Book Review and Giveaway: Taking Three

Yesterday, I interviewed Mark McCallum, author of the novel Taking Three.  Check out the interview if you haven’t.  Today, I will provide a short review and a way for readers to get a free, signed copy.


Taking Three by Mark R McCallum. Sense of Wonder Press. Rockville, 2008. 256 pages.

Comedian Robin Williams once joked about getting pulled over for speeding in a small town in the South. The sheriff who pulled him over wore mirrored sun glasses. The mirror was on the inside. The type of small town everyone jokes about. Where someone sneezes on one side of town and everyone on the other side knows it.

This is like the town named Soke  where Taking Three is set.  Like many small towns there’s always a town legend. A legend that’s true to some and unbelievable to most. Soke is no different. In fact, it is exactly that. This is what made the book intriguing and interesting.

The legend in Soke is name Old Coals. Just what or who is Old Coals? That’s what the reader is left to find out for themselves. The story centers around a boy named Robbie Callahan, Officer Merl Burt and, of course, Old Coals. There is a good mix to the cast of characters. Just like you’d expect to find in a small town. Personalities of all types that really stand out.

The reader is taken through a variety of scenes and emotions left to wonder what’s next. From the vivid imagination of 11 year old Robbie Callahan to the skeptical, yet inquiring, Merl Burt.  To Robbie’s mother Mallison who can’t bear the thought of losing her son. The story will definitely keep the reader turning the pages.

Mark McCallum did well with the characters. Robbie Callahan’s imagination is just what I would expect from an 11 year old boy. The way the scenes are acted out in his head make the reader wonder if it’s really happening. Add the emotions of his mother who thinks she is about to lose him.  And then right in the middle of Robbie fighting a battle with his imagination there is Officer Burt investigating, yet never satisfied with the answers he gets.

Of course, Old Coals is always in the background even when he’s not mentioned by name. There is a good cast of characters, but you’ll have to read the book to find out where folks like Wacky Jacky, Alex Simons and Bucky fit. And what about the pennies? You’ll have to read.

I liked the format of the sentences and chapters. The author combined short and long sentences with some chapters as short as one page. This kept the book moving steadily along. The short chapters were great for breaking up the reading while giving insight into another place in the story. It was a great story about the unknown. It kept you wanting to know just what it is you don’t know.

Over all it was a good and enjoyable read. While this book is not like The Shack it was a story of faith of sorts, but in a different way.  A more general and generic faith not necessarily the kind that one seeks for eternal life. Not that McCallum ever claims this in the book, however, I wanted to point that out. You will have to read the book to make that judgment for yourself. The author did a great job of leaving the mystery and faith aspects of the book opened for each reader. It’s more of a pursuit of just what Old Coals is, what role does faith play and how is he defeated. I had to go back and re-read the ending. I’m still not settled on Old Coals.

A Free, Signed Copy?

OK.  I’m having a drawing and giving away a signed copy of Taking Three.  Want a chance to get one?  Here’s how to enter the drawing! (If you came here directly see above for the review.)

Drop a comment below on this post.  In your comment just tell me one thing about why this book interests you.  It can be as simple as “I really enjoy reading novels”.  Though a little more would be appreciated.  Or, CLICK HERE and submit your name and email address.

If you want one more entry, subscribe to this blog.  Then, contact me and let me know that you did so.

Entries will be closed Monday, June 8 at 5 pm.  The winner will be announced the next day.

For what it’s worth…


P.s. Don’t let the cover scare you.  Go ahead and sign up for the drawing!

Let's connect!

tagged as , , in books,Culture,giveaway

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Yogi Taylor June 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Hey Mark, I haven’t blogged in a while (due to my schedule & school) but blog is one of the few I read pretty regularly. Which btw, I have been wanting to write a post tell you how much better your site is. I always thought that it was a great site, but man you sure beefed it up! Do you work on the site yourself or pay someone? Either way, good Job!

Well, I would like one of those free books… though I will read it, I really hope to give it to my wife… she loves novels! She likes nonfiction as well but novels she will read 2 or 3 a week, I’m not kidding! Anyway, God bless you brother!


Yogi Taylor’s last blog post..Hannah Update… News fit for a King!

2 Mark|HereIBlog June 3, 2009 at 8:16 am

Hi bro. Yogi,

Glad you like the site change. Thanks!

The way it looks you might be the only one in the drawing. 🙂

Take care and I’ll be in touch.

3 mKhulu June 3, 2009 at 11:58 am

I want to read the novel simply because I was impressed with McCallum’s recommendation for unusual prayer requests. I like the way he thinks.

4 Judy June 4, 2009 at 9:51 am

Thanks for the contest !! I always enjoy reading novels, especially one’s that capture my attention. After reading your review my attention has been captured :=) …

5 Judy June 4, 2009 at 9:53 am

I forgot to mention that I’m already signed up for your blog thru rss feeder. Should I re-up to increase my chances of “winning” ?

6 Erik Gustafson June 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I am really looking forward to this book for a couple reasons. I have struggled with my faith and stories about finding the faith to believe in something gives me hope and inspiration…the second reason is I love the creepy and supernatual. So what better way to enjoy a few days than reading a novel that sounds like it will do a great job with both! I can’t wait to get to know Old Coals- sounds like a pretty vivid character! Thanks for this chance to win a copy!

7 Mark|HereIBlog June 5, 2009 at 1:00 am


Nope, you’re good. No need to re-up. I’ll put you down for two entries.

Thanks for letting me know!

8 Mark|HereIBlog June 15, 2009 at 10:26 am

I figured I should update everyone. The winner of the drawing was mKhulu.

Thanks everyone for participating. I will have another drawing coming up soon. A very interesting book. Non-fiction though. 🙂


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