Tag Archives: fiction

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr, a review

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr, Book 2 of The Darkwater Saga
Published 2016 by Bethany House, 464 pages
Genre: Clean medieval fantasy, suitable for teens and up

This middle book of a trilogy, the Darkwater Saga, does a better job than many middle-of-trilogy books at keeping the reader’s interest without letting things seem to get hopeless. It’s got plenty of action, answers a couple of key questions for the reader, and leads well into the third and final novel, unpublished at the time of this writing.

Willet Dura, age 30 or so, has received a gift in a world where gifted people become the nobility. Gifts can be intentionally bestowed as the giver dies, but sometimes in chaotic situations they “go free” and land on someone new. That is what happened to Willet at the beginning of Book 1. With this “domere” gift he can, with a touch, see into the mind of another, an experience that is overwhelming. The domere gift also, he discovers in this book, conveys a life span that is many times that of normal.

One of the things he sometimes sees in the minds of others is a “vault,” a construction put there by an unknown evil enemy. The person is always someone who has been lured to the Darkwater Forest by night. The mental vault opens up at night, and the person becomes a zombie-like killer.

These townspeople-turned-into-killers stand to wipe out Willet and the few other people with his gift, who call themselves the Vigil. Willet struggles to stay a step ahead of the killers, but no one can trust him, least of all himself. The problem? Willet too has a vault in his mind.

Highly recommended. Can’t wait for the next book.

 

 

 

 

King’s Folly by Jill Williamson, a review

KingsFollyKing’s Folly by Jill Williamson (Kinsman Chronicles #1)
Published 2016 by Bethany House
Genre: Christian medieval fantasy, young adult,  readers 16 and up

Jill Williamson is my favorite living author. She has an uncanny knack for drawing you into her story. So I was delighted to read this.

This book is the first in a new prequel series to her popular Blood of Kings trilogy. This prequel series is ancient history, taking place hundreds of years before, maybe a thousand years.

Two sons of the king, Prince Wilek and his younger brother Prince Trevn, struggle against the forces who have corrupted their father. Intrigues at court turn deadly, and Wilek must solve a murder: who did it and why?  Meanwhile, natural disasters are becoming commonplace, and Wilek is tasked to travel to a ruined city and report back. The quest leads him on a dangerous journey to nearby realms. Could it be that an ancient prophecy of total disaster is near to fulfillment?

I am so glad Jill has returned to writing about this story world. I really enjoyed this book and could hardly put it down. It’s a sprawling tale, with lots of point-of-view characters.  So my only complaint is that I had some trouble keeping them all straight in my mind. Despite that, I highly recommend this book and look forward to the coming ones in the series. 4.5 stars.

Warning: The book contains characters who are prostitutes and concubines, and royalty who have absolutely no sense of fidelity in marriage. There is plenty of idol worship as well, including child sacrifice. None of this is graphic. But it is strong stuff, based on the deplorable behavior of the nation of Israel before the exile.

Waking Beauty by Sarah E Morin, a review

WakingBeautyWaking Beauty by Sarah E Morin
Published 2015 by Enclave Publishing, 467 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for 12 and up

What if Sleeping Beauty refused to wake up?  This book plays with that question.  It fleshes out Sleeping Beauty as Princess Brierly, dreaming for 100 years, many of the dreams tainted by the presence of the evil fairy who lured her to the spindle.

When Prince Arpien kisses her awake, she thinks he’s just another figment of the dream world. She’s reckless and heedless, actually downright rude. Besides, he looks just like his ancestor who was once her fiance. So she consistently calls him by the wrong name.

It’s enough to make a guy give up. But Arpien, who has motivations of his own, doesn’t back down easily.

What do I think? This book was a little hard for me to get into because a fairy tale re-imagined with humor just didn’t seem “true.” But then what fairy tale is true? After a little while I got into it though and enjoyed the story. I was able to empathize with these cardboard characters whom the author managed to bring to life. Four stars.

Nameless by A.C. Williams, an amnesia story with plenty of twists

Christian sci fi author A.C. Williams puts out a gripping YA novel.Nameless by A.C. Williams, Book 1 in the Destiny trilogy
Published 2014 by Crosshair Press, 401 pages
Genre: Christian sci fi aimed at older teens. I’d give it a PG-13 rating for some sexiness, violence, and language.

Maybe Xander is her name. It’s the name on the shirt she wore when she was found, sole survivor on a derelict spaceship. Or, maybe it’s not her name. She can’t remember.

Xander has forgotten so much. Only tiny clues of her past surface in her mind from time to time. A salad made of apples with mayo? Chocolate chip cookies? Dumpster diving? All strange concepts to the people around her.

