Tuesday, December 8, 2015

CSFF Blog Tour: The Shock of Night

This tour is featuring Patrick W. Carr's newest book, The Shock of Night. This is the first book of the Darkwater Sage, not including a prequel novella you an get for free on Amazon.

If his name is familiar, we have toured the last book in Carr's previous series, The Staff and the Sword. You can read my contribution to that tour.

I enjoyed The Staff and The Sword and looked forward to Carr's next project. So far he doesn't disappoint.

Being a fan of his previous work, it's hard not to compare the two series but Carr shows diversity and growth. I loved Errol, the protagonist in The Staff and The Sword, and I liked Willet Dura, the protagonist in The Shock of Night, as well but Carr handled them very different.

When we meet Willet, even in the novella, he's already been through a lot. He's been through war and some pretty horrific events that have shaped the man he has become. This plays into the story.

Willet Dura is the reeve of the king and newly made noble (I have never heard the term "reeve" before but I think it's something like a private investigator). He has many enemies both high and low. And now, thanks to a dying man, he is thrown into the midst of mystery and intrigue.

Gifts of the Spirit

One of the interesting plot points in the book are spiritual gifts. Carr introduces the controversy of spiritual gifts that is prevalent in the Church in a unique way that fits the story and world without making light of either side. 

In this world families have different gifts that help them make a living or get along in life. Some gifts are passed down to family members or can be given away. Some are like the traditional gifts of the spirit. But all rely on their god, Aer. Like our world, the Church is powerful and there are sects vying for power. Carr really takes real life situations a places them in this world in a way that makes sense.

Narrative and Storytelling

One thing I thought was odd and bothered me at first was the way the story shifted points of view and narrative from first to third person. I'm used to the traditional way of telling a story all from one narrative. I would still say it should be the rule. But rules are made to be broken.

As the story goes along and Willet is fleshed out it is obvious that the story needs to be told not only from Willet's point of view but in a first person narrative. It's also important we see the story from point of view of others and telling it in third person makes sense. The Shock of Night is one case when this shift works, but it should be used only when the author knows what they are doing. Carr does.

The Shock of Night is a thrilling mystery with lots of twists and turns down dark corridors. It's great to be at the beginning of a series and I can't wait for the next book to see where the story goes. 

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

To see what Patrick Carr's up to, visit his website.

Get a copy of The Shock of Night.

Check out what others on the tour have to say:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CSFF Blog Tour Day 3 - The First Principle

This month's tour is featuring an interesting book, The First Principle by Marissa Shrock.

It's set in the not too distant future and now the America's, North and South, are one country with governors controlling territories rather than states. The government is in charge of everything, from a state sanctioned religion to limiting the number of children you can have.

There is mandatory birth control and pregnancy tests. Mandatory abortions if you happen to be pregnant under age. There is a clear separation of classes with little to no chance of changing your lot in life, all of this strengthened by government policies.

We are introduced to Vivica Wilkins, the 15 year old daughter of a governor, who is used to her lavish lifestyle. With a mother so high in the government, she lives life to the fullest. But now that she is pregnant will she blindly support the policies forcing her to abort the baby or will she fight for what's right?

The scary part about this book is it's too close to what could be, and I don't think it would take a war to get there. Religious liberties are already attacked and eroded everyday. I have heard time and again that many of the social issues, such as abortion, have already been decided and it's pointless to try to change.

It is now mainstream and promoted in the media that biblical principles have no place in public life. If you disagree with someone you are being hateful and exclusionary. In The First Principle the Bible is banned because of this reason. Shrock takes what is happening now to it's obvious, and sad, conclusion.

The First Principle is an exciting and powerful read that challenges our complacency. While mandatory abortions and mass Bible burnings are not yet a reality, it is too easy to see it come to pass. Shrock takes us to this future and gives us a heroine who is not perfect, but willing to act when the time comes. Will we act while there is still time?

You can find the First Principle on Amazon.

To find out more about Marissa Shrock you can check out her website.

See what others on the tour have to say:

Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback 
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Chawna Schroeder
Jessica Thomas

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.