Featured Reviewer of the Month - SCI-FI
As avid readers know, you get pulled in many directions as far as genres are concerned. It's the same for a reviewer; I tend to find myself drawn into a genre and wanting to explore it exclusively for a while. Speculative Fiction is just such a juicy genre, especially Science Fiction and Fantasy. Spec-Fi encompasses Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and even Horror, and believe it or not you can find some great Christian Spec-Fi out there under all three sub-genres. As a blogging book reviewer, I really enjoying delving into Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels because they are more unpredictable than traditional narratives. When you are purely dependent on the author's creativity Spec-Fi can take you anywhere - on the adventure of a life time!
Whether joining in on a quest with a DragonKeeper, learning to spin threads of color to save people, playing a violin to repair the world(s), returning to a reality not your own to rescue family and save that alternate life, or even seeking out to collect the books of history to save all people, your eyes will be opened and hours of time will be enthralled with fascinating entertainment. There are even opportunities to join in on mystery with an ex-FBI agent, or thrill-seeking museum security consultant, and even possibly hang out with a woman who dreams of an evil spirit that people need rescue from in various ways. No matter what adventure you are craving, it is possible to be found, and one of the best parts of most Sci-fi is that there will be a sequel that will almost always be a million times better than the first installment.
This cluster of books may not be the one that you find filling your shelves in Christian Bookstores, or the Christian section of mega bookstores, but they are there if you look closely. There are many Spec-Fi books that I have found in the "general fiction" or actually the "sci-fi/fantasy" section that were under publishers that I knew to be affiliated with other Christian authors (Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, and Realms to name a few). Hopefully you will soon see them everywhere, thanks to the efforts of groups like Lost Genre Guild (www.lostgenreguild.com). There is so much to be explored within the genres of Speculative Fiction, so if you're ready to try something new, jump right in!
A good place to start would be with, my favorite, the works of Stephen R. Lawhead. Since the early 1980's Lawhead has been providing fans with various stories of celtic origin with realities and characters you have to read to believe. The latest series of Lawhead's genius is a retelling and altered version of Robin Hood including three titles of Hood, Scarlet, and coming 2009 Tuck. The exciting part that makes this series new and fun is that here the English folklore hero is not is Nottingham, but in the Welsh Marsh woodlands. The characters are not quite those that you know, but then at the same time hints of them appear. So far I have been blessed to have read Hood and Scarlet, and I cannot begin to tell you how eager I am for Tuck. I have already put in my order for it!
This book was really enjoyable. It was my first Lawhead book and I think I will look for the sequels and possible other series of his as well. Every once in a while there was a monologue of a character's thoughts on their past and I hated it and love it at the same time. Part of me would just want to get past it so I could get back to the action and events in the story, while at the same time it was interesting and fairly important to understanding the character, the events, and to find empathy. This is a more realistic version of the fantasy Robin Hood than most others you find and I love it. I really enjoyed how it was not dumbed down to perfection and happily ever after. There is strife, and religion, and ignorance, and love, and family, and happiness goals. I was taken aback at the setting at first because it does not have many of the places and names that I'm familiar with, but in the end of the book, after the novel, it has his explanation of why, and it is fabulous. I'm a history buff and to get this short history lesson on the true tales of Robin Hood was fascinating to me. I really enjoyed this book.
Reviewed by MJ Chind at Creative Madness
Talk about your long-anticipated books! Gideon's Dawn first came out in 2003. In mass market fiction, some big-name authors can get away with going five years between books, if their fan base is massive enough. But such a thing is unheard of in Christian fiction. There's a huge number of special circumstances in play this time, and it's a long story. But suffice it to say that if you haven't read Gideon's Dawn, you should. And then you can pick up Waymaker.
Unlike the long-suffering readers, the story of Gideon Dawning picks up immediately following the events of Gideon's Dawn. Gideon and his friends have escaped from the dark city of Phallenar with the aid of the mysterious Telus, of the Raanthan race. Their capture of the Book of Dei'lo has given the people of Wordhaven a new chance in the long war between the Languages of Power. But they'll have to learn fast. Already, the evil Sa'lei Lords are mounting forces to invade and destroy the Remnant.
