Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: The Uncloaked Trilogy by J. Rodes

~Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY below!~





From Sellout to hero, by way of the den. Braxton Luther finds himself in the crossfire of a new order, and discovers apathy is a dangerous option.





The Uncloaked

No one stirred in the area—people stayed in their little hovels. Hiding, most likely. From the cold, the helplessness. Maybe from the Party. Staying out of sight, like cockroaches.
I am not a cockroach.


“Apathy is the illness of the overprivileged…” Words laced with fear—and maybe a hint of prophecy. His father’s words. Words Braxton would prefer to ignore.

Braxton Luther is sixteen when the Progressive Reform Party takes over the government. It can’t be that bad. So they don’t want religion in government—that’s constitutional. He can’t understand his church’s hypersensitive reaction or his father’s cryptic warning to stand against the Party’s ultimatums.

But after living under the new government for a year, Braxton faces a choice—conform to the demands of the ungodded in order to protect his best friend, Eliza, or defy the system and go into hiding, ensuring a life of misery.

Apathy is no longer a choice.


Tearing The Veil

They trained us well. Power punctuated our every move, driving fear into the intended target. Who would stand against them?

Braxton Luther, the sellout.

Now a part of the Den, he’s determined to make good on Eliza Knight’s faith in him—to be more than what he’d settled for when the Party had taken over. But his goal is dangerous, and not just for him. As he searches for a way to protect the silent, invisible victims of the new government, Braxton’s mission becomes even more complicated. Hannah Knight, Eliza’s sister, is simply too much like him.

Tired of standing in her perfect sister’s shadow, Hannah determines to find her own place in the world. If that place is with the Pride—the girls’ home and training center provided by the Party—so be it. When she leaves the hopelessness of the cellar, that’s all she’s aiming for. But Quinn Sanger, the handsome son of a powerful political leader, finds her at the creek, and her life takes an unexpected and optimistic turn.

Braxton’s convinced Hannah’s in trouble. Hannah’s convinced Braxton, and all the Uncloaked, are insane. But when they peek behind the real veil the Party maintains, the truth is beyond what either had feared or hoped.

If everyone knew, it could change everything. They redefine their mission. It’s time to tear the veil.


Charging the Darkness

You were not saved for this...

The veil has been torn, but Braxton Luther still has more to do.

The captive Uncloaked have been freed, and the people know the dark truth. A rebellion against the Party has begun, but the question lingers among those who are safely hidden in the Refuge--what will happen to their broken nation? Secrets and shame, resentment and hatred continue to shake the nation, now divided.

What will it take to break the grip of the Party? Beyond that, is there any hope of healing after the damage of the darkness?





This well-written trilogy will keep you on the edge of your seat with non-stop heart wrenching action.  As a YA dystopian work of fiction, this story and it's characters will make you stop and think about how you would respond to the same circumstances.   How many of us would give in to the desperation of a persecuted life and choose to believe the lies of a better life by going with the easy choice?

The characters in these stories are well-written and believable.  From the typical self-centered but fumblingly courageous PK's son to the cooly dangerous woman in charge of The Party, you'll find each character to be well thought out and intriguing in their own way.   Teenagers will be well able to identify with Braxton's struggle with his parents and his struggle to fully comprehend the changes and the persecution that come from the changes in the political world.

While there is a touch of romance throughout the story line of the three books (I love the development of Braxton and Eliza's tender romance even when it hit rough patches),  these books are not a light read.  There are a lot of dark times and some subject matter that can make this an edgy series.   There will be times you just want to cry your eyes out and then there will be times when you can feel your own resolve strengthen to stand firm in your faith.

You really don't want to miss out on reading this series!

*Thanks to Singing Librarian Books and the author for a complimentary copy of this book.  I was not paid nor required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are my own.*





J. Rodes lives on the wide plains somewhere near the middle of Nowhere. A coffee addict, pickleball enthusiast, and storyteller, she also wears the hats of mom, teacher, and friend. Mostly, she loves Jesus and wants to see the kids she’s honored to teach fall in love with Him too.



Author Interview


1. What intrigues you to write science fiction dystopian YA fiction?
Funny that. I never dreamed that I would write dystopian. Ever. I like the genre—The Giver is one of my favorites—but I couldn’t see myself writing it, until one day I did.

I like dystopian because it opens up new possibilities in writing. You can play out a “what if” storyline that goes to an extreme and do it in a way that captures a whole different kind of reality. For example, in The Giver, we discover through an extreme society that we think is impossible, but that Lois Lowry paints in crisp (black and white) life, that life is too multifaceted to invoke sameness. We’re too unique. Emotions are too precious. Experiences are too vivid and valuable to override for the sake of unity. In other words, we discover equality and fairness aren’t the same, and we can’t contrive forced unity. The human experience is simply too complex, and what is required to forsake in the name of sameness isn’t worth the cost. I can’t imagine delivering this concept in a better way than in through Lowry’s dystopian world.

Perhaps it’s that unique story power that is possible through a dystopian that intrigues me the most. Teach a lesson with facts, and I’m likely to forget. Show me with a compelling story, and I’m gonna remember it for the rest of my life. Somehow dystopian accomplishes that goal in a way that other genres seem to fall short. Not always, but often. Especially with a young adult audience.

2. What is your current WIP? What can you tell us about it?
Haha! Well, right now I’m working on a fun chicklit romance. 😊 Quite a diversion from a dark dystopian trilogy, isn’t it?

I’ve finished the rough draft for Evergreen—the final book in the Grace Revealed series (Blue Columbine, Red Rose Bouquet), which is Women’s Fiction. Now I’m working on a light, fun novella set to hit the world on Valentine’s day. I can tell you that The Cupcake Dilemma is quirky, fun, and about a kitchen fail girl finding her place in the small town of Rock Creek (the setting of Reclaimed and Ordinary Snowflakes). It is a total departure from my more serious books, but hopefully you’ll still find my touch of emotion and genuine characters—this time through humor rather than tears.

I have an idea rolling around in the back of my head for another young adult novel—though not dystopian. I’d like to flesh out So-J, one of the secondary characters in Evergreen (she was also in Red Rose Bouquet), and give her her own story. It’ll be at least a year though, because I have other projects scheduled. 😉

3. If you were to go on a vacation to visit one of the characters from this series, what character would you visit and why?
Hmmm… not sure going to see any of these characters in their world would be a “vacation.” But I would so very much like to see the world as it shifts into Eliza’s vision post-Progressive Party’s rule. She sees, in the place of her worst nightmares, a place of healing and forgiveness, a work that is beyond immediate comprehension, but she believes is possible because she experiences it in her own heart. Eliza’s vision is profound—and something that I borrowed from Betsy ten Boom as she envisioned her place of imprisonment during World War II transformed into a place of hope and healing. What a sight that would be. Someday…

4. What inspired the idea for the Uncloaked Trilogy?
A dream. Not kidding. I dreamt it one night—book one, that is, and started writing it the next day. The other two books weren’t as easy to visualize—I had to work a lot harder for those stories. Much of my inspiration came from researching how Christians survived during the times of Roman persecution, and then from digging into details from World War II, which I’m sure is evident throughout the books. I read and then listened to Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place—which still makes me weep—and then sat back in awe at the ten Boom’s solid faith and surrender to Christ. Talk about courage. And love. And forgiveness.

I wanted those characteristics manifested in the story line, and they came mostly through Eliza. But also, I wanted a hero that wasn’t always heroic, who was ordinary—and actually, even a failure at some points. That came through Braxton. I’ve found that some of my readers really couldn’t stand Braxton—they were so mad at him for his decisions and failures. But I keep thinking back to the disciple Peter…

Can God still use a sellout? Yeah. Peter will tell you, God totally can, and He does. That’s the heart of the story there—not that my heroes have anything super “special” about them. No extraordinary gifts. They can’t walk through walls, fire a bow and arrow like no one else ever has, or fight off the enemy with their brute strength and cunning metal powers. They’re everyday people. Kids. Making choices—sometimes good, sometimes bad. But when the darkness falls, and no one knows what to do, there is God. That’s where they find their footing, where their courage is drawn, and where the story begins to turn. Where we find hope, and we dare to dream of things that are otherwise impossible. Because there is God.

5. What do you want readers to take away from reading the Uncloaked Trilogy?
Um, see above. 😉

6. When you are not writing, what other “hats” do you wear?
Taxi cab driver, mostly. Oh, wife. Mom to four awesome kids (thus the taxi cab driver). Teacher (Sunday school, AWANA, and subbing in our public schools). Friend.



Snippet

The Uncloaked
Uncloaked? What was that?
Tristan smirked. “Clearly. Family?”
“All Uncloaked.”
“Noted.” He leaned over Kipper, who cowered like he expected a blow. “Fix it, boy. You’re in our sights.”
Kipper didn’t respond. I detected a tremble in the boy’s hands, but he held a strong gaze. A gaze that seemed somehow familiar in nature. I glanced to Eliza. She was biting her lip as she kept her eyes fixed on Kipper. My view widened, encompassing both of them. His eyes darted to her, and she nodded ever so slightly.
Wait. What just happened? My chest expanded with a fierceness I hadn’t anticipated. I zeroed back in on Eliza, wanting to take her by the arm and pull her to my side. What was this guy doing, looking to Liza for strength? She didn’t have any to spare. And she’s mine.
Wasn’t she?
“What do you expect me to say?” Kipper’s weak voice ripped me out of my Braxtonian-centered universe.
Tristan still hovered over the guy. “Show us a sign of loyalty.”
“What do you want?”
“I think you’ll find life much easier if you comply.” Tristan tapped Kipper’s tab. “Try it. See what happens when you check the correct box.”
My attention dropped to my own tab. The correct box. Not the right box—as in what is true of you, but the correct box—as in PC.
Congratulations, Citizen.
The words burned in my vision.
Check a box. Get on with your life.
My own voice echoed in my ears. Was it really that easy? We were living like impoverished beggars at the Knights’ house, and it could have been avoided by checking the correct box?
“I won’t.” Kipper’s meek voice beckoned my attention again.
The air seemed to turn cold and hard. Eliza pulled in a long breath and held it. I scowled, first at her and then at Kipper. Tristan looked to his right and then to his left. The bulky guys flanking him returned his glance with smirks.
He smacked Kipper on the back of his head, sending the kid’s face toward the desk. “It’s your funeral.”
I assumed that was figurative. Couldn’t be anything but, despite the zinging sense of fear rising in my chest. Not in this country.


Giveaway

  1. Print copies of the books (US only)
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  3. Audio copies of the books (International)
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