Monday, December 9, 2019

Top Ten (Twelve) Books of 2019

I'm just going to admit upfront that I can't pick just ten this year. Even with honorable mentions (which I still have). So I'm not going to try. Quick apology to Full Ride, Children of Jubilee, and most of all Redeeming Love for being read last December after I published my top ten list, because they deserve top ten recognition. Also quick apology to whatever I read between the writing of this post and December 31 for not having a chance at top ten status.


I probably should have reread the whole series before diving into this one, but I didn't have time for those big books during NaNo. So I didn't probably get full enjoyment out of it, but I still really very much enjoyed this book. It was both great and heartrending to see the Society struggling with what their lives will look like now that they've grown up and been given great opportunities for their futures, but I'm not going to say what they decide. Tai (new character) is super cute, Constance is as grumpy as ever, and I love Reynie, Sticky, and Kate so much. The plot was a little confusing, but enjoyable, and I probably would have understood it better if I'd reread the series. But I enjoyed it enough to expand my list to 12.

11. Return of the Temujai by John Flanagan

There was a new Brotherband book this year! Now, Brotherband isn't quite as good as Ranger's Apprentice, obviously, but I still enjoy the series because John Flanagan is awesome. This is definitely one of the better Brotherband books, and I kind of stayed up late the night before NaNo started finishing it. Because it got to a point where I just couldn't put it down. It got pretty intense. The Temujai are trying to attack Skandia and take over! It's up to the Herons to stop them. And the poor, poor Heron. It wasn't quite as sad as Tug, but it still made me so sad. Gotta love Thorn and Hal and Ingvar and Lydia. And of course Kloof.

10. The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale

We're back in normal "top ten" territory with The Books of Bayern. The Goose Girl was a random read I picked up while visiting a new library because it's by Shannon Hale, and I love Princess Academy. I really enjoyed The Goose Girl, and I was pretty emotionally invested. Poor Falada. I mean, I knew it was going to happen because I read through the Grimm version before I read the book, but it was still horrific and heartrending. That said, it was more of just a "like" than a "love" until I read Enna Burning. I wasn't expecting to like it as much because Enna was the main character and not Ani/Isi, but I actually ended up liking it better. Since it was an original story and not a retelling, I felt like she had more freedom and thus it was a better book. I started River Secrets, but had to return it unfinished because Camp NaNo.  So then when I was working on my costume for Realm Makers, I discovered the library had River Secrets and Forest Born on eaudio with a full cast. So I listened to those and loved them so much. Even though each book has a different main character, something which will normally (and almost did) turn me off, they are all amazing, always involve characters that were a part of things from the beginning, and really build off of and tie in with each other. And the Full Cast Audio productions were amazing.

9. Duel at Araluen by John Flanagan

I admit, this one would rank a bit higher if Halt had been in it and if Will had been in more than just the ending, but it was still a really good book and I love seeing Maddie and her parents and their whole family dynamic. Plus plenty of Gilan and lots of danger and sneaking around and Horace being proud of his little girl but also afraid for her safety. And Cassandra having to defend her right to the throne, and Horace and Maddie letting her, but being absolutely ready to step in if need be. And I really do love these characters. I just need another Royal Ranger book, one where Maddie and Will and Halt and Horace go on a mission together because that dynamic would be amazing. Especially if Gilan popped in once in a while. :)

8. Remarkables by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This is the book that finally pulled me out of a major book hangover. I can always count on Margaret Peterson Haddix to give me a great un-put-down-able story no matter how I'm feeling. This book was such a perfect blend of ordinary troubles of a middleschooler who had to move away from her best friend after they had a fight and adjusting to having a new baby brother, and the bizarreness of people who appear and disappear at the house next door. Marin, the MC, isn't the only person who can see them. Charley can too, but he isn't exactly the most friendly, normal kid. I don't really feel like I can say a whole lot more without major spoilers, but it's so raw and emotional and beautiful, and the ending was perfection. Plus, I also loved how normal and natural it was that one of the first things they did moving to a new state was look for a church.

