Ya Know, That Book I Didn’t Finish

Today I’m doing something different.

I’m kinda reviewing a book that I didn’t read. Or, at least I didn’t read it all the way. I got to the 46% mark on my kindle edition from NetGalley before deciding that I really didn’t want to finish the book. Yet, I think the book had some very positive traits, hence me sharing about the book with y’all. (NetGalley is amazing for being okay with reviewers not finishing books if they don’t feel inclined to.)

(Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon.)

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I’ve wanted to read this book (and try out the author) for a while now, so when I was approved to receive a NetGalley copy of the book, I was pretty pumped. Below I’m going to give three pros and three cons, then let y’all know why I decided to stop reading the book.

Pros:
*It made Isaiah’s time period in the Bible become so much more alive to me. Recently when I was reading the Bible I was like “Oh! I recognize these names!” and they felt so much more human to me
*The writing really is well done and it seems like the author did a huge amount of research
*The plot was interesting and the characters likable

Cons:
*The writing style isn’t one I found easy to delve into – I was constantly being pulled out of the story to try and catch up with the style. This is obviously totally personal and therefore something a lot of y’all wouldn’t deal with
*The book is really heavy. There’s a lot of bad stuff that happens and I found myself somewhat dreading picking up the story to continue
*The story is 400 pages long, and a lot of bad stuff can happen in 400 pages

Those last two points in the “cons” list is why I DNFed the book – it was just too heavy for me to want to continue. I want to make sure I note, though, that I don’t feel like the book was too heavy. Isaiah’s time period had a lot of bad stuff happen, and so this book was realistic. I also don’t feel like it went into too much detail. It was just too much and too heavy for me at this time.

Still, I’m rating the book three stars because I think that it will be a great book for some people.

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts – have you read any books by this author? What did you think of them? Should I give her another try?

Also, do y’all like hearing thoughts periodically on books that I don’t finish?

Have a great day, folks!

Being a 2019 Bookworm

If you’d ask my family they would agree that I’m rather passionate about books. If you asked my co-workers they’d probably say the same thing. Goodness, I guess that anyone who follows me anywhere online would come to the same conclusion.

As it turns out, I like talking about books a lot.

When I was a kid my aunt would joke that I was an audiobook and when I got into a story I’d tell the details so completely that she’d have to push pause if she wanted to say something.

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I consider myself to be very blessed to have grown up in a family and community where people let me talk about books a lot – both the reading and writing aspect of them. It’s one of my top subjects no matter who I’m talking to, and readers and non-readers alike have graciously listened and asked questions as I wax eloquent (or jabber on like a fangirl).

When I think of books I don’t just think of reading them, I also remember telling others about them. One of the biggest memories that sticks out in my mind is of when my brother and I randomly found ourselves in our kitchen late one evening. We’d both come down for a snack and I ended up launching into the story of a book I’d read a while back. It was a relatively short book but an hour later I was still explaining with detail each plot point. Instead of hurrying me along my brother sat there, guessing about what was going to happen next and guessing about the plot twist. It was delightful and filled my love tank completely.

Nowadays I still talk about books. A lot. And that’s one thing I like about social media – specifically my Instagram Stories. It’s so much fun to be able to talk about books and know that people can watch/read if they want, but it’s always easy for them to skip through or click out of the story if they’re not interested.

This morning I stepped into my personal library and perused the books, trying to find which one I wanted to photograph for this morning’s post. It wasn’t long before I’d grabbed the Matched trilogy off the shelves and was searching my prop shelf for a prop that would correctly represent the book. It was so much fun knowing I was going to get to share about one of my first ever (and pretty much only) dystopian read with the world.

Being a bookworm in 2019 is so much more fun than being a bookworm in 2009 was, and I’m thrilled that I get to share that part of my world with all y’all.

And now I’m off to leave for work early so I can return my late library books… Because, ya know, sometimes library fines are just a part of being a (sometimes) absent-minded bookworm. 😉

Currently
Setting: Walking a mile and a half on the treadmill
Listening to: The Greatest Showman soundtrack (Seriously)

Question of the Day: Do you go to more than one library? And if so, do you ever forget when you got certain books out and therefore miss the return date? 

Using Hashtags to Become Part of a Bookish Community Online

I was a bookworm long before I even knew what a bookworm was.
Or what the Internet was.
Or what a hashtag was.
Actually, I’ve been reading (or at least paging through books) for at least a decade longer than hashtags have even been around.
So, yeah.

I guess it’s not really that surprising that a good portion of my bookish world was developed before I became part of the online bookish community. And that’s probably one of the reasons I enjoy it so much now – because when I entered the bookworm community online my world of reading was suddenly burst wide open.

Now you’re obviously at least somewhat a part of the online bookish community because you’re here on my very book (and writing) focused blog, but in case you haven’t delved into the true treasure trove of learning about books from social media, I’m here to enlighten you.

Hashtags, folks. They work wonders. 

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I mainly hang out on blogs, Instagram, and Youtube, but I’m fairly sure these hashtags will work across the board, so take the information, explore, and watch your bookish world explode.

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There are any number of combos you can use… #Bookstagram #ChristianFiction #BookForDays #Bookshelfie #BooksToRead #ChristianNonfiction #WW2Books #WinterReads #HistoricalFiction

Just choose a facet of reading that interests you, start hashtagging away, and you’ll soon be making new friends, feeling inspiration take over, and have a load of recommendations so large that you’ll never run out of quality content to read.

My Instagram feed is full of people who have wonderful bookish tastes, are artistic, and will fangirl like a pro so that more people can learn about their favorite authors and top reads of the year. In fact, my personal Instagram can pretty much be described that way as well. Social media, to me, is a place where I can shout about books from the rooftops without having to worry about bothering anyone. (I mean, because if it does bother someone, they can simply mute me.)

Learning about books through the usage of hashtags and social media was one of the greatest discoveries in my bookish existence and I’ll forever be thankful for the tool it is. So have fun hashtagging away!

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill
Listening to: The Greatest Showman soundtrack (Yes, again. Or should I say still?)

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite hashtag? 

Oh Wait, Am I Fangirling? Yes, I Think I Am

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 384
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Title: Far Side of the Sea
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half-sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

World War One Historical Fiction draws me in like no other. It’s so easy to find books that take place during World War Two and I’ve read dozens of them, but when I come across a book taking place during the first World War? Well, I nearly always jump at the chance to read it.

Plus, carrier pigeons. Need I say more?

And, the author. Her first book I read and disliked it in the extreme. Her next book I read and gave the very elusive (for me) four stars. It hooked me from the beginning and I didn’t want to stop reading. Her third book doesn’t stand out in my mind (although now I want to re-read it because this book apparently has some of the same characters), and then this book… Well, I thought it was worth a shot, especially with the gorgeous cover. (Seriously though, I just keep looking at that cover.)

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Life has been a bit crazy, plus I had a literal six books going at once which is a little more than I generally try to juggle at once. That means I had a bit of a slow-go getting into Far Side of the Sea although I did find it interesting.

And then last night I sat down with the book – which I was probably about a third of the way through – and I did not want to put it down. It was around 11:00 last night when I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep until I discovered what was going on, so I settled in and finished the book, not caring how long it took me.

Y’all. This story was so expertly woven in a crescendo of intrigue, espionage, beautiful character arcs, and characters who I literally had no clue who was good or bad. Okay, so I did have a clue, and I might have been right, but it kept me guessing the whole time. It was brilliant.

There were a couple of plot twists that I did not see coming. Recently I’ve felt an extreme lack of amazement at plot twists – even when I didn’t call them – which I find rather disappointing. But even my lack of shock didn’t dampen the book for me, instead, I just gave an imaginary nod to the author for her delightful plotting skills, then right away wanted to go back and read the book again to see how all the pieces fit together.

And then there were the carrier pigeons. The author gave us just enough facts and details to make them a great part of the book and really interesting while not bogging down the story. The part the played in the war was really cool, just like the part they played in this story.

Even the romance was well-written and kept the story moving forward instead of slowing it down. It was slightly eye-rolly at times – like there should have been a bit more of a lull in how the characters reacted at one point. (And there were a fair amount of kisses, although not too detailed so they didn’t bother me.) But overall, it seemed realistic and didn’t take over the book.

CONCLUSION

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book where I was so unsure about who various characters were and if they were good or bad. I’m quite impressed.

As previously mentioned, there is romance. And there’s war. And the main character went through some trama in the war which affects him throughout the book. So, I wouldn’t recommend it to people under the age of fifteen, probably, but all the issues were handled very well.

I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!

RATING

In case you didn’t know, I don’t give out four-star ratings for fiction very easily, but Far Side of the Sea gets a very solid 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you so much, Bethany House, for a copy of this delightful book for me to review. It was a delight.

Two Historical Fiction Novels You Should Buy

One of the fun parts of getting to read books for review is having insider information to share with my online friends. Today is a day pays off particularly well. See, today is the release date for one of the best books I’ve read this year, and also exactly a month until the release date for one of my favorite books from last year.

First, the book that releases today.

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green.

This book takes place in Montreal during the 1750s and the main character is a half-Mohawk, half-French lady who runs a trading post for her not-so-nice father.

Y’all. This book had so much amazing information about the war that I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to read it again sometime super soon just so I can focus on more of the details. I’ll admit to having some air-headed moments where I completely forgot history and couldn’t remember how the war ended (aka, who won), and instead of looking it up, I kept reading with the suspense propelling me on.

There was a plot twist that I found to be completely unexpected. When I first read it I was like “Oh, well, okay….” and was kinda disappointed that it didn’t shock me more. But then I kept reading and was like “But, but, but, how could that have happened?” And I finished the book as fast as I could so I could shove it at my friend and beg (maybe demand?) she read it so we could discuss it.

I knew the outcome of that plot twist would determine my overall feelings of the book. If it worked out one way then the story would squeak by with barely three stars, but if it worked out another way I’d happily give it four solid stars.

Probably needless to say I gave the book four stars and right away set out on a quest to find some friends who don’t read a ton of fiction so I could give them all the spoilers and rant and rave and tell someone what happened. Because yes, the author did a great job of breaking the normal Christian Historical Fiction mold and surprising me as a reader.

So yeah. You should probably order the book right now or request it at your library.

Plus, ya know, the more you look at the cover the more details you see, and that’s pretty amazing. Way to go, Miss Jocelyn, on writing another fantastic book!

Between

Next off, the book that releases in exactly a month.

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Y’all. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre (no, really?), and I especially like it when an author tackles a time period or subject that isn’t really well known, especially in the fiction world. Miss Stephanie takes a well known time period (WW2) and then flips the idea over and presents us with a side of the war that isn’t often talked about.

Japanese Internment Camps in the USA.

It’s a subject a lot of Americans skim over or are completely unaware of, and yet it’s a real part of our history. Miss Stephanie masterfully weaves together a story of a Japanese boy and Italian girl and the prejudices, injustices, and mindset of the people during the 1940s.

When you read the book you’ll feel the dust of the camp. The scorn of onlookers. The helplessness of those left behind. You’ll disappear from 2019 and suddenly find yourself in a very different era as the details surround you and you make new friends, feel new heartache, and see the world through different eyes.

Within

To my surprise, there were several similarities between these two books, including the fact that they both deal with prejudices, trying to understand different cultures, and how to move forward when someone doesn’t do what you expected.

You can pre-order Miss Stephanie’s book here (which means it’ll be automatically sent to you a month from now and that’s pretty amazing). I already pre-ordered her book (back on June 23rd, the first day the cover went live on Amazon), and despite having an ARC copy of it, I’m so excited about the final version arriving in the mail.

And there you have it, folks, some insider information on two amazing books. I’d be delighted to know in the comments if you’ve read either of these two authors or if you plan on buying either of these fantastic books.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill (I walked nearly two miles while writing this)
Listening to: Spotify on shuffel 
Random Fact: We live in a valley so we often have fog 
Question of the Day: Do you like Historical Fiction? 

Growing Forward

 

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 1, 2019
Title: Growing Forward
Nonfiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

After life is shattered by loss or a traumatic experience–whether big or small–it can seem impossible to heal or even move on. Deep down you believe God intends good for you, but you just don’t have the energy or strength to figure out how to move forward.

Author Laurie Pawlik has been there, and here she shares how she flourished despite multiple losses. Through practical tips and thought-provoking questions, she helps you take small yet powerful steps toward healing and letting go. She also offers insights and encouragement from the lives of strong women in the Bible. You’ll glimpse the painful losses these women experienced and learn how they flourished despite seasons of hardship and grief. You’ll discover how God shows His presence and power in the valleys, deserts, and storms. And you’ll feel a fresh sense of hope that, with God, you can redefine yourself, remake your life, and grow forward into a beautiful new season.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I don’t actually remember why I requested this book. It looks interesting though, and I like learning what helps other people and seeing through the eyes of people who have gone through things I haven’t gone through.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

While reading this book it was easy to tell that the author was a blogger. I’m not sure how to describe the style, except that there were several “segments” in each chapter, and quite often those segments reminded me of blog posts or at least snippets of blog posts. I’ve this done before where it bothers me, but this time I actually found the style made the book easy to read. There were plenty of places where I could set it down and then pick it back up without feeling like the flow was interrupted. This was good for reading whenever I had a few extra minutes.

The author did a great job of showing that her life wasn’t perfect, but without going into a pity party or too much detail regarding what she had faced. I really thought she hit a good balance with that, and it showed that she really has found a healthy way to deal with a lot of bad stuff – growing forward – which is what the book is all about.

There was a lot of solid information in this book. We got to look at different characters from the Bible and learn from their stories – what they did and didn’t do correctly and how people around them were impacted.

Sadly, there was also some information that I didn’t agree with. There were multiple things that I think are okay for someone to do on their own, but it can be dangerous to teach it in a removed setting such as a book. For instance, while talking about a very traumatic experience, the author said that every time it came to mind she would play the “What Then” game with Jesus, where she says what’s horrible, and Jesus says “What then?” and they keep going until she’s realized that He’s with her and she’ll be okay. I’m not saying that I think this is wrong, but it felt a little bit sacrilegious how it was written in the book. Which brings me to another part I didn’t like: I felt like she made God seem almost too human in the book. Yes, He’s our friend. And Yes, He can relate to us. And Yes, He loves us and wants to have a special relationship with us. Yet, at the same time, He is holy and deserves respect, and although I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean to bring Him down to our level in a disrespectful way, at times I felt like she did.

There were a few more things I didn’t like or agree with, like this sentence, God created crayons, paints, paper, shapes, textures, and tones – use His handicrafts to talk to Him! I understand the point that the author is trying to make, and I agree with it. But God didn’t create crayons and paints and paper, and although it’s a little thing when the little things pile up they drop my rating of the book.

CONCLUSION

Overall, the book has a lot of good information, suggestions, and an easy-to-read style. I would say if you want to read it, go for it! Just read it with an open mind and match what she says against the Bible. 🙂

RATING

I’m giving Growing Forward 3 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from Bethany House Publishers so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

A Song for the Stars

Today’s review is for a book that’s historical fiction that takes place on Hawaii. Sounds fantastic, right? (I say as I’m walking on a treadmill in cold Ohio where I have to wear three sweaters even though I’m inside.)

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 352
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Title: A Song for the Stars
Fiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

Inspired by a true story

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaii, and he taught her everything he knows how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Several years ago I went to Hawaii and found the history to be intriguing, yet despite that, I haven’t found a lot of good historical fiction books set in Hawaii, so when I read the back cover blurb for A Song For the Stars I decided to go for it.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

There was so much history, culture, and lore woven into this book that made reading it a rich experience of learning about a people group that I don’t have a lot of knowledge about. I didn’t realize until the end that the story is based loosely on that of the author’s four-times-great-grandparents, but when I read that, it made the story even more special to me.

I’m going to go with a list of pros and cons for this book, because there was so much I did like, and yet some things that weren’t to my liking.

Pros:
The setting… I felt as if I’d been immersed into Hawaiian culture and sucked into their world. I felt the rain, the thinness of the pounded bark clothing, heard the swaying of the heavy foliage, the rhythm of the waves. I could taste the salt of the ocean, imagine the terror of the battle, and see the droplets of blood from knife cuts.

The culture… I learned so much about how Hawaiians lived back then – their beliefs, practices, worldview, why they did what they did, and how it impacted those around them. It was very interesting and presented in such a way that I felt like I was learning at a good pace, not having information shoved down my throat for the sake of sharing it.

The characters… Especially Maile, the main character, were well written and had depth. I liked seeing how Maile viewed life because it was quite different from how I view life. I especially like how the author kept her very non-modern-American. There were many things that she did that I halfway cringed about, but she felt like it was so normal she didn’t give it a second thought – that was one of my favorite parts of the book.

Cons:
John killing Maile’s fiancé. As far as I could tell this wasn’t part of the true life story that the book was inspired by, and therefore it felt needless to me. It bothered me how both John and Maile reacted to this heartbreak, but I won’t go into that because of spoilers.

The amount of time John and Maile spent alone – although there was a reason for it, I couldn’t shut off the shouting in my brain that said that it wouldn’t actually be allowed since she was the chief’s daughter. Plus, that’s just not something I like in books, so…

So, obviously I don’t have a lot of cons, but they were strong enough ones that they bought the book from four stars to three stars for me.

CONCLUSION

This isn’t Christian fiction, and it does talk about the gods the Hawaiian’s believed in, etc… Plus, it has a lot about the ocean where it portrays it as something (someone?) that consciously helps, hurts, or is angry with humans. This didn’t bother me because it’s part of the beliefs the Hawaiians held, but it’s also something I don’t agree with.

RATING

I’m giving A Song for the Stars 3 out of 5 stars.

((I got this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for me reviewing it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))