First Impressions: Tempest by Julie Cross

Tempest (Tempest, #1)

First Impressions Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Tempest #1

January 17, 2012 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Purpose – Netgalley, Project- Kindle Clean-Up

I was given a digital copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

DNF

This is a title that I have been interested in off and on. I received a copy of it before it was published, and for whatever reason never got around to actually reading it. Now since then it has been published, along with the rest of the trilogy. The covers have also been revamped (or maybe it’s the UK edition that I’ve been seeing). Either way, every time I have passed this book, I felt compelled to pick it. The premise of the book sounds interesting. I finally pulled up my review copy. And, it just didn’t hold my attention. I wasn’t even able to make it very far into this. But this may be a case of “it’s not the book it’s me”. My reading tastes has changed a lot since I’ve requested this book, so that may be the cause for my lack of interest.

 

 

Always Shine!

First Impressions: Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

FirstbornFirst Impressions Review: Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

January 28, 2014 – Blink YA Books

Source: Netgalley

Project: Kindle Clean-up

I received a digital copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

DNF

Full disclosure: this is a title that I have had on my kindle for a very long time. I was excited to read this title when I first received it, but with most books I got distracted. And as I received more and more for review, it became a case of “out of sight, out of mind”.   As you can see, this is part of my special project-Kindle Clean-up. I am going through my backlog of old review titles on my kindle. For some books, those that pull me into the story long enough to complete, I will be doing full reviews. For those that I DNF, I will do a first impression review.

I wasn’t drawn into this story. The characters weren’t very compelling. The setup for this society’s culture and beliefs was confusing. The synopsis was confusing. Since it’s been a week since I’ve picked up this title to read and I haven’t even thought about this book, I am moving on to the next title.

 

Always Shine!

Booklook Review: The Berenstain Bears 5 Minute Inspirational Stories

The Berenstain Bears 5-Minute Inspirational Stories: Read-Along Classics

The Berenstain Bears 5 Minute Inspirational Stories by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain

May 2, 2017 – Zonderkidz

Source: Booklook Bloggers

I received a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 Stars

I enjoyed the last Berenstain Bears that I got for review, so when I saw that they had another collection I decided to request it too. To be completely honest, we are a Berenstain Bears family. My son enjoys them, in book form or watching the TV show. So I am not sure if I can be very objective in this review.  I like this collection, it has 12 stories in it. These stories are part of the Living Lights collection, which means that they have faith based themes.  Each story deals with a specific issue, whether it’s prayer, gossiping or bragging. Brother and Sister Bear learns more about their faith and their characters in these stories. The solutions are biblical and addressed in a manner that kids can relate to and make sense of. I think that this is a nice collection of classical stories to add to any family library. While, it may take more than 5 minutes to read (and discuss) the story, they are not overly long and they are sure to hold the attention of any child.

Again, I would recommend this to any family. As a side note, if you have already started collecting any Berenstain Bears books, I would suggest checking the table of contents since this is a bind up of 12 previously published stories.

Always Shine!

Booklook Review: The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings by Jan and Mike Berenstain

5 Books in 1

April 4, 2017 -Zonderkidz

Source – BookLook Bloggers

I received a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 Stars

This is a nice collection of five Berenstain Bears books.  Each story highlights one (or more) aspect friendship and family relationships. This was a great set of stories to share with my kids, and it was a bit nostalgic for me. The writing style was familiar for the most part. Perfect Fishing Spot threw me off a bit because I was not expecting the rhyming. But it was cute, fun and had a lesson at the end.  This collection touches on a variety of issues that children will encounter. How do you treat someone who’s different? What if your best friend gets a new friend? What happens when you are kind to someone? All of these issues are explored but comes with a Biblical resolution. I am happy to add this book to my kids’ collection, and I think that most people will be too.

 

 

Always Shine!

 

Review: *DNF* Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

In case you may be wondering what happened to me this past month, or where I have been… I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. While I will be posting reviews regularly, the rest of this blog’s content won’t come back for a bit. Not until we find our new rhythm. I and family are doing well. 

Unfolding

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

January 31, 2017 – Blink YA Books

Purpose: Review

Source: Booklook Bloggers

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

DNF

                When I read the summary of this book, I immediately wanted to get my hands on a copy of it. I just had to read it ASAP. So when I had the opportunity to review it, I jumped at the chance. I really thought that I would like this book, I really wanted to. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I was frustrated and bored with this book that I couldn’t even finish it. I hate to review books that I didn’t finish, but there are some cases where I have to. And this is one of them.

I would say that I finished a third of the book, at least a hundred pages into it. And yet, if someone was to ask me what this book was about, I wouldn’t be able to clearly explain it (hence why I skipped that part of my review).  A boy with scoliosis and who is also an epileptic is friends with a girl who was delivered to his neighborhood via a tornado and who is also able to see into the future. I know that something has happened and something is currently happening, I have no clue what that is.  The mystery, the selling point for this book was very slow to unravel. The beginning gives you a lot of questions, but no clue as to the possible answers. A lot of cloak and dagger and otherness, without a real or defined purpose.

My other complaint would be with the characters. Each seemed to have a role to play, and while they have distinct personalities, I didn’t really like any of them. I didn’t connect with any of them, in any way that would cause me to be invested in them or the story.  What this story does have going for it is the potential. I think that the bare bones of this story are good and strong, but it’s everything else that just didn’t work for me.

Always Shine 

Children’s Review: Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Army Brats

Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Scholastic Press- March 28, 2017

Purpose: Requested for review

Source: Publisher

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 stars

This is the story of three siblings as they adjust to living on an army post for the very first time. The Baileys are moving from Pennsylvania to Fort Patrick because their mom, a military intelligence officer has accepted a teaching position.  All three kids are excited about this move, and even about starting a new school. They will finally be around people who understand military life. But not everything turns out the way that they thought that it would.  Charlotte makes friends with a new girl, who happens to be very popular. But she soon discovers that popularity does not mean being nice. Tom, though he tries very hard not to, becomes the target of the base bully. Though Rosie is content with just her family and dog, Cupcake, she learns that it’s not so bad having a friend.

This is the third book by this author, and I must admit she has become a favorite. Not just for me, but for read a-louds with my son.   She has a way of talking about very big (and sometimes complicated) topics and breaking them down to kid-size portion. And she does this without dumbing down anything. This is a rather short book, so I don’t want to go into details that will give anything away. But I will do my best. I do recommend this, especially for kids who are struggling with finding their place in the world, who are starting middle school and who may have trouble making friends.

Because of Tom’s interactions with the base bully, he begins to question himself.  But as the siblings take on the challenge of the secret mission, he learns that there are worse things than someone teasing you – accepting the harmful words/taunts as truth. He gains a deeper and truer understanding of what it means to be brave, and not in the way that he thought he would.  Charlotte has made friends with the school’s very own mean girls. She goes along with them even when her brother becomes the target of their meanness. Rosie is a spitfire of a character and is very comfortable being herself, even if it leaves her without any friends. But she slowly learns what it takes to be a good friend.

This was a very fun story, one that I will reread to my son as he grows. It deals with real issues and considers the individuality of the characters. How they respond to their situations is unique to their personalities.  The solutions presented in the book, are realistic and highly recommended. There isn’t a false promise of a happily ever after at the end, and all problems are not solved with a nice little bow. All issues are resolved, and after the characters learn more about themselves, the only reassurance that they have at the end is that whatever comes their way, even the teasing and bullying, dealing with gossip and mean girls and all of the other things that come with the journey of middle school, they will be able to handle it.

If you have not had the opportunity to read any of Daphne Bendis-Grab’s work, I highly recommend it. I also recommend sharing it and passing it around to all the young readers in your life. That’s what I’m going to do.

Always Shine!

Blog Tour Stop: Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

Game_of_Shadows_Tour_Banner.jpg

I am excited for the opportunity to be one of the stop for this blog tour. This is one of my anticipated reads for this year.  I am going to put all of the info about the book and author first, but keep going. I will be giving a first impressions review and  there will be a link for a giveaway at the end!

game-of-shadows

Synopsis 
Ethan Makkai thought that seeing ghosts was the worst of his problems. Between his ethereal gift and life with a single mother hell-bent on watching his every move, he feels imprisoned. When Ethan sees a chance to escape, to leave the house by himself for the first time in his life, he seizes it, unaware that this first taste of freedom will cost him everything.

Ethan is thrown into a strange and eerie world, like nothing he’s ever seen. He’s assaulted by dive-bombing birds and rescued by a stranger who claims to be his bodyguard. His apartment is trashed, and his mother is kidnapped to a place Ethan never knew existed—a hidden continent called Tara.
Travelling to Tara in search of his mother, Ethan discovers that everything he knows about his life is a lie. His mother is royalty. His father is not dead. His destiny is likely to get him killed.
Confronted by a vicious sorcerer determined to destroy the Makkai family, Ethan must garner strength from his gift and embrace his destiny if he’s going to save his mother and all the people of Tara, including the beautiful girl he’s fallen for.

 

Praise for GAME OF SHADOWS

“A fantastical journey that I didn’t want to end!” ―Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“It’s impossible to put this riveting page-turner down!” ―Stan Lee, author, editor, actor, and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics

“This book’s got heart . . . a wonderful adventure.” ―R. A. Salvatore, New York Times bestselling author of The Hunters Blades novels

“One of those thrilling tales you can’t put down . . . the perfect blend of imaginative world-building and nonstop action wrapped up in a compelling mystery.” ―D.J. MacHale, New York Times bestselling author of Pendragon and The SYLO Chronicles

“We were hooked. This is an adventure story for the ages.” — John Barrowman & Carole Barrowman, authors of the Hollow Earth trilogy & Conjuror

“Riveting from the start.” ―Steven Gould, author of Jumper

“Lewis has created a whole new world that is at once exciting and affecting. . . . She weaves a web of mythology that is both reminiscent of the Celtic world and redolent of the unique creation of a rich and fertile imagination.”―Dara Hellman, Lecturer, Celtic Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley

erika-lewis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Erika Lewis graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Math. And what do you do with a degree in Math? You become a writer of course… eventually…

She moved to the west coast following her dream to work in television. And after fifteen glorious years developing and producing for truly awesome places, like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fireworks Television, 20th Television, that’s a division of Fox if you didn’t know that, and then at G4, where she could finally be free to be the nerd she had always been. She had more collectible toys in her office than even the famed executive producers of ATTACK OF THE SHOW and XPLAY. At least that’s the way she remembers it.

So how did this circle back to the beginning of this bio? A Math major becoming a writer? Because she’d actually always been a writer, she just never told anyone. She would write and write, edit and edit, then realize that it wasn’t good enough and go back in for yet another pass. And when she finally had several projects she really loved, that’s when she knew it was time to unleash them to the world.

Her first project, a graphic novel, THE 49TH KEY, is currently being featured in Heavy Metal Magazine, and will be released in trade in summer, 2017. Along with her amazing partner, Jessica Chobot, she’s currently working with LINE Webtoon and Legendary Comics on FIREBRAND, an ongoing comic series. Her first novel, GAME OF SHADOWS hits the bookstore shelves February 28th, 2017 from TOR/Forge Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.

There are several other really exciting projects that you will be hearing much more about soon, but if she leaked them now, she’d get in big, big, big trouble. She resides in the sunshine state of California. When she’s not chained to her laptop, she’s usually playing with her big fluffy Golden Retriever, or running, or at one of the bookstores or comic shops by her house. And always drinking coffee.

My First Impressions:
Normally, with a blog tour I would post a full review to go along with all of the promotional items. Unfortunately, I had to choose between making sure that my post would go up on time or post a full review. So, in short, I have never done a first impressions review. I’m not certain that it would be fair to my readers since I have not read the entire book. At this point I have about a hundred pages left, and I am certain that the ending will not be disappointing. So here we go:
I was immediately drawn into the story from the first few page. Lewis starts the story off with hints that something much bigger is going on. But it is impossible to tell how big the secrets are until the action starts.  Ethan Makkai is a surprising character. He teeters between being completely lost and afraid in the new world that he is thrown into and being a very capable brave leader. I would have to say that the journey to save his mother helps him grow into the person his country has been waiting for.
Lewis has worked really hard in creating characters with distinct voices and personalities and talents that propel the story forward without losing momentum. Also the work that went into the world-building of Tara is evident. Even things that are out and out unbelievable are molded into something familiar and real.
The whole “character doesn’t know who he is until a catastrophic event reveals the truth, leaving him with no one and nothing to trust” trope is a bit old and annoying in most works. But not here, Lewis makes it work. She keeps the pace steady between learning  what is really going on and the action that is engaging and captivating.
I find it really hard to put this book down. I am sure if life, I.E.  my two year old, did not interrupt, I would have finished this book.  From everything that I’ve read so far, I can easily say that this is one of my favorite reads. Regardless of what happens in the last one hundred pages, I am certain that this book is one that I will continuously recommend to friends and fellow readers!
Want a chance to read this amazing book for yourself? Check out the rafflecopter link below for a chance to win your own copy!
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
 

 – 10 Winners will receive a Copy of Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js” target=”_blank”>Rafflecopter Giveaway  for Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis
Check back soon for my full review!
Always Shine!