Book Review #4

Hi everyone! Once again, I’m taking part in Bethany House’s Blogger Review Program. This time it’s actually a compilation of four novellas, from four different authors, put into one book, rather like episodes of a TV series. Invitation, sporting big names in Christian fiction such as Bill Meyers, Angela Hunt, Frank Peretti, and Alton Gansky, is the first of three (or more?) sets of four compilations being released by Bethany House over the course of the next year.

Here is the blurb from their website:

You’re invited on a journey of suspense and the supernatural as four of your favorite bestselling authors team up for a unique series.

From the minds of Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky, Invitation compiles the first four episodes of Harbingers, each following a different character.

BRENDA–the street-hustling tattoo artist who sees images of the future
THE PROFESSOR–the atheist ex-priest ruled by logic
ANDI–the professor’s brilliant but geeky assistant who sees inexplicable patterns
TANK–the naïve, big-hearted jock with a surprising connection to a healing power

Brought together for the first time in “The Call,” the four soon realize pockets of darkness are emerging throughout the world. Whether it involves a mysterious house, the unexplainable death of animals around the world, or an otherworldly little girl, each puzzle they solve brings them closer to the ultimate explanation of what’s happening. But will they discover the truth in time?

I honestly loved this so much, and I had trouble putting it down; it’s been a while since I felt so sucked into a book and felt with the characters. When they got into impossible situations (and yes, impossible, disappearing houses that suffocate, animals without eyes, a girl from another world who can float and grows younger every day), I was living right along with them, experiencing the adventure through them.

They encounter strange things, from an institute for special children playing with demonic possession to killer ghosts, the IT, and invisible friends who aren’t named Harvey.

Each of the novellas is written by a different author, through the eyes of a different character each time. The insights that you would normally only get from the protagonist in most books,  is now present in each of the characters, and helps explain some of their actions in the books that do not get an inside view of their thoughts.

What I really loved about this book is the connections that could be drawn like a thread connecting each of the books, the recurring elements, and the supernatural elements that never failed to disappoint.

I really like the third “episode” in this book, from the point of view of Andi, the Professor’s assistant. She sees patterns and mathematics in just about everything, something I think is really cool and can identify somewhat with as well.

I can’t wait until the next installment comes out in August, I definitely plan on buying it.

Basically for any fans of any of the authors, or simply fans of supernatural thrillers, I definitely recommend this book. Really. It was wonderful.

Have you read any of them, or other books by the authors? Let me know what you thought 🙂 .

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Book Review #3

Hi! Once again i’m taking part in Bethany House’s Blogger review program, this time Jill Williamson’s King’s Blood, the sequel to King’s Folly, my review of which can be found here.

This is the official back-cover blurb from their website:

They Flee for Their Lives, But Will a New Home Be Found?

The Five Realms have been destroyed. The remnants of the population who escaped now find themselves confined only to several hundred ships adrift at sea. Guided by hope, rumor, and a promise, they sail north into the unknown, desperate to find land that might become their new home.

As the king’s illness worsens, Sâr Wilek takes authority over the expedition and struggles to rule the disjointed people, while assassination attempts, vicious serpents, dangerous storms, and dark magic endanger his life and the survival of his people.

One prophecy has come to pass, but another looms dauntingly in the future. Who is this promised Deliverer? And if the Magonians have him, what might that mean for the realm of Armania?

This book has some of everything; wars, sea voyages, forbidden and encouraged romances, slavery and freedom, and will appeal to everyone in some way. As a fan of fantasy, especially biblically based fantasy, I found this to fit very nicely into the genre, and yet being different – in a good way. The flock of people, fleeing their sinking and dissolving homeland, crossing an ocean to find a new, promised land, reflecting much of the same journey described in the Old testament.

Sâr Wilek, prince heir to the throne of Armania, faces a large challenge coming into his birthright as king of a new land, with a warring mage uncle who intends to take over the entire world, giants, and mysterious spirits called shadir spying on him at every step, and coming to terms with a new faith that could be his strength or his undoing. Facing deception after deception, the Armanians and their allies fight to stay on top, to not succumb to the spies, wars, or magicks that are rife throughout the novel.

I very much enjoyed this book, and am anticipating the next one eagerly. One thing I did notice, that I thought could be improved , is the fact that the story felt like it was being rushed through, not taking as much time to develop the elements of the story, letting us see who the characters truly were, rather than just what was told about them. Also, with such a large cast of characters, it was sometimes hard to keep track of who was loyal to whom, and who hated whom, and their motivations for doing so.

