Archive for the ‘Not To Be Missed Books’ Category

Night Train to Rigel

One of the things that I had promised myself (and those following the blog) that I would do, is restart/resuscitate Tome Raider. And, so this day, I have. Click on the picture here to get taken to my review of Night Train to Rigel and then stay tuned this  Friday (January 11th) for a really cool post about Timothy Zahn and the night that I met him.

This is the part of reviewing books that I absolutely love; introducing authors  that write extremely.  I discovered Timothy Zahn on my own, during a despondent wander through the science-fiction section of the local library. I picked up his book  The Icarus Hunt and glared at the flashy cover with its odd-looking space ship and raised letters in gold. “Timothy Zahn, New York Times Best Selling Author” was written in white under a blurb about another of his works on the front cover. I nearly put it back on the shelf, I’d been so disgusted with other books that had been on the NYT’s best sellers list.

I flipped the book over, and read the back cover. Jordan McKell and his troubles didn’t seem like your normal space novel. In fact, it reminded me vaguely of The Maltese Falcon.  I moved over to one of the over stuffed blue chairs  on the opitsite side of the library’s sci-fi shelves, and began to read. An hour later, I came back to myself with a start. The library was closing. Red cheeked, I grabbed my purse and fled before the librarian turning off the lights to the check out desk.  I remember how  my heart leaped in my chest as carried the book to the car, smelling the slightly sweet paper pages and marveling at how immersed I’d been in so short a time.  I stayed up past one in the morning, reading. I couldn’t stop. It was better than the best movie.  I saw Jordan McKell, and I liked him, despite his desperately trying to make sure that I didn’t.

I immediately took to Pix and Pax an Ixel, too. I was rooting for them, even when they turned out to be drug runners for a mafia like character. I still liked them. And then my imagination kicked over in excitement. What Jordan said he was, and how he acted, didn’t make sense. Something was up. I began anticipating  where the plot was going. Sometimes I guessed right, and sometimes I guessed wrong. Mainly I guessed right. That was because of the skillful clue planting Zahn did. I began to enjoy the writer/reader partnership consciously. I was playing a game, an exhilarating game, with someone who was a master of their craft.   He dropped phases like “The sky to sunward was gaudy”* into the book as well, making sci-fi  poetic and I’d never seen anyone do that before.

The Icarus Hunt   was the first book of Timothy Zahn’s that I read, but it certainly wasn’t the last.  I picked up  Night Train to Rigel the day it released at my local Barnes & Noble  and like The Icarus Hunt, I read it in a handful or hours. It was the kind of read I wanted to slow down, to make it last longer, and at the same time, was so amazing, I couldn’t pause, not for one moment.

My review of “Night Train to Rigel” is up on thechristianmanifesto  so go and buy your copy or reserve it at the library first. Then go read what I have to say about it, and get ready for one rip-roaring thrill ride that will keep you up later than you planned and pull you so deep into another universe, you might get locked in at the library.

*Chapter 2, page 22 in The Icarus Hunt.

And while you’re at it, you’ll want to pick up this one too.

What books caught your imagination and drew you in so deeply  you were up till three in the morning, or spent the night in the library? Let me know in the comments, I’m always on the prowl for another fantastic read!

Remember when I was talking about interviewing Marissa Meyer? And raving over her book Cinder? No? Well if you missed all of the fantastic adventure I had with both the book and the interview, here’s a chance to catch up! Click the picture above and you’ll be taken to The Christian Manifesto site where the review is posted.  And, if you keep scrolling down below, you’ll find my review of the book.

G.K. Chesterton said this of fairytales: “Fairytales are more than true; not because they tell us that the dragon exists, but that they tell us the dragon can be beaten.”


In Cinder the strength of a fairytale undergirds the story that Meyer sets down, but she has made this tale all her own. If you’re looking for a faithful word-for-word retelling of Cinderella in this book, you will be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a tantalizing story complete with cyborgs,  a plague,  not-quite-human residents of the moon, and heroes that come in the most unusual shapes, Cinder should be at the top of your ‘to read’ pile.


Meyer’s tale is set in the distant future of Earth, which I really liked as it set it apart from the way fairytales start with ‘once upon a time’.  It’s a future where those that have colonized Earth’s moon are a distinct nation of people called Lunars, and Earth is fragmented into kingdoms rather than countries.  It’s a world where the markets of New Beijing have bakers selling the most delicious confections in booths beside cyborg Mechanics there to repair your androids and comboards.


It’s also a hurting world, where a plague disease called Letumosis, is tearing families apart. It strikes with without warning, and no one is immune.  Sixteen year old Cinder, Meyer’s cyborg mechanic main character, knows first-hand what this plague is capable of doing to families. With the death of her adoptive father, she falls from the status of daughter, to possession. Her stepmother, Adri, works her all day long doing odd jobs around the house and sends her to the market to work in a family owned booth.


Meyer adroitly weaves echoes of the original Cinderella like this all through the tale, and adds some delightful twists, like making Cinder’s younger stepsister Peony, one of Cinder’s only friends.


Prince Kai, in disguise, brings his android to Cinder at the market place because of her reputation for being able to fix impossibly broken things. Cinder’s cybernetics punch through the Prince’s disguise, but he can’t tell that she is a cyborg.  Cinder doesn’t want him to know she is less-than-human.  After all, what is the harm in keeping one secret from a Prince she is not going to see again?  All through the scene their banter is bright and Cinder’s compassion shines, as she learns that  Prince Kai’s mother and father have both be struck with the plague.


Several chapters later, Prince Kai becomes Emperor Kai, his father succumbing to the dreaded plague. Then, Peony catches the disease and is whisked away, making Cinder’s life unbearable. Her stepmother, full of grief and anger, “volunteers” Cinder for plague cure testing as she is “only a cyborg” and not a real person.



This wonderful warp between bright fairytale and the darker Grimm style tale makes Cinder such a rich read.  Meyer has a fantastic cast of characters in her story, too. These are not typical fairytale players.


The Lunar Queen,  Levana, is a superb dragon of a villain.  She is beautiful, clever, ruthless, and holds immense power to sway people to her point of view.  Emperor Kai and New Beijing are in her crosshairs as her next conquest.  And she holds a terrible weapon to batter at his resolve; Queen Levana has a cure for Letumosis.


Cinder, having been found to possess an immunity to plague, works  with the enigmatic Dr. Erland to find a cure. She endures all the needles and the testing, desperate to save Peony.


While  talking with Erland,  Cinder begins to discover that she is not who she thought she was. Emperor Kai, notified of her immunity, and still wanting his android to be repaired, continues to pop up in Cinder’s life.  He is unaware of what she really is, and Cinder, is unable to reveal her mechanical nature to her second friend.


As time begins running out for her sister, Cinder  is pulled and pushed between a young Emperor who values her friendship,  a world that has no great love for “her kind”, and a Lunar Queen understands how terrible a threat Cinder could be to her plans.


The only part of Cinder that was a disappointment was the ending.


While the book is set up as the first in a series, the ballroom sequence, the reveals, and the end of Cinder  are rushed. Everything spills and tumbles over itself for the last seven chapters of the book.


However, I am now part of the happy throng of readers, waiting for Scarlet which releases in 2013.

So there you are! Definitely not a book to be missed, and one I hope you’ll put near the top of your own reading piles.

I’m always on the look out for a good read, and if I like it enough, I will review it for The Christian Manifesto. Let me know Scribes, some of your favorite treasure you’ve found in the comments below!


Scribes have  asked, and now, this Scribe is  answering!

Before you call the Better Blogger Business Bureau (BBBB) and cry foul for  this post doesn’t match the heading, wait a moment please and thank you.

I am going to introduce you to some of my most precious books on the mechanics of writing.  It’s like a  gold miner telling you where they found a vein of that precious metal. It almost hurts to share these secrets with you, but I am. So sit tight.

