Tag Archives: Speculative Fiction

A Draw of Kings Review

A Draw of Kings

A Draw of Kings (The Staff and the Sword) by Patrick Carr is the third novel in the The Staff and The Sword Series. In a A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword), we meet Errol Stone, a drunken young man with no prospects until Martin and Luis discover he is a reader. The Hero’s Lot (The Staff and the Sword) find him part of the Watch, but trouble stirs in the church. Evil encroaches and King Rodran is dying. Now in A Draw of Kings, King Rodran is dead and the kingdom is threatened by evil on all sides of the kingdom.

One must have read the other two novels in order to fully understand book three. To some, that’s not a big deal, but I usually like each novel to be a complete story. Up until this novel, each book felt like a complete story. A Draw of Kings continues and ends the trilogy. The scene opens up to the heroes and heroine returning. Again, without prior knowledge of the past two books, it would be difficult to follow. A Draw of Kings is a wonderful wrap-up to the trilogy. Although, the ending mystified me as to how a dead man was able to live. I gave this novel five stars because, like the other two, I had to keep reading long after my husband went to bed.

Read my other reviews: A Cast of Stones and The Hero’s Lot.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Book given by publisher to review. I am participating in CSFF Blogtour.

Author Website http://patrickwcarr.com/
*Participants’ links  

Gillian Adams
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
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Jill Williamson

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Guest Post: Why We Need Supernatural Fiction

By Mike Duran

America is incurably spiritual. Polls continually reveal that the majority of U.S. citizens have some belief in God, angels, heaven, hell and the devil. Fox News, reporting on a national poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, put an interesting spin on these stats. For instance, more men believe in UFOs than women (39 percent to 30 percent), and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in reincarnation, astrology and ghosts. In another poll, American Atheists, Inc. found that one in five Americans claims to have been visited by an angel. The same poll gives us this helpful statistical tidbit: “Income was another factor affecting responses. Eighty-three percent of those earning below $25,000 per year believed in angelic beings, while those earning over $80,000 were less likely (64 percent) to do so.” In other words, the further you get from the poverty line, the less you need to be touched by an angel.

Suffice to say that we are fascinated by—if not downright favorable toward—the supernatural. UFOs, psychic phenomenon, ghosts and angels are practically American staples.

Hollywood knows this. For instance, of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all-time, more than half contain speculative and supernatural themes. Films like The Sixth Sense, The Dark Knight, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Spider Man, seem to capture something about the American zeitgeist. The box office is a great barometer of our fascination for spiritual things. Movies like The Rite, Hereafter, Paranormal Activity, Legion, The Last Exorcism, and Ghost, are ever-present reminders of our belief that “something” is out there.

This trend is not limited to Tinseltown. In literature, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight epic and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series have sold gazillions of copies. Recently, on the NY Times’ bestseller list, you could find such books as Angelology, Paranormalcy, and A Discovery of Witches.

Point is: Pop culture is a reflection of our fascination, however skewed it might be, with the supernatural. What often gets lost in the statistics and commercialism is the implication of it all. I mean, what does it say about us that we are so interested in invisible entities and dwellers of exotic worlds? Are we escapists, dreamers or just plain primitives?

C.S. Lewis argued that the hunger for heaven is evidence for the existence of heaven. In other words, all cravings have a correspondent fix. Like a missing puzzle piece, we instinctively seek the “shape” that will complete us. Likewise, our unshakeable, intuitive sense that powers greater than ours lurk on the fringes of the everyday, may be the best evidence of their existence. Of course, believing in ghosts or extra-terrestrials does not make them so. Nevertheless, it is the consistent hunger for a “superior mind” and a perfect world that we can’t seem to shake.

Frederick Buechner tells the story of the young man who shot and killed his father in a fit of rage. Later that evening in his prison cell, the boy was heard crying, “I need my Dad. I need my Dad.” It’s very likely that what is going bump in the night is our eternal longings flailing against the void; we’ve evicted God, and we miss Him. America’s hunger for the supernatural is evidence of this spiritual vacuum.

Some theologians have called this the echo of Eden: the spiritual ripples of a world that once was. Because of it, we can’t stand at a graveside without asking where the departed went. We can’t look to the skies without asking if there’s anybody out there. The unseen realm resonates in us, because we are part of it; it is our home away from home.

In his work, True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer said, “The Christian life means living in the two halves of reality: the supernatural and the natural parts.” Demons and angels are real—not just for those who make less than 80K a year. As Christians, we should seek to affirm and reclaim this invisible realm, live in both halves of it.

Writing Supernatural Fiction is one of the ways I try to do that.

This is a part of a three-day blog tour for his debut book, The Resurrection. You can visit his blog here.

Update: My Crossover Novel

A sunspot viewed close-up in ultraviolet light...
A sunspot viewed close-up in ultraviolet light, taken by the TRACE spacecraft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Anomaly is at 30,540 words. My Word Weavers critique group and a friend are both critiquing the novel.

Working Elevator Pitch: More is falling a part than this man and woman’s marriage as massive sun spots cause displacement in the atmosphere.

It’s looking to be about 70,000 words with a firm deadline of December. It’s a crossover speculative fiction which means, that while the two main characters are not believers, there are believers here and there. The Christian believers are not there to spread the message, but to create a real world scenario of mixed families filled with believers and agnostic or atheists which can naturally create tension. In the meantime, my two characters struggle to not only figure out what is left to rebuild their marriage on, but why people are disappearing. Between flickering cell phone signals, rolling blackouts, and people disappearing, my two characters will be forced to make a decision that will affect the rest of their lives.

I am outlining a new novel to begin in January that is more horrific, but in the speculative Christian fiction genre. In this one, I will be having a message of redemption in it that is typical of Christian writing, but not preachy. I hate preachy writing. You’d know this if you read some of my book reviews. Let me clarify.

When I say message of redemption, I mean where there are shortcomings, repentance happens. Where there is hurt, forgiveness occurs. It is horror, but it will have a romantic note. The characters are saved and some are not saved. I’m going to be writing it like a ticking time bomb. Firm deadline for this new novel will be December, 2014. By January, 2014, I will have two complete novels to shop: The Rose Door and The Anomaly.

2012 Reflections

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Most of us thought when 2012 rolled into 2013 that we would have a reason to celebrate. Instead, it’s four more years of a man with no interest in the American people and as crooked as a forest path. So it’s up to us to continue doing what Christians do best—dwelling in the hope of Jesus Christ, namely His return. And so many good things happened in 2012:

  • My book reviewing has increased. Groups like Penguin and DeMoss picked me up as a book reviewer.
  • Praise and Coffee in Anthem, Arizona and ACFW in Tempe asked me to speak at their groups.
  • Writing for The Soul was phenomenal in February. I took my first plane ride to Denver (sadly, alone) and was able to meet editors, agents, and fellow writers. At the first appointment, an agent asked to see a book proposal for, “The Rose Door,” a paranormal Christian fantasy. Even though it was rejected, her compliments encouraged me.
  • I started a crossover Christian speculative fiction called, The Anomaly and I am 31 pages into it with a soft deadline of six months.
  • Began the process of forging together a magazine called, The Relevant Christian, due to be launched Spring, 2013. We have a great crew of editors.
  • Dayspring’s “Incourage” twice published two of my devotions at incourage.me.
  • A devotion was accepted for Dena Dyer’s anthology, Wounded Women of the Bible, due out in 2013.
  • Mark Littleton accepted a devotion for his anthology, but due to complications the book was discontinued for now.
  • Elisabeth Bernstein of the Wall Street Journal interviewed me as part of her column, Dysfunctional Family Bingo.
  • I ran my first half marathon in September and got hooked on running. I ran 13.5 miles in 2:29 at the Tour De PeeVee and in December ran 10 miles in 1:40 at Frosty’s Run.
  • Ghost blogged for a business and earned my first paycheck.
  • Enjoyed a generous Christmas thanks be to God for His blessings.
  • Our refinance went through just in time for the fiscal cliff.
  • I also made valuable connections for future articles, including a movie preview (March).
  • Became a blogger for the Chino Valley Review.
  • A successful week-long series called, Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?, brought in great discussion. It was so good, in fact, that I gave it a permenant webpage so people can read it at their leisure.

2013 may look uncertain, but my trust is in Jesus. I forge forward planning to circulate The Rose Door while working on The Anomaly—two very different novels though both in the speculative fiction genre. What I would like to see from you is more discussion on my blogs and suggestions, too. What would you like to see in 2013? Please let me know. Every year I go through my blog and make some changes.

Your input would prove invaluable. And I love talking to you so I encourage more discussion. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. As long as we are kind and loving to each other and agree to disagree, discussion is healthy—it’s iron sharpening iron, as they say.

