Wednesday, 22 February 2017

#bookreview: The Forgotten Tale by @scifrey

The Forgotten Tale (The Accidental Turn, #2)The Forgotten Tale by J.M. Frey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Untold Tale was one of my best reads in 2016, so when I found out that Story Cartel had review copies of The Forgotten Tale, I jumped at the chance.

The Forgotten Tale starts with an idyllic scene: The Piper family (Syth, Lucy and baby Alis - obviously they cannot retain his identity as Forsyth Turn) are preparing to celebrate Solsticetide in their new home in Canada. Forsyth is beginning to settle in, having even learnt to hack well enough to get a job with the Government. When books - famous fantasy books like The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit - start disappearing, Forsyth fears that he may have earned bad luck by turning away a guest on Solsticetide. But what was he to do? Invite Elgar Reed in and give him access to his new family and new home so that the Writer can turn his life upside down again? Then they're sucked back into The Tales of Kintyre Turn... and so begins a new adventure.

The novel itself is structured with alternating chapters from Forsyth's point of view and a third-person POV of things happening in Hain. It was lovely to see how Frey balances the two so you get enough to know what's happening and why whilst Forsyth is still in the dark, and yet you don't know too much that you start getting bored.

Again, Frey's brilliance lies in the way she has fully dissected the fantasy novel and their associated tropes, making this one of the most self-aware stories in existence - and which also takes away an element of predictability because you have no idea where she's planning to go with all the things she has set up. I mean, yes, you can guess that whatever obvious trope she introduces she's probably going to overthrow, but you don't know when - or how. And there are times where she uses the obvious like a mischievous tongue-in-cheek gremlin saying, "look, you're battling the structure here. It's a lousy structure, but THAT'S WHAT IT IS until you decide to change it."

Tropes she plays with are motherly love (do all women naturally love all children?), agency, throwaway characters, purpose, fighting the structures. In her quest for diversity, Wyndham, the son of Kintyre Turn and Isobin, the Queen of Pirates, is obviously the Black Character, as Piper was the Chinese one (minus point - despite the obvious Chineseness of her matrilineal line [bao bei, wai po, Yuan-Xiao, mooncakes?] she still uses "Pip's Asian facial structure" as if that actually helps elaborate anything.). It's very much also a story on children and legacy, and whether the wishes of the parents are being forced on the children. The ending is very obviously a Deus Ex Machina, but brilliantly executed, with a look into the lives of poor struggling Writers, for whom writing is truly hard.

But I guess, what I liked most about this episode in The Accidental Turn is its very strong theme of Redemption.

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Review of The Untold Tale here!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Looking for reviewers! #bookreview #fantasy #shortstory #ebook

Hey guys! I'm getting ready to launch a new short story, The Flame of the North, which is a sequel to When Winds Blow Cold. Both of these are short stories of about 5,000 words.

If you're interested in getting an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy / Review Copy) for review, let me know!

How do I write a review?

A review doesn't need to be long or complex. It can just be one sentence, if that's all you want to write. Here are a few pointers that you can use to help you write a review:

  1. Pick a star rating. (1 = I didn't like it; 5 = I loved it)
  2. Did you like the story? Tell us why or why not.
  3. Was there anything outstanding that you'd like to point out? (Try not to give away spoilers!)
  4. Who else do you think would like to read it?
  5. If you got this book for review, you should let others know. Something simple like "I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review" works fine and meets the legal disclosure requirements.

Where should I post the review?

You can post it on any online retailer (I should be on all, or almost all of them), but I'd really like reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Quite a lot of people check out reviews on either of these sites before deciding to make a purchase, so your opinion (whether good or bad) will actually make a difference.

When should I post the review?

On or around the launch date of 28 February 2017! Right now, the only place you can post reviews is on Goodreads. Once the book goes on sale on 28 Feb, you'll be able to add your review to any of the retail sites. (And yes, you can post the SAME review on ALL the sites!)

Ok! Sign me up!

Fill up this form and I'll send you the ebook! If you need more info, head over HERE to find out more about The North Series.

Thanks so much!

Friday, 17 February 2017

#fridayflash: Cold

The world is small and narrow and cold. You look at your trembling hands, wondering how you got here. There's a blank space in your mind, a lapse, a blackness; a hole that you can't fill. How did you get here? The only other person in the room with you is unconscious and you don't know if you were the one who did that to him. Maybe you did. Why else would you be locked up in here together?
But if you had done that to him, why would they continue to put you here together? Maybe it wasn't you. Maybe it was something else. Maybe it was him. But there is no one to ask, and you have no memories, so you sit back down, crossing your legs and putting your hands in the folds of your thighs to keep them warm. 
Time ticks by but you don't know how much of it has passed or how fast because you seem to have misplaced your watch. You stare at the white band of skin on your right wrist that marks the place it usually sits. You feel weird without it. Your unknown friend hasn't stirred. Unknown because you've gone to look at his face, but you do not know who he is. Friend because you don't like to think that you're all alone here in this strange place. Your hands haven't warmed up at all. 
There's no sound outside and you wonder if you're sitting in some kind of vacuum. Surely, there should be sounds. A clock ticking, a fan whirring, an aircon humming - why is it so cold if the air-conditioning isn't on? The last you knew, you were in a tropical country. Nothing is ever cold without help. But it is cold here and now and you have goosebumps but there is no vent letting cold air in, none of the usual sounds of the machines used to regulate temperature. The thought strikes you, leaving a lump in your throat: There is no vent
You're in a metal box, with a dead body - you figure he must be dead because he hasn't stirred and you can't tell if he is breathing - with no air vent. You can't find the outlines of a door or a window or any of the usual outlets or marks that something has been sealed. How are you still alive? How are you still breathing oxygen? Are you actually still breathing and awake? Or are you hallucinating?
You pinch yourself and feel your own fingers on your skin, but you don't know if it's real or not because it's you pinching you so whatever you think you should feel would have been manufactured by your own brain. Even in a dream. Because if this isn't a dream, then what is it?
The first sound you have heard in days - because you're melodramatic that way - startles you. It's the scratch of metal against metal, like a door opening. Like the sound of a lock being released. You wait to be released, for a sign or an indication of an exit. Nothing changes. You're still here. The world is dark and narrow and cold.  

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

#bookreview: Rediscovering Discipleship | Robby Gallaty

Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus' Final Words Our First WorkRediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus' Final Words Our First Work by Robby F. Gallaty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I downloaded Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus' Final Words our Work from NetGalley sometime last year because I thought the book would be pretty useful and interesting. Little did I know that when I started reading it this year, it would also somehow coincide with a whole series of Discipleship sermons in church.

In some ways, it's been good. It's formed a stronger background to what discipleship is and should be.

But on the other hand, it's also stirring up anger at the church - at the perceived failures of the church - in relationship to discipleship and their empty rhetoric. FACT: I wrote a whole rant about it on Medium because I was comparing what I was reading against what I was hearing.

" cannot apply a text differently today from how it was applied in the context in which it was written. In other words, a text interpreted today cannot mean something entirely different from what it meant back then. Texts must be understood in their context."

I had an idea for a blog post about this once...
Anyway, Gallaty starts off the book by delving deep into what discipleship was in Jesus' days: something like an expected mentorship, or an apprenticeship - things that we do not practice anymore, and can hardly comprehend. He goes into the details of a Jewish upbringing, throwing into stark contrast the way Jewish children learnt about God and the way Christian children today learn about God. Is one better than the other? I don't know. It's just different. But it does bring up the point of why so many Christian children, growing up in godly families, fail to develop a faith of their own.

He then shifts gear into how discipleship in the church has looked like over the years, from Jesus to Augustine to Wesley, rounding it up with how he leads discipleship groups in his church and his 5 MARCS of a disciple - Missional, Accountable, Reproducible, Communal and Scriptural - giving solid and simple practices to emulate.

One of the strongest things that has been reinforced for me is that discipleship is really about intentional community. It's about walking after the master, being open and transparent about successes and failures - not just the disciple's, but also the master's. It's not about just hearing someone preach. (Stop being a tadpole) But about seeing their lives as it really is - the good, the bad and the ugly. And then passing it on. Doing it again. And it comes back to that main, simple point: knowing who Jesus really is.

"You cannot know the God of the Word unless you know the Word of God. In order to understand God, you must know Jesus - the walking Word (John 1:1, 14) - which is impossible apart from the Scriptures."

