Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ragesong: Retribution (Book 3)



Ragesong: Retribution (Book 3) by J.R. Simmons

Blurb (from amazon.com):

"While the Dread King advances steadily through the land, a resistance movement led by the exiled king of Kardonin scrambles to turn the tide of war. King Klyle sends Jake, Sam, and their Changeling companions on a quest in an effort to combat Brael and his powerful Elites. Together they journey forth into a new kingdom, searching for information about an ancient artifact of unknown power that just might be the only thing able to stop Brael and his dark forces. Meanwhile, Klyle and two of his most loyal soldiers travel with the mysterious leader of a clan whose people were once his sworn enemies. Klyle faces obstacles and threats as he works to secure an alliance with the Bloodmox riders of Southern Reach, while Jake and Sam find troubles of their own among the rich and powerful Traders. Will they find the fabled treasure of Fermicia? Can Klyle overcome the ghosts of his past and join the riders to his cause? Each second counts as Brael draws nearer to his dark and twisted goal."

My Review:

I was so excited to read this book! I couldn't wait to learn more about Jake and Sam and their adventures! Will they finally defeat Brael? I hate that guy. Anyway, this book did not disappoint! Once again, I got sucked into the story and couldn't put it down. The story line didn't progress a whole lot, but enough that I need to get my hands on the next book. Pronto. One of my favorite parts was with Jake and Sam in Yolieseleth when they participated in the Shilaak Milikum. I loved the descriptions of the laaks and their designs, especially Chet's. I thought that whole part of the book was so fun, and it was great to see how Sam and Jake were able to grow as individuals, and how Jake was able to hone in on his Ragesong. In this book we were able to learn a lot more about Klyle and his past, and I thought it explained a lot; I learned so much about his relationship with Brael and why it turned out the way it did. I wasn't a huge fan of the place Klyle ended up in, and his situation, but hopefully the next book will make that situation a little better. The book is well written, and I like the writing style because it just sucks you right in. The descriptions of the cities and the different creatures are very well done. I have really enjoyed this series. This ending is quite abrupt, and it definitely leaves you hanging, so I'm hoping the next book comes out soon!! There isn't any profanity or "intimacy." There is some teenage flirting, but it's harmless and cute. There is, however, quite a bit of violence, and some of it is quite graphic. There is a lot of fighting and a few characters die. The violence is the only negative with this book, and it is the reason for the higher age rating. As a bonus, the cover art on this book is much better than the first book's. :)

Rating: PG-13 (There isn't any profanity or "intimacy," but there is quite a bit of violence, and some of it is graphic.)

Recommendation: 13 years-old and up  (YA approved!)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Forever and Forever: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton


Forever and Forever: 
The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton
by
Josi S. Kilpack

Blurb:

"It's 1836, and nineteen-year-old Fanny Appleton, a privileged daughter of a wealthy, upper-class Boston industrialist, is touring Europe with her family. Like many girls of her day, she enjoys the fine clothes, food, and company of elite social circles. But unlike her peers, Fanny is also drawn to more intellectual pursuits. Published author and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is also touring Europe, but under much different circumstances. Widowed while in Europe, he has stayed in order to gather credentials that he hopes will secure his professorship at Harvard College. When Henry meets Fanny, he sees in her a kindred spirit, a lover of language and literature and high ideals. He is in love. Fanny, however, is uncertain. He is ten years older than she is, and from a much  lower social class. How could such a relationship ever thrive? Could a book of Henry's poetry, personally delivered, persuade Fanny to believe in a love that lasts forever and forever?"

My Review:

I thought this was a cute love story. Henry and Fanny are both well written, and it was fun to get to know them and their story. Fanny is quite the character. She is a strong female character; almost too strong, in fact. She is a bit stubborn and set in her ways. Henry seems like such a nice guy. He's down to earth and up in the clouds at the same time. He is stubborn in his own way. Because each of these characters is so strong-willed, it takes most of the book to actually reach the romance part. There are bits and pieces here and there along the way, but the lead-up is definitely most of the book. This could be seen as a negative, but I actually enjoyed getting to know the characters and their stories. I liked how their paths intertwined and how they both needed the time it took. It's funny how age and a little experience can make you look at things differently. I also loved getting sucked into the 19th century with its customs, traditions, and language. It was fun as a reader to know that these people were real, and that many of the events that took place and the people that surrounded them were also real. I thought it was a good depiction of what their lives could have been like. As a woman I'm also thankful that times have changed a bit in regard to women and their circumstances. We've come a long way since the 19th century, and it makes me wonder what Fanny would be like if she were living in today's world. I also thought it was fun to have quotes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poetry intermixed throughout the story. Although it was a little slow in parts, I thought this book was sweet and fun, and I think it's a good addition to the proper romance genre. I enjoyed it, and would recommend it. 

Rating: PG (There might be a kiss or two. :) There is also the death of a character, but it doesn't go into too many details, and it's not gory or anything.)

Recommendation: Young Adult and up (13+ years-old and up)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



Thursday, April 7, 2016

How Do I Know If I Know?



How Do I Know If I Know? by John Bytheway

Blurb:

"It's spiritual gut-check time! The mission age has been lowered, and now more than ever, young people are asking themselves important questions:
  • How do I know if I really have a testimony?
  • Am I ready to serve a mission?
  • What does the Spirit feel like?
John Bytheway suggest that we "F.E.E.L." the truthfulness of the gospel through our feelings, our experiences, the many evidences we encounter, and our logical conclusions about how a loving God interacts with His children on the earth. Like gradually turning up a dimmer switch, understanding all the ways we F.E.E.L. our testimony will help it grow brighter. As you read, you may discover that your testimony is stronger than you thought, and you'll also become more excited and motivated to let your light shine!"

My Review:

I heard John Bytheway speak many years ago when I was a youth, and he captivated me! He does such a great job of relating to the youth with his humor and stories. This is the first book I have read by him, and I was interested to see if I would feel the same way about his writing as I did of his speaking. I have to say that I was impressed. His writing style is easy to follow and understand, and he uses simple examples to explain difficult things; which makes them easier to understand and follow. He puts things in an engaging and motivating way, and it makes you want to work harder to do better. I think the topic is so relevant too. I have a 14 year-old son, and he could go on a mission right out of high school. There isn't the chance to spend a year figuring it all out before you go, it's now! These kids need to be prepared, and it scares me as a mom! What if I haven't prepared him? What if I haven't done enough? This book helps the kids to prepare themselves, which is what really needs to happen. We moms can't do it for them. They need to know--they don't need to know that we know. This is a short, easy read, but it packs a big punch. I am going to have both my 14 year-old and 12 year-old sons read this book because I think it will help them to determine where they are and if they are doing enough to prepare themselves. I definitely recommend this book to parents and youth alike, those who want to serve missions and those who don't, it benefits everyone.

Rating: G (It's clean!)

Recommendation: 12 years-old and up (Younger kids could read it and understand it, but I think it will most benefit the youth rather than the children.)



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I'm now on Instagram!!!

Follow Me On Instagram!

Instagram

My sister has been trying to get me on Instagram forever! So I finally did it! I don't have any friends yet, so please be my friend (is that even how instagram works???). My username is TheReadathon. Please find me and help me out!

Thank you!!!


Monday, April 4, 2016

Flight of Dreams



Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

Blurb:

"On the evening of May 3, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems, the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart, a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world's largest airship, an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany, and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed. Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe, and before them is looming disaster. But, for the moment, they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them. Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing until the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after."

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I liked getting to know all of the characters. I definitely had my favorites. Werner is the cabin boy, and I liked his character a lot. You can see that he is young and impressionable, and you can also see that he wants to impress the adults around him. He wants them to respect him. He tries very hard, but gets himself into a few awkward situations because he is young and the others feel like they can manipulate him. Emilie is the stewardess, and I also liked her character. She has a kind demeanor, is friendly to even the most obnoxious passengers, and does her job well. She has a secret that causes a bit of commotion, but I enjoyed getting to know her. Max is the navigator, and I liked him as well. He has a bit of a temper that causes problems for those he cares about, but I think he has a good heart. I also liked some of the passengers aboard the Hindenburg. I know that it's impossible to know exactly what each of the people aboard that trip were like, but I think Ms. Lawhon does a very good job at making them come to life on the page. Each of them is lifelike and relatable. And because none of them are perfect, the flaws they have make them seem so real. You can see their joys, their fears, their weaknesses, and their strengths. The plot Ms. Lawhon follows seems as if it could be what actually occurred on that doomed flight. It is completely plausible and I enjoyed watching it unfold. The hardest part was getting know these characters and being unable to stop what was coming. Reading about the explosion and how it happened was heart wrenching, especially when you saw what happened to each of the characters you had come to know and love. Let's just say it is not a fairy tale ending. However, I liked this book a lot, and would definitely recommend it.

Rating: R (There is at least one "intimacy" scene, and it's a bit detailed. There are several innuendos also. There is some profanity with at least one "f" word. And it's quite violent at the end with the explosion. Watching that many people die is not for the faint of heart.)

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

10 Amazing World War II Stories

Today I thought I'd switch things up a bit!
(I know, it's unlike me...spring fever maybe??)


My 10 Favorite World War II Stories
(Nonfiction and Fiction)
(In no particular order...Click on the Picture to Read My Review)

1. All The Light We Cannot See
by
Anthony Doerr


2. The Boys in the Boat
by
Daniel James Brown


3.  The Monuments Men
by
Robert M. Edsel

(Ok, this may not have been my favorite book, but the story of what these men did was amazing.) 


4. The Book Thief
by
Markus Zusak

5.  Unbroken
by
Laura Hillenbrand

6.  A Woman's Place
by
Lynn Austin

7.  The Diary of Anne Frank
by
Anne Frank

(I have read this book several times, but not since I started my blog -gasp!- so I don't have a review....I'll need to get on that!)


8.  The Hiding Place
by
Corrie Ten Boom


9.  Man's Search For Meaning
by
Viktor E. Frankl

(I have also read and loved this book, but I have not reviewed it....yet!)


10. When The Emperor Was Divine
by
Julie Otsuka

(I didn't love this book, but it was VERY eye-opening.)

And Bonus!

11.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
by
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


Each of these books highlights a different aspect of World War II. Some of them are fiction and some of them are nonfiction, but whether it is true or not, each brings a different piece of the war to light. There are people in internment camps, people trying to hide Jews in their homes, and a Japanese-American family inside an internment camp here in the United States. There is a story about what the women in the United States did at home during the war and how they helped the efforts, and there's a story of how the war affected a little girl and her family in Germany. I have laughed, cried, gotten angry, and learned so much from these books. I hope they touch you as they have touched me. 

Do you have any other favorite WWII books? Comment below, I'd love to read them!












Monday, March 28, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See


All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Blurb:

"Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's eclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure's converge."

My Review:

There is something about that World War II era that makes a really good book! I have read so many great books about WWII, and this one definitely fits right up there with the best of them. I like the angle on this book; it's so different and unique that it grabs your attention from the beginning. It's very well written. The descriptions are done so well that you feel as if you can feel the spray from the ocean and hear the roar from the airplanes above. You feel like you are in the house with Marie-Laure and as if you are sitting next to Werner and Jutta as they listen to their radio. It does get a little confusing because it jumps time periods, and the time periods are relatively close together, but once you figure out who is who and where they are in the time periods then it's not difficult to figure it out. The characters in the story are lifelike and real. They feel like your closest friends. Marie-Laure is an amazing character. Her determination, abilities, and strength are an inspiration. Werner is well done as well. I liked that he wasn't perfect. He's young, but his abilities put him in a situation that is way above his years. He handles it well, but I like that he struggles and learns along the way. The other characters are in supporting roles, but they play a big part. I liked Frau Elena and Jutta, and I thought it was interesting to see how their characters influenced Werner. Frederick's tale is heart wrenching, and I could see how what happened would eat at Werner through the years. I liked Volkheimer and enjoyed seeing his different sides. Madame Manec and Etienne were both characters that influenced Marie-Laure, and helped her along the way. Etienne's growth throughout the book is fun to watch, and it makes you realize the things caregivers will do for their children. It took me a minute to figure out how the stories would come together in the end, but the transition was seamless and meant to be. Even though the story is somewhat depressing, it also helps you see inspiration in little things. It gives you a window into some difficult situations, and allows you to see light where there might not be any.  We read this in my book group this month, and I think it's a great pick. I definitely recommend it.

Rating: R (This book contains profanity, including several "f" words. There is a difficult-to-read rape scene, and many innuendos-some of them a little shocking.)

Recommendation: Adult (This book is not appropriate for YA or younger readers.)


Monday, March 21, 2016

The Boys in the Boat



The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Blurb:

"Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times--the improbably, intimate account of nine working-class boys from the American West who at the 1936 Olympics showed the world what true grit really meant. Daniel James Brown's stirring book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. It was an unlikely quest from the start--a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, who first had to master the harsh physical and psychological demands of collegiate rowing and then defeat the East Coast's elite teams that had long dominated the sport. The emotional heart of the story lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but to find a real place for himself in the world. Plagued by personal demons, a devastating family history, and crushing poverty, Joe knows that a seat in the Washington freshman shell is his only option to remain in college. The crew is slowly assembled by an enigmatic and determined coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat designer, but it is the boys' commitment to one another that makes them a winning team. Finally gaining the Olympic berth they long sought, they face their biggest challenge--rowing against the German and Italian crews under Adolf Hitler's gaze and before Leni Riefenstahl's cameras at the "Nazi Olympics" in Berlin, 1936. Drawing on the boys' own diaries and journals and their vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Daniel James Brown has created a portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man's personal quest, all in this immensely satisfying book."

My Review:

Wow! The 1936 Olympics have produced some of the best stories I have ever read! First was "Unbroken" about Louis Zampirini. He ran in the 1936 Olympics. That book was so good! Then there's the story of Jessie Owens. I haven't read a book about him, but I recently saw the movie "Race," and Jessie's story is fantastic too! And then there's this book. Amazing. Seriously amazing. I loved it! The writing is very well done. It may be nonfiction, but it definitely reads like fiction. The descriptions are beautifully done. The writing captivates you from the get-go. The story of Joe Rantz is unbelievable! The circumstances he overcame in his life put him right up there with Louis Zampirini as one of the most inspirational people I've read about. Most people would give up and die rather than go through what he did. His so-called parents made me so angry. They are not fit to be called parents. The things they did to him were unconscionable. And yet he survived, and not only survived, but thrived. What an inspiration he is!! The stories of the other men are also well told and captivating. I loved learning about George Pocock. He has such an interesting story. I never thought I'd enjoy learning about how to make a rowing boat, but he makes it seem so important and interesting. I enjoyed reading all the quotes by Pocock at the beginning of each chapter. I really liked this one:

"Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports. Once the race starts, there are no time-outs, no substitutions. It calls upon the limits of human endurance. The coach must therefore impart the secrets of the special kind of endurance that comes from mind, heart, and body."

I also enjoyed looking at the pictures in the book. I liked that they weren't all bunched together in the middle, but they were spread here and there throughout the book. One thing I loved was how all these stories showed how trials make people stronger. Usually we just want our lives to be easy, right? Well, look at how strong these men became because their lives were not easy. I think attitudes are a little different now, and that's unsettling. There seems to be a trend of if it's not easy I won't do it. We need more determination and hard work like these men had. I loved this book! I loved the writing, the characters, the story; I loved all of it. I highly recommend this book!

Rating: PG 13+ (There is some profanity, but not a lot. There isn't any "intimacy." There are, however, a few situations that border on domestic violence. They are difficult to read, and not appropriate for young readers.)

Recommendation: 14 years-old and up. 




Friday, March 4, 2016

Vacation!!!


Doesn't this look amazing????

I'll be thinking of you all when I'm sitting on that beach next week reading to my heart's content!

Yep! I won't be posting next week because I'll be lying right there with my nose in a book (or two or three or four......). So check back the next week to see what I read while I was there!

Do you want to go there too???
Here's the link:


And when I'm freezing all winter, I check out the beach webcam to make myself feel warmer. It's awesome, check it out:


See ya later! :)


Monday, February 29, 2016

The Gates of Evangeline



The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Blurb:

"When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte "Charlie" Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children in danger, she's sure that she's lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent. They are warnings that will help her and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them. After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie's dreams, asking for her help, she finds herself entangled in a world-famous thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana's prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family's sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust--and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could have imagined."

My Review:

This book is one of the SheReads.org books of winter. I'm so glad I was able to review this book! I love the writing in this book. I was captivated from the beginning. I love the descriptions, the flow of the story, the language of the book, and the writing style. This book grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go. Of course, I'm not sure if any mom, anywhere, could read about the children in Charlie's dreams and not get involved. It's heart wrenching. If I suddenly start seeing children in my dreams, I hope it's not because they're in danger; I hope it's because they're happy and thankful I was their teacher, or something. I like Charlie's voice. I like her personality, and I feel for her after her loss. The characters in this book are well developed and realistic. They come to life on the page. The story of young Gabriel is compelling and draws the reader in.  The description of what Charlie feels at the boat dock is so well done that it had my skin crawling.

Rating: R (This book is not for younger readers. There is profanity in the book; not a ton, but enough to up my rating, including a couple of "f" words. There is also "intimacy"-there are scenes and talk of it as well. There is also some violence; there are descriptions of some not nice things that happen to children.)

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.