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Book Reviews
Rosa No-Name
Tom Donaghy's Special Review of Pastor Gus * The Devil and Pastor Gus
Found in Translation * Lost in Dreams

Wow, talk about overcoming adversity and thriving in a tough world. You will admire Rosa's tenacity and root for her from beginning to the end. Roger Bruner's sense of humor and skills easily convey through his writing. Enjoy!!

~~Tammy Van Gils


This Book was so beautifully written. Takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions! Very descriptive writing, you feel as if your there! Wonderful cast of characters. I was rooting for Rosa!! This was a prequel to Found in Translation, now I can't wait to read it!! I highly recommend this book!

~~Rex Warren


I have read most of Roger's books. His writing style is one I thoroughly admire. I also love his plot development skill, his character portrayals. AND his humor. Rosa No-Name was engaging! I read it in the middle of the night more than once. Even better, it ends well. A good book ends well. Rosa No-Name IS a good book!

~~swambold


The Devil and Pastor Gus
Tom Donaghy's Special Review of Pastor Gus * Rosa No-Name
Found in Translation * Lost in Dreams

Interesting to see how the devil gets into hearts and lives and humans try to play both sides. Pastor Gus was a fun character.

~~Joan Reconnu


Quirky, fun, touching, and unexpected ending. Worth the effort and time to read. Looking forward to more from Roger Bruner.

~~Rick Harris


This is such a great book couldn't put it down once I got started interesting and gives hope that you can beat the devil and know God's love is never ending

~~sandra


What a great story! I didn't know what to expect when I started reading, but then it was hard to put down. I recommend this book for anyone.

~~Carol H.


The description of the events in pastoral ministry brought back many memories of my own pastoral ministry.

~~Paul D. Fant


I struggled with the beginning of this book and almost decided to put it down. I'm not sure why. But I liked the story and kept going.

~~Sheryl M. Baker


A very awesome book cover, great font & writing style. A very well written religious paranormal book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great religious paranormal movie, animated cartoon, or better yet a mini TV series. This was different but I ended up liking it so I will still rate it at 5 stars.

~~Tony Parsons MSW


It wasn't exactly what I expected, a modern day story of Job, but it was quite amusing and thought-provoking.

~~Rick Farlee


Pastor Gus manages to make every possible mistake as he wheels and deals with the devil. Yet our Father's grace prevailed. Don't try this at home--tell demons to go in Yeshua's name (or Jesus if you prefer.)

~~Gary Parker


I was unsure about how I felt about this story at first, but the more I read the more I was drawn in. This is a good example of not only the devil's pride, but our own as well. The characters were real and believable. I love reading books that, after reading, teach or inspire growing in my relationship with God. This book enforced my knowledge of God's unending love and acceptance, no matter what we do.

~~Lanell Harrington


Throughly enjoyed reading, especially the ending. Was disappointed with the way Satan was shown to influence Mattias [sic] life and death.

~~Amazon Customer


I was hooked by the title and review. There were many times I quit reading for a time because I was thinking that talking with the devil was not a good idea. Very interesting and thought provoking. Makes you examine what you believe. Would recommend it to mature readers.

~~Mary Ann Mazurczak


A fun - and interesting - book. I don't usually read books on the supernatural. As this one features the devil as a prominent character, I'd have to classify it as such. But, a friend of mine recommended it to me and gave me a copy. So, I read it. It is funny, at times insightful, and I enjoyed it. Most of us have a mid-life crises, or a worry about what we might have done. So, it's easy to identify with Pastor Gus - at least part of the time. I recommend it.

~~Jim C


So very entertaining but also made me think!

I loved this book! It was so very entertaining but also made me think. There are hidden spiritual messages if you're looking for them. If not, then the book is still fun to read.

My one caution is that if you don't like books that are a bit out of the box, then you might not like this book because this book is definitely out of the box! The two main characters of the book are Pastor Gus and B.L. ZeeBub. I'm sure you can figure out who B.L ZeeBub is, right?

