Author Archives: Editor

About Editor

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

The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead, a review

The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead, Book 3 of Bright Empires series
Published 2012 by Thomas Nelson, 377 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy for teens and up

Lawhead’s latest book is number three in a sprawling five-book series. To date, there have been two protagonists and one main villain. This book adds another protagonist, Cass, and detail on another villain, Douglas. All of them are seeking the mystery pointed to in the coded Skin Map: the Spirit Well, something like a Fountain of Youth.

You see, the earth is covered with lines of energy along its surface. When one walks at a certain speed at a certain time of day along a particular ley line, it may transport you to an alternate version of our universe, possibly in a very different era, where many things are the same, but some things may be different. It’s possible to consistently hop from say present day to a version of 1890s London and back again, for example, or on from there to many places and times. So a map would be very useful, wouldn’t it?

The main protagonist Kit, fleeing from the villain Burleigh, takes a hop along a ley line near Prague. He unexpectedly finds himself marooned in the Stone Age with hairy men who hardly speak. But their telepathic skills are far above his, and he learns to love living with them. Eventually Kit mysteriously stumbles on the way from there to the Spirit Well. But how can he leave the Stone Age to find his friends and report the discovery? His ley line is no longer active. And does he even want to leave? Here he has a clan who somehow don’t experience dissension, aggression, backbiting, or any of the other petty sins of humans. And they’ve adopted him.

Meanwhile, Cass, a 25-year-old archaeologist, is chasing a native American employee down an Arizona canyon when she finds herself whisked away to a desert landscape someplace else. The native American has gone there too; he shows her how to quickly walk the ley line to return to Arizona. Now she’s hooked: what are the possibilities here? From the canyon she tries to make another leap and finds herself somehow transported not to the desert she expected, but to Damascus where she finds other ley travelers. They are all growing old, and they desperately need a young person like her to continue their quest. Does she want to risk her life to help them find Kit and the Skin Map? Or does she want to return to her safe archeologist life?

Douglas Flinders-Petrie is the great-grandson of the man who had the Skin Map tatooed on himself, Arthur Flinders-Petrie. Nevertheless he is somehow reduced to thieving and conniving to find the pieces of the map. And he spends years perfecting a plan to return in time and deceive medieval intellectual Roger Bacon into helping him decode the map. Will Douglas succeed?

What do I think?

Lawhead, of course, is a master of characterization and detail. He travels to the locales he describes, providing a wonderful authetic feel. His bad guys are very very bad, and his young clueless protagonist, Kit, is very very clueless. I am really enjoying reading this tale.

This particular book, The Spirit Well, is basically the middle of an epic tale. Each of the three story arcs described above are included in this book, so there’s a bit of closure. But mostly this book points you on to the next books by picking up and weaving a number of story threads, including several more than the three I described above.

The faith element? Lawhead is a Christian, but he doesn’t make it obvious. Only in this third book is there a discussion among characters in one scene about the dark and light spiritual forces at work in the struggle over finding the map. Meanwhile, in this and previous books in the series there are odd apparent coincidences that rescue the characters and lead them toward the Spirit Well unawares. In short, this book should be very readable by non-Christians who might be given a bit of food for thought, and also by Christians.

Since Lawhead writes at the rate of one book per year, we’ll have to wait two years to find out how it all ends. But it will be worth the wait.

Read my reviews of all five books in the series: one, two, three, four, five.

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

Jim Armstrong
Julie Bihn
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Christine
Karri Compton
Theresa Dunlap
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Jeremy Harder
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Janeen Ippolito
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Joan Nienhuis
Lyn Perry
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Author Website – http://www.stephenlawhead.com/
Author Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/StephenRLawhead

The New Recruit by Jill Williamson, a review

The New Recruit by Jill Williamson, Book 1 of the Mission League series
Published 2012 by Marcher Lord Press
Genre: young adult Christian suspense, with a touch of the supernatural

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Garmond just wants to play basketball. He’s got a reckless streak, which gets him into trouble with the local bullies pretty often, but basically he’s not out looking for it. Turns out trouble is looking for him, though.

Suddenly he finds himself under pressure to join a secret missionary spy organization. His grandmother’s behind it–if he doesn’t cooperate, she’ll send him to military school: no more basketball. So he joins. The spies in training meet before and after school, getting ready for a summer field trip abroad. This summer, they’re going to Moscow. And they’re a bunch of goody-goodys, in Spencer’s opinion.

