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Category Archives: Modern Fiction

Halflings by Heather Burch – Book Review

You can find Halflings at your local bookstore or online retailer.

This book starts up with action from the start. Opening in a forest, with the moon high in the sky, Nikki Youngblood, a teenager girl, is being chased by hell hounds – wolves released right from that very special place with a sole intent to destroy her. 

While her midnight ordeal is stopped by three Halflings sent to help her, the fight between heaven and hell doesn’t end there. The book follows her as a group of supernatural teenage boys sent to protect her work hard on finding out why so much evil is after her. 

In the process of being protected by the half-angel, half-human boys, she falls madly in love with two of them, Mace and Raven. Then spends a good majority of the book pondering over which one she could have, but the solemn truth reigns that she can’t have either. Humans and Halflings aren’t meant to fall in love.

Stemmed from a controversial Bible verse (Genesis 6:2) there is no doubt that very many people are going to have trouble agreeing with the theology that Burch presents in this book. The fictional concept that Burch offers follows along the lines of this:

The children of the Sons of God and daughters of men were called Halflings. It appears that the Sons of God were fallen angels that decided to take for themselves human wives. Thus the Halflings, due to their origins, are to a certain extent unredeemable. They can neither live in heaven nor on earth nor in hell. 

Because of their inability to be saved they therefore spend their lives helping and protecting humans. They travel from spirit to physical realm by something called the spirit plain (or…something like that. I’ve forgotten the name, haha) and then ‘magically’ show up where they are needed as per the Throne’s orders.

If you’re wondering which side they fight for, it’s the good side…well, usually. Halflings can ‘fall’ and turn to serving Satan, however, they are born serving God. Which is, evidently, God’s mercy for them even though they come from a line of fallen angels. 

However, rebellion flows through their blood and Halflings can have a hard time staying on track. To add to their troubles, they can’t actually hear directly from ‘The Throne’ but are instead dependent upon information from an angel in exile. 

Now, that’s the really broken down version of Miss Burch’s theology, I’m sure there is more to it, but that would be the bare bones. 

Negative Content:

The violence in this book ranges from gaping leg wounds to rotting flesh. At one point Nikki is brought into a battle by Raven where she proceeded to kill a hellhound by repeatedly beating it with a rock. 

While I don’t feel the gore in this book was graphic or frightening (at least not to me) I can see how it can be disconcerting to anybody with potentially squeamish dispositions. Be warned that you’re going to be reading about killing, blood, and other various things if you pick up this book. 

Physical touch is explained in a spiritual way. To clarify, Nikki feels attraction to Mace when she originally meets him due to his half-angel essence. Being supernatural makes him a relaxing and calming person to be around, this is touched up on multiple times. 

After so long, the various descriptions of Nikki’s reactions to the three brothers grew slightly monotonous and I started skipping over them. I think it could have been done a bit more ambiguously without having to pause every few paragraphs. 

As I’ve already mentioned, the theology can be sketchy here seeing as it was based off of a relatively controversial Bible verse. Because of this it’s probably best to be prepared to have a lot of points in the books question your own personal convictions. I didn’t agree with a good amount of the theology presented, but that’s mainly because a lot of it isn’t commonly preached-on concepts. However, I don’t think anything was presented that, personally, made me feel extreme unease.

Finally, there is a love triangle in this book. 

*NOTE: this next part can sort of be considered a spoiler so skip it if you wish.

Originally, Nikki falls in love with Mace, but towards the middle of the book she begins to fall for Raven as well. Though her senses tell her both boys are dangerous, she continues to seek after them. When the book ends, she is torn between which one she should pick, but feels like she still ‘loves’ both of them.

I think the love triangle was a bit too much like Twilight for me – this coming from someone who hasn’t read the books, mind you – and it could have been done just a bit more tactfully. Nikki seemed to swing from boy to boy towards the end without warning, whereas in the beginning she appeared to be relatively loyal to one of them. 

Positive Content:

This book is written from a Christian perspective and it’s modern fiction, so it presents God as a fact as well as makes multiple references to the Bible. Nikki isn’t a Christian (she refers to herself as ‘realist’), but still seems to accept Christianity as a religion generally easily. Then again…having half-angel, half-human boys, and an angel in exile standing in front of you would probably make you believe God exists too.

Nikki shows perseverance, being willing to fight against hell. She also shows bravery and sacrificial acts by wanting to protect the Halflings, her friends, and her parents. 

The Halflings show chivalry as well by protecting Nikki. Mace shows loyalty and makes promises which he keeps, regardless of the situation.  

Nikki keeps everything that is happening a secret, and refrains from telling even her parents. However, the lack of sharing between daughter and parents is portrayed as a stumbling block and frowned upon. In the end, it actually results in a major consequence. 

Nikki’s science teacher displays a good example of a kind adult. He offers to help her when he notices she seems to be struggling with something and repeatedly shows polite and kind behavior.

To note, as I mentioned, this book is written by a Christian author. Therefore, there are sprinkled morals throughout the story (I would list them all, but I think I’ll leave them for you to discover if you read the book) that reflect a Christian worldview. 

Conclusion:

Heather Burch pulls together a lot of aspects of Twlight in an attempt to write the same forbidden love, teenage fandom inducing book that has been buzzing about in movies, but with a Christian’s perspective. 

While I don’t think Halflings is going to rise up to my favorite books list anytime soon, I can see Burch’s reasoning for writing the book in the way she did. That said, if you’re dying to read Twilight, but are hesitant because of the vampires and werewolves and are really only interested in forbidden love and various love triangles… You’d probably like this book.

-Bethany Faith

 
 

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100 Theme Challenge: Day 17

So, since I skipped so many days of this, due to novel writing and character development and all that other crazy stuff us writers do to get novels finished before we die * cough * I mean…writing. 😉 I figured I’d post this on Saturday instead of waiting aaaaaaaall that time until Monday. 😀

One Moment

Never again would I be the same when I must carry around the scar of this moment. I would never forget the screaming and tears. They would change me forever. I would wear them in my heart; a badge that proves I have fought in wars. It would be like a ghost that whispers in my ears at night and haunts my every move; the memory of the sudden fight.

I knew this the instant it happened. I knew my life had changed and would never be the same. The moment I saw anger rising, I felt my world change.

 

Broken By The Whispers

And we all say “Yay for solemn writings that make us cry then smile!”… 😉

Broken By The Whispers

Darkness. The world is so terribly dark. We live in blindness. We breath in fog so thick we cannot move. And here we stay, feigning contentment in our souls, for it is all we have ever known. It is all we will ever know, or so it seems.

Pain. The world screams with pain. We live with searing skin and broken bones. We walk in aches so great that we have forgotten the feeling of painlessness. And yet we remain telling ourselves that it is good. It is, after all, what we know best. It is all that there is, or so we may think.

Quiet. There is a silence among the screams. A silence that yells of the emptiness in all of us. A silence so great that we are deaf with the noise it makes. We listen to the quiet that drowns out the darkness, screams, and pain, combining all of them to torment the most broken part of us.

A silence that speaks of the lonely confusion in our souls. We cannot even convince ourselves to be content in this quiet. We cry out, begging for someone to hear us and break the silence.

It is all there is and ever will be, we think. Never shall we be released from this earth. Lost forever.

Little do we know that there is light in the dark. Healing in the pain. Whispers in the silence.

Bethany Faith

 

100 Theme Challenge: Day 16

Theme: My Inspiration

Whispered Writings

It came like a flash of lightning. It was as silent as the cat that hunts in the night; unexpected and mysterious. As if it were a nightmare that caused my heart to beat faster, it woke me with a jolt.

Without much time to record my thought before it vanished into my forgotten memories, I rushed to where I could write. I Picked up my pen, a sword for a writer, and dipped it into the black liquid. Expertly, the sharp tip grazed against my white parchment.

The letters formed themselves. The ideas came without thinking. My inspiration whispered and the words were written.

 

100 Theme Challenge: Day 15

Theme: Tears

Tears On A Hillside

Rain fell down from the sky. The droplets of water landed nearly silently on the green grass, but if one was quiet, you could hear their chorus of plopping and dripping. Dark clouds covered the sky. The air was filled with a sheet of rain and the heavens were covered with a blanket of gray fog.

The green grass bent when the droplets hit it and swayed when a gust of wind came. A few rocks sat on the hillside, scattered here and there by many years of being undisturbed by anything but the weather.

Nobody had dared to come up the hill since the dark event had taken place. It seemed as if the memory lurked there, haunting all who would dare to disturb it. It had been precisely ten years since the occurrence. Ten years exactly, not so much as an hour off.

Lightning flashed above the hill. Thunder cried out in response. Rain powered down at a greater speed and quantity. It seemed, almost, as if the clouds where crying for the life that had been taken.

The tears of the sky trickled down one of the rocks. The clear liquid magnified a small stain on a boulder. The stain of blood that could not be removed, no matter how loudly the clouds would sob.

 

100 Theme Challenge: Day 11

Theme: Seeking Solace

We Are…

So lost are we are in a world with no hope. We seem to go by slowly, day by day, merely hoping to make it through another dark night. Like wandering we stars, we never feel like we have found home and seem to be unsheltered, exposed to all the rain that pours into our lives. Never do we feel full, always hungry and thirsty. Cold and sick of the world we were not made for. We are all strange, all odd and different. None are like us, nobody understands us. Here we are in our worlds of sadness, depression, and confusion. So lost we are. Seeking solace from the only One we know who can comfort us.

 

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A Foreign Stamp

This is a short story that I wrote for a bunch of six word stories that BushMaid wrote. My short stories aren’t usually that good…but this is one of the better ones. Enjoy! 😀

“The letter bore a foreign stamp.”

It had been left at my doorstep and the messenger had then promptly ran away. I studied the stamp, careful not to touch the paper for fear of any trap it might be. The stamp appeared to be from Mexico, strangely enough. This made me all the more wary of the contents of said letter.

I searched my memory, attempting to find the activity I had participated in while in Mexico. My mind found no important acts of violence or illegal blowing up of buildings that I needed to worry about, I sighed with relief, but that didn’t solve my mystery. This small, foreign letter that had been left at my door step.

Hesitantly, I reached down and picked up the letter. I held it in one hand as I rubbed my fingers together on the other hand. Feeling no residue or grainy substance that the letter had left on my hands, I walked inside, slightly more relaxed.

I grabbed a letter opener from the table beside my door and walked over to my living room. As I sat down with the letter in my hands, I wondered if I should open it. I pondered burning it or throwing it in the trash. With my line of work; there isn’t any guarantee that this was not a trap. Then again, I wanted to find out what this small, paper envelope contained.

I took a deep breath and slid the letter opener into the crevasse on the letter. It opened easily and then I had an opened letter in my hands, begging me to look inside. My hands opened the letter, revealing a cream-colored paper.

After placing the letter opener on my coffee table, I removed the paper from the envelop, putting the envelope beside me as I unfolded the note. My eyes scanned over the letter, soaking in each word they read:

Mr.Stephen Lewis,
We regret to inform you that an old acquaintance of your’s has passed away; Meagan Smith. You were listed as her emergency contact. Upon not being able to inform you of her death through phone, we sent you this letter. Our condolences about your loss. Further details of her cause of death are enclosed. . .

My eyes widened at the remembrance on the name. Memories flashed before my eyes and I felt the tears stinging at me and threatening to overflow.

I remembered meeting Meagan as if it were only yesterday, I remembered looking into her eyes, and I remembered falling in love with her. I remembered everything.

———-

“The mask hid her crying eyes.”

I thought it was a normal day, at least, it was normal for me. I had been around the world and back again, arriving in Mexico to run from a few angry Siberians wasn’t all that much of a change.

Presently, I stood on a sidewalk just outside of the airport, scanning the viewable area for any suspicious-looking folk. After a few minutes of watching intently, my eyes caught on to someone that looked like a potential danger.

A woman that appeared to be around 23-25 years old, no more than two years younger than me. The girl walked, or rather ran, across the parking lot, her hands buried deep in her pockets. She wore a hat that she had pulled down enough to cover her face, almost like a mask.

As she rushed to an old, beaten up car I walked over to her, being sure to stay in her blind spot. I watched, at a safe distance, while she fumbled with her keys. She eventually got a hold of the keys correctly and unlocked the door. After fumbling with her door for a few more minutes, she got it open.

I pulled a gun out and clicked the safe off, aiming the barrel at the girl’s back. She stopped and stood entirely still and stiff.

“Act like nothing’s wrong. Get in the car. Drive.” I commanded with a heavy Russian accent as she slipped into the driver’s seat and I went to the other side of the car and slide beside her, on the passenger’s side.

