Every now and then I get it in my mind that I want to read a bit of a thriller. Nothing scary, just something that will keep my on the edge of my seatEvery now and then I get it in my mind that I want to read a bit of a thriller. Nothing scary, just something that will keep my on the edge of my seat, trying to guess what is going to happen. That was what I was imagining when I picked up Through the Lens.
What I Loved: This story did keep me captivated. It starts off with the end…so when it jumps back to the beginning I spent the entire book wondering; who, what, when, where, why? (Yes, I did just list all the W’s…but it’s true, I spent the entire book making hypothesizes).
I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book, which is kind of rare for me. Usually, I have a few I like and a few I don’t, but everyone in this book seem to have their place and played it well. I loved Ethan’s mystery, and Jessa’s new found popularity, Josh’s appeal and Jenna’s jealousy.
Not So Much: I didn’t exactly get the thriller I was hoping for. Yes, I did contemplate the ending from the very beginning, but there was no real ‘danger’ or any thing overly suspenseful about the book until close to the end. It was more of a typical YA with troubled teenagers just learning to “life.” Some of the characters did have a little extra baggage than others, but there wasn’t the cat and mouse game I was hoping for.
The Verdict: Even if it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be, I still loved this book! The characters really make this book, 100%. There is some mystery to it as well, and a lot of different kinds of foreshadowing that keep you guessing the entire book. This book has some mild partying, drinking, and off-scene sex, nothing graphic though. Still upper YA in my opinion.
I received a copy if Through the Lens from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have received no other compensation, other than the joy of reading, for my opinion. ...more
Tammy L Gray has become a pretty consistent 1-Click Author for me, mostly because her stories are filled both with real-life and hope.
What I Loved: SoTammy L Gray has become a pretty consistent 1-Click Author for me, mostly because her stories are filled both with real-life and hope.
What I Loved: So many words out of this novel are nearly the same things that come out of my Pastor’s mouth on a regular basis, a message of being real and genuine as a Christian, and through our daily walk with those who aren’t. She mentions so many hot buttons, such as how Christians are hypocrites (true), gossips (true), sinners (well duh), but she also brings light to the fact that despite these things, there are Christ-followers who are real and genuine. People who struggle on a daily basis to just get it right. How if we are truly “Christ-Followers” we would do as He did, sit at tables with sinners, show them love and compassion and not judgment and rejection. It was also touched upon how Christians have their own “language” using words that are unfamiliar to those who did not grow up in Church. Using these words don’t make us holy, and if they make people uncomfortable or becomes a stumbling block, we need to be aware of it, and just be real. I very much love these mini-messages of being relevant and real.
This story was a sort of an opposites attract type story, but both Asher and Katie had issues. I loved the struggles portrayed from both the lifer-church-attendee, and from someone completely…opposite. It was nice to see the story bring together both stories and the love and truth and healing that came through in different ways.
Of course, I love to see real romance, love and passion coming out in a Christian novel that feel much the same as my own relationship with my husband. I love that Tammy L. Gray does not shy away from passion, but embraces it.
Not So Much: While both Asher and Katie both have their own healing, I felt like this was more Katie’s story. I’m pretty sure this was the intention actually, but I was also interested in seeing more of Asher’s process as well. There was a reconciliation and forgiveness, but I felt like at the beginning of the book he was dealing with many internal struggles that seemed to clear up with a simple lecture from his Dad. I would have loved to have seen it flushed out just a bit more.
At times I did feel like the book was a little long. At some point I kind of felt that Katie’s devastation was abundantly clear and was ready to proceed forward with the story. All these things did happen, it just took a bit longer than I felt was necessary.
The Verdict: I know that there are many of my readers who won’t consider this book because I’ve openly reveal how it’s Christian in nature. That is fine. I do think that this was a very beautiful piece of written art and is perfect for any Christ-Follower who prefer books based on Christians rather than not. I also think anyone who likes clean-reads would love this book as well, regardless of their beliefs. I highly recommend this author because she writes great books of struggle and reconciliation, and of hope. ...more
A book recommended by one of my favorite authors (Cassie Mae), when she posted the pre-buy option on the book, I one-clicked, because well…I trust herA book recommended by one of my favorite authors (Cassie Mae), when she posted the pre-buy option on the book, I one-clicked, because well…I trust her. And she didn’t steer me wrong.
What I Loved: From the onset, I could tell I was going to love this book. Rainbow was such a fun, bright, outgoing and charismatic character, but she had a thirst of adventure and danger, a natural thrill seeker. Perhaps it was because she trying to live up to her name, or perhaps she would have always been that way – but she was a force to be reckoned with, she’s even bright in her clothing and hair color choices. Her three best friends, all boys, are probably all just a little in love with her while at the same time have no idea what to do with her.
When tragedy strikes (come-on, not a spoiler, you can tell from the blurb!) Rain changes too. She is dark and depressed. I think the take-away from her transformation is the fact that she feels guilty and responsible, and turns in on herself, shutting her friends and the world out.
The friendship between the characters is one that I think everyone wishes they had, or reminds them of one that they did or do have. Friends how love each other, and get into trouble with each other and are just basically a single unit. Reading the first couple chapters, I smiled madly at the group and their bond. I love how this bond plays out and grows into something else as the story continues to move forward.
Not So Much: I mentioned that I loved Rainbows character, but I will say she was as little bit cliché in her outward appearance. A Rain clothes that were not though about, but just thrown together in a mismatch array and a hair color that had faded, washed out and grown out probably would have been a better depiction, however I loved the imagery so I didn’t let it affect me too much.
I’m always wanting some kind of redeeming factor for bad parents, and I wished the same for Rainbow and her dad. But no, he was a drunk slob who barely served an purpose in the story at all.
The Verdict: This is not my favorite read of the year, but I really did enjoy it. I really would love to see more people get their hands on this book! While it’s dealt out in extremes, there is just enough happiness and excitement to balance out the sad. This is important to me, because I don’t typically seek out books that are overly sad. This is a good YA book, mostly clean....more
Two teenagers dealing with more baggage than any typical teenager would carry, both dealing with their hardships in their own way – finding each otherTwo teenagers dealing with more baggage than any typical teenager would carry, both dealing with their hardships in their own way – finding each other in the process. Add football, mean girls and good friends, and you’ve got a pretty decent YA.
What I Loved: The chemistry between West and Maggie was off the charts hot. And I knew it would be from the moment I hit play. West is an intense character, a bit more so than I am used to finding in a YA book. He’s a bit broody, and in some way a bit stereo-typical too (but he makes up for that eventually). I do love how much he loves and respects his family though, that sort of helped me through the first few chapters at least.
Maggie isn’t complicated at all, she is very much a typical teenage girl, she just doesn’t really talk. She is very caring and understanding of people around her, even toward her cousin and Aunt and Uncle. Mostly, I love how she is there for West and helps him deal.
I kind of fell in love with West, and Brady (Maggie’s cousin) and the rest of their circle of friends. Sometimes it’s the friend dynamic that really makes a book a little extra special to me.
Not So Much: This book started to feel long toward the end. Typically when you read a book there is a pretty clear arc in the story line, you reach a climax and things start to come back down. This book seemed to be more of a linear progression. There was progress made, for sure. The characters had issues they all worked through and there was a resolution, however there never seemed to be this grand moment/turning point in the book. I don’t think this is “wrong” but I do think that it might be why it felt a bit long after a while. More than once I thought things were getting ready to wrap up in the story (I was listening via Audio, and I don’t exactly watch the progress on where I am in the book) but then something more would start happening, and I would be like, ‘oh, we’re going to do this now…’
I already mentioned Maggie was caring and understanding and just had a good personality in general, however sometimes she came off as a pushover, while other times she stood her ground, then the next minute she was cowering. I get she’s a complicated person with a very, very complicated recent past, however I kind of felt like her character was a little inconsistent.
