The Twelve Movies of Christmas

The Twelve Movies of Christmas

Hey, guys! I know that for my family finding the perfect holiday film can be hard. The days before Christmas can be stressful with the hustle and bustle, so when you finally get a chance to relax you don’t want to spend it searching for a movie to watch!

So, as my Christmas gift to you, here is a list of twelve wonderful movies your family will love! I have broken them into three categories for your ease of browsing!

Drama is for those of you who like movies that are deep, faith-building, and tear increasing!

Funny & Witty are movies for y’all who just want to have fun! And if there’s a few good messages along the way? Why not! 

Light & Heartwarming is for folks who aren’t looking for deep and profound films or unstoppable laughter. These movies are for those of you just want a pleasant, 90 minute diversion to sparkle their evening up.

WARNING: I am not responsible or legally bound to reimburse or insure against any disaster such as but not limited to: water damage induced by excessive tears, stomach aches caused by exorbitant laughter, and possibly even superfluous amounts of heartwarming fluff.  

P.S. I know the Twelve Days of Christmas don’t start until Christmas day. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a clever post title! 🙂

P.P.S. Movies in no particular order of my favorites. Just alphabetical. 

Okay, enough P.S.’s! Onto the movies! XD

DRAMA

FUNNY & WITTY

LIGHT & HEARTWARMING


A note on content—Several of these movies have some objectionable content in them. I especially don’t recommend watching While You Were Sleeping without looking it up first and knowing what you’re doing. And, as a disclaimer, I am not insuring the cleanliness of these movies to anyone. People have their own standards, so if you’re interested in one-look it up. 🙂 

Alright y’all, this’ll be my last post before Christmas and possibly in December. I hope you all have an amazing time during this holiday season and have a very, Merry Christmas!

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Have you seen any of the above? Send me a comment, I love to chat!

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Blog Tour! Review of Bound and Author Interview

Hi guys! Today I am very blessed to get to be apart of the blog tour for Miss Victoria Lynn’s beautiful new novel, Bound. Today I will be reviewing Bound and interviewing the lovely author herself! There is also an awesome giveaway that I will be sharing! So stay tuned for a rollicking time!
bound blog tour banner

Author Bio:

headshot for book and website - CopyVictoria Lynn is in her 20s and if she’s not writing, she is probably sewing, singing, playing the piano, washing dishes, creating something with her hands, or learning something new. She has a passion for serving her Creator, encouraging others and being creative. She blogs at http://www.rufflesandgrace.com about writing, fashion, modesty, her walk with God and life. She lives in Michigan with her parents and 8 siblings.


You can find Victoria on her: Blog, Website, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Author Interview

Welcome, Victoria! I am so excited to have you with me today. Now, what inspired Bound? Was it a movie, a book, personal life experience?
It was a picture prompt that I wrote for my blog. While there are a lot of my life experiences intertwined in the book and the stories of the characters, I wouldn’t necessarily say that they are what inspired the book itself. Between that original picture prompt and Gods inspiration, that is what created this book.

How many years have you been writing?

Since I was very small. I have a notebook from when I was nine. I have always enjoyed creating my own worlds. . . probably because I have an extremely active imagination!

What’s your favorite genre to write in?

To be honest, I don’t really have a favorite. Which is the reason that I write under the very broad umbrella of Christian Fiction. I love trying my hand at pretty much everything, except gruesome horror stuff of course. I enjoy fantasy, modern fic, historical fiction of course and many different branches of those.

Have you ever had a story take a turn you weren’t expecting in the least?

In a way, yes. When writing Bound, as the story was still forming in my mind, I was at an event and a plot twist hit my head and I literally gasped out loud and dove across the table for a notebook and pen to record the thought before it could escape. I got a few strange looks that day. LOL! 
Out of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is most like you.
Mmm. . . That is a tough one. After going through them all, I would probably say Dudley from London in the Dark. His personality is most like mine. I am very empathetic, and try to make things better and fix problems. I would have to say so far that he is the most like me, though his story is a little too underdeveloped (since he isn’t a main character) to tell yet.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing or reading?

I love to design things. Sewing would probably be my highest thing I find enjoyment in aside from those two things you mentioned. I got to design and create a wedding dress this year and that was an experience to remember!

If you could meet one author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Dang. . .These questions are so hard!!!! Victor Hugo or E.D.E.N. Southworth.

Favorite book of all time?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Anne of Green Gables, and Three People by Isabella Alden. I could survive on those three.

Biggest book crush? I mean, let’s be honest, we all have one!

Gilbert Blythe. *blushes* All the way. I would marry him in a heartbeat. 

Now, for the most important question of all. Milk chocolate or dark? 😛

I like them both, it depends on my mood. But generally dark chocolate.
Thanks so much for having me, Gabriellyn!
You bet, Victoria! It was great to get to pick your brain! 

Bound Review

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Two souls don’t find each other by simple accident. ~Jorge Luis Borges~ 

Levi thought he was making this journey alone. But when he meets an eight-year-old girl at the train station, that plan is turned on its head. 

Casey is running away and finds out that Levi is too. They decide to journey together and their lives are suddenly bound together in a journey they will not soon forget. 

