Review: An Ember in the Ashes

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Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“We haven’t woken anything from the darkness that wasn’t already awake.”

This will probably not be one of my most composed reviews as my emotions as just so all over the place after this book, IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY. How in the world did I not come across this series until now, what book abyss have I fallen in that this gem of a writing masterpiece has been hidden from me!?

The best kinds of books are the ones that, when you read them, you feel like you’re whisked off to another place, the world around you disappears and for awhile you lose yourself in the stories of these other people. You become part of their adventures, their struggles and triumphs. Yet all the while these people feel like people you know, people you’ve met, or even people you’ve been or might want to be. This book has all of those glorious elements in it! Reading Ember felt like disappearing into a place that’s recognizable and yet so completely foreign, horrible in its brutality and yet strangely beautiful in its mythology.

And the characters, excuse me but they are so beyond amazing, words cannot express how much I adore all of them. Laia is the most relatable, her growth from being so afraid and defenseless to finding her own kind of courage is remarkable. It’s great when a character doesn’t just instantly toughen up because they’re thrown into something difficult. Laia is strong, but her strength overall is a growing process and that made me admire her as a character. And don’t get me talking about Elias because my heart just might explode from how much I love that poor soul. Seriously his development was so stellar and intricate, the way everything was woven together with the Augur Cain and seeing the many layers of himself that needed to revealed for him to be “free”, it was just too much for my heart. Now Helene, that girl is still so much of a mystery to me, but in a great way. I want to know more about her and she’s just so awesome with being underestimated by everyone and I felt so hurt for her after everything with Elias, but she just had so much complexity that I can’t wait to find out more!!

Even the side characters in this book were wonderful, like all of Elias and Helene’s Blackcliff friends, I almost cried with what happened to them in the end and Izzi is just the cutest little cupcake after everything that the Commandant has done to her. Who, speaking of, is so the creepiest and worst woman ever. There’s no way I could choose a worst villain of this story, because between Marcus being a super sicko and Keris as the Commandant with her sadistic ways, they were both equally horrid, but in a “I like to dislike you” way.

As romance goes, I’m not super thrilled with the love triangle because, let’s be honest here, I’m all for Laia and Elias and so I was saying no to Keenan early on. Plus his character just wasn’t developed as much as Elias so I didn’t feel as interested in the romance between Laia and him as I did with her and Elias. Now I will admit I still wouldn’t be opposed to a triangle between Elias, Laia and Helene. Elias may have been very clueless there for awhile, but I think his affection for Helene was really genuine and I always adore a good friends turned romantic partners pairing. Of course with everything that happened that’s probably not likely. Especially since Elias and Laia have some serious book chemistry. The kind where even when they’re just on the same page together, or even just mention the other’s name, I’m so glued to the page my eyes hurt.  The author has managed to capture that all important spark and I just can’t wait for it to ignite into something extraordinary.

I’ve already rambled on too much, but I have to mention how well the world was built too. Not just how much I felt immersed in it, like I said above, but just the style of it. Like being plopped down in Ancient Rome, but with a touch of Arabian culture. The mythology of the jinn, efrits, ghuls and other creatures is so intriguing that I’m pulled in by their story as much as the main characters. The author has a talent for weaving stories within stories, within stories and I liked that while the narrative had one overarching goal, Laia saving her brother, there were so many more complex narratives  going on underneath. It gave the book more drive, heart and depth. I’m always completely drawn in by the complexity it must take to come up with not just the original plot, but the stories of so many other moving pieces within the original narrative.

So after all of that, if you’ve read all the way to the bottom of this review (which if you have, thank you and you’re awesome) I think you can surmise by now that I LOVED this book. The characters, the world, the everything. The writing was so well done that every line and moment fit within the frame of what was happening. Stepping back I normally wouldn’t appreciate something that could be considered slightly violent, but within the world that Tahir has set up, it all works together to create a place that’s haunting and poetically moving at the same time. I can’t wait to start reading the next books in the series, if it’s anything like this one, I’m sure it’s going to be amazing!

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

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Review: The Book of Secrets

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Release Date: February 20, 2018

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“People don’t just receive a book and read out exactly the answer they came for. They have to work at understanding it.”

This book was definitely not what I expected it to be. I enjoyed previous works in Melissa McShane’s “The Extraordinaries” series and so I was excited to read something else from her and the plot of this book really jumped out at me. Of course, anything having to do with a bookstore is going to intrigue me, but this one stood out because it promised to weave together what seemed like a couple different genres, Mystery, Fantasy and Paranormal.

In some ways this book felt almost like a prequel and not a first book. I can’t really explain why I felt that way except that there’s a lot of explanation and just setting up for further events that seems to happen in this book. We get to know the characters, and they’re very likable, but not enough to make me be truly invested in them just yet. The overall plots are very interesting, but there’s still so much left to know and sometimes the explanations appear to fall short or feel open-ended.

I know this is the case with the “romance” between Helena and Malcolm. I put romance in quotes because I feel that’s the direction the author is going with the two of them but they honestly interacted so little and there wasn’t much indication of a romance past Viv and Helena’s interest that it will be a wait and see until the next book. It’s something I’m absolutely interested in. I want to know more about Campbell just on his own, his character is the most interesting out of all of them and there’s little to know about him from this book alone.

I did really enjoy the magical elements of this book, although it is hard to tell whether this book would be considered Fantasy or Paranormal. All of the details on auguries and future predicting was interesting and I’m looking forward to learning more about Abernathy’s and how it works, plus very little was really touched on about this big war that everyone is supposed to be involved in. I would love some flashbacks involving Silas as well, even though he was more of a side mention relating to Helena’s development as custodian in this book, his character is fascinating and it would be great to see more of him.

In the end this book kind of stumped me. It was so enjoyable all the way through, easy to read, the characters grabbed me and so did the story elements, and yet something still felt like it was missing. Overall, wonderful, well-written and enjoyable. But when it ended I almost was still waiting for it to really start, if that makes sense. Like the quote above, I feel like this book is something you have to work at understanding in a way, you have to appreciate it for its uniqueness. Hopefully the next book will really deepen the characters stories more, build up a sense of the world and the mystical elements and maybe then it won’t feel so much like a starter but an adventure.

*I received an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley from Curiosity Quills Press in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Links: Goodreads

Author: Melissa McShane

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Helena Davies just wants a job that will get her out of her parents’ basement. Abernathy’s Bookstore is disorganized, out of the way, and smells funny, but it pays well and promises to at least be interesting. She has no idea how interesting her life will become. By the end of the first day, Helena has a dead boss in the basement, an unexpected promotion, and the news that she is now a part of an endless war against creatures from another reality.

As Abernathy’s newest custodian, Helena is responsible for its secrets, including the most important one: Abernathy’s isn’t just a bookstore. It’s the world’s only living oracle, producing prophecies to help fight the war against alien invaders bent on draining this world of its magic. Helena’s job is to find books to answer questions put to the oracle by the Wardens, fighters in the Long War. It seems simple enough, but Helena’s new job is anything but.

Review: Dwarves of Calcus

Series: Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles #3

ReleaseDate: March 6, 2018

Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“Do you trust me enough to believe me when I say we could be magical together?”

We’re back to the Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles and this time it’s all about Snow White. Katie Hamstead has managed yet again to take another classic fairytale and spin it in a way I’d have never imagined. The tale of Snow White gets an all new, completely inventive reimagining in this book and I can say that I enjoyed every minute of it!

This book was a super fast-paced read. From the get go we’re thrown into Snow’s life and it doesn’t slow down from there. Switching between the character’s was a great way to keep everything going but each character still had their own personality, which is sometimes hard to achieve. I liked the way Snow was written as being a pacifist so she used her wits and brains to get through more difficult situations. Snow was an extremely likable heroine, funny, kind to others and bold in her own unique ways. Her relationship with the dwarves was so sweet and heartwarming, you could almost feel the love emanating off the page.

Snow’s romance with Timothy was a whirlwind for sure and at first I’ll admit I wasn’t too fond of that just because I usually like the slow-burn or at least longer developed romances, but in the end their quick coupling worked into something really adorable.  The way it progressed over the book helped grow them as a couple and as individual characters and it was so wonderful to read. It came across as so pure and charming like a true fairytale. Plus it was refreshing to see a book couple stay together from the start of a book through to the end.

Timothy’s character was probably the most enjoyable out of all the characters in the book. His adorable awkwardness and occasional humor were so endearing and his growth over the story was lovely to read as he’s coming into his own being with Snow and growing in confidence.

It was interesting too getting to spend more time with the villain of the story and I’m glad that there wasn’t any kind of redemptive plot for her, sometimes the villain just needs to stay the villain. As creepy as some of the stuff Geneva did was, it was also cool to see how the story of the Evil Queen would fit into the already developing narrative, and it turned out so great. I especially loved how everything ended up with the enchanted mirror, again, while super creepy, that was an awesome way to end things.

The dwarves were so fascinating and it’ll be hard to watch the Disney movie and not want to picture them differently now, but I like the semi-modern spin that Hamstead puts on all of these books. It makes everything easier to imagine, but yet still fantastical enough to be exciting. I enjoy finding out more about the places in these books like Calcus, where the dwarves live and Yenolia, where the leprechauns are. Of course I wish I knew every little detail and Hamstead is good about leaving just enough unsaid so that there’s plenty of mystery still surrounding this world she’s created.

So overall, another fantastic addition to the Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles. I look forward to reading any further additions in the future!

*I received an eARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Previous Book Reviews:

Book 1: Princess of Tyrone

Book 2: Myths of Mish

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Links: Goodreads

Author: Katie Hamstead

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When she was thirteen, Snow Sabbia crash landed on the dwarves’ home planet of Calcus. After fleeing from her step-mother’s huntsman, seven brother dwarves took her in to hide and protect her. She has hidden for years on the peaceful planet, tinkering with old automobiles and pushing papers in the mine office.
Then, Timothy White shows up.
The shy, nervous, nerdy heir captivates Snow before she even knows who he is, and quickly she falls in love. But his high profile in society draws unwanted attention from her vengeful stepmother, who wants Snow dead.
Geneva believed Snow died years earlier and she had consumed her innocent heart. With her late husband’s wealth, Snow’s inheritance, in tow, she married a young lord, Conrad. Both are using each other–Geneva for his title and to have a child, Conrad for her money and beauty. But when Conrad lays eyes on his boyhood rival’s lovely fiance, Snow, his overwhelming desire for her reveals the truth to Geneva, that Snow lives.
Desperate to hold onto her wealth and power, Geneva seeks to kill Snow properly this time. Snow has the power to wield the one thing that can destroy her, so she cannot let the girl claim possession of the family heirloom, the Nevollo Sword.
Snow soon learns her step-mother knows she is alive. But she is a pacifist, so she must outwit Geneva and remain hidden… until Geneva, disguised as a child, presents her with an apple.

Review: Collide

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review:

From reading the synopsis of this book I honstly had a totally different impression of the kind of story I was going to read. Maybe that’s why I came away slightly disappointed once I’d finished the book, but I think in the end my 3 star rating for this book had more to do with what felt like an underdeveloped narrative than my under-met expectations.

When I started the book I was excited to read a story about a girl who wakes up after a traumatic event and her whole life is different. Usually this opens authors up to really flesh out their characters, change out their lives and really explore the idea of choice, like if the character had made different decisions in life where would they have been and who would they have been. So I was looking forward to all of that when I first got into the book and the first few chapters really seemed headed in that direction. But once Anna, the main character woke up in her “new life” it became apparent that this wasn’t a matter of exploring different choices.

Spoilers! So the author chose to go with a multiverse theme for the book and while I thought that was an interesting way to go and was curious to see how it was played out, it honestly didn’t work out well at all. I fell like the author didn’t think it through completely and in the end the book suffered for it. Especially because when you get to the ending it seemed like the author just copped out and went with an afterlife motif because she couldn’t figure out how to wrap everything up, it felt utterly unfinished. Spoilers!

