Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Find me here: shanedeal.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour Day Three: The Ale Boy's Feast by Jeffrey Overstreet: Closing Thoughts



The Ale Boy's Feast: Closing Thoughts


Finishing The Ale Boy’s Feast was a moment of disappointment, not for the fact that I didn’t like the ending, quite the contrary. I enjoyed the ending, and loved the balance of both mystery and resolution. But it was a disappointment that the story has come to its end, in a sense. The story obviously, goes on. But our reading of it has reached its end.

It’s not merely the end of the one book, it is the end of the series, and our part in discovering that world. All throughout the Auralia Thread was this sense of being an explorer of that world, discovering it, as if for the first time ever. It wasn’t so much a setting as a place for us to wander in. But now, our wandering is over, and I must reflect on what it is I have seen in the expanse over the course of the last four books. And in my case, the last four years.

There is comfort that in a matter of time I can reopen the pages of Auralia’s Colors and once again be filled with wonder.

Part of the reason that these books have the ability to transport the reader into the story is, no doubt, the power of the language used to write it. There is a richness to the writing itself that lends itself to the world within the words, rather then sidetracting the reader, it draws them, to quote C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle further up, and further in.

I am, in addition to disappointed, very pleased with the story and its resolution. Of all the characters in it, and there are many, I still love Auralia the most. There is something about her that I’ve always related to, yet she always has, and still remains a mystery. I like that in a character. It gives the sense that there is so much more to the person to be revealed then is given us, that their personality and so forth goes so much deeper then what we read about, it really helps to bring them to life. It is her mystery that makes her so interesting, and I’m not sure I would want to know every detail about Auralia. I think that would flatten her character a bit, it would deaden, rather then bring her to life.

In closing, I found The Ale Boy’s Feast a satisfying end to the wonderful Auralia Thread.

The Ale Boy's Feast on Amazon.com

Author Website: Jeff Overstreet, looking closer.org



As part of the CSFF blog tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, for the purposes of this tour.


Participants’ links


Gillian Adams

Red Bissell

Grace Bridges

Beckie Burnham

Morgan L. Busse

Valerie Comer

CSFF Blog Tour

Shane Deal

Chris Deane

Cynthia Dyer

Andrea Graham

Katie Hart

Ryan Heart

Bruce Hennigan

Jason Joyner

Carol Keen

Dawn King

Inae Kyo

Shannon McDermott

Shannon McNear

Karen McSpadden

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Eve Nielsen

John W. Otte

Sarah Sawyer

Kathleen Smith

Donna Swanson

Rachel Starr Thomson

Robert Treskillard

Steve Trower

Fred Warren

Dona Watson

Phyllis Wheeler

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour Day Two: The Ale Boy's Feast: How The Auralia Thread Has Impacted Me



The Ale Boy's Feast: How The Auralia Thread Has Impacted Me

Rather then focusing on just The Ale Boy's Feast this post deals with the series as a whole, of which the fourth book is indeed a part.

Jeffrey Overstreet's book series has been one of small handful of book series that over the past few years have impacted my outlook, even after I had set the book back on the shelf. The overwhelming feeling for me that came through the books and into the way I view the world is the appreciation for beauty. I also have gleaned from these books the sense that art can impact the world very powerfully. Of all the things I've learned from them it is to look for the beautiful, even in the most unlikely of places. This of course is something I have gleaned from other places besides The Auralia Thread. But among many things this book series took some of those thoughts, those passing moments of wonder when I see something beautiful, and gave it a voice. The book is clearly not an allegorical work, nor is it meant to be. But I did draw some parallels to many things, political, and yes, spiritual from the book. This I think is more from the book being in a world with characters, both of which seem alive in that world of theirs. These things are part of the fabric of the tale, not the tale in itself. They are little lights that shine out of the entirety of the book, which shines as if it were a single light composed of all these little lights of meaning and wonderment that I found within the pages of the books. Other lights I saw were themes of redemption, of forgiveness, of mercy, of grace, of love. The book series reflects my own love of art and beauty, in many ways it seems as though I am looking in a mirror rather then reading a book. Seeing myself and the world around me through the lens given me within its pages. At other times it seems as though I'm the mirror and that the wonder and the beauty of things in my own world, experiences, and imagination is reflected in the pages, and in the reading of them the things in my world become clearer, sometimes the beauty is drawn out in the words, sometimes the darkness is amplified, yet both are things that need light to shine upon them; beauty to reveal and darkness to expose. The Auralia thread has deepened my appreciation for beauty, and for the wonder of the world around me, and perhaps, part of the magic of books like these is that it is different for each person who reads it, yet it remains the same looking glass before all, reflecting what is already there within each of us, shining its own light upon us, giving us something of its own reflection back to us. That is the mark of a good book, and such is The Auralia thread.

The Ale Boy's Feast on Amazon.com

Author Website: Jeff Overstreet, looking closer.org


As part of the CSFF blog tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, for the purposes of this tour.

Participants’ links

Gillian Adams

Red Bissell

Grace Bridges

Beckie Burnham

Morgan L. Busse

Valerie Comer

CSFF Blog Tour

Shane Deal

Chris Deane

Cynthia Dyer

Andrea Graham

Katie Hart

Ryan Heart

Bruce Hennigan

Jason Joyner

Carol Keen

Dawn King

Inae Kyo

Shannon McDermott

Shannon McNear

Karen McSpadden

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Eve Nielsen

John W. Otte

Sarah Sawyer

Kathleen Smith

Donna Swanson

Rachel Starr Thomson

Robert Treskillard

Steve Trower

Fred Warren

Dona Watson

Phyllis Wheeler

Monday, May 16, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour Day One: The Ale Boy's Feast by Jeffrey Overstreet: A Review




The Ale Boy's Feast: A Review

I've been a reader of the Auralia thread since late 2007, I have always found each of the four books to be something astounding and beautiful, but always in a different way. So it was with the first three, and so it was with the fourth and final book of this series. At first I thought that The Ale Boy's Feast didn't quite match up to the others as far as holding that beauty that the other three endeared themselves to me so deeply with, and I continued to think so until I reached the final chapters. Then once again the story became beautiful to me as all the various threads and loose ends of this book, and the previous books, started to resolve a bit. The last few chapters were the most beautiful of The Ale Boy's Feast

My one complaint that I did have while reading it is that it took me nearly eight chapters to get into the story, at that point there were many plot-threads being given but with very little resolution and no sense of being tied together as one story. Each chapter seemed to be going in a different direction then the one before it. Of this, it is that it took me so long to get into the story enough for it to capture my interest.

Yet, as the book reached its conclusion I was thankful for the laying down of threads that once resolved, made sense. It made for a much more pleasant conclusion then if the conclusion had been written without the confusing beginning.

The writing style is, as usual, well done. However for much of the book it didn't seem to hold the same sense of wonderment that the first book of the series did. There were many passages throughout that were beautifully written, but it wasn't until the end that the familiar beauty of Mr. Overstreet's word-craft really seemed to present itself. Yet, again, looking back from the end of the book. It was beautiful. I don't know whether to be awed by that or disappointed that I missed it at the time I was reading it.

Overall, I am quite satisfied with this book, especially as the conclusion of so much that went before it. I felt it resolved very beautifully and believably the many threads that Mr. Overstreet has woven throughout, not only The Ale Boy's Feast but the entire Auralia thread. When I finished I felt, not disappointed, but satisfied, as if I had just taken a drink after being thirsty, and found my thirst quenched.

I would definitely recommend this book, but definitely would recommend reading the other three first. For anyone who hasn't been following along the books are in this order: Auralia's Colors, Cyndere's Midnight, Raven's Ladder, & The Ale Boy's Feast

The Ale Boy's Feast on Amazon.com

Author Website: Jeff Overstreet, looking closer.org


As part of the CSFF blog tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, for the purposes of this tour.

Participants’ links

Gillian Adams

Red Bissell

Grace Bridges

Beckie Burnham

Morgan L. Busse

Valerie Comer

CSFF Blog Tour

Shane Deal

Chris Deane

Cynthia Dyer

Andrea Graham

Katie Hart

Ryan Heart

Bruce Hennigan

Jason Joyner

Carol Keen

Dawn King

Inae Kyo

Shannon McDermott

Shannon McNear

Karen McSpadden

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Eve Nielsen

John W. Otte

Sarah Sawyer

Kathleen Smith

Donna Swanson

Rachel Starr Thomson

Robert Treskillard

Steve Trower

Fred Warren

Dona Watson

Phyllis Wheeler

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CSFF Blog Tour Day Three: Some Links


Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet

Talks by Jeffrey Overstreet (via iTunes University):

"We Gotta Get Outta Here" - How Tolkien, Lewis, and L'Engle Help Us Hope

Beast... and The Beauty

I highly recommend you take the time to watch "We Gotta Get Outta Here" - How Tolkien, Lewis, and L'Engle Help Us Hope. It's fantastic, and even though I've seen it or have listened to it dozens of times I still keep learning from it.

More Links by and/or about Jeffrey Overstreet:

Jeffrey Overstreet Facebook Fan Page.

Twitter

Syndicated Looking Closer Feed for LiveJournal Users.

Looking Closer, Jeffrey Overstreet's Website

Tour Links:

Raven's Ladder on Amazon.com
Jeffrey Overstreet's Blog

As part of the CSFF blog tour, I received a free copy of the book from the publisher.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CSFF Blog Tour Day Two: Ten Sure to Fail Predictions About Book Four.


Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet
Before you read any further, please, SPOILERS are definitely present. If you have already read the book, or don't care if it's spoiled for you, read on:













My sure to fail predictions about what we'll see in the next book, mostly based on thinking about what I learned in Raven's Ladder:

1. Auralia will make a definite appearance.

My reason for thinking so? In a lot of literature, the end of the story usually has some appearance of all the major characters both living and dead. In truth I think we've already seen her, but I'm not sure yet.

2.We'll see a union, most likely romantic, but perhaps political as well between House Abascar and House Bel Amica.

My reason for thinking so? Aside from liberal clues dropped about romances between Abascar characthers and Bel Amican ones, we see a reforming of Bel Amica is in progress as well as Abascar. I'm looking for some sort of strong alliance between the two.

3.House Cent Regus will either rise above it's problems or will completely fall.

My reason for thinking so? Too much storytelling has been invested in house Cent Regus to not have some sort of payoff.

4.We'll learn the true identity of The Keeper.

My reason for thinking so? I believe much of what we learn in Raven's Ladder is a case of narrative misdirection. We believe what we see because Cal-Raven believes what he sees, but what we see isn't what it is all about.

5.King Cal-Raven will return to Bel Amica with far more clarity then he ever had before.

My reason for thinking so? It depends on whether he will be purified by the challenges or if he enters into something a little more dark and depressing. But I suspect he'll be purified, refined, and things will be made clear to him. Leading towards an end where he reaches a state of kingly perfection. In literature it's not at all uncommon for things to go from dark and depressing to purifying to perfection. We've seen Cal-Raven pass through the darkness already, and now he's dissolving into something else. I believe we'll see him arise a whole new man.

6.We'll learn the truth about what becomes of Queen Jaralaine and Jordam.

My reason? Narrative misdirection striking again is part of it, but more because I think the truth will decide much of House Cent Regus's future. If for example King Cal-Raven were to learn of Jordam's part, how would he react to that? If Cal-Raven and Cyndere form a sort of a attachment I can see him having to choose between her or his own desires. Would he forgive Jordam or would he seek to eliminate the beastmen? I don't know. Yet I think we could see a tension forming between Cal-Raven, Cyndere, and Jordam in our final book as a result of this. Or we may learn that Jaralaine is fine, but if we do learn that, it'll be too late to take things back.

7.We'll see something of House Jenta.

My reason for thinking so? We've gotten a glimpse of all the houses except House Jenta. It only makes sense that we at least see a little of it before the story is over. How much we see remains to be seen, but I do think we'll see it.

8.Scharr ben Fray moves into the spotlight for a moment.
My reason for thinking so? Scharr ben Fray has been woven throughout the story as if he's a major character, but he remains a mystery. We'll learn more about him, perhaps even follow him a bit, but he will still remain a mystery at the end of the story.

9.Something will happen.

My reason for thinking so? It's a story. Something always happens near the end.

10.I will prove to have been a complete lunatic in my predictions, except for this one.
My reason for thinking so? The real book four will prove to be completely different then what I think it will be.

Links of interest:

My review of Auralia's Colors

Cyndere's Midnight: My first impressions from a previous blog tour.

Cyndere's Midnight: My review from a previous blog tour.

Cyndere's Midnight: An interview with Jeffrey Overstreet, from a previous blog tour.


Raven's Ladder on Amazon.com
Jeffrey Overstreet's Blog

As part of the CSFF blog tour, I received a free copy of the book from the publisher.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

CSFF Blog Tour Day One: Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet. A review and a few thoughts.


Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet

First, as I always like to do when reviewing an Overstreet book, the cover. It is, like Auralia's Colors and Cyndere's Midnight before it, a beautiful cover. I believe it to be Cal-Raven on the cover of this one, I do have one problem with the cover and that is that I keep calling it by it's initial name: Cal-Raven's Ladder. A minor issue, and one only born out of following the release of the book so long before it was published. I am interested in seeing the cover of what I presume to be the title of book four: The Ale Boy's Feast. As part of the series, Raven's Ladder has the least fitting cover of the the three, only in the sense that the text is different and it carries a more painted look then the first two did, not a problem, just my first impressions upon seeing it.

That said:

Jeffrey Overstreet has a particular gift in his wordcrafting. Some people complain that flowery, or even poetic prose distracts too much from the story, I disagree. Well written writing, in my experience, has almost always been when the words themselves are almost as or as beautiful as the world within them. When I find myself disliking a book, more often then the plot, it was the prose that turned me off to it. Not so with Jeffrey Overstreet. In Raven's Ladder there were a couple scenes that in most books, I'd probably slam the book shut and consider it a waste of my time to continue subjecting myself further torment, yet in this book I was not tempted to consider them to be such, for they were there, yes, but beautifully crafted and as such, were able to sneak past them pesky watchful dragons that C. S. Lewis warned about. Do not ask me about the plot, I wouldn't be able to describe it to you in anything more then vague details. It's the world of Overstreet's books that remains in my mind, as if I looked through a window into it. This has been my experience with the first two books, and it continues to be my experience with this book.

