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.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress, one of the most recent installments of The Lunar Chronicles, is probably one of Meyer's best yet! We get introduced to another fascinating character, Cress, who is living in a satellite and is basically in charge of all the cloaking and sneaky technological schemes the Lunars use. In this story, she gets to leave and finally be on Earth, which she has always dreamed of. However, hers is not the only story. There is also perspective from Cinder's group and from Scarlet. There are characters that are introduced that have a fascinating impact on the story. Scarlet tells of people on Luna, and Cinder shows the reader some information about Kai. That's all I'm going to say about the story. There's a lot to it, and I don't want to spoil it for you!

There are quiet a few things I love about this story! I really love the nickname 'Cress' for starters. In the fairy tale of 'Rapunzel' the mother will not eat anything but the plant from the witch's garden, which was sometimes called rapunzel. Cress is an edible plant and I thought it was fun that Meyer had included that aspect of Rapunzel into the story. Also, Cress is so adorable! She is the cutest, most innocent, and sweetest character! I just wanted to hug her! I also really liked that the reader was shown some stuff on Luna, and that is was from the perspective of one of the protagonists. I am SO excited for the character that the reader is introduced to on Luna, because that character is awesome!

I usually like long stories, but Meyer's stories keep getting longer and she keeps adding more perspectives. While I do enjoy getting the stories of all the characters, it can get a little confusing. In this book there are about three to four different people giving their perspective and while Meyer does make it clear who is talking, it takes some careful reading. It also makes the book much larger than its counterparts.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to YA readers and lovers of fantasy as well as retellings of fairy tales.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Storm Siren by Mary Weber is a fascinating story about a young lady who is also what is known as an Elemental. She is an oddity because Elementals are only supposed to be males. Her past haunts her and she is given no choice with her future. Nym is sold to a lady who decides to use her as a weapon against a rival country. There, she learns to control her powers and she actually develops friendships. She gets caught up in a storm of politics and her own feelings all while attempting to control her powers.

This book was a great read. I really enjoyed the character of Nym and appreciated the struggles she went through. The powers in the book are great, and both her struggle to control them and the limits she has make her an original character and not a Mary Sue(A Mary Sue is a character who is perfect). The other characters in the books balanced her out well, and watching her develop feelings was wonderful! The ending was intense! The events that took place were simply huge and I was kind of yelling at the book asking it 'Why?!' and 'Whaaat?!' at the last page. Thoroughly enjoyable with a great twist!

Although this book was fantastic, there were a couple places where I got lost. There was a scene where Nym was working on her control and there were wolves. Her trainer did something and I had to go back to read that scene a few times because I was confused as to what he was referring. I was disappointed with the ending a little bit. It was a great ending, but I feel this book could have been done in one book and not be made into a series. I'm sure it will be a wonderful series, but it would have made a fine stand alone book as well.

I give this book a 9 out of 10. I recommend this book to YA fantasy readers.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is a continuation of the Cinder series and is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. The book switches between the stories of Scarlet and Cinder, as Cinder is escaping from prison and Scarlet is trying to find her grandmother. This book depicts the journey of each girl as they learn things about themselves and each other and how they end up working together. Prince Kai's perspective is given as well, since his view is important seeing as how it involves Queen Levana and Cinder. He is forced to make difficult choices based on the circumstances caused by Cinder and Scarlet. In the end though, the one with a really big choice to make is Cinder.

This book was a fantastic read. I could not put it down. I would stop to check the time and convince myself that I could just read one more chapter. Hint: I read more than one chapter every time until the book was finished. The characters and the story line simply mesh so well. The interaction between Scarlet and Wolf, yes his nickname is Wolf, is adorable. When Scarlet first meets Wolf it just makes me giggle. I also liked the fact that I did not expect some of the events that happened in the story. The reader gets more depth into Kai's mind and how he feels about Cinder, which I really appreciated. Although Kai did not have as much time in this book, his sections were crucial and I feel Meyer did a wonderful job with his perspective.

I did not, however, care for a couple things in this book. One was Wolf. I understand that he was playing the role of the wolf in the story and that it is just his nickname. But, while it is cute, I kind of wish that it had been a little more subtle. Even when more was revealed about Wolf, I really wish he had been given a different nickname. I also wanted Cinder to make up her mind sooner. Yes she had already had a lot of life changing information given to her, but all she did was run and make the situation worse without planning on changing it. I wanted her to make up her mind sooner.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to lovers of fairy tales and YA readers.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a very interesting and well told version of Cinderella. Shocking, I know what with the title and all. This tells about a cyborg in a place and time where cyborgs were considered property, not people. Cinder has to deal with her very mean step mother and one evil step sister. One sister is kind and loves Cinder. Well, Cinder meets the prince and the relationship begins. Through a series of some unfortunate and some enlightening events, Cinder learns there is more to her than she originally believed. Not only that but the prince has to deal with his father's death and the Lunars, the people who live on the moon, coming to push a marriage alliance with the queen of their world. The prince invites Cinder to the ball, and she keeps saying no until the day of, where she puts on a dress and some gloves and heads on over. Things with the queen get interesting and Cinder finds out about her past.

All in all, this book is very well written! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think Meyer did an excellent job keeping the theme of Cinderella in the book while also making it her own unique story. Cinder is an incredibly awesome character who is determined to get away from her stepmother somehow. She is a strong character, but she isn't able to do everything. She has her limitations. The Lunar Queen, Levana, is very interesting and I really enjoyed how Meyer portrayed that species. She fleshed them out very well and without being boring with details she portrayed them as different from the people on Earth.

I did enjoy the story, but I did not care for how the cyborgs were treated. I kind of understand, but they are not complete robots so it didn't make sense to me to make cyborgs property. This is what bothered me the most; I can't think of anything else in the book that I did not like.

I give this book 9 out of 10 starts and recommend it to YA readers and lovers of fairy tales.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White is about an independent woman who leaves her home island to avail herself to a higher education and is caught up in a huge political war. She catches the eye of the two most powerful people on opposing sides of a political power war and love makes the equation even more confusing. The end is a tragedy, but it is still has a bit of sunshine at the very last page. This book is a tad dark, but nothing over the top.

I absolutely loved the character of Jessamin. She is independent, outspoken, and would be a great friend in my opinion. I also love Finn and his character. He is the perfect counterpart to Jessamin. He is sly but fun and someone who I wanted to get to know right away. Jessamin is from an island where the mainlanders went over and impregnated quite a few of the women folk so she is on the 'mainland' now and the color of her skin sets her off. I simply love how Jessamin uses this! She goes to a fancy party and acts incredibly charming and blows everyone out of the water. She isn't afraid to get what she wants and when she makes a decision she sticks with it. There was a twist that was completely unexpected to me and I loved that! It can be hard to make that happen in YA books nowadays, so that was a pleasant surprise.

I was kind of disappointed in the ending. I wish it had been handled a bit differently. I won't go into the details, but although I liked it, I didn't care for how it was done. I don't know what else to say without spoiling it so I'll just stop there :) I wish that in the beginning there had been more with Jessamin's friend Kelen in the beginning. She is working and the guy she works for didn't care for Kelen, but I didn't notice a place where he explains why he doesn't like Kelen.

I give this book a 7 out of 10 and recommend it for readers of YA who don't mind a little bit darker reading.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson is a retelling of the frog prince. Once again, she tweaks the story so no actual magic is used but the element of the story is there. The princess is Margaretha, one of Valten and Gabe's sisters, and the prince is Colin le Wyse, grandson of Annabel and Lord Ranulf le Wyse. Colin is travelling to secure Claybrook, a fiend who is wooing Margaretha. Claybrook actually wants to marry Margaretha and secure her father's lands, but she didn't know that at first. Margaretha and Colin work together to defeat Claybrook, falling in love on the way(shocker there).

This book was so cute! I really like Margaretha! She talks a lot, and Dickerson does a really good job of depicting her as a chatterbox. I also loved how she put the 'frog' part in the story. Colin gets hit in the head by Claybrook's men and is left for dead but is then rescued by people from Margaretha's castle. He is given a hideous set of green clothes to wear, which was an experiment gone wrong, and people call him 'frog boy.' It was a cute touch, and I rather enjoyed it! I also like how Dickerson has her characters fall in love with each other completely. As in, if one character has something about themselves they don't care for then the other one falls in love with that trait. There's a scene where Margaretha isn't talking and Colin asks her what's wrong and tells her he finds it soothing. It's so sweet! Another part that was well done in this book was the language barrier. Dickerson did a very nice job of keeping the language barrier going throughout the book.

I did think the love development between Margaretha and Colin was a tad annoying. They took until the end of the book to declare their love for each other, and they kept on wondering what the other thought without actually doing anything. I wanted Colin to confess his love and then have Margaretha think about it and what it would mean for her. I just wanted there to be a little more discourse between them about it. The actual confession happened very late, but they each thought about it separately for most of the book. I was also sad that Colin is Annabel's and Ranulf le Wyse's grandson. I just think it should have been their son or something. It just separates The Merchant's Daughter even more from the rest of the series.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to YA readers.

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.”