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From The Bestselling Author Of War Room Comes A Gripping Novel That Was Awarded Both An ECPA Christian Book Award For Fiction And A Christy Award Billy Allman Is A Hillbilly Genius People In Dogwood, West Virginia, Say He Was Born With A Second Helping Of Brains And A Gift For Playing The Mandolin But Was Cut Short On Social Skills Though He D Gladly Give You The Shirt Off His Back, They Were Right Billy Longs To Use His Life As An Ode To God, A Lyrical, Beautiful Bluegrass Song Played With A Finely Tuned Heart So With Spare Parts From A Lifetime Of Collecting, He Builds A Radio Station In His Own Home People In Town Laugh But Billy Carries A Brutal Secret That Keeps Him From Significance And Purpose Things Always Seem To Go Wrong For HimHowever Small His Life Seems, From A Different Perspective Billy S Song Reaches Far Beyond The Hills And Hollers He Calls Home Malachi Is An Angel Sent To Observe Billy Though It Is Not His Dream Assignment, Malachi Follows The Man And Begins To See The Bigger Picture Of How Each Painful Step Billy Takes Is A Note Added To A Beautiful Symphony That Will Forever Change The Lives Of Those Who Hear It


10 thoughts on “Almost Heaven

  1. says:

    I d give this book 4 and one half stars if halves were possible in reviews Billy Allman is the sort of hero we should see of in novels plain on the surface, the sort of man many may even find mildly repellent That is what makes the glimpses into his past and present so powerful If the author s aim is partly to encourage readers to regard all potential Billys in their lives as people with dignity, noble inner lives and deep wisdom to impart, I think he s succeeded.One of my favourite characters was Billy s counselor The man s name was not even mentioned, which is probably appropriate as it enhances one of the main themes, that true heroes who make incredible positive differences in the lives of others are often those behind the scenes who are faithful and effective but unacknowledged by the world at large.Mr Fabry s writing style often brought tears to my eyes and I found myself wanting to record several wise and beautiful quotes to ponder later These, in my opinion, are two marks of an excellent novel Now, the reason why I wouldn t give it five stars is to do with the angelic protection aspect Although Billy had Malachi faithfully watching over him, poor Callie didn t seem to have a celestial guardian too She was only protected by Malachi by default, because his own charge, Billy, cared deeply for her As she was such a sweet and caring person, that did disturb me I hate to think of people like her being angel less.


  2. says:

    No matter what you ve done or what consequences you face for your actions, there is great hope in God So don t ever say you re too bad for him to love you That s like saying the ocean isn t big enough to fit a rowboat His love and mercy and grace are so much bigger than anything you could ever even imagine doing wrong One of the things I appreciate about Chris Fabry as a Christian author is that he doesn t shy away from controversial, messy, ugly topics In this West Virginia based novel, he tackles topics such as grief, tragedy multiplied, sexual abuse, child abuse, unforgiveness, addiction, and suicide He also uses a guardian angel narrative in tandem with the protagonist for a creative flair And though he often got a bit zealous moralizing and sermonizing, he never glossed over anything with an unrealistic dose of happily ever after sugarcoating A man with a singular vision is difficult to find One who seeks with a whole heart to give his whole self to God, no matter the cost, no matter the pain, is a human anomaly Billy Allman is one such anomaly praising God through childhood heartache, a natural disaster, grief, long suffering, unrequited love, rejection, poverty. His solid faith, along with the sweet music of his father s old mandolin soothes him through it all Bluegrass melodies flow up from his soul, out through his fingers, and even outwards through radio airwaves to encourage others, too Music has a way of filling in the missing places It is a gift from God above, who didn t have to provide it, but he did anyway and I half think he decided life just wouldn t be as good without it However, despite all his musical talents, charitable deeds, and seemingly airtight faith, Billy is hauling around some unlovely baggage packed with shame, guilt, self loathing, and pain Unknowingly stuck in the past, Billy is unable to fully move forward in his life And unless Billy is willing to face and relinquish the baggage of his past he ll be forever stuck All the goodness God has planned for his life will never be realized The music of his soul will eventually grow dimmer and dimmer After all, we cannot expect to lay claim to eternal jewels, if we stubbornly hold fistfuls of earthly trash Their crowns and achievements were meager, but they clung to trophies and memories as if they were truly an eternal weight of glory This is the malady of the humans, that they can hold on to that which is fleeting and of little consequence and call it everlasting Overall, I found this an enjoyable, inspirational good read Not too heavy Not too light Uplifting and heartfelt in primarily realistic fashion A storyteller s story Not the most grammatically sound or stylistically savvy June Bug was overall a much better novel but Almost Heaven was certainly worth reading THREE Music and Angels Faith and Grace Through Storms STARS


  3. says:

    Billy Allman is a gentle soul Unassuming, steadfast, loyal, and humble, he is also a sort of hillbilly genius He s a stellar musician, making the old mandolin he got from his father simply sing, and touching the hearts of all who hear his music Additionally, from a young age he could build almost any kind of electronic or mechanical device, and now in his mid forties he runs a radio station right out of his home It s as small outfit he s the only employee and the range isn t much farther than the valley he calls home But in his quiet way, Billy has made a significant contribution to the residents of Dogwood, West Virginia, and he s had an impact far beyond his little world There is a pretty good story in this novel I was interested in reading about a man with an unusual gift, who found success right at home And Fabry definitely gives us that story Unfortunately, it is nearly suffocated by heavy handed preaching The introduction of the angel Malachi as a sort of omniscient narrator caught me off guard That s my own fault for not reading reviews before I picked up the book Still, I felt somehow compelled by Billy s story to continue reading At the end I couldn t help but think how much better this book might have been had Fabry trusted his readers to get the message without hitting us over the head with it.


  4. says:

    A Christian book with teeth and muscle This is not a simpering, saccharin story Chris Fabry tells the story of Billy Allman from both Billy s point of view, and the view of his guardian angel, Malachi The writing is pure poetry, full of Appalachian idioms and similes Life is hard and the human characters and Malachi do not have an easy time fighting bad and evil things that happen to them And just when it gets tense, a funny event or phrase give you a smile in the middle of the action.I am tempted to compare this to Edgar Sawtelle however God is in control I never had any doubt that He would use it all for good.The plot was full of twists and turns only one I saw coming, and I didn t want the story to go there But it did And things happen in life that I don t want to happen Unlike Edgar Sawtelle, this story continues to redemption and restitution.Since it seems to be my way, I began reading this series with Almost Heaven, the most recent And so I downloaded Dogwood and tomorrow I will start with the beginning Almost Heaven is complete in itself, and I only accidently learned that I had started at the end.


  5. says:

    Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills Though he d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home People in town laugh But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose Things always seem to go wrong for him.However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.I have always enjoyed Chris Fabry s books, but this one when finished made me say WOW I have read several reviews that knocked it and said it was too preachy I found the juxtaposition of Billy s story with Malachi, his guardian angel s input deep and thought provoking I absolutely loved Billy s character He appeared to be a simple, socially inept man on the outside Yet inside he was an electrical genius and a gifted mandolin player Even though so many things were difficult or went wrong in his life, Billy never lost his faith in God and his desire to be an instrument of God to other people He felt he had a calling and special purpose sent from God and no matter how difficult that struggle, he would continue to pursue it Many times I had to stop and ponder the thoughtful statements of both Billy and Malachi Chris Fabry created a story that will pull at your heart strings as well as make you feel closer to God This will be a book that will definitely leave an imprint on your mind God has a purpose for each of us and everything in our lives, if we truly believe, plays a role in accomplishing that purpose Kudos to Mr Fabry for this incredibly beautiful and moving story about the real Billy Allman This book just took first place in my favorites of 2016 list.FAVORITE QUOTES This book is full of one beautiful quote after another Sometimes love looks a lot different than we think it should Each question mark on the back roads of the human condition eventually leads to HIm I am upset at evildoers and how they have confused and contaminated the earth with death It should never have been this way If you lean on your own strength and understanding, you ll spin your wheels If you let God use the thing he s given you, and also use the things you feel weak in, your life will be an amazing song sung to him every day.


  6. says:

    This is the story of a plain, simple man, Billy Allman and the angel Malachi who is assigned to watch over Billy throughout his life Though Billy s life was shaped by hard, life changing events, he served God with all his heart and was a blessing to others Throughout his time with Billy, Malachi comes to a deeper knowledge of and gratitude for the magnificent plans of the Almighty in a person s life.Fabry crafts a smooth blend of everyday life as we know it with a glimpse at what goes on in the heavenly realms He weaves in Scripture and the Gospel in a way that lays out the truth without beating the reader over the head From the medium amount I ve studied regarding angels, demons, and spiritual warfare, I think he also did a scripturally sound job with this aspect of the story Though, there was one scene close to the end that I m not sure about Fabry brought to light the fascinating world of radio for me and also shed a new light on some of the darker aspects of life in this world At times it wasn t an easy read, but the themes of forgiveness, redemption, and God s love resounded beautifully and made this a worthwhile read.This is the third novel I believe that has its roots in the fictional town of Dogwood, West Virginia It was time well spent revisiting the good folks in this town I recommend this to fans of Frank Peretti s This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness as well as those who like books about small town life, spiritual warfare, and those looking for ways to serve God with their gifts and talents.


  7. says:

    A great deal of the Christian fiction I come across is just plain bad although to be fair maybe I haven t sampled widely enough so the first thing to say here is that Almost Heaven is not one of those books that you simply don t want to finish In fact, I got a free copy for my Kindle and was so interested in the opening chapter that I just kept on reading it something I rarely do when I download a free Kindle book.Parts of the book drag, however, and the plot seems stuck at times The opening really drew me in and the later part of the book has some exciting and well done action scenes but the middle part struggles as Billy Allman struggles with the tragedy in his life and the angel Malachi seeks to find answers.In fact, I am not sure the plot device of Malachi really adds much to the story at all Sure, it provides some spiritual and outside descriptive narrative but it mostly slows the plot down And to be quite honest, I didn t find the apologetics aspect of Malachi all that convincing.But again, Fabry does a nice job of weaving in Christian ideas and characters into a novel in such a way that they seem natural and an integral part of the story rather than forced or awkward This is to be applauded.But overall Almost Heaven is a touching and well drawn portrait of faithfulness through suffering and the value of commitment despite the odds.


  8. says:

    A realistic fictional story of a man s life from childhood to late in his life Billy Allman is from the hills in West Virginia He is put through many trials and tribulations through out the story The angelic point of view was very poignant I enjoyed the story It is an easy read, and found it hard to put down I would like to read from this author HAPPY MONDAY, HOPE THE SUN COMES OUT SOMETIME TODAY.


  9. says:

    Good book I liked the story and the way West VA was depicted.


  10. says:

    This was a difficult book for me to rate I debated strongly about giving it a five The way it immersed the reader in mountain and bluegrass culture, the tie in to the book June Bug, the great character development, the ending, and the wonderful writing style were all pluses Billy Allman was a delightful person to get to know The two things that were negatives for me might not bother others, but caused me to take it down to 4.5 There are some sections where Billy s guardian angel is speaking, and, for me, these did not seem to add to the story and could have been done better The other factor is that there are many sections of the book where evil is working and things are very dark for me, this almost overwhelmed the positives at times This made the book seem somewhat depressing in places, and it almost overwhelmed the rest I highly recommend the book, but it is not an escapist read.