Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CSFF Blog Tour: The Fatal Tree

All good things must come to an end, so they say. Thus is the case with the Bright Empires series by Stephen Lawhead in the final book The Fatal Tree, which just happens to be the subject of  this months Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour.

I was introduced to Mr. Lawhead and the Bright Empires through the third book, The Spirit Well. I do not recommend jumping into the series literally in the middle any more than I would recommend diving in at the end. That being said, I highly recommend picking up the first book, The Skin Map, and starting from the beginning. You won't be disappointed.

The Bight Empires is filled with adventure, daring do, but also acts of compassion, lives changed, people changed. As our cast of characters travel through time interacting with the inhabitants, they are continuously growing, becoming different people by the end. I guess it's not surprising though considering the significant events that Kit, Mina, Cass, and the rest go through.

It's the Characters

No matter how much action and adventure there is you need to care about the people going through the events. Lawhead gives us flawed characters which is what draws the reader. Even the villain is not one dimensional. We find his true desire for searching for the Skin Map and can't help to sympathize. To see Mina blossom and Kit get a clue is wonderful.

While all of the characters are complex, there is one who captures our heart and shines, especially in The Fatal Tree. Englebert Stifflebeam ,aka Etzel, is introduced to us in The Skin Map as the first one Mina meets and befriends when she first ley leaps (which is to travel to an alternate time/place/universe/world). He is a minor character throughout but a constant anchor. He also displays the grace and mercy of Christ. If more people were like Etzel what a wonderful world it would be.

It's the Adventure

The characters are important but they are thrust into a great adventure. This adventure is filled with time travel, not just time but dimensions. there is great peril and not all of our friends come out of it unscathed. The quest takes our travelers from the Stoneage to ancient Egypt to modern day London and many points in between. Lawhead describes each place and time in such detail that we feel like we are standing next to Kit and the gang.

Lawhead expertly wraps up the Bright Empires in The Fatal Tree. This is an epic journey, one that I am sad is over. It was a fun ride.

*In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher



Find out more about Stephen Lawhead at his website and Facebook page.

See what others on the tour have to say:

Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton 
Booher
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Karri Compton
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Jason Joyner
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr 
Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler

Monday, July 21, 2014

CSFF Blog Tour Day 1: The Warden and the Wolf King

So. Finally. It is here. The long awaited, highly anticipated, conclusion to Andrew Peterson's epic Wingfeather Saga is here. The Warden and The Wolf King is the fourth and final book of Peterson's fantasy series.

The Warden and The Wolf King Synopsis

The Wingfeather's are starting to get used to life in the Green Hollows and the Hollowsfolk begin to accept the Wingfeather's, even the Wolf King, Kalmar (I'll always think of him as Tink). But the threat of attack from Gnag the Nameless and his Fangs looms heavy over the Green Hollows.

The attack comes fast, furious, and unexpected putting Kalmar and Janner on an adventure to find answers and end this war one way or another. Answers are found, but not what they expected.

All three of the Wingfeather children, Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli, are forced to grow into their roles and their mother, Nia, is forced to face her worst fear.

Expert Songwriter, Expert Storyteller

Andrew Peterson has a well earned reputation as a songwriter, gaining the respect of Nashville musicians. He has proven to be a master storyteller through his songs. It is no surprise that Peterson has been able to transfer his wordsmith talents to writing novels.

His first novel, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the first book of the Wingfeather Saga, showed there was talent. Each book has gotten better than the last culminating in The Warden and The Wolf King.

This is much like North or Be Eaten in that there is a lot of action and travelling. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli have come along way since leaving their adopted hometown of Glipwood. They've experienced loss and sacrifice setting the stage for the decisions they have to make in The Warden and The Wolf King. Since getting to know and love these kids over the years, you feel pride as they show maturity and selflessness.

You also get to explore  Aerwiar. You go deep into the Blackwood and meet cloven and trolls. You are taken high up to the Killridge Mountains and the Castle Throg and get to face Gnag the Nameless. And you finally make it to the Shining Isle of Anniera where the Wingfeathers ruled from Castle Rysen.

The Warden and The Wolf King ties up all of the loose ends in the Wingfeather Saga. That being said, it's not a good idea to jump into the series here. It's well worth your while to start form the beginning. It's a wonderful series to share with your kids as a family time read or rip through yourself. Either way you won't be disappointed.

The Rabbit Room Store is the best place to get a copy of the book. The Rabbit Room is a place on the web created by Peterson for Christian artists to gather and discuss different ways art and religion affect their lives.

Wingfeathersaga.com is a place to find more information about the series and upcoming contests and events, one being the Hidden Wolf King.

You can find all about Andrew Peterson and where he might be playing or having a book event at his website.

