Monthly Archives: June 2013

Victoria and the Ghost by Janet K. Brown, a review

victoriaVictoria and the Ghost by Janet K. Brown
Published 2012 by 4RV Publishing, 208 pages
Genre: Young adult general fiction/paranormal

Victoria is 15, and she’s dealing with a lot. Her mom has snagged a rich new husband and has abandoned Victoria, her sister, and their dad. The girls and their dad have moved from Dallas to a farm in rural Texas, where learning to ride a horse is far more important than finding the latest fashion in the mall. But in the summertime, it’s hard to make friends. Only one girl her age lives within 15 miles, and she’s prickly. Victoria takes refuge in a beautiful, peaceful spot in a cemetery, all alone. Or is she?

I enjoyed this book, which seems to effectively get inside the head of a 15-year-old, with all her strong emotions. There’s enough happening to keep the plot rolling. With my interest in speculative fiction, I particularly like the ghost, who seems like a basically warm-hearted old chap. There’s a faith element that works, too, along with a touch of romance. Brown has done a good job.

Storm by Evan Angler, a review

stormStorm by Evan Angler, Book 3 in the Swipe series
Published 2013 by Thomas Nelson, 265 pages
Genre:Middle grade dystopian/sci fi

In this version of the future, a totalitarian society provides school, food, and medical care to those who are “marked” with a scannable chip at the age of thirteen or so.  Those conscientious objectors who refuse the mark must scavenge.

A number of story threads continue from the previous two books in the series, following multiple groups of rebel markless or their helpers.

Logan Langly, leader of the markless, organized a prison break to rescue his sister Lily from the government’s clutches, but she refused to leave and in fact arranged for her brother’s capture (but he got away).

Now she works against the markless. Or does she? Is her new offer of help to Logan genuine, or has she been brainwashed?

What do I think?

Disclaimer: I did not read the previous books in the series. This book contains a summary at the beginning bringing us up to speed on the story so far.

I found this story hard to follow, told from the points of view of too many characters, at least six or seven. (Point of view characters tell the story through their eyes, saying what they are feeling and perceiving.)  This is against conventional editing wisdom, especially jumping from one point of view to another in the same paragraph. This happens several times in the story, and the publisher is highly respected, so I know it is deliberate. But I was repeatedly jarred out of the narrative and kept puzzling over who everyone was.

Another odd thing is that the author’s first book in the series appears in the narrative. Some of the characters in the story find it in a library and marvel at it, wondering how this “Evan Angler” fellow could have known what they were doing and thinking. This is probably supposed to be funny, but it also pulled me out of the narrative.

If I had read the first two books, I believe I would have been happier. At least it wouldn’t have seemed like a flood of unfamiliar characters.

I suspect that fans of dystopian fiction will like this book, because it is otherwise very well written and tells a fast-paced story. I recommend starting with the first book.

This post is part of the Christian Science-Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Please take a moment to check out what others are saying.

Julie Bihn
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
Sarah Faulkner
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Writer Rani
Chawna Schroeder
Jacque Stengl
Jojo Sutis
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Rachel Wyant

Author’s website: http://www.evanangler.com/

 

Finding Angel by Kat Heckenbach, a review

Finding Angel by Kat Heckenbach, Book 1 of the Toch Island Chronicles
Published 2011 by Splashdown Books, 294 pages
Genre: Fantasy with Christian worldview

Angel has no idea who her parents are or what her true name is.  She lives in Florida with a foster family who found her wandering in the woods without her memory at the age of six. Now she’s fourteen, and strange things are starting to happen.

She takes a shine to a young man, Gregor, a stranger to her. She realizes he has answers about who she is, and she decides to go with him back to his home. She finds this is her birthplace, Toch Island, a magical place near Ireland. She learns she has magical powers, like others from the island, and Gregor teaches her to use them.

Her parents are off searching for her in Germany, and they’re also searching for the man who tried to kill her when she was six in order to steal her magic powers.

This man is still trying to kill her, the reader learns amid bizarre happenings on and near Gregor’s farm. No one knows who the villain is, and he likes it that way.

Can Angel solve the riddle of a prophecy? Will she live to see her parents again? And will Angel learn who the would-be killer is?

This student-wizard tale is slow-moving in some spots, but provides a pleasing whodunit with some great plot twists and novel characters. I like the story world of the island, full of simple townsfolk, tame dog-like dragons, and dotty professors.

The faith element in this story lies in the deep background. Heckenbach, a Christian, writes for the secular market. In this tale, prophecy works. Things don’t happen randomly, though the bad guy would have us believe so.

Son of Truth by Morgan Busse, a review

Son of Truth by Morgan L. Busse, Book 2 of Follower of the Word series
Published 2013 by Marcher Lord Press, 442 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy

Caleb Tala, prince of Temanin, has lived in luxury all his life, but he’s no spoiled brat. He’s taken his job seriously. He’s an assassin for his cousin, the king, and he’s the best of the best.

Caleb has gone so far as to assassinate the ruler of the neighboring kingdom to the north, Ryland Plains, where the previous story in this series took place. But being at the top of his profession gives him no peace. His many victims invade his dreams. Guilt consumes him.

In the invasion of Ryland Plains, his Temanin army is mysteriously defeated by a barrage of light at the gates of the main city. Caleb meets  the Word, Savior of the world, who asks him a question. Does Caleb want forgiveness for his crimes? Does he want it so much that he will step into the guardian role abandoned by his mother, an Eldaran–a being with supernatural powers?

Caleb spends most of the rest of the book coping with his choice. Can he now be someone entirely different, a Son of Truth, or does he fall back into his previous self-centered habits? He struggles with his and others’ expectations.

The Word is equipping Caleb and Rowen, two Eldarans, to fight the two Shadonae, evil beings with supernatural powers, who have taken over the city of Thyra on the other side of the  mountains and will surely move eastward. Rowen’s story is told in the previous book (Daughter of Light) and continues in this one.

Will these flawed and fragile beings be able to save the world? Or will they succumb to temptations, snares, and opposition?

I couldn’t put this book down. It moved from crisis to crisis, putting these wonderful characters through all kinds of conflict. There’s a strong faith element, providing a very satisfying read. While Caleb goes through some substantial change in this book, the plot doesn’t resolve. But then, it’s not the last book in the series, is it? I can’t wait for the next one!

My review of Book 1, Daughter of Light

My review of Book 2, Son of Truth

My review of Book 3, Heir of Hope