Monday, December 27, 2010

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor, The Knights of Arrethtrae, Chuck Black, Fantasy Fiction, 2010, 189 pages

Synopsis: Two friends face the Dark Knight’s deadliest scheme, but only one knight has the courage to overcome.
Sir Quinlan leaves his boyhood friend to serve the Prince, fighting a battle darker and more intense than any he’s ever known. The mysterious Sir Baylor recruits him into the ranks of an elite unit of knights known as the Swords of Valor, but when tragedy strikes and everyone blames Quinlan, the Swords of Valor disband, ending a legacy of heroic deeds.
Alone and despairing, Quinlan wanders the kingdom, fleeing his past. His providential encounter with Taras, a mysterious Silent Warrior and former trainer of Valor Knights, offers Quinlan a chance to redeem himself and learn the ways of the secret warriors.

The training is grueling, and just when Quinlan seems to have left his failures behind, he receives an impossible challenge from the Prince—one that will force him to face his past…and the mighty men who blame him for the tragedy that ruined them.

Can Quinlan reunite the Valor Knights in time to save the people from the Dark Knight’s evil plot to rule the Kingdom of Arrethtrae, or will the Valor Knights lose the most important battle of all?

My thoughts: This is the first book by Chuck Black I have read. Considering that, I found the introduction of the "Life Spice" a little corny. ("...the King used the power of of the Life Spice to raise His Son from the dead.") To a non-believer, this may merely seem like a child's immediate solution to an invincible monster's killing of his favorite hero toy. But, if the Life Spice is explained sufficiently in previous books, the reader should not encounter this feeling.
  Coming back to my first encounter with Mr. Black's books, I liked it very much! I didn't need to foreknow anything to understand it; I felt as if I were reading the first volume. A medieval society is oft-used in fantasy fiction, but often works well for Christian allegory. Such is the case in this fifth volume. I also found it easy to lose myself in it; I read it in one day! The idea of an elite fighting force such as the Silent Warriors always excites and entices me. However, near the end of the book, about 9 months of training pased without enough detail. It seemed as if the story was under a deadline, and could have been developed more at that point. I was disappointed that Mr. Black hardly described the training procedures, as they are my favorite parts of medieval tales.
  The kingdoms of light and darkness, the paythas that brought on apathy, and fighting for the King and His Prince were all great themes! The characters were quite realistic, but after Quinlan's 9 months of training, he was greatly matured, but it felt too sudden for me.
  The conclusion to this story was very powerful! It portrays the 2nd coming of Christ, and leaves both Christians and unbelievers with a question: "Have you given your life to the King?" This question and the knightly lessons learned in Arrethtrae apply to the reverse of that land's name, our temporary home.

My rating: 4 stars

Please rate my review on the publisher's website! Thanks!

Upcoming reviews
  • Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
  • Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright
  • Masters & Slayers by Bryan Davis
This book was provided free by Waterbrook Multnomah. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.

Buy Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor
Check out more Medieval Fiction
Check out Mr. Black's website

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Class of '12 poem

Hannah at Eroica's Poetry wrote another poem, this one describing my school's current Junior students, and our past experiences there. There are inside jokes, beware :P

Two and a half years of looking ahead,
Waiting for better days, trekking time's thread
Faster than retrospect's focus can see—
Stop, fellow juniors, remember with me!

Pull out the yearbooks for memory's sake;
“Pause for a moment” and just take a break.
Yes, you had fun at least sometimes, admit;
Stop before life gets too good to forget!

Look at your baby face! Look at mine, too!
See all the faces of folks we once knew!
Seems it was ages ago since those days,
Yet it was yesterday, too, in some ways.

'Member the 2009 senior class,
Westerbeak's antics, Amanda's sweet sass?
'Member the president's speeches so strong?
'Member the Andersons, always in song?

How about Choir Tour's Canada trip,
Laughing at Christopher's "Honey Bun" hips?
Who would've thought—at one time long ago,
Sara wore glasses, and Emily, no?

We're missing faces: Miss Dougil's, Miss Ho's;
But how'd we survive without Donny, suppose?
Aw, SeƱor Connally, missed most of all!
Spanish and Latin were always a ball!

Now look at pictures from 2010;
Think of the memories from way back then!
Taking on staff in a volleyball spree,
Sitting rejected beneath a lone tree...

Look at the minuscule Class of '13
Back in their first year, when Rachel was queen!
(Though one might argue that Queen she still is.)
But no one beat Elsie the literature whiz!

High school, of life, is the best and worst time.
Enjoy it, therefore, while you're life's in its prime;
So when you're much older you'll look back with joy,
Quoting the favorite, “When I was a boy...”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Wisdom of Snow - Music Shuffle Tag

I was tagged by Prism at A Girl Of Many Colors and here are the tag rules:
  1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
  2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
  4. Tag 20 friends.
  5. Everyone tagged has to do the same thing.
  6. Have Fun!
Here are the questions!

