Review: My Little Life of Jesus

My Little Life of JesusTitle: My Little Life of Jesus
Author: Karen Williamson
Illustrator: Amanda Enright
Series: n/a

About: My Little Life of Jesus introduces the story of Jesus’ life to 3-to 5-year-olds. It follows Jesus from His birth, being baptized by John, meeting the disciples and teaching them how to pray, telling His stories to people in nearby towns and villages, right through to His return to the heavenly Father. Illustrated throughout with artwork from a popular Candle Books artist, there is also a map included to show the land where Jesus lived. This padded hardcover comes complete with a presentation page for gift or award giving.

My Thoughts: The illustrations are beautiful and very colorful. The stories are short and easy for youngsters to understand. This book is a fun way to acquaint young children with the life of Jesus. My younger two (7 and 9 years old) both find this book enjoyable. It’s a great addition to any child’s library.

4 StarsSource: Received for review as part of a blog tour promotion hosted by Kregel Publications.

Read It: You can order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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Review: Burning Kingdoms

Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefanoTitle: Burning Kingdoms
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: Internment Chronicles #2

About: After escaping through the bottom of Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives aboard the great mechanical bird land on the ground to finally learn what has lived beneath their floating island home all these eons.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and customers watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven. But caught under the watchful eye of another king that wants to dominate his world, they wonder if coming to the ground will drag Internment down with them.

My Thoughts: I have been looking forward to this book since having read Perfect Ruin, the first book in the Internment Chronicles series. I was so excited when the opportunity to read this ARC presented itself.

Let me start by saying that this book was worth the wait. It’s an easy read, meaning easy to get into, easy to stay in, and easy to finish. Don’t think that means it’s not well-written. It IS well-written. Lauren DeStefano has quickly become one of my favorite authors. The worlds she creates are imaginative and unique. Her characters are compelling and realistic. Her stories are a pleasure to read.

As with the first book, there really was nothing that I didn’t like. I did get frustrated with Pen on numerous occasions, she seems set on self-destruct mode. Although, as you read and things are revealed, it becomes evident why. Still, I found her quite selfish and not a very good friend to Morgan. Sure, she’s always there for Morgan, but on her own terms. She’s quick to throw verbal barbs at the one person who’s never been anything but a true friend to her.

All of that said, I still very, very much enjoyed this book. I highly recommend Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano.

4.5 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: Burning Kingdoms is scheduled for release around March 10, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Happy New Year!

I just wanted to wish all of my wonderful readers a very happy new year! It’s hard to believe 2014 is over and 2015 is here already! It’s been a crazy year!

I’ve been pretty quiet blogwise, even more than in 2013. Not by much, but still enough to count. I apologize for being so absent. I still strive to bring you regular, pertinent book reviews. I’m just not always able to get as much done on the blog as I’d like. A household with three demanding kids, all involved in various things, plus my having to return to work part-time, makes a huge impact on my ability to write reviews — and even read as much as I’d like!

Not to worry, I’m not going anywhere. I’ve had some additional personal things come up — unexpectedly, as is often the case with such things — that have caused me to cut back significantly over the past several weeks. This has forced me to cut back on scheduled reviews for the next few months. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get back to my fast-paced reviewing. Back then, I wasn’t working outside the home. I had more time. Now, I’m not sure. But I’ll do my best.

So, I haven’t chosen a favorite November or December book. So, let me do that now.

Take Me On by Katie McGarryNovember’s favorite read is Take Me On by Katie McGarry with a rating of 5 stars. It was absolutely fantastic — not really surprising, given Katie McGarry’s ability to write a fantastic novel!

Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin GierAnd for December, a very quite month around here, choosing will be pretty quick! LOL December’s favorite is Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier with a rating of 4.5 stars.

I have read other things, just haven’t been feeling the need to review every single thing I read lately. I finally finished the Matched trilogy (Ally Condie). I thought it ended well. I am about to start Maze Runner, a book my daughter gave me for Christmas. I’m looking forward to it, as I have heard great things! :)

Again, best wishes for you all in 2015! May it be a blessed, wonderful, book-filled year for you all!
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Review: Dream a Little Dream

Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin GierTitle: Dream a Little Dream
Author: Kerstin Gier
Series: The Silver Trilogy #1

About: Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yep, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially this one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys perform dark magic rituals. The really weird thing is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where’s she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But they seem to know things about her in real life that they couldn’t possibly know, which is mystifying. Then again, Liv could never resist a good mystery.

My Thoughts: This is one of those books I took a bit of a chance on, and I’m so glad I did! I thought the summary sounded promising, but I gotta tell you — the book’s even better! It was much better than I’d been expecting. Don’t get me wrong. I expected to enjoy it. I just had no idea how much!

This was a lot of fun to read. It’s imaginative, unique, fun, mysterious, with laugh-out-loud moments thrown in for good measure! Seriously. There were a few times my kids asked what was funny because I burst out laughing. What can I say? Liv has wit. And sometimes the descriptions created a funny mental picture.

So, the plot is kinda out there. Part of what pulled me in so well was just trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Not in a bad way. I was intrigued. I had some ideas, but didn’t feel I had figured it all out. This book kept me on my toes. There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming. And, in retrospect, they make perfect sense. Nicely done!

I loved the characters, especially Liv, Grayson, and Henry. As I mentioned above, Liv has wit. She’s the first-person narrator, and I just loved getting inside her head. She’s a good person, but she’s also got spunk. She’s stubborn, but not to the point of frustration. It’s a healthy stubbornness. Grayson is her soon-to-be step-brother, and I really like him a lot. While he appears to be aloof, you quickly learn that he’s kind, caring, and the big brother any girl’s lucky to have. And Henry. Sweet Henry. Definite book boyfriend.

I do have one complaint, though, which is why I didn’t give this five stars. My problem is that I felt that while the book takes place in London, it was too British-sounding. Don’t get me wrong. I expect all of her classmates and others local to London to be as British as they come. But, I thought Liv’s mother is American, and if that’s the case I would’ve expected more American-“sounding” narration from Liv. She says things like “shove off,” “off my rocker” (Americans generally would say “crazy”), or “toilet” instead of “bathroom” — and other such things. I found it a bit distracting. Although, she’s lived around the world, so I suppose it could be explained away. But, the part that pushed me over the edge was a part where she’s dreaming about some bullies she encountered while living in Berkeley, California. While you could maybe explain Liv’s somewhat British mannerisms and wording, the likelihood of finding such people — especially in a gang of mean girls — in Berkeley just doesn’t ring true. No one raised in the U.S. (or just about no one raised in the U.S.) would call the girls’ bathroom the “girl’s toilet” — it’s either the “bathroom” or the “restroom.” The toilet is a fixture in a bathroom, not the room itself. At least here in the U.S. Anyway, from that point on, I found the somewhat inconsistent use of American-like English and British-like English distracting. I know that this is more of a translation and/or editing problem — and I was reading an ARC, so maybe it’s fixed by the time you read this review — but it really was distracting enough to get just a little bit in the way of my enjoyment of the book.

Oh, one more small problem. Toward the end, we find Liv doing some kung fu moves — while wearing a very full ball gown. The logistics of that gave me pause. How effective would her moves be when wearing something that earlier required her to take stairs slowly and watch each step as she went?

Distractions and inconsistencies aside, I absolutely loved this book. I would very highly recommend Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier to anyone who loves a bit of mystery with some fantasy mixed in — and a very unique story! I will be very much looking to continue this series!

4.5 StarsSource: ARC sent by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: Dream a Little Dream is scheduled for release around January 6, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine WargaTitle: My Heart and Other Black Holes
Author: Jasmine Warga
Series: n/a

About: Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution–Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.

My Thoughts: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga is a well-written story about a subject that might be difficult for some to read: teen suicide and depression. And it’s very well-written. I liked that there was really no wallowing. It wasn’t overly dark or bleak.

I really liked the characters, especially Aysel and Roman. Aysel is actually a great narrator. She is completely honest, and doesn’t tend to get overly dramatic. She paints a picture of the world as she sees it in a very matter-of-fact matter. And her description of the depression? Absolutely perfect. Aysel refers to it as the black slug living in her gut. It eats up everything — all emotions, good or bad — and just leaves her empty. As one who’s experienced such a thing, I could completely relate. Again, it’s right-on. Roman, while he’s struggling even more than Aysel, is an absolutely amazing character — book boyfriend? Definitely a contender! ;) Despite his obvious deep depression, he’s actually pretty sweet and clearly someone with a lot of potential. The two of them together are just perfect.

Watching Aysel open up to life, with the help of Roman (as mentioned in the synopsis, so I’m not spoiling anything ;) ), is something. She slowly, and quite naturally, sees that maybe life really isn’t all that bad. Maybe there is something worth holding onto. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a purpose and pushing forward to see what’s ahead would be a good thing.

What I like is that while this book deals with a heavy subject, it’s in no way overly dark negative. It’s a book filled with hope. I really like that. After the story, there is a list of resources — crisis lines and other such things — for anyone who might be in need of such. This book is written in such a way that it definitely has the potential of helping others.

4 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: My Heart and Other Black Holes is scheduled for release around February 10, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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Review with Giveaway: The Knife’s Edge

The Knife's Edge by Matthew WolfTitle: The Knife’s Edge
Author: Matthew Wolf
Series: The Ronin Saga #1

About: When legends come to life the world trembles from a single name. Ronin. Once-heroes from a different age, they wield elemental powers… wind, water, fire, stone, forest, sun, moon, flesh, and metal.

At the same time, a young man discovers his best friend with a sword in her stomach, and dark wings sprouting from her back. Guards rush onto the scene, accuse him of the act, and he is forced to flee.

In a new world without his memories, Gray must find his way amid legends and darkness, as he wrestles with an elemental power inside himself.

A power all too similar to the infamous Ronin…

My Thoughts: As a huge fan of fantasy — especially epic fantasy — this sounded like just the book for me. Elemental powers? The idea kinda reminds me of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series — a huge favorite of mine. That was a huge pull.

The story is good. Well-imagined and compelling. I hate to say it, but I felt the book could use some good editing — there were times I found pronoun use made it vague and I often had to reread passages to know for sure who we’re talking about; in much of the book there is an overuse of commas. I hate to mention this, because the story itself is good — if you don’t get too distracted by these textual problems. At times I did find these things distracting, unfortunately. I think that made it harder for me to get into the story than I’d have liked. And once I was in, often some of these errors would jolt me back out of the story again. It was mildly frustrating.

Editing issues aside, I found the story interesting. Compelling. And even unique. Yes, the description reminded me of other stories, but this one stands on its own. Gray is an interesting character with a good heart. I found myself pulling for him. Some of his companions are really neat characters, and others I didn’t quite see their purpose. But that didn’t bother me all that much. Just made me wonder on occasion. (Perhaps in the next book, Citadel of Fire, they will have greater importance.) I definitely would like to continue the series and see what’s next for Gray and his friends. And his world.

If you’re a fan of epic fantasy, give The Knife’s Edge by Matthew Wolf a try. There’s even a chance to win a copy (see below)!

4 StarsSource: Received through Kismet Book Touring for review. (For more tour stops, click on the button below.)

blog tour

Read It: You can order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

Matthew WolfAbout the Author: Matthew Wolf is the author of THE RONIN SAGA, a nine part YA Epic Fantasy series. He also loves cake. Book two is out now, for sneak peek information on Matt and all things Ronin check out: roninsaga.com. He loves connecting with fans, those whirling blades really speak to his soul.  You can reach Matt at TheRoninSaga@Gmail.com, howl “Ronin” at the moon, or throw up a Wolf Signal in the sky.  All valid forms of communication.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Win It: Matt is generously offering up 5 eCopies of either The Knife’s Edge or Citadel of Fire (winner’s choice)! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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November: Ralph Conway’s Immortal Diary, Day 30

Ralph Conway’s Immortal Diary by E.P. RoseAs previously explained, the month of November will feature a serialized novel — one post per day. The novel I’m sharing is November: Ralph Conway’s Immortal Diary by E.P. Rose. You can find more information on the introductory post.

This is Day 30, you can find the previous installment HERE. If you’re new to this series, you might want to start at the beginning. Each post has a link to the previous installment at the beginning.

Finally, please be aware that there might be some adult language and/or content.

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The Thirtieth

I did not know, when I ate my boiled eggs this morning, that it would be tonight, but when I followed Miss Jackson to the studio, she told me that the painting was done.

To my considerable surprise, it is a remarkable painting. It’s called “The Second Shadow”. There I am, walking down a long road through a sort of desert. I am walking toward the viewer, so to speak, and the sun is behind me, throwing my shadow ahead of me. Now, coming up alongside of my shadow is a second shadow, a shorter female one. And I am caught in the act of looking up to see who the thrower of this second shadow is, and seeing that where the thrower OUGHT to be, there is nobody, no body. And yes, I must say, there is a look of surprised defiance on my face that perfectly fits the scenario. For a moment there I thought the second shadow’s invisible thrower was Joan.

Imagine you are walking along the road, following your shadow, and another shadow comes alongside, which looks like the shadow of your late fiancée. But when you look up, there is no-one there. Just the shadow.

The fact of the matter is that the shadow is the artist’s. When she told me this and I re-inspected it, I saw that indeed it could have been thrown by no other body. Joan would be livid to think I mistook Miss Jackson’s rotund shadow for hers.

I said I thought the picture was brilliant. It is. And will she exhibit it or sell it? No, she won’t. She says she will not have a commercial value placed on her work.

“Apart from which,” she said, “if I were to exhibit, I would immediately become world famous – which I simply cannot be doing with at all.”

Incredible woman. How many artists are there who crave fame and rail against the world for not recognising their genius? About 92 million.

“I know exactly what you mean,” I said.

“You do?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Your secret is safe with me.”

She showed me a lot of her work. I can’t describe it all. Not now. But at one point I said:

“What about when you’re dead?”

“I don’t know. I’ve yet to make up my mind. I’ll either leave them to a museum, with a stipulation that they aren’t to be sold. Or on the other hand, I may just pile them up on my island and have myself cremated on top of them.”

Oh Miss Jackson, when you said that, my heart just sank into my boots.

After lunch – soup and chicken sandwiches – I drove into town and bought the ingredients for my stew. While I was about it, I bought six packets of cotton wool, a litre of Coca Cola, and another couple of gallons of petrol, just to be on the safe side.

I returned to Sidewood and made the stew. I put the stew in the oven, and washed everything up. I didn’t want to leave a mess for Aggie, whom I had banished from the proceedings. While I made the stew, the full moon rose

Aggie came back into the kitchen. She conceded that something smelt good. I left her to peel the spuds and make dessert. It’s going to be Baked Alaska.

Miss Jackson was in her study. I went upstairs to get the Mogadon and the glass from the bedside table, and then went back downstairs. I went out the front door and took the petrol and the cotton wool and the Coca Cola out of the car.

Walking, or rather sneaking round the side of the house and down to the jetty, it struck me that the man in the moon looked like someone who found what I was doing rather funny. He’s up there now and still looks more than somewhat entertained. Though I doubt it’s by me in particular. More likely by everything.

I rowed over to the island, went into the hut, lit the candle in the saucer, and lit the paraffin heater.

I unwrapped the cotton wool and teased it out into long strips, then I lifted the petrol cans onto the table, unscrewed the tops and set it out so that one end of each cotton wool fuse was dangling over the edge of the candle saucer while the other end was in the petrol.

When I returned, after my last supper, when Miss Jackson and Aggie were safely tucked up in their respective beds, I would fill the saucer with petrol, relight the candle, take the Mogadon, fall asleep and, well, that was the plan.

So there I was, just about to blow out the candle and return to the house and my stew, when my attention was distracted by a noise in the doorway of the hut.

It was a rat!

A huge wet evil motherfucker, which had clearly just swum ashore, and it was looking at me out of its ghastly red eyes, and it was clearly displeased to find me in situ.

My heart leapt into my mouth. I leapt up onto the chair.

This was a mistake. The chair was flimsy and collapsed.

I flung out my arms to save myself, and in so doing crashed into the table with my shoulder, overturning petrol cans and candle.

I tried to grab the candle, but missed it.

 

WHOOOOSH!

 

I was consumed by fire.

 

Then I rose from the ashes.

 

If you want to know how that feels, ask a phoenix.

 

What can I say?

 

There I was, stark naked, alive again and kicking, under the beaming moon.

Then a breeze sprang up, which cleared away the last of the smoke, which was all that remained of Miss Jackson’s hut.

The dinghy was drifting away from me across the lake, trailing a charred rope, so I couldn’t row back.

I supposed I could swim back, but the thought of the lake’s nocturnal rodent denizens caused me to shudder. On the other hand, I didn’t have much choice.

Gingerly, I stepped into the freezing glassy lake, only to discover that I had stepped onto the freezing glassy lake. I did not sink. I was walking on the water.

Halfway across I looked up and saw that Miss Jackson and Aggie were standing on the pontoon, watching me walk towards them. The last thing I wanted at this particular juncture was an audience.

When I reached the pontoon, I stepped onto it.

Miss Jackson appraised my naked body with her twinkling artist’s eye and said: “Very impressive. Bravo.”

Aggie sort of whimpered and went down on her knees before me.

“Look, Aggie,” I said to her firmly, “this may be epiphenomenal, but it’s not religious. Do you understand? I am not in the least bit

I went back into the house, dressed myself in my Second Shadow suit and tie, picked up my Flying Eagle, said thank you and goodbye, climbed into the car and drove home.

I drove home.

I let myself in.

I made myself a cup of tea.

“Ralph? Is that you?”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There was Joan, in her pyjamas, yawning and blinking in the doorway.

I wasn’t all that surprised. So Joan was immortal too. It figured.

“Where have you been?” she asked.

“I thought you were dead,” I said.

“Who told you that?”

“Orson,”

“He didn’t?”

“He did.”

“When?”

“Oh, you know, whenever it was. When you died.”

“Do I look dead to you?”

“Er, no.”

“I think we’ll go and have a talk with Orson – now.”

She went to get her dressing-gown, and then we went downstairs and woke the bastard up.

“Orson, you toad,” said Joan. “How dare you tell Ralph I was dead, when I wasn’t?”

You’re not going to believe this. He’d reached the point in his pathetic screenplay, when Joan was in the hospital and fighting for her life and, well, she’d won the fight, and she was on the mend, but Orson thought his story would be better if it ended with Joan dying. So, because he has no imagination, he’d come up and told me that Joan had died, in order to see how I would react!

“You bastard,” I said.

“I was going to tell you the truth,” said Orson, “as soon as I’d typed it up – but you buggered off. Where have you been?”

“None of your business.”

“I’m sorry,” said he

“Forget it,” said I.

Immortality’s like that. It gives you a different perspective and enhances your largesse.

Joan and I returned to the flat

“Let’s go to bed,” said Joan, and there was no mistaking her intentions.

“I’ll be right with you,” said I. “There’s something I have to do.”

“Don’t be too long.”

“If you fall asleep, I’ll wake you up.”

“I look forward to it, Ralph.”

“Me too.”

I located a biro in the right hand dresser drawer. I sat myself at the kitchen table, under the curtailed noose – wrote all this down

And now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s an offspring in the offing – and Joan awaits.

Oh look, it’s almost midnight.

November ends in 7 seconds.

4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – 0.

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Thank you so much for reading along with me! I hope you’ve enjoyed November: Ralph Conway’s Immortal Diary by E.P. Rose.

For more information about E.P.Rose and his books visit: http://www.tablethirteenbooks.com.
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