Tag Archives: christian

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/ 

Memory’s Door by James L. Rubart, a review

memorysdoorMemory’s Door by James L. Rubart, Book 2 of the Well Spring series
Published 2013 by Thomas Nelson, 353 pages
Genre: Christian supernatural

Note: see Kindle Fire giveaway promo at the end of this post.

The first book of this series, Soul’s Gate, showed the formation of the group of four people known as the Warriors Riding who leap into battles in the spirit realm. They’re real battles, with death, blindness, and physical wounds a distinct possibility. Yet the three men and one woman are willing to risk it to bring healing to various souls.

This second book, Memory’s Door, brings a huge assignment (in the form of a prophecy) to the Warriors Riding. That assignment is defeating the demon known as the Wolf, manifesting as the “spirit of religion” that urges Christians to depend on rules and the work of their hands to get into heaven.

Reece, the group leader, is plagued by doubt and fear as he grapples with his loss of eyesight from a previous encounter with a demon.  Brandon, the singer, finds he has a stalker, and his career takes a nosedive after an encounter with a radio talk show host. Meanwhile Dana gets a time-consuming promotion at work and reconsiders her commitment to the Warriors. And Marcus, the professor, seems to find his life occasionally switching to alternate timelines in which his dead son is still alive. Is he going crazy?

Can these four renew their commitment to each other and move ahead with the battle? Or is it all just too much?

What do I think? This book is full of action in the spirit realm, which I am having some trouble getting used to visualizing.  However, now that we are in Book 2 and heading for Book 3, I am getting more used to it.

Rubart’s characters carry regrets and make huge mistakes. They get ticked off. In short, they’ve convinced me they’re real people. Very cool!  Of course they’re in a pickle, and I’m not seeing the way out. In short, this book is very well done and based on solid theology. Read it!

About the Kindle Fire giveaway:
James L. Rubart takes readers deeper into the world he began in Soul’s Gate (a 2013 Christy Award winner) with Memory’s Door (Thomas Nelson), the second book in the Well Spring series.

James is celebrating the Memory’s Door release with a fantastic Kindle Fire HD giveaway.

MemoryDoor-rafflecopter

One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HD
  • Soul’s Gate and Memory’s Door by James L. Rubart

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 7th. All winners will be announced September 9th at James’ blog.

 


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit James’ blog on the 9th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to his blog (enter your email in the blog sidebar) and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Enter Today – 8/19 – 9/7!
Memorys Door James L Rubart Kindle Fire giveaway

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/

Merlin’s Blade by Robert Treskillard, a review

Merlin’s Blade by Robert Treskillard, Book One of The Merlin Spiral
Published 2013 by Zondervan, 411 pages
Genre: Christian Arthurian tale

In Treskillard’s take on the Arthurian saga, Merlin begins as a bashful, gawky teenager, son of a blacksmith, nearly blind. Some unknown druids come to his tiny town in post-Roman Britain, bringing with them a mysterious, demonically mesmerizing stone.

The townspeople can’t help themselves–they worship the stone, abandoning the town’s Christian monks. Soon High King Uther’s battle chief Vortigern comes to town, bringing treachery with him, finding a friendly welcome from the wayward town.

How can young Merlin get the attention of the upper-class girl he loves? Can he deliver the town from its slavery to the stone? And what of the fate of the tiny prince Arthur in this time of upheaval?

I found this book to be intricately plotted, with plenty of interlocking subplots. Characters are finely drawn with  believable backgrounds, and it’s all laced together with suspense projected against a Christian worldview. I can’t wait for more!

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

Noah Arsenault
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Jeff Chapman
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White

Author blog http://www.epictales.org/robertblog.php
Author’s websitehttp://www.kingarthur.org.uk/

Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore, a review

Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore, Book Two of the Angel Eyes trilogy
Published 2013 by Thomas Nelson, 304 pages
Genre: Young adult supernatural, Christian

Brielle has a gift to sometimes see angels and demons, though no mortal normally can. And Jake, her boyfriend, has the gift of healing in his hands. The news has reached the dark throne:  the Prince of Darkness himself wants both of them kidnapped and brought to him. And he’s sending his unseen army to Stratus, Oregon, to get them. Archangel Michael’s forces are coming to the rescue, but slowly.

Meanwhile, Brielle and Jake are oblivious to the forces converging over them. All Brielle sees is that her beloved father hates Jake. Her father has also started dating Olivia, who seems … not to be on Brielle’s side.

Brielle and her father still mourn the death of Brielle’s mother fifteen years before. Just how mysterious this death was is only starting to become clear to Brielle. Dreams show Brielle shards of truth: a young girl living in fear, a dying woman.  When Brielle’s mother’s grave is desecrated, Brielle discovers that what her father told her about her mother’s death was a lie. And where is the truth? Whom can she trust?

This book is a worthy sequel to its wonderful predecessor, Angel Eyes. The prose sings. The characters speak to the heart. And it’s a tale of brokenness and ultimate redemption. What more could we want? If you haven’t read this book, what are you waiting for?

