Book Review: If I Live by Terri Blackstock

About the Book-

THE HUNT IS ALMOST OVER.

Casey Cox is still on the run after being indicted for murder. The hunt that began with her bloody footprints escalates, and she’s running out of places to hide. Her face is all over the news, and her disguises are no longer enough. It’s only a matter of time before someone recognizes her.

Dylan Roberts, the investigator who once hunted her, is now her only hope. Terrifying attempts on Dylan’s life could force Casey out of hiding. The clock is ticking on both their lives, but exposing the real killers is more complicated than they knew. Amassing the evidence to convict their enemies draws Dylan and Casey together, but their relationship has consequences. Will one life have to be sacrificed to protect the other?

With If I Live, Terri Blackstock takes us on one more heart-stopping chase in the sensational conclusion to the If I Run series.

My Review:

WOW THIS TRILOGY. This is my exact reaction to my friend at 4 in the morning, after I read book 2 and book 3 in one night.

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First of all, I DEFINITELY recommend you reading them in order (in all trilogies, but I feel like if you didn’t read this one in order, it’s impossible to follow the story). All three books in the trilogy flow together SO WELL, not just physically (the covers match to make a picture!) but also story-wise.

The characters are THE BEST. There are points of view from both protagonists as well as the antagonist, and they all go together to paint the full picture and what goes on in the minds of the characters. (ALSO THE SHIP THAT HAPPENS HERE. ITS PRETTY MUCH THE ONLY SHIP THAT I AGREE WITH IN BOOKS)

All the plot twists in this book are amazing!! Halfway through the book, I thought it was about to end, but then A PLOT TWIST HAPPENED. There were so many but it didn’t feel overdone at all.

ALSO SO MUCH ACTION. There was a lot of legal action (aka, stuff that happens at the police station), but as far as I can tell, it’s very realistic and actually makes sense.

The last thing I liked about this book was all the faith content. The first book (and also a little in the second book) didn’t contain so much faith content (which I get, as part of character development), but there was so much in this one, despite all the action, which I really appreciated.

One thing to keep an eye out for is all the violence in the book. As one might expect with a suspense novel, there is a lot of violence, which I don’t recommend at 2 in the morning, but it might be a little bit much for younger readers or those not comfortable with that violence.

BUT overall? I’M SHOVING THIS TRILOGY AT EVERYONE I SEE. EVERYONE.

My Rating:

8/10

Good things-

  • The characters were well developed (SO SO WELL DEVELOPED. OMGNS)
  • The Point of Views were well balanced between the characters and felt natural
  • A lot of action
  • Seems realistic (in terms of law enforcement and the scenes and stuff…but then, I’m not in that world so I wouldn’t know)
  • THE SHIP. I mean, we all knew it was coming, but like. THE SHIP THOUGH.
  • All the plot twists!!! All the way through the book, I knew what was going to happen (at least, I *hoped* that everything was going to come out okay), but there were so so many plot twists that happened along the way
  • All the faith content and the spiritual talk
  • The coherency between all the books

Bad things-

  • A lot of violence (well portrayed, which means realistic, but there are guns and shooting and death and etc)
  • It feels a little deux ex machina at the end (in regards to the media)

Thank you to NetGalley for a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

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Book Review: Amish Sweethearts by Amy Clipston

About the Book-

My Review-

I don’t usually read Amish fiction, mainly because I have too many Mennonite friends to really want to read Amish fiction, if that makes any sense? However, I have read Amy Clipston’s Amish fiction series and I have to say, she really does write them well!

This is the first novella collection that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it a lot! In particular, I enjoyed being able to put the book down whenever I finished a novella, instead of reading all the way through.

Each of the stories had a nicely developed backstory, and the storylines also moved very well. None of the stories really felt like insta-love, despite being novellas, which is something I appreciated, since so often Amish fiction straight up feels like a romance novel, where the entire point of the book is for them to fall in love, and nothing happens to prevent that. Clipston’s books don’t do that, and I really like that.

Also, the Amish in her books weren’t exactly your stereotypical Amish: they are more real, and although I don’t doubt that there are aspects that aren’t as accurate as they could be, they are more real than a lot of Amish fiction I’ve read.

Overall, I really really liked these stories! I was very impressed with the pacing of them, and how they didn’t feel rushed despite being novellas.

My Ranking-

7/10

Things I liked-

  • Although they are all novellas, the stories didn’t feel like insta-love–they are all very well paced
  • How the stories tie to other series that she’s written!
  • Cute romance stories!
  • There were all good backstories and not quickly summarized
  • Clean wholesome reads
  • Accurate to Amish lifestyle (modern day Amish lifestyle), as far as I can tell
  • I like reading novellas more than I thought! I liked getting to put the book down after every novella

Things I didn’t like as much-

  • There are some scenes where I was a little uncomfortable with (guy with girl) scenes: nothing scandalous but I wouldn’t be in those scenes myself
  • Like I’ve seen, I’m not always a fan of romance, so I’m docking a point just because of that
  • Slightly stereotypical Amish love stories (but that’s the topic of it all so like)

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston

About the Book-

When Mattie packed her hope chest, she put away the heartache of her past. But as her daughters begin to unpack it, she discovers a healing more powerful than she ever hoped for.

Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache–and it’s past time to share it.

My Review-

The Beloved Hope Chest goes over the story of Mattie Fisher, the mother of Veronica, Rachel, and Emily. The previous three books in the Amish Heirloom series covered the daughters’ stories: how they found love and their husbands, and themselves in the process. Throughout those books, they all alluded to their mother’s hope chest, and all the mysteries are revealed in this book.

In terms of content/romance, there is more visual depictions in this book than the previous books, and it’s a sad story, but full of redemption. Seeing the story all tied up makes it all make sense and I love stories that are all explained up at the end. Although the books are all rather predictable (you know they’re going to get married at the end, pshhhh), the different stories are all distinct and memorable, in their own way.

This story in particular is the most described and the most ‘authentic’ almost, because it feels like it is more realistic, but at the same time, it was the one from the series that I liked the least, in terms of the content. The redemption of the story makes it a very lovable tale and I enjoyed reading it!

My Rating-

6/10

Pro points:

  • Ties up the series very well
  • Redemption story
  • Very well described
  • Memorable stories (all of them)
  • Beautiful portrayal of a family and love
  • SO. MUCH. HOPE.

Con points:

  • A little heavy on the content
  • Predictable story (all of them)
  • Characters are a little annoying at times (stubbornness gets a little frustrating at times)
  • Conclusion feels a little bit rushed

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

About the Book-

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins who helped her survive as  a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets–instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she’s offered the challenge of a lifetime–determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family’s history, their very own name?

As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown–so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrived on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth–about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

My Review-

Ahhh this book!! First of all, the characters!! They were all so distinct and well developed, and they all have such interesting backstories! Rosemary is a orphan who seems to have mastered the ‘art’ of thievery. Master of disguises, she is able to fit into high society in order to steal valuable things. Although she dislikes reading, she disguises herself as a librarian to investigate Peter. She is there to organize his library (which is very soothing to read about!) and they learn to communicate, despite Peter’s speech impediment.

It also portrays friendship very well. Peter’s friends are  his very best friends, and they stand beside him and advise him of everything, and Elowyen is simply adorable. In the same vein, Rosemary’s ‘family’/friends are absolutely to be adored!

This book doesn’t fit the Christian Fiction stereotype at all, and it is very refreshing! There is a romance that happens, but it feels natural and although a bit rushed, it feels like it was meant to be. In addition, the plot twists keep the action interesting. The character development throughout was also amazing to see! The gospel was also very clearly presented, which is not something people usually see in Christian fiction either.

The one downside to A Name Unknown is that it’s over 400 pages, and it’s a little bit slow in the middle, but it is so worth it!

My Rating-

9/10

Points earned-

  • Cute, adorable, well developed characters
  • Libraries and writing
  • Interesting back story to both characters
  • Mystery and suspense
  • Adorable side families
  • Great portrayal of friendship
  • Not too much romance
  • Christianity and gospel very well presented
  • British talk!! *heart eyes*

Points lost-

  • A little bit slow in parts and on the long side

Thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a free physical copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion; I was not required to provide a positive review.

Blog Tour: The Blood Race by Kate Emmons!!! || Review and GIVEAWAY!!

Hey guys! Remember last week when I said it was a good week for books? Well, today, I’m bringing you all, THE BLOOD RACE BY KATE EMMONS! *confetti*

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I first heard about The Blood Race after following the author’s sister, Abbiee on her endeavors on the internet (blogging, writing, musics, ALL THE AESTHETICS serIOUSLY GO CHECK HER OUT). I got to read an ARC of it, and iT IS SO GOOD!

About the BookCover

He’s spent his life running from who he is. She’s been trying to escape her past for 100 years…

Born with unexplainable abilities he struggles to control, college student Ion tries desperately to integrate into his new school and finally put his dark past behind him. But after making a serious enemy, which leads to an accidental rendezvous with the mysterious old man next door— and his hauntingly beautiful but troubled young protégée Hawk, Ion realizes his life will never be normal again.

Late one evening, Hawk drags him by the hand into a closet-turned-rabbit-hole to an extra dimension, and Ion finds himself stumbling involuntarily into a secret society of training for “anomalies,” teenagers with a special set of abilities. Just like him.

As they train to become Protectors of future Earth, battling each other as well as their own demons, both Ion and Hawk begin to realize that they are far more alike than they realized. Unsettlingly so.

When the Dimension is shaken by an unthinkable betrayal, will an ancient prophecy bring Hawk and Ion together—or will a deadly threat hidden in plain sight cost them both their powers… and their lives?

Amazon || Goodreads

There’s also a TRAILER for this book! IT’S AMAZING GO CHECK IT OUT

About the AuthorAuthor

When she’s not hermiting away in her colorfully-painted home office writing her next science fiction, passionate story-teller and adventurer Kate Emmons is probably on the road for a surf or hiking trip, listening to vinyls, or going for a power run. Emmons lives in the often-snowy hills of rugged Vermont with her husband and dog named Rocket.

Website || Facebook || Instagram || Twitter || Blog || YouTube

Review

OH. MY. WORD. I haven’t really considered myself a sci-fi or dystopian reader until recently, but I’m so glad I discovered that I liked both before reading The Blood Race!

Imagine The Raven Boys meets A Wrinkle in Time meets The Giver while being both secular and Christian at the same time. Like, all the good parts of those books together.

While that ^ sounds like it gives you a general idea of what The Blood Race is about, (lol not really), it’s SO DIFFERENT. The Blood Race is different from all the other books, and the characters. OH THE CHARACTERS.

They are both so well defined yet complex yet broken. They each had a past story, and they had a story to tell. They each had a power, and that was what drew them together. They were so beautiful and I loved them all so much.

Not only the characters, but the world itself was so wonderfully built. The world-building was so detailed and vivid, and while it was tricky to understand what all it entailed (as is the case with many alternate universe books that have world building), it was all so beautifully described and the end result was stunning.

The plot had so many loops and swirls that it was impossible to tell what was coming next. There were so many tropes that didn’t show up, unlike so many of other YA fiction books (there. is. no. romance. #WHAT) There were so many hidden meaning behind each of the small things in the book that clearly meant so much.

(small disclaimer: there is use of s**t and an instance of when the f word was about to be said, as a part of character development)

You may like this book if:

  • You like fantasy/sci-fi/thriller/suspense, or any of the above
  • You like well developed YA fiction
  • You like stories with meaning and motifs behind everything
  • You like great worldbuilding stories and/or beautiful lovable characters

My Rating-

9/10

Giveaway!!

This is actually THE FIRST GIVEAWAY EVER ON MY BLOG!!

With that, I also don’t really know how to set up giveaways…but rafflecopter seems like a good choice. 🙂 (I also can’t figure out how to embed the giveaway into the post, like the Blogger folks, so you’ll have to click the link. yes, I know, it’s a pain)

The giveaway runs from today (August 7th, 2017) until next Sunday (August 13th, 2017) at midnight. (tweeting everyday gives you more chances!!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it! Go check out some other stops on the blog tour here:

Loud and Clear || Totally Graced || Abbiee || Plottinger Twist || Silver Mess || A Heart Redeemed | Quills in the Inkwell

Book Review: Answering the Toughest Questions about God and the Bible

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About the Book:

When it comes to the big questions about God, Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz don’t pretend to have all the answers. But they do know how to wrestle with doubt. They welcome questions, and in these pages they ask some of the most important ones you have about God and the Bible:

  • Is God real? How can you know?
  • Can I trust what the Bible says about God?
  • Why is the Bible so hard to understand?
  • Why do Christians say Jesus is the only way to God?
  • How do God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit relate to one another?
  • and more!

With candor, insight, and a disarming touch of humor, Bruce and Stan provide some answers to these critical questions, yet they leave enough space–and grace–for you to keep wrestling, asking, and seeking truth.

There is no shame in asking–after all, even some of the greatest men and women in the Bible had doubts. Don’t questions go unanswered. What you find might just change your life.

My Review:

Answering the Toughest Questions about God and the Bible is a book that answers a lot of questions that not-Christians or new Christians may have about Christianity and God in particular.

The book answers several questions that are often asked, which I like. It also takes a comparatively takes a non-controversial route, and answers questions straight from the Bible, which is nice, because I can use some of the arguments more easily without needing to pick and choose.

The defense and the explanation for each of the questions are very well-researched and cohesive, which is very helpful if I ever need to use it. Each of the questions starts being answered by starting at a very basic level, which is helpful as well.

There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which allows for discussion and study in groups or by oneself.

Overall, I like this book, and recommend it for anyone who has questions about God and the Bible, or is looking for answers for someone who is questioning stuff like this.

My Rating:

9/10

Thank you to Bethany House Publishing for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: True to You by Becky Wade

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About the Book

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. However, when John, an adoptee, is diagnosed with am inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his ancestry.

John enlists Nora’s help to uncover the identity of his birth mother, and as they work side by side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. But can their hope for a future survive their wounds from the past?

My Review

First of all, LOOK AT THAT PRETTY COVER. It’s so cute! I love the dress, I love the cover scheme, it’s adorable!

Nora is literally me. She doesn’t know how to dress cute (me), she reads way too much (me), and look at this quote:
“She’d picked up the Silverstone Chronicles, sunk two hours into reading, visited her favorite fiction blogs, updated her progress on goodreads.com, and switched out her winter wardrobe for her summer wardrobe. She never did make it to the gym, yet here she stood in her yoga pants, Hogwarts Alumni t-shirt, and sweatshirt”
^ MEEEE
(Also speaking of which, I need sisters that do The Enhancement Of Hanne on me bc we all know I sorely need it)

I like how the Bradfords were so close to each other: the close family feel and the Bible/God references were a plus! (Usually the most “Christian” in a Christian fiction book is two prayers and maybe a church mention).

I didn’t really like how the Bradford sisters approached/described men in general. Fine, a couple of small descriptions, but nothing about “a delicious masculine scent” or “a male torso that had about as much give as a fir tree” please. (There were also some PG13 kissing scenes that could probably have been a lot less detailed.)

As for the writing style, I LOVE how the grandma is portrayed: she’s hilarious! There are also several fun points that made me smile. It just really clicked with me. In addition, the contemporary feel was really present in the book. Sometimes, when reading “contemporary” books, I feel like some stuff is outdated (eg instant messages, booting up a computer, etc). There was no such feel in this book. There was Facebook, there was GoodReads, there was Netflix, there were smartphones, and it just felt really “in time.” (of course, this is going to change in a year, but for now it’s really relevant)

In addition, I really like the small changes of perspective: “the quote emblazoned across Nora’s purple pajama top” or “typed by John Lawson into the Reminders app on his phone” or text messages from Nora to her sisters. They add a nice perspective and an extra depth to the book.

As a caveat, there are some topics discussed in the book that I can’t give away (because spoilers, see below), but they do deal with violence and, er, adult stuff. Nothing descriptive, but they are mentioned quite a great deal.

The story of redemption and forgiveness and love in this book was portrayed very well. That story was amazing. I also really enjoyed the God-moment/coincidence and John’s mother’s letter was beautiful.

My Rating

6/10

Points earned:

  • Cute story that ends well
  • Witty and humorous
  • Small changes in point of view
  • Characters 👌
  • Family/God bonds
  • Redemption and forgiveness and the storyline in general

Points lost:

  • Lovey scenes (some may like them, I personally felt they were both too stereotypical and overvividly described)
  • Descriptions of guys’ bodies
  • Adult topics (every third letter, SPOILER: akrfjadlpxle and almwduqprvkdkveajr and fjacjlwuceiocnhsmofjlqvipasvjm) that do tell a beautiful story but are not recommended for audiences below at least 15
  • The romance progressed a little too quickly for my liking? I felt like that made it feel less realistic.

Thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a free physical copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion; I was not required to provide a positive review.

Book Review: Under a Desert Sky by Lynne Hartke

About the Book:

There comes a time in life when we find ourselves in the desert place of burning questions: Why? and Why me? But even as we shake our fist heavenward, the heart whispers another question: Who? Who are you, God? Who are you to me?

Against the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert, Lynne Hartke asks her own questions as cancer arrives like a thief with one goal: to take it all. Hair. The contents of a stomach. A marriage. A life. As her days become a blur of doctors’ appointments, treatments, and surgeries, she wrestles with a tumble of tangled emotions, a shaken faith, and crushing self doubt. And then, the unthinkable. Cancer is now threatening not only her own life but also the lives of both her parents.  

Through her raw, lyrical words, Hartke invites you to discover, as she did, that even in life’s hardest places, you are not alone in your fear, you are not foolish to hope, and you are nevee forgotten by a loving, pursuing God. Never.

My Review:

Ever since I’ve followed Ava’s journey, I’ve been keenly interested in cancer and how it affects people, both the victim AND the victim’s loved ones. This book contains both. In this book, Lynne Hartke shares the story of her life: starting from her own diagnosis and fight with cancer, and also flashing back to her in-law’s cancer battles and also describing her own parents’ fight with cancer.

I really liked the writing style of the book, almost like a stream of consciousness narration style. There are stories from the past entwined with stories of the future that all flow together, which makes it less work, I suppose you could say, than reading other nonfiction books. She was also able to relate incidents from the past, her own and from the Bible, to what was currently happening, which made it all bond together.

Another thing about this book was that it didn’t feel like the author had all the answers. Instead, she was struggling, with her circumstances, with her faith, and God. It also tied to the stream of consciousness thing, where the chapters are a conglomeration of thoughts, but all supported by one idea.

There wasn’t a lot of stuff about the actual treatment of the cancer (which, frankly, is what I like), but I understand that, because not many people would like to hear about that. Instead, the book was more faith based, guiding Hartke and the reader towards Jesus as the final answer, all along.

Being an avid hiker living in the desert, there were many hiking/water/paths/exercise allusions in the book (including the title Under a Desert Sky), which all together tied the book together really well.  They were also very fitting: the journey of trusting Jesus, and life in general, is much like a hike in the canyon–excruciating and dangerous, but worth it in the end.

Overall, it was a really good book that I enjoyed.

My Rating:

7/10

 

Thanks to Revell for sending me a free print copy of this book for my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.