Both children come from abusive situations and are running from the dangers of their previous life. Levi is confident he can handle this on his own, but when Casey is injured on the journey, he must seek help from the first person that comes into his path, or rather people. Mr. and Mrs. Bellworth are simple farm folk with a heart for kids and a passion for serving God. When their unconditional love and gentle care surrounds Levi and Casey, the troubles of their previous lives melt away and they start to flourish. But when Casey is dragged back into the abusive world she came from, the emotional trauma, pain and distrust resurfaces. Will they be forever bound by their past? Or will God answer their prayers? 


 

Overall Impression

Bound was heartwarming. It tells the story of two sweet kiddos who are lost in more ways than one. I was involved from the first chapter and rooting for the characters all the way. The honest truth is, I wasn’t expecting a story this good. I  read Victoria Lynn’s London in the Dark, and had didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. So, when I read Bound, I was rather awestruck.
Bound, in my opinion is so special because of the level of heart behind it. Not only does it surpass London in the Dark, but it surpasses the level of heart you’ll find in many well-known authors. Bound means something. It is STRONG. It is TRUE. It is God’s HEART. 
Another thing I especially appreciated was that the story wasn’t whitewashed. Something that really annoys me in Christian fiction is when authors whitewash evil. Victoria didn’t do that with Bound. But, at the same time, she found a graceful balance in the amount of evil she showed. Victoria was able to expose the complete total depravity and hellish conditions many children are sadly living in without over doing it. She kept the truth that the world needs to hear without making it unnecessarily dark.
I would recommend Bound to single readers 12 and up and some families. For a few content reasons (more later), I would recommend parents skimming through before handing to very young children. 

Characters:

Levi was a sweetheart. I loved how even though he had been so horribly mistreated and had the people he loved the most horribly treated, he was full of life in his wishes to protect Casey. 
What could have made Levi focused on protecting himself only and trying to gain security for himself above all else, instead nurtured a desire to protect someone who was in the same situation as he was. It was beautiful. 
Casey. Awww! Poor little thing! I loved Casey so much and felt so bad for her. No child should have to go through
 what she did. And, while I understand that Casey isn’t a real child who actually has gone through these awful things, her character is powerful because she puts a face on the thousands of children who have and are living in hell around this country. ‘
Casey was quite a well-balanced character. She had so many God awful things done to and around. She was ‘mature’ in a way that no child should ever be. But, at the same time, her true, un-violated childlike spirit would peek out occasionally. And, by the end of the book, it showed with a true force. Casey was superb.
Mr. and Mrs. Bellworth, (HOW SWEET WERE THEY! ❤ ❤ ❤ ) Mikayla, Jason and the other more minor characters were also done quite well. 

Plot:

From the first chapter, I was drawn completely in. I NEEDED to know how Casey and Levi’s journey would end. From the moment at the train station, all the places between, and our lovely ending, I loved it. 
Victoria did a wonderful job on the character and story arcs. The POV’s made sense, the reactions to new things happening were on point, it all was very cohesive. 
Also, those plot twists with Jason, did NOT see them coming! 
The plot and progression was solid and engrossing all the way.

Bravo, Miss Lynn! 

 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None
Violence/Frightening Scenes/Gore: Some light descriptions of injuries. Mentions of blood. Children are hit by their parents. Multiple instances of physical abuse-never any sexual abuse. Several intense parts/memories. I would advise for ages 12+. 
Sex/Nudity: None
Other: Some of the plot has to do with drugs and drug dealing-it is looked upon as evil. 

I received this book free from the author for promotional purposes. No reviews, positive or otherwise, were required. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

 

Giveaway!

Bound Giveaway

OFFICIAL GIVEAWAY POST!

(This includes all the info on what you will actually be winning!) 

GIVEAWAY LINK!

 


Well, that’s about it for our Bound festivities! Thanks for hanging with me today, guys! I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂

 

Writing: Story Sprints #2

Story Sprint


LOVED

Autumn sunlight held Aubrey in it’s arms and staved off the chill of the brisk air. Small, golden leaves blew down from the white birch in front of the house and onto  the porch swing where Aubrey sat.

Aubrey breathed in a deep, drawing breath as she picked up one of the leaves that had fallen on her blanketed lap. The action tired her weak arms out more than it should have. How long would it be before the cancer took all the strength that she had left?

Aubrey turned to look at the beautiful hills below her home. The greens of summer had changed to the splendid ochers of fall. The world was so beautiful that it seemed to pain her soul. The golden sunlight, crisp air, and the dancing leaves seemed almost to taunt her with their beauty. Mocking her. Mocking what she would soon lose.

Aubrey squeezed her eyes shut and two large tears streaked down her face and dripped onto her lap. Would she miss it? This beauty. Would she remember it ever even existed? Would she…

“Aubrey.” A whispered Voice broke through her thoughts and a warm Presence encased her.

Aubrey’s eyelids popped open and she looked around, surprised when she saw no one. Had she merely imagined it? Aubrey swept her eyes about her property and the surrounding hills one last time before shutting her eyes again.

“Aubrey.” The Voice spoke again. Aubrey opened her eyes, searching. Still, no one appeared. Aubrey rubbed her eyes and squeezed them shut. Perhaps she was just tired. Maybe it was just…

“Aubrey!” This time, the Voice called her with such a strong certainty that she couldn’t deny that It was real.

Aubrey opened her eyes. Sitting on the porch swing next to her was a tall Man.

His presence was all encompassing, awing her with His mightiness. From head to toe, He exuded light. His entire countenance glowed in a beautiful, unearthly way.

Suddenly, Aubrey felt exposed. It was as if every sin she had ever committed was written on her forehead. Her ugly body seemed to scream of her unworthiness before this beauty.

Aubrey yelped and fell off of the swing and onto her knees. Pain jarred her bones and though her weak body protested,  she managed to scramble several feet away from the swing.

The Man had stood the moment she had fallen. He had reached out as if to catch her, but drawn His hand back seeing that she didn’t want to be near Him. Now, He crouched near where she cowered on the porch.

“Aubrey.” His eyes were gentle. “Do not fear. I won’t hurt you.”

“How…how do you know my name?” Aubrey gasped out scratchily, holding a hand up to her eyes to shield herself from the glowing Presence. He was so beautiful that her weak, damaged body felt like some alien deformity in that holy, glowing Presence.  

“I have known you since before you were born, beloved, should I not know your name? Be at peace, I am here to help you.”

Aubrey scooted back a few inches further from the glorious figure before her, a small glimmer of sadness seemed to gleam deep in His eyes. Was He sad she was pulling away from Him?

“Why? Why do you want to help me?” Her voice held disbelief, fear, and some other indistinguishable sentiment.

How she had even dared to speak in His Presence, she didn’t know. Every new second she sat near Him, she felt more and more like something so mean and unworthy that she didn’t even belong in the same place as this Man.

“Because I love you, Aubrey.” The Man’s voice was earnest, passionate, loving.

Through her shame and fear of this glorious Man, a glimmer of longing pulled in Aubrey’s heart. The love in His voice was strong, caressing her name when He spoke it.

“I…I am not worthy of your love. I have been selfish my whole life…I’m getting my reward now.” Aubrey looked down at her weak body, shame filling her and smothering the faint longing in her heart.

“You are right. You are not worthy on your own.”

Aubrey looked up suddenly. She had known this, but His confirmation stabbed deep at her heart. She dropped her eyes from His again, tears beginning to well up.

“But,” the Man spoke suddenly. The hope filling His voice drew her eyes to His almost against her will. “That doesn’t matter, Aubrey. My love overcomes all. Nothing you have done or ever will do can be larger than my love for you.”

A sob rose in Aubrey’s throat. How she wished that was true. How she wished she could reach out and take the love, how she wished…

“You can, Aubrey! You can have it!”

Aubrey gasped as the Man answered the very thoughts she was thinking.

“How…how can I have it?” Hope tinged her voice.

“Accept it. That’s all you have to do.” The Man’s rich, brown eyes pulled her in, glimmering with love. Love she could have.

A wave of doubt filled her. She was unworthy! She was dirty and…

“Please, Aubrey, let me love you!”

The Man’s voice broke through the doubt she was drowning in and offered her a safe escape.

“I accept!” The cry broke from Aubrey’s lips.

The split second she spoke, everything changed.

The fear, doubt, and shame was blasted away with such an overcoming wave of peace and love that Aubrey shut her eyes in it’s surging strength. A groan came from somewhere deep within Aubrey, pain and sorrow seeping out with it.

Aubrey felt the Man’s arms about her. He lifted her to her feet. Aubrey gasped as she opened her eyes, it was as if a lense had been taken away from her eyes.

She thought the Man magnificent before, but now, the true depth of His love, power, and beauty was unveiled before her and it took her breath away. Awe filled Aubrey’s heart. She couldn’t even begin to comprehend the love before her.

Tears spilled over Aubrey’s cheeks and she was unable to speak. The Man pulled her into a deep embrace. The warmth of His touch healed long broken places in her heart. Aubrey sobbed as the pain of her life was washed away.

Aubrey’s vision began to darken and the Man grew further away, but she was not frightened. A soft voice, the Man’s, whispered in her ear.

“You are loved…”

Time stilled and all grew dark.

Aubrey opened her eyes, feeling as though she had been asleep a long time. She sat on the porch swing, her blanket still tucked comfortably about her legs. The leaves still blew softly, the sun shone goldenly, and the air blew crisply as it had before. Nothing appeared to have changed.

But, Aubrey was not as she had been before.

Aubrey glanced to the side of the porch swing where the Man had first appeared. A large, leather book sat on the swing, it’s gilded pages glowing in the autumnal sunlight.  

Aubrey picked the book up and leafed through it’s pages. It was enormous and seemed to have many books in one. Closer to the end, Aubrey paused as something caught her eye. A small cross was marked next to two passages. The cross flickered for a moment, then disappeared.

Aubrey’s eyes crossed over the passages that had been marked by the cross.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

The word soaked into Aubrey’s soul and testified their truth.

A small smile flickered along Aubrey’s lips as she continued to read, feeling stronger than she had in years.

She was loved.


 

I hope you all enjoyed this latest story! Comment below and tell me what you think! Would you like to see more story sprints from me? What was your favorite aspect of LOVED?

Book Review: Kristian’s War

Kris Anders, a dirt-poor farmer, lives in a land where evil forces take the form of men. The sins of his past weigh heavily on his mind. When a stranger directs him to take a new path, Kris begins the journey of a lifetime towards a distant King who is rumored to solve all problems. But then a ruthless soldier is dispatched by the ruler of the dark land to capture or kill Kris. Everything leads to one final fight, where Kris must defeat the demons of his past or die.

Marine Corps veteran Peter Wisan delivers a gripping, tactical take on the spiritual journey in a blend of heart-stopping action and heart-rending loss. Order a copy now…if you have what it takes to join, KRISTIAN’S WAR.

 


 

Overall Impression

Kristian’s War is, I believe, a modern retelling of Pilgrims Progress. And, just as a disclaimer, I have never fully read Pilgrims Progress, but as a child I used to look through an illustrated version often so I remember many aspects of the original story.

This was powerful. The power of this story isn’t in the characters or writing, it’s in magnificent truth of the story. The allegorical content is excellent and the story reflects the mighty truths of our God’s lovingkindness, grace, and strength. It’s excellent!

I would recommend to families  (With some caution, see ‘Warnings’) and single readers 14+.

 

Characters:

The characters in Kristian’s War have the same essence as the characters in Pilgrim’s ProgressIn many ways, the style of writing left me feeling distanced from the characters. However, I understand this to be greatly due to the fact that with the way the story and characters are SUPPOSED to be written, you do end up feeling a bit more disconnected. 

Kristian was a good lead. Most of us would prefer to think of ourselves as more like Jack Consistence, who seems so steadfast in the faith. But, the truth is, many of us are Kristian. Kristian who fears, doubts, grows despondent and lax in his efforts. He struggles with lust, self-condemnation, and fear. He is HUMAN. 

Evan, or Evangelist, serves the mentor purpose quite well. He is a great picture of an ardent Christian with their heart set towards the Lord. 

Jack Consistence was my favorite. Just so steady. Lol, I suppose the name gives that away, though, doesn’t it! 

Christi is a great picture of self-wallowing hate, hurt, and sorrow! I look forward to seeing what Peter does with her character. 

Shame, Condemnation, Influence, Past and all the others were good allegorical baddies. They were so evil. It was portrayed quite well! 

 

Plot:

The plot of this story is pretty much just Pilgrim’s Progress (from what I remember, that is!) but with many more details, motivations, and truths fleshed out. 

Kristian’s War is a long journey, constantly going from hardship and victory to hardship and victory. Such is the way of life! 

There are many places where Mr. Wisan’s writing could be improved, but it didn’t stop the power of the story. He conveyed it so well!

Also, I loved all the technical terms Mr. Wisan included in this book. I will never forget what a ‘mike’ is or a ‘bc’. They greatly enhanced the story without making it unintelligible to the typical non-military/marine person! 

 

Wrap Up:

In conclusion, this was powerful story. Poignant messages, strong truths, and magnificent allegories. While I do believe Mr. Wisan has room to grow in his writing skills, he has written an amazing book that reflects the Lord quite well.

I greatly look forward to seeing what becomes of the other characters in The Searchers Series!

 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None

Violence/Frightening Scenes/Gore: There are quite a few fire fights in this book and quite a bit of violence. Someone has their eyes gouged out, you hear about executions and beheadings, people are shot point-blank in the skull. I was fine with it all, but I would advise caution with parents of children under 14

Sex/Nudity: A married main character is seduced by several females who represent, lust, porn, and cheating. (The aforementioned is not just sensational there is a very good purpose for it. And it’s non-graphic.) There is mention of reproductive system in a non-gross, non-sensational way. 

Other: A character has an abortion. It is considered a bad thing. 

While I would not advise handing this book over to a kid who hasn’t had the facts of life presented to them yet, or is very uncomfortable with violence, nothing in this is unnecessary or majorly graphic. It all serves a purpose. 

 

“I received this book free from the author for promotional purposes. No reviews, positive or otherwise, were required. All opinions expressed are purely my own.”

Writing: Story Sprints #1

Story Sprint


Hey, y’all! I am trying something new this week. I am hopefully gonna be releasing short ‘story sprints’ either every week (HOPEFULLY! IF I UTTERLY FAIL I NEVER, EVER SAID THIS!) or every two weeks.

To start off my story sprints is a fun bit of fantasy entitled, Endure! Enjoy, guys!


ENDURE

Darkness settled over the East. Heavy, roiling clouds rolled westward. Menacing yellow lightning fingered it’s way across the black sky.

“They have come.” Markian’s voice came from over Nikaia’s shoulder. A shudder coursed along Nikaia’s spine both from the reality of  her brother’s words and the icy winds that blew from the East.

“So they have…” Nikaia’s voice was soft, ending in a trembling whisper.

There was no evading the Order now. They had found them. Two, warm tears dribbled down Nikaia’s face as  deep fear and defeat filled her heart. Their doom had come. Every moment the clouds moved closer so did the cruel deaths that awaited them. Markian must have perceived her thoughts for he placed a strong on her cold shoulder.

“Nikaia.” His voice kept Nikaia from drowning in the helplessness and fear that clawed at her heart. Nikaia turned but stared at the ground. She didn’t want to look her brother in the eyes, to see the certainty of death that she felt reflected in his face.

Markian placed his warm hands on Nikaia’s face and gently tilted her head upwards so that their eyes met. Markian’s eyes practically glowed with intensity and strength.   

“I will protect you. We will not die today, my sister.” Markian’s voice grew low and passionate. “We shall endure this day as we have endured the days and the Order before. Have hope, dear one!”

“How do we endure?” Nikaia practically screamed, a sob catching her voice at the end. “How do I have hope when there is none left inside me?”

Markian’s brows furrowed and his eyes pierced Nikaia to her very soul. “Because, my sister, there is else left for us! There is only hope.”

Nikaia’s lip trembled and she looked again to the ground.

Markian’s voice rose in intensity and volume. “Nikaia! They…” he pointed to the darkened East. “They have taken everything from us! Do you now let them take your hope as well? Will you let them steal the last vestige of value from your life?”

Nikaia swallowed and turned to look at the eastern sky. Menacing. Dark. Overshadowing. The Order had taken everything from her and Markian. Their family, their home, and now…her hope? Would they have her hope, too?

Nikaia squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her jaw. She felt Markian’s eyes watching her as the battle raged inside. She could only hope she was strong enough to win it.

Will they have my hope too? The question came in her head again. Thoughts of despair, helplessness, and fear fought for her attention at every side. But, amidst the clamoring of the despair, a small answer was spoken in her spirit.

No. No, they will not.

Nikaia opened her eyes and looked again on the ever nearing darkness, a flare of hope lighting in her soul.

“No!” Nikaia voiced, strength mounting at the word. She looked to Markian. “They shall not have our hope!”

Markian’s eyes glowed with passion, love, and…pride. Taking his sister’s hand he gave it a squeeze. “No, dear one, never shall they have it!”

Together, Markian and Nikaia turned to watch the approaching darkness and the Order that followed it. They would endure.


 

I hope you all enjoyed, comment below and tell me what you think! Would you like to see story sprints from me? What was your favorite aspect of Endure?

Book Review: The Green Ember

Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.

Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?

 

 


 

Overall Impression: 

Okay, guys, from reading several of my Goodreads friends reviews I knew this book was gonna be great. I have wanted to read it for quite a while now, so I was uber excited when I purchased it on kindle this last Friday night. I read a lot over the weekend and finished today. 

The Green Ember is a story that pulls you in and won’t let go until you have finished it, and even then, you are want, need, the next book! The story was incredible, the characters deep and involving, and the plot superb!

Another thing I greatly appreciated about this book was the fact that it was one hundred percent acceptable for children AND one hundred percent a legit story! So many books written for children are either dumbed down, as if the authors think that kids can’t understand anything that isn’t simple, or they hold waaaay to many grown up ideals/aspects. To find a series that is a rollicking adventure full of deep story that is as clean as a baby’s behind is awesome! 

I recommend this story to all readers! Families, kids, teens, and adults will all enjoy this fun adventure! It has great depth, story, and characters! I hope that this book becomes as famed as it deserves to be! It is an epic story worth the read!

 

Characters:

Heather was such a great, strong character! I can’t wait to see what becomes of her in Ember Falls. What made Heather so amazing was that she wasn’t trying to be awesome! She wasn’t one of those I-can-kick-rear, I-am-strong-and-independent, don’t-touch-me-I’m-tough, types. Her character was one of was warmth, love, and self-sacrifice. She was brave, kind-hearted, and a warrior when it came to her family. Her moments of absolute epicness came from her just doing the right thing! She wasn’t showing off, she wasn’t out to prove something, she was protecting those she cared about and doing a dang good job!

Picket was a bit more difficult in some parts than Heather. He was out to prove something. His character motivations were written very well. And while sometimes he could be a pain in the neck it didn’t stop his true self from shining through to the reader. He is a fighter! A fighter who is overcoming his fears and will do anything to protect those he cares about! His absolute awesomeness in the end was great! I loved the redemption he brought to his family name! 

Uncle Wilfred and Smalls were great characters! Their interaction was written so well! It speaks of a deep love and history beyond what we have seen! I loved these characters, Mr. S. D. Smith did a wonderful job!

Helmer was an absolute jerk! But I loved the parts of the story with him in it! I foresee great things and redemption for his character! He has far to go but has also come far!

Emma, Kyle, Gort, Lord Rake, Maggie, and all the other background/secondary characters were done profoundly well too! I really enjoyed the development and history of these characters and this story!

 

Plot:

The Green Ember starts off showing the soft pace of life which Heather and Picket live in. It’s beautiful, simple, and happy. It brings to mind several scenes from the Shire in Lord of the Rings. But, quickly, the plot takes off with unexpected events. Heather and Picket are tossed into a world of violence, intrigue, and secrets! 

Themes of hope, despair, and treachery are all mixed into this fun adventure. The Green Ember has the history and feeling of a fantasy epic. The stories of the great King Jupiter, Captain Blackstar, and Whitson Mariner all develop the world and give it a feeling of reality. 

The setting of most of the book is very unique and exciting.  I won’t spoil it by telling you all about it, but it’s pretty epic.

Some of the plot ideas are at first appearance akin to Redwall. However, I find The Green Ember much more enjoyable than Redwall. It’s characters are far more relatable, the story much deeper, and the world of Natalia so much more real! 

