I quite enjoyed this book; it was exciting and held my attention all the way through. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and was surprised by a...moreI quite enjoyed this book; it was exciting and held my attention all the way through. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and was surprised by a couple of twists I didn't see coming. I would probably have given it five stars except for a couple of very minor inconsistencies and the need for a more thorough edit (occasional errors in punctuation, capitalization, and grammar detracted from the reading experience). Overall, though, I would definitely recommend this fast-paced novel to anyone who likes an exciting read.(less)
One of my favorite authors, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is about to release this book in her fantasy series Tales of Goldstone Wood. I had the privilege of...moreOne of my favorite authors, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is about to release this book in her fantasy series Tales of Goldstone Wood. I had the privilege of receiving an early copy of the novella Goddess Tithe in exchange for an honest review.
Each of the stories in the series so far has seemed to me not just a book but a window into one part of an intricate world. Stengl has built up this world so thoroughly that when I read one of her books I feel that I’m getting just a glimpse into something much bigger. So far, every one of them has left me feeling that I’ve just paid a short visit to a place I could spend years and years exploring (and never grow tired of, so I’m glad she has several more planned!).
Though significantly shorter than Stengl's other books, Goddess Tithe provides the same kind of reading experience; the same kind of window. It gives an intriguing glimpse of a culture alluded to only briefly elsewhere, but one that Stengl has obviously put a lot of time and thought into developing. The characters are well rounded and believable, and I feel that I know them well now. Their adventures and the settings, though unique, are still consistent with the rest of the series.
This story takes place during the time of one of the previous ones, Veiled Rose, and provides readers an extra look at an episode in the life of the character Leonard - from a new character's point of view. This little novella serves to enrich the world of Goldstone Wood by adding one more angle through which we can see it; one more set of eyes through which to seethe experiences of a character we already knew. And like all the rest of the books, it makes me wonder what other angles there are that I don't know about yet; what other cultures exist there that we have yet to see. I can't wait for the author's next books!(less)
Though I expected to enjoy this book (and I certainly wasn’t disappointed), I didn’t anticipate being changed by it.
Brad Francis’s writing style remi...moreThough I expected to enjoy this book (and I certainly wasn’t disappointed), I didn’t anticipate being changed by it.
Brad Francis’s writing style reminds me of a Christian version of Douglas Adams. As I read, I often caught myself laughing out loud at his ridiculous descriptions, witty word usage, or dryly humorous commentary by “the Narrator.” But then I would find myself gulping guiltily as some unapologetically direct, pulling-no-punches remark struck home. Prepare to be both entertained and convicted (and perhaps occasionally moved to tears) in your journey through these pages – not an easy combination to pull off, but Brad Francis does it and does it well!
As much as I enjoyed the read, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living to all readers. If it had a rating, I think it would be at least PG-13 for drug use, profanity, sex, and violence. (The profanity is almost all blanked out except for the first letter, but it’s obvious what words the characters are saying.) However, very few instances of these are gratuitous, at least in my opinion. Brad Francis certainly doesn’t condone such activities or treat them lightly. The first few chapters, especially, deal with what certain people’s lives are like before they give them over to the Lord’s control, and the author paints a realistic picture of the vices they are involved in. Most of that tapers off early on in the story, however, as the characters begin to change. Still, some of the content near the beginning (and a little that keeps showing up here and there through the rest of the book) could be offensive to some readers, so if you’re sensitive about such things, brace yourself.
Having said that, I really think that reading The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living would be a worthwhile experience for most Christian adults, especially pastors and those involved in ministry. Not an entirely pleasant experience at times, perhaps, but valuable. It forced me to take a closer look at the practical side of how I live out my relationship with the Lord, and it reminded me that being religious doesn’t equal following Christ. A few nonfiction books I’ve read have had similar (though for the most part less powerful) impacts on my spiritual life, but I don’t recall ever reading a novel that’s managed it anywhere near this effectively. I’m grateful for the ways God has used this book to reshape my outlook and renew my sense of purpose in living for Him.
