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The Church Builder Paperback – 8 Oct 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (8 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310338611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310338611
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.9 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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By Iola on 19 Nov. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Six months ago, Bethany Barclayâ(tm)s best friend was murdered. Now Bethany comes home to find the body of her ex-boyfriend on her floor, her gun on the floor, and a strange symbol painted on the wallâ"a symbol that reminds her of something Annabelle said before she died. Are the two deaths related? Bethany believes so, but the police are convinced sheâ(tm)s responsible for Kenâ(tm)s death. She goes on the run to try and find the link between the two murders, but things get harder when sheâ(tm)s implicated in a bombing as well.

Itâ(tm)s quickly apparent hat Bethany has been set up. Itâ(tm)s also apparent that there is more than one group of people after her. What isnâ(tm)t immediately not clear is why. What does she know? And who can she trust? Her search leads her first to Chicago, The World Foundation for the Fulfilment of Godâ(tm)s Personal Plan and Martin Potus, another ex-boyfriend who is now leader of Godâ(tm)s Planners, a possible cult.

The Church Builder is the first novel in what promised to be an exciting series from AL Shields (better known as Stephen L Carter, Professor of Law at Yale). Itâ(tm)s tightly-plotted with two secret societies fighting for opposing sides in a religious battle, a range of ambiguous characters (itâ(tm)s hard to tell who is good and who Bethany needs to be suspicious of) and a fast pace that sometimes makes it even more difficult to keep the characters straightâ"not to mention their loyalties.

The Church Builder disobeys several 'laws' of modern fiction with its distant POV, switching between past and present tense for no apparent reason and an over-reliance on telling (especially at the beginning), but somehow it works, for me at least (even though my mind says it shouldnâ(tm)t).
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Format: Paperback
This fiction book looked interesting and I wanted some light relief this summer! The story was a very engaging one about a battle between light and darkness, set in contemporary society. A thriller, it is largely well-conceived - save for the ending. I have to admit that I was deeply disappointed by this ending: it just did not seem to be fully finished! I suppose that the author is leaving space for the story's continuation in a series...

Whilst I'd like to be more positive about this story, bad endings really do tend to overshadow the rest of the material for me and, unfortunately, this made me wonder why I had spent so much time reading the book. This is a shame because the rest of the writing was quite engaging.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 36 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Ken Follett light - a religious thriller that makes you rethink your faith 11 Oct. 2013
By kratzy - Published on
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. It is well written and combines faith and action in a book that can be described as page-turner. That being said, the religious angle and the role of faith in a person's life is definitely more pronounced in these books that in other books that deal with religious struggles. So be ready to maybe be enticed to examine your own faith while reading the book. I enjoyed the book and found it entertaining.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through in exchange for an honest review. The post is reflecting solely my opinion and has not been influenced by booksneeze or any third party.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
GOOD vs. EVIL 28 Nov. 2013
By gayle pace - Published on
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? She is trying to come to terms with her beliefs and her own character. She heads first to Chicago. What happens next is in your hands. The book goes against the norm for fiction. There is a distinct point of view, between past and present. I didn't quite understand why but it didn't change the way I felt about reading the book. If you are interested in fast paced, mystery, and conflict you will definitely like this book. It may make you step back and reflect on your own beliefs.

I would give this book 4 STARS.

I was given a complimentary copy of THE CHURCH BUILDER from the author A.L.Shields for my uncompensated review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Tale of Intrigue 24 Nov. 2013
By Rev. Dave - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Don’t let the title throw you off. The Church Builder is not a inspirational story about a pastor starting a new church. Rather, it is a tale of suspense, intrigue, and mystery as Bethany Barclay, a young, small town lawyer, finds herself in the middle of a game of chess. And she is one of the pawns it seems. When the son of her wealthiest client is found dead in her kitchen, Bethany becomes the prime suspect for that and a number of other crimes. She goes on the run to prove her innocence, which involves putting together the puzzle pieces of the last few months of her now deceased best-friend’s life. She soon discovers she is in the middle of something much bigger than she can comprehend.

A.L. Shields (the pen name of Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter) masterfully weaves a story with plenty of twists and turns that leaves the reader on the edge of their seat. My only complaint is that it ends too soon (after 400-some pages). I’m hoping the story will continue in another book.

I received a copy of The Church Builder from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
average 20 Jan. 2014
By Built By Story - Published on
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. 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.

By time I finished the book I thought it was average. It started strong and did keep up a reasonable pace. However, the characters I thought had the most promise were not used much and the story was longer than needed.

3/5 Stars

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers and Zondervan as part of 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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A High Adventure Action Thriller 26 Oct. 2013
By VicG - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A. L. Shields in his new book, “The Church Builder” Book One in The Church Builder series published by Thomas Nelson introduces us to Bethany Barclay.

From the back cover: One group focused on destroying all religion. One group struggling to preserve the church. One woman searching for the truth.

The evidence is against her. The FBI is right behind her. A malevolent killer has her in his sights. And as Bethany digs deeper into a complex web of lies surrounding her ties to the murder of her client’s son, she remains unaware of the real battle in front of her.

She thinks her friend Annabelle was killed because of what she learned about a rumored first-century Christian artifact. What Bethany doesn’t know is that Annabelle died in the crossfire between two shadowy organizations that have been doing battle for centuries. The Wilderness, wealthy and vast, is dedicated to the destruction of all religious faith. The Garden, a group of seven members led by a man they call the Builder, carries on a grim, secret struggle to protect the church.

Only a few in the Garden realize that there’s more at stake than the artifact the Wilderness is seeking. But as Bethany discovers that she’s a tiny part of a larger war, can she trust the Builder to save her? Or will he sacrifice her for the sake of the cause?

Bethany Barclay is an attorney and the death of her friend, Annabelle, bothers her so she sets out to check into it. That is when Bethany becomes a target. There are two factions in the world: the Garden and the Wilderness. The Garden guards people’s religious freedom, The Wilderness wants a world based on reason, and will undermine faith any way they can. Bethany is framed for murder and is on the run, not only from the FBI but from assassins from The Wilderness. ”The Church Builder” is a thriller, which simply means that everyone is in grave danger from, practically, the beginning. Mr. Shields has given us a really complex mystery and sections of story that will chill you. ”The Church Builder” is full of twists and turns, with a few red herrings thrown in just to cause confusion. Bethany is a warm and likable character and we get engaged in her life. This is an exciting book, extremely well paced and suspenseful. I am so looking forward to the next book in this series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson 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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