TNT Blog Tour: Captives by Jill Williamson (Book Review & Giveaway)

Age Range: Older Teens - 15 and up 
Genre: YA Dystopian
Part of a Series: Book #1 in The Safe Lands Series
Release Date: 4.2.13
Publisher: Zondervan/Blink

Summary: One choice could destroy them all.
When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he’d find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many—including his fiancée, Jem–taken captive. Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.
Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Land has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.
Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only his people, but also find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone inside the Safe Lands.
Can Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Land’s façade before it’s too late?
What I Loved: Jill Williamson absolutely knows how to write from a male character's POV (point of view), and she does it very well at that! The dialogue from Mason, Levi and Omar (the brothers that the story is primarily centralized around) was great, and completely believable. The prologue was stellar - really plunged you into things at warp speed, and I wasn't complaining one bit. The Safe Lands is a completely unique 2088 world . . . full of Wyndo's, SimTags, Roller Paint, the To Dye For Salon, CompuCharts, GlassTops and a couple of wacky reality television hosts named Finley and Flynn. That said, this was probably one of the more unique "worlds" I've dived into in a long while - everything was true to Safe Lands form and remained that way throughout its entirety, which gave this novel a great sense of realism in its own rite.

I was really excited when Levi, Jemma, Mason and Ciddah became a more prominent part of the story in the later chapters, as I found myself growing quite attached to these 4 characters in particular. Speaking of characters . . . I really liked any snippet where I got to hear about Bender. Yes, I love me some rebels! I admit it. I really wanted to know more about him (and Arris and Lonn) and the rest of his rag-tag crew, and about how the Black Army had evaded The Enforcers' rules and watchful eyes for so long without being noticed. Quite frankly I wanted to be a fly on those underground Safe Lands walls! 

Overall this book did continually bounce back to its faith-filled roots, even when I was afraid it wouldn't. The story, based on the first chapter of Daniel in the Bible, never became fully submerged in the Safe Lands' Pagan Babylonian/Sodom-and-Gomorrah-like atmosphere, thankfully. That said, I definitely think this book asked us to reflect upon morality, both good and bad, and continually asks us questions along the way like: "Would I be able to survive if I was taken captive and held in The Safe Lands? Would I let my beliefs fall to the wayside?Would I stand up and fight, or back down and blend in?" I love the deep questions that Captives pose for us to ask ourselves! Ultimately this book has really begun to grow on me, despite finding it difficult to get through the first half of the book at times. (The second half and the ending are even better, folks!)

I'm really looking forward to seeing where Jill Williamson will take the story in the next installment! 

What I Didn't Like So Much: I almost wanted to stop reading quite a few times, mainly due to "the horror of it all," as my dear friend Rachelle Rea puts it. This book was dark. It was hard to stomach at times. And oh, how I shuddered at so many turns! But maybe that is the point that the author was trying to make?  That life can be dark - really dark. Life is chock full of vices, and it surely isn't always pretty - especially for our captive characters, some of which try desperately to blend in with The Safe Landers. People, including the characters in Captives, don't always make the right choices - the choices that we think they should make. But therein lies a house of redemption for all sinners, Safe Landers and otherwise. 

I’m recommending this book… Keep in mind that while this book does contain some mature content (that may be inappropriate for younger teens) this book is ultimately founded upon a Christian Worldview. If you loved reading The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and The Giver Series by Lois Lowry then you'll most likely enjoy reading Captives by Jill Williamson too. 

* In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from Jill Willamson through Team Novel Teen. *

About The Author: Jill Williamson is an author of all things weird. She grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Her Blood of Kings trilogy won two Christy Awards, and she recently released Captives, a dystopian teen novel from Zonderkidz. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer.

Extras for Captives . . .

author's website //

Read the prologue and first chapter on Scribd // 

The Safe Lands Website //

Jill Williamson's Facebook Page //

a Rafflecopter giveaway

our engagement story

(btw - the very last paragraph is a "cliffs notes version" of our engagement story, for those of  you ORB readers who don't have time to read the whole post. Also, this post has been edited recently, because the fiance reminded me of a few minor details that were not included in the first go around!)

05 // 10 // 13

I woke up early (okay, only-kinda-early-for-me) on Friday morning, and thought of how inevitably it would be my twenty-fourth birthday the next day, sighed over the fact that I probably wouldn't be able to celebrate my birthday at all, and then went about getting dressed and ready to go into work for the afternoon. After getting ready I chit-chatted with my momma and sister for a bit . . . and then I headed into the kitchen to fix myself an early lunch. 

I finished eating lunch, and then checked my cell phone again for probably the hundredth time that day to see if Jared had texted me. I mean, I knew he had an appointment in the morning and that he would be working a half day at work, so I figured texting would be very hit-and-miss that day, but I thought surely he'd at least have texted me by lunch time! Shortly after I finished eating I checked my phone for messages, again. There was a text after all. I got a tiny so-unlike-him message from Jared saying that work was going really well, but was "busy, busy." Now. I don't know about you, but when a man - my man in particular - says "busy, busy" its either for one of two reasons: #1 - plain silliness or #2 - he's covering up something. So, yes . . . that was an odd "busy, busy" text, but I quickly dismissed it and wrote it off as the former probability.

Directly after I got that tiny text my momma walks through the kitchen, stops, looks at me quizzically and asked me if I going to wear any makeup to work that day, which I thought was rather odd, as I don't normally wear makeup to work on most days (gasp!), but I didn't think anything more of her request other than that it was just plain odd. And I didn't argue with her either. I ended up spending a good ten-to-fifteen minutes in the bathroom prettying myself up for the day and desperately trying to convince myself that nothing was "up," and that momma really just did want me to conceal my ghastly-pale face under a layer of pretty makeup to enhance my own natural beauty. ;)

And then I thought some more . . . cue serious suspicions arising.

After I got a few light layers of makeup on my face I went back to my room to put on my shoes, grab my fossil bag, my water bottle, car keys and my purple work apron. I threw the apron loop over my head and tightened the loose strings around my waist - then found my cell phone, still devoid of any text messages from Jared, and slipped it into my apron pocket and took off for my car.

On the twenty to twenty-five minute drive to work I listened to Plumb's new album softly in the background as I ran through every possible "suspicious scenario" in my mind.  I kept on thinking "Why on earth did momma want me to freshen my face up with some makeup sooo badly today? What if Jared is coming up here to surprise me this weekend for my birthday? Or what if Rachelle is driving up here and Meghan will be flying in to surprise me for my birthday? And. Or. And. But." Um, I'm sure you get the picture. After that I quickly dismissed any and every scenario I had played through my mind from just moments before, if not only to reclaim enough sanity so as to make it through my workday without driving myself into the nobody-will-be-here-for-my-birthday-pit-of-despair. And then I cried silently and prayed - and slowly began to forcefully forget every crazed, silly, wild-wandering thought, and prepared myself to walk into the bookstore with a smile plastered on my face.

Work went by pretty quickly, overall. We sold a bazillion cards - seriously! Thank you Mother's Day for that! And because it was so busy, and there were a few extra hours to work, my manager asked if I'd be willing to stay, at first only just for an extra thirty minutes, which quickly became another extra hour at the store. I said that I would be willing to stay until 4:30pm, and then I shot off a text to Jared telling him that I'd be staying an extra hour at work. Then I finally got a text back from my guy! Jared's text reply was: "I thought today was 3:30 for ya. It'll be 4:30 for me today. Gotta make up for missing the morning. ;)

Again, I thought it was sort of suspicious that Jared hadn't texted me until later in the afternoon, but I just didn't really think he'd actually drive all the way up here and miss work and an important appointment just to surprise me for my birthday. So, I quickly let that ESP INFJ Intuition/Feeling or dream, or whatever else you wanna call it, die a slow and painful death.

I finished up at work around 4:30pm and quickly dashed to my car so I could call Jared. Jared acted like it was any other day, really - and I suspected nothing, at least not anymore at this point. I quickly told him about how busy it was at the store, and about how many tons of cards we'd sold and about how hungry I was, and I mean I was HUNGRY! Like ready-to-devour-the-entire-kitchen hungry! Then I asked him about his day real fast, and he said that his appointment kinda fell through because the person he was supposed to see got violently ill that morning and didn't show and then he went on to say that his half day at work was busy but had gone pretty well overall. As I got closer to home, five minutes out to be precise, Jared said that he'd have to call me back later that night because him and his dad and brother were going out to buy his mother Mother's Day presents. 

Once I turned onto our long winding mountain country road I started to relax a bit more, as I knew that my yoga pants, a whole fridge of food and Netflix were calling my name. I quickly gathered my personal affects together from my car and headed inside the house. Momma was standing in the kitchen and said that I had gotten a few birthday cards in the mail and that they were on my bed waiting to be read. And then she said I should go read them. (Suspicious much?) So I walked into my room and saw a golden envelope lying on my bed that was from Jared's family and then sticking out just beneath that card was a white quarter-folded piece of paper. I picked up the card and went straight for the folded piece of paper underneath. At first when I opened the folded piece of paper it was upside down - then I flipped it over and recognized the handwriting and signature immediately as Jared's. 

And that's when my heart started literally pounding out of my chest!

The white paper held a "mystery poem" scrawled upon it and the last line read: "Should you remember but one of these, you know where I am, amidst the trees." I freaked and started saying ohmygosh ohmyGosh OhMyGosh over and over again and ran as fast as I could into the kitchen and started to pace around where my mother was standing keeping herself occupied. I asked momma if she knew what was going on and she said she knew nothing about the "mystery poem" and that she guessed that I had better solve it already. Then I asked her: "HE'S HERE ISN'T HE!?!?!" and she just told me to read the poem again and turned away with a small smirk-of-a-smile on her face. So I read the poem again. 

And then I really, really, really freaked out again because there are a ginormous amount of trees around here, people! But there were only two places where that mystery poem could have lead me to and I was about to trudge onward as fast as humanly possible to the first place I thought Jared might be hidden. I raced out of the door, still wearing my black dress pants, my black and white striped dress shirt and my purple work apron, and headed towards the treeline at the front of our property. I didn't see Jared anywhere in sight, so I broke through the treeline and stumbled into a scraggly pile of thorns which got caught in my dress pants for a moment, and then I started tripping over foliage and branches and all sorts of woodsy junk, so I grabbed at the tree closest to me which was right beside a deep muddy ravine in the thick of the woods. I was deathly silent all throughout my entire poetic-hide-and-seek-adventure, so Jared didn't know I was even out there! I didn't even think to call out for Jared! I mean, honestly, its like I forgot how to think or communicate or something - and then I spotted my love through the trees! Somehow I got untangled from all that woodsy stuff and I burst out of those trees faster than lightning and made my way towards him.

As soon as I rounded the tree line I ran over to Jared and threw my arms around his neck . . . and then he suddenly pulled away from me, which kind of caught me by surprise. Then Jared dropped down onto one knee . . . and happy tears started pooling on my eyelids and I started to fan myself with my shaking-like-a-leaf hands and then he asked me THE QUESTION: "Would you accompany me through life - and write our two stories as one?" Without hesitation I exclaimed: "Yes, yes, yes - with all my heart yes, a million times yes!!!"

And that's wraps up the end of "our engagement story" post . . . thankfully though, our story together has just begun!

But before I go . . . I bet you want to see the ring, don't ya? ;)

(isn't my garnet wuthering-heights-quote-inscribed ring lovely!?)

// The Cliffs Notes Version //

Last week was *seriously* the best week of my entire life!

// May 8th //
Jared & I celebrated our 3 1/2 year dating anniversary!

// May 9th //
Jared calls me & tells me that he got hired on full time by the company he works for!

// May 10th // 
Jared drives up to surprise me for my birthday & asks me to marry him!!

// May 11th // 
We celebrated my twenty-fourth birthday . . . yes, you read that right - 24!

// May 12th //
We got to celebrate my wonderful momma, & I got to take engagement photos with my fiancé thanks to my awesome sister, Mary! 

quiet my anxious heart

Quiet My Anxious Heart

"Our Good Shepherd can only restore our souls when we turn our hearts and our minds away from the noise and busyness of the world back to Him. Sitting alone with the Lord leads us to peace and gives us the strength we need to move forward." -Wendy Blight

/ / /

I've been silent on the blog here for the last few weeks, mostly due to the fact that I've really just needed some quiet resting time, some exploring-my-heart-deeper time and some learning-what-my-boundary-lines-need-to-be time.


And then I found the above quote in a P31 devotional in my inbox and I thought "God, what impeccable timing!" I need my Good Shepherd to quiet my soul right now, right here - in this very place!

Will you join me, friends? I will be participating in Wendy Blight's Quiet My Anxious Heart: Learning to Sit at the Feet of Jesus Online Bible Study. It's a 3 week study (which started yesterday) that focuses on sitting at the feet of Jesus, and I believe its just what I need.

I hope you all have an amazingly blessed week! 

