on Oct. 7, 2011 :
What an interesting read! I don't think I have ever read a book like this one, but I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed the creative approach to the afterworld and I liked the very descriptive way that the author created every scene. I loved that the Wasteland was a lot like earth, except for no people and how lonely and miserable it can be even though it was beautiful. I especially enjoyed the concept that the things we do on earth affects others and that you will have to pay for your mistakes; but that you can find redemption if you truly want to. I also like that no matter what faith you are, you can find something you can relate to and it gives you a lot to consider. Daniel was a very believable character and although I don't agree with what he did, I came to like him as he truly repented of his mistakes.
I do wish we could have delved more into Jonah's character. I came away not really sure what was going on with him and I would have liked to understand him more.
It's not exactly an upbeat book, but I enjoyed it and I feel like it has me thinking about a few things differently than before. I encourage you to pick up this book with an open mind and you just might find some redeeming qualities!
(reviewed 37 days after purchase)
on July 19, 2011 :
As I'm reading this book it comes to mind what a very evil man Daniel is. What I believe is that repentance is made before one dies, not after. By that time it is to late.
Daniel does seem to have a conscience, especially after he has died, when he is shown all the evil deeds he has committed.
The Author has weaved a really good story, and keeps your interest right to the end. Although I don't agree with the outcome. If you read this as a book of fantasy, it is very good! As a Christian, I have problems with the precept that you can change your outcome after death, but as an entertaining story, this book can fill the spot!
The book was given to me by the Author, and I was not required to give a positive review.
(reviewed 46 days after purchase)
on July 5, 2011 :
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Is it possible to con your way out of hell? That’s the question surrounding Deanne Blackhurst’s latest novel Sleight of Hand. Fifty-two year old Daniel Cabrero dies when a cons he’s running goes bad. After his death he finds himself in a purgatory-like place called the Wasteland. Aside from a guide named Jonah that comes and goes, Daniel is completely alone with only his memories of the past to keep him company. Eventually he realizes that his time in the Wasteland is only temporary and it’s up to him to ether redeem himself and move on to a place called Providence City or to a dark place from where there’s no return.
What I liked: The author did an excellent job of showing how one’s actions, for better or worse, affect other people. Many of the scenes where Daniel could see how his selfishness and scams hurt others people were very heart wrenching. The world of the Wasteland is also very creative and original. Though the Wasteland is very beautiful and many worldly pleasures can be conjured out of thing air but without anyone to share them with, the loneliness overshadows the world’s beauty. Daniel is also a solid character and the author does a good job of making Daniel’s eventual redeeming change feel natural and real—not an easy thing to do.
What could be improved: The relationship between Daniel and Jonah felt very stiff throughout the novel. While that worked at the beginning when they were getting to know each other, the relationship still felt rigid long after they had supposedly become friends. The book also could have used an edit. There were some glaring typos and transition issues that could have been fixed with the help of an editor.
Who would enjoy it: Though the book has a religious theme (concepts of right and wrong, heaven and hell) the author goes out of her way to create an afterlife something that someone from just about any faith could relate to. The book would probably be most enjoyed by those who are somewhat or very religious or have a belief in some kind of afterlife.
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)
on June 24, 2011 :
I have to admit that when I began this book, I really was not sure what I would think. It was a different sort of book than I normally read. I generally do not read books that deal with the afterlife. It was a little different to have the main character spend most of his life in the book as a dead man.
As I continued to read the book, I was greatly impressed by the author's ability to tell a compelling story and create such intriguing characters. I cannot say that Daniel was someone I actually liked. I know a lot of reviewers felt sorry for him and grew to like him, but I cannot say I ever did. The end was actually a bit of a disappointment for me in that respect. I will say that the author minced no words when describing his depraved past.
The thing that disturbed me most about the book was that it took a different view of the afterlife than I believe. I was able to set all that aside, but I do not like the idea of someone getting a second chance after death to make everything right--especially a character like Daniel. In my opinion, all the pain and suffering he felt after death did not atone for the atrocities he did while alive. I would have much preferred having the story follow the line of thinking in "A Christmas Carol" or "It's a Wonderful Life." I prefer the idea of changing your life while still alive rather than waiting for death. It would have been nice for Daniel to wake up at the end and realize everything was a dream and that he still had a chance to right some wrongs while alive.
I realize that I come from the perspective of an evangelical Christian, and that could turn some people off to my review, and that is fine. The stories I mentioned are favorites of mine that deal with people coming back from the dead as angels or ghosts. Those stories can still be enjoyed by me in spite of my personal beliefs. Understand that my issues with the book were making things right while still alive instead of waiting until after death.
My only other complaint was the ending. I felt that the author somewhat rushed the last chapter or two, and I would have preferred a little more explanation at that point. But that is just my preference.
Would I recommend this book? I really depends on many things. If you are one who enjoys a well-written story about divine justice and the afterlife, this may very well be the book for you. I cannot fault the author for writing a book that embodied a clever tale with a variety of characters and situations. However, if you are like me and prefer to see people handle the issues of their lives before they die, this book may not be the one for you.
I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are one hundred percent my own.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
Karen E. Hoover
on June 24, 2011 :
I saw Deanne co-teach a class with her brother, Jeff Savage, at the LDStorymakers Writing Conference and was rather impressed with her knowledge. She was right up there with her brother in sharing information, unlike so many other team-teaching presentations I've seen where one person dominates the discussion. She held her own with her multi-published brother, and I loved seeing the two of them interact.
That made reading and reviewing this book that much more fun, as I had already seen that she knew her stuff, I was not surprised to discover that she knew how to write as well.
Sleight of Hand is the story of a con-man who dies just before he is about to get out of the con business, and once in the afterlife, discovers that he has to pay for the pain he inflicted on others. It's all about progression, understanding, change, and forgiveness, both of self and from a loving Heavenly Father.
When I first started reading, I wasn't sure I was going to like the book. I mean, I knew Deanne knew how to write, she was excellent at it, in fact, but the main character was a con-man? How was I supposed to identify with him? Fortunately, Deanne's writing style and attention to detail kept me reading, and as I saw the growth in the main character as he faced the actions of his past, I came to love him as a person, imperfect as he was, and by the end of the book I was in tears. It was fantastic. Some of the best Christian Fiction I've read. Ever.
Deanne, I salute you. Y0u have created a believable world that enchanted me and made me want to believe in your version of an afterlife. It was beautifully written and masterfully carried out. I would recommend this book to any Christian reader.
Deanne has thoughtfully made the digital version of this book available to readers at a remarkable price through August 31st. Go HERE and enter the code MX73D on checkout to get the book for $1.99. It's worth the price, believe me. Actually, it is worth much, much more. I can't stop thinking about this story, and was actually sad to see it end.
Take a chance, guys. READ. THIS. BOOK! It is amazing to see a master at work.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
on June 12, 2011 :
Plot: For a fictional novel, this book impacted me very much. I loved the entire story, from the Daniel's sudden death in the beginning to the emotional ending.
Characters: As much as Daniel was a selfish man, I felt sorry for him from the beginning. I understood him and knew why he felt the way he did. He was a character that was easy to connect with. Jonah, his spirit guide, was also an interesting character that I'm glad we got to know in-depth.
Setting: I liked that the people in the afterlife have the ability to change scenery at will, which made for an interesting span of settings. All of them fit well with the story without confusing the reader.
Overall: I never imagined a fiction book would make me rethink my life and how I live it. This book is so heart-felt and has a message that everyone should read.
(reviewed 9 days after purchase)
on Aug. 30, 2010 :
Very clever. This author has a good imagination to come up with this. Hopefully, it would provoke us to realize how our actions affect others.
There are a ton of typos in this, but otherwise pretty well written.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)