Review- Dragons of the Valley, by Donita K Paul

 January’s second book is “Dragons of the Valley”, by Donita K. Paul.  I received the book a bit late, and was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t finish it in time for the review.  Thankfully it was an engaging book, and I was pulled in enough to get all the reading done.

 The book was fun to read.  I was familiar with the characters from the previous book, and wondered what would happen to them.  So it was nice to have another piece of their story.  The characters and plot were interesting, and it was cool to learn about more of the other races in the world Donita has created.  I really like the different creatures she comes up with!

 I’ve found that the depth of Donita’s descriptions is a bit much for my taste, but only a little.  I try to picture a scene while I read so I can experience it, as I’m sure most readers do.  However with Donita’s books I’m pulled from the activity, and into still images of what she describes.  I’ve discussed this with others who’ve read her books, and it seems like my opinion on this is uncommon.  But this was only a minor problem, and I was able deal with it as I read on.

 The only real complaint I have about this book has nothing to do with this novel itself, and more with its “packaging”.  Nowhere does it mention that there is a previous book which ended only days (in this book’s world) before “Dragons of the Valley” picks up.  Had I not read the previous book through the CSFF Blog Tour I wouldn’t have had a clue that “The Vanishing Sculptor” was a “prequel” to this book, and would have likely missed out on the rest of the tale.  There’s no mention of a series, or that the other books she’s written have anything to do with this book or the world it’s written in.  I’m now wondering if there are other books with the same locations or characters that are part of a greater story that encompasses “Dragons of the Valley”.  Hopefully someone can leave a comment here and let us know, and I’m also hoping that future books can somehow state that they are related to these books.

 I enjoyed the spiritual elements of this book.  Truths are brought to life throughout the tale, and are proclaimed plainly as well.  In this book, and in the previous one, the land of Chiril is waking up to the knowledge of the true God in their world, known as Wulder.  I’m eager to read tales from the far away land Amara, where I’ve gotten the impression that the people have a greater understanding of Wulder, and where the miracle worker Fenworth and his librarian are from.

 I would recommend this book to any fan of fantasy, and especially to fans of dragons.  While dragons are not the focus of the story, they’re certainly a central part of the adventure.

 Thank you Donita K. Paul for another fun adventure!

To pick up a copy of the book visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400073405 

And visit Donita K. Paul’s website at http://www.donitakpaul.com/ or blog at  http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com/

Check out what the other members of the tour had to say:

Gillian Adams
Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Morgan L. Busse
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.

Review- The Wolf of Tebron, by C.S. Lakin (Day 3)

Today is the 3rd and final day of the 1st CSFF Blog Tour of 2010.  The book is “The Wolf of Tebron”, book one of CS Lakin’s “Gates of Heaven” series.  Today’s post will wrap up the internet interview with author CS Lakin, and it will include a quick note on the next book in the “Gates of Heaven Series”… “The Map Across Time”.

    *****     Warning, possible spoilers!!     *****

 You mentioned there were 7 sacred sites.  Was one of these sacred sites in The Wolf of Tebron?

Yes, you see the first sacred site—abandoned at the base of the Moon’s house. Ruyah stands in the center and howls. The site, like some of the others you will encounter, produces a star shape when light hits it from the right angle. This star shape is formed inside the circle of stones. But since most are fallen in spots, the star is never fully formed. You will learn about the significance of the star, its symbolism to the Keepers, in book two—The Map across Time. Each book will show a different site—a Gate of Heaven.

Will we see Joran or any of the other characters from this book appearing in future books?

Yes, you see him again in The Map across Time, when the prince from Sherbourne rides into Tebron and needs a new shoe on his horse. Joran’s brother Callen is the hero of The Land of Darkness. My hope is to interweave all the main characters and past plotlines together in the final book(s) to make one last fight against evil, surrounding the seventh of all the sacred sites (gates of heaven). Each book features a different site, and through the series the reader sees how these protective sites have been abandoned or desecrated to where evil has now penetrated the world of humans.

At one point the book speaks of Joran finally waking up, yet I didn’t see anything that changed at that point.  Was there something I missed?

Joran’s wife is trapped in his dream. When he finally enters his dream and saves her, he can then “wake up.” The theme of dreaming is a metaphor. The book shows how we are like a dream in the mind of God, yet he also made us dreamers. We “wake up” when we see how God has given us life and dreams and as Joran realizes in the end, he can now (being awake) be both the dreamer and the dreamed.

….

Again, thank you CS Lakin for your time on this interview and for bringing us the adventure found in “The Wolf of Tebron”. 

If you, my dear reader, would like to ask CS Lakin more about her books visit her website at http://www.cslakin.com/ or her blog at http://cslakin.blogspot.com/.

Book 2 in the “Gates of Heaven” series is called “The Map Across Time”, scheduled for a 2011 release… 

“The kingdom of Sherbourne is plagued by an ancient curse which must be halted before devastation results. The King’s twin teenagers, Adin and Aletha, use a magical map to go back in time to discover the origin of the curse and its cure, but everything goes awry. Can Adin manipulate events in the stream of time to assure the salvation of his kingdom?”

To pick up a copy of “The Wolf of Tebron” visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0899578888

Here’s what others from the CSFF Blog Tour had to say:

Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

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

Review- The Wolf of Tebron, by C.S. Lakin (Day 2)

So for our 1st book of CSFFBT 2010, “The Wolf of Tebron” by CS Lakin, I had the opportunity to do an internet interview (email Q&A) with the author.  I’ve split the interview into 2 parts, this first part should be spoiler free.  The possible spoilers should be in Wednesday’s post, along with some info on the next book in the “Gates of Heaven” series… “The Map Across Time”.

Why did you pick a wolf for this book?