Read my review of the previous book, Angel Eyes: http://www.phylliswheeler.com/angel-eyes-by-shannon-dittemore-a-review/

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

Gillian Adams
Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Janey DeMeo
Theresa Dunlap
Emma or Audrey Engel
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Karielle @ Books à la Mode
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger

Author Website http://shannondittemore.com/

Captives by Jill Williamson, a review

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

Three brothers live in a tenuous settlement that shares a Colorado valley with a huge walled city called the Safe Lands. The year is 2088, and the Thin Plague has wiped out the population of the United States except for isolated pockets close to clean water sources. It’s a hard life for the brothers and their kin, surviving off the land and off what they can glean from the empty Denver City not far away.

Omar, a sensitive boy mocked and bullied by their father, decides to make friends with the people who live in the Safe Lands, although others warn him that those who go in never come out. Maybe there he will feel like he belongs. It turns out the Safe Lands desperately needs people like Omar and his clan, people uninfected by the Thin Plague who can help the Safe Lands repopulate. Omar decides his family will like the apparently easy life in the Safe Lands, and he arranges to have them taken there.

Levi, the oldest brother, is away on a trip when the Safe Landers arrive, and he returns to a village empty of life. As son of the village elder, he is elder now. He must go in to rescue the survivors, including his fiancee Jemma. But will he be able to control his temper?

Mason, the middle brother, is a gentle vegetarian who finds himself in a position of responsibility in the Safe Lands. He’s a medic, with access to the others from his village from time to time. Will he be able to make a difference for them? And can he begin to figure out what how to defeat the Thin Plague that is stunting the lives and eliminating the fertility of the Safe Landers?

Jill Williamson has delivered another impressive tale with believable, detailed characters and a strong plot line. Dystopia is a new genre for her, and she does very well in it. Her vision of 2088 Colorado has some similarities to the authoritarian world of the Hunger Games, of course, and a lot of differences too.  The faith element is present but not center stage, and so I expect non-Christians will be comfortable reading this book (and hopefully thinking a bit about the faith part). There’s a clue at the very beginning: a verse from the book of Daniel. Is Mason a recasting of the Biblical Daniel, a vegetarian living in a hostile kingdom and working for the good of his people?

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

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

I rarely re-read books. But the blog tour I partake in, Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF), is currently looking at a book I reviewed last year. Should I just recycle the old review?

I picked up the book, couldn’t remember exactly what the plot was,  and read the first page. Then the second. And … I couldn’t help myself, though my time for reading is limited. I dove right in.

I loved this book the first time around. I wondered: would I love it the second time around too?

The answer is: yes!  Fans of Christian supernatural fiction will surely agree with me that this book is strongly plotted, has a memorable premise, has unforgettable characters, and strengthens the reader’s faith walk. Not only that, but Dittemore crafts some beautiful prose.

Here’s my review from last time, in case you want more details: http://www.phylliswheeler.com/angel-eyes-by-shannon-dittemore-a-review/

Be sure to see what the others on the CSFF Blog Tour are saying in the next three days, too:
Gillian Adams
Julie Bihn
Beckie Burnham
Theresa Dunlap
Nikole Hahn
Jeremy Harder
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Faye Oygard
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jessica Thomas
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Author Website http://www.shannondittemore.com/
Author Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/ShannonDittemore

Gateway to Gannah: Words in the Wind by Yvonne Anderson

Words in the Wind, Book 2 in the Gateway to Gannah series, by Yvonne Anderson
Published 2012 by Risen Books
Genre: Christian science fiction, suitable for teens and up, featuring a strong faith element

This book is the sequel to The Story in the Stars, Gateway to Gannah Book 1, which I reviewed earlier. About 12 years after the end of the first book, the second book opens to show us Dassa and Pik married and parents of two children, heading a settlement of a thousand “earthers” who are attempting to begin to repopulate Gannah. (Dassa is the only native of Gannah who is alive, the sole survivor of a plague, and therefore is the toqueph or ruler of Gannah.)

Dassa is returning from a mission elsewhere, and she’s in an aircraft in a storm. As things go horribly wrong, she realizes the folly of the way she has been living lately, relying on herself rather than the Yasha, the benevolent creator of the universe who longs for her prayers.

Dassa survives the crash but finds herself stripped of the telepathic communication that links her to her children and to the animals of Gannah. She’s also unable to hear. Her arm is broken, she’s caught without a coat in the beginning of an arctic winter. Can she trust the Yasha to take care of her?

Meanwhile Pik, the doctor who was once her worst enemy and who came to love her, is struggling with a host of problems in her absence. Some of the settlers are rebellious. So is his little daughter, whom he just wants to spoil. The sentient animals of Gannah seek to resume their deadly war against humans, but only Dassa can deal with them.

He wants to go and look for Dassa, but his responsibilities and technical problems prevent that. Can he too trust the Yasha to take care of Dassa and provide what he needs?

What do I think?

I enjoyed Yvonne Anderson’s richly drawn characters, her gripping story style, and especially the faith message, which I found very satisfying. The book contains story arcs that begin and end with this book, but it also contains story arcs that aren’t tied up neatly. So, I’ll be looking forward to reading the next book to find out what happened!

Read my reviews of this series:

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Book 4

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