Spencer starts having visions. They seem so real. Could they be real? The missionary spies tell him he has the gift of discernment. What does that mean? Will the terrifying events he’s foreseeing happen to him? to others? Who is this chilling woman named Anya? What’s with the gang of homeless teenage boys? And how’s a nonbeliever to handle all of this?

What do I think?

Spencer’s an endearing and memorable character; I am guessing that Jill Williamson has pretty well nailed the way teenage boys think and feel. The other characters are memorable as well–she does a great job. I found the plot unpredictable, the conflict something I could relate to. I really enjoyed reading this book, and am looking forward to the next four books in the series. If you have teens wanting something to read, I’d certainly recommend it. Plus, they’ll enjoy her goofy scavenger hunt, see below.

Author’s website: www.jillwilliamson.com

Website for The Mission League Series: http://themissionleague.com/

Enter the “go undercover scavenger hunt,” a zany challenge from the author for those interested in winning a $100 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble.

Jill Williamson is an author of all things weird. She grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Her Blood of Kings trilogy won two Christy Awards, and she recently released Replication, a science fiction teen novel from Zonderkidz. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer.

The Telling by Mike Duran, a review

The Telling by Mike Duran
Published 2012 by Realms, 303 pages
Genre: Christian supernatural suspense

“A prophet never loses his calling–only his way.”

Two detectives escort Zeph Walker on a mysterious ride that takes them to the county morgue. There’s a body there they want him to identify. Zeph is sort of a hermit, hanging out in his musty book-swap shop on the edge of town and on the edge of community life, disfigured by a facial scar, though he’s only 26 years old. Oh, and he has a gift, a sixth sense intuition, which he really wants to hide from.

But there’s no more hiding when he recognizes the body on the gurney. It’s his own. Or at least it looks like him, same build, facial features, hair color, and Star of David tattoo on the right arm. And the facial scar. But this fellow has a bullet hole in his chest. That’s when we step into the really bizarre: the detective thinks the real question is why someone would want to kill Zeph. The no-nonsense detectives from the Twilight Zone are treating it as a homicide.

This desert town on the edge of Death Valley has another mystery: is there a gateway to Hell up in the hills? And yet another: why do some of the residents suddenly seem to have turned into humorless, characterless automatons? And who’s to blame for all this?

What do I think?

If you love Christian suspense, I suspect you’ll love this book. Mike Duran is a skilled writer. Here’s his Facebook page link: http://www.facebook.com/cerebralgrump

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Be sure you check out what others are saying too:

Jim Armstrong
Noah Arsenault
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Christine
Theresa Dunlap
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

The Song of Unmaking by D. Barkley Briggs, a review

The Song of Unmaking by D. Barkley Briggs, Book 3 in the Legends of Karac Tor
Published 2011 by Living Ink Books
Genre: Christian fantasy, young adult and up

This, the third of five books in this Arthurian fantasy epic, focuses on one of the four brothers who have been transported from our world to another, Ewan.

Ewan’s song of power, gifted to him in the new world of Karac Tor, is gone. He traded it to the self-centered fey (fairy) queen to save the lives of his friends. How he’s depressed and defensive amid his gifted brothers.

But wait. Another gift, his ability to see the fey, hasn’t left. As the world of Karac Tor shudders under the evil destruction plan of the witch, will Ewan’s smaller gift make a difference? Or will he give up?

What do I think? I am amazed at how this epic continues to expand with more and more subplots, all braided together in a wonderful way. One involves the hapless dad of the family, who has managed to get himself into the fantasy world too and keeps trying to drag his four kids back home. Another subplot involves King Arthur, revived from a thousand years of sleep in this new place, forced to deal with the descendant of Lancelot living in Karac Tor under Arthur’s curse.

This is a terrific book with a strong faith element. You and your kids will love it.

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley, a review

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley, Book Two of the Angaleon Circle
Published 2012 by Waterbrook Multnomah, 233 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy/supernatural, suitable for teens and up

Trevin’s a commoner who’s in love with a girl who turned out to be a princess. Now that she’s claimed her rightful place, the prince of the neighboring kingdom has arrived to seek her hand and an alliance. The king, wanting peace, is all ears. But instead of protecting his ladylove, Trevin must head out on a quest to find missing knights and missing magical harps. How can he stand to leave his beloved vulnerable to the advances of this jerk?

