Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: The Gift

Review by Marianne
Title: The Gift
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: 12+
Plot: Ever heard of a man who hates Christmas? Or a man whose Christmas, Thanksgiving and pretty much every holiday out there is just another day on the calendar? How about a man whose birthday is just a mental acknowledgement that he's a year older? Well, that's Nathan Hurst. Troubled by Tourette's syndrome, chronic tic disorder, and a horrific past, Nate has created a life filled with nothing but himself, work, and unpredictable "tics". That all changes when he meets Addison Park and her two children, Collin and Lizzy. Collin has leukemia and tricuspid atresia, which means one of his heart valves never developed. He also has an incredible gift. It isn't until Collin touches Nate's shoulder and his Tourette's and Tics heal -and never return- that Nate realizes the unthinkable power this nine-year-old boy possesses. 
I loved this book even more than "The Christmas Box" which is also written by Richard Paul Evans. Although it was longer than "The Christmas Box" I finished it in only two days. It was so good and I would definitely recommend it to many!
Characters: My favorite character was hands-down Collin. He was so sweet and truly wise for his age. Nate was pretty cool too, and the character development was very good. Lizzy was the funniest thing! I got a kick out of her quite often.
Emotion: Ok. I'm not gonna sugar-coat anything... this book made me sob. And I don't mean just a little sniff here and there. Nope. I mean full blown, crying all over the place, every little tear you've been holding in is let loose! Just ask Elinor. So, yes, the main emotion was sadness, but there was also a great amount of humor, victory, and just pure joy.
My Thoughts: Overall, amazing book! However there were a few things that kept me from recommending it to everyone. There was a mention of drugs, "sexual harassment," and one of the characters begins to say a sentence with a cuss word. He never finishes the sentence so, it never actually says it, but it makes it clear what he was about to say. Though these parts were very brief, they were there so, I would recommend this to an older audience. There was also a bit of violence. Otherwise, I absolutely adored this book! It was awesome!!! If you would like to read my review for "The Christmas Box" you can do so HERE!
Favorite Quotes:
"The most important story we will ever write in our life is our own - not with ink, but with our daily choices."
"It seems like the most significant events in our lives happen while we're worried about something else happening."
"Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful, but because they are fleeting."
"Small kindnesses often, unintentionally, produce the biggest payoffs."
"Love, like forgiveness, is found in the confession of it." 

Are you ready for Christmas?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Almost Christmas!

Hey everyone! I was just in the mood tonight to share a Christmas song... hope you don't mind! ;)

Britt Nicole - Jingle Bell Rock

Book Review: Kingdom's Dawn

Title: Kingdom's Dawn: Book 1 in the Kingdom series
Author: Chuck Black
Elinor's Rating: 4/5
Marianne's Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: 10+
Plot: Leinad believes that he is destined to be nothing more than a farmer, so he wonders why his father is teaching him advanced swordsmanship. All too quickly, he learns that he is destined for much more than he thinks. He has been called to serve the King in a very special way, that even he feels is nearly impossible. With new responsibilities to serve the King and to protect his young friend, Tess, Leinad struggles to begin what will be a very long and exhausting journey.
This book was the intro to The Kingdom Series, and we really enjoyed it! There were many chapters that represented stories in the Bible such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Joseph, and Moses. We loved how the writer portrayed each of these people in a very captivating way, and staying true to their story in the Bible. The whole series is set in a medieval-like setting with castles, knights, swordfights, and villages. We will definitely be reading the rest of this series!
Characters: The characters in this book were very easy to get attached to; and there was quite a bit of character development in this book, it being the intro to the series. Our favorite character was Leinad, which can probably be expected.
Emotion: There was quite a bit of emotion that we could relate to, and the excitement of the battles was really something to keep you reading. The writer did very well in describing battles and feelings without dragging them on forever.
Elinor's Thoughts: I loved this book! The only reason that I would not have given it 5/5 is because I felt like the beginning was a little bit slow-going. Whenever I first picked up the book, I was expecting the battles that came later in the story. And while it was definitely worth reading through the first few chapters, there were a couple times that I thought that somebody who wasn't particularly interested would quit reading it because there was nothing really exciting happening until about chapter 4.
Favorite Quote:
 'Though His eyes seemed to burn like fire, compassion accompanied his gaze ... There was nothing Leinad could hide from the King, and he knew it.'
Marianne's Thoughts: This book was amazing! As expressed above, I loved the Bible references in it! I agree with my sister that the beginning was a bit slower than expected, but that's not really a problem for me since I tend to enjoy slower books anyway. I have nothing negative to say about this book, and would recommend it to anyone! I can't wait to read the rest of the series!
Favorite Quote:
'Was anything he believed in still anchored and unchanged? He asked himself and searched. He found one unmovable truth... the King was!'

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: The Christmas Box

Six days until Christmas! If you're like me and have been counting down the days since November then you don't need a little reminder like the one that I just gave, but still, I had to say something about it. Today I have a book review for everyone, and how appropriate, it's about Christmas! ;)
Review by Marianne
Title: The Christmas Box
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: 12+
Plot: Richard Evans, his wife Keri and their daughter, Jenna move out of their cramped one-bedroom apartment to an amazing mansion where they help an elderly woman named Mary cook, clean and maintain the yard in exchange for a place to live. Soon after moving there, Richard finds a small box with a nativity scene painted on the lid. After that his dreams are haunted with a stone angel that he doesn't recognize, and he hears music coming from the box. He soon realizes that there is much more to Mary than it seems.
I loved this book! It wasn't very long, there were only about 125 pages, and I finished it within a day. Mr. Evans has an interesting way of writing. His books are written in first person, and he uses the names of real people in his life, it is just a fictional story. Nevertheless this book was great and I was extremely pleased with it!
Characters: There weren't many characters in this book but the development was awesome. They were all perfectly developed and very easy to attach to.
Emotions: This book made me cry like a baby in the end! It was a great story that I will read again, it was just so sad that I'll probably read it only once a year (every Christmas).
My Thoughts: Overall, this book was absolutely marvelous and I would recommend it to anyone. I loved every part of it and it was so touching! We own two other books my Richard Paul Evans and I will definitely want to read them... after I read something a little more light-hearted of course! ;)
Favorite Quote:
"Which of the senses do you think are most affected by Christmas?" "I would say the sense of smell. The smells of Christmas.... The Smells of Christmas are the smells of childhood."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Friends #1

Hello! Each month we are going to write a post about a book character that we wish we had as a friend in real life. We will each choose one to share about, and explain why we would like them as a friend.

Marianne's Choice:
Beckett Rush from There You'll Find Me
By Jenny B. Jones
   I would want Beckett Rush as a friend because he was so hilarious! I loved not only his personality in general, but also his experience with learning about Jesus, and choosing to follow him. Being from a family who didn't particularly embrace that faith, he had a hard time understanding. His father was very pressuring towards him, and since Beckett was a big-name actor, was always trying to get his son on magazine covers - even if it meant lying. I wish I could have been there to encourage him through that difficult time in his life. He wanted to step out of the spotlight, and let God take control of his life, but his father was only concerned about the fame and the money.
   I loved Beckett from the very beginning of the book, and even though he came across as slightly haughty and careless, I soon realized it was all an act, and saw the true character beneath it all. Which was AWESOME! His real personality was sweet, funny, and kind, and I know he would've been a great friend!
You can read mine and Elinor's book review for There You'll Find Me HERE!
Elinor's Choice:
Rose from The Healer's Apprentice
by Melanie Dickerson

  I would love to have Rose as my friend! I think that she would be the friend that you could always count on to be there for you no matter what. She is gentle, kind, elegant, thoughtful, and caring. I think she would be an encouraging friend, and definitely one that you would know would accomplish great things. She is beautiful, inside and out, in a quiet way that doesn't demand attention, but deserves it. I became very attached to her when reading The Healer's Apprentice, and she will always be remembered. I loved reading 2 other of Melanie Dickerson's book about Rose's sons, and being able to see the life that she was blessed with.

  I think the reason I bonded with Rose so much was that Melanie Dickerson so clearly and easily expressed her struggles and feelings. Her love story was beautiful and you can read my review on it here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Quick Encouragement #3

Hello! Quick encouragement number THREE! These are really fun to write, I hope their as much fun to read! I have a music video to share today!
Phil Wickham - This Is Amazing Grace


Thanks for reading!!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Review: The Captive Maiden

Title: The Captive Maiden
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: 12+
Plot: Gisela Mueller has dreamed of the duke's son, Valten, since she first met him 9 years ago. But things have changed since then. She now works as a servant to her stepmother, with her father dead. Valten is struggling to find God's purpose for his life. All he's ever known is tournaments, and they hold nothing for him anymore. When they meet again, they both immediately have feelings for each other. But Valten's long-time nemesis, Ruexner, will do everything it takes to ensure Valten's misery; which currently means keeping them apart.
This book was a re-telling of Cinderella, and we LOVED everything about it! It was wonderfully written, the romance wasn't over-the-top, and the excitement kept us reading! This book will always be a favorite!
Characters: The characters were perfectly written to reflect the Cinderella story-line, yet they were each unique in their own way. We fell in love with Valten, and felt like he was the perfect Knight in Shining Armor. We also loved getting to hear about characters from previous books that we had come to love as well.
Emotion: This book was very sweet as far as romance goes, touching when it came to finding God's plan for each person's life, and thrilling with excitement!
Elinor's Thoughts: I adored this book (just like all of Melanie Dickerson's books!), and it fulfilled all of my expectations (which had to be hard, because I've been stalking it online most of the year). Thank you so much Mrs. Dickerson for another beautifully crafted adventure!
Favorite Quote:
'What had his life meant? All his success, all the tournaments he'd won... they were like dust and ashes. Meaningless. Without Gisela, his life was meaningless.'
Marianne's Thoughts: My sister and I have read all of Melanie Dickerson's books and loved them all! She is one of my all time favorite authors and "The Captive Maiden" was my favorite of her novels! I loved that I got to "meet" many characters from previous novels and seeing how their stories turned out was awesome. I LOVED Valten and enjoyed watching his and Gisela's relationship take place. I greatly hope that Melanie Dickerson continues to write novels, for my sister and I will read every single one! 
Favorite Quote:
"I don't need prestige or wealth," he said softly. "I need you, and I want you with me forever."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Quick Encouragement #2

Hello Again! It just me, Marianne posting today. I have another "Quick Encouragement" post for you. This one is about forgiveness. I found a music video and a quote.

Matthew West - Forgiveness

Image made by Marianne at PicMonkey

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Favorite Music #2 (Christmas)

Hello everyone! Ok, we don't know about you, but we can't wait for Christmas. So we decided to do another "Favorite Music" post, except this time it will be all Christmas music! We hope you enjoy it!
Owl City & tobyMac - Light of Christmas

Faith Hill - A Baby Changes Everything

Josh Groban - Believe

Newsong - Christmas Shoes

Judy Garland - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Painting by Marianne

Hello again! Today I would like to tell you about a painting that I recently completed. I have a large interest in watercolors and I wanted to show everyone step by step pictures of my painting.
Step 1: After many uses of my eraser, I sketched the main parts of my painting. If you look closely, you can see the used-to-be pencil marks on the paper.
Step 2: I stroked the first layer of paint onto the paper, really only painting the wall, lace and shadows. Shadowing is my weak spot so please forgive me if they look more like little gray lines on the table cloth than actual shadows. :)
Step 3: I painted more washes and graded washes on the pitcher, tulips, leaves and saucer.
Step 4: I added another layer onto the wall and some small details like the rim of the teacup.
Step 5: I added yet another layer to the wall (getting darker with each layer), and shadows to the lace.
Step 6: I added the last layer to the wall and tulips,  added a very, very light blue wash to the pitcher, and painted all of the details on the teacup and saucer. Then the painting was DONE!
One of the details that I was proudest of: My teacup.
So, I was really pleased with how this painting turned out. In the end, it was worth the almost three hours I spent working on it. Besides I enjoy painting so spending almost three hours on it was fun.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmastime!!!  It's here! YES! Today we put up all of our Christmas decorations and I am so exited! Each year we have more and more ornaments to put on our tree. The poor thing's branches are sagging with the weight, but it still looks awesome!

Yeah, we had a massively fun time putting it all up. It was so great to unwrap all of the ornaments and put them on the tree. That tree holds many, many great Christmas memories. I can't wait for Christmas eve, we have a family tradition where we all sit in the family room and watch "The Polar Express" together while we drink hot cocoa. And I adore the anticipation and excitement of wondering what good ole St. Nick is going to bring everyone. ;)   I also found a fun Christmas song to share with you!
Mandisa - It's Christmas

So that's what my day has been like: great. We also have some family coming over soon to celebrate Thanksgiving/Christmas and I can't wait for that either! Oh, by the way, I'm currently reading a Christmas novella called "The Christmas Box" so you can expect a book review very soon!;)