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.