As you can imagine, B.L is up to his old tricks but Pastor Gus thinks he can out trick him. Can he? I'm not telling. If you want to know, you'll have to read the book.

NOTE: I was given a free copy of this book for an honest review, which I'm giving. ~~Lillian K. Duncan


great

~~Jesus Saves


Love, love, love this author and his writings are always phenomenal! Especially this book. A must read for sure.

~~Lydia


A refreshing reminder of God's perfect love for us even when we leave Him out of our decision making. Good read.

~~Vonetta


I loved everything about this book. Character development was great, storyline was great. Ending was fantastic!!!! This was hard to put down.

~~Shannonhopeon


Pastor Gus Gospello is a lovable pastor going through a mid-life crisis, happily married but childless, who wants more than anything to leave a legacy. It is that desire that opens him up to the temptation of striking a deal with the devil, aka B.L.ZeBubb.

The Devil and Pastor Gus is a whimsical allegory on the Bible's book of Job. It is filled with subtle and not so subtle humor while also engaging the reader with the significant subjects of temptation, faith, and forgiveness. It is a very enjoyable story that entertains and explores the spiritual realm in which we all live.

~~Colonial Contributor


Many readers have likened this to The Devil and Daniel Webster by Steven Vincent Benet, but I liken it more to The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving. Bruner's humor reminds me very much of Irving's wordplay and satire. This is a very light-hearted approach to a very serious spiritual matter. If you're a fan of quirky humor, this book is for you. The humor hits often, and it's refreshing to read a self-aware book (very meta-fiction in places).

~~Ganskyreaders


This is a wonderful book that will entertain you and help you to see the truth about vanity and pride.

There is humor, truth and some parts will make you cry. I highly recommend this book, it really opened my eyes regarding doing things for what you may believe is a good reason, only to realize that you are in God's way, not really relying on Him like we are supposed to. Sometimes we get overzealous and don't remember to talk to God about a situation. I don't want to write a sermon, so I'll leave it with this final recommendation to try this book.

~~Sonya Johnson


Imaginative treatment of one man's struggles with the devil. Reminiscent of The Screwtape Letters.

~~Jenny


Well written and thought provoking, The Devil and Pastor Gus carried me along. I found myself wanting to have a chat with the characters, and then wondering if I would behave any differently. Several twists surprised me, and the whole book had me talking to my family and friends. Roger Bruner is a wonderful storyteller who drew me into the character's lives, even the devil, and had me flipping to the next page to see what would happen next. He also often made me late for work during my lunch hour because I just wanted to read one more chapter! Thanks Roger!

~~Mary Beth Dahl


The author took me on an introspective journey of faith, temptation and God's faithfulness to His Word. The characters are so well developed that I found myself invested in their story and anxious to find out what happens next. I laughed, I cried and I prayed - not for the characters, but for my fellow Christians as we face decisions everyday. Well done, Mr. Bruner.

~~Katie


If you liked The Devil and Daniel Webster (by Stephen Vincent Benet), then you will truly appreciate Mr. Bruner's modern-day adaptation. The author stays true to the flavor of the original concept by weaving in humor with moral lessons and Biblical teachings. I found this to be a good, page-turner--I enjoyed it so much, I finished it in a day. Great read!

~~Stan Shults


I dont ordinarily care for books about the supernatural or demonic beings. But this story, despite the fact that the devil himself is a major character, isnt really like that. In fact, its unlike anything Ive ever read before.

The wholly unbelievable devil character is not meant to be taken seriously. Yet the lighthearted situations the story portrays urge us to take another look. I'm not sure how the author pulls it off, but it makes for a memorable read.

If you want an entertaining story that presents rock-solid truth in a fanciful package, this is the book for you.

~~Yvonne Anderson


Well done. Surprising twist at the end. Great analogies. All around good read.

~~David Arp


I SO loved this book. I do not read just any book at 3 am. I am snoring and most books have tumbled to the floor. Not Pastor Gus. I read it longer than most bedtime reading. A-pot-calling-the-kettle-black experience launched the book: at the beginning, Pastor Gus infuriated me by taking FOREVER to tell Mattie what was troubling him. The fact of the matter is I am the same way. The portrait of Pastor Gus's marriage to Mattie is inspiring. This book engaged my mind in many ways. I felt myself cheering for Pastor Gus and commiserating with him. It takes a well-drawn character to bond with the reader. Actually, all of the characters were well drawn. The plot is MASTERFUL, very carefully thought through. Pastor Gus has cliffhanger qualities also, because Pastor Gus duals intellectually with the Devil. Then, there is the humor in the book which is delicious; I love word play and irony. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is complex and satisfying.

~~swambold


The Devil and Pastor Gus is a book of whimsy, drawn from Job in the Bible, C. S. Lewis Screwtape Letters, and Goethes Faust. The characters are strong, carefully constructed, and well described. Pastor Gus Gospello is made of ordinary stuff and plays his role well in this strange, spiritual conflict. B.L.ZeBubb, aka the Devil, has both power and pride and pulls out an extensive repertoire of evil maneuvers. His cohorts are under his thumb but sometimes thwart his authority.

A few samples of Bruners clever writing:

She relit the cigarillo and blew smoke in his direction. He inhaled all of it in a single monstrous breathlike the reverse of blowing out the candles on a birthday cake with one mighty puff.

She would do whatever it took to avoid becoming a flaming target of his wrath.

I hate to bother you, said [his wife] Mattie, but we need to go to the ERnow. Gus dropped his sermon notes and rushed out to the car. Four blocks down the road, he turned around and went back for his wife.

For all its good pointsincluding moments of significant and even powerful dramaI had trouble taking the premise seriously enough to get pulled into the story. Toward the end, it grabbed me, but the ending itself left me unsatisfied and wishing for more substance. The Gospel is clearly lined out but seems contrived. Readers who love a light approach, though, will enjoy this novel with its creative and colorful characterization of Satan and its imaginative outcome.

Full disclosure: Im married to a Pastor Gus, and he loved the book, giving it a 5-star rating. Look for James W. Gustafson and read.

~~EllieGus


This novel is the best of the three books that I have read by this author. When I did have to put the book aside, I was anxious to get back to it. it is thought provoking and entertaining. I look forward to reading Bruner's next endeavor. This is a great read. I would rate this 5 stars.

~~Stanley Bouma


Put on your seatbelt and get ready for a novel that has more twists and turns than a roller coaster. But when you finish the ride, you'll love the destination. There's a tremendous message here, a great reminder of spiritual truth. I found it hard to put down the book due to all the surprises. Yes, this is a unique story, but I loved it. Enjoy!

~~FiveMasterPatterns


The style is breezy, piquant, playful, and punchy. Bruner shows us clearly the Enemy of our souls, who while toothless, is troublesome. Even though Gus was my own high school nickname and since I am a pastor myself, I found myself smirking with every page I turned (and it is a page-turner) so delightful are the often subtle allusions and turns of phrase used in relating the adventures of the protagonist, Pastor Gus. The novel reminds me of C. S. Lewis' classic fictions: The Bus-ride to Hell, and The Screwtape Letters. But the lesson most learned is this: we need to be true to God, not clever for God. Many of its truths are pleasantly blunt: "The more useless the committee the more frequent its meetings and the more useless its discussions." Bruner has a wonderful playful way with words as he schools us concerning the "wiles of the Devil" in a truly delightful fashion.

~~James W. Gustafson


Delightful novel. Pastor Gus is childless and age 50, haunted by the desire to leave a worthy Christian legacy behind when he dies. He doesn't want to be famous. He just wants to leave something that will help people for years after he leaves the scene. The trouble is that he doesn't know what that legacy should be. B.L. ZeBubb has other ideas. Having failed with Job, he plans to make good this time by seducing Pastor Gus into selling his soul. The good pastor's desire for a legacy should make an irresistible bait.

The result is something like a blend of the book of Job with The Screwtape Letters, ironically comic, always accurate theologically, and continually interesting under Roger Bruner's accomplished hand. Excellent satire by an accomplished wordsmith.

