Heartache and Sin by Charles Soto Reviewed By Fran Lewis

January 14, 2010 at 1:39 am (Religous Cults) (, , , , , , , , )

Heartache and Sin by Charles Soto

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Heartache is defined as anguish, sorrow or distress. Sin is defined as an act that is regarded by theologians as a transgression of God’s will. There are so many sins and so much heartache within this novel that you will come to truly understand their meanings and much more. A group of people, who are easily swayed, easily manipulated and who are looking for something to believe in whether it is honest, true or read and you have the breeding ground for anyone who wants to brainwash and deceive people. Pastor Ryan who prays runs the Church of Resurrection preys on the minds, vulnerability and poor self-esteem of his congregation, wife, and young women. He convinces them that he a man who can foretell their needs, future and predict world events and more. Without him and his guidance they could not exist, live or repent the terrible sins that he claims they committed. This brings me to my review of Heartache and Sin by Charles Soto. This novel brings to light many issues that are controversial, will create strong discussions and possibly arguments and disagreements when used as a basis for a book club or family discussion. This is a book whose messages need to be heard.

Steven and Karen Wheaton live in Havana with his family and friends. Karen is diagnosed with diabetes and is told not to conceive. Upset with the diagnosis and other conditions that she is made aware of, she falls prey to the teachings, preaching and voice of a corrupt, sinister and deceitful man. Preacher Ryan preys on the minds of his congregants claiming that with his prayer and the will of God, he will make it rain and the drought will end.

Brainwashing is something that many people who want to believe in something and want to come true fall victim to. Karen is one who is innocent, sweet and believes the words of this man and so do many others, as you will learn when reading this book. Added to this her husband; Steven and his two brothers knowing that he is a fraud, use the Internet to bring him down. Confronting Pastor Ryan, Steven gets him to admit the truth and now he must fight to save his wife from this man and many others too.

Karen believes that Pastor Ryan is the answer to the prayers of the people of Havana. No one bothered to find out why he left his previous congregation or what he did to the young women there. Abuse whether physical, verbal or sexual is unconscionable and needs to be punished no matter who the source is or the reasons why they are committing the abuse. Pastor Ryan is guilty of all three and justifies it in his own mind and to his victims that he is right and they are worthless and deserve what he decides to hand them. Frightening and scary since a Preacher or any member of the clergy is suppose to guide, listen, comfort and provide guidance to help people that are in trouble or need someone to talk with you realize that this man is nothing but pure evil. But, Pastor Ryan does not fit the definition a clergyman and although Steven knows he is a fraud he needs to tread carefully before exposing him and make sure that he has the proof or he may lose Karen and a lot more.

What is unique about this book is that the author has the characters reveal their inner most thoughts and explain what they need to do in order to survive. Mary, the Pastor’s wife gets the strength and courage to fight and leave the confines of her prison.

The author speaks to the reader as he relates what is in the character’s thoughts and mind as Steven forges a plan to unfold and reveal the deceptions created by this Pastor and the many inhumane things he has done and is still doing. Berating and humiliating his wife and physically and mentally abusing her and praying on the minds of bereaved women he increases his flock of unsuspecting women on the pretense of trying to help them. Using the Internet and the postal system he has devised a diabolical plan that needs to be stopped. But, the worst has yet to come and his cruelty has not reached its peak as the reader will learn and author will impart as he reveals what Steven knows in his heart is happening and must be done.

Karen is easily swayed as her the young women that are now in the living in the family quarters. Their clouded vision and poor perception and need to feel wanted, hope and comfort allows this horrific man to prey on their weaknesses and things will only get worse. Pastor Ryan does not care that he humiliates, who he deceives and how he goes about funding his own treasury and confining those to his compound who fall under his spell and believe he is there help them redeem their sins, find solace and peace within his congregation. Steven, Anne Marie his sister-in-law have witnessed first hand what they know to be the truth and are frightened by the blinding light that encompasses the compound and the people within it. Knowing that he even imprisoned his wife and abused her physically makes him and this family moves ahead to try and stop him. But, when the unthinkable happens and Karen gets pregnant the course of action that the Pastor wants and Steven’s not only conflict but also jeopardize more than their marriage but her life.

