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This blog is managed by us two sisters, known to some as Ants and Epic. We're a pair of up-and-coming authors and avid readers. This blog is mainly full of honest, Christian book-reviews and an occasional update about our writing. We love hearing from you all so feel free to drop a comment anywhere to just say hi!
Also, got any book suggestions? Something you'd like to see reviewed? Leave the title in the comments and we'll try to get to it!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Book Review: Hickory Dickory Death

Summary: A most unusual series of crimes at a student hostel intrigues Inspector Poirot in Christie’s Hickory Dickory Dock, especially when a simple case of kleptomania paves the way to murder.

Thoughts: I've been a fan of mystery novels since I was small. I can't remember when I started, but  from Nancy Drew to Sherlock Holmes and several in between others I loved them! Which is why I'm stumped for an answer as to why this is my first Agatha Christie book. I've been meaning to pick up her stories for awhile now but only recently accomplished this goal. And I was not dissapointed. Though a small book with a rather tame story (despite the murders it was rather calm) the characters immediately captured my fancy and I loved it! A great read for any fan of mystery and especially for those who don't enjoy scary plots!

Content: It's a murder mystery so there is death and talk of the psychological. A little bit of English language (the occasional D***). Otherwise a perfectly clean read.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review: The Runaway Princess

Summary: "A dragon darkens our dells. A witch haunts our woods. Bandits roam our moors" . . . King Stromgard swept on. "In the tradition of so many monarchs, I offer my daughter's hand in marriage and half my kingdom to the prince who can rid us of these evils, restoring peace and prosperity to our realm."
And so the contest in the Kingdom of Greeve begins. But Princess Margaret is not your traditional princess. Meg firmly objects to her parents' giving her away, and she certainly has no intention of remaining in the tower where she is sequestered. Instead, she sets out to win the contest herself by enlisting the help of her good friend, her loyal maid, an eager guardsman, a young wizard, and a tenacious witch. Does Meg find her distinct place in the kingdom, or is she doomed to fulfill her royal duties?
Kate Coombs weaves a magical tale full of pesky princes, enchanted frogs, a beady-eyed scarf, and invisibility juice - a tale of wonder, but a story familiar to all who struggle to find their own place in the world.

Thoughts: This is one of those charming tales that can never be told too often! Reminiscent of  Gail Carson Levine's princess stories or Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest series, this is an unconventional tale about a witch, a band of thieves, some truly awful princes, a dragon, a wizard, and of course a runaway princess. The characters were fun and endearing and brim full of no-nonsense in a nonsensical situation. A fun light read for anyone!

Content: None, things never even got particularly violent though some people may have a problem with the idea of a good witch, but over all a safe read for all ages!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Series Review: The Space Trilogy

 Summary: Out of the Silent Planet begins the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom. Here, that estimable man is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. The two men are in need of a human sacrifice, and Dr. Ransom would seem to fit the bill. Once on the planet, however, Ransom eludes his captors, risking his life and his chances of returning to Earth, becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity. First published in 1943, Out of the Silent Planet remains a mysterious and suspenseful tour de force.
  Perelandra continues the adventures of the extraordinary Dr. Ransom. Pitted against the most destructive of human weaknesses, temptation, the great man must battle evil on a new planet -- Perelandra -- when it is invaded by a dark force. Will Perelandra succumb to this malevolent being, who strives to create a new world order and who must destroy an old and beautiful civilization to do so? Or will it throw off the yoke of corruption and achieve a spiritual perfection as yet unknown to man? The outcome of Dr. Ransom's mighty struggle alone will determine the fate of this peace-loving planet.
   That Hideous Strength concludes the adventures of the matchless Dr. Ransom. The dark forces that were repulsed in Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra are massed for an assault on the planet Earth itself. Word is on the wind that the mighty wizard Merlin has come back to the land of the living after many centuries, holding the key to ultimate power for that force which can find him and bend him to its will. A sinister technocratic organization is gaining power throughout Europe with a plan to "recondition" society, and it is up to Ransom and his friends to squelch this threat by applying age-old wisdom to a new universe dominated by science. The two groups struggle to a climactic resolution that brings the Space Trilogy to a magnificent, crashing close.

Thoughts: Like most children I've read and reread The Chronicles of Narnia since...well, since I first started reading books!  From there I've gone on to read plenty of C. S. Lewis's books on theology but it wasn't until recently that I found out that one of my favorite authors wrote another fictional series, this time a sci-fi one! The series started out slow, I'll admit. Having been meant for a more mature audience than Narnia he tackles bigger questions and delves deeper into world building. I was rather bored with the first book, to be honest, but little did I realize it was just setting the stage! The second book started off very much like the first but the climax...oh the climax! It will probably always terrify me when I remember that battle (though I'm not going to give you anything more than a warning. No spoilers!)! And then...the final stage. The curtain opens, again, on a slow dull scene that...rapidly deviates from its predecessors and quickly becomes one of the most thrilling and horrific books I've ever read! While not giving anything away I will say that I might not have finished it if I hadn't desperately needed to know the end and (hopefully) gain peace of mind there! Over all, this is a fantastic series (don't let the slow parts decieve you!) and great for mature readers!

Content: While all Christian, Lewis takes his comparisons to the next level in this series and some of the scenes often get horrifying or gruesome or both. A bit of English language here, meaning D*** and the occasional other but nothing overly offensive. The biggest problem is that the last book touches (or rather, tackles) the topic of martial relations and, while remaining entirely clean and merely defining the theology of it, might not be suitable for younger readers. Still, a great and recommended read for a mature audience!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Series Review: Little Britches

Summary: Little Britches: In 1906 Littleton Colorado, near Denver, Ralph Moody 8 learns how to be a man from his father and cowboy Hi. Mother Mame tries to enforce Sunday bible standards. The family of seven build a ranch, participate in auctions, roundups, picnics. They suffer from irrigation wars, tornado wind storms, flood, gain and lose stock. 1950 literary debut continues for 8 books.
 Man of the Family: Early 1900s Colorado. Fortified with Yankee ingenuity and western energy, the Moody family, transplanted from New England, builds a new ranch life. Father has died and Little Britches shoulders the responsibilities of a man at age eleven. Determined Grace and religious Mother cooks beans, bread and repair lace curtains while Ralph builds frames and delivers baking.
The Home Ranch:  Ralph Moody turns again to Colorado, the scene of those two delightful earlier books about his boyhood, Little Britches and Man of the Family.
This is an extension of Mr. Moody's recollections of his twelfth year, and fits withing the framework of Man of the Family between chapters 25 and 26.

 Mary Emma and Company: The protagonist, Mary Emma Moody, widowed mother of six, has taken her family east in 1912 to begin a new life. Her son, Ralph, then thirteen, recalls how the Moodys survive that first bleak winter in a Massachusetts town. Money and prospects are lacking, but not so faith and resourcefulness. "Mother" in Little Britches and Man of the Family, Mary Emma emerges fully as a character in this book, and Ralph, no longer called "Little Britches," comes into his own. The family’s run-ins with authority and with broken furnaces in winter are evocative of a full and warm family life.Mary Emma & Company continues the Moody saga that started in Colorado with Little Britches and runs through Man of the Family and The Home Ranch. All these titles have been reprinted as Bison Books, as has The Fields of Home, in which Ralph leaves the Massachusetts town for his grandfather's farm in Maine.
The Fields of Home: 1912 Massachussetts. Narrator Ralph 15 battles maternal Granpa Tom Gould, who swears at "tarnal" boy, cook Millie, old "yalla colt". Ralph tames buckskin by tricks - ties ears back, fills mouth with dirt, apple bribes. Granpa busts invented "contraptions". Millie goes. Uncle Levi advises patience. Pretty Annie and Ralph hold hands. Rocks, roots dynamited. Barn raised.
Shaking the Nickel Bush:   Skinny and suffering from diabetes, Ralph Moody is ordered by a Boston doctor to seek a more healthful climate. Going west again is a delightful prospect. His childhood adventures on a Colorado ranch were described in Little Britches and Man of the Family, also Bison Books. Now nineteen years old, he strikes out into new territory hustling odd jobs, facing the problem of getting fresh milk and leafy green vegetables. He scrapes around to survive, risking his neck as a stunt rider for a movie company. With an improvident buddy named Lonnie, he camps out in an Arizona canyon and "shakes the nickel bush" by sculpting plaster of paris busts of lawyers and bankers. This is 1918, and the young men travel through the Southwest not on horses but in a Ford aptly named Shiftless. New readers and old will enjoy this entry in the continuing saga of Ralph Moody.
The Dry Divide: 4 July 1919 Nebraska. Ralph Moody "Bud" 20 is diabetic, down to last dime when put off a freight train. Three months later he owns 8 teams of horses and rigs. His girl Judy works alongside. On wheat and corn farm of bully Hudson, he pulls together Swedish brothers, drunk Doc, Spanish-speaking Paco, Irish "Jaiko Jack", Old Bill, into first-rate harvest crew.
Horse of a Different Color: Horse of a Different Color ends the "roving days" of young Ralph Moody. His saga began on a Colorado ranch in Little Britches and continued at points east and west in Man of the Family, The Fields of Home, The Home Ranch, Mary Emma & Company, Shaking the Nickel Bush, and The Dry Divide

Thoughts: I realize that these probably weren't the best of summaries but it was the best I could find at the moment. So, here goes...I cried. These were stories my mother started reading out loud to us at night but that I later went back, reread and recently finished myself. Ralph Moody spins a tale of childhood bordering the turning of an age, as one culture becomes lost and another begins. He was, in a sense, one of the last cowboys. It's a saddening yet insightful and enjoyable series. Don't get me wrong, half the time Ralph didn't seem to know or care what age it was! He never lamented the past and his stories are full of fun and crazy adventure that constantly had me questioning its probability. After all, how many people succeed in herding a wild cow with a car, tying her up, and milking her for Christmas dinner? Full of fun for everyone, these are great stories for boys and girls alike of all ages!

Content: There's some 'cowboy talk' as far as language goes but it rarely gets too offensive. Aside from that this series is pretty much friendly for readers young and old! (And highly recommended for both!) 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: The Awakening of Miss Prim

Summary: In this #1 international bestseller, a young woman leaves everything behind to work as a librarian in a remote French village, where she finds her outlook on life and love challenged in every way.
Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbors, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside.
Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn't suspect that she might find love—nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky or would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery, and fireside debate. Set against a backdrop of steaming cups of tea, freshly baked cakes, and lovely company, The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy, and the search for happiness.

Thoughts: This is a rare one-of-a-kind type book. Full of elegance, literature, theology, life, and tea. It can take you back while drawing you forward. The small village is populated with a wonderful cast of simple folk with sharp minds and caring natures and the community that Modern Miss Prudencia Prim finds herself living in is far from what she finds familiar or comfortable. I loved this book! It was the classic capturing of a lost time found in To Kill a Mockingbird meeting at the corner with the dashing elegance of Pride and Prejudice. Best read with a cup of tea, a slice of cake and summer window nearby, or even a warm fire!

Content: It's been a little while between reading and reviewing but I don't remember there being anything offensive in language. Really the only thing anyone might have a problem with was the constantly clashing theologies and ideas on life...and pretty much every subject categorized under that! But reading with an open and thoughtful mind is the best way to get through this book. That aside, clean for all ages though style, wording, and plot make it a bit of a mature read.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Author Interview: John Otte

Today I have the honor of interviewing the author of several christian fantasy and sci-fi books, John Otte, about his newest creation: The Hive.

First, a bit about John:
 John W Otte
John W. Otte leads a double life. By day, he’s a Lutheran minister, husband, and father of two. He graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a theatre major, and then from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. By night, he writes unusual stories of geeky grace. He lives in South St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife and two boys.

You can contact him here.
And find him at and on Twitter as @JohnWOtte.

Now, for the questions!
First things first, why did you become a writer? When did you start? What inspired you?

    In some ways, I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, I used to put together really badly drawn comic books (think crudely drawn stick figure aliens whose stories were thinly-veiled plagiarism from my favorite TV shows). When I realized that I was a lousy artist, I graduated to badly-written novels. Seriously, they were awful. As of right now, I have no idea where the hard copies of those books are. I’m hoping they’ve been destroyed, but I don’t know for sure.
    I “got serious” about my writing career lots of times. For example, in high school, I wrote a query letter to a random literary agent I found in the phone book. He let me down somewhat gently. But I really committed about fifteen years ago when I wrote a science fiction trilogy and decided that I just had to sell it to someone. This was back before the big ebook publishing revolution, so the only path available to me was the traditional model involving agents and publishing houses and all that. So I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and signed up for a critique group. That particular sci fi trilogy has been shelved due to some massive problems with the story, but that was what got me on the path toward publication.
    I guess what really inspired me was the fact that I just loved books when I was growing up. I was a voracious reader. When my family would go on vacations, we would have to pack a crate filled with books for my siblings and I to read on the road. That got frustrating for my parents, because we’d be driving by something impressive they wanted us to see, and they had to argue with us to actually put down the books long enough to look. The reading eventually led to a desire to write.

Hahaha, I can understand that!  A good book is so hard to set aside! 
Who are your favorite authors? Inspiring or simply enjoyable.

    My favorite author right now is Brandon Sanderson. I got clued into his stuff by Jill Williamson and after reading Steelheart, I was just hooked. I’ve been devouring everything of his that’s coming out (as a matter of fact, I think I might be almost as excited that his Bands of Mourning is releasing as I am for the release of The Hive). He does a simply phenomenal job of constructing deep storyworlds that make me jealous of his talent.
    But I’m also very partial to the writing of Michael Stackpole as well. I first discovered his Star Wars novels, but I enjoyed them so much that I decided to check out his non-Star Wars books and I haven’t regretted that at all. He too has some really creative storyworlds and fun characters and stories that make me come back for more.
What inspired The Hive story?

    Unfortunately, I don’t really remember what inspired this story. I think it was a case where I wanted to write another story in the same world as Numb. So I asked myself, “What would happen next?” And the more I thought about it, the more I focused on one really minor character from Numb and asked, “What would happen with him, given what he went through?” And the more I thought about it, the more pieces of The Hive started to come together until I had the kernel of a story idea.
    I know I’m being kind of vague with all of this, but a lot of what I’m talking about is really spoiler-y for both Numb and The Hive. Smile I want to pick up Numb and see what connections I can find!
 Where did Zain's character come from? How did her story come to you? Was she always a cyborg? Pregnant? On the run? Or did things start differently for her?

    Once I had the story fragments I was talking about earlier, Zain pretty much showed up the way she was. I knew I wanted her to be a cyborg and she had to be pregnant and on the run. So Zain’s basic story was always there.   
    Now that doesn’t mean that there weren’t changes to that story. In the earliest drafts, Zain was a cry-er. Big time. As in just about every single chapter ended with her weeping uncontrollably. I think my agent was the one who really noticed this trend and asked me why she was crying so much all the time. So I went through and cut out most of the crying jags and tried to make her stronger.
Even being a girl I've found that it's tough to write a girl that's strong but still girly without diminishing her to a teary-eyed mess. I've got to hand it to you, Zain is a fairly perfect balance! 
Thanks for stopping by! 
Check out The Hive and John's other books on Amazon