If We Survive by Andrew Klavan

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I’m in love with this cover^^^

 They came on a mission of mercy, but now they’re in a fight for their lives.
High schooler Will Peterson and three friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor, secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their energy and kindness.
But in one sudden moment, everything went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are everywhere―and Americans are being targeted as the first to die. 
Will and his friends have got to get out fast. But streets full of killers . . .hills patrolled by armies . . . and a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home.
If they can just survive.

I went to the library about two weeks ago. I didn’t get the book I originally went for (they didn’t have it #Rude), I found this AMAZING book instead. The title was what caught my attention, upon reading the synopsis it sounded like my kind of book. “If We Survive” did not disappoint.

Let’s start with the Characters : All the characters were realistic. They all had good qualities, bad qualities, and character growth.

  • Will : I am a picky person when it comes to main characters. I really enjoyed Will’s character and his narrator style. Will is a good kid in a tough situation who makes hard decisions. I love his bravery and good morals.
  • Palmer : My favorite character from the moment he walked onto the page. He’s portrayed as a bit of a  jerk in the first few chapters (but this is also because that is Will’s perception of him). Palmer however redeems himself pretty quickly. He is very intelligent and is the only thing standing between the rest of the group and death. I loved his backstory and the fact that he was an Ex- Marine. Plus the witty sarcasm!! Ok he’s my favorite I’ll stop rambling now.
  • Nicki: Nicki starts the book as a typical diva, and honestly I thought she would end the book that way. But her character finally got a grip on her emotions and turned out to be really sweet.
  • Meredith : Meredith is the definition of strong female character done right. She had a little problem with being “perfect” (but I don’t count being quiet/ shy as a negative trait so…). Meredith portrayed really strong moral character; and over-all strength while still being gentle and kind.
  • Jim : The most annoying character for me. I just don’t understand delusional characters. He finally got a reality check and became semi-useful, but I’m still not a fan.
  • Pastor Ron: Was a character who did what he felt was right at all times, even though he was a bit naïve on how things work in life.

 

The Yes Factor:

  • I love the little mini stories about each character in the beginning of the book.
  • Once the action started , it was paced perfectly.
  • Romance was minimal, Will had a crush on Meredith. Meredith had a crush on Palmer. But it wasn’t a big part of the story, and it only added to the plot.
  • Character development was A+.
  • The “bad guys” were convincing and really well thought out. They weren’t just there to cause trouble for the group, they had goals and motivations.

The only thing negative I can think of is the action is a mite predictable; however I watch and read a lot of action so this could just be me. Even with that it was such a good read and kept my attention.

Since this is a library book, “If We Survive” got added to my wish list. I want to try some of Andrew Klavan’s other books, I’ve read good things about his Homelanders series.

Let’s Chat. Have you ever read anything by Andrew Klavan? Do you like action stories?

Forever & Always ,

Emily

Deadly By Julie Chibbaro


Prudence Galewski doesn’t belong in Mrs. Browning’s esteemed School for Girls. She doesn’t want an “appropriate” job that makes use of refinement and charm. Instead, she is fascinated by how the human body works—and why it fails.

Prudence is lucky to land a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of a mysterious fever. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, Prudence explores every potential cause of the disease to no avail—until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed “Typhoid Mary” by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. But she’s never been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in solving one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century? 

This book surprised me so much. Honestly I started it expecting to be disappointed and toss it in the to- go pile and mark it off my list. Instead I enjoyed it so much and it now holds a permanent spot on my bookcase.

While Deadly wasn’t action packed, it was a nice pace and the plot flowed smoothly. I loved how it was set up as a diary.

Prudence and Marm’s love lives didn’t overshadow the history in the book, which is such a win for me. Concerning  Prudence I loved the ending for her -letting her hope for the future be about furthering her education and following her dreams instead of the typical ” This boy will complete my life” trope. I found this to be such a refreshing difference in YA and I loved it.

