Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Tales of a Dim Knight

Dave Johnson, a mild mannered janitor and superhero lover, finds a box one night inside the FBI building he cleans. Of course, he opens the box. Inside is an alien symbiote who attaches to Dave. Through their connection this alien gives him almost any and every power he could want.

Tales of the Dim Knight follows Dave as he uses his powers to save Seattle. Unfortunately, super hero powers do not translate into a good marriage and family, something Dave learns almost too late in this spoof of the super hero world.

Strengths: There are far too few super hero books with a Christian worldview out there. As a lover of the super hero genre, I am glad to see a couple making it to print. Tales of a Dim Knight is full of corny humor, larger than life characters, and nasty villains. I read this from another post and agree with this person’s assessment: Tales of a Dim Knight reads like a comic book without the pictures. If that’s your kind of story, then this is the book for you.

Weaknesses: I will admit it took me a couple chapters to get into Tales of a Dim Knight. I had a hard time connecting with Dave and his family. Dave’s obsession with superheroes was almost too much for me. But then the story mellowed out and I was able to connect more with Dave.

One other thing that I had a hard time with was the Christianity in the book. To me, the Christians and the church felt cliquish and preachy at times.

Do I recommend Tales of a Dim Knight? If you enjoy light humorous books with a super hero touch, then yes.

Check out what others are saying about Tales of a Dim Knight:

3/17/ James Somers http://www.jamessomers.blogspot.com/

3/20 and 3/27 David James http://newauthors.wordpress.com/

4/1/ April Erwin http://www.projectinga.blogspot.com/

4/3/ Phyllis Wheeler www.Christian-Fantasy-Book-Reviews.com

4/4/ Noah Arsenault http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/

4/4/ Sarah Sawyer www.sarahsawyer.com/blog

4/5/ Tammy Shelnut http://www.bluerosesheart.blogspot.com/

4/6/ Timothy Hicks http://fantasythyme.blogspot.com/

4/7 Joan Nienhuis http://www.bookwomanjoan.blogspot.com

4/8 Carol E. Keen http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/

4/11 Morgan L. Busse https://morganlbusse.wordpress.com

4/14/ Emily LaVigne http://southernfiberreads.wordpress.com/

4/15 Chawna Schroeder http://chawnaschroeder.com

4/22 Frank Creed http://afrankreview.blogspot.com

4/28/ Beckie Burnham http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com

5/3/ Amy Cruson http://the160acrewoods.com

 

For more information on Tales of a Dim Knight, click here. If you want to find Tales of a Dim Knight on Amazon, click here.

 

More about the authors Adam and Andrea Graham:

Adam Graham is a multi-talented author known for his wit and poignancy. His political column appears on Pajamasmedia.com and Renew America. He also has short stories published in the anthology Light at the Edge of Darkness, and in the Laser & Sword e-zine. He hosts the Truth and Hope Report podcast, as well as the Old Time Dragnet Radio Show, Great Detectives of Old Time Radio and the Old Time Superman Radio Show. Mr. Graham holds a general studies Associate of Arts degree from Flathead Valley Community College with a concentration in Journalism. He tweets at @idahoguy, @dimknight and @radiodetectives.

Andrea Graham co-authored Adam’s first novel, Tales of the Dim Knight. Her short story “Frozen Generation” also appeared in Light at the Edge of Darkness. She studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University. Visit her online at POVbootcamp.com and Ask Andrea, or follow her tweets @povbootcamp.
Adam and Andrea live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho. They are members of several writers groups, including Lost Genre Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers. Adam is president of their local ACFW chapter, Idahope.

 

 

*I received a free digital copy of Tales of a Dim Knight from the authors in order to review and give my honest opinion.

CSFF Blog Tour- The God Hater, Day 3

Yesterday I said that it was the Spiritual Factor, more than the Cool Factor, which drew me into The God Hater. Looking back, I think that’s a first when reading Speculative novels (although now that I think about that, A Star Curiously Singing is a close second, see what I had to say about that here).

But before I dive in, it amazed me the diverse responses to this book by the participants of this tour. Some loved it (like I did), while others found it lacking in different areas. Goes to show you how different people are and how varied our tastes are :). Check out the links I gave on the first day to see what others are saying about The God Hater.

Now, onto the Spiritual Factor.

Yesterday I stated that The God Hater is an allegory. It is a story used to illustrate abstract ideas or principles. Or in my own terms, an allegory gives handles to the basket so we can carry away the idea. For example, try explaining grace. God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense (a nice little acronym there). But can you picture that in you mind? All I come up with is a fuzzy grey picture. But when you add a story or illustration (i.e. Jesus hanging on the cross in our place), suddenly I have a picture. I can see Jesus in my mind, bloody and beaten for my sin. See how powerful a story or illustration can be? It helps us see the idea or principle.

As a teacher, this is what I strive to do. Take God’s Word and break it down into pictures that people can see and understand (probably why I write stories). I believe this is why I resonated so strongly with The God Hater. Bill Myers did a fantastic job of presenting the concepts of free will, grace, sin, and even God. And he did it through a means that we would not normally think: through a computer program.

Here are some parts I loved in The God Hater: (Warning, big spoilers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free will: As the programmers (and Dr. Mackenzie) try to save the digital world, one thing cannot be touched: the digital people’s free will. They cannot be programmed to make good choices; they have to choose to make good choices.

The Law: The Law is introduced when Dr. Mackenzie grudgingly realizes that these people need instruction from an outside source, specifically, from their creators (those who made the program). You can see why he is reluctant; it’s too close to the idea of introducing a god. However, these people need to know there is a greater reality than the one that they are experiencing inside the computer program and that those outside the program can help them. So Dr. Mackenzie gives them one command: “Treat one another as though you are sacred. Treat one another as you would treat me.” That’s all. Just love one another

Unfortunately, the people inside the computer program devise rules to make sure everyone is following this command. And if you don’t, you are taken to the Grid, which sucks some of your life out (how much life is dependent on the crime).

Grace: The digital people are better at following the letter of The Law (as they call the command to love now), rather than the heart of it. Once again, Dr. Mackenzie realizes that in order to show these people what meant, he will need to meet them personally. Through nanobots, an exact replica of him is made and put into the computer program.

As the virtual Dr. Mackenzie interacts with the people, he grows to love them. He is hurt by how they hurt each other and the pain of their own poor choices. He also sees there is no hope for the Lawbreakers because if they were to be taken to the Grid, their entire life would be taken because of how much lawbreaking they did. Near the end of the book, the only way the virtual Dr. Mackenzie sees the Lawbreakers being allowed back into civilization is to go onto the Grid for them and have his own life units taken as payment.

God: God is more complex, more superior, with thoughts so vastly outweighing our own that to compare him to a virtual Dr. Mackenzie is like a raindrop compared to the ocean. That said we get a glimpse of God’s love for us through the virtual Dr. Mackenzie’s love for the virtual people and his willingness to go to the Grid for them.

I could go on for a couple more pages about all the allegories in The God Hater, but instead I’ll say this: Go read the book. I highly recommend it :).

 

CSFF Blog Tour- The God Hater, Day 2

Today I want to take a look at the Writing Factor of The God Hater. Bill Myers begins his book with this disclaimer:

“The following is fiction. I’ve tried to make the science and theology reasonably accurate. But, just as I’m sure I’ve made scientific blunders in the writing, I’m equally positive I’ve stepped on theological land mines. Then there’s that whole pesky issue of allegories… if something doesn’t sound right… don’t waste your time reading this. Go to the original Source and see what it says.” (The God Hater, IX)

I think this disclaimer should go in every book, whether fiction or nonfiction. If something doesn’t resonate with you, go to the original Source, especially in areas of spirituality or theology. As a writer, I try to stick with an accurate portrayal of God and Christian worldview in my writing. But my writing is fallible. And so is everyone else. Only God’s Word is perfect. He is the ultimate source. Go to him for answers, not me or anyone else :).

I found The God Hater an intriguing, thought provoking read. It is not bogged down by scientific details nor did it come across preachy. Instead, it did exactly what an allegory (in my opinion) should do: use a story to illustrate abstract ideas or principles. And Bill does this well in The God Hater. He illustrates the ideas of the Law, of grace, and free will. He puts handles on the baskets of these ideas so we can carry them away.

Characters: I liked the character Dr. Mackenzie a lot, perhaps because I personally know old men like him :). I also found my heart connected with the people inside the computer program: people like Alpha and Nyrah. Even though they aren’t “real”, they become real because they have real desires, fears, and hurts. They are three-dimensional human beings.

I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to dive into the Spiritual Factor tomorrow. This book is probably the first one that the Spiritual Factor drew me in more than the Cool Factor. So come back tomorrow and see what I have to say :).

CSFF Blog Tour- The God Hater, Day 1

Hey everyone! Welcome again to the CSFF Blog Tour. This month we are reviewing the book The God Hater by Bill Myers (you can find his facebook link here).

First let’s talk about Bill Myers. When I was a kid, I watched a video series called McGee and Me. For those unfamiliar with the series, imagine Lizzy McGuire only it’s about a boy and his cartoon counterpart with morale themes. I loved them! So imagine my surprise when I found out Bill also wrote books, specifically speculative books for adult audiences. Awesome! (Also, on a side note, I met Bill last year at a writing conference. He asked what college I was attending… Thanks Bill, you made my day :P)

Now for The God Hater.

I was blown away by everything! It has a cool plotline, a great main character (I loved Dr. Mackenzie the moment I met him), and the spiritual factor… wow! This is a three-day review you won’t want to miss!

So let’s start with the Cool Factor. This book revolves around the idea of a mega computer program built to simulate the growth and evolution of civilization. The only problem is the pseudo civilization always ends with the annihilation of every person. So the makers of this program bring in Dr. Mackenzie, leading philosopher and atheist, to figure out why this computerized civilization always dies out.

Dr. Mackenzie tries out every philosophical model out there, from Darwinism to Existentialism, but it the program ends the same every time: the wipe out of the computerized civilization. Dr. Mackenzie knows that this computer civilization is actually a model of the real world. And if he can’t find a way to keep the computer world from dying out, then what hope is there for his own world?

Stop in tomorrow for the Writing Factor and you definitely do not want to miss the Spiritual Factor on Wednesday. Click on the links below to see what other CSFF Bloggers are saying about The God Hater:

Noah Arsenault

Red Bissell

Thomas Clayton Booher

Keanan Brand

Rachel Briard

Beckie Burnham

Carol Bruce Collett

Valerie Comer

Karri Compton

CSFF Blog Tour

April Erwin

Amber French

Andrea Graham

Tori Greene

Katie Hart

Ryan Heart

Joleen Howell

Bruce Hennigan

Becky Jesse

Cris Jesse

Becca Johnson

Jason Joyner

Carol Keen

Emily LaVigne

Shannon McDermott

Matt Mikalatos

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Mirtika

MollyBuuklvr81

John W. Otte

Sarah Sawyer

Chawna Schroeder

Andrea Schultz

Tammy Shelnut

Kathleen Smith

James Somers

Donna Swanson

Jessica Thomas

Steve Trower

Fred Warren

Dona Watson

Nicole White

Dave Wilson

Kathy Brasby

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


CSFF Blog Tour- Dragons of the Valley, Day 3

Before I dive into the spiritual elements found in Dragons of the Valley, I want to revisit what I mean by that. There is a lot of debate out there (for writers and authors) about how much of our faith we should put into our books. Is there too much gospel? Not enough? Should there be an altar call? Or should there just be a moral theme for our readers to take away?

After thinking about this debate (and reading what others have to say), I think I will say yes. Yes to it all. Because we need all kinds of books. We need books that lay out the gospel. We need books that show what it means to follow Christ. We need books that slowly introduce Christ to people who would never otherwise darken the doorway of a church.

We need all kinds of books that will bring the reader into a deeper understanding of God (more specifically, an accurate understanding of God; there are books out there that are not theologically sound).

So for those of us who write out there, we should write the stories God has impressed upon our hearts. For some of us (like me) there will be strong Christian elements. For others (like a friend of mine), God will not even be mentioned in the first book. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t there.

Okay, jumping off my soapbox now :).

Wulder is the name given to the personification of God in Dragons of the Valley. He created the world, is an intimate part of the lives of the races he created, and loves unconditionally. One of the spiritual themes in Dragons of the Valley is the people of Chiril had forgotten Wulder. Their ancestors failed to pass down the writings and knowledge of Wulder, which resulted in this generation knowing nothing of him. It isn’t until the artist Verrin Schope returns from Amara with the wizard Fenworth and the tumanhofer librarian Librettowit that the people of Chiril are reintroduced to Wulder.