7. The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Yup, another Haddix book. Have I mentioned she's one of my favorite authors? This one is the first book in a new series (not sure how many books it's supposed to be), and the new one doesn't come out until next April and just AAAHHHHH!!!! It was such a cliffhanger. Finn and Emma and Chess live with their mother and have a good, secure life, but then they see on the news that three children with their exact names and birthdays have disappeared. Then their mom starts acting strange, having to leave them with someone the children don't really know, and they can't get ahold of her and mystery and science fiction and danger and that cliffhanger! The next installment of Greystone Secrets can't get here fast enough.

6. Romanov by Nadine Brandes

See, this book (and Risked by Margaret Peterson Haddix) are the reasons why I just can't really get that into Anastasia. And yes, I'm aware that Nadine herself likes the movie, but when you've read two really good books about the Romanovs that don't completely destroy history, how can you properly enjoy something that didn't even try to preserve the real story? Romanov is historical fantasy, and it's a very interesting retelling of the story of the Romanovs. The fantasy elements are relatively light until about...three quarters of the way through? And at that point, things really get interesting. So many feels and I love Zash, and it's just so good.

5. Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Okay, so this book gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, it's an amazing historical fantasy about the Gunpowder Plot and I love the stories and the characters so much, but on the other hand, I stayed up for hours reading it for comfort knowing that the next morning we were putting my dog down and I don't think I can ever separate it from that experience. That was February and I know Sophie was old and suffering, but I still miss my dog terribly. Fawkes, though, was a fabulous book. I love Thomas and Emma and I love the way she wove in so much true history with a fantasy twist, and that cover is absolutely gorgeous. Read my full review here.

4.  The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

This is the book I read instead of working on Acktorek. Oops. When I start a Francine Rivers book, it's just too hard to stop. Dynah has a perfect life: she's attending a Christian college, is engaged to a man studying to be a pastor, is a proper good Christian girl...and then she gets raped and everything falls apart. Pressured to abort her child from all sides (even and especially Christian ones), Dynah struggles to know just what she is supposed to do. It's a heartrending, multi-generational story that is just so important and meaningful, and I've just got to say, Francine Rivers is a good writer. She does a very good job dealing with tough topics in an inspiring way. Highly recommended, though not for anyone younger than sixteen.

 3. Beyond the Tales by Tricia Mingerink

Dagger's Sleep played a part in my major book hangover a few months ago. It's a Sleeping Beauty retelling, but not really in the way you'd expect. The worldbuilding is rather Native American, but they have castles, so there's a bit of medieval mixed in too. And the prince is cursed to sleep for one hundred years after pricking his finger on his own dagger. I just love Daemyn and Rosanna (the cursebreaker) so much, and Tricia's a beary good writer. Then you've got Midnight's Curse, which is a Cinderella, but again, not in the way you'd think. The glass slippers could be a dream come true, or her worst nightmare. It picks right up shortly after Dagger's Sleep, continuing that story while seamlessly telling another. And there'd better be another book coming before long...and the next Acktar book, of course. ;)

2. No Man by J. Grace Pennington

My heart. First off, I was so extremely excited to finally get a new Firmament book this year! I wasn't expecting it and we got it, and I reread the series within a week, and binging Firmament like that is just...all the feels. It was a really good decision to binge it, since she draws in elements from previous books because, you know, they lived it and it's still affecting them. Plus, Gestern did very much leave us hanging. I love Andi so much. And the rest of my Firmament family. I wrote a full review of it wherein I fangirled like crazy, so I won't rehash all of that, but I can never love Firmament enough. And so far as I know, the next book should be the one where we see Elasson again, so squeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

1. Blood of Kings Trilogy by Jill Williamson

Meet the series that gave me the biggest book hangover I've ever had. Achan and Vrell and I love them so much and I never wanted to say goodbye and I need more of them and I totally want to name a daughter Averella now and these books are so beyond amazing and Jill is a fabulous person too and I love her and you need to go read these books right now. Seriously. Do it. Yes, up until the end of By Darkness Hid I still liked Replication better, but then everything changed and I just can't be coherent about it. Go read what I said earlier this year. Magical telepathy that follows the royal bloodline, princes and knights and squires and strays and adventure and danger and a darkness that's spreading over the land and deceit and hidden identities and just go read it already. And then come back and tell me that I was absolutely right and it was amazing and you're going to be recommending it to all your friends now.


Honorable mentions, because I have to: the original Box-Car Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner which can be found on archive.org, Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos, Light a Single Candle by Beverly Butler, and, yes I'm going to include The Flash series by Barry Lyga as it's a fabulous tie-in to the CW show and I really enjoyed it.


What are your top reads of 2019?

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Horrors of Shopping for Clothes and Shoes

Walmart, oh, Walmart, where are the extra small sweatpants?

If ever you thought clothes shopping was a joyous occasion, you must either have deluded yourself, or not be of the size that all the clothing manufacturers have conspired to discriminate against. If you love skin-tight denim with pre-ripped holes, and your pants size is 8 or higher, rejoice, for the clothing manufacturers are your best friend. You have endless styles of jeans, skinny, straight, boot cut, ripped and not. You have numerous choices of sweatpants and active wear pants. All the color selections are available to you. No alterations necessary.

But alas, if you wear a size 4, prepare yourself for clothing discrimination.

At Ross and Beals, there is nothing that will fit you, since you're larger than a 14-year-old, but apparently not as large as a woman is supposed to be. And when you go to Walmart, you finally find styles of pants that are satisfactory, but you may have to clean out their stock of size 4 jeans in your style, and still have to alter the sweatpants because the "S, 4/6" is actually just a 6 and they don't carry XS. When you find the one section of active wear pants that carries an XS, your choice of color is narrowly limited because even here, where they have XS, the bulk of the stock still leans heavily towards average to large waist people, very obviously discriminating against small waist people.

In the end, you buy the only two size 4 straight cut jeans on the shelf and resolve that you have no choice but to alter the sweat pants so the 2" too big waist doesn't slip off. And wonder why on earth the clothing manufacturers hate small waist people so much. And you feel sorry for the next small waist person walking into Walmart to replace their worn out pants because you've narrowed the selection even further.

And then there's the discrimination against people with big feet. Why, oh, why is the 9 1/2 section so small? And if your foot happens to be larger than mine, your luck is just the same or worse.

Why is it that the five size 9 1/2s on the shelf at Ross are either hideous or acquired from extortioners exploiting the necessity of big-footed people? Why is it that I must constantly settle for a less than ideal shoe or continue to walk around in shoes with holes in the sole? More than once, we've searched store after store for a pair of shoes to replace my worn out pair, only to come home with a cute pair for my small-footed sister instead.

Do the shoe manufacturers think that big-footed people only care for hideous styles? Do they think we can't pull off a cute shoe the way a size 6 person can? Do they think we have endless funds to pay $60 for a pair of sneakers? Must we bring back foot binding so we can have all the choices of the small-footed people?

This is discrimination. Put on weight and bind your feet, or you will never find clothes and shoes.


P.S. While the experiences recounted in this post are 100% true to life, the claims of discrimination are satirical and intended to illustrate that anyone can find anything about which to claim discrimination. Lets just get over ourselves, stop focusing on the differences that divide us and focus instead on the things that unite us.

P.P.S If you've ever wondered why I wear so many skirts and only own a handful of shoes, read the above post.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The 2019 Black Friday Sale Is Here!

https://sale.perrykirkpatrick.com/

It's sale time!

This is your opportunity to get nearly 300 ebooks free or $0.99! You can get the entire Time Captives trilogy for a total of just $1.98, which is a rare and awesome deal you won't want to miss. Plus so many others!

Visit sale.perrykirkpatrick.com for all the purchase links and stock up on books for Christmastime!

https://sale.perrykirkpatrick.com/search-listings/?q=&c=-1&cf%5B67%5D=morgan+elizabeth+huneke

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving in America and Black Friday Sales

by WallBuilders

The tradition introduced by European Americans of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America. For example, such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de Oñate and his expedition; in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; (and many other such celebrations). But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.”

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, reaped a bountiful harvest. As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are…far from want.” The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November.

However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after that time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained:

It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. (1,300 more words)

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I'm participating in a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale again this year! Creighton Hill will be free during the sale, while the rest of Time Captives and Twisted Dreams will be $0.99! And don't forget, you can always get Espionage: A Companion to Time Captives free for signing up for my newsletter. ;)

This sale isn't just about my books, though. There are so many others that I love you can get for less than a dollar, including, but not limited to Ilyon Chronicles, The Blades of Acktar, Firmament, and The Rizkaland Legends.

Go ahead and check out the website! You can preview the sales now, but note that the prices advertised won't be valid until Friday. You can also click "going" on the Facebook event to get a reminder when the sale is live. You don't want to miss these awesome deals!

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Resistance Audiobook is Here!


As you all know, I'm a huge fan of everything Jaye L. Knight writes, and as you may or may not already know, I love listening to audiobooks. So what better thing is there than to combine the two? Resistance is now available on Audible through the voice of narrator Lance Rasmussen! Find out more and listen to the sample below. And don't forget to enter the giveaway! You can see the other tour posts here.

About the Book


"Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul."

Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape.

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair lives every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God.

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance.

Available now on Audible and iTunes!



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

Book Sale!


Now is the perfect time to get into the series! Starting Friday, November 29th, all books from Ilyon Chronicles will be discounted. You can even get the prequel novella for free! So be sure to check them out on Amazon.

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, Twitter, Instagram, and Etsy.

About the Narrator
Lance Rasmussen is an audiobook narrator and actor based in Denver, CO. A graduate with a BFA in Acting from Utah State University, and an MFA in Acting from Louisiana State University, he now narrates and produces audiobooks from his home studio while working at various regional theaters across the country. More information can be found at www.lanceras.com. Follow him on Instagram at @LCRasmus

Giveaway
Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win one of 3 copies of the Resistance audiobook! Winners will receive a free download code to use on Audible. Open internationally!

It's NaNo Time

Which basically means I have no brain. I was doing really well, keeping ahead, and then I hit some really terrible days where I just can't focus...and I'm not really sure what I'm doing next in my book. One character who I intended to put in a position where she could finally start getting the information she needs ended up stuck in a cell in the dark without any of her equipment, and I'm not sure what the other MC can do about the situation. It'll be interesting once I figure it out.

Reading...isn't exactly something I have time for during NaNo, but with my inability to focus on writing, I read The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of the Ages instead. And watched Disney+, because I'm so excited it's finally here and The Mandalorian is pretty cool. Baby Yoda is so cute! (Obviously it's not Yoda Yoda, but it's not like we know what his species is called.)

I'm going to try to get back where I need to be with NaNo, but I guess we'll just have to see.


Monday, November 11, 2019

What Is Success?

The other day, a friend of mine was talking about things you should do to be successful. Fairly standard things...make your bed every day, keep your car clean, read your Bible every day, live debt free, serve your way to the top. And I was all "why am I not successful?" Because I do these sorts of things. (Can't say I've served my way to the top, per se, and I know I don't always have the right attitude when I serve, which kind of misses the point, but part of why I don't make very much is because I tend to undercharge/give things away, and I'm always really uncomfortable being at an event and not working.)

And then it hit me: I was defining success by the world's terms. I was defining it by how many dollars enter my bank account every month, by the fact that I've never been anywhere close to the New York Times bestsellers list, by the fact that my music studio remains small, by the fact that I haven't written well enough to publish another novel in years...

But being rich and famous isn't success.

And it isn't even really what I want, when I think about it. Success isn't measured in how many dollars are in your savings account, or how high your book is on the Amazon bestsellers list, or whether anyone of importance ever knows your name.

Success is living fully for God every day of your life.

I know I've written similar posts before, but this is just something that hit me again the other day. Because I know it in my head, but I don't always (often) live it in my heart.

The more things don't go the way I wanted them to, the more I doubt. The more I struggle to trust that God has a plan that is better than mine. I thought I learned that earlier this year. Apparently not. It's probably something I'll keep learning throughout my entire life. I've been frustrated and angry and bitter. I had to get my heart right with God. And ask Him to give me trust in Him, because I can't do it myself.

Because my life doesn't look like what I thought a "successful" life should look like. But just because I don't make anywhere close to enough to live on from book sales doesn't mean I'm a failure as an author. Just because my music studio is small doesn't mean I'm a failure as a music teacher.

If I'm touching other people's lives, showing them God's love and shining His light into their lives, then I'm successful. And not because of what I've done, but because of what God does through me. 

Success is surrendering to God.

Not being rich and famous. But living fully for God every day of your life.

Making my bed every day and living debt free are good habits that teach me to be a good steward of what I've been given. But if I think doing those things is going to put me on the New York Times bestseller list, I've missed the point.

Putting God first in my life won't necessarily make me successful in the world's eyes, but it will make me successful in God's eyes. 

And that's what truly matters.