Resistance

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


Book: Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles, Book One)

Author: Jaye L. Knight

Publisher: Living Sword Publishing

Genre: Fantasy

Length: 523 pages


About:

“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.


Faith/Religious/Spiritual Elements:

Faith in Elom is ruminated on; characters pray; a revolt against God is mentioned; false gods are described and worshiped; it is questioned in a character has a soul; Elom’s faithfulness is discussed; characters talk about when they were saved.


Violence:

Gladiatorial fights are described; characters are beaten; beheadings are witnessed; characters get into fights; the brutality of a character’s past is alluded to; characters are murdered, attacked and injured, executed, and tortured.


Other:

Rape and abortion are alluded to; characters kiss.


Rating:

5 Stars


Conclusion:

For most of the books I review, it’s fairly easy to remember I’m taking notes for the review. Not so with Resistance. Though I’ve read it multiple times, I kept finding myself having to go back and reread so I could jot down the needed information. It’s not often I’m completely swept away in a book, but every time I read Resistance I am thoroughly entrenched in the world of Ilyon.

Every aspect of this book is masterful.

First, the faith and religious elements. Christian faith is weaved into this book’s very core. The characters’ faith is real – they’re strong in their faith, but humanity is shown when they worry and question. Pro-life undertones are also weaved in, both against abortion and in the message that no one is beyond redemption and God’s faithfulness. The false religion and it’s gods are also well-developed in their origins, how they affect society, how they’re worshiped, and even what they look like.

Second, the characters. I’ve read many contemptible villains, but those in Resistance have to be some of the best. They have depth, aren’t just awful “for the fun of it”, and are despicable in every way. There are many nasties in this book, and all are different with different goals and personalities. The protagonists are equally well-developed. I especially like how there is a noticeable difference in the faith between those who are “younger” believers and those more mature. That lends authenticity few fantasy authors are able to incorporate.

The relationship between Kyrin and Kaden is one everyone with a sibling can identify with. Even though I think Kyrin is a delightful character, between the two, Kaden is my favorite. Rayad and Jace and their touching father-son relationship; Trask and Anne and Trask’s relationship with his father; and the multi-faceted relationship between the Altair twins and their respective family members combine to create real, sympathetic characters.

Third, the plot. In fantasy, rebellion and resistance are common. Many are well-written. This series exceeds most, landing itself on the top tier. With the ancient Rome/rustic forest combination, the story of resistance against tyranny finds its beginnings. Multiple characters and secondary plots combine in an eventful way that keeps the story alive. I’ve read what’s released of the entire series thus far, so it’s hard not to give spoilers, but Resistance does so well in setting up the rest of the series.

________

There are few series I’ve recommended more than Ilyon Chronicles, and Resistance in particular. While the book is powerful no matter when you pick the book up, the message of resisting evil and standing for truth especially hits home when you read it right now. The pen (or keyboard, in this case) truly is powerful, and Jaye uses that power and an incredible ability to weave words to remind the reader no matter what they face, no matter their past, no matter how the world deviates from God and truth, and no matter how much opposition we face, we can always stand for what’s right.

If you haven’t read Resistance, you need to.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Joy. Thank you so much, girl! I’m looking forward to answering your questions.

Rules:

~ Thank the blogger who nominated you and put their link in your post!

~ Answer the questions that the person who nominated you made!

~ Nominate 11 bloggers and make eleven questions!


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

#1 Which book character do you admire the most?

*Brain short circuits*

After Christ, I most admire Jonathan if we’re talking about Bible characters. Fictional characters, though? Ah…there are too many to list. I suppose I’ll just throw one out. Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. I’m reading Return of the King right now, and I can’t get over how loyal, steadfast, and plain-spoken Sam is. He’s a wonderful character with a heart of gold, a love for gardening, and a low tolerance for ridiculousness.

#2 Do you prefer French fries or chicken nuggets?

Neither if they’re from fast food restaurants. French fries if they’re the bagged type you can purchase from the store and make at home. The exception to that are the gluten-free dinosaur chicken nuggets I might be addicted to really like. For the most part, thought, french fries.

#3 What’s the most difficult skill you’ve ever learned?

Learning to walk.

Just kidding. Kind of. I still haven’t mastered that.

I don’t know that I’m particularly skillful at anything – more of a jack-of-all-trades type – but a hard skill to learn was giving up control to God. Things have happened throughout the past six years where it felt/feels like everything was/is topsy-turvy and out of control. I’m not there yet, not all the way, but with His help I’ll become better and consistent at relinquishing control and admitting He knows what’s best.

#4 Have you ever eaten an entire tub of ice cream? (I had to ask! )

Not in one sitting, no. Throughout multiple sittings, yes.

