Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CFBA Tour - A Vote of Confidence

The latest book for the CFBA Tour is A Vote Of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher.

In A Vote of Confidence, the stage is set for some intriguing insight into what it was like during 1915 to be a woman in a “mans’ world.”

Guinevere Arlington is a beautiful young woman determined to remain in charge of her own life, For seven years, Gwen has carved out a full life in the bustling town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, where she teaches piano and writes for the local newspaper. Her passion for the town, its people, and the surrounding land prompt Gwen to run for mayor. After all, who says a woman can’t do a man’s job?

But stepping outside the boundaries of convention can get messy. A shady lawyer backs Gwen, believing he can control her once she’s in office. A wealthy newcomer throws his hat into the ring in an effort to overcome opposition to the health resort he’s building north of town. When the opponents fall in love, everything changes, forcing Gwen to face what she may have to lose in order to win.
This is my wife's type of book, so she provided her opinion. She enjoys Hatcher's writing, and this romance novel didn't disappoint. The characters are very believable, as they are developed well. She had a hard time getting into it at first, but after a little while it was one she couldn't put down. She thought it was pretty straightforward for a while, but some unexpected twists delighted her, leaving her surprised at how the ending comes about. Overall it was a fun story and didn't disappoint her expectations of one of her favorite authors.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Vote Of Confidence, go HERE.

unpredictable with good twists, enjoyed the characters- developed well. fun story

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Follow Up on BoneMan's Daughters

I reviewed BoneMan's Daughters almost 2 weeks ago, but there is still a lot of buzz about it. I read an article on today with a catchy headline: 'BoneMan' creator grew up with cannibals. Hard to top that, methinks.

Here's the article about Ted and his place in (or out) of Christian fiction. There are some memorable quotes by an editor, Henry Carrigan, that I want to share as well:

"Good writing is lacking in a lot of Christian fiction. It's pedantic, the prose is awful, the writing is static and it's difficult to believe the characters," Carrigan says.

Though Christian publishers pushed hard to get their authors on mainstream shelves, what eventually did often was shelved away from fiction under a subsection called "inspirational fiction." "Even though they made the crossover, they didn't make the crossover. They were ghettoized," Carrigan says.

Dekker has succeeded, Carrigan says, because "he knows how to write." Describing Dekker's style as " 'CSI' meets God and Satan," the editor observes, "He knows how to use the formula when he uses a formula. He can suck people in. That's why he's been so successful."

So what does this say about Dekker and Christian fiction in general? Thoughts?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Winners of Dekker Giveaway

I have the three winners of the Ted Dekker giveaway.

Cara Putman
Rachel Starr Thomson
Chris Lemon

If you would contact me with your mailing address at jediqb (at) gmail (dot) com, I'll get those going. Congratulations!

CFBA Tour - Elisha's Bones

It's the end of a busy week for this blog. It's been a very "Bone"-ish week. First, I reviewed Ted Dekker's latest, BoneMan's Daughters. Then we had the blog tour for Blaggard's Moon, in which the main character was facing having monsters eat his bones.

Let's keep the theme going with the new book Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel. This is his first book, so how does a new author stack up in this calcified week.

Things I liked about the book:

I loved the globetrotting adventure. Don does a great job in painting the local scenery and using the landscape to amplify the prose. He states he's traveled to some of the places, and researched others, and I can't tell what locales are the research only ones.

Jack Hawthorne is an unlikely protaganist, not the type to go out charging to save the world. He's a bit of a lazy "skate through life" type of guy (though some of this is explained by the story). He's sarcastic, infusing things with a sense of humor. Still, his growth through his experience is palpable.

The suspense is kept ratcheted up, and you're never certain who is good and who is bad. He has a good feel for pacing.

Things I am pondering:

The use of present tense, 1st person POV was quite intriguing. It provided for some real immediacy when dealing with what Jack was experiencing. The limitations of what Jack doesn't know also adds to the story. Still, it took me some time to get used to reading it. See these posts for more thoughts on this.

