Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour: The Shadow Lamp by Stephen R. Lawhead - Review

This month, the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Shadow Lamp by Stephen R. Lawhead. The Shadow Lamp is the fourth book in the Bright Empires series. You can read my reviews of the three previous books by following these links: The Skin MapThe Bone House, and The Spirit Well.

The books in the Bright Empires series center around the themes of ley lines, travel across space and time, and a search for a legendary map that leads to a great, mysterious treasure. The Shadow Lamp adds to these the race to save reality, giving even more epic proportions to the entire story.

The Shadow Lamp is my favorite book in the series so far. Everything's gaining momentum as the series nears its end, and all of the characters are deepening with their newest experiences or with revelations about their past. I like the new characters that have been introduced or expanded upon, especially Cass. I also appreciate that Lawhead is not afraid to have his characters talk about huge, philosophical and scientific ideas without dumbing it down. I enjoyed reading those sections.

What has always excited me most about this series is how many historical places it explores. I love history, so it's fun to get to visit so many different times and places in one book. Lawhead brings each one to life with his vivid descriptions. I recently saw a picture of Old Town Square in Prague and discovered that it looked very close to how I'd pictured it while reading these books. I get excited every time the characters travel to a new place because I can't wait to be transported to yet another beautiful, fascinating time or world.

The only complaint I can make about the book is that sometimes there'd be a recap of information that I'd just read a chapter or two before. The time this most stood out to me was near the end of the book, where a chapter in Kit's perspective spent at least a page reviewing what had happened and been discovered very recently. There hadn't been enough time between the sections of that thread of the story to forget what had last happened, so I found the recap tedious. That was the only thing that bothered me in the book, though, and thankfully it only happened a handful of times.

Lawhead's treatment of time travel has given me a lot of respect for him. He has been careful to make sure that all the events in the story work together and that there are no weird, circular timelines. I'd normally be apprehensive about the resolution of what has been revealed to be a big problem near the end of The Shadow Lamp, but Lawhead has earned my trust. I think he has the ability to bring the series to a satisfying end that makes sense in the next book, The Fatal Tree, and I can't wait to see how he does it.

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

If you're interested in reading more about The Shadow Lamp, please visit these other blogs featuring the book:

Julie Bihn
Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Karri Compton
Theresa Dunlap
April Erwin
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Rachel Wyant
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: The Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead -Review

This month, the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead. The Spirit Well is the third book in the Bright Empires series. If you'd like to read my review of The Skin Map, the first book in the series, you can find it here. My review of the second book, The Bone House, can be found here.
The Spirit Well picks up where The Bone House left off. I won't say much about the plot for fear of spoiling it for those who haven't read the other two books yet. However, I will say that it involves ley lines, travel across space and time, and the search for an unusual map that is said to lead to the mysterious Spirit Well.
What I really liked about The Spirit Well is that it started to become more clear how various characters, places, and events in the books were related to each other. Some of my favorite stories are the ones where everything turns out to be connected. It's starting to look like the Bright Empires series is going to be one of those stories.
It bothered me that a few plot threads seemingly got dropped before they had been resolved. But I guess that's the nature of ley travel. The characters are sometimes pulled from a world or time without warning, leaving unfinished business behind them. I suppose real life can be like that sometimes too. Hopefully anything important will be picked up and tied back in by the end of the final book. I trust Stephen R. Lawhead to handle the many pieces well.
Revisiting characters I'd come to like and know in the first two books was fun. They were further developed in The Spirit Well and I got to see more of what drives them. A few new characters were also introduced, and they were all unique and interesting. Mina is still my favorite though. I like her common sense, bravery, and kindness.
I can't believe I'll have to wait for two more books before I find out how this all ends. I was frustrated with the wait, but then I realized that my impatience was a sign of a good story. Stephen R. Lawhead's Bright Empires series has me hooked.
If you like history, science fiction, and multiple realities, you should read this book. But first you should read the ones that come before it. I have a feeling you'll get pulled into the story just like I was.
If you'd like to read what other people on the CSFF Blog Tour are saying about The Spirit Well, you can find links to their blogs on the right of the page.
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fathom by Merrie Destefano -Review

Wow! Every book Merrie Destefano writes is even better than the last. I loved the books she wrote before, but Fathom is unquestionably my favorite of her stories. The characters, plot, and world are all well-developed and they sucked me right in. I spent almost an entire day immersed in Fathom, and I didn't want to leave when it ended.

Fathom's characters feel real and true-to-life. They're complicated and fascinating, and their interactions are full of life and depth. I like that Fathom avoids cliches in the characters' relationships. Everything is fresh and more like real life in that nothing is black and white. Relationships in the book aren't simple, but they are more interesting and meaningful because of that.

I didn’t guess where the plot was going right away, which I always appreciate. I didn’t see revelations or twists coming until it was almost time or until they’d already snuck up on me. Nothing was predictable, but it all made sense when it happened. I love it when I find a book like that.

Merrie chooses just the right words to create a vivid atmosphere for Fathom. The story is full of magic, danger, mystery, beauty, and legend. The world Merrie has created for Fathom is just as rich as its characters. It was so fun to watch layer after layer unfold as the story progressed.

And because I almost always mention in my reviews who my favorite character was, for those who are curious, this time it was Caleb.

I immensely enjoyed Fathom, and I hope we get to further explore its world someday in more stories.

Fathom will be released as an ebook on October 1st.