Tag Archives: phyllis wheeler

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.

 

 

A Draw of Kings by Patrick W. Carr, a review

adrawofkingsA Draw of Kings by Patrick W. Carr, Book 3 of The Staff and the Sword trilogy
Published 2014 by Bethany House, 457 pages
Genre: Christian medieval fantasy, suitable for teen and up

Errol Stone, the everyman hero, has twice saved the ungrateful kingdom of Erinon. When he returns from his most recent mission, jailers await him and his friends. A usurper has grabbed the vacant throne.  Who can now rescue them from the dungeon?

The last king has just died childless. Little-known prophetic words identify Errol and his military colleague Liam, both orphans from the same village, as candidates for the next king. Of the two, one will die to save the realm. And one will be king. Each believes he will be the one to die.

This complex tale follows story threads involving not only Errol, but Adora (the last princess) and Martin (a churchman) in their separate quests as they all seek to beat back hordes of invading enemies and the demon-animated giant predators that seem unconquerable.

A strong faith element infuses this story.  Many well-drawn characters, plenty of action, and agonizing choices fill the rich story tapestry. An unexpected ending tops it all off. I highly recommend you read this epic work!

This is part of the CSFF Blog Tour. Check out what others are saying about this book:
GillianAdams
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
Shane Werlinger
PhyllisWheeler
Nicole White
Jill Williamson
Author Website – http://patrickwcarr.com/

Outcasts by Jill Williamson, a review

outcastsOutcasts by Jill Williamson, Book Two in The Safe Lands series
Published 2014 by Blink (HarperCollins), 304 pages
Genre: Dystopian suspense, young adult and up

I reviewed the first book in this series, Captives, and reflected on it some more for a blog tour. It tells the story of some rustic future Colorado mountain dwellers who are kidnapped by a nearby group of people who live in what is very erroneously called the Safe Lands.

All the three brothers want to do is round up the people of their former village, Glenrock, and escape. While the previous book focused on Mason, this one centers around his brother Omar, the one who betrayed them to the Safe Landers. Now that Omar is repentant, his brothers have decided to trust him and let him join their rebel forces. Omar does his best, unless he’s distracted by the diseased pleasures offered by the Safe Lands.

In the first book, the medic Mason was able to free the Glenrock women who were being held in a prison-like harem. In this book, Mason and Levi desperately want to free the Glenrock children, held in a prison-like boarding school, so they can all go home. While he’s at it, Mason also desperately wants to find a cure for the thin plague, a sickness that dooms all the Safe Landers, including the woman Mason loves–and his brother Omar.

What I like most about Jill Williamson’s writing is her ability to write what a character is thinking and feeling. Her ability to do this is amazing. Of course, it’s got great characters and a twisty plot, so … read it!

Take a look at the nifty book trailer for Book 1:

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Please check out what others are saying about the book!

Red Bissell
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Julie Bihn
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Melanie @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Chawna Schroeder
Jacque Stengl
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson

Author Website – http://www.jillwilliamson.com/ 

Merlin’s Shadow by Robert Treskillard, a review

merlinsshadowMerlin’s Shadow, Book 2 of the Merlin Spiral
Published 2013 by Blink (HarperCollins)
Genre: Christian Arthurian tale

I reviewed the first book in the series, Merlin’s Blade. This second book, like any middle book in a three-book series, leads us through some majors trials and travails for the main characters.  Merlin finds himself fleeing the traitor Vortigern, who has just killed High King Uther. With Merlin are the infant Arthur, Uther’s son; Colvard, Uther’s ancient bard; Natalenya, Merlin’s beloved; and Garth, a helpful teenager. Somehow they also pick up a helpful enemy druid and a member of Vortigern’s war band, loyal to Arthur.

Left behind is Merlin’s younger sister, Ganieda, who thinks she’s abandoned (though Merlin has asked someone to care for her). She goes to stay with her druid grandfather.  She’s angry with Merlin, angry enough to wish him dead. And in her case, with the devilish tools at her disposal, she’s just about able to get him killed.

Multiple times, it looks like all is lost. How can they survive being stranded on a peninsula, with armed enemies cornering them? How can they survive being surrounded by Vortigern’s murderous men, and then by Pictish barbarians who are only too happy to murder them? And in ensuing brutal slavery, how can they keep their faith in a merciful God who loves them?

Who is loyal? Loyalty is a theme in this book. Those who have reason to be loyal are not, and vice versa. So, what is loyalty? Should or can Merlin be loyal to his murderous little sister?

Robert Treskillard has done an enormous amount of research, and it shows. There’s a very authentic feel to this tale, which takes place starting in Cornwall but stretching up to Scotland and somewhere far to the north across the sea: Norway?

The story has some very unexpected turns, always a big plus! It certainly kept me turning pages. It does a great job of setting up many of the characters in the Arthurian saga, especially Merlin’s little sister Ganieda who becomes a witch, Morgana. She’s clearly the big antagonist for the next book (as well as a minor antagonist for this one). I liked this book!

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. Please take a moment to see what others are saying about this book.

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
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson

Author Website – http://www.KingArthur.org.uk
Author Blog – http://www.epictales.org/blog/robertblog.php

The Shadow Lamp by Stephen R. Lawhead, a review

shadowlamp-hpThe Shadow Lamp by Stephen R. Lawhead, Book 4 of a 5-book series, Bright Empires
Published 2013 by Thomas Nelson, 379 pages
Genre: Multiverse fantasy with a Christian worldview, suitable for teens and adults

Five books is a lot for a series. Devotees of Stephen Lawhead, like me, will of course eagerly pick up each book as it comes out. But it is necessary to do a bit of reviewing before plunging in. There’s just too much to remember.

Kit Livingstone has stumbled through the previous three books slowly getting a little wiser in his search for the Skin Map. Why do Kit and a variety of others want the map? It leads to the Spirit Well, a possible key to conquering death. And Kit has even been there, though briefly. Can he find his way back?

Kit has some loyal compatriots, starting with his former girlfriend Mina, and in this book picks up some more: Cass and Gianni.  He’s also got a compatriot who betrayed him before, Haven, and her servant Giles. Will she betray Kit again?

They all decide to look for the Spirit Well using shadow lamps invented by the evil Lord Burleigh that assist traveling to other universes. But it will be a while before more lamps can secretly be made. So they wait in Prague.

But Haven can’t wait. And soon enough Burleigh finds their trail. Is it too late?

Lawhead is a masterful writer. I enjoyed his rich characters and twisty plot. I’m also enjoying all the zillions of possibilities that the multiverse concept gives. With such a long series there are many threads and characters to weave together, and Lawhead does a masterful job. As with any masterful job, there’s always a quibble: one scene didn’t seem to add to the plot in my opinion (concerning how Lord Burleigh found and hired his henchmen).

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

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. Please check out what others are saying about the book.

Julie Bihn
Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Theresa Dunlap
April Erwin
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Rachel Wyant
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson

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

Hive by Rachel Starr Thomson, a review

hiveHive by Rachel Starr Thomson, Book Two of the Oneness Cycle
Published 2013 by Little Dozen Press, 299 pages
Genre: Christian supernatural suspense, suitable for teens and adults

I reviewed the first book in the series, Exile.

Tyler and Chris, buddies from childhood, decide to take on the Hive, a group of demon-possessed people. The Hive works to destroy the Oneness warrior group that Tyler belongs to. Tyler’s not afraid to attack the Hive because he is part of the Oneness, though a very new member. But Tyler’s afraid for Chris, a nonmember. Chris, an impetuous fellow, wants to get the Hive because it threatens the woman he loves. But he doesn’t have the spiritual warfare skills. And he doesn’t care.

Soon Tyler and Chris languish in captivity in a strange commune where the words spoken seem right, more or less, but actions are not. Why are they being drugged? What does the commune leader want with them? How can this leader claim to be Oneness? Will they escape with their lives?

Engaging characters and a gripping,  unpredictable plot make this a wonderful evening’s reading. I’m enjoying this trilogy, which I think should be accessible to nonChristians as well as Christians. And of course, the plot leads into the third book, which I hope to read soon!

 

The Hero’s Lot by Patrick W. Carr, a review

theheroslotThe Hero’s Lot by Patrick W. Carr, Book 2 of The Staff and The Sword
Published 2013 by Bethany House, 427 pages
Genre: Christian medieval fantasy, epic scope

Errol Stone, town drunkard turned sober warrior, wonders what his place is in the wider world. At the capital city, the king has made him an earl. The king’s gorgeous niece likes him. It looks like all will be well. Except for the fact that he has powerful enemies who wish him dead.

