CSFF Tour – Venom and Song Day 2

Continuing the CSFF Tour of Venom and Song, the latest book by the dynamic duo of Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, one would expect a review of the book, right?

If I had been able to rip it away from my 10 year old long enough to finish it, I would review it.

I guess I can’t blame him – he had a Barnes and Noble gift card from his birthday, so really I’m trying to steal his book. But…he knew I had a deadline!

Instead, I am going to attempt a difficult task: interpret a 10 year old boy’s thoughts of, “Cool! Awesome!” into a coherent review.

Remember that this is book two, following last year’s Curse of the Spider King (see the tour here, there, and here too). We read that together as a family out loud over a couple months at bedtime. The timing worked out that we finished Curse right before Venom came out, so he launched right into it. Both boys enjoyed the action, characters, and suspense of the first book. (A favorite line was when an Elf was asked if she knew what the other Elves were up to due to telepathy. The answer: “A cell phone.”)


All boy



As Nathan read through it, he proclaimed last weekend it was “his favorite book.” That endorsement from a 10 year old should be enough. I hope so, because I tried to ask why it was his favorite. Turns out 10 year old boys aren’t very good at explaining their feelings! He thought it was “cool” and “awesome.”

I pressed him for more. He like the action, the characters, and the suspense (had to define “suspense” for him). His favorite character was the teenage elven lord Jett, due to his power of super-strength and his past history of being a star football player. He didn’t care for Kat or Kiri Lee, two other lords, because they didn’t have “cool powers” (telepathy and air-walking). I wondered if it was the fact they were girls, but he didn’t include Autumn, who has super speed, so the power thing must be it.

I also asked him about a theme. As a 10 year old boy, his response was, “Uhhhhhhh.” Finally, he said he saw the importance of teamwork from the book. I don’t think I’d do any better as a 10 year old, so I’ll take it!

So, if you want to know what a typical 10 year old boy thinks of Venom and Song, it is “cool.”

Nuff said!

Oh, and for stuffy grown-up opinions 😉 you can check out Becky Miller’s blog, where she keeps a tab on all posts here.

CSFF Tour – Venom and Song Day 2

Continuing the CSFF Tour of Venom and Song, the latest book by the dynamic duo of Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, one would expect a review of the book, right?

If I had been able to rip it away from my 10 year old long enough to finish it, I would review it.

I guess I can’t blame him – he had a Barnes and Noble gift card from his birthday, so really I’m trying to steal his book. But…he knew I had a deadline!

Instead, I am going to attempt a difficult task: interpret a 10 year old boy’s thoughts of, “Cool! Awesome!” into a coherent review.

Remember that this is book two, following last year’s Curse of the Spider King (see the tour here, there, and here too). We read that together as a family out loud over a couple months at bedtime. The timing worked out that we finished Curse right before Venom came out, so he launched right into it. Both boys enjoyed the action, characters, and suspense of the first book. (A favorite line was when an Elf was asked if she knew what the other Elves were up to due to telepathy. The answer: “A cell phone.”)


All boy



As Nathan read through it, he proclaimed last weekend it was “his favorite book.” That endorsement from a 10 year old should be enough. I hope so, because I tried to ask why it was his favorite. Turns out 10 year old boys aren’t very good at explaining their feelings! He thought it was “cool” and “awesome.”

I pressed him for more. He like the action, the characters, and the suspense (had to define “suspense” for him). His favorite character was the teenage elven lord Jett, due to his power of super-strength and his past history of being a star football player. He didn’t care for Kat or Kiri Lee, two other lords, because they didn’t have “cool powers” (telepathy and air-walking). I wondered if it was the fact they were girls, but he didn’t include Autumn, who has super speed, so the power thing must be it.

I also asked him about a theme. As a 10 year old boy, his response was, “Uhhhhhhh.” Finally, he said he saw the importance of teamwork from the book. I don’t think I’d do any better as a 10 year old, so I’ll take it!

So, if you want to know what a typical 10 year old boy thinks of Venom and Song, it is “cool.”

Nuff said!

Oh, and for stuffy grown-up opinions 😉 you can check out Becky Miller’s blog, where she keeps a tab on all posts here.

CSFF Tour – Venom and Song Day 1

The Prophecies continue!

This month the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Tour is featuring Venom and Song, book 2 in the series The Berinfell Prophecies by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper.