Meanwhile, Gideon is drawn on a quest he does not comprehend. In fact, he's not even sure what the object of the quest is or where he is going - only that he's being led by a power he barely understands. Along the way, he and his friends explore more of the fascinating world that Michael Warden has created.
The big question for fans of the first book is, obviously, "does this one match up?" Does the storytelling continue its excellent depth and excitement? The answer is a resounding "yes!" Alas, the only problem with it all is that the book seems much too short. Once you're visiting the Inherited Lands, you don't want to leave too soon. Fortunately, with the new publishing plan in place, the third book shouldn't take anywhere near as long as this one...
The new publishing plan also gives Warden slightly more "leeway" in his writing than what he'd have with a major publisher. There's no real editor involved, so there are places where perhaps there is room for improvement. He also slips in a couple of "bad words." In itself, that would sort of make sense, considering the type of person that Gideon is; but when there were none in the first book, the first time Gideon curses, it is totally jarring and breaks the flow of the narrative. Is the "realism" worth the shock factor? I suppose it's up to the individual reader.
At any rate, it's been a long wait that is finally over. I slipped back into the Inherited Lands fairly quickly, although I'm dying to re-read both books together. Unfortunately, with my reading schedule, I don't know when that will happen. But when an imaginary world is so well-crafted, like Middle-Earth or Narnia, it's a place you want to keep visiting.
Reviewed by Tim Frankovich at Christian Fiction Reviews
About the book:
Jessica Neale's faith is lost the day of her husband's death, and with it, her belief in love. In a journey to find peace, she encounters a gentle, green-eyed stranger who leads her to the ruins of the medieval castle, Gallimore.
On his way to battle, Colwyn Haukswyrth, knight of Gallimore, comes face to face with a storm the likes of which he's never seen, and a woman in the midst of it who claims to live centuries in the future. The Lady Jessica of Neale is an irksome, provoking bit of woman to be sure. And she's about to turn his beliefs on end.
The product of a family rooted in pain and evil, Colwyn has focused on naught but himself-until Jessica. To a mysterious prophecy stitched on a tapestry, through the invasion of Gallimore itself, Colwyn and Jessica are bound together by a lesson in forgiveness and love-a bond that might be strong enough to survive the grave.
WOW! Gallimore is the most amazing time travel medieval romance novel I've ever read! I read most of the story in one day. I couldn't put it down. This story is ten times better than The Time Traveler's Wife and it's comparable to the best fantasy fiction on the market today. Michelle Griep has the plotting, pacing, and heart pounding suspense wrapped up in a tale that is one of the most intense, page-turning novels I've read this year.
Griep has a gift for describing details that bring the setting to life, and she doesn't give anyone in the story a break. Not even the reader. The sites, smells, and heartache of that day were all brilliantly portrayed in Gallimore. Griep can describe the grossest things better than most male authors. I could see it all as I read. And the battle/fight scenes will blow your mind. Her skill for writing this type of story is impressive because to have a truly fabulous medieval novel there has to be conflict, terror, and impossible feats of chivalry to make the story compelling. Griep has all this perfectly crafted in Gallimore.
I'm so impressed. Truly. I was in another world the entire time I read this story and it was a fabulous experience. What an escape. I felt their emotion, all of the characters' fears, their joy, their longing for love. It was amazing. I can't say enough great things about this story. The spiritual thread was incredible, too. And the gritty themes and edgy aspects of the romance were scrumptious.
The end of the story brought it full circle and concluded in one of the most satisfying endings you can imagine. Not many books leave me smiling and sighing at the end. Gallimore was perfectly executed from start to finish. I saw no weaknesses whatsoever. This is being added to my best fiction of 2008 list.
Gallimore was published by Black Lyon Publishing and was released in December 2008.
Reviewed by Michelle Sutton at Edgy Inspirational Author Blog