I wanted to portray God’s loyalty and availability in a way Aslan didn’t represent. I love dogs a lot and feel they teach us so much about God. The wolf is a loyal companion, sticks by Joran’s side through everything he goes through. He is a provider, encourager, and teacher. Yet, the wolf can be fiercely protective, and Ruyah rails against his enemies to save Joran. That’s how I see Jesus—as fighter for us, as he’s the lover of our soul and he will not let the evil one snatch us from his hand.

Does the world this book is set in have a name?

 Fairy Tales do not “name” a different world. It is assumed to be the natural world, or any land in general, but of course, when magic comes into play, the average world is transformed.

Will there be a map put out for the lands in the “Gates of Heaven” series?  

I really dislike maps in fantasy books. They smack of trying to copy The Lord of the Rings by giving their locale some huge importance. If a reader must use a map to understand where his characters are going, then the writer hasn’t done a good enough job in her writing to make the lay of the land clear.

Joran wants to turn down animals when they give him his name, but there’s no Biblical principle to support this attitude.  Why do you think Christians struggle with accepting gifts?

Well, in our world animals don’t do this, so of course there wouldn’t be anything in the Bible to counsel us on that. But Joran’s attitude stems from a respect for their privacy and a feeling that if he’s done a kindness, he needn’t be rewarded. It shows his humility and his good character. It’s not that he doesn’t want a gift; in giving Joran their name, they are relinquishing power to him—so he can summon them at will, as he is unsure he wants that kind of power.

Are we going to learn the story behind the ancient city of Sherbourne?

Sherbourne  is central in The Map across Time, so you will learn much about it and its history in the second installment.

How many books do you think there will be in the “Gates of Heaven” series?

I’ve just completed the fourth tale. I’ve kicked around the idea of possibly ten books in the collection but I supposed we’ll make some decision this year. The Land of Darkness, the third book, should release this fall.

Briefly, what’s the difference between a fantasy story and a faery tale?

There’s a huge distinction between the various subgenres of fantasy and a fairy tale structure. I have some great articles that go into length about this at my website: wwwgatesofheavenseries.com for those who want to examine them. But basically, fairy tales have very specific rules. There is always a task that must be done—usually something nearly impossible, that if gained, will lead to what Chesterton calls “an incomprehensible happiness.” Fairy tales are not just imaginative stories set in other worlds—they are stories that should feel like they begin in our world, an ordinary world, but then transport the character into a world of magic with a very specific end in mind. Think of many of the fairy tales you know—like Jack in the Beanstalk or Cinderella and you will see a pattern like this.

Was one of these sacred sights in The Wolf of Tebron?

…see the answer to this question in tomorrow’s post!

…..

Thank you CS Lakin for your time on this interview, and for a great book.  I’m looking forward to the rest of the “Gates of Heaven” series!

For any readers who have questions for CS Lakin, visit her website at http://www.cslakin.com/  or her blog at http://cslakin.blogspot.com/

To pick up a copy of “The Wolf of Tebron” visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0899578888

Be sure to come back tomorrow for more from CS Lakin!

To read what other bloggers had to say, visit the CSFFBT members at:

Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

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

Review- The Wolf of Tebron, by C.S. Lakin (Day 1)

This round of reviews for the Christian Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog Tour (CSFFBT) is for C.S. Lakin’s “The Wolf of Tebron.  It’s the first book in the “Gates of Heaven” series.  I was honored to have the chance to review this book back in August, and you can find my original review here.

Since then I’ve read through the book again, done an internet interview with C.S. Lakin, and gathered some more thoughts on the book.  I’ll be doing 3 posts during this tour, Lord willing.  Tonight’s post is on some additional thoughts I had after re-reading the book, examining further the experiences of Joran.  Tuesday’s post will be the 1st portion of the internet interview with the author.   Wednesday’s post will be the last part of the interview with the author which includes possible spoilers, as well as a sneak peek mention of the next book in the “Gates of Heaven” series… “The Map Across Time”.

Now onto the book…

There are a lot of things the main character, Joran, experiences as a direct result of his jealousy.  Those experiences do a good job of describing what we really go through as a result of our jealousy.  Jealous people often close themselves off from possible realities that might truly heal their pain.  Instead they embrace a goal of vengeance that promises a peace, yet it only causes more pain for everybody.  Rage takes over, and the spirit and mind become blind and imprisoned.  It’s a horrible experience, and sadly people don’t considered how their own actions can cause others to suffer through this.  I myself have had major struggles with jealousy, and they completely sapped the life out of me for many years.  I couldn’t believe how well “The Wolf of Tebron” brought those experiences to life in Joran.  I felt every single bit of his pain!

At one point in the book Joran is so self-absorbed that he’s angry about his companion Ruyah having fun on their journey, and he considers it to be at the expense of his own self.  He thinks others are taking joy in the very things that he feels are ruining his life, and that they are somehow making it worse for him.  And in that, he is not only ignorant of the hearts and goals of others, but Joran is unable to see the joy set before him.  It’s the nature of a focus on self.  We were made for God, all things were made for God.  We’re supposed to suffer when we lose sight of God, it helps bring us back to Him.  It is able to wake us up from the nightmares we make of our lives, and direct us back to the reality which is the very base of our earthly experiences.

This book is good for those struggling with jealousy and rage ruling their lives.  It can help the reader take a step back and watch somebody going through the extremes of what the reader is going through.  The reader will likely wonder how someone was able to so accurately capture all the feelings they’re struggling with because of jealousy.  It will help the reader see not only how it sucks their lives away, but also see that there is indeed a true escape available to them in Christ.

To check out the book for yourself visit   http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0899578888

Also visit the author’s webpage at http://www.cslakin.com/ 

Or her blog at http://cslakin.blogspot.com/

Check out what the others in the tour had to say:

Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

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