The CSFF Tour featured book one, Curse of the Spider King, last year. It continues the story of the Seven Lords of Berinfell, elven children kidnapped from their kingdom and stranded in our world and left to grow up around the world. The first book details the dramatic adventures in finding the lords as their special powers manifest as teenagers, and their escape into Berinfell.

In Venom and Song, the lords find themselves in their rightful world, which is still a strange place to them. As they undergo training at the distant Whitehall Castle, the Spider King is working a plan to defeat the Elves once and for all.

My thoughts for today relate more to an opportunity books like this offer, rather than the book itself. I like to do these tours featuring Young Adult (YA) speculative fiction because I have 4 kids, including 3 imaginative boys. The older ones, 10 and 8, are at an age where they eat up heroics such as Star Wars/Clone Wars, Narnia, G.I. Joe, and the like.

Thankfully, they are also still at an age where they like reading a book together. It sometimes is difficult to find time, but we really look forward to our reading time at night. I remember my mom reading to me as a kid, so to pass this on to my boys is a joy.

For those who have kids, I highly encourage you to read to your children. It helps them understand how to read something out loud, which is a different skill than reading silently. It also reinforces the love of reading to them.

And if you’re going to read to your kids, then the Berinfell Prophecies is a great place to start! Maybe I’m too much of a ham, but I enjoy reading these books because there are a lot of characters to give variety. Sometimes there’s a little too much, but overall it makes the reading variable. There’s a Scottish character, so I get to give my best Highlands accent. From the gruff warrior general Grimwarden to cook Mumthers (I’m thinking Mrs. Doubtfire here) and the different lords (confident Jett, thoughtful Kiri Lee) I get to really stretch my acting chops. Actually, I noticed at the end of Curse of the Spider King that my wife was making it a point to sit down to hear the exciting story as well!

The books are certainly enjoyable as silent reads, but to read them aloud is another treat altogether.

In other news, see my fellow tourmates below for more Spider-y goodness:

Angela
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
George Duncan
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

CSFF Tour – Venom and Song Day 1

The Prophecies continue!

This month the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Tour is featuring Venom and Song, book 2 in the series The Berinfell Prophecies by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper.

The CSFF Tour featured book one, Curse of the Spider King, last year. It continues the story of the Seven Lords of Berinfell, elven children kidnapped from their kingdom and stranded in our world and left to grow up around the world. The first book details the dramatic adventures in finding the lords as their special powers manifest as teenagers, and their escape into Berinfell.

In Venom and Song, the lords find themselves in their rightful world, which is still a strange place to them. As they undergo training at the distant Whitehall Castle, the Spider King is working a plan to defeat the Elves once and for all.

My thoughts for today relate more to an opportunity books like this offer, rather than the book itself. I like to do these tours featuring Young Adult (YA) speculative fiction because I have 4 kids, including 3 imaginative boys. The older ones, 10 and 8, are at an age where they eat up heroics such as Star Wars/Clone Wars, Narnia, G.I. Joe, and the like.

Thankfully, they are also still at an age where they like reading a book together. It sometimes is difficult to find time, but we really look forward to our reading time at night. I remember my mom reading to me as a kid, so to pass this on to my boys is a joy.

For those who have kids, I highly encourage you to read to your children. It helps them understand how to read something out loud, which is a different skill than reading silently. It also reinforces the love of reading to them.

And if you’re going to read to your kids, then the Berinfell Prophecies is a great place to start! Maybe I’m too much of a ham, but I enjoy reading these books because there are a lot of characters to give variety. Sometimes there’s a little too much, but overall it makes the reading variable. There’s a Scottish character, so I get to give my best Highlands accent. From the gruff warrior general Grimwarden to cook Mumthers (I’m thinking Mrs. Doubtfire here) and the different lords (confident Jett, thoughtful Kiri Lee) I get to really stretch my acting chops. Actually, I noticed at the end of Curse of the Spider King that my wife was making it a point to sit down to hear the exciting story as well!

The books are certainly enjoyable as silent reads, but to read them aloud is another treat altogether.

In other news, see my fellow tourmates below for more Spider-y goodness:

Angela
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
George Duncan
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

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.

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.

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 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
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Tina Kulesa
Melissa Lockcuff
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Nissa
John W. Otte
Cara Powers
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher

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
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Tina Kulesa
Melissa Lockcuff
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Nissa
John W. Otte
Cara Powers
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher