Review: Outcasts by Jill Williamson

Okay, I admit it, I've been sucked in to the The Safe Lands realm.

After reading the first in the Safe Lands series, Captives, I absolutely had to read the second book in the series, Outcasts. Author Jill Williamson did not disappoint in the second book of the series. It is every bit as exciting and thought-provoking as the first book.

In Outcasts, the group of "outcasts" are all still searching for a way to escape the Safe Lands. Their efforts are thwarted at every avenue by the government and corrupt officials of the Safe Lands. Their children are at risk. Their babies are being stolen. The pressures and addiction-causing environment of the Safe Lands is still slowly battering away at the morals of some of the "outcasts". They are truly desperate to leave.

Guest Post by Kasey Giard: Favorite Christian Books for Teens

As a parent and reviewer, I’ve read stacks of fabulous books over the last several years, but there are a few that stick with me, ones I find myself returning to like old friends. Here is a short list of my favorites:

Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl – When she finds herself betrothed to a prince who’s not exactly handsome, Princess Una refuses him, falling instead for the handsome jester. In this series debut, Stengl introduces a fun and often unexpected cast of characters, from the cat who isn’t really a cat to a fierce and dangerous dragon.

The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill – Ellie Sweet is tired of being left out by her friends. Her revenge? She crafts a story in which she is the heroine and the catty ladies-in-waiting get just what they deserve. It’s great, until Ellie’s book is published and her friends discover their roles in the story. Hilarious and heart-wrenching at once.

Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk – After her brother is murdered in a school shooting, Meg and her family move across the country to rural Wyoming. The force of Meg’s grief threatens to shatter her until she meets Henry, a rancher’s son whose gentle affection might be a healing balm to Meg’s soul… if the rumors about his girlfriend turn out to be untrue.

Aquifer by Jonathan Friesen – Fifteen year-old Luca knows one day he will take his father’s place and journey to the depths to barter with the water rats for another year’s supply of water for his people. When the nation’s protectors turn on Luca’s father, he is forced to flee. To survive, he must embrace a faith that doesn’t make sense and step beyond the strict rules and regulations placed on his people by the mysterious Council of Nine. Aquifer is an intense dystopian novel with a hint of romance.

There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones – Eighteen year-old Finley Sinclair follows her brother’s journal entries on a journey through Ireland, looking for the God he so powerfully encountered in the people and places there. What she finds instead is a Hollywood hunk and a grouchy would-be grandmother. Can she protect her heart, finish her music composition and find God in time for her audition at the New York Conservatory? Fans of Nancy Rue and Stephanie Morrill will love the fun and romance of Jones’s latest novel.

Guest Poster Kasey Giard is an aspiring writer and avid blogger at http://thestorysanctuary.com where she reviews young adult and middle grade novels and includes notes on content. She lives in Florida with her family and two very silly cats. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing video games, daydreaming, and going to the movies.

Christian Book Series: Legends of Astarkand by Krystine Kercher

Legends Of Astarkand follows the adventures of Bjorn Horsa, a young man who has traveled with a handful of close friends, his mentor, Sir Kyle, nineteen knights and one scoundrel to the land of Astarkand where prophecy says he must save the kingdom. To save the kingdom, he must first be acknowledged as Eiathan's and take the throne of Astarkand. Just one problem;

Astarkand already has a king--a very bitter, angry man named Olaf, who hates Bjorn and wants to destroy him. A Shadow on the Land tells the tale of how this conflict plays out. You may recognize similarities to the story of Saul and David from the Old Testament. Topics this story explores: a damaged environment; civil unrest; corrupt, brutal lords; a petty, spoiled prince (or even two!); handsome heroes, dames in distress; daring rescues and escapes, quirky situational humor, and even a little romance!

King's Ride and Eiathan's Heir continue Bjorn's adventures as he seeks to secure his crown and his kingdom in spite of sorcery and a very hot dragon!

Guest Post by Angie Brashear - Christian Fantasy: A Life-Saving Genre

Definitions of literary genres can be…well, complex. Even tricky. Attempts to define Christian fantasy vary, though I’ve spent little time fretting over an official definition. I mean, Christian fiction typically illustrates a Christian world view within its plot, characters, or both. And the fantasy genre commonly uses myths and legends as a primary plot element, theme, or setting. So, in my opinion, Christian fantasy embodies fantastical elements in an internally consistent setting all the while reflecting aspects of the Christian world view. But the debate (at least for some) surrounds who writes Christian fantasy. Writers who are Christians, writers who claim to be Christians, or writers who believe Christianity is a fantasy to begin with? It’s not a debate I choose to enter, for the truth lies outside the discussion: the genre influences nonbelievers.

Review: Captives by Jill Williamson

Wow! Let me say it again... WOW!
Captives by Jill Williamson is a truly amazing read! Not only is the story really engrossing and the characters realistic, but the author has managed to weave in a wonderful Christian theme without being preachy.

So many of today's Christian fiction books for teens are preachy, but not Captives. Also, so many of today's fiction for Christian teens tends to avoid the "sensitive" subjects such as drug abuse, marital relations before marriage, materialism and others - but not Captives! Author Jill Williamson tackles these issues head on - in a genuine and utterly wonderful way that allows readers to sit back and just enjoy the story without getting caught up in the issues.

I'd give the book ten stars on a five start scale, if I could. It was that good.

Here's the blurb from Zondervan:
One choice could destroy them all.

DawnSinger and WayFarer by Janalyn Voigt

DawnSinger: A headstrong young princess and the guardian sworn to protect her fly on winged horses to the Gate of Life above the Well of Light in a desperate bid to release the DawnKing, and the salvation he offers, into a divided land. Will they each learn in time that sometimes victory comes only through surrender?






WayFarer: When an untried youth ascends to the high throne of Faeraven, his mistakes tear kingdoms apart and allow just one chance at redemption. He must humble himself before the man he banished.
Elcon, an untried youth, assumes his duties as High King. But as trouble stirs between nations and rebellion threatens Faeraven, his position is far from secure. Can Elcon trust that the Elder youth accompanying Kai is the DawnKing, sent by the High One to deliver his people? Or has something gone horribly wrong?
Driven to prove himself, Elcon embarks on a peace-keeping campaign into the Elder lands, where he meets a beautiful Elder princess. But Aewen is betrothed to another, and Elcon has promised to court the princess, Arillia, upon his return. Declaring his love for Aewen would shame them both and tear apart the very fabric of Faeraven.
Elcon’s choices lead him into the Vale of Shadows, where he learns that to deliver his people, he must first find his own redemption.

Worth the Wait by Laura Jackson

Worth the Wait Ellie Lansing has a picture-perfect life with a close-knit family and the perfect boyfriend. But her world is suddenly knocked off center when her drool-worthy boyfriend cheats, and her always-has-it-together mother is diagnosed with cancer. Ellie doesn't get it. She always does the right thing - doesn't God owe her a happy life? Through her heartache, Ellie learns that sometimes what seems like the end is really just the beginning and that what God has for us is always worth the wait.

About the Author: Laura Jackson loves books---reading and writing them. A life-long reader, Laura studied English in college and taught 7th grade language arts before earning her Master's degree and becoming a school librarian. Now, she spends her days sharing great books with kids and her evenings writing books about teenage girls discovering God and His plan for their lives.

Pages