If someone says "Are you okay?" you say
People by Barbra Streisand

What would best describe your personality?
Why Have You Brought Me Here? from the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack

How would you describe yourself?
Hold Fast by MercyMe
Could be...

What do you like in a guy/girl?
For What It's Worth by Sidewalk Prophets

How do you feel today?
Winter Wonderland by Jason Mraz
I don't really like this verson of the song, but I wish there was snow :)

What is your life's purpose?
Bring The Rain by MercyMe
Hmm, I hope I don't make others miserable...

What's Your Motto?
 Yo Hold The World by Israle Houghton
I am not sure if that's a typo; that's how it came. But, a good motto nonetheless!

What do your friends think of you?
Take Me Home-Country Roads by John Denver

What do your parents think of you?
Annie's Song by John Denver
Wow... If you've heard this you'll know...

What do you think about very often?
Old Rugged Cross by The O'Neill Brothers
Ooh, that's a good one!

What is 2 + 2?
Awake by Josh Groban
Hmm, ok...

What do you think of your best friend?
So She Dances by Josh Groban
Completely random choice lol!

What do you think of the person you like?
An Awakening by The O'Neill Brothers

What is your life story?
Time Floats On by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Hahaha! Sometimes it seems like it!

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Somos Novios (It's Impossible) by Andrea Bocelli
Hmm, I did dress up as Peter Pan last year...

What do you think when you see the person you like?
Magical Lasso from the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack

What will you do at your wedding?
Sanctified by MercyMe
Appropriate! I like it!

What will they play at your funeral?
O Come All Ye Faithful by Jeremy Horn

What is your hobby/interest?
Night Enchanted by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
0.o 0.o

What is your biggest fear?
Christmas Bells, Carousels & Time by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
A lie! :D

What is your biggest secret?
Ignition by Tobymac
Hmmm, I don't think so :P

What do you want right now?
See by Steven Curtis Chapman
I do have bad eyesight...

What do you think of your friends?
Christmas Concerto by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

What's the worst thing that could happen?
Best-kept Secret by Skillet
Uh-oh... :P

What is the one thing you regret?
Awake by Josh Groban
Yes, I love sleeping :D

What makes you laugh?
Half-Remembered Dream from the Inception soundtrack
Sometimes, yes!

What makes you cry?
Mercy by Casting Crowns

Will you ever get married?
Hold My Heart by Tenth Avenue North
Hmm, is that a yes?

What scares you the most?  
If we are the body by Casting Crowns

Does anyone like you?
Safest Way Into Tomorrow by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Not sure what that means...

If you could go back in time, what would you change?
Morning has broken by Michael Card
I like that song, but it doesn't apply here :P

What hurts right now?
That's All by Michael Buble

What would you want to say to the person who tagged you?
Uaxuctum: The Legend Of The Mayan City Which They Themselves Destroyed from the Shutter Island soundtrack

What will you name this post?
The Wisdom of Snow by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I first 20 followers! (discluding myself)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jacob Parker interview

Please welcome Jacob R. Parker, author of Kestrel's Midnight Song! (read my review here)

NA: What drew you to write fantasy fiction?

JP: I suppose it was a couple of different things. "Zelda: Ocarina of Time" first drew me to fantasy. I'm pretty sure that game tripled the size of my imagination. And with fiction, I've always been an avid reader. In grade school, we had a yearly short story contest that showed me how much fun writing fiction is.

NA:  What is unique in Kestrel’s Midnight Song compared to other fantasy fiction?

JP: That was one of my biggest goals in writing Kestrel's Midnight Song. I would rather take a leap of faith with an original work that ended up flopping than utilize a sure formula in order to become a runaway success. I'd like to think the plot is original. Nobody has been able to guess the big twist that I know of. Also, the main character never picks up a sword, and there is no magic.

NA: Where did this story idea come from?

JP: I was sitting in front of my computer literally thinking, "What should I write about?" Microsoft has this desktop background with the rolling green hills and blue sky. I imagined a shepherd boy journeying across that, which led to a bunch of questions I needed to answer. That was the genesis for Kestrel's Midnight Song, originally titled The Shepherd.

NA: Were there any smaller influences that came into the books?

JP: I wander through life with my inspiration detectors open as wide as possible. Anything and everything can strike me with an idea. For instance, I misspelled the word "warehouse" yesterday, which led to the idea of the "warhouse." You'll probably see exactly what that will be in my next book. ;)

NA: I can’t wait! What inspired you to create an Aegre Bird or a Caelum Flute, and where did you get those names?

JP: Both of those I created to fill the needs of the story. I didn't think of them at the time as one of those cool ideas that are just burning to be included in a story somewhere. "Aegre" is latin for "scary" and "caelum" is latin for "air" as far as I know.

NA: How long did it take you to piece together the plot?

JP: I let this story idea simmer in my brain for years before I even started writing it. And even then it changed as I went along. The moment I came up with the ending was one of the most thrilling I can remember.

NA: Which character was the hardest to write?

JP: Drift was the hardest character to write because I couldn't decide whether to make him an introvert or an extrovert. At different times in the story it was more convenient one way or the other. Ultimately I made him an introvert, obviously, but it took a lot of concentration to keep him that way.

NA: Which character was the easiest to write?

JP: Micah was the easiest to write. We have a lot in common, or did when I started writing at age 15, anyway. 60% of the time, he did and said what I would have. But he's different in several ways, too, especially now. We've grown apart, you could say...

NA: If you could be any character in your books, which would it be?

JP: I'm much too mean to my characters to want to trade places with any of them! Haha. Plus, one of the rules I made for myself in order to avoid making my book like others already out there, was to avoid wish fulfillment. When I started I felt like giving the characters special abilities and/or privileges was a cheaply used and common trick to get the reader into the story, so although I hope the reader cares deeply for the characters and their perils, I don't think anyone envies them. And that's not to say I won't use abilities and/or privileges in future books in some way or other.

NA: If your books were made into a movie, would you have any preferred actor, director, composer, etc?

JP: First of all, let me say that I would prefer a horrible movie adaptation to no adaptation, simply because it would still drive a lot of people to the book. Second, I would either want no say or a great deal of say. I wouldn't want to direct simply because I have no experience and haven't studied that, but being involved in the creative process and having the ability to offer input with some weight would be fun.

NA: Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?

JP: Hmmmm. My first novel attempt was in 4th grade. I flew to St. Louis to play the evil prince in the book trailer for To Darkness Fled, by Jill Williamson. I used to be an avid fisherman. I'd fish once every two weeks. Not terribly interesting, but that's what popped into my head!

NA: Awesome! Do you have a title, cover idea, or plot for the next book that you can share with us?

JP: Hmmm, only one other place on the internet has this info, but I will say that the tentative title is Balloon Hunter. That is all. Shhhh. ;)

NA: Hmmm. Do you have any other book plans or ideas after this series?

JP: Many, but I'll keep them close to my chest for now. Sorry!

NA: Do you have any advice to those writing or planning to write speculative fiction?

JP: I think the craft of writing fiction is too often overlooked. Reading fiction is great. Writing fiction is too. But eventually you have to study the nuts and bolts, just like everything. Pick up a good, non-fiction book on writing and learn from the masters.

NA: Thanks for sharing your time with us! God bless you and your writing!

Buy Kestrel's Midnight Song
Check out Jacob Parker's book site!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Do you own...?

I am looking for some readers who own the book The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead, because I have 5 extra book plates signed by the author, and I am willing to give them out to anyone who wants them. (1 per person) Just comment here, or email me if you know my email :P The first five who "sign up" get them, so hurry!

Mend Mark mayhem

So, there has been a lot of confusion about the Mend Mark giveaway. There were only four people who entered, and I have already emailed three, and none responded, so I am going to offer it to the last enter-er, Ronda. I will email you, and you have one week to respond. If I don't get a response, I will not bother to hold another giveaway for it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Giveaway winner

The winners of this giveaway have been determined (through! Without further ado, congrats to... (hint: highlight) I will email you soon for your mailing addresses.

David W. and Angela!

Marlayne Giron interview


Please welcome Marlayne Giron, author of The Victor! (read my review here)

NA: What drew you to write Christian fantasy?

MG: It wasn't a conscious decision. I was inspired for the idea for the story by an Amy Grant song from 30 years ago called "Fairytale". I love medieval stories and all the old classic fairytales.  The verse in the song which inspired me was: "...two princes wage the battle for eternity but The Victor has been known from the start..." An image of Jesus in shining armor crossing swords with a black knight (Satan) over the "bride of Christ" popped into my head.   I never aspired to be an "author"; I was mainly concerned about The Victor someday making it into print because I truly believe the idea came from God (and confirmed with a scripture - Psalm 45:1) in the hopes it could be used to introduce the Gospel to others who were like me. I didn't want to go to church, had no interest in reading the Bible and didn't like being witnessed to.  As a nonreligious Jew God was able to use a television movie ("Jesus of Nazareth") back in 1977 to open my eyes to the truth of the Gospel whereas before I had absolutely no interest in religion, much less Christianity. The emotional impact of that television movie changed my life forever.

NA: What is unique in The Victor compared to other fantasy fiction?

MG: It is a blatant retelling of the fall of Satan, the fall of man and the Gospel in the genre of a medieval fantasy fiction but if you didn't know the Bible you wouldn't be able to tell. There is no mention of God or religion, and no "preaching" but the story has the reader on the side of the protagonist (Joshua).  It is also end-noted with over 65 scripture references for anyone curious enough to look them up. It was written for the nonreligious market.

bookcover1NA: Were there any books that you read that became inspiration or interest
in the genre?

MG: Of course, although it sounds so cliche but definitely Lord of the Rings. It remains my favorite book of all time to this day.

NA: Were there any smaller influences that found their way into your writing?

MG: Yes, all the old classic swashbuckling movies of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s with Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, etc. Those who are familiar with the movie The Court Jester with Danny Kaye may recognize a few things here and there.

NA: Have you ever eaten anything like an almond cake?

MG: I based my description of Prunella's almond cakes on an actual pastry that is made by Antonello's in South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, CA). I have a blog on my website about it and the pastry chef, Massimo, tells me that people have come in asking to buy a lot of them because of my book. Blog link:

NA: Which character was the hardest to write?

MG: Joshua because he represents a perfect being and they can come off flat and uninteresting.

NA: Which character was the easiest to write?

MG: I had the most fun with Penloth Estaban, Captain of the Guard. He's larger than life with a wicked sense of humor but at the same time very protective of his younger brother, Penlorian. As many authors will tell you, after a while the characters begin to "write themselves" and he was definitely one of them.

NA: If you could be any person in your books, who would it be?

MG: Well if you really about it I already am...Llyonesse (who represents the bride).

NA: If The Victor were made into a movie, would you have any preferred
actor, director, composer, etc?

MG: Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis, Spielberg, Lucas. I already know that I want Gerard Butler to play Penloth. Composer: John Williams, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, or Howard Shore.

NA: Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?

MG:  I never went to college, I used to compete in ice-skating and I'm a frustrated interior decorator.

NA: Do you have any other book plans or ideas?

MG: I am currently compiling a bunch of short "wish fulfillment" stories for Nanowrimo.  They are 2-5 page short stories I have written for others as gifts where they star as the main character in their own story . It will be called "Star Light, Star Bright" after the classic wishing upon a star poem.

NA: Do you have any advice to those writing or planning to write Christian fantasy fiction?

MG: Read a lot of similar books, belong to a critique group and never give up on your dream.

NA: Thank you for spending this time with us! It was great to have you! May God bless you and your writing!

Buy The Victor
Check out Mrs. Giron's website!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Flight Plan

Synopsis: A life of greater possibilities, potentials and passions awaits the emerging young man. Flight Plan is a resource and source of instruction and encouragement for boys, their parents, and other adults who work with boys. This book is written with the aim of offering boys a vision and definition of manhood before they get there, a framework for considering the challenges of adolescence, and tools and strategies for making healthy and appropriate choices during those years.

My thoughts: All homeschoolers and most others should know what I mean when I say this is similar to A Beka health textbook. It gives the facts straight out, and then applies them to daily life. A warning though, at times these facts can be pretty detailed and the parent ought to look over the book first. The questions after each chapter are quite general, but still personal. An excellent feature I found is this: Many quotes listed were from popular figures in society, such as Michael Jordan, Leonardo De Caprio, and George Lucas, but also from prominent and wise leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, and C.S. Lewis. All the flight metaphors and stories were cool as well.

*I received this book free from TBB Media. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.*

My rating: 4 stars.

Buy Flight Plan

Upcoming reviews:
  • The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin
  • Masters & Slayers by Bryan Davis

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

City of Tranquil Light

 City of Tranquil Light, Bo Caldwell, Henry Holt, Fiction, 2010, 287 pages.

Synopsis: Will Kiehn is an “ordinary man,” seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest, when, having felt a call from God, he moves to the vast North China Plain in 1906. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine, who is also a dedicated nurse.
    Early in their marriage Will and Katherine find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty, which plunges the country into years of civil war. As they work to improve the lives of the people in Kuang P’ing Ch’eng-City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love-they face hardships they could not have imagined: a personal loss that shakes them both to the core, the constant threat of bandits, the physical dangers and tragedies of warlord China. But while they are continually tested both spiritually and physically, they are also rewarded in ways that leave them forever changed.
    Told through Will and Katherine’s alternating viewpoints-and inspired by the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents-
City of Tranquil Light is a tender and elegiac portrait of a young marriage set against the backdrop of a beautiful but torn nation. A deeply spiritual book, it shows how those who work to teach others often have the most to learn and is further evidence that Bo Caldwell writes “vividly and with great historical perspective” (San Jose Mercury News).

My thoughts: I am starting to enjoy this kind of book. A fiction written about the author’s missionary grandparents is an appealing subject. I love to learn about other countries and cultures, and this showed me much about China. It was eloquently described as a graceful yet often tragic land, filled with many tales of abundance, famine, beauty, and loss. The characters were tangible, filled with longing, regret, and compassion. I will certainly add Caldwell’s other book (The Distant Land of My Father) to my reading list. The only disappointment I had was the lack of an account of major events included in the book sans fictional details.