Find out what others had to say on the CSFF Blog Tour:


Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Phyllis Wheeler

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

CSFF Blog Tour Day 3 - Dreamtreaders

I have to be honest. At first I had a hard time getting into the book. It starts off with great action, and that's fine. But I didn't like Archer, the protagonist.

One of the things that threw me off was the way Archer talked to himself. It didn't seem natural, it was kinda weird. I also didn't like the way Batson keep calling him "the Dreamtreader" instead of Archer.

I know that sounds petty and stupid, but it didn't flow for me. I made a commitment to read this though, so I pushed on. And it didn't take long to suck me in, so it could've been worse.

As Archer navigates through his normal day you get to know him better. There is still some stilted conversation and sometimes he talks to himself at weird times, in weird ways, but that's not enough to take you out of the story.

There's also the new kid, Rigby, who is an interesting fellow. When reading the synopsis I had my thoughts of what Rigby might be, but I am happy that I was wrong. As the story goes I made some guesses and was right about some, wrong about others.

As you speed towards the conclusion there isn't much time to think. There's a lot happening and some twists that you don't see coming, at least I didn't. I do hope to see more of Master Gabriel in the future, who I have my own thoughts about but I will leave them unspoken to see how things progress.

Being someone who has always had very vivid dreams and is really fascinated by the subject, the title caught my eye. Batson shapes the dream world in a way that seems realistic (if a dream world can be realistic), though it doesn't mirror mine. The setup for the second book leaves you wanting more and i am curious to see where the characters go. i can't say more than that. As Riversong would say, "Spoilers."

*In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour i received a free copy of this book.

You can buy the book at Amazon.

Check out Wayne Thomas Batson's site

See what others on the tour have to say:

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CSFF Blog Tour Day 2: Numb by John Otte

As much as I love Fantasy, I love a good Sci-Fi (or is it ScyFy) story. For some reason I don't read very much Science Fiction so when Numb by John W. Otte came up to be on the Tour I was pretty excited. It didn't disappoint.

Numb Synopsis

Crusader is the hammer of the True Church. He crushes any heretic for the glory and honor of the True Church. He is numb physically and emotionally, the perfect weapon. 

The next mission should be routine, like every other kill before, except he can't. There is something about Isolda Westin that breaks through the numbness. Now he has to unravel the mystery of Ms. Westin, risking the wrath of the Church, which leads to even more mysteries. 

Numb Review

Crusader is an interesting character. You know there's a story behind his numbness so you're just waiting for it to unravel. In the meantime the layers are peeled back showing a more complicated man. He's resourceful out of necessity and overcomes adversity as it is thrown at him by the True Church and other enemies, and even friends.

Isolda's story is tragic and she's someone that you pull for from the beginning. The reveal of the hold she has on Crusader is slow and done really well. Isolda brings a humanity to Crusader that helps to develop who he becomes and reveals who he was.

There are other characters that populate Otte's future world making it an interesting and dangerous place. The leaders of the church like Deacon Siseal, Isolda's friend Gavin, and Crusaders rival, Krestyanov are just some of the people we are introduced to, and none are what they seem.

Numb is an intricate story weaving in faith making an interesting tapestry. Otte finds a way to make God an important part of the story without it seeming like it is forced. Ultimately it is an age old tale about a personal relationship with Jesus versus the rigid, dead religion of those in power told in a futuristic environment. Otte shows that God is everywhere, even in space.

* In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour I received a free copy of the book

Buy a copy of  Numb from Amazon
Visit John Otte's website

See what other's on the tour are saying:
Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart 
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CSFF Blog Tour Day 2: A Draw of Kings


The Importance of Characters

Looking back at some of my reviews, I realized that I talked a lot about characters and it was a big indicator if I liked the book. I never really thought about it before. I guess that's one of the reasons I enjoy Neil Gaimon, Ken Follet, and Stephen King to name a few. Their characters are well written and easy to like.

Even with my little issue I talked about yesterday, I really liked Errol. I understand how it feels to be mired in something to seems so huge and you don't see a way out. I also understand the grace and mercy of God and being helped out of those circumstances. I've never national hero or great warrior, but I guess that's why this is fiction.

I also enjoyed the other characters like Rokha and her father Naaman Ru. They were multifaceted which really showed as we got to know them. Even after run died, we continued to get more of the measure of the man. Adora, Errol's love interst and Princess of Illustra, is another character I thought Patrick Carr really did a good job bringing to life. She's bright and not your average pampered Royal who believes she is owed the world.

What truly stood out to me, though, was the way Carr handled Karele's adopted father Abilijin (please forgive any misspelled names. I'll fix it when I have the book in front of me.) Abilijin is a chieftain of the feared Morgols, an enemy of Illustra. When Karele was captured in The Steppes war, he was eventually adopted into Ablijin's family. 

