Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Penniless Princess: Completed Critique

If your dreams live or die, you’ll be…God’s little princess.

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Persecuted: Completed Critique

“…by the grace of God, you were able to bring yourself up from the depths of degradation and form a wonderful ministry that has spoken the truth to millions of people.  Now, those who believe in nothing must bring you down…”

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TEoD: Chapter 22: Problem Solved

An utterly pointless chapter that goes absolutely nowhere?  Nah, cannot possibly be!

We are introduced to Fasial Shadid and Nassar Abdoo.  Don’t get attached.  They are professor and assistant at the American University in Cairo, and for reasons that are never explained, have come across one of the pieces of the bronze serpent.  They pull an all-nighter to study it, and then Talon shows up.

As happens.

Yeah, exactly none of this is explained.  Not how these guys got their hands on the bronze serpent piece, and not how Talon found out they had it, and so quickly.

“I have been informed that you have a section of what might be the famous Bronze Serpent of Moses.  Is this true?” [says Talon]

Nassar and Fasial exchanged frowns.  They had informed no one of what they were doing.

“How would you know that?” asked Nassar.

The man shrugged.  “Amazing how stories get around.”

Yeah, amazing how the author will just transport a character to where he needs to be, when he can’t think of a reason for him to go, or know that he needs to be there in the first place!

Talon shows the guys the tail end of the serpent that he has, and then, of course, he kills them and takes the middle part.

“Problem solved,” said Talon.

Which is exactly what Phillips said when he wrote a quick chapter about two people who die, just to inexplicably get the bronze serpent part into the bad guy’s hands.

TEoD: Chapter 21: Hello, Hello

Not just Hello, Hello because Paul is once again trying to make a go of it with Shari, but because, well…hello, hello, all.

It’s been awhile, eh?  Major Life Event, a zillion things happening at once.  But it was (and is) all awesome.

Given that today is Thanksgiving, I’m going to forgo my usual Black Friday Christmas Romance extravaganza.  Next year.  I might do a Christmas movie or short story, but I’m more anxious to get back to Michael Murphy and The Edge of Darkness.

So, on with the show!

Yanno, one of these days, I’m going to go through these books with a fine tooth comb and construct a timeline.  Because I was pretty well convinced at the end of The Europa Conspiracy that Paul and Shari were seniors and mere weeks from graduation.  But now I’m starting to think this is some weird soap opera town where everyone stays locked as “high school student” or “college student” for years on end.  Or The Simpsons.  Or The Babysitters Club.

Anyway, our own atheist Paul Wallach decides to creep on Shari.  He slips into the lab while she’s working, and she doesn’t hear him because she is rocking out to the generic “latest CD from her new favorite band.”  (I am very surprised that LaPhillips doesn’t specify that this is a Christian band.)

Paul muses about how much he likes her, and notices “the two ponytails coming out of the sides of her head.”  (That is a BIZARRE way to describe a hairstyle.)

Paragraphs are wasted as the book quotes directly from The Europa Conspiracy, filling the reader in on Paul and Shane Barrington’s last interaction.  (Why anyone would read Book 4 in this series without reading the other three first is beyond me.)

And Paul thinks again about how Shane just wanted him to be a spy all along.  Paul still feels “angry, cheap, and used.”  Though not so angry, cheap, and used that he goes to the dean of students about how he was unwittingly hired to spy on one of the college’s biggest cash cows and publicity-getters.

Shari finally notices Paul, and we get more copy pasta from the past, as she remembers their last conversation (though she remembers significantly less of the way she heartlessly lambasted him for the crime of wanting to find a job and earn some money.

Paul asks her to go for a walk.  He bizarrely tells her that he has “reenrolled at Preston and will start next semester.  I’m looking for a part-time job until then.

Really, Paul?  You’re not graduated?  And how is “looking for a part-time job” going to support you for months until you reenroll in college?  And then what?  You think a part-time job is going to cover your tuition and expenses?

Paul explains that he’s “had a severe wake-up call” and he realizes there is more to life than money and that he’s hoping they can date again.

Paul, you deluded fool.  When Shari broke up with you, she made it very clear what kind of person she is.  (Hint: not a nice one.)  She also made it clear that she’s finally willing to admit to herself that she must date someone who is an active member of her church, no exceptions.  I am frankly astonished that a straight American college boy wouldn’t just cut his losses at this point and try dating any one of the hundreds or thousands of other girls at Preston.

But then I must remember that LaPhillips aren’t done playing Humiliate the Atheist yet.

And never fear—Shari isn’t about to let Paul enjoy one moment of hope or peace!

“…if you’re trying to adopt a belief in God to win me back, it won’t last.  Your decision to come to the Lord needs to be yours alone…”

Instead of saying, “WHOA, who said anything about adopting a belief in God??  Not me!”, Paul simply states that he’s been lonely and “a little mad” at God “for letting all this happen to me.”

(Because remember, boys and girls, there is no such thing as a real atheist, as someone who legitimately and truly believes there are no gods.  There are only people who lie to themselves because they are just angry at the One True God of the Bible.)

Shari then transitions from sanctimonious snootiness to outright delusions of grandeur:

“Maybe God was using me to warn you of the coming danger.  Maybe I became His voice to you.”

Yep, not only was Shari Right All Along, but she was Right All Along because she was speaking for God Himself.

Oh, yeah, this is a relationship of equals.  And I’m sure whenever Paul and Shari disagree in the future, Shari will never throw this in Paul’s face, or indeed, claim that she is yet again being God’s voice to Paul and are you going to disobey GOD, Paul???

Shari then spends a page and a half in yet another sanctimonious lecture, this time on letting go of anger and learning to forgive.  Check out how much dismissiveness, condescension, and snootiness she can pack into just one short exchange:

 “…forgiving [Shane]?  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive him.”

“Didn’t you ask me to forgive you a few minutes ago for hurting me?”

“Yeah, but–”

“No buts.  What if I had responded to you the way you’re responding to Barrington?  Would you like that?”

“Of course not.”

Yeah, Shari, I think in the Hurting Each Other category, you’ve been just as guilty, probably moreso, than Paul.

WHY does Paul want a relationship with this sanctimonious creep???  But he does, and asks if she might be “open to talking again.”

“We’ll see, Paul.  That’s all I can say for now.”

That means “no,” Paul.  That I can say for sure.

Back in the lab, turns out Murphy has been spying on the star-crossed “lovers.”  He is utterly unconcerned to learn that Barrington used and discarded Paul, but then, Michael Murphy has never been big on concern for others.  His friends can be grievously injured in another country, or disappeared altogether, and it doesn’t even rate a passing thought from our loving Christian hero.

Murphy praises Shari for wanting to take it slow (though it’s hard to imagine Paul and Shari moving slower than they previously had), even though it was Paul, in fact, who introduced the idea of simply being “open to talking again.”  Then again, Shari failed to mention this little tidbit, presumably because it puts Paul in a better light.

Stay classy, Shari.







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