Tuesday, April 3, 2012

By The Sword Blog Tour Stop: Review & Interview

For my tour stop, I have a review of By the Sword and an interview with the author, Sara Flower. First up, the book:

Goodreads rating: 3.80
Kindle Edition
Published February 26th 2012 by Violet Sword Publishing 
Seventeen-year-old Talya's main goal is to bring down the Malinorian Empire. And Jalarn, the empire's prodigy general, is at the top of her list of enemies to kill. Not only has Jalarn murdered Talya's king, he's almost killed her. Twice.

But things don't go as Talya planned when a visiting prophet sends her on a mission to the highly feared Hunter Forest. It is there that she must gain the allegiance of the forest's inhabitants before Jalarn and his men do.

Then, memories of a haunting vision resurface when Talya comes face to face with Jalarn. She makes a rash decision that sends her down a path she never imagined she would follow.

WARNING: Let me preface this with the fact that this is a religious YA fantasy. If religion isn't your cup of tea, consider skipping down to the interview.

I actually found myself enjoying this book. Here are the things I didn't like about it though: I saw the cover and automatically thought it was going to be bad (I saw the main character as an ugly albino girl, which isn't exactly what I wanted). I also came into this knowing that it was religious fantasy fiction. For me, I've sort of sworn off religion. So as to not create controversy, I believe in a higher power. That's all you need to know. I used to go to church every Sunday because my parents made me, and after I turned 18 I wasn't inclined to continue going. Still, I suppose my path with religion helped me understand the references more. The religious aspects were overbearing. Everything was about trusting in god. It didn't ruin the book for me obviously, but I hate being hit over the head with things like religion.

That was really the only bad. The writing was slightly off. There were a few lines that actually really reminded me of when I was writing as a young teenager (i.e. thoughts that pointed out the obvious, simple descriptions). This isn't a bad thing, it's just not my writing style anymore. But it was interesting to see that, if I had turned in a manuscript of this one book that I finished back then, it would have sounded like this. Also, a line that really caught my attention was when Talya was in jail: "You will eat when you agree to listen to reason," Ittonifer said. "Then I will never eat again!" (Talya). In the context, it made me think of the people that denounce religion, because religious people supposedly aren't "reasonable" people. That may have been a bad choice of words on the author's part.

This book was also a thrilling adventure, and a hidden love story. It was slightly predictable, but I still enjoyed the twists and turns, and also getting the perspectives of different people. Talya had a very one-track-mind mentality for most of the novel, so she wasn't always seeing everything clearly. Then she takes a literal journey of self-discovery (which a wise, old man of god tells her to take), and she realizes that she needs to accept god back into her life and believe in him again. I also really enjoyed the interaction between her and Jalarn. There was very little romance in this book, but when there was it was powerful and sweet.

If you're into religious fiction, you should definitely give this a try. If I was more religiously inclined, I think I would have enjoyed it immensely, but the truth is that part of my life is mostly behind me. I can appreciate other people's worship of god, but I myself do not worship god publicly.

And now, a short interview with the author!

How did you come up with the idea for By the Sword?
First of all, thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog!

I draw a lot of my story inspirations from music, other books, and films. I had these two characters - a tough girl knight and a ruthless prodigy general - bouncing around in my mind for a while. After reading a fantasy novel that I really enjoyed, I was inspired to write one of my own and the story of the two characters began to take form.
What was the hardest part about writing By the Sword?
It was a little more challenging for me to write the ending. I had the beginning and climax of the story all figured out, but I struggled with Jalarn's destiny and the fate of the opposing armies.
 Do you have more books planned for after this one, like in a series?
I do have a book that compliments By the Sword, but it is not a direct sequel. I am planning to release it sometime next year. This year, I have a supernatural thriller coming out in the summer and then a dark fantasy in the winter.
How long did it take for you to get published?
Once I decided to publish through Amazon, it took me about two months to get everything organized and completed - like the editor and cover designer.
What made you want to write religious YA?
Some of my favourite books are in the young adult fantasy genre. I wanted to write something that gives young readers intrigue and adventure that also portrays God as loving and merciful. To give people hope that He really does care about what happens to us.6. What are your favorite books so far this year?
What are your favorite books so far this year?
The Hunger Games and When Heaven Weeps

Thanks for the interview Sara!


  1. Thank you very much for having me! I enjoyed the honest review - and I am glad you liked the underlying story between Talya and Jalarn.

  2. thanks for sharing.


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