The bottom half of the cover is very cool. The top half needs a little more work to make it as stylish as the top. The silhouette seems too cliche or something.

Things that could be better:

Some of the other characters weren't fleshed out as well as they could have been. In particular, Esperanza is his companion through most of the book, yet at the end I wondered what she looked like and didn't fully know her. Their relationship was always nebulous.

Some description (mostly of people) lacked, but that may partly be a function of the present tense, 1st person POV. It wouldn't work for Jack to always stop and mentally describe each person he meets to himself in present time. I like a little more, but I don't know that this form would really allow it.


This is a very good first novel for Don. He had a strong voice throughout the book, and the action and suspense kept me turning pages until the very end. My negative comments I'm ocnfident will recede as he develops more as a writer. Keep them coming Don, I'm up for more.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Elisha's Bones, go HERE

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blaggard's Moon Sets Sail

Leave a comment to win the latest Ted Dekker hardback, BoneMan's Daughters.
Time to wrap up the CSFF tour for the month. I've been discussing the books of George Bryan Polivka with my new...uh, friend, Spinner Sleeve.

Ye mockin' me boy?

No sir! He's one of the stars of the pirate treasure of a novel Blaggard's Moon. Over the last couple of posts, I've discussed the Trophy Chase trilogy by Polivka. The books, impressive to begin with, improved throughout the series. I wondered how he would follow it up.

Blaggard's Moon is actually a prequel to the series, which is an interesting place to go, as it has the potential for disaster (see Lucas, George). It was advertised as the musings of Smith Delaney, one of the supporting characters from the trilogy, as he awaits his certain death. Which might not be so certain, since he appears in later books.

Don't get cute here. What say ye about the story of Blaggard's Moon?

Always interesting to blog with a sharp, pointy thing in your back. Anyway, as other blog tour members have noted, it has an interesting construction. Delaney is stuck on a pole over a pond from which the vicious mermonkeys (no really, these aren't your old sea monkeys) will surface in the dead of night to munch on his bones. He thinks over his own story on how he ended up in this predicament, yet it interlaces with a story told by master story-teller Ham Drumbone on a pirate ship.

Ham's story follows pirate king Conch Imbry, pirate hunter Damrick Fellows (boo!) and mysterious lady Jenta Smithmiller as intrigue, battle, and death weaves throughout. The reader is left guessing how this all ties together, which it does very nicely at the end.

Ye best be sayin' that.

Actually, I mean it. Even without duress, I loved this book. The beginning is a little confusing as Polivka settles us into the structure of the story, but he soon had me hooked. The author is a gifted story teller in his own right, with a vivid imagination and great description. He must have done exhaustive research, as he sets the reader on the high seas feeling the salt air, or ducking the musket balls and choking on the gunpowder. I'm not a nautical person, but the authenticity shows through strongly.

It is almost as good as the characterization. I've not read another author who so clearly imbues each character with their unique way and feel. I knew the characters, and the myriad cast is very enjoyable without any confusion. From Lady Jenta to minor pirate captains to the businessman Runsford Ryland, each stands strong with their own voice. My only complaint is that Polivka doesn't always stay in one character's point of view in a segment, making it confusing sometimes knowing whose head you're in. He's spoken before on why he writes this way, but it still doesn't change the confusion.

The story has a suspenseful plot with well-described action, heartfelt romance, wrenching tragedy, and a touching theme. I enjoyed it more than the Trophy Chase trilogy because his heroes are more heroic. In the trilogy, he used the main character Packer Throme to wrestle with theological issues (which were pretty much keeping in-character for Packer, being a former seminary student), but this wrestling, while poignant, slowed the action down. There's a touch of that here, but the story blazes on overall.

Okay, yer point has been made. Ye love the book. Good answer, so I guess me n'the boys will be lookin' fer some other bloggers to hassle.

You know, a "blogger" isn't a "blaggard".

It ain't! Why, the lousy rat who sent me here will have a new blowhole when I'm a'done with him. Have ye anything else to say?

Blaggard's Moon is a very enjoyable and highly recommended read for the casual fiction fan. For my writing friends, you should check Polivka out for his talented characterization and rich description and world-building. So far, this is my favorite book of the year. (Oh, and I don't think Mr. Sleeve has read the end of the book. I actually don't think he can read period.)

ADDENDUM: I'm a physician assistant, and I did a physical on a very nice gentleman who would have nonetheless been a perfect fit for one of Polivka's characters. Missing front teeth, bandana on his head, somewhat scraggly beard, he fit the part to a tee. Made me a little nervous about REALLY having a visitor with me while I blog...

Why I Don't Celebrate Earth Day

We interrupt this tour to be extremely contrary: I don't like Earth Day, and I don't "celebrate" it.

What's up with that?

I have no problem in taking care of the environment. I have been a proponent of being a good steward of God's creation for a long time. One of Francis Schaeffer's books makes a compelling case why Christians should be the best environmentalists, and I really identified with what he said (it's been a long time, so I don't remember specifics). I carry a sack when hiking so I can pick up garbage as I go. I always look for ways that I can conserve in a sensible way. I don't like Hummers (though there are other reasons over them being environmentally incorrect).

I don't like Earth Day because it smacks of a new holiday of a new religion. I have a problem with the worldview that seems to be behind most of the promotion of this day. The worldview, in my opinion, is materialist and naturalist, meaning that "Mother" Earth is all there is, and we have to take care of our "Mother". I'm sorry, but this "mother" had a Father first. I will take care of my environment because I believe God doesn't want me to trash His creation, but I refuse to worship Gaia, a popular term for this reverential treatment of our planet.

Honestly, I also believe there is a conspiracy with Earth Day being in the spring. Sure, spring speaks of new life and is a good time to "clean up" (think of all the city clean up days after a long winter). But it seems that it is one more thing to distract from Easter what it stands for: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Some might point to the pagan origins of Easter, and that Christians "co-opted" the day for their message. You know what, there was probably some of that going on. So I don't want to see the most important time of the year for me "co-opted" for some empty philosophy that has no ultimate meaning.

Forgive me for being a Scrooge, but I will do my part to be "green" and to take care of God's creation, as He called it good when He made it. I won't bow to another to worship though. Maybe I'm taking this too far. I only hope I am.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blogging Via Cutlass

Leave a comment to win the latest Ted Dekker hardback, BoneMan's Daughters.

O-o-okay. We're continuing the CSFF tour featuring George Bryan Polivka's book Blaggard's Moon. I've got a few special guests with me. Spinner Sleeve and his boys have, um, commandeered this blog and...OUCH. Hey!

Yak too much, and ye'll be shorter than ye already are. Don't be expectin' any help soon. Jus' do as we say, n' this'll be over n' done. If ye want to be smack solid sure to end this here "bloggin'" career, then open yer yap some more.

Ye told us about The Legend of the Firefish and The Hand that Bears the Sword the day before. What do ye have fer us now?

Uh, just a second guys...

The Trophy Chase trilogy culminates in The Battle for Nearing Vast. Packer and Panna Throme are thrust into leadership to save their kingdom from the invading Drammune forces. As Panna tries to navigate the serpentine politics at home, Packer boards the Trophy Chase one more time to sail into the heart of the enemy. The Hezzan of Drammune, the ultimate leader of that warlike nation, wants the secret of the Firefish, but will Packer be able to give that secret away?

Get to the fights!

Straight away! As the climax of the first book ended in the waters of the Achawuk Islands, the feeding ground of the Firefish, so the third book winds its way to these fateful isles, where the final confrontation will occur and Packer has one more surprise in store.

The momentum that Polivka built with the first two books carries him full sails into the gripping finale. After enjoying the twists and turns of the second book, I couldn't turn away from finishing, and it was a worthy tale for pub master and priest alike. The surprise wasn't too much of one, but he did a good job of tying up the loose ends from the series in a satisfying way. The Epilogue may have been a little too "romantic," but I'm a sucker for happy endings.

Overall, the Trophy Case trilogy starts a little slow, but rich and elegant in language and description. As the wind blows through the three books, the action and suspense builds into a wholly satisfying tale. If you like pirates or fantasy, these are books in the CBA realm that shouldn't be missed.

Is that good, guys?

I suppose. Ye share the same annoyin' flowry words with Ham Drumbone. But we reckon the point is made - this feller Polivka is a worthy pirate storyteller. Don't think yer off the hook yet. Jes sit tight until tomorrow, and we'll be seein' if ye can wrap this up to our likin'. The lads here are gettin' ready fer a little action.

There's others in the tour. See here for a list of updated blogs. And I'll wrap up tomorrow, if I can keep these fine fellows entertained. Cribbage anyone?


Monday, April 20, 2009

Boarding a Blog Tour

First thing, don't forget to leave a comment to win the latest Ted Dekker hardback.

Whew, time for another blog tour! My favorite tour is the Christian Sci-fi/Fantasy tour, and this month we're featuring the pirate-y musings of George Bryan Polivka in...

Hey, who are you?

What are you doing? Let me gooooooo

Quit yer yakkin', ye landlubber weasel. I just wanta be borrowin' yer lousy blog. If'n I get fed up with ye, I may be borrowin' yer liver as well.

I'm Spinner
Sleeve, and yer probably wonderin' what's going on. It seems this here tour is talkin' about my fellow pirate Smith Delaney and the story told in Blaggard's Moon. 'Ol Delaney spins a good yarn, retelling the story of pirate hunter Damrick Fellows n' the beauty Jenta Smithmiller, while Delaney waits fer his death at the claws of mermonkeys.

Before this here blogger tells ya what he thinks of Delaney's tale, the boys n' me want his opinion of t'other pirate yarns by the gent Polivka. So speak up, or my sword will help yer memory.


I've blogged about the first book in the Trophy Chase series, The Legend of the Firefish, before. The second book is The Hand that Bears the Sword. The hero of Nearing Vast, Packer Throme, has married his love Panna but is torn from her yet again as a new threat rises from the kingdom of Drammune. Packer is sent off on the Trophy Chase, the former ship of pirate Scat Wilkins, even as the wily rascal plots to take back his ship and get revenge on Packer. As Packer and the crew, including Smith Delaney, face impossible odds, Panna is brought under the "protection" of Prince Mather. She has to face her own conflicts to ward off the advances of the amorous royalty.

When Nearing Vast is invaded, there is another great challenge for the couple, and the future of the whole kingdom is at stake.

Polivka introduces some delightful surprises in this middle book. Characters thought dead return to drive events. Panna battles with her wits as well as her fists, as Packer wrestles with his vow to not pick up his sword again in battle, even as the whole kingdom calls for it.

Any introduction to a series is a challenge, and there is a lot to assimilate in Firefish. The second book allows the reader to soak and enjoy more, even as the stakes are raised even higher.

Is that all ye got?

Um, all I've got time for today?

You'd best be workin' hard fer tomorrow then, 'cause me n' the boys will be back.

Sooo, I guess there will be more pirates tomorrow. If you be needin' (now I'm talking like them) more buccaneer blarney, visit Nearing Vast or see the other tourmates below.

*Participants’ Links:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Thoughts on BoneMan's Daughters

*Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of BoneMan's Daughters.*

I had a few scattered thoughts on the book that I didn't work into my review.

Firstly, there is a lot of violent images in the book. The violence itself is "off-stage" for the most part, but a reader who is quite sensitive should be aware of this. Dekker addresses this in a post on his blog, and it is worth reading.

Second, Dekker also has a heartfelt story on his blog regarding the inspiration behind this book.

For what it's worth, I was surprised by the editing mistakes I seemed to find throughout the book. They were mainly inconsistencies (six victims, then seven). For a "major" push, I would expect higher quality, because I don't go looking for those type of things. I also tried, for the first time, to use Google maps to follow one path the protaganist takes. I remember Brandilyn Collins blogging about carefully charting whether the moon would be full or not on a certain date mentioned in her book, as obsessive fans who really watch details would be sure to notice. I was just curious, but the directions the book give don't jive with the real life roads he uses. Interesting. Maybe Jason had too much time on his hands, but still...

Finally, a challenge. I found at least 5 times that a character is noted to be surprised or taken aback by a conversation by Dekker using the phrase, "He blinked." Every author has their pet phrase. Some I've noticed is the coppery taste of blood, others sensations tingling/dancing/trippping down the spine. Blinking is a Dekker trademark. See how many times you can find this!

Enough rambling by me, so leave a comment already!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review - BoneMan's Daughters

BoneMan's Daughters.

Ted Dekker.

For readers of CBA fiction, the name of the book coupled with the name of the author will not be a surprise. However, this book is considered Dekker's first "mass market" novel. It is released by Center Street, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group. This book is getting huge promotion, is a Barnes and Noble "Pick of the Week," and in just a few days is number 53 on the whole site.

A Texas serial killer called BoneMan is looking for the perfect daughter. Seven young women were apparently unable to meet his standards, and were found with their bones broken, but no open wounds. Two years ago a man was tried and convicted as BoneMan, but a problem with evidence is setting him free.

Ryan Evans is a Navy intelligent officer returning from a tour in Iraq. Traumatized by capture, he realizes he had let down his wife and daughter, and only wants to return and atone for his mistakes.

Only BoneMan is back, and has found a new daughter: Bethany Evans.

Ryan is desperate to rescue his daughter and engages BoneMan directly, even as the FBI wonders about his background and the suspicious timing of the kidnapping. Are Ryan and BoneMan one in the same?

BoneMan's Daughters is unmistakably Dekker: suspenseful, intense, with puzzles and twists to keep you guessing until the end. Is Ryan BoneMan? Will Bethany survive? As a page-turner, Dekker doesn't disappoint.

I was disappointed to a degree with the characterization though. In a Youtube interview, Dekker says that the primary character is meant to be an "everyman." This makes sense, as I didn't know much about Ryan. I cared about the plight of Bethany, but Ryan seemed pretty one-dimensional: a distraught father who acknowledges his previous failure. Bethany is a more compelling character, with a background and a lot of internal conflict as she stives to survive.

BoneMan is successful as a twisted outcast of a man, with unique traits that set him apart from the standard "psycho serial killer." His allusions from the book of Proverbs were an interesting literary touch. Still, Dekker did a better job with his characters in Thr3e.

Overall, Dekker writes with a message. There's always wrestling with truth in the context of the battle of good and evil. Questions of war, love, evil are all present. There are some touching themes that deserve deeper thought. I don't want to prejudice, so see what you come up with on your own.

BoneMan's Daughters is another solid suspense from the mind of Dekker, but I didn't feel it was his best outing. It should please his longtime fans and win him new ones. If this is his major market splash, it definitely beats junk like James Patterson.

If you would like to read the first chapter of BoneMan's Daughters, go HERE.

To win one of three free copies, leave a comment by 4/23, using the name of a Dekker novel creatively in a sentence. Good luck!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ted Dekker Book Giveaway

As promised, here's how to win one of three copies of New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker's new book, BoneMan's Daughters:

Over the next week, from 4/17 - 4/23, leave a comment to be entered in the contest. I'd like to see the most creative use of a title of one of Ted Dekker's books as the comment. On 4/24 I'll draw for the three winners. Check back then to find out who won and how to claim your prize!

Come back over the weekend for discussion and a review of the book!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Bone"-ing Up

OK gang, the next week should see a flurry of posts. This weekend is the blog tour for BoneMan's Daughters, the latest book from Ted Dekker. On Friday, 4/17 I'll start my giveaway, and I've got 3 of this book available for the lucky winners.

April 20 starts the next CSFF tour, so we'll have some special features then, if this blog doesn't get pirated...

The end of next week will require more "boning" up, as I'll bring you a blog tour for new author Don Hoesel's first book, Elisha's Bones.

Sheesh, what's up with all the bones?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Body and the World

This quote is from Nigel Goodwin, an actor and commentator on The Kindlings Muse podcast I blogged about last week. The last podcast I listened to was a discussion of Bob Dylan and "the new spirituals," artists such as Sufjan Stevens and Fleet Foxes.

The context is talking about artists who speak on spiritual issues but don't operate under the umbrella of "official Christian" music. I think this can apply to any artist, whether acting, writing, music, filmmaking, etc.

"There's often too much of the world in the body, and not enough of the body in the world. We're not out there engaging the marketplace, and so...we want these people to be our voices and we squeeze them into boxes and we beat them up and bully them. And even when they come into the sanctuary, we behave...more vulgar than the world out there in some cases...

[Dylan] knew this went on out there...but didn't really expect it to go on in here. We are bums being redeemed. Now if we stay bums, that's dumb, but if we're in process, that's good news."



The Ted Dekker giveaway is coming soon. Keep your eyes out!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pray for Thailand

Nothing like a thrown-out back to blow away the best laid blogging plans, but I'm back in the saddle today (more or less).

I've got some things for this week, but I want to start off by asking everyone to take time to pray for Thailand. This southeast Asian country is undergoing another round of political turmoil. There are two main factions battling over an ousted Prime Minister, and the protests turned deadly today with 2 people being killed. I don't have an opinion on which side is "right", but I don't want to see people hurt anymore.

Thailand is known as the "Land of Smiles," and Thais are some of the friendliest people you can ever know. I spent 2 months there in 91-92, and it was some of the formative experiences in my life. However, I know that behind the smiles is the bondage that over 95% of the people suffer as they hold to old forms of Buddhism and ancestor worship. Christianity has had a hard time getting a strong foothold there, but more and more there are Thais turning to Jesus.

There is a couple that were on the outreach team with me that stayed there, and continue to live there 18 years later. Please pray for all to be protected, especially God's people, and that truth and righteousness will reign in the country.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Kindlings Muse

I'd like to highlight a resource I've been turning to for the past few months. The Kindlings Muse is a ministry of Dick Staub, the author of The Culturally Savvy Christian (required reading for followers of this blog).

Dick has been involved with faith and culture for many years now. He's a radio host, pastor, author, and champion for the arts. The Kindlings Muse is a weekly podcast from Dick, along with various special guests. I finished listening to a series by Os Guinness this morning (an excellent talk on "You Only Live Once-Calling, the ultimate game plan for life").

Topics generally focus on faith and creativity in some way. When the Oscars rolled around, there is an annual "theology of the Best Picture nominees" show that was very interesting. Other topics I've listened to include theology of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer and an excellent interview with Anne Rice.

You can subscribe to it for free at iTunes, or just see the site regularly for the updated podcasts. As the tagline for the show states, it is "an intelligent, imaginative, hospitable exploration of ideas that matter in contemporary life."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Thankfully, the Aliens Repelled the Zombie Attack...

...but that still left us open to abduction.

OK, not much of an April Fools here, but I do have a little announcement. Later this month the CFBA blog tour will be featuring the latest book from Ted Dekker: BoneMan's Daughters. This is a special book for Dekker, according to his blog, and to celebrate, I will be able to give away not one, not two, but THREE copies of BoneMan's Daughters. How about that? And that is NOT an April Fools prank.

So I encourage you to keep coming back, as I'll have more about this later in the month.

Assuming the aliens are done with me by then...