This book once again ends with “Not the end”, promising more new and exciting things ahead for the descendants of Armania.

So if you’ve enjoyed Jill Williamson’s work in the past (I know I certainly have), I highly recommend reading this second (and the first as well) installment in her series, The Kinsman Chronicles.

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Book Review #2

I know it’s been quite a while since I posted, so this one is special. I’m taking part of Bethany House’s Blogger Review Program again (Free books for me, just a review here and on a retailer’s website). This month, I’m reviewing Jill Williamson’s new book, King’s Folly. (Warning, spoilers)

The official blurby description thingy, from Bethany House’s website, is below:

Their Battle for the Throne Has Just Begun.
But Will It Matter if the World They Rule Collapses Into the Sea?

The gods are angry.

Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, ground shakers–everything points to their unhappiness. At least that is what the king of Armania believes. His son Prince Wilek thinks his father’s superstitions are nonsense, though he remains the ever dutiful First Arm of Armania.

When a messenger arrives and claims that the town of Farway has been swallowed by the earth, the king sends Wilek to investigate. But what Wilek discovers is more cataclysmic than one lost city. Even as the ground shifts beneath his feet, Wilek sets out on a desperate journey to save his people and his world. But can he do it before the entire land crumbles?

For any big fans of fantasy, this is a must read that stands out. It has the feel of a fantasy series that doesn’t need to be concluded in one book, but rather the longer, more languorous feel of a true fantasy epic that won’t be easily forgotten. With this comes the slow, slightly confusing beginning that sets some readers off right away, but for those that stick around, a story of twisting and hidden loyalties, manipulation, discovery, and even a little bit of love blossoms on the pages.

The complicated culture, full of superstitions and practices and wars that was created by the author was probably my favourite part of the book. The ritual offerings of people to the god of soil, Barthos, and the picking of one’s five gods to follow, each with their own personalities and domains, a complicated system of ages and rankings, not to mention a completely different system of magic than I’ve ever seen before made the world very unique.

My favourite characters were probably Prince Wilek, despite him sounding slightly whiny in the beginning (he gets a lot better, trust me), and Prince Trevn and Miss Mielle. They really made the story enjoyable, to watch them grow and learn to rely on each other. While there were a lot of characters to keep track of, it was definitely worth it to see the interweaving between the characters in the end.

This book defied my expectations somewhat. I went into it thinking it would be another general Christian Fantasy, which in no way are bad, and most of my favourite books fall under this category. However, I soon realized how wrong I was. The expectation of “oh look, there’s the God of the world, the main character is the only devotee/going to convert while going through large amounts of hardship, but in the end the prince comes back and takes back his crown and marries the pretty lady, and they live happily ever after” was only half fulfilled in this book. It is not immediately obvious which of the numerous gods that exist is the true one, however with time it does become clear, and the several main characters – mainly Princes Wilek and Trevn, along with Kal and several others drift closer to acknowledging the truth. Wilek goes through much, including the loss of his beloved, being soul-bound to another, and kidnapped by mantics (sorceresses). In the end though, he comes back, and becomes the Heir, claiming his rightful position as crown prince of Armania. His pretty lady however, is not all she seems, and this along with many other mysteries are left off at the end of the book, which ends simply with these words:

“Not the end”

So if you’ve enjoyed Jill Williamson’s work in the past (I know I certainly have), I highly recommend reading this first installment in her new series, The Kinsman Chronicles.

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Guest Post by Sarah

(Hi everyone! Just wanted to let you know I’m doing a post exchange with Sarah over at Knowing the Power, her link is down below. This is her post, mine should go up within the next couple weeks, hopefully. Enjoy!)

 

Hey, guys! My name’s Sarah and I’m guest posting here about my experiences with I Am Second. I blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays over at www.knowingthepower.com about how I’m working to make God the center of my life. Feel free to check it out!

Before I say anything, I just wanted to start by mentioning that I suffer from social anxiety, which makes it nearly impossible to talk to anyone. My friends and family, even. Ever since I was little, it’s felt like there’s been a glass wall between me and everyone else, and I’ve never known how to get through it.

So when God called me to start an I Am Second group (which involves a ton of talking), I about choked.

I Am Second groups are small gatherings (eight people or less). They begin with an I Am Second video, then there’s prayer, then there’s discussion. As the “leader” of the group, I would be called to lead the discussion.

…I can’t even be a part of a normal conversation.

So I dragged my feet for four weeks. I was too scared to bring it up to my friends. I didn’t want to ask my mom. I prayed that God would give me the boldness to take a chance and do it, but I was terrified. I didn’t know how things would go. I knew that this was something that God wanted me to do, but I didn’t know how.

Then, one days on my way to class, the words tumbled out of my mouth before I even knew what was happening. “Hey, I want to start an I Am Second group at my house.” My friends were actually ended up being excited and willing to help.

I just had to trust and take the step.

We set the first meeting for that following Saturday from 11am-1pm at my house. (I bribed people to come using chocolate chip pancakes.) Upon several occasions before we started, I had to walk out of the room because the adrenaline was pumping so hard. I began the meeting by telling everyone why I started the group—hands shaking, voice shaking—and how things were going to go down.

Something crazy happened at that meeting.

I talked in front of a group. I prayed out loud. I lead a conversation and we each talked about the hard things in life—our troubles, our fears, our habitual sins. We talked about outreach and the scary future and our testimonies.

A group of people came together in a way they never had before.

A shy, anxious girl, without a loss of words, spoke up and made a difference in peoples’ lives.

I took a chance, and six weeks later, my life is completely different.

I’m doing things I’ve never done before—I’m inviting nonbelievers to the meetings, I’m praying with my friends, I’m texting people that I love them and tell them that I’m praying for them. I’m smiling more. I’m talking more. I’m living more.

For years and years and years I’ve been praying—pleading—that God would send me someone I could talk to. I’ve been praying for community for a long, long time.

But it took a chance. And it took trust. And I’ve made mistakes, but I’ll never regret that moment that those words spit themselves out of my mouth.

This group is changing my life.

And God is doing something truly, truly beautiful with these people.

I talk more about my experiences with I Am Second at my blog, The Power (www.knowingthepower.com). Check it out for more on my journey! And if you want to know more about I Am Second (Start a group!), check out their website at iamsecond.com.

Book Review # 1

I know it’s been quite a while since I posted, so this one is special. I’m taking part of Bethany House’s Blogger Review Program (Free books for me, just a review here and on a retailer’s website). This month, I’m reviewing Patrick W. Carr’s new book, The Shock of Night. (Warning, spoilers)

The official blurby description thingy, from Bethany House’s website, is below:

When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded, Willet Dura, reeve to the king of Bunard, is called to investigate. As he begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.

Willet returns to his task, but the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers, and his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, as though he can divine their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he’s been passed the rarest gift of all–a gift that’s not supposed to exist.

Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he’s pulled into a dangerous conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world–a conflict  that will force him to come to terms with his inability to remember how he escaped the Darkwater Forest–and what happened to him inside it.

For anyone who read and enjoyed Karen Hancock’s Legends of the Guardian-King, Wayne Thomas Batson’s Door Within or Dark Sea Annals, and especially Patrick W. Carr’s previous series, The Staff and the Sword, this book is for you.

Because I read The Staff and the Sword series, I noticed the immediate resemblance. The importance of the church, the use of special talents and gifts for the use of the church, and the seeming death of the hero but also his recovery.

One of the things I didn’t like about this book is that it jumped right into the world and into the intricacies of the church, without real explanation of how it worked. It was revealed later in the book, but it just jumped in and was rather confusing for a while. To be honest, there are still some things I don’t fully understand. What made it easier in his other series was that the main character was a drunkard who had learned very little about how their kingdom and church worked, so as he learned, the reader learned. However, I just learned that there is an introductory novella, which, presumably, introduces you better to the world in which you’re to dive into.

For another thing, because it was confusing, I didn’t feel I got to know the characters that well, This was one of the things i very much enjoyed about his Staff and Sword series; the characters felt like real people and the book was hard to put down. However, some characters, like Bolt, were well developed, and I liked them.

Also, in the beginning of the book, it talks about two laws given, one of which i can’t remember, and the other one was that mining was not allowed. However, this was hardly mentioned again. I feel like the author could have done a lot more with that law.

I think this book has the potential to be very good, but I also think it could use some more editing.

For those of you who are going to read this book, don’t  stop after the first couple pages seem boring. It’s a good story and I really did enjoy it once I got into it.

