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

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.


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.

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.*


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.


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?!?!?*

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
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.
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.

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.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Maid Of Fairbourne Hall Book Review

The Maid Of Fairbourne Hall, by Julie Klassen, is set in England in 1815 and is about Margaret Macy.  When Margaret reaches her next birthday, she is to inherit a lot of money from her deceased Aunt (her Dad already passed away, he was an amazing Dad and a Vicar).  Margaret's Step-dad wants to have that money, so he is trying to get his nephew married to her.  She does not want to marry her step-cousin, and is forced to leave, so she does not have to.  She goes out of town with one of her servants, and Margaret ends up working at Fairbourne Hall, the country house of the Upchurch's.  But wait there's more!  At Fairbourne Hall lives the man she rejected years ago, and his brother, the man she has been wanting to marry.  Margaret learns more about both men, and truly falls in love with one.

There are many things I love about this book.  The first that there is a really cool quote at the beginning of each chapter, that pertains to the story, and most of them give you a bit more history of the time, which makes it even more enjoyable to read.  I loved having two point of views: one from Margaret Macy, and one from Nathaniel Upchurch.  The writing and character development are very well done.  Margaret does not start out as nice of a person as she could be.  In this book I learned a lot about the servants of the wealthy in Regency Era England and how they lived.  I love how Margaret had a disguise and the author wrote the disguise in a way that made it believable.  Plus, the Bible content was really well done (the reason Margaret runs away is because of a her Father's teachings on the Bible story of Joseph in the Old Testament).

I would recommend The Maid Of Fairbourne Hall for ages 14 +.  This is technically categorized as an adult book.  There is some kissing, and the "evil villain" of the story tries to compromise the reputation of Margaret to get her to marry him, so he can get all of her money (this is part of the synopsis on the back of the book).  Also, [[SPOILER ALERT]] Nathaniel's brother is kind of a bad guy, though nothing is really talked about in detail, and he does participate in a duel. *This is not a blanket recommendation for Julie Klassen's books, many of her books have content that really makes them truly adult story-lines. If I do not specifically recommend a Julie Klassen book on my blog, BEWARE the book may be too adult for younger readers, including teens.*

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Paige Rewritten By Erynn Mangum Book Review

Paige Rewritten, by Erynn Mangum, is book two in the Paige Alder series. You can read my Review of book one here!  Paige is 22 and turns 23 in the book, she lives in Texas, and has younger sister, who Paige has not seen in years. Paige works at an adoption agency, and is being offered a raise in pay for doing what she already does, and is not sure why she's not over-the-moon about the raise.  She is also being offered a job as the female teen's Youth Leader and Counselor with the church she currently goes to.  Paige's degree is actually in Counseling, so it makes sense to me why she is feels dissatisfied doing paperwork for the adoption agency.

Paige is really funny and so are her friends.  The friendship and romance are both amazing.  I love Tyler (#loveinterest), because he's a Godly man, funny, but has real flaws, too; he's a well rounded character.  Then there's Layla, best friend status (and I guess I like Layla's fiance, but he is not really in this book very much); Layla and Paige balance each other out perfectly.  Last, but not least, we have Rick (who is the Youth Pastor at her church, and the one offering her the job) and Natalie (Rick's wife) and their baby girl!

In Paige Rewritten, Paige's sister comes home and Paige is not really doing well with that, and has to learn many things about her self that she did not know.  I don't want to say too much about this story-line, because if you want to read this, I don't want to make any of the surprises less interesting. There is lot of character development in this book and a lot of it comes from here.

With the romance:  Her ex-boyfriend comes back to town (he is her best friend's brother). And she in so done with him, and loving being "who knows what" with Tyler.  But of course, you have to have conflict.

Paige is awesome, even when dealing with tons people and her own issues.  I just love reading from her point of view.  I love that she reads her Bible and prays (she goes to church, but I think that was given, with the job thing).  I especially love the Christian content in the series upon re-reading.  I love books that are re-readable, and this story is not disappointing.

I recommend this for 13 and older.  There is no inappropriate language, the romance is suitable for all ages. There is no violence, because this is a contemporary novel,  and not about war or anything. There is a part where Paige mentions the one and only time she ever used God's name in vain, but she knows it was wrong and that's the point.

Why I suggest 13 plus:  Mild Spoilers Ahead

 I put 13 because Paige is older, I think it is nice to read from characters that are within 12 years of my age (I do, of course, have exceptions).  Also, there is mentions of pads and tampons being in a cabinet and PMS.  Backstory included in this book tells about how her ex-boyfriend tried to move in with her, saying she was the denying science, and there was no point in purity and saving yourself for marriage; that was when she broke up with him.  There are no details, and he actually has changed, and comes back and apologizes for his behavior in the current time of this book.  Overall it is everyone's own decision and some kids could be ready for that at 10, but some may not, so this is only my 2¢.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Stolen Princess: Maidens of Malidone book 1 Book Review

The Stolen Princess, by Katherine Wilson, is book one in the Maidens of Malidone series (The series is three books long right now and I don't think there are going to be anymore, but I don't know that for sure)
This book starts when the castle is invaded by Lord Malcolm and his evil friends.  They try to get both the Prince and the Princess but only are able to capture Princess Rose.

Fast forward to when the Princess is 16 and just another slave in Lord Malcolm's kingdom.  Her hope remains in God, and she tries to live true to Him. She is friends with other girls who work in the kitchen with her, including the new little girl called Elly.

At the same time, her Brother's friend, Ian, ends up finding the secret kingdom that Rose is in and of course has to save her (But he goes back home first and makes a plan and has back up. Very smart!).   Rose wants to save everyone there.  And the rest are things I am not going to say, because this book is small and there is only so much before I have told you everything ever.  I like that this book is small, because: why have a longer book than you need to tell the story?.

I really enjoyed this book as a first fiction book by an author. The book kind of says "I need to get my feet as a author but I care and I have skill", or that's what it said to me. This can almost be a standalone novel.  The story wraps up Rose, Her Brother William, and his and her friend, Ian's stories well.  The next book is about Rose's Daughter's story.  And book two is for sure already even better than I expected.  I don't judge an author too harshly on his/her first novel.  Authors grow and get better, especially when they are only teenagers when they write the book.  Katherine was only 16 years old when this book was published (Homeschool author ALERT!!!!).  Go young people who write!

I would recommend this book for age 11 or older, if violence is something that is not okay with a younger reader then this is not the book for them.  It is not very violent, but there is a battle scene and some running away from bad guys and getting hurt and such. But in my opinion, the violence is not over done
The romance is very clean, very cute and age appropriate for everyone, there is not even one kiss.  This has the potential to be a great family read-aloud.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson Book Review

The Golden Braid, by Melanie Dickerson, is the sixth book in the Hagenheim series.  I have reviewed the first five, but now there are 7! Ahhhh! And the author is writing two more in this series. All of the books are non-magical fairy tale re-tellings.  They are set in medieval Germany and England, depending on the story, This one is in Germany. The series is about two main families and how their lives connect over the years.  There are different main characters for each book, but the stories span generations, though some are set at the same time (like this one) and others can be many years apart.  The Golden Braid is a Rapunzel re-telling which is reminiscent of the Disney movie and the original story, but Melanie Dickerson puts her own spin on the Golden Braid for sure.

This was a very exciting book! This book takes place at the same time, and a little before, and after The Princess Spy, by Melanie Dickerson (book five in the Hagenheim series, you can find my Review HERE). Anyway, I LOVED getting to see the crossover from both books into each other. I don't want to say too much about how they crossover, because I will kind of spoil a lot of the surprises in the story.

I loved the God content in this story. It was very well done and went well with the story.  I really enjoy when there is praying in books like this. I so enjoyed the main characters growing throughout the book.

As for age recommendations: There is romance (of course), but it is clean, only kissing and not to overly much of that. I  recommend this 13 or 14 + (at the youngest 12, but only for a mature reader because of things at the end of this review--spoiler section). But "the best age" (the age I think the book is going for) is probably high school age and college age, but definitely great for all adults (I have to force my Mother to read this!).

Why I think 12 is youngest age I would give this book to is because it is a little intense (attention spoilers ahead!) :
The main girl and her "mother" run into Bandits on the road and Rapunzel throws knives (She has been learning for a long time.); the scene is quite intense for the youngin's.  Later the bad guys come back and they try to take advantage of her, it's not really spelled out that way, but that's the impression I got.  A lot farther in the book Rapunzel is working at the castle and it gets taken over.  At that time,  her and the other kitchen maids use holly berries to make the evil villain and his evil friends very sick, so they can not hurt anyone for a time, and the good guys can win.  There is also a soldier in the castle that alludes to her possibly being taken advantage of while the castle is under siege, but nothing actually happens.  The main character get's drugged/poisoned and kidnapped by her "mother".

Just in case you're worried about the "spin" on the Rapunzel story, there is a VERY HAPPY ENDING!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Miss Match by Erynn Mangum Book Review

Miss Match is the first of a three to five book series, depending on how you look at it. There are the main three told from Lauren's point of view, and then there are two more after that (by some years) told from Annie McKay's point of view. The later two books happen after Annie moves to the same town that Lauren lives in with all of her family and friends.  If you choose to read the last two books, you do get a good look at how the characters have grown and are the same, but different.  Books four and five are for sure a part of the story, but kind of like there is The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (but not quite... that is just the best way I came up with to describe it).  The first book is a modern-day Emma (by Jane Austen) re-telling with a twist.

The narrator, and main character's name, is Lauren Emma Holbrook.  She is super funny! She's in love with Jesus, coffee and chocolate and may very well enjoy match making a little much.... okay, so it's her main hobby, fine so it's her only hobby, besides being in the pursuit of chocolate and Mr. Darcy.  But what's a photographer supposed to do when people just need to be put together???? And they don't know how, or what to do?!

There is an awesome, semi-eccentric cast of characters ranging from Lauren's​ father, the hypochondriac; her two older sisters (who are both married, one of whom Lauren takes some credit for); her almost-brother and boss, Brandon; Ruby, her co-worker; and Ruby's brother, Ryan; Hannah, a new addition to the office; and her Pastor Nick + her adorable nieces and nephews. If this does not have you a little interested, I'm sorry. I'm not that good of a writer, and I don't do books justice sometimes. Did I tell you she is a photographer, and that is really hilarious and interesting to read about?

I loved the God content.  Lauren totally grows as a woman in Christ.  And Lauren's reading her Bible always made me want to read mine, too.  Her story is engaging, and I loved that she was always her crazy self, not confirming to the world, and being renewed in her relationship with the Lord.

As for an age recommendation, I think 13 or 14 would be great, but older than that is 1000% awesome, too! Lauren is in her very early twenties in the first three books, except for the very, very, very, very beginning of the first book where she is only 19. There is no bad content though, so if you want to read it younger, it is 100% appropriate. In this series, the main character's romantic relationship does not even share one kiss until they are engaged. (As you go on in the books the couple's that Lauren is setting up, do kiss, but it's not anything crazy).

There is obviously romance, as it is an Emma re-telling, but it is family-friendly. Something I really appreciate in Mangum's writing, with this book and the others I have read by her, is that the story is clean and God centered.  This is one of my favorite books to read when I need a laugh, but it is also serious enough. I actually consider it a really good mix of humor with substance.

Reasons for lack of posts is all the problems with my internet and technology, I won't bore you with the details. I'm looking forward, hopefully and Lord willing.