, wonders how his small congregation can repair the cross and keep their faith in the midst of adversity. And he hears the words "only believe. "Macey Lewis, the town's brilliant young oncologist, is drawn to Alex, a young boy who's recently been diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia. She puts her hope in modern medicine--yet is challenged to "only believe."And Alex's single mom, who has given everything she can to her boy, is pleading with God to know the reason this is happening . . . to save her son. But she only hears silence and wonders how she can possibly "only believe."The Reason is a milestone debut novel, opening with a thunderbolt and never letting up as it introduces us to everyday characters who are wrestling with the questions: Where is God when bad things happen? And does God ignore the prayers of the faithful? The answer each character receives will astound readers while offering an unforgettable call to hope, to change, to . . . only believe.
I must start out by saying I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would, this book is a rare gem of a book, one that makes you laugh then cry and you never, ever want to put it down. The reason is full of twist and turns throughout the story that make it almost seem like a mystery then a work of just fiction. I would recommend anyone reading this book, Christian or not it will strengthen you belief in miracles.
I was not made to write a good review, only to voice my honest opinion, I received this book for free for review by Thomas Nelson.
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on September 3, 2012
Outside a church in a small town in Michigan stands a 15 foot wooden cross. Brooke was cleaning inside the church with her 5-year-old son, Alex, when the lights went out. "It was deadly still outside. The air was thick and had a strange smell to it. The clouds were now a dark gray and the sky behind them an eerie crayon green, casting down a steady shadow of the same color over everything she could see."

The thunder rolled closer, getting louder. Lightning striking down, lighting up the church for an instant. Brooke glanced outside to see a reddish-orange flash followed by thunder so loud it shook the church.

The storm was over as fast as it came. Brooke and Alex stepped outside to see Pastor Jim on his knees in front of the cross. Lightning had struck it in two, the upper section lying in a puddle on the lawn.

~

Brooke and Alex met Dr. Macey Lewis at the East Shore Community Hospital. Alex has not been feeling well for a while and getting many nosebleeds. Alex told Macey about the cross and Macey said she would help fix it. Her friend and nurse, Kaitlyn, offered to help as well. Dr. Zach Norman offered to help as well, though his intentions were selfish. He wanted to look good in front of Kaitlyn, who he used to date and who he wants back. A construction worker who was working on the expansion of the hospital stopped by Macey's office and offered his help. Everyone agree to meet at the cross after Sunday service at the church.

Macey and Kaitlyn decided to attend the church service. Zach was a nonbeliever. As everyone gathered around the cross and saw the extent of the damage, they knew there would be no way to fix it, but it was still worth a try. They left Kenneth to change out of their church clothes. They spoke about how they thought they would not be able to help and all offered to pitch in money to buy a new cross when they looked out the window to see that the cross had been fixed.

It was a miracle to some and unbelievable to others. How could one man fix an unfixable cross in a matter of minutes? Not only was the cross heavy, but also stuck in the ground when the mud dried after the storm. The two fire-burnt ends of the cross could no longer fit together like two puzzle pieces. Who is Kenneth and what did he do?

I GIVE THIS BOOK: 5 out of 5 stars

In the beginning of the book, I was having trouble keeping track of who was who. Was Macey the doctor and Kaitlyn the nurse? Which one dated Dr. Zach? Once I got the characters down, it was smooth sailing.

This book is a must read! It made me laugh, get angry, become frustrated and heartbroken. Keep the tissues around; this book will make you cry. These characters become a little family through the instances in the story and the book makes you feel like you are a part of that family as well. This book will leave you wondering, confused, and second-guessing with a sense of unbelievable.

I cannot say much more about this book to show you how great is it. There are no words. Just know that your faith may be challenged. You may cry. And you just might love this book as much as I do. If you only believe.

If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!

Until next time, take life one page at a time!
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