#5 Can you walk on your hands?

Ha, no. I can barely manage walking on my feet.

#6 What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Homemade oatmeal with a bit of brown sugar. It’s nutritious, healthy, and keeps your LDL down.

#7 Do you prefer ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise?

Ketchup. I used to tolerate mustard on hamburgers, but no more. Mayonnaise…icky, yuck, gross, blech, barf.

#8 What’s your least favorite color and why?

Neon orange, pink, green, purple, and yellow. They’re obnoxious, overwhelming, ugly, and just…too much. As someone who uses a lot of color combinations for designs, I deem these colors almost useless. Actually, I’m not fond of anything bright and sparkly either.

#9 Would you rather be accidentally locked inside an amusement park or a mall late at night by yourself?

Mall. Definitely a mall. There’s gotta be a bookstore somewhere, plus the bathrooms are probably cleaner, there’s the cafeteria if you can get into it ( I think; haven’t been inside a mall in a long time). I don’t like amusement parks, so almost anything’s better than they are.

#10 What’s the last new word you learned?

Gorgonize. It means to petrify, as in petrified with fear. “I’m gorgonized by fear” sounds so much better than, “I’m scared”.

#11 Do you like creamy or chunky peanut butter?

Both. Long as it’s not gloopy, liquefied, or saltless (trust me, that’s nasty) I”m not picky on my sunbutter.


Thanks again, Joy. I enjoyed your questions, and some of them really made me think.

Regarding nominations, I don’t want to over-tag and therefore become a nuisance. This isn’t a tag I can just do general “nominations on” (like, “anyone who wants to can!”) so just let me know in a comment if I’m tagging you too often.

NOMINATIONS:

Kristina Hall

Vanessa Hall

Katja | Little Blossoms for Jesus

Martha | Beyond the Literary Horizon

Amelie | Swordmaiden of the King

Brooklyn | Five Shekels

SawyerMarie | Sundrop Girls

Jen | Living Outside the Lines

Heidi | Culinary Scribbles

Ariella | The Arbitrary Fairy

Isabelle | Into My Writing Journey

QUESTIONS:

  1. What sparked your interest in blogging?
  2. If you could tell your past, younger self one thing, what would it be?
  3. How do you incorporate your faith in your blogging and/or writing?
  4. If you could exchange our world for a fictional one, which world would you choose?
  5. What is one book/series you dislike or won’t read, but that other readers rave about?
  6. Mountains or ocean?
  7. Do you prefer hot chocolate “plain” or with added flavors?
  8. Favorite season?
  9. Who is one blogger/author you wish you could team up with to write a post/book?
  10. What is your favorite writing medium? Pencil? Pen? Other?
  11. What is one animal you never want to tangle with?

What about you, reader? Which book character do you most admire? Can you walk on your hands (if you say yes, I’ll be quite impressed). Which would you rather be trapped in for a night: mall or amusement park? Let me know!

Secrets in the Mist

What’s lurking in the Mist is the least of their worries…


Author: Morgan L. Busse

Series: Skyworld, Book One

Publisher: Enclave Escape, an imprint of Enclave Publishing

Genre: Steampunk


About:

What’s lurking in the Mist is the least of their worries…

In a world where humanity lives in the sky to escape a deadly mist below, Cass’s only goal is survival. That is, until she finds a job on the airship Daedalus as a diver. Now she explores ruined cities, looking for treasure and people’s lost heirlooms until a young man hires her to find the impossible: a way to eradicate the Mist.

Theodore Winchester is a member of one of the Five Families that rule the skies. Following in his father’s footsteps, he searches for the source of the Mist and hopes to stop the purges used to control overpopulation. But what he finds are horrifying secrets and lethal ambition. If he continues his quest, it could mean his own death.

The Mist is rising and soon the world will be enveloped in its deadly embrace, turning what’s left of humanity into the undead.


Faith/Religious/Spiritual Elements:

Characters pray and attend church; Elaeros (God) is mentioned and discussed.


Violence:

People are Purged and their bodies burned; it is mentioned someone dies in an altercation; a man is half-burned; an element intended to cause no harm has a deadly effect; the Turned are shot and incinerated; characters sacrifice their lives for others; characters are injured in attacks; a character mentions getting into fights; arson is committed.


Other:

Secondary characters drink.


Rating:

5 Stars


Conclusion

At first, I was hesitant about this book due to the possibility of there being zombies. But, it being written by Morgan Busse, I decided to give Secrets in the Mist a chance. I’m happy I did.I’m not a big steampunk fan, so I can’t compare Secrets in the Mist to other books in the genre, but it has to be one of the best steampunk books ever written.

