Andy Kemp’s young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger. As Andy’s mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy’s pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God. Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store. As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive “Summer Santa,” Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill. The identity of the gardener surprises them all—and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.
|Publisher:||BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
WILLIAM SIRLS, once a senior vice president in a large investment firm, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering and was incarcerated. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. The Sinners’ Garden is his second novel. His first novel, The Reason, was published in 2012. William makes his home in southern California and you can connect with him at WilliamSirls.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Sinners' Garden
By William Sirls
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Canyon Insulation, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ELEVEN YEARS LATER
Heather was parked on the far side of St. Paul's Church, half asleep, hoping a speeder wouldn't come by and trigger the radar gun. She'd been there for over an hour, resting her head against the bottom edge of the open driver's side window and staring dreamily at the full moon. Behind her, little puffs of wind came off of Lake Erie, gently blowing strands of brown hair across her cheek while cooling the sweat on the back of her neck.
She sat up and glanced at the clock on the dashboard. It was just past four in the morning, and her shift would be over in less than two hours. It had been another slow night, with only a few routine traffic stops, and one that was not so routine. She laughed out loud, thinking about it. She could still see the looks on the boys' faces—not one of them over seventeen—as she made them pour out the remaining nine beers on the side of the road. She had given the three a ride to their homes and then returned to drop a parking ticket under the driver's windshield wiper. It was part of the impromptu plea agreement that he'd graciously accepted. Such were the joys of being a small-town cop. Part peacekeeper. Part village mom.
Heather yawned and leaned forward to rest her chin on the steering wheel for another glance at that moon. Something seemed different about it tonight. It appeared to hover above the tree line that served as the southern border of Benning Township, a harbinger of a long, hot, sultry summer. Heather felt comforted by the peaceful glow it cast over the small town.
Her radio crackled to life, startling her. "Where are you, Heather?"
It was Natalie, from dispatch.
"Relaxing out near St. Paul's," Heather answered, gently tapping the radio against her cheek. "It's the only place in town that doesn't feel like a hundred degrees. Can you believe it's this hot in early June?"
A quick thread of static crackled over the radio and then Natalie's words came so clear it sounded like she was in the backseat.
"Get out to 1252 Old Parker Road, like ASAP!"
"Okay!" Heather said, fumbling to sit up straight and turn the key in the ignition. There were only five cops on the entire force and the department had never made a habit of using official radio jargon. "What's going on?"
"The woman who lives there called in to report an intruder. She and her kids are outside now."
"I'm on my way," Heather said, looking left and right.
"Heather." The tone in Natalie's voice had shifted from concerned to almost motherly.
"She says he may be armed. Be careful."
Heather felt a cool finger tap at the edge of her heart. She closed her eyes and tried to swallow. Her foot felt so heavy she couldn't let off the brake. Her mouth had gone dry and she glanced wildly out the window, finding it impossible not to think about her father.
Her eyes settled on the moon again. But it had changed.
Gone was the soothing glow, the promise of summer. Now it seemed more suited to black cats and trick-or-treaters than the beginning of summer in southeast Michigan. The glow now seemed more like a spooky yellow fog that outlined the tip of the church's steeple into something big enough to poke a hole in her tightly sealed box of bad memories.
She shook it off. You have a job to do, woman. Do it!
Heather slowly pulled onto West Jefferson Avenue, the two-lane highway that ran along the lake. She flipped on the roof lights, pressed on the accelerator, and when the speedometer passed a hundred, all she could hear was the wind and the continuous tapping of bugs dying on the cruiser's windshield.
With no other cars on the road, she made it out to Old Parker in less than five minutes and turned onto the heavily wooded road. The air now felt still and thick, even through her open window. She turned the roof lights off and tapped on the brakes, slowing the car down even more. The cruiser's tires chewed up gravel as she maneuvered around the potholes that littered Old Parker.
Natalie had given her the address, but only one house stood on this dead-end road.
As long as Heather could remember, the one-bedroom cottage had been a revolving door for welfare renters and a routine stop for domestic violence calls. Those visits had never bothered her, though. They normally just ended with someone spending the mandatory twenty hours in a cell to sleep something off before going back home for what would most likely be another round in the ring.
But this call was different. This was the type where a really bad thing could happen, because Natalie had used those four terrible words. Words she'd never heard before, in all her twelve years on the Benning Township police force.
He may be armed.
