Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review: A Question of Honor by Jesseca Wheaton

Title: A Question of Honor
Author: Jesseca Wheaton

My Rating: ★☆

Summary from Goodreads:

A man. A child. A war. 

When German soldiers invade France during World War II, young Joyanna's perfect world is shattered. In the hands of those who hate her, she battles to comprehend why people can be so ruthless and cold toward those whom they have never met. 

David Sullivan, pilot in the Royal Air Force, was certain he would never hate, but a painful loss forces him to either reconsider or do the inconceivable—forgive. He is suddenly challenged by the realization that doing God's will is not easy, but most important. With the lives of freedom-fighters relying on him, he must learn the difficult lesson that he is not in control, but merely one who must surrender his heart of obedience to One greater.

A sudden turn of events lands Joyanna and David in the same country—but for far different reasons. When their paths cross, David finds he must make a decision that will affect them both for the rest of their lives. 

Will he chose vengeance, or will he let his life be ruled by a higher standard? A standard of Honor.


My Review:

Thrilling? Check.
Well-plotted with twists, suspense and concisity, bringing together two unique stories into one unforgettable one? Check.
Complex characters with intriguing personalities and struggles? Check.
An tangible, relatable historical feel, producing an unique story about a common historical period? Check.

All in all, A Question of Honor intrigued, took hold, and satisfied me. I was impressed by the author’s ability to take such a commonplace historical novel setting—WWII—and bring it alive in her own way, writing a story that’s undoubtedly the first of its kind. The author dove into the depths of this time period and explored the small details, bringing to life an amazing story about characters full of complexity and depth. The way this story tied together awed me; the structure was impressive.

Characters. I loved Erich’s character. Some may say that he was too contradictory, but I think that added to the whole plot. The author did an amazing job highlighting and embellishing on the internal struggles in not just Erich, but many of the others as well. David was complex and full of relatability, Lily was alive and off the page, and Gil was fantastic as well.

While all that I’ve listed thus far is all accurate, there were also, unfortunately, elements to this book that I did not like. First of all, I found Joyanna to be a little one-dimensional. She was too naive and innocent, and I had a hard time truly feeling her pain. She was adorable, don’t get me wrong—but I also found her a little unbelievable. 

Secondly…and I hate critiquing things like this. For most of the book, David’s faith in God was portrayed excellently. However, there came a point where the whole faith aspect just became really cheesy. I love the author’s heart, and there wasn’t anything said that I didn’t agree with; that’s not the problem. I’m not wanting to attack anything about this because I think it was done with the right heart—and I am nobody to judge the ways God works in writing so I could be totally off here. The Christian message in fiction is one that is very hard to pull off, and unfortunately while in many areas of this book it was done right, at the end of the day I cringed more than once at the developing cheesiness. 


Outside of this though, a very good read & I’d highly recommend it for anyone who likes historical fiction. It’s different, unique, and filfulling.

Monday, January 23, 2017

BLOG TOUR:: Book Review: Left to Die by Ivy Rose

SUPER EXCITED to be a part of another blog tour!! This book was AMAZING and I am so honored to be a part in promoting it :)


About the Author:

Ivy Rose is an 18 year old history lover and literary enthusiast. Aside from writing, she enjoys being outdoors, eating chocolate, traveling, reading, and doing TaeKwonDo. She resides with her family of 9 on the banks of the Long Lake in eastern Washington.

She can be found at various places on the internet:









MY REVIEW:

Title: Left to Die
Author: Ivy Rose
Publisher: Lakeside Publications

My Rating:

Summary from Goodreads:

Lindy Greene’s life is perfect. Too perfect. But living as a missionary nurse, serving in a rural hospital in China, soon brings the disaster she fearfully anticipates. All of her well-thought-out plans for the future disintegrate after pulling a fatally ill, disfigured, abandoned child from a pile of trash. She doesn’t even like babies.

Nathan Thomas can’t find balance. College suited him just fine until his cash ran out, forcing him to the Chinese mission field with his parents. The chaotic atmosphere in China does little to relax his agitated mind, and the pretty blonde nurse at the clinic does nothing to help him focus.

The Chinese mission field isn’t for the faint of heart. Nathan wonders how he can survive his remaining time there, while Lindy struggles to help everyone she can. With different ideals pulling them in separate directions, there is one thing drawing them together: a tiny, sickly, crippled orphan who relies on them to stay alive.
 


