Thursday, August 16, 2012

Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally

A beautiful book about remaining pure emotionally and physically in a fallen world.

The book is made specifically for girls who may not have been subject to the things of the world yet.  It talks about things without taking your innocence.  One of the comments in the back of the book sent in by a reader describes this well.  It said something to the effect of "It doesn't compromise your purity while talking about purity", (I'd give you the exact words but I already loaned the book out to a friend :) ). But it is also good for young adults like me by giving them a different perspective on life.  I learned alot and thought about relationships in a much different way.  Some of what Sarah talks about seems extreme compared to this world (but we are called to be in the world and not of it), however I found that it was supported with Bible verses and the truth was enlightening.  I really liked the part about it isn't how much you can do before becomming unpure but how many "firsts" you can save for your future husband.  I really wish I had read this a few years ago. 

My mom actually got it for me for christmas because I was always so sad and mopey that I didn't have a boyfriend like everyone else.  Now I see that God has protected my heart from being broken and that I want to give my future spouse my whole heart.  I had a hard time reading it from beginning to end because each chapter was like a slap in the face but the good kind of pain that makes you grow in Christ.  I recently finished the book and am glad I did.  I have been recommending it to friends who I hope will get out of it as much as I did.

In addition, I have always liked reading medival fiction and the little continuation of the short story at the beginning of each chapter was a creative way to keep the reader's attention.  The testimonies and real life examples helped you feel like you weren't alone and that purity is possible.  Even though the author may not have been married when she wrote the book, the need of hearing this from someone who is there and struggling with the same things you are, is met in a powerful way.

I recommend this to girls who wish to be bright lights in a dark world and to have a Godly marriage someday.  I even read in the comments that adult women have gained from this so to them I recommend it too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games series was a compelling story that I couldn't put down.  It's about a girl named Katniss who lives in a futuristic North America called Panem.  Each of 12 districts are required to give 2 children from the ages of 12 to 18 (one boy and one girl) as "tribute" to the Capitol to play in the Hunger Games.  This "Games" is a fight to the death in a ever changing arena where only one of the total 24 teenagers come out alive and live in glory the rest of their lives.  Unfortunately, Katniss's little sister Primrose is picked as tribute and Katniss volunteers to go in her place.  Katniss's life will never be the same.  The story continues as Katniss's struggle with the Capitol results in revolution.

I found this story line to be intriguing the first time I saw the trailer to the movie.  After seeing the movie, I was pleased with the intense plot.  It was unique with no story like it and that is what drew me to it.  I liked that the hero, Katniss, was portrayed as never striking first when confronted with killing other people.  Only ever in defense did she strike.  I proceeded to read the books and could not stop reading them.  Though I do not condone violence to the extent parents are allowing their kids to see nowadays, I do not think all violence is horrible to watch or read.  Even the Bible contains violence but it has a point, a lesson to be learned.   There is a time and place for everything under the sun.  Everyone must choose for himself how much is okay and where the line is drawn.  What hurts one person's faith may not hurt another but make sure not to put a stumbling block in front of someone else.  You will answer to God for all your choices.

I really think parents need to read the series before allowing their kids to though because topics are discussed that kids and teens might not be aware of and need to talk with their parents about.  I also have heard of parents reading the books with their kids and commend them highly for taking an interest in what their kids are reading.  If parents have no desire to read the series, then they could at least look up somewhere online, as i'm sure there is, a family review that has the issues, disscussed in the books, layed out before them.  This way parents will know exactly what their kids are being subjected to.  I might've been able to do that here except that I am trying hard to omit all spoilers.

I comment on the fact that the light and hope, I usually love reading about in books, is missing from this book series but I guess that is part of the point.  It is cleverly realistic, sickeningly cruel, and depressingly human.  Even the mental stability of one of the main characters declines rapidly in the third book.  So I guess the characters aren't the best role models for anybody but they are human and thus not perfect and that needs to be remembered.

As a side note, I loved how close they stuck to the book when making the movie, unlike how Hollywood has butchered other book series.  I anticipate the making of the next two movies with impatience and can't wait to see them in theaters.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beloved Enemy by Al Lacy

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A romantic story about love, treachery, and war.  It's mainly about courageous Buck Brownwell, a union soldier, and attractive Jenny Jordan, a southern born.  Sparks run high when the two meet but can their love withstand such trying circumstances as the Civil War of 1861 in North America when their loyalties are divided?  When Jenny is caught as a spy in Buck's territory, her life is in his hands.  He must choose how to proceed when the law says that all spies die immediately without a court hearing.  The story also centers around a spy ring, the battle of Big Bethel and the Battle of Bull Run.

I chose to read this book when my attention was captured by the description on the back, but the story, other than what was on the back, did not pop.  I liked to be surprised so when there were only a couple twists and turns and I saw one of them coming, I was not completely taken with the story.  Thus, it is not ranked among my favorite books but it was an entertaining read.

  I have always found that reading history within a story is easier than reading it from a boring textbook.  When you read it in story format, you get to see the war from the people's perspective, and this book is no exception.  I also liked that in this book, you get to see from the point of people on both sides of the war; from northern and southern officials.  It shows the humanity of both sides and that brother was fighting brother in this sad Civil War.  The map at the beginning of the book of the Battle of Bull Run was also helpful when picturing all the advances in that specific battle.  On a negative note, I did not like that it kept switching to minor characters and the battles went on forever when I just wanted more of Buck and Jenny's story.  I was waiting forever for the plot on the back of the book to finally play out.  Though in conclusion, I would recommend this story to Historical Fiction and Christian Romance readers.

As a side note, I found the small insert, at the beginning of the book, about the author's stand against worldly influences on his writings, inspiring, especially as a Christian author myself (which is still in the works).  It got me excited to see what kind of writings he actually produced since this was the first book of his that I've read.

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(I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review and this opinion is my own.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

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The second book in the Angelaeon Circle proves to be as good as, if not better, than the first.  After proving his allegiance at the end of the last book, Trevin is made a Captain by the Camrithian King.  He is then sent on a quest to find the other two harps, the missing Comains, and a sign for the future from a supposed oracle in the north.  He also wishes to prove himself worthy to marry a certain princess with whom he is in love.  The problem is that he has to leave her, while on his quest, to the wooing of a murderous Dregmoorian Prince.  Many trials come Trevin's way including being accused of murder, guilt from the past, and a nightmare that haunts his sleep.  Can he stand up to the challenge when he is faced with his past and tested for what is really in his heart?

The nonstop action and relentless twists and turns keep you hooked all the way.  I never wanted to put it down and spent late hours of the night reading it.  The unique characters make you fall in love with them as they go through their adventures, trials, and revelations.  Karyn has done a wonderful job creating a colorful world with memorable characters.  I have to say, Ollena is one of my favorite characters because of her strong tomboyish personality.  The main point of learning to forgive yourself is a very powerful message in this story, also.  I would recommend this to Christian fantasy readers.  Both teens and adults will love this powerful story of love, forgiveness, and overcoming.  I recommend reading Breath of Angel (book one) before you read Eye of the Sword, though.

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(I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review and this opinion is my own.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley

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It's been awhile since I've read a really mind blowing fantasy book like this one.  It's these kind of books that make my heart and mind stir with creativity and anticipation of what happens next.  The book begins with a teen girl named Melaia training to be a priestess in the temple.  When a stranger shows up and is murdered before her eyes, her world is pushed on the path she could not avoid.  She comes to find out her destiny to restore the stairway to heaven but her impulsive nature keeps getting her into trouble.  Can she rise to the occasion when only a short time ago her world was only the temple?  Will her heart be tangled beyond recovery?  Can she help end a struggle years in the making?  Find out in this book and read the story along with me as each new book in the series is released.

I have been slightly weary in the past about reading books with angels in them.  This is because since angels are real in this world, so if you write about them in the wrong way, in a way not supported by the bible, my conscience and spirit are troubled.  I decided to trust the Christian publishing company I got it from for free because they have not let me down yet and I believe they are trustworthy.  I was not disappointed with what I found.  Karyn built a beautiful world full of everything that makes fantasy so exciting: love, mystery, destiny, twists, and adventure just to name a few.  Even though angels are real, as presented in the Bible, the book is fiction and should be read as such.  We know very little about the spiritual beings that serve our King in heaven but Karyn filled in the huge gaps with her own creativity. You have to remember, though, that they were filled in with human imagination.  I would recommend this to avid and new Christian fiction/fantasy readers, teens and up.  I can not wait to get and read the second book that just came out this month called "Eye of the Sword" and will be blogging about it as soon as possible.

(I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review and this opinion is my own.)

Chapter One:
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Stitch In Time by Tracey Bateman, Carol Cox, Cathy Marie Hake, and Vickie McDonough

This is actually four cute stories in one book, each written by one of the four authors in the title of this review.  The stories are all connected in that each one is about one of four siblings of the Stafford family that live in No Man's land in the Oklahoma territory in the 1880s.  They are presented in chronological order in that once there is only one sibling unwed, they are all trying to set him up which is very humorous to read.  Micah falls first for an interesting girl from the east.  Louisa the only girl and tomboy of the family falls for a very unexpected match.  Josh first meets his love when she is disguised as a boy.  Lastly, Sam has to look beyond the outside before he finds his love while being harassed by his well meaning family.  I very much enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to other romance lovers.

Valeria's Cross by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales

I did not know what I was getting into when I picked up this book from the bookstore.  It's a very thought provoking story that makes your heart ache and realize exactly how we take for granted the freedom of worship.  The story's about Princess Valeria, daughter of Roman Emperor around 250 AD.  Valeria's first love is brutally murdered and made a martyr by the man her father is making her marry.  Can she find love in an arranged marriage to a man she despises?  How can she stand up for her faith in a life full of pagans?

This book is actually based on recorded dates and real people though the gaps are filled in by the authors, events are slightly changed, and things are inferred.  It's not a very good book if you are looking specifically to be entertained by romance.  I didn't really enjoy that part but I'm use to reading fantasy and fiction where anything is possible.  The authors of this book had to go with the events that really happened and were recorded so the framework for the story was already laid out.  It's a very melancholy and sad book so if you are looking to cry, like I did, then this is the book for you.  Not a light read or appropriate for young teens and kids.

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall

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Once again I have read an amazing Amish romance by Cindy Woodsmall and again I am thoroughly entertained.  I got this trilogy in one book and would recommend you do so to.  They are much better as one big book rather than three individual books since the first book has a melancholy ending, the second ending is a little better, and the last book's ending is awesome.

"When the Heart Cries" is the first book and a very heart wrenching beginning to the trilogy.  Hannah's world is all rosy with a new fiance and a bright future until one person's selfish actions bring her to her knees.  Can she find hope for her future despite a community and circumstances that are against her?

In "When the Morning Comes", Hannah tries to make it in the English world since her own Amish community abandoned her when in her greatest need.  Can Hannah get through the pain of the past and live in the present or is she doomed to a lonely life of sadness?  Hannah's Amish friends also must deal with the wounds of her leaving and try to move on in this interesting sequel.

Lastly in this trilogy is the page turning story named "When the Soul Mends".  Hannah returns to her community to help her sister, in her illness, and friend, in his loss, only to come face to face with the man she never wanted to see again.  Answers and confrontations long overdue finally take place but only in God's time can healing truly happen.  Hannah's biggest decision lies waiting for her answer but only with God's guidance can she know what is the right way for her.

I very much enjoyed these romance novels and learning about the Amish lifestyle.  The situation presented in the first story and the pain of the aftermath, is something many girls can relate to even if they are not Amish.  This book is encouraging in knowing that even if your world falls apart, God can bring good out of the bad, and give you a hope for the future.  The other romances going on between major characters and the multiple points of view make for a well written and worth reading book for older teen and adult Christian romance lovers.

(I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review and this opinion is my own.)

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