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“Speculative Christian fiction is rare, and Brouwer does it with the skills of an episodic storyteller that make a reader wonder when the movie is coming out.”
“Recommended for readers of visionary and science fiction and for larger Christian fiction collections.”
“Sigmund Brouwer is one of my favorite authors. His versatility and the ease that he switches between genres and styles never cease to amaze me.”
—Melissa Willis, TheChristianManifesto.com
Excerpted from The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer Copyright © 2011 by Sigmund Brouwer. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 6, 2011
As I read the last line of this book, I simultaneously wanted to throw the book across the room and begin reading it again. Brouwer writes an intriguing tale with more twists and turns than most roller coasters. Although I did not like him using the Catholic church as a "fall guy" in many ways, when I set that aspect aside, this is am intriguing book. Aside from being worn out on negative portrayals of the church, I was able to enjoy this book and its world of mysteries. I have realized I enjoy a book whose ending I cannot easily decipher, and this is such a book.
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Posted May 27, 2012
This is one of the best books I have read in awhile. The material interesting and is good for anyone who loves a good suspense and mystery novel. You were kept on the edge of your seat the whole time not knowing what was going to happen. You never knew who was involved and you were constantly trying to figure it out. I would recommend it for anyone.
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Posted June 25, 2014
Jaimie Piper is a twelve-year-old girl with a powerful gift that is driving her crazy. She can detect evil in other people. This dark, overwhelming force has tormented her for years. When its latest manifestation threatens, she turns to her favorite teacher, Crocket Grey, for help.
His efforts to help Jaimie soon land Grey in the hottest water possible. He is accused of possessing child pornography and of molesting students. He is soon the target of a kidnapping and murder investigation. All this threatens not only his freedom, but his relationship with the son he loves.
Quickly, Crocket and Jaimie are swept into a cauldron of intrigue and death that reaches to the highest levels of the Vatican.
I have long been a fan of Sigmund Brouwer. His novels, The Weeping Chamber, and Wings of Dawn, are among my favorites. I looked forward to reconnecting with him in The Canary List.
I give this novel 3.5 stars. Brouwer’s style remains strong but the novel has the feel of being agenda-driven. He explores the role of demons in our world and especially within religious institutions and organizations. Through the experiences of his characters, we see how insidious the work of evil can be.
The story is well-written, the pace keeps moving, and Brouwer fills it with amazing twists and turns. The final twist is both a surprise yet inevitable in the context of the story.
There are many things to like in this book. Jaimie is a very believable twelve-year-old. One of Brouwer’s writing strengths is his ability to realistically portray children and teens. He rivals Orson Scott Card in this area.
Jaimie’s psychiatrist, Dr. MacKenzie, is another well-developed character. The influence of her own history on her actions is well-played with subtle hints so that the ultimate reveal catches the reader off guard yet makes sense.
Also well-done are the hints of potential romance between MacKenzie and Crocket.
While the story has the feel of being agenda-driven, Brouwer gives an honest portrayal of the Catholic Church. As a former Catholic, I don’t sense any overt church-bashing or condemnation.
There are some areas that make it difficult to give the novel more than 3.5 stars. One is the story bogs down on occasion with long expositional dialogue on the theology and history of demons, on the political machinations within the Vatican, and on the sexual abuse scandals within the Church.
Even though Crocket Grey is presented as the protagonist, he does not come across very strong in the role of hero. There are occasional flashes where he is determined to fight for his freedom and for his relationship with his son. These help the reader develop empathy for the man. But, except for these flashes, Grey seems to be carried along by the events in the story, rather than assuming a more active hero role. He does take bold action at times, but always gets caught and ends up in lower status positions with the rest of the characters. At the end, he is given a moral choice to make. The decision is clear, but the process he went through to make it is not.
To me, the real hero is Jaimie. But she is made almost a side note to Grey’s struggles and is off stage for long periods of time.
Overall, this is a good read that could have been better.
Posted March 27, 2012
After reading the description, I thought this book is like Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, but after reading it, Canary List may have the issues of conspiracies in the Vatican Church, but this is more like pointing out that there may be evil in the Church but not everyone and is less “scandalous”.
The Canary List is set in present day Vatican City (for the most part). Brouwer's writing is engaging and nearly three dimensional. The descriptions are vivid that you could actually picture the Vatican Secret Library, the city’s walls and atmosphere.
I actually like Crockett, he is so human, both vulnerable and strong. I felt for him so deeply not just with the death of his daughter but also of the false accusations against him in the school where he teaches.
Meanwhile, Jaime is the protagonists I highly salute of. Especially in the chapters where she has the POV, you could really feel the fear and doubt raging inside her.
The 3 stars is because I don’t really feel like this is a Christian book although it has the message of letting us know that evil exists, it’s more of a thriller to me. Another is because I was not satisfied after the end, I know that this is what the author intends, to make us think for our own, but I just don’t like books who technically does not have an ending. Why would you read something that would just left you hanging at the end >no sequel<
Although, some readers may say that this is biased, or some form of Catholic bashing, personally I believed that the author had been fair in giving two versions of the truth. At the end, the reader is left to conclude for himself. The author’s role was just to present the idea, and then for us to think about.
All in all, if viewed as whole fiction, this is a very good read from a promising author. I recommend this book to those who believe in such things and even for those who are skeptic.
Disclosure: I received this book for an honest review from waterbrook multnomah -blogging for books
Posted February 21, 2012
What if you were a 12-year-old foster kid who had a gift you didn’t understand, something that terrified you? What if you confided your fears to a male teacher who tried to help you and found himself accused of inappropriate conduct? That’s the premise of Sigmund Brouwer’s novel, “The Canary List.”
Bestselling author Brouwer takes us on a harrowing journey through the conflict between good and evil in a chilling story of a little girl who can derail conspiracies by the simple ability to sense evil in people. She poses a threat to those in high places and they will stop at nothing to neutralize the threat.
For readers who think that Christian novels can’t possibly be as exciting as secular books, “The Canary List” offers an abrupt enlightenment. The battle between the forces of Heaven and Hell provides all the excitement one could possibly need in a thriller. Brouwer does a good job of keeping the tension at a high pitch throughout the pages.
The scariest part of this book, for me at least, lies in the plausibility, the threat that evil ignores the rules that good tries to follow. Brouwer translates the contrast vividly as we watch a good but broken man try to help a child and run head-on into horror.
The prolific Sigmund Brouwer hits the target of adventure and suspense in “The Canary List.” Don’t read this book for a little light diversion; read it for an adrenalin-pushing, heart-pounding journey into the dark side of life.
I reviewed this book from a review copy provided by the publisher.
Posted February 7, 2012
I felt that this book was a let down. It was a book about a conspiracy. A book that utterly lacked intrigue and suspense that should accompany a conspiracy. I had to force myself to finish it, and I was disappointed in the fact that the ending was abrupt. When I read the last page, I thought: "That was it?" Not much of a climax or a resolution, but not a terrible book. It just does not come recommended from me.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Posted January 17, 2012
Wowza. Brouwer has done it again. This guy is such a good author that I've gone out of my way to request his books on my own. I love his style of very short chapters that change perspective. The genre he shines in is called speculative fiction. You never know what is coming next. I'll dive into the gist of what the book is about and conclude with some criticisms.
First of all, I'll try my best to give you an idea of the plot without revealing too much. There are some major plot twists that got even me by surprise. So, there is a troubled girl who is tossed around the foster system. She is plagued by a terribly scary darkness. Thru a truly strange chain of events, her schoolteacher gets involved in a huge conspiracy that involves the Vatican. Older Vatican conspiracies are touched upon, as well as some futuristic yet believable science and hacking. Some parts of the book are slower than others, but, in general, it is a very fast-paced story. The question of the demonic comes up quite a bit. At the end of the book, the reader is left to themself to question whether or not the demonic is real. Is there really evil in the Church, or is the demonic just a cover-up to blame something on a third party and manipulate people thru fear? I personally believe in the Biblical existence of the demonic, but readers can think what they may. What is great is the reading list at the end of the book. It includes memoirs from Vatican exorcists for those that want to dig deeper.
As for criticisms, this is hard. For the spiritual sense, the Vatican and demons were discussed, so the spiritual world was encountered. However, the schoolteacher is not a believer. He says by the end of the book that he believes he may one day see his little daughter in heaven. (By the end, he believes in demons and by some logic, he thinks God must exist, too.) However, there is no notion of him beginning a personal relationship with Yeshua Messiah. Perhaps, this is left up to the reader's imagination. What is good about this book is that it goes to remind people that--regardless of whether or not one believes in the existence of demons--there are very real evil people that infiltrate the Church.