~~Donn Taylor


If you like satire, this is the book for you! It's creative, entertaining, and thought provoking. Well worth a read.

~~Christy Barritt


This book is unique in its premise, although I can see parts of the book of Job throughout. You will be brought through the gamut of emotions and find yourself laughing out loud, as well as tears. This is one book that you don't want to skip either the Prologue or Epilogue in. They both definitely add to the story. My favorite character was Mattie, Pastor Gus's wife. She really seems to know him and understand him in a really cute way. I think this points out how difficult it is to be in the ministry, and that sometimes Church leadership works against what God really wants. This book is very entertaining while at the same time making you think about various issues that come up. I would highly recommend this book! Looking forward to more from this author.

~~Katnip


Really enjoyed this engaging story - a great "inside" look at Satan and his tricks and twists. He manages to twist himself into being the loser he already is, once again, and pride is always his downfall. Pastor Gus is a great picture of all of us - we start out with a great idea but so easily get off the path. Thankfully we have a Father who loves us always and forever!!

~~GrannyW


A great book crafted with humor and wit. I found the evil devil character to be just as Scripture depicts him--deceitful and vain. And Pastor Gus is someone I can relate to. Seems like thinking about legacy comes with turning 50!! This book reminded me once again of the love of the Father and how big His heart is. I highly recommend this book.

~~Tammy C. Van Gils


A new take on the Faust legend of someone contracting with the devil for his soul, then trying to weasel out of it. Only, that isnt quite what happens.

Bruners Devil (B. L. ZeBubb) is a over the top, but have you read Marlowe or Goethe? And Pastor Gus, unlike the classic protagonist, is a humble, good man. Certainly not Faust, let alone Daniel Webster.

Starts slowly but gets better with each chapter. The Epilogue is best of all. Its all too easy and obvious but this is satire.

Ive already told you too much.

~~R. Andrea

Lost in Dreams
The Devil and Pastor Gus * Rosa No-Name * Found in Translation
Discussion questions for Lost in Dreams * Lindsey Zimpel review

You write beautifully, Roger. Your insight into young women is extraordinary. The characters are very engaging. I have a special fondness for Aleesha. That probably does not surprise you. Jo is three-dimensional. You could have failed there, but you didn't! Kudos on your portrayal of Jo. Kim is a fine heroine. You weave the plot in an outstanding way. I hope you will continue to write about Jo, Aleesha, and Kim. But I would like to follow Scott's progress through seminary, too.

AND the skunk! My goodness, but you milked that for every ounce of stinky. The anecdote with the stewardess was worth the price of admission.

Sally Wambold


Kim Hartlinger, whom we met in Roger Bruner's first novel, Found in Translation, is on her way home from her life-transforming mission trip to Mexico. Little does she realize her life changes are about to accelerate even more: a tragic auto accident, overwhelming guilt, horrible nightmares, unrelenting fatigue, a revamped relationship with her dad, her two "best" at odds with one another, and another short-term mission trip--this one to work on a hostel for the families of inmates in a remote area of California. The mission team gets involved in prison ministry in addition to helping catch a crook within the correctional facility. I appreciated reading about such ministry from the "inside" since I grade Bible studies for prisoners.

Although much transpires in this lively story, the emotions and relationships explored add depth and challenge readers to consider their own lives and feelings. It's exciting to see God at work, even in fiction. For a heartwarming read, jump into Lost in Dreams, but it may keep you awake until you finish the book. Written with Roger's daughter, Kristi Rae Bruner, this is the second in their Altered Hearts series.

Mary Hake


I thoroughly enjoyed this 2nd book in the Altered Hearts series. Kim has to deal with some very difficult situations upon her return from Santa Maria in the first book. The friendship between Kim, Aleesha, & Jo travels a rocky road throughout the book, as do many friendships at that age. Kim has emotional issues to deal with that she's afraid to share with her father. I think this book deals very realistically with the turmoil of being on the cusp of becoming an adult and learning how to deal with adult situations. I really loved the new character of Graham as I grew to know him and appreciate his spirit, as well as getting to know Jo (Betsy Jo in Book #1) better and watching her struggle with her own emotional issues. This book takes you on the roller coaster of laughing one minute, and then tearing up the next. The Bruners have done it again! This book can certainly be enjoyed stand-alone, but I recommend reading "Found in Translation" first as you'll understand the references to Santa Maria better. I highly recommend this book to teens and adults alike, and I hope there are more coming in this series!

Anonymous


This is a story about a young girl who has to oversome many problems. She has to deal with guilt while finding her way into adulthood.

I enjoyed this story very much. I am in my late twenties and found it entertaining and heartwarming. I think that the author focused on race a little too much. I feel he was trying too hard to be unbiased. There were a lot of references to the first book that I did not understand because I haven't read the first book. This can be a little distracting. Other than those things, I think this book is a beautiful story for Christians. I would recommend this book for young adults age 16 and older.

Scruggle


I have read a pre-release copy of this book and find it a wonderful followup to Found in Translation. It is not necessary to have read Found to understand Lost, but you will already have a good feel for the characters if you do. This book picks up right where the first one left off, in the airport as Kim and Aleesha are returning from their mission trip to Mexico. Kim is suddenly faced with the most difficult situation of her life! Will it strengthen her relationship with her father as she had so desired, or will it tear them apart? And what about the changing aspects of her friendships with Betsy Jo (now just called Jo) and Aleesha. Will Jo and Aleesha be able to set aside their differences and dislike of each other in order to support Kim? What is the cause of Kim's mysterious illness, and is it truly a physical illness or an emotional one?

When a mission trip to California presents itself you will see how this band of seeming misfits pulls together and learns so much about themselves, each other, and their relationships, even their relationships with those left at home.

Katnip


Kims story is spiritually moving. Her honest love for God, Christians, and those yet-to-be saved will touch readers hearts and motivate them to be as active as she is in her spiritual life. Lost in Dreams is about learning to forgive yourself and trust in Gods love and salvation. I recommend this for those looking for a good, heartwarming Christian story.

Kris Chen


Roger Bruner entertains us and challenges our faith through Kim's journey of perseverance. Highly recommended!

Ray Blackston
Author of the popular Flabbergasted series


Roger Bruner has woven a vibrant story for young women, with both fun and compelling elements throughout. Poignant character, Kim Hartlinger, captured my heart in the Altered Hearts series.

Nicole O'Dell
Author of the Scenarios for Girls interactive series

Found in Translation
Jenny Rogers Spinola's
special review of Found in Translation
Discussion questions for Found in Translation
The Devil and Pastor Gus * Rosa No-Name * Lost in Dreams

Lindsey Zimpel review

Eighteen-year-old Kim Hartlinger has prepared well for her mission trip to Mexico. Her suitcases are filled with all the hair-care products and designer outfits shell need for the next two weeks, along with a portable karaoke machine and plenty of size D batteries. Shes bolstered by her recent domestic mission trips and is geared up to spread the Gospel to the natives of Cuidad de Plata. Kims plans unravel even before she leaves home, when her best friend cancels out on the trip. On her first day of travel, she must pay seventy-five dollars for overweight baggage at the airport, gets sick on too much pizza at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, and misses her connecting flight to San Diego. When she finally joins up with the mission team, she learns that their destination in Mexico has changed and she missed the memo. Theyre not heading to Cuidad de Plata, where Kim expected to find real Mexican fast food and the welcoming homes of hosting church members. Instead the mission team will be doing construction work, rebuilding homes in the tiny village of Santa Maria, recently devastated by a tornado where there is no running water, no electricity for Kims hairdryer, and nowhere to sleep but on the rocky desert floor. And theyll have no translators to bridge the language gap. Kim is completely unprepared for the mission and for the journey of faith that God has set before her.