Heather thought about the new tenants and how she hadn't been to the house since they'd moved in. She had seen them a few times at church and heard they were the latest renters on Old Parker. The young mother kept her head bowed during most of the service, probably praying for a fresh start or enjoying the hour break from her three kids—the same munchkins who had quickly developed a reputation for tearing up the pre-K Sunday school room.
The woman was quiet and wore the same old beige dress every week. It needed a good cleaning and failed to cover the tattoos on her neck and arms that spoke of a past the woman herself seemed to want to forget. Once Heather gave her a smile as she walked into church, but the woman had instinctively covered her mouth to hide teeth rotting from years of drug use.
Most of the church knew the woman routinely collected whatever leftovers were on the punch table come Sunday noon. She waited for most of the congregation to leave before looking around the room to see who was watching. Then she'd stuff cookies, cheese, little sandwiches, or whatever else remained into oversized baggies and head home.
So who'd come after a woman like her? With nothing of note to steal? An ex-husband? An ex-accomplice?
Heather crouched forward, trying to spot the lone driveway that would soon be on her right. As she inched closer, the headlights slid off tree branches that hung over the road from both sides, giving her a tunneling effect that made her stomach turn.
She spotted the mailbox and put her foot on the brake. She paused and looked through the bug-smeared windshield, studying the road, waiting patiently to see if anything moved, then slowly pulled the car over to one side. She unsnapped her holster and ran her fingers across the top of the gun. Even touching it made her mouth dry.
She left the headlights on and stepped out of the car.
Despite the early hour, it was still ninety degrees, inviting what seemed like every insect in the world out for an early morning flight. All she could hear were crickets, and then a ship horn somewhere on the lake.
She took a few steps toward the mailbox and heard something. Whatever it was had run across some fallen branches and then stopped. She raised her pistol with both hands and took a few steps back. She waited and listened.
It moved again. It was closer this time, louder.
And then she saw them.
They looked like ghosts as they came out of the darkness into the tail end of the headlights' beams. They were coming right at her, directly down the center of the road. She lowered the gun. It was the woman from church, carrying a baby, and with her two other children clinging to her sides.
"Is anyone hurt?" Heather asked.
"No," the woman said, breathing hard. It was the first time Heather had heard her voice. It was a tiny voice, one that didn't belong to a rough crowd, but rather to a frightened little girl. It was also the first time Heather had seen the woman without makeup. Her cheeks were pockmarked and tear-soaked against the light, and Heather cringed, wondering again why an intruder would target the poorest woman in town.
"What's your name?" Heather asked.
"Becky," the woman said.
"Becky, I want you to get behind the car and stay put. I don't have backup."
"Okay," she said.
Heather reached through the driver's side window and turned off the headlights. She stepped back behind the car and glanced over her shoulder to the mailbox. She saw nothing. It was now completely black, but her eyes were quickly adjusting.
"Did he leave? Or is he still in the house?"
"I think he's still in there."
"Why?" Heather asked. "After all this time?"
"I don't know," she answered. "And he had something in his hand. I was worried it was a gun."
No, Heather thought. Lord, no.
The little boy on the woman's shoulder looked up at Heather. He was maybe a year old, and his big, round eyes blinked slowly, seemingly unconcerned. The other two kids continued to weep, still gripping at the lower half of their mother's pink pajama bottoms.
"There's a bad guy in our house," the oldest boy said. Heather guessed he was around five. He let go of his mother's leg and wiped tears with both hands. "I don't want him in my house."
"I want you to crouch down and stay put beside your mother," Heather said. "How many doors go in and out of the house?"
"Just two," the woman answered.
"Is there a basement?"
"Okay. Don't move."
The woman nodded obediently and lowered herself to sit down in the gravel. She shifted the baby to her other arm, and the other two kids knelt around her, their heads even with the back bumper.
"It's gonna be okay," Heather said, running her hand across the top of the woman's shoulder.
"I just cashed my check," Becky said. "It's in my purse. It's probably what he wants. What am I gonna do if he takes it?"
"That money is for our grocees," the little boy said. He looked at his sister, probably a year younger than him, and she nodded in agreement.
"Don't worry about that, honey," Heather said.
The little girl leaned against her mother's shoulder and looked at Heather. "Will you tell him to leave?"
Heather stood and turned back toward the mailbox again. She was no longer frightened. Something about the way the little boy said "groceries" had knocked her right off that tightrope of flight or fight.
She looked down at the woman and gritted her teeth, oddly welcoming the heat of rage that ran through her. This poor woman wasn't just some tattooed druggie trying to get her life together. She had been seeking God's help. And now this guy was threatening to send her into a tailspin of fear.