I almost wish I didn't have to bring this up, but as this is the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy tour, it bears mentioning. I could not find any particular reason in the text itself to consider this, or its predecessors to be Christian Fiction. I view it as such to be a work of fiction that happens to be written by a Christian. I do not have any problem with that. A lot of great artwork has been made by people who happen to also be Christians. In my view, these works can sometimes be far more powerful, and vastly more dangerous. Dangerous, but good. By dangerous, I mean, life altering, idea changing, transformative literature. Books that dare to present themselves as something beautiful, to reveal in the reader, like a mirror, a portrait of something, taking something of the reader and reflecting it back, yet still remaining independent and beautiful. Raven's Ladder, I believe, is a book that dares to be beautiful. I'm not saying that books with explicitly Christian themes can't be life changing and beautiful. They can be, and have been, but with those it tends to be when the art is held as being as important as any message within it. For me I learn the most from those without messages being pounded at me, leaving that up to me as a reader to be affected rather then telling me that this particular thing should affect me in this particular manner. That is what I get from Mr. Overstreet's books, art that moves me. Do I learn things from it that strengthen my faith? Absolutely! Challenged me in my prejudices, blind-spots, misconceptions, and ideals? You bet! I still do not think I would categorize this book as a work of Christian Fiction however, in the traditional sense of the word. It's art, it's good art, and as a work of art, it does indeed draw me to God, in that sense it very much is a work of Christian Fiction.

Throughout the book the theme that kept emerging to me was something along the lines of what I just wrote above about the book, only it was about art. It is a theme that I picked up as I was reading Auralia's Colors, in many ways it seemed to be stronger there, but I still felt it as I was reading this book. This is only a private interpretation of the text, not something I am suggesting is what these scenes are about at all, but I also picked up several interesting commentaries about the world we live in. Reflections of things in our own world, for instance I saw certain ideas of our own world reflected in the beliefs of the Seers, I was reminded strongly of certain portions of the church in a chapter called “Auralia's Defenders”. I still find myself drawing parallels between the Cent Regus curse and the darker side of the human nature, that was a theme I remember strongly from Cyndere's Midnight. This I suppose brings us back to the work as literature.

Dehumanization, the Beastmen were once humans. But they became something monstrous. This is a theme that runs, not only throughout Jeffrey Overstreet's books but through a whole library of English Literature. From the classics to Harry Potter. Dehumanization is a consistent theme in literature, it is no different here. I would say that the Cent Regus curse is another example of this, but brilliantly done. Overstreet has left enough humanity to recognize yourself in the beastman's eyes, yet has created a monster that is all the more terrifying for it. It is no surprise to me that those who act like beastmen tend to act, become beastmen themselves. C. S. Lewis explored this theme in his Narnia books. It's throughout them, but a specific example is in The Last Battle when the ginger cat ceases to be a talking animal. A different twist on the theme, surely, but the theme is there nonetheless.

I like Raven's Ladder for it's beauty, for further exploring the wonderful world I loved from the first two books, for the words themselves. I am pleased to discover that interesting characters we have already met have become more interesting still. I am pleased to find new characters to be of interest, though to be honest, most of the characters I met there have been at least mentioned in the first two books. I love the prose, beautiful as I was anticipating from my readings of the first two books. I like the many themes that presented themselves to me as I read it. I did pull me in, I did have a little difficultly getting into it at first, but after about the first third I couldn't put it down as easily.

I try to always list something I like and dislike when I write a review, for what I didn't like? That requires a great deal more thought then what I liked about it, I guess I would have to say I didn't like one or two scene's implications, but other then that, I can't really say I had a high dislike for anything else in the book. I was a little disappointed that there are so many loose ends at the end of the book, but that's only a good sign that we can expect a lot of great moments in the books to come.

In conclusion, I highly recommend Raven's Ladder. If nothing else, read it for the beauty of the words. Read the three books, savoring them, allowing the words to move you. It's beautiful.

Links of interest:

My review of Auralia's Colors

Cyndere's Midnight: My first impressions from a previous blog tour.

Cyndere's Midnight: My review from a previous blog tour.

Cyndere's Midnight: An interview with Jeffrey Overstreet, from a previous blog tour.


Raven's Ladder on Amazon.com
Jeffrey Overstreet's Blog

As part of the CSFF blog tour, I received a free copy of the book from the publisher.