I’m going to answer some questions first.

What’s with all the soul stuff this week

Um, I’m a soul in an earth suit. It’s been a rough week so the soul’s shown a little more than usual.

Hey, when are you getting to the other parts of Mirriam Neal’s list?!

Cool! This means that you actually LISTENED to me and went back and read her posted list.  Tomorrow. Well, actually, later today. Oooh, a double-post day. Can you stand the excitement?

Are you going to talk about CBA verses ABA like some  other writers are?

For right now, I’m not going to blog about it, but you’re welcome to follow my thoughts on Chila Woychik blog. Why? Well because it’s true that it’s “Better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Five majillion points of the internet to the person who knows that quote and tells me in the comments here.

Now, onward to the books.

The first one is:

It’s a Christian Writers theological and philosophical look at writing, creating, and what is required of us as writers who happen to be Christian. Don’t get all long faced on me now, it’s not a pill, it’s a treasure. You see it’s not really  by Leland Ryken. It’s by  J.R.R Tolkien, Annie Dillard, George MacDonald, Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis , Flannerly O Conner,  G.K. Chesterton, and Madeleine L’Engle and many others.   Ryken just compiled the text and sorted their thoughts/essays  into themes.

Uh-huh. You’re welcome.

It’s roughly 460 pages and costs between $17.98 and $24.99 depending on where you find it. You can definitely get cheaper copies used, but then they’ll likely have other people’s notes in them. Mine’s all highlighted and dog-eared and I’ve got notes in the margins.

The second book is:

I don’t care where you are in your journey as a fiction-writing  story teller, buy this book. Buy it. Don’t get it from the library, don’t borrow it from a friend invest in your craft, and buy it.  I have had so many AHA moments since I started reading this, it’s embarrassing. But, my writing’s grown. It really has. I know, because those that have read things recently, have commented on improvements.

You can pick a copy up for as little as $10.99 new (which I recommend because again, you’re going to make notes in it) but I’ve seen several copies recently on alibris for $5.99 used.

Now, it’s YOUR turn. I shared two fantastic finds out of my own hoard, how about returning the favor? C’mon Scribes, FESS. Which books have helped you grow as a writer? Why do you recommend them? Should I get them from the library, buy a copy used, or cough up the $$$ and get one new?

As always, Encourage one another!

So what is very encouraging about part one of this post, is that the friend that requested it, said that I got the first two fellas spot-on! That’s fantastic, because I don’t know Bonanza well. I’m gleaning stuff about the characters from a page she linked me to, and from the Wikipedia article I found. Using that, and The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes I was able, she said, to pretty much peg Ben Cartwright and his son, Adam. So today I’m taking on the other two Cartwrights just so show you how amazing this book really is! Ready? All right here we go!

  • Hoss Cartwright:
  • The middle brother of the family, Hoss, is kind and gentle despite his size and strength. Always ready to help a neighbor (even if he does get it totally backwards) and ready for fun,  I marked him as the BEST FRIEND archetype. The BEST FRIEND is easy to get along with and a gentleman. He’s  the one who is:
  • Stable
  • Supportive
  • Tolerant
  • He’s the one who is the team player and can be counted on when things are going horribly terribly wrong. When others are getting frustrated and upset he keeps his head and keeps his eye on the solution. Feeling down? The BEST FRIEND will build you back up without flattery, and tell you the truth without malice.   He does have weaknesses though, he can be:
  • Complacent
  • Myopic
  • Unassertive

  • Now, several people on several different pages have pointed out that  Hoss isn’t complacent, he tends to throw Little Joe around  and slam other people into non-moving things when they’ve set him up or taken the mick with him. While that’s true, an archetype is a CORE of the character and you are suppose to layer things around it. I’m going to stick with keeping Hoss as the BEST FRIEND because of his compassion and his loyalty
  • Little Joe Cartwright:
    • Little Joe Cartwright is the youngest son/brother of the Cartwright family. With his wide smile and twinkling eyes he’s easily the one  that falls into the category of  THE CHARMER. He’s fun, he is generous with his family and friends, showing his appreciation of them with gifts both large and small. He can get the birds to come down out of the trees, and always has a tale to tell, a story to spin. His strengths are that he is:
    • Creative
    • Witty
    • Smooth
      • He makes friends easily, and everyone has a good time when they are with him. He continually injects “fun” into others lives, even making them the target of pranks or jokes but there’s no malice in him.  He’ll laugh just as hard if the joke is on him.  With his search for fun comes his desire to have life go his way and that’s where his character often hitches. He can be:

      • Manipulative
      • Irresponsible
      • Elusive

    Now,  that concludes my look at the boys of Bonanza.  Hopefully, this little demonstration has made you decide to put  The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines:  Sixteen Master Archetypes on your ‘must buy’ list.  If it hasn’t, maybe the fact that there are more than just archetypes listed and explained in the book, will. In addition, the authors go through how archetypes interact, how to layer archetypes, and the differences between static and evolving archetypes.  There’s so much meat in here for writers at any stage of the game, it really should be on each and every scribe’s book shelf.

    Tomorrow, I’ll let you peak at two more resources you should have on your shelf if you’re a writer. Until then, encourage one another Scribes!

I had a friend recently ask me if  The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D Cowden, Caro LaFever, And Sue Viders was any good. I told them “It is worth its weight in gold; it’s like the Rosetta stone of character understanding.” They have purchased their own copy. Yay!

But, they also asked me if I had time, to Archetype the boys from Bonanza. So, here is my look at Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe  using the book, and what I know about the show. I’m doing this here, so that not only can they get their information but also so you can see a practical outlay of the book’s features. Ready? here we go!


The father of the family, I  easily pegged  him as the  CHIEF for the group. He’s the one who is

  • Goal oriented
  • Decisive
  • Responsible
    • He’s the leader of the family, and his boys at some point or another will look to him for answers. Ben is dynamic and strong-willed (stubborn). He delights in fixing problems, and anyone who comes to complain to him will be given a solution. He expects to be obeyed, and while he can appear harsh, he has a protective side that’s like a bear or mountain lion when it comes to his family and those that are dear to him. He will gladly give all he has for them including his life.His flaws are:
  • Stubborn
  • Unsympathetic
  • Dominating

    Adam is the eldest son of the Cartwright family  and I  see him as the PROFESSOR. His university education (in architectural engineering) helps him build their ranch house and there’s a love of learning him that runs through the core of his character.

    • He’s the one who is:
  • Expert
  • Analytical
  • Genuine
    • He’s usually the smartest man in the room,  and will consider a problem from every angle before making a move.  He’s very logical, and introverted, when he makes a promise, he keeps it even at great cost to himself (he’s seen the cost before hand). He has some trouble filtering his emotions through his intellect and can come across as cold to those that don’t know him well, but he has a deep reserve of love for those he is close to. He just sees no reason to wear his heart on his sleeve.
    • His flaws are:
  • Insular
  • Inhibited
  • Inflexible
    • I do  apologize for the  formatting, word press does not like only partially bullet-ed  lists

Sharon Hinck’s  Sword of Lyric Series is one of the most unusual fantasy trilogies I have ever read.
Why? Well the main protagonist in The Restorer, Susan is an unlikely one. She’s a suburban  Mom with limited experience dealing with bad guys other than snarky home repair men and the occasional back-biting  fellow soccer mother. But when she’s taken to another time and place, and the terrible danger is revealed, Susan doesn’t cower in a corner waiting  for her knight in shining armor. She takes the armor herself, and goes out to meet the enemy.

In The Restorer’s Son you’ll get to meet one of my all time favorite characters, Kieran.  He’s a supporting character in the first book, an outcast with a surly (understandably so) personality who has every reason to abandon the people that he’s been press-ganged into serving.  He is probably the most vocal reluctant hero I’ve ever read.  Kieran questions everything and everyone, from The One, to his role as Restorer, to several interesting people he stumbles across in the length and breadth of the tale.  Sardonic and wry, Kieran carries the  narration of second book in the series with the same masterful strokes that Susan carried the first. You don’t have to read The Restorer first as Kieran’s story will stand on its own, but Susan and his meeting made me grin and that can only be found, in The Restorer. 

I had the privilege of meeting Sharon, and talking with her in person, about the Restorer several years ago at the Fantastic Four Fiction Tour. She is as warm and genuine as her writing and has a heart large enough to hide a sun inside.  I jumped up and down when I learned that Marcher Lord had picked up the series. The Restorer Expanded Edition, and The Restorer’s Son Expanded Edition  have been released in print and e-book format. Trust  me when I tell you, you’ll want to read them again and again. They are destined to become classics. Don’t worry, The Restorer’s Journey Expanded Edition  will release soon. Until then, start on the first two in the series, and check out the interview below with Sharon Hinck.

The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition


The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition

Book two in the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric series, The Restorer’s Son won a Carol Award for speculative fiction.

Plunged again into the gray world of Lyric and Hazor, Susan and Mark search frantically for their teenage son, Jake. All signs hint that a trusted ally has betrayed them and threatens their son. A target of assassins and more political intrigue, false leads and near misses beset their path, which leads them into the dark prisons of Hazor before the One’s purpose is revealed.

Cast out by those he trusts, the new reluctant Restorer prefers to cross swords with the One rather than submit to His will. Pursued by his calling, he journeys to Sidian, where he finds a boy without a home, a king with burning questions, and a nation torn by darkness. As he embraces the tasks the One has set before him, this new Restorer learns that the One requires his all—perhaps even his life.

This new expanded edition of The Restorer’s Son includes an in-depth devotion guide for readers who want to dig into the spiritual themes of the book, bonus scenes providing glimpses of the story through a variety of characters, and fun extras including links to songs and recipes.


What was it like developing new material for this new edition?

Books are like children. I treasure each of them in different ways, and among the novels I’ve written, I try not to have favorites. However, I confess that The Restorer’s Son has an extra special place in my heart. Because of that, it was fun to revisit the characters and world of this story. Kieran’s attitudes were loosely inspired by a verse in Judges where Gideon is told God will use him to save his people. Gideon’s response is basically, “If God is for us, why have all these bad things happened to us?” It’s a question many can relate to, and part of the reason that Kieran is such a beloved character.

The new devotion guide gives readers an opportunity to dig deeper into the Biblical inspirations that helped inform the book, as well as find personal application. About forty pages of new content, including bonus scenes and a new song composed for the book, make this edition a new experience.

How did you decide where to put in bonus elements?

Working with the publisher, we decided it was important to keep the flow of the story intact and free from distractions. So the book is designed with a large back-of-the-book section that can be used either after finishing the story, or during the reading of the main story. Small symbols and page numbers at the end of chapters direct readers to bonus scenes, and QR symbols in the margin invite readers to explore audio files, or recipes, or rules for playing Perish – all without interrupting the story.

It was important to me that people would feel that it was worth the investment to own The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition, even if they had a copy of the original edition, so we packed this book with lots of added value.

Besides an entertaining read, what do you hope people experience in The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition?


My hope is that readers will catch glimpses of the way the One speaks to each of us in the language we understand, and that we can go to Him with our difficult questions. For those who are walking very painful roads, I hope the story will help them feel acknowledged. The journey is hard, heroic, and sometimes frightening. But we are never alone.

Where can people find the book?

To order The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition:


Kindle version:



Sharon writes “stories for the hero in all of us,” about ordinary people experiencing God’s grace in unexpected ways. Known for their authenticity, emotional range, and spiritual depth, her novels include contemporary fiction such as The Secret Life of Becky Miller or Stepping into Sunlight and the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric fantasy series which includes The Restorer’s Son–Expanded Edition. She’s been a Christy finalist and won three Carol awards.

Sharon’s undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She loves interacting with visitors at her website and blog: