The Coronation: Uplifting, Family Fun (The Rebellion Blog Tour!)

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I’m so excited today to be a part of the blog tour for the release of The Rebellion by Livy Jarmusch! This is the second book in her Tales of Tarsurella series. I have not read it yet, but I definitely will soon, since I just finished The Coronation, the first book, and really enjoyed it! Today I’m going to review that for you. And once I’ve read The Rebellion, I’ll be sure to share what I thought of that one too!

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The Coronation by Livy Jarmusch

Three Stars

Age Suggestion: 10+

The Book

Prince Addison is only several weeks away from inheriting the Kingdom of Tarsurella. The entire Palace is ablaze with excitement, as the Royal Family prepares for the event of a lifetime. Despite the exciting event which is near at hand, Addison and his younger siblings (all seven of them!) must carry on with their daily activities.

Addison’s sisters, Princesses Bridget, Chasity, and Hope, have their struggles with being iconic European starlets of a modern day monarchy. The teen heiresses grace magazine covers, smile for photoshoots, and gracefully glide through important interviews–until a certain American popstar arrives on the scene. Kennetic Energy, the wildly popular band from the United States, is chosen to play at Addison’s Coronation. David Carter, the band’s handsome lead singer, fumbles through awkward moments with Princess Hope–in front of the cameras. When an embarrassing rumor sparks that Princess Hope is dating the young fellow, she is determined to get the band fired from their Royal gig.

Meanwhile, Princess Chasity is dealing with her own fragile affairs of the heart. Her new security guard, Hanson Fletcher, is completely captivating, yet entirely frustrating. She attempts to keep the entrance of her heart firmly protected, while following the wisdom of Proverbs 4:23. But can she be successful in guarding her heart, from her security guard?

My Thoughts

This was such a sweet book, and while the writing could have been better in places, that was overshadowed by the enjoyable plot and entertaining, touching character interactions.

The concept is so creative – taking a traditional fairy tale story and setting it in modern times; taking a modern royal family and making it a large, close-knit group of siblings, that almost feels like a typical homeschooled family. I loved the details about the media, the dresses, and the place this family occupies in their society. It’s interesting to imagine what that kind of life in the spotlight must be like.

I thought that Bridget, Chasity, and Hope all had very similar personalities that could have been defined a bit better, but overall I loved the large family and the way the siblings interacted. Addison is a great character, and Millie and Willie were so sweet.

Chasity and Hanson’s story felt like it went a little too quickly from hatred to love, while David and Hope were adorable. I did really like the realistic nature of both of those relationships and the thoughtful way the characters dealt with them. My favorite romance, though, was definitely the budding one between Addison and Vanessa. It was slow, and realistic, and sweet, and I can’t wait to see what happens with it!

I did feel that the book could have used another round of editing, just for some very small things that kept coming up (and these really aren’t a big deal, it’s just that small things like this tend to distract me more than they should). Things like a little bit of head-hopping, punctuation mistakes, etc. and just to smooth out the writing a bit.

(For the record, though, I noticed much less of those things toward the end, which means either they weren’t around anymore or I was so engrossed in the story that they didn’t distract me.)

I think Livy did an excellent job incorporating Biblical themes without sounding preachy. She put her characters in tough situations, first, and left them there for a little while, and then offered the Biblical solution. That strategy meant that it never felt forced, even when she had a paragraph of someone talking about God that could have easily sounded preachy. It didn’t, and that takes some serious skill!

Content-wise, the romance is very clean, and there’s no language. There is a little bit of an intense section in the middle, that gets slightly violent. I would happily hand this book to both of my younger sisters though (and probably will!) and think it would be fine for anyone ages 10 and up.

Overall, it was a good, light, clean read, and I can’t wait to read The Rebellion! There were some plot threads left hanging at the end of the first book that I’d really like to see resolved, and from the blurb, it looks like it will focus a lot on Addison and Vanessa, which I’m obviously very excited about. Livy is an author who I want to continue to watch – she’s using her talents for the glory of God, and I think she has so much potential and room to grow and develop as an author!

I received a free copy of The Coronation in exchange for an honest review. 

Author Bio + Links

AuthorPic1.jpgLivy Jarmusch is a twenty-something author, singer, and songwriter. She enjoys crafting YA fiction that is pure, lovely, inspirational, and of course, entertaining! When she’s not writing, you can usually find her playing guitar, blogging, drinking peppermint tea, connecting with new friends, planning her next trip to Disney, or pinning images of Europe and Golden Retriever Puppies.

