Tag Archives: Yvonne Anderson

Review: Stillwaters, by Yvonne Anderson

Stillwaters, by Yvonne AndersonStillwaters, by Yvonne Anderson (Gannah’s Gate Publishing, 2017)

A novel written like an autobiography… about someone who’s famous on another planet. How’s that for a premise?

At the opening of Stillwaters, Jem (the narrator) is a feral child of perhaps twelve. Her “death” is the end of everything she ever knew and the beginning of a new life in a new place. The bulk of the novel traces her second life.

Although Jem’s home planet is much different than ours, some of the interpersonal struggles are quite relatable. We see the distrust between country and city folk (here, there’s the one City: either a benefactor or an oppressor, depending on your point of view). There’s distrust between the uneducated poor and the educated rich.

It’s interesting to watch a character like Jem, with deeply-held opinions and prejudices, learn to see her world differently as she becomes like those she once despised. Watch how she views her new surroundings soon after being taken from her wild existence:

All the plant life was tamed, confined to pots or standing alone and afraid in a bare expanse of gravel. [Kindle location 611]

And, much later:

At a time when many were discovering what an ugly place the world could be, I saw its beauty for the first time, now viewing it through the narrow lens of love. [Kindle location 4583]

This is in some ways a difficult novel to read. Jem’s traumatic beginnings have made her a foul-mouthed, hard-edged person. (Her world has different cuss words than ours, but the sheer volume wearied me at times.) Her experiences, past and in the novel, include some moments that are hard to read but discreetly presented.

In other ways it’s a treat to read. Yvonne Anderson nails world-building. I always enjoy the setting details she creates, exotic and yet relatable. In the middle of a tense time, there’ll be a spot of humour. And there’s heart. It’s good to see Jem grow and make something of herself.

Faith… Jem’s world has a number of religions, much like the gods and goddesses of Earth’s past. Jem doesn’t have much use for any of them. In the novel we find casual mention of a minor religion called Sonmanism, where “one god had a son who became a man.” [Kindle location 2947]

From the progression of the story, I think we’ll see the development of a Christian thread as the series progresses. For now, it’s begun but this isn’t your grandmother’s Christian fiction. It is, however, a well-written and worthwhile read. I’m glad I toughed through the hard parts.

Yvonne Anderson has previously written the Christian science fiction series, Gateway to Gannah. She describes her writing as “telling ‘the old, old story.’ In surprising new ways.” Stillwaters is book 1 in the series The Four Lives of J.S. Freeman. For more about the author and her work, visit yswords.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: The Last Toqeph, by Yvonne Anderson

The Last Toqeph, by Yvonne AndersonThe Last Toqeph, by Yvonne Anderson (Yvonne Anderson, 2014)

The Last Toqeph brings the Gateway to Gannah series to a satisfying close. Because it’s the fourth book, I appreciated the recap at the beginning, as told by Adam, one of the central characters. This means a new reader could start here and not feel confused, although the series is worth reading from the beginning.

Gannah is an Eden-like world, and although to North American eyes some of its customs seem harsh, the people value honesty and honour. The best thing about being a native Gannahan is having an organ called a meah, which allows one to communicate telepathically with other Gannahans and also with the Yasha (as God is known on this planet).

The whole story of how the people of Gannah came to worship the Christian God is part of why I recommend starting with book 1, The Story in the Stars. It’s fascinating.

Present-day Gannah has one pure-blooded native remaining, plus her mixed-race children and a settlement of immigrants who want to follow the traditional Gannahan way of life. At least that’s what they all think – until Adam meets a native Gannahan stranger, Daviyd. In truth, there’s an entire colony of survivors.

Although the characters are in some ways different than we are, there are enough common points that I never felt “alienated” by them. In fact, they consider themselves humans – just Gannahan, not Earthish. Characters from other planets bring different cultural backgrounds and biases into the settlement, and that makes for added conflict. If you don’t relate to an aspect of Gannahan conduct, it’s likely that one of the other characters will agree with you.

I enjoyed discovering the different planetary backgrounds and perspectives. The author definitely did her homework when it came to world-building. The differences increase the sense of realism.

The Last Toqeph wraps up all the plot threads woven through the series, and while not all aspects of the ending are happy, they’re satisfying. Not everything is cut and dried, though. Readers can speculate for themselves over the intent behind Adam’s closing line of dialogue.

I hope we’ll see more novels from Yvonne Anderson. In the mean time, you can learn more about Gannah on her website, Y’s Words.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Ransom in the Rock, by Yvonne Anderson

Cover art: Gateway to GannahRansom in the Rock, by Yvonne Anderson (Yvonne Anderson, 2014)

Book 2 in the Gateway to Gannah series, Words in the Wind, ended with young Lileela critically injured. Her desperate father, Pik, sent her in the care of his father to his homeworld, Karkar. Ransom in the Rock is the story of Lileela’s return approximately ten years later, very much set in the Karkar ways and attitudes and viewing her native Gannah as barbaric and uncivilized.

Why didn’t her parents bring her home sooner? Why are they dragging her back now? Lileela’s struggles have given her more than the usual teen attitude. As she learns the truth about the delay, and as she rediscovers her love for her family and planet, Lileela still longs to get away.

But will anyone on the planet survive the treacherous Karkar plans?

And what about the group of genetically-engineered Earthers, AWOL from their military service and heading for Gannah?

Readers new to the series could begin with this book and get up to date fairly quickly, but it’s worth reading from the beginning if you have time. The premise behind the story is that while Jesus revealed Himself on Earth, God the Father set His story in the stars for all races to see and learn. The ancient Gannahans believed God’s message and turned from their warlike ways, but by then the Karkar considered them mortal enemies.

Gannah is Eden-like, and the few citizens with Old Gannahan blood have an organ called a meah that allows God to speak directly to their spirits (they know Him as the Yasha, but His Earth name is Jesus). The meah also links them telepathically with others who have the organ. The people live simply and follow a strict, honour-based code reminiscent of the Old Testament laws.

In current North America, we don’t appreciate strong authority figures, submission to husbands or parents, or honour/shame-based discipline. The character of Pik, himself a Karkar but also a follower of the Yasha and married to a Gannahan, gives readers someone we can relate to. Pik lives the Gannahan way, but at times he still isn’t comfortable with aspects of it. He accepts what he doesn’t understand for the sake of those around him who value the lifestyle.

On the outside, Gannahans resemble Earthers. The Karkars look different: tall, stiff-faced, six fingered and “alien.” I find it interesting that it’s the Karkars who echo the worst of humanity, while the Gannahans give a glimpse of what we could be. Lots to make us think in this book, yet nothing feels heavy or preachy.

Favourite lines:

Captain Abdul-Malik’s orders made the stuffy briefing room feel chill. Planted a bitter nut in his belly that sent roots downward and branches upward and filled his whole being with dread. [Kindle location 250]

“Every-one who believes in God thinks He’s on their side.” He stopped tapping. “But it’s not a question of whether He’s on our side. The issue is, are we on His? Do we live in obedience? Do our actions and attitudes honor Him, or make Him ashamed of us?” [Kindle location 1000]

I’ve been enjoying this series and I’m glad there’s another book in the works to complete it. To learn more about author Yvonne Anderson and her writing, visit Y’s Words. You can read the opening chapter to Ransom in the Rock here.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Words in the Wind, by Yvonne Anderson

Words in the Wind cover art Words in the Wind, by Yvonne Anderson (Risen Books, 2012)

Words in the Wind is book 2 in the Gateway to Gannah series. Book 1, The Story in the Stars, introduces Dassa, the sole survivor of planet Gannah, and Dr. Pik of planet Karkar. Dassa looks like most humans, but Karkars are taller, with six fingers and toes per hand/foot, and the only emotions they show are through their ear movements. The two planets, Gannah and Karkar, have a bloody history.

I can’t review book 2 without giving spoilers for book 1, so if this is a new series to you, click over to my review of The Story in the Stars. You may want to read that novel first.

[Scroll down for the rest of the Words in the Wind review]




Words in the Wind takes place 20 years after Dassa, the last Gannahan, is rescued, and 10 years after she and Pik have married. They’re leading a settlement of humans whose goal is to repopulate Gannah according to the Old Gannahan customs, culture and language.

It’s a harsh culture in some ways, based on honour, truth and communal living. Many of the Old Gannahans had embraced Christianity when it was shared from Earth, partly because God (they call Him the Yasha) spoke directly to them. The settlers are Christians as well.

True Gannahans have a meah organ in their brains, allowing them to hear one another as well as God. A Gannahan was never truly alone, until Dassa became the last survivor.

In Words in the Wind, Dassa is stranded on the far side of the planet when her shuttle crashes. The impact damages her meah and she’s cut off from her children and from her God. She must survive in harsh surroundings and find a way home if her people can’t locate her. And she needs to learn to live her faith the way other races do, relying only on the words in the Bible and on God’s providence.

Pik has no contact with her but he’s convinced she’s still alive. Weather and equipment foil his rescue attempts, and the harder he tries to keep the settlers together and to lead in her absence, the worse he seems to do.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Dassa’s journey is an adventure, and while it’s dangerous, I wasn’t afraid for her. And then there’s the whole rediscovering Gannah aspect: this amazing planet with habitations and archives ready to be explored and put to use. Plus there’s the trust these people (most of them) have in their God to be with them in the hard times and to make a way.

When I reached the end I kept wanting to turn pages but there were no more! I’ll be eagerly waiting for book 3, Ransom in the Rock. In the mean time, if you like Christian science fiction that’s light on the science and more about the people and the planet, I highly recommend the Gateway to Gannah series.

You can learn more about Yvonne Anderson at her website, Y’s Words. Or follow this link for more about the Gateway to Gannah series. Yvonne is also part of the team at Novel Rocket.

[Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a fair review.]

Related articles

Interview and New Blog

A while ago I entered my unpublished novel, Praying for the Enemy, in Risen Books’ fiction contest, and the manuscript earned third place! [EDIT Sept. 2013: This story, re-titled Heaven’s Prey, releases from Choose NOW Publishing November 2013… visit my Heaven’s Prey page for more information.] That means I’m watching my mailbox for the two Risen titles (my choice) that are on their way. One of Risen Books’ authors, Yvonne Anderson, interviewed me this week on her blog, Y’s Words.

You may remember Yvonne from my review of her novel, The Story in the Stars.

Also… drum roll please… I’m pleased to introduce my new blog, speculative, sporadic… and slightly odd. [EDIT Sept. 2013: I’m phasing out this blog. For now, you’ll still find a few reviews there that I haven’t moved here yet.] The name may say it all. I’ve reviewed the occasional speculative fiction/science fiction/fantasy novel here, always with a sense that it didn’t mesh with my main reader audience. So if you like those reviews, hop over to the new blog and subscribe. I won’t just be posting reviews, though. It’ll be my place for indulging my “slightly odd” side.

Happy Friday!

Review: The Story in the Stars, by Yvonne Anderson

The Story in the Stars, by Yvonne Anderson (Risen Books, 2011)

In a universe where beings from various planets live in peace under the unifying authority of the League of Worlds, one planet stands apart. Gannah: the very name brings fear and memories of the Gannahans’ failed attempt at interstellar domination.

The Story in the Stars throws together two unlikely characters: Dassa, last survivor of the planet Gannah, and Pik, the doctor who saved her life. Pik’s native planet, Karkar, was conquered by the Gannahans before scientists developed the plague that forced them to retreat.

Dassa and Pik make an interesting study in contrasts, and as the novel progresses each discovers her/himself to be more like the other than they’d like to admit. Dassa is a warrior; Pik is an intellectual. She’s comfortable with her emotions; he’s bound by logic and appearances. She can survive in the wilderness; at the start of the novel, he’s never been outside a domed city except when in space.

Dassa’s people follow the Christian faith, in a universe where proselytizing is a punishable offense. Dassa’s personal relationship with God (she calls Him Yasha) allows her to hear His voice in her spirit.

Doctor Pik, on the other hand, has no use for delusions of faith. He’s as obnoxious and superior as they come. Yet she begins to sense that God wants to unite them.

Dassa tells Pik that every planet’s early constellations, and the legends that go with them, give a version of the same story: “a virgin birth and a saviour dying on a cross and a wicked serpent and a great war.” (p.140) The Gannahans know this God, and despite being the last of her people, she’s determined to share Him with the universe.

I really enjoyed this novel. The sharp cultural contrasts and the faith elements reminded me of Kathy Tyers’ Firebird. I’ll definitely be watching for the sequel. Click here to learn more about the Gateway to Gannah series.

For more about Yvonne Anderson, visit her blog, Y’s Words, and check out her interviews at A Writer’s Journey and Novel Journey.

[Electronic Advanced Review Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair review.]