Those people live on a variety of planets and moons, none of which seems to be Earth. It’s a jaded future universe where people don’t know the word “God,” and everybody does what is right in his own eyes.  But Xander remembers God.

When a motley group of bounty hunters rescue her from pursuit and take her on board their well-worn ship, she begins to feel more at home. But the problem of who she is and where she came from still consumes her.  Why are there others out to capture her alive, at all costs? They seem to know more about her than she does herself.

This book is hard to put down, well written, full of memorable characters. I find echoes in it of Star Wars, Twilight, and Wizard of Oz.

Of course, being first in a trilogy, it doesn’t come to a ringing conclusion. The next book is coming out soon, I’m glad to hear!

 

 

Heir of Hope by Morgan L. Busse, a review

heirofhope1Heir of Hope by Morgan L. Busse, third and final book of the Follower of the Word series
Published 2015 by Enclave Publishing, 427 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy with adult characters, suitable for young adult and up

Third and final books in a trilogy often end the story line with a bang. This one is no exception. The four main characters come into greater focus and into their own, moving against the Shadonae who plan to end the human race and seem to hold all the cards.

Rowen Mar, the first character we met in the longer story, has stepped into her new identity as an Eldaran, a protector of humans with strange strong powers. Loren, captain of the guard , realizes he loves her and vows to follow her to the ends of the earth, handing his responsibilities off to another.  Problem is, she’s headed to confront the Shadonae, and she’s been kidnapped. How can he find her? And if he finds her, how can he help?

Meanwhile, Caleb Tala also has accepted his new identity as an Eldaran, leaving behind his old life as a cold-blooded assassin. Will others accept the new Caleb? Or thwart him as he also focuses on defeating the Shadonae?

And who are the Shadonae, anyway?

I have been looking forward to reading this book for the two years since the last book in the series was published, with this unforgettable set of characters.  It was quite an emotional ride: I was surprised, dismayed, and overjoyed on the way, and encouraged in my faith.  You’ll love this series. Give it a try.

My review of Book 1, Daughter of Light

My review of Book 2, Son of Truth

My review of Book 3, Heir of Hope

 

Wind and Shadow by Kathy Tyers, a review

windandshadowWind and Shadow by Kathy Tyers
Published 2011 by Marcher Lord Press/Enclave Publishing, 344 pages
Genre: Christian science fiction (space opera) suitable for YA and up

Twins Kiel and Kinnor Caldwell don’t get along very well. One’s a priest, the other a warrior. But when Kiel, the priest, suddenly goes  missing, Kinnor risks everything to look for him.

The scene of the apparent kidnapping is a desolate planet with no atmosphere, with a small population living in domes or underground. Mikuhr is the occupied planet that is home to the ancient enemies of the Caldwell family.

On this planet, a diplomat named Wind feels her calling is to get warring factions to talking and bring peace.  But no one seems to take her seriously.

Meanwhile, Kiel and Kinnor’s sister Tiala in a faraway monastery accepts an assignment that’s even bigger than her brothers’.

This book has intriguing characters and a strong faith arc and message. Tyers’ fourth book in a five-book sequence set in the same universe carries its own weight with a very good story. I’m looking forward to reading the fifth and final Firebird novel next!

 

 

 

The Firebird trilogy by Kathy Tyers, a review

firebird1I’ve been reading, and re-reading, Firebird lately.

Kathy Tyers’ Christian space opera novel, Firebird,was published in the 1980s and hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Marcher Lord Press, now Enclave Publishing, re-published Firebird and its two Firebird sequels in 2011. I reviewed Firebird in 2012. Now finally I made time to read the two following books, Fusion Fire and Crown of Fire.

These three books have the same protagonist, Lady Firebird, originally fifth in line to the throne of the rich planet Netaia, doomed to die for that very reason. She’s a very cool and skilled pilot of fighter spacecraft. And, in the first novel, she fell in love with and married a man with amazing telepathic skills.

firebird2What happens next? In Fusion Fire, Firebird is pregnant with twins. She discovers she has telepathic gifts too–she has an ancestor who was a rogue from the genetically altered telepathic race. But her gift may be more of a curse. Can she use it to save her beloved, or will it tear her apart?

In Crown of Fire, her beloved planet of Netaia invites her to visit. With the queen abdicated, the queen’s heirs dead, and the next-in-line dead, she’s the only member of the royal family left–along with her twin sons.

Some want her to be queen, though many there call her a traitor and want nothing to do with her. Into this stew step the rogue telepathics, who have chosen Netaia as the next world they will conquer. Will Firebird let her pride lead her forward?

These books are worthy sequels to the riveting first book. There’s a strong faith element, along with unforgettable characters. Lots of food for thought and for the soul in these books.

Now I’m looking forward to reading the two sequels that focus on Firebird’s sons, Wind and Shadow, and Daystar.

