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

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Heart TechEd

At the moment there is a contest to tweet why you love TechEd. I've sent out a couple of tweets with some basics, but I thought of a reason I love TechEd that takes more than 140 characters.

In 2012 I was at TechEd in Orlando. Like the previous TechEds  I was meeting tons of great people. At the Springboard party I was talking with a gentleman who was a teacher named Paul Schmidt. One of his specialties was networking. At that time I had just passed the Network+ and was studying for the CCNA.

Through our conversation I mentioned a couple things I was struggling with and without missing a beat Paul offered to take some time to help understand the concepts. The next day we skipped a session period, found a comfortable place to hang out, and Paul showed me how to master subnetting and what else I needed to focus on for my test.

Paul took time out of his day to help me when he could be learning something or talking to another expert.
That fact was not lost on me then and even now I am extremely appreciative. Another thing Paul did to help me was email me some quizzes to make sure I understood everything. Maybe it's just that he is a teacher and enjoys sharing knowledge, but he went above and beyond to help me and I appreciate it to this day.

This story is just one example of how people have helped at TechEd. I have found that my fellow attendees are eager to help when they can. There have been many conversations where I've gotten technical  advice as well as career device.

The Krewe


I'd be remiss if I didn't mention another group of people that have been extremely helpful, and that is The Krewe. During TechEd the Krewe will give you someone to hang out with so you're not wandering around all alone. The Krewe comes from all walks of life, from all around the world, with varying experience in different technologies.

The variety of people in The Krewe is what makes this group of people so helpful. And that help is available 365 days a year, not just during TechEd. Join the Facebook group and you can fire away any question and chances are someone will either have the answer, or know where to find it.

Members of The Krewe range from the greenest Help Desk person to some pretty elite and savvy Microsoft employees/experts. All are welcome so if you don't have a Facebook and/or Twitter account, create one just to join this group. But watch out for Henrik.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour Day 3: Merlin's Shadow by Robert Treskillard

When I was growing up my favorite movie was (and still is) Excalibur. It was played constantly on cable and I literally watched it hundreds of times. My claim to fame was that I knew every line from the movie (Let's overlook the fact that a child of ten should not watch this movie for a few reasons).

Already a fantasy reader, I fell in love with the Legend of King Arthur and the cast of characters. Over the years I have eaten up everything that has come along that has do with Arthur, Merlin, and the rest, and there has been a lot. From books to movies to TV shows, the Arthurian legend has been told and retold and then retold again.

It was with mixed feelings that I approached this retelling of the story by Robert Treskillard. He first introduces us to the famed wizard Merlin as boy in Merlin's Blade. Merlin is young and blind but stands up to evil despite his obvious failings. By the end the immediate threat is destroyed and Merlin is healed, but he is far from safe.

Merlin's Shadow picks up right where Merlin's Blade leaves off. Merlin is running with the infant Arthur, heir to the throne, along with his friend, Garth, and his love, Natalenya. Not only is Merlin being pursued by Vortigern, is the real murder of the High King, but his only sister is now his sworn enemy. Can Merlin overcome the obstacles before him, including himself, to overcome an ancient and powerful evil?

My Thoughts on Merlin's Shadow

Whenever a new project comes around having to do with King Arthur, Merlin, or any of the other characters, I get nervous and excited. Each book, movie, and TV show have been done with varying degrees of quality. Some have tried to stay true to the period while others went straight fantasy and others have tried to mix the two.

Treskillard has done something very unique. He has used historical accuracy, with a splash of fantasy, to make Merlin come alive. He has also used this setting to proclaim Christ being the truth in a way that fits well and is not jammed in there to fit.

He also makes the characters layered and has them grow through the story. Merlin obviously goes through a lot, but others do as well. His friend Garth is one who comes to mind. Treskillard tells a story with twists and turns filled with action and heart. We care about the characters, rejoicing at their triumphs and fretting at the dangers they face.

If the first two books are any indication, Treskillard's Merlin's Spiral series will be a high quality, doing justice to the Arthurian legend.

* In conjunction with the CSFF Blog tour, I received a free copy of this book.

Stop by Robert Treskillard's website or his blog.


Check out what my fellow CSFF Blog Tour friends are saying:


Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Pauline Creeden
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jacque Stengl
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fearless Forgiveness


Usually when I read a book I just enjoy the story and anything deeper escapes me. Sometimes an idea or theme jumps out at me and dances around forcing my attention. I love it when that happens.

Fearless has a scene where Mitch Albright, the serial killer in the novel, is talking to another character. Mitch's facade cracks a little and we get a peek into the torment that drives him. 

Mitch suffered abuse at the hands of people that should have protected him when he was a child. He details a few incidents in the book, but we get the idea only the tip of the iceberg is shown. Mitch burns with hatred and unforgiveness for his parents. This fire is what drives him to do unconscionable acts.  

In this conversation Mitch is urged to forgive his parents but he refuses and continues to create havoc. He evens admits to himself that he is being controlled by his unwillingness to forgive. He has let his past dictate his future.

While this may be an extreme cause of the dangers of unforgiveness, it really does underline how important it is to forgive others who have wronged us. Forgiveness is not about the person who wronged us. They get to move on with their life while we are dragged down by the anchors attached to us. 

Forgiveness is about us. It releases us from the shackles put on us from those who've done us harm. Forgiveness let's us dictate our future rather than the events of our past. It's so hard to let go. It even feels like we are letting the person who hurt off the hook. The reality is it frees us, not them. 

It's much easier said than done. It goes against our flesh. We want justice. We want the guilty to pay. And they should. But not at the expense of the hurt and broken. And unforgiveness exacts a toll.

Jesus told the disciples we should forgive someone who has wronged us 7x70 times. That doesn't mean you only have to forgive 490 times. He also said we are to love those who persecute us. God has claimed vengeance  It is not ours. God has forgiven us while we were sinners, how can we not forgive those who have trespassed against us?

 God doesn't tell us to forgive because he's bored and wants to make up some rules. He created us and knows what's best for us. He knows that we need to forgive and let Him be the judge. 

There's been books and articles that have said it all much better than I could, but this is what sprang to mind when I read this part in Fearless. I love to read for enjoyment, but it's really nice when I am reminded of something from God in the middle of it. Especially when it's something I need to be constantly reminded about.

Mike Dellosso is having some great giveaways this week, so keep checking out his website and follow him on Facebook.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fearless by Mike Dellosso

I'm blessed to be part of a community called The Darlington Society created by author Mike Dellosso. Besides supporting each other with prayer and encouragement we also get to help support Mike's writing.

One of the perks of being in the Darlington Society is that we had free early access to Mike's latest novel, Fearless. Now the book has been released to the world and I get to tell you what I think.

Fearless starts us off in the living room of Jake Tucker as his house is engulfed in flames. A nine year old girl, Louisa, is quite literally dropped in the middle of the inferno and saves good ol' Jake. While coming out of the fire unscathed, Louisa remembers nothing except her name.

In comes writer and all around nice guy Jim Spencer who agrees to foster little Louisa and brings her home to meet his wife Amy. The Spencers have had a hard time as of late, dealing with the loss of a pregnancy. Amy, understandably, is taking it pretty hard and her interaction with Louisa is interesting.

The thing about Louisa is not only does she have amnesia, it seems she has been blessed with a gift to heal. This, of course, brings attention to Louisa and the Spencers, much of it unwanted. People misunderstand the gift and act out of desperation.

On the other hand we have your friendly neighborhood serial killer, Mitch Albright. He is tortured by his past and has become driven to what he has never received his whole life.

Fearless has twists and turns continuously keeping you guessing. Just when you think you know what's going on,something comes out of left field.

Fearless is more than just a fast paced story, though. We come to really care about the characters. As they grow and change we rejoice with them. Even Mitch Albright is to be more pitied than hated or even feared. He had a horrible life and he has chosen a path of destruction.

There are two subjects that hit home to me that I would like to into more detail about, but I think I need some more space. So stay tuned for the next couple of days.

In celebration of the release of Fearless Mike Dellosso is doing a lot of giveaways. Check out his website for details.

In the meantime, you can order the book right now from Amazon.




Check out this trailer for Fearless created by The Darlington Society's own JoJo Sutis.