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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Happy late Birthday to me! New year, new direction, and thankfully, some new music!

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’m one of those people who can’t really write anything unless I have music playing. I know some people have to have total silence to concentrate, but I’m not wired that way. Oh sure, I can make it happen if I need to, but music is what drives me, fuels my imagination. It gives me energy. I’m very fortunate, because Brother is a huge fan of Spotify and upgraded to a family plan about a year ago. Thus Parents and I are able to listen to music ad-free and create tons of playlists and radio stations. I have fallen in love with those features, let me tell you. Color me spoiled.

When I’m getting ready in the morning or sitting down to write something, I usually have Spotify up and running on either my computer or my phone. (Seriously, what did we ever do without technology?) I kept hearing these songs that I liked on one particular radio station that I had created, and every time I looked, I laughed because the name of the artist that I kept liking was “Sizzle Bird.”

Yup, that’s the name all right. However, don’t let his title fool you. If you’re looking for a mellow Lindsey Stirling alternate, Sizzle Bird is your man. Same electronic feel, with violin and sometimes piano overtones. While Stirling has been one of my favorite musicians for a while, it’s nice to hear something new, and I dare say that Sizzle might just give Stirling a run for her money in my book.

If you want to know what I mean, check him out here. My personal favorites so far are Imagine and Warm Heart. I’m stupidly excited about it. Of course, I’m always excited about new music of any sort. I’ll come back later with the two other new-to-me bands that I’ve recently discovered that have just blown me away with their abilities. However, they’re just about as polar opposite of this as you can get, so I’ll let them have a post all of their own. Just keeping the mood the same here, you know.

And now if you’ll excuse me, there are very clearly several songs of his that I’ve never heard, so I’d best correct that.

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Dark EnergyDark Energy by Robison Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Parental guide: Minor swearing, some violence, nothing explicit.

Holy moly, this book was SO GOOD. It’s a fairly quickly read, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Alice is one of the best protagonists that I’ve read about in a loooong time, and I felt that the author did a fantastic job of writing from a female perspective. Also? I loved the fact that she had such a great relationship with her father. I feel like too many times in YA literature, the parents are either absent for one reason or another, or they’re portrayed as idiots. All parents were teenagers at one point in time or another, so it’s not entirely unreasonable to assume that some of them remember what it’s like. Alice’s father was a good mixture of protective and supportive, which made their interactions that much more fun.

Anyway, if you’re in the mood for a quick sci-fi, give this one a chance. I’m off to go check out some of the author’s other books now, don’t mind me.

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Just a tad bit past nearly forever ago, a friend of mine tagged me on Facebook with a fun meme. I thought it sounded great and started it…and then I became distracted and only recently discovered the half-finished product. Whatever the case, I have since completed my answers and thought it might make for an interesting blog post. These are the authors and books that inspired my own writing.

10 Books That Stayed With Me:

1.) The Bible – It may not be obvious to all, but this book has been the number one thing that has changed my life and my perspective over the years. I have indeed read it cover to cover and various translations, and every time that I read its passages I get something new from it.

2.) Beverly Cleary series – I’m kind fudging on this one, because it’s way too hard to narrow down which specific Cleary books spoke to me most. I grew up reading about Beezus and Ramona, Ralph S. Mouse and all the rest. They were instrumental in cultivating my passion for the written word, even in grade school.

3.) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – One of my best memories is the year that my mother read the story of Tom Sawyer to me while I ate breakfast every morning. I’ll confess that I was really hesitant to this at first, but Mom insisted and I am very glad she did. I got so caught up in the story that I quickly forgot why I hadn’t wanted to hear it in the first place.

4.) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – I read this one while I was in high school for a book report. Basically I just needed to choose something from the list that the teacher gave us. I picked it at random, thinking that the title sounded interesting, and discovered an amazing world. This story was part of what really piqued my interest in the fantasy genre as a whole. It opened up a whole different set of doors, as far as reading went.

5.) The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis – Probably not much surprise here either, but this is another series that I’ve always adored. I read The Silver Chair in high school (another book report project that turned out very well for me). While The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has probably remained my favorite of the series, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle are right up there.

6.) Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer – This still remains one of my all-time favorite YA series. I loved Colfer’s twist to both modern and ancient fairy tales, and the storyline, while not always what I expected, was fantastic. Great character development, great villains…in fact it’s been long enough that I’m probably due for a re-read.

7.) Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson – Sanderson is a semi-new author to me, but so far I have loved each book that I’ve tried. This was the first story that I read of his, which also happened to be his first attempt at YA, and it’s difficult to pinpoint just why it stuck with me so much. I tend to be very character driven when it comes to movies and books, so all I can figure is that I loved the character of Steelheart so much it wedged in my brain and wouldn’t let go. Whatever the case, this was one of my favorite books of the year. And so far, the rest of the series hasn’t disappointed either.

8.) The Oath by Frank Peretti – It’s been a looooong time since I last read this one, but it was another book that always stuck with me. I originally read it in high school and loved it. This was the first book of Peretti’s that I had read, and while it was a little slow in the middle, the primary storyline kept a quick pace and kept my attention through it all. Not your typical dragon story, but still a well-crafted plot for an author of his particular genre. As a “Christian author,” he pushed boundaries with this book and might have even made people a little uncomfortable. Not necessarily a bad thing, in this case.

9.) The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – Yes, he gets to be on my list twice because he’s just that amazing. I won’t lie, The Way of Kings is definitely a commitment at nearly 400,000 words, but I can’t recommend it highly enough for those who love epic fantasy. The worldbuilding, the characters…all of it is just too amazing for words. It has become one of my all-time favorite stories ever. (It was one of the few books where I literally read the last sentence and wanted to go right back to the beginning and read it again because I loved it so much.) And Words of Radiance, the sequel, is just as fantastic as the first.

10.) The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – This was the first non-fiction work of Lewis that I read, again while in high school, but it’s always stuck with me. Lewis really stepped outside the box of his time by writing this book, and it made you really think about your prayer life and the spiritual battles that continuously rage on everywhere. While definitely an older book, I can still recommend it. (Actually, it’s another one I need to re-read…)

So there you have it. This is a basic glimpse of my all-time favorite books and authors, and though many others have made impressions with me, these are the ones that I will never forget.

What are your top ten faves?

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The Rule of Thoughts (The Mortality Doctrine, #2)The Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While several things were resolved (somewhat) in this book, I felt that it dragged in the middle just a bit. I realize that Michael had to cope with a lot since the revelation of the previous book, but that also slowed the story a little bit. Thus why it took me so long to finish in the first place.

It picked up more towards the end, but that semi-cliffhanger at the end told me there is definitely still more to come. However, it looks very promising and I enjoyed the twists in the storyline. Just when we think we’ve figured out what might be going on, Dashner throws another wrench into the machine.

All in all, it was another enjoyable ride and I look forward to finishing the series.

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Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books where I was kicking myself for not reading this thing sooner. Seriously, why did I wait all this time? Holy crap. This book is AMAZING. As someone who adores dragons anyway, I loved how this spun a new take on them and told the story of a girl who loved music, cared for her family, and just so happened to be half-dragon.

I was immediately spellbound by the world Rachel Hartman created. Seraphina as a character is not without her flaws, but she is so relatable. She has genuine struggles, as she feels compassion for both species, and I loved how the dragons were depicted. Oh, and there was music! For me, Seraphina was the character that I had hoped Kvothe from The Kingkiller Chronicles would be, and she did not disappoint on that end. I just adore it when I can have two of my passions woven together like this. So wonderful.

I lurve Orma and the relationship he had with Seraphina. He’s related to her by blood, yet as a dragon should not show any emotion. Some of the struggles he faced were so real, so difficult, just like Seraphina’s own dilemmas. You knew that he wanted to love her, but he couldn’t. Just as she could not help but feel love for Kiggs, though she knew it was futile and against her dragon nature. I kept wanting to yell, “JUST TELL HIM ALREADY! OMG!”

Oh, the feels. I just can’t praise this book highly enough. It is beautiful, heart-breaking and perfect in every way, shape and form.

Seriously, go read it now.

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Firefight (Reckoners, #2)Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

MY HEART. IT IS IN ITTY BITTY PIECES.

The more I read of Sanderson, the more I love him. Seriously. He has a way of weaving a story so well that you’re completely sucked in before you know it. Only when you look back do you see how he’s managed to bring everything together. The clues finally fit.

Needless to say, this was a stunning sequel to an awesome series. Even though I’m emotionally drained, it was amazing. I honestly wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy it, simply because of the absence of my favorite character, Steelheart himself. (I was rather devastated that he had to die. It’s my darn villain fetish kicking in again.) But I was pleasantly surprised in the character development of this installment, which made it just as enjoyable as the first. I also loved learning more about Calamity and the powers/weaknesses of the Epics. A few more pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place, which will no doubt reveal an ending of larger-than-life proportion.

I cannot wait to get my hot little hands on the next one.

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The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine, #1)The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

James Dashner is rapidly becoming another favorite author of mine. I’m currently in the middle of the Maze Runner series, and it’s been awesome so far. While part of the reason I enjoy Dashner’s writing so much is because of the fast pace, I felt at first this book was a tad rushed towards the beginning. But looking back on it now, I realize there was kind of a reason for that.

It was a major thrill-ride once it really got going and had some definite creep factors once they were on The Path. There were some really good spine-tingling moments that made me want to snuggle under a blanket a little. Particularly the hallway with the undead people. Creepy.

And then the ending. Omigosh, THE ENDING.

I shan’t spoil anything for anyone else, but basically the last half of the book made it go from pretty cool to HOLY WOW. If you enjoy futuristic gamer books, this one is a winner for sure. Can’t wait to get my hands on book two.

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