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: