Harry Sue by Sue Stauffacher Titles link to goodreads This is one of those books that just takes you through every possible em...

Mini Reviews—January 2019

Titles link to goodreads

This is one of those books that just takes you through every possible emotion: an immediate love for this prickly, precious, compassionate little girl coupled with a desperate desire for her to make better life choices. Then, the glorious heart soaring as she begins to change and the terrible pain crashing as the climax strikes and a lot of things hit the fan. Then, there’s the overarching theme of renewal and redemption and possibility and hope, and these come through so powerfully at the end. The writing style spoke 100% to this individual, loving, sore and sad little girl, who desperately needed to know there was more to life than crime and injustice and horrible happenings suspended only by luck. One of my favorite things about the story, besides Harry’s personality, was her overwhelming resilience, the fact that even when Harry herself tried to snuff love out of her heart, something in that girl always managed to hope.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Content: mild language in some areas.


Honestly, I spent a lot of this book not knowing what to think. I was interested in discovering how it would all turn out and they hadn’t yet given me a reason to leave, but I didn’t really feel anything. Just a kind of “meh” curiosity, as I followed Alvie (the main character) following Stanley (the love interest), tried to figure out the backstory on the both of them, and wondered how they were going to work themselves and the story out.

Granted, there comes a point about midway through the book where the story just swept me away. I had been nibbling at it, a few chapters on Monday here, another few on Thursday there; but once this certain sequence begins and things started go downhill, I sat riveted for I-don’t-even-know-how-long, page after page after page, however long it took to finish; I had to see what would happen next to these poor charrries.

Even with that exciting time though, by the time I reached the end, the best feeling I could muster up was, “Eh, it was okay.” I understand the deep and emotional sentiment the author was going for and I’m sure others felt it while reading—but I didn’t quite experience the full dose. I liked the idea, the premise of the story, but at the end of the day the execution of the idea, and the characters themselves, just weren’t my favorite.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Content: language, repeated sexual references (not strictly vulgar, but definitely blunt), and probably a sex scene (I skipped a few pages when it looked like it was going in that direction).


This one, I read about a third of in little bits and pieces—and then devoured the rest in a single night. It... was.... magnificent. Deep and heartfelt, you feel SO HARD for these kids, watching them endure what was probably the hardest, most painful, most earthshattering week of their lives. They were both so brilliant, so adorable, so beautiful, so strong… and so much like kids, not knowing how to deal with something so big and not always taking the right path to get through getting through it. But, from the very first chapter, I wanted so badly for things to go well for them and, while I can’t give spoilers about how it all turns out, I will say that I loved it. It was beautiful, and the overall emotion at the end was just so dang encouraging. Middle school is HARD, and huge changes are even harder, but books like these, stories like these, friends like these, they can make it all the better.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

***
While that’s not everything I read in January, these three were among the most noteworthy and the easiest to write short reviews on. What have you been reading recently? Stepped outside of your normal genre at all? (both You Go First and Harry Sue were more towards middle grade instead of my normal YA). Can’t wait to hear from you all, and I will see you in the comment section!


In my “ W here is She Now ” post, I mentioned that I had been doing some reading in my absence—and not all of them were picture books. ju...

Mini Reviews: Two of My Favorites from 2018

In my “Where is She Now” post, I mentioned that I had been doing some reading in my absence—and not all of them were picture books. just most of them. I probably will post only Goodreads reviews for quite a few of them, but here are two that I really wanted to talk about on the blog.
Titles link to goodreads
I read—and reread—this at a time when I desperately needed to be reminded that I could (and must!) fight for my dream. Reading it was like he’d pulled the need to write right out of my heart and showed me my dreams in stark detail: everything that I hoped for, everything I feared to achieve, everything I knew I could never reach.

And then, he reminded me to take the jump and go for it anyway.

It was just beautiful and I got chills and I loved it so much, especially the last two sections. Seriously, if you’re having trouble believing in your dream right now, find this book. At your library, a bookstore, somewhere, anywhere. Sit down and just read it, cover to cover, all at once. Remember your biggest dream. And then reach for it again.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Amber, the main character, her voice cracked me up! She had such a vibrant, guileless, honest personality; really, there was like no filter, but her character was crafted so perfectly that I didn’t mind some of the things, content-wise, I normally would have. Also, I adored her completely frank conversations with God, the way she saw Jesus as so close to her, ready to lean on, there to walk with and talk with at any moment. It made the book a really special experience, because it wasn’t that the story was necessarily “Christian,” just that Jesus was such an integral part of her life, that she couldn't not show Him openly, both in her thoughts and her interactions with others. So even with the terrible circumstances in her life and her lack of conversational filter, the open honesty of her character and her relationship with Christ kept me invested and hopeful about the turnout.

And what a turnout it was! This book does a fantastic job of taking you through all the emotions: daring to hope, losing yet again, struggling to hope, losing it all, falling into depression and anger and pain… and then finding that glimmering spark in what seems like utter darkness. Sorta Like a Rockstar is nothing if not honest, and despite the words and the references, I adored it for that. The ending was 100% expected and 1,000% beautiful; truly, it was beyond words. I got chills reading the climax, and the last couple of chapters, my mind was just blown at the magical way that everything came together. All-in-all, this book was fantastic, I would love to have a copy of my own, and it was exactly what I needed to read at the time to get me back into YA books again.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Content Warnings: cursing, intense circumstances (including reference to rape and murder), and sexual references.

***

So, what have you been reading lately? Have a favorite book from 2018? Have you ever read something that just showed you the heart and the power of hope right when you needed it most? Can't wait to hear from you all, and I'll see you in the comment section!



I gotta say, as pure worship songs go, this has got to be one of my favorites. This song, it just reminds me of all the wonderful, ...

Melodic Mondays: Pieces by Spencer Kane (Amanda Cook Cover)

I gotta say, as pure worship songs go, this has got to be one of my favorites.


This song, it just reminds me of all the wonderful, incredible, magnificent, beautiful, indescribable things about God’s love. It’s a light, a fire, a powerful force for my redemption--and so much more than I know how to write.

His love is serious; it’s real. It hangs on every Word He says, and when He speaks a word, you can bet everything that it’s 100% true. When He says He’ll restore you (1 Peter 5:10), He means it. When He says that He’s with you (Joshua 1:9), He means it. When He says He died for your salvation, He means it (1 Peter 2:24, 3:18). When He says you’re forgiven, He means it (Psalm 103:12, Romans 8:1).

When He says that He loves you (Ephesians 2:4-7), He means it.

Because this Jesus God, He doesn’t give His heart in pieces. His love is one hundred and nothing less, the fullness of everlasting, covering every broken part, every anxious heart, every depressed thought, every aching disappointment. His love, His great, incredible, and complete love, it is always more than enough.

Had you ever heard this version of “Pieces”? How about the original song? Have a favorite worship song you’d like to share with me? Can’t wait to hear from you, and I will see you in the comment section!


I’ve been around, lol. Not on my blog of course, though I’ve nearly caught up on a few others, leaving comments in December to posts that w...

Where is She Now?

I’ve been around, lol. Not on my blog of course, though I’ve nearly caught up on a few others, leaving comments in December to posts that went live in August. Sorry about that. I’ve kind of accepted that I will be eternally late in the blogosphere, but your posts are all so thought-provoking and entertaining and well-written that I have to read them at some point, even if it is when they’re three months (or more) past new.
I’ve actually gotten some reading done, more in the past couple of weeks than I’d managed in the past couple of months before that. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll see that I have rediscovered an incredible love for picture books. This is a direct result of my new position at the library, which puts me in closer contact with more than just the YA section (I’m in charge of ALL the displays of new books, so whenever a new book enters the library, I have to deal with it and its display at some point. As a result, my reading list has exploded). Picture books are the bomb, you guys. You should be reading them for their lovely illustrations and adorable childlike purity and, often, really fantastic, really simple life lessons you've already forgotten by the time you're 21. At least if you're me.
I also realized recently that I have not been writing, which is a terrible affront to my future career and must be rectified immediately. I was introduced to Imogen’s blog by a link on a fellow blogger’s site (forgive me, I can't remember who the other blogger was), and discovered her post where she says “never, ever write off the power of a free five minutes. I intend to use that advice to restart my writing career in 2019, writing even just five minutes per day if that’s all I can manage at the time.
I’ve listened to a lot of music, but mostly the same wonderful stuff over and over. Right now, it’s Pentatonix, Riley Clemmons, Imagine Dragons, and Bea Miller. I’ve also discovered that indie music and other genres that are just kind of out-there may be my favorite kinds of music.
I’ve spent a lot of time with my family, especially over Christmas and New Years’: watching TV shows and movies, shopping trips and hanging out at home, playing games and playing with dolls, we’ve done it all and we’ve done it a lot. It’s been pretty fun and pretty full. Much different than I normally like to spend my holidays (sequestered away in my own book world or one from the mind of another crazy author), but it’s been good and I’m glad to have spent it that way.
I’m not much for New Years’ Resolutions; I prefer to simply change my life whenever I come upon the idea that I ought to. But I do hope to blog at least a little more this year than I did in the last months of 2018. We’ll have to see how it goes, because honestly, my life situation hasn’t changed very much, so I don’t exactly know where I’m going to fit it in, only that I will be trying harder to fit it in. Maybe I can be smarter with those spare 5 minutes and see if they can make a novel and a blog post now and again, eh?
Like I talked about at the beginning, I have not written any posts of my own (except this one), but I have read multiple others. Here are a slew of my favorites from the final few months of last year and the beginning of this one.
Spend Wisely by Keturah.  Profound. At the time that I read this, I really needed this reminder: that, just like time, money is meant to spent to the glory of God.
9 Stupid Writing Rules that Aren’t Worth Following by Hanna Heath. I love that she talked about these—and in such a classic, humorous way too! Also, the gifs are on point.
When It All Seems Cliché by Vanessa. “I am what makes cliché original.” I love that quote!
Balanced Writing: Guest post by Jessi Roberts on Rebellious Writing. Very interesting post. It gives you a lot to think about regarding what you should portray as an author and, if you choose to, how you should portray it.
Spreading Hope by Faith. A lovely reminder that even though darkness is real, exists, and must be acknowledged, it shouldn’t be our focus. Our focus must be light.
Live Now So You Can Live Later by Vanessa. I just love the message here! Especially since that’s something I’ve really been trying to focus on lately: living now. Right now. In this moment. Whatever’s going on, don’t stress, give it your best, and live your life right now.
Elements of a Strong Female Protagonist by Imogen Elvis. I absolutely LOVE what she has to say here! It’s not about physical strength and the character can be as girly as she freaking wants and still be a fantastic female character. Altogether, some pretty solid tips in here.
The Language of the Worlds Link-Up-October by Skye. Because the more I hear about Cynfael, the more he intrigues me. Seriously, the characters she creates are just incredible.
When “Diversity” Leads to Bad Writing by Jessi. Definitely a thought-provoking post. Racial diversity is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but if the characters don’t make sense for the story, good writing has got to come first. Nobody likes token characters anyway. :p
Can Erasing Your Social Media be the Solution to Living a Better New Year? By Keturah. Love what she says here! Social media is just a tool—it’s not the devil, and it’s not your savior. It’s just a tool that each of us has to learn how to use properly for our individual lives. 😊
Seven Magic Mirrors Blog Tour—But One Life by Skye. Her review is so good, and this book sounds amazing! I’d love to pick it up sometime.
Mini Reseñas Feat. A List Of Cages (Esp) by Grace. I think it’s super cool that she also does reviews in Spanish! Also, one of these days, I’m gonna get around to at least trying that new Marie Lu series maybe in 2035, but hey, one of these days.
A Review Of Karen Kingsbury’s/Hallmark’s The Bridge by Emily. I’m generally not much for pure romance stories, but her review makes this sound so good! Adding to the reading and watching list!
Smile Every Day, Then Write Down Why by Keturah. This is such a beautiful idea! I plan to start doing it as well, and I hope you’ll join us!
***
And that’s all I’m going to list, because this is kind of a ton, but I read SO MANY beautiful posts by all of you over winter break! Thank you for being just an incredible, encouraging community with such wise, amusing, informative, and inspirational posts! Love you all, and I’m glad to contribute when I can. 😉
Hope you enjoyed the post, and that you have a wonderful New Year!

Hey, all! Today, I’m here with the recently released anthology (which contains two new stories from the incredible and thought-provoking Ke...

Review: The Clarion Call, Vol. 4: Fairytale Riot: All-You-Can-Read Fairy Tale Retellings

Hey, all! Today, I’m here with the recently released anthology (which contains two new stories from the incredible and thought-provoking Keturah Lamb!!), The Clarion Call, Vol 4: Fairytale Riot.

In this fourth volume of The Clarion Call, twenty-seven authors capture and retell the stories of our shared past – the fables we are told as children, the lore that continues to guide us through adulthood.
Within this collection of liberty-themed folklore, fables, and fairytales, these short stories:
Grow beyond the bounds of their first tellers, gaining in wisdom and power;
Break free from the borders of their homelands, crossing deserts, forests, mountains, and seas;
Evolve to challenge the mores and moods of this age—
While maintaining the timeless and enduring charm, insight, and guidance that made them classics.
All the stories in this book are so vastly different: there are fantasies with fates and fairies, magic and pixies. There are contemporaries, set in the dangers of an Alaskan winter or current Washington politics. There are action-packed paranormal plots and a story where the entire tale takes place within a shopping mall. Some of the lessons were rather heavy-handed; others were so subtle, I barely realized it was meant to be about politics or philosophy. While I did not enjoy all of the stories, there is such a variety of retellings here that it seems one should be able to find quite a few to love no matter what your preference is.  
A few of my favorites:
  • Ashley by Lynne Lumden Green: less of a lesson in this one, but the premise was quite unexpected and an amusing take on the Cinderella tale. I liked it, especially the ending!  
  • The Piper’s Last Song by Keturah Lamb: I got chills. Again, how the story turned out was totally unexpected, but it was still so good! The premise drew me in right quick, and towards the end, I was all tense, hunched over my kindle, devouring the words to finally uncover what would happen at the end. Amazing.
  • The Bremen Town Musicians by John M. Olsen: this one was just super cool! Exciting and gripping, you’re immediately interested in the characters, and it was just so neat to follow them on their impromptu spy mission. Unexpected (that seems to be a theme for these, lol), but super fun to see the surprising skills this motley, accidental crew possessed.
  • The Fairy Mothers by DonnaRae Menard: Too cute!! I adored!
  • Frogs by Marie Anderson: The ending was not part of the deal, lol, but the main character was 100% relatable for me.
  • The Big Bad Elephant by Andrew Bundy: Probably my favorite. I laughed out loud, this one was so clever, creative, and absolutely hysterical.
  • Artie the Millenial by Alexandra Faye Carrich: HIT ME RIGHT IN THE HEART I TELL YOU. I loved the Medieval references, I loved Merlin as a preteen, I loved Arthur as a lost twenty-something, just GOODNESS THIS WHOLE STORY. The quick character journey, the interaction between the brothers, gosh, it was adorable. And super funny too!
  • Prince Perfect by Keturah Lamb: Interesting, amusing, and full of her classic tongue-in-cheek sarcasm with that vital point.

So, what do you guys think of the anthology so far? Which kind of story do you think you'd be most interested in? Head over to Keturah’s blog and give her a hearty congratulations if you haven’t already! Can’t wait to hear from you all, and I will see you in the comment section!
Content Warnings: varied: some stories were completely clean, others contained quite a bit of language and/or violence.
Note: I honestly and voluntarily reviewed a free ecopy of this book.

I’M ALIVE Not only am I alive, I have turned 21 . And my birthday got me thinking about this accidental tradition I’ve had ever since I w...

Melodic Mondays: Year 20

I’M ALIVE
Not only am I alive, I have turned 21. And my birthday got me thinking about this accidental tradition I’ve had ever since I was 13 years old: I find songs that sort of represent my year, and generally, they were songs that actually had the number I had turned in the title (13 by the Rubyz for my 13th year, 18 by Daughtry for my 18th year, and so on). But I never was able to find a song for 20 that actually had the number “20” in it.
So instead, I figured I’d share a collection of songs that kinda represented my year, regardless of the numbers within them. 😉

I struggled a lot this year, with school, with life, just all kinds of things. Sometimes, I felt like more stress had been thrown at me in the past 365 days than in my entire life put together. This song made me feel so powerful whenever I wanted to throw in the towel. It reminded me to just do the next thing and keep doing it, to get up the next day and do it again, and to always remember that I am a Daughter of the King. That with Christ’s help, when I’m at the end of my strength, that’s where I find His. With Him at my side, I can get up everyday and do it again, until I reach the goals I’m striving for.

So much grace. I needed all the grace this year. :p Like I said, I struggled a lot, and this was the year that I realized how much I truly need Jesus and His grace to carry me through, not just in the big situations, but even in the everyday ones. Especially when the bigger situations had drained me and I felt like I couldn’t take a milligram more.


Despite my various issues and insecurities, I embraced who I am a lot more than I had in previous years. I wouldn’t say that I had spent a lot of time trying to be someone else exactly, but I have often thought of myself as just awkward or weird or some other trait too generally graceless and peculiar to be liked by others (this has, for the record, gone entirely unsupported by most of the people I know, but the idea remained in my head). However, moving forward into this year, I know my identity is in Christ. None of the rest of it matters, not my opinions, not the world’s opinions, not any negativity I come across and try to put onto myself. Yes, I’m awkward. Yes, I make a lot of mistakes. But my identity is in Christ and He made me, well, me. With Him at my side, I am ready to be the me He meant when He made. I am ready to be myself.


Three basically continues the above sentiment (and will likely be a theme that continues into my 21st year), but the last few lines tie it all together in one of the most beautiful ways I’ve ever heard.
Though these songs do describe my year in some ways, the above collection kinda makes it seem like all I did was angst, lol—which is not at all the case. Though I definitely had a lot of struggles, I also had a lot of fun. And here are some of my favorite songs that represent that.









And that’s a small snippet of my year in an annotated playlist, lol. Can you think of a song (or two or three) that represent your current age? Do you have any songs called 21 (or with 21 in them) for this upcoming year? Lol. Can’t wait to hear from you all, and I will see you in the comment section!


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