Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sound of October

This blog is all about stories, and to make it well-rounded, I'd like to share with you more stories, but in another way. This month, I'd like to bring you a three-dimensional experience: Sight, in the form of eager words. Touch, in the form of pitted pages. And now, Sound, a story in itself, yet perfectly complimenting romping characters and spreading expanses when they appear, furthering the mind's dream. Boasting of many forms, these Sounds will delight the imagination and capture you in their mystery. A mosaic, if you will, simply adorning the writing, which adorns Someone much greater.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located
will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them,and what came through them was longing. 

These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we
really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,breaking the hearts of their worshippers.

For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

~C.S. Lewis

Enjoy the Sound of October.

October 2012 by Noah Arsenault on Grooveshark

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: The Telling

The Telling, Mike Duran, Realms, Speculative Fiction/Suspense, May 15, 2012, 304 pages.


A prophet never loses his calling, only his way.

Disfigured with a hideous scar from his stepmother, Zeph Walker lives his life in seclusion, cloistering himself in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of town. But Zeph is also blessed with a gift—an uncanny ability to foresee the future,to know peoples’ deepest sins and secrets. He calls it the Telling, but he has abandoned this gift to a life of solitude, unbelief, and despair—until two detectives escort him to the county morgue where he finds his own body lying on the gurney.
On the northern fringes of Death Valley, the city of Endurance is home to llama ranches, abandoned mines, roadside attractions...and the mythical ninth gate of hell. 

Now, forced to investigate his own murder, Zeph discovers something even more insidious behind the urban legends and small-town eccentricities. Early miners unearthed a megalitha sacred site where spiritual and physical forces converge and where an ancient subterranean presence broods. And only Zeph can stop it.

But the scar on Zeph’s face is nothing compared to the wound on his soul. For not only has he abandoned his gift and renounced heaven, but it was his own silence that spawned the evil. Can he overcome his own despair in time to seal the ninth gate of hell? 

His words unlocked something deadly,
And now the silence is killing them.

My thoughts: This is one of the best suspense books I've read in a long while. It is quite unique how Mr. Duran forms the story, driven by a curious merging of character and plot concept. The idea behind the story revolves around Zeph, the Prophet, yet uses his journey to push everything forward.

Something I enjoy about Duran's writing is that he takes risks. Taking advantage of the speculative genre, he had previously ventured into the area of healing power, and now he gives us a volume concerning a prophet. With many risk-free books out there, it's good to see a different and better approach.

A neat parallel in the story is the careful observation of people suspected of not being their own selves. Throughout the book, Zeph is running from who he was as a child, not looking back, not accepting his God-given station. He is fixated on the present, hoping to remain unnoticed, until he is sought out by his calling.

The suspense portion of The Telling truly had me on edge. I never knew what the exact outcome would be, and that made it very enjoyable. **SPOILER ALERT** The fact that Zeph could not do anything on his own was surprising, but very accurate. He needed help, first from God, and second from Little Weaver. This accurately shows our human nature and the untold grace of our Lord in pulling us up over mountains. **END SPOILER**

In conclusion, Duran's risky speculative writing has earned credit in my book, and his intense plot and character building are great reasons to look out for future releases!

*This book was provided free by the publisher, in conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.*

My rating: 5 stars

Monday, September 10, 2012

Evan Angler on Music

Here is a "guest post" by Evan Angler!

Evan Angler’s Infinite Playlist

Music, I think, is an important pillar of the creative mind. And as an author, it’s an equally important part of any book. It doesn’t matter what the writing is about, and it doesn’t matter what the story is; writing is music. Our words have rhythms and cadence, our sentences make melodic lines. There are fast sections, slow sections, loud paragraphs, quiet paragraphs. Good writing, for me, lights up my brain much like good music does.
This relationship, of course, goes both ways. If writing informs music, then it stands to reason that music must also inform writing. Certainly, I’ve found this in my own experience. With my first book, SWIPE, I wrote almost everything either in the dark, or on the run, in the motion of electrobuses and boxcars, with my hood up and my oversized headphones on. For some of that time, indeed, my focus demanded quiet. But for much of my writing and drafting and thinking, I was immersed in a blanket of music. Loud music. And I found that its genre dictated the writing’s tone. With SWIPE, my musical selections often gravitated toward electroclash, a genre I didn’t even know existed until I found myself craving it for the underscore of SWIPE’s scenes. Often, I’d play the music so loud that I needed to stuff my ears with tissue paper, because I liked the feel of the heavy beats hitting my brain, pushing me forward, relentless, unforgiving…. The gritty, electronic timbre of the music just seemed to belong with the tech-filled but flawed world of the American Union, and the energy conveyed by that music–both in the faster and in the more somber selections–captured for me the sense of foreboding, anxiety, excitement and, ultimately, determination that Logan feels over the course of his journey.
SNEAK, on the other hand, called for a very different sort of sound. In trying to capture the setting and mood of the Unmarked River, I often found myself gravitating toward pre-Unity bluegrass and folk music, another genre that had never captured my attention–until I the writing called for it. The acoustic guitars, the banjos, the fiddles, the harmonies…in many ways, SNEAK is about the loneliness and uncertainty of venturing out on one’s own, of a search for simplicity and truth. In a world of high-tech stakes, the Dust’s journey through much of SNEAK is practically of a different era. Horse rides, hiking, camp fires, radios…after the events of SWIPE, Logan is truly an outcast, and there’s just no place  for him in the more modern world of the American Union. What better way to capture that then with the oldest traditions of music that American history has to offer? Bluegrass and folk, there’s nothing else like it.
The third book in the Swipe Series has yet another soundtrack altogether. I can’t wait for you to hear it, and to discover all that its soundscape implies. But that is a story for another day, and that is a playlist for another time….
So if you’ll excuse me, I have some headphones I need to find…


Sneak, Swipe Series, Evan Angler, Thomas Nelson, Action/Dystopian/Suspense, September 4, 2012, 288 pages.

