Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review of 'School of Ministry (The Windgate)' by Braxton A. Cosby

The School of Ministry (The Windgate)

by Braxton A. Cosby

"A fast-paced adventure featuring a secret society on a divine mission...a satisfying read: The characters steadily develop, goodness prevails, and there's even a touch of romantic intrigue. Gripping, action-packed." ---- Kirkus Review 
"A memorable, unpredictable journey of hope, identity and courage. The Cosby gift of storytelling lives on in this page turning adventure." ---- Bill Cosby, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, Comedian, Philanthropist 
"Braxton Cosby delivers a thrill ride of suspense, fantasy, drama and fun in The School of Ministry. An unrequieted love story beats at the center of Ziv's journey to find peace, purpose and faith. You'll root for him as he claims his life and future in this wholly inventive and original novel with a message for all. I loved it." ---- Adriana Trigiani, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Shoemaker's Wife
Winner of The Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Book of the Year Award for Young Adult - General

Read an excerpt:
I'm helpless as she continues to struggle for air. Then, an image flickers from the corner of my eye as a side door opens and Maxwell walks out, holding a staff of his own.

"Maxwell," I plead. "It's Miss Evans. Please help her!"

He shakes his head and lifts his staff in his hands, twirling it in a circle as he begins to slowly walk sideways, circling me like a predator, encasing me in a hedge of danger.

"Hold your ground. Make a choice: fight or flight," Maxwell bellows.

Miss Evans' banging on the glass behind me blends with the pounding of my heart. I lift my staff and spread my feet, turning my attention to Maxwell. As much as I'm afraid for my own safety, I find it impossible not to focus on Miss Evans. Her muffled scream comes from the tank and I look away from Maxwell to check on her. Her hands clutch her neck. Her face is bright red with a tinge of blue around her lips.

"No," I scream, stepping back away from the tank.

Raising my staff above my head, I crank back and rip it down, slamming it into the side of the tank, as I yell. The water explodes from the crack in the tank and glass shards crash to the floor below. I swing once more and this time the entire tank shatters, launching Miss Evans into the air toward me. I catch her in my arms and the force of the water propels us backward onto the floor. She coughs, gasping for air. I hold her in my arms and caress her head. Her sobbing brittles me and I'm relieved to see her skin color returning to its natural tanned shade.

We're here, an odd place, an unfamiliar place. But as I hold her delicately in my arms, it makes me feel like I'm heading back home. Not the place where I live now, but the place where I used to live, when mom and dad were still alive. The way she rests in my arms beckons me to a time when I used to hold my kitten, Priceless. She'd climb into my lap during the thunder storms. I was her comforter. Priceless would purr when I did it. And now, so many years later, I find myself feeling the same way as I hold Miss Evans. Her soft body pressing into my skin—warming me—calls me to hug her even closer with each passing second. The times when I needed someone to hold me reflect in my mind like a mirror as I stare at her. Her chest rises as her heart beat quickens, mixing evenly with her breaths. As warmth returns to her body, a subtle tremor comes over her; like a purr.

I can't resist. I have to do it. I must do it. I hug deeply, ignoring the senseless urge to pull away.

"Bravo!" praises Maxwell, exiting the room as the lights come back on.

Miss Evans resting in my arms and I comfort her, caressing her hair. She finally looks up at me and mouths, "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Are you all right?" I ask.

"Yes…better now," she replies.

"How did you get in there?" I ask.

"I don't know. Um, if you don't mind me asking, who are you?"

"What? It's Ziv of course. Miss Evans, are you feeling all right?"

"Miss Evans?" she asks with a puzzled look on her face. "Did you say your name was Ziv?"

**My thoughts**

I was honestly surprised that this was a young adult book. While I think that teens are going to get a lot out of this book, I think it is important for adults to read, as well. It's very thought-provoking, especially as Ziv is in training and goes through all of his trials. I found myself often wondering what I would do in each situation. Which decisions would I make? Is what I think I would do when reading about it the same choice I would make if I were thrown into each of those trials? It took me longer than usual to read, because I found myself really chewing on the plot as I pondered it.

One of the things I really liked about this book, other than the adventurous excursions, was how the Christian themes were in the forefront of the book, but didn't dominate, nor did they seem preachy. Too often, Christian themes are overpowering and can detract from the book's message. I also think that a lot of great discussions and lessons can be had by reading this book and discussing the general ideas of good vs. evil, and becoming a better person in general, regardless of your religious beliefs.

I did have a slight Harry Potter vibe from it, but I think it is impossible for a story about an orphan with a destiny to not make one think of HP, even if the story is markedly different. It definitely stands on its own with its own identity.

It's a bonus that the author is related to the amazing Bill Cosby, but I think Braxton is going to forge his own way in the storytelling business.

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Meet the Author:

Multi-Award-Wining Author Braxton A. Cosby is a dreamer who evolved from concepts on pen and paper to pixels and keyboards. He tells stories that evoke emotions and stimulate thought. Protostar: Book 1 The Star-Crossed Saga and The School of Ministry: The Windgate are currently two Young Adult series he created. Braxton lives in Georgia with his wife, three children and a troop of crazy African Cichlids.

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