Heather put her pistol back in her holster and quickly opened the driver's side door of the cruiser. She leaned in and snatched the shotgun off its mount. She slammed the door shut and pulled the pump back on the gun. She glanced up at the sky, and that strange moon seemed to be staring right at her.
This is for you, Dad.
She checked the safety on the gun and then pushed the pump forward, sending the first shell into the barrel. She walked quickly, hugging the right side of the road until she passed the mailbox and stood at the foot of the driveway. She could see the house. It was nothing more than a shadow, a black square pressed back in the trees. Heather cut across the lawn toward the front door. She tiptoed behind a bed of shrubs near the front window and then slowly peeked in the house. It was too dark inside, and she glanced back down the driveway, then up at the sky. Her heart beat faster and the shot of adrenaline that went through her body let her know she was ready.
She ducked below the valance of the front window and stepped up on the porch. The main door was open, and the only thing that separated her from her first potential encounter of her career with an intruder—an armed intruder—was a screen door with a softballsize tear in the mesh.
She listened. She waited. She heard nothing.
Okay, buddy, she thought. Game on.
She pressed her thumb on the door handle and held her breath.
Thankfully, it didn't make a sound and she slowly pulled the door open. She leaned against it and raised the gun, its long, dark barrel entering the house before she did. She paused again and then stepped inside, immediately greeted by the scents of mold and soiled diapers. She gently closed the screen door behind her and it clicked, sending what felt like an icy mallet against the side of her heart. She took a deep breath and waited.
It was time to be quiet. It was time to be still.
She couldn't hear anything. The stock of the shotgun was pressed firmly against her cheek, allowing the business end of the gun to follow her head and eyes. In the moonlight that came through the windows, she could see a playpen only a few feet away, directly in the center of the family room. Scattered on the thin carpeting around it were a collection of Barbie dolls, a blanket, and a sippy cup with a missing top. Beyond the playpen, a sofa was pulled a few feet away from the far wall. On second glance, the sofa was the only furniture in the room. There were no chairs, no tables, no decorations. All she could see on any of the walls were three head-high holes just beyond the couch that were about the size of fists.
She scanned the rest of the room and then turned to her right toward the adjoining small kitchen. No one was there. If he was still in the house, he would be down the narrow hallway that separated the family room and the kitchen. It split from the far side and led to what she assumed was the back of the house.
She stepped around the playpen and to the edge of the hallway. She lowered her gun, took another deep breath, and then slowly peeked around the corner.
She raised her gun again, took a step into the hallway, and the floor creaked. Anybody in the house would have heard it and she quickly crouched, waiting and listening.
Silence. Had he left?
She rose and took a few steps. About ten feet down to her right, she could see the outline of the back door. At the end of the hall was what looked like a bathroom, and just in front of it, to her left, was what had to be the only bedroom.
She passed the back door and came to the bedroom, pausing before raising the gun back to her cheek. She slowly looked around the corner of the doorway and once again saw nothing. She sighed and exhaled. He was gone.
Heather backed up into the hallway and faced the bathroom.
That was when she heard the floor creak behind her. She felt her throat close and then turned around.
He was standing right in front of her.
"Freeze!" she yelled, quickly raising the gun toward his chest.
He stood perfectly still.
Heather wondered how she had missed him when she entered the house. He had to have been in the kitchen, or behind the couch, watching her the whole time.
Everything he had on—shirt, shoes, pants, gloves, and ski mask—was black. He was nothing more than a dark silhouette, standing at the kitchen end of the hallway with his arms at his sides.
Heather waited for him to move. Wanted him to move. He didn't, and despite the darkness, she could see something in his right hand.
"Drop it!" she yelled.
He did, and it barely made a noise as it landed on the carpet.
"Put your hands in the air!"
He stared at her for a few seconds and his head leaned toward his left shoulder. And then he slowly raised his hands until they stopped slightly above his head.
Heather could hardly breathe. Her heart felt like a rabbit kicking at the inside of a cage, and what she wanted to yell only came out as a whisper. "Wh-what are you doing here?"
His head tilted from side to side in slow motion, and then it was still. He extended his right arm a little farther above his head, his gloved palm facing the ceiling.
"What are you doing here?" Heather repeated, louder this time. She sensed the desperation in her own voice and it weakened her. "Why them?"
The man just stared at her. He craned his neck forward, allowing the moonlight that came in from the window on the back door to add a shine to his dark eyes behind the mask. He now seemed less human, and as far as Heather was concerned, he was responsible for every nightmare she'd ever had. He took a step toward her.
