“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, July 26, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour "The Kingdom" by Bryan Litfin--Thrilling Conclusion to Chiveis Trilogy

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Kingdom
Crossway Books (June 30, 2012)
Brian M. Litfin


Bryan earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of Tennessee as well as a master’s degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. He is currently professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he has been since 2002. He teaches courses in theology, church history, and Western civilization from the ancient and medieval periods. He is the author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), as well as several scholarly articles and essays. Bryan has always enjoyed epic adventure stories as well as historical fiction, but most of his reading these days is taken up by academia.

Today Bryan lives in downtown Wheaton in a Victorian house built in 1887. He and his wife Carolyn are parents to two children. For recreation Bryan enjoys basketball, traveling, and hiking anywhere there are mountains. The Litfins attend College Church in Wheaton, where Bryan has served on the Board of Missions and as a deacon. He also helped start Clapham School, a Christian primary school in Wheaton using the classical model of education.

Brian can be reached through the Contact link on his Website


Book Three in the Chiveis Trilogy

War and disease have destroyed the modern world. Centuries later, feudal societies have arisen across Europe. No one can remember the ancient religion of Christianity—until an army captain and a farmer’s daughter discover the Sacred Writing of the one true God.
As Teo and Ana encounter the forgotten words of the holy book, they realize its message is just what their kingdom needs. Though exiled from their homeland, they join their hearts in a quest to return. But now an ancient pact has united the enemies of the Christian faith into a dark alliance that threatens to consume the known world. Racing to stay one step ahead of their enemies, Teo and Ana must battle heinous villains, stormy seas, and the powers of the underworld itself. As armies begin to mass for a final battle, the odds favor the forces of evil. Can Teo and Ana bring divine truth to Chiveis—or will the Word of God fade from the earth forever?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Kingdom, go HERE.

My review:

Can you imagine a place where the Bible has never been heard of and Christianity never preached?  At least in Teo and Ana's day, that's what the reader encounters.  As they get swept into this epic saga, readers find themselves in a land not unlike that of medieval society, except all traces of Christianity are suppressed and it is in fact not the Middle Ages but 400 years in the future.  What a refreshing view, to take a society who has never heard of the Bible and reintroduce Christianity.  How will the society react?  Will they feel threatened after reading the truth of God's Word or rejoice at the beautiful truths presented therein?  Litfin's The Kingdom is an awesome testimony to the power of God's transforming Word and how the discovery of that Word changed everything in the life of two people and one kingdom.

The Kingdom by Bryan Litfin is the third installment in the Chiveis Trilogy.  I would recommend that one read the other two books in the series before this one as The Kingdom directly picks up where the second book leaves off.  Litfin does do a good job of summing up events for those who have not read the other two books, without being too tedious about it.  I had not finished reading the second book in the series (The Gift) by the time I was reading this book and was still able to fully understand and enjoy it. 

The Kingdom has an epic, adventure-like quality to it not unlike The Lord of the Rings or Narnia.  Unlike those classic series though, this is no made-up world.  Instead, The Kingdom is set in the real world, in a vividly imagined post-apocalyptic future.  It's a world that has gone through nuclear warfare and has regressed in terms of technology, thus giving it an otherworldly, fantasy-like feel.  The places Litfin refers to in The Kingdom are all real and many of them are places he has actually visited.

Spiritually, "The Kingdom" packs a big punch!  The characters, especially the main characters, are fully developed in their relationship with the Lord (or Deu, as they call Him).  I love the freshness of the hero's and heroine's (Teo's and Ana's) faith and hunger for the Lord.  They are seeing Scripture through new eyes and just discovering God and Christianity.  It really convicts me of how much I take the ability to own and read the Bible for granted.  I also felt myself having a new vibrancy as I read Scripture just from reading Ana's reaction to different situations.  Ana's love for Deu and her relationship with him is really described so beautifully and is something I want to emulate in my own life.

The characters in The Kingdom are characters the reader will not easily want to part with at the end of the series.  I found myself getting attached to them, especially Ana and Teo.  Teo and Ana are written in such a way that they complement each other.  It is not just Teo who is always coming to the rescue and saving Ana.  Ana, not content to be the "damsel in distress," often ends up saving Teo as well. 
Ana is definitely my favorite character.  She is strong and I like the fact that she saves Teo at times.  As well as being good with a bow and arrow, she is also vulnerable, beautiful, noble, feminine and virtuous (no, she's definitely not perfect).  There is one scene where she will not deny Deu, even if it means her death! 

There are a lot of extra features (for free) on The Chiveis Trilogy website.  There are maps, videos and downloads for each book. 

Content:  The book is a clean read (no bad language or sex).  I would recommend this book to teens and up due to the violent content in a lot of the battle and fighting scenes.  The subject matter of demons and demon possession is also dealt with, sometimes in detail (in reference to spiritual warfare, as the hero's enemies often use demons to give them otherworldly power).  The hero and heroine are tempted sexually but do not give into their temptation knowing that waiting until marriage is God's best plan for them.  The evil priestess is said to wear seductive (even see-through) clothing.  Our hero admits how attractive he finds her at times.  I believe this is to show how beguiling and attractive evil can often look. 

I give this book 5 stars!

I want to thank Bryan Litfin, Crossway Books, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Forgiven Duke Blog Tour--Review & Giveaway!

There is a GIVEAWAY for a signed paperback copy of the Guardian Duke and The Forgiven Duke (Forgotten Castles #1 & #2) to one winner!  Be sure to enter!  Scroll to the bottom to find out more!
The Book: (description from Goodreads)

Tethered by her impulsive promise to marry Lord John Lemon - the path of least resistance - Alexandria Featherstone sets off toward Iceland in search of her parents with a leaden heart. A glimpse of her guardian, the Duke of St. Easton - the path less traveled by - on Dublin’s shore still haunts her.

Will he come after her? Will he drag her back to London, quelling her mission to rescue her treasure-seeking parents, or might he decide to throw caution to the wind and choose Foy Pour Devoir: “Faith for Duty,” the St. Easton motto. The Featherstone motto Valens et Volens: “Willing and Able,” beats in her heart and thrums through her veins. She will find her parents and find their love, no matter the cost.

The powerful yet wing-clipped Duke of St. Easton has never known the challenge that has become his life since hearing his ward’s name. Alexandria Featherstone will be the life or the death of him. Only time and God’s plan will reveal just how much this man can endure for the prize of love.

Book Links:

The Author:

Jamie Carie writes novels about fierce, passionate women; their dreams; their fears; their triumphs. Her deepest desire is to see her readers find that same passion as they follow their destiny and discover deeper intimacy with Jesus.

 She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and three sons.
It's here!  The official Facebook page for The Forgotten Castles series: facebook.com/ForgottenCastles
The Guardian DukeFebruary 2012 See the making of the cover and trailer  here!

The Forgiven Duke – Book 2 in The Forgotten Castles series - July 2012

The Review:

Jamie Carie has done it again! She has produced quite a masterpiece in The Forgiven Duke, the second installment in her “Forgotten Castles” series. I was so impressed by the first book in the series, The Guardian Duke, that I was a little worried the sequel might disappoint. Although the two books are different in some ways, they are both just as good and equally deserving of the five stars I have given them.

In the first book, The Guardian Duke, Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, has been trying to catch his ward, Alexandria Featherstone, in a chase across England and Ireland, but to no avail. Alexandria (Alex) has been trying to locate her parents who are high-profile treasure hunters. At the end, Alex is sailing off on a ship to Iceland as the Duke is on shore watching her leave. They lock eyes for an intense moment over the distance that separates them—and speak to each other in the way only soul mates can. Gabriel has just decided that if he reaches Alex in time, he will abandon the Regent’s wishes to bring Alex back to England and help her in her quest to find her parents. He will choose faith over duty (his family motto is “Faith for Duty”). He knows he loves her and will do whatever it takes.

The Forgiven Duke begins where The Guardian Duke leaves off. The year is 1818. Alex is now aboard the ship with her fiance, John Lemon. Alex realizes she may have made a mistake in trying to escape her guardian, and prays that he will come. She needs him. Alex feels her life has gotten off track. John seems too eager to marry her. She wonders what his real motivations are. In the midst of all this, Alex must be on constant alert for the dangerous men who have been following her since the beginning of her search for her parents. She must also consider if she can trust those who are supposedly her allies.

The Duke follows Alex to Iceland, the last place where “the manuscript” was heard to be. This is what Alex’s parents are searching for. Gabriel travels to the Black Castles of Iceland, huge black pillars from volcanic lava that look like castles. This path is fraught with dangers. Gabriel is deterred again and again. Will he ever make it to Alex in time? Why is the manuscript so valuable? 

Alex and Gabriel do finally meet, and the meeting is so tender and worth the wait! Then a tragedy occurs. Will Alex and the Duke let the tragedy separate them just when they were finally brought together?

I adored this book. It was different from its predecessor in many ways, as I stated before, because it seemed to have a more intense feel to it. The Guardian Duke was a more light-hearted romp, with fun, lovable characters. The Forgiven Duke deals with much weightier subjects. The scenery here, instead of being the verdant Ireland, is the dark, dangerous paths of Iceland.

As I state in my previous review of The Guardian Duke, both are written to have an air of poetry about them. Jamie Carie writes in a way that is lyrical and mesmerizing. The Forgiven Duke uses amazing and wonderfully descriptive language. The land of Iceland feels almost otherworldly. She describes a beautiful land with fire, ice, snow, crevasses, boiling mud pits, volcanoes, and mists.

It was inspiring to watch the journey of faith that Gabriel and Alex’s characters take. Gabriel prays a lot more in this book. He used to love listening to music, but now he uses music to worship God. God fills the hole in him that music used to fill. While reading I began examining myself for different areas where I might be going to things other than God to satisfy my needs. It is a good reality check for all of us. The Duke must come to the end of himself and ask for God’s will in everything. That is a hard place to be, but a good one, because that is really when God can start to use us. 

Alex realizes she is trying to control things by attempting to find her parents her own way and not submitting to the Duke. She now comprehends how much havoc and suffering this has caused to others. I can relate to Alex as I constantly have to give up my own issues of control to God.

I love the storyline of this series because it is fresh, exiting and will whisk you off to new places!

I give this book five stars out of five. It is a clean read. It is Christian fiction.

Click here to go check out all the other sites on the tour!  Thank you so much to Bookshelf Confessions for sponsoring this tour!

I want to thank NetGalley, Jamie Carie and the B&H Publishing Group for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255. 

There is a GIVEAWAY for a signed paperback copy of the Guardian Duke and The Forgiven Duke (Forgotten Castles # 1, #2) to one winner! Be sure to enter. Scroll to the bottom to find out more. US/CAN only.  Follow the Rafflecopter on how to enter.    

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"My Emily" by Matt Patterson Review

My Emily by Matt Patterson is a poignant tale of a precious child's life and the people she touched during her brief time here on earth.  Her Creator made her for a special purpose many years later.  I knew Emily's story would be extremely hard to read because of the many trials her family had to face during her short life.  I also knew that I would be extremely blessed in reading it, but was reluctant to pick it up at the same time.  I was more than rewarded!

I first got to know Matt, the author, through the "International Online Book Club of Clean Reads."  I was so inspired by Matt and how he was always so upbeat and always encouraging and promoting other authors.  At the same time, Matt was also tirelessly promoting his book  My Emily  on the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.  I started to read a few interviews and guest posts that Matt gave on My Emily, and couldn't believe I was weeping over a guest post on a blog I had happened to stumble upon.  Matt's passion just shone through that much on everything he did regarding what he viewed as his calling in life at that time--to get his little book into as many hands as possible and share Emily's story with as many people as possible.  I knew I had to know more about the story of My Emily

Don't be fooled--this little book packs a big punch.  My Emily is the story of Matt's firstborn daughter, Emily.  Emily's life is told from Matt's point of view.  Matt shares on one of his blog entries part of this story.  He tells of how excited he was to find out he was having his first child.  The doctor then told him she was born with Down Syndrome.  Matt talks about how he did not even know what Down Syndrome was at the time.  My heart broke along with his and his wife's as I read that paragraph.  THEN, I read on and came to find out that Emily is later also diagnosed with leukemia.  My heart dropped!  I can not imagine! 

But Matt's attitude is so refreshing in today's society in the way he views his Emily.  He loves her so completely.  That blesses me so much.  I love what he said soon after he found out that Emily was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, "I wanted a boy, but now I had a girl--a girl with a disability.  Did I feel cheated?  Heck no...I didn't understand people's reactions...Whatever the case, my little angels had such a tight grip on my heart.  All I could do was think of them.  Forget about going out for a night on the town for two years.  I could not wait to get home to see my girls and tuck them in" (298).  Matt saw Emily as perfect, just the way His Creator did. 

The rest of the story tells of Emily's struggle with these two diseases.  Matt writes the story just as if he were sitting down with the reader.  He does not try to bog one down with any confusing medical terminology.  He just tells things as they are.  He gives his raw, but oh-so-real emotions, laying bare his heart to the reader.  I think that's why so many people love "My Emily" and can relate to it.  He also breaks up the weighty subject matter with a great sense of humor.  Between the tears, I found myself laughing out loud at Matt's quirkiness. 

Most of all, Matt's message of faith is touching and not preachy.  It is just him sharing his beliefs about God's purpose, perfection, and living each day to the fullest.  These are things he came to terms with as he lived them out.  They are lessons we can all learn from as well.  I was especially touched by the quote he shared from Rick Warren, "You never know God is all you need until God is all you've got."  Thank you Matt for sharing Emily's life with us and letting it continue to bless others!

I give this book 5 stars!  It is a clean read. 

To find out more about Matt Patterson and his book visit his website.

I want to thank Matt Patterson for the complimentary copy of this book for review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

CFBA Tour Serpent of Moses by Don Hoesel--A Fun Globe-Trotting Adventure!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Serpent of Moses
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Don Hoesel


Don Hoesel is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN.  He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal.  He was born and raised in Buffalo, NY but lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children.  Serpent of Moses is his fourth novel.


Moses built and lifted up the brass serpent, healing the afflicted Israelites of snakebites.

King Hezekiah called the serpent Nehushtan.  Long thought destroyed, it's been buried for millennia, secreted under the region's shifting sands.

Now the Israeli government wants it back and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.  Yet they're not the only ones who covet the Nehushtan.

Archaeologist Jack Hawthorne travels to Libya intent on recovering the sacred object, but one does not cross the Mossad and expect to walk away without a fight.  Jack and his friends must find the priceless "snake of brass upon a pole" before those who are also hunting it find them...and silence them forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Serpent of Moses, go HERE.


Note:  This review is by a guest reviewer... my husband, Addison!  Please be kind; it's his first review! :)

Serpent of Moses is a good book and I had a fun time reading it.  When I first read the description of the book, and its main character, the intrepid archaeologist Jack Hawthorne, I immediately thought of other famous adventurers like Indiana Jones and (for the video game savvy) Nathan Drake.  While Jack Hawthorne's adventure through northern Africa in this book may not meet the bar set by those two adventurers, it did provide me with a joyful, fun, easy read.

I went into this book blind, not knowing that there is a preceding book which recounts an earlier adventure of Mr. Hawthorne's.  Having done so, and now after finishing the book, I can say that Don Hoesel, the author, does an excellent job of allowing new-comers to jump right into the story.  All the characters are well-developed within this single tale, and whenever something comes up that requires knowledge of Jack's previous escapades, the author fills you in with just enough details to clear up any confusion, and yet each reference to Jack's earlier adventure left me wanting to go back and read that story as well.  It really is very well done.

The adventure itself is well thought out and has many moving parts.  One of things I most enjoyed was how the narrative continually jumps between the many players in the story.  Seeing the separate paths of all the characters involved and how all those paths wove in and out and eventually came together in the end was quite enjoyable.

While the subject of the book, the Nehushtan or Serpent of Moses, has biblical roots, the story itself only a few times touches on matters of faith.  I was expecting and looking forward to Jack Hawthorne's spiritual growth being a central theme but was left wanting in that respect.

Overall Serpent of Moses was a fun, enjoyable and easy read.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick globe-trotting adventure - it would be a great beach book!

This book is a clean read.  Although there are a few occasional instances of descriptive violence (e.g. a man using a knife to "open the throat" of another man) none of it was gratuitous or overly graphic in my opinion.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

I want to thank Don Hoesel, Bethany House Publishers, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review.The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.