Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Sanctuary, by Ted Dekker

Those of you who know me know that I've been a Dekker fan for almost a decade, since right after he wrote When Heaven Weeps, and I discovered his magical ability to write about God's love and His redemptive story for mankind in a more unique way than I had ever seen before.

Over the years, his message has not changed, although he crafts both fantasy and suspense in different ways to suit his purpose. His latest offerings have been amazing, including the co-written Books of Mortals series. The precursor to The Sanctuary was The Priest's Graveyard, which introduces and develops the main characters in both books, Danny and Renee.

I feel like I always say this, or at least many times say this, but this book is one of my very favorites of Ted's. It's got everything in spades--great characters, thoughtful themes, sacrificial love, fast plot, twists and turns, surprise ending, and everything else you come to expect from Dekker. I finished reading it weeks ago and I'm still raving about it, still thinking about it. You will, too.

I won't rehash the plot here. You can read about that on Amazon or somewhere else. Here are some good reviews from my friends at Fiction Addict. I tend to agree more with Josh's review, because I didn't think the book was too violent or graphic, like Lori did (I reserve that opinion for some of Steven James' books.) Hands down, the book is nothing short of fantastic and I bid a fond farewell to Danny and Renee (At least I think I do--I don't know of any plans to bring them back.). Kudos, Ted.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Spirit Well - CSFF Blog Tour Day 2

The Spirit Well continues the saga of Kit and Mina, who use ley line travel in their quest for the skin map's secrets. Although they don't have the whole skin map (it was torn into sections), they still have come a long way in mastering inter-dimensional travel. Library Journal, on the Amazon site, gives a good little rundown of the plot HERE. A cast of characters find themselves in ancient Egypt, the Stone Age, Damascus, an Italian monastery, and 13th Century Oxford, among others. All are connected in some way to the map.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have read and reviewed the previous two books in this series and enjoyed them immensely. Lawhead has a writing style unmatched by any author I've come across. He's not overly wordy like Hugo or Tolkein, but he can definitely set a scene while forwarding the story. My head spins to think of the knowledge and research that went into this bear of a pentalogy.

That said, I admit if there was such a thing as time-travel lag (akin to jet lag), I may have contracted it while reading this book. There were so many individuals in so many places/times that I had to remind myself nearly every chapter what/when was happening. Not to mention that one realizes that when an author lists a full two pages of characters at the beginning of a novel, a bit of concentration will be in order. Perhaps I wasn't up to the challenge, but at least Lawhead gave us a list. And a forward of sorts explaining what had happened previously. (That being true, I caution readers to not start with this installment, but please start at the beginning and read all the books in order, or you will be hopelessly lost.)

The plot moved forward well and ended in a good spot. I will admit that at first, I erroneously thought that this book was the last in the series, not the middle one. Oops. Already having read half the book, I kept thinking there was no way Lawhead could wrap everything up yet. No way. So I consulted the web and found that indeed there were two more novels to go and breathed a sigh of relief.

I highly recommend this series for anyone who likes Lawhead, fantasy, legend, sci-fi, or imaginitive fiction of any sort.

In conjunction with the CSSF blog tour, I received a copy of this book for review.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: The Spirit Well, by Stephen R. Lawhead, Day 1

I'm so glad to be back on the CSFF Blog Tour! I've been a bit busy with other things for the last several months and had to step out for a while, but I'm back!

I love Stephen Lawhead and love his series. This is one of the most imaginative (if not confusing!) series I've ever read, and it's a joy to read and review these books.

Here are links to my reviews of the previous two books in the series, The Skin Map and The Bone House.

Buy the book on Amazon HERE.

Visit Lawhead's website HERE.

Check him out on Facebook HERE.

My review comes tomorrow, so for now all I have in parting are the links to all my fellow participants' blogs. Happy reading!

Jim Armstrong
Julie Bihn
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Theresa Dunlap
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Jeremy Harder
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Janeen Ippolito
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Joan Nienhuis
Lyn Perry
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: Opening Moves, by Steven James

What better way to kick off the return of my blog by reviewing a book by one of my favorite authors? I'm sure a book giveaway would be better, but with so few readers, I'll have to boost my subscribers again before doing something like that. (Sorry. I refuse to give away my only copy, which I paid for myself.)

And so we begin.

Revulsion. Anger. Disgust. Lightheartedness. Wonder. Hope. Uncertainty. A gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. And yes, even joy. Those are some of the things I felt while reading Opening Moves. I even skimmed through it a second time just to see if I reacted in the same way. I'll have to answer for the most part in the affirmative.

Patrick Bowers, Milwaukee homicide detective, notices things. He has an uncanny way of seeing and remembering details that no one else does. He can put the puzzle pieces of a case together to reveal the big picture that has eluded others. But will he be able to connect several murders from different states and dismemberments from here in his own town to the single, or perhaps multiple, perpetrators?

Where to start? A prequel always seems risky, and James has said it wasn't his original intention to write one for this series (September Suspense Magazine, p. 58). But he's glad he did and so am I. I enjoyed seeing Bowers as a cop who longs for more, one who eventually makes it into the FBI. I have to think his new found friend Ralph Hawkins has a lot to do with that. And, digressing a little, may I say that Ralph is one of my favorite characters. He's a mammoth on the outside and a teddy bear on the inside. He and Pat have a way of communicating something without ever saying it—they read between the lines of each other's words. I love being able to “look in” on them when they're doing that.

For those who have never read James, this is a great place to start. For those who have read the whole Bowers series, Opening Moves gives you even more insight into Pat, introduces Dr. Calvin Werjonic with his geospatial techniques, and shows you how Pat meets his nemesis. You can read my reviews of the previous books HERE (although I have no idea how I neglected to write a review for The Queen, so, two you can read are: HERE and HERE).

I have to say that the most striking thing about James' books, this one included, is the theme of man's depravity. James will tell you that he doesn't want to glorify evil, but instead portray it for the reality it is, and then point to the fact that it can be overcome (see this interview: Title Trakk). I definitely see that, although it's still hard to read some descriptions of murder, especially when you know this stuff really happens. I guess it's good that it bothers me and that I'm not totally desensitized to the violence. It bothers me more that the man named Joshua grew up with the bible, knowing it, and yet turned his back on God's love and forgiveness because his father had twisted scripture too much, and Joshua had killed too much, to ever allow himself redemption. So sad. He rejects truth when he hears it because he feels so guilty. I always hate it when religious-type people are the bad guys. It eats at me. We who are the Body of Christ are human, yes. Absolutely. Not perfect. However, we have a God living in us that is supposed to be providing resurrection power for us. Where is that seen if not in a transformed life? Why are we not availing ourselves of this power and overcoming our circumstances, our desires, our thoughts, our actions? Granted, just because the guy is religious doesn't mean he's been changed by Jesus. I realize that. Far from it. These are things that James has made me think about, though.

I’ve read all of James’ novels and am not sure this one is my favorite. Yes, he’s an amazing writer, one of the best ever in modern fiction. I still lean toward The Knight or The Bishop as better. I don't know, maybe this book was just too disgusting, too dark. I let the book sit for a few days after reading and my thoughts have mellowed a bit. There's no story without the violence, and the story is amazing. And there is hope. Always.

I definitely recommend this book and look forward to the last two in the series, The King and Checkmate.

Friday, September 07, 2012

I'm back!

Surprise! Today marks the day I reactivate this blog. I'm still reviewing for three external sites--Title Trakk, The Suspense Zone, and now Fiction Addict. However, I missed being a part of the CSFF Blog Tour (thanks for reinstating me, Becky!) and also posting things more of worth than I do on Facebook. Speaking of Facebook, I've grown to really hate it in some ways, so maybe I'll take a hiatus from that and concentrate my thoughts here. To celebrate, I'll post a review soon. Unfortunately, I can't post anything I've done recently, because my last two reviews were for Fiction Addict, and I can't re-post them per their rules. But you can go HERE and HERE to see them. WARNING: These are NOT biblical worldview fiction, but my next one will be. Pretty sure Opening Moves by Steven James will be the one. So happy reading!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adios, Blog--My One Word 2012

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, this blog will go inactive as of today. This will be my last post for an indeterminate amount of time, as other things have risen on my priority list and replaced keeping this monster going.

And so, here it is: My One Word 2012

What kind of person do I want to become this year? That's such a loaded question. There are so many things I'd like to be, so many things I want to do better, so many habits I want to get rid of. But my relationship with God is the center of all this, and if it's not growing, then I'm not really going to accomplish anything of worth. Any progress would be in my own strength, and that's not ideal or even acceptable.

I've been doing My One Word ever since the beginning in 2007. Some words have proved very fruitful in my life; others, not so much. But that wasn't the words' fault. It was my own. Often, I didn't keep focus as I should. But 2012 is a new year and I'm determined to deepen my walk with God through fully trusting Him. With every area of my life.

It seems so impossible. When I think of what I want to be and do, I think of what's holding me back. I think, “Why is it I don't do what I already know God has told me to do?” “What is holding me back?” The biggest answer to that is fear: fear of loss, discomfort, loneliness, rejection, death, sickness, aging, eternity. The list can go on.

But I know that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. It is wide and deep and long and unconditional. He holds me in His hand and will not let me go. I am chosen, sealed, kept. All things work together for my good.

So, what kind of person do I want to be? Someone at peace, not driven by fear, firmly planted in God's word and ready and willing to go and do whenever the Lord calls. I want to see the blessings of a close walk with God, not what I'm giving up or losing. I want to trust God with everything, not holding back because of I'm afraid of the consequences. I want to boldly move forward after hearing from God because I know His way is best and He loves me.

Is it scary? Absolutely. Can I do it? With God's help, yes. Will it take deliberate work? Yes. Will it be easy? No. Will it be rewarding? Yes. I have to do this—God has laid it on my heart. So here we go!

Jeremiah 17: 7, 8 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Pick your own My One Word here: My One Word

Friday, January 20, 2012

An Announcement, etc.

You know how life is...we have seasons where a certain thing is very important, when the time it demands from us is acceptable, enjoyable. But then activities are added and others have to be subtracted. I'm thinking it's time to let the blog go.

I will no longer be participating in the CSFF Blog tour (it's the only one I do anymore) because I'm too erratic with it and I don't think I'm helping the tour or the authors. I won't be reviewing books here anymore because I do that with Suspense Zone and Title Trakk. The only thing I will probably miss posting are my yearly updates on My One Word...which I am still thinking about this year but haven't decided on yet. I think that will be my last post for this blog.

I hate deleting things that have been online...I don't like thinking that people can't reference my reviews or other thoughts if they want to (even me, in case I can't find the file on my computer), so I'm leaving the blog up, at least for now. But it will be inactive, so don't expect to see any more posts, except one before the end of the month for MOW.

I'm going to try to commit to journaling more, for personal use, and then use FB for any important notes that I want friends to see. If anyone reads this and can think of a good reason to maintain my blog, please let me know. Since I'm not writing anymore, I don't see a web presence, at least with this venue, being too important. I do love the blog tours (I used to be a member of three), but with home schooling, church, bible study, and other things, I can't swing them anymore. I'm glad to at least still be reviewing occasionally for the aforementioned wonderful sites.

So yeah. Thanks for following and for reading, those of you who did.