Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

A Wish Made of Glass Review

By Brent King On August 6, 2015 No Comments

AWishMadeofGlassFinalThough cloaked in a fey world, the vivid images in Ashlee’s story have wonderful overtones of a mysterious God and a heaven about which we know very little. Another reviewer, Deborah O’Carroll, expressed this when she said, “You feel in the end a little as if there are hinted truths threaded through beneath the surface of the tale that you can not quite grasp. At least, that is how I felt. There is something deeper, elusive, and you feel that maybe one day you will understand it, even if you do not right now.”

For me, her book had a “Till We Have Faces” feel to it, with variations on the rich symbolism that CS Lewis brings us in that favorite tale.

Her prose is very evocative. In some places it is downright thrilling, even…stunning.

Shoot Your Novel Review

By Brent King On November 4, 2014 No Comments

Shoot-your-novelWriting is not all that different from directing. That’s what C. S. Lakin declared in her book, Shoot Your Novel. Then she took me on a journey through the most valuable cinematic techniques that a director uses and showed me how to apply them to my novel.

From panning to montages to zooming in, she explained how it worked in a movie and related that to how powerfully it could work for me too. I found the examples that she uses more helpful than in most how-to-write books. Most of them illustrated the technique lucidly, so that I really got what she was trying to explain. That is important if I’m going to make it work for me when I sit down to write.

Sometimes I just need to look at writing from a different

My Review of Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics by K.M. Weiland

By Brent King On October 22, 2014 2 Comments

Jane Eyre by KM WeilandWhen K.M. Weiland sent me an advanced copy of Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics, she mentioned that she learned a lot writing this book. So did I! I’m sure I learned a lot more than she did.

The way it is structured makes for ease of understanding and retention. I believe it’s the best way to learn the critical building blocks of story building. Weiland teaches many of these same principles on her website, but to see them close to the context of one story (and such a great story as Jane Eyre)—side by side with the action—drives them home efficiently and effectively.

Many writing books attempt to do this with snippets from many books, and they are effective. Yet it is much more effective when an author sticks to

Last Request: A Victorian Gothic Review

By Brent King On September 2, 2014 No Comments

Last RequestLast Request is an innocent tale of horror that elicits smiles, suspense, and fear. In a few pages, Jeff Chapman spins a realistic story that could have played out at many times or places in Victorian history. It could have been your story, or mine.

The author draws us in when Anna wonders what sort of knife would cut through the bone and gristle of a human neck. So begins a journey where the question comes again and again throughout the reading: how far would I go to grant the last request of a loved one?

Chapman’s writing is vivid and delightfully descriptive, drawn between the humorous and the horrific. From “The solicitor spoke without emotion, his monotone dusted with boredom” to “A motley crowd of gravestones—angels, crosses, and rounded slabs— flanked her on

Coraline Review

By Brent King On July 10, 2014 No Comments

*** Warning! The post contains mild (not complete) spoilers.***

I live inCoraline Coraline’s world, so it wasn’t hard to empathized with her as I learned her story. Things are not what they seem and the truth is upside down to my way of thinking. How often I have been startled by Coraline’s reality (and mine).

Oh, the Lure of the Easy Way!

Coraline is a child, naïve and trusting. She wants the creature comforts we all want. She is humanity—humanity that all too often doesn’t analyze the safe-haven offers from the Other Mother before making decisions. Life is difficult for us, and who doesn’t want to take the easy way. Consequently the Other Mother’s offers of a carefree life are tempting, but they are like the Ring of power in Lord of the Rings: they come at a price,

The Spiderwick Chronicles Review

By Brent King On July 8, 2014 4 Comments

SpiderwickI enjoyed The Spiderwick Chronicles the evening I watched it, but it wasn’t until 3:00 the next morning that I really got it. I woke up to a much better understanding of what I’d seen.

The Spiderwick Chronicles Says What Many Won’t Say

I like this movie because it dares to say what many pastors won’t. It has the balls to tell the truth about divorce. The children in this movie poignantly portray that truth in their actions and reactions related to their family trauma.

Fantasy Does Such a Great Job of Nailing the Truth 

Like many fantasies, the fantastical action the kids experience is an awesome metaphor for what their family was going through. The demons of betrayal, abandonment, and desertion that spouses and children fight in divorce are every bit as horrible as the creatures

Why I Love Disney’s Maleficent

By Brent King On June 12, 2014 4 Comments

*** Warning! The post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, see it before you read this.  ***

Maleficent-(2014)Let me tell you why I loved Disney latest film adaption, Maleficent. There is a reason why my tears flowed in this film.

Since I was a child I’ve longed for the villain—from Scar to Maleficent—to repent and do the right thing. I’ve gone so far as to rewrite the story of The Lion King to imagine Scar’s repentance.

Because of this pull on my heart through the years, my favorite stories have been where the villain repents. Think evil King Manasseh, King Nebuchadnezzar, and even Anne of Avonlea’s Katherine Brook. This is also the reason why Gollum’s life in The Lord of the Rings so captivates me. He so nearly repents.

I believe we need

The Word Changers Review

By Brent King On June 10, 2014 No Comments

thewordchangerscoverartfinalWhere better to learn the great themes of life and soul than in a story? We try to learn them through the story we write in the book of our life. Yet often they become clearer to us as we experience them vicariously through a book on our shelf. But what if our participation in this book went beyond our imagination? What if we could enter its pages, breath its air, and change its Plot?

With strong metaphors, Ashlee Willis takes us into such an adventure. Life is a story, and Ashlee’s—no, Posy’s—story is about life. I fell into her story and found within its magic a land like mine, where joy, sadness, and sacrifice shape its pages. Truthfully, there were times when I forgot that I wasn’t actually there with Posy,

Plot & Structure Review

By Brent King On April 28, 2014 2 Comments

Plot and Structure_optI purchased this book because I found the author’s eBook, Write Your Novel From the Middle, extremely helpful. I was not disappointed. This is one of the best books on writing I have purchased.

What Was at the Heart of the Book for Me?

Bell’s chapters on the beginning, middle, and ending of a novel were most helpful to me. For example, how to make a beginning irresistible, and how to make a middle pop. There is a shocking tip on endings that will make my books so much better, and a section on making characters likable. I also enjoyed the chapter on revisions.

What I Liked Best

One of my favorite thoughts in the book was write who you are, instead of the normal admonition, write what you know. The thing I enjoyed most

Write Your Novel From The Middle Review

By Brent King On March 9, 2014 2 Comments

BellWhen Write Your Novel From the Middle was published a couple weeks ago, I knew I had to have it. In the last six months my mind has been settling into many truths about writing, finding its way amid good books full of ideas on plot, theme, and character. Bell’s take seemed fresh and simple.

Two Cool Things About This Book!

I finished the book yesterday. Two things jumped out at me in the experience.

  • I love how it is compatible with my personal writing style.
  • I tested the rough draft of one of my novels in progress to see if it measured up to Bell’s theory. What I discovered blew me away! I found just what he said I’d find, right in the middle (exactly!). There, my main character spoke those magic words of

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