Book Review – Armor of God: The Paladin

Armor of God: The Paladin is the work of Tracy Lesch. According to Amazon’s bio, “Tracy Lesch is an award-winning writer of Fantasy, Suspense, and other Speculative Fiction. He is a former Dungeons & Dragons illustrator, radio, and television personality. His work has appeared in books, magazines, and online venues.” That’s why it surprised me that I didn’t like the novel.

Excerpts of Armor of God: The Paladin won him Writer of the Year from the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference and his Christian Writer’s Guild mentor is Eva Everson—author of Chasing Sunsets (Baker/Revell 2011), This Fine Life (Baker/Revell 2010), and others. Tracy is a member of Word Weavers and the Christian Writer’s Guild. I can understand why excerpts of Armor of God: The Paladin won awards. Depending upon which excerpts, by itself some sections are quite well written:

“I cannot win with my own human hatred or bloodlust, but only with His righteous anger. No human could possibly stand against the unholy evils I have seen.” (Location 208-209)

“The silver was exquisite, beautiful as I softly polished the blade. When I looked closely I could see tiny rainbows in the mirrored surface.” (Location 178-179)

The novel is about a monk named Captain Jean Baptiste who is fulfilling a role as “God’s own Paladin.” He seeks demons and kills them. Part of the description states, “the hardest demons to vanquish maybe those that lurk within the human heart. What lies ahead for the one mortal on earth who can summon the very Armor of God?” There were so many problems with the novel.

Each chapter does not designate a place or date (i.e. Germany, 1505). In chapter one the line where Jean, the Paladin says, “As long as I pursued the Quest, I was very hard to kill,” made me take a pause. Also, as the talons of the monster attacking Paladin begin to tear him a part, a sword “magically” appears in his hand saving the day. Both of these items lesson the high stakes.

Why should I continue reading if Paladin is very hard to kill? Chapter two had no designation of time or place and when I read the name, “Germany,” I felt confused. Obviously, this was the past on earth, but when and where? Shouldn’t there be historical references as the story takes place on earth in the past? Chapter one also confused me because I could not tell if this was a man or a woman. If one didn’t read the description of the novel, one would be wondering about this until more information is discovered later in the novel. Voice is another issue.

Right away I don’t like Paladin. He’s arrogant, conceited, and self-absorbed. I couldn’t imagine why any farmer or lay person in that world would invite him into their house. He’s overly dramatic. The novel is written in first person and so it gets you into the head of Paladin. There are also classic writing mistakes—things most of us would get critiqued for in our own Word Weavers group.

Chapter two continues to leave the reader in a dark fog. This short chapter is all conversation with no beats, tags, or description. At this point, I have no idea who is talking to whom. Then, Tracy manages to commit massive info-dumping for several chapters as Paladin sits down with Gustav and Anna and recounts his life story to them. From chapter ten to chapter fourteen Paladin’s dialogue is mostly unbroken. The reader is forced to read his entire history in dialogue. Typically, novels I read do not force the reader to sit through what I would call a “lecture.” It loses its tension here and my interest. Then, there’s the preachy dialogue.

“No, that is not what I mean. Do you commune daily with the Lord, is He part of every moment of your daily life? Do you pray?” It didn’t sound natural. While I was reviewing this novel, I was also in the midst of reviewing, “Scream,” by Mike Dellosso. He had a great example of showing why a character should believe in God instead of telling by mixing in relational issues associated with being a believer in a family of non-believers and showing the fear of the demons (hence, the screaming) in each character. I think there was way too much telling in Tracy’s novel.

The novel didn’t stir my emotions, excite me so that I looked forward to returning to its pages, or make me feel sympathy to Paladin as I neared the end of the novel and learned more about his family. I think the plot and story have potential, but in its present form I wouldn’t read it again. When I finally discovered some good emotional paragraphs I became excited because some humanity finally comes through in Paladin’s character.

Overall, I rated this two stars. To judge the novel yourself, you can buy it on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

*Book given by author to review.

Book Review: Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso

 

The sounds of a Civil War battle rages outside his home. He’s writing pages in his daughter’s notebook—a journal dated back to the 1800s. His mind is not his own after the fall on the job. His marriage is fractured. His daughter has an invisible friend named, Jacob, who wants him to know that Jesus loves him. Meanwhile, darkness begins to creep into his life, engulfing it, and he wonders if he is going insane.

