Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Book Review of the End of All Things by Jill Williamson

Buy from Amazon!
With the Five Realms on the brink of total destruction, everyone faces a final mad scramble to find a safe haven. The realm is divided on what should be done. Wilek and Trevn join those who are preparing the realm for a seaward evacuation, but the king stands in their way. Wilek must battle against his own father to try and save the people of Armania.

Series: The Kinsman Chronicles (Book 1, Part 3)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (April 5, 2016)
Page Count: 160 pages

Jill brought me onto her launch team for this series months ago and I'm happy to be able to review it for her. Being a Blood of Kings fan, I was pumped to be able to advance read this series and now I've finally read the last part of the first book! It's definitely a climax to remember.

The Plot: Since this is the climax part of this book, everything is coming to a head: conspiracies, scandals, character arcs, and even the world crumbling to its end. There's lots of twists and magic and even some very interesting apocalyptic elements. It's a very fun story to read. Like the other parts of this book, this series is far darker than the others. Jill explores the underbelly of fantasy based on real Biblical practices such as prostitution, human sacrifice, and pagan worship. She handles these sticky topics with care.

The Characters: King's Folly has a lot of main characters. This book goes into Trevn's, Wilek's, Charlon's, Hinck's, Inola's, Mielle's, and Grayson's POVs. Several of these are side characters, but it's interesting seeing how Jill portrays all of their voices. This had to have been a challenge for her.

Wilek is my favorite. I love his journey throughout this book. His bravery and honor throughout out his admirable to see.

Trevn grows up a lot in this part of the book as he mends relationships and stands up to evil despite the consequences.

Hinck's loyalty to Trevn is inspiring. He goes through so many lengths to unravel the conspiracy going in on Armania.

Charlon is an interesting villainess. She believes she's doing the right thing in her eyes and she's obviously being used. Her point of view is choppy and sporadic which creates an interesting tone.

Mielle is a darling. She always cares about others and her and Trevn are the cutest. I ship it!

There are so many other characters in this book, but I'm not going to overwhelm you with them all. If anything this book has, it's a lot of characters.
The Setting: This book is set in a dying ancient world full of sin and darkness. It reminds me of times before Noah's flood. The world has very old medieval elements and is set in a desert climate. There's many different kingdoms with conflicting cultures. I love how in depth Jill Williamson went into them all. It's definitely a very cool world. On top of that, because of the over-harvesting of resources the land is beginning to fall apart. Earthquakes and sinkholes abound.
Epic Things: The magic in this story is very creative and has voodoo elements. Mantics harness the powers of shadir aka demons through evenroot (a drug). It's a really sinister magic, but creative. Some of the spells include the mask spell which is basically taking the form of another, but the original form must remain alive and close to the one wearing the mask or it will dispel. Each mantic uses their abilities in different ways.

The Theme: The theme definitely centers around the consequences of sin, especially greed. Greed for evenroot has rendered the land unstable. Greed for power has upsetting the balance of politics and has hurt others through magic.

Content Cautions: Like I mentioned before this world is a dark one and full of sin. There is an implied sex scene, a child marriage, pagan worship, human sacrifice, and animal sacrifice similar to that of ancient Biblical times. There is also some violence. Characters are stabbed and hit by falling rocks. One character is branded and another gets his arm severed.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Genre Mash-Up Did Work - Like Joss Whedon combined Westerns and Sci-Fi in Firefly, I believe Jill Williamson combined Fantasy and Apocalyptic in King's Folly. The book has the characteristic elements of fantasy: magic, a whole new world, and kings. But the world is also dying. The characters are even forced to flee from this descending country to find new lands. It's an interesting combination of the two genres and makes for a great story.

How this can be applied to writing: Can you try combining two genres to create a good story? I talk about this a bit more in my post about what Firefly can teach us about writing.

2.) Using the Environment as An Antagonist Did Work - Though there are many humanoid villains in King's Folly, Jill also uses the environment as an antagonist. Between earthquakes, sink holes, poisonous lakes, volcanoes, and underground rivers, the environment of Armania, Rurekau, Magonia, and the other countries is quite treacherous. These pose deadly obstacles for the characters of the story and certainly add tension. Many of them also played essential parts in the plot as the frequency of these natural disasters has rendered the land too dangerous to live on.

How this can be applied to writing: Can you use natural disasters to create tension and make obstacles for the characters of your stories? It could be snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, sinking sand, avalanches, landslides, or any number of natural occurrences. They could enhance your story in many ways.

3.) Having a Large Cast Had It's Ups and Downs - King's Folly has an extremely large cast like Game of Thrones large, if not larger (I'm not a GoT fan myself). There are so many characters, I can't even remember all of their names, many only played short roles, but I also caught myself mixing up the names of even more important ones. There are emperors, mantics, kings, princesses, onesents, bodyguards, eunichs, and it got a bit overwhelming to keep up with them all. 
Jill went into the personalities of many of the more prominent characters, but others quickly became lost or didn't have enough development, because of the sheer number she had to deal with. She did well with the voices of the character she had, but I couldn't help but feel the cast was a bit too large.

How this can be applied to writing: The more characters you have, the more difficult writing their story can be. It can be difficult keeping up with names and making sure each character stands out and that their voices are unique. Take caution when coming up with your number of character. See which ones can be combined. Look at ways to make them stand out from the others.

Conclusion: The End of All Things is a great conclusion to the King's Folly. It's exciting and goes places I haven't seen other Christian fantasy books go. She tackles many issues other authors haven't been brave enough to in this memorable book. Four stars!

About the Author:

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 and two children and a whole lot of deer. Visit her online at her blog, where adventure comes to life.
You can find her on her website, FacebookTwitterPinterest and Goodreads.

Check out my interview with Jill! And don't forget to check out the first and second part of this book and the series' website!

Check out some of my reviews of her other books!
The Blood of Kings: From Darkness Won
Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into A Published Novel
The Safe Lands: Captives
The Safe Lands: Outcasts
The Safe Lands: Rebels 
The Mission League: The New Recruit

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Writerly Bundle #8: Sagacity, Flaming Red Hair, and Brandy Oolong

Welcome to this week's Writerly Bundle! A post where I hope to inspire you with three of the world's greatest things: music, words, and tea. 

Happy Easter, everyone, and happy very late Saint Patrick's Day! Since St. Patrick's Day has not long ago passed, I thought this post would be fun to have a Tolkien-Style merry-making theme.

The Word:

1.) acuteness of mental discernment and soundness of judgment.

Example Sentence: Imbibing brandy does not induce sagacity.

The Song:
"Flaming Red Hair"
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
by Howard Shore

Since we're talking about brandy aka alcohol, I thought a drinking song appropriate, so I have here a piece from Bilbo's 111th birthday in the Shire where much ale was consumed. This piece is very snappy and happy with lots of fiddles, clacking sounds, and cheery flutes. It makes me bounce and sway every time I listen to it. This is perfect for a fantasy or historical novel for a merry party scene! 

The Tea:

Brandy Oolong

(I couldn't find a description of this tea on Bingley's Teas so I'm going to use this description from Octavia Teas so you get an idea of this tea)
This exceptional, competition-grade oolong is composed of tealeaves rolled into dark, lustrous little pearls. When brewed, its rich, caramel color is similar in appearance to a fine, aged brandy. Tremendously complex flavors of roasted brown-sugar, molasses, nutmeg, raisins and figs evolve into a lingering, caramelized-honey persistence in this sophisticated cup. Often a favorite among connoisseurs, oolong tea is rich in antioxidants and metabolism-boosting properties.

How I found it: Bingley's Teas was generous enough to give me a lovely box of samples for review! I discovered them because of Sara Letourneau over at Bibliophile's Reverie!

Be sure to read the Emma's Perfect Match, Lizzie Bennett's Wit, and Anne Elliot's Hope blend reviews!

The Tea: In my last review, I basically went on a long rant about the complexities of oolong teas for half of the review. This is one of those exception teas I was talking about and this tea is delish! It is one of the best oolongs I've ever had, even over Alishan Jin Xuan and that's saying something.

Brandy Oolong has a similar nature to a black tea yet it's a green tea. Trippy I know. It brews into the golden color of brandy from which it gets its name. This smooth and rich tea isn't alcoholic in the slightest, but it does have subtle malt flavors. It tastes sweet like honey or brown flavors, a caramelized flavor, if you will.

Serving Recommendations: I steeped this tea 195 F for three minutes and added sugar though the tea is so sweet itself the sugar is hardly even needed.

How much is it and where can you get it? This tea is available at the Bingley's Teas website. You can get a 60 g package for $16.95. This amount makes at least twenty cups of tea, so you get your money's worth. 

So how good is it? This is a really great tea! One of the best oolong experiences I've had. Four stars!

Bonus! If you are a first-time Adagio customer I can send you a $5 giftcard! Ask in the comments for details! (This is no joke and no catch I seriously can. It's part of the amazingness of Adagio Teas)

Have you seen or used this word before? Have you heard this piece before? Have you tried this tea? Have you seen or read The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring?

If you liked this post, come back every other Tuesday for book reviews; Friday for tags, character interviews, and link-ups; Saturdays for writing advice and life updates; and Sundays for the Writerly Bundle which includes a new soundtrack piece, vocabulary word, and tea review!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Monthly Summary: March 2016

Well, this March was one of those months that really didn't go how I thought it would and I felt like I just could not get ahead. It came with a lot of stressing and getting shy of some of my writing goals. I'm honestly going to be happy it's over.

What I did:

1.) I'm a little more than halfway through my 20K goal for this month to write Silver Hood. The muse has not been with me this month and writing it has been a bit of a struggle. I'm hoping to try to make up for it this weekend, but I'm really behind. *sighs* I'm still working on editing Red Hood. I'm close to the end. I'm on my final read through to check for inconsistencies then I'm checking for any weasel words and formatting errors. Then I'm going to write a proposal and finally send this puppy a month later than I wanted to.

I did get my Splickety Havok contract and signed it though. ^ ^ That was exciting.

2.) Most of this month was job hunting with no bites, until a really unexpected trip to Miami cropped up because my grandfather passed away. My immediate family and I piled in my little sedan and drove twelve hours down to the tip of the country for the funeral. 

The trip was bittersweet. It was sad because my grandfather, the patriarch of my family, my mom's father passed away, but it was nice to see family members I hadn't in years. It was extremely stressful because I didn't get a good night's sleep for a week because of anxiety and trying to help with funeral preparations. On the other hand, it was relaxing to take a few day trips around Miami to some neat places like Coconut Grove and Matheson Hammock Park. I'm really glad to be home, because I really am not fond of the hot and sticky south Florida weather though.
My grandparent's house.
Coconut Grove marina

Coco Walk
Bill Bags Cape Lighthouse
Matheson Hammock
I will also be celebrating Easter at my aunt's house. I'll post pics of that later, but I found one thing that my U.K. and British colony friends will be elated about. I FREAKING FOUND KINDER BUNNIES! My source of British treats named Sam sells Kinder Bunnies at her shop because she can get around the rule because they're bunnies not eggs. ;) I loooove Kinder eggs so I was ecstatic to find this in my country! I'm opening it on Easter. ^ ^

3.) I'm nearly finished with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Cinder, and The End of All Things! My reading got thrown off by drama. I'll have them finished by the end of the month though.

4.) I got some drawing done! I'm working on my Pro Expression's Challenge and I almost have it finished. Just coloring to go. Here's Pro's Happy expression though.

The Geeky Department:

1.) I played the second episode of the new King's Quest series called Rubble without a Cause. I enjoyed it more than the first game. It was definitely way more intense, considering the whole game you're struggling to keep people alive and they can and will die. O_o

2.) I saw the Allegiant film which I'm honestly iffy about. You can check out my full review for details. I liked most of the film until a point ...

3.) I rewatched X-Men: Days of Future Past since I finally found it on DVD at Target. I really like this movie. Seeing how Wolverine has grown since the first X-Men movie is just so cool.

4.)  I'm still working on catching up on GMM (I'm on season seven!) and I'm still working on finishing Lost and I've watched a bit of Castle. GMM has consumed my life. XD

5.) I'm working on a new cosplay! I'm so excited because I haven't done an official new cosplay in two years. I'm so pumped, but I'm not going to tell you guys what it is. I'm going to let you all guess. ;) The pic is a hint!

What I Learned:

1.) I Finally Found my Blog Focus - I've been blogging for almost four years now. This blog has grown a lot through that time. I've been hunting for a way to make my blog standout, to find my focus for the past year-ish (since that's when I semi-figured out what I'm doing). And I finally found it. Since you guys love my analysis of books, movies, and such I'm going to really focus on that here. You guys also love my So Your Character is From ... posts, so I'm going to focus on those. I'm also going to change this blog's name and logo to suit that. I'm really excited to finally find this blog's focus. I'm going to do an official unveiling next month!

2.) Sleeping In a Car - Because Miami is a ten-twelve hour drive from my house I did a lot of car sleeping. I actually fell asleep for six hours on the way home. If you need research for sleeping that hard in the backseat of a vehicle, your back gets sore for days. XD

3.) Miami Has Spanish Everything - Because Miami is so close to the Caribbean there's a large Hispanic/Latino population there. At least a third of the people you see there are Hispanic/Latino. Thus everywhere sells Spanish candies, Goya products, and Mexican sodas. If you have a character from Miami or a story set in Miami that's a good thing to know. I hadn't been there in four years and I forgot how much Spanish there really is there. XD

4.) If You Are a Tall Person Do Not Listen to the DDS Lady When She Says to Look at the Blue Dot - This month I had to renew my driver's license, so I had to get a new picture and the lady specifically told me that looking down at the blue dot is what you were supposed to do to make it look right. I did it and now I'm stuck with a drivers license pic with me looking down for five years. XD If you'd a tall person don't look at the dot!

5.) God Provides - I've been really concerned this month about finances. It's just been rough for me. The trip really worried my immediate family because we weren't sure if we could even afford to go down there, but God provided for us and that was a really big thing. I was so worried he wouldn't and I wasn't sure what we were going to do. He is faithful and it was good to be reminded of that.

What I'm Going to Do:

1.) I'm doing Camp NaNo next month and I'm going to try to complete Silver Hood. *deep breaths* My goal for this month has been 20K and next month's is 30K. I can do this. I'm also going to get Red Hood sent off for realz this time. No more delays! Also the Splickety Havok Magazine I'm in comes out April 15th! Squee!

2.) My birthday is in April so I'm having some friends from out of town to do some fun stuff for a weekend. My cousin is getting married at the end of the month, so I'll be going to that wedding, and I'll be working on my cosplay. Hopefully, I'll also get a part time job to help with things. Some prayers for that from you guys would be great.

3.) After finishing the three aforementioned books, I'm going to read the ARC for The Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams and Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. I'm finally getting to some Brandon Sanderson! Yes!

4.) I'm going to draw Dina from Red Hood! I've been meaning to draw her for a while and I really need to do it. XD If I get time I want to work on the Expressions Challenge for Rouyn.

5.) I'm hoping to do more reviews for Geeks Under Grace, particularly one for Rubble Without a Cause.

Last Month on Stori Tori's Blog ...

This month's Writerly Bundles: 

This month's books:

This month's writing tips:

My stories stuff:

Other stuff:
Coming Soon to Stori Tori's Blog ...

April 1 - Questions for Bryce! - I haven't had this baby out for anything in a while and since it's my birthday soon, I'm bringing out my favorite character out of all of my books for an interview. ^ ^

April 2 - Why We Still Need to Write Good vs. Evil - The discussion of writing grey characters is everywhere and it's becoming encouraged to not write black and white characters anymore. In this post, I show my opinion on the matter.

April 3 - Writerly Bundle #9 - This includes a review of a DavidsTea and the post is Karate Kid themed!

April 5 -  A Book Review of A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes - I read this book a while back and I really like it. I can't wait to share my analysis to you guys!

April 8 - How I Write A Blog Post - This has been circling around with my blogging buddies and I thought I'd give it a go.

April 9 - Now I'm 23 with a Birthday Giveaway and Survey! - A post about my 22nd year and what's to come in my 23rd plus I'll be giving away a copy of the magazine I'm being published in! I'll also be unveiling the new blog name and logo and having a survey. I'm curious about what you guys think of the blog after all of the changes.

April 10 - Writerly Bundle #10 - This includes another DavidsTea review in this Skyrim-themed post!

April 12 - A Book Review of Orphan's Song by Gillian Bronte Adams - Gillian is releasing a new book this month, so I want to get this one reviewed before I review the next one! This is a really fun fantasy novel.

April 15 - Beautiful People - I don't know what Cait has in store for us this month but I'm anxious to find out.

April 16 - So Your Character is From New Zealand ... Featuring Tessa Ann @ Books, Bubbles, & Arohanui and Grace Bridges - The next edition of the highly anticipated series is coming out on this day! It's a dream of mine to go to New Zealand, so I'm very excited about this post. It has a wealth of info about the country.

April 17 - Writerly Bundle #11 - I'll be featuring DavidsTea's North African Mint blend in this bundle.

April 19 - The Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams - I'm excited to present you my review of Gillian's latest book! I haven't read it yet since the ARC just came in, but I look forward to analyzing it!

April 22 - Tag - I have a few tags in stock. I haven't decided which one I'll do yet. *rubs hands together*

April 23 - Writing Lessons from Movies: Iron Man - I'll be analyzing Iron Man and highlighting all the great writing in this movie. This is the first Marvel movie I'd seen and it helped get me into sci-fi!

April 24 - Writerly Bunde #12 - I'll be featuring Adagio's White Peony blend. It should be fitting for spring.

April 26 - A Book Review of Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittermore - I read this one a while back and now I'm finally getting the review to you. It's an interesting book. :)

April 29 - Interview with Bryce - Bryce's interview will be up!

April 30 - Monthly Summary: April - Just like this post but for April.

Elsewhere ...

1.) How to Write a Love Triangle Like Jane Austen by Kaitlin @ Ink and Quills - This is a really neat perspective on how to write a different kind of love triangle.

2.) Why Christians Should Play Video Games (With Discernment) by Michael Morejon @ Geeks Under Grace - A neat discussion about the Christian taboo subject of video games.

3.) How to Take Charge of Your Novel's Symbolism by Christine @ Better Novel Project - This is a good post about how to use symbols for your novel to enhance it.

5.) Why Aren't You Getting Comments? by Cait Drews @ Paper Fury - So many awesome tips on how to get comments on your blog.

March was a stressful month, but it did have its highlights. I'm hoping April will be smoother sailing though. XD

How was your month? What did you do? Are you looking forward to any of the upcoming posts? Have you played any video games recently? Have you read any of the books I've reviewed? Have you ever cosplayed? Have you ever been to Miami?
If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)