Thursday, November 23, 2017

Enjoy the Poodle Skirt

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Description: Rule one: Keep your hands clean.
Rule two: Careful with the food trays.
Rule three: Visit the soda fountain as often as you like, but don’t make yourself sick.
Rule four: Enjoy the poodle skirt.
Canary is excited to spend a whole week helping her newlywed aunt and uncle run a 50’s diner along with her older siblings Rose and Michael. Even the rules for working there are fun!
But when a routine cleanup presents a mysterious, hand-drawn map, her vacation gets even more exciting than a banana split with hot fudge sauce. And that’s saying a lot!

This is an adorable short story. Its part mystery, part sibling adventure, and one-hundred present fun.

The setting of a 50’s style diner was so much fun! I wanted to visit this place! It actually made me think of a place that I had visited in Fredericksburg, Texas (though this diner sounded even more fun). Reading this will probably make you hungry for a burger and milkshake.

Canary and her siblings are great characters. I love how they work together to try to solve a mystery. It isn’t a scary mystery or a big one, but it is fun. I love how the siblings look out for each other, even in a small way.

I highly recommend this story to those who like short, contemporary stories with hints of mystery, and happy siblings.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Friends and Enemies

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Description: Friends and Enemies is a collection of short stories written by Jessica Greyson. 
Each short story has a moral lesson at its core.

If Jessica Greyson has written it, I pretty much know that I’ll love it. This short story collection was no exception. These tales were beautiful, emotional, and so very good. My only complaint? I wanted each story to be expanded and made into a book of its own.

A Time of Peace 
In a Scottish setting, I so wanted this one to be expanded upon. It was one of my favorites.

Comfort of Strangers 
If I had to pick a weak story, this would be it. It was the only one that left me a bit confused, but I still liked it.

If you could make the worst wrong in your life right, would you? This story explores that. It left me feeling so happy.

This one…the ending was nothing like I expected but left me wanting to hug Meagan. God doesn’t always give us the answers we want, but He always gives answers.

The Mask of Marguerite 
It was pretty awesome writing to communicate so much in such a short amount of time. Who doesn’t love an Esther story?

I won a paperback copy of this book during a giveaway. I was not asked to write a review and not obligated to write a positive review. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Beyond the Mountain

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Description: Branwen thought her previous adventure to the North Mountain had been her last—after all, Captain Gavel's fortress had collapsed after she and the three others rescued the necessary crowns. She thought that she'd get to see Edyth, Quintin and Silas at the annual Tournament of Warriors for only a few days each year. But most of all, the last thing she expected was to ever go beyond the North Mountain... and that's exactly what she did. When the young princess went missing during the last night of the Tournament, the king and queen turned to the four faithful heroes to rescue the kidnapped child. And that’s how Branwen found herself caught up in yet another once-in-a-lifetime journey, headed north—this time, beyond the mountain.

I enjoyed the first book in this series. I picked up a copy on sale after I finished Branwen’s Quest and I am glad I did.It was a light fantasy with even fewer strange creatures and such than in the last story.

The four heroes from the last book are together again, and once again they win the Tournament of Warriors. Quickly they get caught up in a quest to save a kidnapped child. Their interactions were so much fun. It was like visiting old friends. Buxton is talented at weaving memorable characters, each unique.

Some of the settings in this story are familiar while others (like an island castle) are new and interesting. Visualizing everything from the descriptions given was easy. It was perfect for firing the imagination. I could easily see this being read aloud to children.

There wasn’t any faith element, but there were good morals. There were some injuries, blood, and pain, but it wasn’t described in great detail. There were mentions of Branwen’s unhappiness about the man her father wants her to marry and a couple other mentions of romantic interests of other characters, but they were brief, and I don’t think it will bother any readers.

I recommend this story for youth and young adults who enjoy light fantasy and adventure stories.

Monday, November 20, 2017


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Description: For Emily Baxter, life is simple. Her world is made up completely of school, church, and the community in the small farming town she calls home. All that changes one fateful Sunday, when a new girl shows up at Pleasanton Baptist—a girl unlike anyone Emily has ever seen. A girl with long red hair, crystal green eyes, and style and posture like royalty.
A girl named October.
The months that follow are filled with magic—the magic of ordinary things, of finding pictures in the stars, of imagination and a new sense of beauty. But as time goes by, Emily begins to sense that her enchanting new friend may have secrets that could break the spell. Is October really all she seems to be?

I wasn’t going to read this novel. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Grace Pennington is one of my favorite authors. I'm always blown away by her skill and powerful storytelling. However, I knew this book was going to be sad and hard to read. I decided to pick it up, and my heart is indeed in a thousand little pieces, like the feeling you get at the end of Camelot: You wanted a different ending so much, and yet, your heart is aching with the beauty of the conclusion that is there.

Emily is a wonderful character. I loved her. She is sweet, hopeful, and a faithful friend. She reminds me a lot of my youngest sister. I love how excited Emily gets over a new girl, a girl who is so obviously different.

Jax was a major player in this book as well. He was sweet and the kind of cousin I think every girl wishes she had. He has his faults, but he has a great heart.

The parents, pastor, and Melissa all played supporting roles. Each of them had some flaws, but all of them also had some wonderful qualities. I loved how real they all felt.

From the beginning of the book, you are waiting for the shoe to drop. You know that there is more to October (or Tobi) then Emily is seeing. Even early on, there are glimpses that just don’t fit. As the book wears on, the tension mounts. I think for anyone who has been around people like October will see it coming.

I think the hardest thing about this book is to realize how necessary it is. So many young people are dealing with friends who have major challenges like October. A book like this can help younger readers cope with what they are going through. The issues discussed in this book are not easy (See spoiler at the end of my review), but they are real, and they do exist.

The writing was some of Pennington’s best yet. You can tell this story poured out of her very soul, not just her heart. Because of that, it will impact lives.

The ending left my heart broken, yet there was hope among the sharp shards of pain. This is not a happy, feel-good book. This is not a fluffy romance. This is a raw, emotional, and realistic look at some hard things.

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy realistic stories, lyrical writing, and emotional tales.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Write Well

Description: Writing isn't all heart and art. It's structure and syntax, too.
Write Well will help you understand the structure of writing so you can get back to the art.
Hi there, I'm Rachelle Rea Cobb. and I have history with words. I've ever been known as a grammar geek with a knack for storytelling. Friends and family have come to me for years to polish their pages. For five years now, one of my favorite things to do is help others polish their pages until their words shine--and then they can sign their own publishing contracts. I have worked with traditional, self-published, and best-selling authors, as well as students, bloggers, and ESL writers. Entrusting your words to others can be excruciating, but I promise to treat them with the utmost care, never squashing your voice. Instead, my job is to unleash it from typos, fluff, and repetitiveness, etc.
And now I'd like to share my expertise with you.

As some of you are probably painfully aware, grammar is not my thing. It isn’t that I don’t care, but it seems that every time someone tries to explain the rules, I only become more confused. Seriously? How am I supposed to understand where those silly little commas go? The answer is to buy this little book.

This book was so, so, so helpful! I still have a long way to go before I really have a firm grasp of all the principles. However, I finally feel like I have a chance. This book is not huge and intimidating. It is not peppered with crude references that some grammar books have. It is a short guide to grammar from someone who loves it to those of us who need the help.

After reading the section on commas, I felt like I had a better understanding of how to use them than any of the grammar books I read for school. Like I said, I know I still have a long way to go in applying them. However, I plan to start having this book on hand as I edit.

The rest of the book was also helpful. No section is very large; in fact, you can read the whole book in about an hour. Yet, those short pages are packed with helpful information.

If you want to learn more about grammar and improve your writing, this book is a must-have. It isn’t expensive, so grab yourself a copy.

I highly recommend this book for writers, homeschool students, and anyone wanting to improve their grammar skills.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Graham Quartet and the Mysterious Strangers

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Description: In the midst of the cold, snowy woods, the Graham Quartet stumble across a mystery. It could mean danger, but that doesn’t stop Elsa, Matt, Tim and Selena as they try their best to help a stranger who needs them. But what can Siam, Hong Kong and Vanderbilt have to do with the local furniture factory? And why are so many strangers suddenly appearing and then disappearing in town? With the arrival of an elusive figure, things start moving, while a simple delivery trip may bring more than the Quartet bargained for. Will the four siblings be able to help their friend and their country?

While I bought and read a Rebekah Morris book a while back, my sister Mikayla can’t stop talking about her. She keeps asking me when Morris is coming out with another book and wants all of them. I finally sat down and read some more of Morris’ works, and I can see why my sister is so crazy about it. Here are some of the reasons her books are so good.

They are not heavy on the romance. So many books these days are so heavy on the romance there is not much else to the plot. While I like romance as much as the next girl, it is nice to see books about other topics.
They are clean in every way. You never have to worry when you open up one of her books about what you might find.
They feel like old-fashioned books, giving you a nostalgic feeling.

The Graham Quartet and the Mysterious Strangers remind me of many of the childhood mystery books I read growing up. Yet this story has an element of faith, and parents the kids trust.

Homeschool families will especially appreciate the aspect of respect and interaction with the parents.
My one complaint about this book is that at times it felt historical (the 1950's) and at other times I wondered if maybe it were supposed to be a modern story. It might not be that important to most readers, but it was a bit distracting to me.

I loved how each of the kids had their own personality that was so well conveyed. Like in many families, they have an identity as a unit, but each is unique. Morris did a great job developing each of the kids’ personalities and sticking with it.

The mystery itself was kid friendly and interesting at the same time. Things were never boring in the story but also didn’t feel hyped and fake. There was very little violence in it as well. What little there was, the kids were shielded from, so you only get a vague impression of it. There is no murder, gore, or grossness.

I highly recommend this story for those who love clean mysteries, youth fiction, and nostalgic reads.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Ankulen

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Description: Fifteen-year-old Jen can't remember her imagination. She knows she had one once, though, and honestly, she'd like it back. It's been eight years. One day she finds a young boy who claims to be one of her imaginary friends and that her imaginary world is being eaten by a hydra-like monster called the Polystoikhedron. He helps her find the Ankulen, a special bracelet that had given the ability to bring her imagination to life and together they embark on a quest to find friendship, healing, and perhaps even some family.

I wasn’t feeling good one day and looked on my Kindle. I can always count on Ardnek to give me something easy to read and full of imagination. However, this is my favorite book of hers yet. Very light, very fun, and very different.

The whole setting of this book is just plain cool: a girl inside her imagination, which has lots of different aspects to it. It reminded me a lot of my childhood imagination, except I was never as organized as Jen. The world, so carefully crafted, was just plain fun.

Jen was such a believable character, and her struggle to reclaim her imagination felt real. I liked how different she was from some of the other Ardnek leading ladies. She wasn’t as annoying as I found the main girl in the Quest books.

All the other characters just sparkled and were full of color (wink). The old woman was one of my favorites, even though she wasn’t really in the story much.

Other than nearly being lulled to sleep while the story was in the dream castle, the story kept me turning pages. It was so much fun. However, I was taken completely surprised by the powerful message toward the end. I was blinking rapidly at the skill, because the message had been there all the time, yet it surprised me. It was very well done.

I highly recommend this to those who like mild fantasies, imaginary worlds, and just want a lighthearted read.