Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review of Perfectly Ridiculous!

Perfectly Ridiculous by Kristin Billerbeck is the third book in the YA fiction Universally Misunderstood series (see my reviews for book one and book two). Daisy Crispin is finally done with high school and looks forward to a bright future as a finance major in college. To add to her happiness, her best friend's parents are giving an all-expenses-paid trip to beautiful Argentina! As an added bonus, Argentina is where her extremely attractive sort-of boyfriend, Max, lives! Some summer fun, independence from her well meaning but slightly overbearing parents, and the possibility of an innocence foreign romance! What more could a girl ask for?

But, of course, things never turn out as Daisy expects, as we have seen in the last two books.

Soon, a letter arrives in the mail dictating that Daisy cannot get her scholarship for four years at the university unless she completes two weeks of mission work. Bye bye tango lessons, exotic tours, spa days, and Argentinian steak... Or is it? Daisy soons comes up with a compromise. One week helping with a rural VBS program and another week enjoying her vacation in paradise? Sounds like the perfect plan, right?

Or... it could be perfectly ridiculous.

This book is so refreshingly real. I mean, true, most girls don't go to Argentina, have parents who are as eccentric as Daisy's, and have an affluent best friend, but the dialogue and Daisy's inner thoughts are just so spot on! Daisy's quirks makes this book even more endearing to the point that she feels like a real person! I believe teenage girls will absolutely relate and love the witty, and honestly, brilliant writing. I also love books with a big-impact lesson. I think on of the main themes in the Universally Misunderstood books is letting go of the OCD tendency most teenage girls have and letting our lives be piloted by God. Readers are able to see that Daisy's misadventures are often a result of her, as Daisy's mom puts it in the book, "playing God". I think this is an excellent message to girls, as I know it is to me, to really learn to depend on God and acknowledge His sovereignty. I also love how the end of the book leaves the reader fulfilled yet leaves enough open so that the reader could decide Daisy's future, so to speak. The ending is very well-written, as is truly the whole book. I'm so glad I found this series!

All in all, I rate this book five out of five stars.

Specifics (from
~Paperback: 247 pages
 ~Publisher: Revell (July 1, 2012)

Available July 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group!

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review of Eye of the Sword

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley is the second book in the Angelaeon Circle fantasy series. A reformed thief and servant of evil, all Trevin wants to do now is to serve King Laetham of Camrithia and his beautiful daughter Melaia as one of the king’s captains. Things get shaken up with Prince Varic of Dregmoor appears with an eye for Melaia, and Trevin is commissioned by the king on a quest to find the rest of the captains, or comains as they are called, who have disappeared mysteriously. 

His quest becomes more challenging when Melaia requests that he also search for two missing harps that are said to have the power to restore the stairway to heaven. With a heavy heart, he leaves Camrithia and his beloved Melaia to seek the truth and and prove his worth to the king. What ensues is a dangerous, dramatic, and, at times, deadly journey of discovery, not only of what has happened to the comains and the harps, but who he truly is and what his destiny could be.

As he grapples with his past, will Trevin be able to finish his quest before Princess Melaia is won over by Varic? Will he even survive?
I detest picking up a series at the second or third book and muddling my way through the first few chapters. It’s like being the newcomer in a group that has known each other for years, and it can be quite irritating. However, this book reads like a standalone. I also like how the ending is satisfying. No bothersome cliffhangers that are at times more irksome than anticipation-inducing. The characters are strong and their backgrounds are well-thought out. And how rich the setting is! I loved the descriptions of new lands, new creatures, and new adventures. I highly respect fantasy writers because the majority of the content of their books is purely imagination! That is a very huge undertaking, and the author has handled it masterfully. There’s the right blend of suspense, mystery, and romance to keep the plot moving seamlessly until the end. Nicely done!

I wasn’t a fan of the book calling its “God” in the story “Most High mother-father”. That bothered me and made me wonder why the author even brought it up. I also must admit that the description of different characters in the beginning of the book was a bit disorienting. After skimming through it, I went straight to the story and had no trouble keeping up. I think those descriptions can be helpful but are best left at the end of the book and put in the index, where the reader can find it if they are even confused with a character. I also was a little bewildered at how the angel race mixed up with the human race so easily. It’s like everyone in the story is somehow blood related and family lines are distorted. It begs the question that if the angels and humans mix so much, are the angels in this story really angels after all? Or just glorified humans? And what point is the author trying to make through this? Muddy, dangerous waters. 

In the end, my opinion is half and half. I really liked the story, but there were some things that bugged me. Therefore, I rate this book three out of five stars.

Specifics (from
~Paperback: 256 pages
~Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 13, 2012)

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review of Halflings

Halflings by Heather Birch is the YA fantasy about when the supernatural and natural meet. Nikki Youngblood has always lived a normal life, somewhat. Her parents deal in antique weapons and she's in karate, but other than that, she's a normal teenaged girl. That all changes one night. Nikki is attacked by strange wolf-like creatures, but is rescued by a mysterious boy with heavenly eyes. And that's no understatement.

Mace, Raven, and Vine- these Haflings, half human half angels, are assigned to guard Nikki.  They must protect her from evil while hiding their most startling secret... wings! Trouble begins to brew as they uncover a terrible plot. They soon discover that Nikki is somehow tied to a laboratory and a dark plan that could change the world as we know it forever. Things only get murkier when Nikki discovers that there is a growing attraction to two of her guardians, who are as different as night and day. Mace and Raven must grapple with their own feelings, because, although Nikki's broken heart is at stake, they could very well lose everything, including their own souls.

Danger lurks in every corner. A budding romance could bring nothing but trouble.

A teenage girl. Three semi-heavenly beings. One world to save.

The premise is certainly unique. I always find it intriguing when a lead female character finds herself in a tug of war for her heart. In this case, the men pulling at the opposite ends of the rope are part angel. The suspense of why Nikki was being protected and what the evil plan was certainly kept my attention to finish the book.

Unfortunately, that was it. To be honest, I really disliked the book. It seemed like some kind of Christianized Twilight. Almost as if the author was trying really hard to create a less-controversial alternative for young Christian girls. I could see the whole Team Mace and Team Raven things going on. The romance seemed a bit forced, and poor Nikki was caught in the middle. To her credit, I really liked the character of Nikki Youngblood and the aura of mystery that surrounds her. I just really disliked the whole background of her heavenly-human compadres. It is very creative, don't get me wrong. I just found it too YA fiction-ish, as in trying too hard to please the romantic teenager. YA romance books, I suppose, are very "mushy" in dialogue and plot. And this book laid it on thick when it came to the romance. In addition, I believe some feathers will be ruffled by the fact that this book deals with angels, who are God's heavenly servants and messengers. I think making up fantasy from Christian theology could step on some toes. Dangerous waters.

I think when it comes to books like this, it's all about personal preference. And my preference says no.

All in all, I rate this book one out of five stars. Liked the lead character, not so much the plot and supporting cast.

Specifics (from
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (January 9, 2012)

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Review of Love in Disguise!

Love in Disguise by Carol Cox is a historical novel set in Arizona in the 1880s. Elli Moore is desperate. Her previous employer, a famous stage actress, decided to move to Europe, leaving her wardrobe mistress, Ellie, jobless with nothing more than a trunk full of old costumes. When Ellie eavesdrops on a conversation between two Pinkerton Detective Agency operatives, she feels as if her troubles are over. They need a woman to discover who is stealing silver from mines! She could become an agent, explore her acting abilities, have an adventure, and say goodbye to her money troubles!

After convincing the agency to take her on, Ellie sets off to Arizona for her assignment, her only shot to become an operative. Using the costumes and makeup left to her, Ellie becomes two people very different yet very close to herself. One of her characters is Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow of three years and possible mine investor. Of course, a respectable widow cannot travel everywhere an operative needs to investigate, so Ellie also becomes Jessie Monroe, a stunning redhead and niece of Lavinia, whose dazzling personality attracts men like bees to a sweet flower.

One such man is Steven Pierce, a mine owner who is struggling to keep his mine in the midst of the robberies. In one last act of desperation, he and the other mine owners had written to the Pinkerton Agency, asking for help. When it doesn’t seem to appear, help comes in another quite unexpected form. A widow and her beautiful, feisty niece.

Ellie soon finds out her undercover operation has brought more danger than she anticipated. When the thieves grow irritated with her characters’ nosiness, they decide to silence Lavinia and Jessie. Her deception has also possible alienated Steven, who has fallen hard for Jessie.

 Will they survive? And if they do, what will Steven think when he discovers the woman he loves isn’t real?

 I loved, loved, loved this book! It is filled with mystery, romance, and humor. Ellie Moore is definitely a spunky lead character, and the situations she gets into as Lavinia and Jessie are unique and captivating. The humor of the story is what really struck me, as this is a historical novel. Not quite typical of the genre. Sure, a woman becoming two completely different other woman is humorous in itself, but the author perfectly crafts scenarios that test Ellie’s ability to think quickly under pressure… and the reader’s ability to stifle their tendency to laugh out loud. The funny aspects are well-balanced with romance and, of course, Ellie’s mission to uncover the culprit. It was an excellent blend of all of the aspects necessary to make a book great.

All in all, I rate this book five out of five stars.

Specifics (from
~Paperback: 352 pages
~Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (June 1, 2012)

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

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