Monday, January 27, 2014

Adventures and Adversities Review

Picture One day Alditha is content living with her family, the next she is taking her friend's place to serve at the king’s castle. Her father's final instructions, to keep smiling and to do what is right, will be harder to live out than she ever imagined. She will face a royal nephew who delights in making people miserable, an angry servant girl who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and noblemen who plot murder. Will she be able to keep the promise she made to her father? Will she find the faith she longs for during all her Adventures and Adversities?


I very much enjoyed this book. I liked it even better than Sarah Holman's Destiny Trilogy, though I enjoyed the Destiny Trilogy immensely.

I'll start off with the cons, to get them over with. The only cons I found in this book were technical ones. First, there are a lot of typos. Second, the cover images for the paperback could have stood to be at a higher resolution. Third, there were some errors with the interior formatting, the most major being that the page headers were not removed from the first page of every chapter as they are in traditionally published books when the chapter starts on a new page.

As for the story, I loved it! It felt a lot more original to me than the Destiny Trilogy. It has the feel of historical fiction, even though it is set in a fictional country. The story is sweet, and sometimes heartrending. There were parts that weren't terribly unpredictable, but with this story, it didn't matter. I still stayed up late into the night to finish it on the same day I began it. A lot of time is covered in the book, but it is done well. The characters also deserve mention. They were all very well developed. As I am struggling with the character development in my current work in progress, it amazed me to see how the characters' personalities came through in every bit of dialogue. I loved Will, Alditha, and Eleanor best of all, though of those three, Will is probably my favorite.

I definitely recommend this book.

Monday, January 20, 2014

In His Image Review
 It was supposed to be a routine check of a parched planet. That was what Andi expected when she joined the small exploration team, but when their shuttle crash landed, the unthinkable happened — they encountered intelligent life.

Now stranded on the strange world, the team accidentally angers the iron-fisted leader of the village, and the compassionate intervention of a young native named Elasson may be all that's keeping them alive.

Their shuttle seems beyond repair, the oppressive heat is sapping their strength, and the local ruler is determined to execute them. Can Andi help find a way to escape before they are destroyed?
--From J. Grace Pennington's Website


I read most of this book on Christmas Day, having to wait until the next day to read the last few chapters because I figured I should go to sleep at some point. My sister disregarded sleep, and read the whole book in one night. After that, it sat on the table with my school books for a few days, which ended with my mom reading it as well. This truly is an awesome book. After reading it, I can still say that Grace is an amazing writer.

In His Image is rather different from Radialloy in that very little of it takes place on the Surveyor. Most of it takes place on a planet where there is intelligent life. The question of how this life fits in with a Biblical worldview is integral to the story, and superbly done.

I can't not mention the characters. The character development increases in this book. There is, of course, plenty of Andi, and the other characters, such as the Doctor and Captain Trent, emerge more. There is more of Crash in this book than the last. He still can be quite annoying, but I loved getting to know him better nonetheless. Then there is Elasson. I loved Elasson. There is a language barrier between him and the team from the Surveyor (which is a major plot point), but somehow I got to know him well anyway. He is my sister's favorite character in the Firmament series. For me, I think he's tied with Andi. But I really want to read more about Elasson.

In His Image is a terrific book, and, once more, I am greatly looking forward to the next book in the Firmament series.

Monday, January 13, 2014

V: Vehicles

This is where you get to find out just how weird I am. My dream car is not a fancy sports car, or a limousine, or any other car that's typically considered cool. I don't even know what the names of cool cars are. My dream car is a 15 passenger van. Preferably with a bunch of kids in the backseat.

The most important of the vehicles in The Experiment are the 15 passenger vans. The Raingolds and their friends take 15 passenger vans when they begin their journey to Courtstone. The 15 passenger vans are even engaged in a car chase. I loved writing the car chase. It was a lot of fun. When I revised The Experiment, I had some difficulties in making the car chase possible, but I was determined, and eventually succeeded.

Some other vehicles in The Experiment include police cars, semi trucks, limousines, and a bus, but my favorites are the 15 passenger vans.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

U: Unconstitutional

Unconstitutional . . . it's Abby Raingold's favorite word. She doesn't just say it to use a big word either. When she says a thing is unconstitutional, she's right. In The Experiment, the U. S. government does many things which are unconstitutional. The first that Abby points out is when government officials insist on entering the Raingolds' home without a warrant. A warrant is required and, as Abby said, "it has to be a reasonable warrant! It’s unconstitutional for you to do it without! That’s unlawful search and seizure, and we’re protected from that by the Fourth Amendment!"

At another time, Abby mentions that the government is only allowed to do things specified in the Constitution. This is clarified by the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

As much as I wish I could say it is not true, unconstitutional behavior by the government is a thing not relegated to fiction. In fact, the government today seems to do more that is unconstitutional than is constitutional. Gun control, the NSA, and the "separation of church and state" are some prominent examples.

Below is a fun and educational video written and acted by some good friends of mine all about what the Constitution is and why it matters. The government needs to follow the Constitution, and it's your job to make them do it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

T: The Machine

Well, I'm back.

I had a nice Christmas break with my family, despite people getting sick, but now it's time to get back into normal life. And for this blog, that means maybe finally finishing my Experiment A-Z posts.

I know of three things in fiction called "The Machine." Of those three, two are torture devices, and one is an automobile. The one in The Experiment is not the automobile. The Machine is a large, cage-like device with wires pointing towards the center. Miss Reginald loves The Machine, though I doubt anyone else does. It creates extreme torture, and generally causes the victim to pass out.

Linus Prescott describes the pain caused by The Machine as being "more painful than if every bone in your body were crushed into a powder." Luckily, there's no more detail of the pain than that. I don't think I could go into any more detail. I'm a bit squeamish. My youngest sister was reading The Experiment for about the hundredth time yesterday, and she said that the point where I said "The agony (she) suffered in those minutes can never be put into words," was cheating. But for me, it's enough. The Machine is a terrible device.