~Colleen Hoover~

I want to start off by saying that I’ve now read 5 of Hoover’s books and I have yet to be disappointed. Her writing style is impeccable and you don’t even feel like you’re reading with her books, it feels like you’re actually living the story out. Here are some reasons why I love her books so much:

*Character Development. When reading her books, you feel like you actually know the characters. You learn about the small details of who they are, and you also learn about the major story lines in their life. They are nowhere near feeling like fictional characters; they feel like they are either a part of your life, or you feel like you are the character.

*Romance. I love a good romance book. Not the trashy kinds, but the kinds that make you feel like you’re falling in love for real. That’s what her books do. They MAKE you fall in love…and feel so many ranges of emotions for the characters.

*Plot Twists. Just when you think you have the book figured out, you don’t. Trust me. Hoover deals with some pretty heavy topics in her books so it could be very difficult to read. However, she makes it so that you can’t put the book down because you need to see how the story unfolds. So amidst the very intense plot unfolding, she throws in twists that absolutely blindside you and leave you with your jaw hitting the floor.

These are just a few reasons why I have come to love Colleen Hoover. I definitely will end up owning all of her books and she will be an auto-buy author of mine from now on! If you haven’t read anything by her yet, please do. You can thank me later 😛

~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.

January Book Photo Challenge!

Hi friends! So I have completely failed on posting the past few weeks. Work is very busy during December and I just didn’t have the time to write :/ But I should be back and more consistent with my weekly posts! For those of you who have not found me on Instagram yet, my username is books_faith_love and I will be hosting another photo challenge in January! I am going to explain any of the prompts that may be a little confusing 😉

Remember, all of the prompts can be interpreted how you want to interpret them! With that said, pretty much every prompt this month is self-explanatory. The only one that isn’t is Day 21: #BooksFaithLoveFeature. This day is a freebie day! You do whatever you want for the photo because I am encouraging everyone to use that tag on their photos. The reason being: I feature an account at the end of every month who has tagged their photos with that hashtag! So if you’d like the chance to be featured, just tag your photos with it 🙂

That was pretty easy! I hope you are all having a wonderful Holiday season and spending plenty of time with your loved ones. As I stated before, I will back more with book reviews, and other topics in the coming weeks!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 🙂

~Before I Fall~ Book Review

Name: Before I Fall

Author: Lauren Oliver

Rating: 5

Summary from the back of the book:

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death – and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

My Thoughts:

Wow. That’s all I could think as I set down this book. If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure that I liked the ending at first. I thought there was maybe a chance for a happier one. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the message the author was trying to send. And it is a powerful message. It’s a message about redemption, sacrifice, hope, and love. It’s a message to readers that life isn’t only about you, that everything is intertwined; that everything you do has an effect.  I don’t want to go into any details of the story because I don’t want to give anything away. But I will ask you some questions:

What if a tragic event happened in your life and you had the chance to redo it? What would you do to make sure it was the “perfect” day? Would you make it all about what you could do for yourself? Or would you do everything in your power to make it about someone else; to help make their life better? This book was so deep and well thought out that I will definitely be thinking about it for quite some time! I wasn’t sure that I would recommend it to the younger crowd, but maybe it would be good for teenagers to read it. It is a very thought-provoking, heavy read and I would be nervous that younger readers would miss the point the author was trying to make. However, I definitely recommend it to adults. It really makes you question how you’ve been living your life and if you’ve been focusing on the important things.

Last, this is being made into a film and I cannot wait to see it! What are your thoughts on this book if you’ve read it?

~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!

Instastory!

Were you guys aware of Instastories? I’m still not sure if it’s a major thing, but I’ve come across one and I love it!! This specific Instastory comes from @princess.saltwater on Instagram and it’s so exciting to read. Each post contains a little piece of the story and it has me hooked wanting more posts!!

I don’t want to give too much away because you should read her whole story. But it’s about a princess who ran away from home and it’s her adventure from there. There’s a love story involved and if you know me, I’m a sucker for a love story 😉

If you’d like to take part in an ongoing story please go and check out this account! I’m all for an Instastory so if you’re aware of more, please let me know! I hope you all have a wonderful week and I’ll be back next Tuesday!

Why Do I Read?

Before I dive into this loaded question, I’ll start off by saying I wasn’t always big into reading. I read when I was in grade school because it was required. And in high school, I would read the bare minimum just to be able to finish my assignment. Looking back now, I was clearly missing out!

Believe it or not, the Twilight series got me back into reading. I watched the first movie and thought, I think I want to read this! I fell so deeply in love with the story that it became a slight obsession haha. However, from there stemmed a beautiful relationship between me and books. So a big thank you to Stephenie Meyer for that!!

My favorite genre is…well everything. It honestly depends on my mood. I can read anything from romance to mystery/thriller to YA to classics. I mean how can you only pick one genre?!  Also, I never started planning on what to read in advance until I created my Bookstagram account. (@books_faith_love) In the past, I would always figure out what mood I was in and try to match a book to it. Now I’m planning my monthly TBR (To Be Read) list. I don’t always keep up with it, but it does help me read some books I may not have picked up for a while!

Now, the loaded question: Why do I read? Well for the most part, it’s an escape for me. I can start reading and I am no longer where I was. I am suddenly in this alternate universe where characters are born and major story lines are happening. I can put all my worries aside and let go of my stress. So can I say that reading is technically healthy for you?? 😉

I also read because it keeps my mind sharp and educated. I graduated from college 4 years ago so I’m no longer in a classroom learning. But reading consistently keeps my vocabulary up and imagination vivid. I’m not saying this to praise myself, but I’m saying it because it’s true. Anyone that reads will agree with me! I’ve found myself looking up words in a dictionary while reading because I want to know the definition of that word. I rarely did that for school! Does anyone else do that? Or is it just me?? haha So reading honestly motivates me to become more educated 🙂

Last, I love reading because it’s magical. Words are put together on pages, and an entire world is born. I’m fascinated by that!! It is a true gift to be able to write and I envy authors for being able to do that! I’ve always wanted to write but it was difficult for me to get my thoughts onto paper. So the next best thing for me to do is read what other authors have written 🙂 And I absolutely love it!!

So that is why I love to read! If you have any questions for me, fire away! I’d love to answer any you might have.