The old king has no heir. The first king’s death two thousand years ago bought the kingdom protection from the unseen realms of spiritual darkness, but it’s about to end. Nobles jockey for influence in the power vacuum soon to come, most not believing in spiritual matters at all. And there’s Errol, who doesn’t believe in spiritual matters either, having been tortured by an angry priest when he was a child.

A prophecy says Errol could either become the next king or he could die young. Soon he finds himself sent on a hopeless quest to an Godforsaken enemy kingdom. What good can come of it?

Compelling characters and plot twists make this a great read. Don’t miss it! I can’t wait for the next one in the series. Read my review of the first book in this series.

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. Please check out what others are saying about this book:

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Rachel Wyant

Author Website http://patrickwcarr.com/

A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr, a review

acastofstonesA Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr, Book One of The Staff and the Sword
Published 2013 by Bethany House, 428 pages
Genre: Christian Fantasy (medieval, epic)

Errol Stone is a piteous drunk, nineteen years old, a village orphan with no past and no future. When a church messenger sends him on an errand, he discovers he’s a marked man. Assassins are shooting or hacking at him as he delivers the message to a hermit priest and then accompanies the priest and friends toward the capital city and the conclave that will soon choose a new king.

The priest and friends discover Errol has a rare talent. But they tell no one. So why do the assassins continue to hound him? And how do they know where he is, time and time again?

In a moment of sanctuary, Errol finds he has a choice: to continue as a drunk, or to take up the offer of a master with the quarter staff to teach him fighting skills. Will he or can he climb out of the pit he has dug for himself?

This book provides a great window into a new fantasy world. Well-drawn characters, a twisty plot, a  faith element, and plenty of danger make this a terrific story. I heartily recommend it.

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Please take a moment to check out what others on the tour are saying about this book and its sequel. Read my review of the sequel.

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Rachel Wyant

Author Websitehttp://patrickwcarr.com/

The Restorer’s Son by Sharon Hinck, a review

restorerssonThe Restorer’s Son by Sharon Hinck, Book Two of the Sword of Lyric series
Published 2012 by Marcher Lord Press, 470 pages
Genre: Christian medieval fantasy

Kieran is angry at everyone. It’s easier to be angry than to have other emotions. A trained warrior, he takes orders from nobody.

God, called the One in his world, is calling him to be the next Restorer. Like Gideon, Kieran is asked to demolish idolatrous temples. Like Jonah, Kieran is asked to speak the words of the One to a land full of ruthless enemies.

But Kieran doesn’t believe.

The book encompasses Kieran’s struggle as God turns him around to face his calling. Will he do it? Can he do it? Can he accept the cost?

This book aims at an amazing transformation in its main character, one you almost never see in fiction. Here’s why: starting the main character out in such a dark place risks losing readers at the beginning of the book. Here it works because this is the second book in a series, building on previous positive and negative information given about Kieran in Book One, where he was a secondary character.

I found this to be a gripping and effective tale, speaking volumes to anyone who has ever wrestled with God.

Men, you’ll like this book. While the (highly effective) protagonist of the first book in the series was a soccer mom, possibly not appealing to male readers, the protagonist of this one is a warrior. The protagonist of the third is also a male. So, dive in, men! If you don’t, you’re missing out!

Read my review of the first book in the series, The Restorer.

Reflections on Captives by Jill Williamson

captivesCaptives by Jill Williamson, Book One of The Safe Lands series
Published 2013 by Zondervan, 381 pages
Genre: Dystopian suspense, young adult and up

Four months ago I posted a review of Jill Williamson’s latest book, Captives. Today, for the CSFF blog tour, I am reflecting on the book, which I liked.

I don’t know about you, but I am getting a little tired of dystopias. The settings are so antagonistic and dreary. But I was happy to read this one.

What I remember the most is that this story seems to mirror the biblical story of Daniel. Mason, the middle of three brothers, finds himself in hostile territory working for the good of his captive clan. It’s a great tale, well told.

Williamson left a giant clue about this: a quote from the book of Daniel at the beginning.  So I’ll be interested to see where her tale leads us in future installments: to interpreting handwriting on the wall? to a lion’s den?

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog tour. Check out my review from April, and be sure to check out comments from other blog tour members as well.
Julie Bihn
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
Victor Gentile
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Asha Marie Pena
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Rachel Wyant


Author’s websitehttp://www.jillwilliamson.com/