Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Spinning Starlight {by R.C. Lewis}

Spinning Starlight
Title: Spinning Starlight
Author: R.C. Lewis
Genre: YA Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: NetGalley

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.
Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.
Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?
Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

I really enjoyed Stitching Snow, so I was excited when I heard about Lewis's next story, also set in the same world. I also love how this one is based off a not quite as well-known fairytale, and I was intrigued.

Liddi is the youngest of way-too-many brothers. She's set to be the richest person in all the planets, once she inherits her parents' company. But Liddi feels inadequate, not as smart or techy as her siblings. But when they get trapped in between the planets, Liddi's the only one able to save them. She escapes to a planet she didn't even know existed, who turns out to maybe be the only one with the answers.

I think I probably liked this one more than Stitching Snow. Liddi is a paparazzi princess, but she isn't spoiled and entitled. Okay, maybe a little, but when it comes down to it, she is able to put that aside and sacrifice herself for her brothers. I loved seeing her get to grow and really come into herself, once she is thrust into this position where everything depends on, well, her. She was put into this crazy situation, when she doesn't even believe in herself, but she comes to realize that she can do it, and really learns a lot about herself on the way.

Like Stitching Snow, there is a lot of tech speak in this one. While I found it really interesting, sometimes it was too confusing and distracted from my enjoyment and the flow of the story. Another thing was the random flashbacks. While I liked how they added a different dimension to the story, helping us to get to know Liddi and her brothers even better, they were random, not fitting in with what was going on, and I feel that distracted from the story.

But all in all, I loved the story and the characters. Lewis has a way of making you care about even the smallest background characters. There was definitely more world-building in this one, and I did like that. It was a fun story, a pretty fast read, and I enjoyed it very much.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

R.C. Lewis

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It's Not What You Think {by Jefferson Bethke}

It's Not What You Think
Title: It's Not What You Think: Why Christianity is About So Much More Than Going to Heaven When You Die
Author: Jefferson Bethke
Genre: Religious
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher

New York Times best-selling author of Jesus > Religion challenges the accepted thinking of contemporary Christianity with the world-changing message Jesus actually brought.
Jesus was most upset at people for seeing but not seeing. For missing it. For succumbing to the danger and idolatry of forcing God into preconceived ideals. What if there were a better way? What if Jesus came not to help people escape the world but rather to restore it? Best-selling author and spoken word artist Jefferson Bethke says that Christians have the greatest story ever told but we aren t telling it. So in this new book, Bethke tells that story anew, presenting God s truths from the Old and the New Testaments as the challenging and compelling story that it is a grand narrative with God at the center. And in doing so, Bethke reminds readers of the life-changing message of Jesus that turned the world upside-down, a world that God is putting back together."

I loved this one. I loved his first book, so I was pretty stoked about this one. And it definitely lived up. I thought this was such an eye-opening and important book, more so than any other I've read in this category. Bethke delivers in such a way that is easy to understand but impactful.

So many things stood out to be in this book that I had to take notes, and I ended up with pages. Bethke breaks down Christianity in a way that shows us what God wants from us, which is to bring heaven to earth, not wait until we die. The chapters were broken up concisely in a way that really helped you absorb information. He reminds of us stories we may have heard all our life, but shows them in a new light. He goes through many subjects, including some we may not think about, such as the table being just as important as our worship. I also love this super important and powerful quote:

A person isn't valuable because she's someone's daughter or sister; she is valuable and has dignity and worth because she is an image-bearer. A human. (pg 170)
You can tell when a lot of heart and work when into a book, and this is definitely that. I think my favorite chapters was probably the one on Sabbath. I will definitely be implementing some of the suggestions in this book, and think that is the highest compliment. I think this is a very important book, and will definitely be recommending it to pretty much everyone I know.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Jefferson Bethke:

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Thousand Nights {by E.K. Johnston}

A Thousand Nights
Title: A Thousand Nights
Author: E.K. Johnston
Genre: YA Fantasy, Retelling
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: NetGalley

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.
And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.
Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.
Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of 
bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

I was expecting to like this book a lot more than I did. That cover is gorgeous, and I was so excited for a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, but sadly I felt that it did not live up. (Most people have this issue because they've also read The Wrath and the Dawn, and either felt that it was too similar, or not as good. I haven't yet, if that means anything).

There are no names mentioned in this story, except for Lo-Melkhiin's. While I can understand the point and what the author was trying to do with that, it was a little confusing. However, it did not detract much from the story telling. It is time for Lo-Melkhiin to take a wife from their village, and everyone is sure he is going to take the narrator's sister. So, she takes her place. Our narrator is not as beautiful or graceful or talented as her sister, but she can do one thing: weave stories.

I'm not exactly sure what my problem was with this story. There was nothing specifically big, but just little things that added up. The characters fell flat. If they don't have names, they need to be very distinguished, and I did not feel that. The magical aspect of this story was confusing. I realize our narrator herself doesn't understand what's going on for most of it, but I felt lost and wasn't able to fully enjoy the story.

I did enjoy the parts from our other narrator. Won't say who because spoilers, but I felt that added an interesting dimension to the story. However, for the rest of the story, I felt that it was just flat and anticlimactic. While I did read to know what happened to Lo-Melkhiin, I wasn't excited about any of the other characters. I'm also not sure how I feel about the ending.

A lot of stuff happens in this novel, and although it did keep my attention, and the writing was vivid, I couldn't fully immerse myself in this novel. I think it had a lot of potential, but I don't think it fully lived up to it.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

E.K. Johnston

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