Friday, May 7, 2010

Book Reviews

Here are some recent reviews of The Sacred Cipher.

This is a new one:

Here are a couple of short ones from

This one is a 5-Star review from a 10-year-old girl ...

Fantastic, April 9, 2010
(Review from Ross' 10 year old daughter.)
I got a singed copy of the book for christmas and love it. I could see the scenes and characters moving in my head. I can't wait for the sequel to come out. I would recommend for any reader.The Sacred Cipher: A Novel

This is a 4-Star review:

The Sacred Cipher, February 19, 2010
By B. Pence - See all my reviews

Just completed The Sacred Cipher. I agree with the other reviews that you should not pick up this book if you only have time to read a chapter. The storyline was so realistic that I started doing my own research to determine if this was fact or fiction. Once I completed one third of the book, it was a page turner. At one point, I could imagine the musty smell and the claustophobic feeling the characters in the story were experiencing.

I still feel it would be to Mr. Brennan's advantage if the book was not in the religious section of the book stores. Although there are religious overtones, the book is action filled and I think would make a great movie.

I enjoyed the read and will recommend to my family and friends. Barbara Pence

And another 5-Star review ... (the average of all reviews is 4 1/2 Stars!)

a delightful read, January 28, 2010
By Amanda Haase (Washington, DC)

I wanted a thriller and got even more. This book was a great read, full of interesting characters and plot surprises. When I began this book I thought I knew where it was going and where it would end. I was wrong, and thrilled that the book kept me guessing. I also really liked this history, enough to intrigue and make me want to look some of it up, but not overwhelm. I was also surprised that the back of the book listed it as Christian lit. I would say that unnecessarily limits it. I would probably not pick up this book if listed as Christian lit, and would miss out on a great book. Because of the subject matter there is religion and there are decidedly Christian characters, but it is not a "Christian book". It is a wonderful page turner, I couldn't put it down.

If you haven't picked up a copy of The Sacred Cipher yet, it makes a great Summer Read!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Enemy Next Door

There's been a lot of talk and news articles about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week. About the diplomatic snub the Obama Administration handed the Israeli head of state - no official reception; no welcome by the President; no photos of the President with Netanyahu - all unprecedented snubs for a visiting head of state. About the aggressively combative position staked out by the President, demanding major unilateral concessions by the Israeli government to Palestinian demands.

The frosty welcome in Washington was in response to Israel's announcement two weeks ago, while VP Joe Biden was in Israel, that Israel would erect 1,600 new housing units for its citizens in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Then, hours before Netanyahu arrived in Washington, a report surfaced that Israel had approved additional housing units in East Jerusalem.

Denouncement of the new settlements was swift and strident. Biden, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the President all blasted Israel's decision. United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, told the Security Council that “all settlement activity in occupied territory is illegal."

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war, but its annexation was never internationally recognized. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and demand a halt to Israeli expansion in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, before Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can start.

So, where is this East Jerusalem that is such a hot button? Across the Jordan River? Sort of like New Jersey to New York City?

How about across the street? A map appeared in the New York Times on March 23 but I can't get the link to work here.

East Jerusalem would not only encircle the entire Old City of Jerusalem and Temple Mount - including the Western Wall, the most sacred place in Jerusalem to devout Jews - but it also would include the Kidron Valley, the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, the City of David (the hill where Jerusalem was first settled)... about 25% of the land currently within the Jerusalem city boundary.

This is the area where Israel is deciding to build more housing. It's in the middle of Jerusalem! Sort of like Mexico claiming East Harlem as its capital (to escape all the violence south of the border), then complaining because the New York City Council approved a new apartment building - and the rest of the world agreeing with the Mexicans. And Palestine isn't even a country.

Listen to what Prime Minister Netanyahu said to the supporters of Israel at the AIPAC dinner:

"But there’s one thing I’ll never compromise on and that one thing is Israel’s security. Let me express to you the difficulty of trying to explain Israel’s security predicament to the citizens of the United States – a country that is 500 times the size of Israel. I thought how I could best bring it home. I ask you to imagine that the territory of the United States was compressed down to the size of New Jersey. You squeeze the United States down to the size of New Jersey and next you put on New Jersey’s northern border an Iranian terror proxy called Hezbollah which fires 6,000 rockets into that small state. Then imagine that this terror proxy amasses another 50,000 rockets to fire at you. I’m not finished. You take New Jersey’s southern border and you put another Iranian terror proxy on it and you call it Hamas. And it too fires 6,000 rockets into your territory while smuggling even more lethal weapons into its territory.

"You think you’d feel a little vulnerable? You think you’d expect some understanding from the international community when you have to defend yourselves? I think any fair-minded person would recognize that we face security problems and challenges unlike any other nation on earth."

Netanyahu's speech was a long one. He called on the Palestinians to come to the peace table. He outlined a laundry list of things the Israeli government is doing and has done to promote the peace process. And he asked, "What have the Palestinians done?" He also made the following statement:

"The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It’s our capital."

Israel's fragile security will never be improved by agreeing to a Palestinian capital not on its doorstep, but in its living room. The possibility of peace in the Middle East will never be enhanced by the US, the UN or anyone else trying to bully the Israelis into surrendering the Old City of Jerusalem, Temple Mount, the Western Wall ... one-quarter of Jerusalem ... into the hands of a putative Palestinian state which as yet refuses to admit that Israel even exists.

The Obama Administration needs to wake up. The United States has one true ally in the Middle East. And we should stop beating them up for building some apartments in their own back yard.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Your Easiest Christmas Gift

Merry Christmas!

Okay, we've still got three weeks to go, but it's snowing outside and the family is getting ready to put up our Christmas decorations.

So I've got a gift for you.

Well, not exactly for you.

My novel, The Sacred Cipher, just jumped over 80,000 positions on the sales list. I don't know what's going on but, obviously, it's going up.

A week ago I checked the webpage for The Sacred Cipher (listed below). The page has the basic info for the book, how to buy, reader reviews (16 now ... 15 either four or five stars! What are you waiting for. Join the fun). And it also lists where The Sacred Cipher ranks in sales compared to all the other books on Last week The Sacred Cipher was ranked 169,843 in the sales list.

Today ... hey, we've jumped to 83,381 in sales! What a jump. Yeah ... there's a few more books to hurdle before we can challenge Dan Brown's latest. And these sales rankings change regularly. But, hallelujah, we're moving in the right direction.

So, in celebration of this good news and the coming celebration of Jesus' birth, here's a gift .... for somebody you really care about.

Contact someone you know who is a reader. Have that person send me an email at with their mailing address. All of those who respond will be entered in a drawing that will be held on December 10. Blindfolded, I'll select five people who responded and they will win a free, autographed copy of The Sacred Cipher. I'll mail the books on Dec. 10th so they will show up in plenty of time for Christmas.

It's as easy as that. Merry Christmas! Hey, if you're slick enough, you might even be able to cross someone off your gift list.

Sorry, if you're on my mailing list already, you're not eligible. But all your friends and family are.

So distribute this invitation. Strike while the iron is hot. The early bird gets the worm. And five who respond to this contest will receive an early Christmas gift.

Merry Christmas to all ... and to all a good night.


The Sacred Cipher can be purchased on


Christian Book

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And now, for the rest of the story

And now, for the rest of the story …

I have a dear friend, husband of a former colleague, who has spent a significant portion of his life working for a highly regarded, multi-national, faith-based organization fighting poverty, disease and injustice throughout the most tangled and torn corners of this earth.

For most of his tenure, he travelled extensively and spent long stretches of time in one impoverished part of the world or another, spearheading the “justice and mercy” arm of this international ministry. Son of a diplomat, he spent much of his time overseas interacting with and trying to influence the leaders and decision-makers of the world’s hot spots.

He is a man of substance and discernment … and boots-on-the-ground experience.

He sent me an email this morning, in response to The Insomnia Special I sent out last night. His words are worth considering:

“As you know I have a great passion and professional investment in
international affairs. Coverage of Iran in Foreign Policy, Foreign
Affairs, the Economist, International Crisis Group among others may
fill out the gaps in the caricatured picture that Rosenberg draws.

“It's irresponsible to say 'Iran's the enemy'. Lest we forget, millions
of young, reform-minded Iranians poured into the streets a few weeks
ago, risking life and limb to protest against Ahmadinejad and his
thugs. There is an opposition worth supporting (and praying for) in
Iran. We would commit the same error as the extremists if we declared
war on the Iranian people.

“The actual situation is exponentially more complicated and nuanced
than Joel Rosenberg wants us to believe. The solutions are many,
varied, and do not need to involve pre-emptive warfare.

“As Christians we have a responsibility to arm ourselves with the
truth. Jesus warns us to "Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

It didn’t take long for me to take a step back … and send a response, part of which is below:

I really appreciate your thoughtful answer and gentle admonishment. Too often I think like a novel writer. You are right in bringing me back to a more balanced view of the world. Thanks again. I deeply appreciate your wisdom, clarity and friendship.

And then it wasn’t long before he responded in kind.

“Anytime brother. "Like iron sharpens iron, so one brother sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 Let us seek the Lord to sharpen us together.

“I am by no means an expert on Middle East issues, but I have been a student of international conflict for the last 15 years and by God's grace I've had a front-row seat on many conflicts around the world. I literally did sit in the front row of the UN Security Council audience when Colin Powell briefed the Council on Iraq. Things are rarely as simple as the media or entertainment worlds have the capacity to convey.”

It’s a bit bracing when your ignorance is revealed. Perhaps there are others who, like me, have only a surface understanding of a critically important issue for the future of our world – the Islamic Revolution and its impact on Western culture.

Perhaps it’s time we learned more. This is not an age for the simple.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How To Lose Sleep

If you want to bring on a sever case of insomnia, read the first two pages of Joel Rosenber's new book, Inside the Revolution.

How about a little excerpt:

"Iran's senior leaders have taught in recent years that the (Islamic) Revolution is now reacing its climax ... that the end of the world is "imminent" ... (they) have vowed to annihilate the United States and Israel, and have urged Muslims to envision a world without America and Zionism. They have come to believe that Allah has chosen them to create chaos and carnage on the planet.

"The key leaders in Iran seem hell-bent on accomplishing their apocalyptic, genocidal mission. They are feverishly trying to build, buy or steal nuclear weapons. Iran is actively testing advanced ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. Tehran is building alliances with Russia, China and North Korea - all nuclear-armed powers ...

"Iran's leaders are building a network of thousands of suicide bombers ready to strike American targets ... are harboring scores of al Qaeda terrorists ... are digging hundreds of thousands of new graves in Iran itself to bury the enemies of Islam. They are calling for the unification of the Islamic world.

"Put simply, the leaders of Iran believe that Allah is on their side, the wind is at their back, and the end of the Judeo-Christian civilization as we know it is near.

"If, in (God's) sovereignty, He chooses not to remove the Radicals from Iran peacefully, then I believe a major, cataclysmic war, or series of wars, is coming soon ... The question we all must be asking is not if there will be war with Iran, but when it will begin and who will strike first."

Okay, I've been keeping a weather eye (old nautical term) on Iran and the nut balls pulling the strings over there. I believe they are after nukes, want to smear the Israelis off the face of the earth and have the good old USofA in their crosshairs.

Iran is the enemy - whether we like it or not. They've picked us. We haven't picked them.

But war ... the possibility of nuclear war ... seems so absurd that my rational mind immediately dismisses the possibility.

Until you understand one point. In radical Islam, the individual is not important. The Revolution is important. Individuals are expendable. So one million people died - gassed with biological weapons or slaughtered in massive human assault waves - in the last, eight-year-long, Iran-Iraq war.

How much more damage could a radicalized Iran do with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missle - or dozens of them? If you believe Rosenberg, we will either soon find out ... or soon take them out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the Halls of Barnes & Noble

Hey, if any of you guys are getting bored (or bugged) by these email newsletters, please let me know and I’ll take your name off the list.

So, after my friend Matt Farinelli shared his Barnes & Noble story, here are a few more.

Some of the news is good … some disheartening. Just remember, each B&N manager has a lot of discretion in how and which books are displayed in their stores. So even though the sales agreement may say ‘main aisle placement’, it’s often just a suggestion, not a requirement.


My wife, Andrea, and I spent all day Saturday going to almost every Barnes & Noble in Manhattan. We were armed with hundreds of Sacred Cipher post cards, a very good pen, and the knowledge that an author can ask to sign the store stock and the store will put a green "Autographed Copy" sticker on the front of the book. Also, the largest B&N stores in the nation were scheduled to promote The Sacred Cipher with a table placement in the 'main aisle' between August 11 and 24.

So we'd go into a store and I'd say to Andrea, "Now, we won't ask to sign the books until we can find the display in the main aisle and you can get a picture of me with the books on the display table."

But not one of the stores had the book on display. Not one.

At most Barnes & Noble stores, the Christian Fiction rack is in the farthest, backest, leasest corner of the store, and usually comes after the Gay and Lesbian, and the Middle Eastern Mystic sections. Farthest, backest, leastest can be the basement, or the top floor or around the corner, down the hall, out the back door and around the block (well, maybe not that far).

In every store we did the 'search the store' thing, looking for the table display promotion. In every one, we ended up in the farthest, leasest, backest. And there it was, on the shelf.

So, like any self-respecting author who wants to sell books, Andrea and I went to the good, old, Customer Service Desk, presented my card and one of the 5,000 promotional post cards I got from Kregel, and asked if I could sign the store stock. "Sure," they said. "We'll just go and get them."

Which gave me the opening I was looking for.

"Oh, where are they? On the shelf? Oh, well, aren't they supposed to be in a table placement promotion in the main aisle? At least that's what I've been told. There's supposed to be a promotion between August 11 and August 24th, right?"

So they would go to their computer, tap a few keys, find The Sacred Cipher, click on 'Promotion' and up would pop ... what do you think? ... "Table Placement Promotion - main aisle."

And, in all but one store, they said, "Oh ... it's supposed to be on display." So they did. Now, each store displayed it differently. And I don't think it ever made the main aisle - you know, the one with tables filled with all the best-seller book names.

But, hey, I was just happy to get out of the backest, farthest, leasest. And into the light of day.

So, once the book was out where people could find it, Andrea and I went out and stood outside the front door of the B&N store and handed out my Sacred Cipher promotional postcards to people entering the store.

Now, in New York City, you get darn tired of people trying to shove something into your hand nearly every day of the week. So I was skeptical of how well this would work. But it did. You know why? Because the cover of the book is soooooo interesting, people would be rushing past, take a look, slow, look again, then take the card. All the while I'm giving them my sales pitch.

And a number of people even turned back to me, smiled, and said "Thanks."

Can you imagine that! In New York City?

Here’s the funny part. We must have given out - maybe - 200 ... 300 postcards over the course of the day? And you know what the total number of copies the stores had? 40! All together, in all of Manhattan, B&N stores had 40 copies.

So ... man ... I hope we created a BIG demand here in NYC. A demand that will get filled, even if B&N runs out of copies.


Here’s an experience my friend, Stew, had in Florida:

Just a note to say I bought Sacred Cipher for a friend in the B&N in The Villages here in FL. It appeared to be the last one, but I was disappointed to see it in Christian Fiction. The Customer Service person found it for me.

I told her they would sell more if placed in the section with Dan Brown's book. She was not responsive to that comment.


And this, from my sister-in-law in New Jersey:

My friend, Pat, needed a new coffee table & asked me to go with her to Raymour & Flanigan in Exton, PA.

Pat & I were greeted at the door by a very nice young lady named Angela, a Home Furnishings Consultant. As she was writing up the sale in the computer, I asked if we had enough time to go across the road to Barnes & Noble to see if my brother-in-law's book was on display. Angela was curious & asked the name of the book & what it's about. When I said, "The Sacred Cipher" by Terry Brennan, she said, "I've seen that book on Dan Brown's website."

I happened to have a copy of the brief synopsis that was posted on the Internet. I gave her a quick narrative about your background & that you are a first-time published author. When I read it, she got very excited & said, "Oh, I definitely have to buy this book".

(Neither the B&N in Exton, nor one in Marlton, NJ, had the book on display)

Please send me some of the postcards so I can give them to my friends & relatives. It seems that word of mouth, e-mails & blogs just might be as powerful as having the book in stores.


Okay, so mabe it's not shelved near Dan Brown's book in the Barnes & Noble, but each of you can go to (as I did) and click on what book you think The Sacred Cipher is most like ... or what author. If you click on Dan Brown, whenever someone goes to look for his book, Sacred Cipher should also pop up as, "People who bought this book also liked ....."


Here's an excerpt from a new review. Betty Bantz reviews more than a dozen books a month on her website. This one is short ... but oh, so sweet.

"Truly this is an epic of Raiders of the Lost Ark proportion, only better. Its historic integrity is phenomenal, the pace superb. And the ending is more than satisfying, more than plausible; I can’t wait to see if it actually takes place in the very near future, ushering in the second coming of Christ Jesus.

Action adventure at its best, I highly recommend Terry Brennan’s debut novel The Sacred Cipher. It’s the best book I’ve ever read, bar none."

Thanks a bunch for all your help.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making Waves on the Left Coast



Dear Terry,

So here's how it all went down:

Yesterday, we decided to take the kids out and go to the bookstore, a favorite past time for my four-year old, Caleb. I figured it would be a good opportunity to grab my copy of "The Sacred Cipher" and snap a few pictures of it on the display. So we get to the Barnes & Nobles Bookstore in Tustin, CA, I send the wife & kids off to the children's book room and begin my search. To my disappointment, I did not find the book on any of the main book displays in the front of the store. So I strolled back to "Christian Fiction" and still, no Sacred Cipher. So, at this point, I'm a little nervous and conjuring up many scenarios as to why this book is nowhere to be found, "perhaps B&N didn't get the memo?", "perhaps the release is only on the East Coast?", "am I too late?"....lots of questions and only one place to go to find the answer - The Customer Service Desk!

So I arrive at an empty customer service desk, wait the customary New York minute for someone to show up, then, in a manner only displayed by a transplanted New Yorker, I grab the computer terminal from behind the desk and begin my book search. Well, a few minutes into my hacking (passwords to those systems are usually quite easy to guess), I retrieve the records for "The Sacred Cipher" by Terry Brennan, and, to my surprise, the computer flashes that the book is "On Display: Trade Paperback: Floor Display: Christian Fiction". Arrgghhh, I was just there and the book was most certainly not on display! At this point, I'm about ready to get "management" involved! Well, it was only a few seconds into my thoughts that a very stern "Ah-hem" came from behind me with a pleasant, but clearly annoyed, inquiry from the multiply-pierced, oddly hair-colored goth-inspired reference lady of, "That terminal is for employees only. Can I help you find something??" Caught. I shoot a glance over at the front door and, to my relief, the rather plump security guard is fixed in need to execute any daring escape maneuvers.

"Sure," I said, flashing a grin of one who knows they've just been caught but hopes to change the conversation as quickly as possible. "I'm looking for this book, the computer says it's in the store, but I can't find it. Any thoughts?" Clearly not impressed with my charm, the young lady clad in black wrests the computer from my hands, taps in her own sacred cipher, hits the return key and, after the annoying little hour glass spins for a bit, scans the codes. Her eyes widen with understanding a bit and, without even looking up at me, says "Oh yeah, that book. We had copies of that out for display, but they're all sold." My worst fears confirmed, I was too late! "Wait here," she says firmly, breaking my thoughts of despair, "and please don't touch anything. I'll go in the back and see if there are any left."

A few minutes pass and a line is now forming behind me. I wait nervously as the clock ticks away and notice that Christine is flagging me from the children's room giving the shrugged shoulder look of "hey, what the heck are doing standing there, can I get some help in here with the kids???" I give her the finger (the raised pointer finger) asking for one more minute then I would come to the rescue. Well, the lady strolls back to the customer service desk with two copies of "The Sacred Cipher" under her arms and she says to me in a rather plodding voice, "You're in luck. These two were being held behind the register for a customer but they left without buying them. My manager said it was ok to give you a copy. You want one or both?" "One will be fine," I said.

So, in the end, I got my copy of The Sacred Cipher. However, I now wish I had gotten the other copy as well because my mother-in-law, who is a voracious reader, snagged a look at my copy last night and informed me that I'd better hide it lest it disappear to her bedroom for a few days....So, sales of The Sacred Cipher are brisk out here on the left coast!

I'm on chapter 8 right now and it's hard to have to put it down. As you know, parenting requires that we interrupt the simple pleasures in life to go deal with the latest mishap our little ones get far, a real page-turner! And that's from a guy who doesn't read nearly as much as he should and is a slow reader at best. Can't wait to hit that last page....

Blessings from the land of sunshine,