Tag: Book review (page 2 of 2)

MYSR: The Five Unnecessaries

Hi everyone, I have another book recommendation.

The Five Unnecessaries is book one of the 27th Protector series, by Laura Campbell. I found it simply amazing. It’s a book that deseveres to be better known.

This book would appeal to those who like dystopian. It’s not a traditional dystopian though. The main character doesn’t live in that bad a place, and those that do… haven’t realized it. But it is bad, scarily bad in that I can see our society slipping into this place. This is its blurb.

I am Aislyn. These are the sad facts of my world. Any child born in the Republic who is unscheduled, imperfect, or inconvenient is labeled an Unnecessary. Any pregnant woman, or Vessel, is targeted as an enemy of the state for harboring an Unnecessary. Their only hope is to be rescued by a Protector, one of 26 girls trained to infiltrate the Republic and get them safely back to the Territory. These girls are chosen because they are strong, smart, and heroic. They train for years in medicine, technology, physical agility, and espionage. They never choose girls like me. Except…they did. I am a threat and a risk because I don’t comply with the rules and expectations. I am a target because the Republic is more determined than ever to destroy anyone who crosses the border. I think my trainer has a secret. I am the 27th Protector of the 188th generation, and I’m terrified I will fail.

So Aislyn trains, Eventually she passes her exams and it is time to go. Into the Republic, risking her life. She finds an Unnecessary to take back with her. She is caught. But the guard lets her go. And she doesn’t know why.

This is not one of those books with a blatant Christian message, in fact there’s not a single bible verse that I can remember. However what it does have is a powerful message about the sanctity of life, and about what we can do. Even if we feel powerless, God can use anyone to show his love. We just have to be alive enough to make a difference. To show the world that there are no unnecessaries.

It is a truly beautiful story, One that almost made me cry. (And that’s not easy to do.) There are so many profound statements in it. And just the way things are described, it pulled me in and made me feel like I was really there. (Except for the occasionally editing mistake that distracted me.) The first line is one of those beautiful memorable ones. “Grey shouldn’t be a color. It’s a void.”

It’s realistic. Even gritty on occasion. The Republic is a decadent society and that does come into the story, but not too much. Just enough to show what it is like, but not enough that it would bother squeamish people. Though some of the medical stuff might, There’s blood and people dying, Emergency c-sections and stuff like that.

Aislyn is a character I can relate to well. She isn’t anyone special, despite having to do a very difficult job. And she has just as much trouble coping as anyone would. And the other characters, they vary a lot and there is great development. We don’t get to know all 27 protectors, but the ones that do appear are wonderful.(Or not as is suitable) Brie is highly committed and caring with a tragic backstory, Tessa wants to be the best protector ever, Megan is the only person her father has left and Eva is so young and scatter brained. Then there is Eldrige, Commander Patterson, Collin and other trainers and the tech guys. And people in the republic.

A few of my favourite lines, just to give you an idea of  some of the characters and the writing.

Eva: “So ‘yay’ for incomprehensible circumstances that point out the incompetence of underdeveloped legislature. Candy?”

Patterson: “Never apologize for seeing beauty. In fact, you will need to, or you will likely go mad from everything else you have to deal with.”

Eldridge: “My dear, I am slightly important or so I have been told. I’m technically running a county and an undercover operation to steal forsaken children, however unnecessary they are deemed to be. This does come with some competition for my time. But when you can track me down, Please do. Being in charge also gives one some clout to do things like choose 27th Protectors and talk to them when I want.”

Cassidy: “I knew you were gonna be fun”

Brie: “Do you remember when I said that nothing could ever make me hate them more?” “I was wrong.”

And I think that’s enough. There’s a sequel, The First Traitor. It’s on my wishlist. Let me know what you think if you decide to check it out.

Samara’s Peril Blog Tour: Review and Interview

Hey people,
Jaye L. Knight’s newest novel, Samara’s Peril, has been released! I got a chance to read the book for review and to interview Jaye. And she’s doing a lovely giveaway. Don’t forget to check that out below.
About the Book
Samara’s Peril is the third book in the Christian fantasy series, Ilyon Chronicles
When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen.
Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.
Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks!
My review

Samara’s Peril is excellently written as all Jaye’s books are. She continues to tell a story of amazing faith through trials. But the struggles that are faced are not ignored either.
This book surprised me a lot. It went places I didn’t expect it to go yet. This is the turning point of the series and certainly in Jace’s life. The way Jaye went about bringing him to a place of stable faith is amazing, and there was great development of the other main characters. And even minor characters weren’t dropped, but instead came up naturally. I didn’t have any trouble with following what was going on.
Also there are some amazing new characters introduced. Some lovely, and others perfectly despicable. I am looking forward to seeing more of them. The King of Samara is such a contrast to Emperor Daican. A humble servant king.

There were some great interaction between Kyrin and her brothers. This book has family as a big part of it. It’s lovely.
I don’t think it’s my favourite so far in the series, but I did have a great big smile on my face for several days after. Though it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, the first part of the book especially was amazing. Not that the second part wasn’t good, it was, but sometimes I like my ideas of what could have happened better than the author’s.
Samara’s Peril does have some mature themes, perhaps more than the previous books, but they are dealt with very gently. There is violence, but never without a reason for it to appear. It just shows how bad evil is and the reality of war. I think that there is actually somewhat less than the previous books, despite there being more fighting. Those people who hating kissing in books, might be annoyed. There is one kiss, rather impulsive and not in detail, but a source of surprising controversy. Also there are a few non descriptive sexual references.
If you love Resistance and the King’s Scrolls you should read this continuation. I wish I could say you’ll love it, but there have been mixed opinions.  If you haven’t read them I would recommend them for about 16 up and you certainty need to begin with Resistance.
(I find it hard to write an interesting, sensible, and spoiler free review. It’s hard to talk about it without going into specifics and that would give things away. Especially in this book.)
My Interview with Jaye

Me: Who was your favourite author as a child?

Jaye: My all-time favorite would have to be Jeanne Betancourt, author of the Pony Pals series. I was your typical horse crazy girl and most of the books I read were horse stories. Hers were always my favorite. Even now, I’m working on completing my collection of them because they were such a big part of my childhood.

Me: What was your favourite school subject?

Jaye: History. It was always the most enjoyable for me. I probably retained more of what I learned during our history lessons than I did from any other subject.

Me: I love history too. Learning about the past is the best way to understand the present.
What was the hardest part about writing Samara’s Peril?

Jaye: Probably the intense emotion in it. It’s a very emotional and heavy book at times, and as a writer, you really try to put yourself in your characters’ heads. About the time I started the second half of the book, I went through a period of about a week and a half where I was having bad anxiety attacks and felt like Satan was really trying to sabotage the story. That was definitely the hardest part.

Me: That does sound very hard.
Do you ever cry while writing?

Not easily, but yes, sometimes. I actually cried several time while working on the death scene of a particular character in The King’s Scrolls.

Me: I can complete understand that. I’d almost be worried if you hadn’t. It’s the probably the saddest thing I’ve read of yours. (Almost because I didn’t quite cry myself. Conflict is more likely to make me cry.)
Do you have any plans for books after the Ilyon Chronicles are finished?

Jaye: Too many. 😛 Yeah, I have quite a few projects floating around in my mind. The biggest question is always which one will be next. I think I’ve narrowed it down to one smaller project that seems to be demanding to be written. It’s a fairy tale retelling, which is something I never thought I’d get into, but the story just showed up and won’t leave me alone. After that, I have an assassin trilogy that has been on hold for several years now. Maybe it finally be time to get back at it.

Me: I love fairytale retellings.
How does the reality of being an author compare with your dreams?

Jaye: Well, it’s a lot more work than you dream it will be! A lot of the time, I’m so busy doing the work part of it that I feel like I don’t even have time to write. That can be frustrating. But, on the flip side, it is also pretty amazing. I’m still shocked when I find out about an award or get a message from a reader about how much they loved my book.

Me: I’m beginning to see how much work it is myself. Just basic life sometimes takes up a lot of time. Just writing this post took me a while. I really appreciate the time you have put into this blog tour.

About Jaye
Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.
She is also one of the writers I look up to the most. She started this when she was younger than I am and has shown me how hard work and dedication can bring great improvement in one’s writing.
Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour at: http://jayelknight.blogspot.com/p/samaras-peril- blog-tour.html
Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Samara’s Peril, a John 3:16 necklace by FaithWearDesigns, and a green wire dragon bookmark by Wirelings! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

MYSR: Nobody, by Susan Warner

MYSR = Maybe You Should Read.
I’m starting a new series of posts. There are a lot of books out there that I think ought to be better known. So I’m going to give you recommendations and tell why I like them. I’m afraid I might not be able to completely avoid spoilers, but I’ll try.

One of my favourite 19th century authors is Susan Warner. I don’t like all of her books, but some of them are very good.

Nobody is the story of Lois Lothrop, a New England country girl, who catches the eye of a young man of good family, while visiting a cousin in New York. His family don’t think she’s good enough for him, that she has no style and beside she is religious. She, on the other hand doesn’t perceive value in the same way and is not quite willing to marry an non-christian.

Things I love:

Lois and her sisters are hard workers. They do everything themselves and never sit around. She also had a strong sense of Christian duty. But she doesn’t just blindly accept the beliefs of her community. She has a taste for higher things. She ponders the purpose of beauty.

There are other deep questions discussed in the book, but not too deeply. They just fit in nicely.

This book has one of my favourite heroes. A perfect gentleman who goes to great lengths to make it possible to marry the girl he admired even though he knew there was every chance she wouldn’t marry him.

And Lois is rather like me in a lot of ways. It’s true that I’m not as comfortable in social situations, nor as good a gardener, but we have similar traits and values.

Here’s a quote from it:

“But it is matter of astonishment to me, how you have so soon acquired such keen discernment. Is it that you do not enjoy these occasions yourself?” (said Mr Dillwyn)
“O, I enjoy them intensely,” said Lois, smiling. “Sometimes I think I am the only one of the company that does; but I enjoy them.”
“By the power of what secret talisman?”
“I don’t know;—being happy, I suppose,” said Lois shyly.
“You are speaking seriously; and therefore you are touching the greatest question of human life. Can you say of yourself that you are truly happy?
Lois met his eyes in a little wonderment at this questioning, and answered a plain “yes.”
“But, to be happy, with me, means, to be independent of circumstances. I do not call him happy, whose happiness is gone if the east wind blow, or a party miscarry, or a bank break; even though it were the bank in which his property is involved.”
“Nor do I,” said Lois gravely.
“And—pray forgive me for asking!—but, are you happy in this exclusive sense?”
“I have no property in a bank,” said Lois, smiling again; “I have not been tried that way; but I suppose it may do as well to have no property anywhere. Yes, Mr. Dillwyn.”

And another:

Lois stayed for no more, but ran in. The interior room of the house, which was very large for a bathing-house, was divided in two by a partition. In the inner, smaller room, Lois began busily to change her dress. On the walls hung a number of bathing suits of heavy flannel, one of which she appropriated. Charity came in after her.
“You ain’t a goin’ for clams, Lois? Well, I wouldn’t, if I was you.”
“Why not?”
“I wouldn’t make myself such a sight, for folks to see.”
“I don’t at all do it for folks to see, but that folks may eat. We have brought ’em here, and now we must give them something for supper.”
“Are you goin’ with bare feet?”
“Why not?” said Lois, laughing. “Do you think I am going to spoil my best pair of shoes for vanity’s sake?” And she threw off shoes and stockings as she spoke, and showed a pair of pretty little white feet, which glanced coquettishly under the blue flannel. 

There may be some longer discussion that tend toward theology, but the same happens with gardening and clam digging. It’s not too much.

As you may have seen, you can get the book as a free audio book from LibriVox. (it has me in it) Or you prefer text (the recording is a bit mixed in quality) it’s on Gutenberg.
If you read this book or any others by Susan Warner, let me know what you think.

Thank you everyone who voted on my poll. I now know that there’s at least 21 people (which may or may not include me and does include my mother) who read my blog. I think I’ll stay with Girl of the Rumours for now.

Book Review: Finding the Core of Your Story

It’s only the beginning of February and I’ve already spent more money on books that I did last year. I bought three books on writing.

  • The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
  • Finding the Core of Your Story by Jordan Smith
The last one arrived yesterday and I’ve already read through it once. It’s an amazing book, all about writing what is called a log-line in the film industry. I’ve heard it called the elevator pitch. Basically it’s the gist of your story in one sentence.
In his very enjoyable writing style Jordan explains what a log-line is and why you need one. He goes on to explain in detail how get to the core concept of your story and various ways to make your log-line more compelling.
I’ve already gotten a better idea of what my story is really about and I’m going to keep working through until I have a log-line I can share with you all.
I’m also going to use it when I start working on my next book. A log line can help your story keep going in the direction you intended and makes sure you do actually have a story. You can even write one from the point of view from each of your main characters to keep them on track. 
I wish I’d owned this when I started writing, but there is a chance that it wouldn’t have helped me much as my story has changed dramatically. I’ll never know though and it’s certainly going to help now.
I highly recommend this book for all fiction writers. (Including screen writers of course, though I doubt any of you are reading my review.) It talks about more than I’ve mentioned, yet it’s not a book that will take you too long to read. 
And something that’s a little plus for me: Jordan Smith is a Christian which means all of his examples are clean. That’s something that I find a problem with many writing books. And he happens to have a website: fixmystory.com I’ve looked at it a little bit and there’s some good stuff on there, mostly on marketing.

Space Kitties Review

At the beginning of last month, Sierra Blasko asked me if I’d like to review her story in the Space Kitties Anthology. And despite the fact that I’m not a huge cat person or a space person, I said yes. And since then I’ve been intending to put my review up. So finally here it is.

I quite liked Sierra story, Prankster. It felt realistic. Scamp is smart, but still very much a cat. The story has just the right amount of mystery to it and leaves a sense of things continuing, while still wrapping up. I don’t remember noticing anything that annoyed me, no spelling mistakes or clunking wording. I’m certainly looking forward to reading a longer work by her some day.

I’m going to give a quick review of each of the other stories.

  • Catastrophic, Valerie Howard – Mystery, suspense, interesting but weird science, great take on animal intelligence.
  • Breakfast, Jesse Rice – Rather interesting take on the story concept, pulls off having a completely crazy, and unexplained story amazingly.
  • Serabi, Serena Bakke – Completely realistic cat, great character ideas, a little bit lacking in gradual change.
  • Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan, Steve Mathisen – Very amusing, intriguing to start because the main characters are dogs, and it didn’t seem to be in space. And is a great example of telling a story through dialogue. And there is a cat.
  • The Glowing Sphere, E. Kaiser Writes – This one was a little weird and the cats were too anthropomorphic for my taste. The story could almost have been told with humans instead of cats, but not quite.
  • Cats in the Hatch, Cheyanne Marie – Bravery, sadness, humour, and an interesting look at cognitively-developed animals.
  • The Star of Nine Lives, A. J. Bakke – Good story, not quite my thing, evil robot dog overlord.
  • Raising Qain, Brittany L. Jennings – Would have been a good story if the characters weren’t called cats. Except for the occasional mention of tails they were exactly like humans. I’m sure one of them is called a man at some point.
  • Operation Space Cats, Lesa Bayless McKee – Fun, great character interactions, great teamwork. Felt realistic, with one exception, cats don’t have a relationship with God they same way as people. But that was only a little side element.
  • #CatZap, Cynthia Port – Started really fascinating and funny with the science and stayed interesting with great characters, but it had this weird, astral, kind of new-agey thing going on. Not too bad, but I didn’t really like that bit of it.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I think a sci-fi, cat person would enjoy it even more.

I was provided a free copy of this book for review purposes by Sierra Blasko and was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.

And before anyone gets upset with me for not being a cat person, I really like reading true stories about cats. I find them highly amusing.

It’s Ilyon Day!

Hey there,
This is the day when I get to talk about some of my favourite books, the Ilyon Chronicles, by Jaye L. Knight.

First I want to thank Rachael Steele over at The Art of Writing for Him for suggesting this. And Jaye for writing the books, and anyone else involved in their production.

Short Review:
The books are amazing stories of faith in the midst of persecution. They caused me to consider my faith deeper. They made me laugh and almost cry. (I don’t cry easily when reading.)
Jaye is a very skilled writer. her books are very deep emotionally. They are not for the faint of heart though as she does not gloss over violence. They have no more violence than there is in the real world, but some people might find it too much. Apart from that they are clean though.
She has very relate-able characters and a stunning world. I can hardly wait to see where she will take us in the next book. I would recommend them for about 16+.

Character Spotlight:
Kyrin Altair is one of my favourite characters. I relate very well to her as we have much in common: two older and two younger brothers(no twin brother though), brown hair, similar personalities. We are both shy, both love our family. My family is closer than hers, (in the beginning at least), but that is mostly a result of circumstance.
I greatly look up to Kyrin and I am inspired by her. Her faith is phenomenal. I hope, I trust and pray, that I would be as brave as her under persecution. However I am afraid that I, in her situation, would not have befriended Jace. I may have pitied him, perhaps even defended him a bit, but I would have just stayed in my safe little shell. The fear of being hurt or rejected, the fear of what others might think, the fear of opening my self up would have kept me from truly showing God’s love to one who badly needed it. It did not stop Kyrin. She stepped out in faith and did what God wanted her to. She did not give up. She was brave and became a friend. That is what I admire most about her.

Martyr Spotlight:
I recently hear the story of an early Christian martyr in Carthage. Perpetua was a young married noblewoman with a nursing baby. She had her child with her in prison and her father pleading with her to recant her faith. She stood firm though and and was martyred along with her companions. Her story is quite fascinating. Look her up.

Prayer Points:
There are so many Christians being persecuted right now. I ma just going to list a few of them. There are many more who need prayer.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Meriam Ibrahim, Pastor Farshid Fathi, Pastor Behnam Irani, Asia Bibi.
Here is a good list of what to pray: http://www.releaseinternational.org/pray/

I may or may not be posting again this week. ‘Til next time,
God be with you all.

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