My rating: 4 stars

I received this book free from TBB Media. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.

Buy City of Tranquil Light

Upcoming reviews
  • Flight Plan by Lee Burns and Braxton Brady
  • Masters & Slayers by Bryan Davis

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

November Stats

Here is the November stat post. I forgot the October one, so I will just compare with September.

Followers: 70 in September and 95 now!
Pageviews: 1,836 in Sept. and 3,765 now!
Unique visitors: 985 in Sept. and 1,566 now!
Top referral sites:
  1. (50)
  2. (12)
  3. (12)
  4. (6)
  5. (5)
 Pageviews by country:
  1. United States - 654
  2. Canada - 51
  3. Georgia - 37
  4. South Korea - 23
  5. Germany - 21
  6. Latvia - 14
  7. Russia - 9
  8. United Kingdom - 6
  9. Netherlands - 6
  10. South Africa - 5

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Star Curiously Singing giveaway

Christian Fiction Book Reviews is giving away a copy of Kerry Nietz's speculative fiction A Star Curiously Singing! Older readers know that this is one of my big recommendations! Hurry, this giveaway ends December 4th!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guess what!

Recently there was a little mix-up with Living Ink Books' blogger review program, and they sent me a copy of Sword in the Stars, along with another book I had requested. So, do you know what that means? It means one more person is going to win!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sword in the Stars

The Sword in the StarsSword in the Stars, The Dark Sea Annals, Wayne Thomas Batson, Fantasy/Fiction, Living Ink Books, 2010, 426 pages.

Synopsis: Haunted by memories of a violent past, Alastair Coldhollow wagers his life on the hope that a sword will appear in the stars and the foretold Halfainin, the Pathwalker, would come. Meanwhile, tensions simmer between Anglinore and the murderous Gorrack Nation, threatening war on a cataclysmic scale. The fate of all could rest on an abandoned child and the decisions of those who desperately seek to identify him.

My thoughts: [a few spoilers present]

I read the synopsis shown above, and I was thoroughly overwhelmed with information. I could not get a grasp on where the plot would be going, there were just too many unfamiliar names. However, when I started reading, it didn’t overwhelm me at all. It introduced everything unfamiliar quite steadily and easily.

Alastair was quite a complex character. First, there was his assassin side during his service under Morlan, then there were his Caller days searching for the Halfainin, but fighting an addiction to Witchdrale, an evil drink. He has his victories, and he has his failures, and by means is no perfect man. Abbagael, however, did not seem to have many faults. There is one scene where she is skilled at sneaking like a thief, but that is no indication. She was a good mother, a forgiving and understanding wife, and she seems too perfect.

The story is like Batson’s others in quality, and did have a similarity with another book of his, The Curse of the Spider King, in which the protagonists find a secret race and rescue one of them, and thus are honored with friendship. The same happens in this book, when Alastair and Abbagael rescue a creature, which then leads them to a hidden society, where they are honored. There does not seem to be much else that is similar.

There are lots of unique terms to the book, like “month” names, but they can easily be ignored if confusing. In one part of the book, Batson used letters to explain the events over 9 years, and I found that to be a cool effect! However, in one of the letters, it is said that two (semi-unimportant) characters died, but they show up once after the letter alive. The biggest thing I felt that lacked in the book is intensity. Risk and suspense were there, but they didn’t seem to affect me that much. I was able to put the book down quite a few times without extreme regret. Maybe that was just my mood at the time.

My rating: 4 stars

Upcoming reviews
  • City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
  • Flight Plan by Lee Burns and Braxton Brady
Buy Sword in the Stars

Friday, November 26, 2010

Today's the Day! (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

Well, today is the blogoversary! It's been one whole year of excitement and fun, but also of trials and errors. Thank you for reading through the latter times, and coming back. Thank you for helping to shape this blog and make it better and better each month. I hope you continue to read, criticize, and find new books!

As for the giveaway I mentioned, that is below.
I am giving away a copy of Wayne Thomas Batson's newest book, Sword in the Stars, the first in the Dark Sea Annals! I am about half-way through the book, and I must say, it's really good so far! So, here are the rules:

Any comments should include an email in no-spam form. [johndoe(at)example(dot)com]
Open to U.S. and Canada residents only.
  1. You must do this to be eligible for any other points. You can follow this blog. A follower widget should be located on the blog's sidebar. (earns 1 entry)
  2. You can post about this giveaway on your blog. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a week. (earns 2 entries)
  3. You can tweet with a link to this post. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a day (earns 1 entry each)
  4. You can add my blog button (located on my sidebar) to your site. Comment MUST have a link. (earns 2 entries)
  5. You can read any of my reviews or interviews on this blog and comment on it. (earns 1 entry each)
  6. You may link to this giveaway on facebook. Comments do not have to have links. However, you must send me an image of your status. My email is manuscriptna(at)gmail(dot)com. Limited to once a day. (earns 1 entry each)
This giveaway ends Saturday December 11th, 11:59 PM PST

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mend Mark News

Well, it seems the previous winner did not respond to the email, so I picked a new one. The newest winner is Cindy W! Congrats! I will be emailing you shortly. You have a week to respond before I pick another winner. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Leighton Hajicek, Christian Miles, Jon Maiocco, and Jacob Parker, and others (see end credits) have put together a book trailer for Christian fantasy author Jill Williamson's book To Darkness Fled, the second volume in her Blood of Kings Trilogy. They did a fantastic job! Check it out!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Heaven Is For Real

Heaven Is For Real, Todd Burpo, Nonfiction, Thomas Nelson, 2010, 163 pages.


    When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren’t expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed-a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy’s trip to heaven and back.
    Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery-and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born. He also astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read.
    With disarming innocence and the plainspoken boldness of a child, Colton tells of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus, the angels, how “really,
really big” God is, and how much God loves us. Retold by his father, but using Colton’s uniquely simple words, Heaven Is For Real offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.”
Heaven Is For Real will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering us the chance to see, and believe, like a child.

My thoughts: I try to be wary among this type of story. If it is false, it could give us a false impression and assumption if we believe it. However, I do not yet see any reason to interpret this as false, as the evidence (if recounted correctly) supports the experience. If true, this story is great motivation for any believer in any number of situations!

*I received this book free from Booksneeze. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.*

My rating: 5 stars

Buy Heaven Is For Real
Check out more Christian nonfiction>

 Upcoming reviews
  • City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
  • Sword in the Stars by Wayne Thomas Batson

    The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask

    Cover: The Questions Christians Hope No One Will AskThe Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, Mark Mittelberg, Nonfiction, Tyndale, 2010, 325 pages.


    Are there questions you dread being asked?

        Maybe you dread asking them even of yourself. They’re the ones on subjects such as hell, homosexuality, or suffering.
        Through a national poll conducted by The Barna Group, Mark Mittelberg uncovered the questions Christians most fear being asked.
        Complete with discussion questions, Mark’s book will help you meet today’s hot-button issues head on.

    My thoughts: This book provides thorough, general (and specific) answers to these top ten questions we fear to be asked. Each answer is backed up by Scripture, has a shortened version, tips for talking about each issue with unbelievers, and discussion questions. I will definitely use this as a reference if ever put in such a situation!

    My rating: 4 stars

    Buy The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask
    Check out more Christian Nonfiction

    Upcoming reviews:
    • Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo
    • City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
    I received this book free from Tyndale. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

    Dream chair!

    How I wish I owned this chair!

    Kristen Wisen giveaway winners!

    Here are how the point standings turned out:

    Miss Raquel: 200
    Millard: 200
    Marjorie: 200
    Apple Blossom: 200
    Ronda: 200
    Barbjan10: 300

    Congrats Barbjan10, you are the first-place winner! I will email you soon! Since the rest tied for second, I had to once more use second winner is Millard! Congratulations to the two of you! Thank you to all who entered!

    Friday, November 19, 2010


    As some of you may have noticed, this blog's blogoversary is coming up! 1 year!!!! It is hard to believe that this blog has seen so much growth! (and to think I hadn't originally intended to write reviews!) Thank you to all you followers and readers! To celebrate, I am going to be giving away a book! (details later :P)

    Saturday, November 13, 2010


    I just wanted to post a reminder that my Kristen Wisen two-book giveaway is ending tonight at 11:59 PST. Here is the link:

    Superlative Stream giveaway

    NAF (New Author's Fellowship) is giving away a copy of Kerry Nietz's book The Superlative Stream here: Just comment on the post to enter. Please say Noah sent you!

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    New Mend Mark winner!

    The previous winner, Millard, has graciously allowed someone else to get the prize! So... the real winner is Rubynreba! Congratulations!! I will email you for your mailing address, and you will have 24 hours from then to respond, or I will pick another winner. Thank you again to all who participated!

    Mend Mark Winner

    Congratulations to the winner, Millard! I will email you for your mailing address soon! To everyone else, thank you for participating!

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Imagist Poem

    "What is an Imagist poet?" you may wonder. An Imagist poet is a poet who basically ignores all the older poetic conventions and makes it less orderly, with even less meaning. Here is an example of one: Ezra Pound's In A Station Of The Metro: 

    "The apparition of these faces in the crowd,
    Petals on a wet, black bough."

    Hannah, a friend of mine, ( wrote a poem about this:

    If I were Ezra Pound, I would perplex
    My readers' minds with language too complex
    For anyone (save Eliot perhaps)
    To comprehend. I'd say that maps
    Are like a daisy, and each moldy twig
    A person; that the ocean wide and big
    Is like a steel grey nail; and nature 'round
    Is like to me as sushi—were I Pound.

    I could go on: America's a stone,
    And postcards are like ants, as well it's known;
    A curly straw is like unto a storm;
    And bicycles are arguments in form.
    If I were Ezra Pound I would reject
    All styles invoking sense that I project
    Aught but an image; screw your rhyme,
    I'll make my own new rhythm, beat and time!

    Like math, it all makes sense until I think;
    Then, all my brains confused, I start to blink.

    You mustn't think of old as always bad
    Or throw away convention for a fad;
    Sometimes what's old is only old because
    It's stood the test of time. That famous clause
    Of Alexander Pope just goes to show
    That “old” is sometimes best (as smart folks know!):
    “Be not the first by whom the new is tried,
    Nor yet the last to lay the old aside!”

    Writing "Saturday"

    Here is my next late writing project. A few weeks ago, I posted a sonnet I was working on. ( Since then, I have revised and completed it:

    Prosperity Vs. Emptiness
    His home bedecked with muted velvet red,
    With cherry oak adorning every wall,
    He sups each morn on warm French bread,
    Some nights, with wine and port, he won‘t recall.
    Three quarters after noon he grinds and saws
    A screeching tune upon his violin;
    His neighbors cower from the frequent flaws.
    His guests’ disgust would never raise chagrin.
    Yet in his shadow lives an older smith,
    Whose only tune is that of ringing steel.
    To him, an empty table is no myth;
    His ancient, barren walls have no appeal.
        But when considered on an inward scope,
        His life is full of happiness and hope!

    Another World

    Another World, Philip Stott, Nordskog Publishing, Christian historical (speculative) fiction, March 30, 2010, 284 pages.

    Here is Nordskog’s synopsis of the book:

    An action-filled novel that combines Biblical and scientific themes with heart-racing adventure. Traveling by mag-sled, Japh overnights in a bronto-infested floating forest. A scream in the night, a sudden devastating crash of devastation, and flight becomes the only option, beginning a stunning chain of events which will change not only his life, but the entire course of history. At every turn, evil has flooded the earth. Unbridled deceit, immorality, murder, and mayhem leave the godly remnant in dire straights with constant peril the only certainty. As the earth is shaken, its very survival and the fate of humanity hang in the balance.

    My thoughts: When I first heard about this book, I found the idea of a speculative/historical take on my Biblical namesake appealing.

    Pros: There wasn’t much graphic material, though what is present is necessary to get the idea across. Many of it’s speculations actually are plausible and based off of research! The appendix was very helpful in explaining.

    Cons: The science fiction/speculation part could have used more development; it stuck mainly to one or two kinds of technology. There wasn’t very much plot to the book. It was just small foreshadowings of the flood held together by various examples of the world’s pervading immorality, then ending with the actual flood. The characters were quite shallow, especially the numerous antagonists.

    I must say I am sorry I rushed into a giveaway before knowing the quality of the book.

    My rating: 2 stars.

    Upcoming reviews
    • The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask by Mark Mittelberg
    • Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo
    Buy Another World
    Check out more Sci-fi/Fantasy!

    I received this book free from Pump Up Your Book promotions. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    The Skin Map

    Skin Map (Bright Empires) (Hardcover)The Skin Map, A Bright Empires Novel, Stephen R. Lawhead, Thomas Nelson, Fiction/Fantasy, 2010, 403 pages.

    Thank you to the CSFF Blog Tour for allowing me to participate in this tour, even though I was not ready in time.


    It is the ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure.

    Chasing a map tattooed on human skin, across an omniverse of intersecting realities, to unravel the future of the future.

    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 use 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.

    My thoughts: This was a somewhat enjoyable story. The plot was quite unique, but I was expecting a smorgasbord of different worlds, while the worlds were just like ours. The characters were developed moderately well (Wilhelmina the most), but Lady Fayth just confused me, showing one temperament in one moment and another in the next. The only thing I thought made the book quite enjoyable was Lawhead’s use of description. He uses fine, unexpected adjectives that appeal to all your senses. The best instance of this was the scene introducing Wu Chen Hu, the tattoo artist. The enemy’s being in one world and another at the same time became a bit confusing, along with his differing attitudes. And finally, the grand purpose of this Skin Map was only revealed at the end, and I believe that leaves the reader anticipating nothing but drama until then. The only mention of Christianity I found were a few references in random conversations.

    *This book was provided free by the CSFF Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.*

    My rating: 3 stars.

