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 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.