Sunday, April 24, 2016

Book Review: King's Folly

Review by Marianne
Title: King's Folly
Author: Jill Williamson
Rating: 1/5

Note: I did not complete this book so I can only give my opinion on the part that I read.

    Plot: The gods are angry. Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, ground shakers - everything points to their unhappiness. At least that is what the king of Armania believes. His son Prince Wilek thinks his father's superstitions are nonsense, though he remains the ever dutiful First Arm of Armania. When a messenger arrives and claims the town of Farway has been swallowed by the earth, the king send Wilek to investigate. But what Wilek discovers is more catalysmic than one lost city. Even as the ground shifts beneath his feet, Wilek sets out on a desperate journey to save his people and his world. But can he do it before the entire land crumbles?
(Copied from the cover of King's Folly)

    Unfortunately, this book is the second in a row that I have reviewed without finishing. I originally chose this book to review because based on the description, I thought that the main focus would be Fantasy/Adventure and that that would mean I would not have to deal with some of the inappropriate content that often comes with reading romantic novels. Although the plot of this book seemed very interesting at first, it didn't take very long for me to realize that it was not at all what I had in mind.

Characters: This book had lots of characters and it got to the point where I felt like the author was introducing way to many of them all at once. Even with the character list in the beginning I was still unable to keep them all straight in my head, and ended up getting confused way too easily.

Emotions: Sadly, I was unable to connect to this book or the characters emotionally. I was shocked over and over with some of the content in this book, and I didn't even make it 100 pages in. I kept trying to give it more chances, but eventually had to stop reading altogether.

My Thoughts: As I said before, I originally decided to review this book because it was not labeled as a "romantic" book so I was hoping to avoid any inappropriate content that I have come to expect in pretty much all "Christian Romance" novels. I was utterly disappointed however, as I began to read this and realized that I was not going to be able to read a fantasy novel, published by a Christian company, marketed to Christian readers, without having to also deal with the inappropriate physical relationships occurring between many of the characters. Although (as far as I read), there was only one scene in which these relationships were described in detail (which was more than enough), the characters were constantly talking/gossiping about the king's and prince's many wives, concubines, and prostitutes and eventually I was becoming almost calloused to that sort of talk/behavior because it was such a frequent occurrence. This really upset me because it is not the first book I have read that was labeled "Christian" that I've had to stop reading for the same reasons. It saddens me that so many Christian teens are choosing to fill their brains with these kinds of thoughts and excusing them because the book/movie/music etc. had the word Christian on it somewhere. Our American Christian culture spends so much time chiding teens for lust, immodesty, and sexual impurity (which, by the way, I'm not saying these things are ok), but then we turn around and dig into our Christian Romance novels and dwell on those things, when we could be digging into our Bibles and dwelling on God's Word. I'm not by any means saying I've got it all figured out, that I'm perfect, or that I spend all day everyday dwelling only on holy and righteous things. I struggle with this type of thing very much as well, but I really don't think that filling my brain with books like this, are going to help that or draw me closer to my Savior in any way.

Here is a video that I watched recently that addresses this issue and I was able to relate to very much:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of  King's Folly for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed above are my own.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: Love Everlasting

Review by Marianne
Title: Love Everlasting
Author: Tracie Peterson
Rating: 2/5

Note: I did not finish this book so I can only give my opinion on the part that I read.

Plot: Growing up in a Seattle bridal finishing school never prepared Abrianna Cunningham to become one of the brides, but now Wade Ackerman, who has always been the reliable boy next door, is indicating he wants to be more than friends. And even the people closest to Abrianna believe Wade is the man she should marry. So why is she having such a hard time choosing between Wade Ackerman and Priam Welby? 
         Watching Welby's relentless pursuit of Abrianna is making Wade's blood boil. Welby can offer her wealth and security, but what about character and integrity? Surely Abrianna can see past Welby's smooth tongue and fine clothes. Can't she? Caught between the devil and the boy next door, either choice she makes will change Abrianna's life forever.
(Copied from cover of Love Everlasting)

         Usually, I don't go for books in which the only focus is romance. I tend to gravitate towards an adventure novel with a side of romance, or vice versa, so when I picked this one, I knew I was taking a bit of a risk. But I had high hopes considering I have read books by this author before and enjoyed them. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. I read over half of the book, but it felt like the story just wasn't going anywhere. I was reading the same things over and over and the author was so repetitive that I just couldn't get interested. Nothing new ever happened. I was just reading about this young woman's pre-wedding jitters for hours. Also, the plot synopsis suggested that this was to be a sort of "love-triangle." However, one of the men involved, Abrianna had absolutely no interest in. She wasn't "torn between them." She knew which one she loved she just was too scared to marry him. 

Characters: Abrianna was very easy to relate and connect to for me considering how her personality was similar to mine, and I read well over 100 pages of her inner-struggles. However, aside from her, I just couldn't connect to any of the characters. There was very little development and I wasn't able to understand them or their feelings very well.  

Emotions: Sadly, the only thoughts going through my head as I was reading this book were, at first: "C'mon, surely this will pick up soon." And then: I'll give it a few more chapters..." And finally: "Last chance, if this doesn't get going, I'll just stop." As you can tell, it never picked up.

My Thoughts: Unfortunately, this book got to the point where it felt like a chore. It wasn't enjoyable, and I had to force myself to read it. There are a million other books on my reading list, and I felt like this one was a waste of my time. Again, I was very disappointed because I knew this author to be a good one, but she has written over 100 novels, so I guess they couldn't all be to my liking.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of  Love Everlasting for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed above are my own.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review: A Noble Masquerade

Review by Marianne
Title: A Noble Masquerade
Author: Kristi Ann Hunter
Rating: 5/5

Plot: Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she's never actually met the man, she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when when her brother's mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke. 
        Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigued by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family's estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
(Copied from the back of A Noble Masquerade)

Characters: I thought that the characters in this book were wonderfully developed. I truly felt that as every page passed I was getting to know each character better in some way. Obviously, with Miranda as the main character, she was the one I related to most, however she did remind of Elinor from time to time with her quiet temperament and lady-like manner that hid a wild and beautiful heart. Also, Marlow (the valet) was a really cool character to get to know. 

Emotions: Honestly, this book had me smiling/laughing like an idiot on more than one occasion. ;) It's been a while since I've had a book do that, so it was definitely a treat! I also loved the unpredictability of the story; I was caught by surprise over and over! It definitely kept me coming back for more!

My Thoughts: Altogether, this may very well have been my favorite of the books I've received from Bethany House Publishers. As I said before, the character development was incredible and the plot twists were superb! I would highly recommend this book and could find absolutely no faults in it! I can't wait to read more from Kristi Ann Hunter.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of  A Noble Masquerade for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed above are my own.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: Irish Meadows

Review by Marianne
Title: Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream: Book 1)
Author: Susan Anne Mason
Rating: 5/5
Plot: Faced with an uncertain future, sometimes all you have left is the courage to dream.
   Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different views for their futures.
   Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry--as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone's plans.
   As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will the inevitably find their dreams to distant to reach? (Copied from back cover)
Characters: I really enjoyed getting to know these characters. I thought that the author did a great job of describing each character and their perspectives in a way that was very easy to understand and connect to. The character that a related to most was probably Colleen, (especially in the second half of the book.)
Emotion: Although this wasn't an "adventure novel," I still found it very exiting and kept coming back for more. This author is very skilled in the way she describes all of the scenes, emotions, characters, etc. it made me feel as though I was actually witnessing everything that happened.
My Thoughts: Overall, I loved this book! I would highly recommend it, and I can't wait to read more from Susan Anne Mason. My favorite part of the book was how all of the relationships progressed... not just the romantic ones (although they were great), but also the other ones, like the relationship between the sisters Brianna and Colleen. It was so cool to see them become such great friends. It was also really cool to watch Colleen as she learned more about God and eventually committed her life to Him.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Irish Meadows for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed above are my own.



Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: Butterfly Palace

~Review by Elinor~
Title: Butterfly Palace
Author: Colleen Coble
Rating: 3/5

Plot: Elegance and wealth. Privilege and politics. The extravagance of the Butterfly Palace overwhelmed Lily’s senses and nearly smothered her painful memories. She pushed away her misgivings . . . She was perfectly safe in this huge house.
Austin, Texas—1904: Abandoned by the love of her life and still mourning the loss of her mother, Lily Donaldson has turned her back on the pain and come to Austin for a fresh start, working for the Marshall family as a kitchen maid in their luxurious mansion, the Butterfly Palace. The tasks before her are legion, and her mistress less than pleasant, but at least Lily’s new life will be, if nothing else, distracting. 
But one night, while serving at a dinner party, Lily recognizes the man who abandoned her, Andy, her liaison from the livery stable, the blacksmith’s son . . . sitting among the distinguished guests. Though he recognizes her, Andy does not acknowledge her aloud, and Lily is left reeling, flabbergasted, and irate. 
But before she can get an explanation, the path of the Servant Girl Killer swerves very close to the Butterfly Palace, sowing terror among the maids. Having come to Austin to start anew, Lily suddenly feels trapped in a spider web. How can she know who to trust in a house where lies come dressed in fine suits and deceit in silk gowns the colors of butterfly wings? (taken from back cover)
Characters: The characters in this book were very easy to get to know and connect to, and I loved learning about each of them. However, I felt that the romance aspect of this book left a bit to be desired (read more in the "My Thoughts" section).
Emotion: This book could be categorized as either Suspense or Romance, but I felt that the suspense aspect was definitely the better part. If I were rating this book solely as a Mystery/Suspense novel, I would rate it 5/5, because the mystery surrounding the plot was absolutely amazing! It really kept me on the edge of my seat and not wanting to put the book down! However, the romance was most likely the greatest let down, at least in my opinion.
My Thoughts: As I said previously, the mystery/suspense aspect of this novel was absolutely perfect! The author really kept the reader guessing about the entire situation, and kept it exciting until the very end. However, when it came to the romance of the story, I felt it was rather hasty, and almost cliche. To put it rather bluntly, my opinion is that the one thing missing in the character's love story was God. While both of the characters spoke of God throughout the story, I just felt that they made no place for Him in their relationship, and it made it seem like every other romance story that started during teen years. I'm sorry if that's harsh, but those were my immediate thoughts when reading this book. 
That being said, if someone was looking for a good suspense novel, and was willing to read through the romance scenes, I would recommend this book. For a specific age audience, probably 12+. There were a couple of scenes where bodies were found, and the over-all suspense part of the story was a bit dark. There were also two romance scenes that I wasn't particularly comfortable with, though nothing was PG-13 material, it was still something I wasn't comfortable with.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Review: Success for Teens

Review by Elinor
Title: Success for Teens
Author: John Fleming
Rating: 5/5

  About the Book: This book outlined many principles and habits that, when formed during your teen years, can be some of your greatest tools when achieving your goals and dreams. One of the greatest points made was that as a teenager, one should not simply wait for your life to begin; your life has already started, and the habits that you form now can have some of the greatest impacts on your life. The book had stories from real teens and they shared things that had made big differences in their lives. Another great point made by this book was that in order to change your actions and the outcome of your actions, you have to first change yourself and your outlook on life.

  My Thoughts: This was a book I started a couple months ago, and I have read a small portion of it at the beginning of every school day. It has been very motivational as well as encouraging, and I would recommend it to anyone in their teen years. 

  As far as age recommendation goes, this book is clearly written for a teen audience just reading about it, and I would recommend it for this age group and up. There were a few brief mentions of alcohol and drugs in the stories from actual teens, but these stories were usually to make the point that you can achieve your dreams no matter where you come from or what your past looks like.

  This book really challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and truly pursue some things that I desired, and I think it will be something that I come back to in the future. This is a book that you not only read once, but just kind of rip pages out of to tape over your desk (which I really did). Definitely something that I will keep and re-read for a long time!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Encouragements & Reflections #5

Hey, everyone! It's Marianne. It's been a while since we've done an Encouragements & Reflections post, so I thought I would write one tonight.