Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Desperate? Maybe. Insane? Completely.

Well, maybe completely isn't quite the word.  The results haven't come back yet.  Either way I need you, my faithful readers help with something.  Waterbrook Multnomah is giving away an E-Reader!  But it's not as simple as entering an email and a name.  This is for their blogging program, Blogging For Books, and is being given away to the review with the most votes for December.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Vanishing Sculptor-Donita K. Paul

The Vanishing Sculptor acts the first book in a prequel series to the famed Dragonkeeper Chronicles.  However, it stands as a complete novel and series in itself.  Something that is in my mind considered a very good thing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Infidel-Ted Dekker

To see my review of Chosen, the first book in the Lost Books Series, head over here.

Description:
After being stretched to their limits, the four heroic young Forest Guard recruits-Johnis, Silvie, Billos, and Darsal-are pulled into deeper danger on their mission to secure the seven lost Books of History.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Ruins of Gorlan-John Flanagan

The book surprised me.  I can say that much up front.  I have been wondering what it was all about for nearly a year.  Recently I won a book from Jacob Parker which happened to be the third book in the series.  I decided I wouldn't start a series on the third book, and I didn't want to have a book sitting on the shelf unread so I got the first from the library.  Boring story huh?  Anyway...

Description:
The Rangers, with their shadowy ways, have always made him nervous.  And now fifteen-year-old Will has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice.  But what he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom who will fight the battles before the battles reach the people.  And there is a large battle brewing.  The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom.  This time he will not be denied.

My Take:
I was disappointed.  The book had a lot of potential, yet it failed to deliver. 
What was perhaps my biggest issue with this book was the setting.  In essence it was a great setting, but like I said, it failed to deliver.  The author failed to make me love the world.  This resulted in me not really caring when Morgarath attacked, or was preparing, to attack.  I don't really care much if he wins.  That may sound shallow, but it's the sad truth.
When it came to characters, he failed as well.  They seemed shallow and clichéd.  I did, however, develop a great bond with Will's horse, Tug.  I also liked Halt, even though his characteristics were somewhat cliché as well. 
Besides that there were problems with the story ending feeling too conclusive and not exactly leaving the reader dying to read the next book and also many technical issues with the writing, primarily the P.O.V. that bugged me.  I honestly have no idea whether I will continue reading the series or not.
My Rating:  Two Pens

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chosen-Ted Dekker

I've been a fan of Dekker since picking up Showdown.  He hasn't let me down.  Until now.

Description:
The land of the Forest Dwellers has been decimated by the Horde under the watchful eye of the vilest of all creatures, Teeleh.  Thomas Hunter, supreme commander of the Forest Guard, is forced to lower the recruitment age of his army from 18 to 16.  From among the thousands, four new recruits are chosen to lead-and perhaps die-for the greater good.
The chosen four are sent on a quest to prove their character, but their mission takes a dramatic turn when they are intercepted, sworn to secrecy, and redirected to a different endgame.  Now they must find the seven lost Books of History.  Books that have power over the past, present, and future.  Books whose words are alive.  Books sought by the Dark One that control not only the destiny of their world... but that of ours as well.

My Take:
Okay, maybe it was as dramatic as I made it seem, but I was disappointed by the book when compared to the rest of his books.  The only reason I could think why this would be is simply that is is a Young Adult book which is not his normal audience.  Dekker tried to simplify things.  But the problem I have isn't that it was simplified, because it wasn't any more then the average YA book.  It was because his writing quality seemed to drop as well.
Every two or three chapters there was a complete or partial point-of-view shift.  There were also as sense of urgency in the writing.  As if, the book could only be two-hundred and fifty pages and there was too much story, so he had to condense it and quicken the writing instead of simply cutting some out afterward.  I don't know if either of these were conscious or sub-conscious decisions or if it even had to do with the audience of the book at all, but the writing was lacking either way.
That said, I did enjoy the book, and very much at that.  Throughout Black through Green I've always had a yearning to explore the outer reaches of the desert.  So I kept hoping during the books that it would go there.  But it never did.  So when I found out that this book focus's on the outer-most parts of the desert I was excited.
The characters were refreshing.  I enjoyed having someone else doing something besides Thomas Hunter[the protagonist in the previous works in the Circle storyworld] and thought that Dekker handled it well.  On a smaller point of the characters though, I thought they were too skilled.  It was very tacky how well they handled their weapons.  They were brand new recruits to the Forest Guard and while they may be skilled, I thought that it was a little over the top.  Just a pet peeve I guess.  Nothing to hurt the overall plot.
The plot itself was great.  Though it did seem very short, which was due in most part to the fact that the book was some two-hundred and sixty pages rather than four-hundred.
I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the six-book series.

My Rating:  3.5 Pens
You can buy this book on Amazon or purchase it on the publishers web site.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dragonspell-Donita K. Paul

Description:
One Dragon Egg Holds the Key to the Future.

Once a slave, Kale is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. Yet this young girl has much to learn about the difference between slavery and service.

A Desperate Search Begins…

A small band of Paladin’s servants rescue Kale from danger but turn her from her destination: The Hall, where she was to be trained. Feeling afraid and unprepared, Kale embarks on a perilous quest to find the meech dragon egg stolen by the foul Wizard Risto. First, she and her comrades must find Wizard Fenworth. But their journey is threatened when a key member of the party is captured, leaving the remaining companions to find Fenworth, attempt an impossible rescue, and recover the egg whose true value they have not begun to suspect…

My Take:
Dragonspell was unique.  Not completely in plot, though it was unique in that way as well.  But rather the book's feel.
The characters, the setting, the plot, everything just seemed unique and had an air of happiness with foreboding gloom to it.  I thought the races-as they were a large part of this book-were quite imaginative and original while still feeling human in nature and spirit.
The setting at points seemed small which was one of my only problems with the book.  The journey in the book goes all over the map and landscape of the book yet seemed to stay in the same place.  It bothered me while I was reading it.
My only other problem with the book was the villain. He just didn't seem, villainish.  He was quite unintimidating at times and I had trouble taking him seriously on occasion.
Besides these two things I adored the book and can't wait to read the next in the series.

My Rating:  4 Pens


Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm not your everyday superhero...

I am THE superhero.  Wondering what I mean?  Yeah, me too.

Actually, the title and that little phrase above where your reading now has nothing to do with this post.  Unless you think I'm a superhero, in which case you can email me at Spiderman@superheroshaveemailstoo.com.

No, what this post is about is well, only one small thing really.  I've been doing consistent reviews now for a month or two and I've noticed things about various blogs and book review sites.  Their reviews are much shorter.  And they're not broken down into sections as mine are.  My question to you, the non-superhero everyday Iron Man/Batman (no superpowers) is do you prefer my reviews continue as are, or would you rather I shorten them to like, 100-200 words and a small description?  Or a combination of both?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Interview with Wayne Thomas Batson

Wayne Thomas Batson is the author of seven novels and will very soon be releasing his eighth, Sword in the Stars.  He is the author of the The Door Within Trilogy, The Isle of Swords and The Isle of Fire, and The Berinfell Prophecies.  I'm happy to welcome Mr. Batson to The Narrowing Road to answer some questions on his writing life.

