Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

Title: The Lost Girl of Astor Street
Author: Stephanie Morrill
Published by: Blink (2017)

My Rating: ★☆

Summary from Goodreads:

Lydia has vanished.

Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.

Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.

When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.


My Review

I’ve had a while to think about this book and have spent a lot of time trying to discern whether or not I liked it. On one hand, it was incredibly compelling, strongly plotlined, had amazing characters and an unique storyworld…but on the other hand…UMM,  (spoiler- highlight to read::) the whole synopsis is about her finding her missing friend…it would be great if she actually found her!!

Basically…the synopsis was incredibly misleading, which led to, ultimately, my disappointment in the book. It was a fantastic book, but it was set up with the wrong expectations. To me, this is one of the worst things you can do to a book: destroy its beauty by misleading the reader to think it’s a different type of beautiful. The reader misses out on its beauty and leaves feeling disappointed.

SPOILERS!! (highlight to read)
It was a great book. But it was a huge letdown. The entire synopsis revolves around Lydia. There’s so much hype on Lydia, that when Mariano tells Piper Lydia is dead, I didn’t even blink an eye. I did not believe it. Not out of denial or love for characters; I simply just did not think it was possible with the type of story it was presented to be. I suspected Lydia would show up at the end. It’s what all the readers are rooting for!
Now this is not me saying “You killed my favorite character!! WHY!!”  That isn’t what’s going on here. This is me saying You promised me a story about a heroic rescue of Piper’s best friend, so obviously I’m not going to believe it when said friend is “killed”. That’s not what you told me the story was about!

I wanted to read about the power of friendship saving a friend. Not a friend fighting justice in the name of her dead best friend. If that’s the deal, then just tell me from page one. Don’t trick me and mislead me to believe I’m getting something I’m not.

Just my scatterbrained, weird opinions…


Giving it four stars because it was a quality book.

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

Title: The Choosing
Author: Rachelle Dekker
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers (2015)

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Summary from Goodreads:

“Not to be Chosen would yield a cruel fate of my own making.”

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority. 

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within. 

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.


My Review
Ah, a breath of fresh air—it’s been forever since I read a good Christian dystopian, and this one fit the bill. It was clean and sweet and written beautifully, with solid characters and a strong plotline. 

However, having said these things, I also am confused as to how I feel about this book. First of all, Isaac Knight? I HATED HIM WITH PASSION. I DESPISED HIM. He played such a crucial role in the plot, too, that I had a good time hating him. 

Going off this: the Christian themes. Alright, so when I started reading this book and got into Isaac Knight’s first sections, my thought process became: okay, so either this is going to be a complete heresy against Christianity, or it’s going to turn around and blow my mind.
Unfortunately, it did neither. While I assert that the Christian themes were strong, they will still be unnoticeable to anyone not looking for them. I wish there had been a stronger message! I’m still not sure who Aaron’s supposed to be, I’m still not sure what the basic message or takeaway is, and I’m still not sure what Isaac Knight is supposed to represent.

Having said this, I read a review that suggested the idea that this is an interpretation of the Old Testament times—with the church that turned away and the prophets that called them back. I wish this theory fit better, because then it would most definitely blow my mind. But a lot still doesn’t match up. I don’t know. Maybe it’ll be more clear when I finish the trilogy.

Okay, done with that tangent. The setting was real and alive, and unique, too. Nothing absolutely spectacular but let’s just say it’s a lot better than its fellow YA dystopian books. It was very descriptive and full of life. The characters were real, full of emotion and tangibility, and it was easy to get to know them, care for them, relate to them, want to keep reading about them (all except Isaac Knight of course). Carrington was such a great lead for this; you don’t find a lot of strong characters like her in this genre and that was fantastic. Larkin was a little harder to get to know, and Remko, I feel, didn’t get his launch till the end, but once he did launch I loved his character. Aaron is confusing, but he has potential. 


The romance. OKAY. **Spoiler Alert!!!** I’m very, very pleased with Rachelle Dekker because there’s no love triangle and the love between her and Remko is legit and real and heading to marriage--I’m incredibly pleased because I started the second book, and her and Remko are MARRIED. And have a KID. Almost NO YA authors will do that. Why would you when you can drag out their love story into a three-book series full of drawn-out scenes and pointless suspense detailing in equal quantity both how unsure they are of one another and how much they want to be together? Dekker let the romance be apart of the story, but didn’t let it take over. And that I LOVED.

Anyhow, I’m very intrigued to see where the story goes in the next few books. I’d love to hear opinions on the Christian aspects portrayed-or-not-portrayed in the Choosing if you have any thoughts. 4.5 stars.

Series Review: The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt by Stephanie Morrill

Wow, it's been a while since I posted! I haven't been able to find anything good to read, and since I haven't been able to read much, I've gotten out of the habit of reviewing when I do read :/

Anyway, here's a review of a series I read a while back. It covers three books of the series-- Me, Just Different, Out with the In Crowd, and So Over It.

______________________________________________________________________________


Title: The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt 
Author: Stephanie Morrill
Published by: Fleming H. Revell Company


My Rating: ★★★★☆

MY REVIEW

While reading this series I neglected to review out each one as I finished, and now having finished, all three books have meshed together in my mind and it would be nearly impossible to try to distuinguish them again for the point of three separate reviews. So instead I have decided to review all three in one review of the whole series. * MINOR SPOILERS.* 

Book One. It drew me in, so it gets points for that, if for nothing else. The opener was inciting and the characters immediately intriguing. I really liked the way the series started on Skylar’s life change, rather before; it gave it a slightly different feel than other Christian YA I’ve read. I liked the way Skylar was ready to change. Though at times it felt drawn-out, for the most part it was concise.

Book Two. Book two was probably the most boring of the three. Nothing really happens that couldn’t have been condensed between books 2 and 3, much like almost every other trilogy ever. So that was a downside. Yes, she goes to Hawaii and has a life change. Yes, Owen is born. But those two events don’t need their entirely own book. And the extra drama around Eli/Connor was unnecessary, too. 

Book Three. Also as typical with trilogies, it was the best in the series. For the first time, I actually really liked Skylar and Connor (more on this below). I really liked Abbie and Owen and Jodi and all the others. They became my real friends. Eli is finally told off and Skylar finally gets the memo she should avoid her other friends and that Connor is indeed the one for her. After page after annoying page of annoying Skylar, it felt very refreshing to see her finally see things. Is the delay in these situations true to real life? Absolutely. Is it always the best course of action to draw out upon when writing a book series? No.

Book summaries over, here we go.

Characters. I loved Skylar, but she also drove me absolutely crazy. I loved her, but I also couldn’t stand her. Consequently, I read this book in breaks. I couldn't do too much at one time, haha. Like I’ve mentioned, I finally really liked Skylar in book three, but before that she was just so annoying. Her relationship with Connor was the main part that irked me. She was so blind, but the problem isn’t with that as much as it is with the fact we were given example upon example upon example upon example of her blindness. It drove me crazy! The seventieth time she ditched Connor I was ready to throw the book across the room. We get the point!

And I also disliked the fact she couldn’t seem to grasp the idea that she had to stop hanging out with the bad influences. She spoke as if seeing them was absolutely inevitable, but how small of a town do they live in that she’s seriously running into them at every corner? Ditch them and move on—they’re bad infleunces! Do you not get it, Skylar!? You’re trying to turn your life around, yet you can’t let go of all former influences. Can you still be a light to them? Yes—once you’re distant and stable enough! UGHH. Now Jodi eventually ended up being great, but that wasn’t until the last few chapters. And don’t even get me started on Eli. UGH. Though really I hated Skylar’s actions toward him more than Eli himself, who I thought was kinda wimpy and pathetic when it came down to it.


Abbie I adored! I absolutely loved her. When the book started I hardly expected her to be developed much, as siblings usually aren’t, but she surprised me by being one of the most developed characters in the series. I loved her heart. Similarly Skylar’s parents were fantastic and real, too. 