Sam let the notebook fall from his hands onto his lap. He was going nuts, that’s what it meant. He was sure of it. What kind of a person wrote this stuff and didn’t remember it? Was he scribbling it in his sleep? He wasn’t even a Civil War buff. He didn’t even know some of the terminology he’d written with his own hand, with his own pen. Wiping a palm across his forehead, he noticed he’d broken out in a cold sweat. – Pg. 41

Meanwhile, a man named Symon is killing civilians. Like the stuff you see on Criminal Minds, he asks, “What is my name?” He can’t remember much of the past and he is sent on a mission to kidnap Sam’s daughter.

He thought it odd that he felt no emotion about his mission. Nor about what he’d just done to the Moellers here. He was sure they were nice people, probably parents and grandparents, model neighbors and exemplary citizens. He doubted they ever paid their taxes late and could not imagine either Edward or Glady’s mouthing off to a cop. There was no sadness over their loss. No regret or even joy. Nothing. It was as if his emotional palette had been wiped clean, with nothing there to draw from. – Pg. 66

The book had a nice flow to it. The story was well written with a nice surprise in the end (of which I won’t tell). However, the point of view of Ned, the state trooper, led you to believe that he would have some sort of stake in the story. It didn’t make much sense to me to kill him off. As a writer, I would have eliminated his point of view. However, that was the only negative in the story. Some parts are difficult to read because of their graphic nature. I had to look away when, in a memory, Sam recalls that his brother Tommy began mutilating animals. It is necessary to the plot to show Tommy’s deviate nature. Still, I winced and at times glanced away unable to get that picture out of my mind. That testifies to the quality of the writing. He also has an interesting introduction.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I have reposted this review in honor of becoming part of Mike’s The Darlington Society.

Book Review: Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso

 

The sounds of a Civil War battle rages outside his home. He’s writing pages in his daughter’s notebook—a journal dated back to the 1800s. His mind is not his own after the fall on the job. His marriage is fractured. His daughter has an invisible friend named, Jacob, who wants him to know that Jesus loves him. Meanwhile, darkness begins to creep into his life, engulfing it, and he wonders if he is going insane.

Sam let the notebook fall from his hands onto his lap. He was going nuts, that’s what it meant. He was sure of it. What kind of a person wrote this stuff and didn’t remember it? Was he scribbling it in his sleep? He wasn’t even a Civil War buff. He didn’t even know some of the terminology he’d written with his own hand, with his own pen. Wiping a palm across his forehead, he noticed he’d broken out in a cold sweat. – Pg. 41

Meanwhile, a man named Symon is killing civilians. Like the stuff you see on Criminal Minds, he asks, “What is my name?” He can’t remember much of the past and he is sent on a mission to kidnap Sam’s daughter.

He thought it odd that he felt no emotion about his mission. Nor about what he’d just done to the Moellers here. He was sure they were nice people, probably parents and grandparents, model neighbors and exemplary citizens. He doubted they ever paid their taxes late and could not imagine either Edward or Glady’s mouthing off to a cop. There was no sadness over their loss. No regret or even joy. Nothing. It was as if his emotional palette had been wiped clean, with nothing there to draw from. – Pg. 66

The book had a nice flow to it. The story was well written with a nice surprise in the end (of which I won’t tell). However, the point of view of Ned, the state trooper, led you to believe that he would have some sort of stake in the story. It didn’t make much sense to me to kill him off. As a writer, I would have eliminated his point of view. However, that was the only negative in the story. Some parts are difficult to read because of their graphic nature. I had to look away when, in a memory, Sam recalls that his brother Tommy began mutilating animals. It is necessary to the plot to show Tommy’s deviate nature. Still, I winced and at times glanced away unable to get that picture out of my mind. That testifies to the quality of the writing. He also has an interesting introduction. That will post Tuesday. So stay tuned.

You can visit Mike Dellosso’s website hereIn conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. Blog tour starts today and ends Wednesday, June 22. Leave a comment during these days and be put in a drawing to have a chance to win a free copy.

