~No Plain Rebel~ Book Review

Name: No Plain Rebel

Author: M.C. Frank

Rating: 5

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Synopsis:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do. A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive. A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack. The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It also has forgotten love and beauty. The year is 2524. Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas – among other things – is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace. Written in three installments, this is the breathtaking and sensual story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time. In No Plain Rebel, Felix finds out the truth. Or so he thinks. He’s trying to come to terms with that, as well as with the fact that the Clockmaster’s shack has been discovered by his fellow soldiers, but he can’t exactly concentrate. The match girl’s fiery curls appear before his eyes every ten seconds, distracting him, and then he starts talking to her in his head. Because she’s no longer there. The Stadium is looming in the distance. It’s ten heartbeats to midnight.

 

My Thoughts:

So, you know when you read the first book in a series and you finish it and think, “That was amazing and I really really hope the second book measures up to it.” Yeah, well, No Plain Rebel far surpassed my expectations. This book took No Ordinary Star and expanded it on all levels. It expanded the character development even further. It expanded the reader’s knowledge of the entire world. And it expanded your desire for MORE OF THE STORY BECAUSE HOLY CLIFFHANGER!!! I’m not going to talk too much about the story because I really don’t want to give anything away. However, I will HIGHLY recommend you reading this series. It will make you question things and it might even make some readers angry. But that’s the beauty of this story. It’s challenging every reader to stop and reevaluate your life. Not understanding what I’m talking about? Go read the book. You will then 😉

~Ruined~ Book Review

Name: Ruined

Author: M.C. Frank

Rating: 4.5

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Summary from the back of the book:

The duke of Ashton sits at the opera at Vauxhall Gardens, bored out of his mind, and plans murder. He curses the day that brought the little governess, destitute and sad, at his door eight months ago, to upset his careless if a bit meaningless existence. How could he have guessed the terrible, evil secrets she was hiding? And now that he knows all, the truth appears wilder, even more despicable than even he could have imagined. He hadn’t counted on losing his heart to her, of course, but he did. What he doesn’t know is that a tendril of the shadows of madness and sin that followed Beatrice to his door is still out there, looking for something to devour. The only one who can save him from the darkness is the girl herself, but he knows he’ll never see her again. He who once prided himself on his indifference to other human beings, feels his chest constrict with pain every time he even thinks of her. Beatrice, smart, gentle, kind-hearted, lovely. Ruined. A perfect blend of darkness and light, this Regency reverse retelling of Jane Eyre will break your heart as well as uplift it.

My Thoughts:

I was so surprised at how much I loved this book. I haven’t read Jane Eyre so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this book just blew me away with everything from its writing down to the overall message. If I’m honest, it started out a little bit confusing for me. I don’t know if it was because I was distracted or what, but it was difficult to grab hold of the characters in the first chapter. ( I sometimes have a rough time starting new books and grasping the new characters in my mind – so that had nothing to do with this particular book, just my own mind not working correctly haha) However, once Beatrice was introduced, the story took off and I could not get enough of it; and as the story was developed, the opening chapter fully made sense to me!

The character development was incredible. Beatrice was revealed bit by bit of her intense background and personality. It was devastating and humbling. Dominic was also revealed bit by bit about his background and personality. His was heartbreaking and eye opening. Together, their story was devastatingly beautiful, while offering a true sense of hope. [It reminded me that no matter what hurt our past holds, we should never fully close ourselves off to opening our hearts to new people. You never know what that person can add to your life!]

There were twists and turns in the story that I didn’t see coming and it kept me flipping pages late into the night until I finished it. I highly recommend this book and I really look forward to reading more from this incredibly talented author!

Thank you so much M.C. for sending this to me for review. I will cherish this story for a long time!!

~TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY~ Book Review

Name: TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY

Author: Jay Asher

Rating: 5

Summary from the back of the book:

You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret…is to press play.
Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.
Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes – and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town…
…and what he discovers changes his life forever.

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My Thoughts:

This. Book. I was honestly hesitant to read it at first because it was another book about suicide. There have quite a number of books that I’ve read on this topic and some of them I really didn’t like because it came off like it was almost glorifying the character’s decision of committing suicide. Thankfully, this book was not like that and I am so glad I read it. It was a very intense read and obviously dealt with a heavy topic. However, it really made you think about how you’re living your life. Are you living it in your own bubble, making sure you’re doing everything for yourself and not paying attention to anyone else? Or are you paying attention to others and loving them as best you can and making an effort to truly get to know them? Now, I’m not saying that every bad thing someone decides to do is preventable. That would be an impossibility, but what I am saying is that it’s important to make sure we are giving our time to others and not just to ourselves.

Okay, back to the book. It was impeccably written. I won’t give away too many specifics, but it switched back and forth between the point of view of two characters and it was very easy to follow. Even aside from the font switching, I could tell when the character would switch. The character development was beautiful and I got really attached to Hannah and Clay.

Sidenote: I read this book in two days only because I didn’t have time to read it in one. That’s how amazing it was. It was suspenseful, happy, sad, infuriating, and devastating. I also feel like it is an important read and I definitely recommend it to anyone high school age and up.

~Meet Your Baker~ Book Review

Name: Meet Your Baker

Author: Ellie Alexander

Rating: 4.5

Summary from the back of the book:

Welcome to Torte – a friendly, small-town family bake shop where the treats are so good that, sometimes, it’s criminal…

After graduating from culinary school, Juliet Capshaw returns to her quaint hometown of Ashland, Oregon, to heal a broken heart and help her mom at the family bakery. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bringing in lots of tourists looking for some crumpets to go with their heroic couplets. But when one of Torte’s customers turns up dead, there’s much ado about murder…

The victim is Nancy Hudson, the festival’s newest board member. A modern-day Lady Macbeth, Nancy has given more than a few actors and artists enough reasons to kill her…but still. The silver lining? Jules’s high school sweetheart, Thomas, is the investigator on the case. His flirtations are as delicious as ever, and Jules can’t help but want to have her cake and eat it too. Murder might be bad for business, but love is the sweetest treat of all…

 

My Thoughts:

I don’t think I’ve ever read a murder mystery series! So this was a great one to start off with. It was deliciously addicting! The characters were wonderfully written and I’m still so attached to them. (I’ve only read the first book in a series of 6.) Jules is very relatable and I need to find out how her life turns out!!  And I’m totally rooting for Thomas…swoon ❤ !! I also love the relationship between her and her mother…it’s very real and sweet. The setting was created wonderfully. I so badly want to go visit Torte! Too bad it doesn’t exist :/

It was a fast pace book and easily kept my attention throughout. I couldn’t put it down because I had to find out what happened next! Not only was it a fun mystery to try and solve, but it had delicious recipes throughout the entire book. I love baking and I haven’t in a while so this inspired me to bake again soon! It also made me very hungry while I was reading haha

I’m currently reading the second book, A Batter of Life and Death and loving it just as much as the first one. I can’t wait to read the rest of them! Thank you to Ellie Alexander for sending these books to me for review! ❤ I highly recommend them!!

~Unwritten Melody~ Book Review

Name: Unwritten Melody

Author: Tessa Emily Hall

Rating: 4

Summary from the back of the book:

Does breaking free require breaking the rules?
Cassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.
James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.
As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?
Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.

My Thoughts:

I’ll start off by saying that I loved this book! It started out so sweet and the character development was great. I quickly became attached to all of the characters. As the book unraveled and the plot thickened I was surprised at how deep it got. I wasn’t expecting that!! But I loved it because my mind loves delving into topics that are difficult to talk about. I won’t go too much into what the book is about but I will say this. It portrayed the love of a parent/grandparent so well. It’s so tough because as a parent, all you want to do is protect your children from harm. However, sometimes keeping them “caged in” can do more harm than good. I’ll stop there because I don’t want to give away any of the book! You’ll have to get it to find out for yourself what happens 😉

Great job, Tessa and thank you so much for sending it to me for review!! I highly recommend that everyone read this.

~Countryside~ Book Review

Name: Countryside & The Tears of Adina

Author: J.T. Cope IV

Rating: 5

Summary from the back of the book:

Countryside:

“You have a power within you, one that is within everyone…It’s the same power that fills that building, that keeps that tree alive…and the same power that has attracted your attention…I know it’s all a bit strange to you, but I assure you it is quite real…”
Eleven-year-old Luke Rayburn has never seen a skyline without skyscrapers or fallen asleep to anything but the sound of traffic. But his life is about to change in ways he never imagined. When his father leaves for a year of military service, Luke and the rest of his family move into their grandparents’ home in the remote town of Countryside, a place like no other. Reachable only by a mysterious traveling tunnel and horse-drawn carriage, centaurs roam the landscape and shadowy wraiths slip among the trees.
There, Luke will be drawn into a centuries-old quest for an almost-forgotten book whose secrets will determine the fate of the world. He will have to reach deep to discover the power within him as he battles the forces of darkness and an alliance of sinister men who seek to destroy any who get in their way.
Luke’s only hope is to find the book before they do, but to do so he’ll need help from someone he never expected as the forces of evil come to bear on the magical world of Countryside.

Tears of Adina:

Luke Rayburn has spent summer vacation running up and down sandy beaches with his family. He’s explored hidden coves, learned how to write invisible letters, and even met an ocean nymph. But his friends write to tell him of strange happenings in Countryside and he’s anxious to get back.
When Luke returns, he finds that much has changed. Mischievous gnomes are spreading chaos across the valley, a lone wolf haunts the forests, and Mayeem, one of Luke’s new teachers, just happens to be a mermaid. And then there’s the hunter, a man with golden eyes, only part of a soul and the belief that Luke has hidden something he wants—something he’s willing to destroy Countryside in order to get.
Hounded by blackhearted men and soulless creatures and with darkness luring him in, Luke must gather his wits and ferret out his true friends. But as he draws close to finding what it is the hunter seeks, he will learn that there is more at stake than he understands. He’ll learn that it’s not the hunter he should be afraid of and that, once done, some things cannot be undone.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, I want to say how refreshing it was to read a series that has morals behind it. There were underlying lessons throughout the two books that taught respect, on a very noticeable level. As someone who teaches young children (dance, but I’m still around children on a daily basis), it is rare to see respect anymore and I would be more than willing to have any child read this series even just for that aspect! It is an exciting story and I loved that not only would it be safe for young ones to read, but it would actually be teaching them on multiple levels as well.

Now onto the actual story-line of Countryside…I cannot stress enough how much I loved it. The first book was very much about character development and introducing the whole plot line. The friendship that was formed between the main characters was fun to follow and it only strengthened throughout the book. It was fantastic. The second book did an even better job of character development. There are a LOT of characters but it was very easy to follow. Cope did an amazing job of introducing each one and giving them their own specific traits so it didn’t get confusing between any of them. Also, the suspense of what was developing in the plot kept me flipping through the pages!! There is a strong sense of good and evil throughout the story and I just loved the Biblical-spiritual parallel. (It’s not an in-your-face Biblical parallel, but I did see it and it was awesome and inspiring!!)

As a person in her late 20’s, I highly recommend this series – to older and younger readers alike. If I’m correct, there is a plan for it to be a 7 book series and I am anxiously awaiting for the rest of them to be written 😉 Cope has such a gift because to create the world of Countryside takes some major talent! If you are a fan of Harry Potter, Narnia, and/or Percy Jackson this series is definitely for you!

~Shaken~ Book Review

Name: Shaken

Author: Tim Tebow

Rating: 5

Summary from the back of the book:

Who are you when life is steady?
Who are you when storms come?
 
Most of us have been on the receiving end of rejection, a broken dream, or heartbreak. And while this is not an easy space to go through, when we are grounded in the truth, we can endure the tough times.

In this powerful book, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow passionately shares glimpses of his journey staying grounded in the face of disappointment, criticism, and intense media scrutiny. Following an exceptional college football career with the Florida Gators and a promising playoff run with the Denver Broncos, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets. He was released after one season.

In Shaken, Tebow talks about what he’s learned along the way, building confidence in his identity in God, not the world. This moving book also features practical wisdom from Scripture and insights gained from others who have impacted Tebow in life-changing ways.

Though traveling hard roads is not easy, it’s always worth it!

 

My Thoughts:

I’ll start off by saying I don’t read many books that are outside of fiction. I was back and forth about reading Shaken because of that reason. But boy am I SO glad that I decided to go ahead and give it a chance. Not only was it an easy read because it was fantastically written, but it was one of the most inspiring things I’ve read in a long time.

It is way too easy to fall into autopilot in life and not even realize it’s happening. Wake up, prep a meal, go to work, come home, go to sleep, repeat. But what is happening in the in between moments? Are you just cruising through them hoping you’ll encounter an exciting moment one day? Or are you consciously making an effort to make a difference in the world? And I’m not talking about donating a million dollars to a charity or some other major notion that is impossible for most people. I’m talking about holding the door for the person behind you just because it’s the right thing to do. Or smiling at someone in hopes that it’ll brighten their day a little bit. This thought process came about after reading Shaken. I didn’t even realize my life had been on autopilot…for the past 5 years. I’ve been cruising through my life not making a conscious effort to live my life as Christ would want me to. Yes, I’ve had some great moments with family and friends, but something is missing. And that something is me pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to go too deep into my own personal thoughts, but if this sounds anything like what you’re going through, go read Shaken. I promise you will not regret it. It has sparked something inside me that I haven’t felt in some time now.

So thank you to Tim Tebow for going ahead and writing this book because I know for a fact it has changed lives…including mine. It has inspired me to want to do more with my life and make a lasting impact.

~Melody’s Key~ Book Review

Name: Melody’s Key

Author: Dallas Coryell

Rating: 4.5

Summary from the back of the book:

“His eyes settled on her…piercing green embers of flame that revealed the ferocity of his pain and passion, yet still shrouded him under veils of ever deepening mystery that made every ounce of her ache to unravel him.” Tegan Lockwood’s dreams were dead, sacrificed on the noble altar of duty before they ever had a chance to live. Her entire existence was disappearing into the abyss of apathy as she labored her days away keeping her family’s struggling business alive. There would be no emotion, no color, no beauty in her life. That is, until a mysterious visitor begins to draw her out of the darkness of her past towards something that will challenge the boundaries of her world, and unlock the most deeply held secrets of her heart.

My Thoughts:

Read. This. Book. Seriously, I am blown away at how much I loved it! I’m a sucker for chick flick stories (Yes, that’s what I call them haha) and this did not disappoint. If I could describe the way Coryell writes in one word, it would be poetic. I fell in love with the characters and pardon the pun, but this book felt melodious to read! There are many authors that can write a good story, but then there are writers that have a true gift. Coryell is one of the gifted ones. I was actually disappointed when I realized I was on the last page because I just wanted more of the story.

Now a little about the book! **CONTAINS SPOILERS**

The connection that was made between the couple in the letters with Mason and Tegan made a great parallel from past to present. It showed that true love is timeless. Also, I loved the symbolism with the key and the lock box. The lock box symbolized Tegan’s heart; completely locked away from almost everyone and could only be opened with the correct “key”. The key symbolized Mason; he was the one that was able to get Tegan to open up about her secrets. And ironically he was the one that had the key to the lock box the whole time when Tegan thought it was lost forever. So in a way, Mason was the key to Tegan’s heart the whole time.

The chemistry between Mason and Tegan was palpable. It made me believe that true love does still exist! Also, the supporting characters were great. I loved the siblings, the parents, and the best friend. There were times that I laughed and times that I speed-read to see what was going to happen. So thank you Dallas for sending me a copy of this book to review because I absolutely loved it. I hope to see plenty more books from you in the future!

I’ll end this review with my favorite quote from the book:

“Hope is the only thing that can’t be taken away from you unless you allow it. Hope needs no evidence, just a decision. The decision is the hard part though.”

~Before the Fall~ Book Review

Name: Before the Fall

Author: Noah Hawley

Rating: 3

Summary from the back of the book:

On a foggy summer night, eleven people — ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter — depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs — the painter — and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members — including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot — the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was it something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

My Thoughts: (**contain spoilers**)

As I set the book down after reading the last sentence, all I felt was disappointment. This book had loads of potential to be a twisted, mind game of a story. Except, it wasn’t at all. The only thing that comes to mind was that the climax of the story was very flat. The suspense throughout the book was executed wonderfully. However, it was leading up to the big reveal that was just very frustrating to me. That was why the plane went down? Because some psychopath was mad at a girl for turning him down? Aside from expecting some kind of twist at the end, I was so angry that this man took the lives of 9 people over being “heartbroken.” Like I said, I was very disappointed in the ending.

I did find the media portion of the story very interesting. It shows that the media will twist any story they can get their hands on just to get better ratings. It doesn’t matter what it does to the well being of the person they’re featuring, the media just wants a good story.

I thought the author did a good job on featuring each person from the flight and giving their back story. I did find it somewhat hard to follow at points because there were so many different stories going on with each person. But, I felt like I got to know every character enough to understand where the story was going.

If you’re looking for a real page turner with great twists, I unfortunately would not recommend this book. It is more than likely going to leave you disappointed.

~The Lady and the Lionheart~ Book Review

Name: The Lady and the Lionheart

Author: Joanne Bischof

Rating: 4.5

Summary from the back of the book:

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Bog Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet – freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask her for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl – boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was fantastic and very powerful. The message of forgiveness and redemption reminded me of God’s grace and mercy for us. The characters were wonderfully developed and I fell in love with them. Ella’s strength and growth throughout the book was inspiring. Charlie’s love, humility, and sacrificial spirit made me want to strive to be more like that. I’m not going to go into much detail about the book because if I do, I’ll give away parts of the book that should be left unknown! But I will highly encourage you to read it. Joanne stated that “The story began as a reflection on Beauty and the Beast…and a fictional resonance of a very true account: the Gospel.” And it definitely is! Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie and that story line mixed with the powerful message of Jesus’ love for us makes for one memorable book!