Monday, October 31, 2016

"Unblemished" by Sara Ella

About this book:

  “Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?
  Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.
  But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.
  Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.
  Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?”

Series: Book #1 in the “Unblemished” series.

Spiritual Content- Eliyana’s reaction to the alternate universe “This isn’t just weird, it’s otherworldly.”; This is a Good (Light, “the Verity”) vs Evil (Darkness, the character Crowe) storyline; A mention of petitioning the Verity; A couple mentions of blessings; Mentions of thanking the Verity; Mentions of the Verity’s vessel;
*Note: Crowe says he brought Eliyana back from the dead and she says no one is that powerful; Eliyana is said to be a savior to another world; A mention of a devilish grin; A couple mentions of a demon movie; “what the crowe”, “like the Void you thought I knew”, “Holy Verity” and “what in the Reflections” are said in place of other phrases.

Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a ‘blasted’, a ‘duh’, a ‘flippin’’, a ‘lush’ (a flirting drunk), a ‘son of a troll’, a ‘what the bleep’, a ‘witch’, a ‘wretched’, two ‘drat’s, two ‘gah’s, two ‘idiot’s, two ‘oh my—‘s, two ‘oh my word’s, two ‘stinkin’’s, two ‘what the—‘s, three ‘sheesh’s, three ‘snap’s, six ‘dumb’s, nine ‘crud’s, and fifteen forms of ‘stupid’; Sarcasm, Sass & Eye Rolling; Mentions of curses (said, not written); Blades/Knives, Wounds, Blood, Fighting & Killing (up to semi-detailed); Pain, Passing out, wounds, a broken bone & blood (up to semi-detailed); Enemies, arrows, being shot at, pain, injuries & blood (up to semi-detailed); Almost drowning, feeling like dying, pain, panicking & a sea monster (semi-detailed); Wanting to cause someone pain; A party with drunks (Eliyana does not drink); Many mentions of fighting, blades/knives, pain, injuries, & blood (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of weapons, gunfire, & blood (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of muggers, kidnapping, creeps & stalkers; Mentions of deaths, dying & a fire; Mentions of murders, murderers, killing & crimes (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of threats; Mentions of punishments; Mentions of debts; Mentions of hitting, punching & being hit and punched; Mentions of parties, drinking, drunks & alcohol; Mentions of drugs & addictions; Mentions of throwing up; Mentions of parents who left their families; Mentions of needles & syringes; Mentions of tattoos; Mentions of lies & liars; Mentions of bullies & gossip; Mentions of butchers, fish heads and guts, killing and eating a chicken (barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of manure & the smell; Mentions of foul smells; A few mentions of breaking & entering; A few mentions of smoking & cigarettes; A few mentions of tobacco; A few mentions of roadkill (barley-above-not-detailed); A few mentions of peeing & a urine smelling place; A couple mentions of terrorists & shootings; A couple mentions of serial killers; A couple mentions of cocktail parties; A mention of little doggy surprise;
            *Notes: Mentions of & going to Starbucks; Mentions of brands (Aeropostale, Old Navy, Coach, Uggs, JanSport, Armani & Prada); Mentions of celebrities (Marilyn Monroe, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, Tommy James, U2, Charlie Chaplin, The Monkees, Christina Perri, & Disney characters); Mentions of TV shows, movies, musicals & books (Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, Top Gun, Sweeney Todd, The Princess Bride, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Xanadu, The Devil Wears Prada, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Wicked, Les Mis, The Music Man, Phantom of the Opera, Harry Potter, J. M. Barrie, C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkein); A few mentions of songs (a U2 song, “Somebody I Used to Know” by Gotye, and “Human” by Christina Perri.); A mention of McDonald’s; A mention of Boy Scouts.