The Fatal Tree by Stephen Lawhead, a review

The Fatal TreeThe Fatal Tree, final book of the five-book Bright Empires Series, by Stephen R. Lawhead
Published by Thomas Nelson, 2014, 335 pages
Genre: Multiverse/alternate history/time-travel written from a Christian worldview, for teens and adults

Former novice Kit Livingstone is a seasoned ley traveler now. He’s been using a method of walking along natural energy-filled “ley” lines in the earth’s crust to travel to alternate, but similar, universes, following in the footsteps of other ley travelers like his late great-grandfather, Cosimo, and the ruthless Lord Burleigh. They’ve all been looking madly for the Skin Map, which they think will show the ley-travel way to the Spirit Well: what seems to be the fountain of youth and life.

In this book Kit and friends discover that the stakes are far higher than they thought, and the Spirit Well is something different from what they thought. The multiverse is getting more and more unstable, and quickly. Ley traveling doesn’t take them where it used to, but to strange and dangerous places.  Napoleon’s soldiers appear in 1930’s Damascus. Kit’s friend Mina runs into a duplicate of herself.

And the key to it all, the Spirit Well, is beyond their reach, because an enormous yew tree has planted itself in the portal leading to it, a tree that zaps to death anyone that reaches for it. If they can’t get around the tree, the multiverse will quickly unravel. The world and all its clones in the multiverse have only a few weeks to live, but only some scientists and some ley travelers know it.

And the key to the tree belongs to the one person none of them wants to trust.

What do I think? I’ve gotten pretty fond of some of the newer characters in this series, the ley-traveling Italian priest Gianni especially. Gianni brings a Christian flavor to some of the book, which is sold in the general market and therefore is very delicate about conveying its worldview, lest non-Christians put it down. I think having the sunny priest convey certain ideas works very well.

The fully-drawn characters, the well-described locales all around the world spiced with those critical details, and an intriguing plot that brings a whole epic series to conclusion make this a winning book.

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

This review is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour.

Please check out what others are saying:

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
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Author Websitehttp://www.stephenlawhead.com/
Author Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephen-R-Lawhead/84503526872

I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson, a review

DreamtreadersDreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson, a review
Published 2014 by Thomas Nelson, 289 pages
Genre: Middle grade fantasy fiction

Archer Keaton, age 14, serves humanity as a Dreamtreader. In his dreams, what he imagines becomes “real.” So, in a battle, he can call amazing weapons into being (such as a bulldozer blade to mow down the opposition). But the bad guys can too, when they’re not trying to deceive him. It’s fun and kinda scary.

Archer seeks to make repairs in this lovely fantasy place, the world of dreams, where things are beginning to turn dark. It becomes apparent that even his life is at risk, and the lives of his loved ones in the real world.

Speaking of the real world, there are strange things going on there too. Can it be that the troubles in the dream world and the real world are connected? Can it be linked to his best friend who seems to have abandoned him? What about the new boy at school? Is he a friend–or not?

It’s a great story (first in a series) that should appeal to a variety of ages, but particularly to boys who are squeamish about reading. It’s full of action with a well-constructed plot, and characters we can all identify with. It has a reasonably subtle faith element, so nonChristians should enjoy it too, and maybe even find some food for thought. I’d be happy to share this book with others.

This post is part of the Christian Science-Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour, and I received the book from the publisher free of charge. To see what others are saying, take a look at the following:

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
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Author Website – http://www.enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/

Failstate: Legends by John Otte, a review

FailstateLFailstate: Legends by John Otte, Book 2 of Failstate series
Published 2013 by Marcher Lord Press, 455 pages
Genre: Young adult superhero tale, suitable for middle grade and up

Failstate: Legends is the middle book of a three-book series, but it stands alone very well I think. No one who picks it up cold like I did will think this is an unfinished story, and unexplained details from the past just make it seem more realistic.

I found a teenage superhero who’s disarmingly bad at everything. Failstate, also known as Robin Laughlin, finds his super powers don’t obey him always, and almost no one takes him seriously. It might have to do with the fact that he has to cover his face when costumed, making him look more like a thief in a ragged hoodie than anything else. Or it might have to do with the fact that he got his superhero license through a reality TV show.

Zombies are coming out of nowhere. And Failstate is the only superhero on duty, so he has to stop them. Yes, real zombies. But they aren’t possible. So where are they coming from? Will other superheroes from other towns lend their help? Through this struggle, will he win respect, or continue to fail?

The book has a cartoonish cover, but it’s not a graphic novel. It has short, action-packed chapters and great story elements, including strong characters who learn and change over time and a plot that’s full of surprises. It has a strong faith element too. I recommend this book!

Note: I received a free copy for review.