Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Blades of Acktar Book 4: Deliver Review

It's time to say goodbye to Leith, Renna, and all our friends. I couldn't have asked for a better send-off for some of my favorite characters than the one they're getting.

But first, the amazing cover and more about the book:

Can something broken ever heal?

Martyn is broken. After torturing his best friend, he doesn’t belong anywhere in Acktar. No matter how far he runs, he can’t lose his guilt.

Leith is broken. While healing from the torture he received at Nalgar Castle, he struggles to find his new role. But can a Blade ever outrun his past?

The country is broken. Bitterness divides town against town, neighbor against neighbor. What will it take to deliver Acktar from itself?

They face their hardest battle yet.


Oh my gosh. This book, just...wow. It's definitely different than the first three, in the time that it passes and in the fact that Martyn is the main focus. Martyn Hamish has made my list of characters that need to be wrapped in bubble wrap and placed far out of reach of their authors where they can't be hurt. The poor thing just needed a hug. 

I loved Martyn's character arc so much. He grew into such an amazing person. His loyalty to his king and to Leith, just...wow. His cynicism was sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking. And his backstory is so sad. The poor guy just needs a hug and some chocolate.

Leith and Renna were just as amazing as ever. Leith was adorable as he was trying to figure out how to move forward with Renna. He's just so sweet. And Renna's gotten so strong. It's...I can't use the word amazing again.

The secondary characters were as awesome as ever. Enthusiastic Brandi who's grown up so much, Jamie and Ranson growing into men, Shadrach Alistair, always so loyal to Leith, and the king, who I don't hate anymore (but am still not that fond of, because how could he not like Leith and Martyn??) is growing into a true king.

Fangirl ranting aside, this is a very well-written book. It grew a little slow after the 25% mark, but completely made up for it by speeding up tremendously halfway. It probably just felt slow to me because I'm used to being incredibly tense the entire book. All the loose ends are tied up nicely, many are given happy endings or promises of ones, and the characters show signs of continuing their lives and their work far beyond the last book. The epilogue is just so good. 

Fans of the series should definitely read this last book. I personally plan to buy the paperback as soon as possible. I just can't wait to see the entire series on my shelf.

Despite the bitter-sweetness of final partings, this is a book you don't want to miss.

Deliver releases today! Buy the book here!

About the Author

Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.

You can connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.

Don't forget to check out the Facebook Party on April 28! It runs from 7 to 10 PM EST.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Little Mermaid and the Bible

My sisters and I have talked a lot about the messages presented in The Little Mermaid. How she's willing to go sell her soul to marry a guy she just met and, in the end, gets rewarded for bad behavior. The other night, when I was doing dishes and listening to Disney music, a song from The Little Mermaid came on. And it set me thinking about the messages presented in it. Suddenly I remembered my first impressions of the movie, and they hadn't been at all what my sisters and I always talked about.
Courtesy of the Disney Vault, my sisters and I only watched a few Disney movies growing up. The Little Mermaid was not one of them. On one of our trips to Disney World as a family, my oldest sister bought The Little Mermaid as a souvenir. We watched it for the first time soon after.

I filter everything I watch through my worldview. I always have, and I did it with The Little Mermaid that day. I knew Ariel disobeying her father was wrong, even if he was being too strict in telling her not to go to the surface. I knew going to Ursula for help in catching Eric was wrong as well. I knew Ariel was making bad decisions, and as I watched, I was not surprised at the bad consequences she got (turning back into a mermaid, almost losing herself and her father to the sea witch) and I was fully aware that she deserved it. It stunk for Eric, who was getting the rotten end of the deal. I liked Ariel and felt for her, but knew that during the climax, she was getting exactly what she deserved.

Then after Ursula was defeated, Ariel was lying on a rock pining after Eric. Her father watched her, and, taking pity on her, he used his power to turn her into a human so she could be with the man she loved. In later years, my sisters and I have said she was getting rewarded for her bad behavior. But that's not how I saw it when I watched the movie for the very first time. I saw it as an act of grace.

I knew Ariel had done wrong. She had almost become a slave for the rest of her life, and only her father's and Eric's love for her saved her from that. Her father was willing to give his life for her and suffer eternally for his wayward, disobedient daughter. And after great tragedy was averted and the enemy vanquished, her father loved her so much, that, even when he had a right to keep her under lock and key and demand she fulfill the role at the palace she had constantly abandoned, even after suffering much of the punishment she should have borne, he still loved her enough to give her the greatest desire of her heart. Triton showed mercy on her and let her have a chance at a life with Eric, even though she did not deserve it, because he loved her that much.

When I first watched The Little Mermaid, that was the message I drew from it. I knew this movie was done by a secular company, but all I saw in it that first time was a heavy Bible message. The writers probably did not intend for it to be there, but truth has a way of working itself into everything. For a while, I forgot the powerful message of love and grace I had found in The Little Mermaid. It took me many years to remember. But, whether or not the Disney animators intended for it to be there, the message I drew from The Little Mermaid really touched my heart the first time I saw it. It just took Peter Hollens' version of "Kiss the Girl" for me to be reminded of that.

(Note that I still have issues with the magic and the shallow romance in the movie. But those are tales for another day.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Introducing the Condemned Patriot Series

Four years ago, my family and I were on vacation on St. George Island in Florida. We had rented a house and brought our Wii so we could watch Netflix. While we were there, we watched a popular movie Glenn Beck had talked about on the radio. This movie was The Hunger Games. We really liked it, and when we got home, my sister checked out the books from the library and we read all of them.

Before I read Mockingjay, my sister told me about Peeta's hijacking. Even though I was prepared for it, I didn't like how he was treating Katniss, so I quickly set up a fanfic in my head to yell at him. (It was a weird habit I had at the time. I'd set up my own characters and situations to provoke characters in books and movies that were annoying me.) In order to provoke Peeta (as the true writer I was) I gave the girl yelling at Peeta a brainwashed friend that she had grown up with (because I really liked childhood friends that wound up falling in love). I named her friend Peter since it was close to Peeta, and I named her Katherine since it was close to Katniss (but decided to call her Katie since I didn't like the name Katherine).

I quickly took my new characters away from their task of yelling at Peeta Mellark and threw them into my own story. I had been wanting some childhood best friends that fell in love that had actual conflict around them, and jumped on them as my chance. In order to escape cliches, I made brainwashed Peter an idiot, not evil. Partially because I had just read The Hunger Games and partially because I just liked the concept, I made Peter and Katie young teenagers fighting to free a declining America. Then I started making up stories about them in my head. (The first one involved Peter getting un-brainwashed and then getting injured in a plane crash.)

I never intended to write about Peter and Katie. I just made up stories about them to amuse myself. But as I developed their story and their world more and more, I just couldn't keep it in anymore and had to write it down so I could share them with my family. The very first time I tried to write about them, I quickly realized Peter had replaced Katie as the protagonist, a realization that was made easier by the fact that my sister had just written an entire draft following the wrong protagonist. So I erased the paragraph I had written and started anew.

I wrote the beginning of their story several times and gave up. Then I wrote some short stories about later in Peter's life and the war which tricked me into first being longer than I thought, and then turning into a series. Through the process of the several drafts I half-finished, I expanded Peter's family from two siblings to ten (all of whom I ended up killing), developed many side characters (only a few of which have lasted), took Peter on many adventures which revealed a lot of his personality, developed his romance with Katie, gave him a future, and learned a lot about writing. I also named the potential book series: Condemned Patriot. Then I got involved in other things and let the Condemned Patriot series simmer in my mind for a while. I removed many of the Hunger Games elements, scrapped childish and cliche plot lines, and decided I needed to rewrite the series from the beginning so it would make sense.

I started the first book on January 1, 2016, fresh with a new name and everything: Awakened. I got to the First Major Plot Point (after Peter's dad revealed that he wasn't as great a guy as I thought he was) and...got stuck. Majorly stuck. I had no idea where I needed to go with the story. So I put the draft away for a while and shoved the story into the back of my mind.

In June, I read this post on K. M. Weiland's blog about plotting your book by starting with the antagonist. I realized that my protagonist was driving the plot instead of my antagonist, who should have been the catalyst. So one day I sat down at the piano and brainstormed the plot (and had many, many characters refuse to die on me). Elated, I sat down again and started a new draft of Awakened, this time starting with the First Major Plot Point. I liked how it went until I hit halfway, where I...had no plan. I wound up taking rabbit trails, some of which I liked, but most of which I hated. Then I got stuck in the climax. I tried filling in the beginning, but that also failed to help. I scrapped the second half of the story and rethought what I did and didn't like about my second draft. I drew on the feedback my mom and sister had given me when they had read my unfinished draft. I took my mom's suggestion to make Peter fifteen instead of twelve, and then aged him even more to eighteen when I realized I didn't like writing about him as a kid. I also took my sister's suggestion of giving Peter's twin sister, a very new addition, her own subplot. I scrapped the elements I didn't like (the trial, the mental hospital, Peter's extraneous little sister, and the absence of Katie for most of the story) and sat down and rethought the entire plot...again. This time it took me two months to rethink what had taken me the second half of 2016 to accomplish.

Finally, in February, I had a breakthrough. I plotted the entire story and realized I would have to rewrite it...again. So, in February/March I started draft three of Awakened. So far, I really like the way this draft is going. It bears almost no resemblance to the story it was in 2013, and hardly any resemblance to even the second draft. I've had to scrap the outlines I had for the future books and have changed the number of books in the series from 6 to "we'll see." It's been a long journey with these characters which I will be on for a while, but I'm excited to share Awakened with the world when it's ready.

I'm currently participating in Camp NaNo in an effort to make myself sit down and actually write. Hopefully soon I'll be done with this draft and start with editing. Until then, here's a short description:

In an America torn by revolution, a desperate freedom-fighter is forced to choose between keeping his family safe and struggling to lift the oppression of his people.

And if you want to learn more, you can browse my Pinterest boards for the series and the first book.