Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Most Inconvenient Marriage- Regina Jennings

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: A Marriage of Convenience Turns Most Inconvenient in this Historical Charmer

Having fled a difficult home life, Civil War nurse Abigail Stuart feels like her only friend in the world is sweet but gravely wounded patient Jeremiah Calhoun. Fearing he won't survive, the Confederate soldier's last wish is that Abigail look after his sickly sister at home. Marry him, return to his horse farm, and it'll be hers.

Left with few choices, Abigail takes him up on his offer and moves to Missouri after his death, but just as the family learns to accept her, the real Jeremiah Calhoun appears--puzzled to find a confounding woman posing as his wife. Jeremiah is determined to have his life back to how it was before the war, but his own wounds limit what he can do on his own. Still not fully convinced Abigail isn't duping him, he's left with no choice but to let the woman stay and help--not admitting to himself she may provide the healing his entire family needs.


My Thoughts: I loved this book. There were somethings that did pull it down from 5 stars (which I will get to), however I found Jeremiah and Abigail to be truly compelling characters. Abigail's insistence that she would not except being someones second choice really got to me. Even needing a home and having been thrust from her first, she was still willing to deny second best. It was something that took real guts, especially with a broken heart to mend as well.

The first couple scenes with Jeremiah were an issue for me. While I knew who was the point of view character in both scenes, Jennings tried to make it seem like it wasn't him because he was dead. Yet having read the description of the book, I knew that was not true. The third scene with him as the point of view character seemed as though it tried to play as a grand reveal of his continued survival.

The villains of the story were not my favorite. They were only in a few scenes and always seemed to have an archvillain feel to them. I would have liked to at least seen a deeper motivation for their deeds.

That said, the backdrop characters really lived the plot. Though Laural seemed to lack much in the way of common sense, the rest of the characters where lovable and amusing. I especially enjoyed the Huckabee children and their pranks. I wish there would have been more of them.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Princess Spy- Melanie Dickerson

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha---one of the few who speaks his language---understands the wild story. Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin's message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself 'Lord Colin' is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy---not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she's sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook's wicked plot.

My Thoughts: The title of this book made it seem as though there was going to be far more intrigue than there actually was. Not even half way through the book, the heroine has already discovered the villain and his entire plot, and then the only spying after that is her pretending not to understand English when she can. A lot of the characters do versions of this, either acting as though they do not understand English/German, or that they do not know the other person actually does speak English/German.

Throughout the book, Margaretha complains that people think she talks too much. Unfortunately for her, it is true. At least half the things she said through the book were just filler so she could ramble. While it was sweet that Colin was not put off by this, I none the less found myself only reading the first couple sentences of anything she said. Then I would skip to Colin, who was far more to the point.

Like all of Dickerson's books, the romantic interactions between in the hero and heroine were insanely sweet. I completely related to their conversations where they were trying to feel out the other's... feelings. For anyone who doesn't mind a rambling heroine, their happily ever after would definitely make it worth the read.

I received this as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Duty- Rachel Rossano

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Duty to King

Tomas Dyrease, the newly made Earl of Irvaine and the village of Wisenvale, owes his good fortune to his king and the recent civil war. When his benefactor demands Tomas marry the cousin of a noble, he obeys. However, no one warned him that she wasn’t a typical noblewoman.

Duty to Others

Brielle Solarius struggles to keep her village from starvation under the new Lord Wisten, her cousin. The men rode off to war and never returned. The remaining women and children face a dire winter if they do not find a solution soon. When she learns her cousin sold her into marriage to save his life, she isn’t surprised. However, she is taken aback by Lord Irvaine’s unpolished ways. Was this man a noble or a foot soldier?

Duty to Each Other

Bound by the words of their vows, they face a rough future. They must forge a marriage while battling betrayal, accusations of treason, and villains from the past. Survival depends on their precarious trust in each other. Failure could mean death.


My Thoughts: This is story which seems like history, but really takes place in a world of the author's own imagination. As such, she was able to create her own history while still using the cultural mores of our own world. I really liked how Rossano brought her world to life with intrigue and infighting amongst noble Lords.

There were times when I thought the hero and heroine were a little too perfect. Tomas seemed to fall in love with Brielle before he even met her just because they were married and he wanted to be in love with his wife. While Brielle managed to trust him almost as soon as she met him, even through she had no proof he was telling her the truth.

Still, beyond their perfection, the romance between Brielle and Tomas was amazing. There was kissing, but it was clean, and Tomas was utterly devoted to her. I fully intend to read more by Rossano soon.

I received this book through I'm a Reader, Not a Writer's Books for Review in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Destined for Doon- Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: The second book in the popular new Doon YA series that takes on a classic story, Brigadoon, and spins it in a new way to give readers a fresh, modern experience.

In this sequel to Doon, Kenna Reid realizes she made a horrible mistake-choosing to follow her dreams of Broadway instead of staying in the enchanted land of Doon. Worse, she's received proof she and Duncan are meant to be, along with torturous visions of the prince she left behind. So when Duncan shows up and informs Kenna that Doon needs her, she doesn't need to think twice. But even if Kenna can save the enchanted kingdom, her happily ever after may still be in peril.