The only reason I didn’t give The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living five stars is because, from a storytelling point of view, I felt that it sagged a bit in the middle. The beginning sucked me in right away, and for the first third or so of the story, I could hardly put the book down. The last third was equally gripping, holding my attention right up to the end. But the pace slowed in the middle with what – at least to me – seemed more information than necessary about the characters’ activities and processes of spiritual growth. While everything that took place would certainly have been crucial to the characters’ own lives if they were real people, I felt that some chapters were a tad heavy on details and events that didn’t really add to the story for readers.
Overall, reading The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living was a moving experience that impacted me far beyond what I had expected. I think it would be almost impossible for anyone who is (or wants to be) serious about their faith not to be changed after reading it. Though I seldom reread books, this is one I will probably pick up again sometime, at the very least so I can look back over all the sections I highlighted and ask myself whether I’m living them out the way God nudged me to at the time. Praise the Lord for the way He can use even a work of fiction to work in us and bring us closer to Himself!
This young adult fantasy features several races of "Mythics" (fantasy creatures) who secretly inhabit our own world but are shunned, feared, or persec...moreThis young adult fantasy features several races of "Mythics" (fantasy creatures) who secretly inhabit our own world but are shunned, feared, or persecuted by humans. Porter, a teenage boy, is a "slayer" whose job is to hunt down and kill Mythics. Sarah, a young sphinx, is one of his targets. But things go wrong when he attacks her home; he is injured and ends up with amnesia, forgetting his mission and his own identity. Sarah and Porter end up lost in a forest together, forced to rely on each other for survival as they try to find their way out. Along the way, they meet other Mythics and encounter a variety of dangers. The story ends before Porter regains his memory or the two (plus friends they've made along the way) reach their destination, so readers will be forced to read the sequel (which is not yet available) to find out what happens.
All in all, this was an interesting story. The author had some great ideas, and I felt that he fleshed out the characters pretty well. Each particular race of Mythics was given distinct traits and a unique culture, which made me interested to meet more of them. Some creative concepts were presented, my favorite being a sentient sword that could communicate with its master.
I did feel, however, that parts of the story could have been fleshed out better. The settings were very narrowly described, so that I never got a clear picture of what the larger world was like or even what part of the world the story takes place in. Some issues were a little unclear, such as why Sarah's parents said it was too dangerous for her to accompany them on a direct trip (using teleportation) to one of the safest havens in the world for Mythics; why someone who had just met Porter would give him a rare and valuable weapon; why and how a few animals can talk but not others; how the rules of magic use among humans work, etc. Certain character actions and reactions seemed a little unrealistic (for example, if I had seen someone I'd known all my life beheaded, I would have responded with a lot more grief, terror, and anger; and I would have kept recalling and probably having nightmares about the event). Also, I found a number of typos and errors in grammar and punctuation in the book. (Hey, I'm a teacher; I can't help but notice these things!)
Overall, though, The Slayer and the Sphinx was an enjoyable book. I would give it three out of five stars and recommend it to teens, preteens, or kids (it's pretty easy to read) who like fantasy. If it had a rating, it would probably be PG for mild violence and "children in jeopardy". There was no profanity, sex, or unnecessary blood and guts in the fighting scenes. The story promoted positive moral values like trust, loyalty, and the concept that no matter a person's past, anyone can change and start a new life. If you enjoy the fantasy genre and don't get too bothered by minor misuses of English, I'd say it's worth the 99 cents the eBook will cost you. Happy reading!(less)
This was a really fun read! I feel like I'm friends with the main character and a part of her world now. And as of today, the Kindle version is still...moreThis was a really fun read! I feel like I'm friends with the main character and a part of her world now. And as of today, the Kindle version is still free on Amazon! Grab yours while the deal lasts!(less)