We meet up with Ablijin in A Draw of Kings and get to see that there is much more to the Morgol's. For me it just emphasized how easy it is to paint a group with a broad brush and not take the time to get know people who are different. We see it all the time, the generalization of those we disagree with. If it makes easy to dehumanize those we see as enemies. But I don't think Jesus would like that.

That doesn't mean we have to agree with everyone or think what people do is ok. But we, as Christians, have to love those people we disagree with, especially those we consider enemies. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

CSFF Blog Tour Day 1: A Draw of Kings

I was pretty excited when I found out A Draw of Kings was going to on the tour. I was just finishing up with The Hero's Lot when I received the book, so it was perfect timing.

A Draw of Kings Synopsis

Errol and his companions have just come home after successfully completing a dangerous mission compelled by the church. Instead of the hero's welcome they deserve, they are met as enemies of church and state.

King Rodran died as the Hero's were away and now Duke Weir has claimed the throne and his brother, Benefice Weir, has taken control of the Judica and Church. They are ruling the kingdom with an iron fist and eradicating any resistance, real or perceived.

If this wasn't bad enough, the barrier which has protected Illustra from it's mortal enemies, the Merhaki, has fallen with Rodran's death. Now they are swarming to destroy Illustra. Things get even worse when Illustra's other enemies, the Morgol's, flood across the Sprata mountains.

Finding himself out manned and facing insurmountable odds, Errol and his friends must find a way to wrest the kingdom from the Weirs and defeat a possessed enemy. Winning will also have a price.

A Draw of Kings Review

This is the third book in the series and do I recommend starting with the first one, Cast of Stones, A (The Staff and the Sword Book #1). The Kindle version is currently free so it wouldn't hurt to get it while you can. It's a great book that kicks of a wonderful series.

A Draw of Kings is the third and final book in The Staff and The Sword series. I loved to see the growth of Errol throughout the books. Even the other characters like the burly Cruk and the stoic, rock solid, Merodach, grow and  change.

Carr does a great job of weaving some powerful messages into the story without being preachy. I hope to expound on a couple things that stood out to me on the next two days of the tour.

A Draw of Kings has plenty of adventure, battles, journey's and even a little bit of love and romance. Each book in The Staff and the Sword series gets better culminating with the best,  A Draw of Kings. The way Carr paints his world brings it to life. It's easy to imagine a map with the different countries, seas, and mountains. He makes the people that populate his world real, almost as if they could jump from the pages.

If there is any negative, it may be that some of the characters were a little one dimensional. In an effort to show the contrast from Errol's drunken beginning to his glorious ascension to Hero, one could get the feeling that he's too perfect. In a short time Errol becomes one of the best warriors in the land. He's very pious and just plain awesome. Despite that, I really have learned to love Errol and the other characters over the course of the three books.

*In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour I received this book for free.

Visit Patrick Carr's website to get more information on what he's up to.

Buy a copy for yourself -


Find out what my friends are saying about A Draw of Kings:


Gillian Adams
Jennifer Bogart 
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Mike Coville
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
James Somers
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler N
icole White J
ill Williamson

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

CSFF Blog Tour Day 2: One Realm Beyond

Of course I've heard of Donita K. Paul. Her books have been on my "To Read" list but the only book I've ever read by her was Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball and there were no dragons.

When the chance to read Realm Walkers came up, I jumped at the chance. I figured it would be a good way to get acquainted with Paul's writing before jumping into her other series.

When I started reading, I wasn't sure if I would like Paul's dragon characters. They are quite different than the traditional dragon roles. Normally I like when authors make change things up, but it can be disastrous when done right.

As the book progressed and I got to know Cantor's dragon friend, Bridger, I really enjoyed Paul's handling of the dragons. When Bridger's sister enters the scene, things become even more fun.

The other thing that made One Realm Beyond interesting is that it wasn't one journey or quest that tied the adventures together. In the beginning I didn't even realize that Cantor had to go somewhere to train. I just figured he had to find his Dragon and he was off. Everything flowed really well though, and the characters changed and grew through the adventures.

Another thing I enjoyed was Bixby, Cantors companion who he stumbled upon in the trees. She was such a free spirit and nice contrast to Cantor. Bridger also surprised me with the depth of his wisdom. He seemed a bit bumbling at first, but redeemed himself despite his clumsiness. There are a few other interesting characters but I'll leave it to the readers to find them.

After reading One Realm Beyond I am now a fan of Donita K. Paul. I will search out her other books and move them to the top of the list. I look forward to the second book Paul's Realm Walker series.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour I received this book for free. You can get your own copy at the link below.
One Realm Beyond (Realm Walkers)

You can find out the latest news about Donita K. Paul by going to her website.

I encourage you see what others on the tour have to say:

Julie Bihn
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Mike Coville
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Rebekah Gyger
Janeen Ippolito
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Melanie @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Donita K. Paul
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Jojo Sutis
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Jill Williamson
Deborah Wilson