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

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.