Let me know what you think 🙂

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TCWT Blog Chain Post

Once again, I am writing for TCWT in their blog chain, and this month’s prompt was:

“What is your greatest weakness as a writer? What’s your greatest strength?”

Ooh boy. There is a lot I can say about that. Let’s start with the first one, and move onto the good news later.

There are three things that come to mind: not enough detail, too much detail, and lack of perseverance.

1. Not enough detail: I skim over things I should spend more time on, like certain descriptions of things, or rushing through dialogue without adding the pauses to add in the thoughts going through people’s heads during a conversation.

2. Too much detail: I describe in excess certain things really unnecessary to the story. For example, I was writing a mini-story about a girl who was running away from home, and I described all the futuristic inventions she had with her.

3. Lack of perseverance: I start a story, really liking the idea, but then the enthusiasm wears off, and I find something else I like. I now have probably 50-100 half started stories on my computer or scattered around in notebooks.

My greatest strength…. I don’t know if this can be considered one, but I will sometimes have these amazing moments where I find exactly the right wording for a passage, and it just sounds amazing. I’ll share one with you now:

The ash-covered clock ticks alone under the death sky. It counts out heartbeats that will never be, breaths never to be taken, lives never completed. The crumbling windowsill threatens to tip it into the smoldering cinders; the wall is propped up only by a beam. A man with rusting silver eyes lies still on the ground; unmoving, unknowing, unliving. The soft tapping of metal hitting metal drifts on the wind, accompanied by the faintest strains of an accordion. For once, heaven is not a place one wants to be.

(for anyone who’s read the Book Thief, there you go)

Being a writer is more than just getting the words right, though. It has lots, if not more to do with the smooth flow of the plot, and the undercurrents of emotions and feelings that soar through the story and connect it at both ends.

I’d love to hear what you think 🙂

Tuesday May 5th — The Little Engine That Couldn’t

Wednesday May 6th — Ariel Kalati, Writer

Friday May 8th — Galloping Free

Saturday May 9th — Miriam Joy Writes

Sunday May 10th — The Ramblings of Aravis

Wednesday May 13th — Light and Shadows

Friday May 15th — Musings from Neville’s Navel

Saturday May 16th — The World of the Writer

Tuesday May 19th — Butterflies of the Imagination

Wednesday May 20th — Introspection Creative

Friday May 22nd — Spellbound

Sunday May 24th — Unikke Lyfe

Monday May 25th — The Long Life of a Lifelong Fangirl

Wednesday May 27th — Against the Shadows

Friday May 29th — Teens Can Write, Too, announcing June’s chain

TCWT Blog Chain Post

Oh boy. This is very last minute, seeing as it”s 6:30 pm on the day I need to write it, but whatever.

This month’s prompt is

“Write a letter to a fictional couple.” 

Oh man. Well, here goes.

Dear Faith and Dylan (Pulse),

I don’t really understand what you have going on. Dylan, you stood creepily outside Faith’s window for months watching her sleep, never speaking to her. Faith, you fall completely for the other guy, and then fall for the guy you didn’t even like at first. Why?

Faith, I could’ve told you from the beginning not to get involved with Wade. The only thing that would end in is disaster. But what did you do? You went with him and played on his little go-kart track, and he drugged you up. Wonderful, right? Not really. But lucky you, along comes Dylan with his oh so special powers. And wow look! You have them too! What a coincidence!

Dylan. Like I said, you were just a little bit creepy, staring through her window for months. I mean sure, you were teaching her to lift stuff in her sleep, but still. Eventually, inevitably, you fall for her, and honestly… I don’t know what to think. I mean, the Prince Charming kiss at the end? Nuh-uh.

Conclusion? I don’t know.. You guys are kind of really odd

Love,

A concerned reader


Dear Juliette and Adam, (Shatter Me)

Can I just say how much I think you are perfect together? Like… wow.

Juliette, you were all convinced you were alone in the world, that no one who had ever known and would know you would ever like you. Then comes Adam, and right away, all of that goes out the window. He gave you hope in the world again. It was your Adam, the one you hadn’t thought of in forever.

Adam, you  knew all along Juliette was the one for you. When she helped you when she was little to when she was in the dreadful darkness of the cell, to the freedom of the apartments and Omega Point. You never gave up on her. And she didn’t give up on you either.

One of my favourite parts was the bird. I love the bird, the thing that links the two of you together forever.

Juliette and Adam, thank you for an amazing story.

Love,

An amazed reader

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