Monday, September 18, 2017

Resistance By Jaye L. Knight Book Review



Resistance, by Jaye L. Knight, is a Christian fantasy book.  This book follows lots of different characters, their encounters and how they join the resistance.  The emporer is forcing people to bow down to false gods and the followers of the true God are ending up dead, because of this.

We read from the point of view of a girl working in the emperor's palace and trying to hide her faith.  We also get the point of view of the girl's twin brother and his life at the Academy.  He and his sister were trained at the Academy, because they have special skills.  There is also a half-blood boy whose perspective we get to read from  (he is half of a made up species that is generally regarded as monsters), who is having a really rough life.  There is an assortment of other characters whose point of view we also receive from time to time.

Things I liked:
Atmosphere at the resistance camp.
The world building and the writing.
The characters, even the smallest character is well-rounded.
The faith content of "would you be able to stand up for your faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego?".
All the work that was obviously put in to make this book a believable story in a very different land.

Fun fact: the author is a homeschool graduate!

This is a novel written for older teens, so it does have a bit of content, not in a bad way, it just tackles mature topics.  I have only read the first two books, and only the first four books are released.  I am planning on taking a little break on reading this series.  I re-read the first book and then went straight into the second one.



CONTENT:


Language/Profanity:
Not really a thing in this.

Romance/You Know:
A couple is semi-serious and one has asked the other to marry them, but the other said it was not the right time.  Afore mentioned couple has a quick kiss.
There are two characters I could see being romantically involved in future books, but they're not in this one.
A guy is really into a girl, and it is said that he likes the shape of her body.
One of our characters wears a dress that she thinks is too low cut and is uncomfortable in, no details.
When a girl is working at the palace, she is told that marriage and children are forbidden and should she at anytime find herself with child, she is required to see the palace physician to have it dealt with promptly and it will be at her own expense.  Our character is appalled, not by her having to pay for it, but that they even do that.
Note: There is nothing YOU know in this, but I feel the need to mention it.  When one of our female characters is arrested she is forced to strip down to her under-dress, nothing about her body is mentioned. Also, same girl is almost killed/taken prisoner and the guys trying to do that give the impression that they're going to take advantage of her.

Violence:
There is a lot of violence, fighting, Good vs Evil, being captured and imprisoned for your faith.  People you love being tortured and killed.  One of my favorite characters was forced to be a gladiator at one point in his life.  Some people have to kill, or be killed, or see people they love killed.  All that to say, very much violence, but not too bloody as some books are and not sick to your stomach description.

Drugs/Alcohol:
Not a thing really, unless it is used to clean wounds, but even then, not really talked about.  Someone might drink alcohol at the emperor's palace, but I don't remember it happening.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bake Me A Match by Erynn Mangum Book Review


Bake Me a Match, by Erynn Mangum, is book five, and last book, in the Lauren Holbrook series.  I have reviewed all the other books previously.  This is the second book following Annie McKay.  In this, we get to see her coming into who she really is and working at our favorite fictional cafe, baking many, many, many yummy things!  Annie gets to take over the cafe for about a week when Hallie and Shawn have their new baby.  Lauren also works at the shop during that week.

This book continues Annie's romance with Zack, and adds a bit of interest from Andrew, a man she worked with at her old job.  Annie is unsure about having a more serious romantic relationship, and has to confront her past and family issues.  I feel like this book has a good deal of learning about spiritual gifts and "being the body," that everyone not being the same is a good thing!  We need different skills to make everything work; you don't have to do everything on your own.

My favorite things:
All the baking! I love reading about a character who loves to bake.
Slow-burn romance.
The author's witty writing! I love laughing!
I cried when Lexi got what she always wanted!  Trying to be vague, but if you read the book you probably know what I'm talking about.
The sweet ending!
THIS IS EVEN BETTER THAN BOOK FOUR!!!!!!!!

Nitpicking things:
Annie says she doesn't have a Facebook at the beginning of the book and then later says she's possibly friends with her mom on Facebook.  Was she joking about not having Facebook? If so, it should have been more clear.  That is the only answer I can think of, except that it just wasn't caught in editing.

As for content, this is one of the more mature books by this author. So, we have a bit more content, some mild, middle of the road spoilers:

Content:

Language/profundity:
Holy Co* is said many times and holy smoke* is said once.
It is said that Annie's dad cursed, but whatever he said is an unwritten curse word.

Romance:
A cheek kiss and one kiss on the mouth, both non-descriptive.

Violence:
Annie's remembers when she was growing up and her dad hit her and her mom, he also threw things and broke things many times.
Note: Annie remembers when Child Protective Services came to her house, but they didn't take her away.

Drugs/Alcohol:
Annie's dad was very into the alcohols, but we only see this when Annie is thinking about her past and family.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Match Made by Erynn Mangum Book Review


Match Made, by Erynn Mangum, is book four (I have already reviewed Books One, Two and Three) in the Lauren Holbrook series.  This is the first book not told in Lauren's point of view.  In this book, we met Anne, who is given the nickname Annie (by Lauren) very early in the book, and we call her that for the rest of the book.

Annie was a military kid.  Her father was in the military and they moved a lot because of that.  Now she has a job, not in the military, but it is a job she moves all over for.  We meet her when she has just moved to a little town in Colorado.  It's her first day in town and she goes to a little cafe that we all know and love.  And that's where Annie meets our beloved friends from the first three books.

Things I loved:
Getting to see favorite characters from an outside point of view.
And seeing them older and most of them with little kids!
The faith lesson was insanely well woven with the story.
Erynn Mangum's light romance and writing style.

Quick notes:
Explosive diapers and breastfeeding are talked about a LOT.  It's not content, but I feel like I should mention it.  We have lots of mothers with babies in the story.  It is not a bad thing, just different from other books by the author.


Content:

Language:
Holy C*w is said several times.
Our main character says "Shoot" and someone thinks she said a curse word.  She says, "No, shoot, like in basketball."
Annie lies, as part of a few jokes, it always discovered that she lies and she owns up to it.

Romance/You Know:
A cheek kiss.

Violence:
Two characters go on a walk and they joke about getting murdered.
There is a mention of Halloween, characters don't like it.

Drugs/Alcohol:
Our main character thinks her boss's wife is too young to drink.
Another character, jokes about getting a hit off hand sanitizer and says it has alcohol in it.
Tea and coffee are had many times, but no one is as addicted as Lauren, who has switched to decaf.

Fun notes!
Possible SUPER mild spoilers:

I laughed at the joke nondenominational Ninja.
Zach is basically me, but I do like lemonade and because of the nasty ingredients in Lucky Charms and my allergy to food coloring, I don't eat that every second, or at all.
Basically when I'm not Zach, I'm Annie, with her love for baking and ease at making up recipes!  So, me!  Except, I specialize in allergy free baking.
Hallie has the most adorable baby names picked out!
Pages 262-263 have the most hilarious tea puns!
I enjoyed that we have super casual mentions of "that time of the month", because, hey, it's a thing!
This is not one of Erynn Mangum's most laugh out loud books; I don't have as many notes of the funniest parts.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Amira's Secret by Katherine Wilson Book Review


Amira's Secret, by Katherine Wilson, is book two in the Maidens of Malidone.  I have a review of book one, from earlier this year.

We meet Amira when she is a little girl, and we find out (if we forgot from the end of book one) that she is is the daughter of our female protagonist from book one.  Amira gets books two and three to tell her story.  After establishing her as a character when she's little, we move on to her as a teen and her family is being threatened by a evil villain.  Her parents decide to send their two youngest children away to different places for their safety.  They have a her older son, Amari and her younger brother.

Amira reluctantly goes on a ship to go to a foreign school.  Something happens to the ship and she ends up in a very exciting, not where she was planning on going, place.  I really don't want to say too much more about plot.  I went into this book without even reading the back cover.  I actually prefer not to even read the back cover.  If I'm about to read a book by an author who I know I will like the book of, I don't read the back cover if I can help it, surprises just makes the book SO much more interesting.  If I read a back cover, I TRY to promptly forget what I read.

