Category Archives: Book Review

The Revisionary: Q&A with Author Kristen Hogrefe

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Revisionary_Cover

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe.

I recently had the great pleasure of reading an advance copy of The Revisionary, the first book in the young adult trilogy The Rogues by Kristen Hogrefe. Personally, I found this to be an excellent book that delivers a message of hope and integrity in the midst of extreme challenges.

Hogrefe (a guest blogger on BigSisterKnows.com), agreed to share with us the following inside scoop on The Revisionary and The Rogues trilogy.

  1. This is your first dystopian novel. Was this genre important to the message?

Yes, I chose this genre for a few reasons. One reason is that it naturally lends itself to a suspenseful story. The main reason is that much dystopian literature tends toward a fatalistic or hopeless outlook (even if the “good guys” win). I wanted to present a dystopia of a different kind, one that looks backward to find the wisdom to move forward. There will always be dire circumstances in a dystopia, but I want my characters to discover the spark of hope that might just have the power to change their world.

  1. Can you tell us what the primary theme is for The Revisionary?

A quest for truth. Portia discovers that most of her world is a lie and must decide what she’s going to do about it. Stepping out to confront the truth is going to involve risk and sacrifice—but it’s going to be worth it.

  1. Several scenes feature realistic accounts from American history. Have you always been drawn to American history?

Yes and no. Funny story … In college, I minored in history somewhat out of convenience. I just had to take a few extra classes to count history a minor, so I went for it. In the process, I discovered how much I love the subject (even though I’m quite terrible with dates). Then, when I started teaching in a private Christian school, I had the opportunity to teach an American history class, which reminded me again how powerful history is. I truly believe studying our nation’s heritage and history are vital for America’s future.

  1. Your first trilogy, Wings of the Dawn, was a faith-based adventure series. However, in The Revisionary, the worship of God is essentially forbidden. Is there a Christian message buried within the story?

My burden for this novel was to write clean, compelling fiction that could reach both Christian and mainstream readers. That said, there is an underlying message of discovering who God is and what faith means. As of book one, my heroine is just beginning this journey. For example, she puzzles why the cross, a barbaric method of execution, would serve as the centerpiece for a cemetery. She admires Washington’s faith but then must face Professor Mortimer who mocks it. She wants to know more but has no idea where her search for answers will lead her.

  1. By definition, dystopian novels depict a fictional future in crisis. While The Revisionary is a dystopian, it also has an underlying thread of hope. Is that an important message for you?

Absolutely. Throughout the story, Portia grasps for hope that she might reunite her family and ultimately, rescue her nation. One of my favorite scenes is when Portia witnesses Washington praying at Valley Forge.

Though chilled to the bone, I feel a new fire in my soul. If men like this lived once, perhaps they can live again. Perhaps their strength and sacrifice can be reborn in a girl like me.  

Rediscovering the previous civilization’s heritage is important for her, because it gives her hope that she might be able to make a difference.

  1. The primary character, Portia, has to decide if she’ll work within the existing government to effect change or if she’ll go “Rogue” and work to destroy it. While deciding her course of action, she studies the American Revolutionary War and is stirred by the intentions and hearts of our founding fathers.

We know that America rebelled against Britain, and Portia has to decide if she will rebel against her own government. As Christians, we are taught to obey authority figures, not to rebel. How do you reconcile these two ideals?

I wanted to recreate this tension and will be building it as the trilogy continues. In the American Revolutionary War, there were good men on both sides of this argument.  In The Revisionary, Portia is torn between her brother’s loyalty to the Rogues (rebels) versus her friend Luther’s insistence that the current government is worth preserving through reform. Both these young men have good intentions and are doing what they believe is right.

I don’t want to pretend there is an easy answer to this question. I think our Founding Fathers made their choice after much discussion among wise counsel and prayer. Did they make the right choice? I honestly believe they did, but the cost was still great.

  1. Portia’s father tells her, “You do the next right thing, Portia, and then the next right thing after that.” Is this advice you use in your own life?

It is. In fact, I wrote this line to paraphrase some of the best advice one of my college professors gave me, which has become something of a motto to live by. Often, I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, next month, or even tomorrow. But I’ve learned (and am learning) that if I do the next right thing God asks me to do, I won’t stray from the path He has for my life.

One thing I love about fiction is its ability to share truth through story. I’ve read many books where the characters’ words and decisions have challenged me personally. In a small way, I hope my book will do the same for someone else.


Thanks to Kristen Hogrefe for answering my questions and for sharing the following pre-sale opportunity with us:

The Revisionary for Kindle is now available to pre-order for a limited time. When you pre-order on Amazon.com, you’ll receive the e-book at a discounted price and an opportunity to receive a free bonus feature, a prequel of Portia’s story called A Cord of Three Strands.

To receive your copy, forward your Amazon order confirmation to freebookforpreorder@gmail.com.

Your Kindle copy of The Revisionary will be delivered on June 6. At that time, the print version will also be available for purchase.

 

 

I Don’t Settle Anymore

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IDWA

 

I just read a new book that I need to share with you. (There’s a giveaway opportunity at the end of this blog!)

The book is called, I Don’t Wait Anymore: Letting Go of Expectations and Grasping God’s Adventure for You. The author, Grace Thornton, is a true storyteller. She weaves the promise of Jesus into her own life story in a way that draws you in and makes you want to sit down and have a cup of tea with God.

Thornton’s ultimate message is profound in its simplicity: seek God—He is enough. If we are willing to lay down our expectations for what we think our lives are supposed to look like (the nice stuff), we can pick up the calling God has for us (the amazing stuff). She says it like this:

“God holds the free gift of amazing in outstretched hands to us every day. But though it’s as free as nice, amazing does require a further climb—a determination to dig into His Word, His character, His love. Sometimes we see that, and we just settle.”

I totally get it.

 

Settling Ways

When the Blythe Daniel Agency asked if I wanted to write a book review for I Don’t Wait Anymore, I was given a few topics to choose from. I chose “I will not settle.” Why? Because I’ve been there, done that.

My biggest example has always been the fact that I was divorced at 24. I used to say that I should have trusted God but, instead, I settled for a guy who was not supposed to be part of my story. At least not part of the amazing story God was trying to write.

But after reading Thornton’s book, I see a bigger picture. I see all the little ways that I settled in my youth, from avoiding church, thinking and saying ugly things, and dwelling on negative things. This led to more settling in my relationships with friends and boys, ultimately ending in a divorce. Settling is a slippery slope.

 

Ground Settling

This got me thinking…about homeowners insurance. Stay with me here.

My day job is in the world of insurance and risk, so I happen to know a little bit about “ground settling.” This is a problem that many homeowners face. If their homes are on top of loose sand or debris that has decomposed (like large trees buried underground), voids can develop causing the ground to shift or “settle.” This can lead to substantial damage to the foundation of the home, cracks to the walls and windows, etc.

The main preventative measure a homeowner can take is to build a strong foundation on solid ground.

Sound familiar?

“My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.”

From the old hymn, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.”

 

The Settling Realization

Thanks to Thornton’s book, I now realize that I didn’t settle in specific instances, or at certain junctures in my life. I didn’t just make a sudden U-turn one day after going in the right direction.

The truth is that I didn’t have a firm foundation of faith to begin with. I knew God, but I didn’t trust that He had a better plan for me or that He was even on my side. If I had, I would have trusted Him to guide me to the right decisions.

Spiritual settling starts with the shifting sand of a heart without faith. This void will undermine everything that is placed on top of it until, finally, it comes crashing down or falls apart. At this point, even the nice life we had planned for ourselves doesn’t look so nice anymore.

 

I Don’t Settle Anymore

If I don’t want to settle again in my life (and I don’t!), then I need to keep my little house on the solid Rock of Jesus. I need to brace myself in His Word and presence on a daily basis. This takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s worth the cost. There is no end to what we can build when we’re planted on the firm Foundation.

As Thornton wrote,

“I don’t need my story to look fancy. I don’t need it to look traditional, and I don’t need it to be crazy and adrenaline filled. I just need it to give me more of Jesus. I don’t want to settle for anything less.”

Amen!


 

Want more? Yes, you do! And you’ve got three awesome opportunities.

  1. Check out Thornton’s blog at gracefortheroad.com.
  1. Click here for a free download of the first chapter of Grace Thornton’s book, I Don’t Wait Anymore.
  1. Enter a drawing for a free hard copy of I Don’t Wait Anymore. To enter, leave me a comment indicating you’re interested in the book. I’ll announce the winner next week. If you win, I’ll ask you to email me your mailing address. The publisher, Zondervan, will then mail the book directly to you. Good luck!

(Special thanks to The Blythe Daniel Agency for these amazing resources!)