Connor was … Connor. Sometimes I hated him, sometimes I didn’t. I was mad at Skylar because they’re so obviously meant to be together. Girl, when you find a loyal, honest, Christian guy who loves you, you can’t just ditch him. Yes, it possible he’s not the one, but when you find a guy like that you gotta give him at least a few chances. I felt sometimes the author was trying too hard to make him fictional-crush material—but other than that he was great; not too goody-two-shoes-perfectly-righteous-Christian guy, but not a “bad boy” either. 

The writing wasn’t anything incredible. It was a lot of dialogue and little description, so it was solely the characters and nothing else pulling me through the story. I still don’t know what Jodi or Connor or Eli looks like, but I know what they're like. That sort of thing. Some of the emotion at times was a little unreal or not deep enough, but for the most part it was good.

Soooo…yeah. It was a little stereotypical, a typical girl-finds-Jesus-and-her-life-changes type series, but it was pretty unique. Not cheesy for the most part, and simply a journey of following Christ. 4.0 stars.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Blog Tour: Only Children Chase Sawdust by Willowy Whisper

Blog Tour time!!


More info!!!

Willowy's Blog: www.willowywhisper.com




My Review:

Title: Only Children Chase Sawdust
Author: Willowy Whisper
Published by: Amazon Kindle (2017)

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

This was quite a read, and certainly unlike anything else I’ve read before. Willowy Whisper’s tangible writing style bled through every word as always, while still retaining a fresh feel. The storyline was captivating, and descriptive writing pulled me right into the action. I was enthralled by the characters and the plot alike.

It was a very cute story in a lot of ways, yet in a lot of ways, it was as far from “cute” as you can get—I don’t exactly think of violent massacres as cute—but still, the romance and the ending tied together in a sweet way, tying into the title of course. 

Annie and her struggle are so delicate, so raw, so real. She was easily my favorite character. I liked the way the preacher’s subplot found its way in. I hated Obadiah Clark with passion.

I thought the thematic elements, at their heart, were good for the most part. For a while, I wasn’t sure exactly what point the author was trying to make when Jacob is off trying to save souls at the expense of losing his relationship with his wife—whether he was ridiculous or if he was spot-on. (In the end it was determined that he was spot-on.)

Unfortunately…to be honest, I would have to say that I am a little disappointed. I understand the story concept and I love the heart behind it…a missionary to the Indians…I absolutely love the heart behind it, don’t get me wrong. However, the way it was delivered was, to my dismay, very cringeworthy. 

First of all, I wish we could have spent more time with Akando and understood him, loved him, before witnessing his sudden conversion to Christianity. Same with the rest of the clan. And Obadiah’s deathbed…don’t even get me started.

I love my God. I love spreading His words. It’s my passion and my desire in life. But I’m also a firm believer in the fact that you don’t need a gospel presentation in a book for it to be Christian and to be powerful. I actually think the opposite: except for few exceptions, for the most part, a book laced with conversion stories and salvation is going to drive the unbeliever away. Especially in the case of a short book like this; there simply isn’t enough time in 100 pages to truly develop that, to make it feel real. That said, with the 100 pages the author was ‘given’, so to speak, she did a good job with; it just felt way too rushed. As realistic or as probable as some of these experiences may be, there were too rushed and as a result just seemed really cheesy to me. Due to this, I was disappointed. Willowy’s other books are so beautifully subtle in their Christian themes, creating powerful stories, and I was let down that this one wasn’t as much.

I also disliked the portrayal that it was necessary for him to leave Annie in order to do this. I think some people will read that as Christianity means you let down those closest to you for the sake of souls, which is a glaring misconception. I don’t think that was the author’s intent in any way—I think she meant to instead demonstrate the power of our faith—but I was dismayed at the prospect that it had the potential to come off that way.


Yet, besides this, there was still a lot I liked, and while I cringed my way through the ending, I still appreciated the heart behind it and I did love the characters. The book as a whole, with its whole Indian-murder thing and romance tied in, was unique and different, as a typical Willowy novel is. Her style is so clearly apparent from page one it’d be imposible to deny, from the writing to the murder-mystery-feel to the intriguing romance, that she penned this book. And don’t get me wrong: aside from some negatives, it was not a bad book. Not her best work, but not necessarily a bad read, either. 3.5 stars.





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.