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Review: Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset

Book Reviews, Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
May 13 2014

In Aerisia, the land beyond the sunset, there are beautiful fairies, immortal warriors, and the magic-wielding Moonkind. There are thick forests, lovely palaces, and tall mountains.

And there are the Dark Powers, the Evil.

When Hannah Winters is suddenly spirited away from Earth into Aerisia, her hosts graciously but implacably assign her her destiny: to become the Artan, their deliverer.

Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset is written by Sarah Ashwood and published by Griffineus Press, the first of a trilogy. The world-building of this novel is impressive – a collection of races, each distinctive and compelling, a rich mythology, and a fascinating history. An attention to detail completes the land of Aerisia as a wholly different world.

As the first book in a trilogy, Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset is devoted to establishing its strange, new world, with all its peoples and history. The plot moves somewhat gradually on account of this. With all the space devoted to world-building, it’s a curious omission that the story never elaborates on the Dark Powers. We see them in action three or four times before the climax, but as readers we have little notion who they are and what they want. It’s hard to discern what the threat to Aerisia really is. They need a deliverer, but from what? As far as we can see, and except for a few targeted attacks, everything in Aerisia is great.

I think this neglect to develop the Dark Powers is the novel’s primary flaw. Hannah’s character arc may be frustrating to some readers (she mostly reacts, and when she does act, it’s usually foolish), but it is a real and believable journey, as she progresses from a frightened, angry young woman to … something more, maybe even the Artan.

Although this was not the author’s fault, there was an unusual number of typos. It wasn’t too bad, but it was enough to be noticeable. (Typos are hard to clean out, and you need at least two thorough edits besides the author’s.)

Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset is a rich fantasy with memorable characters, an intriguing mythology, and a fresh romance. Recommended to those who enjoy intricate world-building, fantasy creatures, and romance.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

CrossReads Book Blast: Timothy Phillips by Cliff Ball

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Feb 11 2014

Timothy Phillips

Timothy Phillips

By Cliff Ball

About the Book:

Can a nineteen year old stay true to the faith he was brought up on when he’s under the spotlight?Timothy Phillips dreams come true when he’s discovered by the producer of a national talent show. So what’s the problem? The recording contract is not in the Southern Gospel he would prefer to sing. As he begins recording and performing the music, he encounters increasing hostility towards Christians. Can he stay true to his faith, or will he end up compromising his beliefs little by little the more famous he becomes?

When his world comes crashing down, will he have anything left to help him stand as the end times approach?

cliff41Cliff Ball
lives in Texas, born in Arizona, is a Christian and is Baptist. Has two BA’s, and a Certificate in Technical Communications from the University of North Texas. Has published ten novels and four short stories in multiple genres, but is currently writing a Christian fiction series called “The End Times Saga.” Cliff’s first taste of being published was when he won third in high school for a short story written in Creative Writing class for a young adult magazine.

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This book blast is hosted by CrossReads.

We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Crossreads Book Blast: Deep in the Heart, Staci Stallings

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Jan 28 2014

Deep in the Heart Cover Final 1-18-2014

Deep in the Heart

by: Staci Stallings

Only 99 Cents… January 28 & 29th!

About the Book

Just out of college and completely alone in the world, Maggie Montgomery has one shot left to save her life from an abyss of poverty and hopelessness. Clinging to the last shred of fuel and hope, she arrives at the mansion of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayer. Although Maggie is clearly not what Mr. Ayer and his wife have in mind for a nanny, they agree to hire her temporarily until they can find someone more appropriate to fill the position. However, Maggie’s whole world is about to be up-ended by two way-over-scheduled children and one incredibly handsome hired hand. As she struggles to fit into a world she was never made to fit in, Maggie wonders if she can ever learn to become a perfect version of herself so she can keep the job, or is she doomed to always be searching for a life she can never quite grasp?