After a few minutes of driving in silence, I finally spoke. “All right, so who are you?”

I heard the girl sniffle and she raised her hand to wipe an unseen tear from her cheek. “What do you mean?” she asked, her voice trembling.

“I mean, who are you?” I persisted, “Were you sent here to kill me? Or maybe you are supposed to track my activities and report to your commanding officer, who is that, by the way?”

“What?” the girl said, suddenly turning to look at me, making her hat fall off in the process.

I could now see that her cheeks were red from crying and her eyes glossy from held back tears. My heart smashed and, for the first time in my life, I wanted to help her, a complete stranger. Something about her, the very look she gave me, made me want to promise her the world.

She quickly averted her eyes from mine and turned away, trying desperately to rub away the stray tears from her cheeks.

I scrambled to find words, “So…you’re…not from Siberia?”

“No…I’m from Texas.” she said, glancing at me nervously as she kept her eyes up ahead, on the road.

“Oh.” I said stupidly, having no better response, “Well…that’s a relief, I won’t have to kill you then.”

“Kill me!” the girl screamed, throwing her hands in the air and nearly sending the car out of control as she struggled to keep from panicking.

I reached over and grabbed the steering wheel, parking the car on the grass that lined the long stretch of highway, barely managing to keep the car from swerving. “No, no, no.” I said hurriedly, “I’m not going to kill you.”

The girl shuddered and buried her face in her hands, her body shook with a silent sob.

Awkwardly, I attempted to comfort her after I clicked the safe back on my gun and put it away. “Look, I’m sorry, okay? Let’s just pretend this whole thing never happened. Does that seem good to you? I promise, I won’t kill you.”

The girl looked up fearfully, tears still streaming down her face. She appeared to be studying me, perhaps she was attempting to figure out if I was lying.

I sighed, “Let’s start over.” I said, “Hi, I’m Stephen. Pleasure to meet you.” I outstretched my hand in greeting.

She looked from my hand to my face and back to my hand again, “You pointed a gun at me, stole my car, then admitted to planning on killing me…and…you…you want me to shake your hand?”

I paused, “Well…that’s the traditional greeting, yes. And, in my defense, your car isn’t technically stolen, you’re still in it, see?”

She glared at me through cold, blue eyes.

I dropped my hand back on my lap, “Do you have a solution to the mess I just made, Miss…”

“Meagan.” she said resentfully, “My name is Meagan.”

“Very well, Meggy, do you have a solution?”

“For one, you can prevent from calling me ‘Meggy’ ever again.” Meagan said, “And secondly, you can get out of my car and never come back.”

I raised my hands up in submission, “Okay, just trying to be friendly-”

“Oh, is that what they call committing multiple felonies against a complete stranger these days?”

I rolled my eyes and got out of the car, waving goodbye to Meagan only to be greeted by another cold glare. As she drove off, I suddenly realized something. I had no way to get back to my hotel room. I kicked the grass in frustration and began my long walk.

———-
“So very close; yet worlds apart.”

I was grumbling about aching feet, when I finally reached my hotel room. Even though my complaining kept me from paying full attention, I realized something was wrong the moment I entered the room. Somebody had done a very sloppy job of running rampant through my things and trying to put them back in my very particular order.

I walked around the living room, searching for anything stolen. Nothing seemed to be missing, though everything was out of place. Next, I had to check the bedroom.

I subconsciously pulled my gun and edged close to the bedroom door. When I got closer to the door, it slid open, revealing a frightened Meagan being held at gunpoint by a Siberian spy…of course.

The spy spoke with a light accent, “Who is she? Another Russian?”

Meagan struggled against her captor, “Russian! Do I sound Russian to you, Einstein? I told you! I. Am. From. Texas!”

I shook my head, trying to tell Meagan to stop talking. Apparently, she wasn’t a very good listener.

“This maniac kidnapped me this morning! He thought I was you! I have nothing to do with this situation! Just let me go and I won’t even report it to the police! Please!”

“I don’t think I will be letting you go anytime soon.” the man said, “You’ll be my leverage incase that one, over there, tries anything dangerous.”

Meagan stopped struggling and finally fell silent, apparently deciding that silence was the only thing that may buy her life.

“Very well.” I said, “What is it that you want?” I tried to remain calm, though my fist still unconsciously clenched as I saw the man push the barrel of his gun harder against Meagan’s chin.

“You know what I want. Where is the microchip?” the man pressured.

I looked from the man’s cold eyes to Meagan’s frightened ones. Naturally, I felt guilt. It was, after all, my fault for dragging her into this mess. My wretched mistake that could very well end in her death. True, I did not know her well at the time, but something about her, a certain sparkle I had not seen in anyone else my entire life, was in her. Something, a special essence about her, made me care for her as if I had known her my whole life. It made me care for her as if she cared for me.

“I’m waiting.” the man said impatiently.

I blinked, awakening myself from daze to be greeted by a questioning look from Meagan. Then, suddenly, I had an idea. I love ideas that fly in front of you and just let you snatch them up all for yourself. This was one of those ideas.

“It’s behind you. What, are you blind?” I said.

“Don’t tempt me.” the man growled, clicking the safe off his gun.

A felt a bile rise in my throat, but I ignored it. This was no time to panic. “You asked were it was. I gave you the answer. I am not tempting you.” I said, “Now, if you would be so kind as to remove your gun from my friend, I will also tell you exactly where, behind you, it is.”

The man glared at me for second, then clicked the safe on his gun and lowered it, still holding Meagan’s arm tightly. “Tell me were it is.” he said angrily.

I nodded, “Of course, but you have to give me the girl first.”

The man stared me down for a moment, waiting for me to break, but I stood my ground. He mumbled something under his breath and shoved Meagan towards me, the gun still held firmly in his hand.

Meagan stumbled then shuffled over to me. She paused for a moment before tiptoeing behind me and watching everything with wide eyes.

The man glared at me, clearly on his last nerve as he awaited my answer.

“It’s in a secret compartment underneath the nightstand.” I said, “Just a simple drawer, nothing extravagant.”

The man raised a weary eyebrow, but backed up a few feet until he reached my nightstand. He knelt down and reached his hand underneath it, feeling around for a few seconds before his eyes lit up. After fumbling with something underneath the drawer for a moment, there was a very faint click.

I grabbed Meagan, forcing her to a crouched down position, just as the bomb exploded. The loud boom echoed through the hotel. A bright flash of light lasted only for a second before everything stopped. Then the room was still, smoke lingering in the air as it settled from the sudden disturbance.

“What did you just do?” Meagan screamed, “Did you- did you booby trap your own hotel room?”

“I didn’t do anything.” I said, calmly, beginning to stand up, “And I only detonate the bomb when I’m away. When I’m here, I deactivate it.”

“You bombed your own room! You blew it up!” Meagan said, “Just gone! You blew up your ho-” I cut her off, placing my hand on her mouth.

“Okay, okay, I blew it up. Calm down.” I slowly took my hand away, “Just don’t scream…”

She did not scream, but she did do the very last thing I would have expected. She laughed, a very happy laugh. “That was actually pretty fun, once you get over the life or death thing.” she giggled.

I stared at her, entirely stunned. “You’re…not scared?”

She smiled, “Well, yeah, but it was still pretty fun. Like when kids think of growing up and doing all these spy-like things.” she laughed again, “It was better than how my day would have gone anyways.”

I smiled back and let out a nervous chuckle, “That’s good.”

So that is how my friendship with Meagan began, with the collision of our too worlds, a mistake that turned into a blessing. She was, of course, the blessing, not the mistake.

———–

“Life is not a tangible thing.”

As I sat on the couch, letter in hand, with memories rushing before my eyes I felt the first tear trickle down my cheek. If only we hadn’t had to separate years ago, if only I would have been there, perhaps I could have saved her. And as I thought back to her, to the moments when her life was at risk, a simple thought went through my mind.

I had loved her, and if I could have, I would have bottled her life and kept it locked in a safe where she could live forever, protected and secure. If it were possible I would have traded mine for hers. If I could simple get her life back, like one gets a lost item, I would.

Though, sadly, that is not how life works. I only had a precious few years with Meagan, a precious few that I now realized were more special than anything else in the world to me. I realized, now and only now, that I should have never left her side. I should have stayed with her till the end of our days, how ever long or short they may have been, because life is not a tangible thing.

———-

Bethany Faith

 

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