Book Reviews: Cleansed by Fire and A Different Kind of Cheerleader

IN THIS AGE OF SHORT, where brevity transcends epics, I recently committed to producing two Amazon reviews a week for novels written by indie authors.

Today, I am submitting reviews for the audiobook version of Cleansed by Fire by James R. Callan and A Different Kind of Cheerleader by Lira Brannon. The reviews are part of our mission at Caleb and Linda Pirtle to connect readers, writers, and books.

cover-cleansed by fire - ACX

I had read Jim Callan’s Cleansed by Fire and was thoroughly entertained by a delightful tale of a small town priest who is horrified and angered by the fact that someone is torching the churches.

Father Frank is appalled.

The police are mystified.

A small town is living in fear.

The distant sound of a siren is enough to make their blood boil and leave everyone’s nerves frayed.

No one sleeps much anymore.

However, it wasn’t until I listened Jonathan Mumm’s narration of Cleansed by Fire that I fully grasped the depth of the novel. His voice added drama. It gripped the storyline with a richer measure of suspense. Jonathan Mumm took a really good book and made it even better.

Cleansed by Fire is cozy. And it’s a mystery. But I would hesitate to define Jim Callan’s novel as a typical cozy mystery. It has many more layers than that. The novel is an inventive exploration into the psyche of a small town confronted with a crisis that no one understands.

What kind of man or woman would be so callus as to burn a church?

Who could be so cruel or so filled with vengeance to burn so many of them?

What secret has unleashed such a heinous act?

Yet, in the midst of the turmoil, life goes on, and it has the calm, reassuring presence of Father Frank to bring solace to a town’s undying fear.

He, too, is faced with danger as his own investigations bring him closer to the truth.

He may not be able to save another church from burning.

And he wonders if he will even be able to save his own life.


Lira Brannon, quite simply, knows how to write with heart, and she understands the emotional trauma affecting a young girl who has just seen her dream shatter around her. A Different Kind of Cheerleader is a different kind of story. It reaches deep and touches every young lady or woman who once believed that there was nothing in life more important than leading cheers for their high school or college. But life is not always fair. Life thrown down obstacles. What’s really important in life is how those obstacles are overcome.

In Lira’s heartwarming young adult Christian novel, Tansy is the victim of a skateboard accident that leaves her in a wheelchair, beautiful but bitter as she battles the disability that forever stole away her dream. She knows she won’t be a cheerleader now. She knows she will never live a normal live. She believes there will be no happy ending for her.

And there wouldn’t be if the story simply ended with Tansy embroiled in her own self-pity.

In Lira Brannon’s skillful storytelling ability, Tansy begins to slowly and painfully re-build her life.

She shuts out anyone who mentions the love that God has for her. But she learns that He and He alone can bring her a measure of peace and happiness. Hers is a story of hope and faith and the fight to defeat the despair that has swallowed her.

And she wonders: “Is it really too late?”

Maybe dreams can come true.

Readers will be hoping and praying right along with Tansy as she struggles to achieve the dream she feared she had lost.

It’s a hold-your-breath kind of finale.

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