Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CFBA Tour - Loss of Carrier

Jason sez: This book arrived too late to review, but I'll try to get to it soon.
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Loss Of Carrier
BookSurge Publishing (October 27, 2009)
Russ White


Russ White is an internationally recognized internetwork engineer. He has co-authored eight books in the field of network design and routing
protocols and is a regular speaker at international networking conferences.

In addition to working on several expert and senior-level network engineering certifications, he is a certified firearms instructor.

Russ, his wife, and their two children live in the Raleigh area of North Carolina, where they enjoy spending time on Jordan Lake and attending Colonial Baptist Church. Loss of Carrier is his first novel.


Bright yellow cables against a blue shirt? Carl never would have approved of that color combination. Why was his face so white? His eyes should be closed, not open. Why hadn’t one of the security guards seen this and reported it to the police? The lights were off, the cameras were useless in the dark.

Of course, the cables wrapped around Carl’s neck explained why the server wasn’t working. Loss of carrier.

Jess Wirth lives a dreary life. He spends most of his time crammed inside a cubicle, toiling as a network engineer and stewing over the details of his ugly divorce. But when he finds his co-worker dead in the basement of their office, Jess’s life takes a surprising—and unpleasant—turn.

The police quickly declare the death a suicide, but Jess isn’t so sure. Not long after he begins digging into the victim’s work, another co-worker turns up dead, convincing him once and for all that something sinister is brewing behind the cubicle walls.

His investigation leads him to a mysterious woman name Leah, who pushes him to entrust her with the information he’s collected about his dead colleagues. Wary of Leah’s motives yet inexorably drawn to her, Jess keeps her at arm’s length...until an attempt is made on both their lives. Realizing they are close on the trail of a dangerous criminal, the pair race to expose a data theft ring before they become the killer’s next victims.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Loss Of Carrier, go HERE


Friday, November 20, 2009

CFBA Tour - Eternity Falls

From one blog tour to another, from Elven lands to cyberpunk, where there's books, Spoiled for the Ordinary will go!

This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is featuring first-time author Kirk Outerbridge and his book Eternity Falls - A Rick Macey Cyberthriller. I mentioned this book last month due to its excellent cover art, and today is my review.

In the year 2081, no one has to die. Thanks to the Miracle Treatment from Gentec, people never age, and can actually be restored to any time in their life they want. But when spokeswoman starlet Greta Darling dies from apparent natural causes, this could destroy the product and company.

When the lovely VP from Gentec, Sheila Dunn, wants to find a reason that would show it wasn't due to the failure of the Miracle Treatment, she turns to Rick Macey, a retired government operative who has secrets that match his formidable skills. He will need all his experience and abilities to deal with the various forces that want Ms. Dunn and Gentec to fail.

I've not read a cyberpunk type novel before, and it's not surprising that this offering in the Christian fiction realm comes from Marcher Lord Press. Jeff Gerke's publishing company is the perfect vehicle for a book that doesn't fit with the mainstream of CBA novels.

Outerbridge has a solid first effort here. He sets a very interesting dystopic future, with the wonders of the Miracle Treatment nicely contrasted with areas of Los Angeles that are home to cybergangs due to the neglect from the government. Futuristic touches such as neural nets that provide instant messaging and computer searches with a thought, holographic ID's, and other technological advances are well-thought out and used throughout the book.

Rick Macey is a good protagonist with some surprises in store for the reader. He is a complex individual, and he wrestles with his past and his future throughout the story. Other characters such as the mysterious Virgil and the mobster Pooly add to the colorful landscape of the story. Sheila Dunn is mixed, appearing strong, petulant, spoiled, and a damsel in distress at various times, never consistent enough to be terribly believable.

The plot overall moves at a pretty suspenseful pace, but there are several points where the narrative could be edited to keep the story sharper. There's too much introspection, dialog, and description at times that bog the story down. The imagery of "eternity falls" is potent, but gets overdone at the end of the story.

Overall, I wasn't sure how "Christian" cyberpunk would play out, but Eternity Falls is an interesting read that has flaws, but is nonetheless entertaining. Fans of near future sci/fi and cyberpunk should check it out, as well as suspense fans. I think Outerbridge has the potential to be a strong player in the development of Christian speculative fiction in the future.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Eternity Falls, go HERE

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CSFF Tour - Curse of the Spider King Day 3

Batson and Hopper weave an entertaining web of adventure and suspense.

This is the final day of the CSFF Tour, featuring the new book from fantasy authors Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, Curse of the Spider King. On day one I gave a short synopsis of the story, and day two featured the authors and their mission (though I neglected Wayne's love of nachos...).

This book is the first in the Berinfell Prophecies series, written for a middle school audience, but with enough packed into it to make an enjoyable read for adults as well. Spider King as Batson tells on the Amazon page for the book, is not in either his voice or Hopper's, but their voice together. It is quite a feat for two strong writers to meld together so well.

The book starts off in an intriguing manner, immediately setting up the mystery. After this peek into the Elven world of Allyra, teenagers on Earth are introduced to a special book that has magical properties. When the text is touched, they are transported to the actual history of the Elves and the fall of Berinfell, their ancient capital. Most of the book is taken up with introducing the seven teens who are actually refugees from this other world, unbeknownst to them, with a climatic confrontation at the end as they try to gather together.

The action keeps the story propelling forward, and there are few times when the book slows at all. The various children are unique and have different backgrounds that feels real and not forced. They all stand out individually in their character and actions, which is a difficult task with so many "lead" characters. My only complaint with characterization is some of the names are too similar (Jimmy, Johnny, Tommy, etc.). There are also different Elven "protectors" who masquerade as teachers or librarians, and they all seem to run together at the end, but the individual interaction of teens and their protectors seems genuine.

The bad guys are sufficiently creepy, and the spiders provide an excellent fodder for setting a mood. This book shouldn't induce arachnophobia, but if a reader already suffers from that, this may not be the best book for them in the first place! The kids seem to be in real danger, and not every good guy makes it out alive, it seems.

Other than the similar names, my only other problems were some occasional head-hopping, where the authors would suddenly switch to another character's point of view for a time, and abruptly switch back as well. This caused some confusion as far as "who's the voice here." Also, one of the teens, has to flee danger suddenly, and her circumstances are not very believable as far as how she flees and dealing with her parents.

Overall, the book is a very enjoyable read for the intended reading audience, intermediate readers and up, as well as the parents or adults who like a good fantasy. There are grand themes of courage, endurance, self-sacrifice, and what it means to be a family, so there is a treasure of values in it as well. I'm looking forward to reading it to my 9 and 8 year olds as the next book on deck. Batson and Hopper deliver an entertaining, well-crafted world with engaging characters that will keep readers waiting for the next book, Venom and Song, coming May 2010! To paraphrase my middle son, "They are SO imaginative!"

If you want to see some other opinions, see Becky Miller's blog for links to all the updated posts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CSFF Tour - Curse of the Spider King Day 2

Wayne Thomas Batson
Teacher of middle school students, spinner of pirate yarns, doorman for The Door Within, husband, father.

Christopher Hopper

Author, musician, pastor, traveler, visionary, consumer of sushi, husband, father.

The CSFF tour for November is featuring a collaboration between these two authors, Curse of the Spider King, first in the Berinfell Prophecies. I introduced the book yesterday, and will review it tomorrow. Today I wanted to tell you about these men, as there's more than just a book involved here.

Unfortunately, Spider King is the first book I've read of either author (a problem I shall have to remedy). However, I've known about and followed these guys for a while. I am very pleased that the CSFF is featuring their work because they are serious about reaching a young generation with the love of Jesus and the love of literature and creativity. These are two things I can certainly get behind.

Wayne is a public school teacher, who decided to write for those he worked with day to day. Christopher has grown up in ministry, and among his many hats he works with teens and college aged folk. If you check out their sites, they are not shy about wanting to reach kids. They also do their part to foster a greater appreciation of reading, especially fantasy. They've done tours, spoken at schools and churches, and supported other authors, hoping to make a difference in their realm of influence.

Wayne asks on his blog for people willing to pray and support their work, that doors will be opened. As he points out, in a battle artillery is needed to weaken the defenses of the enemy. As Christians our weapons are spiritual, and our warfare is through prayer and the Word. I encourage all interested in the next generation and in good art to support these guys, as they walk out their hearts.

A few more points of interest:

Ryan Heart has a great interview with Wayne and Christopher.

Robert Treskillard has a good opening for the Berinfell Prophecies (even if he is biased ;-)).

There is also a special contest by Wayne and Christopher, and if you are going to point young readers to their books, you should also direct them here!

Finally, check out the rest of my tourmates, as Becky Miller keeps an updated list of who has posted, and I'll have my review tomorrow!

