Friday, May 31, 2013

Merlin's Blade: review/giveaway

Merlin's Blade, The Merlin Spiral, Robert Treskillard, Zondervan, Fantasy, April 16, 2013, 432 pages.

Synopsis: Merlin's Greatest Weakness Could Become His Greatest Strength 

When a meteorite crashes near a small village in fifth-century Britain, it brings with it a mysterious black stone that bewitches anyone who comes in contact with its glow---a power the druids hope to use to destroy King Uthur's kingdom, as well as the new Christian faith. The only person who seems immune is a young, shy, half-blind swordsmith's son named Merlin. 

As his family, village, and even the young Arthur, are placed in danger, Merlin must face his fears and his blindness to take hold of the role God ordained for him. But when he is surrounded by adversaries, armed only by a sword he helped forge, how will he save the girl he cherishes and rid Britain of this deadly evil ... without losing his life?

My thoughts: Upon hearing of this book before publication, I was hoping it wouldn't be a simple retelling of the classic Arthurian tale. I am happy to report that it is not. Instead, Treskillard brings the perspective a few steps back, beginning with the humble Merlin and his story. The language differences don't just make an appearance to keep things in perspective, they occur often enough to make the reader uncomfortable enough to figure out what they mean. Also, he steeps the events that happen (not just the atmosphere) in the time period. Families, leadership, and professions all reflect the age, but at the same time deftly shape the course of the story.

Considering the people, Treskillard often found ways of skirting the recent character norms and cliched views of the medieval setting. ::SPOILER:: The only weak point I found was Vortipor's engagement to Natalenya, which didn't amount to much. ::END SPOILER:: Merlin was crafted well, with carefully-chosen words, as were Owain, Garth, Uther, and Morganthu.

Merlin's Blade doesn't drag at all. The pace is set very well, and a great deal happens. It's lengthy, honest, and a pleasure to read. As for the story elements that make up the Arthurian legend, Treskillard has included them soundly in the lore of this series. Many items/characters don't show up immediately, or are only hinted at, but I have little doubt they will come further to light soon.

*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

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Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Jeff Chapman
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White

Monday, May 27, 2013

Captives information and giveaway!

Captives The Safe LandsCaptives is Jill Williamson's newest release from Zondervan/Blink, and I am holding a giveaway for a paperback copy! (for United States residents only)

Unfortunately, I am not yet able to construct a fair review, as I need to finish reading Captives, but that review will come up before the week is out.

Synopsis: One choice could destroy them all.
When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he’d find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many—including his fiancée, Jem–taken captive. Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.
Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Land has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.
Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only his people, but also find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone inside the Safe Lands.
Can Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Land’s façade before it’s too late?

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Want to buy Captives? Find it here!

Tour Participants:

ADD Librarian • Blooming with Books • Bookworm Reading • Chris Kolmorgen • Christian Book Review Blog • Christian Bookshelf Reviews • CTF Devourer • Emily Rachelle Writes • Heavenward Reviews • Jessica Laurie • Labor Not in Vain • The Life of a Teenage Writer • The Maniacal Bookworm • Mrs. Southern Bride • Oh, Restless Bird • Pages from My Journal • The Pen and Parchment • Rachelle Rea • The Ramblings of a Young Author • Realm of Hearts • Shadow Writer World • A Simple Life, Really?! • Surrendering All of Me • Terri Harr • Verbosity Book Reviews •Who YA Reading? • Worthy2Read • The Writings of Rosie 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Now You See Me (film)

Now You See Me

Synopsis: An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

Thoughts: It is very important to realize that this movie must not be spoiled. I will not be discussing anything not shown in the trailers, and I ask you not to go looking for such secrets online, but only by watching it yourself. This movie is designed to entertain, and to a degree it does just that.

I haven't seen many of Leterrier's films, but I enjoyed this about as much as The Incredible Hulk, but more than Clash of the Titans. There were still disappointments. Magic movies have been a great interest of mine, and from the trailer I had to wonder, does Michael Caine + woman in a tank = The Prestige? Truthfully, the similarities stopped there, including magic's screentime.

Despite magic taking up most of the trailers, it was too scarce in the film itself. I wanted more magic. I know that doing so would take screen time from Ruffalo, but he wasn't the best of the bunch. In fact, they were Freeman, Caine, and Laurent, respectively.

The screenwriting didn't allow for many to develop character well. The Four Horsemen were usually smooth-talking brick walls. And was that Dave Franco I saw? He had no screentime! (except for brief fancy dodging falling fighting)

These character holes would be acceptable if the movie were a large show. But as mentioned before, magic only came in smaller pieces, when at all. Some were amazing, some were old already, and some were hilarious.

It seems like I didn't appreciate the movie much, but I could only talk about what I didn't like. The rest, the secrets, I loved but can't talk about. Suffice it to say that many surprises are in store, and they're worth watching the movie for. That said, it's best to go in without guessing and predicting, because seeing the many reveals is where most of the entertainment lies. Don't spoil it for yourself.

This is a film some would be happier seeing in theatres, but if you don't think you'd spend ticket money for this, you'd probably regret it, so wait for dvd.

As a warning, there is a suggestive/inappropriate scene near the beginning that ends up going nowhere, but children's eyes should be turned aside. Also, there's a moment in a mardi gras parade that needs to be avoided, and minor language throughout. I'd recommend this movie for 17+, not only for these, but for the understanding of the secret material I can't bring up.

My rating: 7 stars

Sunday, May 12, 2013

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend, Colin Duriez, Lion Hudson, Biography, November 7, 2012, 192 pages.

Synopsis: Long before the successful The Lord of the Rings films, J.R.R. Tolkien’s creations, imagination, and characters had already captured the hearts and minds of millions of readers. But who was the man who dreamt up the intricate languages and perfectly crafted world of Middle-earth? Tolkien had a difficult life for many years—orphaned and poor, his guardian forbade him from communicating with the woman he had fallen in love with, and he also suffered through the horrors of World War I. An intensely private and brilliant scholar, he spent more than 50 years working on the languages, history, peoples, and geography of Middle-earth, with a consistent mythology and body of legends inspired by a formidable knowledge of early northern European history and culture. J.R.R. Tolkien became a legend by creating an imaginary world that has enthralled and delighted generations.

My thoughts: Do you pride yourself on knowing all you can about The Lord of the Rings? This book can teach you quite a bit about the one who knows more than any fan: Tolkien himself. From his early life to post-publication habits, a lot of material makes it into this small book. It is very concise, but still very enthralling to read. Duriez has a way with biographical words. Having written seven titles about members of the Inklings (five of which concerned Tolkien), and one on C.S. Lewis being released later this year, Duriez certainly proves a perfected knowledge of Tolkien's life and work, alongside those of the other Inkling members.

One of the best uses I've found for this book (beside learning of Tolkien's personal life) is the appreciation that comes with reading the amount of work he put into this world and the languages it holds. All the other work he performed in education (which was substantial), this was his primary focus, and this impresses me very much. I very much wish to read each of his works again after digesting this book. I suspect other readers will feel the same, and I urge them to find this book someday, whether it is before or after reading Tolkien.

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

My rating: 5 stars

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