My Thoughts: Having read the first book, Doon, I already knew what Corp and Langdon's writing style was like. However, I must say that the overall progression of the plot was far better in this book than the first. My main problem with Doon had been the almost dreamlike quality, where everything in Doon was perfect (from hot knights to pizza dates). Destined for Doon did not have the same issue. In this book, there were still hot knights and pizza, but now the heroines are fighting for their happily ever afters after discovering that the lives they had chosen were not as perfect as they had seemed.

Vee struggles with knowing what to do as Queen as well as how to be Queen when all Jamie wants to do is take charge. Kenna has come to realize that her acting dreams is not the same without those that she loves to be there for her. While there was no actual villain in this story, Vee and Kenna's internal struggles were enough to add tension to the otherwise straightforward plot.

Might I add that I was totally right about liking Duncan better as the main hero? He rocks.

I received this book from BookLook in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Golden Daughter- Anne Elisabeth Stengl

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: BEYOND THE REALM OF DREAMS IS A WORLD SHE NEVER IMAGINED

Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?

For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.


My Thoughts: This my favorite Goldstone Wood novel since Starflower. I might even like it a bit more than Starflower, which I wasn't sure was possible. Golden Daughter takes us to another country in the history of this world, one with customs far different than the other countries seen so far. The culture Anne Elisabeth constructed was so intricate and detailed, making it seem like someplace that might have once been real (and this comes from a Cultural Anthropologist).

The character I didn't like was Lady Hariawan. Everyone else, including the villains, were so much fun to read about. Sunan (who I only recently discovered was Captain Sunan from Goddess Tithe) was probably my favorite, besides Sir Eanrin. As with Heartless, Eanrin spent most of the novel in cat form, which I must admit I found hilarious.

I can not wait to read what comes next in the series. Surely it will be just as delightful as this.

I received an ARC of Golden Daughter in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Destiny Defined- J. A. Marx

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Description: Trapped on a mysterious island, eighteen-year-old Riki finds refuge with four strangers. Isaac, the rugged EMT, insists no one else is around, but Riki cannot ignore her fear that someone is stalking her. Unless she finds a power truly great enough to overthrow Darkness, Riki will choose death over returning to captivity.

Lord Vétis, high priest of a cultic underground, will stop at nothing to reclaim the chosen one, but he must do so before her introduction to the real world ruins her royal destiny. Using black magic, he manipulates Riki and her self-assigned bodyguards, triggering a battle that consumes the entire island. The underground will never allow Riki to live out her dreams of a normal life...something she has never known.


My Thoughts: I wish I could say that I loved this book, but it was really just okay. I found the characters hard to relate to and oddly confusing. Many of their conversations came across as theology dialogues rather than actual conversations and their internal monologues often repeated themselves.

While I enjoyed the subject matter and found some parts interesting, their was just not enough to keep me engaged in the story. Though I do see where others could truly enjoy this book, so I suggest reading some other reviews too.

I received this book through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, November 14, 2014

The King's Scroll by Jaye Knight Cover Reveal- Giveaway!

About the Book
Following the harrowing events that brought them to Landale Forest, Jace and Kyrin have settled comfortably into their new lives and the mission of protecting those under the emperor’s persecution. The fast approach of winter brings with it the anticipation of a quiet few months ahead. That is until the arrival of four mysterious, dragon-riding cretes who seek aid in a mission of great importance—not only to their own people, but to all followers of Elôm.

Hidden in the vast mining valley north of Valcré, a faithful crete has spent years sharing his knowledge with the destitute miners and their families and is known to possess what may be Arcacia’s last surviving copies of the King’s Scrolls—the Word of Elôm. Joining the cretes, those in Landale must find the crete teacher and bring him to safety, but it is a race against time. Should Daican’s men find him first, execution and the destruction of the Scrolls is certain.

When disaster strikes, all seems lost. Could Elôm have a plan even in the enemy’s triumph?


About the Author
Jaye L. Knight is a homeschool graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy
and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.


Giveaway
To celebrate her revealing of the cover, Jaye is giving away one of her handcrafted quill pen necklaces and a $5 Amazon gift card! Enter for a chance to win using the form below! U.S. entries only please.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt

The other younger crete took a swig of his coffee and set his eyes past her. Kyrin peeked over her shoulder at Kaden who, of course, was staring at the dragon. The female creature stared back in mutual interest.

“Go ahead,” the crete said suddenly. “You can touch her. She loves attention, and she’ll only attack if I tell her to.” A sly glint sparkled in his spring-green eyes.

Besides Jace, Kyrin had never seen anyone with such bright and colorful eyes as these cretes.

Kaden looked at him, his brows rising. “You can do that?”

The crete nodded. “Dragons are highly intelligent. You can teach them almost any command. Storm here is young, but she learns fast.”

