Friday, July 29, 2016

What Tolkien Means to Me

One day, when I was a wee thing of 10 years old, my mom and brother were settling in to watch a new movie called Fellowship of the Ring. I asked if I may join, and they decided it would be all right as long as I closed my eyes during a few parts. Happily, I flopped next to them, ready to watch. And thus began the journey of my life.

I had always liked fantasy-esque things. Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland and fairytale Disney movies were my loves. But as a story full of battles and magic rings and gruesome creatures and beautiful elves and brave heroes and good vs. evil played before my eyes, that little bloom of enjoyment for the fantastical blossomed. That one movie brought out my greatest love: Fantasy.

As the credits rolled, I sat stunned. Never had I seen something so amazing. So deep and wondrous.

Immediately, I took up The Hobbit book. Oh! The magic inside that little story. A single tale of a little hobbit befriending a group of dwarves and exploring the big world and looking upon the face of a dragon changed my own world forever.

Our first and much loved copy of The Hobbit.

Just a year previously, when I was 9, I started writing my first book. I had never written before, but I loved reading and stories, and it occurred to me I should try my hand at creating my own tales. This first, 9-year-old story was about a girl in modern times who befriends a horse and. . .well, there wasn’t much plot. (Yep, a girl and her horse story. Haven’t we all written one of those when we were little? XD)

Then I was introduced to Tolkien’s stories.

That girl-and-her-horse story was the first and last contemporary I ever wrote.

My next story was about a girl who fell through a mirror into a fantasy world. And I’ve been writing fantasy stories, in some form or fashion, ever since.

After gobbling up The Hobbit as fast as possible, I read Lord of the Rings. I saw the next two movies in theaters, and proceeded to watch all three of them 29348739434 times once they were out on DVD. I read The Hobbit over and over and over again, and Lord of the Rings a few times more as well. I screeched when they announced they were making movies for The Hobbit. I wrote more fantasy stories, and searched the world over for more fantasy books to read, and pretended I was an elf (okay, still do that *cough*), and dragons replaced horses as my favorite animal (also still claim that). Out of the 400+ books on my bookshelves, almost every single one could be placed under the fantasy genre. I’ve only ever written 2 non-fantasy stories that I can think of. (One being my first story when I was 9, the other a weird dystopian.)

Most of my Tolkien paraphernalia.

It wasn’t just an obsession, it became life.

Had I not discovered Tolkien’s stories, I might have decided writing was boring and never wrote anything beyond my girl-and-horse story. My shelves might not be filled with dozens and dozens of fantastical books. My entire world might be utterly different.

If it wasn’t for Tolkien, I might never have discovered my love for fantasy.

If it wasn’t for Tolkien, I might never have discovered me.

Because fantasy stories aren’t just a hobby. They’re a part of me. The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings—those stories shaped me into who I am. For some, they’re just entertainment. And that’s okay. But for me, they’re so, so much more.

Now, I’m not the studious type. My memory may as well be non-existent for all the good it does me. I can’t say I’m extremely knowledgeable about all that goes on in Tolkien’s vast world. I can’t claim to be a Middle Earth history professor. Sheesh, I can’t remember what all happens in my own stories. So I might not know all there is to know about these stories and the world they’re set in, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less.

They were a springboard to the life I lead. To shaping Christine into the fantasy-loving, dragon-wanting, elf-crazed, avid reader, ridiculous blogger, crazy writer that she is.

God used Tolkien to shape me into me. And that’s what Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien means to me.

Are there any stories that have helped shape your life?
Any fellow Tolkienites out there? (I KNOW there are.)
Which Tolkien story is your favorite? What about favorite
Middle Earth movie? COME. FANGIRL WITH ME.

Note: To close The Silmarillion Awards that has been sweeping across the blogsphere this month, the host, Jenelle Schmidt, is inviting everyone to celebrate Lord of the Rings’ 62nd birthday today on their blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, anywhere and everywhere! Be sure to use the hashtag #SilmAwards2016. And once you’ve posted, stop by Jenelle’s post to add your link on the linkup widget!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Beautiful People - The Dragon {July 2016}

Time for Sky and Cait's Beautiful People monthly linkup again! And I’m joining in on the very last week of the month, like I do. Is anyone surprised? I didn’t think so. But I REFUSED to let this month go by without doing it. I love this round of questions! If you haven’t joined in yet either, you can do so by hopping over to Sky's post or Cait's, snag the questions, linkup, all that good stuff!

So something tragic occurred to me. Out of all the BP posts I’ve done, I’ve never actually done one for my Beast character from Burning Thorns! Like. . .HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED??? It’s a Beauty and the Beast story, I’ve done my Beauty character more than once. But Beast? NOPE. SO TODAY WE ARE FIXING THAT. These questions suited him perfectly. I’m quite excited!

Allow me to introduce you to the Beast a.k.a the Dragon. . .

    Keeping the weapon high, he used his other hand to wrench Rose to her feet. “Get out of here!”
    Their eyes locked, hers wild and fearful, but hesitant. A dark fae’s sharp claws ripped into his shoulder, tearing his cloak.
“Dragon!” Rose shrieked.
Growling in more frustration than pain, he slashed the blade through the creature’s chest, then shoved Rose behind him.
“Go to the castle.”
She kept her hands cupped against her chest, lips trembling. “But you—”
“You’ll be safe there. Go!”
Without another word, she spun and sprinted down the muddy path. One of the creatures loped after her but the Beast snatched it by the back of its leathery neck. He drove the dagger into its back, making a red spot, searing like coals. He did not wait to watch the body disintegrate to mist.
Turning to the others, he snatched off his half mask and looked right into their dark, gleaming eyes. At their misshapen bodies, once so beautiful. Now monstrous. Like him.
They moved back as one, hissing quietly.
“Leave!” he roared. “You will not come here again!”
He swiped the blade before them. Their hissing turned to screeches. They sunk into the ground and seeped into the shadows, not even leaving a print in the mud behind.
The Beast stood alone, the only sound his own labored breaths.
He stared at his shadow stretching into the depth of the Forest, casting darkness even upon the bright roses encircling him. His fingers crinkled the mask in his hand. No matter how hard he tried to hide it, he would still be a beast. No mask could change that.
He was the Dragon.

~ The Dragon ~

1. Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?
He’s put a lot of thought into marriage buuuut more for the convenience of it, not for love. And for fear of spoilers, let’s just say this gets him in trouble. To put it lightly. . . *cough*

Children? Hm. I don’t think he’s opposed to the idea, but he hasn’t put great thought in it. He’d probably be fine with children as long as he can promise them a good life. He wouldn’t want to bring children into the life he had to live.

2. What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)
He is his weapon. Swords and such don’t need to be bothered with when he can easily kill anything with his own hands.

He is a beast, you have to remember. *smile, smile* Though he does have a certain iron dagger that gets used on occasion. . .

3. What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?
Well, the nicest thing is extreme spoilers. We’re talking serious spoilers, guys! So let’s just go with something nice, instead of nicEST.

Where I’m working on the book right now, he’s been secretly putting a single white rose on Rose’s doorstep every single morning to show he still cares. Because last he saw her he may or may not have threatened to kill her. Hey, ALL couples have their problems! Psh.

4. Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?


Let’s just say the Dragon has a teeny tiny bit of a temper, that maybe sorta caused him to kill almost an entire horde of knights AND catch his entire garden on fire. BUT HE WAS HAVING A BAD DAY. We all have those, am I right?

But, er, yes, he’s been physically violent on many an occasion. He’s a temperamental little dragon and his life stinks. Can we really blame him?

5. Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?
My immediate answer was REBEL. But you know what? He’s really not a rebel. He’s almost worse. Because he uses the rules for his own manipulative purposes. Yes, he tends to follow the rules, but he hates them and makes sure they serve him instead of vice versa.

