Prophet, by R. J. Larson

2012 Book 48: Prophet, by R. J. Larson (3/14/2012)

Reason for Reading: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

My Review: 4/5 stars
Ela Roeh’s life is turned upside down when The Infinite asks her to become his prophet. She must leave her family, her country, and everything she knows in order to travel to pass on the Infinite’s message to a foreign king. She shows amazing strength of character when she is embroiled in politics and war. This book is Christian Fiction, and is probably meant for young adults; however, despite Ela’s youth, she has the maturity of an adult. The message can be a bit strong (which is understandable given that it is published in the Christian Fiction market) but it’s not preachy, and the message flows pretty smoothly into the plot. Furthermore, the plot is exciting and intriguing enough to keep me curious about what was going to happen. Overall, I think it was an excellent addition to the Christian Fantasy genre and should be enjoyed by the general fantasy audience as well.

A History of the End of the World, Jonathan Kirsch

2012 Book 45: A History of the End of the World, by Jonathan Kirsch (3/10/2012)

Reason for Reading: Out of a vague interest in eschatology. And by that, I mean I’m interested from a sociological point of view why everyone is so fascinated with the end of the world.

My Revew 3.5/5 stars
This book surveys how the Book of Revelation has influenced culture throughout time. It provides a basic idea of how apocalyptic rhetoric has been used and developed with time. However, I didn’t learn much history from this book. In fact, Kirsh mostly assumes that the reader is either familiar with the history or willing to look up the interesting bits elsewhere. It is also very dense, since much of the text is direct quotes or paraphrases from other writers. Kirsch has a strong bias against apocalyptic rhetoric, and his book implies a direct influence of Revelation on pretty much everything bad that has ever happened. Personally, I think the case is over-stated. Apocalyptic rhetoric certainly impacts everyone’s lives in the same way as Shakespearian rhetoric does, but Kirsh implies a more active influence. I had the uneasy feeling that Kirsh was quoting people out of context; and I noticed one time he left important facts out of a historical example, thus misleading the reader. Kirsh also has a distinctly un-Christian leaning (I’m GUESSING he’s a secular Jew), and his views might offend conservative or fundamentalist Christians. Overall, I’m happy I read the book because it provided a broad survey. But I’d like to read others to get a more in-depth look at specifics.

Shadows: Book of Aleth, by Michael Duncan

2012 Book 43: Shadows: Book of Aleth, Part 1, by Michael Duncan (3/3/2012)

Reason for Reading: This was my book club choice for this month. I am in charge of the discussion for the month so I have no choice but to read it! 😉

My Reveiw 4/5 stars
When Aaron, Captain of the Royal Guard, is given a mission to retrieve a stolen book by any means necessary he doesn’t question his orders. He soon finds that not all is as it seems. He becomes embroiled in the politics of Dwarves, a race of men he believed were fairy tales. He must lead a mission to retrieve the Book of Aleth and to discover the truth. I was pleasantly surprised by this allegorical fantasy of the Christian Fiction genre. The epic fantasy story was original enough to capture my attention and the writing was smooth and enticing. The religious message is present but subtle, which to me is a sign of a good writer. (I hate being beat over the head with a Message.) The book DID end with a cliff-hanger, but I guess I was expecting that based on the term “Part 1” being in the title. So I was only a tiny bit irked. (I think books should have a natural ending…even in series.) Other than that quibble, I was very pleased.

By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson

2012 Book 39: By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson (2/27/2012)

Reason for Reading: Was wondering what a Christy Award winner was like. I’m pleased.

My Review: 4/5 stars
Achan has grown up in a medieval-esque village as a lowly stray and his future seems bleak when a head-strong knight illegally begins to train Achan as his squire. The lord of the village is angered, and Achan is punished by having to guard the nasty, abusive prince on a trip to the capital city. While traveling, Achan runs into many difficulties—including Vrell, a rather effeminate “boy” who is actually the prince’s chosen bride-to-be in hiding. Vrell and Achan must learn to trust one another, while at the same time taming their sharpening their blood-voices. This book is Christian young adult fiction, so it has a reasonably subtle religious theme. It is the first book in a trilogy, and it had a cliff-hanger ending, but luckily for me the whole series has been published. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story—even though the characters aren’t perfect and sometimes I wanted to pound them over their heads for their obtuseness, they ARE teenagers after all and are really quite endearing. The book started out slow, but I was really into it after the first 50 or so pages. It was getting really interesting at the end, right when it ended. Ah! Cliffhangers!

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis

2012 Book 31: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis (2/15/2012)

Reason for Reading: Trying to read some of the classic children’s books that I ought to have read when I was a child.

My Review 5/5 stars
Edmund, Lucy, and their insipid cousin Eustace go on a Narnian adventure with King Caspian to find the end of the world (and the border of Aslan’s land). Many adventures ensue. Most enjoyable. 🙂

Prince Caspian, by C. S. Lewis

2012 Book 19: Prince Caspian, by C. S. Lewis (1/30/2012)

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy return to Narnia centuries after their departure to help Prince Caspian wrest the kingdom out of the hands of his tyrant uncle. A very cute story with a wonderful moral. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I’m reading them in publication order, so this is the second book. 5/5 stars

Another attempt at reading some of the books I should have read as a child.

The Chair, by James L. Rubart

2012 Book 13: The Chair, by James L. Rubart (1/26/2012)

Corin Roscoe, depressed thrill-seeker and owner of an economically-challenged antique shop, is confused and mildly annoyed when an old lady unexpectedly dumps an antique chair on him—a chair made by the “best carpenter to ever live.” His life dissolves into turmoil as he explores the meaning of the chair. Meanwhile, naughty people seek the power of the chair. This is a suspense novel in the Christian Fiction genre; however, I was never in very much suspense. Critiqued as a suspense novel, there’s not much to it. Critiqued as contemporary Christian Fiction, however, I think it was pretty good. It had an excellent message without much preaching, and it had realistic characters. I would recommend “The Chair” to people who enjoy Christian fiction, but don’t mind a small amount of violence or imperfect characters (i.e. those who drink alcohol and swear (as in “Corin swore,” not actual swear words)). My star rating is based on a Christian Fiction critique, but it loses points for a few typos in the digital version—I think it’s disrespectful to readers to not carefully proof-read before publication. 3.5/5 stars