Tag Archives: YA speculative fiction

Book Review: Day Moon

19 Oct

In A.D. 2039, a prodigious seventeen year old, Elliott, is assigned to work on a global soft-ware initiative his deceased grandfather helped found. Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge. All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure: a book of Shakespeare’s complete works gifted him by his grandfather. Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria. The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled “Day Moon”. When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for. There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose. Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him. Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria. All of history past and yet to be depend on it.

From an early age, Brett Armstrong had a love for literature and history. At age nine, he combined the two for his first time in a short story set in the last days of the Aztec Empire. After that, writing’s role in his life waxed and waned periodically, always a dream on the horizon, till he reached college. At West Virginia University, he entered the Computer Engineering program and spent two years pursuing that degree before an opportunity to take a creative writing class, for fun, came along. It was so enjoyable, he took another and in that course he discovered two things. The first was the plot for a short story called Destitutio Quod Remissio, which the others students really seemed to love. The second, he realized he absolutely loved writing. For him, it was like the proverbial light bulb coming on. In the years since, describing that epiphany has been difficult for him, but he found the words of 1924 Olympian Eric Liddell are the most eloquent expression for it: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” God gave Brett a passion for writing, and so feels His pleasure when writing.

After a few years passed, Brett got his Computer Engineering degree, but also completed a minor in each of his real passions: history and creative writing. In 2013, he began graduate school to earn an MA in Creative Writing. During that time he completed the novelization of Destitutio Quod Remissio and entered the 2013-2014 CrossBooks Writing Contest, which won the contest’s grand prize. As of March 2015, Brett completed his MA and is presently employed in the West Virginia Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology as a programmer analyst.

Brett lives in Saint Albans, West Virginia, with his beautiful wife, Shelly. In the summer the pair gardens together, and each day Brett continues writing his next novel.

My Impressions:

Day Moon by Brett Armstrong is a rather ambitious novel that creates a futuristic world in which all knowledge is codified in a central data bank for the good of all  mankind. At least that’s what the government is professing. In actuality Project Alexandria has a sinister side that the reader soon comes to suspect is subverting knowledge rather than making it available to all who seek it. The future is not so far away as the action takes place in 2039. Technology is pretty advanced, but not unbelievable — cars are all self-driving and consumers have had all their social and financial needs anticipated by commercial entities. It’s rather unsettling to see the world Armstrong envisions; it is just that plausible. But the insidiousness of control goes further in Project Alexander as all written word is digitalized causing the need for source materials to cease to exist. And cease to exist they become as all physical copies are destroyed. Main character Elliott is made aware of discrepancies through clues left by his deceased grandfather. As he and other friends and family embark on an adventure to uncover the truth, danger occurs around every corner. And no one can be trusted.

Day Moon explores the issue of what constitutes truth — what is given by God or dictated by humans. The danger of corruption of that truth is the main focus of this novel. The chillingly possible reality of Elliott’s world is very credible. The novel is carefully crafted and exhibits Armstrong’s knowledge of both technology and literature. While it is an action-adventure novel, it is a bit slow to develop and the language is a bit more formal than needed. I wished for a bit more activity and less thinking by the characters. Suspense is maintained throughout the novel — Elliott and the reader are continuously kept off balance. The book is the first in the series, so while some things are resolved, Elliott’s quest is not concluded. A strong Christian message is woven throughout the novel, a welcome addition to YA speculative fiction.

All in all, Day Moon is an interesting novel. Although a bit slow, it is nevertheless worth a look by those who like this genre.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE. (It is currently 99 cents on Kindle!)

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



2017 Christy Award Finalists

21 Sep

Congratulations to all the finalists of the 2017 Christy Awards. The winners will be announced November 8, 2017.



Her One And Only by Becky Wade

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren


Counted with The Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart


Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore


Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

The Mark of The King by Jocelyn Green

Miriam by Mesu Andrews


A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

The Lady And The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof


If I Run by Terri Blackstock

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Without Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg


Looking Into You by Chris Fabry

Mirror Image by Laura Scott

Restoring Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti


The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim

King’s Folly by Jill Williamson

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James Rubart


If You’re Gone by Brittany Goodwin

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Unblemished by Sara Ella




Book Review: The Sacred Scarred

12 Apr

“Beauty can indeed come from ashes.” Calysta Daniels met Brendan Keefe at a time when she was embracing the true meaning of beauty and he was becoming the embodiment of a beast. Several years later, their paths crossed once again, and she agreed to a strange request to save her father from imprisonment: to live under the beast’s roof for four years. It didn’t take long for him to realize that there was something about her that a part of him hated – something sacred threatening to expose all his scars. Scarred as they both were, she was holding on to a secret that kept her sacred, while he was holding on to a past that kept him scarred. Thus, the battle of wills raged within the beauty and the beast over what price had to be paid to make a person truly beautiful.




Joanna Alonzo is a walking paradox. She is a beautiful, albeit messy, mixture of thought and emotion, expressed in the form of hopefully readable – and relatable – stories. She is a kingdom kid, who looks forward to being a writer and storyteller even when she reaches heaven. She is passionate about the unreached, about those who have yet to know the Love she found in the arms of the Almighty. She is intrigued by the world and its people, who day by day, continue to convince her that God is the greatest Storyteller of all.


My Impressions:

With all the buzz surrounding the release of Disney’s newest imagining of The Beauty And The Beast (my favorite childhood fairy tale) comes the advent of various retellings of the story in novel form. Joanna Alonzo, author of The Sacred Scarred, has written a contemporary version with a Christian twist. She takes very messy lives and weaves them into a modern-day fairy tale with the power of God at the center. The result is an edgy YA novel.

Both Calysta and Brendan are the products of very dysfunctional families. Yet the paths they find themselves on are very different. One chooses hope in God; the other the pursuit of perfection. Their self-inflicted scars mar their lives, but God’s healing is there for them if they will just accept it.

The Sacred Scarred, with its characters and situations, definitely has a YA vibe to it. Readers in the targeted audience (older high school to young adult) will identify with the struggles the characters face. The dysfunction of the families was at times difficult to read (there is a lot of abandonment by important women in the main characters’ lives). The book takes a while to come to the familiar Beauty/Beast storyline as it sets the stage for the action. I felt the book dragged at times, and I became impatient for the real story to begin. The real story, to me, is the transformation of Brendan and his beastly attitudes and expectations. There are magical elements for those who love that about fairy tales. The theme of God’s love is very strong and prominent throughout the book. And the happily-ever-after is achieved for most involved.

While The Sacred Scarred wasn’t really a hit for me, it is an interesting spin on the Beauty/Beast story.

Audience: older teens to young adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



Book review: Cursed

7 Sep

51xkZOIVNHL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Two kingdoms. One curse. The Enchanted Rose trilogy weaves the tales of Beauty and the Beast & Sleeping Beauty into a single, seamless story. Witty and romantic, it still addresses the darker elements found in the original tales—abandonment, captivity, and true evil—resulting in a fresh take that will appeal to adults and youngsters alike. Full of well-developed characters and delightful world-building, these books are a rare treat for anyone who has ever loved fairy tales.




Rachel-on-Zipline-500px-high2aEver since she could hold a pen, R.M. ArceJaeger has been writing stories. Though her talents range from fantasy epics to campfire horror stories, she particularly adores twisting classic tales in directions that no one has ever thought of before. Her novel, Robin: Lady of Legend, is a remarkable reinvention of the mythos of Robin Hood that takes the classic tale in an entirely fresh direction.


My Impressions:

If you love fairy tales retold in interesting and creative ways, then Cursed, book 1 in the Enchanted Rose Trilogy is definitley worth checking out. R. M. ArceJaeger has taken not one, but two fairy tale classics and merged and twisted them into an entertaining story. Especially suited for YA readers, Cursed is just the opening act of a sometimes dark adventure.

Two kingdoms come together to celebrate the birth of a princess and heir. But as the fairies gather to bestow their gifts, another manipulates the ceremony for her own motives. Soon families that were rejoicing over new beginnings and alliances, are mourning broken dreams and promises. Three children, Princess Aurea, Prince Ari and fairy child Liliath, are bound together in a struggle to break free.

