Saturday, May 14, 2016

Author Interview- Jaye L. Knight


When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen. 

Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.





In honor of the release of the 3rd installment of The Ilyon Chronicles, Samara's Peril, I have the pleasure of sharing a little author interview I did with Jaye. I wanted to ask a few questions that gave us a truly behind-the-scenes peek into the life and mind of this talented woman. Enjoy!




What was the very first moment that the idea for Ilyon was born? Was it a character, an image, a line?


(Jaye) It was on page 206 of DragonQuest by Donita K. Paul. Yes, I did just go and hunt it up. What a rush of memories! It was the moment where it’s discovered the my favorite character in the series is half-blooded. It’s odd that it jumped out at me the way it did. It’s not like I had never written about half-blooded characters before. But something about the moment made me pause and idea for Jace began forming in my mind. Within about 24 hours, I started writing Resistance. It all happened that fast.

(Grace) That's wonderful, sometimes great journeys are begun at a moment's notice. But then you look back and realize a lot of little moments and experiences were leading up to this point of creating something beautiful. Ilyon was a seed in your heart that was just waiting for the right time to bloom. And your fans are so glad that it did!



Who is your favorite book character that you have ever written? This includes characters from your previous two series Pirates of Faith and Makilien Trilogy.


(Jaye) Jace. Definitely Jace. While I do adore many of my other characters, such as almost everyone in Ilyon Chronicles, Sirion from Makilien, and Justin and Kyle from my Pirates books, I don’t think any character will ever top Jace. There’s something special about him and how I relate to him. Probably because so much of him came from difficult periods of my life. I think he will always mean more to me personally than any other character.



(Grace) I have read all of your series and I would have picked Jace as your favorite. There is an emotional depth to him that is unlike any of your other characters. No one makes me feel as much as Jace does, I have literally felt painful and sick over him. But he also brings me great joy. I, along with many of your other fans love him so much.

If a character from one of your favorite TV shows could make a guest appearance in Ilyon, who would it be and why? What would they do?


(Jaye) Oh my, so many choices. I think Daryl from The Walking Dead (yes, I am a Walking Dead fan) would fit in well with the Resistance group. He’s a lot like Jace, actually. A broken individual with a great heart. They would probably get along really well. He would definitely be a good asset to them. Another part of me gets positively gleeful at the thought of Raymond Reddington from The Blacklist going up against Emperor Daican. I think he would drive Daican insane. For all Blacklist fans, would that not be delightful to see?



(Grace) *heads to google to look up shows that she has never seen* Awesome!

What's your go-to writing snack?


(Jaye) Sadly, I haven’t discovered one yet since I went gluten free. It’s not as easy to find quick snacks like that. But, before I had to go GF, my favorite writing snack was cheddar Combos pretzels. I miss them SO MUCH.



(Grace) You have my sympathy, food is one of the best things in the world.

What's the hardest experience in your personal life that you in turn put into your writing?


(Jaye) I come from a special needs family. My youngest brother has Asperger’s syndrome and OCD. It has led to some very difficult times for us as a family. This is along with a lot of medical problems I’ve had to deal with over the last several years (which I’ve thankfully figured out now). I’ve had times where I’ve really struggled with depression and feeling hopeless. A lot of that has gone into writing Jace’s character because I can more fully understand and feel his emotions because of what I’ve experienced. 

(Grace) I can sympathize with you a bit on that note. I will say though, sometimes the greatest trials and hard moments can be turned into a gift that upholds and uplifts a lot of other people. I have personally been deeply touched by your characters and your stories, and I know others have as well. Praise God that He gives us the gift of turning our dark moments into treasures of truth and hope. We, your fans, thank you so much for sharing what is truly part of your soul. Thank you so much for the hours upon hours of time you spend in creating this world of Ilyon. We appreciate your stories, and we appreciate you, Jaye. Congratulations on the release of Samara's Peril, it is a magnificent book and I cannot wait for the next one!

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You can purchase Samara's Peril at Amazon, the Ilyon website . Follow and connect with this fantastic author on Twitter and Facebook, and her blog! And if you haven't begun this series, I highly recommend getting started! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review- Behold the Dawn

Behold the DawnBehold the Dawn by K.M. Weiland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a major history nerd, so historical fiction is right up my alley. My favorite book is "Pearl Maiden" by Sir Rider Haggard, an author who wrote historical fiction that is both riveting and deep.

I mention Haggard, because "Behold the Dawn" very quickly brought his medieval book "The Brethren" to mind. Coming from me, considering BTD to be similar to one of his works is a huge compliment to Weiland.

The setting to BTD felt gritty and authentic. It was hot, sweaty, dusty, and bloody. I did occasionally have a hard time picturing the landscape, but the characters were often on the move, thus leading to ever-changing landscape.

The characters; such a fantastic cast of characters. Some grew more than others over the story (I fell in love with the sidekick), while others were consistent, providing a balance and steadiness that kept the others in line. The protagonists were appropriately human, they felt fear, anger, hurt, betrayal, guilt, etc. You felt what the characters felt very deeply.

The villains! Aha! One of the only things that can make a good set of protagonists even better is an equally well-written cast of villains. Weiland did a masterful job at this. I shivered and despised these villains more than I do for most writers. Well done!

This book was wonderfully lengthy, I appreciate it when a writer values their readers enough to give a very long book. There is just a depth of entering into the story that cannot happen in shorter titles. Also, there were moments in this book that could have been handled with far less class, but thankfully, Weiland is a classy writer. I appreciated the way she handled a few subjects with dignity and grace.

My one critique of this book was that during the fighting scenes, I was often confused as to who was standing where, and how the action went down. I had to reread those scenes and play them through in my mind. It is not a major hindrance however, and everything else was well done.

At one point in this book, Weiland put in a "plot twist" of sorts that angered and saddened me deeply. I took to social media to complain, and like the mature adult that I am, I took a break from reading the book. Before, I mentioned how much BTD reminded me of Sir Rider Haggard's "The Brethren". Amusingly enough, the same thing happened to me years ago when I read TB. I was convinced something terrible had happened. In agony, I threw the book down and began to cry. I had invested far too much of my soul into that story to see it end so. My brother picked up the source of my sorrow and read a few pages past where I had stopped. "Keep reading." He said. I did, and sheepishly discovered that all was in fact well, and I had merely thrown in the towel too early. I bring this story up, because I literally did the exact same thing with Behold the Dawn. That "plot twist" that left me outraged? Aha, ha, ahem....keep reading.

A satisfying ending, should Weiland ever do a follow-up book featuring the same characters, or perhaps starring the sidekick (I'm rooting for Option 2), I will eagerly devour it. I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, sweet romances, and redemption.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Book Review- Songkeeper (Songkeeper Chronicles)

Songkeeper (The Songkeeper Chronicles #2)Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was privileged to get an advanced reader copy of this book. I was a big fan of Orphan's Song, and I am eagerly looking forward to more books in this series.

Songkeeper was definitely a middle chapter in the saga. You are left with more questions and unresolved problems than answers.

In terms of character development, I think this was a great book. Both Birdie and Ky came into their own more firmly, even if their lives are full of chaos right now. They are both admirable heroes.

Birdie has a humble strength that is refreshing. She's not the cliche "I'm tough and nothing can hurt me) sort of female lead that has grown overused in both book and movie circles. Birdie is young, innocent, vulnerable, and yet, all of those qualities are a foundation for this quiet strength and steadiness that is the beginning of someone great.

Ky is my hero. He is my favorite character and already added into the Character-Hall-Of-Fame in my heart. He is completely selfless, so incredibly brave, and wise beyond his years. He's the sort of character that never gives up, even if they are bleeding out. Ky is the Captain America of the Songkeeper Chronicles. I love this boy so much, and I can't wait to see what Gillian does with him.

I found several new characters to be interesting in this story as well. Gillian did a good job of creating a colorful new cast of characters that fit in with the current cast very well. Also, a shout out to the concept of the Saari people riding lions. That was purely amazing.

The ending was not as great as I had been anticipating. According to Gillian, the end scene was deeply meaningful to her and some of her best writing. In plain honesty, I felt that the ending was far too fast. Without giving any spoilers, suffice it to say, this book needed a strong ending in order to compensate for the climax that left you hanging. I understand that sometimes a scene may carry a very personal attachment for the writer, but I did feel what I believe Gillian was trying to convey. For the insane roller coaster I had just been on, I needed more time and details than she gave me in order to process the emotions. To sum up, I was disappointed in the final scene.

I am committed to this series, so while out of the two books Orphan's Song is by far my favorite, I still highly recommend Songkeeper. Like I said, it is a middle chapter without resolve, but still an engaging adventure and the continuation of growth for the characters we love.

If for nothing else, read it because reading about Ky's character will make you a better human being.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Review- Orphan's Song (Songkeeper Chronicles)

Who Will Keep the Song Alive? Every generation has a Songkeeper – one chosen to keep the memory of the Song alive. And in every generation, there are those who seek to destroy the chosen one. When Birdie's song draws the attention of a dangerous Khelari soldier, she is kidnapped and thrust into a world of ancient secrets and betrayals. Rescued by her old friend, traveling peddler Amos McElhenny, Birdie flees the clutches of her enemies in pursuit of the truth behind the Song’s power. Ky is a street–wise thief and a member of the Underground—a group of orphans banded together to survive . . . and to fight the Khelari. Haunted by a tragic raid, Ky joins Birdie and Amos in hopes of a new life beyond the reach of the soldiers. But the enemy is closing in, and when Amos’ shadowed past threatens to undo them all, Birdie is forced to face the destiny that awaits her as the Songkeeper of Leira. Book one of the Songkeeper Chronicles.


I am not as big a fan of the fantasy genre as many of my fellow writers/readers are. I often find myself feeling overwhelmed sometimes by the number of strange places and creatures, un-pronounceable names with impossible spellings, and weird rules that govern the world. 

However, when I do come across a work of fantasy that is handled with grace and intelligence, I enjoy myself immensely. Orphan's Song was one of these such gems from the fantasy genre that both surprised and delighted me. Gillian Bronte Adams created a lovely world of fantasy that was not overwhelming, un-pronounceable, and even though there was the cliche of "the chosen one", Adams created such a compelling and unique role for Birdie that I didn't care.

The story pulled me in from the very first sentence - They were coming - until the very last sentence, which I will leave unmentioned to avoid spoilers.

The characters were each well-rounded and unique, both heroes and villains. Birdie was a sympathetic character that I loved immediately, and never once did she frustrate me like oh-so-many dramatic and sarcastic heroines.

Ky was instantly my favorite. His compassion and desire to protect instantly made him appealing. And his street smarts? I really geek out over skills like that.

Amos....oh Amos. Half of the time I wanted to hug him, and the other half I wanted to hit him over the head with Rapunzel's frying pan. My reaction tells me one thing- Gillian Bronte Adams hit the nail on the head with this character.

I cannot write a review about this book without mentioning the key feature: The Song.

The Song was what wove this book together beautifully into a rich and compelling story. Adams did such a beautiful job describing the Song and how it affected the various characters. I have had moments where my mind is overtaken with a piece of a song or a melody that maybe I have heard before, and the music surrounds me like a warm, spring wind. I could connect with the characters in the moments that the Song was being sung. And as for Birdie's ability to know who is approaching (bad or good) based upon the song, well, I have often said that life would be so much easier to predict if we just had a constantly running soundtrack. 

I enjoyed every moment of this book, it never lost my interest. And guess what? The next one, Songkeeper, is going to be released next month! I highly recommend that you read Orphan's Song before Songkeeper is released.

If you want to find out more about the author, you can check her out on her blog, Facebook, or Twitter! If want to purchase Orphan's Song, check it out Amazon.

And here's a sneak peek of Songkeeper just to wet your appetites. I don't know about you, but this cover just sends chills down my spine, those lions are practically leaping off of the page. Want to find out more about Songkeeper? And if you're already sold, awesome! You can be one of the first to get it because it is available for pre-order on Amazon.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Movie Review- Risen

Follows the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius, a powerful Roman Military Tribune and his aide, Lucius, are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and preventing an uprising in Jerusalem.

















This is by far the best Biblical-based movie I have ever seen. The filmmakers did not feel the need to over-embellish or "re-imagine" the true events in order to create an entertaining story. Instead, they filled in the details of the story and found a creative new way to tell it by using the perspective of an outsider.

This movie made me think. Seeing Clavius struggle to reconcile what he thought he knew, with what he was seeing and experiencing to the contrary was really amazing. Imagine being a foreigner who had not been immersed in Jewish history and prophecy, nor have you heard anything about this Nazarene man until you are tasked with finding his body. It is a whole new ballgame.

The setting of the movie was perfect and authentic. It was dusty, dirty, and hot, mingled with an earthy kind of beauty that was spectacular. The people were dirty, sweaty, and looked very normal. The filmmakers did not try to make the crucified bodies, or anything other bloody and dirty aspect seem neat and tidy. They showed it for what it was without being unnecessarily gory. I did wince many times when watching this film, but that was entirely appropriate given the subject matter.

The characters were solid. Clavius was a very driven individual, but he wasn't one dimensional. You knew from the very beginning that he was human. His character arc was very consistent and believable.

The disciples. Oh goodness, this is how Bible stories should be told! The disciples were adorable and hilarious. Indeed, I did not expect to laugh as much as I did when watching this film. The writers did a lovely job mingling humor with the serious events of this story. It's easy to get the impression sometimes that people in ancient times were all solemn and serious, and only focused on life and death issues. But people are people, and God gave Mankind a sense of humor. The disciples were just that, they were people living in a rough time who needed a sense of humor to brighten up their life.

This entire movie was consistent, well-rounded, and left me feeling very satisfied. I highly recommend it to believers and non-believers alike.


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Character Files- Owen Grady (Jurassic World)



First character file: Owen Grady.


Cute, unassuming, and as brave as they come.

Funny, charming, totally awesome and yet humble, Owen Grady was one of the greatest aspects of Jurassic World. Chris Pratt owned this role like nobody's business, making Owen into a instantly likable guy who you were rooting for from minute one.

He was real. His facial expressions of sheer terror, intense determination, and utter disgust made his face like a moving landscape. This is a guy who reacted pretty rationally and normally to the nightmarish situation that we only visit in, well, movies.



Best Moments

He's the alpha for a group of raptors. *mic drop* I was really feeling a bit of Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon coming through in this moment. It was really special.

There is a gentleness in his actions, even though he is dealing with dangerous animals. It reveals this character's tender heart.

The chaotic scene when one of the pterodactyls has Owen pinned down, and in a massive explosion of adrenaline, Claire takes it out with a machine gun. The look of utter astonishment and intense admiration on Owen's face it just priceless. It says, "I am SO attracted to you right now!"



Leading the raptors into battle. Even in the movie Owen realizes just how incredibly awesome that moment is. If you watch carefully you can see a hint of his smile right before he revs up his engine and begins the chase.



Best Quotes

Claire- "What kind of man shows up to a date in board shorts?"
Owen- "It's Central America. It's hot."

Claire- "The park needs a new attraction every few years in order to reinvigorate the public's interest. Kind of the like the space program. Corporate felt that genetic modification would up the wow factor."
Owen- "They're dinosaurs. Wow enough.
Claire- "Not according to our focus groups. The Indominus Rex makes us relevant again."
Owen- *chuckles* "The Indominus Rex?"
Claire- "We needed something scary and easy to pronounce. You should hear a four-year-old try to say "Archeaornithomimus".
Owen- "You should hear you try to say it."

(now I REALLY want to hear a four-year-old try to say Archeaornithomimus.)

Claire- "So, you can pick up their scent can't you? Track their footprints?"
Owen- "I was with the Navy, not the Navajo."

(he's so not full of it, he's hilarious)

Owen- "You'll last two minutes in there, less in those ridiculous shoes." (Hallelujah! Someone pointed out the idiocy of that poor woman's footwear.)
Claire *removes belt, rolls up sleeves, ties blouse*
Owen- ? "What is that supposed to mean?"
Claire- "It means I'm ready to go."
Owen- "....okay."

(Yeah, I don't get it either buddy.)


Owen Grady is bigger than merely an awesome protagonist, he also represents the voice of reason and the balance in this movie. Jurassic World was more than just a movie about a dinosaur escaping and going on a rampage. Many deep political and spiritual questions were actually raised in this movie. The different characters voiced many views to one very basic question: how do we value life?

Claire, despite meaning well, had very little connection or regard for the people or the animals at the park. Everything was a number, an asset, or a liability in her mind. They were items that she could control, regulate, and predict. Owen serves a guide to lead her to both an understanding and respect for people and animals. She is a changed person by the end of the movie.

Hoskins has a great admiration for the power and strength of the animals, but he has no regard for their life or for the life of the people at the park. He literally smiles at some of the footage of people screaming in terror as they are literally being picked apart by flying dinosaurs. Even Misrani, who desires for people to enjoy his park, is disconnected from the fact that the scientists in his lab are creating new lives. Creatures who live, breathe, and think, and not just park attractions. It is only after a murderous monster has been created that Misrani realizes the callous attitude and lack of responsibility he has displayed.

Owen Grady is the character of reason who has a proper value and respect for life; both for the animals and the humans. He is the alpha of the raptors, he has a relationship with them, but he is also aware of the fact that they are animals with separate instincts that he cannot control. He sees these creatures as living animals who should not be used, like Hoskins desires. Nor can they be controlled, like Claire believes.




His priority of life is people first, then animals. Owen is the first one to call for the park to be closed. He warns against sending a team out after the Dinosaur with non-lethal weapons. He heads out into danger to help Claire retrieve her nephews without a second thought. Throughout the movie, Owen protects Claire and the boys as if they were own.




All of the death and destruction that happens in this movie is the direct result of failure to value life. Owen provides many solutions and all of the perspective in this movie as he has a correct view of life and how to treat it. At the end of the movie, he and his people are still standing because of who he is.

He's no Romeo making lovey dovey speeches beneath a balcony. He's not going to keep quiet about ridiculous fashion choices. He'll run for his life from angry dinosaurs and then punch the people responsible.

This guy will show up to your first date in board shorts with a bottle of tequila. He'll laugh when you say something stupid and call you on the carpet when you are dead wrong. When you ask him "So what do we do now?" He'll grin like a kid and reply, "Probably stay together. For survival."

But so long as that guy in board shorts is Owen Grady, there is no way you can lose.

What aspects did you love about Owen Grady? What thoughts did you have after seeing Jurassic World? What would you have changed? What was your favorite part? You can tell me in the comments, or you can connect on Facebook and Twitter




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Character Files- Introduction


What is one of the greatest elements of a good story?

It's as obvious as the nose on your face: good characters.


He may be a sad, strange little man. But he's one of my favorites!

A good character consists of someone who brings emotion out of you. A good character is a protagonist that you cheer for with all of you heart. A good character is an evil villain that causes you to grind your teeth and sends shivers down your spine. A good character is someone who begins as an unlikable, worthless individual, and ends as one of your best friends.

We were in love with this scoundrel from minute one, still, he was arguably a better person by the end.


A good character stays with you for longer than the amount of time you spent between the pages of their book. A good character rises up in your mind as you live your everyday life. A good character enables you to draw parallels between them and other individuals you meet in reality.

A good character is your friend even when you are 100 years old.

A good character becomes a friend, an ally, a family member, or an enemy.

"Which one am I?" We don't really know at this point, Loki, but we still love you. <3


A good character can make or break a story. Even a story with a somewhat dull plot can keep your interest if you are deeply in love with the character. We are instinctively drawn to root for persons who capture our interest and connect with our own hearts.

This is the beginning of a new series of mine in which I will explore some of the greatest characters in both books and movies. Characters, even fictional ones are a great way to connect with other people in your own world. The fact that two people are drawn to the same character can be a link that can lead to communication and friendship.

Great characters can bring us together, great characters can divide us, a great character can change our lives forever; and a great character can reveal the best and the worst parts of who we are as people.

Join me as I share about some of my favorite characters. And who knows? Maybe they are your favorite as well....

....and this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.