Final thought: the goal of discipleship isn't how many people you can bring into church. The goal is to grow your disciples spiritually. I recently watched a great video on this - look, everything is related isn't it? - The question is not really about whether you meet some pre-defined "good standard". It's about growth: how far you've come from where you were.

"Could it be that believers minimise discipleship in the church because they never had the privilege of being discipled? That might be the first step you need to take as a leader. It is difficult - nearly impossible - to lead someone on a journey on which you have never been yourself."

I don't know where I'll go from here. But this book fails in its mission if I don't at least start somewhere. We've talked a lot about "accountability groups" in church and "spiritual parenting" in addition to the care cells. The problem has always been the practical application and carrying out of these discipleship movements. In retrospect, this sounds uncannily similar to the problematic statement of "no problem! You can do it yourself!" but with this caveat - Gallaty points out clearly that the ultimate disciple-maker, and the person we are all called to emulate, is Jesus himself.

If we profess to know the Jesus of the Bible and to follow Him, then we should take on this mandate to make disciples and trust Him to lead us along the way.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

#booklaunch: Abducted Life by @plynne_writes

Today I get to host Patricia Josephine's book launch!
We'll start off with a little teaser:

Returned Home––Abducted Life Teaser

White-hot light stung his eyes. The roar of an engine shook his eardrums, threatening to burst them. His arms and legs were pinned to the cold ground. Above, a massive craft hovered. It was black and sleek, like a giant Porsche with wings instead of wheels. Turbines beat out a frantic rhythm, and yellow lights flashed along its belly. With a low warble, the craft lifted up, vanishing among the stars in a matter of seconds.

Silence settled over the field. He rose to his feet. His only thought was to reach the girl lying motionless nearby. He stumbled across the flattened grass to Savannah. Her skin was washed white in the moonlight, and her strawberry blond curls were in tangles. She didn’t respond to his touch, but her breathing and pulse were steady. He gathered her into his arms.

In the distance, sirens wailed. Headlights raced down the road toward them. Panic lodged in his throat, and he bolted up. If they saw him…

The unconscious girl sprawled at his feet made him pause. He reached for her, but the dark green stripes coloring his arm made him recoil. He couldn’t allow her to see him either. She wouldn’t remember and would be repulsed with what they had done to him. He curled his fingers into a fist and ran to the edge of the field where the trees promised safety.

Hidden, he watched the police cars turn onto the field, kicking up dust in their wake. They skidded to a stop. Their headlights illuminated Savannah. Officers hurried to her with their hands on their guns. One knelt next to Savannah and placed two fingers on her neck.

“Call an ambulance,” he said. “She’s alive.”

“Is it her, Jimmy? The Janowitz girl?”

“I hope so.”

“But where did she disappear to? It’s been a year since she and Evan Sullivan went missing in this field.”

The officer beside Savannah shook his head. He stared at the starry sky. “Dunno.”

An ambulance’s red and white lights flashed in the darkness. Its call was mournful. The paramedics tended to Savannah. She woke as they worked. Tears blurred his vision when she whispered his name.

I’m here, Savvy.

But he wasn’t. He sank into the shadows of the forest and vanished.


Savannah Janowitz’s perfect life was destroyed the night she and her boyfriend vanished without a trace. When she reappears a year later––alone––she’s a shell of her former self. Robbed of her popularity and her boyfriend, she has no memory of what happened to her. Savannah struggles to move forward as strange, new abilities manifest.

Evan Sullivan never gave extra-terrestrials much thought until the night he and Savannah were abducted. While Savannah’s memory was wiped clean, he remembers every horrific detail. Constantly reminded of the experiments that made him less than human, Evan hides in the shadows and watches Savannah rebuild her life without him. But neither can let the other go.

When their paths cross, Savannah and Evan finally see a glimmer of their old lives return. As they face what happened to them, they soon discover they aren’t safe. There’s more to fear than what’s hiding in the stars.

Available for 99cents at Amazon.

About the Author

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

You can find her lurking on Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Wattpad. Find the latest news at her website or sign up for her newsletter. A link to all her books can be found here.

Monday, 13 February 2017

#musicmonday: You Have Shown Us | Martin Smith

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8