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.


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:

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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.



 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


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.