Fantasy Friday – News You Can Use


SpecFaith announcement 2There are a few tidbits pertaining to Christian speculative fiction that visitors here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction might be interested in.

First, the opening round of the CSA concluded, with the top five books moving on to the finals. The voting was razor-thin close. In fact we had to resort to second and third choices to break a tie. Here are the books that made the cut (listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name):

    Liberator by Bryan Davis
    A Throne of Bones by Vox Day
    Mortal by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
    Prophet by R. J. Larson
    Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Voting started yesterday and will last until midnight, July 28.

In conjunction with the award, I’m happy to announce that author Robert Treskillard agreed to design the CSA e-medallion which the winning author may display. I’ll need to check with the other sponsors about when we’ll have the unveiling of it.

Second, the team site featuring a discussion of speculative fiction from a Christian viewpoint, Speculative Faith, has been experiencing constant problems. Some weeks ago a hacker successfully shut the site down and ever since there have been problems. After trying one thing and then another, our patient and persistent webmaster, Stephen Burnett, decided it was time to move. Consequently, as part of the process of changing servers, Spec Faith has a new address. It’s actually in keeping with the nickname we use most often. So tell your friends to change their bookmarks from http://www.speculativefaith to http://www.specfaith.com

I wish I had good news for the CSFF Blog Tour. BOTH books we were planning to tour in July are snagged somewhere. None of us have received one and only half of us have received the other. And reading is such fun during the summer months! Here’s hoping.

At least I got a fantasy in the mail today–Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. The cover is beautiful, and I met the title character in the last book I read in the Tales of Goldstone Woods series, so I’m eager to dive into this one.

Dark Halo RT ReviewGood news from author Shannon Dittemore about the third book in her Angel Eyes trilogy. The highly regarded Romantic Times Book Review journal gave Dark Halo a 4-star review. Most authors would agree this is much-desired recognition from an influential publication.

Speaking of review periodicals, Facebook friend and fellow author Carole McDonnell reported that three of her short fiction works have been recognized by the noteworthy online review magazine, Tangent. They made the Tangent 2012 recommended reading list.

And finally, I learned of yet another Christian speculative author: Krista McGee. Her latest, Anomaly, which released July 9, has been touted as science fiction, but it could just as easily be categorized as post-apocalyptic fantasy. Here’s the teaser–see what you think.

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.

But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.

She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.

As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…

There you have it, friends–voting, blog visiting, book buying. It’s a busy summer in the Christian speculative fiction world. 😀

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Published in: on July 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – News You Can Use  
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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.

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.

Fantasy Friday – New Books On The Horizon


It’s always fun to get a sneak peak at books that have just release or that will come out shortly. Here are the newest Christian speculative novels I know of.

a hero's throne cover

A Hero’s Throne by Ross Lawhead, Thomas Nelson (January 2013)
YA fantasy
Ancient Earth Trilogy, Book 2

Deep beneath the streets of England lies another realm . . . one few in our modern world know exists. Daniel and Freya, however, know it all too well. Eight years ago, these friends first journeyed through portals into the hidden land of Niðergeard—discovering a city filled with stones, secrets, and sleeping knights that serve to protect the world they call home.

But Niðergeard has fallen to dark forces, overrun by its enemies. Gates are being opened between the worlds that should have been kept closed. The battle lines for the war at the end of time have been drawn, and opposing forces are starting to gather.

Having served for centuries as the first and last outpost at the borders to other worlds, Niðergeard must be reclaimed and the mystery of its fall discovered. Daniel and Freya, along with an ancient knight and a Scottish police officer, must return to the legendary city, rally the surviving citizens, and awaken the sleeping knights—knights who are being killed, one by one, as they sleep.

But time is running out faster than they know.

the crystal scepter coverThe Crystal Scepter by C. S. Lakin, Living Ink Books/AMG (Jan 2013)
Fifth in the Gates of Heaven series
YA Fairytale

When Pythius, the wicked young king of Paladya, learns of the hidden realm of Elysiel and the crystal scepter that protects that northern land, he journeys to kill the Keeper and steal the scepter. But his defiant act unleashes a terrible curse, and the Seer foretells his death one day at the hand of his son, now a newborn babe. To thwart the prophecy, he attempts to murder his child, but the queen escapes and sends the babe off in a trunk across the sea, where he is found and raised by a humble fisherman.

Years later, Perthin, the cast-off babe now grown, hears his call of destiny, and is visited by a specter who tells him of the land of Elysiel and of the Gorgon—the evil creature fomenting war in the Northern Wastes. Perthin’s village of Tolpuddle is being ravaged by a monstrous sea beast sent by this enemy, and Perthin accepts the challenge to kill the creature by cutting off its head—although anyone who looks upon it turns to stone. Armed with magical shoes and a legendary sword, Perthin arrives in Elysiel, where the trolls lead him to the ice cavern where the sacred site made of crystal slabs awaits him to show him his future. Perthin feels a strange connection to this land, unaware that he is the heir to Elysiel’s throne.

With the help of heaven’s army, Perthin bests the enemy and returns to stop the sea monster as the beast is ravaging the kingdom of Paladya. He rescues the princess, who has been set out in the harbor as a sacrifice for the beast, and then stops the sea monster by exposing it to the Gorgon’s head, yet through his heroic efforts he unknowingly fulfills the prophecy foretold by the Seer. He returns to Tolpuddle a hero, where many surprising revelations await him as to his heritage and legacy, for he learns he is not truly a fisherman’s son but a king foretold.

the darker road coverThe Darker Road by L. B. Graham, Living Ink/AMG (February 2013)
Wandering Series
YA fantasy

The empire of Eirmon Omiir, king of Barra-Dohn, couldn’t be stronger. He rules all Aralyn with an iron hand. Meridium, the metal alloy that is both the source and currency of power throughout the world was discovered in Barra-Dohn and Barra-Dohn remains dominant because of it.

The family of Eirmon Omiir couldn’t be more fractured. Eirmon cares for little beyond the power of his throne and his own personal pleasure, and the sins of the father have had generational consequences. Eirmon’s son, Kaden, has reaped their bitter harvest. His marriage is in shambles, a deep divide separating him from both his wife and his son.

A series of mysterious visitors begin to converge on Barra-Dohn, each with their own secrets and motives. There is the elderly Devoted, with his impossible prophesy that the mighty Barra-Dohn will fall within 40 days, the pair of Amhuru, legendary wanderers, who have come to take back what was stolen, and the Jin Dara, who brings an army and an ancient thirst for vengeance.

The events that follow and the crisis that emerges offer both Eirmon and Kaden a chance at restoration, to rise above their past failures, even as the world around them falls apart. Kaden seizes this chance, a small mercy in the midst of a greater judgement. Eirmon does not, and his fate is sealed. And so is the fate of the world, for the end of Barra-Dohn is the beginning of The Wandering, and everything hangs in the balance.

broken-wings-coverBroken Wings by Shannon Dittemore, Thomas Nelson (February 2013)
YA supernatural
Book Two of the Angel Eyes Trilogy

Angels with wings of blade. Demons with renewed sight. And a girl who has never been more broken.

Brielle has begun to see the world as it really is, a place where angels intermingle with humans. But just when she thinks she’s got things under control, the life she’s pieced together begins to crumble.

Her boyfriend, Jake, is keeping something from her. Something important.
And her overprotective father has turned downright hostile toward Jake. Brielle fears she’ll have to choose between the man who’s always loved her and the one who’s captured her heart.
Then she unearths the truth about her mother’s death and the nightmare starts. Brielle begins seeing visions of mysterious and horrible things.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s been targeted. The Prince of Darkness himself has heard of the boy with healing in his hands and of the girl who saw through the Terrestrial veil. When he pulls the demon Damien from the fiery chasm and sends him back to Earth with new eyes, the stage is set for the ultimate battle of good versus evil.

Brielle has no choice. She must master the weapons she’s been given. She must fight.
But can she fly with broken wings?

