Saturday, November 22, 2014

shifters: manipulations available for free

Shifters: Manipulations

My story is available at Amazon for free for a few days, and you may consider this an invite to take a look at it, and let me know what you think.

Thanks, and I do hope you enjoy it.

Note: The free offer has now expired. To those who got a copy of the book, thanks, and again, I hope you enjoy it.

book review—Divine Summons by Rebecca P Minor

a bit disappointing

Things I liked:

The author does well at creating characters. Vinyanel, Veranna, and Majestrin are interesting characters, and the way they grate at each other and look after each other throughout the story is different than what is typical in these kinds of stories.

Things I didn't like:

The story felt rushed, and things happened that could have been better explained. For example, we learn early on that elves and dragons don't like each other, such that the dragon Majestrin does not at first accompany Vinyanel into the elven lands, but without any explanation the next time Vinyanel meets Majestrin is somewhere in elven lands, and little is made of it.

The way perspective was done was bothersome, too. Much of the book is from Vinyanel's first-person view, where Vinyanel is essentially telling the story, but there are times when the perspective changes characters, and then it goes to third-person.

And I was uncomfortable with how divine power is shown and used by the characters. For example, at one point Veranna says to Vinyanel "If there are to be any Miracles channeled on this mission, Young Windrider, they shall come through you." The idea of miracles being channeled through someone seems to be a pretty big departure from how God performed miracles in the Bible, and at least seems something more like how The Force is used in Star Wars. But God is not like The Force at all.

One part particularly irked me. Vinyanel finally has enough of Veranna's cryptic words and interferences, and tells her so. She's earned it, she's been a pain to him throughout the story, and his rebuke of her is sound, but for some reason he's treated like the one who did something wrong. I hardly see why Veranna, who's shown no small amount of pride at her position as some kind of prophetess, should not be subject to a well-earned rebuke when she needs it.


I recently read Beyond Price: a short story (The Windrider Canticles Book 1), a kind of prequel novella for this story, and thought it was pretty good, so I came to this story with some high expectations. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed. To repeat something I wrote earlier in the review, the story felt rushed, almost as if there were some need to jump from one action scene to another without much info about life in between. I would have liked, for example, to see how Vinyanel honored and mourned for his comrades who died in the first part of the book, an escape from some enemies. I might even have liked to know more about why they were doing what they were doing at that time, and why it went bad and so many lost their lives. I would have liked to know more about what Veranna was trying to teach Vinyanel. I would have liked to see more of the normal lives of these characters. I would have liked to see more of Veranna's difficulties as a half-elf in an elven city, which are touched on once but only very briefly. After "Beyond Price", I would have liked to see how Veranna became the prophetess she is in this story, what her training was, and how she was even accepted, given her mixed heritage.

It's not an awful book, there was certainly enough to keep my interest as a reader, but I guess I was still hoping for more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

book review—Spark by J.B. North

fairly good

Things I liked:

The overall story held together pretty well, I didn't notice any big discrepancies or contradictions. The idea of people changing forms into either real or mythical animals was an interesting one, and handled pretty well. The fantasy world was well-imagined. Ivy was a good protagonist, fairly sympathetic but also not so perfect as to be unbelievable. A lot happens, there are a few twists and turns, and overall the story kept my interest.

Things I didn't like:

The book could have used a more thorough editing and proofreading. There were some things that could have been better explained, such as the places the students went to in the tents—were they real places, places in their minds? That might better explain why Ivy succeeded at firing a bow on her first attempt at it in one of those worlds, while struggling to learn to do so in real life. The God talk was handled clumsily, we get little hint of anything religious in Ivy's life yet she ends up praying to some Lord at a couple of points late in the book.


I pretty well enjoyed this book. There are lots of good things here, but a few problems, too. Perhaps some things will be explained in later books of the series. I wait expectantly for the next book.

Friday, November 7, 2014

my newest foray into literature

A couple of years ago, I put toe into the literary world, kinda, sorta, in a really small sense. Today, I go in a bit more deeply

Shifters Book 1: Manipulations

I don't want to say too much about it at the moment, don't want to spoil anything :-). But I guess I'm a bit giddy over finally having this one up and available. Though I may not be the best judge of my own kinds of works like this, I think this one is pretty substantive, kinda funny in spots, very intense in others, and overall pretty good.

So, check out the page, and maybe read a copy of it. Any feedback, whether you think it's good or if you think it's not so good, would be welcomed.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

book review—The Global War on Christians by John L Allen Jr


Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

This isn't a book one necessarily enjoys. What the author writes about is sobering, disturbing, yet important. Though many US churchgoers might say that they know that there are places in the world where Christians suffer persecution, it is kept at a psychological distance, something “over there”. It isn't something believers in the US have much experience with.

But there may also be another reason why these accounts of suffering for Christ are kept at a distance. Where do accounts of people losing everything they have, even their own lives, fit into a religion whose biggest concern is having your best life now? In a theology that tries to spin the Christian life into one of constant adventure and fulfillment, do accounts of persecution promise too much adventure, or the wrong kind of adventure? What do accounts of people being social outcasts because of their Christian faith do to the popular teaching that God wants to help you to fulfill your dreams, land your dream job, have a great sex life?

It would be good for those whose regular diet of Christian reading is a steady feasting on the feel-good, shallow, it's all about me types of book so popular nowadays to read a book like this one, to provide a kind of balance to what they have been reading, and to get a glimpse of the cost many people pay for their faith.

Though I think this is a good book, I cannot completely agree with the author on everything.

Some of what he wrote about an “ecumenism of the martyrs” seemed off to me. Are we suppose to think that beliefs and creeds are unimportant, simply because people of various beliefs and even different religions have suffered persecutions? Though I appreciate that the author makes references to those persecutions from many different Christian faiths, are we suppose to pretend that the Reformation didn't happen because Catholic and non-Catholic believers suffer persecutions?

While I would agree that no one should be persecuted because of their religious beliefs, that is a far thing from necessarily endorsing anyone's religious beliefs, and I must kick against the notion that an ecumenical endorsement is necessary. The author mentions Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor whose imprisonment has become a cause celebre in many church circles. I would agree that Pastor Youcef should not be in prison simply because of his religious beliefs, and that Iran is wrong to imprison him for his religious beliefs. But the book also notes that Pastor Youcef has a Oneness view of God, and rejects the biblical teaching on the Trinity. Is it possible to support Pastor Youcef's freedom from unjust imprisonment, yet still say that his beliefs are aberrant or even heretical?

So, while I would recommend this book, and pretty strongly too, understand that my recommendation is not an endorsement for everything the author suggests.