Author: Brie Donning (page 2 of 10)

Rose of the Oath is here!

Some of my readers will remember my review of Shadows of the Hersweald by Hope Ann. Back before then I reviewed Song of the Sword, the second book of the same series. Now I have for you a review of Rose of the Oath, the first book of the series.

Yes, you read that right. This is chronologically the first book. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling and it’s delightful.

War clouds the horizon and rebels gather under a mysterious leader. Alone, with her two younger sisters, Elissa watches the mountain road desperately for her brother’s return. Instead, she receives news of his capture by a strange figure covered in scars and cloaked in wolf skins.

With rebels drawing nearer, she sets off to find her brother. To save him. There is no one else who can.

Yet she soon finds the rose that granted her warning now holds her captive in safety. Outside the valley, war threatens those she loves most. Though her strange host claims the ancient promises of the Prince’s return and victory over the rebels, Elissa knows the blood-drenched truth. She is on her own. Elissa will do anything to keep her family safe, but more than one kind of wolf stalks the Blackwood and danger lurks closer than she could ever imagine.

My Review:

I always enjoy stories of sibling relationships and this is a great one. In fact I’ve noticed all of The Legends of Light so far have sibling relationships at their core. Elissa would never have ended up a captive of the ‘beast’ if it were not for her love for her brother and sisters. yet it is the same love that makes her captivity so bad.

Hope’s take on the Beast is one of my favourites. He’s not an animal, but a beast of a man; both in look and in brusqueness. He has deep secrets, and he never speaks of them. But then, he doesn’t talk at all. But he does write and can be quite humourous from time to time. It’s an interesting dynamic. The beast also cooks. There’s none of those enchanted servants common to B&B stories.

Elissa can be a bit feisty. She won’t put up with the Beast’s worse behaviour, won’t let him leave wounds untended, and his clothes all shabby. She frequently questions his need to have a prisoner and keeps the one friend who is able to visit her a complete secret.

Wolves are a big part of this story. They’ve been roaming about for generations and are greatly feared. The Beast pays quite a lot of attention to the wolves and there are various rumours about him and them. But even more significant than the wolves are the roses. Surprise! There’s roses everywhere. They’re quite important. So is an oath.

There’s also a villain. Tauscher, the leader of the rebels.  And maybe someone else. I had suspcions, but they weren’t quite right. The book certainly didn’t end up where i expected it to.

The plot was good with stong themes and characters. The book is a novella, and the story felt just the right size. It wasn’t crowded, rushed or thin. It was good.

 

Download Rose of Prophecy for FREE at:

Amazon 

Smashwords

iTunes

Add it to your shelf on Goodreads

Also, a bonus! For those of you who may not have seen it, Hope is also giving away the prequel to this Beauty and the Beast retelling, Rose of the Night – an account of how the ‘Beast’ became the Beast.

 

Click here to claim your free copy!

Add to your shelf on Goodreads

Finally, in honor of the official release of Rose of the Oath, Hope’s other novellas are $0.99 for this

week only!

Buy Song of the Sword: A Rapunzel Novella

Buy Shadows of the Hersweald: A Hansel and Gretel Novella

About Hope
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and writes regular articles for Kingdom Pen as the Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration.
You can visit Hope’s blog at authorhopeann.com, or follow her on FacebookPinterest,Instagram, or Twitter.

Random Things I Learnt in May 2017

χαιρετε

That’s a new Koine word I learnt. It’s translated rejoice and is also used to say hello. Transliteration is ‘chairete’. Which makes me think of ‘charity’. However the word translated ‘charity’ in the Bible is αγάπη (agape) which is selfless love. And in the middle of researching that I discovered the greek word for cookies, μπισκότα (biskóta).

But enough of the greeting. I didn’t mean to get into the subject quite so soon as that.

I’ve found since my post on my study intentions that I lose interest if I set my research subject up beforehand and don’t have any motivation than presenting a report on it. So, instead I’m going to sum up what I’ve learn at the end of each month. I don’t have a lot for May because I didn’t think of recording at the time and my mind is a bit of a muddle today (a week ago when I wrote this) But I still learnt things.

In Greek:

Upsilon is hard to pronounce. Both the name of the letter and the letter itself.

Saint and sanctify have the same root in Greek. (I suspected that was the case, but didn’t know.)

There is only one kind of article. In English we have two. The definite (the) and the indefinite(a). Koine Greek only has a definite article, but it has multiple forms because like most languages it’s more complex than English. (English has it’s one complexities, but they’re mostly from inconsistencies of pronunciation and spelling as opposed to grammar. But them as a native speaker, I have it easy.)

