To Best The Boys by Mary Weber Review

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Synopsis

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

My Thoughts

The premise for this book sounded very interesting and I absolutely love the cover so I was very excited to pick it up. Unfortunately, this was a big disappointment to me.

The first half of the book was just leading up to the labyrinth and felt like a lot of setup and it seemed to drag. The writing was choppy at times and a bit hard to follow. The labyrinth scenes were enjoyable but sometimes felt a bit rushed. I would have liked more of the book to be focused on that.

My biggest issue with this book is that it’s published by a Christian publisher but there is absolutely no faith content whatsoever. It felt very much like a mainstream, secular book. From the extreme kisses to the black magic and ghouls, I was wondering where the author was going to bring in the “Christian” element. (She didn’t). I don’t need or like an author to “shove the Christian message down my throat,” but if it’s published by a Christian publisher, I do expect there to be some kind of faith content included, whether it be a character praying, going to church, referencing God, or a reference to Him in some way. I was extremely disappointed to see that this did not happen. There was also something disturbing about one of the characters that didn’t belong in a “Christian” novel,  in my opinion.

I attempted to read another of this author’s books in the past and DNF’d it because of the content so I think I’m done with her books unfortunately.

My Rating

1.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Pajama Party The Story by E.C. Jackson Spotlight and Giveaway!


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Pajama Party: The Story
By E. C. Jackson
YA Christian Contemporary
Paperback & ebook, 213 Pages
August 26th 2017 by E. C. Jackson

Most sleepovers are simple. Food, fun, and pillow fights. But sixteen-year-old Karen Duncan has bigger plans for her slumber party. Family troubles have changed her over the past year, and she’s no longer the petty, selfish girl she used to be. Now she’s ready to shake things up with her friends. The guest list comes as a surprise to some and a slap in the face to others. This popular girl has invited some not-so-popular guests. Even more shocking, she’s left out some of the girls she’s hung out with since middle school.

Diane and Evette are outsiders, nervous about being stuck in a house with the same girls who tease them at school. Kathy, Lisa, and Joann come to the party with the confidence of the in-crowd, but they’re masking inner-turmoil that is bound to surface. Sandy and Angela are usually the voices of reason…usually. And then there’s Linda, the friend that got away. She may not ever forgive the girls who abandoned her years ago. Karen hopes to change her mind.

Her agenda is ambitious, and it could spell disaster. But Karen is convinced God will use this party to spark a new beginning for everyone involved. This companion book to A Living Hope gives us the inspired story Sadie Cummings wrote for the girls of Shiatown.

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About the Author

E. C. Jackson began her writing career with the full-length play Pajama Party. For three and a half years she published the Confidence in Life newsletter for Alpha Production Ministries, in addition to writing tracts and devotionals. Teaching a women’s Bible study at her church for eleven years naturally led to her current endeavor of writing inspirational romance novels and teen and young adult fiction. Her mission: spiritual maturity in the body of Christ through fiction.

A note from E. C. Jackson: “The Write Way: A Real Slice of Life” is the slogan on my website and Facebook author page. If every person reading my book feels connected to the characters, my job is done.

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Tour Schedule

Tour Giveaway

One 1st Prize winner will receive:
A Living Hope Paperback (the companion book to Pajama Party: The Story)
– 1 Key chain for Pajama Party: The Story
– 1 Key chain for A Living Hope

One 2nd Prize winner will receive:
– A $25 Amazon eGift Card

Open internationally
Ends March 6, 2019

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The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson Review

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Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes a fresh reimagining of the classic Mulan tale.

Mulan isn’t afraid to pretend to be a son and assume her father’s soldier duties in war. But what happens when the handsome son of a duke discovers her secret?

Mulan is trying to resign herself to marrying the village butcher for the good of her family, but her adventurous spirit just can’t stand the thought. At the last minute, she pretends to be the son her father never had, assumes his duties as a soldier, and rides off to join the fight to protect the castle of her liege lord’s ally from the besieging Teutonic Knights.

Wolfgang and his brother Steffan leave Hagenheim with several other soldiers to help their father’s ally in Poland. When they arrive, Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier Mikolai who seems to either always be one step away from disaster . . . or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.

When Wolfgang discovers his former rival and reluctant friend Mikolai is actually a girl, he is determined to protect her. But battle is a dangerous place where anything can happen—and usually does.

When Mulan receives word that her mother has been accused of practicing witchcraft through her healing herbs and skills, Mulan’s only thought is of defending her. Will she be able to trust Wolfgang to help? Or will sacrificing her own life be the only way to save her mother?

My Thoughts:

I was not familiar with the story of Mulan as I had never seen the movie but I was still interested to read this re-telling. The story is very interesting…a young girl who dresses as a boy to fight in order for her mother to keep their home. Of course along the way she meets a handsome man.

