Tag Archives: review

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 Sinners’ Garden by William Sirls, a review

thesinnersgardenThe Sinners’ Garden by William Sirls
Published 2013 by Thomas Nelson, 401 pages
Genre: Christian fiction with a touch of the weird

A small-town police officer, Heather, wonders whether she’d really rather be a teacher. Her good friend, former jailbird Rip, just wants to be a blessing to his family, especially his troubled teenage nephew. That nephew, Andy, hides behind his facial scar from a burn inflicted when he was three years old. And his mother continues to blame herself for that incident.

Into this stew come some strange things. Someone starts breaking and entering around town, leaving paper bags full of just the right amount of money to meet the inhabitant’s needs, confounding Officer Heather and others who would solve the “crimes.” Teenager Andy hears and speaks prophetic words from his broken ipod, and a mysterious flower garden appears overnight in an inaccessible urban wasteland for all of them to see and wonder at.

If you love complex characters, unexpected plot twists, and messages of hope, you’ll love this book. I did.

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.

 

Robert Treskillard’s Merlin’s Nightmare, more thoughts

merlinsnightmareIs the King Arthur saga so well-worn in our imaginations that we don’t have room for something more on it? Becky Miller has raised this question.

I say there’s room for new imagination. In Robert Treskillard’s trilogy The Merlin Spiral, concluding with Merlin’s Nightmare (which I reviewed here), the author has got some fresh new takes on the characters. Merlin is a blind, lovesick teenager, and Gwenivere is a gypsy. The sword in the stone … well, I won’t spoil it for you. There’s something really wild about that stone, too!

He is able to take us back to Britain in the years after the Romans withdrew, based on a vast foundation of historical research that makes the settings and situations ring true. His Britain is a far cry from the false medieval setting envisioned by early writers of these stories.

In Merlin’s Nightmare, we see a disaster for the Britons unfold. Where they had lived as a majority, many or most of them are overcome by enemies including the Saxons, leaving the survivors a rag-tag band. This group, we expect, will seek to regain their place under King Arthur in future books.

But we know how the story ends: the Anglo-Saxons took over all the Britons’ lands except for Wales and (in France) Brittany.  That’s the thing about writing the Arthurian legend: we know the main characters, and we know how it all ends. But … do you have room for new imaginings here? I do.

Here are the two movie trailers for the first book (and thus the trilogy). The first is from Zondervan, the publisher; the second from the author:

Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard, a review

merlinsnightmareMerlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard, Book 3 of the Merlin Spiral
Published 2014 by Blink, an imprint of Zondervan, 431 pages
Genre: Arthurian fantasy, suitable for young adult and up

Robert Treskillard concludes his terrific Merlin trilogy with this book, leaving some threads open for starting a new work focused on Arthur.  Read my review of the first book. Read my review of the second book.

I’m really enjoying Treskillard’s re-imagining of Merlin as a non-magician. Merlin is a Christian who occasionally has visions. As the book opens, Merlin, in hiding in the North, has married his beloved Natalenya and has two children. They have also raised the young Arthur under a different name, withholding from him his true identity. But now that Arthur is 18, it’s time to tell him who he is and let him start making decisions.

The winds of war are blowing. Two summons to fight arrive. Where will they fight? The Britons (led by the traitor Vortigern) find themselves attacked by major enemies on three sides: the Picts from the North, the Saxons from the east, and Merlin’s witch sister Ganieda (Morgana) and her wolf-men from the west.  Merlin is inclined to fight in the North, but Arthur slips away south to aid Vortigern against the Saxons, not knowing Vortigern will probably recognize him and kill him. Can Merlin reach him in time?

And how can Merlin protect his family in the North, if he isn’t anywhere nearby? Can he convince Arthur that the most important enemy is Merlin’s sorcerer sister, who orchestrates the others? And how on earth could they defeat her and her savage wolf-men?

I found this book to be quite the page-turner with plenty of unexpected plot points. Merlin’s character goes through a learning curve, which I won’t spoil for you. I enjoyed the fresh take on Gwenivere and the idea of a novel use for Stonehenge. It’s a terrific book; put it on your reading list, and be sure to give it to the young people in your life, especially the guys. Note: I am astounded at the amount of research Treskillard has put into these books, detailed in the appendix.

This review is in conjunction with the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. For more opinions, check out the other participants listed below. I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in conjunction with this tour.

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

Author website: http://www.KingArthur.org.uk

Jupiter Winds by C.J. Darlington, a review

jupiter-windsJupiter Winds by C.J. Darlington
Published 2014 by Mountainview Books, 288 pages
Genre: Christian dystopia/sci fi, YA and older

Grey, 17, and her 14-year-old sister are orphans under the loose care of a neighbor. They live in a post-nuclear-war desolate America that is ruled by a tyrannical middle eastern regime.

Grey and Rin live on the fringe, smuggling books and cigarettes across a border to eke out a bare living. It’s been five years since their parents failed to come home from a trip. Grey has had to comfort and encourage her small sister, while needing comfort and encouragement herself.

The government sends drones to capture her. Does she run for home and hideout and endanger her sister? Or does she allow herself to be captured?

You guessed it. She allows herself to be captured, setting off a race in space to the planet Jupiter where the tyrants use her as bait to trap her father, who is still alive.  Can she escape?

I found this book to be quite a page-turner. It features strong, unique, and heroic characters and a well-developed faith element. Check it out!

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for my honest 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/

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/ 

Martyr’s Fire by Sigmund Brouwer, a review

martyrsfireMartyr’s Fire by Sigmund Brouwer, Book Three of Merlin’s Immortals
Published 2013 by Waterbrook Press, 216 pages
Genre: Young adult medieval saga with Arthurian and steampunk overtones

The year is AD 1313. In the previous books, Thomas managed to single-handedly conquer the English city of Magnus using his wits and some knowledge gleaned from the special secret technology library left him by his mother. Now he’s been lord of Magnus for several seasons, but he only has two friends—an old gardener and a pickpocket boy. He can trust no one else. Is he being paranoid? Who are his friends? Who are his enemies? He doesn’t know. And he wonders what happened to the mysterious individuals who helped him in an earlier pickle and then vanished.

Soon some strange monks enter the city. Using a weeping statue, they gain the trust and hearts of the people of Magnus, and soon they turn on Thomas and try to kill him. Thomas has waited too late to escape the walled city, surrounded by a lake. Or has he?  Can a pickpocket and a gardener give him the information he needs? And can he dare to take the leap of faith to get away?

I’m enjoying this tale, with its marvelous twisty plot and strong characters stuck in delightfully tight situations. There’s a steampunk flavor, with techno explanations for apparent miracles that fool the gullible populace, alongside herbal potions and poisons that give the enemy druids their power. There’s a faith element and a touch of romance.  In short, it’s a wonderful book for teens and adults too. And it’s not the final book in the series, so there’s more to anticipate!

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

Red Bissell
Beckie Burnham
Theresa Dunlap
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson
Rachel Wyant

Author Websitehttp://www.coolreading.com/

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!