Marm is such a good mother. Her and Prudence talk, she takes up for her daughter, tells Prudence how proud she is of her and includes her on some of her dates. Their relationship was sweet.

I however am left with mixed feelings on the leading gentlemen in Prudence’s life. Did Mr. Soper like Prudence but keep their relationship professional or was he just really sweet and saw her potential? I’m leaning towards the latter but I lowkey shipped them from day 1……so honestly not sure. Then there is Jonathan who is an arrogant, pushy creep at the beginning. He blamed his advances on Prudence (still not forgiven for that) but then spent the rest of the book acting like a perfect gentleman = I’m very confused on who this lad truly is.

Prudence struggle with what she felt was right or wrong concerning “Typhoid Mary” was candid and realistic. And while I didn’t always agree with her , I fully understand where all the questions came from, because they were ones I could see myself asking in the same position.

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro was a unique read and I loved all I learned from it. An easy 4 stars.

By the way – SHOUTOUT to my oldest nephew who gave me this book for Christmas 2 years ago. Thanks bud I enjoyed it……sorry it took so long for me to read it, but feel free to buy me other books because I trust your taste 😉

Forever & Always,

Emily

What book(s) have you read and they surprised you? Do you like when other people buy you books they think you’ll enjoy? What’s the longest amount of time you procrastinated reading a book?

Prayers for an Anxious Heart

cover110622-mediumDozens of practical and encouraging prayers inspired by Philippians 4:6-7 will help you strengthen your heart-connection to the Master Creator. Each prayer will draw you ever closer to the heavenly Father as you discover a deeper understanding and love for the One who holds the whole world in His hands.

I originally requested this book because I have anxiety and am a worrier……or should I say used to be. I’ve grown quiet a bit over the past year and while I still have anxiety it’s not the state I’m constantly in anymore. This book probably would have meant more to me in my earlier state of being , than it did now. However Prayer for an Anxious Heart is a beautiful book that would be perfect for anyone struggling with anxiety or worry.

I’ve recently taken to copying things that really mean something to me in my Prayer Journal. I find it helps things stick in my mind better and I can always go back to it. I copied quite a few prayers from this book into my journal.

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The book was full  of inspiration and uplifting prayers that often remind you who you are to God. I came away from reading it everyday (usually multiple prayers) feeling very encouraged and peaceful. I love how every prayer has a scripture at the top to start you off, and it also includes scripture in some of the prayers as well. The prayers were written like a conversation and made it feel more natural and unique when using them.

I want to thank Netgalley and Barbour publishing for the review copy.

Forever & Always,

Emily

Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor

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Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O’Rourke, and Skip O’Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago…along with $100,000 of their “earnings” (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip’s given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron.

“One last con” is easier said than done when Skip’s family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they’ve always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there’s one lesson he hasn’t forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don’t know who your mark is . . . it’s probably you. 

 

I’m going to start by saying I really need to stop having expectations for books, because it’s sort of ruining my life. Why books ? Why? The world keeps turning while I’m over here dealing with the crushing reality that thus far this year- books are disappointing me. I don’t understand what’s happening to me, am I becoming unpleasable? Who can know ( and the answer is always- not me).

Moving forward or rather just focusing on the book at hand – Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor.

What I Liked:

  1. Male Protagonist : Don’t ask me why but I love reading and writing in male POV.
  2. Cam Smith or Skip O’Rourke : Is the most adorable thing ever. I love his moral character and how he is honest about it not being easy to be …..well honest. Growing up in a family of weasels makes him know how the world of cons works, but he also knows how to be better than them.
  3. All Characters stayed in Role : Nothing is more annoying than reading a book and characters changing mid way through. I understand character development, but I’m talking about just changing for no real reason. Despicable relatives stayed despicable , Cam did what he had to do but still kept true to his beliefs in being a better person.
  4. Cam and Claire : equals total cuteness. The way they met was totally adorable and I just loved every moment they were together.
  5. Dialogue was witty and funny. I wasn’t bored reading their conversations or Cameron’s thoughts for that matter.