A-Cast-of-StonesA Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr, Bethany House (February 2013)
Adult epic fantasy
The Staff and the Sword, Book 1

The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones

In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins–but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones.

the ravaged realm coverThe Ravaged Realm by D. Barkley Briggs, AMG/Living Ink (February 2013)
YA fantasy
The Legends of Karac Tor, Book 4

With the Nine Worlds facing a judgment of fire, Karac Tor stands on the brink of civil war and despair. A true prophet must be found, but he’s lost…somewhere in North America.

Determined to fight for the land, Arthur and Corus take their case all the way to the White Abbey, hoping to receive a blessing for their efforts. But time is of the essence, and Cassock, having delivered the deceptive gift of the Lost Oracle to the High Synod, has cleverly begun sowing the Devourer’s lies and confusion into the fabric of the Three Holy Orders. Has the sacred Book of Law really been expanded, or annulled? And if the Nine Gifts are to be abandoned, does the White Abbey finally reign supreme above all others?

Gabe, dramatically increasing his power to communicate with animals, ventures into the forbidding Highlands to find and rescue Flogg from the dreaded Stone Moot. Little does he understand the series of events this will unleash. Meanwhile, Arthur, refusing to play politics, discover that a small army has been secretly waiting for him to finally take charge. Setting out to make trouble for Kr’Nunos, Arthur and Corus finally confront the strange, beastly Ravers that are wreaking havoc across the land. Driven by enemies within and without, the Royal Kingdom of Karac Tor is swiftly unravelling, standing on the brink of civil war.

Meanwhile, back on earth, Reggie, Odessa and her children find themselves thrown across the Nine Worlds on a desperate quest to find and rescue the mysterious Lost Prophet, a great bird whose legendary power is woven into the history of our own world. Forced into hiding among the Native tribes of pre-Columbian America, Rianor is the last messenger and signal-bearer, whose final cry will usher in the War of Swords, and hopefully, summon Aion to return and save his people. But first they must find him and free him, before the Devourer brings ruin to all.

CaptivesSafeLandscoverCaptives by Jill Williamson, Zondervan (April 2013)
YA Dystopian Science fiction
The Safe Lands, Book 1

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 by enforcers, and many—including his fiancee, Jem–taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Land, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away to Denver City, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land like nomads 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, Jem is locked in a cell, awaiting the Safe Landers’ plan to protect their future by seizing her own. Can Levi uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Land’s facade before it’s too late?

CSFF Tour Wrap – Angel Eyes


csffbannerWhat an interesting group of posts we had for the Angel Eyes tour. This first in the trilogy by the same name, written by Shannon Dittemore, comprised 39 posts by 21 participants.

We had everything, from one of our members losing (nearly) his man card for admitting that he had read the Twilight books (cough, Jason) to a thoughtful discussion about healing and a scholarly look at the history of halos.

As always, we now have the enjoyable task of choosing a winner of the CSFF Top Tour Blogger–this one the first in 2013. The cool part about this is that it gives us a chance to revisit some of the articles. Here are the eligible candidates and the links to what they wrote:

The poll will be open until midnight Tuesday, February 5. Thanks for your participation.

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm  Comments (3)  
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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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CSFF Tour – Angel Eyes By Shannon Dittemore, Day 2


Angel Eyes coverThis month CSFF is featuring Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, and as you might guess, it can be classified as an angels book. Or supernatural. I don’t think those two are the same or that angel books are a subset of supernatural, but Angel Eyes would fit into both.

These classifications are significant, I believe. Supernatural stories encompass a broad range–pretty much anything that isn’t “natural.” Generally speaking, however, the supernatural elements are central to the story. This category includes fictitious supernatural creatures such as vampires and zombies as well as real supernatural agents such as demons and angels. Ghosts fit here, too–whether a person views them as real or pretend.

Other supernatural creatures such as faeries, witches, and wizards generally fit into the fantasy category rather than the supernatural category because they are viewed, as most stories use them, as make-believe.

Of course witches and sorcerers do exist, but usually stories with these creatures are not referencing beings that claim power from an evil source. Rather, they can, like regular humans, choose good or evil (e.g. the witches in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the wizards in Lord of the Rings and in Harry Potter). Their power is most often innate, though they can learn to use it more effectively.

I mention this particularly because angel books have the same issues as witch and sorcerer books–angels do actually exist, but writers can, and have, treated them as mythical beings with their own tropes.

Anne Rice may have started the latest surge of angel books when she declared at the beginning of her Songs Of The Seraphim series back in 2009 that angels were the new vampires. At any rate, following in the tradition of such films as It’s a Wonderful Life and TV programs such as Highway to Heaven, books have popped up with angels that bear little resemblance to the actual, factual beings mentioned in Scripture.

As a result, I’ve become … shall we say, cautious, about angel books. I have less trouble with those that bear no resemblance to Biblical angels than I do with quasi-accurate ones. The former I simply write off as make-believe creatures, little different from elves or hobbits or faeries.

Imagine my surprise when I read Angel Eyes and discovered a story that represented angels in a way consistent with Scripture.

Of course, there is still speculation–this is fiction, after all. For example, in one interview, author Shannon Dittemore said she developed the idea for the story by thinking, what if angel halos were actual solid objects? [And I’d add, what if angels actually had halos? 😉 ] From this key piece of pretend, the Angel Eyes story grows.

There’s more coming, too. The second book in the series, Broken Wings, is scheduled to release next month, and the third, Dark Halo is due out in August, I believe.

Take time to visit other CSFF tour participants and see what they’re saying about the book. You can find the entire list (with check marks providing links to the posts) at the bottom of my Day 1 article.

CSFF Tour – Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, Day 1


shandittyAt last! This is a tour I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I reviewed Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore some months ago and was happy when the CSFF administrators added it to the list of books we’d feature. Our tour was scheduled for November, then chaos broke loose. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I have to say, it makes you wonder when a book about angels, with a distinctly Biblical worldview, is mired in unusual circumstances that delay its tour.

But I’m putting that aside.

What I’d like to address today is something I read in a couple Amazon reviews–that Angel Eyes is a Twilight wannabe or the Christian answer to Twilight or some other comparison to Twilight. Here’s one:

I’ve never actually read any of the “Twilight” books, but even I can see the resemblance in the underlying “romance” thread in the book. I can certainly see that this book is geared toward the “Twilight” crowd, just with a Christian slant.

And then this:

I was struck immediately by the similarities to Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Unlike some of my readers, I was a huge Twilight fan, reading and rereading them multiple times. Angel Eyes struck me as a Christianized version of the popular series with angels and demons as our stars instead of vampires and werewolves.

Since I haven’t read any of the Twilight books but have heard some specific criticisms, this comparison shocked me. I could see, perhaps, the idea that the Twilight vampires had been switched out for angels and that both stories involved a teen romance, but from what I’ve heard, there were no other similarities that I knew of. Besides, the angels and vampires were not “switched out.”

Add in the fact that the main character in Angel Eyes has a lot more on her mind than an obsessive relationship with a “bad boy.” Further, there is no love triangle. In reality, Angel Eyes is more of a mystery than a romance.

I received a little more insight about reviewers making the Twilight/Angel Eyes comparison from the post of one of the CSFF tour participants, Anna Mittower:

The first chapter and indeed the set-up of the story in the rural town of Stratus reminds me of the first few pages of chapter one in Twilight. And that’s not a good thing. Both have a girl who’s not happy moving to a small, dreary town in the middle of nowhere. And both are complaining about it. Dreading it in fact.

Ah, OK. Similar openings. I suppose for someone who read Twilight, the opening would immediately put you in comparison mode, thinking of the other book and hating this one because it make you think of the other one.

Interestingly, Ms. Dittemore, in a style that reminded me of chick lit, made a number of pop cultural references, including a couple about Twilight. I thought those deflected any comparison–as if the character’s own awareness of the Twilight story made it abundantly clear that this was not that story, retold.

It’s clearly not. But I’ll have more to say about what it is as the tour continues.

For now, check out what the other participants are saying.

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm  Comments (10)  
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