Keith Ayer despises his life. As the son of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayer and the fiance to a Senator from Texas’ daughter, it looks great on the outside, but inside, he is dying. He would vastly prefer to manage and train his father’s racehorses. However, everyone else thinks that is beneath him. He needs to get into industry and build on his father’s success. Suffocating under the constrictions of his life, he meets Maggie, and she begins to teach him that wealth and power is not everything in this life. But can Keith defy the two most powerful men in Texas to follow his heart?

“Staci Stallings… Christian fiction at its best!”

LINK to KINDLE | LINK to PAPERBACKStaci Stallings New Headshot 1

Staci Stallings

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including being the co-founder of and the founder of Grace & Faith Connection.

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This book blast is hosted by Crossreads.

We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Book Blast: Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Nov 26 2013

Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken:
Volume I, Summer (Serial Novel)

FREE Nov. 25 – 28th!

Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken (Serial Novel)

By Laura J. Marshall

About the Book

Excitement. That’s what Jaycee has been saving for since high school. With plans to leave rural Twain, Georgia, the “to where” and the “to what” have been the only questions stopping her. Will her intentions change when Dash Matheson pulls her wandering heart in his direction? Feel the summer heat of the Fourth of July in this southern series as Jaycee finds love. (Volume I, Summer of a four part short story series under the Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken title.)

Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken:
Volume II, Fall (Serial Novel)


Volume II, It’s autumn in Twain, Georgia. Jaycee has herself a new job and with it, a new problem. Is it something bug spray can fix? Dash is struggling with more than just the reality of the pain from his injury. Could Jaycee be hiding something from him? The pumpkins are ripe on the vine and the pecans are ready to be shelled. Come spend Thanksgiving week in this southern series as Jaycee finds love.

A four part serial novel under the Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken title.

Volume III, Winter coming December 2013.

Volume IV, Spring coming March 2014.

Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken:
Volume I, Summer (Serial Novel) on Kindle

Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken:
Volume II, Fall (Serial Novel) on Kindle

About Laura J. Marshall

Laura J. MarshallLaura J. Marshall is a full-time mother of five boys and part-time writer and blogger.
She operates a popular blog called The Old Stone Wall which hosts and promotes Christian Authors and encourages interaction between readers and authors. Laura writes Christian Romantic fiction and the best-selling Battle Cry Devotional Series. You can find out more about Laura and her other books online at

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This book blast is hosted by Crossreads.

We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

The Prehistoric Man

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Oct 26 2011


Strictly speaking of course we know nothing about prehistoric man, for the simple reason that he was prehistoric. G. K. Chesterton

Kit keenly regretted having wandered off, but who could have foreseen being kidnapped by cavemen? The Bone House, pg. 311

This, my favorite line of The Bone House, is at the beginning of my favorite part of The Bone House. At Kit’s first sight of the cavemen, he “recognized it instantly, but knew he had never seen it in the flesh before. The face peering down at him was attached to a swarthy, rugged, square head covered with a heavy pelt of hair so thick and matted it looked like yak fur. And the features were those of a clumsily executed caricature.”

But Stephen Lawhead’s portrayal was anything but a caricature. He knocked down the stereotype of the caveman in page upon page. The cavemen of his novel were civilized in every way that matters most; their minds possessed abilities ours do not; Kit, living among them, was impressed with his inferiority and not theirs.

Interestingly, Lawhead presents his cavemen as a different species, rather than the earliest types of our own. And he makes it very clear they have souls. In the end, his treatment of the caveman reminds me of G. K. Chesterton’s commentary on the subject. Below are excerpts from The Everlasting Man, chapter I “The Man in the Cave”.

Today all our novels and newspapers will be found swarming with numberless allusions to a popular character called a CaveMan. …  So far as I can understand, his chief occupation in life was knocking his wife about, or treating women in general with what is, I believe, known in the world of the film as ‘rough stuff.’ I have never happened to come upon the evidence for this idea; and I do not know on what primitive diaries or prehistoric divorce-reports it is founded. Nor, as I have explained elsewhere, have I ever been able to see the probability of it, even considered a priori. We are always told without any explanation or authority that primitive man waved a club and knocked the woman down before he carried her off. But on every animal analogy, it would seem an almost morbid modesty and reluctance on the part of the lady, always to insist on being knocked down before consenting to be carried off. And I repeat that I can never comprehend why, when the male was so very rude, the female should have been so very refined.

The cave-man may have been a brute, but there is no reason why he should have been more brutal than the brutes. And the loves of the giraffes and the river romances of the hippopotami are effected without any of this preliminary fracas or shindy. The cave-man may have been no better than the cave-bear; but the child she-bear, so famous in hymnology, is not trained with any such bias for spinsterhood. In short these details of the domestic life of the cave puzzle me upon either the revolutionary or the static hypothesis; and in any case I should like to look into the evidence for them; but unfortunately I have never been able to find it. But the curious thing is this: that while ten thousand tongues of more or less scientific or literary gossip seemed to be talking at once about this unfortunate fellow, under the title of the cave-man, the one connection in which it is really relevant and sensible to talk about him as the cave-man has been comparatively neglected. People have used this loose term in twenty loose ways; but they have never even looked at their own term for what could really be learned from it.

In fact, people have been interested in everything about the cave-man except what he did in the cave. Now there does happen to be some real evidence of what be did in the cave. It is little enough, like all the prehistoric evidence, but it is concerned with the real cave-man and his cave and not the literary cave-man and his club. And it will be valuable to our sense of reality to consider quite simply what that real evidence is, and not to go beyond it. What was found in the cave was not the club, the horrible gory club notched with the number of women it had knocked on the head. The cave was not a Bluebeard’s Chamber filled with the skeletons of slaughtered wives; it was not filled with female skulls all arranged in rows and all cracked like eggs. …

This secret chamber of rock, when illuminated after its long night of unnumbered ages, revealed on its walls large and sprawling outlines diversified with colored earths; and when they followed the lines of them they recognized, across that vast void of ages, the movement and the gesture of a man’s band. They were drawings or paintings of animals; and they were drawn or painted not only by a man but by an artist. Under whatever archaic limitations, they showed that love of the long sweeping or the long wavering line which any man who has ever drawn or tried to draw will recognize; and about which no artist will allow himself to be contradicted by any scientist. They showed the experimental and adventurous spirit of the artist, the spirit that does not avoid but attempts difficult things; as where the draughtsman had represented the action of the stag when be swings his head clean round and noses towards his tail, an action familiar enough in the horse. But there are many modern animal-painters who would set themselves something of a task in rendering it truly. In this and twenty other details it is clear that the artist had watched animals with a certain interest and presumably a certain pleasure. In that sense it would seem that he was not only an artist but a naturalist; the sort of naturalist who is really natural.

Now it is needless to note, except in passing, that there is nothing whatever in the atmosphere of that cave to suggest the bleak and pessimistic atmosphere of that journalistic cave of the winds, that blows and bellows about us with countless echoes concerning the CaveMan. So far as any human character can be hinted at by such traces of the past, that human character is quite human and even humane. It is certainly not the ideal of an inhuman character, like the abstraction invoked in popular science. … In other words the cave-man as commonly presented to us is simply a myth or rather a muddle; for a myth has at least an imaginative outline of truth. …

Indeed I once knew a lady who half-humorously suggested that the cave was a creche, in which the babies were put to be specially safe, and that colored animals were drawn on the walls to amuse them; very much as diagrams of elephants and giraffes adorn a modern infant school. And though this was but a jest, it does draw attention to some of the other assumptions that we make only too readily. The pictures do not prove even that the cave-men lived in caves, any more than the discovery of a wine-cellar in Balham (long after that suburb had been destroyed by human or divine wrath) would prove that the Victorian middle classes lived entirely underground. The cave might have had a special purpose like the cellar; it might have been a religious shrine or a refuge in war or the meeting-place of a secret society or all sorts of things. But it is quite true that its artistic decoration has much more of the atmosphere of a nursery than of any of these nightmares of anarchical fury and fear.

Rules for Ranting

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Aug 03 2011

There are lots of rules for writing. In particular, there are rules for writing rants. It’s so easy for even good writers to do it wrong. For example, take this passage from Decaffeinated, by Mark Steyn:

At the time, I thought the ever more protracted java jive was an anomaly — the exception that proved the rule. Now I can see it was a profound insight: America’s first slow-food chain was an idea whose time had come. Who knew you could make people stand in line (long lines at city outlets in rush hour) for a cup of coffee? Don’t tell me it’s a Continental thing. I like my café au lait in Quebec, and it takes a third of the time of all the whooshing and frothing south of the border. Same in a Viennese kaffeehaus. But I was at a “fair trade” Vermont coffee joint the other day, and there was no line at all, and it still took forever. And, as I began to get a little twitchy and pace up and down, I became aware of the handful of mellow patrons scattered about the easy chairs looking up from their tweets as if to scold: “What’s with the restless energy, dude?”

I felt like the guy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Everybody else in town had fallen asleep . . . and then stayed asleep. This is a paradox for our times: the somnolent coffee house. I had a strange urge to yell, “Wake up, we’re trillions of dollars in debt! The powder keg’s about to blow!” but I could feel the soporific indie-pop drifting over the counter, so I took my espresso to go, and worked off my torporphobic rage by shooting iPods off the tailgate of a rusting pick-up in the back field for the rest of the day.

Frankly, I think Mark Steyn should consider skipping the espresso. He might be able to feel a bit more somnolent. He may even sink to the depths of hebetude, but that has to be better than sudden urges to yell at complete strangers for being relaxed in a coffee house. (I know America is in a financial crisis, but what did Steyn want his fellow patrons to do? Shout about the crisis? Rush around the room? Whimper?)

The problem with this is not that it’s a rant. The problem is that it’s a rant with little good humor, in either meaning of the term. It is also, not coincidentally, a rant without much self-awareness. Consider the picture Mark Steyn paints for us: He paces a coffee house, impatient for his espresso, and suddenly wants to yell at the people around him for whom coffee has become a thing for leisure, not rush. The joke’s on him, and his only mistake is that he doesn’t notice it.

The Nephilim

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Nov 24 2010

In keeping with last week’s review, here is a biblical exposition on the Nephilim. The author includes quotations about the Nephilim from Apocryphal books, and those who have read the Kingdom Wars series will recognize a few of the details.

John Otte once criticized Nephilim in Christian SF, finding their portrayal lacking both artistically and theologically. And he commented:

That, perhaps, is why I’m having such a negative reaction to Nephilim. Whenever they’re portrayed, it’s almost always the angel/human hybrids. It’s further evidence of the unfortunate homoginization of Christian fiction (and not just speculative fiction) where doctrinal positions that don’t fit into certain molds get thrown out completely.

Maybe. But I have my own guess as to why the angel/human hybrids interpretation is so popular in Christian SF: It is (1) sort of fantasy-ish, and (b) sort of Christian. Angel/human unions, and the resulting offspring, lend themselves more to fantasy than do good human/bad human unions (and the resulting offspring).

I believe this is the primary motivation. I don’t think we can even be sure that every publisher and author responsible for these books really does believe that the “sons of God” (Gen. 6) were angels. After all, how many people have written about aliens while believing they don’t exist?

Neat Website

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Sep 03 2010

Stephanie Whitson and Nancy Moser have started a blog called Footnotes. Both of them write historical fiction, and the blog is about facts and inspirations they’ve gleaned from history. Here is a sample:

To stray from the serious posts about the slums of New York… let’s talk about etiquette. Here are some gems from The Essential Handbook of Victorian Entertaining (adapted by Autumn Stephens) with a few asides from me:

• Do not dress above your station; it is a grievous mistake, and leads to great evils, besides being the proof of a complete lack of taste. So we’re to dress down? I hardly think “slovenly” would be appreciated.

Do not expose the neck and arms at a dinner party. These should be covered, if not by the dress itself, then by lace or muslin overwaist. How about a nice plaid stadium blanket?

Do not fail to try the effect of your dress by gaslight and daylight both. Many a color that may look well in daylight may look extremely ugly in gaslight. But facial lines and wrinkles look marvelous! …

(the rest is here)

I just found it. It looks like a fun site.

Music Review: Celtic Thunder: Act Two

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Aug 19 2010

I’m going to review this CD song by song, and then give a (very brief) overall conclusion.

  1. “Ride On” The story in this song is rather vague, but the music isn’t. It catches you from the beginning, harsh as folk music goes.
  2. “A Bird Without Wings” A lovely song of devotion. I would think it religious except for lines like, “Till you’re home again/and hug me so tight.” The lyrics are written very well, and sometimes even poetically.
  3. “My Boy” Here a man sings about how he and his wife don’t love each other, and their home is unhappy, and life isn’t a fairy tale, and if he stays it will be for his son … Depressing. Who needs it?
  4. “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” This one reminds me of “Ride On” (good music, unfinished story) and “Gypsy Rover” (singing gypsies in Ireland!). The lyrics are catchy, but not nearly as catchy as the music.
  5. “Love Thee Dearest” Paul, Celtic Thunder’s opera singer, does this one, and it fits. It’s a nice song.
  6. “I Want to Know What Love Is” A kind of love song, sad, searching, determined, hopeful. I’ve taken a liking to it.
  7. “Heartbreaker” One word: Skip.
  8. “Mull of Kintyre” This has the feel of an Irish folk song, though it was written in the 70s and the Mull of Kintyre is, in fact, Scottish. I think it’s the longing for home that makes it sound Irish, that and the word “mull”.
  9. “Nights in White Satin” A classic of the 60s, sung by the opera singer. It’s called “Nights in White Satin”, and his rendition is velvet – soft and rich.
  10. “Young Love” A bright, happy love song, clean of angst.
  11. “Yesterday’s Men” Another bad one, unfortunately, spoiled by the use of swearing.
  12. “That’s A Woman” This song is divided into two parts – one an idealistic view of women, the second a cynical. I’ll go beyond that: A misogynistic view of women. Overall Celtic Thunder is a good group, but this is a strike against them: Two songs that showcase a degenerate attitude toward women.
  13. “Danny Boy” An old Irish classic. The best word to describe Celtic Thunder’s rendition is “unique”. There is no music. One member sings the lyrics while the others underlay it with background vocals. There is no interlude, presumably because a capella singing is one thing and a capella interludes are another.
  14. “Caledonia” The singer has wandered, in more sense than one, but now his heart hears Caledonia’s call and he’s going home. The music is appealing, and the lyrics are poignant as they deal with the longing of home, the wandering and the return.
  15. “Heartland” The refrain is Gaelic; the verses are a prayer for safety from the storm. There is a haunting quality to this song, especially the introductory music. It also has percussion; the music – and the words being a sailor’s prayer – lend this song a masculine feel. An exceptional song, the words lucid and meaningful, the music strong without being harsh or heavy.
  16. “Castles in the Air” The end of a romance, because he’s tired of castles in the air. It’s sung to a guitar, but it would have been better if there were accompaniment. Still: An enjoyable song, half about lost love, half about the dream he wants the world to share.
  17. “Christmas 1915” One of the most compelling stories of World War I is the “soldier’s truce” built on the front lines between the opposing armies. They killed each other before Christmas and after, but that day they sang carols in no-man’s land and climbed out of their trenches. “Christmas 1915”, like the incident it’s based on, is sad and beautiful.

So, the brief conclusion: It’s worth it.

Dahveed Series

Uncategorized | Posted by Shannon
Jul 22 2010

According to Terri Fivash’s website, Dahveed: Yahweh’s Fugitive has been sent to the publisher and is due to be published next spring. Cut scenes from Yahweh’s Warrior can be found here.

It’s interesting to see what was cut. These scenes either (1) portray information given elsewhere; (2) are so short as to be snippets more than scenes; or (3) tell certain elements of the story outright, thus giving more information but also reducing drama. Overall, I think Yahweh’s Warrior was stronger with these cut.