Music:

Concertos always have three movements.

Some people don’t appreciate flutes as much as they should.

Clarinets come in different sizes

Writing:

Procrastination is really easy.

My secret project, SubM, is prone to theological discourses.

Copywriting is really hard. Even when it’s just explaining my editing services.

If I, living in Australia, do an editing job for someone in another country that is classified as an export.

Reading:

The first few books of The City of God aren’t as complex as I expected. Also Augustine is very thorough. He demolishes the arguments the pagan Romans had against the Christians, them he turns to history and shows how the Roman’s gods didn’t help them. Them he turns to another bit of history and shows how the gods didn’t help them their either. Repeat that several more times also showing the depravity of the gods and how they didn’t help other people groups either. I’ve learnt some history. I’m ready for something new.

Also Patrick Carr has a definite style to his stories. There’s always someone evil who has gotten some unknown and prohibited power. And they’re hunting the hero down, while he tries to figure out  what’s going on. They usually move in before they’re seen. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. Just because I’ve noticed his style, doesn’t mean  his books are unimpressive. They’re wonderfully deep.

I’m hoping to get back to my regular posting next week. I’ve just been feeling a little overwhelmed by life lately.

 

11 Reasons Why Fantasy Isn’t Better

This post is half tongue-in-cheek and half serious points. It could probably also be called 11 things that any fiction can do, but that didn’t sound so cool. And before anyone gets more annoyed at me, I’m am not trying to say fantasy isn’t equal to other genres. I’m just reminding people that other genres are also worthwhile.

Also though I only mention fantasy I’m really talking about spec-fic in general. Anything out of this world, or partially so.

Non-fantasy stories can spark imagination too

I hardly read any fantasy as a child, but was my imagination decreased by that? No. My bed being the covered wagon we we’re travelling to the frontier in was one of the most realistic games.  We had magic blankets that floated on lava and imaginary families inspired by a non-fiction kids book. Biographies of missionaries have sent me all over the world. I can imagine crossing a vine bridge in Papua-New Guinea though I’ve never even seen a photograph.

Other stories can have brave heroes

So think of a fantasy story. There’s a fair chance it will feature a brave hero completing amazing (or slightly less amazing) feats. But heroes exist out of fantasy. Just think of a  war story. Many have brave, inspiring heroes. Also heroism isn’t just about battles. A nurse just going about her duties is a hero, parents struggling, but still doing the best they can for their children. They are some of the best heroes.

Other stories can create deep emotion

Emotion comes from characters. Characters are common to stories. That was slightly too simple, so I had better elaborate. Emotions are created in stories by reminding you of real motions you’ve felt. (or something like that) All you need for this is realistic characters.

Other stories deal with social and philosophical issues

Fantasy is a good medium for focusing in on certain themes without bringing a long a lot of baggage, but other books can do very well. Dystopian is also spec-fic, but it is often great at this. Also stories that deal directly with the actual issues can be enormously powerful. Sometimes A story of a malnourished refugee in Africa, might be more powerful than that of a refugee from the land of Ulinent. We can’t help people in fantasy worlds, but we can in the real world.

Other books can awake a longing for great purpose

Some stories can bring an inspiring sense of awe and purpose, a reminder of how great the world is and that there’s much more to life than simple survival. Fantasy is a great vehicle for grandeur, but the simple thing of out world can also achieve this. It’s our world where we have purpose after all.

Other stories can be complex and twisty

I’ll admit that the most complex books I’ve read have been fantasy. But I’ve read some historical that comes close. Maybe the twists don’t come from outside the laws of nature, but that doesn’t been we’ll see them coming.

Other stories can be fun and adventurous

This is really obvious and actually two points. Adventure exists in our world,  and it can be pretty exhilarating. A humour or even quirkyness isn’t out of this world either. Some of the most laugh out loud books I’ve read have been collections of letters sent by real people. Reality can be plain ridiculous at times.

Other stories can have beautiful settings

Our world is a beautiful place and it can be described magnificently. Grand scenery isn’t sole the property of fantasy books; it might just be a little more common in them. When you have to invent your whole world, it might make you a little more aware of what it looks like. Or maybe not. It probably comes down tot he author and their skills of visualization and observation. Personally I don’t pay enough attention to my surroundings and forget to describe the made up  world of my own stories far too often.

 
Other books can be relate-able

Well of course. If a cat who must kill a dragon is relateable, surely someone trying to catch an ordinary criminal ought to be relateable. Though honestly some people click better with some characters. It’s not a fixed thing.

Other  stories can be original

Fantasy doesn’t have the same limits as other books, but it still manages to have a huge number of tropes. Other genres have tropes too of course, but they also can overcome them. The characters can vary hugely. The thoughts and themes behind the books are limitless. And the minds behind the books are different. Sometimes not having to invent a whole world can yield more depth of character.

And in case you aren’t into fantasy: Other books can be unrealistic

Hugely unrealistic. For example where the whole conflict is caused by a simple misunderstanding that would be fixed in a conversation. (yes, I’m talking about romance novels here) That’s not very realistic. Or when everything turns out fine due to some coincidence.  Or when someone doesn’t act like a normal person would. Or when things just turn out to perfectly. If you’re trying to escape reality, fantasy (the genre)  isn’t the only way.

 

I wrote this because I grew up mostly reading historical fiction, and Enid Blyton books and did love them. I don’t want to leave all that behind for fantasy. Kids adventure stories are fun even though it’s ridiculous how adventures keep happening to the same kids.

Brie, out.

Blades of Acktar Characters Part 2

I’m continuing my discussion of my favourite characters of the Blades of Acktar series by Tricia Mingerink. I cannot promise this to be entirely spoiler free, but I won’t tell more than necessary. And anyway, if you care about getting spoilers, just go read the books.

Part one is here, in case you missed it.

Martyn Hamish

Loyalty. That’s the first word I associate with Martyn.  Duty is the second. This guy follows orders. Martyn  was Leith’s best friend in the Blades. He’s kind of a nice guy. At least as far as assassins go. But unlikely Leith he’s not going to walk away from his duty just because some girls were strangely kind to him. He’ll follow orders. Even that includes doing terrible things.

One interesting aspect of Martyn’s character is that he doesn’t do so well without someone to follow. He’s the main character in Deliver and *spoiler* in Deliver the Blades have been disbanded. King Respin is gone. Martyn is feeling slightly lost and betrayed, and confuses and uncomfortable. And he’s more lost than he realizes. He needs someone who will give him orders. And someone who will challenge his stubbornness. And once that happens and he realizes that he’s been an idiot, he slowly comes round.

Shadrach Alistair

Shad is the son of Lord Henry Alistair and Leith’s new best friend. He’s not got some tragic childhood, or (so) many people trying to kill him. He’s just a nice guy. And a lord’s son.  Which is somehwat of a recurring joke. As a lord’s son he had a rather different upbringing to Leith. But he’s still pretty good at tracking and fighting. Maybe not quite as good as he thinks, but he can handle most things. He’s more of a leader and is quite involved in the resistance against King Respen. 

While Shad doesn’t make it into my top characters, he
does get some of the best lines. Or is around when some of the best lines are said. In real life he’s probably the guy you’d want around. A good man, not overly complicated, with no enormous scars in his past. He’s dependable.

More Blades

Jamie Cavendish is a Blade trainee. He’s kind of awesome. Very brave. He deserves a lot more space than I’m giving him right here. But I haven’t got the time. So just read the books.

 

Blane Altin. One of the youngest Blades. Someone Leith wishes he’d gotten out. One of the resons I despise King Respin. Turning boys into killers.

Ranson Harding. The Blade one above Blane. They’re friends. Almost like brothers. He also could be a nice guy if given the chance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s one more character I’d really like to to talk about, specifically from Deliver, but i haven’t got a picture for he and I’m not sure what to say. So I’ll just squeal. Kayleigh!!! Really she’s an awesome character. One of the reasons to read Deliver.

Pictures grabbed from these Pinterest boards: https://au.pinterest.com/jessica2012d/martyn-hamish/  https://au.pinterest.com/jessica2012d/shadrach-alistair/  https://au.pinterest.com/jessica2012d/deny/  https://au.pinterest.com/tmingerink/ya-novel-defy-the-blades-of-acktar-3/

Blades of Acktar Characters Part 1

Hello friends,

I’m interrupting my posting schedule again to bring you pictures and thoughts on the character of the Baldes of Acktar series. Yes, my posting schedule. Things might appear somewhat random over here but I’ve got subject picked out for future posts and they will come someday.

Anyway, today, Acktar. My favourite and least favourite characters.

I might annoy a few fans by not putting Leith first, but here goes.

Lady Rennelda Faythe

Renna Faythe

Renna

Usually called Renna. She’s our leading lady. A shy girl and an afraid one. She’s not a ‘strong female character’ or an action girl. But she doesn’t need to be. Not all of us are. I think we sometimes overestimate how brave we would be in difficult life threatening circumstances. I like to think I would deal with them perfectly. But I’m afraid I would run and hide. I might lose faith.

Slowly Renna does develop some strength. She stops running. She become brave and bold eventually. I love to see that. And even in the beginning she has her strengths. She’s a healer. I would likely panic if faced with the wounds she fixes up.  Though I would try. I also would rather help than hurt.

Leith Torren

Leith

Leith is a Blade. One of the King’s special assassins. Or maybe not so special. Maybe more like a slave. He can’t get out. Not without being killed.

I always imagine Leith to be a little older than his eighteen years. Or I forget I’m as old as I am. No one should be an assassin at this age. (or at all, but that’s another matter)

But Leith isn’t just any assassin. He had a heart and a conscience inside somewhere. Something to be touched through the kindness he had never known. He begun to believe in God, though not in forgiveness for himself. But then his curiosity drove him to steal a Bible. He read it. He was offered forgiveness. He seized it. Finally.

But it’s hard to change from who you once were. Leith is an example of how people can change. And how sometimes it’s difficult. Also growing up as an assassin doesn’t give to the best knowledge of how to act around normal people. Amusement results. Especially when relating to Renna. I could go on forever, but I won’t. I love seeing Leith grow in faith and knowledge.

Brandi Faythe

Leith’s horse Blizzard. Brandi named him.

Or Brandilyn when she’s wearing a pink fancy dress. This is Renna’s little sister. She’s entirely different. Fearless. She’s the first one to get through to Leith. She’s funny, smart, and surprisingly insightful at times. Everyone is her friend. At least if they aren’t obviously dangerous.

She’s also entirely devoted to Renna. Enough to do slightly crazy things when needed. She balances Renna’s shyness perfectly. And Renna keeps her in line. Mostly at least.

Brandi is also most definitely not a healer. She’s not careful enough and doesn’t have the stomach. So she fights instead.

King Respen Felix

This guy needs no words of my own.

 

I’ll be back again in a day or two with a few more characters.

See you then.

Pictures grabbed from these Pinterest boards: https://au.pinterest.com/tmingerink/ya-novel-dare-the-blades-of-acktar-book-1/  https://au.pinterest.com/jessica2012d/leith-torren/  https://au.pinterest.com/jessica2012d/renna-faythe/  https://au.pinterest.com/jessica2012d/king-respen-felix/ 

 

Deliver by Tricia Mingerink Review!!!!!

Once again I get to write  a review for a book I really love. Deliver is the fourth (and last) book of the Blades of Acktar series by Tricia Mingerink. I haven’t mentioned her books a lot on the blog, but lately they’ve been coming up whenever someone asks me about my favourite book. Which has happened because I’m making a few new friends.

The Blades of Acktar is non-magical fantasy with a medieval feel to the setting. But the geography is inspired by South Dakota so there’s prairies, mountain lions and rattlesnakes. There’d be more on those later, but I’m avoiding spoilers.

Now for you enjoyment I have the cover of Deliver here in its full glory and its blurb below it.

Can something broken ever heal?

Martyn is broken. After torturing his best friend, he doesn’t belong anywhere in Acktar. No matter how far he runs, he can’t lose his guilt.

Leith is broken. While healing from the torture he received at Nalgar Castle, he struggles to find his new role. But can a Blade ever outrun his past?

The country is broken. Bitterness divides town against town, neighbor against neighbor. What will it take to deliver Acktar from itself?

They face their hardest battle yet.
Peace.

The Review

This is actually a series review because context makes everything better. It’s pretty much spoiler free until I get to talking about Deliver and I’ve still managed to avoid most of them.

 

I first heard of the Blades of Acktar a while before I begun them.  I probably would have left them alone (and missed out on something lovely) if Tricia hadn’t been running a giveaway for an audio book of either Dare or Deny. I entered and I won.

I listened to Dare pretty much in one go. It was awesome. I loved the characters, the themes. I love how it challenged me to think about how I would love my enemies if my life was at risk. I knew then that I would love this series.Dare Cover

I don’t know what my favourite part is. Renna reminds me of myself somewhat, though she’s a little quieter. Brandi is amazing. Bouncy, enthusiastic, horse-crazy. She is bold enough to tell Bible stories to an assassin who would easily tell evil King Respin they were Christians. And then there’s Leith, the aforesaid assassin. I always have sympathy for someone who’s discovering the truth for the first time. Someone who thinks they’re irredeemable, not loved by God, yet still has enough faith to dare do what is right.  After that there’s so many more wonderful characters. They are all brilliantly written.

Shortly afterwards, I got Deny (also audio from a giveaway). I was a little bit more moderate with it and took about a week to listen to it. It was the perfect sequel. The characters got better. A few new ones were introduced. I especially loved the young Blade Trainee Jamie Cavendish. He’s awesome. Yet his story is sad. All the blades make me said. What kind of King takes teenage (or younger) boys and trains them to be assassins.

I love how Deny show the tangled web that being a spy for good or evil creates. There’s people who are dead and believed to be alive and vise versa. And then the people who should be dead are discovered and you have to pretend to kill the person who’s already dead. Confusing as it sounds, I loved it.

And then there was the depth of the themes. This book makes me less afraid. I feel that I can face death with confidence. It’s a faith strengthener even when it makes my heart ache for what Tricia is putting her characters though.

After that I took a break before finally buying Defy. (Somehow I managed that despite the enormous cliff-hanger ending of Deny?) That was only the beginning of this month. I listened to it in two days when I should have been spitting out pages of words for CampNaNo. Defy is certainly the most tense of the books. It has twists I never would have seen coming. (and other I saw spoilers for) It continued along the previous themes of being firm to your faith and loving your enemies while adding the pain of separated sisters. and some difficult quandaries.

This book is Brandi’s story more than any other. I couldn’t help but feel sad for her. She was the cheerful character, now turned grimly determined and put in a difficult position for a 14 year old girl. Yet she still was Brandi and there was a trace of her fun.

Defy had it’s adorable moments. A mixture of love and pain and bravery. Not to mention adventure and humour. Sometime straight up funny moments, sometime situational humour. When one character is worrying about another character who is perfectly okay, I can’t help but find it amusing. But I admit it did get dark and was quite serious. I just was no where near a serious mood when I read it. I knew it would end happily so I could bear anything.

I was perfectly happy with how Defy ended. Everyone was in the right place, and those who had been injured were recovering, mostly I would have happily waited for the audiobook of Deliver to come out. But then Tricia sent me an ARC. I wouldn’t have asked for it, because I wanted to stick to my audiobook tradition, but I couldn’t resist a free copy.

I read Deliver in a day and it was everything I had hoped for. It’s not all that common that you follow the characters after the battle is over and I wasn’t sure how Tricia could top the high stakes of Deny. But she did it.  Once the characters have had their happy ending for a moment, the thought of it being lost is dreadful.

And then there is Martyn. Leith’s best friend from the Blades. The guy who should have died in his one heroic moment rather than survive. He hadn’t got his happy ending. I wanted hi to have it and even more to know the truth. Tricia did this in such a beautiful manner. Both in the story and in his point of view. He is a sarcastic, cynical character, but so fun to read. Partly because it’s so easy to see what he’s trying to keep from admitting. He’s so close to seeing, but he doesn’t. And now I’m feeling sad,

*Spoiler* 

Kayleigh is just so perfect for Martyn. The way he pretend he’s only sticking around for the food, while he actually likes her. That was adorable. And then there’s the soap fiasco. Blistering soapsuds! I love it.

And then we have a potential relationship between Ranson Harding a former Blade and Michelle Allen the sheriff’s daughter. That is cute and slightly ironic.

Also Jamie wanting to become a minister. And Shad rescuing Martyn. And the small interations between Renna and Martyn. And  Kayleigh!!!!!

*End spoiler*

There was also the simple pleasure of seeing how characters have changed throughout the books. Renna had become brave, but now she has become a leader. Not the Leader though, that’s only one person. (In joke). Her and Leith’s relationship has blossomed into something beautiful. It’s the right kind of love, the kind that cares for the other person more. It’s founded on deep trust, not  giddy feelings. (but still so adorable)

Deliver is a story of friendship, of rebuilding and of upholding what is right. It’s got it’s difficult and scary moments as do all Tricia’s books, but I highly recommend it to ages 15 up. Be warned, though the books are clean as far as language and immorality, there is violence. It’s not gratuitous, but it can get descriptive at time. Medieval war wounds and things of that sort.

About Tricia

About the Author

Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.

You can connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.

Release Party

Tricia is having a release party on Facebook in just a couple of days. Come along and join the fun. There’s sure to be prizes (I’ll avoid winning any more audio books) and games and I’ve heard a rumour that some of her characters might turn up to chat with us. I’m not sure on that though.  You can find the party page here.

So check out all of Tricia’s books. The Kindle versions are all on sale this week, so don’t miss out. I’m going to grab the companion novella Destroy since I haven’t read it yet. It’s supposed to be read between Defy and Deliver, though missing it does not spoil the enjoyment at all.

You can find all the books on Amazon  here. You can also get signed paperback from Tricia’s website here.

I’ve collected a bunch of other posts in the blog tour for your enjoyment.

7 Things You Might Not Know About The Blades of Acktar on Tricia Mingerink’s blog.

Review and Interview by Bethany R.

Crazy Fangirling Post on Thriving Hope and proper review by the same. (Crazy fangirling because I never get past 5 exclamation marks!!!)

Bookish Analogies: Blades of Acktar – What Happens After ‘Broken’?

Deliver: The Blades of Acktar Book 4 – Review

Character Encounters: In which I meet Cassia under a bridge

A short story written for Character Encounters.

Something really strange happened to me while i was travelling back from the Indie E-Con a few months ago.

I was waiting at the bus station for my coach back north. It was the bus stop right on the edge of the city where the river is. Since the bus wasn’t due for another half hour, I wandered down the path by the river. It amazes be how rivers seem the same the world over. The trees, smells and the position of the sun might all be different, but water is water.

When I got to the bridge I stopped and sat under it in the shade. There was another thing that didn’t change. Graffiti covered the bottom of the concrete bridge.  Nothing terribly original, just a few random words I’d rather not repeat.

A girl ran along the path in front of me. She looked my way. “Sorry,” she said, “I didn’t meant to interrupt you.”

“You didn’t interrupt anything.” I stood up feeling puzzled. Sure I’ve had stranger apoligize when I almost run into them in the story, but this was weird.

The young woman looked up at me and a strange expression crossed her face. “I don’t recognize you, but I have a strong feeling that we’ve meant before. You weren’t at that writers conference were you?”

I studied her. She looked very familiar, but I hadn’t seen her at the E-Con. “I was actually, but I don’t think that’s where we met. It was longer ago. at a conference or course.”

“No, I think I’d remember that. But I’ll get my glasses out just in case my sight is playing up.” She rummaged through a handbag and pulled out a pair of tortoise-shell glasses. when she looked up with them on, she shook her head. “Still don’t recognize you.”

But I did recognized her. Or though I did at least. “Vivien? What are you doing here? I thought you were writing your thesis for your honor’s year.”

She took a step back and gave me a puzzled look. “My name’s not Vivien and I don’t expect it ever will be. But this is a weird coincidence. Almost enough to make one think there’s something beyond this world.” She checked her watch. “I’ve got to catch a bus now. Maybe we’ll meet again someday. What is you name by the way? I’m Cassia.”

“Brie. Brie Donning. I write books.” I said stupidly.

Cassia nodded. “Me too. I write on fantasy theory. I’d love it if you could connect with me.” She shoved a card into my hand and ran toward the bus stop.

I dropped back into the seat under the bridge and scanned the card. All it held was her name, Cassia Rerdbin and an email hosted at the Tetra school website. I shoved it into my pocket. I wouldn’t need it. Either this was an elaborate hoax or she was an invention of my imagination and I needed no contact details. I might need to alter her appearance so she didn’t resemble Vivien so much.

 

I had intended to do this last month when we were to meet our character at a Indie E-con actually held in Dallas. Since I was late, I combined it it with this month. The story is actually set in the future. Cassia’s appearance is borrowed from a  real life acquaintance who I would recognize much quicker, glasses or no glasses. Her name is not Vivien.

Introducing GiraffeCrafts

Hey,

My friend Kendra has just launched a new website for Indie authors. She’s offering a range of service’s there and will also host future Indie E-cons through GiraffeCrafts. I’m quite excited by this. (Though I admit sometimes I wish she’d just focus on writing her books.)

What Kendra says about GiraffeCrafts:

GiraffeCrafts is a company dedicated to the promotion of good, clean Indie Fiction. The main site isn’t up yet – stay tuned for that later this month, but for now you can check out the blog where I’ll be posting writing advice (because half the battle in marketing is having a book WORTHY of reading) as well as advice for editing, publishing, and marketing. Do stop by and have a visit – and consider becoming a contributor or joining my blogger and reviewer teams.

Happy writing!

The GiraffeCrafts blog can be found here.

Kendra says a whole lot more on her main blog, Knitted By God’s Plan.

She’s also giving away one free blog tour which can be redeemed at a later date. (In case you don’t have a book coming out in the next couple of months.)

A RaffleCopter Giveaway

You can follow GiraffeCrafts on FacebookTwitter,  and Pinterest.

Kendra also started a weekly writing podcast called The Rough Giraffe Show. You can find it on Eagle’s Nest Broadcasting which she shares with her dad.

Ashen City: Review and Author Interview

Ashen City Blog Tour April 6 - April 20

 

Make your choice, Ember Carter. And make it count.

Ember Carter has escaped the flames of death. But will she ever be free from Chief Titus? When the orchard goes up in smoke and her family turns up missing, Ember returns to Frankfort hoping to find her brother and father, and to get Titus to drop the death wish he has against her.

But Titus is always one step ahead. When Ember faces him head-on, she’s captured, only to receive another death sentence. But on her way to her execution, plans go a little askew, and Ember finds herself traveling to the one place no one dares travel: Louisville. If the outskirts of Ky were a ghost town, the ashen city is the borderline of hell itself, but it’s the one place Ember can find refuge from the people who want her dead.

In the ashen city, Ember must learn that being a hero is more than doing what is right because she can, but doing it for the good of the people. And when plans take a turn for the worst, she must decide if it’s worth risking her life to save her country.

My Review:


I first discovered Sara Baysinger when I saw that Black Tiger (the first book) advertised as free. I grabbed it, read it, and was gripped.

It wasn’t the strong faith of the main character that gripped me in Black Tiger (cause she hasn’t got one), nor even by the cool world. It was the characters and Ember’s questions that drove it. Who should she trust? How can she help her friends? Is there some greater purpose behind this?

Ashen City continued on perfectly and far surpassed what I hoped for. I love brilliantly executed plot twists and deeply laid secrets that slowly come out through a series. This was delightfully plot-twisty. (I insist that is a word.) I never saw half of it coming. There’s so many lovely surprises that I cannot say a word about here.  And less lovely surprises I am equally silent on.

I love how Sara develops the Christian themes. It’s subtle, but has amazing moments of insight. This is a future where Christianity (and most of the past) has almost been forgotten, but she shows how knowledge of God continues despite all efforts to destroy it. Sara also touches on knowing God’s will. There’s this one quote I want to share.

“’Hm. I’m no theologian, Ember. And I’m in no place to be interpreting dreams or visions or whatever, because that’s all I think they are. Do I think God commanded you specifically to rescue Ky? Honestly, no. But I do think that whatever you’re doing, as long as it’s good and right, you’re doing exactly what God wants.’”

I think that’s an interesting way to look at it and much more useful to the ordinary person. Because as far as I’m aware most people don’t have dreams of a voice telling them what to do. We just do our best to figure it out.

Once again, the characters were brilliant. They felt real. Even Titus, one of the most despicable characters ever, has a moment he can almost be pitied. Almost, but not quite. As for the characters I like, they certainly have their bad moments. Sara has a way of making you like a character, breaking off all trust of them, then building it up again. After which she smashes your expectations into bits.

The biggest example of this is Rain. He’s a complete contradiction. At times, he’s despicable, At others friendly. He seems to be the biggest fool in the city, yet under it he loves history and old hymns. He’s the one who talks about God.  But Rain has a dark side. He can be cold-hearted, even cruel. There is one person he hates enough to kill. (Or maybe two. But Titus is understandable) Not exactly an example of a Christian. Yet he does have an honourable side, a dependable side, a lovable side. I’d be terrified to meet someone like him in real life.

I am so looking forward to the next book, yet dread it. I will warn that there is a big cliff hanger at the end. And other things at the end I try to forget happened. Another book will cement them in. But it will also complete the story, free the captives, make the world bright again. (And I’m really hoping I’m right about that.)

I am putting a content warning on this. It is a little gritty, a little passionate (though not more than kisses), and is candid about some of the things that are going on. It’s not for the squeamish. It’s only the glimpses of light and hope that make it a story I enjoy.

You can buy Ashen City on Amazon and add it on Goodreads.

About the Author

Sara Baysinger grew up in the heart of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador where she spent her childhood exploring uncharted lands and reading all things magical. She now lives among the endless cornfields of Indiana with her husband and two young children. Sara enjoys writing and reading anything out of the ordinary, and has a bad habit of zoning out at the most inopportune moments. She is currently considering seeking medical attention for her potentially life-threatening coffee addiction.

Ho can find Sara on her website, sarabaysinger.com. Also follow her on GoodreadsFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

My lovely interview with Sara

Imagine the inside of a tent. It’s small and rough. the air is cool, still and damp. Through the slit of a doorway an enormous cavern is visible by lantern. Sara and I are sitting together on a mattress. She has coffee. I don’t.

Sara: Hello and thank you so much for hosting me!

Me: I’m very glad to have you. I’ve loved seeing you share snippets from your books on Twitter and I’m really excited to have you here. Now into the questions.

What made you become a writer?

Sara: I was an avid reader throughout high school. I loved escaping dull high school life to my story worlds, and I wanted to be able to create stories for other teens to get lost in. My biggest inspiration was the book A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. I loved how she was able to draw me into this story she created, how she moved me to cry and feel joy for her characters. When I finished reading it for—oh, I don’t know, the tenth time?—I starting writing spinoffs and that’s when I discovered my love for writing.

A Voice in the Wind is a good book. I haven’t read it quite so many times, but it’s not one to easily forget.

What’s your favourite part of writing?

Creating. I’m a pantser, so there’s little plotting I do before hand. I love discovering the story as I write it. Writing is similar to the reading experience for me, just a lot more work. I love creating my own rules. I love having control of where the story goes. Seriously, what’s not to like in writing? 😉

Revisions, maybe? Or writer’s block? But I suppose that isn’t really writing.

Are you a city or country person?

Definitely a country person. I grew up in a very small indigenous village in Ecuador (South America). My family moved to the city my middle school/high school years and it crushed me. I’ve always been drawn to the countryside, and just a year ago was finally was able to buy a house far away from civilization. I love it here. I also know I’ll be safer here than in town during the zombiepocalypse. 😉

I’m a country girl too. Haven’t lived in the suburbs since I was a toddler.  And Ecuador is cool. I’ve wanted to visit South America, and it’s one of my top countries.

Which of your characters is the most fun to write?

Rain, hands-down. Rain was not a planned character, and he didn’t even exist in the book until the third draft. He popped up as a very minor character who was there as a conveying-information-through-dialogue pawn. But then he sort of took over the story. Typical Rain.

I’ll admit I anticipated Rain being your answer. I can’t imagine the books without him.

If it’s not too much of a spoiler, what element in Black Tiger or Ashen City was the first idea?

A few years ago my family and I went to Louisville, KY for the day and got a chance to tour the mega caverns below the city. There was a simulation camp there showing us how the caverns would have been used during the cold war—as a shelter for people during a catastrophic event. From that simulation camp, this story was borne. 🙂

Okay, cool.

What is your greatest hope for your writing?

My hope with Black Tiger was originally to give people a thirst for God—to open themselves up to the Spirit when they felt that Presence—without me being preachy or pushy. However, Black Tiger ended up being too edgy for a lot of Christian readers and too religious for non-believers, so I don’t think I really accomplish that goal. 😉 I guess now I just want to provide an entertaining story while also showing people that God can’t be defined or pinned down, and that He can present Himself a lot of different ways to different people, depending on what speaks to them.

Well on that count, God can speak though your books if he chooses to. I pray he will. I understand how difficult that balance is. Am I saying enough? Too much? Is it heavy handed and clumsy? I just have to trust and do my best.

Anyway, I enjoyed this interview and I’m really looking forward to the next book so I can get over the suspense.

Giveaway!

Sara has generously offered to give away a paperback of either BLACK TIGER or ASHEN CITY with a Louisville skyline bookmark (two winners) as well as a grand prize of a paperback of either BLACK TIGER or ASHEN CITY, Louisville skyline bookmark, adjustable ring that says “inhale/exhale,” and journal (one winner). Open to US only.

Check out the rest of the blog tour below.

April 6th – Holly’s Little Book Reviews – Book Review

April 7thkindred-he4rts – Book Reivew // Midwest Ladies Who Lit – Book Review

April 8thLands Uncharted – Guest Post // She Reads Many Books – Book Review

April 10thBrie Donning – Book Review & Interview

April 11thLooseleaf Reviews – Book Review & Guest Post // Books Before Bandaids– Book Review

April 12th Quills and Inkblotts– Book Spotlight

April 13thRJ Metcalf – Book Review // Between the Pages of this Bookish Life – Book Spotlight

April 14thHope Perch – Book Review

April 17thSomewhere Between the Nebulae – Book Review

April 18th Jannette Fuller – Book Spotlight

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