CFBA Tour – Auralia’s Colors

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Auralia’s Colors (WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007) by Jeffrey Overstreet.I am almost done with this book. I will have more to say about it for a later blog tour since I’m not quite to the end yet. What I do want to point out is that this book is the most unique piece of fiction that I have read in my 1 1/2 years of actively reading/reviewing novels.

The description of this book before I received it was that it was a beautifully done literary work, with language that paints a vibrant a picture as Auralia’s Colors do in the story. Jeffrey takes time painting with words a very vivid description, full of metaphor and using the power of language in a formidable, haunting tale. In the recent Novel Journey interview with Dean Koontz, the famous author described the importance of using rich figures of speech in such a way – I would suggest that this book is what he had in mind when he talked about it.

The book takes a little more effort to read – it is suspenseful, but not in a way that zings the reader along. It takes a little more effort to mine the riches here. Sometimes the book suffers in the way it changes point of view characters in chapters – I got a little lost at times with the overall “where is this going?” Still, I am highly enjoying this story, and am looking forward to completing this particular thread.ABOUT THE BOOK:
As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia’s Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to Jeffrey’s introduction of the book, plus a lot more!

CFBA Tour – Auralia’s Colors

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Auralia’s Colors (WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007) by Jeffrey Overstreet.I am almost done with this book. I will have more to say about it for a later blog tour since I’m not quite to the end yet. What I do want to point out is that this book is the most unique piece of fiction that I have read in my 1 1/2 years of actively reading/reviewing novels.

The description of this book before I received it was that it was a beautifully done literary work, with language that paints a vibrant a picture as Auralia’s Colors do in the story. Jeffrey takes time painting with words a very vivid description, full of metaphor and using the power of language in a formidable, haunting tale. In the recent Novel Journey interview with Dean Koontz, the famous author described the importance of using rich figures of speech in such a way – I would suggest that this book is what he had in mind when he talked about it.

The book takes a little more effort to read – it is suspenseful, but not in a way that zings the reader along. It takes a little more effort to mine the riches here. Sometimes the book suffers in the way it changes point of view characters in chapters – I got a little lost at times with the overall “where is this going?” Still, I am highly enjoying this story, and am looking forward to completing this particular thread.ABOUT THE BOOK:
As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia’s Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to Jeffrey’s introduction of the book, plus a lot more!

Final Thoughts on Stephen Lawhead

On this tour for Stephen Lawhead, I was thinking that I may have come across as a little hard on his books. I mentioned that he was streaky, and listed a few books that came across as disappointments for me. After thinking about this, that may be a little unfair. I’ve enjoyed other books of his so much, if others didn’t hit that standard, then that’s when I felt they didn’t measure up.

I was reading Stephen Lawhead before I really understood about “Christian fiction.” Getting into the first two books of the Song of Albion series was a wonderful fictive journey. Yes, I didn’t find the last book of that trilogy as catchy, but the end of it was such a wonderful payoff. There was a thread he’d woven through the whole series that I would’ve missed had I not persevered until the end. It still rates up in the two top “Wow!” moments I’ve had when reading books.

His historical fiction novel Byzantium was another greatly enjoyable book. It was entertaining, but it also illuminated a time in history that I had never known about before. Anyone with a love of Celtic and Middle Age history should pick up that book.

So yes, I still hold that some books of his are better than others. When is this not going to be the case with an author? It may hit Mr. Lawhead because so many times he writes series, so it is more noticeable. I just didn’t want the wrong impression. Stephen Lawhead is one of the top craftsmen in Christian fiction (and historical fantasy fiction in general). Don’t miss out on his work.

Final Thoughts on Stephen Lawhead

On this tour for Stephen Lawhead, I was thinking that I may have come across as a little hard on his books. I mentioned that he was streaky, and listed a few books that came across as disappointments for me. After thinking about this, that may be a little unfair. I’ve enjoyed other books of his so much, if others didn’t hit that standard, then that’s when I felt they didn’t measure up.

I was reading Stephen Lawhead before I really understood about “Christian fiction.” Getting into the first two books of the Song of Albion series was a wonderful fictive journey. Yes, I didn’t find the last book of that trilogy as catchy, but the end of it was such a wonderful payoff. There was a thread he’d woven through the whole series that I would’ve missed had I not persevered until the end. It still rates up in the two top “Wow!” moments I’ve had when reading books.

His historical fiction novel Byzantium was another greatly enjoyable book. It was entertaining, but it also illuminated a time in history that I had never known about before. Anyone with a love of Celtic and Middle Age history should pick up that book.

So yes, I still hold that some books of his are better than others. When is this not going to be the case with an author? It may hit Mr. Lawhead because so many times he writes series, so it is more noticeable. I just didn’t want the wrong impression. Stephen Lawhead is one of the top craftsmen in Christian fiction (and historical fantasy fiction in general). Don’t miss out on his work.