What I Disliked :

  1. This book was full of triggers: I know different things bother different people so I wanted to name some of the things just for other readers benefit. These include : Mild swearing, drinking (and underage drinking), smoking pot, a gentleman’s club ( or a cross between Hooters and a Strip -club), Suicide attempt, car accident where someone dies, infidelity. Those are the main ones I can think of. However nothing is graphic  or highly detailed.
  2. The Cover : I don’t judge books by their cover, I judge by content. That being said what’s so wrong with pretty covers? 

It was actually good besides the above named things I would consider triggers. Though the book wasn’t what I expected it was still an enjoyable read. I liked the view into the con artist family life.
Forever & Always ,

Emily

Have you read “Thieving Weasels” ? Do you like books about con artists and the world of thievery? Do you ever read a book and it disappoint you but still be good?

 

 

 

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

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She lost everything to the scheme of an evil servant.

But she might just gain what she’s always wanted . . .

if she makes it in time.

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

 

Thank you Netgalley for the review copy of Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson.

I missed posting last week because I usually write my posts on Monday and then review and edit one last time Tuesday morning. So last week was a little crazy and I just didn’t get to it or feel up to rushing a post Tuesday. That being said I decided to post this on Monday to make up for it 🙂

I am a huge fan of Melanie Dickerson! So when I got approved for this book I was extremely excited.  I wish I could tell you I immediately fell in love with this book but that’s just not the case. I was a quarter of the way through before I really got interested and it finally held my attention. That being said , once the pace picked up I didn’t put it down till it was finished.

What I Loved:

  1. A+  Character Development. Magdalen and Steffan start the book both very entitled, and selfish. But as the book progresses the reader gets to see them both evolve into compassionate, sweet and humble characters. The struggle is shown though about how tough it is to change one’s self.
  2. Supporting characters had personality and depth. My favorite being Lenhart, who was the sweetest little thing ever. I love how Magdalen protected him.
  3. Spoiler free : The romance was cute, both character’s were so unsure of themselves and not willing to be hurt. It was so relatable. But once they admitted their love, the adorable couple-ness (shh that’s totally a word) made me smile.
  4. The characters had solid background stories that played deep in the plot. They were so different and it made the emotional baggage they carried contrast to each other.
  5. The plot was so well thought out and written perfectly! Though it started out slow it eventually picked up pace and then went along nice.
  6. It quotes Scripture! I love when books do this.

What annoyed me :

  1. Magdalen’s relationship with her mother, while it served the plot was quiet tedious to read about. I mean I’m not stupid, so after the second time of explaining why Magdalen would not want to go home because of how her mother treated her, I got it. No need to remind me ten more times.
  2. How slow the beginning was , and maybe this is just me I don’t know but it took awhile to get into for me.
  3. Magdalen’s oblivion to the fact there was a trader amongst her friends. Like even I saw it coming a mile away.

Over all this book was cute and I loved the characters , you know once they got over the whole entitled brat thing. Easily a four star.

Forever & Always,

Emily

Have you read any Melanie Dickerson books? What’s your favorite? Do you give books a chance to redeem themselves if they start a little slow ? Let’s chat, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

The lucky few by Heather Avis

I got to read and review this thanks to Netgalley . 

 This book is about the beautiful adoption journey that Heather and her husband Josh go through. They adopted three children, two with Down syndrome. 

 Agh where to start with this book! I think one of the main reasons I loved it was how truthful Heather is about it all. She’s not trying to lie and say their decision to adopt beautiful babies with Down syndrome was easy or that she was eager to . This book is raw and brutally honest, you cannot read this book and walk away unchanged. 

 Heather challenges the worlds view of a normal family and she does it with the grace of God. I love every detail of how far this family came. 

We start the book finding out that Heather is unable to bear children ( she walks through the emotions that accompany such news), then we get to see the couple  say yes to God and adopt their first child with Down syndrome Macyn Hope. 

 Next comes their spirited daughter Truly Star ( I love these names by the way). Truly tests Heather in a different way than Macyn had, and Heather grows not only as a mom but as a person because of it. 

Just when Heather thinks her plate is full and their family complete, she gets the call for another baby with Down syndrome . With another yes to God their family grows with the addition of August Ryker. 

This book will leave you feeling empowered  to view “different ” families as normal in their own way and amazing.

When I was younger I wanted 7 children . Then I was around kids and still being a kid myself (technically a teenager) that dream kinda faded. Last year I worked at a daycare with a lot of foster children and lower income families. I soon realized that while I may want 7 children I didn’t have to give birth to all of them. Seeing so many children in need of a loving home, made me want to give them that. While I don’t know what my future holds, I do know that adoption will be an option for me and my future husband. After reading The lucky few, I would consider it a privilege to not only adopt but to be open to saying yes to whatever God has planned.


Forever & Always,

Emily

Let’s chat – would you be open to adoption? How about foster care? How many children do you want/ have?

Devoted by Marjorie Jackson

I received a free copy from Net galley, in exchange for a honest review.

 First I want to say how selective I am with devotionals . I have rejected so many a few pages in. I have found that most were shallow and not biblically sound. 

 Devoted by Marjorie Jackson truly delivered! I read it in four days! Every topic she covered had bible verses to confirm what she was saying; which is something I love. I don’t want to read somebody’s opinion of the bible ; I want what the Bible says about any given topic and then I want your encouragement or advice.

  I can not say enough about how well this devotional was written! I truly felt encouraged to be more devoted to God in every area of my life. It’s a beautiful combination of encouragement, practical advice on applying what you read to your life, and a dose of real accountability! 

Devoted is by far the best teen/ young women devotional I have ever read ( and I’m 23, so I’ve tried a few).

Here are a few of the many quotes I loved from the book : 

Five stars for sure , I would read Devoted by Marjorie Jackson every month of the year.

Forever &Always , 

Emily 

Let’s chat. What’s your favorite devotional? Did you ever start one and not finish because it wasn’t good ? Comment below your favorite book of the bible.

The Huntress Of Thornbeck Forest By Melanie Dickerson


A beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor.

A handsome forester on a mission to catch her.

Danger and love are about to unite in Thornbeck Forest.

The margrave owns the finest hunting grounds for miles around—and Odette Menkels spends her nights poaching his deer to feed the hungry orphans of Thornbeck. By day , Odette is a simple maiden who teaches children to read, but by night this young beauty has become the secret lifeline to the poorest of the poor.

For Jorgen Hartman, the margrave’s forester, tracking down a poacher is a duty he is all too willing to perform. Jorgen inherited his post from the man who raised him . . . a man who was murdered at the hands of a poacher.

When Jorgen and Odette meet at the Midsummer festival and share a connection during a dance, neither has any idea that they are already adversaries.

The one man she wants is bound by duty to capture her; the one woman he loves is his cunning target . . . What becomes of a forester who protects a notorious poacher? What becomes of a poacher when she is finally discovered?

 Do you ever read a book and can’t contain your excitement about it , so you make someone listen to you ramble. Because that’s what I did with this book. My mother and sister can probably tell you all about it without ever picking the book up. That’s how good The Huntress Of Thornbeck Forest was. 

 Now to tell you about it (without spoilers) 

What I loved :

  • The plot was so well written, maybe a bit predictable in some aspects but also had a few surprises . 
  • Everything about Jorgen,I just love his character. He’s strong , brave , kind , smart and compassionate.
  • It’s fair to say I don’t like a ton of female characters and yet Odette passed my approval and I love her as much as Jorgen. She’s a strong woman who has her own opinion and finds a way to solve a problem nobody else even acknowledges . Plus she teaches the poor children to read and write, giving them all a chance at a better future. 
  • Character back stories are awesome! I can’t say much with out spoiling it, just know that both Odette and Jorgen’s backstories plays a huge role in the whole book and I loved it.
  • Hello flawed characters who are still good people!
  • The “bad guys” stay in role the whole time, and aren’t very remorseful at the end which is different from what I usually read. I liked it though, I know a few people who would be in the wrong and still not show remorse so it felt very realistic. 
  • Happy endings are my favorite! I’m sorry but I do not get emotionally invested in characters just to be disappointed at the end, I don’t want realistic. If I wanted that I would watch the news . Lucky for me Melanie Dickerson read my mind and gave me what I wanted 😉 

 I have nothing bad to say about this book. I loved it! Five stars!
Forever & Always

Emily

Comment below if you have read The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest? Have you read anything else by Melanie Dickerson? What’s your favorite fairytale retelling?

Never Never by Brianna R Shrum

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James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child – at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

Before I start the review, can we all just take a moment to appreciate this cover!! I rarely fall in love with covers, books yes, covers not so much . This was so well done and honestly the only reason I kept the book. Now on to the review.

What I Liked :

  • The Cover is obviously amazing, I love the detail, like the clouds being shaped as a skull, or the hooks and feathers. So much love.
  • I really enjoyed reading the story from Hooks perspective
  • The way dreams worked in Neverland was pretty neat.
  • James Hook’s relationship with the lost boys, before and after he becomes a pirate.

What made me so very disappointed:

  • The romance was more than I expected or wanted.
  • Hook’s goals were weak,  he wants to kill Pan and every chance he gets he either chooses not to or loses. I expected more gumption and less self-pity .
  • Tiger Lily’s back and forth , I love you, I love Pan. Just didn’t work for me.

I started reading ” Never Never” with expectations of loving it. That’s probably what set me up for not loving it. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a bad book, it just wasn’t  what I had anticipated. Probably the biggest draw back for me was the romance and the dominance it had in this book. I came for an adventure and what I got was two hormonal young adults.

Two stars.

Forever & Always,

Emily

Comment below if you have read “Never Never” and if so what did you think? Anybody else always wanted to be a pirate ? Comment books you expected to love but didn’t.

 

Shaken by Tim Tebow

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Who are you when life is steady?
Who are you when storms come?
 

 Most of us have been on the receiving end of rejection, a broken dream, or heartbreak. And while this is not an easy space to go through, when we are grounded in the truth, we can endure the tough times.
  In this powerful book, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow passionately shares glimpses of his journey staying grounded in the face of disappointment, criticism, and intense media scrutiny. Following an exceptional college football career with the Florida Gators and a promising playoff run with the Denver Broncos, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets. He was released after one season. 
  In Shaken, Tebow talks about what he’s learned along the way, building confidence in his identity in God, not the world. This moving book also features practical wisdom from Scripture and insights gained from others who have impacted Tebow in life-changing ways. 
 Though traveling hard roads is not easy, it’s always worth it!
Your Circumstances do not Define You,
Your Identity Does.

I was so excited to read this book, and it honestly could not have come at a better time in my life. Last year I had lost myself, a major part of who I am was no longer there. I had given up talking to God and I had given up on myself, not really caring who I was anymore.

Then I got this book for Christmas. I love Tim,  not only what he stands for but who he is as a person. I can’t tell you how much this book encouraged my heart. I finally felt like it was time to be me again, and I knew how. Shaken helped me remember my goals in life and who I wanted to be in Christ.

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I feel like the reader gets to see a different side of Tim Tebow in this book, a more real , honest and raw version. He walks us through his disappointment’s and also gives encouragement .

One of my favorite quotes from the book (besides the  above pictured )is : “When we ask questions, when we doubt, when we wonder if God is going to pull through, or wonder why He didn’t pull through, or wonder why our miracle is  taking so long, or why the miracle never came at all, remember that doubt is normal. God isn’t scared of your questions. Bring them to Him. It’s better to vent to Him than to run from Him.”

Easily five stars! Something everyone should read.

Forever and Always ,

Emily