Monday, December 29, 2014

Mardan's Mark Review

I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. Since then I have been re-reading the book (looking back) to see what I have missed.  Here is my updated, honest review of the book Mardan's Mark by Kathrese McKee:

It has been a while since I have been so captivated by a book! I spent the better part of two days neglecting my Christmas crafts, laundry, and other adult-type things because I was reading this book.The characters and their individual stories, including the supporting characters, kept me glued to my Kindle for several straight hours. I loved the way the relationships and the characters (including supporting characters) developed, slowly, but steadily throughout the story. The book explored moral lessons such as respect, chastity, loyalty, and trust without once sounding preachy or letting those examples get in the way of the story.

What I loved about this story is the way Kathrese involved more than just two characters in telling the story.  The supporting characters had their own important contributions to the story beyond their insights on the main two characters.. I found myself genuinely interested in the other characters and their back stories, as they added another dimension to the story.  An example is the development of Jamson, Srilani's brother, from bored teenager who does not take particular interest in kingdom affairs, to someone who shows a strong sense of rightness and the beginnings of a great leader. I enjoyed watching the camaraderie, between Aldan and his brothers, and Srilani and her family, form into one group throughout the story.  

Srilani is a character I think a lot of girls will identify with on one level or another. She is an excellent example of a strong female role-model, even as we see her humanness. Though she is independent, she struggles with seeing her own self-worth. She takes control, not because she wants to prove herself better than others, but because she sees it as her duty. I found the dynamic between her and Aldan fascinating to watch, as their relationship developed slowly through mutual respect and cooperation.  I noticed subtle lessons of quality leadership and co-leadership illustrated through their interactions with each other and the group.  The scripture, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another". (Proverbs 27:17) came to mind several times.

There were a few confusing parts in the beginning, at least with the copy I read, such as the Twin Kingdoms and their relationship with each other. There were a couple of times when I had to figure out who certain minor characters were because they were referred to by their names without any previous introduction (for instance Queen Kaelan, and later on when Aldan’s horse is named Flame), but none of those cases were enough to detract from the story, and they became clear before too long. I think readers would benefit from a map of the countries as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I eagerly await the continuation of the story! I cannot wait to find out what happens to Aldan, Srilani, and their companions!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

To Look Again

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

When considering a name for this blog, I began by looking at the definition of the word "review". It means to look again, to examine, to look at carefully and decide if a change must be made.  The first assumption is that we are looking to change that which we are reviewing.  However, I have often found that reviewing works of fiction, and events from my own life, prompts a desire for change in myself .

Jesus used parables to teach hard truths to those who may not have been able to receive it otherwise.  He told parables so that those who cared enough to look again would find the true meaning of the story, and change their character.

It is a difficult thing to examine our own lives and see how our present-day choices will affect our future. Yet by looking at our past, and the past decisions of those who have gone before us, we begin to see patterns which can help us in our decisions.  I teach history.  Every year I am struck by how closely one period of history resembles another in terms of human pride and mistakes. By looking back, we can see all the small decisions that led to huge consequences.

When we look again insignificant details become important, word choices become significant, and elements of an ongoing story (setting, characters, plot development, etc.) become clear.

My goals are three-fold:
*to look again for lessons of truth and character
*to develop my own writing by sharing these lessons of truth and character
*to one day create stories that will teach lessons of truth and character

And so, to accomplish these goals, I will be reviewing, looking again, and works of fiction, as well as my own life.  This blog will contain book reviews, as well as day-to-day reflections of a middle school Language Arts/Social Studies teacher. Feel free to come along for the ride.