Sexual Content- three hand/knuckle kisses, three head/forehead kisses, two semi-detailed kisses, and a detailed kiss; Remembering an almost kiss & other kisses (barely-above-not-detailed); Wanting to kiss & to be kissed (barely-above-not-detailed); Touches, Embraces, Hand holding, Dancing, Warmth/Heat & Tingles (up to semi-detailed); Nearness& Smelling (up to semi-detailed); Noticing & Staring (up to semi-detailed); Butterflies & Blushes; Eliyana didn’t know who her father was (her mother was 16 when she gave birth to El); Eliyana says she’s never ever kissed a guy, so the thought of a guy taking what he wants from her raises bile in her throat; Eliyana wakes up undressed & is told that a female servant undressed her; a ‘whore’; Mentions of someone saying a young woman had an affair with a married man & is pregnant (she didn’t know she was his mistress, but did end up getting pregnant); Mentions of watching a couple couples kiss & wishing it was you once (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of hand kisses; Mentions of kisses, kissing & a good kisser; Mentions of touches & physical contact; Mentions of a married woman kissing another man & repaying him (no details); Mentions of & Talks about kisses & desires; Mentions of love, falling for someone, the emotions/feelings & rejection; Mentions of jealousy, crushes, swooning & blushes; Mentions of dates & dating; A few mentions of a husband’s unfaithfulness; A few mentions of seducing; A few mentions that a man can’t touch or have his way with a certain woman; A few mentions of a mom who died in childbirth; A couple mentions of nuzzling; A couple mentions of a guy making a move on a girl; A couple mentions of a guy rudely staring at a girl; A couple mentions of breakups; A mention of a married man making his bed elsewhere (he had an affair); Thinking you’re/Being in love & trying to keep it a secret; Some love, being/falling in love & the emotions;
           *Note: Quinn says El’s best feature is her “rack” (breasts); Wearing a tank top to a party & pulling it down so it doesn’t show her midriff; A mention of a girl wearing clothes no thicker than lingerie; A mention of a girl wearing a strapless top; A couple mentions of a girl getting undressed with a guy five feet away (she actually doesn’t); A couple mentions of miniskirts; A few mentions of bikinis; Mentions of bras & underwear; Mentions of buck-naked women & a tattoo above their right (sometimes abundant) breasts; A few mentions of acne; A few mentions of a knee to the groin; A few mentions of creeps; Mentions of shirtless guys; A mention of a butt being kicked into gear; A mention of someone saying they busted their butt to rescue another; A mention of trafficked children.

-Eliyana “El” Ember, age 17-18
                                         1st person P.O.V. of Eliyana & Ky (once)
                                                        371 pages

Pre Teens-
New Teens-
Early High School Teens-
Older High School Teens-
My personal Rating-
Okay. Wow. Not sure what emotions I'm feeling. I'm actually pretty stunned at that ending. (#Thatlovetrianglethough) For some reason, I was thinking this was a standalone, but there's going to be a sequel. And while I can feel excited at the thought of seeing El again, I'm slightly worried that I'm going to have to reread this one to remember what happened because. All. The. Plots. 
{Y'know, I only think I understood it this first time. I'm sure I'm missing some important part of the plot because it's six stinkin' thirty in the morning when I’m writing this.}
SO, to start at the beginning, I wasn't sure what I would think about this book. I've watched the author’s BookTube videos for a while now, and I knew that Thomas Nelson was publishing her fairytale YA. I open this book to find it has a review by Krista McGee (one of my top five favorite authors ever) and Alternate Universes. Y'all, those are my jam, no lie. I've never read a Christian book that has AUs--because magic and it's kind of fantasy. Now with Unblemished, I didn't really get a Christian vibe from this novel per say, but it is the whole Good vs Evil, Light vs Dark kind of storyline. I kept looking and reading in-between the lines to see if I could find an allegory thread, but I couldn't seem to find one. Different comments made about the Verity could be used for God, but like any other fantasy, the Creator isn't named personally. I don’t know if I would say this novel has magic in it…there’s no spells, wands or Harry Potter stuff (though that character and series is mentioned a handful of times), it’s mainly people with special abilities and such. Like one character can stare at someone and paralyze them; another can turn invisible; others can transform into maybe an owl or tiger. Not really the magic you think of when you think of magic, so I don’t think I’d put it as “true magic”.
Writing style wise, Sara Ella completely impressed me. And I don't say someone has impressed me lightly. She kept to her fairytale feel with a lyrical style of writing and everything flowed very well. For a debut book, Unblemished is pretty thick, but she does a great job painting the pictures of everything the reader wouldn't know how to picture. (Unlike some fantasy authors who don't explain well enough and the reader is left confused.) 
The romance and Guardian parts reminded me of the Remnants series by Lisa T. Bergren, just not to the all the touchy-feelys that that author did for that Dystopian series. So in that regard, I think Sara Ella did another great job. The romance was pretty clean even though mentions of kisses and actual kisses were important to the story, nothing was taken to the extreme feelings and desires. 

Speaking of that love triangle. At first I was Team Joshua. Then he was acted like a jerk, and I was Team Ky. And then they went back and forth so much with them playing the jerk/standoffish card, I frankly don't care much who El ends up with. I can't say I'd pick either of them of her right now, but I'm very curious on who/how the author will pick. I'm leaning towards Ky, but I think that's because of the last chapter. See what I mean?! I just keep going back and forth, and well, hmmp. 
*End of Spoiler* 
There was a lot of mentions of pop culture, which I normally don't like, but it added a realness to this novel that mostly takes place in another world universe. I really enjoyed that when I song was mentioned, I would look it up and hear it. Every song mentioned was perfect for that part of the book! And a side-note: El was so anti-meat eating, that as a vegan, I found her comments hilarious. (Even though I’m not that kind of vegan, I don’t care if you eat meat, I just won’t.)
It was funny to me at some points I could hear the author saying different lines, like all the Disney mentions and El wearing her chuck shoes. Very Sara Ella-ish. ;)
Whew, I think this is one of my longest reviews for BFCG coming in at over two-thousand words. ;)

See y’all on Wednesday with a new review!

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.
*I received this book for free from the Publisher (Thomas Nelson) for this honest review.

Friday, October 28, 2016

"Mandie and The Mysterious Fisherman" by Lois Gladys Leppard

About this book:

  “Traveling through Europe in the summer of 1901, Mandie and her group arrive in Antwerp, Belgium, where they plan to visit art museums as well as do sightseeing around the beautiful city. Mrs. Taft has made it clear that there are to be no more adventures like, Mandie, Celia and Jonathan have gotten involved with in France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.
  But what are Mandie and her friends to do when adventure discovers them? Who would believe that a seemingly abandoned fishing boat has strange sounds coming from inside? Until they find out more, should they tell Mrs. Taft?
  And what is the link between the boat and the suspicious man they think has stolen the priceless painting from the art museum? Who is the bearded giant?”

Series: Book #19 in “Mandie” series. (To read the reviews of the previous books in this series, click the number to be taken to that review:
#1! #2! #3! #4! #5! #6! #7! #8! #9! #10! #11! #12! #13! #14! #15! #16! #17! #18!) {There also is the “Young Mandie Mystery” series, (Book #1 review Here and Book #2 review Here!) but they do not connect together well}

Spiritual Content- Luke 6:37 at the beginning; Prayers & Thanking God; A Scripture is quoted & prayed; Talks about God & forgiving (which Mandie has a hard time doing); ‘H’s are capital when referring to God; Mentions of God; A few mentions of a minister; A couple mentions of prayers; A mention of Uncle Ned referring to Heaven as the “happy hunting ground”;
*Note: A mention of a superstition.

Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a ‘dumb’, a ‘stupid’ and two ‘shuck’s; Mandie & her grandmother have an argument, which causes Mandie to be very angry at her; A bit of eye rolling; Mentions of thieves, jail & a stolen painting; A few mentions of a wife, baby & kitten that drowned (no details); A couple mentions of murder; A couple mentions of jealousy.

Sexual Content- N/A

-Amanda “Mandie” Shaw, age 13
                                   P.O.V. of Mandie
                                              Set in 1901
                         172 pages (also available in a collection with four other Mandie books.)

Pre Teens-
New Teens-
Early High School Teens-
Older High School Teens-
My personal Rating-
A good lesson on forgiveness in this Mandie book! Not my personal favorite, but still a classic one in this classic series.

See y’all on Monday with a new review!

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.