Friday, October 31, 2014

Review of Orphan’s Song by Gillian Bronte Adams

Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a great deal of buzz for Gillian Bronte Adams’ Orphan's Song, the first book in her Songkeeper Chronicles, which just released. Why am I so happy? Because Gillian is an amazing blogger, and now published author, who definitely deserves the success! So, I’m excited to see her debut doing well. And now I have the chance to review it for all of you! I’ve decided to present my review in points instead of paragraphs, since I have a tendency to make my reviews exhaustingly wordy.


Part of my bookshelf with its newest arrival, Orphan’s Song

Here’s the description of Orphan’s Song from the site of its publisher, Enclave Publishing:

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.


  • This story follows a split plot for most of the book, following Birdie and Ky separately. They have very different paths, and I found myself more interested in Ky’s, though I liked Birdie as a character.
  • For me, the plot felt like it dragged until the third part, when the action really got rolling. I got much more interested at that point, and then it was too short!
  • Despite its slowness at times, the plot made sense and introduced a lot of important elements that will make Book 2 much more action-filled, I think.


  • Gillian does write engaging characters, which is a definite plus. I’m excited to see where their journeys lead.
  • Birdie is downtrodden but courageous. Desperate to escape her life of drudgery and accompanied for much of her life by a mysterious melody, she may get a bit more than she bargained for. I’m curious to see her role as the Songkeeper develop, since I felt that element of the story wasn’t explained. Birdie grows a lot through the course of the story, though at times that growth felt a little fast.
  • Ky is a thief who’s selfless when he’s not supposed to be, and his care for others is endearing. For an orphan who has looked out for himself for several years, though, I felt that he grew protective toward Birdie rather quickly. Nonetheless, Ky is my favorite character. He’s inventive, sweet, and courageous.
  • Amos, Birdie’s self-appointed protector, is crusty and rather infuriating at times. He’s lived as a peddler for several years, trying to escape a past that collides with him as he rescues Birdie from her kidnapper. He cares fiercely for his “lass”, as he calls her, but he’s downright hostile to her questions about the Song. Though hints about his past were dropped rather liberally, they came together well to influence the climax.
  • We get a glimpse into the minds of the enemy, the Khelari, briefly in a few places, and, honestly, I’m terrified of the ultimate villain, the Takhran. Gillian did a fantastic job showing the effects of the Khelari’s presence, even though they weren’t present constantly.


  • I felt like the themes of courage and Providence were the most clear in this story, and they create a strong background for characters’ growth.

Other Thoughts:

  • Gillian Adams has created an interesting world filled with an encroaching dark army, a griffin, and, most interestingly, a line of Songkeepers. The idea that melodies fill the land of Leira fascinates me, and I’m excited to see it developed.
  • There are definite elements of allegory in this this story. I’m curious to see where the author will take those, since I feel that allegories are too often predictable.
  • I would have liked to see more action in this story, though others may disagree with me, since there is quite a bit. I just didn’t feel very invested in the conflict until near the climax. It seemed like more set-up than a self-fulfilling story. However, it is the first of a series, and, if it does act as set-up, then the rest of the series should be fantastic.

In conclusion, Orphan’s Song is not the best book I’ve ever read. But neither is it bad. It is a well-written debut with enjoyable characters and a fascinating premise. I encourage you to read it, because I have a hunch that the rest of the series will be incredible. I look forward to what you have next, Gillian!

Have you read Orphan’s Song? If so, let me know what you thought!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Links and Such, Part 2: Writing-Related

Last week, I posted a few links that have interested me outside of the writing sphere. This week, I’m diving into things related to one of my biggest passions: writing. These are articles I’ve discovered that have positively impacted the way I look at writing. If you follow me on Twitter and/or Pinterest, you may have seen some of these before. But hopefully you’ll find something that helps you on your own writing journey!

Writing Links

You, the Genius – fostering your writing gift

Drafting Under Pressure, or, NaNoWriMo, Oh No! on YAvengers

A series on about creating fantasy maps

Off Center: When God Meets Marketing

Which E-Book Publishers Should a Hybrid Author Consider? by Chip MacGregor

How to Write an Awesome Logline for Your Novel

Word Count for Stories

Twitter For Writers: 7 Quick Tips

3 Easy Ways You've Never Thought of to Keep Track of Time in Your Novel

6 Tips for Writing a Knockout Fight Scene

Most Common Writing Mistakes: Repetitive Dialogue

Why Writerly Words Are Not Your Friend

Pondering the Prologue: Keep it or Kill it?

Apples and Antagonists – a post about making your antagonists distinctive

Five Traits to Help You Create Your Character's Personality

Hidden Emotions: How to Tell Readers What Characters Don't Want to Show

How to Write a Gut-Wrenching Tragic Scene - Thanks to One Surprising Detail!

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding

Things to See, Worlds to Build...

Let me know in the comments which ones help/interest you the most!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Links and Such

Today I’d like to share some links with you of things that I’ve been enjoying around the web over the last couple of months. Next week, I’ll have writing links, but this week is my random week. Hehe. Enjoy!

When Destiny Comes Calling - a serial story by Gillian Bronte Adams

Contest Header


A Fantastic Contest Celebrating the Release of Orphan's Song by Gillian Bronte Adams



Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed – there are a couple of things I disagree with the author on here, but, overall, this article is quite thought-provoking. I’d love to hear your thoughts in this one, especially!

Emma Approved – a modern, mini-episode adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma; it may be a little difficult to get into at first, but it becomes absolutely fantastic

9 Incredible Photos of our Universe – Absolutely stunning!

Don't Call Me a Worship Leader – found on the official website of The City Harmonic, this article talks about worship being far more than just music. Note: Part of it is strangely in a darker-colored text, but, if you highlight that part, it’s easy to read.

Friday, October 10, 2014

“Trouble in the Dark”– My Flash Fiction Story

Here’s my entry! Caiti gave me the prompt “Those who look for trouble usually find it,” which I wasn’t supposed to use in the actual story. I was given a word limit of 1000 words, which I used all but 2 of (yeah, I got a little wordy). Thanks, Caiti, for my prompt!

And thank you to everyone who participated in this challenge! Check out the other stories!
Also, don’t forget to give comprehensive feedback to at least the person you received a prompt from and the person you gave a prompt to. Feedback is incredibly important for improving our writing. Feel free to comment on the other stories, as well. And, now, I present my story. Let me know what you think!

Trouble in the dark flash fiction

I never should have walked into the alley that night. It had all the classic signs of danger: deep shadows, grime aplenty, even a yowling cat. Too bad I never listened to my inner sense of warning. Besides, my brother was right behind me when I swerved between the two buildings near the wharf.

Turning, I froze. Where’d he go?

“Carson?” Somehow my whisper sounded like a shout against the dingy buildings.

Swallowing hard, I turned in a circle, calling quietly for him again. What was the point of 

having an older brother if he disappeared when you needed him?

And I needed him badly.

Out in the street, footsteps clomped closer. Blarney and his men were drawing closer. Shrinking into the shadows, I tried to control my breathing.

Where could he be?

This whole stupid thing was my fault. And now it looked like I would die alone in an alley, as befitted my recklessness.

But that didn’t mean I wanted to. Biting my lip, I flattened myself against the wall. A low voice rumbled near the entrance to the corridor. Marco, if I figured right. He was the only Italian in the group, though accents were hard to distinguish at such a low volume. Putting a hand over my mouth to block an unintentional squeal, I hugged myself.

“In here, Boss?” Jerry’s grating tone made me wince. “She’s just a little girl. She’d be too scared to go in there.”

“That little girl is far braver than she appears.”

Uh-oh. The big man himself. I should have listened to Carson when he told me to stay away from Blarney.

Stay calm, Tessa.

My cheeks ballooned as I fought to keep my breathing quiet.

“Get in there!” Blarney’s voice rose.

“But, Boss, it’s the Carvers…”

A chill swept through me. Blarney was bad enough. But the Carvers were the true rulers of the wharf. And they were ruthless. Still, Blarney’s men were terrified of them. The problem, of course, was that they scared me, too. I glanced farther down the alley.

“I ain’t goin’ in there, Boss. And if the girl’s as smart as you think, neither would she.”

If Marco refused, the rest of them would, too. I sucked in a little bit of air.

Someone grunted. “Fine. Watch the alley. The rest of you keep searching. I want her found now.”

Steps shuffled away down the street. Maybe I would live, after all. I glanced farther into the alley and my heart rate jumped. Blarney’s men could easily outwait me. Breathing out slowly, I peered toward the street. The shadow of a man extended into the alley.

When the shadow moved, I flattened myself tighter against the wall. Maybe the Carvers weren’t as bad as the stories. I stared at darkness. I’d never actually met a member of the Carver clan. Could I move quietly enough to escape Marco’s notice? I slid one foot over. He didn’t move. I took another step and disturbed a metal can. Wincing, I pulled back against the wall.

Swearing, the Italian glanced into the alley. Moonlight fell on his dark beard and made his right eye glint while his left remained in shadow.

God in Heaven, please help me.

After a moment, he pulled away, and I resumed my trip toward the end of Carver’s Alley. Shadows enveloped me and I pulled my coat close against a sudden chill. A cat dashed in front of me, making me jump. Glancing back, I took a deep breath. When a door squealed, I put fists up. Then someone covered my mouth and dragged me into a building.

The door shut, sealing out all light.

“Tessa, are you insane?”

“Carson?” His gloved hand muffled my words.

He pulled it away, breathing hard. “Why do you always dash into trouble like that?”

Heaving a huge sigh, I stepped back. “Where’d you go?”

A flame hissed to life, and then a red glow emerged in the corner. The lantern showed my brother’s face, more deeply lined than I’d ever seen it. Crates surrounded us and a revolver rested on a box across the room.

I swallowed hard. “Carson, why are you in here?”

His mouth jerked. “We need to get you home, little sister.”

“Don’t call me that!”

He rushed over, putting a finger against his lips. The blue of his eyes deepened. “Do you even realize what you’ve gotten yourself into? They’re still looking for you out there, and being loud could get us both killed.”

Looking down, I rubbed my arms. “Sorry.” But what was going on?

As he herded me toward a hallway, a thump sounded in the alley.

My chest seized. “Carson, what was that?”

Grabbing the revolver, he pushed me away. “Go into the hallway.”

I crouched by the wall. Then running came from farther in the building. I jerked my head up.

“Dillon needs help immediately!”

Who was Dillon? And why did it sound like people were headed this way?

A tall man skidded around the corner and halted. “Who are you?”

I swallowed hard. “Who are you?” My smile wouldn’t have convinced my mostly-blind grandmother.

He drew himself up even taller. “Janson Carver.”

Oh no.

Carson stepped out from the back room and squeezed his eyes shut briefly. “Janson, Blarney’s gang is headed down the alley.”

And here I thought they were too scared. My heart thudded in my chest.

Eyeing me, Janson nodded. “You’re the boss, Dillon.”

I swung toward him. “What?”

He put a hand up as Janson and several other men raced past us. Then he grasped my shoulders. “We are the Carvers.”

“What?!” I jerked away from him, shaking my head. “That doesn’t make any sense. The Carvers are a vicious wharf gang. You’re my brother. And why did he call you Dillon?”

He stared at the ceiling for a moment. Then, grimacing, he looked at me. “It’s a cover. The Carvers aren’t real.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Then what are they?”


“Earth”– Leanne’s Flash Fiction

It’s here! Today is the deadline for my second ever flash fiction challenge, and I’m excited to see what you all came up with! This post contains Leanne’s entry, since she doesn’t have her own blog. My own entry will follow shortly. I gave her the beginning sentence as a prompt and a limit of 800 words, plus the prompt. She finished with 637. So, without further ado, read on!

Earth flash fiction

My heart beat faster because I knew this was it.

The horizon line dipped and swayed. Brilliant blue openness curving into the green earth.

“Prepare yourself for the landing,” a small mechanical voice said into my ear. “Be aware that the local inhabitants may react bizarrely. Proceed with caution—”

I clicked the switch on my headset, shutting the voice up. My fingers were damp in my gloves. I gripped the stick, guiding my ship in a slow arc downwards.

The earth filled the view through the glass. The green un-blurred and become a patchwork of striped squares. Here and there small clusters of blocks, buildings.

The control panels started to beep. What in the moon...? A message flashed across the screens, blinking and red.

Entry denied.

I slammed several buttons but the message refused to leave.

Hostile ships spotted.

I glanced up through the glass, and jerked the stick backward so I’m hovering in the air.

Turn your headset on immediately.

I flicked the switch. “What?”

A burst of static. High pitched beeping and yelling in the background.

“Cherrie! Are you there?” said a voice.

“Yes.” I tried call up view on my headset, but it fuzzed out and didn’t work. “Who am I speaking with please?”

More static and jumbled words. I couldn’t make out any of it. I turned it off again. Earth’s atmosphere must be screwing things up.

Hostile ships spotted. Return to space immediately.

Only blue sky drifting lazily outside the glass. I flicked through the controls, calling up my radar. Three blinking red dots advanced on me at an extremely rapid pace.

There. I squinted, and can just make out them on the hazy horizon line. Three earth ships.

I leaned back and bit my lip. I had expected problems with the earth’s inhabitants, of course, but not before I landed.

My headset buzzed. I turned it on. “I’m returning,” I said, mobilizing ship.

No answer. Crackling silence.

“Hello?” Did I lose connection?

“Identify yourself immediately.” said a voice. A deep, different voice. Not anyone from the station. An earth voice.

I took a deep breath. “This is Cherrie. Who am I speaking with please?”

“Where do you come from and what are you doing here?” the voice said.

My screen goes black with a small pop. What in the blue moon? I pressed every dang button on the control panel but all that comes up is a small message.

Lost connection.

Wonderful. Just wonderful. I rested my head against the screen.

“Respond or we will open fire.”

I jerked upright. The ships were hovering nearby, but still a distance away.

“Firing in one...two...”

“Wait.” I almost screamed the words in the headset. “My ship is not responding. I’m not going to harm you. I need help.”

Dead air. I watched the ships carefully but they didn’t move or fire.

I wondered if I could make a crash landing. I slowly eased the stick back...nothing. Nothing at all.

“Where did you come from?” said another male voice, in the headset. “Why are you here?”

“I’m from earth. Originally.” The words tumbled off my tongue, smooth from practice, but my heart rate still sped up again. “I’m to see if it’s worth returning to yet.”

Cracks, and pops, and suddenly my whole ship sprang back to life. The screens lit up and another message flashes across.

Please land.

Clearly not from the station. Orders from earth.

The earth ships are gone. Nowhere. The sky is empty. The sun is melting into the horizon.

For a moment I pause. I could go back up, back to the station, back to safety. I flexed my fingers in my gloves and stared down at the earth.


With a soft groan, my ship makes a slow dive down. There’s no going back now.

My heart beats faster because I know this is it.

Earth. At last.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lighting Up the World Despite my Humanness

God has called me to be a light to this world. But I get off
Courtesy of Pixabay
base when I think I have to somehow conjure up this light myself. God doesn't want me to create my own light, which could only ever be a pale imitation. He wants me to reflect His Light. I have to let go of myself and stop blocking Him.

God chooses to shine His Light through us, mere humans, and I'm amazed by that. He has unlimited power and commands the universe, yet He chooses to let us be a part of His work. And it's not because we're so good. No, we're weak; we constantly stumble. And He loves us so much that He picks us back up and gives us another chance. His mercy is overwhelming. And yet we think we have to do everything all by ourselves. 

Don't be afraid of your humanness. Someone once told me that all our cracks let God's Light shine through us. We are called to be a light in a dark world. Always remember that. But remember, too, that God's using you for something big, and He won't leave you to do it alone. 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12