Team Novel Teen Blog Tour: Storm by Evan Angler

Age Range: 8+ (middle-grade readers to infinity and beyond!)
Genre: Juvenile Fiction / Action & Adventure / Dystopic
Part of A Series: Storm is book #3 in the Swipe Series.
Release Date: 5.7.13
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Summary: In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care—without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.
Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute. Ever since, he’s been on the run from government agents and on a quest to find his sister Lily, who disappeared when she went to get her Mark five years earlier. His journey leads him to befriend the Dust, a vast network of Markless individuals who dissent against the iron-grip rule of the government. Along the way to the capital to find Lily, the Dust receive some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.
In Storm, Logan and his friends are the leaders of the Markless revolution. But while some Markless are fighting Chancellor Cylis’ army, the Dust is busy trying to find a cure for a horrible epidemic sweeping through the Marked. And it’s difficult for them to know who to trust, especially when they aren’t sure if Logan’s sister Lily, one of the commanders in Cylis’ army, is on their side or not. And all across the nation—and the world—the weather has become less stable and a storm is brewing that bigger than any of them could have ever imagined.
What I Loved: I ate this book up, er, I meant to say that I read through it extremely fast, as I found myself gripped so tightly by Storm, the exciting third installment in the Swipe Series. The writing by Evan Angler was excellent, as I've come to expect. And now that the characters are an extremely well established part of the story, I really felt like the plot was able to take a rather daring all-over-the-place exciting frenzied flight - and we were even introduced to a few new characters, which I loved as well.  Storm was chock full of chaos and mystery - I mean, so many characters that I thought I had completely figured out already- like Cylis, Lamson, Lily, Erin, Peck and Logan, and you get the picture! - really, really surprised me in Storm. Everything is not as it appears, as multiple kinds of "storms" start to rear up their ugly heads at our all-over-the-map, and well-worn, team of Dust and Markless, as they begin to stand up and start the end-times revolution. 

I'm really anxious to find out what happens next to both Logan and Lily, especially whether or not they are both actually on the "wrong side of the tracks." Only time will tell, I suppose. 

I also happened to love the part in Storm where a few of the characters found a copy of Swipe in the Library, and were able to read about themselves, as the "mystery author" recounted their journey so far. I thought it was a swell addition to the story world - and it made it feel all the more real. Translation: You are so very, very clever, Mr. Angler!

What I Didn't Like So Much: I really didn't dislike, or hate anything. Seriously. Storm did sort of feel like a "bridge book" at times though, and by that I mostly mean that the story felt like it was constantly gearing up for something far grander in the future with every turn of the page. All in all the story definitely didn't "get there" completely in Storm because there were far too many loose ends revealed, though I will say that everything in the plot, loose ends included, worked really well. I only hope there will be more books in the series to come . . . and SOON!

I’m recommending this book… If you love Dystopic novels like The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins or The Left Behind Series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins then Storm is definitely a book you’ll want to read. 

* In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson through Team Novel Teen. *

Click Here To Read My Review of Swipe (Book #1 in the Swipe Series)

Click Here To Read My Review of Sneak (Book #2 in the Swipe Series)

About The Author:

Who is Evan Angler?

Evan Angler is safe, for now. He lives without the Mark, evading DOME and writing in the shadows of Beacon.

As a kid he was quiet and well-behaved, having grown up in a town not unlike Spokie, where he enjoyed music, drawing, hover-dodge, astrophysics, hiking, virtual reality . . .

None of that matters now.

Evan Angler is the author of Storm. But if anyone asks, you know nothing about it, and you didn’t hear anything from him. Don’t make eye contact if you see him. Don’t call his name out loud. He’s in enough trouble already.

And so are you, if you’ve read his books.

Check out these other extras below…


Also, check out these other Team Novel Teen bloggers ( below ) to see what they had to say about Evan Angler's novel STORM.
ADD Librarian • Blooming with Books • The Book Fae • Book Nook 4 You • Bookworm Reading  • Christian Book Review Blog • Christian Bookshelf Reviews • CTF Devourer •  Jill Williamson • Labor Not in Vain • The Life of a Teenage Writer  The Maniacal Bookworm  Oh, Restless Bird • The Ramblings of a Young Author  Realm of Hearts  Shadow Writer World  A Slightly Nerdy Bookworm  Who YA Reading?  Worthy2Read

 Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Storm by Evan Angler by clicking on the links above, and check out for more information about Team Novel Teen.