But leave her he must, or he’s no knight. The world has been cut off from heaven. Angels are stranded here, and souls of the dead are stuck here too–in the same kingdom of Dregmoor that the prince comes from. The earth sickens. If Trevin can find the harps and give them to Princess Melaia before the upcoming alignment of stars, she is supposed to be able to fix the stairway to heaven, according to prophecy.

The missing knights–do the Dregmoorians have something to do with that too? How will Trevin find them and release them?

What do I think?

Trevin is a hero with feet of clay, a past that comes back to haunt him again and again. It’s refreshing to see him working to overcome his own worst enemy, himself. He figures out he’s half angel near the beginning of the book, but the people who raised him died when he was young, and he never got a chance to ask them any questions. Many surprising facts about his identity keep coming out as the book rolls forward. It’s refreshing to see a hero who struggles with guilt and temptation just as we struggle.

Any Christian element of the story is in the deep background. This book is clearly intended to appeal to nonChristians as well as to Christians. The author has a ringing statement of faith on her website, so it’s clear she is a Christian. And who better to sate the curiosity of nonChristians about angels than a Christian?

Starting with Book 2 in a series may seem foolish, but I did it, and it worked out okay. There was a compelling story at the beginning of the book, told without referring to the previous story. And the previous story was summarized in snippets throughout the book, providing the needed background without long boring passages.

So, read this book!

In conjunction with the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book.

Author’s Web sitehttp://www.karynhenleyfiction.com/Karyn_Henley_Fiction/welcome.html
Author Bloghttp://www.maybeso.wordpress.com/
Author Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Karyn-Henley/140411189331787?v=wall

Please check out what others on the tour are saying about this book.

Julie Bihn
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Jackie Castle
Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Christine
Theresa Dunlap
Cynthia Dyer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Janeen Ippolito
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Karen McSpadden
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Mirriam Neal
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Dawnsinger by Janalyn Voigt, a review

Dawnsinger by Janalyn Voigt
Published 2012 by Harbourlight Books, 316 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy fiction, suitable for teens and adults

Shae’s family loves her and protects her (especially her brother Kai), but it has never occurred to Shae to wonder why she doesn’t resemble them. She gets a strange summons to attend the dying queen of the realm, someone she has met on a few occasions, and she makes a journey to the royal castle with Kai that turns out to be full of dangers. Once there, she finds a court filled with intrigue and murderous plans. Not the least of the dangers is a mysterious court musician who exerts a magnetic pull on her.

There’s a prophecy, she learns, that only she can fulfill. As she sets off on a dangerous journey with Kai and other companions, she only knows that she will meet plenty of opposition. Will she be up to the task?

What do I think?

This book has a good plot, which brought Shae’s story to a good stopping point while leaving me wondering what will happen in the next book. I enjoyed the characters as well. I’ll be interested to read the next book in the story when it comes out.

Oxygen by Olson and Ingermanson, a review

Oxygen by John B. Olson and Randy Ingermanson

Originally published in 2001 by Bethany House, 368 pages; now available on Kindle

Genre: Christian near-future science thriller

Valkerie Jansen is a capable scientist who keeps her head in awful situations, so it’s no surprise that she’s drafted to join a mission to Mars. Problem is, she’s replacing the beloved commander of the group of four, and the other three have already been training for many months. Can she fit in?

After plenty of training, the new group of four takes off. But apparent sabotage causes an explosion that eats up much of their oxygen, and there isn’t enough for all four of them to make it to Mars. They don’t have the fuel to turn back. So… Who will live and who will die?

Because of the sabotage, the teammates can’t trust each other. Is this a nightmare? Or does it become a tale of ingenuity in the face of insurmountable odds?

What do I think? I really enjoyed this award-winning book. I learned a whole lot about how NASA works and what a mission to Mars, using current technology, would look like, what it would be like to be in space. And of course I was wonderfully entertained by this great story. I’m glad to hear there’s a sequel!

Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, a review

Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore
Published 2012 by Thomas Nelson, 311 pages
Genre: Young adult supernatural with romance elements, Christian

Brielle is crippled by her despair as she blames herself for her best friend’s death. To learn to cope, she returns to her dad and the small town she calls home from the big city where she had attended a performing arts high school. Old friends reach out to her, but she rebuffs them. Then an amazing new boy shows up and shakes her from her lethargy.

Jake shares a supernatural gift with her, and soon she’s aware of angels and demons. In fact, she can see what no one else can. And she learns that a demon wants to kidnap Jake, who’s becoming dearer and dearer to her. What can she do to protect him? After all, she’s just a girl with angel eyes.

What do I think?

I thought this book was terrific. The angels and demons fit the Biblical mold. Not only were there unforgettable characters and unpredictable situations, but Dittemore crafts words like a poet, with beauty and strength. You should read this book! I’ll be waiting for the next one in the trilogy, due out in a year or so.

Find out plenty more about this book by checking out what other bloggers are saying on the blog tour for it at
http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/13501700/angeleyes

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse, a review

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse
Published 2012 by Marcher Lord Press, 464 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy/supernatural, suitable for teens and adults

Rowen Mar discovers a strange white mark on her hand and loses her soldier father on the same day. Her father was her only friend and protector in her village of suspicious folk, who can’t forget that Rowen is adopted–and that no one knows anything about her parentage. After a strange power in her flares up and terrifies both Rowen and a man who tries to attack her, she finds herself kicked out of the village. But somehow there’s a place for her to go: she gets a job offer to be bodyguard to the royal family in the capital city.

Soon those that work with her, including the captain of the guard, find she’s a healer. She realizes she’s an Eldaran, sort of an angelic race that had been thought to die out on the earth. And not just any Eldaran, but one with the power to reveal the darkness in the human heart. It’s a gift she doesn’t want.

The captain of the guard realizes he’s falling in love with her. But she’s not a follower of the Word, as he is. What will he do?

And how about Caleb, a lord of the southern kingdom intending to conquer the north where Rowen lives? Caleb’s got uncanny gifts in his chosen field: that of assassin. And he plans to strike close to Rowen.

What do I think?

This is a terrific book, one you just can’t put down. I loved the characters and the well-crafted plot. It’s Morgan Busse’s first novel, but don’t let that put you off–it contains a high level of sophistication and polish. I’m really looking forward to more. I hope I don’t have to wait too long.

My review of Book 1, Daughter of Light

My review of Book 2, Son of Truth

My review of Book 3, Heir of Hope

Children of Angels – a tween fantasy take on angel genes

Today we are hearing from author Kathryn Dahlstrom.

Genesis 6: 4 – “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them; they were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

For me, this intriguing and mysterious Bible verse set up a fantasy concept that I ran with: what if the genes of the Nephilim resurfaced in a kid of today? What if he suddenly developed angel powers? What if he saw angels and demons?

The concept led to my novel for readers aged ten and up—Children of Angels, book one of the New Nephilim series published by WinePress Publishing. Synopsis: a young teen, shocked to learn he’s half angel, must battle human and demonic forces out to destroy him for proving that God is real.

Mind you, I’m not saying that the ancient Nephilim had angel powers. Their name means “fallen ones” which is an apt description of them, I think. The Bible describes them as giant-sized in Numbers 13 and leaves it at that. My make-believe premise is this: what if their genetic material was concentrated enough to produce angel traits in a modern person? (How concentrated half-angel genes wind up in my characters is part of the story’s mystery. I hate spoilers so I’ll practice the Golden Rule by doing to blog readers as I would have them do to me.)

I’m out to give readers the truth of Jesus’ love and power within the fun of fantasy. My main character isn’t a kid with all things perfect from his parents to the SUV. Rather, his dad is in prison, his mom barely scrapes by, and he’s picked on in school. He thrills over his newfound angel powers—flying is the best—but winds up attacked by demons (the ultimate bullies) in his middle school hallways. When the Lord of Hosts calls him to be a Battle Leader of Angels, he balks. Can God really turn a loser into a warrior?

I’m writing Book Two of the series right now. Meanwhile, a faith-based film producer is considering Children of Angels for a future project! It has a long road to go from book to film, but his very thinking about it is enough of a miracle for now.

I’m also the author of a six-book fiction series called the Good News Club. As a screenwriter, I’ve had two screenplays optioned by film companies. Further, my producer friend has asked me to adapt his family fantasy script into a novel. The project will be filmed this summer.

So: do you think God can turn a loser into a warrior? Leave your comments here.