This novel, written by Roger Bruner with his daughter, Kristi Rae Bruner-whose real life mission trip was the core inspiration for the novel-is a spiritual coming-of-age story imbued with humor and heart. While at times slow-paced with language and cultural references that might be over the heads of some younger readers, this novel is engaging and hard to put down, and will leave the reader both laughing and reaching for tissues by the end. Readers-especially girls-will connect with Kim Hartlinger and her dilemmas, and will find themselves uplifted and encouraged along the way.

Diana Sharples
Novel Teen review


I have just finished reading Found in Translation: An unforgettable mission trip where faith, obedience, and forgiveness intersect (Altered Hearts). This story is full of raw emotion and heart reaching actions. I would recommend this book to adult, youth, youth groups, or to any person unsure in their faith and searching for answers. Book Two in the series can't be released soon enough. This author is now on my must read list!

Sandi


Take a self-absorbed 18-year-old girl on a mission trip to an extremely remote Mexican village and you may have a recipe for disaster. Roughing it is not part of her vocabulary or lifestyle, yet Kim Hartlinger (appropriate name, dont you think?) surprises herself as she adapts and proves equal to the tasks God puts in her path. Found in Translation by Roger Bruner, written with his daughter Kristi Rae, found this reader excited to be along for the journey.

Each unique individual is believably portrayedfoibles, failures, fears, and finding the way. Its a story of growth and exploring relationships as well as the maturing process. But dont think its all serious and too churchy. Found in Translation is a fun read, like listening to a close friend share personal experiences, including the funny and the embarrassing along with the full truth. Kims first person narration reveals her heart and her dreams while telling of her two-week adventure. She also develops a close friendship with an African-American girl, which adds a deeper dynamic to her experience.

Although marketed as YA, this touching story speaks to adults too. It will challenge and encourage believers to follow Kims example of surrender and obedience to the Lords leading. I suggest youth groups read this before heading out on that short-term mission. It would also be insightful for graduating teens before heading off to college. I look forward to the Bruners next well-written installment in their Altered Hearts series.

Mary Ann Hake


From the very first page, I was caught up into Kim's character: her weaknesses, her humor, her sometimes ditzy thinking, but also her kind heart. As Kim's story unfolds, we see her step into action with surprising gumption, facing problem after unexpected problem with new grit and courage. All with the help of faith and friends.

The Bruners' captivating settings and realistic interactions reminded me, as I read, of my own mission trips and moments in Mexico. The uncertainty, the questions... the falling short and fumbling with a new language on my tongue. And like Kim, we see that God holds us steady even when we falter, when we're afraid to step out--if we'll just trust Him with the outcome.

Kim's final decisions and surprising end to this book make us glad we read--and even more glad we believe.

I hope this is the first of MANY books for Roger and Kristi Bruner!

Jen


Found in Translation is a book with a fresh, authentic young adult voice and embodies a message that speaks to young people everywhere. It pulls the reader into the story and beautifully compels them to keep reading. It is a book that is easy to recommend. I read it through in one sitting.

Terry Burns
Author of "Beyond the Smoke," 2009 Will Rogers Medallion Winner for Young Adult Fiction


Found in Translation is a refreshing, insightful exposition on experiencing God cross-culturally through unexpected, chaotic circumstances. Filled with teen culture, relational challenges, and humor, the book portrays the foundational truth that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. I just found it a delightful readingIm amazed at all the scenarios Roger has pulled together to make such a meaningful book.

Bobbye Rankin
Popular missions speaker


Roger and Kristi Rae Bruner's debut novel, Found in Translation, is a charming and sincere commentary on racial sensitivity and interdependence. When I started writing years ago, I wanted to create real characters who, though imperfect, could navigate the minefields of race and prejudice with God's grace. Looks like the Bruners have the same goal. Way to go, Roger and Kristi Rae.

Linda Leigh Hargrove
Author of The Making of Isaac Hunt and Loving Cee Cee Johnson


Roger Bruner has written the kind of YA novel I want my daughter and granddaughter to read. It's true to the way real young adults today see the world, themselves, and God.

Eva Marie Everson
Author of This Fine Life