Believing himself to be the true and only prophet and the hand of God, this evil man controls everything that oversees and all he sees.  Feeding, as the author puts it, the starving minds of this improvised county. He needs praise, power, to instill fear, false hope and total domination of his congregation. With no respect for women as I can see it, and trying to keep his wife under his total control, Mary finally learns how to play his game in order not to be the object of his ire. But, can she? What is his true ambition? Will she survive the abuse?

This brings us to another controversial issue that the author skillfully includes in this bone chilling and thought -provoking book. The serious issue of Abortion and whether Karen, who has diabetes should consider a full term pregnancy and the Pastor’s crusade to destroy the abortion clinic in Fargo and the women who have had abortions in it.

 An abortion that occurs naturally without any medical intervention when there is a physical problem with a pregnancy is called a spontaneous abortion or a miscarriage, while an abortion that is the result of any procedure done by a licensed physician or someone under the supervision of a licensed physician to purposefully end a pregnancy is called an induced abortion as defined in your dictionary.com. This issue becomes the basis for the end of the book and what finally happens between Karen and Steven and their unborn child. The Pastor goes on a crusade to protest against the clinic and abortion and will do nothing short of destroying the women and the people within it starting with the doctor and his family. Using Karen in his propaganda to fight against abortion even though she should not go to full term and will not change her mind, the Pastor hides his true colors to in order to achieve his goals and pretends concern for her.

What happens will give you pause for much thought about the issues that are important in this novel. A man whose goal was to destroy, control and deceive others for his own purposes. Destruction of lives, towns, people and communities all because of one man. What does happen to Karen? Will Mary and her sons ever are free of the horrific hold the Pastor has on her and others? Will the truth about him ever be told and who will pay with their own heartaches and sins? I recommend this book as one of my best picks for the 2010 and I have read more than 25 since the New Year.

I am honored to have reviewed this book and hope to review Pride and a Prayer the author’s new book.

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Gone Away Into The Land By Jeffery B Allen

October 28, 2009 at 9:12 pm (children, faith, family, love) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

John with Flag Staff

Shifting in and out of reality, this inspirational story follows 12-year old John Greber, who with his mother, Ellie, suffer abuse at the hands of John’s father, whom he calls “The Beast.” The Beast abandons his family and kidnaps John’s six-year old sister, Marny. John vows revenge as he seeks to confront his father and rescue his sister.

Jeffrey B. Allen takes us on a fantastic journey into a Land where John and his mother become embroiled in a Civil War that could destroy the Land and the World, so John must tread carefully. This coming-of-age novel travels a totally different path than expected. With both poignancy and adventure, it proves that the strength of the human spirit can overcome all odds.


“There is a faint dream-like quality to this book, a metaphoric attribute as it deals with themes of friendship, loss, violence, courage, greed, innocence, selfishness and love. It is an adventure, an allegory, a bittersweet fantasy filled with subtle meaning and depth that never loses its appeal. GoneAway Into the Land is a captivating book with a creative narrative that quietly lures a reader into an original world that is fully realized and thoroughly absorbing. It transcends into a superb piece of fiction, and I recommend it highly.” – A.F. Stewart, author


Born: New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1953.

Jeffrey B. Allen graduated High School from Central Bucks East in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It was 1972.

He studied art at Bloomsburg University for two years before attending Boston University where he majored in European history and minored in set design and fine art. A one year hiatus in the form of a hitchhiking trip helped appease his restless and inquisitive nature. Allen attributes that early journey to laying the foundations for his strong views on politics and religion. Later, he traveled through Europe and Mexico forming some strong opinions concerning the relationship between history, politics and religion. “Those years of learning, searching, and questioning have contributed greatly to the philosophical depth of my writing.”

Allen graduated from Millersville State University in architectural design and taught for two years while also working toward his Masters Degree at Temple University in Philadelphia. After a brief teaching career, he created his own architectural woodworking firm in 1981.

By 1982, Allen was owner and president of Artistic Furnishings Incorporated, a design house and a manufacturer of custom architectural millwork. The company employed designers, artisans and support staff. His work can be seen throughout eastern Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey in private residences and businesses. During those years he traveled at home and abroad and studied the architectural works, both classical and modern, within every city he visited. “The inventiveness of the architect and the genius of the structural engineer always amazed me; so many of the nuances of history can be discovered within the architecture of civilized man.”

In 1996 Allen received his fifty-ton US Coastguard captain’s license and followed that with extensive sailing adventures and chartered voyages. In 2006 Allen received the Holt Businessman-of-the-Year award. In 2007 Allen sold his architectural woodworking business and soon after published his first Novel, GoneAway Into the Land. He writes as the Interior Design Specialist for the Lehigh Valley Examiner and contributes articles as an expert author for publication through Ezine Articles and other internet sites. Allen is currently working with a new publisher and expects his second novel, Beneath the Quarry Waters, to be published in early 2010.

Today, Jeffrey Allen resides in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he consults in the field of interior space planning, although most of his time is devoted to writing. 

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Identity Crisis by Author Debbi Mack

September 28, 2009 at 7:16 pm (Crime Novels, mystery, Suspense Novels) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Identity Crisis_ Book CoverIDENTITY CRISIS introduces attorney Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae. A simple domestic abuse case turns deadly when the alleged abuser is killed and Sam’s client disappears. When a friend asks Sam to find Melanie Hayes, the Maryland attorney is drawn into a complex case of murder and identity theft that has her running from the Mob, breaking into a strip club and forming a shaky alliance with an offbeat private investigator to discover the truth about Melanie and her ex-boyfriend.

With her career and life on the line, Sam’s search takes her from the blue-collar Baltimore suburbs to the mansions of Gibson Island. Along the way, she learns that false identities can hide dark secrets, and those secrets can destroy lives.






Debbi Mack has worked as an attorney, a news wire reporter for Dow Jones and a reference librarian with the Federal Trade Commission. IDENTITY CRISIS is her first novel. Her short stories have appeared in the CHESAPEAKE CRIMES mystery anthology and in The Back Alley, an online publication at http://BackAlleyWebzine.com. She will also have a short story featured in CHESAPEAKE CRIMES 4, to be published by Wildside Press in March 2010. Along with writing crime fiction, Debbi works as a freelance writer/researcher and a volunteer awareness advocate for dystonia, a rare movement disorder. A native of Queens , New York , Debbi and her husband live in Columbia , Maryland with their three cats.


From MidWest Book Review, January 2006.
“In this quick moving novel we meet Sam McRae, an attorney who is about to have her life shifted in ways she never imagined when her domestic case turns into a murder investigation and somehow she is smack in the middle of it. Attorney turns investigator in this swift moving adventurous read with curving twists and winding mystery that literally leave you scratching your head and wondering just who is the villain.

“Author, Debbi Mack, does a great job drawing you into the lives of her characters with vivid description of their physical appearance, their emotional conflicts and yet keeps you in the shadows trying to figure out what part they play in the murder and mystery set before you.

“A very good read awaits you in this work and perhaps the thought that you too could have your identity stolen and the ramifications could be deadly. This was a smart move on the author to use a problem that we all can identify with and work it so well into a top-notch mystery read. Great book, recommended.”

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer
MidWest Book Review

From New Mystery Reader, September 2005.
“Samantha McRae is a young public defender whose normal cases are DUIs, petty theft or internal family discord. However, one such client takes her on a car chase, a run-in with the mob, and encounters with several branches of federal law enforcement as well as the local police.