CSFF Tour – Review of Scarlet

Yesterday for the CSFF tour I posted my review of the first book of the Raven King Trilogy, Hood. In it I mentioned that, while I have enjoyed many of Stephen Lawhead’s books, I have found him to be a streaky writer. In the Song of Albion series, the first two books were great, while the third one got a little tedious. I enjoyed The Iron Lance of the Celtic Crusades series, but bogged down in The Black Rood. Same with the Pendragon Cycle: loved the first book, lost interest in the second. Does the sophomore curse affect the second book of his new series, Scarlet?

I can answer a resounding NO.

Scarlet is a better book than its predecessor. Not that Hood wasn’t very enjoyable, but Scarlet improves some pacing issues and kept me intrigued more. It is the story of Will Scarlet, here a Saxon forester who is displaced from his lands and decides to seek out the infamous King Raven, who is tormenting the Normans (Ffreinc) who have invaded the lands of the Welsh. After joining Rhi Bran y Hud, Scarlet’s skill allows him to become a trusted member of Bran’s inner circle. As the fugitives work toward eventual freedom for their kingdom, Will becomes captured and is set for the noose (hence the cover of the book).

The book has an interesting structure. It is mainly from Will Scarlet’s point of view, first person, as he is in prison awaiting his hanging. He is telling his story to a priest who is acting as a scribe. It is a unique way to tell a story such as this, and it surprisingly works very well. There are some asides from Will to the poor Norman priest throughout, but instead of being distracting, it adds to the understanding of who Will is. The book occasionally shifts to third person when it moves into another character’s point of view.

Lawhead’s ability to weave an enchanting story from history and legend is unparalleled. His research and knowledge base is always top-notch, it is only a matter if he’s created a strong plot to go along with it. This time around he keeps the action near and the suspense palpable. The back and forth between Rhi Bran and the invaders is never fully decided throughout the book. There is also a nice tension with the politics running through the book that leaves us with an imposing cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until the third book, Tuck, comes out (which sadly won’t be for a while due to the author’s recent illness).

The storytelling sequence by Angharad is interesting yet the slowest part of the tale, much like in Hood. Occasionally the POV changes among different antagonists is confusing. However, this is a book with great setting, characters, and plot. I highly recommend the series so far, as it is a very good introduction to Stephen Lawhead.

See Day 1’s post for others in the tour, and I’ll have some wrap-up tomorrow.

CSFF Tour – Review of Scarlet

Yesterday for the CSFF tour I posted my review of the first book of the Raven King Trilogy, Hood. In it I mentioned that, while I have enjoyed many of Stephen Lawhead’s books, I have found him to be a streaky writer. In the Song of Albion series, the first two books were great, while the third one got a little tedious. I enjoyed The Iron Lance of the Celtic Crusades series, but bogged down in The Black Rood. Same with the Pendragon Cycle: loved the first book, lost interest in the second. Does the sophomore curse affect the second book of his new series, Scarlet?

I can answer a resounding NO.

Scarlet is a better book than its predecessor. Not that Hood wasn’t very enjoyable, but Scarlet improves some pacing issues and kept me intrigued more. It is the story of Will Scarlet, here a Saxon forester who is displaced from his lands and decides to seek out the infamous King Raven, who is tormenting the Normans (Ffreinc) who have invaded the lands of the Welsh. After joining Rhi Bran y Hud, Scarlet’s skill allows him to become a trusted member of Bran’s inner circle. As the fugitives work toward eventual freedom for their kingdom, Will becomes captured and is set for the noose (hence the cover of the book).

The book has an interesting structure. It is mainly from Will Scarlet’s point of view, first person, as he is in prison awaiting his hanging. He is telling his story to a priest who is acting as a scribe. It is a unique way to tell a story such as this, and it surprisingly works very well. There are some asides from Will to the poor Norman priest throughout, but instead of being distracting, it adds to the understanding of who Will is. The book occasionally shifts to third person when it moves into another character’s point of view.

Lawhead’s ability to weave an enchanting story from history and legend is unparalleled. His research and knowledge base is always top-notch, it is only a matter if he’s created a strong plot to go along with it. This time around he keeps the action near and the suspense palpable. The back and forth between Rhi Bran and the invaders is never fully decided throughout the book. There is also a nice tension with the politics running through the book that leaves us with an imposing cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until the third book, Tuck, comes out (which sadly won’t be for a while due to the author’s recent illness).

The storytelling sequence by Angharad is interesting yet the slowest part of the tale, much like in Hood. Occasionally the POV changes among different antagonists is confusing. However, this is a book with great setting, characters, and plot. I highly recommend the series so far, as it is a very good introduction to Stephen Lawhead.

See Day 1’s post for others in the tour, and I’ll have some wrap-up tomorrow.

(Another’s) Thoughts on “The Golden Compass”

I can’t say that I’ve read any of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I’m interested to read them at some point, but all the books… *le sigh*

However, I came across a great article written by Jeffrey Overstreet discussing the movie The Golden Compass in a very intelligent manner. I highly encourage you to check it out.

Hat tip to the illustrious Mir

(Another’s) Thoughts on “The Golden Compass”

I can’t say that I’ve read any of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I’m interested to read them at some point, but all the books… *le sigh*

However, I came across a great article written by Jeffrey Overstreet discussing the movie The Golden Compass in a very intelligent manner. I highly encourage you to check it out.

Hat tip to the illustrious Mir

CSFF Tour – Scarlet, Day 1

This month’s CSFF tour is featuring the book Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead. As it is book two in the King Raven Trilogy, I thought it would be nice if somewhere in the tour there was a review of the first book, Hood.

Oh. I just happened to write one last year.

Today you get this review, and tomorrow I will provide my review of Scarlet. At the end of my post is the list of participants – make sure to check them out as well.

From December ’06:


Most of the books I review are through the two blogging groups I belong to. I keep busy enough with those books, but I do venture out to the library for other stories. One I read this fall that I enjoyed very much was Hood, by Stephen Lawhead.

He seems to be a streaky writer. He’ll have a very strong story followed by one that loses my interest quickly. I was very interested in his new King Raven trilogy, but would it catch my attention and hold it?

Thankfully, yes.

Hood is a re-imaging of the Robin Hood legend. And not of the Kevin Costner variety. I am sure there are many aficionados on this subject out there who might begin to argue with Lawhead’s premise, but I think he will quickly short-circuit any criticism. He sets the story in Wales instead of England, during the time when the French (Ffreinc) control England and are encroaching into Welsh territory. As a point of interest, he gives an appendix that discusses his research and choice of scenery.

Bran ap Brychan is a spoiled lout of a prince when his harsh father is cut down by the troops of a Norman count. As a fugitive he is almost killed, but is saved by a withered old woman whose mysteries both repulse and intrigue the young lord. As he is nursed to health, he catches a vision of what he could become.

Meanwhile, political intrigue is stirring in the land, which may include a young woman named Merian. Will Rhi Bran follow his destiny and free his lands and people from their cruel masters? How will he overcome the invading forces of the Ffreinc?

The book will appeal to fans of historical fiction, action tales, and fantasy alike. Lawhead has a gift for tales of British folklore, and Hood is the perfect subject for him to tackle. He catches your attention quickly with tragedy and discovery. You will come across familiar faces set in new ways – and in this prepare to be enchanted! He does a fun turn with some of the famous Robin Hood supporting cast.

The turning of Bran’s character is thoughtful and inspiring. The wickedness he is up against is a good foil – you’re ready to root against the enemy. But you don’t always know who the enemy is either. The book does slow a little in the middle, but it does not disappoint. The ending leaves you hanging and anxious for book 2 (Scarlet).

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

CSFF Tour – Scarlet, Day 1

This month’s CSFF tour is featuring the book Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead. As it is book two in the King Raven Trilogy, I thought it would be nice if somewhere in the tour there was a review of the first book, Hood.

Oh. I just happened to write one last year.

Today you get this review, and tomorrow I will provide my review of Scarlet. At the end of my post is the list of participants – make sure to check them out as well.

From December ’06:


Most of the books I review are through the two blogging groups I belong to. I keep busy enough with those books, but I do venture out to the library for other stories. One I read this fall that I enjoyed very much was Hood, by Stephen Lawhead.

He seems to be a streaky writer. He’ll have a very strong story followed by one that loses my interest quickly. I was very interested in his new King Raven trilogy, but would it catch my attention and hold it?

Thankfully, yes.

Hood is a re-imaging of the Robin Hood legend. And not of the Kevin Costner variety. I am sure there are many aficionados on this subject out there who might begin to argue with Lawhead’s premise, but I think he will quickly short-circuit any criticism. He sets the story in Wales instead of England, during the time when the French (Ffreinc) control England and are encroaching into Welsh territory. As a point of interest, he gives an appendix that discusses his research and choice of scenery.

Bran ap Brychan is a spoiled lout of a prince when his harsh father is cut down by the troops of a Norman count. As a fugitive he is almost killed, but is saved by a withered old woman whose mysteries both repulse and intrigue the young lord. As he is nursed to health, he catches a vision of what he could become.

Meanwhile, political intrigue is stirring in the land, which may include a young woman named Merian. Will Rhi Bran follow his destiny and free his lands and people from their cruel masters? How will he overcome the invading forces of the Ffreinc?

The book will appeal to fans of historical fiction, action tales, and fantasy alike. Lawhead has a gift for tales of British folklore, and Hood is the perfect subject for him to tackle. He catches your attention quickly with tragedy and discovery. You will come across familiar faces set in new ways – and in this prepare to be enchanted! He does a fun turn with some of the famous Robin Hood supporting cast.

The turning of Bran’s character is thoughtful and inspiring. The wickedness he is up against is a good foil – you’re ready to root against the enemy. But you don’t always know who the enemy is either. The book does slow a little in the middle, but it does not disappoint. The ending leaves you hanging and anxious for book 2 (Scarlet).

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise