Saturday, July 21, 2018

First Impressions by Debra White Smith

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As a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I thought this book was spectacular. I absolutely loved the irony of how the main characters were involved in a community play of Pride and Prejudice acting as the character in the play they are modeled after. The story unfolded in a realistic way as the two stubbornest people battle offstage and onstage and try to deny their attraction while ultimately learning from their mistakes.

The use of point of view added much to the story. It switched between Dave and Eddi (playing the roles of Darcy and Elizabeth respectively from Pride and Prejudice) allowing readers to see the emotion and life in every chapter.  I was also glad that a few chapters were shown from Linda's  (Eddi's little sister) point of view and side of the story; Linda makes terrible life choices and has to live with the consequences. Linda's part of the story brought to life the relationships between the three sisters while adding depth to the main characters and their transformations by the end of the book. I recommend this to Pride and Prejudice fans and to those who are not familiar with it as many will enjoy it as the beautiful love story it is.

(The publisher gave me a copy of this book in exchange for a review; however, this is my opinion after reading the book for myself.)

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Orphan's Wish by Melanie Dickerson

Image result for Orphan's wish melanie dickersonThis is the first book I have read by Melanie Dickerson, but it will not be the last. She has created an adorable romance novel set in a Medieval feeling background.  Aladdin is an orphan that has grown up in the local orphanage after moving there from a foreign country. Despite his difference in social status from Lady Kirstyn, the Duke's daughter, he has grown up with her and become fond of her.  He leaves her to find his fortune to one day come back for her; however, when she is kidnapped, his dream may not come to fruition.

The only part of the story that feels like Aladdin, since this is supposed to be a retelling of Aladdin, is how he starts out as a young boy stealing to survive. However, to be fair, the only experience I have with Aladdin is the Disney version.  Even without more of a connection, I was not disappointed with the story line but was also thrilled with the twists at the end. I found myself laughing at how childish the main protagonists were sometimes but loved the message of how no one is perfect. Overall, a fun read and beautiful cover art.

(The publisher gave me a copy of this book in exchange for a review; however, this is my opinion after reading the book for myself.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black

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Chuck Black is a genius at writing so much meaning and heart into a small number of pages. I have read his Knights of Arrethtrae series which was intended for a young audience and felt more satisfied than reading some of the larger fantasy and adventure novels out there from other authors. The Rise of the Fallen is no exception to this.

Rise of the Fallen is the second book in a series of three. I still enjoyed and understood what was going on in the book even though I have not read the first book yet, but I plan to get my hands on it. The story follows the least of the angels from his creation, throughout history including the the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Jesus' birth and death, the Holocaust, and up to present times. The story switches between the past and present every few chapters as you get to know Validus. In the past, he rises through the ranks to become the warrior leader of North America in present times. However, the climax of the story centers around how Validus is resigned from protecting the whole continent to protecting one man. What is so special about one man?

This story is a masterpiece.  I absolutely loved the depth to the characters and the connection between the angels. Additionally, the author did a great job providing extra resources such as vocabulary definitions and timelines of history in the front of the book.  I also appreciated the section in the back explaining how pieces of the story connected to the Bible. He did a great job explaining how nothing is truth besides the Bible, but that he wrote a story to bring alive the spiritual battle that is going on based on Biblical evidence. I look forward to finishing the other two books in the series.

(I received a free ebook version of this from the publisher; however, this review is my opinion after reading the story for myself.)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Unwritten by Tara Gilboy

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 I absolutely loved this childrens story with its unique take on storybook characters. Gracie and her mom are characters from a book that have escaped the harsh realities of their story and come to the real world. However, the real world is all Gracie has ever known. When she goes looking for answers, she get more than she bargained for and her world is turned upside down.

Tara Gilboy has something pretty unique here. While the story has a slow beginning, once the action picked up, I wanted to find out how the story would unfold. The more I read, the more I was pleasantly surprised with something different from classic story tales.  I am always looking for books with twists that take me by surprise which is hard after all the books I have read, and this book had exactly what I was looking for. The characters were interesting and relatable. The overall theme of choosing your own path no matter what anybody else tells you made this a worthwhile read. I will be looking to purchase multiple copies of this book, one for my classroom library and one for my personal library.

 (The publisher gave me a free ebook version of this book to review, but this opinion is my own after reading the book for myself.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Last Descendants (Assassin's Creed: Last Descendants #1) by Matthew J. Kirby

I enjoyed reading this teen fiction story, which is usually a genre that has a hard time keeping my attention.  However, I bought this book at my school book fair and wanted to read it before putting it in my classroom library.  It helped that I enjoyed the Assassin's Creed movie that came out awhile ago.

Basically, the story is about a boy who wants to prove his dad's innocence of a crime even though his dad has already died in prison. An technology worker at his school allows him to get access to the Animus that allows people to go back into their ancestor's memories in a type of virtual reality. However, the boy and his friend find more than they bargain for when they come across something two agencies have been fighting over for hundreds and thousands of years.

Once I got past the first third of the book, the story took off. He did a good job setting and explaining the background; however, it kept him from starting the action and catching his readers' attention within the first few chapters of the book.  I also loved the historical detail present from real-life events; I could see this book or specific passages used in a middle school history class about the civil war.  He also did a good job incorporating diversity within his characters and story through race, disability and other prominent topics in adolescents and society. After reading it, I have decided to put it in my classroom library, but I almost kept it for my own book collection at home.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Egypt's Sister by Angela Elwell Hunt

A story about the journey Chava is set on after her best friend, Cleopatra, turns her back on her based on her unwillingness to worship other gods besides the one true God. It is about how their paths intertwine and are leading up to one critical moment.

Not much stuck out as unique within the plot except that the story definitely is set around the two girls and their relationship instead of a romance. I have read many similar stories about people going into slavery and coming back out again. However, the details from the time period brought the story to life especially around the historical figure Cleopatra.   The main characters were ones you were rooting for and wanted to see what ended up happening with each of them. Additionally, I would have liked to see some of the story from Cleopatra’s point of view since it was about both of them, which I understand would have been difficult with the amount of time that is covered in the story.  I would recommend this book to historical fiction lovers.

(The publisher gave me a free paperback version of this book to review, but this opinion is my own after reading the book for myself.)

The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

The Atonement Child is a story of redemption, healing, and forgiveness. It concerns the aftermath of a girl who is raped on her way back to her christian college from work. The truth slowly comes out about her family’s past and guilt when she finally has to go home because of unfortunate circumstances. 

Francine Rivers covers a hard topic from a Christian point of view. I found the story very eye opening when it comes to the hypocritical nature of people.  The story showed the ugly side of people who call themselves Christians but do not act like they should; however, it also showed the power of friendship, family, and forgiveness as people who love you do not give up on you including God. Many moments were tense including an almost attempted suicide.  However, these are real side effects of women who have gone through similar events to the main character.  Additionally, the characters, situations, and details were realistic and relatable for anyone who has been hurt, lost, and guilty. I absolutely love Francine Rivers’ books and I will continue to keep my eye open for them. If you have not checked out Redeeming Love or A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers, they are two of my all-time favorite books. You will not be disappointed.