Kyrin smiled at the delight in her brother’s eyes as he stepped closer to the dragon and ran his hand over her bluish-gray neck scales. A grin split his face.

“She’s so smooth. Kyrin, come and feel it.”

Kyrin stepped to his side and laid her hand on the dragon. The scales were indeed very smooth, reminding her of the polished marble stair-railings in Auréa Palace, but they weren’t cold. Warmth radiated through them. The dragon, still watching them, let out a little rumble, almost like a giant cat’s purr.

“I told you she liked attention,” the crete said, grinning.

Kyrin chuckled and glanced at Jace to see if he wanted to touch the dragon, but he made no move to come closer. This certainly had more to do with the crete than the dragon. He was very fond of any type of animal. She faced the crete again.

“So they can breathe fire?”

“For short bursts, but that’s usually all it takes to deter any threat.”

“That’s incredible,” Kaden breathed.

While he continued admiring Storm, Kyrin observed the dragon’s rider. He appeared to be in his early to mid-twenties—about ten years younger than Captain Darq—though his exact age was impossible to guess. Cretes were said to mature faster than humans, so he could be anywhere from seventeen to twenty-five. He too wore a sleeveless jerkin. Brown tattoos, a little darker than his skin, marked both shoulders. Darq and the other cretes had them as well, but Kyrin hadn’t taken a good look at them until now. This man’s were a complicated pattern of spirals and dots, but the shape of a fox stood out in the center of his right shoulder.

Though she tried to be discreet, he must have caught her studying him and suddenly extended his hand to her. “I’m Talas, by the way. Talas Folkan of the Fox Clan.”

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Shelfie

This post is long overdue, I know. About a week ago, Hannah tagged me in her Shelfie post. So take a look at my Shelfies and tell me what you recognize! Click on the images to see them larger.

These are my newest books


This one is actually two rows deep!

Same with this one.



There is one person I would like to tag in this and that is my sister, Salyna at Kissed Books!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Playing by Heart- Anne Mateer

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.

After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!

Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends in Dunn, the more Lula realizes God is working on her heart--and her future is beginning to look a lot different than she'd expected.


My Thoughts: Playing by Heart was a very well written book. Everything from the time period, down to posters and girl basketball rules, has been brought in to make this time period come to life. And Lula's struggle with doing what she knows is right rather than what others told her to do was one I could easily relate to. As was Chet's feelings of inadequacy.

My only issue was the sudden way in which the story ended. While I really liked how Mateer drew out the details of the world at large and let us get a true view of the characters' lives and struggles, I thought that they were rather simply tied up at the end. Personally, I would have loved a second book, showing how their relationship played out through the war.

After reading Playing by Heart, I will definitely be looking out for another of Mateer's books. Hopefully the rest are just as delightful a read.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Books I'm Grateful I Read- Blog HOP






Earlier this semester, I signed up to review Rebels by Jill Williamson. To my amazement, and delight, I ended up receiving two copies. One of which I am going to share with my followers! To thank my followers, I am giving away the second copy of Rebels, as well as some Merlin's Spiral bookmarks. Go here to read my review.














You can find the other stops in the HOP here

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thief of Glory- Sigmund Brouwer

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: In the early 1940s, Jeremiah Prins was a 12-year-old living a content life as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). When Holland declared war on the Japanese in 1941, the situation changed swiftly. The Japanese army invaded, and Jeremiah and his family were placed in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp-a camp Jeremiah finally escapes and returns to Holland. Yet wartime complications force him to abandon a marriage engagement with Laura Jensen. The young man flees to California, where he struggles with the lingering anger and war stress he faced as a child.

Determined to find some kind of redemption, a now-elderly Jeremiah tries to make sense of his life by journaling of all that he does not want to reveal to his children about his past, intending to leave his writings as an apology after he is gone.

An online encounter puts Jeremiah in touch with his true love from the war years, Laura, and when they meet again, it triggers the time bomb of long-buried secrets. Even seventy years later, if uncovered, these secrets can harm everyone who matters to Jeremiah.


My Thoughts: WWII was just as much a time of oppression as it was a time of war, with both sides sending people into concentration camps based on ethnicity. As I have an academic interest in Japanese Internment and the Holocaust, I was excited and a bit surprised to discover this book dealing with internment camps in the Indies. Bouwer has most definitely done his research and created a narrative that delves into the past.

Like most novels written on this time period, the characters seem larger than life. While I enjoyed this with most of the characters, it occasionally irked me with Jeremiah when ever I was reminded in the beginning that he was supposed to be ten years old. As he seemed far too able to plan ahead and grasp complex world issues, I pretended he was closer to fifteen through the first half, making his character more believable at that stage of the story.

Yet, though the story is told by Jeremiah and it is about his life, the real story is about what happened in the Indies. That was the true gem of this story. There are graphic details, as well as some innuendo, however those were all part of the real world of WWII. It was not a happy time for most anyone.

As a Christian novel, I have seen some other reviews saying that the Christian theme was not played out enough to their liking. However,  I liked that it showed Jeremiah's struggle with faith as would have been realistic for the events he lived through.

