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So the tour is back on schedule, and this month’s book is “The God Hater” by Bill Myers.  The book is a sci-fi work, and I wasn’t very excited before reading it.  The title put me off, and I’m not a very big fan of sci-fi.  However, I’ve found from doing the tour that I might miss out on some extremely good books based on such criteria.

And Bill Myer’s book, while not as big of a pleasant surprise as books like “The Charlatin’s Boy”, was a good read and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.  The sci-fi element was not as intense as I had assumed it would be, but it definitely increases the further along you read.

The title of the book is based on one of the work’s main characters, a professor who enjoys breaking down the religious beliefs of his students and anyone else who shares with others how they believe.  And through the parallels we see later on in the book, I think we find that the title shows us a problem common to all of mankind to some extend.  It shows that one can claim to follow God, yet meet him face to face and not only not recognize Him… but end up persecuting Him.

I enjoyed all the different elements of the story, and though some particulars in the book do not match up with the Bible, if I remember right most or all of those were limited to being in the fictional world that the book’s fictional characters themselves create.  Add to this that the author inserts a note at the beginning of the book that addresses the issue, and I think readers will be able to understand that these incorrect elements are not meant to be taken as applicable to reality.  I wish more authors would start their books with notes like this, and I’m definitely planning on having such notes in all of my novels.  Overall, I felt like the book made truths of God plain, and easily reached beyond a superficial claim of being a spiritual work of Christian fiction.

I would recommend this book to anyone who does not understand the sacrifice that God has made for his people, as well as for anyone who likes sci-fi or books full of adventure.

Here are some related links:

Book link  –  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1439153264 (or an alternate link of your choice)
Author’s web site – http://www.thegodhater.com/
Author’s Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bill-Myers/44983396181

Check out the fellow blog tour members to see what they think:
Noah Arsenault
Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Kathy Brasby
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
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

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

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So from the start I was excited about reading this session’s book for the CSFFBT, Raven’s Ladder, mostly because I had seen good reviews around the web.  But I was especially excited because I had seen good reviews of Jeffrey Overstreet’s latest work from authors whom I admire for their own books.

First off, this is a book that truly does give honor God.  As far as I can tell, it supports very well the heart of Christ.  There’s much to gain spiritually from Raven’s Ladder.

The characters in this story are very well done.  The plot lines are solid.  The world in which it is set is awesome, and with that the story behind the story is spectacular.  It fully came to life for me when it was told as a story within the story.  If that sounds confusing, then I will only say that the answer is found… you guessed it… in the story.  You’re more than welcome to dive in and grab ahold of it for yourself!

I had a feeling this was part of a series, but I couldn’t tell right away.  It wasn’t until after I did some looking around that I found out there are 2 previous books in the series… Auralia’s Colors and Cyndere’s Midnight.  Raven’s Ladder stood well as an individual work.  Only the ending let me down in this regard… not because it wasn’t an ending of a book, but because it was also a beginning of the next.  Whether or not it should have been done differently I cannot say, but I can say that I would have been much happier if this book (the 3rd in the series) had also included the 4th book.  It’s not fair beginning a new work without first warning the reader Mr. Overstreet! ;P

 This work is bound together wonderfully, as if all its subplots secretly run along a vein of a precious metal in a dark and deep tunnel.  Nothing seems especially unrelated at any point, but certainly everything becomes very much related and important as the story goes on.  The elements of the story are rich, and, as should be expected from any good book, they were especially rich when woven together.  Let the reader understand, Raven’s Ladder strikes a true and shining chord within us all.

It does seem to me that Jeffrey could do a bit more with the world he has created.  But because I have not yet read the first two books, I wonder if I’m mistaken.  Looks to me like I only have one way to find out just how far Jeffrey pushes the limits throughout his world.

No matter the reader’s age, Raven’s Ladder will provide an engaging adventure that will, if the adventurer allows, bring new colors to their life.  I’m looking forward to seeing even more new colors in the rest of this series.

Here are some direct links for the book and author:

Raven’s Ladder http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400074673
Author Web site and blog – http://lookingcloser.org/category/journal/

And the following are links to other bloggers participating in the CSFFBT of Raven’s Ladder:
Brandon Barr
Rachel Briard (BooksForLife)
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

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

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So I had big plans for the tour this month because I love the book so much, not to mention I think that Andrew Peterson just might be the story teller of our age.  I was going to re-read the first book (On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness) and post a review of it, I was going to attempt an email interview with Andrew Peterson, I was going to repost my original review of North! Or Be Eaten.  I was even going to post a review of his brother A.P. Peterson’s book from Rabbit Room Press, “The Fiddler’s Gun”.

But I learned a secret about life, dear reader, that no one else knows about.  I learned it after having our first child, Sarah Hope, only a few weeks ago. 

That secret, my friend, is…

Things don’t always go as planned.

I know, it’s something I’m sure none of you have experienced.  But please, believe me when I say it’s true!  It really is true!

Ok, so maybe I’ve been learning that one all my life, and maybe it’s a secret that everybody already knows.  But it’s true just the same.

So I hope I’ve distracted from the fact that I was lame and didn’t do any of those things on the list… even though I just reminded you of that very fact.  But at least I can do one of them now, repost my review of Andrew Peterson’s second book in the Wingfeather Saga… North! Or Be Eaten.

Before I do that, just let me say… I love this book!

This is a book I’ve been looking forward to for a while!  Normally things I wait this long to be entertained by end up disappointing me.

Not this book though!

From the very first chapter I was caught back up into the excitement of the Wingfeather Saga.  It took a few chapters for a few details from the last book to come back to me, but that wasn’t the book’s fault.  Whenever Andrew dropped a hint from the past the memories flooded in like a welcome tide.  It made me want to read the first book all over again.

So on the story went, in directions I wasn’t expecting.  There were many pleasant surprises, though they weren’t all pleasant for the characters to go through.  I did see a few surprises coming, but I think it’s because I’m familiar with AP through his music, and because he’s a fellow Christian.

The characters are deepened and developed more in this book than in most of the books I’ve read.  Take in where they started from in the first book, “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness”, and it’s amazing to think of where they are compared to where they started from.  I have a feeling that the next book will do even more with them than both of the first two books combined.

I’m loving the setting of the books, the world of Aerwiar.  It’s a land of excitement and epic epochs.  Every image of Aerwiar that the book conjures up has filled my mind with bright vibrant color and overwhelming life (except those places in which life is snuffed out, color is erased by the wicked, or where all is dipped into the darkest black).  The pictures he scattered throughout the pages definitely drew my interest deeper.  I doubt Andrew will write enough books or draw enough pictures to fill my mind with all there is to the world he has created, and the world he is still creating.

The adventure of the book was thick throughout.  It was always one notch more exciting than I expected at any given time.  The drama of the tale unfolded naturally through the course of the journey, leaving NO time to wonder if the pace was too slow or too fast.  After reading the book I feel like I should have a torn up traveling outfit hung on my wall for a display to all.

And while I know I should have seen it coming, the power that filled the last part of the book blew me over.  There was one line in particular that broke me down.  My eyes flooded and my heart stole my mind away for well over ten minutes.  After that I was able to get back to the book.  There were a few more parts that caused my soul to pause and reflect, to soak it all in and breathe deeply the truths of the Living God.  I was compelled to think on Christ’s love, and it was so easy to comply.  The power lasted long after the last words, and I was assured that it goes back farther than the first book.

It was all strengthened by the fact that the next day I read a verse in the Bible that reflected the same truths written in that line that took my breath away.  I don’t know if Andrew had that Scripture in mind, but I’m sure he had the Author of Scripture in his heart as he wrote.

I really want to thank Andrew for writing this book and series.  I want to thank his family too.  As a writer myself I know the impact a wife can have on one’s writing, and I know about some of the sacrifice a wife has to make to let her husband immerse himself in the world he’s making.  And I can’t help but think that his kids are adding light and color to almost every corner of Aerwiar.  Thank you Petersons!

North! Or Be Eaten is an amazing story, and an amazing sequel to an awesome beginning.  I recommend the book to anyone of any age.  I’m truly hoping for many more books in Aerwiar, set in anytime in its history.

Thank God He has made people in His creative Image!!!

To pick up a copy, visit either http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400073871
or  https://store.rabbitroom.com/books/north-or-be-eaten

For more on the Wingfeather Saga, visit http://wingfeathersaga.com/

For more on Andrew Peterson, check out http://www.andrew-peterson.com  and  http://www.rabbitroom.com/

For more from the publisher, go to http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/

Now if you aren’t already ordering the book, I’m sure these other tour members will be convinced enough themselves to try and convince you to do so!

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Amy Browning
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
Nissa
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Steve and Andrew
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
KM Wilsher

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We look at life as that which fulfills our souls, things that reach to our deepest of parts.  In doing so we miss the very thing we think we’re looking for.  We miss it because life isn’t about us, it’s about God.

Although life will fulfill our deepest parts, we’ll never find life by attempting to be satisfied.  True satisfaction and fulfillment come as by-products of finding life… by-products of finding God.  May we enjoy this benefit of life, but more importantly, may we truly live!

John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

God be praised!!!

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BookI was invited to review “Sir Dalton And The Shadow Heart”.  It’s book three of Chuck Black’s series “The Knights of Arrethrae”.  I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, or any of Chuck’s other books, so I can’t speak to how it fits in the series.  However, I do have some thoughts on this work.

For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Chuck Black provides a Q&A section at the back that teaches outright the spiritual lessons he tries to bring out in his story.  Each chapter has a set of questions that ask the reader to reflect upon their own life and upon the truth of God.  It felt to me like it would be best used by a group doing lessons together over a period of time.

That’s not a very exciting setup for a book.  And when I first started reading Sir Dalton’s tale, I really wasn’t into it.  It seemed like a generic story forced into the form of a lesson.  But with the shortness of the book, and feeling that the author was really trying to do something good here, I read on.