First, the settings. Incredible. The way the mountain towns and the land beneath the mist were described is masterful. I felt like I was there, whether hiding with Cass, peeking into the church, or scouting out the dangers lurking beneath the mist.

Second, the characters. Cass is a survivor, a spitfire, and an all-around well written heroine. I enjoyed her mechanical nature and spunkiness. Theodore comes from a lifestyle opposite Cass. I liked his curiosity and unwavering determination. The secondary characters are wonderful, as well. My favorite character is Patterson, a cranky old man who shows he cares by fussing over those around him. Those who’ve read this book will understand my indignation about what happened at the end (please, please let there be a plot twist).

Third, the plot. As aforementioned, I was hesitant at first. I want nothing to do with zombies or the disgusting twisting of the supernatural. I was delightfully surprised. Some might describe the Turned as zombies, but I don’t. There are no supernatural forces involved in Turning. Instead, a reasonable, well-thought out medical and scientific explanation is provided.

Even if you’re not a steampunk fan (think Victorian Era mixed with odd mechanical creations), you need to add Secrets in the Mist to your reading list. Well done, Mrs. Busse. I can’t wait for Book Two.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Bookworm’s Tag

Thanks, Vanessa, for tagging me!

Rules:

  • Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you
  • Include the tag graphic in your post
  • Answer the ten questions the blogger asked
  • Nominate between five and ten bloggers
  • Ask your nominees ten book-related questions!
  • Don’t feel bound to these rules
  • (Most importantly) Have fun!

What’s a book that reminds you of your childhood?

The Bible, specifically David and Goliath. From a very young age I’ve loved that story. Fiction-wise, Hollyhocks by my mom and the Trixie Belden books. The Hank the Cowdog books too.

What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

The combined LOTR books plus appendices. It was well over 1,000 pages long with microscopic print. I read it up camping and finished it in three days.

Who’s one of your favorite characters?

Marcus Altair from Ilyon Chronicles. I think it’s because we have similar personalities and I relate with every decision he’s made, plus we’re both the oldest child in our families.

How often do you read non-fiction vs fiction?

The only non-fiction book I read on a regular basis is the Bible. I definitely read fiction more than non-fiction.

What’s the most important thing you look for in a good book?

Goodness. There are many things… Ultimately I’d say faith and how it’s portrayed and handled.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Yes and no. In general, I do. If a book has a scantily-clad woman or a man with no shirt on the cover, I’m not reading it. If there’s a girl with a snobby expression in “school clothes” (pleated skirt, high stocking, ugly shoes, plain blouse), profanity, or a bratty boy on the cover, I’m not reading those either. I have no patience for such individuals in real life, let alone during my reading time. Plus if the title is stupid, crude, or immature, nope.

On the other hand, I know cover designers are expensive. Some plain, lowish-quality covers protect the pages of wonderful stories.

What’s your preferred method of enjoying a story? Ebook, paper book, audiobook, etc.?

Paperback all the way. Hardcover next, but I’m really not fond of them.

Do songs remind you of certain books? If so, what book and what song was it?

Yes, though more like certain characters within specific books. These Four Walls by Carmen Justice reminds me of Cass from Secrets in the Mist by Morgan L. Busse (review to come later this week). And, of course, Resistance and Monster by Skillet for Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight. This is not mentioning the multiple songs reminding me of my own characters. If you’d like to see what songs inspire/remind me of characters in my latest WIP, go here.

What is one of the most memorable lessons a fiction book has ever taught you?

I don’t know if it was a lesson so much as a reminder. The fantasy series Ilyon Chronicles and Blades of Acktar always remind me – bolster my courage and determination, more like – to continue standing for truth and freedom in a world that’s increasingly tyrannical and against God, His Word, Truth, and freedom. It’s better to stand alone than kneel with the crowd.

What is one of the best fiction books you’ve read in the past year?

Does my mom’s latest manuscript count? No? Then Wrought of Silver and Ravens by E.J. Kitchens.


Tags:

Kristina | Kristina Hall

Katja | Little Blossoms for Jesus

Alexa | A Fangirl’s Hideaway

And anyone else who’d like to join! (There – that’s makes an uncountable amount of nominations.)

Questions:

  1. What fictional world would you like to live in?
  2. What makes a quality antagonist/villain? Do you have an example?
  3. What makes a poor protagonist/ main character? Do you have an example?
  4. Do you think heavy topics (the atrocities of abortion; depression/anxiety; rape; emotional, physical, and mental abuse and neglect; etc.) should be addressed in fiction? If no, why? If yes, what are some books you’ve read that handle heavy topics well?
  5. If you could trade places with a character, who would it be?
  6. What are some cliches and tropes you wish authors would avoid? Write more of?
  7. What criteria do you use to rate a book? How does this differ for ratings?
  8. If a movie adaptation was to be made, which series would you like to see made into live action (like LOTR, Mulan, etc.).
  9. Which genre is the best? Why? What are you top three books in selected genre?
  10. What topics, types of characters, or situations do you wish authors would write more of?

