Sunday, October 25, 2015

Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes

Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes is a story about a land where people, when they are children, have these beings called "darkbeasts" that take away their wrongdoings, like lying and pride. Keara is the main character of this story and she chooses not to killer her darkbeast, a raven named Caw, an action that causes the Inquisitors to attempt to find her so they can help her repent of her heresy. She runs and joins the Travelers, a group of actors that go around telling stories about the history of the country via plays. She learns many things all while hiding the real reason she joined them. In the end, Keara has to choose between the life she's known or a life with Caw.

I really enjoyed this story because it's very refreshing. It's an idea that I hadn't really heard of before and it's quite nice to come across an original storyline. Keara is your typical 11 year old, except for the fact that she likes her darkbeast, Caw, more than she should. Instead of killing him she chooses to keep him alive and in doing so changes her life forever. The Travelers were enjoyable to read about, and seeing how Keara learned to present herself differently to different crowds was engaging. It was also interesting to see how Keara's attitude towards Caw changes ever so slightly. She doesn't hate him like other children seem to do, but she also seems to have more respect for him as they continue their journey. I also enjoyed reading how some people were affected by the death their darkbeasts. See, because the darkbeasts 'took away' their wrong feelings and attitudes, people didn't really get to learn how to take care of those feelings themselves. Supposedly by the time you become an adult your darkbeast has taken all your wrongness from you, and the killing of the beast represents the death of those things as well. One character, an antagonist in the story, loses her confidence in a large way at first when she kills her darkbeast. It was very enlightening to read and I thought it added a good depth to the story.

The one thing that bugged me is that Keara seemed to want to keep Caw alive because of how she felt when he 'took away' her bad feelings or attitudes. I'm hoping it gets addressed later on in the series, but it seemed like she kept him alive for selfish reasons rather than because he doesn't deserve to die.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and I recommend it for YA fantasy readers,

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson is basically a retelling of "The Swan Princess," although I did find remnants of "Beauty and the Beast," but that could just be my opinion. This story is about a young woman who lives with her wealthy uncle. He has not forced her into any marriages and he allows her to have an education, which is unusual for the time they're in. She poaches deer in the margrave's forest at night to help feed the local poor population and during the day she teaches the poor children to read and write. She ends up having a couple of different suitors and has to decide which one to marry. One is for love and the other will provide the means to support the poor population. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens ;)

I really enjoyed this story because Odette is a woman who is doing what she believe is right based on her past experiences. However, when confronted about it with someone who sees it as wrong, she understands that is wrong as well. When she started poaching she wanted to do it to help feed the poor, but she didn't take into consideration what effect that would have on the wildlife in the forest or how it would affect the people who were in charge of taking care of the forest. I also enjoyed how "The Swan Princess" was incorporated into the story. Dickerson did a great job of keeping true to the story without the use of magic, but then again that's one of the reasons I love her books so much. The balance of the characters was pleasant to read about, and it was fun to learn about a character from a different person in the book. All in all it was a great read with a satisfying ending.

The main thing that disappointed me in this book was, once again, the romance. It may be that I just don't understand the 'instant love' type of thing, but it felt like it progressed to quickly. Not to mention the fact that the first kiss of the two main protaganists was in a public place. I could be wrong, but I just don't think that there would be enough privacy for that to happen. It may be that there were places for lovers to steal kisses, but it seemed like she went into situations where her reputation, and therefore her uncle's, could be compromised so I didn't understand why she put herself in those situations. Other than the romance developments, there wasn't a lot that I can think of to dislike about this book.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to YA readers of Christian Fantasy and Fairytale Retellings.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dearest by Alethea Kontis

Dearest is the third installment of the Woodcutter Sisters series. This story is mostly the fairytale of The Seven Swans and if other tales are woven in, I don't know what they are called. This story revolves around the sister Friday, who has a gift for sewing, and how she discovers the brothers and their sister. She helps them on the journey to not only break the curse but to defeat the ones who put the curse on their family as well as discover part of who she is along the way.

I really enjoyed the fairytale in this one. I really liked the combination of fairytales in the first book, Enchanted, and I was disappointed with the lack of recognizable ones in Hero, so it was nice to have just one in this book. I think she did a great job of developing the characters and making them relatable. Kontis did a very nice job with the brothers and separating out the personalities while still depicting their closeness and each of their thoughts. Some of my favorite characters were the children; they were wonderful and just added a fantastic layer to the story! The evil characters were evil, but not stupidly evil, if you know what I mean. It's frustrating when you get a villain who is just evil and doesn't know how to act another way. These evil people acted like people who were evil, not just evil in a story. Oh, there was also a mention of another fantasy story that I quite enjoyed, but that is something you should discover on your own ;)

What I didn't like about this story was that the ending was kind of weird. The characters that appeared and the stuff that happened was a little confusing, and I had to go back and re-read the scenes to fully comprehend what exactly happened. I still don't understand what happened with one of the characters at the end. Another reason it was difficult to enjoy was my fault really, but it does not harm to forewarn others. I have not read Hero in quite a while so the transition was a bit bumpy for me in some areas. I would recommend reading Hero recently before this just to make sure it's a little easier to get into. There was an unanswered question about Friday's teacher and I hope Kontis gets into it in the next book because it was brought up a few times but never really addressed.

I give this book an 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it to YA readers and lovers of fairytales!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Princess by Lori Wick

The Princess by Lori Wick is a story about a young woman living in a small European country who is selected to become the prince's bride. His first wife died early on in their marriage, and the law of the country requires that the heir to the throne be married by 26. His heart wasn't in finding a new wife, so he asked his parents to find a wife for her. The majority of this story is about Shelby and Nikolai figuring out how to have a married relationship with a complete stranger. It shows their struggles and insecurities and how they figured out their relationship with God's help.

This book is one of my all time favorites. If I'm in a rut, in any part of life, all I need to do is pick up this book. It is just a well written book with great show and development and character. Shelby is an amazing person, and Wick does an excellent job of portraying her as a person that everyone wants to know. However, Shelby is not perfect and I really appreciate the flaws and mistakes Shelby made because it is definitely easy to relate to them. Nikolai, although he kind of is a jerk in the first part, is a great guy! He is hurt over the loss of his first wife, but he is a very sweet person. I love seeing the process of him changing from a hurt and kind of resentful person to a loving and caring man! There aren't too many extra characters in this book, which is a huge plus. There are enough characters to help the main ones stay round, but not so many that you have to keep track of them on a separate piece of paper. I understand it a lot better now than when I read it as a teen. It seems like I learn and/or discover new things every time I read it. I just can't express the love I have for this book!

There are a couple things that bother me in the book now and then, but I never let that stop me from reading it! Sometimes the internal thoughts of the characters or Bible verses can annoy me, and I skim or skip over them. The most recent time I read it the extra stuff did not seem as annoying as I remember from the past, so it may have been my mood at the time I was reading it. Other than that, I don't have any complaints! This is a really easy read and one of my comfort books.

I give this book a 10/10 and recommend it Christian romance readers.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Betting on Hope by Debra Clopton

This book is set in Texas and is about a small-time writer having to fill a reporter friend's shoes for a big-time interview. She accidentally makes a bet that neither the cowboy, Tru Monahan, nor the writer, Maggie Hope, have any intention of following up with. However, that part of the interview is aired and both Maggie and Tru are stuck. Maggie bet Tru that he wouldn't be able to get her used to the saddle. Her bosses and his publicists give them a deadline and Maggie goes to live in Wishing Springs for a month. There she meets lots of new friends, her past comes to haunt her, and she struggles with love. Tru deals with his personal feelings about his family, Maggie, and personal medical issues. They both struggle with whether or not they should reveal their inner turmoil to each other, and in the end it all comes out.

This book was an interesting book to read. I liked the story and the characters were pretty cool. The nosy ladies from the hair parlor were a hoot, and I loved Tru's grandpa. The way the characters were presented was nice and it was easy enough to remember who was who and how they were all connected. Clopton did a nice job of keeping it easy to read the story and connect with the characters.

Although the story was pretty nice, there were quite a few thing I didn't care for. I did not like the romance between Tru and Maggie. From the descriptions, there was an instant attraction and they kept on making excuses, the same excuses, over and over and over again. It got a little old. Not to mention that their relationship didn't feel real. The emotions were too extreme, and Tru was annoying in that he'd be all gooey for her and then in a split second he'd harden up. It almost had my head spinning to see him change so fast.  Also, Maggie met a person in the beginning of the book and, although she and Maggie became close friends, I feel that the way she was introduced was just random. I finished a chapter and all of a sudden there was this new character and I had no clue why. There aren't any titles on the chapters so there weren't any hints there. I actually turned back and flipped through the pages to see if I had made a mistake or forgotten someone.

It's an interesting Hallmark channel type of book, but nothing that'll make me want to read it over and over again. I give it a 6 out of 10 and recommend it to romance lovers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Dolphins of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

The Dolphins of Pern is another masterpiece by the late Anne McCaffrey. Instead of dragons, this book focuses more on the growing relationship that dolphins have with humans. A young man becomes increasingly interested in dolphins due to an experience as a child, but his mother forbids him to have much to do with them. Eventually he gets fed up with her restrictions and, using the aftermath of a storm to get a head's start, leaves to start a dolphin hall. During this time a story about a young bronze rider and his interactions with the dolphins is given as well. Much is discovered about how dolphins used to interact with humans and how the dolphins interact with humans as well as dragons.

This is one of my favorite Anne McCaffrey books. I absolutely love the relationships that are developed not only between the humans, but between creatures and humans as well. The dolphins have the ability to speak a limited amount of words, and the reason they were brought to the planet originally was to help the fisherman find fish and to warn them about storms and other dangers of the sea, as well as help sailors during storms. Anne McCaffrey does a fantastic job of depicting the dolphins. The way she described them as well as the way they talked was exactly how I pictured they would talk if dolphins could do so in the present day. This story is filled with excellent descriptions and fantastic character development.

As with most of Anne McCaffrey's later stories in Pern, it is better to have read the stories written up to this point to be familiar with the characters depicted. While it is a bit of a stand-alone book, it is a stand-alone within the series so readers new to the series should start with Dragonflight and continue the series from there. I didn't like how the mother treated the son, but it was a crucial part of his character development so it's more of a dislike of the character than how the story was written.

I give this book 10 out of 10 starts and recommend it to lovers of fantasy ages 18 and above or 16 and above with parental discretion. Although there is no sexual reference in this book that I can recall, it does happen within the series.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

The Dandelion Field is a very refreshing story. It's about a couple of kids, the adults in their lives, and how one act can change people's lives. Ginevieve and Raine are staying in a small town because their car broke down and Raine wants to finish high school in one place. Cody is the prime Christian kid of the neighborhood and Dan is a father figure to him. Cody gets Raine pregnant and the adults are all taken aback. This story follows Raine and Cody as well as Ginevieve and Dan as the pregnancy progresses, as well as how the whole town perceives the situation.

I really loved how gentle this story was. I'm normally reading some fantasy action book and it was a nice change of pace, like a breath of fresh air. The story is sweet but not too sugary. I love that the daughter's name is Raine Lightly. I also loved how the whole small community was portrayed. Once something gets out, everyone knows about it. Also, the church was portrayed well in my opinion. Not everyone was perfect and accepting. There was judgement happening and it was a very realistic book overall. It was a nice read and although it isn't what I normally read, I will read it again to relax. It's a great choice for a rainy day.

One of the things I didn't care for in this book was the ending. It wasn't a bad ending, but I was kind of disappointed with how it played out. I didn't think how Gin was portrayed made a lot of sense. I guess she could have reacted the way she did, but it's not what I would have imagined from what I read earlier.

I give this book a 7 out of 10 and recommend it to readers who enjoy Christian Fiction.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”