One of my blogging friends has a link-up known as “Quote Queste” where you write a bit of flash fiction based on a quote of her choice. I had already pinned this particular quote when she chose it one month, so I knew I had to write one with Laura and Petra. The scene did get into the book, though it played out a little bit differently.
I though I’d tell you about the book series that influenced me growing up. I did tend to read in series a lot. Also I would read the same authors over and over again. I was always hesitant to read something knew nothing about.
I believe my mother first read these to us. I’ve always like any kind of pioneer story and this may have contributed to that. Later on I read the Rose years, and whichever of the Caroline years I was able to get from the library or borrow from friends.
These would probably be called ‘ boys books’. There are very few girls who appear. It’s all boys having adventures and getting into trouble. But the first one or two were required reading for school work. After that I didn’t stop. I suspect some of my scenery and action is unintentionally inspired by these books. And in theory it would be a good resource for writing male characters. And they’re good Christian books.
These books were written by Arthur Ransome. They have lots of sailing and children having imaginative adventures. And of course real adventures. I still like them. The children are resourceful, and mostly responsible. They respect their parents even though they’re not around a lot.
You’re probably starting to see that I read a lot of adventure books. I like the simplicity of older books and the way children make their own fun. I realized pretty quickly that it was unrealistic for the same kids to all be having adventures, but I still liked them. I would like to imagine that if I found myself in a similar situation, I would know what to do.
Historical fiction about different girls through time. In the past a lot of my knowledge of American history came from these. The series is written by a lot of different authors and each book covers a year. I especially like how in most of the books the girl have a brother or a male cousin who was a main character. In a couple of books I think it was more his book than hers. Many of the characters are great role models, and many of them are more mature than kids these day. Even though I’m older than the 12 or 13 of the main characters I can still relate to their situations.
Yes, more Enid Blyton. I read a lot of her books back in the day. I have fond memories of some of the silly passwords of the Seven, the trouble they kept bumping into and the word ‘delumptious’. And I liked how this series fitted in with their ever day lives. It wasn’t just about things that happened in the school holidays. Or like some other series of hers, a boarding school story. I actually like her boarding school storied though.
We read these as a family. Then we listen to the audio dramas as a family and watched the movies as a family. It’s a series we all know and love and can reference. Narnia was the only fantasy I read when I was younger.
This series is about the little people who live secretly in parts of old country houses. They are why you always loose small items, such as bobby pins paper clips. Those items have been borrowed. I think my imagination was stimulated by these books. For a time I was even friend with a few imaginary borrowers. And just think of the possibilities. If you were only a few inches tall how would you cook, what would you eat, what would you wear, how would you protect yourself? The questions are endless and one you have to ask in constructing any imaginary world.
I used to love these books and the accompanying Mildred Keith books. They were a huge part of my life. I read them so many times and made a very detailed and complex family tree. (I could give a link to anyone who is interested.) Though I could still tell you exactly what the family connection between Lulu Raymond and Percy Landreth is, I’m rather tired of them now. I see some of the faults in the series that I didn’t see when I was younger. And I’ve realized that her view of history isn’t the only one out there. I still love a couple of Martha Finley’s other little known books though.
These are Australian classics about brumbies,wild horses. There are very few humans in these books, so it gives a picture of a completely different society, Families work differently with horses. Instead of the term father and mother, you have sire and dam. I made a bit of a family tree for this too. These books along with some others by Elyne Mitchell that do have humans, were one of the main things that made me consider writing Australian historical fiction instead of fantasy. The terrain is so amazing. There is lots of hiding from other horses and from the brumby hunters going on. And that would fit well with Girl of the Rumours.
So that’s what I read. I also read a lot of standalone books, and probably a few other series that I’ve forgotten to mention. Is there anything here other people have loved? Or something you’re surprised that I didn’t read? Tell me.
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 to 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.
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.
(Also known as how to make me happy, if I’m reading your book)
A unique world is a certain draw. I love interesting political structures and societies. But historical elements are also good. I don’t like anything too weird. At least not a lot of weird things.
I also love well done portrayals of God and the church. Especially names for God. The Eye’s of Everia books by Serena Chase are great in that way. So many names for God. The First, Loeftryn de Rynloeft (Highest Reigning from the Reign Most High), Embral e’ Veria.
I also love the general system of naming in that. I wish I’d thought of it myself.
I love clever, witty characters. But also strong and honourable. People who are a little out of the ordinary, but not because there’s something inherently special about them. And in leaders I like confidence.
And I really love it when when there’s a sense of mystery about a character. If I can’t be certain that they’re trustworthy. I love it when the author makes me like them, but keeps planting little bits of doubt. Or if someone suddenly turns out to be a traitor. It must make sense though.
I love layers. When a book is very different when read the second time. (usually when there’s a traitor or someone else with a big secret)
I like my plots tightly knit. When it’s following more than two people who don’t seem connected, I don’t like it quite as well, even when I can see how they might meet eventually. Yet I do like it when seeming unrelated people have their lives converge. They don’t always have to know each other, but there has to be a clear interaction between their stories.
I was going to say that high stakes and particularly action are important, but that’s not always the case. Something important going on is a must though. Some of the things I wanted to say are actually contradictions, so I think I had better leave it unsaid, maybe try to untangle my thoughts in more detail another time. But a romance centred story is one I probably won’t read. As for other things, it depends on my state of mind.
I like sibling and friend relationships. People truly working together or the pain of being opposed. The struggle between loyalty to your side and loyalty to your family.
As far as romance goes, I prefer the emphasis to be on sacrifice or commitment, than warm fuzzy feeling. We need more stories that show true love, putting others needs first, doing what is best, not what is most comfortable.
If characters are forced (more or less) into marrying (or promising to marry), and then have to learn to love each other, you’re probably made me happy. As long as it is actually turning out well. In fact I love any situation where people are forced to work together.
But friendship slowly developing into love can be beautiful as well. When it’s about really caring for the other person, instead of just selfish attraction. Not that having a little attraction show is is bad. It’s realistic. But don’t take it to far. I hate relationships without commitment
If a story has no depth to it, no message, I feel that I’ve wasted my time. It can be subtle, not clearly stated, even hard to articulate. But it must at least illustrate something good.
If it does have some profound statement in it, that can be even better. But only if it comes naturally.
It must be clean or I will be very annoyed. And wrong better not be portrayed as right. And having families is a plus.
And that’s that. I hope you enjoyed this and find it as useful as I did. I think I’ll have to do a post about what I read when I was younger though. Might help clear up my contradictions. I’m reading different stuff, but I still have fond memories.
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.”
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.”
“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.