Fans of Sleeping Beauty and Beauty And The Beast will recognize many familiar elements in Cursed. But ArceJaeger adds her own touch with a back story of The Arrival — the advent of fairies into the land.  The fairies, ghastlies, and mythical creatures escape the destruction of their island, but find the welcome among humans has a few conditions. Magic has lost some of its potency, but there is still enough to cause blessings and curses. The fairy lore ArceJaeger creates is shared at the beginning of each chapter by experts on the subject, many with tongue-in-cheek names and credentials. She interjects humor into what sometimes is a very dark tale. There is definitely evil in this fantasy world and not just among the ghastlies. Pride, greed, and jealousy are rampant among the Kings who rule in the lands.  And Cursed is just the beginning of the story. Part one of the trilogy focuses on Crown Prince Ari of Gurion who is caught up in the revenge of a ghastly. Transformed into a beast after trying to save the life of baby Princess Aurea, he must learn to live a life of exile at a very young age. A great foundation is laid, but there is much more to come. Thankfully all three books in the trilogy are available (and are FREE for those with Kindle Unlimited).

Great for those who love fairy tales and fantasy worlds, Cursed is a recommended read.


Audience: middle school to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Book Review: Sons of Thunder

24 Apr

sonsofthunder-500k-e1426428479337Connor Merritt risks his life to save the cashier in a convenience store robbery. He’s shot three times in the torso and once in the head. He walks away without a scratch on him. Anna Wales is held captive in a government cell with no windows, one locked door, and zero way out. The next morning she’s gone without a trace. Together, the two of them will learn that God is doing something new in our time. A new age of miraculous gifts is breaking out in the world. Now a team of young people will have to learn how to use their God-given Gifts for the good of all, while an evil counterfeit arises to oppose them. Their friends and family choose sides, their commitment will be tested, and they will learn what it really means to serve God. In a classic battle of good against evil, a new kind of hero will rise to take up a mantle and a name dating back to the time of Jesus: The Sons of Thunder.


Bowen_Greenwood_2014-e1398136021277-283x300Bowen Greenwood has worked in politics and lived in Washington D.C., but his home and his heart will always be in Montana. He’s a former newspaper reporter, a backpacker and hiker, and of course a writer.

Author Interview


My Impressions: 

Bowen Greenwood has departed from his political thrillers Death of Secrets and Life of Secrets with his latest project, Sons of Thunder. A speculative, super-hero novel, this book will appeal to fans of the genre, especially YA and New Adult readers. With a strong good-guy/bad-guy tone, Greenwood explores God’s gifts.

Connor Merritt’s late night run to a convenience store turns violent as he is shot three times at close range and survives! This shocking turn of events soon lands him in a secret government facility devoted to studying supernatural abilities showing up in young adults. Determined not to be manipulated by the officials, a band calling themselves Legion rises up. But Connor is unsure just what is going on and runs. A showdown begins and Connor must choose a side.

When I think of spiritual gifts, I think of prayer, prophesy, preaching, etc. But Greenwood takes the idea and expands it to include the miraculous things Jesus did — controlling weather, teleportation,  walking on water, etc. Beginning with a clever premise, Sons of Thunder makes the reader think about gifts and the Giver. When he adds free will, it makes for a twisting and turning story that keeps the reader on his toes. Trust in God is a major theme and the characters must decide where their focus will be centered. The ending is open for more books to come.

Fun and a bit over the top (aren’t all super-hero stories), Sons of Thunder would be a great book for youth group discussions.


Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour — Rebels by Jill Williamson

29 Sep

This month the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring Jill Williamson‘s book, Rebels, the third book in her The Safe Lands series. You really need to start this series with book 1, so I will be featuring each book in the series today through Wednesday. Be sure to check out the info on the Jill and the other participants in this tour.



jillwilliamsonnewsmallJill Williamson is weird, which is probably why she writes science fiction and fantasy novels for teenagers. She grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Thankfully it was the land of the midnight sun, and she could stay up and read by the summer daylight that wouldn’t go away. But the winter months left little to do but daydream. Both hobbies set her up to be a writer.

Her debut novel, a medieval fantasy called By Darkness Hid, won an EPIC Award, a Christy Award, and was named a Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novel of 2009 by VOYA magazine. Jill has since published twelve books.
Jill loves working with teenagers and encouraging them to respect their dreams. She speaks and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer. Come visit Jill on her Facebook author page or on her website at http://www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.

Jill wrote half a book and tried–and failed–to sell it in 2004
Jill published her first novel, By Darkness Hid, in April 2009
A major theme in most of Jill’s novels is finding your purpose in life and respecting your dreams
Jill joined Stephanie Morrill on http://www.GoTeenWriters.com where they blog for teen writers five days a week
Jill is a popular speaker at writers conferences for YA and speculative fiction workshops
Jill published her first nonfiction work, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book, which she co-authored with Stephanie Morrill in 2013

Family Fiction Magazine 2012 Reader’s Choice Awards: #5 Speculative Fiction Author
Winner: 2011 Christy Award, Visionary category, To Darkness Fled (Blood of Kings, book 2)
Family Fiction Magazine 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards: #4 Speculative Fiction Author
Family Fiction Magazine 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards: #5 Book Trailer: To Darkness Fled
VOYA magazine’s Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror 2010: To Darkness Fled
Winner: 2010 Christy Award, Visionary category, By Darkness Hid (Blood of Kings, book 1)
Winner: 2010 Epic Award, By Darkness Hid
Finalist: 2010 ACFW Carol Award, By Darkness Hid
Finalist: 2010 Clive Staples Award, By Darkness Hid
Finalist: 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, By Darkness Hid
VOYA magazine’s Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror 2009: By Darkness Hid

CaptivesSafeLandsCaptivesIn a dystopian future, eighteen-year-old Levi returns from Denver City with his latest scavenged treasures and finds his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many–including his fiancée, Jem–taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe. Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams. Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late? 

See my review HERE.


9780310724254OutcastsUncovering the truth could cost them their lives.

Since entering the Safe Lands, Mason has focused on two things: finding a way to free his village from captivity, and finding a cure for the disease that ravages many within the walls of the Safe Lands. After immune-suppressive drugs go missing in the clinic, Mason discovers his coworker, Ciddah, may know more about the Safe Lands than imagined … and may have an agenda of her own. At the same time, Mason’s brother Levi is focused on a way to free the remaining Glenrock captives, while Mason’s younger brother Omar decides to take the rebellion against the Safe Lands into his own hands as a vigilante.

Soon all three brothers are being watched closely—and when Mason stumbles onto a shocking secret about the Safe Lands meds, his investigation just might get those closest to him liberated.


RebelsRebels — The remnant of Glenrock has been scattered. But they are not beaten yet.

The Safe Lands have long kept secret from their people what it means to be liberated. Mason and Omar are about to discover the truth.

Levi doesn’t want to give up on his brothers, but when Jemma is captured and becomes the Safe Lands new queen, Levi’s best option is to take up the role of The Owl that Omar began, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government.

But will The Owl be enough to safe Jemma? Will Ciddah be able to deliver Shaylinn’s babies safely underground without the help of a surgeon? And will Mason be able to keep Omar from dying as they search for a way back?

If only they could unite their efforts, together they could expose the Safe Lands lies to the people. But if they fail, they will surely die.

CSFF Blog Tour Participants

Julie Bihn
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Jeremy Harder
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Melanie @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Writer Rani
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Elizabeth Williams

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour — Outcasts by Jill Williamson

20 Jan

The folks at the CSFF Blog Tour are featuring Jill Williamson’s second book in her Safe Lands series, Outcasts. I did not read this book, but wanted everyone to have a chance to check it out, so I am posting the links to all the reviews and posting a summary of the book and info on Jill as well. You can read my review of book 1, Captives, HERE.

724247In Outcasts, the second book in Jill Williamson’s Safe Lands series, Levi finds himself not only the leader of Glenrock’s remaining people but also the head of a new rebel force called the Messengers, intent on unmasking the Safe Lands’ lies. At the same time, Mason uncovers secrets that may be more dangerous than he ever imagined. Meanwhile, Omar decides to take matters into his own hands.


Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several young adult books including the Blood of Kings trilogy, Replication, the Mission League series, and the Safe Lands trilogy. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer. She loves working with teenagers and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches.

Click on the image below to purchase a copy of this book.

Check out all of the CSFF participants links below.

Red Bissell
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Pauline Creeden
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Julie Bihn
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Melanie @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Chawna Schroeder
Jacque Stengl
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson