Broken Wings Tour Wrap


CSFFTopBloggerApr2012In case you haven’t picked up on this, I love the CSFF Blog Tours, but I have to admit, some are more fun than others. The tour we held this week for Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore ranks as one of my all time favorites.

Why so? We had a good turn out–twenty-three participants–though certainly not the greatest number we’ve had. We had a nice number of posts–forty-six, which averages to two apiece. We had some give-and-take–participants answering one another in comments or in posts. A lively exchange always makes a tour more interesting, but we’ve had ones with greater amounts of discourse in the past. So what made this tour so good?

I think it was the quality of the posts. I don’t remember a time in which so many bloggers went to Scripture to research or compare or study. When a novel can push readers to examine God’s authoritative Word to see what is true, well, that’s the ultimate in “thought-provoking,” I think.

Then, too, there was more enthusiasm than many a tour. Bloggers said they found a new favorite or they’d become fans or they were anticipating the third book in the trilogy. More than one who said they weren’t partial to angel books said they were pleasantly surprised by Broken Wings. More than one said they found this second in the trilogy to be a stronger book than the first. More than one said the book crossed over from its target (female) young adult audience to adults of any stripe.

In short, enthusiastic bloggers writing quality posts makes for an outstanding tour. Thanks to all the participants and those who commented. But now . . . (drum roll, please) all that’s left is for us to pick the April Top Tour Blogger–which I don’t think is going to be easy.

Here are the nominees and the links to their articles. You may want to peruse them before you vote.

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Published in: on April 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm  Comments Off on Broken Wings Tour Wrap  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore, Day 3


brokenwings-coverToday is review day, but first I want to mention a couple of my fellow CSFF Blog Tour participants’ posts for Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore. For the first time in tour history we have a video review. As a matter of fact JoJo Sutis posted videos all three days of the tour, but check out her review. It’s pretty cool hearing the enthusiasm in her voice as she gives her recommendation at the end–something that words on a screen can’t quite capture.

Also Karielle @ Books à la Mode has a wonderful interview with Shannon Dittemore, and she arranged for a publisher book giveaway–a great opportunity for anyone interested in reading the Angel Eyes Trilogy but thinking it’s hard to spend money on three books. Well, the winner of the giveaway can buy Angel Eyes now, enjoy Broken Wings as a freebie, and start saving for the final installment Dark Halo coming out in August.

Another participant–one of three new to the tour this month–is also holding a giveaway, so anyone interested in winning a free copy of Broken Wings might consider entering both to double the chances. This second offer is from Emma or Audrey Engel.

And now my review.

The Story. Broken Wings continues the Angel Eyes story where the first book left off. Teenagers Brielle and Jake are looking forward to a future together, but Jake now has a secret. Before long, trouble surfaces in the form of a young woman who shows interest in Brielle’s father and who seems to have a negative influence on him because he has become belligerent toward Jake and has started drinking heavily.

If those real life issues weren’t enough, the forces of evil have targeted Jake and Brielle because of their special gifts–his to heal, hers to see beyond the terrestrial.

Strengths. I posted yesterday about Shannon Dittemore’s quality of writing because I wanted to do it justice. That still didn’t happen, but suffice it to say, I think the strong voice and the poetic language are huge strengths in the story. But so is the theme.

I don’t often rave about the theme (which, by the way, I’m not giving away, because that would be a huge spoiler) of a novel because some readers may immediately conclude that the book was preachy. For me, it’s just the opposite. A theme isn’t really well done if it stands like gaudy decor that can’t be overlooked. Shannon weaves the themes of her story seamlessly in with the other elements of character development and unfolding plot.

Speaking of which, there is lots going on in this book–conflict in the heavenlies, discord at home, mysteries surrounding Brielle’s mother and Jake’s parents, and a key issue of trust. Never a dull moment, you might say.

Weaknesses. There’s one aspect that Broken Wings can’t get away from–it reads like a middle book. That’s because it IS a middle book. Although Shannon does a masterful job in bringing each book to a resolution, there’s no denying that the Angel Eyes Trilogy is one grand story and Broken Wings is the middle piece, the equivalent of The Two Towers to Lord of the Rings. Is that really a weakness? Only in the sense that readers not knowing what they were picking up might be dismayed–either by not having read Angel Eyes, Book 1 or by realizing that much of the mystery won’t be answered until Dark Halo, Book 3.

Earlier this week another issue came up in a post by Shannon McDermott. She said she found she didn’t care as much for the two main characters in this second installment. I realized I had a similar experience but for a different reason. I didn’t find anything the characters did or their unfolding personalities objectionable. In fact, in many ways I learned to know them better, especially Brielle, because of the interactions they had with different people.

Then why did I feel some distance? I believe it’s because I didn’t know early in the story what the characters wanted or needed. There was lots going on, mind you, but it seems the characters were mostly responding to what was happening to them as opposed to making things happen. It’s the latter that gets me cheering for characters, hoping for their success, fearing their failure. Certainly this was what I experienced during the climax which was beautifully engineered. I would have felt closer to the characters if this had been the case throughout the story.

Recommendation. In no way am I any less wildly enthusiastic about the Angel Eyes Trilogy or Shannon Dittemlore as a writer. In fact, I’ve noticed on the tour reviewers who were mildly in favor of Book 1 are now declaring themselves to be fans or moving these books into the category of favorites. More than one has said they believe Broken Wings is a stronger book. It’s an indication, I think, that these books have what Christian readers are looking for–a wonderful story, told well, which reveals deep spiritual truth. I rank the Angel Eyes Trilogy as Must Read for Christian teenage girls, and I highly recommend it for all teens and adults.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

CSFF Blog Tour – Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore, Day 2


brokenwings-coverToo often I hear negative comments about Christian fiction–still. Begrudgingly, serious critics have begun to concede that the quality of writing has improved, and yet those who loudly proclaim, “I don’t read Christian fiction,” often justify their stand with the accusation of poor quality.

In reality, no genre, no publisher, no author, no market is producing perfect books, or even great ones, all the time, every time. Mixed in with the best of the best are those that are good, OK, and sometimes, pretty bad. The key, then, no matter where readers are turning for their books, is to find those that are truly worthy of reading.

Enter reviews and blog tours like CSFF.

Shannon Dittemore writes worthy books, and her newest release, the CSFF Blog Tour’s April feature, Broken Wings, is a case in point.

I’ll take a closer look at the story itself tomorrow when I do my review, but today I wanted to highlight the beautiful language Shannon uses. Note that each word also is useful in some other capacity. Shannon hasn’t brought her story to a stop to deliver a bit of prosaic poetry. Rather, the beauty of the language supports the action or character revelation or thread of backstory.

Here’s an example from early in the book which serves in part to remind the reader what happened in the first book of the trilogy.

I’m alone.

The room is full of people, but I don’t see them. Not clearly. They’re a blur of summer colors and shadowed faces as my legs push me across the stage. My arms bow and curve, matching my inhales and exhales. Flutes, clarinets, and instruments I can’t even name trill from the speakers, the music telling a story. The dance sharing a journey.

My journey.

Getting back to the stage was not an easy path, and my mind is full of the circumstances and the players that brought me here. I rise to my toes and I think of Ali, my closest friend. I think of the life that was taken from her. I think of her boyfriend, Marco, and the case built against him: smoke and mirrors to hide what really happened.

But truth is stronger than lies, and as the music slows, my black skirt whispers against my knees and I remember the first time I saw the Celestial. Light and life everywhere, and on every surface colors that never stop moving.

This passage accomplishes so much. For example, it establishes the time frame of the setting in the poetic phrase “They’re a blur of summer colors.” It highlights one of the main character’s particular qualities–not being a singer but a dancer–with the statement “instruments I can’t even name.” She isn’t enamored with creating music but with performing the dance which the music evokes.

Shannon’s language also paints the picture of the dance with a few short sentences: “. . . my legs push me across the stage. My arms bow and curve, matching my inhales and exhales . . . , the music telling a story. The dance sharing a journey.”

Then too, it brings back key story elements–the main character has returned to dance, her best friend had died, the boyfriend had been falsely accused of her murder, and the main character has the ability to see into the heavenly realm–the Celestial.

With all this going on, there is still beauty in the expression. My favorite is “as the music slows, my black skirt whispers against my knees.” It’s visual (black skirt), audio (music slows, skirt whispers), and tactile (against my knees) all in one, which gives it the power to evoke a strong image.

Among my favorite passages are those describing worship. Here’s one:

The Sabres [a type of angel] open their mouths and lift up a song, and tears pour down my face at the sound. I sniff, trying to keep another round at bay, and that’s when the fragrance catches my nose.

It’s the smell of worship.

Sweet like honey and smoky like a campfire. Deep and thick like the ocean’s waters and fresh like their spray all in one inhalation.

I could get lost finding those kinds of passages in Broken Wings. Suffice it to say, it’s a beautiful story (well, part of one–the Angel Eyes Trilogy together is one grand story), told beautifully.

Please take time to see what others on the CSFF Blog tour are saying about Broken Wings (participants’ list posted at the end of the Day 1 post), then come back tomorrow for my review.

CSFF Blog Tour – Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore, Day 1


brokenwings-coverI don’t often take time to give publishers recognition, but the fact is, some seem to have a knack for doing things right. Presently, it seems to me as someone looking from the outside in, that Harper Collins, with it’s Thomas Nelson and Zondervan imprints and now the Zondervan offshoot, Blink, are doing Christian speculative fiction as well as it’s been done before.

Case in point is the kind of reception the CSFF blog tour has had with Thomas Nelson, allowing us to feature Shannon Dittemore‘s Angel Eyes, Book 1 of the trilogy by the same name, in January and turn around and tour Book 2, Broken Wings, here in April. I mean, really? Normally you have to wait six months at least before you can find out what happened next.

There’s also the wonderful willingness to provide either print or ebook to those wishing to participate in the tour. Love the flexibility and hope that can catch on with others so that the CSFF members who live outside the US and Canada, who often don’t have the opportunity to receive books because the mailing cost is prohibitive, might at long last be able to join in.

Add in a creative cover, solid editing (especially notable in this day and age when editing seems to have taken it on the chin at some houses, with the number of uncaught obvious errors mounting), and author acknowledgments that ring with authenticity in her praise for the team at Thomas Nelson, and you get the picture that this publisher is doing things right.

Too often we hear of the ways that traditional publishing fails, so I’m happy when I see a genuine positive trend developing. As I see it, Thomas Nelson found a talented Christian speculative writer and is doing right by her to help sell her work. May they go on to find many more!

Undoubtedly readers want to know about this trilogy and the author behind it. There are already some good, thoughtful posts up discussing the book or the genre, and I have it on good authority that there will be an author interview later in the tour. For now, I highly recommend Phyllis Wheeler‘s review at The Christian Fantasy Review, Shane Werlinger‘s thoughts about mortality, and Julie Bihn‘s Biblical look at Satan, stemming from this second of the trilogy.

I’ll also mention that I too used Broken Wings as a jumping off point in my article today at Spec Faith.

Here is the entire list of participants and once again the check marks link you to specific tour articles. (For those who are part of the tour, please note, there have been a few additions and corrections to the list you received. You may wish to make adjustments to your post accordingly.) Enjoy.

CSFF Tour – Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, Day 3


Broken Wings coverI don’t know if I’ve actually come out and said it before in my posts about CSFF’s January feature, Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, but here it is: I love this book! And in a few short weeks, book two of the trilogy, Broken Wings, is scheduled to release. I can hardly wait!

As I mentioned in my Day 1 post for this tour, I was fortunate enough to have received Angel Eyes earlier, so reviewed it then. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to recommend the book and series to those interested in a supernatural story written from a Christian perspective.

Here are my top seven reasons, in reverse order, for liking Angel Eyes:

7 The writing is excellent. It drew me into the story immediately. Here’s the opening:

The knot in my throat is constant. An aching thing. Shallow breaths whisper around it, sting my chapped lips, and leave white smoke monsters in the air.

6 The storytelling–the way the events unfold and the presentation of the characters–is equally strong.

5 The main character has a quirk and believable motivations that make her seem unique, not a plastic cutout of an angsty teen.

4 Our protagonist develops in a gradual, realistic way.

3 Intrigue pulls the reader forward into a plot that grows much larger than the opening might suggest.

2 The supernatural elements, rather than contradicting Scripture as so many angel/demon stories do, uses Scripture to undergird them, starting with a fictionalized account of Elisha opening the eyes of his servant so that he could see the army of God’s angels ready to protect them from the enemy surrounding the city (See 2 Kings 6:15-17).

1 And the number one reason I love this book: God wins! And He does so in a believable way, properly foreshadowed, and without any preachiness. What some call preachy is reality, given who these characters are. They act and speak naturally, based on their beliefs, doubts, fears, faith, or whatever, prompted by the demand of the circumstances.

Our tour is bringing out some interesting discussion. Megan opened with a thoughtful article about brokenness: What does broken mean? And what does the Bible say about broken people?

Shannon McDermott gave a thorough comparison of the angels in Angel Eyes with angels in the Bible.

Several people addressed the comparison of Angel Eyes with the Twilight books, none better than Jason Joyner: I do not believe Angel Eyes is the Christian Twilight. It stands on its own, with some shared conventions since they are both YA, both romance, and both supernatural in nature.

Jeremy Harder concludes that Angel Eyes “has it all”: I totally love well-written books that feature scenes of good colliding with evil, angels battling demons, and, of course, happy endings, and fortunately Angel Eyes has it all!

Phylis Wheeler, like me, enjoyed the book so much she gave a second endorsement after having reviewed it months ago.

And perhaps my favorite so far, Beckie Burnham highlights the truthful theme of Angel Eyes: The message of Angel Eyes is profound. God exists, His plans are eternal, and our choices and circumstances matter to Him and His economy. Dittemore doesn’t pretty up the evil in this book. Its real and real scary. But neither does she downplay the ultimate victory that will be God’s.

Of course, not everyone sees books the same way, so I suggest you stop by the other participating sites (list available, with check mark links to the articles, at the bottom of my Day 1 post) and see what each of them has to say.

You can also visit Shannon Dittemore’s Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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