Things I liked:
The Sword Play!
The Faith!
That our main girl had friends that were close to her age, who were boys that she was not in "love" with.
The Plot.
The characters feel like they are the right ages.
The tiny hint of romance, because teens don't need to be making out all the time in books.
The writing is SO much better in this one, and since I have also read the 3rd, I know the writing continues to just get better.
I cried the first time I read this, but I was prepared this time and didn't, but then at something different I almost cried!

Content:

Language/Profanity:
NA

Romance:
Just a hint of more to come when the characters are older.  No kissing for our main characters in this one. ;)

Violence:
Some people get killed, and our main girl must fight for her life.  It's not descriptive or bloody, but there is some violence.  There is sword fighting and learning to sword fight, and other fighting evil villains. Our main girl also gets injured, but not because of violence, also not bloody.  Other injures are mentioned.  Someone gets taken prisoner and must be rescued by using violence.

Drugs/Alcohol:
Not really a thing, if there was any, it was for treating injuries, but it is not in my notes.  But if that did happen, and I was reading really late at night, I may have forgotten to put it my notes.  No alcoholism or anything.

Note: There is a shipwreck and slavers and people close to the Princess die.  These things could be scary for younger readers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Reintegration by Ashley Bogner Blog Tour Book Review


Reintegration, by Ashley Bogner, is the first book in the Reintegration Trilogy.  This is a dystopian book, following our main character, Katherine, "the perfect citizen."  She is training to be a regulator, sort of like our police, but different.

Katherine lives in what she thinks is the perfect place, a world where kids are not allowed to ever meet their parents.  They are taken away at a young age to a public government education and super monitored life.  There is a thing called the tolerance act and the people who don't agree with it live outside the "perfect city."  Everyone who lives inside the walled city has to live by the act and if they break it three times, they get killed.  

Katherine is approaching her final test, this will be the deciding factor on whether or not she'll get to be a regulator for realsies.  If she fails, the consequences will be very bad.  A rebel, Matthew, from outside their "perfect city" is captured inside their walls.  As a part of the final exam, she must choose between execution and reintegration.  Reintegration is a new thing that wipes the memory of the person and tries to reintegrate them into society with out any rebellious qualities.  Things gets harry when she picks reintegration, knowing it could possibly fail.   Chaos, romance, and character development ensue. 

This book just released on August 18th.  We can remember that because our main character is age 18.

Before I get into what I liked, here is about the author: 

When Ashley Bogner was in third grade, she decided she would be a published author when she grew up.  Ashley is a homeschool graduate and has lived in seven different states.  She completed a year of Bible College and in the fall will begin pursuing a degree in Communication Studies.  After college, her plan is to work in the Christian publishing industry.  When not writing, she can be found baking, posting book reviews on her blog, and watching her favorite movies over and over to the point of memorization.

I found Ashley because of her blog and book reviews, and am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for her first published book!  Here is a link to her blog, if you want to check it out!


Things I liked:
The writing style.
Matthew's view of love (Understanding that love is not just a feeling!!!).
The story and emotional connection.
The Christian content! 
Some of the things our main character did was like a spy movie!
The characters in general. 
That it was a clean read. And we need more of those! 
I thought it would be more like Anomaly, by Krista McGee (review HERE), but I was pleasantly surprised by how different it was.

*I read an advanced reader's (or review) copy, so this next part could be fixed.*
Nitpicking/why you got to be so mean self? :
Occasionally the story felt the tiniest bit choppy, but this didn't take away from the reading experience.
That's it!! Sorry!!!

*Disclaimer*: I was given a ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) for an honest review as part of the blog tour.



SOME MILD SPOILERS in the content! 
WARNING!!!!

CONTENT COMING! GO IF YOU MUST! 

Protect yourself!

Just in case you need another barrier, here are links to where you can buy the book:


And now... the Content



Content: 

Language/Profanity: 
NA

Romance: 
Katharine's friend, Chelsea, (another don't be like Chelsea situation, DON'T be like Chelsea!!!) NEVER stays with a boy very long.
Our main girl and love interest (you can probably guess who;) kisses four times on the month, but they are not descriptive.  Also, two cheek kisses.  Chelsea kisses boys, too.

Violence: 
There is a tiny bit of fighting in violence, but it's very mild. 

Drugs/Alcohol:
A character takes prescription-ish pills in one part.

Note: There is a bit of semi-descriptive cutting of skin to get rid of a tracker.  The description is only a little bit bloody, almost too much for me, though.  But REALLY almost any blood/cutting is over the top, because I think blood should go on the inside of bodies. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Match Point by Erynn Mangum Book Review


Match Point, by Erynn Mangum, is book three in the Lauren Holbrook series.  I have, of course reviewed book one and two.  This is the last book in the series that we get Lauren's point of view.

Here's the plot:

What is a matchmaker to do when people are matchmaking her?  Lauren is faced with this dilemma, her stepmother and well-meaning friends are trying to get her proposed to by Ryan (who, by this time, she has been with for about two years).  Lauren and Ryan are not sure how they feel about being pushed into marriage.  Lauren does untangle her feelings on the matter pretty fast in the grand scheme of the book.   Speaking of grand schemes...  later in the book, Lauren's friends and family set up an elaborate scene for the "Perfect Romantic Proposal," but Ryan and Lauren catch on and choose to have a fake break up instead.  The whole scam is extremely amusing!

As always, I love the writing and the humor.  The romance is super clean and very appropriate, even though most of are characters are in their early to mid-20's.  I only say most, because there is family that are older and younger than that.  The references to I Love Lucy, The Partridge Family, and Jane Austen were super fun.  Other books in the series reference Full House and other fun things, like The Princess Bride.  I always enjoy when I actually "get" references, but it doesn't take away too much if you don't pick up on all of them.

Content:

Language/Profanity:
Darn and shoot are used sparingly. (I put this in because, personally, I don't use words like this.)

Romance/You Know:
Very little, a kiss at the proposal and not much else.  I have read middle grade books with more kissing. A top is called "sexy."  Lauren jokes about being adopted, or that her mother had an affair with the newspaper delivery guy, but she says, knowing her mother, she is going with adopted.  Other married couples *may* kiss, I don't have it in my notes, because I don't find married kissing sketchy at all.
*There is also an understanding that love is not just a feeling! A+ *rounds of applause*

Violence:
There are jokes about violence.  And mainly at one point joking about killing a character, I think it went a little far, but at the end, it briefly mentions how killing someone in your heart is the same as killing them for real.

Drugs/Alcohol:
Jokes about caffeine and being added to caffeine.  Lots of caffeine. And yes, caffeine is considered a drug.

Fun, semi-spoilery things:
YAY!
Note that these things may not make sense to anyone, except they that have read the book, and maybe not even them.  Who knows?  I sure don't.



Her Dad's wedding, with Ryan in a top hat.  I do not know why I found that so funny, but when I was reading at like 3 a.m., okay, 3:30 a.m., I found it, like, the most hilarious thing ever.
Girls trip! I had completely forgotten about the girls trip and was super surprised!
When Ryan throws stones at Lauren's window and then makes a joke about making up the old-fashioned way with a broken window, and a ladder and a Justice of the Peace.  I had just re-watched Romeo and Juliet, and it made me think of them so much.  I know that it does not make sense completely, but I was sleepy, so, you know.
The baseball talk when Lauren just kept on getting everything wrong about the sport! I was laughing so hard.
I have the "I like you talk" written in my notes, but I forgot what I wanted to say about it.....
The Partridge Family references, I LOVED!  I was already singing a Partridge Family song when I was reading this book.  It was perfect timing.
Wedding.  Wedding?  Wedding!
The end sentence about Elvis not being on their honeymoon.  It was funny, alright?
So, yeah, funny, but possibly my least favorite book of the series.  I still think it was fabulous and still recommend it.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rematch by Erynn Mangum Book Review


Rematch is book two in the Lauren Holbrook Series, I reviewed book one, Miss Match, in April of this year.  After successfully matchmaking a couple, Lauren Holbrook is especially excited to matchmake everyone else in her life, besides her Dad.  When she decides that her almost-brother, Brandon, and her coworker, Hannah, would make a "perfect" couple, she will do almost anything to set them up, without them noticing, of course.  And when a new girl comes to Bible study, Lauren has someone picked out for her, too.

Lauren's family, with her sisters and her Dad, is one of parts of the series that I enjoy extra.  Erynn's writing makes them feels like a real family.  Lauren is greatly surprised when her father announces that he is going to a Christian Singles Retreat in Michigan.  Her mother died when she was eight, and her Dad has not been with anyone since her Mother.  The announcement is a shock to her system.  She is overthinking, and going crazy over this and has to learn and have character development over this particular thing.

Rematch is just as laugh out loud hilarious as Miss Match.  The faith content is still there and I LOVE how solid she writes that part, one of the reasons Erynn Mangum is the best.  I adored Lauren and Ryan trying to outdo each other at memorizing Bible verses.  I love how Lauren quotes Bible verses as dialogue sometimes and everyone is like "WHAT????" and then she quotes the Bible reference, and everyone is happy that Lauren has not truly gone crazy.

As of right now the full series is not in print, but it will be back "soon" with new covers.  Books three, four and five are in print, but one and two are not yet.  So right now, the library, buying used, or buying an e-book is the only way to read the complete series.

I am going to have a new way of reviewing with content.  I really enjoy reading reviews that are done in a similar way to this, so I'm going to try it out.

Language/Profanity:
There is a mention that a movie has language in it.  They do this with out saying any of the profanity. The words the "darn and shoot" are said occasionally.

Romance/You Know:
Side characters share kisses.  It is mentioned someone got pregnant on their honeymoon (no improper content).  It is said that a man would probably not like to have the main character around all the time, because at night he would like to have his wife (No details).

Violence:
It is mentioned that a movie has violence.  There are some mild jokes are made about violence, such as a character says that his girlfriend "Verbally abuses him in 19th century English," but it is a joke (And it did make me laugh in context).

Drugs/Alcohol:
Caffeine is consumed many times in various ways, such as soda and coffee.  Characters (mainly one in particular ) admit to being addicted to caffeine.
*Alcohol could possibly been mentioned an extreme passing, but I don't remember and it's not in my notes, so I would assume that it didn't happen, but I can only give you 99% sure.*


This next section is for reminiscing purposes.  I will be putting my favorite parts and other things that I want to mention.  They are spoilery and will probably only make sense if you have read the book.
This is a warning.



Fun talky spoilers:




I love Hallie!!!! Hallie and Shawn forever!!! And this book is the start of the relationship.
I am a fan. And his dessert shop cafe thing is the best!!!!  As a gluten free person, I deeply enjoyed reading about glutenous desserts, and it does make me keep looking for good gluten-free desserts.  I found a cinnamon roll recipe, so I will be fine, and not die, when I re-read book five (Bake Me A Match)!!!
The twins!! And one named after Lauren!
Who would have guessed that Brandon and Hannah would be a couple?  I love them together.
Lauren gets a puppy, named Darcy!!! Puppy, puppy, puppy!!!!!  Awwww!!!!!  Everything is cute!!!
Lauren and thinking that her Dad is going to bring home a genetic scientist from the singles retreat is so funny, and I am also not into genetic scientists anymore.  It was kind of creepy all the crazy things she came up with while learning about God's sovereignty.
Nick and Ruby are expecting a baby so quickly!!!!  I was almost expecting it (wink, wink), but I was still excited!  The "Bungalow moment" when Lauren was picking them up from their honeymoon made me almost die laughing.
Joan is fabulous! So sweet and perfect for her Dad.
Picking out Hannah's ring with Brandon was one of my favorite parts....
But trailing him to the proposal spot with everyone was even better!!!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Matched Pearls by Grace Livingston Hill Book Review


Matched Pearls, by Grace Livingston Hill, is about a college-age girl, Constance Courtland.  Constance is spoiled, comes from a well-off family and is not a great role model at the beginning of the book.  She is upset because her cousin could possibly get their Grandmother's pearls, if Constance does not join her family's church.  She does not want that be happen, so she carelessly professes her faith and joins. The day after she joins the church, a very nice man who joined the church the same day as her comes over to her house. He tells her how happy he is that someone close to his age joined the church just like him and obviously has some really strong faith.  He can't wait to hear her testimony and get to know her better.  She has to admit to him that she's a fake.  She is not too upset and goes back to college, where she gets made fun of for joining a church.  Soon everything gets turned on its head.  She is not as happy with all the things she and her friends are doing at college and then, as the back cover of the book says, "Then a horrifying accident shatters Constance as well and she's forced to consider what truly matters-".

This is not an "I start the book and I know every thing that will ever happen" kind of book.
The accident is not something that happens to Constance herself, but rather to her friend.  She desperately calls upon Graham Seagrave, the young man she met that day after she "joined" the church, to help.  Graham is a fantastic guy and has stored up knowledge of the Bible, which he freely shares.

Many, many, many more things happen after this.  I barely gave away the beginning. There are a lot of twists and turns to this book.  Matched Pearls is a stand alone, which is refreshing in a world of series after series.  And the message is still good and very relevant, even though this book was first published in 1933.  I am always surprised at how the world really has only changed in technology, but nothing else is really that different.

I don't recommend this for too young of reader because of death and many things that other characters are doing (even if it is just briefly eluded to at college).  I would consider it a clean read, but for 13+ at the youngest.  Grace Livingston Hill does write very clean romance, but she doesn't shy away from mentioning smoking, alcohol and other problems of the day if it is necessary for the story, and for showing the way a certain character is, or for acknowledging character development (even if she does have to mention something in a bad light, or in a way that the character doesn't know the pitfalls of the aforementioned thing yet).  Connie, or Constance, has a certain amount of character development that makes a great deal of change over the course of the novel.  This is in my top ten of Grace Livingston Hill books, and definitely a high recommendation.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Coronation by Livy Jarmusch Book Review Blog Tour


The Coronation, by Livy Jarmusch, is a contemporary novel, set in a made up country called Tarsurella. This is the first book in a triolgy.   Tarsurella reminded of the country of Genovia from Princess Diaries.  They're similar in that the setting is modern times and not magical, but a fictional European Kingdom.   Tarsurella is it's own country with rules, laws and problems, not a copy of Genovia.   Of course Tarsurella has a monarchy.

The book mainly focuses on the royal family of Tarsurella.  I am a sucker for royal family stories and if you are, too, you will probably be in love.  I think I am mainly in love with stories like this because I have exactly zero Kings, Queens, Princesses, or Princes in my country.

As for characters, we have Addison, the Crown Prince, whose coronation is the center piece of the story.  We have all of his very big family!  I can't go into detail about all of them, because then this would be as long as the book.  Some of his sisters are Princess Bridget, Princess Chasity and Princess Hope is also a big part of the story.  The younger members of the royal family are all super adorable, sweet and awesome!  They remind me of myself when I was a kid.  There is a member of the Royal Family I am not as into, but I think he is kind of an Edmund (from The Chronicles of Narnia) type character and he is well written.  So, I can for sure I appreciate him as a chacter.

The royal family are not the only main characters.  Hanson Fletcher is a security guard for the Royal Family.  Vanessa Bennett is an American Tourist and a humanitarian.  We also have David, who is a part of an American rock and roll band.  Lance is another security guard and has a decent amount to do with the story.  Clark, a kitchen servant, is a personal favorite of mine.  There are more side characters but they are not as big of a deal, or are introduced much later, and it could be a spoiler to know about them yet.