Seth-You have now published seven novels, and will be publishing your eighth novel very soon.  How did you get into the chaotic world of publishing and writing?
Wayne Thomas Batson-It was 2004, and I'd been working on a novel for over 10 years at that point, but never gotten a contract. My agent wanted me to come to a publishing convention (now called ICRS), so I went. He arranged for me to meet about a dozen acquisition editors and one of them, Thomas Nelson, liked the concept I had for The Door Within. Months later, I had my first contract.

Seth-Your newest book, Sword in the Stars, is set to release shortly, what can you tell us about that?
Wayne Thomas Batson-I can't wait--that's one thing. lol Seriously, this story has been itching my brain for 8 years. It is a HUGE tale that will be told over 7 books in the series. Sword in the Stars kicks off the epic journey by introducing Alastair Coldhollow, a former assassin who, while battling an addiction to witchdrale and fighting off the attention of a beautiful village girl, is also soul searching and searching for the Halfainin, the fabled Pathwalker who can purge Alastair's haunting conscience. Add to that twin brother kings who take sibling rivalry to a whole new level, a hilarious tournament talent search, a monstrous army perhaps planning world takeover...and you've got yourself a story.

Seth-With teaching, writing and everything in between, how often do you actually get to sit down and read for fun? 
Wayne Thomas Batson-Between deadlines and in the summer is when I catch up on reading. I'm also reading The Lord of the Rings for about the 15-16th time. lol

Seth-There is some controversy over the topic of Seat-Of-The-Pants writing and Outlining in the world of writing.  What is your opinion on the topic?  
Wayne Thomas Batson-I'm not sure it's a controversy, really. It's more of a style of writing that works for you. I'm an outliner because I found that SotP writing took me WAY too long and forced far too many rewrites. But there are many successful writers who use either style. For younger writers, I always advocate outlining b/c it virtually eliminates writer's block.

Seth-What is your favorite part about the process of writing a book?  From the spark of inspiration in your mind to the novel in your hand. 
Wayne Thomas Batson-Definitely the invention stage. This is where the initial kernel concept of the story explodes into a wild and rangy beast, and it's all I can do to keep up with the events of the story as they pop into sequence.

Seth-In your opinion, what is the single most important thing an author, published or aspiring can do?
Wayne Thomas Batson-Keep writing. If you really love storytelling and you have ideas, you just have to be disciplined and get your butt in the chair.


Seth-Rumors have been buzzing around a fourth installment in the Door Within Trilogy for a few years now-is there anything you can confirm or anything you would like to comment on regarding this topic?  
Wayne Thomas Batson-Well, if there is going to be another DW book, it might be a while. My current publisher seems content with the series as is. I may look elsewhere or even consider publishing it as an eBook. We'll see. There is a deep part of me that wants to explore the Realm Beyond the Sun, to give readers a "glimpse" of just what kind of adventures await us there.

Seth-What’s your favorite food or drink?
Wayne Thomas Batson-I am shamefully addicted to nachos. Cheese, peppers, onions, cheese, chili--bring it!

Seth-Is there anything else you would like to say?
Wayne Thomas Batson-Thanks for the opportunity to say one thing more. I guess I just want my readers to know that, while there is an element of discipline and effort that goes into writing, all credit and glory goes to God. What do I have that He has not given me? If it weren't for Him, I might not have been the last born child in my family; I might not have been born to parents who read voraciously; I might not have been captivated by Star Wars and the Hobbit; and I might not have been encouraged every step of the way to try.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer some questions, Mr. Batson.  If you'd like to purchase any of his books they are available at Amazon.com as well as most christian and mainstream bookstores.  You can see what he's up to in the crazy world of writing at his blog, Enter the Door Within.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Grace of God-Andy Stanley

Description:
Grace.  It's what we crave most when our guilt is exposed.  It's the very thing we are hesitant to extend when we are confronted with the guilt of others-especially when their guilt has robbed us of something we consider valuable.
Therein is the struggle, the struggle for grace.  It's this struggle that makes grace more story than doctrine.  It's the struggle that reminds us that grace is bigger than compassion or forgiveness.  That struggle is the context for both.  When we are on the receiving end, grace is refreshing.  When it is required of us, it is often disturbing.  But when correctly applied, it seems to solve just about everything.  This struggle is not new; it has been going on since the beginning.

My Take:
Never before reading this book have I thought of the story that has taken place from the beginning of Genesis to the unwritten ending as a story of Grace.  But in many aspects, that is just what it is.  God has shown grace through every event I can think of.  Unending, loving, compassionate grace.  It's always there.
The story of grace is clean and plainly spoken in this book.  The author does not spare details to better communicate understanding of culture and to get across the ideas of the book.  That being said, it was not an easy read.  This is not a light book.  It is often dry and dull and I found myself forcing my way through it.  However, it was very interesting and engaging a good amount of the time.  The book is an excellent book for newborn and experienced Christians alike.  Highly recommended.

My Rating:  4 Pens
Purchase this book here.

The Twelfth Imam-Joel C Rosenberg

For those that are more conservative with their reading, this book does contain one or two instances of mature suggestions.  Nothing actually happens, but the suggestion and implication is there.

Description:
As the apocalyptic leaders of Iran call for annihilation of Israel and the U.S., CIA operative David Shirazi is sent to Tehran with one objective; use all means necessary to disrupt Iran's nuclear weapons program, without leaving American fingerprints and without triggering a regional war.  At extreme personal risk, Shirazi executes his plan.  A native Farsi speaker whose family escaped from Iran in 1979, he couldn't be better prepared for the mission.  But none of his training has prepared Shirazi for what will happen next.  An obscure religious cleric is suddenly hailed throughout the region as the Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam.  News of his miracles, healings, signs, and wonders spread like wildfire, as do rumors of a new and horrific war.
With the prophecy of the Twelfth Imam seemingly fulfilled, Iran's military prepares to strike Israel and bring about the End of days.  Shirazi must take action to save his country and the world, but the clock is ticking.

Plot:
While the description deals mostly with the problems surrounding Iran and Iraq, I find that I was actually most drawn to the more domestic issues, so to speak.  I found the protagonist relationship with a girl that seems to have dropped off the grid more intriguing than when the CIA operative is fighting to prevent the utter destruction of two nations.  I think that's more of my personal draw than the author's fault, if it's even a fault at all.
The plot as a whole is fascinating.  It takes place all over the Middle East to various parts of North America.  It really delves deep into the culture of Iran and Iraq and the differences and the beautiful and also disastrous culture that the Iranian and Iraqi culture harbors.

Characters:
The author of this book could not have done much better with the characters.  The main character is clearly defined, yet I also felt my passion in some of the side-characters who are fighting as hard as the protagonist, just for different things.
The transformation of several characters was utterly beautiful and I loved watching them grow.
All this said however, I felt my heart was more with one character that does not even appear for most of the book then any other character, save possibly the protagonist.  Perhaps this was because of the protagonist's deep feelings for her, or maybe it was just me.  You be the judge.

Writing Quality:
Nope.  Nothing to say here.  Writing was excellent and polished except for minor incidences with my copy which was an ARC but that is to be expected.

Conclusion:
I learned more in this book then any other fictional book I've ever read.  Yet, it didn't feel like I was reading some boring attempt to intertwine fact and fiction.  It felt smooth and natural.  It flowed-and I loved the outcome.  While this book was fantastic, I cannot give it a full five stars(pens).  I think it was great, but I just don't think it will be one that resonates with me for the rest of my life.  But don't take that as a negative for this book-go and get the book, you won't regret it.

My Rating:  4.5 Pens
Purchase here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Outlive Your Life-Max Lucado

As a foreword to this review I'd like to say that this book truly changed me.  In essence, my ideals have changed.  Whereas before I was dreaming to become successful, and still impact the Kingdom, but that was almost a tie between my personal dreams.  It's really put things in perspective for me.

Description:
It's a story of hillbillies and simple folk, net casters and tax collectors.  A story of movement that exploded like a just-opened fire hydrant out of Jerusalem and spilled into the ends of the earth: into the streets of Paris, the districts of Rome, and the ports of Athens, Instanbul, Shanghai, and the Buenos Aires.  A story so mighty, controversial, head spinning, and life changing that two millenia later we wonder:

MIGHT IT HAPPEN AGAIN?
Heaven knows we hope so.  These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor; one billion are hungry.  Lonely hearts indwell our neighborhoods and attend our schools.  In the midst of it all, here we stand: youk, me, and our one-of--a-kind lives.  We are given a choice...an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time.  What if we did?  What if we rocked the world with hope?
Worth a try, don't you think?

My Take:
The theme in this book is quite simple in theory.  Make your life a life that make a difference.  How many times have you heard that in the church arena?  Don't wave this book off, though.
I don't know if it's the authors 25 years of writing or if it's simply a gift, but he portrayed this idea in a way that really moved me.  It speaks of really changing the world for God, but it also makes it seem so practical.  That Christians just need to get up and do something.  Which is exactly true.
As you can probably tell by my review listing, I'm not one for writing reviews of non-fiction titles-so you understand when I say I don't really have much else to say.  But please don't skip over this book.  It is thirteen dollars on Amazon.  If you don't have the money go to your local library or if they don't have it, suggest they buy it.  You won't want to miss this book.

My rating:  5 Pens


This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  The opinion expressed here is my own.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Starlighter WINNER

Well, the time has come.  Tonight, many will lose, and one will win.  (Don't feel so down-I'm a mind reader, in case you didn't know)
And that one winner is... RIGHT AFTER THE BREAK!

Break over.  I'm going on the honesty policy-you all should have gone and taken a five minute break and watched some of your local news channel's commercials.  Anyway, here's the winner...


MILLARD

The winner has 48 hours to send me his snail-mail address and any extra information needed else another winner will be chosen.  For all those that did not win the giveaway-don't worry!  You can find the book in your local bookstore or online at the authors site (signed) or any other online retailer.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hell & Back: The First Death-SC Sherman

Notice:  This is not a YA novel.  It has one scene that was not appropriate for younger audiences-though I think some older audiences could handle it.  It also had a few uses of cuss words and after the novel there is a ‘sneak peek’ at the second book in which there is a couple uses of illegal drugs.

 Description:
Do people who commit suicide go to hell?

That’s the question Joe Rellik has been asking himself for years and he’s convinced they do.  His daughter killed herself.  He didn’t even know she was upset.  If he’d been around maybe things would’ve been different.  Ever since that day it’s all he’s thought about.
His memory of her was sweet and lovely but while he was fighting deep in the jungles of Vietnam, she did it.  He’s been a warrior all his long life-it’s the only thing he was ever any good at.  Now old age is promising to do what his enemies couldn’t.  It will all be over soon, but he is haunted by the one rescue he can’t pull off.
Bad dreams… if he could just stay awake.  Tormenting visions of her…lost…in that place…tortured, forgotten, discarded, and destroyed.  His love for her is eating him from the inside out.  He can’t leave her like that, all alone.  He might be the only man in the world who actually wants to go to hell.  His madness is driving him to think the unthinkable, but will he actually do it?  Will he pull the trigger and send himself to hell, for her?
Hell and back is a supernatural thriller ripped from the last pages of the Bible.  God and the devil, angels and demons… they all get a chance to influence Joe as he charges into his last great battle, the battle for all things that truly matter.  Joe knows it may cost him his very own soul.


Plot:  Slow.  Intriguing.  Gains momentum.  Fierce. 
This is a rough outline of how the book went for me.  It started slow, and then got intriguing, but still somewhat slow.  It started gaining momentum and then it hit me like a brick and got fiercely intense.
I would have preferred it if it was ‘fiercely intense’ the whole book, but sadly, it was not.  The beginning started out with some engaging action, but after that phase, apart from some interesting realizations about the protagonist, it doesn’t get very interesting until about page 54.
While these things certainly don’t help the book, there was a give and take going on for some of the book.  A good 100 pages are spent in ‘heaven’-literally-and I think if the author would have attempted to do a shortcut in this section it wouldn’t have been quite as interesting.
The plot as a whole has to be one of the most original plots I’ve heard.  While I don’t think anyone can even attempt to predict what Heaven or hell will look like, I enjoyed reading about the possibilities and speculations.  It also caused me to speculate myself, which is always an enjoyable thing.

Characters:
I think the characters could have been done better.  They could have been worse, though.  When one of the supporting characters was killed I didn’t struggle with it.  I moved right along.  On the other hand, I had to read and re-read several times when another character was lost.  I identified with the latter character completely, but didn’t identify hardly at all with the other characters.  The characters were done well, but not great.

Writing Quality:
Throughout the novel I noticed recurring problems in the writing quality.  While the initial P.O.V. seemed to be 3rd person limited the author wrote it as if it was 3rd person omniscient, switching between characters frequently without an interjection to signal it.  Other problems included occasional contrived and unrealistic dialogue, and as I said, seemed to drag more then a healthy book should.

Conclusion:  I enjoyed the book.  I really did, but I had trouble getting past many of the problems I’ve listed.  I can usually ignore problems pretty well, and I did in this novel, but I cannot in good conscious give this book four or five pens (stars).  However, because of the books fantastic originality and unique feel to it, I cannot give it three pens either.  So I give it three and a half pens.

Get in contact or buy the books at the authors website, here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Skin Map-Stephen Lawhead

Description:
Kit Livingstone's great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm.  He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds.  To those who know how to see them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most.  Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery.  Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code-a roadmap of symbols-that he tattooed onto his own body.  This Skin Map has since been lost in time.  Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal.  It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.

Plot: 
The plot, in essence, was interesting.  Who doesn’t enjoy a strange twist of suspense, mystery, science fiction and fantasy?  I certainly do.  It wasn’t the plot that bugged me as much as it was how it was carried out.  The plot got quite confusing at points and to put it bluntly, dry.  I think the synopsis and hype of the book made it out to be more then it was.  The plot didn’t really start up, or actually get somewhere until page 150, and even then, not much.  A good fifth of the book must have been spent on the development of a coffee-shop, granted, in Old Prague.  But still, a coffee-shop.  At other points it felt as if the author was confused himself.  He sets us up for a third of the book saying it’s all about the Skin Map but then twists it saying the old “It’s much bigger then you know” but then turned it back to the Skin Map again.  Quite annoying if you ask me.

Characters:  The characters were believable and relatable.  One part of the book where I thought the author did quite well at.  He gave a perfect amount of time before switching point of views, giving me enough pages to connect to Kit in a personal way.  Cosimo and other characters came with time, but all fictional characters do.  One I liked especially was Etzel Englebert a little German fellow from Old Prague.  A baker, no less.  His light-hearted nature and good spirits are contagious.

Writing Quality:  This is where the book falls apart.  Stephen Lawhead has all the mechanics of writing down-but he’s missing the key part of novels, at least in this instance.  And that key is keeping things interesting.  The plot was grabbing but the writing felt long and tedious.  It took more then a little effort to read some parts.

Conclusion:  The book’s plot was great.  Characters?  Awesome.  But because of that one key element that was missing, the book just was lost on me.  I don’t think I’ll be picking it up to read it again.  It also didn’t contain any good Christian elements.  It wasn't a terrible secular book, though.  It was clean of anything bad (except for possibly a few cuss words in England) but it was also clean of anything about Christ and such.  From what I’ve read about the novel I don’t think it will get much better in this aspect, either.  But I do have hopes in many areas.  I will continue reading it when the next novel comes out.
My Rating: 3 Pens
Genre: Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
First in five part series
Where to buy: Amazon, Christianbook, Borders
Page number: 203.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Masters and Slayers

Many of you would remember last month when I featured the Oracles of Fire series and Starlighter by Bryan Davis (giveaway is still going on, by the way.  Check out the sidebar!).  Mr. Davis is also releasing a series for adults, the first book titled Masters and Slayers.  Below is the synopsis.

Expert swordsman Adrian Masters attempts a dangerous journey to another world to rescue human captives who have been enslaved there by dragons. He is accompanied by Marcelle, a sword maiden of amazing skill whose ideas about how the operation should be carried out conflict with his own. Since the slaves have been in bonds for generations, they have no memory of their origins, making them reluctant to believe the two would-be rescuers, and, of course, the dragons will crush any attempt to emancipate the slaves. Set on two worlds separated by a mystical portal, Masters and Slayers is packed with action, mystery, and emotional turmoil, a tale of heart and life that is sure to inspire. 

I am psyched to read this book.  I want to see how the author handles what is new territory-the adult genre instead of Young Adult-but I'm really excited just for the book.  Starlighter really has me excited for the story and the storyworld and I'd love to hear more about it.
Also, *psst* I have a special code that can get you a discounted price for Masters and Slayers, Starlighter, The Bones of Makaidos, Eye of the Oracle, I know why the Angels Dance, and Raising Dragons (Yeah, lots of discounts)-somewhere around 3-6 dollars off! And signed, too *psst*  Email me at smr411 [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll send it your way.  Or you can just buy any signed book by Bryan Davis at his online bookshop, of sorts-DavisCrossing.com/Shopping.  Also enjoy a song which I am told is in the book-lyrics composed by the author, Bryan Davis, music created Gwendolyn, and performed by Jessica Coleman.






You can also check out the book website at MastersandSlayers.com

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I haven't posted in forever...

Actually, I have.  For some reason, my follower widget isn't working properly, though.  So no one has been receiving any of the posts I've written.  Since I don't like that and you won't know when I'm doing a giveaway or a review or what not I have come up with an evil plan.
Well, maybe not so evil.  Basically, until I can get the follower widget working again which would deliver the posts to you, you can subscribe by email on the sidebar.  You're probably asking "Why would I do that?" though.  It's a valid question.  Why would someone want to waste their time subscribing?  Simple.
Everyone that subscribes will receive an extra entry in all my current giveaways and possibly ones to come.  Simple as that.  You subscribe to find out all the newest stuff going on here, and you also get a better chance at winning stuff.  Win-Win.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Immanuel's Veins-Ted Dekker

Immanuel's Veins is a romance novel.  I'm not going to describe it otherwise.  I say this because I know  several of my readers can't stand even the smallest amount of romance.   I, on the other hand, am a sap for romance if done right.
That's not to say there's not a little suspense or fantasy in the book, just that it's not all swords and arrows.

I read the book within a week of receiving it.  That's not a huge deal, though.  I've read many in that time.  But I can say without reservation that if I was able to stay up all night reading a book, I would have finished it in one nights' time.  It was absolutely captivating.

When I finished I wanted to rush out and buy a thousand copies, only to give them away to any and every person in sight.  I wanted everyone to hear the story of redemption that is contained within these two covers.  The message of this book is simple: the saving power of love.  God's amazing love and man's greatest possible love for another person.

Many people have said that this book is simply the same as any of Dekker's other novels.  I would say I agree, it's much like his other novels.  Almost exactly the same.  But it's different.  I don't understand why, exactly, but this one's better then any other I've read by the author.  I got lost in it.

The plot is a simple one as I've stated before.  It's something else I can't quite wrap my head around, and I'm not sure I want to.  That is the love that is portrayed in this book.  It's utterly beautiful.  The writing flows effortlessly as to not get in the way of the love portrayed.  Ted Dekker has outdone even the greatest of his previous works.
Needless to say, I give this book five pens.  It was awesome.
Notice: I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers and was not forced to write a positive review.

This book has been officially been released and can be found on Amazon and most major bookstores.

I have been asked to do something pertaining to the book. That is to answer a question.  That question is: What is sacrificial love?
My answer:
Sacrificial love is full willingness to give any and everything for someone else.  It is to love without reservation.  Sacrificial love is to give everything for another with the knowledge that they might not care.  That they might not return your love.
It is love in the highest and most beautiful form.  Sacrificial love is to forsake everything you have and hang your pride on a stake and never return to it.  Sacrificial love is to love without abandon.


As you can see, sacrificial love isn't something we see everyday.

I am also happy to bring you a giveaway celebrating this books' release, but more importantly, the message it carries.  "Spread the Love".  It will be a shirt giveaway, and judging by Dekker shirts I've seen (I own one too) and what I've been told, it's going to be a good one.  Right now it seems as if these shirts won't go on the market, so you won't want to miss the opportunity to snag one.  To enter, simply comment on this post!

Also, enjoy the book trailer and what other readers have to say!






Monday, September 6, 2010

Clives Staples Award Winners!

Congrats to the winners of the Clives Staples Award!  Bryan Davis', The Bones of Makaidos took first place.  The Bones of Makaidos is a terrific book.  If you would like to read my comments on it, you can go here.

Donita K. Paul's The Vanishing Sculptor took second.

Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper's Curse of the Spider King took third.

Jill Williamson's By Darkness Hid took fourth place.

To see all the details or learn more about the books head over to Clives Staples Awards' website

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Starlighter Giveaway


You can find my review of this book here.

Dragons are enslaving humankind and a black egg signals the end of the world. Jason Masters must journey to another realm and join forces with a slave girl named Koren to rescue the captives and save two worlds from destruction. What if the Legends Are True? Jason Masters doubted the myths: people taken through a portal to another realm and enslaved by dragons. But when his brother is taken, he must uncover the truth and find the portal before it's too late. Once he's through the portal, he meets Koren, a slave in the dragons’ realm, who struggles to destroy a black egg prophesied to doom all mankind. Jason and Koren must work together to save their two worlds before the dragons learn that their secrets have been discovered.


I will be giving away a SIGNED copy of Starlighter!  Unlike my other giveaway(s) you do not have to be a follower.  There is only one requirement, and that is simply filling out the form below.  However, for extra entries, you can comment on some of my reviews and my interview.  The deadline to enter is September 14th.



Saturday, September 4, 2010

Interview with Bryan Davis

Bryan Davis is the bestselling author of over fifteen novels.  He has been writing for over six years.  He is the author of the Dragons in Our Midst series, the Oracles of Fire series, and the Echoes from the Edge series.  He is currently writing two series that are related to each other.  One an adult series the other a young adult series titled Dragons of Starlight and Tales of Starlight.
I'm happy to welcome Mr. Davis to The Narrowing Road to answer some questions on his writing life.

Seth-Masters and Slayers is the first part in an adult companion series for Dragons of Starlight.  Tell us a little about that.  What makes it a more adult suitable book than some of your other books?

Bryan Davis-Although Masters & Slayers is designed for adults, it can be read by teenagers, especially those who have enjoyed Starlighter, the first book in the Dragons of Starlight series. The adult designation is due to the fact that the story follows the adventures of adult characters instead of teenagers.

The good-versus-evil violence in this book is similar to that of the young adult series, except for a few more graphic events, such as the fiery execution of a boy and the severing of a murder victim’s fingers. There are no sexual scenes, but the breeding of humans by order of the slave-master dragons is mentioned. This practice takes place “off-screen” and is not described, though one character explains his dilemma when faced with an order to participate. There is no profanity or sexually provocative language.


Seth-What was (or is) your favorite book or series to write?

Bryan Davis-I have a hard time answering “favorite” questions, because sometimes my favorites change, especially when I get emails from readers who have been strongly impacted by a particular book. At that moment, the book the reader mentions can quickly rise in my favorites list. Because my favorites are influenced by reader feedback, the three books that often rise to the top are Circles of Seven, Eye of the Oracle, and The Bones of Makaidos. I get more emails about their impact that about the other books, though I have heard from readers about impact from all of my books.


Seth-What would you say has been the most important event in your career as a writer?

Bryan Davis-Probably meeting Dan Penwell at the Florida Christian Writers Conference in 2003. He was the acquisitions editor for AMG Publishers. He took a liking to my work and decided to take a chance on an unproven author. I am deeply indebted to him, and I honor him highly. He passed away earlier this year, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to let him know how much he meant to me.


Seth-Before you started writing Raising Dragons were you a big reader of the fantasy genre?

Bryan Davis-I probably wouldn’t be considered a “big” reader of fantasy. Of course I read the standards, like The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings, but I my range of reading beyond these wasn’t broad. I tried many novels, such as Eragon, but most didn’t interest me. I found many of them to be lacking depth and purpose.


Seth-People have said that you can learn from teaching.  Do you find that you learn while teaching at conferences or other events where you teach writing?

Bryan Davis-I do learn when I teach. Teaching brings to mind persistent reminders of what I need to remember so that I don’t become lax and assume that my writing will be fine without the usual rigor I apply. Remember “show, don’t tell.” Don’t forget to foreshadow. Keep in mind the magic of vivid scenery. Don’t force dialogue. Every time I speak such words, they reinforce these principles in my mind. That’s definitely helpful.


Seth-Being a full time author, how often do you actually get the chance to sit down and read for your enjoyment?

Bryan Davis-Very rarely. Many people send me manuscripts to read, hoping to get endorsements or helpful pointers. It’s a blessing to know that people value my opinion, and I want to help as much as I can, but the pile of requests pretty much eliminates any time I have to read for enjoyment. And since most of these requests come from inexperienced writers, the manuscripts are usually poor, so the reading isn’t enjoyable. I’m afraid that’s just the nature of my occupation, and I am willing to live with it.


Seth-Where does the inspiration for your stories come from?

Bryan Davis-I get most of my basic story ideas either from my children or from dreams. Raising Dragons came from a dream about a boy who could breathe fire, and Starlighter came from an idea my daughter Amanda gave me. My gift is to be able to enhance and grow these seeds, but most of the seeds are provided by others.


Seth-You run a very active forum, correct?  Does this forum have any effect on your writing?

Bryan Davis-My message forum is quite active. I sometimes ask the members for ideas, and I get great feedback. Their opinions have influenced my stories, so I am grateful for their participation. It’s really fun interacting with them.


Seth- How does an author who has as many books as yourself go about looking to publish their next book?  Do publishers at that point come to you?

Bryan Davis-Publishers have sought me out but not often. Since God has granted success, I am able to submit a simple idea without much development, and since I have proven my ability to complete well-crafted stories in a timely fashion, publishers trust that I can deliver. I don’t have to finish a novel before they are willing to contract the work. They don’t even require a full proposal. That’s very helpful.


Seth-You are a Seat-of-the-pants writer if I’m not mistaken.  Have you ever been or thought about being an outliner?  Why is it that you prefer being a Seat-of-the-pants writer?
    Bryan Davis-I have always been a seat-of-the-pants writer, because I enjoy going on an adventure with my characters. Every day I look forward to sitting down and finding out what will happen next. An open-ended story feels more realistic and allows for unexpected twists. If I am surprised by an event, then surely my readers will also be surprised. Of course, I sometimes have to go back and set up the surprises with appropriate foreshadowing, but it is still an organic way to write. The story feels alive.

    I have thought about outlining a story, but those thoughts are always negative. I can’t imagine why I would do that. It would be wasted effort, because I know the story would change as I write it.


    Seth-If you could go back and change any of your books, whether it was the plot or whatever it may be, would you do it?
      Bryan Davis- It’s possible. I hope that my writing is improving, so it’s likely that I could improve my older books if I were to go back and polish them. Yet, I know that I did the best that I could at the time, so I would rather focus my time and efforts on new books. Still, if a reason cropped up that made sense for me to rework an older book, I could be persuaded to do so.


      Seth- How does your faith in the Lord affect your writing?
        Bryan Davis-My faith is central to my writing. What I believe infuses every story with sacrifice, courage, heroism, and life-giving hope. I don’t always intentionally plan spiritual themes in my stores, but because of my Christian worldview, they appear naturally. It’s the way I think.


        Seth-In your experience, what has been the hardest part about writing Christian Fantasy?

          Bryan Davis-The hardest part is likely the struggle to get Christians to understand the value of fantasy and that it is one of the most effective ways to communicate truth. Some Christians dismiss fantasy without understanding what it’s all about. Others even demonize it, some because of ignorance and some because of intentional folly.


          Seth- Every author has a unique story that brings them to publication.  How was it that you came to be a published writer?
            Bryan Davis-Since these books are faith-based, the mainstream publishers didn’t show any interest. I often heard, “Too spiritual” or “Too Christian.” The Christian publishers at that time weren’t producing fantasy at all, and certainly not a series about dragons. I couldn’t find a significant Christian fantasy series for young people that had been published in the last thirty years. It didn’t matter that the Chronicles of Narnia had been one of the greatest sellers in history. In fact, when I mentioned that to one editor, hoping the Narnia success would open a door, he said, “You’re not C. S. Lewis.”

            Between agents and publishers I collected about two hundred rejection notices, which I might use to wallpaper my office someday. I rewrote Raising Dragons about twenty-four times, changing it drastically in some of the rewrites. I think I made it even more radical as time went on, perhaps thinking that it might just end up as a story for myself and my family.

            As I mentioned above, I finally met Dan Penwell of AMG Publishers. He had already contracted with me for a non-fiction book called The Image of a Father, and although AMG had never produced fiction, he took interest in my weird dragons story. AMG liked it so much, they started a fiction line with the series, and it has become their best selling line of books.


            Seth-How, if at all, does being a homeschool dad affect your writing? (I myself being homeschooled)
              Bryan Davis-It is because of homeschooling that I became a writer. Hoping to get my children excited about writing, I began writing a story for them, and I asked them to contribute. During the process, I developed a passion for writing that hasn’t faded. My kids continue to provide me with ideas and input, so homeschooling has definitely been an important contribution.


              Seth-You started writing Christian Fantasy during somewhat of a revival period for the genre.  Why do you think it is that there are so few Christian Fantasy books on the market?
                Bryan Davis-Actually, I started writing Christian fantasy when the genre didn’t exist in the Christian publishing industry. When Raising Dragons came out, it was among the first produced in traditional Christian publishing in decades. The same month, Dragonspell (Donita K. Paul) and Beyond the Summerland (L. B. Graham) also came out, so, if my research is correct, these three books opened the gates for the Christian fantasy market.


                Seth-Going on the previous question, what advice would you give to an author trying to get published in this very difficult field of writing (Christian Fantasy)?
                  Bryan Davis-I know many aspiring fantasy novelists. It seems that’s what half the authors I know want to write, but the Christian publishing world hasn’t caught up yet with the demand, which isn’t completely they’re fault, but that’s another topic. I would tell those authors to break free from the Tolkien and Lewis mold. Don’t try to create another Middle-earth with elves and orcs. Don’t send kids to a new world through a wardrobe-like portal where a new kind of Christ-figure dwells. Make faith a real component that fits naturally with characters of real faith.

                  I’d like to see another contemporary/fantasy blend like mine. I think young people of today relate to a world they recognize, and they enjoy seeing weird happenings within it. Still, there are many ways to explore new other-world fantasy ideas as well. Think out-of-the-box and write your passions. Don’t chase after what the market appears to want.


                  Seth-Is there anything else you would like to add?
                    Bryan Davis-Aspiring writers, I commend you for wanting to communicate your ideas and passions. That motivation will carry you far. You will hit roadblocks, and the temptation to become discouraged might be overwhelming. Don’t give up. If God has put within you the passion to write, then you can’t give up. Continue learning the craft. Get better and better all the time. Don’t lose sight of the message that God has given you to convey. If God has really called you to pursue this dream, then you have no choice but to continue.


                    I want to think Mr. Davis again for sharing some very helpful thoughts on writing, fantasy, and the Christian faith.  You can get in contact with him or check out some of his books on his website.

                    Friday, September 3, 2010

                    Starlighter-Bryan Davis


                    Starlighter is the first book in Bryan Davis' newest Young Adult series, Dragons of Starlight.

                    Description:
                    Dragons are enslaving humankind and a black egg signals the end of the world. Jason Masters must journey to another realm and join forces with a slave girl named Koren to rescue the captives and save two worlds from destruction. What if the Legends Are True? Jason Masters doubted the myths: people taken through a portal to another realm and enslaved by dragons. But when his brother is taken, he must uncover the truth and find the portal before it's too late. Once he's through the portal, he meets Koren, a slave in the dragons’ realm, who struggles to destroy a black egg prophesied to doom all mankind. Jason and Koren must work together to save their two worlds before the dragons learn that their secrets have been discovered. In Starlighter, bestselling author Bryan Davis masterfully weaves fantasy and inspiration into a captivating novel for young adults

                    Plot:
                    The plot was not the usual Bryan Davis plot.  His pacing was much different then his past books which threw me for a loop.  Because there are two full plots, they both felt short.  It was as if you cut a book in half and then duplicated the first half, simply changing it up a little bit.  One moment I’m reading the beginning pages of the book, and the next I’m two pages until the end.  Not to say that this wasn’t just because of the pace.  I’m certain it was also because of the author’s ability to weave a fascinating tale-because that’s what it was, a fascinating tale.
                    Other then the change of pace, I loved the story.  It was an excellent mix of fantasy and science fiction.

                    Characters:
                    Jason and Koren are the main characters in two plots.  Jason is a swordsman on the ‘human’ planet trying to find the portal to the dragon planet while Koren is the human on the dragon planet trying to free herself and her fellow slaves from the dragons’ tyrannical rule.
                    I didn’t connect to either character very well.  I’m not going to try to dumb that down.  It’s a big deal.  If I can’t connect to a character then I don’t feel passionately for the characters.  Some books are plot-driven while others are character-driven.  I don’t mind a book that’s plot-driven, in fact, as far as I can tell, I’m a plot-driven writer.  But I still need to feel attached to a character on a deep level.  Sadly, I just didn’t connect with Koren or Jason.

                    Writing Quality:
                    When it comes to writing mechanics, the book was practically flawless.  No contrived dialogue.  No messed up dialogue tags or faulty descriptions.  It was great.  The problems are what I have stated before-besides those, the book was great.

                    Conclusion:
                    I can deal with the plot and the character problems.  Even what I’m about to say, I can deal with.  What I was really upset about was the rather small amount of God in the novel.  Sure, there were Christian themes and references to the Creator, but it wasn’t as spiritually uplifting as his previous works such as Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire.  I’m hoping this changes in the next books.
                    My Rating:
                    4 Pens

                    Genre: Young Adult Christian Fantasy
                    Intended age group:  12-15 (but can easily extend in either direction)
                    First installment in series
                    Where to buy:  AmazonChristianBook, or authors website (signed if requested).
                    You can get in contact with the author by going to his website where you can go to the very active forum, check out fan art or go to his blog.

                    Monday, August 30, 2010

                    Why does anyone read books?

                    Okay, so the title isn't completely accurate.  But still, what gets people to read a book in the first place?  Is it because of requirements for school?  Is it because you like the cover or the title?  Or maybe it's an author you've read before that has gone on your "read whatever he/she writes" list.  Whatever it is, there's always a reason for reading a book.  Even little children at the age of six-seven have a reason they read a book.  If it's not a requirement by a parent or teacher, then it's because it had a cool cover.  There is always a reason.  But what are those reasons?

                    I can only speak for myself, so that's all I'm going to do.  So the question I ask myself today is, why do I read the books that I read.  I'm a picky reader, I don't just read everything that I see.  So, here are the reasons I read the books that I read.

                    • Name.  The name of a book is the first thing that I see on a shelf at a bookstore or a library.  I don't see the cover first, but the name.  It has to be something that's not cheesy, yet something that's not altogether boring either.  It has to be interesting.
                    • Cover.  You got me to reach out and grab the book, if only to scan the cover and the synopsis and move on.  Both the cover design and the synopsis are equally important as the synopsis is the second thing I look at.  Both have to be well-designed and entrancing.
                    If I'm not at a bookstore or a library and am looking on the internet (I have never used a printed catalog to look for books) then there are other things that I look for.  I still look at the cover and the name, but at that point other factors apply, which are listed below.
                    • Recommendations.  Word of mouth.  There are a few people that I know can be honest with me if I ask them.  I know I can rely on them to give me their honest opinion on whether or not a book is worth the money.  If they've read the book, I ask them before going onto the next reason.
                    • Reviews.  I almost always look at the reviews.  And honestly, I focus on the negative reviews.  Since I can't read very many books I can't afford to focus on the positive.  I have to focus on the negatives of some books to decide.
                    • Of course, if I know a writer to be good and I like his style, then I'll read any books that he comes out with.  Some people take this to the extreme, becoming fanatics of that particular author.
                    • Genre.  It's not what makes my decision because genres can be very large and sometimes I don't like-or even, quite frankly, despise some parts of a genre-particular parts of a genre.  Even still, I try to look through the newest books in genres I like every once in a while just to see what's new.
                    • Believe it or not, the publisher.  I know some publishers to produce quality books while some publishers don't.  For instance, I know Thomas Nelson Publishers to produce quality books and I trust that they have a good editing team and cover designer.
                    So... What do you think about when deciding to read a book?

                    Coming up...
                    Review, Interview[with Bryan Davis], and giveaway of Starlighter
                    Review of Immanuel's Veins-Ted Dekker and an awesome giveaway
                    Review of The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead

                      Saturday, August 28, 2010

                      The Bones of Makaidos-Bryan Davis

                      If you haven’t read the Dragons in our Midst series then you can still read the Oracles of Fire series.  They draw off of each other.  However, if I had a choice, I would read Dragons in our Midst before reading this.  Either way I think you’ll deeply enjoy the series as in drawing off each other they delve into the world of the unknown.

                      Description:
                      As The Bones of Makaidos begins, a wall of fire protects the inexperienced villagers of Second Eden from a planned invasion of dragons and Nephilim, but how long will the flames last/  Billy, Walter, Ashley, Elam, and the faithful dragons help the people prepare, but they are woefully outnumbered and will have to go back to Earth and recruit the humans who have the ability to revert to their former dragon states.  In search of aid, Billy escorts Acacia, an Oracle of Fire, through a dangerous volcano portal.
                           Sapphira, Acacia's Oracle sister, stays in the underworld with Bonnie and Shiloh, waiting for the signal to emerge and join the battle.  With Hades and Earth locked in a catastrophic merging of their two realms, Arramos, evil incarnate, plans to use Bonnie to add Second Eden to the convergence, thereby drawing his forces to Heaven's Gate, where he hopes to gain access to divine authority.
                           Arramos has two secret weapons: Sir Devin, the greatest of all dragon slayers, lies in wait  to destroy all dragons and their offspring, including Billy and Bonnie; and Mardon, a brilliant scientist, knows the secret to the Oracles' indestructibility, and he has devised a way to steal it from Acacia, thereby draining her strength.  Meanwhile, Semiramis, Mardon's mother, comes to Second Eden and provides BIlly with a wealt of information about Arramos's plans, and with every subsequent challenge, her words are proven true.  but can she be trusted?
                           With mysteries abounding and an ultimate battle looming, every decision could mean the difference between survival and catastrophe, and only a prophesied sacrificed can stop the onslaught of evil.  But who will be the sacrificial lamb?

                      Plot:
                      The climax of the eight book series and sequel series.  I don't know what to say about the plot actually.  It was fast-paced as usual.  Exciting and original.  But those are just adjectives.  It certainly was a great way to end the series, though.  After reading it I simply can't put my reactions to word.
                      there is only one thing I remember having trouble with in this book.  At the half-way point in the book you really have to force yourself through.  It is just really dry.  The first two chapters in the second book are like this.  I would explain more of why it's dry and describe it in more depth, but that would spoil some of the plot, and wouldn't want that now would we?

                      Characters:
                      I learned more about the characters and understood them on a deeper level than in any of Mr. Davis's past novels.  When I heard one character went missing in battle my heart pounded.  When I found out one character was mortally wounded I put the book down and literally blanked out for a moment or two.  I had no choice but to care.
                      Go ahead and hate me for it, but strangely enough, with my fascination of swords and war and fantasy in general, I'm a sap for romance novels mind you, but novels with romance.  When proportioned right and well done I think they make a great addition to a novel.  This book has great balance.  Just the right amount for me.  I love the finale in this book, but I will keep my mouth shut about it.

                      Writing:
                      As I said in the Plot section, there was a period that was lacking the usual engaging writing.  I had trouble getting through those two chapters, but afterward the story takes a jumpstart that is even more exciting than before.
                      Other then this I had no problems with the book writing wise.  Not anything that stuck out at me, anyways.

                      Conclusion:
                      To say I am reluctant to give a book five stars (or Pens) would be an understatement.  So when deciding what to give this book it was clear to me.  This book was one of the most emotionally and spiritually gripping and powerful books I've read.
                      My rating: 5 Pens




                      Genre: Young Adult Christian Fantasy
                      Intended age group:  12-15 (but can easily extend in either direction)
                      Third in four part series
                      Where to buy:  AmazonChristianBook, or authors website (signed if requested).
                      You can get in contact with the author by going to his website where you can go to the very active forum, check out fan art or go to his blog.

                      Sunday, August 22, 2010

                      Clive Staples Award-Go VOTE!

                      For those of you who haven't heard, the Clive Staples Award is coming around!  Named in honor of the great Christian Fantasy author, C.S. Lewis, the Clive Staples Award is reader chosen.  You have to have read at least TWO of the books on the list to vote.
                      I will go ahead and say which I voted for...

                      1. Curse of the Spider King
                      2. The Bones of Makaidos
                      3. By Darkness Hid

                      According to what I've heard from the readers of the last book, that would have easily made the top of my list-but sadly, I have yet to read the book so I didn't feel I could rank it as the top book.  Likewise, I had yet to finish The Bones of Makaidos.  This is not to say that Curse of the Spider King didn't deserve my vote, just that I'm not sure if it would be the same had I begun and finished reading both of the other books.

                      I encourage everyone to go and read it and help out your favorite book on the list.  Truthfully, I am very excited to see who wins the award.  Last year it was Donita K. Paul's, Dragonlight but I am anxious to see who will win this time.



                      The deadline for voting is the end of August so there is still a little over a week to VOTE!

                      Saturday, August 21, 2010

                      Last of the Nephilim-Bryan Davis

                      If you haven’t read the Dragons in our Midst series then you can still read the Oracles of Fire series.  They draw off of each other.  However, if I had a choice, I would read Dragons in our Midst before reading this.  Either way I think you’ll deeply enjoy the series as in drawing off each other they delve into the world of the unknown.

                      Description:
                      Last of the Nephilim, the third installment in the acclaimed Oracles of Fire series, picks up the exciting Dragons in Our Midst story where Eye of the Oracle and Enoch's Ghost ends.  A single lie is spoken, allowing the Nephilim, a race of giants from ancient times, to invade Second Eden, a peaceful civilization in an alternate dimension.  While Earth and Hades are locked in a catastrophic merging of their two realms, the prophet Enoch works to gather an army of humans and dragons from each world to go to war against the Nephilim.  Included in that force are a small girl with prophetic power; Billy Bannister, the heir of Arthur and hero of the Dragons in Our Midst series; and Bonnie SIlver, his fellow warrior.

                      The two Oracles of Fire, Sapphira and Acacia, are called upon to protect the forces of good, including Bonnie, who is being purued once again by the most powerful of all dragon slayers, Sir Devin, the dragons' bane.

                      With giants battling dragons, and a rogue dragon taking the side of the forces of evil, a catclysmic battle erupts, endangering every life in the land of Second Eden.  Another of Nephilim, the most powerful of all, rises from the dead to join the battle.  But whose side will he be on?

                      Abraham, the leader of Second Eden, has a choice, either execute a grieving widow, the woman responsible for the entry of the evil giants, or face the greatest of sacrifices by which he can only delay the inevitable, the ultimate war that could lead the evil forces to the gates of Heaven itself.

                      Plot:
                      As usual with Bryan Davis' novels, the plot was fast-paced.
                      It keeps you on your toes even though you may be sitting down.  If anything, Mr. Davis knows how to write an intense plot.
                      On the flip side, for some it may not be the best.  With all the books I've yet read in The Oracles of Fire there have been at least two sub plots.  Sometimes more.  I'm still deciding whether I like how it's done or not.  The thing is, it is sometimes hard to discern the actual plotline.  To focus on tis book's plot instead of the series, it isn't until the end that we get a solid plot.  The only reason I say a 'solid plot' is because at the end, most of the characters come together.  And that, to an extent, is short-lived.
                      Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the plot very much, but I think it could have been improved if one plotline just stood out a little more then the rest.

                      Characters:
                      While I've always loved Bryan Davis' plots and almost everything else about his books, there are a few books where his characters are lacking.  This was, sadly, one of those books.
                      I couldn't attach myself to one character was the biggest issue.  Like I said in the plot section, there isn't one plotline that stands out above the rest.  Likewise, there isn't one character that stands out above the rest.  I might say Walter was the main character but even that is debatable.  Without one main character to connect with I subconsciously chose another character to be my personal protagonist.
                      Since there wasn't any more focus on that character then any other I didn't feel deeply for that character like I might in another book where I am attached to a protagonist.
                      Other then that issue, the characters were well created and developed.  The characters were very numerous.  Some twenty characters that took an ongoing part in the book.  For twenty characters though, I would say the author handled them very well.  Characters from both Dragons in Our Midst and characters introduced in the past two novels come together to form a great cast.

                      Writing:
                      Mr. Davis has the writing nailed.  He's a great example for anyone learning to write.  Other then problems already stated, there was no major writing flaws.  Nothing that stood out enough for me to write down or take a mental note.

                      Conclusion:
                      Bryan Davis writes a fascinating tale of love, war, and fighting for survival while keeping the focus on God.  This is a book to keep you up at night checking the page count left, not that you want it to end, but so that you can get to the end.
                      My rating: 4 Pens
                      Genre: Young Adult Christian Fantasy
                      Intended age group:  12-15 (but can easily extend in either direction)
                      Third in four part series
                      Where to buy:  AmazonChristianBook, or authors website (signed if requested).
                      You can get in contact with the author by going to his website where you can go to the very active forum, check out fan art or go to his blog.

                      Sunday, August 15, 2010

                      Venom and Song Replacement Winner

                      You may have noticed in the last post when I said that I will choose another winner if a winner doesn't respond within 48 hours.  Sadly, one winner (I will not say whom) did not respond with an address.  So, that being so, I picked a new winner.  The winner is...

                      *drumroll*

                      Jake!  Congrats Jake!  Please email me within 48 hours with your address to send the book.

                      (Also, winners, you may have noticed that you have not received your prize yet.  I am sending them all out at the same time.  Since I did not have one of the addresses, I have not sent them out yet.  I expect to have them shipped within the week)

                      Saturday, August 14, 2010

                      Enoch's Ghost-Bryan Davis


                      If you haven’t read the Dragons in our Midst series then you can still read the Oracles of Fire series.  They draw off of each other.  However, if I had a choice, I would read Dragons in our Midst before reading this.  Either way I think you’ll deeply enjoy the series as in drawing off each other they delve into the world of the unknown.

                      Description:
                      Enoch’s Ghost, the second book in the Oracles of Fire series, picks up the exciting Dragons in our Midst story where Tears of a Dragon and Eye of the Oracle series ended.
                      Walter, Ashley, and Karen ride the dragon Thigocia in search of her son, Gabriel, and her long-lost mate, Makaidos. When Walter and Ashley find an army of giants hibernating in the depths of the earth, they meet a mysterious girl named Sapphira Adi who claims to be thousands of years old. Sapphira reveals a sinister plot, conceived centuries ago by Morgan Le Faye and the devil himself.
                      The giants awaken and ascend to the Earth, ready to carry out a scheme that threatens the entire cosmos, and only dragons can defeat them. Since two dragons remain on the earth, and one of them is reluctant to fight, doom seems certain. Still, there is hope. In another world, a former dragon awakens to a new existence and learns that a prophesied deliverance requires the death of a willing lamb, and a handicapped little girl who wants to die to end everyone’s suffering, including her own, steps forward as the only candidate for the sacrifice.
                      The greatest of dangers, building to a climax in three different worlds, meets the power of love and sacrifice in Enoch’s Ghost.



                      Plot:
                      The plot was more engaging and intense than any other book I’ve yet read by Mr. Davis.  So much that I had to take a break midway through.  My mind was spinning, and I had to rest before jumping in again.  That was just me.  I still don’t think there is such a thing as too much suspense or intensity in a novel.  The author simply does not let up-and there is nothing wrong with that.
                      For the sake of not giving out spoilers I’ll simply say that the plot was interesting.

                      Characters:
                      Enoch’s Ghost has a vast cast of characters.  A cast that consists of characters ranging from Dragons in our Midst, Eye of the Oracle and new characters that we’ve never met.
                      It’s a very difficult task to make a reader love and feel attached to that many characters (more then fifteen to be precise).  If I knew beforehand that there were this many characters I would have doubts.  I was happily surprised the author pulled it off.

                      Writing:
                      As usual, Bryan Davis’ craft is great.  If there is anything wrong with the writing in this book it would be that it is too fast-paced.  As I said before, the author does not let up.  For some this can be a little much.  Some people need a novel to be balanced with fast and slow scenes.  Other then this little ‘glitch’ the novel was very well written.
                      Conclusion:
                      My diagnosis?  Great book.  One of the few books I’ve read in a matter of a few days.  A day and a half to be precise.  I’m not a fast reader so to have a book read in less then two days says something about a book.
                      I definitely recommend reading this book.
                      My rating: 4 Pens


                      Genre: Young Adult Christian Fantasy
                      Intended age group:  12-15 (but can easily extend in either direction)
                      First in four part series (More reviews forthcoming)
                      Where to buy:  AmazonChristianBook, or authors website (signed if requested).
                      You can get in contact with the author by going to his website where you can go to the very active forum, check out fan art or go to his blog.