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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What We're Up To No. 2


Hymns Mash-up - Anthem Lights

This is so beautiful! I just love the way their voices are so distinctly different, yet they blend together so perfectly! Also, these are three of my favorite hymns, so naturally I thought the idea of a mash-up involving them was absolutely ingenious ;).

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

I have to read this play for school, and I'm loving it! I've been a fan of Shakespeare since I read Romeo and Juliet a few years back, and so I was very excited about reading Much Ado About Nothing. I just finished it and am now doing all of the follow-up studying of it. I absolutely love Shakespeare's sense of humor! It is (at times) hard to understand, but it really is funny!

Brielle - Sky Sailing

I just recently discovered Sky Sailing, which is a side-project album done by Adam Young (AKA Owl City). As you can probably tell by now, I'm a huge Owl City fan ;) so I was really exited when I found out there was a whole Sky Sailing album for me to check out. It's been a while since we've had a new Owl City album, so the timing of my discovery couldn't have been better.


Mobile Orchestra - Owl City

It's been quite some time since Owl City (a.k.a. Adam Young) released a full album, and this summer he's coming out with Mobile Orchestra. His music is some of my favorite, I love how thought-provoking it can be, as well as capturing the way our minds work. Needless to say, I am crazy with excitement!

Success for Teens - John Fleming

I've been reading a small section of this book every day for the past few months, and it has been both challenging and encouraging in reminding me that I can reach whatever goals I make for myself if I am constantly making steps toward this goal, no matter how hard or unreachable it may seem. It has some really helpful principles that I know I will come back to in the future.

Wreck This Journal - Keri Smith

I got one of these last week, and it's ridiculously fun. I can't wait to see everything I end up doing with it!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

#Throwback Thursday

Hey, everyone! We wanted to let you all know that we're currently reading Melanie Dickerson's latest novel "The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest," so you can expect a review soon. Anyway, we thought for this #TBT we would show you the review we did on Melanie Dickerson's "The Captive Maiden" it just seemed fitting.

Click HERE to read our review!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Review: A Love Like Ours

Title: A Love Like Ours
Author: Becky Wade 
Rating: 3/5
Age Recommendation: 12+
Review by Marianne

Plot: Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships. When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.
      Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?
Copied from the back of A Love Like Ours

      When I received the e-mail saying that this book was available to review I was eager to do so. I had never read anything by this author before, and it looked like a really sweet, easy-going book to read over my spring break. I was not disappointed, and am looking forward to reading other books by this author in the future. The plot was (as expected) a cute, western romance, with a powerful message of God being able to overcome anything, even this man's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which had begun to control his life. 

Characters: I have to be honest, one of my favorite things about this book was how much the main character, Lyndie reminded me of myself. Not only some of the obvious personality traits like her optimistic attitude, or talkativeness, but also her interests and passions such as how much she loved animals, or the way she enjoyed watercolors so much. I just loved that her job was writing children's books which showcased her paintings. 

      I also really enjoyed getting to watch the progression of Jake's relationship with God, as he slowly realized that just because horrible things happen, doesn't mean that God doesn't love us and take care of us. It was a beautiful thing when he finally allowed God to come into his heart and fix the broken things inside of him. 

Emotions: Overall, this was a sweet, light-hearted read that kept me coming back for more. Usually I tend to read books where the main topic is action/adventure or mystery or something along those lines, with romance just as a sub-plot, so this was a bit of a change for me, but I did enjoy it.

My Thoughts: Altogether, I liked this book, and am definitely interested in seeing what other books Wade releases. However, I'm sure you're wondering why I only gave it three stars. Well, there were a few cons with this book that I feel I should highlight very quickly before I end my review. 

-Because this was a romance book, I was expecting a few kissing scenes, but unfortunately, the ones in this book were a little more descriptive, and quite frankly, more intense than I was entirely comfortable with. It wasn't totally inappropriate, but it did make me kind of uncomfortable. Also there were a few brief sexual innuendos, mostly in relation to Jake's married siblings, or Lyndie's neighbor who was a single mother.