 

Find The Rebellion on Amazon and Goodreads.

Find Livy on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

What do you think? Have you read either of the Tales of Tarsurella? What other fun, clean books have you read lately? Let me know in the comments! 

love, grace

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Book Review: London in the Dark

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You may remember that a few weeks ago, I hosted young indie author Victoria Lynn here on the blog. The tour was to celebrate the one-year publication anniversary of her novel London in the Dark. I got a chance to read the book finally, and today I’d like to share my thoughts with you!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

About the Book

London, 1910

Budding Private Detective Cyril Arlington Hartwell has a conundrum. London is being ravaged by the largest run of thefts in recent history. His hunch that it is all tied together may put him and those he loves in more danger than he could have reckoned.

Olivia Larken Hartwell is just home from boarding school for the summer anticipating time with her adoring parents. She misses her absent brother, Cyril, hoping for the day he will finally come home. But tragedy strikes, causing upheaval for all concerned and changes her life in a way she never could have imagined.

Olivia, Cyril, and their friends must bring the hidden to light, seek to execute justice, and dispel the darkness that hovers over London… and their hearts.

My Thoughts

This was a quick, enjoyable read. What it lacked in writing quality, it made up for in engaging events and realistic, sympathetic characters.

I’ll start off by just saying that yes, it is a self-published book by a young author, and it does read like one, with the style feeling a bit amateur. I expected that going in – one reason I don’t read self-published books all that often is because I feel like sometimes they get published before they’re ready or before the author’s voice has matured. Once I got into the story, though, the writing didn’t matter quite as much and I was still able to enjoy the book.

The characters were probably the highlight. They were interesting, multi-faceted, and sympathetic, the kind of characters that feel like stereotypes, and are therefore easy to understand as you read, and yet go so far beyond the stereotypes when you actually stop to think about them.

Olivia is sweet, yet strong, and I mourned along with her and cheered her on in everything that she went through. Dudley is amazing (my personal favorite character), yet thankfully not perfect; Mrs. Larken is such fun, and Cyril’s character development is beautiful to watch.

The plot was well-written and kept me interested, especially the way everything started to come together near the end. As a writer myself, I can’t imagine ever attempting a mystery. There are so many plot threads and clues and elements to weave together, and Victoria did it really well!

The themes are beautiful and wholesome as well, a reminder of the grace of God and his support in our sufferings.

My one complaint is that the epilogue skipped ahead too far. It featured an event that, while I wanted it to happen, I wanted to be able to read about everything leading up to it (sorry to be so cryptic, but I can’t give details without spoilers). I just really wish that story had been a whole separate companion novella or something (maybe someday, Victoria? Please?), which in itself is a testament to how much I loved these characters.

Content-wise, there is some violence, especially a death that is pretty gruesome, plus explosions and guns and stuff like that. Tasteful, but there. Otherwise, there’s really nothing to worry about.

In Summary…

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

3.5 stars: an enjoyable and clean read

Recommended for ages 12+

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2pJ1thX

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32832281-london-in-the-dark?ac=1&from_search=true

 

What do you think? Have you read London in the Dark? If not, will you check it out? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Book Review: Counted Worthy

Book Review: Perception by Emily Ann Benedict

La La Land: Old-School Movie Magic

Book Review: Perception by Emily Ann Benedict

Perception (Vintage Jane Austen #4)

Rating: 3.5 stars

Age Suggestion: 10+

Plot Synopsis

Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family’s prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late… (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I love the idea of retelling Jane Austen stories in more modern time periods, and I recently reread Persuasion itself and remembered how much I loved it, so I was really excited to read this.

I think the fact I had read Persuasion so recently was both a good thing and a bad thing. Part of me enjoyed having the story so fresh in my mind, but the other part of me really wished the retelling had been less straightforward and a little more creative. Because it is an exact retelling, with exactly parallel characters and every exact plot point pulled into the 1930s setting. I was expecting or would have preferred to have an inspired, but not so exactly retold, story, because in this case I always knew what was going to happen next and so throughout the middle I got a little bit bored. Plus, I do think that Jane Austen’s very episodic structure (a lot of barely connected incidents happening throughout the middle of the story and eventually building to a conclusion) doesn’t work quite as well for a modern novel. But that’s just a personal preference. And it was probably my fault for having read the original novel so recently. 

The characters were interpreted quite well, and the author didn’t use the direct retelling as an excuse to get lazy (for the most part – Veronica’s place in the story felt a little underdeveloped). I loved Sam’s added significance – she seemed like a much stronger character in this retelling than in the original novel, from what I remember, although I’ve always liked her. I’ve always liked Charlie’s counterpart in the original book, too, for some reason, and Perception highlighted those likeable characteristics. I also especially thought Robert and Bonnie were translated into the 1930s setting very well and liked reading about them.

I would have liked to see more exploration of some of the themes Austen hints at in the original story. But not all books have to be deep, and this one succeeded at being a light, comfortable story that brought me stress relief and a little bit of joy. Even if it’s not the deepest book in the world, the writing is good (unlike so many “light” novels) and I was able to finish it in a few days.

Content-wise, there is romance, of course, but it’s totally clean. One of the subplots involves a bit of violence, which isn’t graphic, glorified, or overly focused on at all. I would recommend it for ages 10 and up (although I would recommend reading Persuasion itself first, so that might move the age range up a few years).

Overall, while it wasn’t quite the creative retelling I was hoping for, I enjoyed this book a lot. If you’ve read Persuasion, but not too recently (wait a few years and forget some of the plot points), and are looking for something light and quick and clean, then pick this up!

(I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

What do you think? Have you read this? If so, did you like it? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

Book Review: Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

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My Rating: Three Stars

Age Suggestion: 14+

I wasn’t planning to do a review of these books, instead just exploring my general thoughts about them in my post from last Saturday, Writing for Building Up (or, I’m Tired of Depressing Stories).

I didn’t have anything else to post on today, though, and I thought it might be good to put up a separate review of these books since they’re so popular right now.

The Books

Red Queen: The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Glass Sword: Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

(from Goodreads with a few edits)

What I Liked 

There are some great supporting characters in these books. I said in my review of Red Queen on Goodreads that I didn’t like Farley, but I got over that fast and she became one of my favorite characters, along with Shade. And my favoritest character of ever that I thought was great and then…*sob* If you want more details about this character and don’t mind spoilers, that’s the spoiler section on my Goodreads review, so you can check that out.

The worldbuilding was very good, I thought, although a map would have been very helpful since by the end of Glass Sword I was very confused about all of the places they were going. But the fact that the world needed a map speaks well about its development and complexity. Also, I felt like we got a lot of information about the culture and setting without any info-dumping, which was nice.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the writing, when compared to a lot of YA I’ve read. It was a bit of a different style, which was nice.

These books gripped me and kept my interest; I got through them much faster than Divergent, which definitely makes me like them better.

And the emotions…not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s a thing that happened so I’ll just mention it here.

What I Didn’t Like

I COULD NOT STAND MARE. She was a whiny, entitled, self-centered brat and then wandered around pitifully asking why she always pushed away all of her friends and no one liked her anymore. Hmm…you’re being a brat, so why would they still want to be friends with you? Maybe stop whining and just be a nicer person? And then at the end, she wouldn’t take anyone’s advice, and her internal monologue can be summed up as”I can’t believe they’re saying this to me again, I know it’s right but I’m just going to ignore it anyway and keep acting the same way”. Not a fan.

Ahem.

I really try to be professional in my reviews.

The other thing with Mare is that it took me a while at the beginning of the book to figure out if she was a girl or a boy. It wasn’t obvious. I thought she was a boy, which I didn’t appreciate when I finally realized she was a girl.

The endings of both books. The first one left me shocked and upset, and the second one left me a bit confused. I can’t say more because of spoilers.

Content

These books are not light and fluffy. There is violence, a lot of it, and some pretty disturbing elements too. Torture and murder and superpowers…it isn’t pretty.

As for inappropriate content, there is romance in both books, with some implied stuff especially in the second book, but not really anything super inappropriate, so that was good.

Overall Thoughts

Again, everything I talked about last week applies here. So far, these books don’t really pass the Philippians 4:8 test. It’s a lot of violence and selfish people doing selfish things, which, again, left me emotionally drained and frustrated.

I did like them better than Divergent, hence the three-star rating instead of two, but it’s still a pretty low three stars. I don’t know if I’ll read the final book when it comes out; I would like to, but I won’t be making a huge effort to get a hold of it and I might just forget. We’ll see.

What do you think? Have you read Red Queen and Glass Sword? Did you like them? Did you agree with what I said? Why or why not?

love, grace