Posted January 2, 2012
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review!
What a good choice I made. At first glance I thought that this was a book about being hunted by past demons. I thought these demons would be something more real or maybe even a person from Jaimie's past. I could not have been more wrong. If you liked the DaVinci code for the pure thrill of reading it, then you will like this book. It delves into the inside workings of becoming Pope and the inner demons of the church.
In the middle of all this is a "friend" that Jaimie goes to for help. this friend is no other than her teacher Mr Grey. He has a whole lot of issues of his own. Needless to say he is key to Jaimie's happiness.
As you travel through the book you are caught up in a web that you do not want to let go of. Towards the end of the book everything becomes clear. However you still have a need for more. I is not because you are not satisfied with the ending, but because you do not want to leave the characters yet.
As you can tell, I was a fan of this book. The "Canary list" did not fully explain itself until the last chapter. Then, just to mess with the reader there is a twist at the end, and the last sentence makes you question the whole book, and yourself!
Posted October 25, 2011
I was disappointed in this book. Not because of the storyline or writing or anything like that. I am disappointed because I requested a free copy of this in e-book format solely to review it on my blog - but the format never transferred to my nook. I e-mailed the e-book vendor that Multnomah uses and they told me to try this or that, but still it never downloaded correctly. From now on, I will just receive paperback versions from the publisher so I can continue reviewing books for free.
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Posted September 26, 2011
The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer, was not my cup of tea. I had a difficult time following the story line. Perhaps the reason for this was because this was a genre of writing unfamiliar to me. There were many characters introduced fairly quickly that I had a hard time remembering who was who. Also, based on the back cover, what was stated in regards to the book had me thinking the book would be about something else entirely. Finally, the title really isn't understood until you reach the last 10 pages, and this was hard for me to accept as a reader.
It is my hope that you will come to your own conclusions about this story by reading it for yourself. This is not one that I would not recommend to my closest friends, nor would I read again. However, the writing is well done and the development of characters is good. I simply had a difficult time following it and getting into it, which does not interest me as a reader.
Posted September 13, 2011
It's been a long time since I had to fight my way through a book to finish it, unfortunately, this was one of those times.
While the characters are somewhat likeable, they are flat and the author fails in making them anything more than descriptive entities. His best success in any of the characters is with Crockett, but even then, the author is more interested in boring us with church rhetoric and biological jibber jabber than developing what could have been phenomenal characters.
It took a good 80 or so pages before the story started to grab me. Sadly, I believe most people would give up on the book before then. Then, the book takes another illogical and superficial turn to Italy where it became unbelievable.
The concepts and characters could have been developed more. A better grasp on the plot could have helped as well.
Unfortunately, this book fell extremely short of expectations and other than trying to cash in on Dan Brown's success, I cannot think of a reason that this was published.
Posted September 1, 2011
Jamie has a secret and it's got something to do with a special bracelet she wears. She's got a friend too, though maybe Madelyne Mackenzie's more psychiatrist than friend, and she gives some strange advice. Jamie's got a foster-home, but a bad guy's just come to visit and she has to run away. And there's no-one to save her.
Jamie runs to her school-teacher's home, begging for his help. But soon, despite his best efforts not to look like he's taking advantage of a student, Mr. Grey finds himself jailed while Jamie's whisked away to a place where she can't vouch for him. The sweet old neighbor Nanna could have helped, but she's disappeared.
While Jamie holds tight to those few friends she's learned to trust, Crockett Grey begins to learn who his friends and enemies are. A curious power is being brought to bear with even stranger plans, plus access to the highest-level cardinals in the Vatican. When a high-tech ally goes phishing it's time to grab your sandwich and coffee and sit down-the story takes off and the reader won't stop reading for a while.
With the historical complexities of a Dan Brown novel, some Machiavellian conspiracies, a touch of witchcraft and one lost soul seeking to redeem the past, Sigmund Brouwer's The Canary List visits the Vatican and finds answers that leave the reader, Christian or atheist, to draw their own conclusions from a fascinating fictional tale. Action, travel, good and evil, guilt and innocence, all nicely drawn, make this a fun story seasoned with gentle scares and thought-provoking dangers.
Disclosure: I received a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Posted August 31, 2011
I'll start off by saying I liked this book. I was worried that I wouldn't because I thought it was just another book about corruption in the Catholic church. It was not that at all! It was interesting and had an excellent plot, which I didn't find predictable. While there were a few parts that I think were dragged out, once you got past them the story picked up. There were some occult references that made me uncomfortable but they were necessary for this story to work. While this is comes from a Christian publisher, I didn't find it to be preachy at all, just a good thriller. I would definitely recommend this book if you like mysteries and thrillers!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 26, 2011
Sigmund Brouwer has created quite the complex house of cards with The Canary List. He takes his time building the foundation, then slowly sets layer upon layer as his mysteries are revealed. I say "slowly" because there's a certain methodical, patient way in which Brouwer weaves his story, and yet I felt like I was on the edge of my seat, constantly uttering the most wonderful words a person can utter while reading a novel: Just one more chapter. I liked Brouwer's characters--Jaimie is tough and Crockett is sympathetic. The shifts in point-of-view between characters were well-done and timed perfectly, as you'd often view a scene from one person's perspective, then switch to the aftermath of that scene in another person's experience. It gave a beautiful rise and fall to the action of the story. Brouwer is a multi-published, best-selling author, so perhaps this shouldn't come as a surprise, but I was thrilled to read such a clean, polished piece of work. I found his style to be simply lovely and easy to swallow. Nice and smooth. I would certainly like to check out more of Brouwer's catalogue after reading The Canary List. It always feels weird when I make a specific section for comments about a book's Christianity or lack thereof, but it seems to apply for this book. Brouwer is dealing with the Catholic church here, and suggesting demonic involvement at the highest levels. It's difficult to tell if he's merely speculating for the sake of his fiction (this is considered speculative fiction, after all) or if there are some elements of his actual worldview included there. It didn't bother me one way or the other--the Christian church and the Catholic church are two totally different entities. But for those sensitive about this one way or the other, be advised. Additionally, Brouwer has carefully included several passages where characters make a point to say that the Catholic church shouldn't be villainized simply because of all the scandal and abuse over the years. It is an organization which is "largely good" and does great things throughout the world. So as to Brouwer's true worldview, I'm left scratching my head just a bit. Is he trying to placate the Catholic community by including these comments? Check out other reviews if you want to see how successful that wasn't. But at the end of the day, it didn't interrupt my enjoyment of the story. (Incidentally, I also believe that abuses can and do exist in good organizations, including the Church, and it shouldn't disqualify the entity as a whole. My problem with the Catholic church comes down to its theology, plain and simple.) Something I appreciated about Brouwer's work in The Canary List is his subtlety and the fact that Crockett's spiritual issues (he's an atheist) aren't tied up in a neat little package. He wrestles with spiritual matters, rather than receiving easy solutions to solve all his problems--you know, the kind of thing you often find in Christian fiction that resembles nothing about real life. Brouwer avoids this, which is another check in the "plus column" for me. Bottom Line: I zipped through this book, unable to put it down. That says a lot. If you like thrillers with a speculative twist, spiritual element, or both, check out The Canary List. Note: I received a free copy of The Canary List from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2011
If I could describe this book in one word, it would have to be "thrilling"! The book kept me guessing until the end...and then honestly, it still left me guessing. Jaimie Piper is a 12 year old foster child that has moved around from home to home, never fitting in anywhere. She has a special gift that is also her biggest problem. She can sense evil. Running for her life, she goes to one of the only people that she can trust, Crockett Grey, her teacher. Crockett has his own demons that he is dealing with, and Jaimie just adds to the mix placing him in a terrible situation. This book has layer upon layer of mystery, intrigue, and secrets that even involve the Vatican. I want to write more, but I don't want to ruin any of the surprises for future readers. I loved this book and highly recommended it!
I received this book for free from the publisher to write an unbiased, honest review.
Posted August 17, 2011
The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer
Jaimie is a twelve year old girl who had several issues including being able to sense darkness. Grockett Grey is a teacher who Jaimie comes to for help . As he helps her he uncovers much more and has to go pretty high up to uncover the mysteries of her "gift"
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review"
Posted August 16, 2011
"Protected by the dark of night, Jaimie Piper runs. But is anywhere safe when Evil is hunting you?
She's just a twelve year-old girl, bumped around between foster homes and relegated to school classes for challenged kids, those lagging in their test scores or with behavioral issues. But her real problem is that she can sense something the other kids can't-something dark. Something compelling her to run for her life.
All Crockett Grey wants is to mark the anniversary of his daughter's death alone.
But when his student Jaimie comes to him, terrified, her need for protection collides with his grief, and a tangled web of bizarre events sends them both spiraling toward destruction.
Crockett's one hope of getting his life back is to uncover the mysterious secrets of Jaimie's past and her strange gift. It isn't long before his discoveries lead him to a darker conspiracy, secrets guarded by the highest seat of power in the world-the Vatican."
This book held my attention from beginning to end. It kept me guessing as to how it would end. And even the ending was surprising. I felt drawn to the characters and rooted for them all the way through.
It also had me wondering if what happens in the book actually happens in the Catholic church or even in government. I do believe in the existence of demons but question the way that Catholics struggle to expel them. Jesus said be gone and they left and told us we only need to have the same faith and authority to do the same. Jesus gave us the authority in His name and we only need to have the faith.
There is not much to say about this book without giving away to much of the storyline. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in good fiction. As a matter of fact my 17 year old has already confiscated this book from me and told me I may not get it back.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Posted August 7, 2011
I would definitely not recommend this book for younger readers, for some content. Exorcism is presented as a placebo for those who want to blame mental illnesses on something or someone else, but there was still mention of it from time to time. It is mentioned that some in the papacy are pedophiles. Abez tries to convince Nathan to kill Crockett's neighbor, an elderly woman whose testimony would prove his innocence (and it is mentioned that Nathan killed his mother at Abez's bidding).
Actually, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
I was skeptical in the first place about the book, but I thought I'd try it since I enjoyed another of the author's books. I was severely disappointed. This book was more than a little out there, and I did not like the beliefs it showed.
Posted August 5, 2011
I want to say that Advanced Reader Copies that have still have obvious grammar, and spelling issues probably are not the best copies to send out for an honest review. It is very difficult to give a review on something that has many negatives just because the writing hasn't been polished. At least make sure you are mailing something that is hopefully way closer to the final product. As for the review though, I believe this book had good potential, but the story was not carried out well.
Crockett Grey (I had to think about how much I didn't like that name several times) has a student, Jamie, show up at his during the middle of the night. She is running from someone, and hope Mr. Grey can provide safety from the "Evil" that is after her. The plot reads well as a synopsis, and the first few pages will catch your attention. About halfway through the book it seems the story becomes very jumbled.
As I said there were some very obvious spelling and grammar issues, and I assume those will be edited before the final version. The story felt very weak though, and even though it was intended to be moving and insightful, I felt it was very unrealistic. I actually don't think I've read anything before, and thought it seemed unrealistic. I read many books that are very out there, and with fiction you think you can do anything because it is supposed to be fiction. It turns out that isn't the case, there is a limit in what you can do in some fiction.
I think the book has a lot of potential, but the writing seems very empty. I felt the author was writing at times to fill in space. I believe this book will either be liked or disliked. The setup has promise, but it gets too complex for the author to fully carry it out. The main characters name, Crockett, also just wasn't very good to me. At first I thought people were referring to him by last name. I think if he had made his last name, Grey, his first name that would have sounded even better.
This book was provided by Waterbook Press in exchange for a review.
Posted August 2, 2011
A mystery/thriller that is sure to keep readers on their toes the entire time! The Canary List is an intriguing book full of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing with surprise plot turns that ensure the reader will be fully engaged throughout the entire book.
When teacher Crocket Grey is drawn into a web of mystery, false accusations and confusion that lead to a troubling outcome all because of one student, he is forced to face personal demons all while fighting to help the student and keep himself out of trouble. The paths he is led down are a surprising as the ending. Readers will find themselves eager to turn the next page. A book that is difficult to put down and grows increasingly addictive with each chapter.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Unsure of what I was getting, I am so glad I opted to review this copy. I am eager to read more by the same author ans Brouwer spins an engaging tale that soon entangles his readers into a world of mystery and intrigue. Well worth the time to read it!!!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated for writing this review.