This is an important point. Later in the book, the race of Kimens realize it only took two generations for them to completely forget Wulder. He was still there, in their songs and dances. But the moment their ancestors stopped talking about Wulder, they forgot.

We as humans can easily forget too. How many of us forget birthdays or anniversarys! I think that is why God admonishes us to teach our children about Him, to read His word, and why there is communion (In Remembrance of Him…). We do this so we do not forget Him. We pass on what we know so the next generations know what God has done for them.

I highly recommend Dragons of the Valley for anyone looking for a light Christian fantasy full of good spiritual truth 🙂

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

CSFF Blog Tour- Dragons of the Valley, Day 2

Today I want to cover the Writing Factor of Dragons of the Valley. In the Writing Factor, I take a look at how well the writer built their world, conveyed their plot, and how engaging was the story. But before I begin, I need to point out something: I was under the impression that this book was for young adults. A kind friend showed me that this book is actually advertised for all ages. My goof 🙂

Dragons of the Valley is set in a fantasy world filled with rich history and races. Donita has done a wonderful job of creating all these different races (fourteen total!) each with their own particular uniqueness. The Kimens (imagine light pixies) are small, wear light for clothing and love to be merry. The Tumanhofers enjoy nice clothing (they kind of remind me of hobbits). But I think my favorite race is the Emerlindians. They are described as tall and slender (like elves in my opinion). But what made this race fascinating to me is they are born pale (hair, eyes, skin), but as they age, they darken (darker eyes, darker hair, darker skin). I thought that was cool!

A+ on world building!

Plot: Donita keeps it light and simple. Yes, there is a war going on, but she does not go into the more violent details (remember, she writes for all ages). Her characters go on a quest, which keeps the plot moving. The humor is great and keeps the story light. Here is one of my favorite quotes: “I do wish one’s figure did not reflect the love of good food. It’s so annoying to butter your bread and find rolls around your middle.” (Lady Peg Schope, pg. 236-237). Yes Lady Peg, I absolutely agree!

The only thing I found annoying is there were so many races and characters that I could not keep them all straight at first. I absolutely hate having to go to the back of the book and look at the appendix. It takes me out of the story. But after a couple chapters, I was able to remember what a Tumanhofer was or what a Bisonbeck was and no longer needed the appendix. But that’s just me personally 🙂

Tomorrow I will take a look at the Spiritual Factor of Dragons of the Valley.

 

 

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

CSFF Blog Tour- Dragons of the Valley, Day 1

Hey everyone! I’m back with the CSFF Blog Tour and this month we are reviewing Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul (you can also find her blog here). Donita K. Paul is one of the forefront writers of Christian fantasy for young adults. I first saw her book (Dragonspell) in a Christian bookstore about five years ago and couldn’t believe what I saw: a cover with a dragon on it… in a Christian bookstore no less! I bought the book and read it.

I’ll admit I did not realize it was for young adults (it had been placed in the adult fiction section), so when I read it, I was disappointed. It wasn’t the quality of the book but my expectations for something more along the lines of Terry Brooks or Terry Goodkind. This time around, I readjusted my expectations. I approached the book as my younger, twelve year old self. And loved it!

Cool Factor: There is cool stuff all over in Dragons of the Valley! From tall O’Rants, to beautiful Emerlindians who begin life with pale skin and hair, but as they age, they grow darker, and Kimens (I like to think of them as pixies of light). And of course, you can’t forget dragons! I think my favorite are the minor dragons (tiny dragons about the size of a house cat who serve multiple purposes such as healing, singing, and organizing).

Tomorrow I will take a look at the Writing Factor. Until then, click on the links below to see what other CSFF Bloggers are saying about Dragons of the Valley:

 

Gillian Adams

Noah Arsenault

Amy Bissell

Red Bissell

Justin Boyer

Keanan Brand

Grace Bridges

Beckie Burnham

CSFF Blog Tour

Amy Cruson

D.G.D. Davidson

April Erwin

Amber French

Andrea Graham

Katie Hart

Ryan Heart

Bruce Hennigan

Becky Jesse

Cris Jesse

Jason Joyner

Julie

Carol Keen

Dawn King

Emily LaVigne

Shannon McDermott

Matt Mikalatos

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Joan Nienhuis

John W. Otte

Donita K. Paul

Sarah Sawyer

Chawna Schroeder

Tammy Shelnut

Kathleen Smith

James Somers

Fred Warren

Phyllis Wheeler

Dave Wilson

 

 

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

 

Book Review: A Star Curiously Singing

Imagine if you could connect to the Internet with just your mind. Imagine that connection is possible because of an implant in your brain. Imagine it’s the future, a future where Islam is the main religion. Your role in that futuristic society (with your implant) is a debugger. You are in charge of keeping everything technological smooth and running. This is Sandfly’s story in A Star Curiously Singing.