-There were a couple of times that Jake was looking back at his time in the military and the months following his return when he or someone he was with used the word h*ll inappropriately. The book also took God's name in vain once or twice. 

Aside from those things, through the entire book, though I enjoyed it, it never totally gripped me or made me feel like I just needed to read more. Perhaps that is because I'm used to a more adrenaline-pumping story line, but I just felt like I was waiting for the climax the whole time. But overall, this was an enjoyable book that I am glad I read, as it introduced me to a new author that I am looking forward to reading more from.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of A Love Like Ours from Bethany House Publishing Company for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed above are my own.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What We're Up To

   Hey, everyone! So sorry about the shortage of posts lately, we have had sickness in the house on and off all winter, but we hope we're finally coming out of it.

    Anyway, today we thought we would each share with you our top five books, movies, music etc. that we've been enjoying most these past few months, as well as any books, movies, music, etc. that we are looking forward to reading/watching/hearing.  We're hoping to make this a regular thing, so let us know what you think!

1. Plant Life - Owl City

Seriously, guys this may be my new favorite Owl City song. I love his unique voice and creative lyrics... I've yet to hear one of his songs that I disliked. 

2. Roundtable Rival - Lindsey Stirling

I never knew instrumental music (with no lyrics) could be so cool! This girl is really talented too. She makes me want to learn violin... I should probably tackle guitar first, though, huh?

3. Unbroken

I saw Unbroken in December when it first came out and have been awaiting it's redbox arrival ever since. :) It's an amazing film that depicts a Japanese POW camp during WW2, and although it's a really rough one to watch, it's so worth it!

4. I See Fire - Ed Sheeran (The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug)

Ok, I know this song is from the second Hobbit and my fascination should have shifted from it to the new song in the end of number three (by Billy Boyd), but I just love how perfectly "I See Fire" captures the feelings that you get when watching The Hobbit. A mixture of sadness and victory that by the end, leaves this strange nostalgic feeling in your chest. The end of a great adventure.

5.  Notes From A Spinning Planet: Ireland by Melody Carlson

I haven't begun reading this one yet, but it's the next on my to read list. I know you can't judge a book by it's cover, or by it's back cover description, but it looks like it'll be a cute, light-hearted, fun read and I'm exited to start!


1. Butterfly Palace by Colleen Coble

I haven't had much time to read in the past month, but this book has been the perfect thing to read in short spurts. I'm about a quarter of the way through it, and the great things that I had heard about it are proving true. I'm looking forward to a good review!

2. Hoppipolla - Sigur Ros

I haven't listened to any other songs by this band, but Hoppipolla (which is Icelandic for "Jumping into puddles") is just beautiful. Something about it is so child-like, innocent, and hopeful, but at the same time inspiring and empowering, it really doesn't matter that it's in another language.

3. Cinderella (2015)

It was simply breathtaking. It was far better than I had expected, and will be a favorite in our house for a long time! 

4. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

Melanie Dickerson's fairy-tale re-tellings are absolutely phenomenal. Marianne and I have read every single one and stalk her blog for any upcoming books. Her next one, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, is a re-telling of both Swan Lake and Robin Hood, and I cannot wait! I wouldn't be surprised if this book turns out to be my favorite of all of her stories!

5. Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness

I don't really play many video games, but the Nancy Drew games have been something that I've played, and loved, for years. If you've known me since my tween years you'll also know that I have a big thing for pirates or any ocean adventure story. That being said, you can imagine how excited I am for the next Nancy Drew game, which brings both of my younger obsessions together!

Thanks everybody for reading, we'll (hopefully) be back in full swing very soon!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Review by Elinor
Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Rating: 5/5

Plot: If you start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy named Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter one.
(Taken from the back cover)

The plot of this story was absolutely fantastic. The frightening truths of World War II were told through the eyes of an innocent and normal boy, who really doesn't understand what he is witnessing. Living near one of Germany's concentration camps, he goes exploring one day and meets another boy just like him - except on the other side of the fence. Bruno doesn't know why the people are separated by a fence, or why they are treated differently, but he makes a friend and decides it best to keep it a secret. 

Characters: This story was about 200 pages long, which is shorter than most novels I read, so I'll admit that I was a little skeptical about how easily I would connect to the characters compared to what I'm used to reading. I was very pleasantly surprised, and I felt that the characters were easier to connect to than anything I have read for some time. I loved the way that the author followed the thought processes of a typical nine-year-old boy, and it endeared Bruno to me even more deeply.

Emotion: The entire story is portrayed through the eyes of a young boy, so for most of it, even though you understood what was going on for those on the other side of the fence, it wasn't paid much attention because Bruno didn't know what was truly going on. So about ninety-percent of the book is fairly light-hearted and carefree. But I must give you a fair warning, the last few chapters of this story are some of the most heart-wrenching words I have ever read. I can honestly tell you that I have never sobbed so hard over fictional characters as I did for this book.

My Thoughts: This story was truly a work of art, and something that I will surely read for years to come. There's really nothing more for me to say... it was simply amazing.

I'm really not sure about an age recommendation on this book. Nothing inappropriate for younger children was ever fully described, but even I could hardly handle the ending. Your heart will be broken, no matter your age, so I would simply suggest reading at your own risk ;). 

Thank You!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Reached

Review by Elinor
Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie 
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: 12+

Plot: Now that the Rising has taken control of Society, the spreading Plague is swiftly being cured and freedom being restored to the Provinces. However, when an unexpected mutation if the Plague quickly spreads, the Pilot becomes desperate to save what he has fought so hard for, even to the point of pulling Ky, Xander, and Cassia into helping him find a cure.

This book was definitely the best one of the trilogy, and it really kept me turning pages. There were so many unexpected plot twists that made this book the one most suspenseful and exciting I've read in a while. I really enjoyed it, and even though it didn't end like I thought it would, the ending was amazing.

Characters: There was an incredible amount of character development in this story. Even though I thought that the characters had been through nearly all that they could handle, each one found their own way to persevere and to never give up, even when it seemed like there was no reason to hold on.

Emotion: Reflective of the characters' struggles, the main feelings of this book were suspense and perseverance. Even though their issues were very hard, and I didn't want it to all be over at the end, I didn't feel that this book was one that would make anybody particularly emotional (but it might possibly keep them up way to late reading).

My Thoughts: I loved this book, and I can easily say that it was the best one in the series. Even though nobody had a perfect ending, I was very pleased with the way it ended. I doubt that this book is one that I'll read again in the future, but I would definitely recommend it to someone who enjoys suspense and/or dystopian novels.

 My age recommendation would be 12+, because there was about three uses of d---, and the description of the symptoms of the Plague could be disturbing to a younger audience.

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Review: Sabatoged

Review by Marianne
Title: Sabotaged
Author: Dani Pettrey
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: Teen/Adult

Plot: Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and trouble-maker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now as they work search-and-rescue together for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.
Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown int a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life - but appears to be willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.
Copied from the back of Sabotaged.

   I thought that the plot of this book progressed and unfolded perfectly. Pettrey was able to balance the suspense and romance so that I wasn't entirely overwhelmed with either, and this turned out to be a really great book. I had never read anything by this author before and after reading Sabotaged I can't wait to read more from her! This book was the fifth book in a series, but a stand alone novel. Although I probably would have understood Reef's family and their relationships better had I read the others, I do not think that hindered me from fully enjoying this novel.

Characters: I loved how all of the characters in this book progressed. I loved the way their relationships unfolded and the way I could fully understand each of their feelings without having to read multiple paragraphs explaining them. I thought that even though I hadn't read the previous books about Reef's siblings, I was still able to connect with each of them.

Emotions: A large portion of the book Kirra is living in fear and what was basically depression over a past event, so about 3/4 of the book, she was having trouble really trusting God and allowing Him to pull her out of the mess. Therefore, a lot of the emotions are her struggles with this situation, however, there was also a good mix of humor, suspense, and hope.

My Thoughts: Over-all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really loved how the romantic relationships portrayed in it were very God-centered and appropriate. They were viewed as the couple walking with the Lord and serving him together, and it was beautiful. 

   Now I'll get to my age recommendation. I saw this book is a Teen/Adult book because of two things. 1. The violence. There was not an inappropriate amount, but it's a suspense novel so you can expect some. And 2. In the past, Kirra had been sexually assaulted. About halfway through the book to recalls the event and although it did not go into great detail, it was made clear what had transpired. I felt that this detail was necessary to get the point across that the author was trying to make: That God is always with you, even in the rough spots, and that there is nothing so terrible that God can not pull you out of it. Please keep in mind that I wouldn't particularly consider either of these things as a con, it was just clear that the book was intended for an older audience. That being said, I totally loved this book, and would highly recommend it!

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of Sabotaged from Bethany House Publishing Company for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed above are my own.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review: The Princess Spy

Review by Elinor and Marianne
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Title: The Princess Spy
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: 12+

Plot: Lady Margaretha Gerstenberg has been of age to accept suitors for some time, but none of them seem worth leaving Hagenheim and her family. However, the newest one, Lord Claybrook, seems to be the most promising yet. But when a young, injured Englisher, Colin, arrives in Hagenheim, claiming that Lord Claybrook is a murderer, Margaretha attempts to discover the truth.

This book held our attention to the last page! There were so many plot twists and breakthroughs that were completely unexpected. There was never a dull moment. We loved that this book was exciting and romantic, but stayed focused on God.

Characters: We LOVE how Ms. Dickerson brings so many previous characters back (Valten!) and lets you see what happened to them after their happily-ever-after. The new characters in this book were just as easy to connect with as all of her previous ones have been. Margaretha seemed so real, and Colin was so sweet!

Emotions: The many emotions wrapped up in this book were described in a way that made you feel as though you were feeling them yourself. Although, the feelings weren't described in as much depth as we would have preferred, that may have been just because the book was so fast-paced.

Elinor's Thoughts: This book was simply amazing. Melanie Dickerson continues to please, and this book did not fall short in any way! This book stayed focused on God the entire time, and I really appreciated the character's standards in guarding their hearts. Margaretha was hilarious and just like my sister. Colin was so sweet and is somebody that I would make an amazing friend.

I think my favorite thing about this book was the suspense. I wouldn't go so far to say that it was Ms. Dickerson's most suspenseful (The Fairest Beauty and The Captive Maiden were both pretty suspenseful), but it really kept us on the edge of our seats. Thank you Ms. Dickerson for writing such beautiful, romantic, exciting, and God-honoring novels for young women!

Marianne's Thoughts: Ok, guys... I have been a BIG fan of Melanie Dickerson for a long time, and so I had really high expectations for this book. Let me just say... it did not disappoint me one bit! I enjoyed this book so, so much it was ridiculous! I love it when a romance is unique and fresh enough that it keeps you turning pages. I love it when I don't even realize how much of it I have read and I look down and have already zoomed through half of it. I love the feeling (however twisted this sounds) of seeing only a few pages left and thinking "that's not enough for everything that needs to happen", but deep down knowing that everything will turn out fine, because after all, it is a Melanie Dickerson novel, right?

    I have to be honest, one of the reasons I enjoyed The Princess Spy so much is because Margaretha reminded me so much of myself. And one of the reasons she reminded me so much of myself is because she is insanely talkative and really hopes that it's her worst fault. Like Margaretha, I can chatter on annoyingly about something without even realizing it. I talk even more when I'm nervous or stressed out and I kind of stop talking when I'm sad or mad about something. While reading the book I related with her so much that I felt almost as if I was Margaretha. That's another reason I why enjoy Dickerson's books so much, she writes it in such an understandable and easy-to-relate way. I also really loved that we finally got to see some more of the Le Wyse family again! Don't get me wrong I adore the Gerstenbergs, but I did wonder about the Le Wyse's from time to time. I loved seeing past characters or children or grandchildren of past characters.