“An ordinary seeming girl who works in a bank disappears when her ex-boyfriend is found dead. The police and feds are looking for her and after a thorough questioning by them, Sam is also on the hunt for her client.

Sam checks all the places the girl is likely to be and doesn’t find her so after a call that alerts her the girl is heading west, she sets off to follow the bus she’s on. Unfortunately, the mob and a private detective are following Sam.

“This is a story with plenty of action, a well-drawn plot and a set of interesting characters. Talented Debbi Mack lets the reader step into the shoes of an ordinary public defender and experience the excitement and danger of a case that is far from ordinary. Recommended as a fun read.


Anne K. Edwards


From Mystery Lover’s Corner, February 2006.

“Sam McRae takes on a simple domestic abuse case. But it turns out to be anything but simple.

“A friend asks Sam to find Melanie Hayes. This pulls Sam into a case with identity theft and murder. She even finds herself running from the mob. She makes an alliance with an offbeat PI in her attempt at getting the truth about Melanie and her boyfriend.

“When she finds Melanie, Sam has to convince her to trust Sam. Then Sam has to find a way to keep Melanie safe until everything can be cleared up. This isn’t always easy.

“The story is set in and around Baltimore. There are many twists and turns in the plot that will keep you guessing right up to the end. I really enjoyed this book and found it hard to put it down.

“I highly recommend you read this book. I can’t wait for the next Sam McRae mystery.”

Dawn Dowdle


From Roundtable Reviews, September 2005.

“Identity Crisis grips you from the first page. Sam is a likeable heroine–smart, feisty and determined.”

Author reviews:

“When I think identity theft, I groan. I think paperwork, phone calls to banks, boring people looking up information. Absolutely NOT the case with Debbi Mack’s Identity Crisis.

“Identity Crisis is not just about identity theft- it’s also a murder mystery and mob story, a trifecta of entertainment. The novel follows Sam McRae, a struggling private attorney handling what should be a simple domestic abuse case. When her client, the domestic violence victim, is suspected of murdering the abuser, Sam is determined to clear her name. Not such an easy thing, with a long list of suspects.

“Sam is an engaging character, flawed but with a good heart. I would have liked to have learned even more about her, and am glad to hear there are more books in the series to come.

“Just as engaging as the characters, Debbi Mack uses her settings like another character in her book. I have never been to Baltimore, but I could see the neighborhoods, the city, and even the diners as if I was there.

“With an intriguing plot that seems to be one thing and ends up being another, the book is like a treasure hunt, with clues left like bread crumbs until the surprise whodunnit is revealed. This is a good read, one to keep on your shelf to read again so you can realize what you missed the first time around.”

— Holli Castillo

Author of Gumbo Justice

“If you enjoy realistic legal thrillers—and dread the thought of ‘identity theft’ striking home—Identity Crisis will be a genuine treat. Debbi Mack has used her own experience as an attorney to craft a twisty yet completely credible plot. And her protagonist, Stephanie Ann ‘Sam’ McRae, is a perfect example of what every client should hope for in an advocate: a professional who’s willing to take risks both inside AND outside the courtroom.”

— Jeremiah Healy

Author of Rescue, Turnabout and The Only Good Lawyer

“Identity Crisis is a well-written and well-plotted mystery which introduces lawyer-sleuth Sam McRae. She’s an exciting new protagonist mystery readers will want to get to know.”

— Louise Titchener

Author of Malpractice, Burned in Baltimore and Buried in Baltimore

Identity Crisis is available for sale online, in print and as an e-book, from Lulu.com at http://www.lulu.com/content/3923913. Lulu often runs 10% off specials, for customers who use the proper discount code at checkout, so check Debbi’s blog at http://midlistlife.wordpress.com/ for the latest news on these specials and that month’s promotional code.

Her Web site is http://www.debbimack.com and her blog is http://midlistlife.wordpress.com.

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