Friday, December 16, 2016

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

Untraceable, by S.R. Johannes, is the first novel in the Nature of Grace series. It is a young adult mystery/thriller about a girl named Grace who has grown up surrounded by nature in the Smoky Mountains, and with a forest ranger father that taught her wilderness survival skills. While out on a daily patrol, Grace’s father goes missing, and while the town authorities and officials believe him to be dead, Grace refuses to give up the search for him. She starts her own search, and one day when she is out looking for any clues that would lead her to her father, she runs into danger and is rescued by a handsome, mysterious young man named Mo. Using the survival skills taught to her by her father, Grace sets out on a journey into the wilderness to find him and bring him home.  Everything is not what is seems, however, and soon Grace finds herself in life or death situation where she has to fight to save the people she loves.

I really enjoyed this book. I am not a big fan of mystery/thriller books, and I usually stick to fantasy and dystopian genres, but I thought I would give this one a go. I am glad I did, because this book was not boring in the slightest. It was exciting and fast paced, and full of emotion. I also loved the nature aspect of it, and how the author threw in issues such as poaching. Many of the scenes in the book were intense and educational for what actually goes on with poaching, wildlife conservation, etc. Overall, I highly recommend this book, and I am definitely going to be reading the second book in the series.
Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley

City of Legends by Cheyenne Young

City of Legends by Cheyanne Young was a pleasantly surprising young adult fantasy novel. I have read many books in my days that have all had similar premises, yet I have yet to come across a plot like this one. City of Legends tells the story of a world where Supers (super heroes), have existed and lived in a society apart from humans for as long as anyone can remember. The main protagonist, Maci Knight, has grown up watching her father and brother, who are both Heroes worshipped by Supers and Humans alike, fight to protect the humans from villains. She has trained her whole life, and wants nothing more than to become a Hero and protect humankind. However, on the day before her 18th birthday, the day she will officially test to become a Hero, she learns that she was born a twin, and this is a secret that changes everything. In the Super world, when a set of twins are born, one twin ALWAYS turns into a villain, but there is no way of knowing which twin will be good or evil. Burdened with this knowledge, and fighting growing feelings such as violence, rage, and revenge, she finds herself wondering if she will ever become the Hero she has waited all of her life to be.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the other characters, and learning about what it is like to live as a Super. However, I felt like the character’s descriptions and cultural descriptions were a bit lacking. I would have enjoyed learning more about their world, etc. It was a very fast paced book, and I read it in one sitting. It had a lot of action, and a bit of romance in it, which is always good. I will definitely be reading the other ones in the series, and I am looking forward to learning what happens to Maci and the other Supers.
Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Risuko by David Kudler

Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale, written by David Kudler, was a treat to read. It is the first book in his Seasons of the Sword series, and tells the story of a young girl who is nicknamed Risuko (squirrel) because of her love and gift for climbing. This gift eventually leads to her being discovered and sold to headmistress of a remote, mysterious school, where she learns she is on the path to becoming a kunoichi warrior.

I have to say, when I first started reading this book, I found it to be boring and slow. In fact, it took me months to actually read it because I kept starting and stopping in favor of reading other books. However, once I got past the beginning, the story really started to pick up speed, and I found myself really enjoying it and wanting to see what happened next. I like how the girls in the book who were new to the school were not immediately immersed into intense training, and a save the world mindset. Instead they were well-fed and made to do beneficial chores and tasks that slowly became more difficult in order to ease them into the intense lifestyle of a warrior. I also really love reading about the Japanese culture, and there was a lot of history and culture (food, ancients customs, etc) in this book. Overall, I really enjoyed Risuko, and I am definitely looking forward to reading the other installments in his series.
**I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley**

Improbable Planet by Hugh Ross

            I was really very excited when I received the opportunity to review Improbable Planet by Hugh Ross. I usually try not to read and review non-fiction books in an attempt to take a break from reading difficult subject matter apart from my graduate classes. However, this book tempted me because it is all about God’s Creation, and as a Christian environmental scientist my goal in life is to take care of and protect what God created in the beginning. Improbable Planet tells of how Earth as we know it came into existence, how each miraculous event leading to its Creation was not an accident. There is a design and a purpose in the Creation of the universe and the planet we call home that goes beyond what modern science teaches.

            I have to say, I absolutely loved this book! It is written in such a way that anyone with or without a scientific background could understand. Yes, there were some parts that dealt with complex subject matter, but for the most part, laymen and experts alike should be able to understand most of the concepts presented within the book.  I also believe that this book is an excellent book for anyone interested in Creationism to read. Not everybody will agree with everything presented in this book, but nonetheless, it provides the reader with so much critical and important information about the origin of our planet and life on Earth. Ross’s goal when writing this book was, as he put it “to demonstrate how our seemingly “imperfect” universe fits with a two-creation model of reality…that this universe serves as a launchpad for the new creation to come--a reality more perfect than any of us can think of or imagine, one that fulfills all our greatest hopes and deepest longings.”

**I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Baker Publishing**

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

            I have to say right off that I absolutely loved this novel! Counted with the Stars, by Connilyn Cossette, is a retelling of the Biblical account of Exodus. It tells the story of a young Egyptian named Kiya who is sold into slavery by her Father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry. When the terrible plagues of the Exodus come, Kiya is in the midst of it and affected like all of the other Egyptians. While Kiya is serving in the household, she meets another servant girl who is a Hebrew. In order to save her brother and escape slavery, Kiya flees with her and the other Hebrews who have been set free from bondage. She finds herself relying entirely on the unknown God of the Hebrews, and finds herself drawn to Him in ways she never could have imagined.

This book was fantastic and thought provoking! It was very well written and its historical and cultural details were vivid and exceptional. I really enjoyed reading about the different aspects of Egyptian and Hebrew culture that I had not heard about before. It was also interesting to see the biblical story of Exodus through the eyes of an Egyptian, not a Hebrew. The way it was written, you got to see both the Hebrew and Egyptian sides of the story, which really gave the well-known story more depth and made it that much more intriguing. This book also had an aspect of romance to it, which is always a plus. The part I enjoyed the most, however, was watching Kiya develop a relationship with God. As an Egyptian she was raised to worship idols and many different gods. She struggled with accepting a God that was not her own, yet deep down inside she instinctively knew that He was real, that He was her salvation. It was wonderful to get to follow along with her journey and ultimately her decision to follow God and allow Him into her heart.  I cannot say how much I recommend this book, and I truly hope Connilyn Cossette writes many more novels for readers to enjoy.

Note: I recieved this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Bethany House Publishing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bathsheba by Angela Hunt

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt was a great book. This is the first book I have read from Angela Hunt’s A Dangerous Beauty series, and I hope I receive the opportunity to read the others in this series as well. This novel is a retelling of the biblical story of Bathsheba. It starts out as Bathsheba as a child, destined to be mother to a great man. Eventually Bathsheba becomes engaged to Uriah, who is a warrior for King David. Uriah leaves to go to war, and Bathsheba is left behind with her sister and former nursemaid. She is a very beautiful woman, and eventually she catches the eye of King David. King David eventually rapes her, and when she moves into the palace as one of his wives her life changes forever.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. It was very well written, and the Old Testament biblical story came to life with her writing. She really did her research, and this entire book was well thought out. I enjoyed reading the author's take on this story. I like how we saw David’s remorse at the sin he committed, and that we got to see Bathsheba learn how to forgive and care for the man who essentially ruined her life. It was overall a very engaging novel, and had biblical principles and ideas throughout. I definitely recommend this book, and hope I get the chance to read the other novels by Angela Hunt.

Note: I recieved this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Bethany House Publishing.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

            The Hiding Place is such a great novel. It is written by Corrie Ten Boom, and is a personal narrative and biography of her experience during World War II and the Holocaust. It is nonfiction, but written as a story and in a way that makes it very easy to read and understand. The story takes place in Holland, which is occupied by Germans. Corrie Ten Boom and her family (who are devout Christians) become leaders in the Dutch Underground, and are hiding Jewish people in a special room in order to aid in their escape from the Nazi’s.  Eventually Corrie and her family are imprisoned and find themselves in a concentration camp. During their time at the concentration camp, they share the gospel with the other prisoners. Corrie and her family suffer many hardships, first in prison, then in concentration camps, extermination camps, and for many of her family, death. Yet they never lose their hope or their deep rooted faith in God.

I remember reading this book years ago, around 9th grade, when we were required to pick one of four books to read and write a book report on. I was one of the only students who chose to read this, and I remember that after I had finished it, I wanted everyone to be required to read this book, because it is that good. Honestly, it is a heart breaking and painful story. As I re-read it this time around, there were many times when the tears flowed down my cheeks, and I found my heart literally hurting for these people and what they had to endure.  What I loved the most was the incredible faith that Corrie showed throughout the book. She had such obedient love for God and even for other people. There are parts when she thanks God for the hardships she has to endure, and where she prays for the guard that is beating her. I am a Christian, and I found myself wondering what I would do in the same situations. This book is absolutely beautiful, profound, and so very emotional. Definitely a must read for all, Christian and non-Christian alike.

As a few other readers and reviewers have said, one of the favorite quotes I read in the book was: Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do”.  
Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Chosen. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Prophetess by Jill Eileen Smith

The Prophetess, written by Jill Eileen Smith, is the second book in the Daughters of the Promised Land series. It is the story of Deborah from the book of Judges in the Old Testament. Having taking an entire class on Judges/Ruth when I was an undergraduate, it was interesting to read the author's take on the story, especially when there is very little to go on. The story begins when young Deborah, who is unmarried and unsure of herself, is married off to a man named Lappidoth. During the time frame of this book, a Canaanite named Sisera is capturing and killing the Israelites, and everyone is filled with fear and hiding from Sisera. Ten years after her marriage to Lappidoth, the Lord calls on Deborah to be a judge and to lead His people away from the evil idols of other nations back to Him.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic book. I absolutely love biblical fiction, and I greatly enjoyed reading it. I also think that Jill did an awesome job at retelling the story in a way that was fiction, yet still stuck to the biblical version of the story. Everything that is in the book comes from the Bible, except for the occasional new characters and of dialogue, but that is to be expected of a fiction novel. I also enjoyed following along the growing relationship between Deborah and Lappidoth, and the relationship between the other main female characters and their prospects. All in all, this is a terrific book that absolutely must be read by all lovers of Christian fiction!

Note: I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Lastland by A.R. Ivanovich

Lastland, by A.R. Ivanovich, is the last novel in the War of Princes series. Let me tell you, this book was an amazing ending to an equally amazing series of books. It was full of surprises and what happened was so unexpected and shocking. Lastland, like the other three books, picks up where Monarch left off. Katelyn and her friends are still in the Northern Kingdom. Katelyn, using her special ability to find anything or anyone she wants, discovers the shocking truth about Prince Varion and his whereabouts. Now that the Prince is finally returned to his rightful place, the 700 year old war might finally be coming to an end. With the help of the Prince and her friends, will Katelyn be able to bring peace to Lastland, and save her precious Haven, which hangs now in the balance?
This entire series has been such a joy to read. I have read many dystopian young adult novels in the last few years, but this one was so different that it was refreshing. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all. It kept me entertained and hooked throughout the entire series, and was one of those series that I just could not stop reading until I was finished. I honestly hope that these books become bestsellers because they deserve it, and those who have not read it are truly missing out.

            Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley.

Monarch by A.R. Ivanovich

            I have recently discovered author A.R. Ivanovich and her war of Princes series, and I have to say that I am so glad that I did. I recently read and reviewed the first two books in the installment, and this is a review of the third book in the series. Monarch picks up where the second book Paperglass ended, with former dragoon, Rune Thayer, saving the children of Breakwater from Prince Raserion, who had taken the children to be trained as future dragoons. Because of this, all of Breakwater is in danger, and Katelyn, her friend Kyle, and Rune must travel to the North and request aid the enemy, Prince Varion. However, Katelyn finds herself unexpectedly in a deal she cannot refuse with Prince Raserion, and must decide who she can trust, and who the real enemy is.

            The novel was great, as were the other two in the series.  I have to say, Haven is my favorite in the series, but this book was amazing and well worth the read. There was not a lot of action throughout the book, but the ending was action filled and very exciting. Not only that, but the protagonists were betrayed by someone I was never expecting, and to say it was shocking is an understatement. By the end of the book, I was so glad that I already had access to the next book in the series, because I absolutely could not wait to read it and see what happened next.

     Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review by NetGalley. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Paperglass by A.R. Ivanovich

Paperglass in the second book in the War of Princes Installment by A.R. Ivanovich. This book is actually a newer, updated edition of her previously self-published novel Dragoon. The story starts where Haven left off, with Katelyn Kestrel, the main character, being safe and sound back in Haven. After dealing with the horrors of the outside world, Katelyn never wants to venture to the outside world again. However, a team of explorers sent to explore the outside never made it back to Haven and they were unfortunately captured by the evil Prince Raserion, the leader of the Western Kingdom. Because Katelyn has the ability to find anything she is looking for, she is chosen to go search for the team by Haven’s leaders, who apparently do know some information about the outside world and how to get there. So, Katelyn finds herself having to face her fears and once again venture into the outside world, where she hopefully will find the lost team, and reconnect with Rune, who was her love interest in the previous book.

All in all, I really did enjoy this novel. Just like the last one, it was intriguing, exciting, and gripping. This novel also thankfully gave more information about Haven’s history and answered some questions that needed to be answered.  I do have to say though, I did think that the previous novel, Haven, was a bit better than Paperglass, but that being said, it was still an excellent follow up.  I was lucky enough to be able to get all four books in this series and I truly cannot wait to read the other two books in the series and see what happens to Katelyn, Rune, and all of her friends.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Haven by A.R. Ivanovich

I have read a lot of books in the last few months, and I have enjoyed each and every one of them. However, Haven is probably one of my favorites that I have read recently. It is written by author A.R. Ivanovich, and is the first book in the War of Princes series. When I picked this book to review, I was intrigued by the description of the book and was pretty excited to read it. Basically, it is the story of a 17 year old girl named Katelyn Kestrel. She lives in the country of Haven, which has remained isolated from the rest of the world for many years. Katelyn has always found life in Haven quiet and boring, and she finds herself wondering what lies outside of the mountains that protects their sanctuary. Katelyn has always had a special “gift” in that she can always find what she is looking for. Because of this, she has no problem finding the hidden doorway to the outside world. Once outside of Haven, she finds a world that is more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this book, and I was so glad that I have the rest of the series to read now too. I loved the story and the pictures that the author created with her writing. I am a book nerd, and I really do enjoy fantasy and science fiction. If a book has magic and fantasy aspects to it, I am bound to love it and this book did not disappoint. I liked the main characters, and the romance aspect of it was nice too. Katelyn was a strong female character, but that did not truly come out until later in the book (and in the other 3 books) because she was adjusting to her newfound identity. She spend most of her life sheltered and living a comfortable life, and it took her a little while to find her strong willed side. I do have to say, that when I read the first few pages, I was not into the book and wanted to stop reading, but I advise you to keep reading. It is so worth ii!  All in all, I recommend this book to all lovers of young adult and fantasy.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley.