What's up with the Title of Book 4?

All the previous titles in The Blades of Acktar are four-letter D words. Dare. Deny. Defy. All of them have a punchy, raw feel to them.

And then there’s Book 4. Deliver. It’s a longer word. A little weird and outdated. Why would I pick it for the title of Book 4?

To be honest, when I came up with the titles for the first three, I wasn’t planning a book 4. I only needed titles for three books.

But I chose those titles very carefully. They are all commands. In some way, shape, or form, the characters are commanded to dare, deny, or defy throughout each of those books. They are also the theme of the books, both each individual book and all the books in the series. Finally, all three of those words can have dual meaning. Leith daring to stand up to King Respen is a good thing, but Respen daring to stand against God isn’t. Denying self is good. Denying Christ isn’t. See what I mean?

Trying to find a word that started with D, was a command, captured the theme, was present in the earlier books, and had dual meaning was a bit of a challenge.

Finally, I settled on Deliver.

Criteria #1: Starts with D. Check.

Criteria #2: A command. Check.

Deliver isn’t a word we use often, even though it is used a lot in the Bible (or at least, in the KJV that I use), especially in the Psalms where the writers routinely beg for God’s deliverance from enemies. In this context, it means save.

Even though the word deliver wasn’t used often in the books, it is essentially the prayer Renna prays A LOT. She wants God to save her (read: deliver) her from her enemies. Leith needs deliverance from his sins and his enemies. Pretty much any time the word save is used, you could substitute deliver.

I also noticed that the word deliver was used in a few of the verses from Daniel that I choose to begin the books with. Another tie in.

Criteria #4: Present in all three books. Check.

Remember I mentioned the word deliver is used in the Psalms? Especially in the Psalms written by David. The Bible stories about David continue to play a role in the theme and shaping the characters in book 4.

Criteria #3: Captures the theme. Check.

Now to the tough one. Dual meaning. The cool thing is, the word deliver has the most complicated dual meaning of all of them. Dare, deny, and defy have the same meaning that can be directed in two different ways. Deliver as a word has two different, and in many ways, opposite meanings.

On the one hand, it means to save or to be taken out of. Saved from enemies or sin or bitterness, etc.

On the other hand, it means to surrender or to be handed over. (like delivering a package or delivering oneself to the enemy).

See what I mean by opposite? This one word means both to take away from and also to hand over.

But in a way, these two definitions work together. To be delivered from bitterness, we need to surrender our own pride and hurt. To be delivered from our enemies, we surrender our need to rescue ourselves. Because of God’s deliverance from our sins, we surrender our lives to Him. There’s also the negative. There are those who surrender their lives to their bitterness and hatred. They are delivered into the hands of their enemies.

I’m already having fun using this duality in the book so far, and I’m brainstorming ways it will come out into the ending. The word deliver might not be as noticeably used in the book the way dare, deny, and defy were, but any time you see the words save or surrender, that’s what I’m thinking about when I write it.

What do you think about the title? Love it? Not so sold on it yet?

 


Posted in Sequels, The Blades of Acktar and tagged , , , , , , , , , , by with 6 comments.

Why Defy isn't The End

*Warning: This Post Contains MAJOR Spoilers for the end of Defy. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*

DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOUR HAVEN’T READ DEFY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Okay, you’re still here? Either you’ve read Defy or you are ignoring all the warnings.

As many of you have heard already, I’m currently writing The Blades of Acktar book 4. Some of you might be a little confused. After all, the big bad guy got defeated at the end of Defy. What more is there left do to?

Well, here’s my four reasons for why I decided to write a book 4:

  1. Martyn didn’t die. In my original plan for Defy, he was supposed to die in the end battle saving Leith. But when it came time to write that scene, Leith realized what was going to happen and shoved Martyn out of the way. So I now had a live Martyn on my hands that I had to deal with.
    • After thinking about it for a while, I realized my characters were smarter than me. After all, the whole, ex-best friend makes a last minute decision to turn good and saves his friend before dying is a little cliche. (See Harry’s death in Spiderman 3)
    • Besides, an alive ex-best friend is a whole lot more complicated than a dead one. Having Martyn die would’ve been the easy way out. He and Leith wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their decisions throughout the first three books. Leith could simply move on. But with Martyn alive? Let’s just say the tension between everyone is SO much fun to write!
  2. Leith needs to figure out what happens AFTER. One of the main questions throughout the series has been “Can Leith move on from the Blades? Can he do anything else? What does he do after the war? Where does he fit in a peaceful Acktar?”
    • I could’ve ended it with Defy. You know he’s going to figure something out, but it would leave that question unanswered. I know some readers love unanswered questions like that in an ending. Personally, I’m one of the ones who wants to know the answers to things like that, especially if the author has made a big deal about it.
  3. Leith and Renna’s relationship still has a long way to go. If you add up the time they actually spend together during Dare, Deny, and Defy, you’ll realize that that week in the dungeon counts as their first real, quality time together. Due to the circumstances of thinking one or both of them would die, their relationship progresses quickly in that week. BUT, they are just BEGINNING their relationship. They have pretty much agreed to finally start dating at the end of Defy.
    • Once again, I could’ve left it as is. You know where they are headed. But, they are the main couple of the book. Defy ends with more obstacles in their path than they even realize (she’s still a lady and Leith doesn’t fit with that world. He’s still an ex-Blade. They both have no clue what they are doing when it comes to a relationship). I felt their time building a relationship also needed to be told.
  4. Acktar is a mess. Most of the time, books don’t show what happens after a major war tears the country apart. We don’t see the rebuilding of Hogwarts. We don’t see Panem trying to build a new government. There’s so much hurt and bitterness in Acktar and in its new king. I wanted to explore what it takes for Acktar to either begin healing or tear itself apart, whichever comes first.

Healing and restoration is really the theme of book 4. All of the characters (Martyn, Keevan, Leith, Renna, Brandi) have some healing to do. The whole country needs healing.

Over all, my planned ending for Book 4 will bring the characters and the country to a place where they are truly ready to begin the next chapter, even if the series comes to a close.

What do you think? Are you excited for Book 4? Or do you honestly think Defy should’ve been the end? Don’t worry, I won’t get mad if you do. 😉


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Samara's Peril Review & Interview

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In case you live in a hole like a hobbit and haven’t gotten the word yet that Samara’s Peril (Ilyon Chronicles book 3) released 6 days ago, it’s here. *fangirl screams go off in the background* I’m so excited! I’ve been waiting for this book for over a year!

Anyway, I probably should tell you a little about it, in case you missed seeing it plastered all over the rest of the blog tour (links for all the posts in the tour can be found here).

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About the Book

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!

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Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!

My thoughts

It’s the Ilyon Chronicles! Of course I spent most of this book as a puddle of fangirl mushiness!

The beginning of this book was my favorite. I loved seeing the whole Altair clan together. Minus one important character. *sniff* I still can’t read that part in The King’s Scrolls without bawling. I guessed the big reveal in the beginning of this book before it happened, but that didn’t stop me from squealing and walking around with a dazed grin on my face for hours afterwards.

There are some darker themes in the book, such as abusive marriage, a past rape, and a young man following in the abusive ways of his father. It is all handled very well, and highlights the manner a Christian deals with the consequences of those things rather than focusing too much on the darkness itself.

And just saying, Rothas has to die. Somehow. Once you read the book, you’ll understand.

This is a book that definitely has a switch in plotline and tone partway through. The two halves work together, but I’ll admit, I didn’t love the second half nearly as much as the first. It was still really, really good, and the twist at the end totally caught me off guard.

And one certain romance-y part at the end. *swoony sigh* Yes, I love impulsive kisses in books. Especially when it is two characters that I’ve been waiting forever for them to wake up and realize they liked each other.

This book also brings in the Christian parallels more distinctly than some of the other books. It is written more like Biblical fiction than allegory in some parts. It was handled very well, but it wasn’t my favorite part of the book. Probably because Biblical fiction isn’t my thing. So that is personal preference on my part.

Once again, this book delivers the emotional impact, hug-worthy and awesome characters, and adventure I’ve come to expect when I dive into the Ilyon Chronicles.

When does book 4 release? Please?

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About the Author

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.

Jaye will also be joining me during the Facebook party to celebrate Defy‘s release on June 2.

Interview with the Author

Hi, Jaye! Welcome back to my blog! I think this is the third time I’ve interviewed you here. 🙂

  1. Samara’s Peril is such a pivotal book for the series. A lot of things happen both plot-wise and character-wise (Jayrin!). Was it a hard or easy book to write? Edit?

I wouldn’t say any of my books are easy to write, but Samara’s Peril was one of the easier ones. Editing, on the other hand, not so much. It took a lot of time and effort, probably because it is such a pivotal book, and I wanted to get the emotions just right.

Well, I think you succeeded! All of your books tend to have such emotional impact!

  1. Portraying Christ in fiction is a tricky thing to do, and not everyone agrees on the approach. How did you go about writing Elon in Samara’s Peril?

Definitely tricky. It’s never something I’ve set out wanting to do. More like called to do. It’s hard to feel qualified to attempt such a thing. Basically I went about it with a lot of prayer. The one thing I always focus on when attempting to portray Christ is Jesus’s love. That was an especially big part of this story. I know some readers will wish I had added more scenes with Elon, but everything major in this book is approached from Jace’s point of view. Jace longs for a relationship with Elon, but is afraid. One of the biggest questions I asked myself was how we would feel if we found ourselves in Jesus’s presence and were as keenly aware of our sins and shortcomings as Jace is. Questions like that are what shaped how I wrote Samara’s Peril.

That makes sense! I’m glad you didn’t add more scenes with Elon. I liked the way it was handled.

  1. You now have 12 books out between your two pennames. Twelve! What is the biggest thing you learned through writing and publishing all those books? Any things you’ve learned about writing recently?

I think the biggest thing is just the growth in the actual writing. The books I wrote as Molly Evangeline really needed more work. However, I had to start somewhere, and publishing those books taught me so much about the publishing process that I was able to use when starting over as Jaye L. Knight. I can’t think of anything specific just recently except that I really should give myself more time to get things ready before I publish. 😉 My schedule got kind of crazy this time and there was a little panic involved before this release. More so than usual.

*sigh* Don’t we all struggle with that? The panic before publication? And there’s never enough time. Never.

  1. Are there any specific places that influenced the setting of Ilyon?

I pick little bits of inspiration from a variety of places. Usually it’s a picture here and a picture there that I come across. Nowhere that I’ve been to or wanted to visit personally. Probably the biggest influence for a setting in Ilyon is Ancient Rome. That is really what I based the country of Arcacia on even though it has more of a medieval feel to it.

I love the mix of Ancient Rome and medieval in Ilyon! And the other cultures like the cretes.

  1. Your characters do a lot of travelling. Do you like to travel? What is your favorite trip you’ve ever taken or favorite place you’ve ever visited?

I do love to travel. I have so many places I would love to visit (the Rocky Mountains, the East Coast, England, the Caribbean), but, unfortunately, I can’t afford those kinds of trips on my author income. Someday I hope to though. I think my favorite trip memories are from day trips with my family. We did a lot of fun day trips when I was young, and now my brother and I do a lot of that as well. One of these days, we’re going to plan a more exciting and adventurous road trip.

What? Michigan’s not on that list? 😛

Thanks for stopping by once again! Can’t wait to chat with you again at Defy‘s Facebook party in a couple of weeks!

Giveaway

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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.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 


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Defy's Cover Reveal

I’ve been promising to reveal the cover for Defy sometime this week. I was holding off on sending out the ARC copies, hoping I’d get the cover in time to include it on the ARCs.

Last night, I broke down and sent out the ARCs. An hour after I sent them out, I finally got the cover. It’d my own fault it was so delayed. I’m the one who based Nalgar off a ruined castle.

If you signed up to review Defy as part of the blog tour or as one of the review copies, you should’ve received an email from me last night. If you didn’t, you might want to check your junk mail. If the email is still missing, please email me.

Oh, yes, you’re waiting for the cover reveal, aren’t you?

Once again, my cover designer did an amazing job. Click here to check out her website. She had to digitally recreate Nalgar Castle based off the ruins of Raglan Castle in Wales and my own tweaks. I’m amazed at how it turned out!

Without further chatter from me, here is the cover for Defy!

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Deny Blog Tour Wrap Up

ow! It was a crazy week last week!

Thank you so much to my launch team for the great interviews and reviews that you all put together. It was such fun!

And especially thanks to all of you fans and readers who have shown so much enthusiasm for Dare and Deny in this past week! It has been great to see, and I’m so humbled that my stories are touching so many people! Thanks to all of you, Dare was Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Christian Fantasy for two days last week and Deny was Amazon’s #1 Hot New Release in Christian Fantasy for nearly the entire week! That’s pretty amazing considering all the amazing books on both of those lists!

The Facebook Party Friday night was loads of fun thanks so everyone who was able to come! For those who haven’t seen yet, Dare got its first fan art last night! Eeep!!

Hannah Rogers has given me permission to share it here. Isn’t it awesome? If you like this, please check out her Facebook fan art page. Some pretty cool stuff on there. 🙂

Hannah Rogers Fan Art

Now, for the last little bit of business. I have picked a winner for the signed copies of Dare and Deny that ran during the blog tour.

And the winner is….

Rachael Steele!

Thanks so much to all of you! 🙂

 


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Called to Speak Blog Hop

I’m proud to be part of the Blog Hop promoting A Time to Speak. Not only is this book amazing, but Nadine Brandes is a great friend who I was blessed to meet in person a few weeks ago. This hop is to spread the word about her new dystopian novel, A Time to Speak, releasing October 16th. It is also to encourage myself and others to speak out for things we are passionate about.

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I will speak out about Christian Young Adult speculative fiction.

I was that girl who read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings and then…couldn’t find any other Christian fantasy to read. Because there wasn’t much available when I was growing up.

I read a lot of secular fantasy and science fiction. Some of it was really good. Some of it was junk. I stumbled into stuff that, looking back, I wish I hadn’t read. Because it wasn’t edifying. And it’s only gotten worse. Two of what were my favorite Young Adult fantasy authors went downhill with some of their recent books. I was so disappointed with one I didn’t even finish it and promptly returned it.

It took me years to pick up mainstream Christian fiction. The little I had picked up was boring to me. I’m the person who looks for action and adventure in a book. I’m the girl who didn’t read Pride and Prejudice until I forced myself to listen to a book on tape version a few years ago. I cheered when Lydia ran away with Mr. Wickham because FINALLY something happened.

The books by Dee Henderson and Marylu Tyndall finally showed me that not all Christian fiction was boring.

Then I got a free book by Jill Williamson and learned that Christian fantasy did exist. And it was a growing.

I’d found a new passion. I began writing my own Christian fantasy series. I began tracking down Christian fantasy authors to read. And when I started this blog, I added a fiction finder to tell other readers about all the Christian YA books I was discovering.

I’m not going to argue why fantasy. Many other people have argued that point much better than I can. And I understand that fantasy, science fiction, and other speculative genres are everybody’s thing. Then again, neither is romance. There’s a place for both.

I’m speaking about Christian fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, etc. While secular books in those genres can be very well written and a Christian can sometimes see things like good vs evil, no book can touch a Christian’s heart like a Christian book.

A secular dystopian like The Hunger Games ends without hope. A Christian dystopian like A Time to Die breathes hope. That’s the difference.

Yes, I can read secular works. I’m not saying Christians must only read Christian books. I believe in being widely read.

But, the older I get and the less time I have, the pickier I become with the books I read. Since I have limited time, I look for books that edify as well as entertain. I look for books that help me grow in my faith, not detract from it.

For me, the speculative genres, especially fantasy, are the ones that touch my heart the most.

I’m calling for my fellow readers to wake up and support the growing Christian speculative market. Not just because I’m one of those authors. But because I know a lot of teenagers, young adults, and adults who are reading secular speculative works, but not Christian speculative fiction. Perhaps they don’t know there are Christian speculative fiction books out there.

I’m going to do all I can to change that. If you want a book recommendation, I have it. I have a whole list.

And here’s one recommendation to start: the Out of Time series.

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How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. 

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

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What happens when you live longer than you wanted to? 

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council uses Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes.

Parvin and Hawke find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

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To celebrate the release of A Time to Speak, Nadine is hosting a Facebook party!

And a Rafflecopter giveaway!

If you want to see what other bloggers are speaking out about, here is the list of the rest of the bloggers:

9.28.15 – Gretchen Engel
9.30.15 – Nadine Brandes
10.01.15 – Jason Joyner
10.05.15 – Gretchen Engel (part 2)
10.06.15 – Tricia Mingerink
10.08.15 – Gretchen Engel (Scriblerians)
10.09.15 – Emilie Hendryx
10.11.15 – Janeen Ippolito
10.12.15 – Zachary D Totah
10.14.15 – Brittany Valentine
10.15.15 – Andrew Swearingen
10.17.15 – Megan Besing
10.19.15 – Angel Roman
10.20.15 – Charles Franklin
10.21.15 – Lisa Godfrees
10.23.15 – Shantelle Hannu
10.27.15 – Natalie Walters
10.29.15 – The Artist Librarian
11.02.15 – Rosalie Valentine
11.17.15 – Amanda Fender

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Posted in Book Recommendations, Writing Blogs, YA Authors and tagged , , , , , , , by with 17 comments.

Fun Fiction Friday – Makilien Trilogy

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these Fun Fiction Friday pieces. Not that I haven’t been reading good books. Summer vacations and working on Deny keep taking precedence.

Speaking of vacations, this is a scheduled post since I’m gone this weekend. I’ll reply to any comments when I return.

I’m a late comer to The Ilyon Chronicles fandom. I didn’t read Resistance until a few months before The King’s Scrolls released. Recently, I made time to read Jaye L. Knight’s earlier works that she wrote under the pen name Molly Evangeline.

The Makilien Trilogy – Molly Evangeline

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The Makilien Trilogy follows the adventures of a girl named Makilien and her band of friends. This series shows the influence of The Lord of the Rings even more than The Ilyon Chronicles do. I could tell these books were written earlier. The characters are less-fleshed out. The writing less experienced.

Did that make the books less epic? No way! I absolutely adored them!

I had a big deadline in editing Deny that I had to hit, and I was busy preparing for a weeklong vacation. I still ended up reading the entire series in a week (I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep).

Overall, I’d definitely recommend these books to anyone looking for action-packed Christian fantasy.

My thoughts on the individual books:

Book 1 – Truth

PictureI was drawn into the storyline almost immediately. I felt for Makilien as she tried to discover the truth in a city determined to hide it. I love how Makilien grows throughout the book, and her decision at the end.

The elves? Need I say more? These are everything you think of about elves: tall, graceful, live in the woods. But with a sense of humor. Lots of humor.

I enjoyed the adventure of this book. It’s a straight forward good-vs-evil, epic battle, adventure story with Christian themes weaved into it.

Book 2 – Courage

PictureSome of this book follows the same pattern as book one. It starts in the same town. Moves through the same places, and ends with a big battle in the same place as before.

Still, I enjoyed how this book took the same battles of book one and went one step deeper. In Truth, Makilien faced the final battle with the innocence of one who has never fought before. This time, she fights with the knowledge of just how scary and horrible war is. It makes for an interesting parallel that I couldn’t put down.

And the ending? Let’s just say, you’d better just buy books 2 and 3 together because you will be starting book 3 mere seconds after finishing book 2.

Book 3 – Trust

Picture   Of the three, this book was my favorite. It has a different storyline than the first two and kept me guessing. While the battle might be smaller, the challenges are tougher for the main characters.

And Sirion? *sigh* I’d already loved him in the earlier books, but I absolutely adored him in this one.

A few of the character storylines might have wrapped up a little too neatly, but I honestly didn’t care while I was reading. I wanted everyone to get their happy ending, and the ending of this book definitely delivers. 🙂

Short Story – Captivated

PictureThis short story was totally worth it to get a final glimpse of my favorite characters one last time, especially the elf Elmorhirian. I couldn’t stop laughing the entire way through this story, and I read it twice in as many days because I loved it so much.

Have you read the Makilien Trilogy yet? Thoughts?


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Fun Fiction Friday – Waking Beauty

Today’s book Waking Beauty is one that I was excited to read from the moment I saw it in Enclave’s release line up. I was even more excited after I attended the Facebook release party that Sarah Morin and Morgan Busse co-hosted to celebrate their releases Waking Beauty and Heir of Hope.

About the Book

What would happen if the Sleeping Beauty refused to wake up?

This rescue isn’t going at all how he planned. Secondhand hero Prince Arpien intends to gain a throne and the Sleeping Beauty’s heart with a single kiss when he wakes her from the evil fairy’s curse. But kissing the princess is only the beginning of a series of unforeseen obstacles: man-eating bugs, deadly spindles, talking lapdogs, and fiery pickles. The Sleeping Beauty is the biggest complication of all.

Princess Brierly is Beautiful and fairy-Gifted, but also . . . daft. After one hundred years of sleep imprisonment, Brierly refuses to believe this rescue is anything more than a tantalizing but doomed dream.

Arpien is drawn to the vibrancy beneath Brierly’s indifferent exterior. Can they reclaim her kingdom? Do they dare trust in the Prince of the old tales to help them battle the evil fairy who cursed Brierly? What is the price of waking beauty?

This is not the story of an innocent damsel-in-distress or her cardboard rescuer. It is a full coming-of-age struggle in a world where truth shifts as often as dreams.

About the Author

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Sarah E. Morin has three great passions in life: God, books, and working with young people. She has written articles and poetry for local publications and international periodicals in the museum field. Her dramatic works range from a musical about Susan B. Anthony to fairy tale poetry. She enjoys performing her work, especially pieces that allow her to dress up in her queen costume.

Sarah E. serves as Youth Experience Manager (kid wrangler) at an interactive history park. Her 100 youth volunteers are her best consultants in the fields of humor, teenage angst, and spinning wheels (which, they assure her, are not hazardous to anyone but Sleeping Beauty).

My Recommendation

This book was not what I expected. At all. When it arrived, I opened the box to find a tome rather than a slim novel as I’d been expecting (if I’d checked the page count before hand, I would’ve realized it is 480 pages long).

This is an epic, not a quick, easy-read fairy tale.

The beginning was a little slow for me. The writing style reminded me a lot of Lewis Carroll (think Alice in Wonderland or the poem The Jabberwocky). There are a lot of made-up words and things that the reader has to figure out as they go along as well as a number of long strings of titles such as Peerless Prince, etc. It’s a style that evokes an older, whimsical style of writing. It is fun writing, but a little difficult to get into until you get used to it.

Besides the writing, the story also unfolded slowly. Each piece of the puzzle was revealed after the characters do a lot of character-stuff and character reflection. Overall, I’d rate this as a very, very character-driven novel rather than plot-driven. As a plot-driven reader, I felt like it could’ve been trimmed a little bit, especially in the beginning when (to me) it felt like the characters weren’t accomplishing anything for several chapters.

But once I reached the end? It was worth it. Totally. Once the action started happening, it drew all the pieces together. The three different POV characters all had their own role to play in the ending, and it had a few twists that I wasn’t expected (and a few I was).

While I liked all three characters, Nessa was my favorite. Probably because she is the most straightforward of the three POV characters. While the POV switched between Arpien, Brierly, and Nessa, I was never confused by whose head I was in. They all have very distinct voices.

My favorite part of the book was the theme of dreams vs. reality. While Brierly is the one that refuses to believe she is actually awake and not still stuck in dreams, she isn’t the only one who is stuck in delusions. In a way, all the characters have their own delusions, their own Dreams, that they need to wake from in order to find Reality. It made me think about what I might be deceiving myself with and what thorns I might be clinging to because I believe I’m strong enough to handle them on my own.

Have you read Waking Beauty yet? Or is it on your TBR list?


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Fun Fiction Friday – Of the Coldblooded

Anyone who follows my Facebook page probably noticed my excited pictures when Angie Brashear’s newest release Of the Coldblooded arrived on my doorstep. Thanks to blog tours and overall busyness, I hadn’t had a chance to post this as part of a Fun Fiction Friday until now.

OtC - eBook Cover

About the Book

Laila Pennedy is a warrior, no longer insecure and weak.

She’s confident the Faithful will overpower the Rendow Clan. Besides, Lars Landre, the Chosen of the Woodlands Region and her betrothed, cannot be defeated. She believes this with all her heart…until tragedy collides with conviction.

In the wake of disaster, the Kinhood threatens to capture Laila, yet offers mercy until autumn’s third full moon if she abides by their commands. But she’s set on revenge. And this time, she won’t be deterred.

This time…she’s the hunter, not the hunted.

Unexpected loss. Compelling wrath. Bygone faith. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?

Isn’t this cover gorgeous? And for those of you who were wondering, it looks really nice on my shelf next to the first book in the series Of the Persecuted. 😉

My Recommendation

This book has a shift in tone from book 1. In Of the Persecuted, Laila is scared and insecure. But she also sees some of the wonder of her world, and there’s a lot of wonder to see.

In Of the Coldblooded, Laila is confident. Too confident. In both herself and in Lars. Her confidence in people is so much that when the first major plot twist happens, her faith is challenged.

While the first book concentrated on finding confidence in faith, this book shows how that confidence and faith needs to be rooted in the Maker, not in people or self. I really like how that theme was woven through not just Laila’s character arc, but several character arcs during the book.

Once again, this fantasy world is vast with creatures both familiar from the first book and a few new dangers. The plot twists and turns. I guessed a few of the plot twists (mostly because my optimistic self wanted it to be that way), but a few still surprised me (both happy ones and shocking ones).

My only small concern with this book is it almost felt like it had too much action (I know, strange coming from me). Sometimes, the action sequences happened so quickly, I had to go back and reread to page to figure out what was going on. This book didn’t have as many moments of quiet reflection between action the way book one did. There is more violence in this book than the first book, and one execution scene that churned my stomach (and that doesn’t happen often). Still, I didn’t think the additional violence or dark tone was gratuitous. They were necessary for the character and plot development. Laila is struggling with a darker side of herself, and that tone comes out through the book. She has become coldblooded, and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for quiet reflection.

I continue to recommend this series and this author to those who are looking for good Christian fantasy. Now I’m eagerly awaiting book 3 and whatever twists and turns it has in store!


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Fun Fiction Friday – Follower of the Word series

I actually finished Morgan Busse’s Follower of the Word series a while ago but haven’t had the chance to spotlight it here on my blog yet.

Many of you in the Christian fantasy community have probably already read this series, since it released over a period of a number of years. I was actually kind of glad I didn’t stumble onto this series until late last year because I only had a few agonizing months to wait for the third book. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, you’re privileged that you can read the entire series without a wait! (Because trust me, you won’t want to wait!)

My Recommendation

If you’d been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Christian fantasy, and this series is Christian fantasy at its finest. The characters are all well-developed and the multiple POVs do not get confusing. I loved all the characters so much that I had a hard time picking a favorite. Once of the main characters is a reforming assassin, and all of you know how I like stories with assassins in them! 😉

There are two things that especially impressed me about this series:

1. Even the established Followers of the Word have struggles. Too many Christian books make it seem like things instantly get easy once a person follows Christ. That isn’t the case in real life, and it certainly isn’t the case in the Follower of the Word series. In fact from an earthly standpoint, things get a lot worse for the characters. Each character pretty much is called on to give up everything they hold dear to follow the Word. Things appear really dark. Faith is tested to the breaking point. Characters are forced to make choices they never thought they’d have the strength to make. Yet, the Word is still there for them, giving them the strength they need.

2. It has one of the best representations of Christ I’ve read. Representing Christ in fiction is extremely difficult. How does an author capture a glimpse of God on the page? C.S. Lewis’s representation of Christ in Aslan is probably the best I’ve ever read because somehow Aslan captures friendship and awe-inspiring power. The Word in the Follower of the Word series is a close second. The Word is a friend yet remains powerful and mysterious. The representation of how He bears our guilt really made me think about what Christ did to pay for my sins.

I highly recommend this series!

About the Books:

Book 1: Daughter of Light

As the Shadonae rise in the west and war threatens the north, a young woman discovers she is not human . . .

Rowen Mar finds a strange mark on her hand, and she is banished from her village as a witch. She covers the mark with a leather glove and seeks sanctuary in the White City. She lives in fear that if she touches another person, the power inside her will trigger again, a terrifying power that allows her to see the darkness inside the human heart . . .

But the mark is a summons, and those called cannot hide forever. For the salvation of her people lies within her hand.

Book 2: Son of Truth

The war in the north is over, but the war for all the Lands has just begun. As the Shadonae solidify their hold on the city of Thyra, Rowen Mar, the last Eldaran and savior of the White City, awakens to find herself hunted by those she has saved.

Meanwhile, the assassin Caleb Tala finds himself in the presence of the Word. The time of reckoning has come, and he must pay the price for all the lives he has taken. But in his moment of judgment, Caleb is given a second chance to change his life.

These two hold the power to save the Lands from the Shadonae. One must escape slavery, and one must choose to forsake everything before the world is consumed in darkness.

Book 3: Heir of Hope

The great city of Thyra has fallen and shadows spread across the land. Rowen Mar, the last Truthsayer, is taken before the Shadonae. But the Shadonae are not who she thought they were, and now they want to claim her as their own.

Caleb Tala, former assassin and prince, is now a Guardian of mankind. Exiled from his country, Caleb wanders the desert in search of his mother’s past and clues to who he is.

These are the last days of the Eldaran race. Rowen and Caleb must find their way along the dark path set before them by their ancestors: to heal what was wounded and love where hatred grows. But the road is narrow and the darkness beckons. If either of them fails, all will be lost…

And the human race will be no more.

About the author:

Morgan L. BusseI am a wife, mother, and author. I write Christian fantasy for adult market. My work is published with Enclave Publishing, the premier publishing company for Christian fantasy and science fiction.

Have you read the Follower of the Word series yet?


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