   So at this point, you can probably tell I enjoyed this novel quite extensively. There is, however, one con in The Princess Spy. In a section of their journey, Margaretha and Colin are traveling alone. They sleep alone in the same vicinity. Of course they always slept with the fire between them, and nothing inappropriate occurred, but it did make me the slightest bit uncomfortable. Like, if he hadn't been a good dude, he could have easily taken advantage of her because she was kind of stuck alone in the dark in the woods with him. But aside from that, this book was the bomb and I would highly recommend it! If you are a fan of Medieval Romance, this is right up your alley! If you are a fan of even just Christian Fiction in general I would tell you to read this and all of Dickerson's other books, they are all so worth it!
(I do apologize for the length of my thoughts... I just had a lot to say about this book! And I didn't even get started on Colin! :) Any dude who can say "My life is more cheerful when you're talking to me" steals my heart like that!)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Quick Encouragement #45

Urban Rescue - Wildfire

There's just no two ways about it folks, these dudes are the bomb! I can't believe it took me so long to find them!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: Crossed

Review by Elinor
Title: Crossed
Author: Ally Condie
Rating: 3/5

Plot: After being sent to the Outer Provinces, Cassia Reyes sneaks away on an air ship to search for Ky. She and another girl named Indie, run to the Canyon, each with her own purposes. Ky runs to the Canyon from his camp with a young man named Vick and a boy named Eli. When they finally make it to each other, each person must decide whether or not they wish to continue to join the Rising against Society.

The second book in this dystopian trilogy, this book was mostly building blocks for the final book. While I understand that there has to be building blocks, I have to admit that I became a bit bored with 350+ pages of building blocks. The book really didn't get very interesting until about the last quarter.

Characters: Being that this story was mainly leading up to something greater, there was a very great deal of character development, which I did enjoy. I learned to love each of the characters in different ways, and got to know them on a much deeper level.

Emotion: With the character development, there was also many new feelings that each person was facing. I absolutely love Ally Condie's writing style towards emotion. It was so deep, yet it was simply stated.

My Thoughts: Like I said, this book was mostly building blocks to the next story. I do believe that the time the author put into explaining these things will make the next book even better. I just found it a bit hard to push myself through this one. I had to keep reminding myself that it was going to get more interesting in the next book, and that it was going to be worth it. The character development was pretty much the highlight here. This book had a few kissing scenes, and I think there were two uses of "the d word", so when recommending this book, I would be sure to mention this. I have started the last book in this series, and it is AMAZING so far, a great page-turner. I think that it was definitely worth the extra time spent in this book.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

Review by Elinor
Title: Two Tickets to the Christas Ball
Author: Donita K. Paul
Rating: 4/5

Plot: Cora Crowder just can't seem to get into the holiday spirit. When she finds a ticket in a used book to "The Christmas Ball" she decides not to go. But when her handsome boss also finds a ticket, things begin to get complicated. To the two of them, it appears that some interesting bookstore owners are trying their hand at matchmaking. And then they decide that going to the ball might not be such a bad idea. As things begin to progress, the they both find themselves being challenged to love God in greater ways than they have before.

The plot was sweet, although I felt a tad bit cliche and cheesy, it was still something that I enjoyed. It held some truths that were good reminders, and over-all just had a cozy, Christmas-time feel to it. Like An Irish Christmas, it's not one that I'll read again, but it was worth it the first time.

Characters: I felt that these characters were very easy to connect with, even within a short amount of time. I didn't feel like they were great friends or anything by the end of the book, but they (and their relationships) were all very sweet.

Emotion: This story had a wide range of emotions, again, for such a short book. I'll admit that the way they were portrayed was a tad odd at times, but there was a wide range nonetheless. I really enjoyed the romance side of the story, because it wasn't physical, but it was based on a true respect and love for one another.

My Thoughts: Like I said before, it's not a book that I'll ever pick up again, but it was definitely worth it the first time. It was another short, sweet, Christmas book that I would recommend for anybody wanting something to read just before Christmas. The only content that I would consider more mature was the fact that Cora had been abused as a child, and it was something that she had to work through. It was only directly mentioned a couple of times, so I think it would be okay for most audiences.

Thanks so much for reading!