 

Wrap Up:

To reiterate all I’ve already said, the characters were superb and plot amazing! I loved this story and greatly hope that someday when I have this thing called money, (:D) I will be able to buy all the books, both paperback and audio, as well as fan apparel! I love this story and cannot wait to go and read Ember Falls. Well done, Mr. S. D. Smith! I applaud you! 

 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None

Violence/Frightening Scenes/Gore: Some mild descriptions of injuries. A lot of fighting, family of MC’s are taken by evil characters, torture alluded to, death talked about, rabbits die, some scary scenes where MC’s are pursued by bad characters. Would recommend for ages 4+.

Sex/Nudity: None

Blog Tour! Interview with Claire Banschbach

Hear ye, hear ye, my faithful followers! Today I am joining the LOVELY Miss Banschbach on her wonderful blog tour! I can’t wait! Let’s begin!

Claire M. Banschbach

About the Author:

Claire M. Banschbach is a native West Texan. She discovered a deep and abiding love for fantasy and science fiction at a young age, prompting her to begin exploring worlds armed only with an overactive imagination and a pen while obtaining degrees in Kinesiology from Texas A&M and Physical Therapy from Texas Tech University.

She talks to fictional characters more than she should while struggling to find time for all their stories. She currently resides in Arlington, TX where she works as a Pediatric Physical Therapist.

You can connect with her on Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog | Instagram


About the Books:

36239851The Rise of Aredor

Lost in a foreign land and separated from his family, Corin does his best to survive as a slave in the household of a Calorin lord. With newfound friends he fights for survival in ambushes and wars. For one act of bravery, he is awarded his freedom and returns to a home that has been invaded and ravaged by the Calorin armies. When Corin sets foot on Aredor’s shores, he has one goal in mind: find his family. He is driven into the forest, where he is reunited with childhood friends. From the shelter of the woods, they begin a spirited rebellion against Corin’s former cruel master, who now holds sway over Aredor. Follow Corin’s path in his quest to free his imprisoned brother, find a father who has vanished, and ultimately free his country in The Rise of Aredor.

*Note! The Rise of Aredor is on sale on Amazon today! $.99 for the Kindle ebook! It’s so worth it! 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

 

36239912

The Wildcat of Braeton

His term of service to Lord Rishdah now complete, Aiden returns to his home in Braeton. As he travels he hears rumors that trouble plagues Braeton. Clan Canich is being attacked from within. He arrives, determined to save his father, his brothers, and his Clan from the treachery of one man.

A year has passed since the Calorins were driven from Aredor and Corin is struggling to rebuild his country. Despite the peace, a fear haunts him that the Calorins aren’t far away. The Hawk Flight takes to the forest again to defend the borders against a possible attack from the neighboring country of Durna and its Calorin ally. 

As Aiden and Corin struggle to adapt to their new lives they know one thing for certain – war is coming to the North! 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 


 

And now, on to the interview! It is what we are here to see after all! 🙂 

Questions:

Of all the characters in Aredor, (And the surrounding countries of course! :P) which one are you most like?

My siblings say that I’m a lot like Corin, the main character, and I grant that there are some similarities, but I think I’m a bit more like Kara who is introduced at about the same age I was when I started writing the story.

 

What is your favorite book of all time? 

My favorite book is a historical fiction novel set in Ancient Egypt – Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton. It probably helped spurred my desire to give all main characters a cool animal, and inspiring the whole Hawk thing in Aredor. 

If you could choose one author, dead or alive, to meet, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Oh, man! Tough question! Since I want to do a story with King Arthur, I’d love to meet Stephen Lawhead who wrote an amazing series on King Arthur in Wales. So I’d love to pick his brain on how he went about his retelling.

 

What is your favorite fantasy cliche? 

Since this series deals with a lost prince and a runaway chieftain’s son, I’d have to say the cliché of characters running off and successfully hiding their lineage to build a new life.

 

If you could marry one of your characters, who would it be? 

Haha! I love Corin of course, but I’d probably go for Liam, a secondary character who I kind of fell in love with after writing a few short stories in the Aredor universe.

 

I’ve gotta say, through both Rise of Aredor and The Wildcat of Braeton, I loved the cultures! So what cultural influences do you like to draw on to create unique cultures? 

For these books, I took bits and pieces from medieval Welsh and Middle Eastern cultures. I actually fall back on Welsh a lot, and I’m trying to make myself branch out. I have another series that I’m looking to draw bits from Native American culture for. I’m excited to dive into that, since it’s so unique.

 

Do you like to re-read your favorite books often? 

The whole book? Not often. Sometimes I’ll go back through and find my favorite passages or skim around, but I really only sit down and read the entire thing maybe every few years.


Who will enjoy your books? 

Anyone who likes a story full of action, adventure, and close knit friends!

 


 

Thank you all so much for joining Claire and I today! Be sure to check out these other great spotlights, reviews, and interviews below! And don’t forget! Best of all, there is a Rafflecopter giveaway! Be sure and enter to win! There are some great prizes!

 

Sept 28

Daley Downing – Series review

Rachael Ritchey – Series spotlight & Interview

Deborah O’Carroll – Series spotlight & Interview

Kelsey Bryant – Series spotlight

Shannon A. Hiner – Series review

Sept 29

CB Cook – Series spotlight

Liv K. Fisher – Series spotlight & Interview

Laura A. Grace – Video Reviews!

Emily Kopf – Review for The Rise of Aredor

Shannon A. Hiner – Interview

Sept 30

Hazel West – Interview

  1. Rawls – Guest Post – Anatomy of Writing

Gabriellyn Gidman – Interview

  1. Paige Burks – Series spotlight

Sarah Addison-Fox – Series review

Faith Blum – Spotlight for The Wildcat of Braeton

Book Review: Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass

Sea of Crystal, Sea of GlassWhen faced with the impossible and the unthinkable, choose the impossible.

All that fifteen-year-old Einur Landman has left in the world are his flock of sheep and his beloved little sister. His entire life’s purpose is to keep Lody safe from the evil ruling class. But he never expected that it would be his own name that was drawn for the child sacrifice. Leaving Lody with his promise to return, Einur escapes into the wild where he meets a stranger with a plan to bring down the Illyrië. Forced to choose between the unthinkable – Lody’s probable death – and the seemingly impossible, Einur takes the latter.

In his quest from his mountain village, through countless dangers, to the sea itself, everything Einur believes will be tested. For Lody’s sake, can he make a final crucial choice and stand firm to the end?


 

Overall Impression

Benita is a self-professed lover of Fantasy, especially Tolkien. Something clear in SOCSOG to an occasional fault, more on this in Plot

While I know several people on Goodreads who thoroughly enjoyed this book, for me it was dry. I wasn’t compelled to finish it.

If you love anything fantasy I would recommend this book to you. If you are hesitant towards fantasy already, this is probably not for you. 

Appropriate for older-readers and some families. I would, however, advise discretion towards parents reading to their little children. This book includes child-sacrifice and some intense/scary scenes. 

 

Characters

To be honest, I wasn’t particularly attached to any of the characters in this book. In a lot of ways the character development was inconsistent and unrealistic. As well as to many extraneous characters being brought in.

Einur, to me, was rather annoying. His thought processes didn’t make sense and he had a rather cynical/snarky feeling to him overall. 

Lody was sweet, I liked her. In fact she was probably my favorite. 

 

 

Plot

As I said before, Benita is a lover of Tolkien-who isn’t, am I right? 🙂 But this could go too far: there was a feeling throughout the entire book that Benita was grasping to make it similar to the works of Tolkien, many names such as, Alarandil, that were obviously modeled after LoTR, and one part where there was a sentence* practically taken out of Fellowship of the Ring.

*”A fell voice-there is a fell voice on the wind. As though someone were cooking up a sorcery.”-Einur 

Here is what I would say about that…it’s not bad to model your books after books you love, the key part is to do it in moderation. When writers work so hard to make their books Tolkien-ish, or similar to the works of C.S. Lewis etc. they get in their own way. The only way you are going to be a truly successful and original author is if it is original! 

Another thing that was hard about this book was that it was hard to follow. The characters, plot, flow all of it! There was much that was never fully explained (All the stuff with Berwyn and Eldrast, like, what the heck was going on there?!?) and much that was very confusing. Not a good mix. I believe had Benita dropped some more unnecessary bunny trails and stayed within the essential parts of her story it would have been clearer.  

One thing I liked very much was the essential idea behind the plot. It was good, quite stereotypical fantasy, but who cares! I like all the cliché that can come along with fantasy! I think that in time, if Benita adjusts her approach to writing in some ways, she could be a very good storyteller! Part of it is just experience. 

To Benita I would say, keep working and persevering! Try not to write the best Tolkien-ish book you can and instead try to write the best book you can.

 

Also, may I just say, beautiful cover! 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: Characters take a fake god’s name in vain-didn’t really bother me. 

Violence/Frightening Scenes/Gore: As there is child sacrifice in this there is going to be some creepy scenes. The Illyrie’s practices are creepy, there is a creepy guy who hypnotized a main character, several scenes where either they were dreams or real, not sure it was hard to tell. A big mist monster is fought. A very little bit of battle, not intense in the least. On the conservative side I would rate this 13+. 

Sex/Nudity: None

 


I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review 

Book Review: The Silent Blade

30524121Dromiskin, Ireland. 925 A.D.

Eira has no greater desire than to see her life returned to what it once was—before her older brother Kevin’s sudden disappearance four years earlier. But the simple life she hoped for seems unattainable; on the contrary, her life is about to get all the more complicated.
When she suddenly finds herself and Willem, her twin brother, taken captive by someone who claims to be Kevin’s enemy, things go from bad to worse. It soon becomes clear that she and Willem are to become bait in a trap set for Kevin, and Eira knows she must try to warn him. But how, when she herself is a captive?
As mysteries of the past are unveiled, and loyalties are revealed, Eira realizes how precious her friends truly are. And when mortal danger threatens those nearest to her, will she be
able to trust God with the lives of her friends and family?


 

 

Overall Impression

This story, while in many ways a good concept, was not carried out well. The book didn’t really hold my attention, the characters were not easy to connect to, and to me personally I found many plot-holes. 

I would still say that many single-readers and perhaps even families would enjoy the story even though I didn’t. I know that among it’s target audience on Goodreads it has done very well. Averaging at 4.4 stars. 

 

Characters

Eira, to be honest, annoyed me. I feel like it is a trend right now to have that female character who is good with weapons, can’t cook for her life, and has a temper that gets her into trouble. This type of person is really frustrating to me and often feels clichéd and two-dimensional. I want to see more sweet AND capable female characters. 

Willem and Cassimir, though you didn’t get to see their emotions/thoughts deeply, were sweet guys. 

Technically there was nothing ‘wrong’ with Kevin. But I just couldn’t connect. He was borderline annoying to me, I am not sure why, he just was. This does not mean that he was a bad character, but he and I didn’t mesh. 

Henry and Merek, the two big baddies. Honestly, they just weren’t scary. They didn’t make sense. The reasons behind their actions felt to weak to me. The things they experienced were hard, but I didn’t feel like it was enough to merit the type people they became. 

 

Plot 

I felt the plot to this book was rather weak and undeveloped. The threads of the story weren’t held together well and I felt that we, as readers, were missing certain key bits of information. Sometimes we would get unnecessary information and others we wouldn’t get enough. This left if feeling inconsistent.

 A lot of conversations in this book didn’t make sense to me. Either they were hard to follow, or they were out-of-place. The conversations between bad guys and main characters were especially awkward. 

Also, after all that Eira’s sword-work is praised, the one time that she would have gotten a chance to use it in an influential situation she does horribly. It didn’t make sense. If she was so good she should have done better. 

The faith aspect wasn’t tied in well. There wasn’t a struggle in the middle of the book. There were a few mentions of God and then a bunch of verses in the end. I would have preferred for it to be interwoven through the story. 


Even though Jesseca has a lot of room to grow, I believe that she will grow to  become a much better author. Even if just for the understanding she had when she heard my thoughts on The Silent Blade, and the humility with which she received my critiques. 

 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None

Violence/Frightening Scenes/Gore: Mild descriptions of wounds. Light violence. I would think fine for all children. A man hits a woman. Some light battle scenes. 

Sex/Nudity: None

 

I received this book in return for a review. I was in no way obliged to write a positive review, merely an honest one. 

 

 

Book Review: Gift from the Storm

25236143 One cold, dark evening a young stranger appears outside the Morgan home with two small children. Injured and on the verge of complete exhaustion, she will only say that her name is “Amy.”

Where did she come from? Who is she? And what has she been through? Dr. Justin Morgan and his family look for answers as they struggle to minister life and health to the needy ones in their midst.

Overall Impression
Deciding how many Goodreads stars to put on this was difficult. There are many aspects in this book that haven’t been done well-more on this in Plot and Characters. But, at the same time, there was an overall sweetness, a warmth to the story that made me happy. Since I enjoyed it, I decide on 4 stars. I would recommend this to single readers who don’t mind a bit of a slower pace, and to families that have younger children. 
Characters
Unfortunately, for me, the characters ended up being rather two-dimensional. There wasn’t anything “wrong” with them, but I didn’t think they were executed to their fullest potential. Yet again, the emotions were told instead of shown. This makes a big difference in the connect-ability of characters.
Justin was okay, but definitely not my favorite of male leads. I would have preferred that Rebekah not call him Dr. Morgan all the time. It distanced you from him, especially when it was his POV. I wouldn’t walk around calling myself Miss Gidman, so to me it made it weird.
Sara was hard for me to decide on. Half the time I liked her, half the time she felt a bit overdone.
Adam was sweet, I liked his calm, ‘sturdy-ness’ you might say!
Amy was my favorite. She was sweet and approachable. And I was able to sympathize with her. How horribly upsetting her situation would have been!
Mr. and Mrs. Morgan were sweet. I liked how kind they were to Amy and how they ‘became’ her parents.
Plot
To be honest, the beginning is slow. It’s hard to get into, which is never good for a book. To me personally, Gift From the Storm wasn’t a page-turner. While reading it I liked it, but when I stepped away from it I didn’t have much initiative to go back. But, I kept on, and found a lovely story. 
Many aspects of this story, especially legal aspects did not make any sense at all! That was, until I read another readers review that said Miss Morris had told her that the story was set in the 50’s. Then I understood. However, it would have been wise to put some of that information out there. I thought this was a modern story, and thus found some things in it pretty unbelievable. I would have liked to have a mention of the time period. 
The story had a lot of telling instead of showing, emotions, events, and the like were flat sometimes. Instead of jumping off the page, they sat there and waved hello. I would have preferred more showing. 
I really enjoyed Christmas at the Morgan’s. It was sweet, homey, and warm. Again, some background on the time period would have helped because without the knowledge of the time it came across as a little overtly old-fashioned. But I enjoyed it nonetheless.
One of my favorite parts in the book was when during the bad winter storm Amy freaked out. This scene, unexpectedly, made me tear up. I think it was because of the intense love they showed her in her vulnerability. Just this last 4th of July, I dislocated my knee at a friend’s house. All at once everyone was helping me and showing me amazing love. The scene during the storm brought back all those memories. That is an amazing quality to a book, the ability to touch on someones past memories or emotions. It’s powerful. It probably won’t affect most people as strongly as it did me, but still, an amazing show of love. 
Also, I liked getting to see the characters lives later on. It was nice to see how they ended up. 
So while the story-line/plot had some downfalls, I found this a sweet story.  

 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None

Violence/Frightening Scenes/Gore: None

Sex/Nudity: None

 
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review