My Review:

A concise, cleverly written, beautiful story about the beauty of motherhood, the value of human life, and following God’s plan…Left to Die was a wonderfully constructed story full of elaborate character arcs and deep themes, and I enjoyed it from page one. I felt it was a perfect length—I’m not sure whether or not this is officially considered a novella but it felt around that length and anyway it was just a perfect length for this story.

The story focuses around Lindy, a young woman living as a missionary in China. Lindy’s whole life is shaped around God’s plan for her—to be a missionary. But is that really all to God’s plan?

The ideas of just that—God’s plan—are explored inside the pages of this book which deals with topics such as pride and humility. I also loved the strong and powerful message about the value of life! The character arcs were beautiful and it was awesome to watch as the characters changed. Side note—there was romance in this book, but it was slight and sublte and fit right into the story.

The only downside I have is the beginning, which was confusing to me. I could not for the life of me figure out what was going on in the first chapter, or why it was important. It didn't really end up contributing to the story, and by the time the second chapter came along I had a grasp on who the characters were, but to me, a first chapter that seemed to supposedly set the scene just added confusion. However, once I got past that, the story was riveting and full of depth. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Beyond the Horizon by Jesseca Wheaton

Title: Beyond the Horizon
Author: Jesseca Wheaton
Published: 2016

My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary from Goodreads:

Eliana longs to see the world beyond the mountains that tower above Salzburg, Austria, but knows that dream will never see such adventure- and neither will she.
Surrounded by a world of cruelty, she lives for the weekly visits of Aron, a boy she met on one of her rambles through the countryside.
But as the years pass and she begins to grow older, a new and unwelcome world is opened up to her.
On a fateful night at a party she vowed she’d never attend, she comes face to face with a shocking truth.
As the world around her teeters on the brink of war, Eliana struggles to figure out just where her loyalty lies; a decision that will drastically change the course of her life. Will she ever be free to see what lies beyond the horizon?
 


My Review:

Beyond the Horizon was a sweet tale which I thoroughly enjoyed!

First of all, it had such an unique premise! Cinderella retellings? They’ve been done. But a WWII Cinderella CHRISTMAS retelling? Can it really get any better?!

Not only that, but the story came through on every aspect. I thought everything was developed down to the tiniest detail, retaining a strong Cinderella feel while still being unique and distinct. It was so, so, so cleverly done, and came through amazingly. I loved the ways it stayed so close to the original tale while still being completely its own!

The author’s talent is amazing. Beautifully painted characters on gorgeous backdrops provided for a great storyline. It was decently paced, not too slow but not too fast either. I thought it was a perfect story for a novella, as it went into detail without becoming dragged out. I finished it in one sitting, it was so captivating and enjoyable. I love finding unique stories, and this one truly fit that mold!

My one downside, strangely, would be the Christian aspect. Don’t get me wrong; I love Christian-themes and aspects in books! And while I would say the Christian elements in this case were well worked into the story, unfortunately, to me, it just seemed a little too cheesy. SPOILER.. I will never argue against the gospel being an important message, but I found myself unhappily cringing a few times when reading this, such as when Elly finds the Bible, accepts Jesus instantly, and starts telling everyone she sees. A great concept? Without a doubt, yes! But not all books need to have a direct gospel presentation and characters getting saved to be a Christian book with Christian messages. I thought the author could have easily communicated some strong Christian themes in this story in a more creative way, and it would have been just as impactful of a story. But then again, I could totally be missing something here.

All this put aside, I thought it was a fabulous read, a work accomplished through amazing writing skills, some awesome characters and a strong plot. Would recommend to any looking for a good, but unique, fairy-tale story!

 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

To Die Daily by C.J. Cutrone

Title: To Die Daily: That the Life and Power of Christ Abides Continually
Author: C.J. Cutrone
Published by: Word & Spirit Ministries

My Rating: ★★★★★

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

What does it mean to die daily? Why does it even matter for me to be in union with Christ through His death? Many people who are Christians and love God are not walking in God's power and victory. You cannot through the flesh conquer the flesh and please God. It is through the Spirit of God, by faith in the victory of Jesus Christ, that we, in Christ, conquer sin. But what does God tell us about this? There is a plan of God for each of us to live free from the power of sin, and in intimacy with Him. Not a life of constant regrets but of life and freedom. God's victory in Christ is for us to walk in not just strive for

My Review:

To Die Daily was a great, inspirational read full of biblical truths and well-explained thoughts. It had an excellent premise that came through on all levels. It was smoothly written with ease, with well-structured thoughts organized in a readable way. I loved the constantly incorporated Bible verses, all of which were, of course, crucial to everything discussed. :) But not all books are loaded down with scriptural evidence and I really loved that this one was.  It almost felt like a direct commentary of the verses, as if the author had had his thought beforehand and then went and found all his evidence. It had easy-to-understand style and was beautifully done. I loved the stories worked into the book that drove points home, too, and these stories undoubtedly played an important role. Excellent, thought-provoking book; the author is clearly very wise and striving to follow God. God definitely had a part in this book and I loved seeing Him come through :)

This book focused on the idea of “Dying Daily” to our sin in order to come alive in God. Before I started this book, I had an idea of what that meant and thought it was a cool premise, but once I started reading, it didn’t take long for it to blow me away. It was more depth than I expected and everything was explained so well! I don’t think there was one chapter I didn’t absolutely agree with and love. Everything tied together, everything lined up, everything was displayed in an easy-to-understand format. It went very deep to an extent, but didn’t go so far as to baffle readers’ minds or confuse them. Despite the deep themes discussed, everything stayed relatively easy to read and comprehend, which I think is crucial to reaching more readers.

So many excellent points were contained between the pages of this book that I wish it were more popular so they’d be everywhere, for these points are some the public needs to hear! Many caused me to think and even re-evalutate my own life. Everything the author said was direct to what the Bible says, with no fluff or expansions but simply focused just on what God says, which I loved. It’s the style of book I hope to be able to write someday. I have a huge respect for the author and I found this a satisfying, thought-provoking, very insightful, work on God’s love with a very clear call to action that would be impossible to deny after reading this. Highly recommended.

*I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.* 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Unplugged by Donna Freitas

Title: Unplugged (The Wired, #1)
Author: Donna Freitas
Published by: Harper Children's (2016)

My Rating: ★☆

Summary from Goodreads:

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.


MY REVIEW:

Yeah, I read this book and yeah, while I was reading I enjoyed levels of it. Not all of it, but yes, certain aspects I enjoyed. 

The rest was just a stereotypical cliche mash up of an author’s attempt to be creative while yet somehow retaining exactly to the YA dystopian stereotype.

Why I still read books like this I’ll never know, because they’re all either
a) so predictable I predict the entire book from page one, or
b) so wildly plotted in a vain attempt to be different that nothing really makes sense

Unplugged fits option B. So much of this book felt like just desperation. The plot twists are so forced and make no real sense, as if the synopsis was written, and then the story forced to match. It’s incredibly unrealistic. It’s just another author trying to be different while still staying exactly the same. 

Description of Skylar:

She’s strong and determined, but of course has her fears—that she hides—that set her back. She keeps her head down, lives her life, and tries not to get noticed. She thinks of herself as lowly and ugly. She’s stubborn and willfull, but thinks she knows right from wrong. Often she sneaks off to be in private because the world becomes too much. 

Guess what? I stole this description from my review of Inside Out to describe the main character. I also used this description to describe the main character in the Selection series.

Is there any YA author who has any creativity left?

Skylar is SUCH a stereotype. At the beginning she almost seems unique, but then that changes. She becomes stubborn. She becomes determined. She breaks the rules for the first time and thinks oh my goodness, I can’t believe I’m doing this because I was such a good kid before! She betrays someone for the “right reason” and is plagued by it. She longs for her family and wants nothing more than to find them. Sound familiar yet?

The plot made mostly no sense, it was just desperate, unsuccesful grasps at originality. I have a great respect for books because I know how much work goes into them, but when every YA dystopian is 90% the same, something happens called there can’t possibly be that much work going into them anymore. What’s being written is just what teenagers want to read, and I find it incredibly disappointing that these kind of books have become the teenage standard. C’mon, teens! We can do better than this!

I will say my one positive is there was NO typical love triangle with the main character choosing between two guys. Yeah, there is some attraction between two characters but not until halfway through and never a love triangle. It was the main reason I kept reading. 

Though I did like the aspect of this story of technology truly taking over and the consequences, I felt it didn’t really send the message clearly. So yeah. The writing was decent I guess, just the rest of the book was too stereotypical.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published by: Philomel Books (2016) 

My Rating: ★☆

Summary from Goodreads:

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.
 


MY REVIEW:

Salt to the Sea was a cleverly written, deep story, delicately told through multiple points of view. It was touching and sweet, and overflowing with beauty and skill. 

I loved Emilia’s tenderness, Joana’s spirit, and Florian’s hidden softness. They were such unique personalities that flowed together well and fit together smartly, and their stories tied together naturally.

 The small details made the story, and though they were, at times, deep and/or disturbing, were very realistic and added a depth to the story, a reality—it didn’t brush over hardships of war or other things; it showed everything, good and bad, bluntly and straightforward.

Speaking of which, most of the story was straightforward writing, which caused it to not be the most quality writing I’ve ever seen. It was hard to connect to the characters at times even though I desperately wanted to—to me, the facts, the realities, the story was so straightforward and practically written that it was hard to emotionally connect at times.

You’ll also noticed I haven’t even mentioned Alfred. To me, he was the weak point of the novel. I feel like the author should have just done three characters since I didn’t really see the point or purpose behind his character and he showed no character growth, either. Maybe there’s some hidden meaning behind this, but I just didn’t get it. He’s the same at the beginning as he is at the end. The idea behind his character has a lot of potential, it just didn’t live up to it at all. I didn’t get the “Hannelore” subplot there, and I don’t remember it being wrapped up clearly, either.

Overall, I did think this was a really good book with some important concepts and themes; it had a unique storyworld and creatively crafted characters. Just when push comes to shove, it lacked in presentation just a bit and fell short in a few places. That said, there isn’t such a thing as a perfect book and looking at the book as a whole it was a solid and satisfying read. 4.0 stars.


Purple Moon by Tessa Emily Hall

Title: Purple Moon
Author: Tessa Emily Hall
Published by: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (2013)

My Rating: ★☆

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

Selena's life isn't turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid. 

That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena ... but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn't how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her "bad habits" for this.

Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?



MY REVIEW:

First of all, I did like this book. It had amazing writing and was an awesome work especially considering coming from a young author. In fact, I read it not even fully realizing that fact, for it is easily as good as most adult authors! While I did really enjoy it, there a few things I didn't like about it; overall though, I did think this was a good book.

I truly wanted to love this book. It seemed like such a beautiful and touching premise, seemed to be deep read with significant themes, and all the reviews were just glowing…it seemed like the type of book which I love.

While this definitely doesn’t qualify for anything near “falling flat”, it didn’t live up to my expectations, either. The depth was fantastic in some areas, but didn’t come through in others. It was almost as if there was too much depth to articulate in one book and thereof laxed in some places. For example, the Hilarie storyline (more on this below).

Romance: while I did like the romance in some areas—and I really admired all the Christian themes that it communicated—I didn’t appreciate other aspects at all, such as the way the author painted kissing to be so okay before Selena even wasn’t sure she liked Austin. While I certainly agree that Christian authors have to be careful around romantic topics, not to scare off readers but also to say the truth, some fall through and I did not like the way it was done in Purple Moon at all. Aside from that, I adored Selena and Austin together. 

I thought there were plenty of powerful themes sent about life in general, and I absolutely LOVED the way the author delivered the Christian message. It was so clever and wonderfully done.

The family storyline was realistic and done nicely. I know that’s rather a bland description, but that’s all I have to say about it. No complaints, but nothing super exceptional.

And I was really dismayed that we never got closure or any sort of follow-up on the Hilarie storyline. Like, what did she decide? How did she go through that? What happened? SPOILER (highlight to read)  It was a geniunely captivating side plot, and when it disappeared it gave the impression the author wrote it in JUST for the purpose of Selena finding out the truth and nothing else. I was very disappointed. I wish we could have gotten at least a hint at what happened.

SPOILER (highlight to read)
Also I found Whitney’s “apology” super cheesy and 
quixotic….maybe that’s just me though

Good premise and overall good story, it just lacked follow through in quite a few places and didn’t line up with the depth it implied. It was quality writing though, excellent characterization and great descriptions, storyworld, etc, so I did enjoy it and would recommend it.  Just a few elements bothered me. 4.0 stars.