I received this book from through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Adrenaline Rush- Cindy Hogan

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: This is a break off series of the Watched series-Enjoy

A madman with a mission is kidnapping groups of thrill-seeking high school seniors across the country, and it’s up to Christy to stop him.

To do so, she must take on a fearless alter ego and infiltrate a group of adrenaline junkies bent on pushing life to the limit. Death-defying stunts are only the beginning: two groups fit the profile, and Christy must discover the real target before it’s too late.

If she chooses the wrong group, more people will disappear. But choosing right puts her as the prime target—with no guarantee that she’ll get out alive.

Young Adults, teens and adults will love this exciting suspenseful adventure with a dash of romance. You won't want to put it down.


My Thoughts: Adrenaline Rush is a fun read. Christy is a not-so-adventure seeking teenage spy (which is kind of funny in its own right), who must pretend to be Misha, a thrill-seeking-adrenaline junky. Her mission is to join a group of teenage daredevils and get herself kidnapped. I loved reading about how she manages to join the groups under surveillance even though she really doesn't want to do any of the stunts they are into.

Once she is kidnapped, some of the story did lag. I was a bit confused as to how anyone as obviously psychotic as her kidnapper could be allowed to stick around. However, I do think people might pay for his "assets". While somethings about Christy's eventual escape seemed unbelievable, it was still fascinating enough that I couldn't put the book down.

It was not until about half-way through that I realized their was a Christian message to the book. That was the first time Christy mentioned anything about faith, which I liked, but wish it would have been through the whole book.

For those who don't like books that even mention drugs and alcohol, this may not be for you. Christy is often placed in situations where other teenagers are drinking and there mentions of drugs. Neither of which does Christy take a part in, but they are a real part of her undercover mission.

I received this book through eBooks for Review in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This Semester in Loot

In the past couple months, I have won some cool prices. These were part of contests that I never would have heard of before I started blogging and I thought I would share what all I got with you (and tell you how you can some of your own coming here soon).


Last month, Jill Williamson had her Facebook release party for her new novel, Rebels. I had loved
this book and was excited to attend the party. While there, I won some awesome swag, including a Psych pin.
















For those of you who love Jill's dystopian series, I will be giving away a copy of Rebels the first week of November, so stay tuned!



The month before, Robert Treskillard's second promotional contest for Merlin's Spiral came to a close. I took second in that contest and won, among other things, a cast of Merlin's Spiral, straight from the cast used to make the sword on the cover.















Currently, Treskillard is running the third of the contests at kingarthur.org.uk. You can go there, check out the prizes, and enter for the final contest! Then, in November, I will be giving away a few Merlin bookmarks (like those above) along with the copy of Rebels. Hope to see you then!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Storm Siren- Mary Weber

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: “I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?


My Thoughts: Storm Siren deals heavily with self condemnation. Nym is a girl who believes that she is curse and destroys everyone around her. While her anger has killed people in the past, it was more do to having not been taught how to control her power, as well as not believing that she could. Because of this, Nym self harms and draws in on herself. This theme was well done in my opinion. Nym's self-hate is treated realistically and is understandable. There is a great message that we can all choose who we become, no matter who orchestrates the world around us.

Beyond Nym, however, none of the characters felt well rounded. Collin only ever had two things on his mind, flirting and fighting, and his sister had an sharp tongue. While Weber delved into Eogan's past, I still felt like I didn't know him. The villains also lacked depth, and I found it difficult to discover what exactly they were trying to do other than turn the world into a smoldering heap.

The creatures Weber created were interesting, such as the bolcranes, but not really explained. Neither was the reason my Elementals are only ever males. By the last part of the book, I was caught up in the action of the fight, but I was left wondering what the lessons of this book were supposed to be. While I love the theme of self condemnation, there was a lack of God's grace to the story. As a novel published by a Christian publishing house, I expected there to be a mention of God's redemption and that only he can ultimately save this fallen world. Perhaps that will come in the sequel.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thunder- Bonnie Calhoun

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description:In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.
Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.


My Thoughts: When I saw that Revell had a dystopian coming out, I was really excited. I love speculative fiction and thought that the premise sounded interesting. While I am still glad that Revell has branched out into this speculative genre, I am rather disappointed with Thunder.

Selah is a girl who demands to be treated like an adult. However, she doesn't act like one. What might have been a great character development just made her unlikeable when she never even tried to behave as an adult and take responsibility for her childish behavior. I'll give her that her mother hardly prepared her for adulthood. I would say that her mother downright made Selah a spoiled and out of touch person. It is the only way one can explain that Selah describes her brother as looking at her with hate and then saying that he loves her... because he's her brother.

I can see where plans for future books would give a better character arc to Brodhi, however he is a jerk who cares for no one but himself. He very nearly leaves a kid to drown, would have left another to die if not for Selah, and only stays with Selah because he "needs her for information". Which he never gets. But by the time he figures out that she is useless in that regard, he learns he is destined to protect her and suddenly starts caring about what happens to her.

A lot of the secondary characters seemed unnecessary and likely could have been combined to make a far more coherent story line. As it was, they all had different agendas, some of which I am not sure I even figured out because they kept making veiled references to their "plans". One guy is certainly never going to be able to clue anyone in on his plans now.

Some scenes felt like they were only there to make the book longer, not because we needed to read them. One stands out where she is surrounded by boars, which she is afraid of because she heard a story of pigs eating a farmer (did I mention the graphic way in which many people die?). She escapes by jumping in a stream and then the boars do not appear again.

I give Calhoun props for trying her hand at dystopian. I looked at her goodreads profile and noticed that her other books were mystery and romance. Hopefully she is able to do better in the next book of the series.

I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why Stitch Should be the Next OUAT Villian

So, I know this is not my usual type of post, but please bear with me.




On Tuesday night, my brother and I got in a discussion about the Season Premiere of OUAT. We have our opinions about it, mostly that we were disappointed because Elsa and Anna's stories picks up were it left off after Fozen, rather than changing the story of Frozen as they did with every other story to have appeared in OUAT. It lacked the originality that we love about the show.

At one point, our discussion turned to *mild spoiler*  The moment where Belle and Gold dance on their honeymoon. *End spoiler* I had not thought about it, but my brother said that he was waiting for this to happen:



The idea sparked a rather excited brainstorm session about how Stitch could take part in OUAT. This is what we came up with.

In Lilo and Stitch, Stitch is an alien created by Jumba Jokibba. He is created to set the world into chaos and thus destroy it. But when he comes to Earth, he is adopted as a pet by Lilo. She loves him and gives him Ohana, family.

So what if Stitch were actually a monster from the Enchanted Forest, or else some other world. He could have been a creation of Dr. Frankenstein (Dr. Whale), perhaps as a first attempt at reanimation of the dead. But then Frankenstein abandoned Stitch and he began to create chaos so that he would be noticed, as did the monster in Mary Shelley's original Frankenstein. With Frankenstein's disappearance to our world, Stitch feels once again abandoned and finds a way to come here, seeking revenge.

In comes Lilo. In Lilo and Stitch, she is an orphan being raised by her sister, Nani. It is assumed that her parents are both dead, perhaps in a car accident, but I don't believe it actually ever says how they died.

In OUAT, Lilo and Nani's parents could have been from the Enchanted Forest. Terrorized by Stitch, maybe because the father worked for Frankenstein, they fled to our world with their daughters. They settled in Hawaii with Lilo being none the wiser and Nani only having a faint memory of anywhere else.

With Stitch in Storybrooke, there is only one thing left to do... Operation Cobra (you will see why in a moment). Frankenstein admits to having created Stitch, but is unable to stop him without Lilo's father. He knows that Lilo's father had fled to a world without magic and other clues lead him to believe that he is here. Emma and Henry must set out to find him.

At this point, Emma and Henry have taken on the part of Cobra Bubbles (now Operation Cobra) from. When they find the family, Nani is at her wits end. Lilo is a rebellious preteen who likes loud music and loud clothes. She skips school and has a hard time keeping friends, all because she knows that she doesn't belong.


Nani and Lilo follow with Emma and Henry to Storybrooke in order to learn more about their parents. Everyone freaks a little bit because their father is dead and unable to help, and now they must try to cobble together a plan from what little Nani remembers.

But Lilo will not be relegated to the side lines. She begins to feel for Stitch, as they both have never found where they belong. Together, they find Ohana (not the romantic kind, because she's a kid), a true love that overcomes all evil and black magic.

Such a story would leave plenty of room for our other characters to learn and grow as well. Imagine the many ways Regina and Gold might try to stop Stitch, and then the friend (who is his own age) Henry could make with Lilo. Maybe Emma would find out a little bit more about her own Ohana. And for sure Hook and Lilo could get into snarky fights over clothing choices.



So what do you think? Let my brother and I know in the comments and feel free to mention your own ideas. Also, if you like the idea, please share it. Maybe Stitch could make it OUAT.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rebel- Jill Williamson

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: In this final novel of the Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson, Mason and Omar discover the true meaning of Liberation-a secret the Safe Lands have long kept from their people-but find they are trapped in the low lands with this crucial information. Meanwhile, Levi is forced to turn his attention elsewhere when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and becomes the Safe Land's new queen. His only choice to save her may be to take up the role of undercover vigilante that Omar began, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will that be enough to expose the Safe Land's lies and bring freedom to the people? And will they even want it if it comes?

My Thoughts: This was a fantastic end to the Safe Lands Trilogy. Unlike with most YA trilogies, where the third book crushes most everything we loved about the series, Rebels was actually my favorite of the three. Maybe it was because I actually like all three brothers now?

In Rebels, we seen all the brothers grow up a little bit. Levi relinquishes some control, Mason stands up for himself, and Omar takes responsibility for his life. The brothers are more mature, more likeable, and far more well rounded. They have also learned about respect, family, forgiveness, and mostly love.

I wish there was more to the story. A novella if not a full novel. I would like to see what Omar and Mason do for the safe lands, as well as how the three brother's families grow. I would really like to see how they pass down their life lessons to their children.

I received this book through CSFF in exchange for an honest review.


Also, some how I ended up receiving two copies in the mail (Cool, right?). So if you check back on the first of November, I will be giving away my second copy as part of the Books I am Grateful I Read blog HOP.


Purchase Rebels here.
Visit the author's website.


Tour Links:


Friday, September 26, 2014

A Time to Die- Nadine Brandes

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence.

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.


My Thoughts: It has been a while since a book has made me this angry... or had me this interested. Angry because I wanted to step in and fix everything wrong in this dystopian world. The world Brandes has created is amazing. Every moment had me wondering what else I could learn about this place and the people who live there. I couldn't wait to find out what happened to Parvin, and so I read it in two days when I should have been writing my essays (oops).

The reason for 4 stars rather than 5 is that there were somethings that I felt were not explained enough for me to believe. The Albinos' culture, and even existence as a tribe, is one example. The tightropes are another (those these I liked so much that I am not sure that I care that they were not explained).

Many of these things I believe Brandes will expand upon in the next novel. I hope so, as they were mostly awesome (the arena!). I cannot wait to read the next book in the series and to see where Parvin goes from here and where Brandes takes the rest of her characters.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Love's Fortune- Laura Frantz

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.


My Thoughts: Laura Frantz has a great talent for making her readers feel the same melancholy and sadness as her characters, and yet still hunger to finish the story rather than set it aside in depression. Perhaps it is because I have always felt like I knew the characters. That they were my close friends, and sometimes even myself.

Love's Fortune is the third in the series. It is bittersweet, as now, in the third generation, we can see all the paths the people of the Ballantyne legacy have taken. Some are beautiful and others are dark. Just like with most families.

I can not imagine loosing my home like Wren did, with little warning and no chance to give voice to my opinion. I know that I would never have taken Aunt Andra's orders with so much grace. I hardly would have taken anything she suffered with any grace at all.

I hope that Frantz continues with the series. I am not quiet ready to turn loose this family yet.

I received this book from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

What Would I do With One Year to Live- A Time to Die Blog Tour

To be honest, when I first took on this tour, I had planned to say that, with one year to live, I would quit school and my job and stay at home the rest of the year writing. That I would finish as many books as I could and see how many I could get published. Maybe spend sometime traveling to places I have never been, but always wanted to see. But then God showed me how foolish that was.

This year, for the first time ever, I started a garden. One of the plants I have is a butternut squash and
this plant has literally taken over my garden. It started in the middle, stretched to the corners, and then wrapped all the way around the edges. The point came that it started to block out the sun from some of my smaller plants and I had to cut it back. Armed with a pair of scissors, I chopped off a few of the leaves and took out the smaller vines. Then, because I had to go to work, I dropped the vines in the back of the garden, where I figured that if I never got to them, at least they were out of the way and could turn to compost.

It has been a few days now that those vines have laid there. In that time, I have started the school semester, worked at my job, and begun a second. And so those vines had stayed there until tonight, when God taught me how should truly live the last year of my life.

These cut away vines are shriveled and brown. The leaves have wilted and begun to curl in on themselves. Over every inch, these vines are dead. Except in one place.

Each of these vines has two or three flower buds. Small things when I cut them, these buds have grown even as the rest of the plant has died. They had stretched up on their long stems, turning their faces to the sky. Tonight, one bloomed, and the rest are not far behind.

Looking at those vines, I saw that in their last moments, these vines and not given up on growth, but had rallied to do all they had been created for. The vines to give their lives to the flowers and the flowers to give life to the next generation.

While my first inclination would be to curl up, to shut out all responsibility and do only what I wanted in my last year of life, it would also be the wrong answer.

If I have one year to live, I will spend it has God has called me to all the other years of life. I will learn what he has for me, do what he has for me, and meet those he has for me. I will not live for selfish gain, but to support those still living and give my life for the next birth of Christians. Because, in the end, that is the best way to die.


http://nadinebrandes.com/2014/09/03/if-i-had-one-year-left-to-live-a-time-to-die-blog-tour/

 
How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?
Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall —— her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.


 Nadine Brandes' Links:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tried and True- Mary Connealy

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister—and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk—they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”—but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?


My Thoughts: Tried and True is a lighthearted romance for the most part. I enjoyed the play between Kylie and Aaron quite a bit. The conflict between them, as well as Kylie's sisters and their masquerade as men kept me interested all the way through. I really wanted to know how things turned out for them. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.

After reading the description of the sisters having fought in the Civil War, I expected that back story to take a larger role in the story. Like the physiological effects Kylie suffered from fighting as well as how she was overcoming them, while having to keep the full extent of her serves a secret. I think that would have been a far more interesting conflict then than what had taken place instead. I will not mention if because of spoilers, but it was not what I had expected or hoped for.

I also became a bit annoyed with Kylie who insisted on doing only "women's work". I understand that most women are not cut out for running a ranch and that many prefer to cook and clean than build cabins, but I found it a little insulting that she distinguished these things as men's work and women's work. Both are socially constructed ideas and since she lived in the West, she had a lot more freedom to define them herself with out compromising her gender.

Though not as deep as I wish it had been, Tried and True was entertaining. The lightheartedness of it came as a bit of relief in itself at the end of a long day. If the above things I mentioned do not bother you, then you will probably really enjoy the story. The Wilde sisters just might be wild enough for you.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review through Litfuse.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life With Charley- Sherry Palmer

Sherry Palmer is a friend of mine and I was excited to find out that her book will be releasing soon and I wanted to share it with you guys!



Description: Charley is funny, ridiculous, ornery, and charismatic. He also has Down syndrome, and Sherry Palmer thanks her stars each and every night for the blessing that is Charley.

Sherry knew that her life would change drastically when she and her husband decided to adopt a baby boy with Down syndrome, and she knew they would struggle at times with his developmental challenges, with other peoples' perceptions, and with their own emotions. What she didn't know was just how amazing their world would become once Charley was in their lives—and in their hearts.









Biography: Charley is a 21 year old young man with Down Syndrome. Brad and I adopted Charley

I count myself the luckiest person in the world to have been able to have him in my life. He is funny, ridiculous, ornery, and charismatic. He is an earth angel.

When life gets you down, and it sometimes will, I invite you to join me as I celebrate every blessing that is Charley. You need a pick-me-up? Just grab a wing and hang on!

I am Charley's Mom, and someday, when I grow up, I want to be just like him. So please, enjoy your stay here and journey with me as we discover what life really has to offer.
when he was two months old.


Blog:  

Goodreads: 

 Life With Charley will be out for purchase on Sept. 25th.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Full Steam Ahead- Karen Witemeyer

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?


My Thoughts: Full Steam Ahead is about a woman trying to balance what she wants in life with her father's expectations. It is also about a man who believes that his life worthless if he can not put an end to most boiler explosion. I believe that there is something similar with which most of us struggle. That, and the delightful way in which Karen tells a story is what made me enjoy this story.

The reason I do not give it five stars is that I kept yelling for the Renards to just hand over the dagger. I know I would have. Either that or I would have sold it. I also thought that Darius was rather rude in the beginning, though I do understand his reasoning even though I do not agree with it.

Still, I enjoyed the way in which Karen managed to pull me into the story. Her descriptions are good and her characterization great. I look forward to her next novel.


I received this book through Bookfun in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Independent Study- Joelle Charbonneau

My Thoughts: 2.5 Stars

Description: In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.

My Thoughts:  The story was interesting enough to keep me reading and interested in what was happening. I liked that Cia actually had to use logic to overcome obstacles rather then randomly choosing a course of action. Beyond that though, there were some problems.

First, I can't stand Cia's boyfriend. He is wimpy, needs her to save him a lot, and she forgives him for keeping things from her because she loves him. I don't care, dump him.

Just as much as I don't like Thomas, Cia seems to dislike other girls. Like they are all evil. Every last one. Even her "friend" Stacia can not be trusted as much as the boy she just met, Enzo, or the other boy she just met too.

The last things is that Cia knows everything. Ok, not everything because she admitted to not know a map was drawn wrong. But she knows everything else. Like how to open a locked door, disrupt a tracker, outsmart traps... and all this while passing (with top grades) nine classes. And she has an internship. She is so awesome, she can do all that work, hang with her frenemies, and work for a rebellion, all on like five hours of sleep.

Don't get me wrong, Independent Study did hold my attention. I finished it in a few days and was fascinated by some of the ways Cia overcame her problems. But not enough to ignore that she has the Midas touch.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Deluge- Lisa Bergren

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: IT'S ONE THING TO BATTLE FOR LIFE...BUT WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN DEATH ITSELF COMES HUNTING?

The Bettarinis and Forellis have found rich fulfillment together in medieval Italia. But after fighting off countless enemies, they now must face the worst foe of all. As the Black Death closes in upon them, threatening everything and everyone they hold dear, Lia and Gabi–and the knights they love–must dig deep within to decide how they might remain safe…and if they need to risk it all in order to truly live as they’re called.


My Thoughts: First things first- FINALLY! I have been waiting for this for so long. Now to the review:

The River of Time series is one that I have loved since I first picked it up. When Deluge came on kindle, I immediately bought it. And then my sister stole my kindle and I had to wait to get it back. Read her review here.

The beginning of Deluge was a bit... fluffy for my tastes. There was romance and heartache, but little of the she-wolves I had come to love. Though I liked that there was some explanation for how the hand prints in the tombs worked, I wish that it had either been more part of the plot or else that it had been over looked so that the girls had not needed to spend so much time at court (I am not a fan of political maneuvering).

