apple pie · The Universe

Giving Thanks and Announcing Sales

Hail and hello, my friends! I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t be back until next month, but today happens to be a very important day. Do you know what today is? It’s Wednesday! Huzzah!

Now, most of you are thinking, “why is Wednesday so exciting? We have it every week, after all.” And you’d be right. But the reason this Wednesday is exciting is because tomorrow is the fourth Thursday in the month of November, which means Thanksgiving.

Ah, Thanksgiving. That most holy and precious of holidays. Where we gather together and give thanks to the Father for all that we have been given this year. Then we promptly stuff ourselves with turkey and pie and mashed potatoes and pie and corn and goose and pie and cookies and, most importantly, pie, like pigs that have been on a week-long diet.

It is truly glorious.

I have many things to be thankful for this year. My author, my brother and sister, my friends, this blog, not being dead, pie… and you guys! You are the very best readers any imaginary blogger could have. So thank you for taking the time to read this! Now before you go, I have two very special guests and an ANNOUNCEMENT. You see, my author volunteered me to help out in a very awesome event: the Indie Christian Books Black Friday Book Sale!

Book Sale

(Isn’t that cool looking?)

It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Books has a perfect event for you.

From Nov 24th through Nov 30th, a huge selection of independently published Christian books are on sale. You can find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, we have some freebies for you! Need even more of a reason to support indie authors and fill your shelf with good stories? When you purchase a paperback book through you’ll be eligible to enter an exclusive giveaway including free books and an Amazon gift card! Blog posts have been going up since the 17th and will continue until the 24th, complete with book reviews and cool author interviews, so check out

You can meet our authors by visiting the Author Database on the website. Want to get to know the authors better AND have the chance to win some fun prizes? We’d love to have you join our week long Facebook party which will feature 39 authors over 7 days.

What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. Many of the books are listed as “Sold Out.” This is because we aren’t selling those directly through our site. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.

From November 24th-30th a huge selection of discounted books is available at You can also join the Indie Christian Authors for a week long Facebook party during the same dates.”

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.


And for our guests, allow me to welcome back my Author to the blog! And today, she’s bringing in Suzannah Rowantree, author and Black Friday Sale participator, in as a guest for an interview. For those of you who don’t know Suzannah, she’s graciously provided this introduction:

When Suzannah Rowntree isn’t travelling the world to help out friends in need, she lives in a big house in rural Australia with her awesome parents and siblings, writing historical fantasy fiction informed by a covenantal Christian perspective on history.

If you like the fiction of CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Stephen Lawhead, or ND Wilson, you’ll probably enjoy her stories too.


And now, without further ado…

*Nikken bows out*

Author: When did you decide you wanted to become an author, Suzannah? How long have you been writing?

Suzannah: I started my first story when I was 12, as a birthday present for a friend. It was the latest birthday present ever, because I didn’t finish it until I was 16! It was hard work, and I still remember finishing that story and thinking, “That’s it, I’m never doing this again.” About fifteen minutes later, I’d started another story. After that, I gave up pretending I could give it up.

A: Do you have a favorite genre to read or to write? Who’s your all-time favorite author?

S: I read just about everything, although I most enjoy speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy) as well as historical. As a writer, I have ended up working in the wide field of historical fantasy, which provides me with plenty of inspiration! My all-time favourite author is JRR Tolkien, naturally. I re-read The Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time last year, and realised that without meaning to, I’ve ended up being greatly influenced by him.

A: According to the description, your book Pendragon’s Heir is about a Victorian girl that gets drawn into the Arthurian myths. What was your reason for inventing a story surrounding those tales?

S: So, when I was about 17, a lady at church loaned me a detective novel called The Daughter of Time. In that story, a bedridden detective starts studying the history of Richard III, trying to determine whether he really was a serial murderer and usurper, or whether the truth is something different. I finished the whole book that Sunday afternoon and was just so excited, I had to write a story of my own about exonerating some famous figure of history or legend. My excited teen self very quickly chose Queen Guinevere of Arthurian legend. I’d always been annoyed about her affair with Sir Lancelot. So, I started writing the story that very afternoon, and just like The Daughter of Time, it was about a girl living centuries later who suddenly has to figure out whether Guinevere was honest or not–in my story, because she suddenly finds out that she is Guinevere’s daughter, but there’s doubt about her father.

That was probably the most productive afternoon of my life!

A: What kind of research did you need to conduct when writing Pendragon’s Heir, and how did you acquire that information? What sources were the most interesting or helpful?

S: You know, this is an excellent question. I’m very passionate about the need to conduct proper research when writing historical fiction. However, I actually didn’t do a lot of research for Pendragon’s Heir, except for all the medieval literature I was reading anyway. I’ve always loved medieval literature…from Beowulf to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the Mabinogion. The most helpful resource I read for Pendragon’s Heir was Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, which was actually incredibly challenging to me. I’d grown up believing the King Arthur legends were about these idealistic, good knights, but in Malory, they are very violent and lustful. It took years of struggling with this book, and a wonderful essay by CS Lewis in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, before I really began to understand what Le Morte D’Arthur was trying to say about the difficulty of sinful men trying to build the kingdom of God on earth. So that also became the main theme of Pendragon’s Heir.

A: What is the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve ever done in the name of story research?

S: For me it often goes the other way around–I’ll do something interesting and then decide I have to write a story about it! One good example is during a trip I took to the South Island of New Zealand a couple of years ago. We were travelling through the mountains in May, which is late autumn here in the southern hemisphere, so there was snow on the mountains each morning. At Lake Wanaka, I was fascinated by the clear glacial waters and declared that I’d like to go for a swim. My hostess got worried about hypothermia, so I just snuck out one day and had a swim without telling anyone. The water was clear as glass and cold. When I got home, I wrote the whole experience into Death Be Not Proud, which is a fairytale retelling set in New Zealand during Prohibition in the 1930s.

A: Do you write by hand, by keyboard, or by some mix between the two? What are your reasons for your writing mode?

S: I pretty much just use keyboard. The only time I’ll write by hand is when I’m doing basic plotting or characterisation planning work. For some reason I find it helps to have pieces of paper spread out around me when I’m trying to do the most basic planning. Something about thinking spatially gets the plot kickstarted.

Using the keyboard, on the other hand, lets me get my thoughts onto the ‘page’ much quicker. I usually am trying to hold four or five thoughts in my head at once when I’m writing, so speed is important–I want to get everything down before I forget it.

A: Do you like to listen to music or snack while you write? If so, what do you enjoy listening to or snacking on the most?

S: I am very strange: I do not listen to music at all while I write. I find it distracts me from the work and takes up parts of my brain that I need for listening to the flow and cadence of the words. I suspect this might be because I’m a musician as well as a writer – music isn’t something I can just have on in the background.

I’m not a great snacker, but I almost always have a cup of tea on my desk. As a confirmed tea snob, it’s usually something pretty fancy–I love oolong, lapsang souchong, and this one particular chai I’ve found that tastes good without milk or honey. (Go Go Goa from T2 Tea, if anyone’s interested!)

A: Do you have a favorite character to write about? Why do you like writing about him/her the most?

S: It’s been years since I wrote him, but honestly, my favourite character of all my characters ever has to be Perceval from Pendragon’s Heir. I love how completely uninhibited he is. He’s the unsocialised homeschooler par excellence and the best part is, that’s pretty much how he was in the original legends. Perceval starts out slightly arrogant and winds up learning a lot about life, but he never, ever loses his zest for life, his curiosity, or his optimism. He was an unending source of fun to write.

A: What’s the hardest part of a story for you to write? Contrariwise, what’s your easiest or favorite part to write?

S: Beginnings are the hardest part for me. Whether it’s the opening scene or the opening chapter, I usually come back to them again and again and alter them significantly throughout the whole writing process. The second hardest part is definitely the ending scene, which is usually difficult for the same reason–you just have to sum up so much in a short space of time, so elegantly.

I’m not sure I would call anything the easiest part. But I’ll tell you what’s my favourite part. My favourite part is when the thing is finished and my beta or review readers are telling me how much they love the story. I write to make people think and to make them feel they can serve the kingdom of God, so hearing from readers who feel inspired, transported, thrilled and encouraged is an incredible sign that I’ve done my job properly.

A: What’s your favorite piece of writing advice that you’ve ever been given?

S: There is no such thing as Christian art or nonChristian art. There is only good art and bad art.

I know, I know, that’s kind of provocative. But hear me out. The fact is that God is the ultimate storyteller, and that all stories are based on God’s True Myth, as CS Lewis called the Gospel. Every story is a salvation story or a fall story, so every story retells redemptive history. After years of reading and watching different stories, I’ve come to the conclusion that every truly great story is great because it retells the gospel in some way. This has really given me the freedom to prioritise telling good stories over trying to tell Christian stories, not because Christian truth isn’t of paramount importance, but because I can have faith that the better my story is, the better it will communicate Christian truth.