Sandfly, a debugger, is sent to investigate why a robot tore itself apart while on a flight to and from a star. While on the space station, Sandfly discovers more than he bargained for.

From the first chapter, I was hooked. The book is written from the first person point of view (we see the world through Sandfly’s eyes). His role as a debugger leaves him in a needed but barely tolerated role in this futuristic Islam society. I was fascinated with the idea of being connected with the Internet and all the information available via an implant. However, that same implant also ensures you obey. If you think an angry thought about your master (the one who owns you as a debugger), you get a zap inside the head. Refuse an order? Zap. Wander too far from the Islamic beliefs? Zap. Freedom and enforced restrictions at the same time.

I’ve mentioned before that one way I rate a book is by how fast I want to get back to reading it (does it feel like homework? If I have free time I’ll go back to reading it? Or do I find a way to get out of every job I have because I need to finish this book?).  A Star Curiously Singing fell into the latter. Every time I had a free moment (or could make one by leaving the dishes in the sink) I went back to reading. The writing is magnetically engaging, Sandfly a deep and complex character, the storyworld fascinating.

Do I recommend A Star Curiously Singing? Most definitely! And will be getting my hands on the next in the series :).

You can find A Star Curiously Singing at www.marcherlordpres.com. To find out more about the author Kerry Nietz, click here www.nietz.com

 

 

*I received a free copy of this book from Marcher Lord Press in order to review.

 

Book Review: The Dark Man

Mission Impossible meets post-modern America where Christianity is against the law. Welcome to the book The Dark Man.

Charles Graves is a man of many disguises who goes undercover to root out underground cells of Christians. But when the disguises are taken off, Charles does not know himself. He hears voices in his mind, telling him what to do, what to think. And he is haunted by a guilt ridden past.

The Dark Man is a fast-paced action packed book (helicopters blowing up and everything :)). If you’re into action, this is the book for you. The only thing I found confusing sometimes were the voices inside Charles’ mind (and some of the other characters too). But overall, the writing is good and the plot moves fast.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes action filled books with a twist.

On that note, today only Marcher Lord Press is running its annual Black Friday sale. If you found yourself interested in any of the books I have reviewed the last few weeks or have a sci-fi/fantasy lover on your list, check out the books available at http://www.marcherlordpress.com

 
*I received a free copy of this book from Marcher Lord Press in order to review.

Book Review: Starfire

Starfire is an otherworld military science fiction filled with… dinosaurs! Actually, a more accurate term for the cold-blooded fighting force would be the Saurn.

Rathe, a Saurn on the low end of the military and caste totem pole fights his way to a decent standing in a light infantry force. On a mission to retrieve a group of engineers, his world is tossed upside down when one of the engineers stumbles into an old technological ruin and is transformed into a cybernetic messenger. His mission now changes. He is to protect Karey Or  (the name of the engineer turned cybernetic) and lead her to Thode (an ancient military institution) where her download will be complete. Then she will become the key to Starfire.

Only Rathe can make the choice to use Starfire and save his people from the invading Herians or destroy Karey Or and save all the people of his world… at a price. Which will he choose?

It took a couple chapters for me to immerse myself into Starfire, but once I did, I was blown away. Stuart Stockton does an excellent job getting the reader inside the skin of his dinosaur heroes. I could see the volcanoes in the distant, taste the Seethe juice, feel the cold as a cold-blooded reptile would.

But not only was the world building great, I found myself thinking about the characters. I couldn’t decide whether Karey Or should be destroyed to save the many or if Starfire should be fired to save the Saurn. I struggled when some of the characters died and when one betrayed the others. I found myself relating to Struth as he works out his newfound faith in VorTolKo.

Starfire left me thinking long after I finished the book and in eager anticipation of the next in the series.

For more about Starfire or Stuart Stockton, head to Stuart’s site at www.ritersbloc.com

 

*I received a free copy of this book from Marcher Lord Press in order to review.