6. Are they organized or messy?
The Dragon is a total neat-freak and can be so OCD. He basically spends his life polishing his castle to the point that you might slip and die on his ridiculously shiny floors.

Buuuut, on the other hand, when he has one of his tempers the furniture suffers. If you see him hurling a chair or something at the wall you’re probably gonna want to run.

7. What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?
Well, this question hits the feels.

People seeing past his monstrous nature, seeing him as a person, not a beast, is the greatest love he can receive. And Rose was the last person to ever do that.

Before then, his parents always showed him love.

Basically, there have only ever been 3 (well, sorta 4) people in his entire life who have ever loved him. (No, I’m not crying, it’s just raining on my face.)

8. What do they eat for breakfast?
If he actually remembers to eat breakfast (which he often doesn’t), he has an enormous selection to choose from every morning, from sweets to fruit to meat to. . .pretty much anything you can think of. Perks of living in an enchanted castle that magically provides a ginormous meal in the dining room every day.

Usually he opts for the sausages. He’s a guy. Gotta have his meat.

9. Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?
Ugh, these questions. *sniffs*

Both his parents are dead. His father died fighting in a war that happened between their kingdom and another, and his mother died from grief soon after.

Because of said war and hard times, he’s witnessed a lot of death through his life.

10. What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)
The Dragon really doesn’t think about food that often. It’s never his priority.

His greatest treat is a peaceful night’s sleep, when all his warring thoughts aren’t plaguing his mind and he can just rest. Of course, nightmares get in the way a lot. But just being unconscious from the world for a little while is quite a treat for him.

~ ~ ~

Okay, so, my Beast may be wee bit tragic. And I’m really not making his life any better. But I’m a writer. IT’S WHAT WE DO.

So what do you think of my Beastie? Tell me about
one of your most tragic characters! (Because I know we
all have them.) Have you joined in Beautiful People this month??

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Rose and the Balloon Cover Reveal!

What is thisss? Two posts in one week? I know, it’s a miracle! But this week is chock-full of delightful bookish news that needs to be screamed and flailed over. Monday I got to share that wonderful interview with C.B. Cook about her new book Twinepathy. And TODAY, I have the thrill of revealing the cover for a novella my dear friend Kirsten Fichter (a.k.a Kiri Liz) is soon to be releasing! And did I mention this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling? *cue the squealing*

Oh, you thought you were going to get to see the cover right away? Ha! Like I’d give it to you that easily. First let me introduce you to the beautiful author herself.


Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel.

In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Visit her: Blog | Twitter | GoodReads


OKAY. Are you ready?

Are you sure?

Are you positively absolutely sure?

Don’t you want to wait a bit longer?

And just keep scrolling.

And scrolling. . .

. . .

And scrolling. . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

Okay, okay! HERE IT IS:


In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn't even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father's rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there's a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father's beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you've never seen it before.

GoodReads | Pinterest Board 

~ ~ ~

Excuse me while I go drool for a few million years or so. Is that not the most gorgeous thing EVER??? And the story inside is just as beautiful or more! Trust me, this is a tale you’re going to want to read.

“But when can I get my hands on this scrumptiousness?” you ask. DO NOT WORRY. I have the answer, my impatient friends. The Rose and the Balloon is being released on. . .

August 1st

That’s less than two weeks away, people! Are you excited? BECAUSE I AM EXCITED.

Give me your thoughts! Is that not a most
drool-worthy cover? Not to mention the story itself! Do you
enjoy fairytale retellings? (I think we all know my feelings on them.)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Interview with C.B. Cook

I have something special for you guys today! Author C.B. Cook has just released her novel, Twinepathy. And I’ve had the wonderful honor of interviewing her and getting some delicious peeks on her writing and this new book. Are you excited? BECAUSE I’M EXCITED.



C.B. Cook is just a girl trying to find out where her King
is guiding her, while writing the stories of the people she creates,
the worlds she wants to live in, and the adventures she dreams
about. Also known as a mysterious creature called an "author".
She's a Christian and a home school graduate dedicated to
changing others’ lives through the power of the written word.

Learn more about her on her blog: The World of the Writer



Albany York has a secret.

Albany and her twin sister, Brooklyn, have spent years successfully hiding their telepathic connection. But when a girl falls unconscious at their doorstep, the girls learn that they might not be the only people in the world with extraordinary powers and that a memory thief is on the loose. As the twins try to help the girl find her memories, they discover that the superhero world might be bigger—and more dangerous—than they ever imagined.


GoodReads | Amazon



What first made you decide to write a superpower book?
A few years ago, I was introduced to superheroes and Marvel movies through The Avengers. . .and I was hooked. I learned more about superpowers, and before long, I was making up my own superheroes. And of course they needed their own stories.

What was the best and hardest part about writing Twinepathy?
The best part was exploring the characters and their powers. Some of them have hardly used their powers, and others rely on their powers so much that they've become an integral part of who they are. The hardest part was revisions. I can do grammar edits all day, but plot changes are the worst. But this book never would have turned out like it did without them!

How did each main character come about? Do you have any particular favorites? Any that proved difficult to write?
Albany, Brooklyn, and Jen were actually all products of role plays with one of my friends. Albany was actually Steve Rogers' daughter before she got Brooklyn and became a "real" character! Jen ran into the Avengers as well. I don't quite remember how Blaze came along, but I know for sure that Maddie was part of an idea I had—what if one of the strongest characters was really young? It's hard to pick favorites, but I have to say that Jen and Blaze both hold special places in my heart, as does Maddie. And Anvil. And Keller. And. . . I'll stop. Brooklyn was a little difficult, but honestly, the hardest person for me to write is a spoiler.

Which character would you say you relate to the most, and why?
I'd say I relate most to Jen, because she likes to think. But most of the characters have pieces of me in them.

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. What are your favorite and least favorite parts?
For Twinepathy, I just skipped the plotting stage and went right into writing, since I already knew some of the characters from role plays. After I finished, I did some proofreading and editing with the help of my friends, then sent it off to beta readers. My favorite part has to be the actual writing—exploring character roles and powers and making up situations for the characters. My least favorite part is plot editing. Filling in plot holes can get very tiring.

What do you hope people will take away from Twinepathy?
I hope that people will discover part of themselves in the characters, and that they'll realize that you can have a good story without inappropriate content. Most of all, I hope that they'll enjoy the story and take away something that will help them in real life.

~ ~ ~

Thank you for being on my blog today, C.B.! I cannot wait to read Twinepathy.

I mean, GUYS. A memory thief, telepathic twins, inspiration by Marvel. Doesn’t this just scream COOLEST. THING. EVER??? Don’t forget to add it on GoodReads, and get yourself a copy over at Amazon. Right now it’s available on Kindle, but I think a paperback version will be out soon!

And do join in on the rest of the blog tour. More author interviews, book reviews, and even character interviews will be happening all week!



July 17th
The Depth of my Faith – Character and Author Interview
Beyond the Amethyst – Book Review

July 18th
Musings of an Elf – Author Interview
The Road of a Writer – Book Review

July 19th
Lights and Shadows – Author Interview
Lilyorphaned – Book Review

July 20th
Breathing in the Pages – Book Review
Writinganyone – Character Interview and Book Review
Writefury – Character Interview

July 21st
Claire M. Banschbach – Author Interview
Sherwood Storyteller – Author Interview

July 22nd
The Art of Writing for Him – Book Review
Elvish Pen’s Fantastical Writings – Author Interview and Book Review

July 23rd
Thoughts of a Word Collector – Author Interview
Thriving Hope – Book Review


Who NEEDS this book in their life? (*waves hand in the air*
Me, me, me!) Do you like superhero stories? Have you
ever read any before? And, just for fun, what
kind of superpower would YOU want?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag {2016}

So apparently 2016 is halfway over and EXCUSE ME HOW DID THIS HAPPEN I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS. Shouldn’t it be like February still? Or at least March? Or NOT JULY??


Since 2016 is being all rude and halfway over now (actually halfway plus a little over a week over but DETAILS), I’m joining in on the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag. Because BOOKS. And MID-YEAR. AND FREAKING OUT.

Humongous thanks to my girl Deborah @ The Page Dreamer for passing this my way. Basically the point of this is to answer questions about the books you’ve read during the first half of the year. Just another excuse for me to flail about books! LIKE I DO.

From January 1st to June 30th I’ve officially read 20 books. Whiiiiich isn’t a whole lot, to be honest. Turns out when you get older you have RESPONSIBILITIES and can’t stay up to 3 a.m. reading. (Not that I did that when I was young, noooo.) Also I’ve read a fair amount of larger books this year, so we can blame that as well. Yes? Yes. (Or I’ve just been watching a lot of Doctor Who during the times I could be reading BUT YA KNOW.)


And, if you’re feeling especially nosy, you can check out my 2016 READS SHELF on GoodReads to see them all listed and with my ratings and all that fun stuff.

(All links and book covers lead to their respective GoodReads pages.)

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2016
CRESS. I mean, I adored the whole Lunar Chronicles (SO MUCH ADORE) but Cress was hands down my favoritest of them all.

It was so feelsy and hilarious and has my newest favorite baby children (*pets Cress and Thorne*) and so much was happening. And just GAH. I LOVED IT SO MUCH.

But almost ALL the books I’ve read so far have been marvelous. 2106 is proving to be a good reading year!

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2016
Erm. . . I haven’t actually read a sequel, per se. I’ve read a couple of series though. So would the second book of a series count as the “sequel”?? (I DON’T KNOW THINGS.) In which case I’ll go with Scarlet. Which was the second book in the Lunar Chronicles, and, to be honest, my least favorite of the series. But it was still fantastic! The others were just even BETTER.

3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to
*falls over* SO MANY HALP.

Okay, so I’m bad and not always up to date on what’s releasing when or not. But I do know there are like a hundred thousand books out there I want to read, and many of them are new. The first one that pops to mind is King’s Folly by Jill Williamson, who happens to be one of my top favorite authors. And King’s Folly takes place in the same world as my favorite series by her, the Blood of King’s trilogy. SO YES I NEED THIS NOW.

OH. And I also desperately need A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Another author I’m completely in love with. And this story is a loose retelling of the TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES, which happens to be my second favorite fairytale (after Beauty and the Beast) and just WHY HAVE I NOT READ THIS BOOK YET???


4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Like I said, my ability to actually pay attention to dates is severely lacking. But I am super de duper looking forward to the Five Magic Spindles collection, which releases fairly soonish I think. . .? But I LOVED Rooglewood Press’s first two fairytale collections, and this one sounds. . .different. I’m extremely curious about it!

And this cover may be the greatest thing my
eyeballs have ever seen. O_O

5. Biggest disappointment
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. With all the hype, I was expecting it to be really good but. . .meh. I didn’t really like it. At all. I felt nothing for the characters, the plot never seemed to be going anywhere, not to mention the language that should have not been there. Blergh. It was just disappointing all around.

6. Biggest surprise
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Not only was I shocked how addicted I got to it (this coming from the girl who barely ever reads contemporaries), it was also just SURPRISING. Dat ending. *falls over* I’ll never recover!

(Although, I can’t say I recommend it because it, too, had language everywhere that completely ruined what otherwise was an amazing book. WHY must these secular authors put language eeeverywhere for impressionable teens? I ASK YOU. I keep wanting to read secular books but realize I don’t need to because LANGUAGE. EVERYWHERE But, erm, let us not get into that rant. *cough*)

7. Favorite new author
New as in an author that has debuted this year, or new as in new to me? I’m going to have to go with the latter, either way, because I haven’t actually read any books by an author who debuted this year yet. . .

But let’s say Rick Riordan. Yes, I only just read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for the first time this year and WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG? That series was golden! Hilarious and fun and full of totally squishable character and just CALL ME A NEW MEMBER OF CAMP HALF-BLOOD.

I absolutely plan on reading more Rick Riordan in the future!

8. Newest fictional crush/ship
I’ve been screaming their names any chance I get since reading the Lunar Chronicles, so you can probably guess by now, BUT DON’T THINK I WON’T SAY IT AGAIN.


Cress is the most precious, awkward, hopeless little romantic in all the galaxies. While Thorne is that ever loveable cocky, sarcastic rogue with a heart of gold deep down and JUST LET ME SQUEEZE THEM.

Totally adorable fanart of my bbys.

But also Percy and Annabeth from the Percy Jackson books. The shipping was hard people. Very hard. They were both so awkward and I was giggling alllll the way through. #percabethforever


Okay, let’s be real here. . .

Way more accurate interpretation.
Percy all confused, Annabeth annoyed. Yes.

9. Newest favorite character
Erm. . . Cress. (SURPRISED?) But also Thorne. Like I can choose between them. I DON’T THINK SO.

But let it be known I also totally and completely adored Winter from that series as well.

10. Book that made you cry

And, now that I think of it, Japhet and Franz, the two main characters from this book, also go on my list of newest favorite characters. MY PRECIOUS BOYS.

11. Book that made you happy
Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal. It’s sunshine rolled into a book and never ceases to make me smile.

12. Favorite book to film adaption you saw this year
Does Alice Through the Looking Glass count? Even though it’s not the actual book but a sequel to the books. BUT JUST LET ME FLAIL BECAUSE THAT MOVIE WAS PERFECTION. A lot of people seem to say it dishonored the original stories. . .? I totally disagree. ME. The girl unhealthily obsessed with Alice in Wonderland! I HAVE MANY THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT. Buuuut, that’s a discussion for another time. *grins*

I also saw The Jungle Book and quite enjoyed it. Though. . .I’ve never actually read the original book. Oops?

And I want to see The 5th Wave movie because I’ve heard some people say it made up for the book’s meh-ness. But I sadly haven’t yet.

13. Favorite post you have done so far this year
Oh, wow. Um. . . *glances at list of posts*

Well, here’s a few I rather like:

-Thank You (A personal thank you to Jesus for that Ultimate Sacrifice He gave.)
-The Circle of Creativity (A look into a way to refill our creative barrels.)
-7 Elements I Love to Write (My favoritest things to write!)

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year
*writhes on floor moaning* SO MANY PRETTY THIIINGS.

Prooobably either Illusionarium, Winter, or Paper Crowns. JUST ALL THE GORGEOUSNESS.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of this year

No, like, all. of. them.

You know at this point I think I own more books I haven’t read than have? NOT KIDDING. Between a humongous library sale in April and bookstores and thrifting and such, I AM DROWNING IN BOOKS. (And not complaining a wee little bit.) So. . .I don’t even know. There’s probably hundreds I need to read!

Some I’d like to get to soonish possibly maybe would be. . .

The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight. It’s a tragedy I have not read those yet! I’d also really like to finish The Safe Lands trilogy by Jill Williamson. I’ve read the first one but not the other two, even though they’re literally sitting on my shelves. What is wrong with me?? The Book Thief is also one I very shamefully haven’t read yet and want to quite soon! Yet another just sitting there on my shelf, staring at me, demanding I read it! AND the Divergent series. Yet again, I OWN THEM ALL. But have I read them? NOPE.

I could literally sit here for hours listing books I should read soon (and will probably continue putting off for absolutely no reason for another million years or so), but we’ll leave it at that.

~ ~ ~

Whew! That was long I know, but once you get me talking about books there is no end. *cackles*

Now it’s time to pass this lovely thing on. . .


Katie Grace @ A Writer's Faith | Skye @ Ink Castles
Lisa @ Pickle's Pen and Trinkets | Jameson @ Lovely Whatsoevers |
Victoria @ Wanderer's Pen + ANYONE else who wants to join!

Obviously no obligation at all to participate, especially since the mid-year mark is getting away from us. *glares at Time and its hastiness*

OKAY. Are you totally in shock that the year is
HALFWAY OVER? *dies* How is reading going this year?
What is your FAVORITE book you’ve read so far??
Come, gush about books with meeee!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Brothers-in-Arms Book Review


Franz Kappel and Japhet Buchanan never expected their friendship to be tested by the Third Reich. Friends from early childhood, the boys form an inseparable, brotherly bond. Growing up in a little German village, they escape most of the struggles of war until the day Japhet is banished from school for being a Jew, and later has a rib broken when other village boys beat him up. Franz learns he is putting himself in danger for spending so much time with Japhet but continues to stand up for his Jewish friend even at the risk to himself. Then one day their lives are shattered when they see first-hand that the price of being a Jew is dangerously high.
With the war now on their doorsteps, Franz and Japhet come up with a desperate plan to save their families and get them out of Germany alive. Leaving behind the lives they've always known, they move into Berlin with nothing to protect them but forged papers and each other. Convinced their friendship can keep them going, the boys try and make a new life for themselves while trying to keep their true identities and Japhet's heritage a secret. Taking his best friend's safety upon himself, Franz joins the Nazis in an attempt to get valuable information. At the same time, Japhet joins the Jewish Resistance, neither friend telling the other of their new occupations.

With everyone in their world telling them a Nazi and a Jew can't be friends, it is only a matter of time before they believe all the lies themselves, until neither is certain if they are fighting against a race of people or fighting for their homeland. Somehow they have to survive the horrors of World War II, even when all of Germany seems to be against them.

Amazon | GoodReads | Author's Blog

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Ooooh, this book! Will I ever recover from it? Probably not.

Some books you read, enjoy, and then move on from. But then there are those books that stick with you. That invade your thoughts, your heart, and refuse to leave. That have events and characters so real you refuse to believe they’re anything but real, and they become imprinted in your heart forever.

Brothers-in-Arms was one of those books.

I’ve been following Jack’s blog for many years now and watching her progress of this book. She said it pained her to write it, I had fair warning it would be emotional, but nothing could have prepared me for the feels-inducing punch that was this book.

Now, let it be known I’m not a huge historical fiction reader. On occasion, yes (I was a total American Girls books nerd when I was little), but in general I stick with my weird fantasy books. So just the fact that I loved this one SO MUCH speaks of its amazingness already.

What first drew me to this story was the fact that it’s a buddy story. I LOVE buddy stories. You honestly can’t beat a story about two besties being hilarious and awesome together. And there’s something especially appealing about two guys being total buds. I DON’T KNOW WHY. But it’s so FUN. I mean, Shawn and Gus from the TV show Psych, STEVE ROGERS AND BUCKY (*sobs*), Sherlock and John—the list goes on and on. Japhet and Franz, our two protagonists, fit right into that list. This is the type of buddy story that will tug your heart (and by tug I mean rip out into tiny shreds) and stay with you forever.

This book had some of the most loveable characters I’ve ever read, and immediately went on my list of favorite-characters-whom-I-will-love-and-squish-and-call-Bob-forever.

The story’s core focus is Japhet and Franz. When they were little, their families thrust them together. Once each discovered the other had a ton of older sisters, they immediately formed a bond of sympathy and understanding. And thus the greatest friendship of all time was born. Japhet is the more talkative, outgoing one, while Franz stays a little subdued but is loyal to a fault and has that big brother, protective personality. Together they’re unstoppable.

Jack did such a marvelous job of making these two boys through and through. They’re constantly wrestling and causing pranks and getting into all sorts of delightful trouble. I also adored their families and how everyone got along and was so precious and fun.

Everything seems fine and wonderful and then. . .World War II breaks loose. Worse yet, Japhet and his family are Jews. And Franz. . .is not. If you can’t guess already, this causes problems. Their lives start deteriorating and just HOLD MY HEART BECAUSE NOT MY BABIES. D:

Once they’re teenagers, they decide to move together into Berlin under fake identities to try and raise money and get information that will help get their families out of the country to safety. But the war has already started making its mark. People get in their heads, telling them over and over again a Jew and non-Jew can’t be friends. Life gets steadily worse by the day, until they begin wondering if anything they’re doing is right.

At first I found the plot pretty slow and felt like not much was happening. Just the day and life of Japhet and Franz. Then, about halfway through, I realized: That’s the point. This is not an action-packed war book. This is a FRIENDS story. A tale about how a Jew and non-Jew went against everything the world was telling them to keep their friendship. Yes, some parts were a little slow, but you really don’t even care because you love Japhet and Franz so much you want to follow their lives, little events and big. You want to be there as they play pranks on the schoolboys or attempt to cook Christmas dinner. This story is not about the plot, it’s about the characters. The characters are the plot.

But don’t get me wrong! There’s still plenty of action and suspense, to the point where I was constantly nervous for my boys. Sometimes I felt like they got out of situations a little too easily, but I was always so relieved I didn’t even care.

Delightfully, there are even more loveable characters as well! Such as Jimmy, the American pilot, whom I loved nearly as much as Japhet and Franz. (Seriously, I wanted him to have his own book!) And Sam, Jimmy’s copilot, who was always happy-go-lucky and IRISH. Instant love. Basically every single person in this book was a precious baby I wanted to hug and assure everything would be all right even though everything was most certainly NOT ALL RIGHT.

The writing style is very simplistic and easy to read. So even though it’s a 444 page book, you’re flying through the pages so fast it doesn’t seem that thick at all. Sometimes this type of straightforward writing isn’t my favorite, but it perfectly worked for this story. I honestly couldn’t imagine it written any other way.

This is also a Christian book, but the Christianity parts were actually few and far between and in no way in your face. It worked very well, because as the war went on, Japhet and Franz began to lose their faith, thus they didn’t think about God much. So you’d often go many, many chapters without any mention of God. But then when God did return. . .oh, the POWER. The Christian message was beautifully done.

Content Cautions
I’d probably suggest this for ages 15 and up due to some torture scenes. Jack was very good in not getting graphic, and the story didn’t get too deep into the horrors of World War II, but there were still a couple of scenes I’d be a bit iffy about letting a real young person read.

Otherwise, it was squeaky clean. No crude language, no inappropriate scenes. In fact, there was next to no romance, which I found rather refreshing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy a sprinkling of romance in my books, but it seems to be the law these days that every story EVER has to have romance all over the place. So it was nice having a story where the focus was friendship, not romances.

I love stories that make me feel. I crave them! And Brothers-in-Arms. . .wow. It was one of the most emotional books I’ve ever read, and I say that with the highest of compliments. This story made me burst into laughter, and grin to myself, and brought tears to my eyes, and by the climax had me wanting to just lay on the floor and sob for the next 52 years or so. It was painful and powerful and utterly beautiful.

Originally I had rated it 4 stars due to the slow plot and simplistic writing, but after much pondering I realized a book with a friendship this amazing, characters this loveable, and with a story that has stuck with me from the moment I closed it, deserves all the stars it can get.

5 out of 5 stars

Have your read Brothers-in-Arms? If not, are you going
to now??? (*uses the force* Yes, yes you will.) Do you like
historical fiction? And do you like buddy stories?
Who’s your favorite dynamic duo in fiction??

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