A: Thank you for your time. Your answers are very interesting and I enjoyed interviewing you a lot. And thanks, Nikken, for allowing me to borrow your blog for a bit!

Nikken: No problem. My blog es su blog, or however that saying goes. Anyway, thanks to Suzannah for agreeing to be interviewed, and now why don’t you go check out her book, Pendragon’s Heir? I have to go now though–my Author needs her brain back! Until December, everyone!


(P.S. Also, before you go, here’s a quick giveaway. Have fun!)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Universe

Burning Rose Blog Tour (Huzzah!)

Hello, my friends! As you might have guessed from the header, it is my pleasure to assist the wonderful Hope Ann with her newest book’s introduction to the world. Today’s post comes with a special Behind the Scenes glimpse of Hope Ann’s writing process (excitement! I do love behind the scenes. Behind the scenes is where me and my fellow characters drive my Author to near distraction >:D). Enjoy!

Behind the scenes of Burning Rose: Shadows of the Hersweald song
I enjoy music. I find it hard to write without listening to soft soundtracks, though loud
siblings might have something to do with that. But not only do I enjoy listening to music as I
write, I also love finding songs for my characters. Sometimes I can find them, sometimes I can’t.
Sometimes they are perfect and sometimes they are only close. The song for Hayden, from
Shadows of the Hersweald, is pretty close. It is Set Me Free by Casting Crowns:

Read Haydn’s full story in my new paperback collection, Burning Rose!

The Burning Rose
A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.
Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped
in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.
Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to
discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.
Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former
comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.
Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all.
There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.
Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.
ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast
ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel
Order Burning Rose now!


Nikken here again! And I feel obliged to say, that these are some of the most unique fairy-tale retellings either my Author or I have come across. Sadly, my author’s life has been too busy to help me formulate a review at this moment, but hopefully she will manage to get that done and present it to you soon. Or you could just go and get the book, and decide what you think of it for yourself!

Farewell, my friends, until we meet again!

~Love, Nikken


(And now for our guest…)


Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with
writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight
younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads
of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects
including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at

The Universe

A Cover Reveal

Greetings and well met!
Do you remember a few months back, when my author was our honored guest and talked about Hope Ann’s new book, Rose of the Oath. Well, today it is my honor to finally reveal to you the cover her newest release, Burning Rose, a paperback collection of the first three Legends of Light novellas!

Burning Rose header

A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.


Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all. There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.

ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast




ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel

You can check out each ebook individually here or the Burning Rose page here. The Kindle version is available for preorder, but the paperback won’t be up to buy until the launch on October 3rd. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it then. In the meantime, you can add Burning Rose to your lists on Goodreads.

I suppose you’d like to actually see the cover now? Very well. It is glorious.

The Burning Rose.jpg

Designed by Kate Flournoy

Worth the wait? Because I love it. And it’s less than a month before you can hold a copy of Burning Rose in your own hands! Also, if you want blow by blow updates as well as cool tidbits and a behind-the-scenes look of the launch, you can hop over here to Facebook and join the Readers of Aslaria launch group!

Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at

Isn’t that cover awesome? I especially approve of the image of the flower on fire. I do love me a good fire. Anyway, keep an eye out for more about this collection, but for now I must say farewell. Until we meet again, my friends!


The Universe

What Makes a Story a Good Story?

As an avid reader, writer, and watcher of stories, this is something I’m always thinking about.

What makes a story a good story?

You know what the good stories are. You read that book, and now, two years later, you remember it as the best thing you ever read. You completely ignored that story you wrote back in november, but your mind will keep wandering back to it, desperately wanting to edit it and share it with the world. You watched that tv show and, despite the slow process of getting it out of the library since Netflix no longer shows it, you keep coming back for more, finishing it through sheer determination and multiple trips to the library.

The Book ThiefThe Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, To Kill a Mockingbird. All these are good books. Doctor Who, Sherlock, The Princess Bride, Lilo and Stitch. These are good movies/shows. (and these lists are by no means exhaustive. I love tons of other books and movies)

But what is it that draws us to the story and labels it “good”?

A good story is one that reminds us of who we are, what we can be, and what makes life worth living. It’s one with well rounded characters, effortless dialogue, and development: people becoming better people, worlds becoming better worlds.

For everyone, the answer to this question is different, but this is what it means to me. Next time you read a book or watch a movie, try to think of what the definition is for you. What do you look for in characters? In plot? What are you searching for? What is lacking in certain stories?

And when you find the good stories, don’t let them go. Treasure them always.

See ya later,


The Universe

My Dear People…

Do you know what today is?
If you said the 29th of July, then yes, you’d be right. But it’s also the 63rd birthday of that most epic tale ever to grace the shelves of the fantasy genre.
That’s right, I’m talking about The Lord of the Rings.
Now, you might be thinking: Nikken, why do you have such a high opinion of those books? After all, you’re a fictional character yourself.
That has a very simple answer: if it wasn’t for these books, I wouldn’t exist.
You see, when my Author was a little girl, she loved to make up stories. But she only liked to make up mystery stories. Her favorite books were The Bobbsy Twins and The Happy Hollisters and the like. But when she was six years old, her mother read The Hobbit to her, and it changed her world. The next year, she read The Hobbit all by herself, and it changed her. Middle-Earth touched her in ways she didn’t understand, being only seven years old. Elves and dwarves, goblins and hobbits and dragons… it was unlike anything she’d ever read before. Slowly, she stopped reading mainly mystery stories and began reading fantasies like Redwall and Eragon. Then, when she was eleven years old, her parents said she was old enough to read The Lord of the Rings. She had been waiting for this for years, especially once her older brother read it, and nearly burst from excitement. She read the entire series in five days.
If she loved The Hobbit, she absolutely adored The Lord of the Rings. The world of Middle-Earth, which had so intrigued her in The Hobbit, became so much clear, so much more wonderful than she thought it ever could be. The cheerfulness of the hobbits, the courage of men, the loyalty of the dwarves, the long, long sorrow and steadfastness of the elves… It made her wish that somehow she could be a part of so epic and wonderful a world. Reading the book was like peeking through a window to a world of honor and glory and faith and valor and wonder. A world of good and evil, of weakness triumphing over strength.
Then she had an idea.
She thought, “I can never write as well as Tolkien, but I wish I could write a fantasy story that would make people feel in the tiniest the stuff The Lord of the Rings makes me feel.” So, a few weeks before she turned twelve, she climbed up into her loft bed and began to write a story on six pages of tan-colored lined notebook paper. And eventually, a story took form—the story of how my cousin, my brother, and I set out on a long journey to discover the Father’s Chosen hero that would save our lands.
So that is the main reason I like these books so much—they helped bring me to life.
But there are other reasons too: for one thing, if you think about it, Tolkien is the father of the entire modern fantasy genre. Don’t believe me? Think about it:
1. Orcs—Tolkien invented them. The name is based off the Old English words orc and orcneas, which, roughly, mean ‘demon’. In Middle-Earth, ‘orc’ is the Elvish word for Morgoth’s and Sauron’s servants, who were originally elves that were corrupted by Morgoth. In English, the word ‘orc’ is translated to ‘goblin’, (therefore, Tolkien’s orcs and goblins are one and the same, not separate species, as many people seem to think). The orcs in World of Warcraft and Warhammer? They would not have existed without The Lord of the Rings.
2. Elves—Tolkien, of course, was inspired by the elves of Norse Mythology, but the standard modern version of elves—tall, wise, long hair, incredibly beautiful, archers—were invented by Tolkien and Tolkien alone. Traditional mythological elves do not look anything like the image of elves that is so common in our minds these days. The preeminence of elves in modern fantasy, such as World of Warcraft and Eragon? You can thank Tolkien for them.
3. Dwarves—dwarves in Norse Mythology were greedy little guys that spent all their time underground, and most of them were mean-spirited types, if not out-and-out evil. The image of noble dwarves? This came from the last bit of The Hobbit and Gimli from The Lord of the Rings.
4. Dark Lords—how many Dark Lords are there? Too many to count. When was the first appearance of a Dark Lord in modern literature? I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure it was The Lord of the Rings.
5. Other languages—this isn’t as common, but there are many books that have invented languages for certain races in the books (often Elves). I don’t know if there were any instances of invented languages before The Lord of the Rings, but you and I both know who started that trend—Tolkien.
6. Halflings—again, not as common, but Halflings tend to pop up here and there, especially in board games. The trend of short guys with curly hair and hairy feet that live in holes and eat a lot all began one sunny when Tolkien wrote the words ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit’ on the back of an exam paper.
7. Mithril—mithril was invented by Tolkien. It first appeared in the Hobbit, and it had a prominent position in the story of The Lord of the Rings. All sorts of fantasy games and stories have mithril, and even call it mithril (which is a Sindarin name meaning “grey brilliance”) instead of the English name, truesilver.
8. The fantasy genre in general—There are instances of fantasy stories before the publication of the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings, such as George MacDonald’s excellent stories. But the big boom of fantasy happened after The Lord of the Rings was published in 1954. Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, World of Warcraft, Eragon, you name it—they probably would never had existed if Tolkien hadn’t published a book about hobbits and dwarves and elves and men and then was asked to make a sequel.

These are some of the basics. There is even more evidence out there proving that Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy fiction. It’s sad to think that many people nowadays forget his huge influence on modern culture (My author says it’s even sadder that people watch the movies based off his stories and never even bother to read the actual books. That really annoys her).
Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings are doubly responsible for my existence, if you think about it, so I have a lot to thank them for. I think anyone who is a fan of fantasy should celebrate the often-underrated epicness of Tolkien, so that’s why I’m here writing this post. Maybe someday, everyone will remember how Tolkien started it all and appreciate him for the impact he had on our world. But until that happens, at least my author and I will never forget.
Professor Tolkien, I salute you.
So CELEBRATE, everyone! This year marks the 100th year since Tolkien first began to write about the world of Middle-Earth, and today it’s the 63rd Birthday of The Lord of the Rings! Cosplay! Sing songs! Eat Apple Pie (though seriously, you should do that anyway)!
Happy Birthday, Lord of the Rings, and many happy returns!
Namarië! Elen síla lummen’ omentielvo. Namarië!


The Universe

Rose of the Oath: A Beauty and the Beast Novella by Hope Ann

Well met, everyone! It is I, Nikken, and today I am introducing a special guest. She has come here to present unto you the wonderful news of a book release, and a review as well.

Now, without further ado, I present to you–My very own Author! *clasp wildly*

Author: *laughs* Thank you, Nikken. Today I am here to talk about Rose of the Oath, a new novella by author Hope Ann.


War clouds the horizon and rebels gather under a mysterious leader. Alone, with her two younger sisters, Elissa watches the mountain road desperately for her brother’s return. Instead, she receives news of his capture by a strange figure covered in scars and cloaked in wolf skins.

With rebels drawing nearer, she sets off to find her brother. To save him. There is no one else who can.

Yet she soon finds the rose that granted her warning now holds her captive in safety. Outside the valley, war threatens those she loves most. Though her strange host claims the ancient promises of the Prince’s return and victory over the rebels, Elissa knows the blood-drenched truth. She is on her own. Elissa will do anything to keep her family safe, but more than one kind of wolf stalks the Blackwood and danger lurks closer than she could ever imagine.

Download it for FREE at:




Add it to your shelf on Goodreads

Also, a bonus! For those of you who may not have seen it, I’m also giving away the prequel to this Beauty and the Beast retelling, Rose of the Night – an account of how the ‘Beast’ became the Beast.

Click here to claim your free copy!

Add to your shelf on Goodreads

Finally, in honor of the official release of Rose of the Oath, my other novellas are $0.99 for this week only!

Buy Song of the Sword: A Rapunzel Novella

Buy Shadows of the Hersweald: A Hansel and Gretel Novella

About Hope Ann

Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and writes regular articles for Kingdom Pen as the Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration.

You can visit Hope’s blog at, or follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.


This novella is actually a rewritten version of Hope Ann’s original published work, Rose of Prophecy. My close friend, Jese’s author, recommended it to me a few months ago. I got it on the Kindle, read it, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Just a few days later, I discovered the author, Hope Ann, was about to publish a rewrite of Rose of Prophecy, called Rose of the Oath. This intrigued me, and I became very excited to see what this new version would be like. So when Hope Ann announced she was looking for people to participate in her blog explosion, I signed up and read Rose of the Oath immediately. I wasn’t disappointed. The smooth-flowing descriptions, the carefully thought-out symbolism, the quality of the characters–all of these show that Hope Ann has continued to grow and improve in the writing world. The book was exciting, entertaining, and at several notable points had me close to panic about what would happen to Elissa and the Beast.

There are, of course, a few things that I liked better the way they occurred in the original version. Yet over all, Rose of the Oath is far superior to its predecessor, in the same way that a rose in full bloom overshadows a bud that is about to open. One of the things I love most about this new book is the character of Elissa. In Rose of Prophecy, Beauty is sweet and gentle, brave and loving, faithful and trusting in the promise of the Prince and the King. Beauty is a character that, while she still needs to grow, is on the threshold of adulthood in the faith.

Elissa, on the other hand, is broken. She has seen no provision of the King, she disbelieves the prophecy that His so-called son, the Prince, will ever appear. The King has never cared for her–why would He start to do so now? She’s struggling and afraid, clinging to her disbelief, scared of hoping only to see the hope burn to ash.

While both Beauty and Elissa struggle, Elissa’s struggles are more poignant. Both are realistically human, but Elissa’s humanity is one that everyone can relate to.

This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and anyone who has ever heard of the story knows one simple fact: Beauty and the Beast is about love. Not merely romantic love between two people, but deep, deep love that saves from death, doom, and destruction.

I have read multiple retellings of Beauty and the Beast, all of them good and beautiful. Yet in the end, I have to say that Rose of the Oath is the one that most accurately, movingly, and meaningfully depicts this love, in more ways than one and in surprising fashions.

To sum up, this is a story about someone beautiful and someone beastly, about a faithful prince and a failing people, and an Oath made in love that will be fulfilled, despite all the powers of hate and darkness.


Author: And now, I’m afraid I have to be going. Thank you for your time, and thank you, Nikken, for letting me borrow your blog for a bit. Goodbye, everyone! *waves and leaves*

There, wasn’t that great? Give my author a big round of applause, if you will! (After all, she’s the one who made me! 😉 )

Thank you for coming, everyone. Come back soon! Until then, fare you well wherever you fare!

The Universe

On Modern Ideas of Female Battle-Wear

Well met, my friends! Wednesday has come around again, and so here I am with my thoughts on life and the universe (not on apple pie though–that’ll be Jese’s thing sometime soon).

A little while ago, I was watching my author play World of Warcraft. And as I’m watching, I notice the armor some of the women are wearing, and I have one question: Who on earth thought the metal bikini was a good idea?

I mean, really. Are all women warriors supposed to be some kind of suicide squad?

Where I come from, armor is very important. It protects you. It saves your life. It’s expensive. Way more metal and time goes into armor than into swords or spears. The High King does his best to ensure every member of his army gets high-quality equipment, but for travelers or normal people defending their homes, that isn’t always possible. I’m lucky, because I come from a wealthy family. When I have adventures or go to war, I’m always well-equipped. Many people don’t have that chance–they have to make do with boiled leather armor, usually with inset metal rings for extra protection. It’s better than nothing, but not as good as a well-made breastplate and chain-mail hauberk. If you have armor, you want to make sure it protects you. You take good care of it. When you go into battle, you know the armor you wear will do it’s part in protecting you.

I cannot imagine feeling confident marching into battle wearing something that exposes even a little of my stomach. Ships, you’re exposing one your most vulnerable spots to the enemy! Stomach wounds are a particularly painful and lingering way to die. I’ve been in battle, I’ve seen what it’s like. The only way I can see armor like that ever being helpful is if every enemy you face dies from laughter when they see what you’re wearing.

Yes, sometimes you are forced to fight without wearing any armor at all. I have relatives who are very skilled in the way of the sword who almost never use plate armor because it. But they usually at least use mail-studded boiled leather vests, and they don’t fight without shirts on unless they’re attacked in the middle of the night. Sometimes not even then–the more paranoid ones often wear leather vests to bed (I have some odd relatives).

I have female relatives that fight. They wear the exact same things that we do–sometimes they wear even more armor than we men (Yes, your Highness, I’m counting myself among the men. You can stop laughing now, I’m trying to concentrate).

The same thing goes for superhero costumes. Wearing little more than a bikini is asking for the villains to kill you (and don’t get me started on fighting in high heels. The very thought makes my mother and my cousin Enna go off into peals of high-pitched laughter). Personally, I think the defeat of injustice would be more effective if you’re not dead.

Anyway, all I’m saying is that the whole metal bikini thing isn’t a smart way to go. I’m also not knocking World of Warcraft or the superhero industry–just saying that their idea of female fighting gear doesn’t really make any sense. So a heads up to all you people out there–if you ever fall into  portal or something and end up in an epic fantasy world, be careful. If they offer you metal bikinis, refuse politely and ask for a standard mail shirt, maybe a breastplate. Trust me, it’ll go a long way towards keeping you alive.

Farewell! May your paths be straight!

Until next time,