Once again, thank you, Vanessa, for tagging me. Great questions!

The Secret Admirer Romance Collection

Can concealed love be revealed in 9 historical novellas?


Authors: Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitman, Kathleen Y’ Barbo, Penny Zeller

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Barbour

Length: 447 pages


About:

Shy Expressions of Love Lead to Nine Historical Romances

Declaring one’s love can be hard—even risky—especially when faced with some of life’s greatest challenges. Separated by class, time, distance, and more, some loves must remain secret until the time is right. Instead, notes of affection, acts of kindness, gifts of admiration, and lots of prayer are circulated. From New England mansions to homestead hovels, love is quietly being nourished and waiting for the right time to be revealed. But when love can finally be boldly expressed, will it be received by love in return?

Reviewer’s Note: Due to this being a collection, I will provide individual ratings and thoughts on each novella before resuming my typical review format.

The Cost of a Heart by Amanda Barratt – Newport, Rhode Island, 1897
Nathaniel Evans has stood by Lily Montgomery through a broken marriage and the death of her husband. On the eve of her return into social life, he battles his attraction to her. But he is a servant, she a socialite.

Rating: 4 Stars

Thoughts: This is a sweet, faith-filled story with a good message about how only God’s approval matters – not society’s approval or disapproval regarding how our appearance aligns with its demands. I appreciated that Lily didn’t have the typical heroine build of slim and perfectly-proportioned. It was refreshing.

___

The Advocate by Lorraine Beatty – East Texas, 1881
Hannah Davis tries to get Mitch Kincaid, the man she secretly admires, elected sheriff by printing anonymous articles about his qualifications and sterling character. But will the truth win his heart or break hers?

Rating: 4 Stars

Thoughts: The Advocate discusses vote purchasing, which was when a politician bribed folks to vote for him by purchasing their vote. I found this interesting. The characters are well-developed and the plot fun. I did think Hannah a bit immature in the beginning, but she quickly grew on me. I enjoyed her tenacity and Mitch’s aloof grumpiness. I’ll definitely be investigating more books by Lorraine Beatty.

___

Too Many Secrets by Molly Noble Bull – Frio-Corners, Texas, 1882
Abigail Willoughby hides her feelings for Luke Conquest, the handsome cowboy who introduced her to her mail-order husband. How could she have guessed that her future husband was ninety-years-old?  

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Thoughts: This has an interesting premise of a mail-order bride whose future husband has hidden his age from her. But it just wasn’t delivered well. While this certainly had potential, the writing felt stilted and the characters awkward in their interactions with each other. The conversations also felt dry. I just couldn’t get into it.

___

Love in Store by Anita Mae Draper – Miles City, Montana, 1890
Hidden love notes hint at what’s in store for a reserved shopkeeper when a straight-talking spinster sneaks anonymous declarations of her affections among the shelves of his store.

Rating: 5 Stars

Thoughts: What happens when a reticent shopkeeper meets a straight-shooting young lady intent on making her affections know? Confusion, chaos, and humor. Despite the word count limit, the author did exceptionally well in developing character arcs, not only for the main characters, but secondary ones as well. Adam’s descriptions (e.g. “gaggle of women”, “catering to little vixens”) are hilarious and Janet’s straightforward ways are endearing. Touching moments, endeavors to build a list of eligible bachelors, and a beautiful faith message also earn this novella its five-star rating. Anita Mae Draper is another author whose books I’ll be looking into.

___

The Last Letter by CJ Dunham – Kansas,1865
The Civil War has taken everyone Emilia Davis loves. When she receives her dead fiancé’s last letter, she embarks on a journey into the Kansas frontier to fulfill his last wish. So who is sending her anonymous gifts?

Rating: 5

Thoughts: This was excellent. Emilia’s journey kept me eager to continue reading. Her faith, the hero’s sacrifice, and the plot were executed so well. What most endeared me to this novella was the strong adoption theme. Emilia’s determination and love for little Josiah is touching and elicits a lot of feels. I also liked how the importance of the heart over physical attraction was embedded in the story. This is another author whose books I’ll be looking into.

___

The Outcast’s Redemption by Jennifer Uhlarik – Blackwater, Texas, 1872
When a reformed rustler is framed for stealing cattle, his secret crush—the daughter of the disgraced lawman who arrested him—comes to his aid. But who really saves who?

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Thoughts: This novella is what hooked me on Jennifer Uhlarik’s writing. The plot is decidedly unique, the characters excellent, and the baddies chillingly evil. This was another novella where a lot happened in a short word count. This is packed with action, the struggle of forgiveness and redemption, and a sweet love story. The only complaint I have is Lucky’s use of whilst. For a man whose vernacular includes typical western speech, like ain’t, whole mess of, and sweetest gal, the use of whilst fit neither the story nor character.

___

Beside Still Waters by Becca Whitham – Lawton, Oklahoma, 1901
Sarah Maffey is receiving worrisome letters that make her feel vulnerable. Her handsome neighbor has vowed to keep her safe. . .or is he playing her for a fool?

Rating: 5 Stars

Thoughts: Besides Still Waters earns the reward for having the most humor. Sarah is a fun heroine, her feisty spirit, naivete about horses and plowing, and her hilarious commentary – both internal and aloud – had me laughing. This is a different spin on love letters from a secret admirer, and I liked the direction it was taken. I’ll definitely be adding more of this author’s books to my TBR.

___

The Princess of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo – Texas and Washington, DC, 1886
Scandal divided them. Two kidnappings and a wedding later, can a Texas cowboy turned Washington lawyer and the girl-next-door who secretly loved him since childhood save their marriage of inconvenience?

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Thoughts: This was another one I couldn’t bring myself to like. There are funny parts, and the shenanigans employed to steal Pearl from the train are amusing, but I just wasn’t impressed. Pearl is rather annoying, though her stubbornness makes her a more likable character than Deke, whom I found conniving, selfish, and overbearing. Other readers really liked this story, and you may as well, but I could barely finish it. It had potential, and I don’t know if it was just the execution of the story or the off-putting main characters, but Y’Barbo’s style and I don’t get along, it seems.

___

Love From Afar by Penny Zeller – Ellis Creek, Montana, 1880s
When secret love letters are written in a clandestine plot to bring two lonely hearts together, will love from a distance finally bloom into matrimonial bliss for Gabe and Meredith?

Rating: 5 Stars

Thoughts: No, the rating’s not because I’m biased. It’s because Love From Afar fully deserves five stars. Gabe and Meredith are endearing characters. Gabe is a reserved, tongue-tied mess around the extroverted Meredith who wishes he’d say more than two words to her. The clandestine plot and its instigators are the funniest, though. As an older sister, I could sympathize with Gabe and Meredith as they found themselves baffled and hesitant – at first – participants in a scheme cooked up by two mischievous best friends. Well-written, hilarious, and enjoyable.


Faith Elements:

God’s faithfulness is mentioned; characters, pray, mention Biblical characters, and discuss trusting God; the Bible is quoted; characters attend church; there are strong redemption and salvation messages.


Violence:

A character dies from being thrown from a horse; the Civil War’s casualties are mentioned; a store is robbed; a character suffers PTSD flashbacks and nightmares; President Lincoln’s assassination is implied; a child is kidnapped; a character’s past is brought up; characters are shot; a character is injured by sabotage; characters are murdered.


Other:

Infidelity is implied and witnessed; characters kiss; a character once drank and smoked; a woman is called an adulteress and the Scarlet Letter is referenced; a character drinks themselves to death.


Overall Rating:

5 Stars

All about You around the Blogosphere Tag

Many thanks to Kristina for tagging me!


THE RULES

Answer the questions below on your blog.

Tag at least a couple other bloggers.

Have them answer these questions!


THE QUESTIONS

What’s your favorite book/book series and why?

The Bible is my favorite non-fiction book.

For fiction, I have no idea. There are many books I enjoy, and I simply cannot choose. So I’m going to list one of my WIPs, Deceived. Thus far, this is the only book I haven’t been tempted to shelve or permanently discard. I love the characters and the plot and it’s the only thing I’ve written so far that I feel is worthy of being read. I actually like my writing in Deceived.

Who is your favorite author?

Penny Zeller for historical romance (yes, she’s my mom. Yes, I might be bragging. Yes, I’m extremely proud of her.). Tolkien, Jules Vern, Jaye L. Knight, Gillian Bronte Adams, and Heather L.L. FitzGerald are the other five.

What is your favorite food?

Pasta. And homemade pumpkin muffins. You can’t go wrong with those two.

What gives you inspiration for your books?

A lot of things. Music is a big one, as is history. The Bible. The mountains; current and potentially future occurrences; writing prompts; poisonous plants and torture methods (I don’t think I have a book/series without at least one torture scene – it’s good for character development); weird questions and ideas my mind randomly cooks up; fairy tales; and Greek and Norse mythology.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I’m going to echo what Kristina said: somewhere that values freedom. I’ll also say a fantasy world, since at least in books people have the spine to stand up and fight for their freedoms and faith.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Introvert. There’s not a drop of extroversion in this girl.

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

I am a writer. Disturb at your own risk.


I’m tagging you, fellow writer! If you do this tag, drop a comment and let me know.

A Single Spark

When suspicions rise after multiple shipments of Washington Arsenal cartridges fail to fire and everyone is suspect for sabotage, can the spark of love between Joseph and Clara survive?


Title: A Single Spark

Author: Judith Miller

Publisher: Bethany House

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 352 pages


About:

Wanting to do her part in the war effort, Clara McBride goes to work in the cartridge room at the Washington Arsenal, the city’s main site for production and storing of munitions. She’s given the opportunity to train new employees and forms a friendship with two of them. All seems to be going well, especially when one of the supervisors shows interest in her.

Lieutenant Joseph Brady is an injured army officer who, no longer able to lead troops into battle, has been assigned to a supervisory position at the Washington Arsenal. While Clara has caught his eye, he also makes it his mission to fight for increased measures to prevent explosions in the factory.

But when suspicions rise after multiple shipments of Washington Arsenal cartridges fail to fire and everyone is suspect for sabotage, can the spark of love between Joseph and Clara survive?


Faith Elements:

Prayers are mentioned and characters pray; the Bible is read, mentioned, and quoted; characters attend church; it is discussed how God orchestrates events; characters are encouraged to turn to God.


Violence:

Characters’ deaths by war are implied; war violence is recounted through nightmares; workers die and are injured in a deadly explosion; the scene of an explosion is described [might be unsettling for sensitive readers]; a character recounts slave families being forcibly separated; unintentional strangulation is mentioned; characters are shot at; a character is injured on two separate occasions.


Other:

Characters kiss; characters are manipulated.


Rating:

4 Stars


Conclusion:

A Single Spark is a unique Civil War story. Where most take place on the battlefront, the Underground Railroad, or on plantations, this book focuses on the arsenals, which are too often overlooked.

I loved the history in this book. As aforementioned, A Single Spark revolves around arsenals, which were where bullets were constructed and then delivered to the battlefront. This is an aspect of the Civil War that is mostly forgotten, and Miller did exceptionally in ensuring historical accuracy. Due to this, though, a few scenes regarding an explosion might be too much for sensitive readers. Nevertheless, I enjoyed learning about those who manufactured the bullets (mostly civilians – I did not know that) and the process of how bullets were made.

Joseph was my favorite character. His stalwart faith, humility, and struggle with PTSD – another aspect Miller did well with – make him an endearing character. I also admired his unwavering decision to do what was right no matter the cost. Clara was a good character too. Her willingness to help her mother and her heart for others make her another endearing character. The last character, whom I shall not name due to potential spoilers, was also well-crafted. Miller did quite well writing this rotten character.

My one complaint about this book is it felt a bit dry at times due to all the conversation. I don’t mind lengths of conversing, but sometimes it went too long with no action. That is a personal opinion, though, and should not dissuade anyone from reading this book. As usual, Judith Miller delivered another quality read. If you’re a Civil War/historical romance fan, I recommend A Single Spark

Writer to Writer: Advice and Encouragement from Fellow Authors and Writers

Writing is not an easy process. It’s hard, feels impossible at times, and is far too easy to call it quits. When those hard days, weeks, months, or years strike, and you feel like you should give up writing or scrap your project, or if you just need some encouragement when the words aren’t coming, here are several writerly wisdoms of advice and encouragement from fellow authors and writers who’ve been in the same predicaments.

Many thanks to the wonderful authors and writers who contributed. Your insight is invaluable.


A couple of tips that I have found helpful are to never, ever give up. You have a message and it needs to be read. Secondly, connect with other writers and people in the industry. With social media, it’s easier than ever these days.

Penny Zeller, Author

My advice is to remember why you write. As Christians we write for God first. Keep that in mind. That will solve a lot of self-doubts right there. Then remember the message and why it’s important to you. And remember who you want to reach. Just remember.

Rayna Lynn, Author

Don’t be afraid to write a first draft that you may never use. It’s all practice, and it’s not wasted.

– Mary, Writer

Know your first draft will need work. And that. is. o. k. You will have to rewrite. And that is perfectly normal. It will probably take you a lot of time to make anything really good. And that’s totally fine. Lots of the great writers produced their masterpieces when more advanced in age. On the flip side… you can’t be perfect. Don’t strive for perfection. Strive for your best. You’ll never be perfect, and that’s fine. No one, not even the experts, are perfectly satisfied with their writing. You don’t need perfect. You just need your best. And that’s good enough

Two last things: It’s okay if your voice is different from others. And rules are in place for a good reason and you should consider them carefully, but when you seriously think that breaking a rule is better, then do it. You know your style and your story.

Katja H. Labonté , Author

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in writing, is that there is no ‘right way’ when it comes to writing. We’re all so unique with our backgrounds and strengths and personalities, it makes sense how we write is also individual. Learning to embrace that, to listen to ideas and leave what doesn’t work…that’s been huge. And that we’re all a work in progress, and giving each other grace is the best gift we can give .

MaryAnna Rose, Author

The biggest help I’ve found is to turn off my internal editor for the first draft. I will try to do writing sprints for 20-25 minutes to focus just on producing, without worrying about looking up some detail and getting distracted. If I get it on the page, I have something to work with and edit. I can’t work with a blank sheet.

Jason Joyner, Author

My advice would be to keep trying different things until you find out what works best for you. For example, if you start out writing by pantsing, give plotting a try if you’re finding out your stories have plot holes or if you’re having trouble finding the ending. Or the flip side would be, if plotting sucks the joy out of writing, try pantsing and see if that brings excitement back to your writing.

Jen Rose, Writer

Be passionate about the story you’re writing! That’s the best – and, in fact, the only – way to write something that will change readers’ lives and draw them closer to Christ. I’ve learned that if there’s a story that’s always on you’re heart, that you’re always thinking about (even in your subconscious), that you’re always feeling an urge to pray about – well, that’s the story God is calling you to write. And if we write to honor God, we’ll want to write what He wants us to write. We’ll have all the fun that way, too!

Joy C. Woodbury, Writer

Some writerly wisdom I’ve learned is to not push yourself. Pushing yourself and forcing your story to be written can be bad. But, I’ve also learned that people are different; so pushing yourself may be exactly what you need. I think my biggest piece of advice would be to figure out what best suits you and go for that.

– Kenzie, Writer

Don’t let yourself be swayed by the criticism of readers who are NOT your target audience! If you are confused or hurt by negative feedback, go to the people who DO like your writing style and ask their opinion. Not everyone likes every writing style, and it’s more important to really nail the preferences of your target audience than to try to please everyone.

Chelsea Burden, Author

The first draft isn’t going to be great. It’s just not. But you have to start somewhere. And feedback is a GOOD thing. It helps your writing be better. And it’s not a condemnation of you as a person. You have worth and value regardless of how poorly or well you write. You could never write another word and still have no less value in God’s sight.

– Nathan Peterson, Author

My advice would be “just because ‘they’ say you ‘have’ to write a certain way or should ‘never’ use certain kinds of words, doesn’t make it true. Read the tried and true classics that have stood the test of time. Did those authors follow all the new rules?

Rebekah Morris, Author

*Here’s something Rebekah wrote about the “they”. You’ll find it helpful.

My advice would be completely surrender your book to God. His will for the book is so much better than we can imagine! It might not mean it’ll be a bestseller, but it means God will be with you as you write your story, and even if your story doesn’t work out, you can get to know God better while working on the story if you give it all to Him.

Also, don’t have unrealistic expectations, and be willing to take a break and muse on your story from time to time.

– Charis, Author

3) Write a lot. Practice writing whenever you can, whether you feel like your work is a masterpiece or garbage. The more you write, the more your skills improve. (2) Read a lot. Read books both in and outside of your genre by authors you want to emulate. Notice everything. You’ll learn so much about writing by reading quality books. (1) Pray and meditate on God’s Word day and night. Let God write the book through you. As you seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things shall be added unto you.

Erika Matthews, Author

Write consistently. Writing on a consistent basis—whether that’s daily, weekly, or monthly is much easier (at least for me) than sporadic writing. When I’m writing consistently, I find the story flows much better, I have more fun, and I actually remember details from the book I’m working on. Because when I’m not writing on a regular basis, I lose momentum in my project (and forget what the story’s about).

Kristina Hall, Author

Two things I can think of right off. First was a piece of advice I heard from a speaker at a Christian writers’ conference: A writer has to be willing to walk down the street naked (not literally); in other words, a writer must be completely vulnerable. Second, I kind of disagree with the old advice, “Write what you know about.” I would add to that, “Don’t limit ‘what you know’ to your 5 senses.” I write about spiritual warfare and allegories, because I “know about” these things from my personal experience. Similarly, we are so blessed in this day and age with information about ANYTHING at our fingertips! Don’t let anyone tell you there is anything you’re not allowed to write about because of your lack of “experience”. Finally, I recently read a quote from C. S. Lewis that I love: Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.

Sarah Earlene Shere, Author

You can’t please everyone, so stop trying to. Write what God has given you, no matter who doesn’t like it (including yourself).Yes, you need thick skin in this business. But don’t pretend the rejections are painless. Even if they’re not technically, they’re going to feel personal. It’s ok. It’s ok to hurt. JUST DON’T STAY THERE!

Erudessa Goodman, Author


Which pieces of advice helped you? I know all of them reminded or taught me something. What is a piece of advice or encouragement someone has blessed you with regarding your writing?

Write with courage, write with confidence, write with conviction. And above all else, remember Who you write for.

Brief Announcement: Seeking Writerly Wisdom

What’s this? A fourth post? In one week? Isn’t that a bit excessive, Madi?

In any other circumstance, yes, I’d agree. I dislike being inundated with multiple blog posts as much as the next blogger.

HOWEVER.

On Monday, Lord willing, I hope to post a post titled Writer to Writer: Advice and Encouragement from Fellow Authors and Writers. I’m compiling advice from Christian writers and authors to fellow writers and authors. If you have a tidbit or even a few paragraphs of writerly wisdom you’d like to contribute, I’d love for you to drop a comment. If you do, please include what writing name you’d like to be listed as, as well as your blog/website for ease of compilation.

Thank you!

~ Madi

Glad Tidings Blog Tour: Book Review

Welcome to the Glad Tidings Blog Tour! Glad Tidings released July 12th. I’ll be posting a review of this book, and at the bottom, you can find the schedule of blog stops.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Twenty-five short reads inspired by themes from the Christmas story

Celebrate the true spirit of the season with this collection of five-minute holiday stories. Perfect to pair with your morning coffee or binge-read while curled up with a favorite blanket on a snowy afternoon!

From a stately mansion to a rough barn, from a cheerful fireside to a lonely mountain road, from a chaotic church pageant to the grim aftermath of war, no heart is without its burden. But no trouble is too deep to be touched by the light of love and the warmth of Christmas.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57034428-glad-tidings?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=4mOGLrsN0b&rank=5

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Glad-Tidings-Fiction-Advent-Calendar-ebook/dp/B08WK1WXBR/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=glad+tidings+by+angie+thompson&qid=1618283728&sr=8-1 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An avid reader and incurable story-spinner, Angie Thompson also enjoys volunteering in her church’s children’s program and starting (but not always finishing) various kinds of craft projects. She currently lives in central Virginia near most of her incredible family, including two parents, six brothers, one sister, and five siblings-in-law—plus four nieces, six nephews, and several assorted pets!

Get a FREE short story when you sign up for her author newsletter!

Author links:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17342653.Angie_Thompson

http://quietwaterspress.com/ 

https://www.quietwaterspress.com/newsletter


BOOK REVIEW

Rating:

4 Stars

The Review:

There is much to love about this flash fiction Advent calendar. Filled with sweet, short stories that expound upon the salvation message, God’s love and mercy, and the beauty of Christmas, grace, and gratitude, Glad Tidings holds well to its title. There are strong Biblical themes interwoven through the stories, along with many other important messages, such as not jumping to conclusions, giving everything your all, and waiting for God’s direction and guidance.

There are instances of mild violence, which include characters being shot, an officer being harmed in the line of duty, and a burglary. There are little to no details provided. Other elements to note include a character dealing with a painful breakup and a character being falsely accused. I would have liked certain stories – Glad Tidings, Star, Adore, Gifts, and Shepherds, to be expounded upon or even turned into novellas or full-length novels (hint, hint). The listed flash fictions were my favorite, with the list being topped by Shepherds.

If you’re looking for a sweet set of flash fiction stories revolving around Christmas, consider Glad Tidings.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Schedule

19th: 

Tara | Tower in the Plains

Becky Dempsey | Blossoms and Blessings

Chelsea Burden | Sheep Among Wolves Publishing

Abby Elissa | Abby Elissa’s Writings

20th:

Kelly Barr | Kelly F Barr

Rebekah Morris | Read Another Page

21st:

Abigail Kay Harris | Read Review Rejoice

Rachel Rossano | Rachel Rossano

22nd:

Erika Mathews | Resting Life

Brianna Harpel | Spread the Spark

Madisyn | Madi’s Musings

23rd:

Ebos Aifuobhokhan | Batya’s Bits 

Natalie Claire | Kenmore Pines

Katja | Old-Fashioned Book Love

24th:

Emily Harris | E.J.’s Journal

Kylie Hunt – The Film Director’s Wife

25th:

Ryana Lynn | Life of Heritage Corner