Saturday, July 14, 2012

[Book Review] Just For Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Summary (on Goodreads):
When Lily Sanderson decided to remain Crown Princess Waterlily of the mermaid kingdom Thalassinia, she knew she couldn’t just coast along in the current. But since she’s spent the last couple of years on land—with gorgeous human Quince by her side—Lily’s not sure she has the fins to lead a kingdom. Even her maddeningly pretentious cousin Dosinia seems to know more about ruling than she does.
But Lily has to dive in deep to keep her promise to Tellin, her mer bond in name only, whose kingdom is suffering in the changing ocean climate. Lily knows this is a seven seas–sized problem: from sea animals dying to oil spills and threats to humans. They’ll need to create some serious waves to make the mer community aware and get it to join together to make things right. Even if that means facing one of the iciest queens in the mer kingdoms.
Just when Lily thinks her double life on land and sea can’t get any more complicated, an ancient mer law might separate Lily and Quince after all. It feels as if the pair is up against a solid tsunami wave!
In this third installment in the series that began with Forgive My Fins and Fins Are Forever, Lily will have to find a way to balance safety and justice for the mer people as well as for the humans she loves.

Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books (Forgive My Fins & Fins Are Forever).

I was so excited to hear that Tera was writing another Fins book. When I was done with the second book, Fins Are Forever, I felt that it had a happy ending, but I didn’t feel like Quince and Lily’s story was quite over yet. So, I was ready for this book months before it even came out.

Plot: I felt that the end of Fins Are Forever really set up this book. Lily wants to help Tellin, but it isn’t as easy as she thinks it will be. On land, she must deal with the consequences of bonding only by name yet being in love with a human. With these two main problems to start with, more open up. I enjoy a book with problems. Twisted, aren’t I? But it’s true. I can’t read a book that’s just “I love you. Blah. Blah. Blah.” I want there to be conflict. I want to fall in love with the characters because of the way they handled the conflict.    

Characters: I was so surprised at how much Dosinia matured in this book. In Fins Are Forever we pretty much saw every bratty side of her there was to see. But in Just For Fins she really steps it up. Tera Lynn Childs also does the same thing with characters that we liked all along also. Like Lily for example; She was ready to give up her throne, but last minute decided to bond with Tellin to help his kingdom. In book three, that’s only the beginning of her problems and I really like how she handles herself as a leader.  There’s a lot of other characters that do a complete 180, but that’s later on in the book. So, I guess you’ll just have to read it!

Relationships: I also really like how the team on land (such as Lily, Quince, Doe, Brody, Aunt Rachel, Shannen, and even Prithi in its own little way) work together to help Lily become a better princess. Right from the start they are there for her when she needs them.

Romance: As much as I love Quince and Lily’s relationship, I was kind of hoping for a little bit of a love triangle in the book between Quince/Lily/Tellin. But last Friday at one of her signing Tera mentioned “there isn’t a love triangle.” Nonetheless, I went in knowing there wasn’t going to be a triangle. Now after reading the book, I’m glad there wasn’t a triangle. It wasn’t needed at all. Lily and Quince’s relationship remains solid, but that doesn’t mean that a few problems won’t be thrown their way.

Creative way of writing: Once again, Tera Lynn Childs proves that she is a great writer. These past couple of weeks, I’ve read not one, not two, but three of her books (Sweet Shadows, Oh. My. Gods., & Just For Fins) and I am willing to read more. (Yes, I like her way of writing that much). I ususally can’t read books from the same author back to back and have to read some in between, but I don’t have that problem with TLC. She has a way of telling the story that leaves you happy, but also wanting to read more of her stuff.

Overall, the book was really good. I expected more twist regarding some of the issues in the water, but the outcome was very satisfying. I wonder if there will be a book four to this series. There’s some things that are left open ended that I would like to see the results. I’ll be waiting for the announcement anxiously!

5 out of 5 stars for Just For Fins by Tera Lynn Childs.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

[Book Review] Redemption by Karen Kingsbury (with Gary Smalley)

Summary (from Goodreads):
When Kari Baxter Jacobs finds out that her husband is involved in an adulterous relationship and
wants a divorce, she decides she will love him and remain faithful to her marriage at all costs. This book shows how God can redeem seemingly hopeless relationships, and it illustrates one of Gary Smalley's key messages: Love is a decision.

I had this series lent out to me by a friend. So, this isn’t my normal paranormal YA type of book that I usually read, but I’m glad I got the chance to read them (or at this point since I’ve only read one, it). It lets me know that there’s yet another genre (Contemporary adult Christian fiction) out there that I enjoy reading. With that being said, here’s the review.

The book starts off with a man, Tim Jacobs having an affair with one of his students. His wife, Kari Baxter-Jacobs was completely unaware of this affair until she gets a mysterious call. Kari and Tim go on and on. He wants a divorce. She won’t give it to him. That’s just the beginning.

Characters: I really like the characters that were introduced in this book. Each one of the Baxter children had their own backstory, but at the same time, the authors didn’t give too much away. They must have known that they were writing a series and that each of the books that followed would follow each of the five Baxter children. There were also some characters that I started off hating, but by the end, they redeemed themselves. I really liked how the authors managed to do that. I’m usually the type of reader that if I didn’t like the character at the beginning, I won’t like them in the end. Just a last note to the characters; my favorite character is Ryan. I think that if this series were ever brought to the big screen someone really hot would have to play him. I mean, it’d only be doing the character justice.

Relationships:  There’s a lot of relationships in the book. A big part is the family’s relationship. Growing up in a house of seven, I can only imagine the kind of arguments and bickering that goes on. That doesn’t seem to change as the Baxter children grow up to adults. But as always, with age comes arguments. Some that seem unable to mend. But I’m pretty sure with four books to follow, these relationships will get fixed.

Romance: I really liked how the writers threw in the flashbacks to help show the readers what kind of romance Kari had with both men (love triangle!). It made me fall in love with one of the guys and wish the other one would just get out of the picture.  

Plot: I think if a book frustrates you, its proof it’s a really good book. For me my frustration was with Kari. I couldn’t understand why she would want to stay with a man who cheated on her and obviously wanted nothing to do with her. But I’ve never been married nor cheated on. Maybe it’s one of those “have to be there” situations. There was some backstory that I didn’t seem coming, but most of the shock came towards the end (those who have read it know what I’m talking about).

Creative way of writing:  I’ve never read any of Karen Kingsbury’s or Gary Smalley’s books before. So, I can’t what came from what author. But I can say that their collaboration was very well put together. Most of the time I even forgot that this was written by two people.  One thing that really stood out to me was the boldness of letter whenever God was speaking to the characters. It reminded me of the red letters in the Bible when Jesus speaks. The writer’s wrote in a way that kept Kari as the main character, but yet gave insight as to what a lot of the other characters were thinking and feeling.

Overall, I’m glad I was introduced to this series. I definitely wouldn’t have given it a second look if it had seen it at a bookstore, but maybe I’ll reconsider reading more from this genre now that I know I like it.

I want to take a shot to see if I can guess correct who will be the main character in the remaining books.
Redemption – Kari – well duh!
Remember – Ashley
Return – Luke
Rejoice – Brooke
Reunion – Erin
We’ll see if I’m correct or not as soon as I read them.

5 out of 5 stars for Redemption by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley.

Monday, July 2, 2012

[Book Giveaway] Signed ARC copy of Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Hey guys! I have an advanced reader’s copy of Sophie Jordan’s Firelight series conclusion novel, Hidden! Since sending you guys on a scavenger hunt throughout my blog didn't work...Here's the new way to enter the contest. 

**Comment below what you're favorite thing about dragons is.
**US only.
**Please be a fan of the series. This is the conclusion; A LOT of readers would kill to get their hands on this. Let’s play nice.

Contest ends Wednesday at Midnight. Random winner will selected and announced next Thursday (7/12). If the winner does not contact me within 24 hours either on twitter, email, or here, I will chose another winner. So, be sure to check back!

Follow me on Twitter @RebecaValdez

So that makes two winners who lost out on getting this amazing arc. Tired of tracking people down. So, here's the deal. First person to email me (my email is above) their address gets the arc. If I email you back, congrats. If I don't, just assume that someone else has gotten it. I'll mail it Monday or Tuesday. Congrats to whoever gets it!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

[Book Review] Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

Summary (from Goodreads):
When Phoebe?s mom returns from Greece with a new husband and plans to move to an island in the Aegean Sea, Phoebe?s well-plotted senior year becomes ancient history. Now, instead of enjoying a triumphant track season and planning for college with her best friends, Phoebe is trying to keep her head above water at the ├╝berexclusive Academy. If it isn?t hard enough being the new kid in school, Phoebe?s classmates are all descendents of the Greek gods! When you?re running against teammates with superpowers, dealing with a stepsister from Hades, and nursing a crush on a boy who is quite literally a god, the drama takes on mythic proportions!

Just to continue this basically-all-my-last-couple-of-blogs-posts-have-been-about-Tera-Lynn-Childs thing I have going on, I decided it was time to read one of the two series of hers that I have left to read. (The other one would be her City Chicks series that I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up buying sooner or later. Actually I have one on my laptop on Kindle, but I’m very much a I-have-to-have-it-in-my-hands kind of reader.) However, I wanted a different way of reading this book. So, my sister and I took turns reading it out loud to each other. Sounds strange, right?
Whether it was on the car ride to church or just taking any minute we could at home, we were hooked. My sister has always been a fan of mythology and because of Tera Lynn Childs, I’m learning to become one myself. One thing that differs this book from the rest of her other mythology ones is that it focuses on more than one God. In her other series, she has one main focused God/Goddess and then gives tidbits on other ones. But here since there are many descendants of different God/Goddess, she gives her readers a little taste of several.  I really liked that (but also like when she focuses on one) and felt it fit perfectly with her plot.

As for the actual plot, I thought it was really good. Girl is happy with life. Girl’s mother remarries. Girl has to move across the world and go to a new school. Girl’s new school is nothing but descendants of Greek Gods. Girl meets a boy, but things aren’t always what they seem. That’s just the beginning, but if I give any more details, they might be considered spoilers.

Relationship: I really liked Phoebe’s relationship with her two best friends at home and the two friends she meets in Greece. Both sets of relationships prove to be strong, but that doesn’t mean they are not flawed. The same thing goes with the relationship Phoebe has with her mother. But in reverse, we see a lot more of the flawed and how getting a stepfather really caused a drift between the two of them. There are mentions of her having a strong relationship with her mother, but you only see it lightly. Hopefully in the second  book (which I will be reading in the future just not right away since a friend lent me a few books) there will be more of their relationship.

Romance:  Well it’s definitely not the typical girl meets boy and likes him but he has a girlfriend relationship. It’s more than just that. There’s a lot of banter going on between the two of them and I love love love banter. Regarding the romance, there are also a few twists that took place that I really did not see happening. So, that was fun (and kind of heartbreaking) to read.

I’m looking forward to reading book two. Who knows maybe TLC will come out with a book three!

5 out of 5 stars for Oh. My. Gods. By Tera Lynn Childs.