Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtains of Time by Sarah K-N is a Christian fantasy novel. Sarah spins a riveting, well written story of two brothers caught in an ancient battle of light and darkness. There is magic and ancient curses, angels, demons and other popular staples of Christian faith sharing a page with intriguing secret societies. Expectations uses the Christian faith to give us a story that is fun to read while not being preachy.
The novel opens up with an ancient tale of jealousy, locusts, an ancient pact and it just gets better after that. Ace Cadman, the main protagonist of the story, must battle the occult secret society and somehow stay alive in a world where angels and demons pop up on almost every page. But the main attraction of this book is the style that Sarah K-N carries to the very last page. Characters have motives that make sense and do not contradict the actions that took place just half a page ago. Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtains of Time masterfully handles exposition, dialogue is lively, and Sarah K-N describes the world in just enough detail before having her characters take over the story.
Especially interesting is the way Sarah handles the divine characters – these beings feel older than time even though she spent only several sentences on their description. Their archaicness is an asset, not a flaw, in telling the story. For example, an angel with a flaming sword is a character that is very much out of place in the modern world but Expectations uses this to its advantage. Simply put, angles are supposed to be out of place in our world and when they do show up, just like their malevolent demonic cousins, they add weight to the situation that other characters find themselves in.
Perhaps the hardest thing that Sarah K-N had to do to make the story work is to bring the spirit of the Old Testament on to her pages. And she did it masterfully. This is not the world where angels and demons walk the Earth fulfilling some shallow, New Age tripe task. These angels and demons are forces beyond our comprehension, spirits of old, just like they were thousands of years ago to our ancestors. Angels are fulfilling the commands of their Lord and demons will shower mortals with impossible gifts and power but will snatch your soul the first chance they get.
The conflict between good and evil is masterfully done. You start to understand, even from the first pages, why someone would give their soul to evil. Their decisions, doomed as they are, make sense in the given moment and you will find yourself asking if you would make the same choice if put through the same tests.
This page turner is one of the most riveting reads you will ever find, no matter if you are a person of faith or not. The story, a classic tale of good vs evil, will keep you going for hours and will not disappoint.
Pages: 424 | ASIN: B0794LRWPN
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Upon Broken Wings by E.L. Reedy and A. M. Wade is not a light read, but it is a read worth your time. This dark, cathartic story is a unique meld of many genres; coming of age, gay positivity, and family all interwoven with religious flavor, life after death, angels and demons. Reedy takes us on a journey through a small, overly conservative community all the way to Purgatory in a way that makes sense. If the story has any weak points it can all be forgiven by the enthralling premise of the novel.
The story follows several boys at the verge of of adulthood; Andrew, who suffers from Aspergers, and Keenan, a brave gay boy who is coming to terms with his identity. A series of unfortunate events will lead to a gruesome assault that will require all the strength of their family and friends, dead or alive, to help them resolve.
Upon Broken Wings avoids obvious descriptions of the worst that the characters have to go through but the indication is enough to leave me seething and demanding justice. Add to it is the slow burn of sadness, loneliness and isolation that the characters feel, all the misfortune and all the lost chances add up to a dark and emotionally heavy reading experience. Reedy takes us through mud so we could feel all the anguish that made his characters behave the way they do. So when he finally, mercifully, starts to get us into a somewhat better place we feel like we earned it.
His characters are the best part of the story. They feel like real people and their motivations seem genuine, even when they are no longer among the living. And that’s a tall order with all the elements or death, gay identity and angels in it.
I felt that the dialogue was disjointed and the characters, especially young Casey, sometimes feel like intentional Mary Sues. Casey, Keenan’s brother, is a boy wise beyond his years and can also see angels. We are never given a reason for this ability. It serves the story and paints an emotional picture but I felt that it lacks depth. Similarly, Andrew’s Asperger is important for the story but we never see how it affects him in his day to day life. We are told but we are not really shown the consequences of living on a spectrum. I think this would have helped flesh out the characters.
The angels give a distinct New Age vibe. Their shallow philosophy of forgiveness and understanding along with healing crystals and other cliches works well because angels should behave like that, which gives this coming-of-age and coming-out story interesting and unexpected religious undertones. Upon Broken Wings is not a perfect story. But it is an interesting and original endeavor in this day and age that is. A rare novel, certainly worth your time.
Pages: 199 | ASIN: B07BZXWNBJ
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For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant provides a glimpse of what havoc the Devil and his disciples wreak when they come to earth for the End of Days and in search of Emma Plant. Emma, a young Office Manager, notices that things aren’t quite normal in the valley where she lives. Accidents and fatalities are on the rise, and Emma herself is even visited by strange people and creatures that seek to do her harm. She is visited one night by two gnomes who explain the devastation that is taking place and seek to whisk Emma away into the mountains that overlook the valley. Their goal is to hide and protect Emma from the Devil while he wages war against civilization. It is in the mountains that Emma is introduced to more fantastical creatures, such as witches and fairies, and it is also where she begins to make a new life for herself – a life that is a far cry from the one she once knew.
Author Emma Plant adds interesting fantasy elements to her novel by the inclusion of a variety of mythical creatures, such as gnomes, fairies, witches, demons, and other creatures. The novel is entertaining in that each type of fantasy creature has its own magical powers that are displayed throughout the novel. For example, Ben and Ella, the gnomes that help protect Emma have the ability to shrink larger items in order to be able to carry them easily. Another interesting element of the novel is that, apart from the demons, these characters work harmoniously together. Abela, the witch, provides guidance and protection to Emma, the fairies provide powers and protection to the gnomes, and so on and so forth. These magical characters add a creative depth to the novel.
However, I felt that there was a lack of detail and explanation in the novel. I did not understand why demons are inhabiting earth and wreaking havoc. More importantly, I did not understand what the Devil wanted with Emma. What exactly makes her the center of his attention? I think that there wasn’t enough explanation given to fully develop the events. I felt like there was an overabundance of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. So, I felt I was reading long sections of text rather than an organic delivery of information while the story is unfolding. But with this story being part of a trilogy, I feel much more comfortable knowing that there is two more books on the horizon that will dig deeper into this world and it’s characters.
I felt like the climax was not as climactic as it could have been. Emma spends nearly two years hiding in the mountains. During that time, she reunites with a former flame and they have a family together. Much has happened to her as a person, but it’s a small detail in what, I felt, was the overall point of the novel. Towards the end of the story, Emma is hiding out in Abela’s house when the Devil decides to unleash his wrath on the valley that was her previous home. I expected that the Devil would eventually make his way up to Abela’s home and try to take Emma away. But I expected a battle between the Devil, Emma, and her protectors up in the mountains; however, the devastation doesn’t make its way to the mountains and stays contained within the valley. I felt that there was no real climax or resolution that is reached by the end of the novel. Ultimately, I felt like this novel lacked character development that makes me invest in the characters. For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant is a fascinating fantasy story with many opportunities for a surreal story that plays off of biblical legend.
Pages: 251 | ASIN: B01L0FLHY6
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The Fall of Lilith is a dark fantasy novel centered around the anti-heroine, Lilith, and the creation and fall of the angels. What was your inspiration for this imaginative novel?
The Fall of Lilith is a High Fantasy with dark elements. I grew up in a religious home and went to religious private school. Angels always fascinated me, but there isn’t much information in the bible about them, so I always imagined what they were like, both the holy angels and the fallen ones. I also read a great deal of religious books (fiction and Non-fiction), mythology and fairytales growing up. I basically combined all three to create this book. I did a lot of research and used facts from the Bible, Hebrew Bible, and Quran to ground it in reality.
I liked that we got to see Lilith change from good to bad throughout the novel, and how that was portrayed was entertaining. Did her character develop organically as you were writing or was it planned?
I always knew she would be an evil character at some point. That being said, she took it from there and developed organically.
There is heavy use of religion and myth in this book. What kind of research did you undertake for this novel to keep things accurate?
An enormous amount of research went into this novel. I researched animals, natural disasters, food, geography, names, and religious text among other things. Like Tom Clancy said, “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
In The Fall of Lilith, Vashti Quiroz-Vega crafts an irresistible new take on heaven and hell that boldly lays bare the passionate, conflicted natures of God’s first creations: the resplendent celestial beings known as angels.
If you think you know their story, think again.
Endowed with every gift of mind, body, and spirit, the angels reside in a paradise bounded by divine laws, chief of which are obedience to God, and celibacy. In all other things, the angels possess free will, that they may add in their own unique ways to God’s unfolding plan.
Lilith, most exquisite of angels, finds the rules arbitrary and stifling. She yearns to follow no plan but her own: a plan that leads to the throne now occupied by God himself. With clever words and forbidden caresses, Lilith sows discontent among the angels. Soon the virus of rebellion has spread to the greatest of them all: Lucifer.
Now, as angel is pitted against angel, old loyalties are betrayed and friendships broken. Lust, envy, pride, and ambition arise to shake the foundations of heaven . . . and beyond. For what begins as a war in paradise invades God’s newest creation, a planet known as Earth. It is there, in the garden called Eden, that Lilith, Lucifer, and the other rebel angels will seek a final desperate victory—or a venomous revenge.
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Nathan Andrews was a good man. It came as quite a surprise to him that he wanted to die.
After a “botched” attempt to commit suicide, Nathan is haunted by the mysterious image of a woman, during a Near Death Experience. She was “perfect” and everything a man would seek within a life partner. With the simple utterance “Go back!” she forever conquered his heart.
Leaving a mental hospital after that, Nathan runs into an odd woman named Amanda. She barely knows English, doesn’t recognize the simple things, and finally confesses an all-important truth to him: She…is GOD!
After some subtle convincing of the claim, and confronted by a winged man named “Gabriel,” Nathan accepts this fantastic reality. A reality that will change his world, and the world of Mankind…FOREVER!
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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I was struck by the depiction of Fraser’s first moments in Heaven. His surroundings are described in vivid details. What was your inspiration for this scene and how it would look?
Initially I was extremely intimidated to describe heaven and all it offers overall. Ultimately, I received inspiration and confidence from God Himself to move forward. Inwardly, I heard words like peace, serenity, stillness, comfort and calming. Thereafter, it became near effortless to describe the scene.
The dark angels in the novel seem to the opposite of what the angels in the book represent. What were some themes you wanted to capture when writing about both of the angels?
The intentions of presenting both sets of angles was to show morals from one extreme to the next. The true definition of all that’s wholesomely good to its total opposite in the dark angels representing pure and unfathomable evil. Behind what the human eye can see are both influences and everyone makes decisions daily which side they will allow to persuade them.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently writing the sequel to Angels – The Discovery which is part 1 in a series. Book number two is entitled Angles – Fight For The Future. It will depict ultimate battles, good vs. evil and they are fighting for rule over our children.
Fourteen-year-old Fraser dies prematurely as a result of a fluke accident while trying to save his baby sister. Upon waking up in heaven, he discovers that his new life in paradise is far different from the one he lived during his short time on earth. As he adjusts to his new surroundings, he is constantly amazed that there is so much to learn, explore, and achieve in his new permanent home. Fraser begins making new friends and even reunites with a loved one who left earth before him. He learns that everyone in heaven must find something they are passionate about and serve in that area. While his friends quickly discover what they want to do, Fraser is left discouraged and not strongly drawn to anything he is introduced to.
When Fraser begins to experience visions of his family’s current status on earth, he finds them divided, severely broken, and completely devastated about his death. His family is also unaware that they are being tormented and are in danger by evil presences that they cannot physically see. After having a talk with God, Fraser is told that he is chosen for a special assignment and will be enlisted amongst an army of Armored Angels to fight an earthly spiritual war of good versus evil. He finally knows what he is meant to do and is more than ready. He is predestined to save his family.
This is a story that will inspire young readers and beyond to diminish the fear of dying, provide hope concerning life afterward, and understand that God has assigned angels all around us for protection from dangers seen and unseen.
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Angels: The Discovery, by Starr Lee Bryant, is the touching and sometimes harrowing tale of one boy’s ascent to Heaven. As young Fraser awakens in an unfamiliar and empty room, he struggles to remember how he arrived there and why he feels simultaneously at peace and full of an unexplained energy. Fraser becomes acquainted with several other young people in the same boat. Soon enough, he and the others are oriented to their surroundings, briefed on the details of their arrival in Heaven, and allowed to choose jobs within the kingdom–except Fraser. Even amidst the serenity, Fraser finds himself fighting to understand his true place and purpose among the other angels.
I was immediately struck by Bryant’s depiction of Fraser’s first moments in Heaven. He is overwhelmed but, at the same time, curious and calm. His surroundings are described in the most vivid and tangible details. The reader shares the main character’s peaceful and comforting sensation as he/she enters the first chapter. Bryant spends a great deal of time illustrating the pristine and comfortable quarters to which Fraser is oriented by Gabrielle, his assigned guide.
Bryant uses her cast of characters to emphasize two major aspects of Heaven. She has created Fraser in order to show readers the freedom from pain and suffering found in Heaven and to underscore the fact that those who make it to Heaven are, indeed, believers of God (The Big Guy). I was moved by the flashbacks Fraser experiences with increasing intensity and clarity. As he begins to learn more about the way he reached Heaven, he sees scenes from his life on Earth in a new way–a way he never would have been capable of as a mortal. Each of Bryant’s characters contributes to the plot in a unique way. I am quite partial to Ms. Jamerson, Fraser’s orientation instructor. She’s unflappable and more than willing to provide detailed explanations to Heaven’s newest residents.
One of the most unique aspects of Bryant’s depiction of Heaven centers on the angels’ relationships with their loved ones. The grieving process is very much an earthly sensitivity. Fraser learns quickly that, though he still loves the family he left behind, his feelings toward them will be much less sad, and the expected pining for their companionship and closeness is a not an emotion with which he will battle.
As beautiful and as perfect as Heaven and the angels are drawn in Bryant’s work, her narrative regarding the dark angels is breathtakingly disturbing. The author draws chills from the reader with Fraser’s first encounter with the dark angel hovering above his family. Bryant goes on to describe amazing scenes in which the dark angels seem to be silently dominating life on Earth.
Angels: The Discovery, by Starr Lee Bryant, deserves every one of the 5 stars I am giving it. Bryant provides a thought-provoking account of life after a hero’s death for believers in Christ. I found Fraser’s “choice” of job as both fitting for him and a wonderful tie-in to his concern for his family’s welfare after his death. In addition, Bryant leaves the door wide open for a stirring sequel featuring young Fraser.
Pages: 206 | ASIN: B0788PXZY9
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The Nightbreaker follows a paladin named Daniel as we’re introduced to the conflict between the gods of darkness and light and their conflict on the Mortal Plane. What made you want to write this prequel novella to your Broken Pact Trilogy?
Daniel has a major impact on the history of the Mortal Plane. His secret affair with Lio is the catalyst that directly leads to Lio’s fall and the creation of the Grey God’s Pact. Without Daniel, the world as we see it in the Broken Pact trilogy wouldn’t exist. Without spoiling too much of the next book in that trilogy, Daniel and what happened to him plays a larger role in the story, and how Trent and Ren deal with their own parallels to the Paladin hero.
Daniel is on a mission to defeat Rexin before he plunges the Mortal Plane into darkness. Do you feel that Rexin is Daniel’s antithesis, or did you want them to compliment one another?
I first came up with the story as my spin on the classic dragon-slayer tale where a hero must travel away from the kingdom to kill the beast that threatens to destroy it. Daniel is a conflicted character though, as he struggles with the nature of his birth and the way that he is viewed by society. It made sense for Rexin to be a physical manifestation of the darkness that Daniel sees in himself. In order to overcome this external force he doesn’t just have to banish his own darkness, but accept it and use it.
The battle of good vs evil is a theme we see often in fantasy. Do you think the Gods of Darkness and Gods of Light represent this contrast or is there a grey area?
I’ve tried to take the classic good vs. evil tale and add grey areas within each of the factions. Lio, the villain of the Broken Pact trilogy, is a fallen God of Light, who only fell because of his love for a mortal and his natural desire to avenge him. Daniel commits an objectively evil deed at the end of The Nightbreaker to defeat Rexin the Blasted. Although the Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness represent that classic dichotomy, the individuals who makeup and serve those groups fall into somewhere between good and evil in their personal morality, which makes their interactions all the more interesting.
What is one thing that people point out after reading your book that surprises you?
I’m usually surprised at many of the little world-building details that people pick up on. I try to seed references to other stories and events in the world that I have planned so that sometime in the future when those stories are written the whole series will feel like a more cohesive whole. It’s a really cool feeling though when people catch some of those now, and ask me, “What’s up with that? When do I get to find out what that meant, or who they were talking about?” My answer: keep reading.
In the years before the Grey God’s Pact, the Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness waged war upon the Mortal Plane. Fighting alongside them were armies of men and monsters. The Champion Daniel, a Paladin of the Light, leads a band of warriors into the wilderness to defeat one such being, Rexin the Blasted, before the creature engulfs the entire Mortal Plane in an endless darkness.
Daniel, scorned for his heritage as the child of a rapist, must first come to terms with his own identity and what he is willing to do in the name of the greater good. Sometimes wicked deeds can destroy wicked things.
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The Victory Perspective, by E. J. Kellett, reveals a new angle on the creation story complete with a dark and foreboding side. Five beings materialize, quite literally, in the first chapter and proceed to make their way through the world around them while one of them, Alpha, emerges as leader. Raphael, Michael, Lucifer, and Gabriel seek ways to understand Alpha’s powers as they develop, strengthen, and subdue the other four. Alpha’s abilities overwhelm the others as he levitates, forces the others into virtual servitude, and begins presenting them with stunning creations, including human beings. When Raphael disappears from their camp, Lucifer must begin a battle within himself as he searches for his friend.
I was immediately taken with the beautiful language penned by Kellett. The striking descriptions of the landscape and the amazing emergence of each of the five beings is breathtaking to behold. Kellett is a master with the written word and fashions fascinating depictions as they grow in their cognizance.
Kellett incorporates several episodes of violence in order to emphasize the differences between his characters and demonstrate Alpha’s dominance. Like the other four stunned onlookers, I struggled through the sight but find it a fitting method for establishing Alpha’s place in the world and helping the reader sympathize with Lucifer as the plotline progresses. Their horror at Alpha’s growing strength and their wonderment at the tools, weapons, and shelters he is able to fashion are highly relatable feelings.
I was, at times, taken aback at the rather familiar tone of the characters. To hear characters who I associate with angels speak in mundane terms, sometimes using slang, was a bit off-putting. The intensity of the creation story seems to call for a more formal tone, even though this is a far cry from the traditional story which most readers would readily recognize. I had a hard time resolving my discomfort with hearing Alpha, depicted as the creator, curse.
Some readers may find the description of evolution unsettling. As Alpha discovers his efforts to create humans go somewhat awry, readers will find that he is not in complete control of the process. The resulting beings are not pleasing to him. (This is only one of the ways Alpha is very much humanized throughout the reading.)
The closeness between Lucifer and Raphael is touching, and Lucifer’s insistence at finding Raphael at all costs keeps the reader involved in the plot. As the two discover more about themselves and more about Alpha’s intentions, their relationship mimics human exchanges. Again, this is not something most readers are used to seeing from depictions of divine beings. Making that transfer to a different mindset might be a struggle for some.
Lucifer’s reappearance in the Garden of Eden places a new spin on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In fact, one of the most iconic scenes we know from the Bible story is, here, given all the qualities of a drama. Lucifer, though always a major factor in Eve’s decline, is personified by Kellett and shown to be thoughtful and not without worries of his own. In addition, Adam and Eve’s conversations are basic in language and have a commonplace feel.
While beautifully written with remarkable imagery, I was not completely comfortable with the take on the creation story. However, there is much to be said for this reimagining of the immediately recognizable story of the origins of our world.
Pages: 314 | ASIN: B078Y9QJW1
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