I was looking forward to Anna having to look at the choices she made in her other life compared to the one she as “Annabelle” has made and see which life would have been the happier one. But instead what happened in the book was simply Anna running around trying to get back together with her boyfriend from her “real life”, Jake, even though he was with someone else in this alternate life. Plus, after everything that happened I couldn’t help but root for Zac, the boyfriend of her alternate self, Annabelle, because he was so selfless and basically saved the day in the end, while Anna was too busy just trying to have a happily ever after with Jake at the expense of everyone else.

This book was frustrating because there were so many elements that could’ve been good but they got muddled up by trying to make the “time jump” a more significant thing and making the entire plot fit into a week which just doesn’t usually work if you want the characters to be believable. Plus the villain was easily figured out from the start, which isn’t a horrible thing it just makes it harder to believe that the characters have such a hard time figuring it out.

Overall I’m glad I gave this book a chance and I still think it’s a good book, I’m just sad because with a few modifications it could have been a great book.

Genre: Young Adult / Romance

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: Michelle Madow

Synopsis:

I should have died when I was shot at the Halloween dance.
Instead I woke up—one week earlier, in a parallel universe where my mom’s fatal car accident six months ago never happened.
A world with my mom still in it was all I ever wanted. But in this timeline, everything is different—my grades, my friends, and even my boyfriend. I’m a stranger in my own body, and I don’t like who I’ve become.
But one thing is the same—that shooting will still happen at the end of the week.
I’m the only one who knows. Which means I’m the only one who can stop it.
But first I need to convince someone—anyone—that I’m telling the truth… and then get them to help me.

Review: Steel and Fire Series

I had never heard of Jordan Rivet before I signed up for a trial of Kindle Unlimited and decided to try out some different books. I was honestly skeptical about the quality of the books I would be reading as a lot of them seemed pretty low quality and so I wasn’t really interested. But the plot of Rivet’s books really captured my attention and before I knew it I had read her entire 5 book Steel and Fire series. It’s a wonderful ride through another world of magic, medieval weapons and romance and I loved every second of it! Below are my mini-reviews for each book, I recommend this series to anyone who wants a fun read that will take you on an amazing journey.

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Title: Duel of Fire #1

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: The start of this series was perfect. It really launches all the pieces into play and gets everything going so you’re itching to know more about the characters and the world. I was so invested in Siv and Dara’s stories right from the start that it was hard not to just get sucked right into their romance. This is definitely a slow burn, which I think is great and works really well for their dynamic together. All of the talk about dueling is super interesting and I liked that the author is detailed about the world and what is going on so I never felt lost at any point. The author does a great job of making everything seem realistic and believable even amongst so many fantastical elements.

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Title: King of Mist #2

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: As a sequel this book is actually my favorite in the entire series. It kicks the action into high gear and that ending is just spectacular. All of the twists and the battle are just beyond perfectly executed. The development of Siv and Dara’s relationship is great in this book and gives just enough of a push forward for them to keep the reader interested as they go into the next few books. And I was happy to see that the secondary characters got development as well, like Vine who is quickly becoming a favorite too. With each book I feel more immersed in this world and am more interested in what’s going on with the characters. The magic gets more in-depth and intriguing and I’m fascinated learning about the political workings of the societies.

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Title: Dance of Steel #3

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: As other reviewers of this book have stated this is a very middle-of-the-way book. It has a lot of exposition and setting up for further plots and things that are going to happen in the last two books. But with a lot of the traveling narrative that goes on is a fair amount of individual character development for Dara and Siv which I think was nice. It gave the characters a chance to stand apart from their romance and become their own person, which the author did an excellent job writing. I loved all of Siv’s chapters in particular with the pen fighters as he was more on the humorous side. This book also marks the introduction of Sora’s POV which I liked as it began to expand the book into further characters worlds and their views on things.

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Title: City of Wind #4

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: While I liked this book as much as the others I will admit that I didn’t like it the same way. I felt like with the addition of Selivia’s POV there was more of a focus on the overall war narrative and less of a focus on the smaller character arcs. I do wish there had been more between Siv and Dara but I loved what there was and their relationship is still the best part of the series. The way the author depicts Siv’s confidence and trust in Dara and her unwavering faith in him and willingness to protect him is just wonderful. I was not a fan of Wyla at all but I did like finding out more about how the individual powers worked and delving more into the societies and power struggles of these places. And of course the introduction of dragons was just fantastic to top off everything that was happening already.

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Title: Night of Flame #5

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: After everything that happened throughout the series I still feel that the second book was the best one. The build up, battle and overall story was executed perfectly in that book. But as far as endings go this one is pretty close to flawless. While I could’ve done without so many deaths of favorite characters I get why authors do it, especially when a series has gone on for more than a couple books. I do wish Dara’s final showdown with her Father had been more climatic than it ended up being, but I was pleased with the way it ended and I’m so happy with how everything finished up for Siv, Dara and all of the main characters. I would love to see a spinoff with Sora and Kel, I felt their story got dropped a little at the end, which was sad, but this series was more about Dara and Siv overall. I’m so glad I decided to read this entire series because it’s definitely one that can’t completely be enjoyed until you’ve read every book and are sitting at the end marveling at the great journey you and the characters have been on. One with dragons, magic and plenty of romance and thrills I think these books will excite all kinds of readers.

Review: God Distorted

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Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“Religion says you can’t measure up. Grace says you don’t have to.”

I actually can’t remember when I first picked up this book. I’ve read little bits and pieces of it over time and I finally decided to sit down and reread it the other day and I’m so glad I did. This is one of the most insightful and powerful books I’ve read.

John Bishop has such a wonderful way of getting to the heart of our distortions of God and teaching how to see who God truly is without making the teachings seem like something I’ve heard a million times before. He manages to make a holy God approachable in a way that other pastoral authors have failed to do. He draws out new biblical knowledge from passages most of us will have encountered before but may not have understood their true depth or meaning.

There’s always a fine balance between being personal in a book and sharing too much, and I think Bishop is able to strike that perfect balance. By sharing his own ordeals with his son and his own life, we know that he sympathizes and empathizes with us and can truly know what we all have gone through and that his teachings are not shallow. Biblical teaching are often more believable when they come from someone who has walked the path before you and so John Bishop is able to honestly and kindly lead us all through a path of healing as he has been down the road with God already.

This book leads us on a road towards healing as the book unfolds, from discovering the source of our distortion, to knowing God as He truly is, to then moving forward in our new understanding. This book is one that I could read several times and still learn more from, in fact I’m sure I still haven’t grasped the full meaning of everything I read this first time I’ve read it. That’s the beauty of a book that teaches you something though, you’re never done learning.

Honestly, it’s hard to do a review on this book because it deserves every one of the 5 stars, but it takes you on a very personal journey which is difficult to explain in a review. This book altered many of the distortions I had from having an imperfect father myself and I can truly say that the wisdom contained within its pages is more than worth your time.

Genre: Christian Non-Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: John Bishop

Synopsis:

When you hear the word “father,” do you think of someone who is loving…or angry? Someone who is pleased with you…or constantly disappointed? Someone who is always available…or someone who is too busy, preoccupied, or distant? When you think of “Father God,” what images come to mind?

Regardless of the type of father you grew up with—or without—it is likely that your view of God is influenced by the relationship you had with your father. Author John Bishop wants to help you discover that God is not just like your dad. Instead, God is the Father revealed in Scripture, where the truth is clear. Filled with biblical insight and practical tools for reflection, healing, and restoration, God Distorted will enable you to break free from the lies of the enemy and see your heavenly Father as He truly is.

Review: A Dangerous Legacy

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Review:

“Theirs was a case of David versus Goliath, and in battles like that, the honorable people were supposed to persevere until they finally won.”

I think I’ve said this before but it can’t be stated enough, books with unrealized potential are the ones that frustrate me the most. The books that start out on a path where you can really see great plots, well developed characters and awesome stories but as they go fizzle out into just so-so stories, those are the saddest ones.

I don’t like sounding harsh and I always think you can find something about a book that’s noteworthy or that is interesting. This book was very good from a historical perspective and that alone is what earned it the two stars. I enjoyed the historical elements and the time period placement as well as the attention to historic details. The talk about morse code, carrier pigeons and the high society nuances were all interesting. Aside from that the book fell apart for me.

I really liked the setup for the characters in the beginning, Lucy was funny, confident and a woman who could take care of herself. She and her brother were an excellent team all on their own and I really liked their close relationship. Colin was a bit snarky and rough around the edges but a charmer and I was excited to learn more about how he would overcome his past with the war. I could see some good redemptive arcs being put into place early for all the characters. But as the book got further and further along I got more and more disappointed. I felt the author degraded Lucy’s character by having her act morally superior while doing things that were morally corrupt. Nick ended up becoming an angry character for most of the book and by the end was almost wrangled into a deal for a life he wasn’t cut out for and didn’t seem to want. And Colin began to come across as a jerk as he would mess with Lucy’s affections while pursuing his own ends. I know none of this is likely what the author intended, but it’s how everything came across. There just wasn’t enough backstory or development to make me love or invest in these characters.

As for the romance, while I loved Lucy and Colin’s chemistry as a couple and their banter together, by the end I was left scratching my head as to why they would end up together. Without going into spoilers too much, it really bothered me that by the end it was insinuated that Colin really loved Lucy all along, but the impression the writing had given was completely otherwise. A man who professes his love for a woman, while practically yelling at her for being selfish at not wanting to pursue money, all so he could get out of debt and they could marry is not a good guy, he’s a scoundrel. And just because that plot was conveniently resolved in the end does not change that character flaw.

I was just disappointed with how the author ended up handling the characters. She set them up really well but honestly didn’t resolve anything. Everything still felt wide open. The ending felt too rushed and hurried and the characters incomplete. While they appeared to learn things on the surface, the real lessons aren’t learned at all and none of the characters grew or became anything truly different.

Overall I’m glad I got a chance to read this book, and the historical elements were wonderful. Maybe with the sequel more will be explored, but I don’t think it’s a series I’m likely to continue reading, but you never know.

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Bethany House) in exchange for an honest review *

Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

Series: Empire State Novel #1

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: Elizabeth Camden

Synopsis:

Lucy is determined to keep working as a telegraph operator at a news agency, even though the arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith threatens her position. When she discovers Colin’s shocking secret, she agrees to assist him if he helps her find her family’s stolen inheritance–not realizing that the trail leads into a web of treachery, danger, and conspiracy.

Review: Abounding Might

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Release Date: October 3, 2017

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“I hate being weak. It feels so much like failure, and if I am to fail I want it to be on my own terms, not because my body has betrayed me.”

It’s been awhile since I read the first book in this series and I unfortunately did not get the chance to read the second. Luckily for me they can each be read as stand-alone pieces in a bigger world so I had no trouble reading through this book and feeling right at home again in the world McShane has created.

Just as before, I come away from this book feeling like I had a grand adventure while still learning something new. Setting off to India and all of the intrigue and plots that followed there were a wonderful way to weave the stories of the characters and the book’s pace never slowed down to a point where it felt boring. I was always interested and engaged in what was going on, whether it be the romance, the secret war or just the average days of the characters, it was all meaningful.

The romance in this book was again very likable. Although I discovered toward the end of the book the courtship was much shorter than I thought, which makes you question the whole validity of the relationship, I still really liked Daphne and Fletcher together. Their mutual trust and respect for one another was wonderful and the things he said to her were just so adoring and honorable, how could you not fall for him. He was by far my favorite of all the characters in the book, although I wouldn’t mind learning more about Major Schofield or Bess, or any one of them for that matter, they were all intriguing their own ways.

I still wish there was more background on the abilities. While Fletcher’s Discerner ability has to be the most intriguing so far, I have to say I want to know more. There’s just enough there to know how things happen between the characters and of course, in regards to Daphne, the limits of their abilities, but there’s so much that still hasn’t been said. I guess in a way that’s what makes these books exciting and mysterious, not everything is explained, which keeps me coming back for more!

Overall I really enjoyed this third book. The plot was great, the setting was interesting, although I fully admit to being in the dark when it comes to past or present knowledge of India, and the characters were once again very dynamic. I’m so glad I got to revisit this blend of real and unreal world McShane has created. She’s such a talented and unique author who’s able to write stories with depth, heart and characters that you honestly like getting to know through the pages. I hope that if she writes more I will get to experience these future stories as well. I recommend this to any reader who loves adventure and a book that will sweep you up until the last minute.

Review for Burning BrightExtraordinaries #1

*I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher (Curiosity Quills Press) in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Series: The Extraordinaries #3

Links: Goodreads

Author: Melissa McShane

Synopsis:

Calcutta, 1813. Lady Daphne St. Clair, who as an Extraordinary Bounder is capable of transporting herself anywhere in the world with a thought, has longed to serve in the Army for years. But an unexpected weakness at the sight of blood makes her responsible for a good man’s death in battle. Unable to serve on the battlefield, Daphne is sent to India to be transportation for the Governor-General’s wife and children. In disgrace, Daphne fears she will never achieve the fame and glory she has worked so hard for.

A chance encounter with Captain Phineas Fletcher, attached to the Honourable East India Company as a troubleshooter and investigator, leads to Daphne being given a new opportunity: help Captain Fletcher discover the truth behind a series of strange occurrences in the town of Madhyapatnam. Daphne is willing to do anything to restore her reputation, even something as small as Captain Fletcher’s investigation. As the days progress, her attachment to the members of the team grows deeper, as does her growing attraction to the captain.

Review: Choosing a Life That Matters

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review:

“As someone once said, “Sin would have fewer takers if its consequences occurred immediately.”

I’ve heard of Dennis Rainey before. I’ve listened to his blurbs on my local Christian Radio station here in Florida many times. But I’ve never really read anything about him or by him before. Honestly, it wasn’t the best experience.

This book wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything that made me go “oh, wow” either. It was right there in the lukewarm world of Christian books. For one, it was incredibly short even though there was much that could’ve been expanded upon and by the end of it I had the thought of “well I’ve heard all that before.” And not that a Christian author can’t write on topics that have already been used. People have written on the books of the bible, the nature of sin, being different in a “fit in world” for years but if you don’t bring a new perspective to the topic then the book isn’t going to teach or do much. By the conclusion I just felt like I had read a really good sermon outline and that was about it. Heard it before, know it already, teach me something new please.

The author also used a lot of his own personal stories throughout, but instead of these stories being relational in nature they came off as showy or proud, which I know was not the intention but was how they read anyway. His idea of “choices” was not exactly what I had assumed it to be and even trying to read the book objectively a lot of what he wrote still seemed to come off as “it’s an easy process, do this then this will happen…” which is not the whole truth of a life lived through Christ.

To be honest, this book was just not for me. It’s not a book I’m likely to recommend to others or purchase for myself but I know that everyone is different and that’s why I still gave it three stars. Because the biblical principles are there, the overall merit of what is trying to be taught is there, I just think the execution is lacking. It had some good points but it didn’t stir my soul for more and that’s my biggest critique. Too much was left out, too much was left unsaid. If you’re looking for a book with practical biblical knowledge and how to apply it to your life in a general way, then this is the book for you. If you want to go much deeper in your faith, then this may not be the right book.

My final take on this book is that I hope those who read this book find something they are searching for. I did not, but all walks are not the same and praise to the Lord for that.

*I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: Chrsitian Non-Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: Dennis Rainey

Synopsis:

With warmth and wisdom that only comes from weathering the storms of life, Dennis Rainey shares seven ways to not only build a strong foundation, but to choose to live the life of purpose and potential you were created for. When the winds of culture blow, you will be able to stand firm on the Truth. You will be able to choose a life that matters. A life that makes a difference in the here and now–a life that echoes into eternity.

You are at crossroads of culture and Christianity. Which way will you choose to live?

Review: Blessed Are the Misfits

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Release Date: November 28, 2017

Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“Pretty sure I’ll be seated at the misfits’ table. Pretty sure there won’t be any non-misfit tables, now that I think about it.”

I was having a low point when I decided to click “Read Now” on this book on NetGalley, and I’m glad I did. You know those books that make you feel like someone has reached deep into that lonely, aching place of your heart and given it that extra special squeeze it so desperately needed, well, this is one of those books.

I didn’t know anything about the author, Brant Hansen, before choosing this book to read. I found out through reading it that the author is speaking from many of the perspective’s he’s writing to, he’s a misfit just like us. Dealing with Asperger’s syndrome, nystagmus and being an introvert, he’s able to come alongside the misfit believers and talk to us in a way other cannot. It was clear from the title that the misfits were meant to represent those who struggled to feel that they were connecting with God spiritually. They didn’t understand emotional worship, they thought they were missing something when they saw other believers who seemed to “have it” and they didn’t get why they were so introverted in their faith when others weren’t. This was the beauty of the “misfit” Hansen was appealing to. I’ve never read a book that honestly sought after these people, my people, me. And so that’s why I gave the book five stars is because the author really manages to get after and talk to these people in the kingdom of God. He laughs with us and teaches us at the same time.

Alive with laughter, practical biblical knowledge and warm friendship from someone who understands the struggle, Hanson is able to capture the unique beauty and grace of being a misfit. He illustrates God’s love for the marginalized through Jesus, the radical and uncommon nature of Christ’s choosing the unknown and unlikely people and how in most cases God did not look for the people everyone expected, but chose the people no one wanted. His stories are immensely relatable, things those of us on the outside, the questioners and seekers have all wondered if others felt but never dared to reveal ourselves. His assurances that emotions are not the end all is a refresher to the push of culture today and he breathes new life into the idea that being awkward, introverted and a struggler are not the worst things in the world to be. Sometimes these things are what draw you closer to the arms of the Father. One of the many quotes I highlighted in this book was the one below and I love it because it reminds me of a truth I’ve known but never been able to express. The truth that there is more and sometimes, when you’re a misfit, you know it and you seek it from God all the time and when others don’t it makes you feel like you’re wrong, but Hansen is here to tell us that maybe that’s just not the case

“Lovers yearn, but religious people don’t. Religious people have their rules, and they have them in full. There’s nothing to yearn for. But God calls us to relationship, and that means yearning.”

The writing style of this book is unique. Honestly the best way I can describe it is like sitting down to have a conversation with a friend and just letting the conversation go where it goes because sometimes that’s just how it feels, like talking to a friend. Hansen can be a little jumpy in his writing and some of his stories seemed out of place for the narrative, but these are nitpicks to the overall wonderful message he was able to get across with this book. While I can disagree with him that God has favorites and I agree that God is a healer but sometimes, because of the fallen nature of man, not everyone will be healed, I can’t explain enough how wonderful it is to read a book that really resonates with me. Right now, so many Christian books are about watered down gospel and watered down struggle. But this author is willing to tackle the real struggles while still staying true to the God of Scripture. A humble thank you to him for this book, for his honesty in writing it, and his wisdom in sharing it. I’ll leave this review with one last quote, and it’s another really good one. Being a misfit means you’re often left out and kept out, but so was Jesus and you know what, that didn’t stop Him from loving the world anyway. Hansen writes in his book about this great love for the marginalized and how we as misfits need to remember that Christ was a great misfit too. He died for everyone, the misfits and the non-misfits, so that they may know eternal life,

“So, in sum:

  1. Humans make no sense. 2. Love them anyway.”

*I received an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley from Thomas Nelson-W Publishing in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: Christian Non-Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Author: Brant Hansen

Synopsis:

Warning: If modern church culture makes perfect sense to you, and you always fit in seamlessly, don’t read this. As for the rest of us…

While American church culture (and American culture at large) seems largely designed for the extroverted, it’s estimated that half of the American population is introverted, and they’re often left wondering how, even if, they fit in the kingdom of God. As one of them, popular radio host Brant Hansen brings news. It’s wonderful, refreshing, and never-been-said-this-way-before good news.