"Stop right there!" she said, her finger sliding to the thin part of the trigger.
His right arm slowly lowered and he pointed right at her. He was unarmed, yet clearly unafraid. She imagined herself pulling ever so slightly on the trigger. It was the shot she had been waiting over twenty years to take. It was both the reason she always wanted to be a cop and the reason she'd feared being one.
Excerpted from The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls. Copyright © 2013 Canyon Insulation, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
William Sirls' books are compelling reads.Even though I read them several weeks ago, I can't wait to read them again because I know I will still enjoy it and get more from it. They are deep, thought-provoking, inspiring, and enjoyable books. I can't wait to read more of this author. The Sinners Garden revolves around an abused mother and son, her brother,a friend, and a minister friend. There is dishonesty, a former convict,a garden, a "Summer Santa", and bullying. This one also has it's own lessons to teach.I recieved them from the author and the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
William Sirls has a way of taking a group of intricate individuals and weaving a storyline that embraces the subject of grace, a word that has extra special meaning to me this year. I enjoyed The Sinner’s Garden as much as The Reason, one of his other books. I enjoy William Sirls’ style of writing and how he keeps me interested from the beginning to the end with various twists and turns. Can’t wait to read what else he writes. I received this book for free from BookClubNetwork in exchange for my honest review. This review is posted on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Deeper Shopping.
Great read. Got more?
I thought this book was sort of good but I'm not really sure I liked it.
What a great book! I really enjoyed William Sirls' first book "The Reason" but I believe I enjoyed this second one even more. This book has all the inspiration of a nonfiction book but it is told in a fiction setting. Andy Kemp has a huge scar on his face from an abusive father. His mother is trying to reconnect with him. Meanwhile, Judi's brother, Rip, has just gotten out of prison and has gotten his life together. He is Andy's best friend and confidante. Andy discovers that his Ipod is "speaking" to him and Rip is convinced it's God. We follow their journey. Also there is someone breaking into houses but they are delivering items/money to people that really need it. Heather is the cop and ex-girlfriend of Rip who is trying to find out who this person is. There is a little suspense in this book with trying to find out who Secret Santa is. This book has you diving into the characters after the first chapter! I would definitely recommend this book to everyone! William Sirls is a very gifted writer and I will read more books by him. I received this book from bookfun for my honest opinion.
The Sinner’s Garden is the second William Sirls’ books that I’ve read and it did not fail to deliver in any way. His writing style is so refreshing, honest and incredibly creative in the story telling process. I thoroughly enjoyed The Sinner’s Garden and could not put it down. In a world where really ugly things happen to innocents, it is sometimes hard to understand how God would allow such things to those He professes to love. Yet it is through such tragedies and heart breaks that God does some of His best work in loving His creation. Rip comes from a jaded past but has taken repentance seriously and is determined to live his life for Christ. He looks at his imprisonment as a time to return to God and continues to live out his life in a way that glorifies God even in the most mediocre of jobs and housing. His love for his nephew, Andy, is second only to his love for God and he’s determined to teach Andy to love God. Andy is learning to be independent and to live with his disfigurement as the result of his abusive father. His anger and blame are not concealed and his lonely existence makes it hard for he and his mother, Judi, to connect. But in his avoidance of God, his iPod becomes his connection to God’s voice and he begins speaking truth that not everyone is interested in hearing. Judi has spent too many years blaming herself for Andy’s injuries and scars. Taking the martyr role, she has lost her joy and her connection with her son. Heather is a cop out of obligation and she’s on the trail of a strange man who is playing Santa in town. Although he provides great gifts to those in need, he is still breaking the law. While pursuing the capture of this Summer Santa, Heather begins inadvertently uncovering clues to an unsolved case that could put her in great danger. Together, this group finds a garden where God is clearly speaking to them. If only they would be willing to listen. One of the best quotes from this book is spoken by Pastor Welsh as he speaks to Rip. He says, “But there’s a balance, Rip. Between accepting that God is glory, and allowing ourselves to be open enough to reflect that glory. It’s not so much about what we do – what we do to try and make up for past mistakes, or try and live a life that is exemplary.” I loved the way the story taught the characters about forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation and repentance. It also taught them about thankfulness in less than perfect circumstances as Heather says, “about how things we take for granted, someone else is praying for…” I would highly recommend The Sinner’s Garden and thoroughly enjoyed reading and reviewing it. I received this book from The Book Club Network and William Sirls in exchange for my honest opinion.
I so enjoyed this book and it intrigued me from the beginning! The characters came alive – from the abused wife, the former convict, the rebellious teen, and the true-love-passed-her-by policewoman. They all had hurts and secrets but not only are they drawn together by (mostly) family ties, they also see the mysterious garden and are being changed by God. And then, weaving through their stories, there is also the “Summer Santa” who leaves large gifts, answers to prayers, to the townspeople. Yet opposite the Summer Santa, or is he the same person, is the unkind, evil, two-faced boss of Rip. This book had it all – mystery, romance, joy and sadness! Mr. Sirls did an excellent job through a fictional book of pointing to the peace and joy we have in knowing Christ and the hope for the future in heaven. I thought, before reading this book, that it sounded a little too hoaxy. But, as I read it I so enjoyed it that even though it was in some ways unbelievable, it also seemed so real. I enjoyed the fact that even the characters thought the garden was too unreal to even tell friends about it - which made the story less farfetched! I highly recommend this book!
The Sinner’s Garden by William Sirls is every bit as intense his first book, The Reason, if not more so! I found it to be a novel that was nearly impossible to put down, captivated from the beginning. Sometimes when the Lord wants our attention, He uses His people to deliver His message. It may be a pastor’s sermon or the gentle mentoring of a layperson. But – a teen who doesn’t believe in God, who is compelled to speaks the words he hears through his iPod? A man in black who breaks into homes or a community center to leave much-needed money or other gifts? Andy is an angry young man, scarred by a burn since he was a toddler. He doesn’t remember anything he hears on his iPod and repeats to his mother, his mother’s best friend, or to the wealthiest, most powerful man in town. A man who will do anything to silence the words that seem to mock his sincerity and position. Heather’s father, a police officer, was murdered when she was a child. She followed his footsteps into police work, and hoped to one day find the murderer. The only man she ever loved is Rip, recently released from a 3-year stint in prison, Andy’s beloved uncle. Now that he is an ex-con and she a police officer, the odds are against them being more than just friends. Rip came to believe in Jesus when he was in prison, a captive audience in more ways than one. He now has an unshakable faith in God, and goes to any lengths to show that to those he loves. As he spends time with Andy, doing the things that a father would typically do with a son, they discover something special and unique – a perfectly-tended garden that seems to have sprung up overnight, in an area where only a few people could find it. Mysteries abound in this small town even as those who are in desperate need of money suddenly find themselves recipients of the burglar who brings money rather than leaving it. And it is up to Heather to solve the current rash of break-ins as she also tries to solve her father’s murder and hold onto the gift she found in the garden. God is granting incredible blessings to those who believe in this small town in southeast Michigan, blessings often delivered by the mystery man in black… Favorite quotes: “God must be in prison.” “Prison was God’s way of putting me in time-out.” “We aren’t here for our own good. We are here to glorify God.” Only the Lord could have inspired this simply profound story and place it into the heart of a man who had reached one of the absolute lows of his life in prison. It is true that when we are in the darker days of our lives, the Lord reaches to us even as we reach up for Him, and that is evidenced in this outstanding novel. I highly recommend this novel to adults of all ages who are looking for a fresh reminder of God’s love and grace, to those who are in a prison of concrete and razor wire or a broken body or spirit. The element of the mysteries appeals to those who love good, clean suspense novels, and Andy, his mother, uncle, and Heather’s relationships appeal to those who like family drama. I would especially recommend this to those who sit on the fence of whether they believe in the God who loves them, and all who are struggling through some of the tough circumstances of life. I received a copy of this book through the “For Readers Only” group at The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
Once again William Sirls brings his readers a book about hope, forgiveness and restoration. The Sinners Garden keeps the reader's attention with interesting characters, mystery and romance. Some things may seem a bit far fetched such as God speaking through an iPod but then again He spoke through Balaam's donkey too! The reader comes away knowing that God can work in and through ordinary people in desperate situations. Here's hoping Sirls is hard at work on novel #3! Another good author to follow. I received this book for free from BookClubNetwork and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I have also posted this review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Deeper Shopping.
The Sinners Garden by William Sirls There are some books that bring out the best and worst emotions in you. The Sinners Garden did just that. I felt the pain of the characters, I cried with them, felt the joy of forgiveness and the anger of injustice. This 5 star book took me on an emotional rollercoaster. It caused me to pause and reflect on occasions. The ending was a big surprise I never saw coming. The author William Sirls’s strong faith is evident in his writings. Life in the small town of Benning’s has taken an interesting turn. There is the elusive “Summer Santa” that is blessing the neediest of citizens. Miracles are being preformed, God is speaking and faith and forgiveness can be found. Andy and his mother have had a rough go of it. He feels his disfigurement is her fault. And her unwillingness to talk about the past leaves him with no other choice but to believe the lies he has been feed. God uses Andy with prophetic words and dreams. His Uncle Rip does everything he can to mentor and help Andy find his way. Through the miracle of a garden of wildflowers they find hope, faith, healing and the love of God. To quote Rip, “God is who He says He is, He is going to do what He says He is going to do, and that we always have access to Him. We aren’t here for our own good. We are here to glorify God.” I highly recommend this book. The author William Sirls did a great job of showing that God did not only perform miracles 2000 years ago but still does them even today. I found The Sinners Garden to be a compelling story of faith, forgiveness and hope. The Book Club Network Inc. provided me with this book in exchange for my honest review and I am so grateful for their, the authors and publishers generosity.
A Roller Coaster Ride of Emotional Contrast – Weird to Wonderful - Chilling Suspense – Rewarding Reading In his novel “The Sinner’s Garden” William Sirls skillfully incorporates a small town’s secrets and fractured relationships as they intersect with supernatural intervention, miraculous healing, redemption, reconciliation, and new hope. Intense drama, comedic relief, and stimulating dialog keep a complex plot moving from the powerful prologue to the unexpected surprise ending in this novel - with a message, a story which is aimed to make a difference in the life of the reader. I was moved with emotion, drawn into the realism of the struggles of individual characters as I identified them as “friends.” A helpful Reading Group Guide is included with heart searching questions for stimulating discussion. “The Sinner’s Garden” promises to insure new fans for William Sirls and has the potential for making an impact on building the faith of the reader. Highly recommended. I was provided a review copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.
Thought Provoking! In a small town on Lake Erie bizarre events occur, creating questions why a 14-year-old boy would begin to hear strange music from his iPod, and speak prophetic proclamations to a handful of people. His face is badly scarred as the result of scalding water splashing his face as a small child, As a result Andy has withdrawn into a world of books, leaving his mother devastated and guilt ridden, unable to bridge the gap that exists between them. His uncle is his mentor, and spends as much time as possible with Andy. A Summer Santa of sorts begins leaving large sums of money and gifts for needy people in the community, and a mysterious flower garden appears behind Andy's family property. This garden is an enigma, but definitely containing a spiritual presence witnessed by a select few. The Sinners' Garden is a heart wrenching story of unique characters, very well defined and authentic. The locale is described in an explicit manner, creating an atmosphere of convincing proportions. This book is filled with spiritual themes that are interwoven into the lives of each of the individuals represented in this book. As guilt evolves into forgiveness, forgiveness leads to hope and love. The flower garden holds the keys to unresolved issues in the lives of those it affects. This supernatural garden represents heaven, healing grace, and forgiveness of sins. As the affected characters in this story sense and eventually visualize God in the garden their lives take on new meaning. The power of faith leads to mercy and grace in this spiritual journey. I highly recommend this incredibly unique story of the power of God's love as evidenced in the lives of a colorful cast of characters. It's a page turner that will keep you questioning where this journey will leave you. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
This book opened up a lot of emotions for me. An entire one fourth of the book I had tissues in hand. It had amazing characters-- Judi Kemp who suffered domestic abuse for years, Heather Gerisch who was a police with the Benning Police Department and was haunted by her father's death, Judi's son Andy whose face was scarred at the age of three and carried hatred and unbelief like a cloak, Pastor Welsh whose spiritual wisdom was an integral part in all of their lives and Gerald "Rip" Ripley, and ex-con who had turned over a new leaf and given his life to God. If I had to choose my favorite character it would be hard. I loved them each for different reasons but Andy and Rip stand out as my favorites. I could literally feel Andy's misery over the scar on his face. Every time he pulled his hair over to cover it from view, my heart went out to him. Watching his transformation from a scarred fourteen year-old who was always hiding and hating into a confident young man that finally recognized God in his life was nothing short of amazing. Rip is my hero in this book for numerous reasons that I can't go into without spoiling the book for those who haven't read it yet, but I will say I loved him for the way he loved Andy. He was more of a father to Andy than an uncle, always soothing his hurts and encouraging him to get to know God. I also loved the first five rules of the Bible he always made Andy quote. ____________________Book Quote____________________ "Love God with all your heart and soul," Andy spit out quickly, as if the words were choking him. Rip held his thumb up and waited the kid out. "Two," Andy said quietly, "is love your neighbor." Rip smiled. "Lay number three on me." Andy tilted his head. "Rule number three...help God make His house bigger." "You got it!" Rip yelled. "Number four?" Andy crossed his arms. "Don't mess with people who handle your food." "Finish it with number five, bro!" Andy lifted an arm and held up three fingers. "Number five. Only the first three rules count." ____________________End Quote____________________ Besides the characters, which I truly loved, the plot was simply amazing. It was nothing like I have ever read before. The flower garden, or "Little piece of Heaven" as Rip called it, The Summer Santa and a fourteen year-old kid hearing God through an IPod was genius as a story line. It was a very strong plot and I loved watching the characters develop as the story progressed. It spoke of believing and forgiveness and giving your life to God completely with no doubts. This story had the most spiritual wisdom I have ever seen imparted in a book. One particular lesson really opened my eyes and made me see exactly one area I continue to fail in daily. For the rest of my life when I am complaining about the things I don't have I'll think about the following quote from Pastor Welsh that Heather imparted to Judi. ____________________Book Quote____________________ "Remember what Welsh has always told us about a hundred times...about how things we take for granted, someone else is praying for?" ____________________End Quote____________________ How much more truth can be in a simple statement. This book is full of eye-opening wisdom but you will have to read it yourself to get the full effect and I highly encourage you to do so. It is a story that will keep you riveted and turning the pages at a rapid pace. But just a small warning from one reader to another, if you have never read a book by William Sirls, and I can say this from personal experience, you WILL be hooked. This is his second book and I fully plan to go back and read his debut novel, The Reason. Keep in mind that you will need tissues because there are some very heart-wrenching moments. This is easily one of my favorite books EVER and I recommend it to ANYONE that likes a story full of spiritual insight, intrigue and amazing plot and characters. Sheer genius! Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone. If I recommend a book it is simply because I enjoyed it. I received no monetary compensation for this review.
As a blogger/reviewer/reader/bookguy, I tend to read a lot of books. I tend to read a lot of books that I consider to be suspense or intrigue or thriller novels. Sometimes, though, a book comes along that attracts me for different reasons, reasons that I can’t really put into words. This book, “The Sinners’ Garden”, is definitely one of those books. What do a teenager, his mother an ex-con and a cop all have in common? Sounds like the beginning to a very bad joke doesn’t it? In this case, these 4 individuals are showcased in their need for redemption. Andy, the teen, has been abused by his father and stays hidden behind painful scars. His mother has drifted mentally away and desperately wants to reconnect. His uncle, Rip, is being released from prison and wants to thrust himself into the role of the male figure in Andy’s life in order to right the wrongs of his past. And Heather, who is on her path of finding out who keeps breaking into the homes in town. Throw in a seemingly out of place flourishing garden and the Master Gardener behind it all, and you have the makings of a book that will stay with you forever. Do yourself a favor, GO BUY THIS BOOK! I will admit that as a typical guy, sometimes the details of things escapes me. I’m not always as interested in how things looked like or felt like or what direction you went, as long as I know that there was a mystery that needed solving and you solved it. I do tend to skip or skim over text that goes into a lot of detail and there were times in this book that I found myself doing that. It’s important to note, though, that that isn’t a slam on the author, it’s just not my style of reading. Once I get the gist of what’s happening in a paragraph, if there isn’t dialogue, I move onto the next one. I loved how deep and immersed that I became with the characters in the book, almost like they became friends of mine. I would be interested in revisiting with these characters in the future to see how they’ve grown after this novel. My other thought on this book centers around what I feel was a main component of this book, redemption. I think there was a clear story line of redemption with these characters, but I think the author left out some great opportunities to wrap the redemptive qualities of Christ into this book. As I’m sure he was going for an all-inclusive audience with his book, it may cause others to feel a little let down that he didn’t follow through with the whole story of redemption. Is this a guy’s book? This is not your typical shoot-em up, run-em down or kill-em novel. I would venture to say that if you are into those books and only those books, then you should avoid this book. BUT, if you are guy that can enjoy a book that reminds us of God’s love and attention, then you should definitely pick this book up to read.
