Monday, August 25, 2014

Resistance Review

Recommended for: Ages 12 to Adult

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, torture and threats of torture, and dangerous situations dealing with persecution)

“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.

I have been a fan of Molly Evangeline/Jaye L. Knight's books since I first read The Pirate Daughter's Promise. I absolutely loved that book, and was pleased to see how her writing improved in later books. In fact, when I first started reading Resistance, I was blown away by how much better her writing is. I mean, Pirates & Faith and Makilien are awesome, loved, and highly recommended, but Ilyon Chronicles is above and beyond those two series put together. So excuse me if I rave a bit. Resistance is amazing. And, if you follow my blog, especially earlier this year, you probably already know that I think that. You should get used to it. I'll probably be saying it again.

When I first received it, I was riveted to my kindle, even reading it in the car in the middle of door to door campaigning. Backing up, I probably made my sisters sick of hearing how excited I was to read it when I finally got the timetable on getting it. As a disclaimer, I did beta read the book, but I loved it tremendously then, and love it even more now that I've read the final version. I'm no more biased toward it than I am towards C. S. Lewis, or Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

Writing: 5/5

Pretty obviously, I think the writing in Resistance is fantastic. The character point of view is well done and adds a whole new dimension to the storytelling, the settings are well described, it made me feel the emotions...The writing really pulled me into the story and kept me there, making Ilyon and it's inhabitants a permanent part of my imagination. The book was also extremely well formatted, which pleased me much.

Setting: 5/5

Even before I read Resistance, I got the impression from Jaye's Pinterest boards that the Ilyon worldbuilding was intricate and well developed. It really is. Ilyon is a magic-free fantasy world, but it takes more from Ancient Rome than from medieval times and has a somewhat dystopian feel to it. It is a harsh world, where people are in danger for believing in the one true God rather than in idols. And, I don't know, it just feels very real. You can tell Jaye put a lot of effort into developing the different races and cultures, and it definitely paid off.

Plot: 5/5

The plot of Resistance isn't exactly what one would expect from a fantasy story. It's not a quest, nor is it a battle to free a land from an evil king. It really deals more with things one would expect from historical fiction and futuristic stories: Christians trying to survive in a pagan world, and what happens when they can no longer stay undercover. It really follows two stories which come together towards the end. It has many ups and downs and dangerous situations and a few moments to relax before things just get worse. Resistance has a lot of action. It is clean, but it can get pretty intense at times, which is why I probably wouldn't recommend it for anyone under twelve.

Character Development: 5/5

I'll take the main characters in turn. First, Kyrin. Kyrin Altair is the main girl. She has a perfect memory and a lot of insecurities. She really leans a lot on her twin brother Kaden, and it's hard for her to be without him. It was interesting to see how having a perfect memory might affect someone. I related to her best of all the characters. While my memory is really rather opposite of hers, in almost every other way, I'm like her. Her personality, her shyness around strangers, her timidity about sharing her faith, even her headaches! Seriously, when it described her headaches, I would think, "I know exactly how that feels!"

Kaden. Kaden really really made me wish I had a brother. He has always been there for Kyrin. He wants to protect her and take care of her, and she really needs him, just as he needs her. He's really close to his twin sister, and, to be honest, made me jealous of the close sibling relationship they have. I know, they're fictional characters, but there's a good reason why my favorite character I made up based on me has two triplet brothers.

Jace. The general consensus seems to be that Jace needs a hug, and I agree. Thankfully, he eventually gets a few. He grew up as a slave where people constantly told him that since he was half ryrik he was a soulless animal. It's terrible to see how much this hurts him. He's tortured with doubts, and has a really difficult time not condemning himself as a dangerous animal. He's not, not by a long shot. He's a really great guy, if only he would see it. I only wish I didn't have to wait until book 3 for Jace and Kyrin to fall in love. Yes, that will be book 3. No, I never miss a series Facebook post.

Other honorable mentions. Emperor Daican was a very well done villain. He really was made to be human rather than evil incarnate. That being said, he's still the villain of the story. His son Daniel was a particularly interesting character, and my sister's favorite. I was glad to interview him during the blog tour. Rayad was great as a mentor, Holden made an interesting minor antagonist, and I loved what we get to see of Kyrin and Kaden's family.

Wow, this is probably the longest book review I've ever written. Resistance deserves it, after all, the book is about 500 pages long. If you haven't picked up on it already, which I'm sure you have, I highly recommend Resistance, Ilyon Chronicles book 1. It's exciting to know there are still 5 more books in the series, all bound to be better than the last.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Edmund Pevensie--The Chronicles of Narnia

"Even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did."

Edmund is my favorite Pevensie. I like the others, but there's something about Edmund that makes me like him best.

When The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe begins, Edmund is a jerk and a bully, particularly towards Lucy. When she finds Narnia, he has to torment her about it, and when he discovers it is real, he is worse, lying about the fact that he had been there too. Yet he gets worse. Once all the Pevensies are in Narnia, he goes to the White Witch and tells her where his siblings are, betraying them to the very person who wants to kill them.

Why, you may ask, is this Edmund one of my favorite characters? Because the story doesn't end there. As Edmund travels with the Witch, he begins to see her for who she really is, and repents of his traitorous deeds. He wants to get back to his family, but being rescued and brought to Aslan's camp still isn't enough. Aslan had a talk with Edmund which no one else heard, which truly changed him. But to complete it all, because of Edmund's treachery, the Deep Magic from the dawn of time required blood as atonement. Aslan sacrificed himself for Edmund, and came back to life due to the Deeper Magic from before the dawn of time. Edmund was truly changed after this whole experience, so much so that when he was a king of Narnia, after he helped to stop Rabadash's attack at Anvard and they were discussing what to do with him, he said, "But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did." Even though Rabadash's grand scheme was to kidnap his sister, Susan, and force her to become his wife, Edmund was still willing to show him mercy, for the mercy showed him by Aslan.

Edmund obviously felt bad for the way he treated Lucy. In Prince Caspian, when the children disputed whether to go where Lucy had seen Aslan, or follow their own path, Edmund sided with Lucy. He even says it is because of what had happened the last time, and that Lucy had been right then. Later, he's the second one of the party to see Aslan, before Peter, even.

The movies leave much to be desired, but one thing they get right is Edmund. (Prince Caspian gets Peter all wrong, and it's aggravating, but he's not the subject of this post.)
He is a repentant traitor, who mends his relationship with his sister so well that they become very close. Indeed, the relationship between Anne and Edmund Rubin was influenced by Edmund and Lucy. He isn't perfect, he sometimes gets cranky and he isn't as patient as Lucy, but once his positive character arc is complete, he doesn't reset. He never goes back to being a traitor. He isn't free from temptation, Deathwater Island shows that, but he can overcome it.

I think I like Edmund because he's easy to identify with. I never was a traitor, but I was a brat. People who have only known me as a teenager have a hard time believing that, but it's true. I was bad, and I did have to reform. I'm not perfect now, but I'm working at it. Edmund shows that a traitor may indeed mend, with Aslan's help, and that's something we all can benefit from.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

eBooks and Future Blog Plans

I was excited the other day to search my name on Barnes & Noble and find my books. They are there as eBooks only, but that means that if you have a Nook rather than a Kindle, you can buy them now. They can also be purchased for Sony eReaders. I don't know yet whether this is more worth it than Kindle Select, but, for the time being, you can buy both Across the Stars and The Experiment for whatever eReader you have. Here are the links.

Across the Stars



The Experiment


For future blog plans . . . I have a hard time thinking of things to blog about. A seriously hard time. So I decided last night to write up posts on my favorite fictional characters to post when I can't think of anything better to write about. It won't just be raving on and on about my favorites. I'll try to keep it writing oriented and talk about the character development and try to learn from it.

Be forewarned, I won't shy away from spoilers. (Ugh, I can't think about that word without River Song coming to mind. It has joined "precious" and all the other words tainted by stories.) I'm not writing reviews, I'm analyzing the development of my favorite characters, sort of, anyway, and I can't do that without talking about the character's storyline. I'll try to give proper warning for major spoilers, but I can't promise you'll come away unspoiled. (Given that I actually follow through on any of this. I have yet to write a single post, though I did write a list of some of my favorite characters.)

And maybe sometimes I'll interrupt with something more spectacular to say.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Writing Update

For starters, I was interviewed recently on the Stardust and Gravel blog. Hop over there to learn extras about my books and some more things about me, like if I prefer movies, TV shows, or neither, and don't forget to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Experiment.

Now for the writing update. A few weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook page that I had finished with my rewrite of The Crossways, book 2 of Time Captives, at 38,352 words, by far a record for me. The edits I made on my subsequent read through raised that number to 38,509. So now Time Captives is 2/3 complete. Book 3 will be Crannig Castle, but I haven't started it yet. I'm taking a break from Time Captives to write a companion to the trilogy.

This companion is called Espionage. Here is the logline:

In the midst of an alliance controversy, a nobleman's daughter must expose a heinous scheme by her father's political arch-enemy to force him to align with the evil strytes of Calhortz.

It will be a shorter, less complicated book than anything I have written in some time, and so it is a nice relief, in more ways than one. I'm estimating it will be about 24,000 words, and I'm aiming for ten chapters. (I just realized the number of chapters is the number of my favorite Doctor. Weird, and not intentional.) My goal is to finish Espionage by the end of August. I have a schedule that I have amazingly kept on track for a week, so I think this will happen.

Just a little bit more about it, because I like to ramble about my story ideas. The main character is a nine year old girl named Savanna, but called Vannie for short. I'm writing it in 1st person from her point of view. (Past tense, I can't stand present in the narrative of a book.) I haven't successfully written a book in 1st person, so if this works, which it seems to be doing, it will be my first. The only other complete story I wrote in 1st person was my stupidest picture book which will never see the light of day.

Vannie is a fun point of view character, and rather a relief from Adriel and Eleanor, the primary point of view characters in The Crossways. See, Adriel is a sullen and rebellious slave who is deeply hurt, and Eleanor has had her heart broken by her circumstances and been betrayed, and insists on dwelling on it, which can get sort of depressing. They'll both come out of it by the end, but they haven't quite yet. Contrast that to Vannie, who has a secure happy life, and has only the company of a very annoying cousin to complain about. Things do get more serious than that, but she still has a much lighter tone than either Adriel or Eleanor. Besides, it's fun to try to think like a little girl again. And the characters are super easy to develop, as opposed to my struggles with Time Captives who want to shut me out. :) I'm building a story board for Espionage as I write it on Pinterest. There's one for Time Captives as well.

What does this mean for publishing? Well, my plan is to publish Creighton Hill sometime early next year. I'm not sure of anything more exact yet, but I'll announce it once I am. I'm also thinking, not sure this will happen, of trying NaNo this year to write a sequel to Across the Stars about Hanna and Sam. If (and that's a big, major, huge if) I do, I will probably publish it next fall, if it's any good. You never can tell with sequels. Then the plan is to publish The Crossways in early 2016, Espionage in late 2016, and Crannig Castle the following spring. Who knows what will actually happen. After all, God is in control of my life, not me. His plans could be completely different.

Next on my writing plans, after Time Captives is finished, is to finally fully jump into an outer space dystopian trilogy I planned last year. It was sparked by a dream, and combined with
ideas sparked by The Giver and my desire to write a space story because of reading Red Rain, The Destiny Trilogy, and Radialloy. I really can't wait to get into it, especially since every time I finish watching a Hunger Games movie I come away going "Must. Write. Dystopian." and start thinking about my story again even though it's completely different other than sharing a basic genre. What can I say? I've always loved evil government stories.

So that's a (not so) brief update on my current writing and publishing plans. (I could have rambled on longer, but I don't know that anyone would read it.) So long, for now!