    Check out the author's website
    Buy The Skin Map
    Check out more Fantasy Fiction!

    Upcoming reviews
    • The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask by Mark Mittelburg
    • Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo
    Here are the other Skin Map tour participants:
    Red Bissell
    Thomas Clayton Booher
    Keanan Brand
    Grace Bridges
    Beckie Burnham
    Morgan L. Busse
    Jeff Chapman
    Christian Fiction Book Reviews
    Valerie Comer
    Karri Compton
    Amy Cruson
    CSFF Blog Tour
    Stacey Dale
    D. G. D. Davidson
    George Duncan
    April Erwin
    Tori Greene
    Ryan Heart
    Bruce Hennigan
    Timothy Hicks
    Christopher Hopper
    Becky Jesse
    Cris Jesse
    Becca Johnson
    Jason Joyner
    Carol Keen
    Krystine Kercher
    Shannon McDermott
    Allen McGraw
    Matt Mikalatos
    Rebecca LuElla Miller
    John W. Otte
    Gavin Patchett
    Sarah Sawyer
    Chawna Schroeder
    Kathleen Smith
    Rachel Starr Thomson
    Donna Swanson
    Robert Treskillard
    Steve Trower
    Fred Warren
    Dona Watson
    Phyllis Wheeler
    Nicole White
    Elizabeth Williams
    Dave Wilson

    Almost Heaven

    Almost Heaven (Paperback)Almost Heaven, Chris Fabry, Tyndale House Publishers, Fiction, 2010, 385 pages.


    Some people say Billy Allman has a heart of gold. Others say he’s a bit odd. The truth is, they’re all right. He’s a hillbilly genius-a collector, a radio whiz-and he can make the mandolin sing. Though he dreams of making an impact on the world beyond the hills and hollers of Dogwood, West Virginia, things just always seem to go wrong.
    But however insignificant Billy’s life seems, it has not gone unnoticed. Malachi is an angel sent to observe and protect Billy. Though it’s not his dream assignment, Malachi slowly begins to see the bigger picture-that each step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful song that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

    My thoughts: I’ll say right off that I don’t read many books in this genre. What drew me in was the idea of an angel being part of the story. This angel, Malachi, often didn’t do quite what I expected (fight many supernatural battles with demons, like in Frank Peretti's fiction This Present Darkness), but rather opted to reflect upon the human life and sinful nature. This was actually quite similar to C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, only told from the viewpoint of an angel rather than a demon. By the time I realized this wasn’t going to packed full of battles involving higher beings, I was quite entranced by Chris Fabry’s cohesive writing and portrait of Billy Allman. Billy is a musical, kind-hearted person who frequently seeks to benefit someone else. However, he is definitely human, and thus not perfect. Sometimes he becomes selfish, and other times ignorant, but he later returns to the fact that Christ alone can and will forgive. Fabry’s characters live and breathe so well that each time they do so, a page turns. I was fantastically drawn into their lives.

    *This book was provided free from Glass Road PR. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.*

    My rating: A well-earned 5 stars!

    Buy Almost Heaven
    Check out more Christian fiction!

    Upcoming reviews
    • The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
    • The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask by Mark Mittelburg

    Giveaway extended

    I have been busy moving for the last week or two, so I haven't had a chance to end the Mend Mark giveaway. To make it fair, I will end the giveaway at 11:59  PM PST tomorrow. I will announce the winner Sunday, if God permits. Here is the link to the giveaway:

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Another World winner!

    The giveaway winner has been determined! Congratulations... Nancye, You have won!! I will email you, and you have 24 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Kristen Wisen giveaway! (CLOSED)

    Yes, another giveaway!! This time, a friend has graciously provided me with each of end times author Kristen Wisen's books, The Appearing and Overcomer. (Thanks Mrs. Hall!) You can read my review of The Appearing here: Kristen Wisen comes from the pre-wrath viewpoint.
    Here are the rules:

    Open to the U.S. and Canada.

    This is a points-based giveaway. Two winners will be chosen. The first place winner will get the first pick, and so on. 

    Any comments should include an email in no-spam form. [john(at)example(dot)com]
    1. You must do this to be eligible for any other points. You can follow this blog. A follower widget should be located on the blog's sidebar. (earns 200 points)
    2. You can post about this giveaway on your blog. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a week. (earns 100 points each)
    3. You can tweet with a link to this post. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a day (earns 50 points each)
    4. You can add my blog button (located on my sidebar) to your site. Comment MUST have a link. (earns 150 points)
    5. You can read any of my reviews (update: or interviews) on this blog and comment on it. (earns 50 points each)
    6. You may link to this giveaway on facebook. Update! Comments do not have to have links. However, you must send me an image of your status. My email is manuscriptna(at)gmail(dot)com. Limited to once a day. (earns 50 points)
    This giveaway will end November 13th.

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