William Sirls in his new book, “The Sinner’s Garden” published by Thomas Nelson takes us into the life of Andy Kemp. From the back cover: In the small Lake Erie township of Benning, someone is at work cultivating a supernatural garden … Andy Kemp’s young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger. As Andy’s mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy’s pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God. Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store. As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive “Summer Santa,” Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill. Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty. God made the Garden of Eden then put Adam and Eve in it and told them to tend it for Him. When they were kicked out they were told that there would now be thorns and weeds for them to deal with. When we step outside our homes we need to see that the people we come in contact with are dealing with thorns and weeds in their lives Our actions either help them eliminate some of those thorns and weeds or contribute to making more of them. William Sirls has made Benning Township “The Sinner’s Garden” and we get to see the results of the actions of some of the people in this town. ”The Sinner’s Garden” is filled with great characters brought to life in the hands of a very skillful author. Each character comes alive on the pages and we care about every single one of them, even the not so nice ones. “The Sinner’s Garden” is a marvelous read full of atmosphere and details. Mr. Sirls knows how to tell a story that is both interesting and thought-provoking and I recommend it highly. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. 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.”
This book is in my top 4 best books ever. I would buy anything by William Sirls. He is a great writer. I would recommend this book to absolutely everyone!!
The Sinner's Garden by William Sirls is a story about healing, family, choices, heartache, redemption and so much more. This is Sirls’ second book (see a review for his first book here) and hopefully not his last. The story surrounds Judi Kemp, her son Andy, her brother Gerald "Rip" Ripley and her best friend Heather Gerisch. Each of them are in desperate need of a sign from God in their lives. They need His direction and leadership. Their Pastor, Pastor Welsh, is helping them, but he can only do so much. When supernatural things begin occurring in their life, it becomes apparent that their lives are somehow going to change. I really enjoyed this book and felt myself being drawn into the story. The characters are very believable and interesting. Their flaws are, unfortunately, rather relatable to things that many people deal with in their own lives. Their story is more of a journey, which is true to my Christian walk as well. The "villain" is also very real and some one that could easily be in anyone's life. Though hopefully not in such an extreme manner as in the book. I was impressed by Sirls ability to show the effects of horrible choices on the characters and on the lives that touched their own. No person lives in a bubble and Sirls was able to demonstrate this in his story. I definitely recommend this book. It was intriguing, mysterious and heartwarming. I was given a copy of this book by the publish in exchange for review. All opinions are my own.
William Sirls' characters are so real. I liked this novel even better than his first. Too often, Christian novelists write characters that are too perfect...The Sinners' Garden is filled with REAL characters...with flaws, with real hopes and dreams, who have lived through real heartaches and disappointments. You'll relate to these characters so well that you'll be sad when the story ends. Maybe Sirls will write a sequel someday. A really good read.
As a member of William Sirl's Street Team that read an advanced copy of the book, I must say that this book is equally as good as his first debut novel, The Reason. I could relate to each and every character in this book, at some point in my life. He will captivate you from the very first page and keep you engaged to the very end! Another excellent read. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages! Susan Vermeire, Newport News, VA
William Sirls does it again, delivering such a powerful message. I could not put this book down. An excellent read!
We live in a world that is so quick to count us out or put us down, depending on how it sees us. How grateful we should be that our Heavenly Father sees who we are, knows what we have done and loves us unconditionally. In Williams Sirls' newest literary offering THE SINNERS' GARDEN, we are reminded not only of God's love but his purpose for all of us. The cast of characters we meet are just like us: broken, imperfect, yet capable of things that might seem impossible to some. Take Andy for instance. Many will be able to relate to the resentment he feels in life because of what we has experienced. Will he be able to accept the truth and forge a better relationship with those who love him before it's too late? And there's Uncle Rip: a man that many would have dismissed because of his past deeds, but when he begins to share lessons that are the result of his transformation and renewed sense of purpose will others give him the benefit of the doubt? We also meet Heather the police officer: another individual who wants to do good, hoping to find some peace in her life. Will some unexplainable events in the town be just what she needs to not just have faith in God but renewed faith in man as well? One of the characters that will really stick with you, however (not that they all don't make their mark), is Pastor Welsh. The way he appreciates what God has done in his life and that of his father and now the town will remind you of what He is able to do for you as well. One of the most powerful passages in the book (and there are many) is when the Pastor and Andy are having a serious conversation about God and his Will: "God has blessed you," Pastor told Andy, " and you're helping Him help others.". Andy seems doubtful. "I want to help," he says to the Pastor, " but other than that dream, it seems like God's left me." THAT'S when the Pastor gives us a huge nugget of encouragement: "God never leaves," he says. "People leave Him, but he won't leave you." That is, to me, one of the main messages of this book. God loves us so much that He is willing to meet us where we are. All we have to do is make the effort, and that is what Sirls shows so beautifully in this book. Rich with meaning and full of characters you won't soon forget, THE SINNERS' GARDEN is sure to leave you wanting more.