The story was full of action and adventure. Set in the 1400s, a time of religious strife, there is plenty of tension and drama. I found it interesting to learn about the Teutonic Knights and their somewhat hypocritical and legalistic views.

Mulan was a great character and wonderful role model for young girls…she was strong and courageous and went against the norms of what a young lady should do.

The faith content in the book is excellent, there are many references to God’s will and sovereignty. The content is clean and I would not be hesitant to allow my 12 year old daughter to read it.

Overall, this was an enjoyable historical fiction re-telling. I think many people would enjoy the story, especially if they love the story of Mulan.

My Rating

3 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Secrets by Beckie Lindsey Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

Secrets

Book: Secrets

Author: Beckie Lindsey

Genre: Young Adult

Release Date: February, 2018

Every girl has a secret she hopes the light will never find–but the demons already have.

Four girls. Four sets of secrets. Four searching for answers.

Mackenzie is the shy, awkward new girl at school, depressed and desperate for a real friend. When she stumbles upon the deepest secret of a sarcastic, angry-at-the-world track star, Krystal, they become instant enemies-especially about the flirtatious baseball player, Bryce.

Tammi, a gloomy singer/musician who couldn’t care less about what others think of her, meets Sadie, a dancer and a people-pleaser with a cotton candy disposition. They have nothing in common until their lives begin to collide in more ways than one.

As the girls’ worlds begin to converge, their secrets rather than their similarities draw them together. Meanwhile, all that’s kept hidden has left them vulnerable to a battle in an invisible realm where demonic creatures fight to keep the girls chained to their pasts while angels of light work to free them.

Can good ever come from evil? Can beauty ever arise from ashes?

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

I always enjoy stories about spiritual warfare as they provide a visual image of the battle that goes on within the spiritual realm. This story follows 4 teenage girls who all have struggles and issues and the demons and angels that are battling for their souls. The story is full of drama and some very serious issues. I appreciate that the author did not sugar coat the story, the girls were realistic and gritty at times. Because of the content of the story, this would not be appropriate for younger teens.

The scenes of the demons were chilling and the scenes with the angels were very uplifting. I love that when the characters called out to God, they immediately found the help they needed.

The characters were each unique. The story provides what I imagine is an accurate picture of public school in this day and age. I think many teens would find this book interesting and I highly recommend it.

I received this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

Beckie LindsayBeckie Lindsey is an award-winning poet, author, blogger, and the editor of Southern California Christian Voice, a division of One Christian Voice, a national news syndicating agency. She is a major coffeeholic and enjoys a good book with a cat on her lap. She also loves to hike and hang out with family and friends. Beckie and her husband, Scott have three adult children, two adorable cats and live in California.

Guest Post from Beckie

Why I write YA and the BFA series

By Beckie Lindsey

 

I believe a teenager still exists inside each of us.

 

We hear a familiar tune from our “glory days” and are instantly tapping our toes. Mentally, we’re back in high school —poofy bangs, scrunchie, neon off-the-shoulder sweatshirt — and all. Oh, wait. That’s me back in the ‘80s!

 

Ah, yes. There is something wonderfully awful about those coming-of-age years.

 

From the first kiss to the first breakup, there are memories we cherish and some we don’t care to ever revisit. Being a teen can be exciting, confusing, painful, joyous, or even all of those things at once!

 

No matter how different your teenage experience was from mine, one thing is true for us all: these years have an enormous impact on who we become as adults. We can all sympathize with the plight of puberty and the longing for independence and acceptance. Yeah, there’s still a teenager in all of us!

 

These are the reasons I write YA.

 

My hope is to use the power of storytelling to move past barriers and open hearts to accept how much God loves and desires a personal relationship with us.

 

At every age, we all need the grace and love of Jesus.

 

In the Beauties from Ashes (BFA) series, I write about relatable characters with difficult issues and traumatic pasts to enlighten readers about the unseen spiritual battle referred to in Scripture. Each character has a secret that has left them vulnerable to the battle in an invisible realm where demonic creatures fight to keep them chained to their pasts and angels of light work to free them.

 

The characters and their issues are complex, just like real life. In fact, some of the topics are often considered too taboo to talk about openly. But what is left in the dark, festers and grows. It is only in the light that we can be free. In the BFA series, readers experience the character’s quest for truth, love, grace, and freedom while hopefully finding the same for themselves.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, November 13

Inklings and notions, November 14

Genesis 5020, November 15

Multifarious, November 16

Blogging With Carol, November 16

Carpe Diem, November 17

A Baker’s Perspective, November 18

Godly Book Reviews, November 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 19

Robin Is Bookish, November 20

Remembrancy, November 20

The Becca Files, November 21

Christian Centered book Reviews, November 21

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 22

Stephanie’s Life of Perseverance, November 22

Wonders of Anomalies Book Reviews, November 23

amandainpa, November 23

Bibliophile Reviews, November 24

Janices book reviews, November 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 26

Bigreadersite, November 26

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Beckie is giving away a grand prize of a $30 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d56f/secrets-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Crescent Stone by Matt Mikalatos Review

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Synopsis

A girl with a deadly lung disease . . .
A boy with a tragic past . . .
A land where the sun never sets but darkness still creeps in . . .

Madeline Oliver has never wanted for anything, but now she would give anything just to breathe. Jason Wu skates through life on jokes, but when a tragedy leaves him guilt-stricken, he promises to tell only the truth, no matter the price. When a mysterious stranger name Hanali appears to Madeline and offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service to his people, Madeline and Jason are swept into a strange land where they don’t know the rules and where their decisions carry consequences that reach farther than they could ever guess.

My Thoughts

Although fantasy is not my “go-to genre”, I enjoyed this story. The world that the author created was very unique, with different types of creatures and a lot of tensions between them. I loved the theme of having humans visit a fantastical world…it makes it easier to picture when seeing things through the humans’ eyes.

The characters were great in the story. I loved Jason (as I’m sure most readers will)…he added fun and humor to the story and was definitely a typical teenage boy. Madeline was also a good character…my dad suffered from the same lung disorder that she has and I could understand her desperation to be able to breathe “normally” again.

I enjoyed the scenes surrounding the history of the world and learning about the magic system the most. There were a lot of battle scenes towards the end that I found to be a bit tedious and caused me to lose some interest.

Overall, this was an excellent YA fantasy story. I highly recommend this one to all teens. The content is very clean and appropriate.

My Rating

3 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes Review

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Synopsis:

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

My Thoughts:

Fantasy is a genre that I visit the least but I was very intrigued by the synopsis of this book. The use of masks and color powers is very interesting and I also found the stone plague to be unique.

Nadine is a very talented writer. She is very good at showing the reader the world without having to describe it plainly. The use of masks and color powers was a bit complex but everything was shown almost as if the reader is watching a movie….there was never a moment where I was confused about what was happening.

The way the story is based on historical facts made it even more fascinating. Many of the characters in the story are based on real people from the past.

I liked the character of Thomas…he’s struggling with what to believe and trying to prove that he’s no longer a young boy. The relationship between him and his father was also very realistic and sad at times.

Emma was a nice addition to the story. Nadine addressed the issue of racism very well. She didn’t shy away from the ugly truths of history but also showed people thinking for themselves about difficult issues.

The descriptions in the story were excellent…I felt as though I was walking through the streets of London in the 1600s.  There were some graphic descriptions of executions, although difficult to read about, they are historically accurate and necessary to the story.

The story was very interesting but I did feel that it was a bit too long for my taste…I think it could have been condensed a bit and packed more of a punch.

Overall, this was a great fantasy standalone story. I highly recommend it!

My Rating: 3.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson Review

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Synopsis:

From the streets to an orphanage in a faraway kingdom, Aladdin has grown up alone. Until he meets Kirstyn. With a father who is the duke of Hagenheim and a mother who is the patroness of the orphanage where Aladdin lives, Kirstyn is a member of the most powerful family in the land . . . and way out of his league. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion for taking walks in the forest, and their childhood friendship grows along with them.

Through his scrappy skills, intelligence, and hard work, Aladdin earns a position serving in the duke’s house. But he knows it isn’t enough to grant him his one desire: Kirstyn’s hand in marriage. If he hopes to change his station in life and feel worthy of marrying Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim to seek his fortune.

But once Aladdin leaves, no one is around to protect Kirstyn, and the greedy men desperate to take advantage of her father’s wealth take notice. Now, more than Aladdin’s background stands in the way of the future he’s worked so hard to obtain. His only hope is to rescue Kirstyn and somehow manage to win her hand as well.

My Thoughts:

I have been eager to pick up a fairy tale retelling for a long time and have heard amazing things about Melanie’s writing so I couldn’t wait to dig into this book. Unfortunately, this probably wasn’t the best one to start with.

The story is supposed to be based on Aladdin, but there are very few similarities, mostly only the names Aladdin and Abu. The main theme of the story is focused on a relationship between Aladdin and Lady Kirsten, who have serious communication issues. So many things could have been resolved had the characters talked things out. It became very frustrating for me to read.

I did enjoy the setting and the time period. I love stories that are in and around castles and small villages. I also related to Kirsten in the way she didn’t always fit in with her family, but felt that Aladdin really understood her like no one else (I have my own Aladdin in my life 🙂 The faith content was also great and the story is very clean. This would be a book I wouldn’t hesitate to allow my 12 year old daughter to read, which I really appreciate.

Overall, the story was a bit bland and the story dragged on too long for my liking but I still plan on revisiting Melanie Dickerson’s books.

My Rating:

2.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.