CSFF Tour - Curse of the Spider King

"That is SO imaginative!"

That's the quote from my 7 year old when Curse of the Spider King arrived at my house. This book is the first in the Berinfell Prophecies series, a collaborative project from Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper.

The book is a nice quality hardback, with a glossy cover and an engrossing image of soldiers riding on spiders. What could be creepier than spiders big enough to mount?

The Spider King is hunting for 7 children on Earth who are really refugees from the world of Allyra. As these children turn thirteen, a battle erupts over them between the remnants of Allyra and the soldiers of the Spider King. Will they return to Allyra and face their destiny, or will their loved ones pay the price in this world?

These two authors are no stranger to the world of speculative fiction, both having written their own successful series. Seeing them come together promises to be an imaginative storm unleashed on the literary landscape.

Come back tomorrow and Wednesday for more on this exciting youth series, and be sure to check out my fellow tourmates for more on Curse of the Spider King, as well as the official site for the book.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Amy Browning
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Tina Kulesa
Melissa Lockcuff
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Cara Powers
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fiction Reviewing

Forensics and Faith, the excellent blog by Brandilyn Collins, had a guest post from Jake Chism regarding reviewing fiction. He gives 10 quality tips for writing a review. He talks about writing an appropriate size summary, staying away from spoilers (pet peeve of mine), and not shying away from the negative.

This is a good post for all my fiction buddies out there. Thanks Brandilyn and Jake! You can find more from Jake at Fiction Addict. Sound like my type of place!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CFBA Tour - Fit to Be Tied

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Fit to Be Tied

Zondervan (November 1, 2009)


Robin Lee Hatcher


Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Whispers from Yesterday), the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance (Patterns of Love and The Shepherd's Voice), two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 50 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home outside of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon


Cleo Arlington dresses like a cowboy, is fearless and fun-loving, and can ride, rope, and wrangle a horse as well as any man. In 1916, however, those talents aren’t what most young women aspire to. But Cleo isn’t most women. Twenty-nine years old and single, Cleo loves life on her father’s Idaho ranch. Still, she hopes someday to marry and have children.

Enter Sherwood Statham, an English aristocrat whose father has sentenced him to a year of work in America to “straighten him out.” Sherwood, who expected a desk job at a posh spa, isn’t happy to be stuck on an Idaho ranch. And he has no idea how to handle Cleo, who’s been challenged with transforming this uptight playboy into a down-home cowboy, because he has never encountered a woman succeeding in a “man’s world.”

Just about everything either of them says or does leaves the other, well, fit to be tied. Cleo Arlington knows everything about horses but nothing about men. And though Cleo believes God’s plan for her includes a husband, it couldn’t possibly be Sherwood Statham. Could it?

Their bumpy trot into romance is frustrating, exhilarating, and ultimately heartwarming.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fit to Be Tied , go HERE.

Watch the book video Trailer:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

CFBA Tour - One Fine Season

Jason says: I haven't had a chance to review this book yet. There is an interesting review at Mocha with Linda that suggests there are questionable ideas in the book. I'm not sure, but I wanted to point it out as Linda has read the book.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Fine Season

AuthorHouse (November 25, 2008)


Michael Sheehan


Michael Sheehan is CEO and founder of BioResource, a company that distributes natural remedies including the popular INFLAMYAR ointment for sports injuries. He wrote One Fine Season to honor the memories of two childhood friends who died young, before they could realize their dreams.

One Fine Season is true to life. It draws on Sheehan’s religious education at a Catholic seminary and his experience as a high school baseball and collegiate soccer player. A graduate of Santa Clara University, Sheehan also earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University. He lives in Northern California.


ONE FINE SEASON tells the story of a promising young athlete who must rise from the ashes of devastating personal loss to fulfill a pact made years earlier with his best friend.

Best friends Pete O’Brien and Danny Grace are gifted college athletes, both hoping for careers as professional baseball players. When tragedy strikes, Danny struggles to cope with his overwhelming grief and fulfill a pact the young men made years earlier: to play in the World Series.

Events unexpectedly thrust Danny into the spotlight with the new expansion team in Sacramento. Three guides – an aging catcher, spiritual centerfielder and wise manager – plus a beautiful woman lead him on a healing journey, revealing that even death cannot break the bonds of true friendship.

If you would like to read an excerpt from the first chapter of One Fine Season, go HERE