Synopsis: In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care-but without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.

Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute.  Now he's on the run from government agents who will stop at nothing to capture him. But Logan is on a mission to find and save his sister, Lily, who disappeared five years ago on her thirteenth birthday, the day she was supposed to receive her Mark. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Tide of Unmaking

The Tide of Unmaking, The Berinfell Prophecies, Christopher Hopper, Wayne Thomas Batson, Spearhead Books, Fantasy, September 15, 2012, 511 pages.

Synopsis: Seven years have passed since the Lords of Berinfell - Tommy, Kat, Jimmy, Johnny, Autumn and Kiri Lee - watched the horror of Vesper Crag wash away, as well as their fallen kinsman, Jett Green. But with Grimwarden in exile, the realm of Berinfell finds itself ill-equipped to weather the coming storms. Kiri Lee begins to whisper of ghostly visitations. Taeva, Princess of the Taladrim, desperately seeks out the Elves of Berinfell to rescue her kingdom. And the genocidal Drefid Lord Asp launches his campaign to conquer Allyra. And Earth. But far worse still is a consuming terror on the horizon: an unstoppable force that threatens to devour all creation and all hope.

My thoughts: The Hopper/Batson duo has returned once again! After being shut down by Thomas Nelson, they have headed up copyrights, editing, and marketing all on their own, an impressive effort for such a large volume.

The Tide of Unmaking is definitely aimed at the 8-14 year range, but could be enjoyed by anyone. However, I found it to be populated with some corny lines (along with good ones, don't get me wrong) and (sans spoilers) a predictable plot. If that doesn't bother you, and if you haven't read much fantasy, you'll be surprised and really like it.

Plot and writing aside, the morality behind the book was very good. Many characters developed a lot further, but I couldn't relate to them as well as a younger audience would. Similarly, if secular readers were to pick this up, they would find "salt and light" sprinkled throughout.

In conclusion, this is a good book for younger readers, but not for an older audience looking for a new story.

My rating: 4 stars

*This ebook was provided free by the authors. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.*

Upcoming reviews
  • Sneak by Evan Angler
  • The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud
  • The Telling by Mike Duran

Of Dire Importance

They make their stance very clear, and I agree with them. I will do all I can. Will you?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Changing Address!

I'm changing this blog's URL, because I've needed to for a long time. Please note! There will not be a redirect link, so if you are not a friend of mine on facebook (where I'll post the new link), you'll need to send me an email at manuscriptna(at)gmail(dot)com asking for the new address. I'll leave this up for a few days, and then move.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Paper Angels

Paper Angels, Jimmy Wayne, Travis Thrasher, Howard Books, Fiction, November 1, 2011, 304 pages.

Synopsis: Kevin Morrell is a forty-three-year-old husband and father who runs a successful design and marketing firm that's crashed into the suffering economy. Attempting to navigate the busyness of the mall at Christmas, Kevin is humbled when he stumbles across the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Project. His wife insists that he take a paper ornament.

The name on the ornament is Thomas Brandt, a fifteen-year-old still reeling from the implosion of his family—from years of verbal abuse from an alcoholic father to a mother who finally left him behind, only to find herself and her children penniless and struggling. The only thing has allowed Lynn to survive is her faith. Thomas shares that faith, but he also wonders why God has seemingly abandoned them. 

This is the story about a man and a boy one December. A man whose life is changed by a simple expression of kindness, and a boy who takes that expression of kindness and shows the true meaning of Christmas.

My thoughts: If you're looking for a feel-good Christmas lead-up novel, this is a contender. While nothing is left in a "happily-ever-after" situation, the conditions certainly improve.

The characters are the strong points throughout (even though Thrasher gets his writing edge in), and produce most of the light shining between the pages. Kevin reminds us to "let go and let God," while Thomas exhibits a rare nature: forgiving and kind, even though neither are perfect.

On a final note, Paper Angels promotes a grateful, gracious, and generous nature to those who give it their time.

*This book was provided free by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.*

My rating: 3 stars

Upcoming reviews
  • The Tide of Unmaking by Christopher Hopper and Wayne Thomas Batson
  • Sneak by Evan Angler
  • The Telling by Mike Duran

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sound of September

This blog is all about stories, and to make it well-rounded, I'd like to share with you more stories, but in another way. To bring about a three-dimensional experience: Sight, in the form of eager words. Touch, in the form of pitted pages. And now, Sound, a story in itself, yet perfectly complimenting romping characters and spreading expanses when they appear, furthering the mind's dream. Boasting of many forms, these Sounds will delight the imagination and capture you in their mystery. A mosaic, if you will, simply adorning the writing.

Enjoy the Sound of September.