So the biggest issue in this book for me is a spoiler. I’m going to go ahead and …spoil…if you will, but you must scroll past the rest of the review to read it.
The Verdict: I don’t even remember what made me pick up this book. I think I saw a promotion for the next book in the series – and decided to check the books out. I really did enjoy most of the story, I enjoyed the characters a lot. This book, however, is not clean. There is sex, and while it’s not overly descriptive, it is descriptive enough. There is a lot of foul language as well. So, not my typical read – but I did enjoy it otherwise.
WARNING, SPOILER AHEAD…
(view spoiler)[ So my biggest upset in this whole book is that West is extremely overprotective, and possessive. At some point Maggie realizes how unhealthy this is – his reliance on her to get through his day, and the way he treats anyone who wants to talk or even look at her. Even her own cousin. While a little growling and marking of the territory (not literally…kind of) is fine, he does go over the line. And as I said, Maggie realizes it, and she does the right thing and asks for a little distance. The trouble is she waits less than a day before she takes his confession of love and runs with it. She takes him back in less.than.a.day. Yes, part of what she was worried about was that he didn’t really love her, he’d just become dependent on her…but she mentioned how over-bearing he was. He had no time to prove that he realized he was wrong. In fact, in the one conversation they had about it, he basically stated that he WASN’T going to change. So, I still think this is unhealthy. It was kind of worse when I believe in the epilogue Maggie indicated that her father was the same way with her mother. This is a classic thing that happens in families, we carry on a tradition of abuse, or fall into the same pattern as our parents. Now, I WANTED things to work out for Maggie and West, and am happy that they ended up together…but once that issue was addressed and touched on in the book, I really felt like it needed more time and more flushing out to create a healthy relationship. So, now I’m sitting over here a concerned/worried mother to these fictional teenage book characters…. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It was the blurb of this book that drew me to it, very well written blurb that sort of draws you in and makes you ask questions. This book falls rightIt was the blurb of this book that drew me to it, very well written blurb that sort of draws you in and makes you ask questions. This book falls right in line with a paranormal/fantasy mixed with reality that is pretty popular now, and I’m always intrigued by them.
What I Loved: I really enjoyed the world building in this book. The story had a good progressive movement, while there is clearly something otherworldly going on, the first few chapters only give you enough to make you want to know more. Even as things are revealed, it’s not all at once, but continues to be done at a slow place. The setting of Scotland is always enjoyable in my opinion, and I’m always down with a good accent (unfortunately this wasn’t via audiobook this time! ;) ) I found Maren’s character enjoyable, as she was both flawed and strong. She was dealing with some pretty heavy grief, but always was not unwilling to find out more and learn about why her parents were previously estranged from her grandparents. The Illuminate aspect of the book was just sort of intriguing all on its own…apparently my husband is rubbing off on me.
Not So Much: While I loved his Scottish accent and good looks, Gavin’s character was a little too hot to cold to mega-hot jumping into this thing with both feet. It was a bit jarring I think. And then there was the mysterious Graham, who I think needed a lot more play time in the book to establish his obsession with Maren.
I also felt like there were too many individual story-lines happening in this book. We have the arc that had to do with Maren’s mother's journal, and this huge chunk of the novel dedicated to its mysteries, and then there were some end chapters dealing with the Maren/Gavin/Graham concept, in it’s own mini-story arc. It made the book feel a little segmented I guess. This is a series, and I wonder if it would have better played out if one of these story arcs was extended beyond this book and elaborated on (I already said more time could have been given to Graham’s character, so naturally I’m thinking the latter).
The Verdict: In all this was a great start to a series, one that I think will intrigue many! It was a clean book, perfect for the YA audience!
I received a copy if Toward a Secret Sky from Blink in exchange for an honest review. I have received no other compensation, other than the joy of reading, for my opinion. ...more
A beautiful cover, a blurb that boasts a modern Cinderella story; is it any surprise that I was drawn to It Started With Goodbye right away?
What I LA beautiful cover, a blurb that boasts a modern Cinderella story; is it any surprise that I was drawn to It Started With Goodbye right away?
What I Loved: I adore the fact that, for the first time since Cinder and Ella (yet, another Cinderella story) I was sucked into a story so deeply that it took me less than 24 hours to read it. ...well, it isn't a 500 page book, so there's that, but you get my point. It feels like it's been a while since I was plunged into a book like that.
I enjoyed Tatum's character a lot, and watching how she was going to handle and come through her particular predicament. She was being blamed for something that wasn't her fault, and being punished rather harshly at that. I enjoyed how she came up with ways of overcoming this punishment, sometimes with just a positive attitude. Then even when there were times when she was being rebellious, she still managed to be honorable in her thoughts, and ultimately her actions as well. It made me like her that much more.
Of course there has to be a Prince Charming! True to the Cinderella story, we don't really 'see' him too much, but I did enjoy how their relationship formed and bloomed throughout the story.
Throughout the book there was an overlying theme of misconceptions and hurts - you can trace it back through several of the characters. It was nice to see how some of these things played out and when the truth was revealed or the characters let go of their own hurt to view things from another perspective, things were made right.
Not So Much: I think one of the things I wish would have worked out a bit differently was the end when Tatum finally got to really talk to her parents. I felt like this was glossed over a bit. There seemed to be a lot of long lasting hurt feelings, however only the surface was scratched on the depth of the rejection and lonliness that Tate was going through.
The Verdict: It is always fun to read modernized fairytales. They are predictable, of course, but I love being swept up into the story while at the same time knowing how things are probably going to end anyway. It Started With Goodbye had me hooked from the very beginning. I recommend this book for teenager of all ages, and again I have suggested to my 11 year old daughter that she may like the book - so you know it's clean!
I received a copy if It Started With Goodbye from Blink in exchange for an honest review. I have received no other compensation, other than the joy of reading, for my opinion. ...more
There is just something that draws me to these ‘brother’s best friend’ novels, I love the kind of taboo, ‘I’m not supposed to like you,’ scenario, andThere is just something that draws me to these ‘brother’s best friend’ novels, I love the kind of taboo, ‘I’m not supposed to like you,’ scenario, and usually it’s mixed with having known said best friend for many years. They are always pretty sweet. The cover of Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up is also eye catching – so it’s no wonder I decided it was a good use of an Audible credit.
What I Loved: Honestly, I really loved the relationship between Bianca, and her brother. They were the perfect mix of that annoying relationship most siblings have, and family who love and support one another. Even though there were hints of it, there wasn’t really a lot of “I’m big brother, stay away from sister” kind of thing going on, until it became apparently necessary. Bianca’s friends were pretty awesome too, they were a great group of friends who knew each other inside and out, the kind of friends I dreamed of having when I was in High School myself.
Bianca was actually a solid character, with the normal flaws you would find with a typical 15 year old High Schooler. She had her own mind, and knew what things in her life were important. As she was dating Dante, she would often say things like, “you expect me to choose you over my friends of xx years?” Though she was trapped in the idea of having her first boyfriend, someone whom girls fell over themselves to date – she did have some reasoning skills. I do think that this book did a good job of showing how just a few words or actions can open you up to manipulation, and worse, how easily girls can be manipulated. Especially when it comes to things like self esteem, just a few words can cause many girls to doubt themselves. I think this is real, and the book does serve as a good warning against that.
Not So Much: I really didn’t care for the narrator of this story. Bianca and her friends were typical high schoolers, and used slang that is popular now, however while I was listening to the book, they (Bianca especially) came off as extremely whiney. As I think back on the book, I’m really not sure that this was the author’s intention…and as a mother, I CAN.NOT.STAND the whining voice! It took me an extra long time to listen to this book, and I nearly gave up on it because of the narration. That would have been unfortunate, because I did love how this story wrapped up.
The Verdict: I do not recommend the Audiobook of Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up, however I do recommend reading it. This is very age appropriate, and can actually help empower girls who might find themselves stuck in a manipulative relationship see things from a different perspective. Maybe. The book is clean. ...more
Another winner that I got from Owlcrate - which if you've never heard of I encourage you to look up! Owlcrate is one of those monthly boxes where notAnother winner that I got from Owlcrate - which if you've never heard of I encourage you to look up! Owlcrate is one of those monthly boxes where not only do you get a book every month, but also book related goodies in the form of things like jewelry, art, and/or bookmarks. I purchased two, myself, and loved both of them. The boxes are $30 each, plus shipping, and are a lovely treat if you're able to do it!
What I Loved: This book was full of humor, both from the characters as well as the narrators, aka the authors, who interject their commentary now and then. It is a very light hearted read, but also an entertaining story. My favorite character is probably King Edward's grandma - who had wonderfully witty, elder-ish type things to say. The entire cast was perfect though.
The relationship between Jane and Gifford was so fun! They had a rocky start full of miscommunication and half-truths, however they always fell back to their friendly, if not flirtatious, banter and self consciousness (from both sides).
All humor aspects of this book aside (and there is plenty...I mean, many of these characters turn into animals...so yeah), there is a great story-line here too. Just like any book involving the royal court, there are game players, and tyrant leaders, and of course kingdoms usurpers.
Not so Much: I loved this story, but I do kind of wish there were a few surprises sprinkled in. I was pretty much able to predict, or make a pretty logical guess about what was going to happen the entire way through. It did take me a while to finish this book - MOSTLY because I'm busy, and the kids are going back to school, etc., etc., but partly I think it also had to do with not being completely sucked in - no mystery or something like that.
The Verdict: I've given this book 5 stars. It was very well written, and entertaining. Extremely age appropriate. In fact, I've recommended that my 11 year old daughter pick it up, as I believe she will really enjoy it (even if they use the word "consummate" **gasp** ;) ). ...more
My Review: Adult coloring books are all the rage, and this one even more appropriate given the day! I couldn't turn down this treasure!
What I Loved: ThMy Review: Adult coloring books are all the rage, and this one even more appropriate given the day! I couldn't turn down this treasure!
What I Loved: This book is filled with wonderful patriotic images from birds and flags, to military shots, all pages waiting to be filled with color and life. Each image includes a quote, popular line, or some sort of patriotic verse. On the left-hand side there is a bit of a history lesson as well.
Not So Much: Most of the images are beautiful, but there were a couple of pages that were just okay to me. I think you'd get that will every and all coloring books; children and adults alike.
In all, I enjoy this coloring book. I love the peace that comes with filling in the blanks and making the pages my own.
I received this book for an honest review from Blogging For Books. No other compensation was given for this review other than the joy of a book....more
Echo is not a book I would have picked up on my own. Never would I have read the blurb and thought, “hey, this book is for me!” However, I have a frieEcho is not a book I would have picked up on my own. Never would I have read the blurb and thought, “hey, this book is for me!” However, I have a friend who is a youth/young adult librarian, and she read a variety of things, some of them specifically to have a better knowledge of her product. She listened to this book via audio, and thought it was great, and pressured me into listening to the audiobook specifically because the audiobook comes with musical interludes that correlates with what is happening in the book.
What I Loved: This book isn’t simply fiction. It isn’t non-fiction. This book isn’t even straight up literary fiction. Describing Echo to others has been a little bit something like this: “It’s a fairytale, historical fiction, and a lesson in humanity wrapped into one book.” Echo starts off with a short fairytale, or myth, which surrounds music. Music, specifically harmonica music played on specific harmonicas becomes the point zero of this tale, but once the first part is completed it quickly branches off into three different stories taking place in a somewhat jagged yet still the same timeline. Each story is unique, yet the lessons seem to be about the same.
I love the woven tales, the music, the relationship between the stories, and the differences. I LOVE the message of this book most of all.
Not So Much: I can’t tell if it was mean, or genius how the stories are broken down. All I have to say is that if you are using some kind of electronic device, you might have a strong temptation to throw it. Don’t do it. Just trust me.
I cannot speak more highly of this book. I know my review was vague, and it is purposeful, because the journey itself is what makes this special. If I were to lay out details too specific, it might ruin the effect for you. I suggest getting the audiobook if you are able to. This book is written for Middle Age/Jr. High Age, and it’s very age appropriate. In fact, I recommend it for your children, and you adults as well!...more
These Vicious Masks was one of those moments when I was just browsing through what was available at the library and just happened to run across the boThese Vicious Masks was one of those moments when I was just browsing through what was available at the library and just happened to run across the book. After reading the blurb, I found it might be something I could possibly enjoy. I’m SO not disappointed that I downloaded this book!
What I Loved: So Evelyn, our main character and narrator, is SO FUNNY! She has very dry, sarcastic humor, but I loved it. Straight from the very first page I knew that I was going to enjoy this book based on her voice alone.
Normally I’m not a ‘love triangle’ lover, not that it’s horrible, it’s just done so frequently, but never have I read a book and really wanted both options to win. Not that I want this girl to have two guys – but well, I liked both options equally and for different reasons.
These Vicious Masks is the beginning of a series (imagine that!) and this book gives you just enough to get you into the story, fall in love with the characters, and make you want more without some huge cliffhanger. I loved that! And I am very excited to carry on with this series.
Not So Much: There was a story line that I wanted to play out soo differently. It’s an extreme spoiler and plot killer, so I’m not going to list it here. But it is just one of those, I want my way, type moments for a reader.
An excellent Paranormal Victorian YA. I loved it! It’s clean and perfect for the age group it’s written for. I can’t wait to read more....more
This book was sort of a break from my norm. It’s not a fairy tale retell, it’s not straight up fiction, or even dystopian/fantasy. This can best be deThis book was sort of a break from my norm. It’s not a fairy tale retell, it’s not straight up fiction, or even dystopian/fantasy. This can best be described as a YA-Western, complete with guns, small down salons, horses and Stetsons. Although I’m wondering…were the hats actually called Stetsons back then? Because I’m pretty sure that’s a name brand, right? I could be wrong.
What I Loved: It was just ever so different, yet the same. The setting is one that I’m not used to, and the southerny/western accent too. This was more a book about redemption than anything, but first comes vengeance. I think the thing that I liked most was Kate’s character, she was complicated. She was after the men who killed her father, but at the same time was able to be compassionate and understanding toward the Apache Indians, the race that everyone hated/feared/mistreated. However, even in that area, she was tainted by society norms and while she was trying to maintain a friendship and understanding, she continued to have disregard for their ways and was borderline offensive for a good portion of the book. There were events that helped her to gain more understanding and respect for the Indians as the story went on, and this growth was the most significant throughout the book, in my opinion.
I also enjoyed the relationship between Kate and Jessie. I felt like it was this low simmer sort of thing between them, rather than drama that extended throughout the book. This wasn’t just Kate’s story either, Jessie had his own redemption to find as well.
Not So Much: Despite any kind of redemption she found while on the hunt for her father’s killers, Kate really never did leave the thought of vengeance behind. For a small portion of the book I thought that she was going to find healing elsewhere, and I do feel like she kind of did – however she was still pretty set on her path. I would have liked to have had more of an emotional resolution for both Kate and Jessie. While there was character growth throughout the book, I feel like we stopped just shy of anything remarkable.
I enjoyed listening to this book. Again, it is nice to break free from the mold just a bit and read something a little different. I can’t say it was my favorite book of the summer, but I certainly do not regret reading it. This is a YA driven novel, though there is some stronger cussing in it..just so you all know....more