However, once the Plague struck, I was hooked, staying up late into the night to finish. There are some who do not like the amount of death or the maturity of the characters in this final book, but is was my favorite part. The end made the whole store seem more real to me and made me care about how the characters' lives ended. Yes, many died, but I never felt like Bergren killed them just because (as I have with other series), I think their deaths made the story all the more inspiring.

After having read the Epilogue, I can only hope that Lisa will write a spin off series.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

All for a Sister- Allison Pittman

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: In Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, Celeste DuFrane has it all. Her father's work with color movie film opens doors that lead to the stardom she's always aspired to. But after losing her mother, she discovers that half the estate has been left to a woman accused of killing Celeste's baby sister before Celeste was even born. Dana Lundgren arrives on the steps of the DuFrane mansion having spent most of her life imprisoned for a crime that never happened. After accusing her of murder so many years ago, why did Marguerite DuFrane leave her a sizeable inheritance? As Celeste and Dana learn each other's stories, they come up with more questions than answers. Then a surprising discovery begins to fill in the missing pieces: Marguerite DuFrane's written confession, penned shortly before her death. Uncovering the treachery and deceit that changed the course of countless lives--most of all, their own--the two women find more than they ever dreamed of.

My Thoughts: All for a Sister beautifully depicts life in the twenties, complete with hairstyles and attitudes. Celeste behaved much the way I imagine the actresses in older movies behaving behind the set and as many women did in old clips I remember watching in high school. Pittman definitely did her research to make this time period come alive.

Even though I liked the portrayal of Celeste from Dana's point of view, I was not really able to connect with Celeste herself. She seemed a bit disconnected from the world around her, even this new woman who has come to live with her, a woman how she was raised believing had killed her sister. Even if I had learned that such was not true, I think I still would have been wary of a someone who had been hurt by my family in such a way.

I also found it difficult to follow the shifts in time. Though the dates were given at the head of each chapter, it still took me a little while to figure out who was speaking and at what time. I did notice a certain movie like quality to this (where time frames shift) and liked it from an artistic point of view, but found that it pulled me from an otherwise interesting story.

This is the first book I have read by Pittman, and so I do not know if she uses these time shifts in her other novels. If not, I am certain that I will love to read them and plan to find more of her novels as she has a beautiful way with history and layers of conflict.

I received this book from Tyndale publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Merlin's Nightmare- Robert Treskillard

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Description:
Haunted by the past, chased by the present.

Arthur is now eighteen, and Merlin, tired of hiding and running from his enemies, wants nothing more than to spend his days with his family and train Arthur for his rightful place as king. But when Arthur goes missing, a desperate Merlin must abandon all other quests to find him before a shadowy pursuer catches Arthur first.

Having everything to fight for, and almost nothing to fight with, Merlin and Arthur must rally Britain’s warriors against three overwhelming enemies: Saxenow hordes in the south, Picti raiders in the north, and a chilling new enemy that has arisen in the west.

At the same time, Mórgana brings Merlin’s deepest fear to life and sets a horde of werewolves loose to destroy Britain. But when the secret purpose of this nightmare is finally revealed, will Merlin and Arthur find a way to survive—without unleashing an even greater evil?

My Thoughts:Merlin's Nightmare continues sixteen years after Merlin's Shadow. Arthur has grown up and Merlin is married to Natalyena, which I thought was great. Being a fan or King Arthur, I liked to see him actually taking part in the adventures, rather than being more along for the ride as a baby. The story held my interest far better than Merlin's Shadow because I was able to see how the story played into Arthur's future as King.

I know that Treskillard has an accompanying series in the works and can not wait to read it. The Arthurian legends have always fascinated me, and I can not wait to see what life Treskillard breaths into them.

If you enjoyed the first two novels in the Merlin's Spiral trilogy, you will love this one and its host of characters. Get ready, because the true battle for Britain has just begun.

I received this novel through CSFF in exchange for an honest review.

Robert Treskillard's website 
Buy the book



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Day in the Life of Bookishqueen

Ok, I am actually going to tell you what I have been up to for the past month, but A Day in the Life sounded like a better title, so please forgive me.

Late last month, by Grandma and my Aunt came for a visit and we all went to Gatlinburg TN, Tail of the Dragon NC, and then a dam in NC that I can not remember the name to. We shopped and had a lot of fun (well, other than the name, I am not much of a fan of The Tail of the Dragon, a road with some 300 curves in 11 miles) but the rest of my family loved it. Here are some pictures:


Gatlinburg has a strip mall called The Village. There, I found and rode this majestic horse. :)


Got my Mom (left) and Aunt (right) to join in.

Even played in the river with my brother and sister.


Then we stopped at the Aquarium and got to take a picture with one of the divers there. I know it is a little had to see, but I am the short one.



On the way to the Tail of the Dragon, we saw this view. Ok, so I really climbed out on a cliff to take that, but we were still going to the dragon.

Speaking of which, a the Dragon, I found this sign. Love it.

Then we stopped at the dam, where I found a lot of story inspiration if I ever want to write a dystopian.


What about you? What had all my readers been up to? I would love to know. And later this week, I will share more of the past month.