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!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: An Irish Christmas

Review by Elinor
Title: An Irish Christmas
Author: Melody Carlson
My Rating: 3/5

Plot: After Colleen's husband dies, she feels that it is time to tell her 21-year-old son who his father really was; a man that he's never met. Her son, Jamie, has a secret that he's ready to share too: that he dropped out of college years ago to pursue music, against his late father's wishes. When they go on an unexpected trip to Ireland, they both think that it will be the perfect place to finally confide in one another; only to be shocked by someone else's secret. Throughout their struggle, they must both learn that trusting God is something that they should have done a long time ago.

  While the plot was different that I had originally expected, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed the plot and its frequent twists more than I thought that I would when I was a few chapters into it. However, there wasn't a particular part of the story that I really connected. The story kind of seemed a whirlwind of problems that tied off nicely in the last two paragraphs.

Characters: While I felt that the characters were well developed for such a short book, I had just as much of a hard time connecting with them as I did with the story. I just felt that they didn't have very much depth, but maybe I'm just used to reading longer books ;).

Emotion: The over-all emotion of the story was frustration until the final page. It was one of those stories that everything is just going wrong and then everybody lives happily-ever-after at the end. I'm not saying that the book was horrible, but it just seemed all the same tone.

My Thoughts: This was a book that I enjoyed, and it was a fun, short Christmas read. I don't think I'll read it again, though. There was nothing particular that I couldn't stand, but there was nothing that I absolutely loved either. I would recommend this book for a 10-12+ audience. There was nothing blatantly described, but Jamie was born illegitimately, and the situation was just a more mature one. Just because I didn't like this book doesn't mean that you wouldn't, I just prefer a deeper story-line.  If you're looking for something short that would get you ready for Christmas, than I would recommend An Irish Christmas to you.

Thank you!