"Heaven Is Here"

image from Barnes and Noble

by Stephanie Nielson

I have to say, I was extremely excited to read this book.  I enjoy following Stephanie's blog, nieniedialgogues, and waited anxiously for the book to be published.  As soon as I got my hands on it I read, read, read.  Stephanie is very honest and open in the telling of her story.  Really, it is a story of family and faith.  She loves her husband and children dearly.  She finds strength in her faith.  She reveres motherhood and womanhood.

Despite the tragic airplane crash that seriously burned both her husband and herself, and took the life of their friend, she survived.  Not only did she survive, but she learned to live life again and make the most of what it has in store for her.  Stephanie tells the story of her journey so far...of life before the airplane crash, her recovery in the hospital after, and life since.  It may have been a long, hard road to get to where she is...and maybe it was difficult to come to terms with the reality of her life, but she has done it with so much grace and strength that she has shown that she truly is an amazing person. 

From my experience of having a chronically ill child who eventually passed away, I came to believe that not only do our trials help us grow...but hope, faith and love can flourish... we can find happiness and joy despite our trials.  Stephanie is an example of all of this and that is why I loved her book.  She has values and beliefs I can relate to.   I love that she was not afraid to be honest about the good and the bad.  She was not afraid (or at least was willing even if she was afraid) to be herself.  I appreciate that and am glad for the reminder of how special our families are, how wonderful motherhood is, and how good life can be if we find the faith to accept what we are given and make the most of it, standing strong and true to what we believe. Well done Stephanie.  You are an inspiration.

"Clockwiser" (Book 2 in "Clockwise" Series)

image from Barnes & Noble
by Elle Strauss

Things seem to be going well for Casey.  She and Nate are still boyfriend and girlfriend.  Her parents have reunited after being separated...and those inconvenient trips to the past... well, that hasn't happened in while.  Everything seems great, except for Casey's brother Tim who seems to be on a rebellious streak.  And then it happens again.  Casey trips back in time, taking Tim along with her.

All Casey wants to do is keep Tim close so that when she trips back to her own time, Tim will be with her.  Unfortunately for Casey, she trips back without Tim and he is left in the past...on his own... with the Civil War in full swing.  Casey is worried more than ever.  As she and Nate rush to find a way for her to get back to Tim, their relationship is strained.  The attentive new neighbor doesn't help matters any.

If Casey isn't careful she may lose her relationship with Nate...and her brother to a war.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first.  This story was filled with a little more angst. A rebellious brother and relationship troubles.  I felt that Strauss did a good job in portraying the strains on the relationship.  I found it to be believable.  The ending did seem a little convenient, and almost too tidy, but overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.  And you really can't beat the price for a new book!  Get the Kindle edition HERE. Or the first book in the series, CLOCKWISE, here.

Check out my review of CLOCKWISE here.

And a thank you... I received a PDF of this book from Elle Strauss herself!

"Pride and Prejudice"

by Jane Austen

I don't feel the need to go through a summary of this classic.  As with most of the other Jane Austen novels I've read, I loved it, but there is something I've finally realized...the beginnings are a little slow for me and take me a little while to get into...but part way through the book I am hooked and absolutely love it by the ending.

I love the BBC movie adaptation of this book and it ranks as one of my favorite movies of all time.  I actually saw the movie before I read the novel.  I now love the novel as well.  The story is quite similar in both, with little being left out in the movie...if you watch the BBC adaption that is.  If you haven't read a novel by Jane Austen, I suggest you try one.

"The Goddess Test"

image from Barnes & Noble
 by Aimee Carter

Kate's mother is dying, and her wish is to return to her hometown.  In this new town, Kate is approached by Henry, who seems to be able to do the impossible, bring someone back from the dead.  He gives Kate the chance to have more time with her mother, at least for a little while, until she is ready to say goodbye.  The catch...she must spend the next six months living in Henry's home.  Somehow she has allowed herself to become entangled in what she thought to be only myth, Greek myth that is.  Along with living in Henry's home there will be tests....goddess tests.  If she passes the tests over the next six months, she can become immortal, if she fails, she will not remember any of it and will return to her normal life.  To top it all off, someone doesn't want her to succeed and is looking for the opportunity to take her life.

An interesting take on the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone.  It is not a retelling of this story, but a sort of modern continuation of it.  I enjoyed the book for the most part, even if it was just fluff reading.

"Heaven Is Here" video

I have been following a blog called, The NieNie Dialogues, for a while now.  The author of this blog, Stephanie Nielson, is sharing her story in a book titled, HEAVEN IS HERE, and I am very much looking forward to its release on April 3rd.  Here is a video introducing the book and her story...


image form Barnes & Noble
by Myra McEntire

As if losing her parents in a tragic accident wasn't enough, Emerson sees people who are not really there.  She doesn't know if they are ghosts or what they might be.  Maybe people are right, maybe she is crazy.  After moving into her older brother's home, he arranges for her to consult with a young man from Hourglass named  Michael.  Michael seems to understand, and actually believe Emerson and her life of seeing people that nobody else can see.  Emerson finds herself falling quickly for Michael, even though she can tell he is keeping secrets from her.  When he finally opens up to Emerson about the secrets he's been keeping,  Emerson realizes she can do more than just see apparitions.  He then asks her to risk her life to save another.  Although Emerson is afraid, she agrees to help.

I enjoyed this book. While I could easily see some things coming,  the book ended with a surprise revelation.   I don't want to say too much and spoil it for anyone, so I'll leave it at that.  Overall a fun read and a good ending with enough of a shocker to leave me wanting to read the next in the series.

"My Name Is Memory"

image from Goodreads
by Ann Brashares

Lucy finds that her high school crush has finally noticed her, but he seems to know and feel more than Lucy had anticipated.  Frightened by this, Lucy pushes away and tries to forget about Daniel.  After years of not seeing each other, Lucy still finds herself still thinking of  her old crush.  Daniel on the other hand, finds himself staying away for fear of hurting Lucy.

Daniel is different from most.  He has a memory.  One that recalls all of his past lives.  And through those lives, he has known and loved Sophia (Lucy in a past life).  Theirs is a tragic love.  One where they are never able to be together when their souls cross paths throughout time.  And to make matters worse, it is more than fate that is adding to their tragedy.  There is danger hunting them as well.

Now that Daniel has found Sophia again, he knows it is their chance to finally be together, and once Lucy realizes they have a shared past, she wants to believe Daniel and be with him.

I enjoyed the story for the most part.  Unfortunately, there were a few uses of curse words and a scene I found too explicit for my liking.  The book seemed to end without resolution and that is irksome.   From what I can tell the story was meant to be continued and after printing the plans changed, but I am not sure about this.


image from Barnes & Noble
by Robison Wells

Benson, who has grownup in foster homes most of his life, gets a scholarship to attend a school that sounds great.  It looks like the fancy schools that rich kids go to and Benson could only dream of attending. The strange thing is, the school is secluded in the mountains surrounded by barbed wire, fences and walls.  As soon as he arrives, he starts to notice something is very different about his new school and the people attending it.

Once inside, Benson finds himself trapped, with no way to contact the outside world, and seemingly no way out.  He sets his mind to finding a way to escape.  The kids have split up into three groups and have very different ways of coping with the situation.  One thing Benson knows...he can't make it out on his own, but who can he trust?  There are secrets that no one even imagined and once those are out, will everyone side with Benson and run?

An interesting story, but not one I found myself completely invested in, although, it did get more exciting toward the end.  It reminded me a lot of THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner.  I guess I didn't really connect with Benson, but maybe that's because I am not a teenage male?

"The Declaration"

image from Barnes & Noble
by Gemma Malley

In a time when scientists have figured out how to keep people healthy and how to live forever with a longevity drug... there is no more room.  When people can live forever, the world begins to overpopulate and resources become scarce.  To stabilize everything, something called The Declaration is created.  Those wishing to take the longevity drug must agree to never have any children.  If a person opts out of the drug they may have a child.  If a person has a child after they have agreed to The Declaration, the child is a surplus.  In other words, illegal...not wanted.

Homes have been set up to house these surplus children.  The surpluses are taught skills to make them useful as servants to Legals.  Anna, a young girl,  finds herself in this position.  She tries to be a good surplus and make up for the sins of her parents when they had her.  Then one night, a new surplus is brought to the home.  His name is Peter and he changes everything.   Anna has to decide is she will escape with Peter, or continue to be the good and useful surplus she has been trained to be.

An interesting story-line.  Young pitted against the old.  Who is really useful?  Is what society believes correct? Are the surpluses dangerous and selfish?  Or have the old outstayed their welcome and are they the ones who should go?

"Midnight in Austenland"

by Shannon Hale

Once again, I enjoyed one of Shannon Hale's books.

The main character, Charlotte, has always been known as nice.  Life seemed to be perfect.  That is, until her husband left her for another woman.  As a divorced mother, she decides to take a vacation to Austenland. In Austenland a lady can vacation for two weeks living out a storyline from Jane Austen's era...dressing, eating and acting as one would in that era.  Each lady's storyline/vacation often ending with a little romance befitting a Jane Austen novel.   As Charlotte tries to open her heart and have fun, she finds her self pondering the mystery's presenting themselves in Pembrook Park.  Are they real, or just part of the story?  Charlotte isn't sure where story ends and reality begins, both when it comes to her love interest and the mysteries unfolding.

This book follows along the lines of Northanger Abbey because of the murder mystery and the question of what is real and what is imagination.  It is not a profound read, but is definitely a fun read, especially for romance and Austen lovers like me!