Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What I Read in May 2016

May ended up being a better reading month than I thought it would, especially in the middle of the month when I almost went into a reading slump and then I started reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (which is almost 900 pages long!). But I read some good books this month, and here they are:

1. Sweet on You by Chautona Havig

I really enjoyed this novel. It kind of shows the beginnings of an amateur sleuth. If you enjoyed reading Nancy Drew growing up, you will enjoy this series, although it is very different from other books. To read more of my thoughts click here to read a longer review I did earlier this month. 4/5 Stars.

2. One More Wish by Robin Jones Gunn
I have been wanting to read this book for over a year, and I finally got around to it. It was everything I expected, however there were a few things that bugged me about this book. I will have a longer review up soon. 3.5/5 Stars

3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
I loved this book! There were a few things that made me feel a little bit uncomfortable, but I still loved it. I can't wait to pick up A Court of Mist and Fury soon. 4/5 Stars

4. The Blessings of Humility by Jerry Bridges 
I received a copy of this for review, and I really enjoyed it. It is the second book by the author that I have read and it was both grounded in Scripture, as well as convicting in all the right places. 4.5/5 Stars

5. True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre 

I enjoyed rereading this book! It is jam-packed with truth that women need to hear. 4/5 Stars

6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

This book is a monster, but I finished it. This was another great installment in the Harry Potter series, and I can't wait to read the last 2 books in the series, although I kind of don't want to at the same time because I don't want to finish it. 4/5 Stars.

7. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard 

I struggled to get through this book, mainly because the first half was uneventful - nothing happened. However, when I picked it up again the action started to pick-up and I am looking forward to the third book in this series. I will have a longer review up soon. 3.25/5 Stars.

8. The BFG by Roald Dahl 

I reread this for two reasons, 1) I am planning on doing a series of reviews on Children's fiction, and this was an old favorite, and 2) the movie is coming out in July so I wanted to refresh my memory on the whole story. I will have a longer review up in about two weeks.

9. Lullaby by Amanda Hocking

This was the second book in a series and it is about sirens. It was an okay read, and I will be reading the last two books in the series soon. I might have a longer review up in a few weeks as well. 3/5 Stars.

10. Changeling by Philippa Gregory

I just finished this book and it was an okay read. The story itself was okay, but I was expecting a lot more from it. I will have a longer review up soon. 3/5 Stars

These are all the books I read this month. Stay tuned for my June TBR, which should be posted later today or tomorrow.

Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Review: Trusting God

Today's review is on Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
Confession, I tried reading Trusting God in 2013 but I stopped about halfway through because I didn't like it. However, now that I am older and have experienced trials, I am able to appreciate and learn from this book a lot more. 

As the title suggests this book is about trusting God, however, it does not just address how we can do this, it addresses the why we can trust Him. It is about God's sovereignty in various situations and how we can trust God because of this. Bridges doesn't just deal with personal trials, he also addresses how we can trust God when a natural disaster happens or when the headlines get us down. 

I appreciated how the author backed up each of his points with Scripture, showing that it is biblical and not just something that he sucked out of his thumb. He also has a way of being convicting without being judgmental and he always points it back to Christ and the gospel. There are also a lot of good quotes in it. 

Even though a lot of this book was about things I should already know, i was great having someone show all the ways and reasons I can trust God. I believe every Christian should read this book, especially in this day and age when it seems like the world just keeps getting worse. 

I am giving this 5/5 Stars because it really impacted me and it was a great reminder of how in all things I can trust God. 

Happy Reading, 
Janelle L. C. 

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :) 

Monday, May 23, 2016

What I am Currently Reading #1

(Note: This summer I want to experiment with several different posts to see how it goes and whether I enjoy doing them or not, just have a little bit more variety. One idea that I have gotten from several places is to do a currently reading update every once in a while, so I thought I would do that today.)

Unlike most people, I like reading several books at the same time, or rather being in the middle of several books at the same time (unfortunately it is physically impossible to actively  read several at the same time, which actually sounds kind of cool). So I thought I would share what I am currently reading and a few thoughts on them so far.

1. Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

I just started this a couple days ago and I am trying to read a chapter a day when I do my devotions. I really enjoyed rereading Lies Young Women Believe several times since 11th grade. But since I am now a senior in college, I thought it would be good to check this one out.

2. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

I actually put this aside about a week ago because it's kind of boring and not much is happening. It is such a disappointment and I feel like I wasted my money by buying it. I don't know if I will continue reading it, maybe I will since it's not bad, just nothing is really happening.

3. Sins of the Past by Various Authors

This is a romantic suspense novella collection by 3 well-known Christian writers. I've started the first novella but it isn't really my thing and I don't know if I will actually finish it.

4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

I am over halfway through this monster of a book and I am enjoying it.

5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I am reading this because 1) I saw the miniseries and I really wanted to read this, and 2) this could be the work I potentially use for my senior thesis project next year. So far I am enjoying it, even though I am making my way through it slowly.

6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I've been working on this bad boy for over a year, and I am determined to finish it this summer. I'm about halfway through, so maybe I will be able to read the remaining 700 pages this summer.

Upcoming Reads:
1. The Sea Keeper's Daughter by Lisa Wingate 

2. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I hope you enjoyed this post, and I might try to do at least one of these a month just to share what I am reading.

Happy Reading,
Janelle L.C. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1)

Today's review is on Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


When I first picked this book up I was a bit nervous because it had a lot of mixed reviews so I kind of went into it with low expectations. Now that I have finished reading it, all I can is WOW! I loved it so much and I can't wait to get my hands on the second book.

Red Queen is a mix of dystopian and fantasy mixed together. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and the people are divided into the Reds and the Silvers. The Reds are the commoners who have red blood and they are ruled by the Silvers. The Silvers have silver blood, which also gives them special powers, so I guess you could say it is kind of like X-Men, except they aren't ostracized for having powers. The story starts with main character Mare Barrow who goes to the king to try and save her best friend, Kilorn from conscription, however in the presence of the king and other royals, she finds out she too possesses silver powers even though she is a Red. She is then forced to act like royalty and a lot of other stuff goes down after her discovery.

I loved the characters in this book, I loved Mare's development as she discovers more about the Silver world. I enjoyed the story development and the twist that happened near the end that I was not expecting, it was so intense!

The only thing I didn't like about Red Queen is that if I glanced over a couple of words further down the page I was super confused by what was happening and I had to go reread the page. This is probably a good thing because it forced me to pay attention every small detail of this book.

I highly recommend this if you loved the Hunger Games, Divergent trilogy, or the Throne of Glass series. This was a clean, action-packed, intense read and I can't wait to read the second book, Glass Sword, which came out on February 9th this year.

I am giving this book 4/5 Stars because it kept me entertained and for the major plot twist near the end. This was a great debut novel from Victoria Aveyard, I can't wait to see what else she ends up writing.

Happy Reading,
Janelle L.C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :)

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book Review: Sweet On You (Meddlin' Madeline #1)

Today's review is on Sweet On You by Chautona Havig
Let me start off by saying that Chautona Havig is probably one of my all-time favorite authors. I love her work, especially her serial novels, Past Forward and HearthLand. I also enjoy how she writes in several different genres and not just one, basically if she has an story idea, she goes for it, she doesn't really care about what genre it falls under, and she does a fantastic job!

Sweet on You is a historical detective novel which shows the birth of an amateur detective in 1901. Madeline Brown is the mayor's daughter and loves detective stories, especially Sherlock Holmes. She decides to try her hand at sleuthing after she detects that some is not right about the man that is courting her good friend, Edith. The novel shows Madeline's progression as a sleuth as she experiments with the different techniques that she reads about in her books, however it also causes her to earn a reputation of being meddlesome. I can't say anything more plot wise because it would be a major spoiler to the novel itself.

I loved the characters in this novel, especially Madeline, she was an enjoyable character to watch develop, especially since she is a good mix of both the traditional and  what would be considered modern in this time period. I also appreciated how she had to wrestle with her faith a little bit, especially when it came to her sleuthing and whether or not what she was doing was okay. Another character I really liked was Russell Barnes, who is Madeline's best friend's brother. He definitely watches out for Madeline and isn't afraid to confront her when she is wrong, however he is also willing to help discover more about Edith's suitor. He also tries to keep Madeline out of danger as much as possible.

I really appreciate how hard Ms. Havig tried to make the setting of the novel as authentic to the time period as possible so that reader really feel like the novel takes place (and possibly written) in 1901. I loved how she also mentioned issues that were prominent in 1901, such as the Women's Suffrage Movement and the Temperance movement, and how the various characters viewed these movements.

I also enjoyed the multiple points of view over the course of the novel, the main ones being Madeline and Russell, but there were times when the readers were given a passage from the suspect's point of view, as well as Madeline's well-meaning, but truly meddlesome aunt. It made the novel more enjoyable and the world more alive and easier to understand.

I can't wait to find out what happens next in this series, although I think it will be at least another year until the next novel comes out. The book ended kind of on a cliffhanger and I can't see what will happen next to Madeline.

I am giving this book 4/5 stars because it was well-written, enjoyable, and it held my attention. I also enjoyed how authentic it was to 1901.

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L.C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations, let me know and I will check them out. :)




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Friday, May 6, 2016

Book Review: Where the Heart is Romance Collection

Today's review is on the Where the Heart Is Romance Collection by Various Authors. 
Most of these authors were new to me. I am going to do a mini-review for every novella like I've done for my other reviews on novella collections. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Barbour Publishers in exchange for my honest review! Let's get started:

Where the Heart Is by Sally Laity: 
This story was interesting because even though the couple were attracted to each other, it wasn't an insta-love situation. I loved how they got to know each other a little, and even how they were thrown together several times because of their friends and family members. I also enjoyed how the author showed the couple's life after the wedding and some of the difficulties they faced, it made the story a bit more realistic. 3.75/ 5 Stars.

The Midwife's Apprentice by Rhonda Gibson: 
It was an interesting story because it started like a typical romance story, but the twist in the middle shook things up a little bit, it was also set on the Oregon Trail. Again, I appreciated how the attraction between the main characters developed over time. I also enjoyed how Polly, the female lead, was trying to be independent, but yet she still suffered from insecurity. Besides the twist, the plot was just okay. 3/5 Stars.

Murder or Matrimony by Pamela Kaye Tracy: 
I expected this story to be predictable, but I was surprised. Even though this story takes place on the Oregon Trail there was mystery and intrigue that kept me guessing the whole time. I loved the romance and how that was mixed with the mystery surrounding the main characters. 4/5 Stars

Bride in the Valley by Andrea Boeshaar:
This also took place on the Oregon Trail and was connected to the previous story because it tells the story of another set characters that were mentioned in that one and it refers to some of the events that happened at the end of it. This story was a nice fluffy romance. Even though it was predictable how it was going to end, there were a few surprises along the way. 4/5 Stars.

New Garden's Inspiration by Claire Sanders: 
At first I didn't like the use of "thee", "thou", and "thy," especially because it made it sound like it was set in the 16th century. However, it is explained that it is because Leah is Quaker, but I feel like this should have been stated at the beginning of the story because I was thrown off by this. I loved how it wasn't just about the couple's love, but also how Caleb's children come to love Leah. 4/5 Stars.

A Tender Branch by Jane LaMuyon: 
This was interesting story that takes place on the Transcontinental Railroad. It was probably one of the more fluffy stories in this collection, but I enjoyed how it focused on the importance of forgiveness. 3.5/5 Stars

Knight and Day by Erica Vetsch:
This novella kind of dealt with the topic of a mail-order bride, but it also dealt with the topic of blended families and moving on after the tragic loss of a loved one. 3.25/5 Stars

On a White Charger by Erica Vetsch: 
This was another cute story. It was connected to the previous story because Emmeline is Evelyn's (the female main character from the previous story) sister. It also kind of dealt with a mail-order bride, but I liked how it also dealt with the dangers of being a shepherd on the range. I also loved how over the course of the story, Emmeline grows from being a naive daydreamer into a mature woman. 3.5/5 Stars.

The Wonder of Spring by Carol Cox: 
This was a nice, cute romance to conclude this collection. It was interesting to see how there were certain things that women couldn't do because it was frowned upon. I love the tension there was between Charlene Matkin and Matthew Benson because of the secret she tries to keep from him. However, I wish Matthew's "secret" had been a bit more surprising than it actually was, his secret kind fell flat amidst the entire plot of this novella. 3/5 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novella collections, the stories were really well-written and they were nice relaxing reads in the midst of the end of this semester. I felt like it had the right proportions of fluffy romance and action that made me want to keep reading each of the stories. I look forward to reading more of these collections in the future. I am giving this whole collection 4/5 Stars because all the stories were enjoyable.

Thanks again to NetGalley and Barbour Publishers for providing me with an ARC of this collection in exchange for my honest review!

Happy Reading,
Janelle L.C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :) 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 2016 TBR

I can't believe it is already May! The past four months seem to flyby. I also can't believer that at the end of this week I will be Senior in college, it's so crazy! It feels like it was just yesterday I was just starting college. In a week I will be back home in South Africa and I really excited for this summer. I'm really looking froward to being able to have time to read without worrying about assignments and other school work. Without further ado, here is my TBR for the month of May:

1. Sweet on You by Chautona Havig
I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review, and I am already halfway through it and I am loving it!

2. The Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
I bought this book about 3 weeks ago because I need to know what happens after the first book. However, I am waiting until I am done with my finals to pick this up that way I can invest a lot of time into it without worrying about schoolwork.

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
I finished Goblet of Fire about 3 weeks ago and I can't wait to read this next installment. I have been purposely waiting for the school year to end so that I can take time to read this without worrying about neglecting my studies.

4. The Two Towers by J.R.R.Tolkien
This book has appeared on my TBR list about 5 times already, however I am determined to finish it this month because I have been stuck at the halfway point since last July. I really need to finish this series because it is good and I just need to read it.

5. Small Town Brides Romance Collection by Various Authors
I received an ARC of this from the publisher, and I might be reading a lot more of these over the summer because I have several different collections. These tend to be cute, historical romances and sometimes it is nice to take a break from YA novels and Fantasy and just in enjoy a sweet romance.

6. Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar
This is another ARC I received, I don't know a whole lot about this book except it is Christian Historical Fiction and it is about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus's robe so that she could be healed from her bleeding, so it should be interesting.

7. Sins of the Past by Various Authors
Another ARC I received and it is another novella collection but it is Christian Romantic Suspense so that should be interesting. All three of the authors will be new to me and I am excited to discover something new.

8. Splintered by A.G. Howard
Splintered has appeared on my TBR list several times and I am about 80 pages through it. I want to finish it this month because I hate having books that are unfinished and I do want to know what happens, even though I am not particularly enjoying it. I need to at least give it another try.

9. The Blessings of Humility by Jerry Bridges
This is another ARC I received this month. This is by the same author of Trusting God. I am already halfway through this book as well, and I am really enjoying it. It is a quick read, but it is also convicting at the same time.
10. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
I've heard a lot of good things about this book, and it is a A Thousand and One Nights retelling. I am really excited to start reading this, especially since the second book came out today. I'm hoping that it will be good.

11. The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
This book has appeared on my TBR several times, and I have already read 2 out of the 5 novellas in this collection. I am hoping to actually finish it this month so that I can move onto Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) .

This is a pretty ambitious list and I don't know if I will get a chance to read all of these books, especially since there are a lot of other books I want to try reading this month.

Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :)

Monday, May 2, 2016

What I Read in April 2016

April turned out to be a pretty good reading month, despite wrapping up the semester. Right now I am in my final week of the school year, but I'm hoping that once this week is done I will be able to get a lot of reading done over the summer. Here are the books I read in April:

1. Objectivity, Relativism and Truth by Richard Rorty

This was a collection of philosophical essays that had to read for my Postmodernism. It was somewhat interesting, but there was a lot I didn't understand except for what we discussed in class. 3/5 Stars.

2. The Atonement by Beverly Lewis

It was nice to revisit Lancaster County again, however there were a few things I didn't like about the plot and most of the characters were flat. Click here to read my full review on the novel.  3.75/5 Stars

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

I loved this 4th installment to the series. Rowling does such a good job of making this world interesting as well as the characters. There were so many twists and turns, especially at the end. This was the first book in a long time where I cried at the end. I can't wait to find out what happens in the 5th book. 4/5 Stars.

4. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

This was interesting book about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary and the man who made thousands of contributions to the dictionary. 4/5 Stars.

5. Where the Heart Is Romance Collection by Various Authors
This was a nice collection of Christian romance novellas. Most of the authors were new to me and I enjoyed each individual story and the style. I will have a longer review up later this week. I gave this 4/5

6. Divergent by Veronica Roth
It was interesting to reread this again. It was still interesting and I got to see things that I did not notice the first time. I reread this because I am using it as the topic of my Postmodernism term paper. 4/5 Stars

7. Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a great reminder as to why I can trust God and how important it is to trust Him. Jerry Bridges looks at almost every aspect of trusting God and does a good job of trying to address questions people might have when the struggle with trusting God in several situations. 5/5 Stars. 

These are all the books I managed to read this month. Tomorrow I will post my May TBR list. 

Happy Reading, 

Janelle L. C. 

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :)