Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book Review: Matched

Review by Elinor
Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Rating: 5/5
Plot: In the Society, your whole life is planned out for you by the officials. Cassia Reyes has always gone along with whatever they told her to do, because she believes that the Society is perfect; until they make a mistake that sends her life out of control. The Officials tell her that she is Matched with Xander, her best friend that she's known her whole life; but then why did his face disappear from the screen, to be replaced with Ky's, a mysterious boy who is more than everyone thinks? Now torn between two very different young men, Cassia must decide for herself if she is going to follow the life that has always been predicted for her.
This book was great! At first I was a little bit unsure if the romance would be too much for my taste, but it was just the right amount to keep the story sweet. I was much more impressed than I thought I would be, and I can't wait to read the next book in this series!
Characters: It was almost too easy to get attached to these characters! I fell in love with each and every one of them in their own ways, and I loved how their relationships with each other were so clearly represented. I think my favorite character was Ky, I loved how complexly the author wrote him, always more than he seemed.
Emotion: This book had about every emotion out there mixed together! It was very exciting and kept me coming back for more. Never once did I feel like it was boring or lacking any sort of emotion.
My thoughts: There were only a couple minor things I would change about this book, but over-all I really enjoyed it! Like I said before, I can't wait to read the next book in this series!
Favorite Quote:
"The two desires struggle within me: The desire to be safe, and the desire to know. I cannot tell which one will win."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Quick Encouragement #1

Hey everyone! I wanted to share something with you guys real quick. It's a music video that I found this month that has really encouraged me. Hopefully it will do the same for you!
Sidewalk Prophets - You Love Me Anyway
Listen to the lyrics for a moment. My favorite part:
I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas' kiss
But You love me anyway
Wow. It's so true. No matter what we do, how we act, what we say He'll never stop loving us. That doesn't give us a license to act however we want to, but it does give us encouragement. It lets us know that whatever mistakes we've made in the past, and whatever mistakes we will make in the future, He'll always be there for us.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review: The Lady of Bolton Hill

Review by Marianne 
Title: The Lady of Bolton Hill
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Rating: 4.5/5
Age Recommendation: 12+

Plot: The last time Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain were together Daniel was a young man with no fortune whatsoever, his father had just died and he had to be the one to provide for his mother and three sisters. Clara was a wealthy young woman who had high ambitions to become a great writer. Because of her father's wishes, she moved from Baltimore to London to live with her aunt. Twelve years later Clara returns to Baltimore and finds Daniel a powerful and wealthy industrialist. Their old friendship comes to life and quickly develops into a romance, but when Daniel's workers believe they aren't receiving proper wages, arguments and riots threaten to separate them forever.
I ADORED this book. It was amazing! The storyline was so interesting and I couldn't but it down! There was never a dull moment in this book and I enjoyed every moment!
Characters: Is it possible to fall in love with every character in a book? I think it is. That was how I felt about this book. Every character was absolutely perfect in personality and development.
Emotion: This book was a little more on the suspense side than what I normally read (especially in the end) but I loved the excitement! I will definitely read this again and recommend it to many. 
My Thoughts: I have read one other book by Elizabeth Camden called "Into the Whirlwind" and really enjoyed it. (You can read my review for "Into the Whirlwind" HERE!) This book was great and I wouldn't change a thing about it! I can't wait to read Elizabeth Camden's book "Against the Tide" which follows the story of one of the characters that I got to read a bit about in this one. The reason I recommended ages 12+ is because there are several mentions of Opium, and a brief mentioning of a prostitute (no descriptions, I promise!) As I said before, I couldn't put it down and I will recommend it to many, many readers.
Favorite Quote:
"It is doing the hard things that make a man great."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: Glittering Promises

Title: Glittering Promises : Book 3 in the Grand Tour Series
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Elinor's Rating: 4/5
Marianne's Rating: 2/5
Age Recommendation 12+

Plot: Cora Diehl Kensington is torn. Between two men. Between responsibilities her father expects of her, and what she feels God is calling her to. And as their Grand Tour of Europe comes to an end, things only get more complicated. Will God ever make a way for her to be with the man she loves? And will they ever escape the men who seem to always be chasing them?

This book is the third and final book of the Grand Tour Series. Personally, it wasn't our favorite of the series, but still definitely worth reading.
Characters: Since this is the third book in the series, there wasn't much character development. But we loved all of the characters and think that we could understand each ones personal feelings.
Emotion: We love how Miss Bergren expresses the character's emotions in her books. We thought that this book was well-written as well as very exciting.
Elinor's Thoughts: I totally loved this book! It was so exciting to finally see how Cora's story ended! While I do think that it was romantic and exciting, I felt that the first two were a little more so. The first book in this series (Glamorous Illusions) will be a favorite forever! There are a few things that I didn't really like (such as an argument that Cora and Will have, when I read it, I felt it was unnecessary. My first thought was "Seriously?" ) but nothing that really made me dislike the book.
Favorite Quote:
"Never doubt that you are the only woman for me. You were given to me by God Himself. I have eyes for no other. I promise you."

Marianne's Thoughts: This was an entertaining book. I enjoyed it but there were several things that disappointed me. In the previous books there was a character that I absolutely loved. In this book though, the author changed him. She made him turn to the 'Dark Side of the Force', so to speak. And that was... very upsetting to say least. Even my family was able to see how upset it made me. I just felt that the author had the talent and the potential to keep it exiting without completely changing the characters. Also, Cora and Will had an argument that I didn't feel had to take place. To me it seemed like what they were arguing over wasn't a very big deal, certainly not one to get so angry about. While this book was pretty enjoyable, and worth reading, unfortunately, I know I won't read it again. That is why I rated it 2/5.

Favorite Quote:
"My whole future is suddenly so different than I imagined."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Recipe: Double Layer Chocolate Cake @ Bramblewood Fashion

Hello Everyone! I am here today to share about an awesome chocolate cake recipe that I found on a great blog called Bramblewood Fashion I absolutely LOVED baking this cake. It was an easy recipe that included ingredients that I almost always have on hand, and Miss Ashley's directions were so easy to follow! Below is a photo of the cake that I made.
If you are interested in making this cake yourself, please read the tutorial on Miss Ashley's blog.
A big thanks to Ashley P from Bramblewood Fashion, this cake was GREAT!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Book Review: Found in Translation

Review by Elinor
Title: Found in Translation
Author: Roger Bruner with Kristi Rae Bruner
Rating: 4/5
Plot: Kim Hartlinger has it all pretty easy. She comes from a privileged family that spoils her, and she's pretty self centered. That all changes when she volunteers for a mission trip to Santa Maria, Mexico. She quickly learns just how hard life can be for lots of people in the world, but also what she can do to help them. Could this trip be God showing her what He is calling her to do with her life?
This book was so sweet!!! I loved the plot, it was everything I wanted it to be! I felt it was something totally new and unlike anything I'd ever read before. If I had to describe it in one word it would be this: Touching
Characters: The characters in this book were so easy to fall in love with! I think my favorite character was Anjelta, a little girl in the village that Kim goes to. Even though she and Kim can't truly communicate, they become inseparable. One character that I really want to learn more about in the next book is Geoff, a troubled young man that Kim tries to reach. The funniest character was totally Aleesha, who becomes Kim's best friend. She made me laugh out loud sometimes!
Emotion: The emotion wasn't particularly strong until the end (which had me in tears!), most likely because the first half of the book is just Kim getting frustrated over nearly everything. But the first half of the book was rather funny, so it made up for the lack of real emotion.
My Thoughts: Like I said before, this book was very sweet and touching. I just loved the ending and can't wait to read the next book in this series! The only reason I would give it 4/5 instead of 5/5 is that it was kind of boring to begin with. I felt like it was slow to really get into something interesting, and for a while I wondered if the whole book was going to be about her making mistakes and getting frustrated. I'm really glad I stuck with it though, and I would recommend it to almost anyone!
Favorite Quote:
"Senorita Kim, te amo!" She repeated it many times.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review: Serenity Series

Review by Marianne
Title: Serenity Series (all 10)
Author: Real Buzz Studios
Rating: 4/5
Age Recommendation: 12+
Plot: Serenity Harper has quite an attitude. She is a teen girl who doesn't really have anyone but her Mom. Her Mom isn't a good influence so Serenity is a big troublemaker. When she moves away from her home in California and starts going to a new high school, a youth group that also attends the school notices her. They realize that she needs help. God's help. So they begin the long journey of bringing her to faith. It isn't easy, and it's a learning experience for all of them, but they accept the challenge with open hearts.
I enjoyed this series very much! The plot was very good and I liked how much God was referenced. I also liked that it was written in a comic book form. Since I don't read many comic books this was a real treat!
Characters: The characters in these books were really good! My favorite character was probably Lori (A girl in the youth group.) She was really mature for her age, and she was just a really good friend to everyone. I also liked seeing Serenity and her Mom trying to work through their struggles and disagreements.
Emotion: These books were very inspirational! I was entertained while reading them and I loved the entire series.  They were also super funny. I have read the whole series from beginning to end 2 or 3 times.
My Thoughts: Overall this is a great series to read! However there are a few things that I was uncomfortable with. There were several times throughout the series that some of the characters mentioned drugs, alcohol and things like that. Serenity did cuss quite a bit in the first book but it was always covered with a little green bar so you didn't have to read it. I would recommend this series, just to an older audience (like 12-18 or something). I would also recommend doing what I did, buying the first 2-5 books to see if you like them and then buy the rest. This just seems like a better decision to me because there are 10 books in the series.

List of books in this series:
#1 Bad Girl in Town
#2 Stepping Out
#3 Basket Case
#4 RAVE-n-rant
#5 Snow Biz
#6 You Shall Love
#7 Space Cadet vs. Drama Queen
#8 Sunday Best
#9 Choosing Change
#10 Girl Overboard

Friday, November 1, 2013

Movie Review: Grace Unplugged

Title: Grace Unplugged
Rating: 5/5

Plot: Grace Trey performs with her Dad at church every week, but she feels that he's trying to hold her back. He feels he's only trying to protect her from what he's experienced in the music industry. Therefore, they can never agree. So, when her Dad's previous agent seems to have interest in making her the next big pop-singer, she jumps at the opportunity. Once fully immersed in the music world, she realizes how hard it is, and wonders if it is all she thought it would be.

We really enjoyed this movie! We thought that the story was very encouraging, and we will definitely want to own it!
 Movie Trailer:
Elinor's  Thoughts: I thought that this movie was adorable! It really got the message across that sometimes what we think we want isn't what we truly need, and that God can use our gifts in a way that can glorify Him. Can't wait for this one to come out on DVD!
Favorite Quote:
"Lord, all I've ever needed was Your love."
Marianne's Thoughts: I loved this movie! I am so thrilled to see movies with such good meanings so wonderfully done! I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to watch it again! It was a very inspirational movie to watch as well, and like my sister I can't wait to own it!!!
Favorite Quote:
"I'm glad you're here. We need some light in the media." (So true!)
 (Words in parentheses are mine.)