And to my surprise, I found that I was slowly drawn in.  Even though simply reading straight through may have been more entertaining, I stayed faithful to checking the questions after every chapter.  I wanted to experience the book as the author intended.  It’s a good thing too, because at the end of the book I found I really appreciated it as a whole.

I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but the book seemed to really take on life later on.  The characters seemed more alive, I was experiencing the world in a deeper way, and the story became more engaging.  And while many of the book’s elements have been overused by other writers over the years, there were some refreshingly new elements.  Well, we know there’s nothing new underneath the sun, but they were new to me.

As long as one can take the book for what it is, I think it will be enjoyed and appreciated.  I haven’t read anything Chuck himself says about the book, but I have a feeling he didn’t intend for the readers to take it as just a story.  He probably wanted them to use it as an entertaining and engaging way to go deeper in their faith.  Whether he wanted that or not, it’s how I’m going to recommend the book.  Use it with fans of fantasy, who are open to both direct and indirect study.  Go through it, and then lead a group in a study.  If you lead a devoted youth group then I think you could use this book with them.  I imagine it would be great for parents to go through with their younger children.

There’s a need to consider the doctrine of the book, since the author outright declares some things as truths.  Overall, I really appreciate what Chuck wanted to get across.  There are lessons in there that are sorely needed.  I don’t agree with everything he had to say.  I’d encourage readers to look EVERYTHING up in the Bible.  Don’t just take his word for it, and don’t just take my word for it either.  There are a few things he has assumed, which may or may not be right, but make sure you look to what God says in the Bible and have that as your only foundation for truth.

As long as one is willing to trust COMPLETELY in the Bible, this is a good book for them.  If they aren’t, then it’s possible that it may encourage them to reconsider.  Again, just as a work of fiction I don’t think it’s anything grand.  And as just a lesson it’s valuable but not necessarily a “life changing experience”.  But putting it all together it sure seems to me to be worth while and useful.  I’m very glad I finished the book.

Thanks, Chuck Black!

 

Information from the publisher, Multnomah Books…

Summary:

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished.

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes—life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?

Young adults will be inspired to strengthen their faith along with Sir Dalton, as they follow his exciting and action-packed journey to overcome his doubts and renew his commitment to the King and the Prince in this third installment of Chuck Black’s popular Knights of Arrethtrae series.

Author bio.:

authorChuck Black traveled with the Air Force as a communications engineer and F-16 fighter pilot and began a career as a product design engineer. Chuck and his wife, Andrea, homeschool their six children and have a family music ministry that travels throughout the region. He is the author of nine novels, has been published in The Old Schoolhouse e-zine, and has received praise from parents across the country for his unique approach to telling biblical truths. Chuck and his family live in Williston, North Dakota.

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After hearing and seeing enough about HDR pictures I decided to look into them myself.  Basically, an HDR picture is when you take three pictures of the same thing:

  1. underexposed
  2. normal
  3. overexposed

Then you take those pictures and add them together to get the fullest range possible of what you actually saw with your eyes.  The reason for this?… because cameras aren’t as smart as our eyes (God’s a better designer than man!).  Cameras don’t see the full depth and range of color and light that our eyes see.  So you capture all those things in three separate pictures and then you put them together.  And you can also create special effects in HDRs as well to get some stunning effects.

Now I’m no expert, so this explanation won’t get you a degree.  But it will give you a basic understanding.

So why should you care?  Well, let me show you.  First, here’s a few of my newbie HDR projects (HDRs on the right):

rainbow hdr-comparison

valley hdr comparison

Believe it or not, the hdr image on the right here is how the colors ACTUALLY LOOKED IN REAL LIFE. Taken at the "Grand Canyon of Yellowstone NP"

hdr comparison- effects

And finally, the following are a few breath-takers from around the webernet (NOT MINE, click on the pictures to go to the original poster’s page)…

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There are enough little critters in Mount Rainier National Park to keep people interested year after year.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Mount Rainier is full of life one could hardly expect to see it all.

There are a few big cats that roam around the mountainside.  They are rarely seen by people though, so you don’t have to worry much about being attacked by one.  Just remember to keep animals on a leash and to not let small children wonder off.  Keeping your food packed up and your campsite clean will also add safety to your visit.  And if you see one… don’t pet it.

Here are three of the parks big furballs…

Puma/Cougar/Mountain Lion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobcat:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynx (not seen in the park since 1906)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve posted before on a couple of the deer, but here are some more pictures…

Elk/Wapiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Tailed Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mule Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The deer I’ve seen around the park, and it’s cool every time.  I’m still hoping to see a big cat!  The more we can get out there to camp on Mt. Rainier the more chances we’ll have to see one.  And it’s that time again to resupply for summer camping.  Time for a visit to Whittaker Mountaineering!

I’ve probably said this a hundred times, but I know it’s truer every time I think about it… God is amazing!!!  If it’s overwhelming to see His creatures here in this world, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like to see the heavenly ones someday!  Praise God!!!

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