The castle!  I have to talk about the castle!!!  It is practically a character itself.  The castle is so well described and intricate, very classy and atmospheric.

This book also made me laugh out loud.  Here is one of the quotes:


You may be thinking from all that I have said that this book is just a fluffy, light romance story, but romance is not a big part of the story.  This book is more about family relationships and exciting, scary events.  Scary events that are, sadly, very prevalent in our lives today.  I enjoyed the characters' faith and how Livy portrayed them.  I also appreciate the characters standards in their lives.  The standards of some characters are similar to mine in many ways.  The characters' faith really takes over their lives in ways that you don't see in many book characters these days.  The evidence of faith was probably one of my favorite parts.  I have read other books by the author and, I have to say, this was the best one yet!

I have to share a couple more quotes I enjoyed:




This is an intense read in some parts, for reasons I talk about in the spoiler section.  The faith aspect in the midst of trouble was just amazing.  I especially enjoyed that this book tackled a subject that is very little in fiction so far.  The other book I have seen something like this in was Cloak of the Light ( Wars of the Realm Series by Chuck Black), and that was a very different setting from this novel.

One more thing I liked was the character Q & A at the beginning of the book.  I feel like I got to know the characters so well.  It was nice to think back on as I got to see them live their lives.  I do wish I had the hard copy, because I would have liked to go back to that as I read and put "a face with a name" type thing.

This book also has some awesome homeschool representation!!!!!  As a homeschooler, I love that.  We need more well done and accurate homeschool representation like in this one.

On why I recommend this book for 14+ is in the Spoilers.  The Coronation has a very clean and light romance, with an amazing story to back it up.  The family-first theme of this book drew me in.  I really liked how this book talked about guarding your heart; I feel like that needs to be in more romance stories.


*I was given a copy of this book, for free, from the author as part of the blog tour.  With that said, everything said in my review is 100% really how I feel, and I am planning on buying the hard copy, because I like this book.*


REALLY BIG Spoilers Ahead!!!!!!






Princess Bridget's boyfriend *now ex-boyfriend* tried very hard to get her to kiss him, even though she was all about saving her first kiss for her wedding.  It is mentioned that he tried to take advantage of her lips (that is when she ended it with him) and that they later found a video recorder in her bedroom that same night.  He was being paid by a magazine, and the royal family assumed he was going to sell the recording of whatever happened that night.
There are poor, starving, homeless people in the country. The question is asked why the ruling family cannot do more for them, but instead have lush, extravagant parties with expensive clothing.
There is a attack on the royal family at Addison's coronation and it is intense,  probably not something for most non-teen readers (although, many of the characters are calling on God to help them and that part is really beautiful).
A character is a mentally unhealthy and another character has to make the hard choice to have him go somewhere for help.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Something I learned from a fly

Backstory:
I  REALLY DON'T like flies.  They are annoying and obnoxious, and I'd rather live in a world without flies.  I really dislike them and the annoyance that they cause every single summer, and occasionally a random one in the winter!  "Where do they come from when it is freezing cold outside???"  I ask, but that is not what I am going to talk about today.  Maybe I'll address that some other time, but I'll need to do more research first.

Real story (not that the other one was not real) ;)
So, a fly was driving me crazy.  I'm trying to get my food, and I was quite annoyed.  So, I decided to go into a room that was all dark, because as we all know, flies just want to be where the light is.  They are always chasing after the light.
And God was like, "There is something to be learned there."  And I was like crying, "NOOOOOOO!!!!!!! I refuse to learn something from a fly, my most hated enemy and annoyance in life."
And then of course I came around.
The thing to learn from flies.
Is to be more like them.
WHATT!!!????? I hear you screaming all the way around the world.
I know, why would we want to be more like a fly?
Well, I told you earlier, they're always chasing the light, going into a dark place and finding the light there.
As Christians, we should always be chasing the light of God, because Jesus is the light of the world. We should be going into "darkness" (which is a lot of the world) and being light, well also chasing the light, and buzzing around for all the world to see.

So, yeah, I learned something from a fly.  I don't ever want to do that again.  But, I guess you can learn from anything if you can learn from a fly.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Miles From Nowhere by Amy Clipston Review/Rant

*Disclaimer:  I highly dislike this book and this will not be a very happy post.  If you don't want to read this review, I get you.  I can see why other people would like this story, and I can see how this could be an important book for teaching you what not to do.  I imagine part of why I didn't like it is because it is very different than the first two books in this series.*


Miles From Nowhere, by Amy Clipston, is the third, and final, book in Amy's contemporary, companion, YA series.  I have positive reviews of book 1 and book 2.  This book follows Chelsea the summer after her senior year of high school.  She is working at a local restaurant owned by her boyfriend's father and mother, and doing costumes for a production of Grease at a local theater.  She is also responsibilities with her five-year-old twin brothers.

Chelsea ends up making a lot of bad decisions that include, but are not limited to, underage drinking and getting in a car with a drunk driver.  She spends her summer being very irresponsible in general. This could be super real and accurate to things that happen in real life, but I was not a fan.

There are some things I really liked including her boyfriend, Todd, but not Todd putting up with her.  I liked Buttons (her cat), her Mom, Step-dad and little brothers.  Her friend, Marni, I have mixed feelings about, but I did like it when she was in the picture.  I do kinda think that Chelsea learned some good lessons, but she could have learned a bit more about guarding her heart, and just having common sense.

I can't talk about most of what I hate, because it is spoilers.  So my last words before that is DON'T BE LIKE CHELSEA!!!!!!  Also, I can not recommend Miles From Nowhere, even if you want to read it to see what not to do, unless you are 15.  I hope by then you can see past Chelsea's lies, horrible decision making, and be mature enough to know that underage drinking is bad.  Also, there is quite a bit of kissing.


SPOILERS FOLLOWING!!!!




Okay, so I guess you have read the book, or you just don't care about being spoiled.

To start, I don't like Chelsea.  On re-reading this book, I had even more problems with her.  I don't think that she and Todd should have gotten back together at the end.  Don't get me wrong, I like Todd, but he should have someone that is not her.
At the end, Chelsea was acting all perfect, like she knew she had not been smart. Only, I still feel like she was the same at the end and that no real change had happened.
I don't like that she lied to her family. I think she should have been punished more than she was.  I know that she was grounded for two weeks, and that is a decent punishment.  Sorry, but I think that she should have had to pay the extra money to the daycare when she was late picking her brothers up, because it was her and responsibility, and would make her responsible for what she had done.
Dylan was the worst guy ever.  I know that he is supposed to be bad and he was, but I don't know, I disliked him from the start and in Chelsea's head he is the best thing ever.
All the underage drinking!!!!! Please stop!!!
I like that Marni does not drink, but who's to really say how many parties until she tries some?  Maybe never, but putting herself in a situation like that is not the smartest decision.  I kept thinking about if someone called the cops, because​ she is at the party where they're doing illegal things, and that can go on a permanent record and stop her from getting jobs in the future or even getting into a different college.
I wish that there was a lot more Emily and Whitney (main characters from the first two books), if there was, I may have been able to stand the book more.
I personally think Chelsea was cheating on her boyfriend by going out with Dylan and going to Dylan's parties.  If she was just going to the parties, I might be able to let her off, but she went on a double date with him while she was dating Todd (even if it was not labeled as a date).
I feel that the end wraps up to easily.
Also, I get the feeling that Chelsea had never worked on a theater production before.  She was all "I was not planning on having the Pink Lady jackets done until performance night, because they are not that important."  Mmmm, jackets influence the way you move, so you have to have them to rehearse in, and practice getting them on and off on stage.  I am mostly annoyed about this because she talks about being a main-ish costumer in school productions before this and now she's the head costumer​.
Don't race cars.  From my knowledge, her injuries after the car wreck would not have not been noticeable yet, because the amount of time that had passed was not enough.
I wish Chelsea would have thought about being careful with the prescription drugs she was taking for pain, because after all she did in the summer, I would hate for her to get addicted to those.  Not that she was, but I am worried about her!!!
I feel that it romanticized Todd almost beating up Dylan, even though that is so un-Christian.  Please, be slow to anger.  I feel like Todd's character changed at the end, and he was just not himself.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Paige Turned by Erynn Mangum Book Review


Paige Turned, by Erynn Mangum, is the third and final book in the Paige Alder Series.
I have reviewed books ONE and TWO previously.

We start Paige Turned and not much time has passed since the end of Paige Rewritten; the ending of which, I consider a cliffhanger. The first time I read this book, I so wanted it to start RIGHT after book two.  In hindsight, I appreciate that book three doesn't start right after book two ends.  Instead, Erynn Mangum eases you back into the series and characters.

A big plot point of this book is that Paige thinks Tyler is going to break up with her, and she doesn't know why.  I love when this part of the book is over, because as much as I enjoy how it is resolved, it kind of drives me crazy.  The first time I read it, I was totally in Paige's head and like, "What is going on????!!!!!??"  The resolution is a favorite part in general, because it really brings the characters.  This part of the story reminds me of the movie Old Fashioned.

Paige Turned also has lots of wedding planning and being in a wedding stuff.  Layla and Paige's Sister, Preslee, are both getting married and Paige is a big part in both of the weddings.  I imagine it's extremely accurate, but I would not know, because I have never been a bridesmaid, or a maid of honor.  It sure was fun to read about.  I really enjoy reading about weddings, wedding dress shopping, and people freaking out over flowers and napkins.

All of the books have very Biblical themes and lessons in Christian characters growing in faith and as Christians.  The book goes into several things like forgiveness, jealousy, perfectionism, and more.

All our characters from the other books are in the this one:  Rick, Natalie and their baby, Preslee, Wes, Layla, Peter and Tyler, of course, and Paige's Parents.  I love her Mom!  She is SO funny!

I won't go much into the plot, because it's a really short book.  The literary genre is Contemporary.  This book is just a delight to read.  It's basically a romantic comedy, except better and in book form.

I would recommend​ Paige Turned for 14+ (this is technically categorized as a Young Adult book, but can be enjoyed by many younger readers, as the author makes it very appropriate even when dealing with real-life, hard things).

Because of what I am going to talk about now!!!
Spoilers!!!!! Runaway!!!!!




Tyler mentions that he previously screwed up big-time in romantic relationships, before he was a Christian; it is implied that he is not a virgin (very non-descriptive about anything at all).  Paige is the first girl he's dated since becoming a Christian, and this is why he has taken things so slow with her, especially physically.  They do not kiss until they are engaged.  It is all handled very well, and Paige says he's a new creation.  Tyler wanting to let her know about his past is why she thinks he wants to break up with her, and he's scared she'll break up with him after she knows.
Paige asks her sister, Preslee, about how her fiance deals with knowing that Preslee was not a "clean conservative girl," and when she told him about her past. She answers that he was there when she gave her testimony, and so that he knew roughly what she had done.  She says that she knows going into detail would just hurt their relationship and it's not necessary.
Paige's Mother says the first time that she ate a whole carton of ice cream was after a big fight with Paige's Father, and after she finished the ice cream, she apologized, and that was when Paige was conceived.
Brief mention of sexual temptation before marriage. *no details*

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck Book Review


Once Upon A Prince, by Rachel Hauck, is the first book of a four book companion series called "The Royal Wedding Series."   Each book follows a new character who is somehow connected to the story. And Royal-ness that is happening in two fictional kingdoms.

I started this series in 2014 and read this book last year.  How did I do that if this is the first book?
Well..... this one is the first book, but not the first book I read, oops!  I read book two first.  So, yeah, I was pretty much spoiled for book one.  I recommend reading them in order (But my favorite is probably the last one).

This is a *kinda* Cinderella re-telling.  We have Cinderella elements of a prince and a "commoner", a ball and a, basically, fairy godmother and special shoes.

We have our main girl, Susanna.  Susanna is from Georgia, she is a Southern girl.  Susanna has a younger sister and a Mom and Dad.  Her parents run a barbecue place on the beach.  Her parents used to have a rocky marriage, but they found God and turned their lives around.  Susanna has been in a romantic relationship with a man for YEARS.  He was serving America overseas, so they were waiting until they were both older to get married.  He has just come home and ENDED the relationship.
She is very upset (as I would be).

Then we have our other main character, Nathaniel, or should I say Prince Nathaniel?  Nathaniel's Father, the King, is dying of leukemia.  Nathaniel is the Crown Prince and very soon to be the King.  He doesn't feel worthy, or God ordained, basically a "Why Me???" situation.  And He is dealing with political, and old law issues, that we go a lot more into in the second book of the series.  Anyway, Nathaniel goes to a charity event in America, but before that event, he meets Savannah on the side of the road with a flat tire.  Neither one knows who the other one really is and they move on thinking, "Wow, I really liked him/her, but I will never see him/her again."

Then, the people that Susanna works for tell her to go to THE charity EVENT and they meet again, but she still doesn't he who Nathaniel really is.  The two main characters start to fall for each other, but before anything can come of it, Nathaniel lets Susanna know that they cannot be together, because law prohibits him from marrying someone not of his country.  Right after this, his father dies and he has to leave to be King.  But how will they be together?!  Will they ever be together??!!!!!

I don't want to give away much because the book is pretty predictable (not 100%, but still, you kind of get an idea of what is going to happen).  There are a lot more characters and twists and turns.  But I feel that if you know too much more it is pretty spoilery.

I will tell you about a few miscellaneous things now.  The "fairy godmother" type character is fabulous! She is in the running for favorite character of mine.  And you have to read this and love her!
I love that the author really makes the fictional Kingdom feel real.  Also, I would so enjoy to see this book as a movie.

Other or more extra miscellaneous-ness!  Upon re-reading this, I noticed all the set up for later books. This series was for sure planned and not just thrown-together willy-nilly.  I always love seeing set up that I didn't notice the first time around.  I also want to note, that book three has a bit more mature elements and themes than the other books.  Another thing is that I found the first chapter to be very hard to get into the first time I tried, but not the next time.  For me, the book got interesting when it introduced Nathaniel.  The characters have a lot of good character development.

This is a Christian book.  The the characters pray, go to church and just live as Christians in a world where it is hard.  The Christianity does play a big part, and I found it to be executed very well.

I recommend this book for 13+, because of some things I will be talking about in my "Definitely could be considered spoilers section".  This is my Markless girl PG13 warning.  If you are between 13 and 16, highly consider having a parent read over the "Definitely could be considered spoilers section" and help you decide if you are ready for this book.  This is technically an adult fiction book.

Definitely could be considered spoilers section:



There are many fake Royal Scandal tabloid type things.  Nathaniel and Susanna fall asleep in a church after having a really long day and a sort-of date night, and the tabloids spin it as a one night stand, or other bad thing.  The fairy godmother character (called Aurora) alludes to having been an alcoholic, done drugs, and slept around until God got her and showed her real freedom (She said that everyone thought they were free doing all of those things but really they were in chains.).  A female character (not Susanna) throwing herself at the prince.  The non-Crown Prince, just normal, boring Prince, gets tipsy-drunk and Nathaniel points that out to him (He never does anything really bad or stupid, just says some mean things to his brother.).  Avery, Susanna's younger Sister, says she needs a hot, sexy gown. Avery also says "OMG," written just like that; I think that she is not taking God's name in vain, but just shortening "oh, my goodness."  I mainly think that, because Avery is a Christian and never says anything else like that.  Also, the past problems of Suzanne's parents, as mentioned at the beginning of the review.  There is thinking about kissing and wanting to, but waiting for it to be important and not just whatever.  There is one simple, sweet kiss at the end when everything gets resolved.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cornelli by Johanna Spyri Book Review


I recently re-read my copy of this amazing story! I had forgotten so much.  I was joyfully excited to see that I am still just as much in love, or maybe more so, than the first time I read it.

Cornelli, by Johanna Spyri, (Yes, she is the author of Heidi!) is about a little girl named Cornelli.  Her mother is dead (did ALL the mothers die in the olden days???!!!!!), and her Father has to leave on business for two years.  So, he gets Cornelli's second cousin, who is quite a bit older and an accomplished lady, in her father's eyes, to come stay with Cornelli.  The cousin, and her friend, are to take Cornelli in hand.  They are supposed to make her an accomplished lady like themselves...  Only problem is they change EVERYTHING, even good things, and with the way they treat her, the "ladies" end up making Cornelli a very disagreeable child, and a very sad little girl.

Things start to look up when a young boy comes to stay with Martha.  Martha is an older woman, a friend and neighbor, and retired servant of Cornelli's family.  The young boy is from the city, coming to spend time in the country.  Martha hopes the young boy's presence will help Cornelli be more like her old self.  Does it???  Maybe, maybe not.

There is a lot of beautiful scenery depicted in the story.  The place where Cornelli lives is very well described without being overly descriptive. There are fruit trees, including cherry trees, rolling hills, baby sheep, cows grazing on fields of grasses.

Cornelli really is a good and beautiful story!  The characters are very easy to connect with even though this is a older book.  The side characters are well done, and I enjoyed what we got to see from them.

This book is out of print, as far as I know.  But don't despair!  You can find Cornelli for free on Amazon Kindle and for 99 cents, so you can still get a copy!  And I am sure that there are used copies to be found (mine is from Goodwill).

I would recommend this book for ages 10+.  Younger is fine, but it is a about a girl close to that age and I always felt that was the most fun to read about someone near my age.


Spoilers!!!!
Reading again as a teen, notes:

I didn't know how really, truly DEEP this book was when I read it as a kid.  Everything kind of went over my head.  Okay, so, not every thing, but now that I am older and know about metal health, I can see how depressed and socially anxious Cornelli was.  She may have been suicidal.  It is all done in a sort-of light, fairy tale way, so, you don't really realize it unless you're older and you take a step back.
I say maybe even suicidal, because at one point she's sitting on a high window and throws her dress down.  A maid comes in with the dress and thinks the wind blew it down, but then realizes that the girl threw the dress down.  The the maid chastises her, and Cornelli responds with basically that she'd rather thrown herself out this really high window.  Like whoa there!!!  Anyway this made it so much deeper to me as I re-read.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson Book Review


The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, by Melanie Dickerson, is the first book in Melanie Dickerson's fairy tale mash-up series.  Each book is a re-telling of two stories.  This one is Robin Hood/Swan Lake and is super cool!  The book is set in 1363 and has no fantasy.  It is a historical fiction re-telling.  I got a lot more out of this after I had read the original Robin Hood and learned a lot more about Swan Lake.

This book is told in two points of views:  Odette and Jorgen.  Odette is "The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest" because she is poaching on the Margrave's land, so she can give food to the poor and orphaned.  She herself is an orphan who is currently living with an uncle.  Enter Jorgen, the new game keeper.  His job is to get rid of poachers on the Margrave's land.  So, of course this story is an easy, super-simple, everyone-just-loves-each-other romance, right?!  I am being sarcastic.  You see how this complicates things.

Odette is getting a lot of pressure to get married from her uncle and everyone else, ever!  She is "old" for the time to be unmarried.  So, her uncle's parties are more like trying to sell her to the highest bidder in marriage and less like a party.  She really enjoys Jorgen, they both have a big heart for the orphans in their area.  But if he knew about the poaching, he could have her sentenced to death.  He really does not like poachers, because one killed his father... supposedly.

I don't want to spoil you anymore.  I do not want to talk about how the re-telling plays a role any more than the back of the book/synopsis does.  If you're planning on reading the book, I want you to have your full enjoyment.  Sometimes, I enjoy knowing TONS about a story before I read it, but sometimes I don't, which is why I don't say too much about the plot.

Also, for me, a book is more about the characters than the plot.  So the characters are great, a lot of subtle changes, and plenty of character development.  There is Christian content of praying and going to a church/cathedral, and trying to live a Christian Life with everything going on in the world.  Although this is historical fiction, the way the characters live out their walk with God gives a great example for the modern Christian.

This is not my favorite book by Melanie Dickerson, but it was still really enjoyable.  The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is a book that I would read again and again.  Characters with a heart for orphans, who want to make the community better, are 100% something I can get behind.

I recommend this book for 14+.  It is categorized as an adult book, but is clean for most teens.  I am not sure about all 13 year olds, because of what I will talk about in spoilers with content.  There is obviously hunting and killing of animals, so if you are super sensitive to that this may be one not to read, but I was okay with it because it was not descriptively bloody and gory​.  I do not like to read about blood. *There is some kissing in the romantic relationship.*


Spoilers:




One of the main characters gets shot with an arrow, and is on deaths door.  There is a whorehouse that is shown as a bad thing, but a younger girl character who doesn't know what to do with her family and is being threatened ends up there.  Our main characters have to help the younger girl escape from there.  So, as you can see, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is a little on the mature reader side.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu Book Review


A Dream Not Imagined: A Cinderella Story by Shantelle Mary Hannu, is.... you never would have guessed... A Cinderella story retold.  I was first thinking, "This book will not be able to surprise me."  DO YOU KNOW how many, many Cinderella re-tellings I have read/viewed???  Well, I don't know exactly either, but I can guess about 100-150ish.  Yeah, a lot!  I am REALLY into this fairy tale, and I don't like when re-tellings don't do a good job.  But no worries here, it was amazing!  I was surprised!  And I didn't see the plot twists coming (even though I almost always do, in like every book I read!)!!!!  I was just so caught up in the story.  Okay, so, no book is perfect, but this one came close.

First off, we have the main character Ellie.  She has grown up as a maid in her own home.  Her Mom is dead and her Dad is still there, but not happy.  He is married to an evil chick.  And evil step-mother has two not- very-nice girls.  I know this sounds like every other retelling out there but it's not.  I don't want to give anything else away, because the story is not very long and I want anyone who wants to read it to be successfully surprised, just like me.

The last thing to tell you of importance is that this is a Christian re-telling.  At first I was all like "it probably won't be able to capture what it needs to, it is this girl's debut novel and sometimes those are not the best." DO NOT LISTEN TO Have-not-read-this-book-Me!!!!!!!  It was so well done and fantastic!!!!!!!!  I don't know what she was thinking.  I am not her any longer.  The main lesson is that God writes the best love story, if we let Him.

It is a really sweet romance.  This was totally clean, no described kissing, or kissing for no reason.  Just letting you know, this is a non-magic story, more real life re-telling (my favorite type!).

Just a fun fact, the author is a homeschool graduate!  One more fun fact, I read this book all in one sitting!  I read the Ebook version.  Now I need A Dream Not Imagined in hard copy.   I so, already, want to have a re-read!

As for content there is not very much to be said:  the evil characters are evil, but you know that, it's Cinderella!  A character (not any of our heroes/heroines) drinks alcoholic beverages to the point of being drunk in one small part (but it is not said in those words, it is NOT looked at as a good thing to do, and is not a big part of the book).  Overall, I would recommend this book for age 12, if the alcohol scene will go over their head, or if you have already had a talk about it, even if just a tiny bit.  If not, then until the age when they you/they have discussed alcohol.  Also, for those who are concerned about mentions of such things as death... see below the spoiler note.

KIND OF TINY SPOILER!!!!!

In a part of the big plot twist there is a brief mention of dead bodies from a fire.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Enchanted Barn by Grace Livingston Hill Book Review

The Enchanted Barn by Grace Livingston Hill is my favorite book by her and one of my very favorite books of all time. This writer can write!!!!  Sadly, covers and synopsis for her books are not accurate like 99% of the time.  It is that way for this one.  I was very uninterested by the synopsis and tagline, because they are terrible. (At least for the copy I read. There are many re-printings of Grace Livingston Hill books.) But I was running out of books to read, so of course I read it... and was Blown Away!

The following section is a rant:
*The cover does not represent the book very well. For one, the barn is the wrong type.  For two, the car is one that would not have been invented yet.  The clothes and hairstyles are not at all accurate, or would have not been invented until 50 years in the future.  The hair is probably not correct in color, I don't remember to say for sure, but I feel like the color is wrong.  And if this picture represents the first time she and the kind-of landlord are going to the barn, where are ALL the children they had with them????  Are they in the TRUNK?!?!?*

Plot:
This book is set at the turn of the century.  1918 and 1917 are both listed as copyright dates.
The book starts with the main girl, Shirley Hollister, in the countryside and she sees a barn.  Her mom is not doing well health-wise and they cannot continue to live in the city, because it is just making her worse.  The problem is a house in the countyside costs a lot of money that her family does not have.

Shirley thinks that the barn would make a good house and could be in their price range. (Of course they get the barn, because the title wouldn't be The Enchanted Barn otherwise.  I don't want to say how, because when I read it, I didn't know.)  She overheard two men talking about how they can't sell the property, because of a will, and because one of the heirs is under age.  She remembers the name of one of the men the property belongs to, and returns to the city to find him and ask about renting the barn.

I don't want to say too much more because the back of the book does not say too much more. The only other thing I knew was that Shirley got kidnapped at some point. (Yes, this book has some Espionage Mysteries-ness!!!! But not until later in the book.)  So, yeah, now you know, too.

The Characters:
The characters are so good!!!! Shirley was just awesome.  I want to be like her!  Well, I don't want my Dad to die and I am happy not having as many siblings as her, but she is very smart and so ingenuitive.  I enjoyed reading from her point of view a lot.  Also, I want to be as useful in Mysteries and as knowledgeable and resourceful as she is. Plus, her faith is impeccable and something to strive for.

Shirley's siblings (I am not going to be going in depth for all of them, because that would take so long) are all flushed out, well-rounded, not flat characters.  I always appreciate that in side characters, because I know how hard it is to write.  Shirley's baby sister is the cutest thing ever!  Grace Livingston Hill writes how the baby talks, so you read it like she says it and that just makes her so much cuter!!

The main guy, Sidney Graham, (sometimes just called Graham) is very much his own character, not just there to be a love interest.  He has a family, and a job. The character development of Sidney and Shirley were realistic, at least to me.  I love Sidney's little sister, and I so enjoyed learning about his family.  I really appreciate that we got to know his family.  In a lot of YA, or really any books, you don't want to get to know the guy character that well, or just him, but not his family.  That kind of character writing is getting annoying to read, and this was a breath of fresh air.

Since the cover says this is "A Novel of Enduring Romance", on to the Romance.  It was so cute and appropriate for many ages to read.  When Grace Livingston Hill writes a Romance, she writes a really classy Romance, although she does have books that don't contain any romance at all.

I don't have an age warning because, the only semi-scary thing is the kidnapping, but Grace Livingston Hill handles that so well that it's not really scary, or inappropriate, or anything.  The Romance is appropriate for all ages, as noted above.  I read this book as a teenager, but the main characters are older than me.  I would not have had any issues if I had read this book as a pre-teen.  It is technically like a classic, because of when the book was published, but the writing's not that hard to read, and the length is reasonable, so I don't think it's intimidating.

Friday, May 26, 2017

After A Fashion by Jen Turano Book Review




After A Fashion, by Jen Turano, is book one in the A Class All Their Own series.  The series is three books long, and they are all re-tellings.  Book two is a Mary Poppins/The Sound of Music re-telling and book three is a Phantom of The Opera re-do.  This one is My Fair Lady/Pygmalion, with it's own thing of course (and the redo is really just of one story, because as you may, or may not, know My Fair Lady is a film version of the play Pygmalion, so they are really the same thing).

The Plot is about a girl and a boy (because it is a Romance).  Miss Harriet Peabody is the girl.  She works at a hat shop, in the back.... She never wants to take the hats to her CRAZY, rich buyers, but one day (her birthday) she has to.  She is not very happy, but she tries and things do not go as planned.  And in a turn of events, the man (Oliver Addleshaw), who she is trying to get money for the hats from, wants to give her ta job.  A man he is trying to seal a deal with prefers to work with family-men, and he wants her to pose as his intended.  I don't want to give too much away about how this comes about, because it was really fun to read and complicated to explain.

The characters are great, including the side characters who are main characters in the next two books, so of course they need to be well done in this first book to make sure that you want to read the next ones.  This book totally did that for me.  I was in love with her friends (Maybe more the Harriet, sometimes.  Shhh! Don't tell on me!!!!).

This book can be a little slow moving, because you know she is going to take Oliver up on his deal, but she is all like "NO! I WILL NEVER DO THAT, LIKE EVER!", but not like that because this is in the 1800's in New York, and that is not how they talked back then.  Anyway, it can be annoying, but for me, by the 3rd time I read this, I thought it was fast moving and did not know what 1st and 2nd read me were talking about. So, it can vary and yes, I have read this book a lot of times.

For a re-telling, there are a lot of surprises in this book.  Throughout the story, I was like "WHAT?! I LOVE THIS! and How did I NOT see this coming?!".  Also, the book included a mystery, which I really enjoyed (something not in Pygmalion at all).  But like, when do I not like a mystery?

The romance is really clean and well done; for those who may wonder, there is brief kissing.  I love this story.  Just knowing After A Fashion is a re-telling of Pygmalion gives enough of the plot away.  I highly recommend this book if you like the story of Pygmalion or My Fair Lady,  the 1880's in the New York, and if you don't know if you like those things, then read this and find out.  This book is cleaner than Pygmalion.  I have read Pygmalion, and I do NOT recommend that you read that.  After A Fashion is better content-wise.  After A Fashion is an adult book.  I do not recommend this book for under 13 (depending on the maturity of the reader, may need to be older),  because of the following reasons, which contain SPOILERS!!!!




There is an evil guy who invites others to go to a brothel (the others refuse, and there are no details about the brothel), there is extreme poverty, a white collar criminal, a kidnapper, and two reformed prostitutes (also, no details), and shooting.  The author includes the reality of the time period, just like in Pygmalion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why I eat gluten-free: in honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month

Some people think eating gluten free is trendy, or like a "health/diet" food choice (Kim Ka-You-Know-Who, why did you do that to me and all of the other people who are allergic to gluten?????).  This is a life, or death, choice for some, like me.  Keep reading, and you'll find out why I eat gluten-free.

I have had awful, horrible eczema my entire life (yes, when I was a baby, too!).  My Mom and my maternal Grandma (when she babysat me) used to hold my hands when I slept, so I would not rip my skin open by scratching.  I was taken to the Family Doctor, Dermatologist, Allergist, and a Nutritionist.  NO ONE had answers for us.  I was prescribed steroid creams (which you can't use forever without side effects worse than eczema), special soaps, lotions, and allergy pills.  NO ONE got to the root of the problem, it was just a band-aid after band-aid.  The Nutritionist knew I was allergic to something, but didn't have the testing to find out what.

Here are some of the symptoms that I had, even as a small child:
Cradle cap/dandruff
Eczema/super dry skin which cracked and bled
Dark circles under my eyes
Bladder infections
Fainting
Migraines (though I just thought they were regular headaches back then)
Allergies to the outdoors, indoors, and both pets and farm animals
Irregular heartbeat
Brittle nails
Pale skin
*There were other issues, but I've only recently been informed that they are symptoms of gluten intolerance, and Celiac Disease.

Little by little, I began discovering things that were an allergic trigger for me, such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, msg, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring.  Little did I know, that many of these things contain gluten.

Sorry, this is a little Gross!
My other symptoms that I dealt with for a long time before I went gluten-free, but were getting worse as I got older are as follows:
Headaches after eating (not a super new thing to me, because I always got horrible migraines after eating MSG).
Stomach aches and bad digestion with diarrhea.
Seasonal allergies.
Allergies to all hairy animals.
Eczema.
Heavy, painful periods to the point of throwing up (Who knew that could be related?!?! But it is!!!)

I wish, so much, that someone would have figured out that I needed to be gluten-free when I was younger. When I was elementary school age, I used to just get eczema on my legs and it was really easy to hide.  As I got older and, not on purpose, ate gluten-free for a while, my skin cleared up and I kind of assumed that I'd grown out of my eczema (lots of people told me it would).  But back into eating gluten, and back came the skin problems and this time on my hands, something I could not hide.  I was more than frustrated, and all my symptoms were back with a vengeance. Because I'd had a reprieve, I felt worse than ever.  I tried everything, again... the lotions, the allergy pills, watching out for the food items and other things I knew I was allergic to, but nothing worked.

I went gluten-free about a year after that.  I was watching a YouTube video one day where a 20-something girl shared about her gluten intolerance.  She had so many of the same symptoms I had.  So, in June 2014, I decided to try going gluten-free.  It was really hard, because gluten is an addictive substance (I'll share about that in a future blog post).   Also, my family didn't understand why I was doing this, even though I tried to explain it to them.  My Mom couldn't even understand how wheat/gluten could be the cause of all my problems.  I did an elimination diet, and I did reintroduce to make sure that gluten was really the issue.  Many people ask if I got tested (blood test), but tests are not 100% accurate, especially if there is just a severe intolerance, rather than one of the forms of Celiac Disease (which is, also, not 100% testable).  Doing an elimination diet made much more sense, especially because doctors had refused to give me an allergy blood-test previously.  Taking gluten out of my diet, I got 100% better.  I accidentally ate gluten after 7 months off and my allergies to dogs came back the same day.

When I stopped eating gluten, my seasonal allergies and my allergies to animals went away.  My eczema also completely cleared up (well, until I got glutened--which is what the gluten-free community calls eating gluten unknowingly).  All the symptoms I mentioned previously went away, including the intestinal problems.  I noticed positive signs after only a week, but to get the gluten fully out of your system you have be gluten-free for 6 months.

Unfortunately, about every six to eight months of being gluten-free, I am not so careful and end up accidentally getting glutened, which continually confirms that gluten is definitely the issue.  It takes me a week to a couple of months to not have seasonal and animal allergies after a glutening.  Depending on how much I consume, I will or won't have digestive problems.  My skin freaks out even if I eat the tiniest bit of gluten, or if I get glutinous flour on my skin.  I even have a reaction to gluten flour in the air.  If I use soap that has vitamin E derived from wheat germ, my skin will break out in eczema really bad.  If I use chap-stick with the same type of vitamin E, my lips and face will be in massive amounts of red, searing pain.

I am so glad I know what I was doing wrong, even if I still get glutened sometimes.  I just can not let my guard down EVER.  For a while after I was gluten-free, I would sometimes eat gluten just so I would not offend people.  That was so hard for me to stop doing, even when I was in so much pain from just eating a type of food.  I recently got over that, I think, mainly because of some people being so nice about my having to eat gluten-free (I am truly crying right now thinking about them) and making me feel like I was important enough to have something special for me to eat.  I just love all of you! (You know who you are!)

Thank you for reading.  I hate talking about why I am gluten-free.  I'm sorry if this post was blunt, it was really hard for me to write.  I just felt like I needed​ to write this all out.  I think, and talk, better after I have written everything down.  I want to say thank you to everyone that has supported me in being gluten-free.  And thank you to everyone that talked about why they were gluten-free, so that I would finally realize that might be my problem, too.

In the future, I plan to do some posts about my favorite gluten-free specialty foods (not like fruits and vegetables).  I will do a post on tips for first-timers going gluten-free, because I wish someone had told me everything I know now, back then.  Although I hate talking about why I am gluten-free, I enjoy sharing tips and all the good things I've learned.  Oh, and FYI, my entire immediate family is now gluten-free, and some of my extended family, but that's a story for another day.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson Book Review


The Silent Songbird, by Melanie Dickerson, is the 7th book in the Hagenheim fairy tale series in published order, and book two in chronological order.  This one takes place in England when King Richard II was King.  As for what re-telling it is of?  It is a Little Mermaid redo!  Also, this story is done with no magic.  This particular re-telling is one that you do have to look for all the re-telling bits a lot more than some of Melanie Dickerson's other works.  When I read it for the 2nd time, I noticed different parts in regards to the re-telling than the 1st time.

I have reviews of all the books in this series. You can find them here, on my blog.  October 2014 is when I reviewed the first five, and this year I reviewed book six.

How The Silent Songbird connects to the series is with the main male character, Wesley.  Wesley is the Father of the hero in The Princess Spy.  Wesley is the son of the couple in The Merchant's Daughter.

Plot time!
Evangeline is King Richard's cousin and, as so, lives in the castle in England.  But she wants to be free!  Her cousin plans to marry her to a man she hates, so she runs away with her maid.  Evangeline pretends to be mute, because her singing is well known, along with her red hair. She and her maid are acting as servants, and join up with a group of people on their way home to a different part of England.  I don't want to go into to much else, because I think it is more fun to read not knowing very much.

I got this book for my birthday from my family.  I was not going to start reading that week, because it was tech week for a play I was in, and my birthday week, and I had no time.  I found time underneath my pillow.  I still started reading........ I tried to take it slow, and I did.  I so enjoyed this book.

What I loved:
I loved this book so much!  The characters are awesome.  And I loved getting more time with favorite characters from the other books! Also, loved getting one more story set in England!  I loved the retelling and the forgiveness part of the story! The history is SO WELL done!  I love following Melanie Dickerson on Facebook, because you always get the story behind the story.

Wesley is such an amazing guy, someone that is so good and loves people so much.  He has his flaws, but they're mainly ones that are not so bad, like being too nice and trusting people too much.  A big part of Evangeline's character development is that she is illegitimate and never really knew her parents, but as part of the "royal family", she has to be kept safe, so she can't be used against them.  She feels like a chess piece at the beginning of the story.  I related to Evangeline a lot, not in the being married off to a bad guy thing, but in her internal dialogue.  This book is for sure not preachy, just good morals and Christian characters and living life, trying their best, and failing sometimes.

For age recommendation, I think 12 or 13 is a good age to start. But it is a "teen" book that can be enjoyed by adults as well.  The romance is very clean (only kissing, and not too much of that).  I don't really recommend starting with this book for the series, but you can because​ they are not following the same people in every book, you just know who ends up with who in the previous novels if you don't read them in order.

Publication order is as follows:  The Healer's Apprentice, The Merchant's Daughter, The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, The Princess Spy, The Golden Braid and The Silent Songbird.

Chronological is as follows:  The Merchant's Daughter, The Silent Songbird, The Healer's Apprentice, The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, and The Princess Spy/The Golden Braid.

I read them this way:  The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, The Healer's Apprentice, The Merchant's Daughter, The Princess Spy, The Golden Braid, and The Silent Songbird.  I don't really recommend this order.  I was spoiled for The Healer's Apprentice by reading it this way, but it was okay because I just knew the end game couple, not really how they got together.

I recommend publication order, if you can get through The Healer's Apprentice, and not hate it at that time (that book is not for everyone).  Otherwise, I probably recommend chronological order, or reading The Fairest Beauty and all the books after it in publication order and then going back to read the parents/grandparents stories.

Spoilers in my content for why the age recommendation is necessary.
SPOILERS AHEAD!




The main character lies, she does feel bad at the time, and has to ask for forgiveness to everyone and God. She is kidnapped for a tiny bit.  And someone tries to kill her.  An evil man tries to drown the main guy (of course he lives and is saved by Evangeline).  The man her cousin wants her to marry killed his first wife and tries to take over King Richard's castle.