Author Archives: Editor

About Editor

Editor and writer, homeschooling veteran, computer skills teacher, occasional engineer. Mother of triplets, mother of two with Asperger’s.

Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead, a review

taliesinTaliesin by Stephen Lawhead
Published 1987
Genre: Christian Arthurian fantasy, suitable for YA and adults

The Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour this month is asking each of us to review a favorite book.  I chose Stephen Lawhead’s Taliesin, Book One of his five-book Pendragon Cycle.  Unfortunately I no longer have a copy of this book–I am sure I enthusiastically lent it to various people until someone forgot to return it. But I do remember it pretty well I think.

This is the story of Charis, a princess of Atlantis, and Taliesin, a bard from Britain. A prophet on Atlantis warns of impending doom, but of course everyone there ignores him. Except, after a while, Charis, who prepares her family for disaster. A group of them survives the cataclysm that swallows Atlantis and lands on the shores of Britain in the days when Rome’s influence is waning.

The Atlanteans are bigger, taller, and stronger than the Britons, and they live considerably longer–not to mention they are used to the comforts of civilization. They are called the “Fair Folk” in the book and seem mysterious to the simple Britons.

Taliesin, meanwhile, is a druid bard who becomes a Christian. He woos, converts, and wins Charis, now the “Lady of the Lake” living on an island in a lake in southern Britain with her father.  From the union of Charis and Taliesin comes Merlin, who has prodigious gifts from both his parents.

The rest of the Pendragon Cycle is built on this foundation. I loved these books, especially the solid Christian worldview underpinning this wonderful fantasy.  If you haven’t read them, do so!!

Find out favorite books of the other tour members! See below.

AND don’t forget to vote for your favorite Christian fantasy novel published in 2009.  This is the Clive Staples Award; votes are being taken through the month of August, so your time to vote is running out.

Vote here: http://clivestaplesaward.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/2010-clive-staples-award-voting/

See list of nominated books:  http://clivestaplesaward.wordpress.com/2010-nominations-complete-list/

CSFF tour members for this month:

Brandon Barr
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
George Duncan
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Mike Lynch
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Jason Waguespac
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

What Others Are Saying About Starlighter by Bryan Davis

blackeggI thought I’d save you readers a bit of work and go through the blog tour posts to date on Bryan Davis’s novel Starlighter, the subject of the CSFF blog tour this week.

I found a variety of opinions, some very favorable, others more reserved.  There fun talk from Fred Wilsher about dragons and how writers have written about them, and a fragment of a tale from fellow dragon writer Donita K. Paul about when she and Bryan went to a secular DragonCon.

I found out that Bryan Davis is a former computer guy turned teen dragon writer, and his favorite literary character is Atticus Finch. Now, I’m pretty fond of Atticus too.

So, take a look at the blog posts linked below to see what others have been saying.  Note: the tour lasts through tomorrow, so I am missing some.

Brandon Barr
Beckie Burnham “In discussing Starlighter with my husband, we explored the reasons behind what I deemed cons in the book. We came to the conclusion that the audience for which this book was written, young adults, probably would have no trouble with what I found distracting. Youth today often are exposed to fantasy and modern technology in their video games, movies, etc. and would welcome the blending of the two in this novel.”
Jeff Chapman
Jeff Chapman
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
Andrea Graham” The prince in the black egg: his nature is kept, probably deliberately, mysterious for most of the book—a prophecy hints at a sinister intent towards humans early on, but he plays nice guy, (the egg can talk, too) trying to sound like Jesus, but actually reversing the Lord’s teachings subtly. In the end, the author highlights this without being preachy. It does occur to me, were teens as stupid as all the telling early on would suggest, they might miss this subtly and think he’s the wise counselor he wants others to believe he is. I think not, though.”
Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn“It is a book with all of the right elements of a good story, and though it is considered a book for teens, I would recommend it for all ages.”
Julie
Carol Keen “Starlighter is good to read, and leaves you happily waiting for the next book in the series. Many aspects of human frailties and strengths were shown where they were easy to understand, and compared nicely to the traits of the dragons.”
Krystine Kercher “Bryan Davis’s new book, Starlighter, should win some kind of award for most memorable artwork. I’ve had this interesting conversation several times over with teens I know here recently. ‘You have the book with the black dragon’s egg on the front! No fair! That is so waaaaay cool…'”
Leighton “I will tell you that the MAIN reason that I wasn’t to enthusiastic about this book is the ending. The ending not only solved NOTHING, but mixed and matched the wrong people with and separated them without any word as to what became of Adrian!”
Leighton “I had trouble seeing any specific purpose in the plot or anything. There were some ‘Pro-Life’ comments and/or sentiments. That was good.”
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rebecca LuElla Miller “Betrayal makes for intriguing plot elements. Thinking of Starlighter in particular, I soon found myself questioning who was on the side of right and who the protagonists could actually trust.”
John W. Otte “Davis’s characters were fun, that’s for sure. I liked Koren’s dramatic streak and Jason’s nobility. Tibber the Fibber made me chuckle on more than one occasion. And I especially liked Elyssa.”
John W. Otte “In some ways, the book is an odd blend of fantasy and sci-fi that doesn’t quite mesh well enough and I think that’s why I ultimately had problems really getting into the book.”
Donita K. Paul “I first met Bryan Davis in 2004. We were both braving the very secular DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the teen track.”
Donita K. Paul“I love names. Making up names for my characters is probably the most fun of writing a book. Here are a few names from Starlighter to arouse your curiosity.”
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Rachel Starr Thomson “Starlighter is an engaging story, made especially so by its cast of characters. It’s a clean read, appropriate for any reader who can handle a little (non-gory) violence and scariness. Davis writes with good humour and plenty of heart.”
Steve Trower
Steve Trower “It’s the Top Ten Starlight Songs!”
Fred Warren “As for the dragons, their prophecy of a powerful new prince who will usher in a golden age of prosperity is about to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, that shining utopia has no room for humans.”
Fred Warren Comparing the dragons in this book to a variety of other portrayals. “Davis’ dragons are actually rather human, underneath all those scales, and just as ethically conflicted.” “What is a race of creatures hobbled by limited fine motor skills and lacking any visible industry or manufacturing capability doing with all this advanced tech?” “My inner Frodo is okay with the mystery, but my inner Spock needs it all to add up. There are three installments of the Dragons of Starlight series yet to come, so I’m willing to wait for the explanation.”
Dona Watson
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
Jill Williamson interviewing the author: “You have the chance to spend the day with any character from one of your favorite books (not one you’ve written). Who would you choose and why?” Author: “I would choose Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. He is a loving father who displayed the highest moral character in the face of hate-filled opposition. ”
KM Wilsher

Author blog for Bryan Davis

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xjy/3518111488/

Starlighter by Bryan Davis, a Review

starlighter

Starlighter by Bryan Davis, a review
First book in the series Dragons of Starlight
Published 2010 by Zondervan, 400 pages
Genre:  Christian fantasy/sci fi, Young Adult appealing also to adults

This tale is told in two different worlds, neither one of them our world.  One, the home of dragons, is a place of woe and slavery for humans; the other, the home of humans, is under tyranny, at least in the location we are told about.

At some point in the past, the dragons found a gateway between the two worlds and stole some humans to start their slave colony. They required the work of human slaves to do what they could not: mine deep into their ground and release a gas that the dragons need for life, which was dwindling in their atmosphere.

In both worlds, the story of the Lost Ones is considered a fable; the human slaves think they have always been slaves on the dragon planet, and the world they left considers their story to be a fable as well.

The writer develops heroes on each world, focusing on Jason, a teenager from the human world, and Koren, a 15-year-old girl from the slave world. Jason and his two older brothers are trained warriors who want to bring the Lost Ones back. Jason risks his own lives repeatedly for the mission.  Koren, meanwhile, has amazing storytelling gifts, and so is called the Starlighter on her world.  There is  a  black dragon egg, and prophecies about great or terrible things that will happen when it hatches.

Is this science fiction or fantasy? The book contains many classic fantasy tale elements: sentient dragons, skilled medieval-style swordsmen, a gateway between worlds, and so on. It also contains science fiction elements: gadgets such as a photo gun that doesn’t work very well, and a recording device that allows Jason to see a video of his older brother’s message from the dragon world.  There’s also some kind of gas lighting that lights up homes of the nobility.

The Christian worldview? It’s there. Koren, at least, has a strong faith in a creator God.  There are some references to the Code, apparently a version of the Bible which Koren and her fellow slaves pass around and memorize. Jason’s faith, in contrast, isn’t drawn as strongly. Perhaps it will develop more in future books.

This opening book in the series doesn’t have a major resolution, but points to the books that will follow. Eventually I got into this book and did not want to put down–it has plenty of suspenseful moments. My only objection to it is that I found Jason and his brothers’ obsession with helping the Lost Ones to be a bit unrealistic.  They were risking their lives big time to rescue some people they had never met. Is altruism that strong a motivator?–Phyllis Wheeler

This review is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Please check out what others on the tour are saying:

Brandon Barr
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
R. L. Copple
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Jane Maritz
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
SarahFlan
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher

Author blog for Bryan Davis

American Christian Fiction Writers conference coming up

I will be going to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in September. I’m all excited about it!  As my readers of this blog may or may not know, I am an aspiring fiction writer.

I’ve got a story I’m working on writing, hoping to have a good strong draft ready by time for the conference.  There are many like me.  Three of us from Missouri are going to drive together over to Indianapolis.

I joined ACFW last October and bought the conference audios from last year. I’ve listened to them many times over now. What a wealth of information for a beginner like me! I also have gotten a lot out of the email groups that ACFW offers for free.  It’s a great organization for aspiring Christian writers, no matter what your genre.

The 2010 Christy Awards: fantasies are winners!

The 2010 Christy Awards were announced over the weekend.  I’m proud to say that three of the recipients were reviewed here at the Christian Fantasy Review, all of them part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour.  I found all three to be outstanding works.

They are:

SUSPENSE

    Lost Mission by Athol Dickson – Howard Books: a Division of Simon & Schuster

VISIONARY (meaning speculative fiction)

YOUNG ADULT

There were six other categories in the Christy awards, ranging from contemporary romance to historical.

Notice that the winners were in two other categories besides “visionary.” These two books, Dickson’s and Peterson’s, are winners in their “other” genres: suspense and  young adult. Way to go, writers!  Maybe the heart of the market is softening toward science fiction and fantasy, told from a Christian worldview. I sure hope so.

The Christy Awards are a way for the industry to recognize outstanding fiction sold in the Christian marketplace.  They are named for Catherine Marshall’s beloved novel Christy.

Source: Rebecca Luella Miller

Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, a review

imaginary
Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, a review
Published 2010 by Tyndale House, 225 pages
Genre:  Youth group discussion materials for teens

This book is a long, entertaining yarn.  The author characterizes it, tongue-in-cheek, in the middle:

“Wouldn’t it be great if someone wrote a sort of semi-autobiographical novel comedy thing instead of a Sunday school lesson for once?” (p. 177)

Matt Mikalatos writes a tale about himself as a seeker, hanging out with Jesus in a coffee shop. But “Pete” (the Apostle Peter) shows up and demonstrates that this is not the real Jesus; he is an imaginary Jesus. Pretty soon we find out that there are lots of imaginary Jesuses, as many as our idolatrous imaginations can cook up.  Finding the REAL Jesus becomes Matt’s goal, although he continually sidetracks himself because he enjoys hanging out with his imaginary Jesus–after all, since Matt made him up, he has a lot in common with Matt!

One of my sons, 17 years old, was talking about zoning out in Sunday School recently. The book they are reading is a exegesis of something or other.  I bet if they were reading this book, he wouldn’t be zoning out. He would get to discuss his own idols and what his imaginary Jesus might be like.

There’s a story in the yarn, too; Matt starts out a novice Christian, fretting over the problem of evil: why did his unborn child die?

The book is delightfully self-conscious; besides the sentence about “wouldn’t it be nice if,” there’s another about a strange coincidence happening “purely for plot convenience,” or something like that.  It’s a lot of fun, full of truth, and peppered with laughter. It’s the perfect thing for my teen son’s Sunday school class.

The book trailer:

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. If you’d like to know what others thought of this book, check out their posts:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Valerie Comer
R. L. Copple
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

Between Two Kingdoms by Joe Boyd, a Review

between

Between Two Kingdoms by Joe Boyd, a Review
Published 2010 by Standard Publishing, 191 pages
Genre: Christian allegory, suitable for read-aloud to families, and for teens and adults

In a mountaintop kingdom, the people are all seven years old. They build tree houses and bask in colors, sights and sounds that are full of life and healing.  But their Prince occasionally asks them to make a foray for him, and often with him, into another kingdom in the valley, where life is grim and where the inhabitants mostly do not believe them when they speak of the King. This kingdom is the realm of the dark Prince.

The two realms are connected by a river. It’s a very special river with protective properties, an allegory for … read the book and figure it out!

Tommy and Mary are two of the seven-year-olds who go to the darker kingdom as part of an effort to foil the latest plot of the dark Prince: to cover the land in darkness from an enormous furnace, causing the people to forget they ever had any connection to the King.  The plot unfolds as Tommy, Mary, and some friends work against the enemy.

This book has plenty of “aha” moments in it as the author illustrates Biblical truths and the reader recognizes them.  It has action, too, in the climactic battle.  Characters are memorable.

This is a short, well-written allegory that will provide plenty of fodder for discussion with non-Christians. –Phyllis Wheeler

A terrific blog tour on Jill Williamson

The CSFF blog tour on By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson ends tomorrow.  I checked out what is posted so far and am really impressed.  There were many reviews and some criticisms, but everyone recommends this book.

In particular I liked KM Wilsher’s interview with the author, discussing how she got the ideas to write the book, and even including her sketches of the characters.

Check these out!

Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Beckie Burnham
R.L. Copple
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Jeff Draper
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Tori Greene
Becky Jesse
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Krystine Kercher
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher
KM Wilsher

AND last but not least, the author’s blog:
http://jillwilliamson.wordpress.com/

By Darkness Hid, Day Two of CSFF Blog Tour

By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson, more thoughts:

Last night I checked the blogs of others on the CSFF blog tour and found a number of posts. This tour is unusual: everyone who posted loved the book. Last time that happened, it was Stephen Lawhead who was the author. Does this mean Jill Williamson is the next Lawhead???

Check them out for yourself:
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
R.L. Copple
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Jeff Draper
Tori Greene
Becky Jesse
Carol Keen
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

AND last but not least, the author’s blog:
http://jillwilliamson.wordpress.com/