Guest Post: Why We Need Supernatural Fiction

By Mike Duran

America is incurably spiritual. Polls continually reveal that the majority of U.S. citizens have some belief in God, angels, heaven, hell and the devil. Fox News, reporting on a national poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, put an interesting spin on these stats. For instance, more men believe in UFOs than women (39 percent to 30 percent), and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in reincarnation, astrology and ghosts. In another poll, American Atheists, Inc. found that one in five Americans claims to have been visited by an angel. The same poll gives us this helpful statistical tidbit: “Income was another factor affecting responses. Eighty-three percent of those earning below $25,000 per year believed in angelic beings, while those earning over $80,000 were less likely (64 percent) to do so.” In other words, the further you get from the poverty line, the less you need to be touched by an angel.

Suffice to say that we are fascinated by—if not downright favorable toward—the supernatural. UFOs, psychic phenomenon, ghosts and angels are practically American staples.

Hollywood knows this. For instance, of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all-time, more than half contain speculative and supernatural themes. Films like The Sixth Sense, The Dark Knight, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Spider Man, seem to capture something about the American zeitgeist. The box office is a great barometer of our fascination for spiritual things. Movies like The Rite, Hereafter, Paranormal Activity, Legion, The Last Exorcism, and Ghost, are ever-present reminders of our belief that “something” is out there.

This trend is not limited to Tinseltown. In literature, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight epic and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series have sold gazillions of copies. Recently, on the NY Times’ bestseller list, you could find such books as Angelology, Paranormalcy, and A Discovery of Witches.

Point is: Pop culture is a reflection of our fascination, however skewed it might be, with the supernatural. What often gets lost in the statistics and commercialism is the implication of it all. I mean, what does it say about us that we are so interested in invisible entities and dwellers of exotic worlds? Are we escapists, dreamers or just plain primitives?

C.S. Lewis argued that the hunger for heaven is evidence for the existence of heaven. In other words, all cravings have a correspondent fix. Like a missing puzzle piece, we instinctively seek the “shape” that will complete us. Likewise, our unshakeable, intuitive sense that powers greater than ours lurk on the fringes of the everyday, may be the best evidence of their existence. Of course, believing in ghosts or extra-terrestrials does not make them so. Nevertheless, it is the consistent hunger for a “superior mind” and a perfect world that we can’t seem to shake.

Frederick Buechner tells the story of the young man who shot and killed his father in a fit of rage. Later that evening in his prison cell, the boy was heard crying, “I need my Dad. I need my Dad.” It’s very likely that what is going bump in the night is our eternal longings flailing against the void; we’ve evicted God, and we miss Him. America’s hunger for the supernatural is evidence of this spiritual vacuum.

Some theologians have called this the echo of Eden: the spiritual ripples of a world that once was. Because of it, we can’t stand at a graveside without asking where the departed went. We can’t look to the skies without asking if there’s anybody out there. The unseen realm resonates in us, because we are part of it; it is our home away from home.

In his work, True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer said, “The Christian life means living in the two halves of reality: the supernatural and the natural parts.” Demons and angels are real—not just for those who make less than 80K a year. As Christians, we should seek to affirm and reclaim this invisible realm, live in both halves of it.

Writing Supernatural Fiction is one of the ways I try to do that.

This is a part of a three-day blog tour for his debut book, The Resurrection. You can visit his blog here.

The Resurrection: Book Review

http://mikeduran.com/

The characters endeared themselves to me. It’s a week later and I am still thinking about them. I read this book one Sunday afternoon without stopping or pausing for refreshment. I thought of Ruby Case as I sat behind my desk in the Church Office. I thought of Mr. Cellophane in our meeting room of which is always cold. Many of the characters in this book could easily take on the image of someone we know in church.

A chill clung to the church office, as usual. Ruby Case shivered and yanked the sleeves of her sweat jacket over her wrists. Why was it always so cold in this building? Once again it was just the three of them, but Ruby didn’t mind. She had given up trying to generate enthusiasm in Canyon Springs Community Church. In a way she preferred the anonymity of her little prayer group. Vinyette, on the other hand, used it as motivation. “Goliath went down with one stone,” she’d say. “So’s the three of us should do some damage.” Vinyette was not one to aim low. For Ruby, it was more about doing right than getting payback. The fact that her two best friends shared the burden every Sunday morning before church made the commitment a lot easier.”

What was going on? A town with revival roots was now littered with occult shops. A veil of darkness eclipses the town; a malice that won’t go away. Ruby Case has a vision and one day at a funeral she gently touches the boy in the coffin. He rises from his coffin alive. The town erects a shrine on her front lawn bringing their sick and worshiping her as an unwilling idol. The deacons attempt to force the pastor to play down the whole affair, but what do you do when your pastor wavers between belief and unbelief? Typical church issues make them ineffective in the community. Secret occult groups work to keep it that way. Dark forces control this town. There are many subplots and plots in this book all working towards the explosive end.

He’s a man. At least, he might’ve been one once. He’s a puppet for those guys. The way they run that church is a sin.”

She leaned back and looked at him with eyebrows raised.

They don’t really help people, don’t get involved in the community.” Jack spoke as if he was beginning to run down a list. “They drove off old man Lawrence.”

You mean, Reverend Lawrence.”

“Yeah, Reverend Lawrence. They made him leave just because he started tellin’ the truth about you folks. And then those self-righteous morons–.”

Jack!”

The story fascinated me. I thought of my writing in speculative fiction and through Mike’s writing re-thought ghost stories. It’s not your typical ghost/other-worldly story. It’s a classic story of good versus evil and he really makes the villains real. We can relate to them and see them masquerading as members of our community. He shows us what a lukewarm church looks like. We have accepted the tarot cards and astrological signs as harmless, and we see evil as a reality only in books or television. It’s easy to grow lukewarm in our beliefs. He writes well and the action moves very quickly. As much as I tried, I could not find anything I didn’t like about this book. It’s earned a permanent spot on my library. Sorry, guys, no free book giveaway here.

One final thought: I miss Mr. Cellophane.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. My reviews are always objective. I am not in any way motivated to always give a positive review. Other participants:

Noah Arsenault
Brandon Barr
Red Bissell
Book Reviews By Molly
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Wanda Costinak
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Janey DeMeo
Cynthia Dyer
Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Andrea Schultz
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Dave Wilson

Bonus: Review of The Map Across Time

Book 2, The Gates of Heaven Series

Release date: January 14, 2011

Honored. That’s how I felt when C.S. Lakin asked me to review her book, The Map Across Time. It wasn’t scheduled on the offical blog tour run by CSFF and this book isn’t scheduled for publication until mid-January.

Most series usually use prior characters. It’s a way to continue a story from the first book like Terri Blackstock’s suspense series. You always meet the characters in the prior book before they become the subject of the next book. The Gates of Heaven Series are different. Just like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, C.S. Lakin continues the story in the same LAND. Eventually, you do meet the ancestors of the town of Tebron and learn some history, but ultimately it’s a time travel story.

She reeled me in from page to page. Time travel stories are tricky because you’ve got to have some understanding of what it means to mess with another time in history and its consequences. My husband loves to point out mistakes in most time travel movies, but he would have trouble finding the mistakes in this book. It’s mind boggling.

Adin and Aletha, twins by birth, and heirs to a kingdom have to find the cure for the curse that promises to demolish their kingdom’s future. Adin was born with some prominent birth defects and one leg is shorter than the other. The book opens with their mother, the queen dying of some mysterious and evil enchantment.

Why have I not been able to produce a cure? In all her many seasons she had treated every known illness and handily counteracted poisons from noxious plants mistakenly ingested or, on rare occasion, purposely administered. There was no plant she could fail to identify; cite uses for its seed, leaf, and root; and prepare at least half a dozen infusions to treat every known ailment in this kingdom.

But this! For months this nemesis had been unreadable. The symptoms of the Queen’s ailment acted like fenweed poison, but had the fever and chills of harrowbane. Nothing Reya tried had elicited a positive reaction. She could almost sense a magical binding but could not suss it out. There were none of the obvious markers, and yet when she laid her palm on the Queen’s neck she met with an odd sensation, a resonance both strange and chillingly familiar. If magic was the culprit, then it was masterfully masked. Reya had not wanted to admit the possibility, but seeing the Queen now in her final hours—the horrible reality of something evil at work, something beyond her wisdom to cure or even name—sent a shiver up her spine.

A young hero with a weak leg and some facial birth defects saves the day in this story—or at least one of him saves the day. She uses Hebrew in the story as their ancient language. Familiar stories from the Bible are ingeniously weaved throughout. I closed the last page and sighed. Typical and yet it was an untypical happy ending. Read it carefully. I have a feeling if I reread (and I will!) these stories, I will come across clues and things that I have missed on my first reading. The stories are far from simple, especially book 2. I will be looking for a book 3 in this series, and am thinking that these books would make a blockbuster movie!

Book Provided by the Publisher