Book Review: The Rise of Aredor (The Rise of Aredor: Book 1)

book-coverRating: 4/5 stars.

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I was thinking that I would at least like it. But no. It was way better than that. I loved it! It was so exciting and enjoyable to read!

Prince Corin of Aredor lived a normal life until around twelve years of age. Then he was stolen and sold as a slave. His defiance brings him trouble and he struggles to survive. But he will not be broken. Though his country is conquered by another and his family is probably dead or captured, he will not give up hope. He will survive. He will return. And he will take back his kingdom.

I loved these characters. They were characters that almost as soon as they were introduced you fell in love with them. The characters were endearing to me. Corin was, of course, my favorite. It was neat to see how he changed as he grew up. At first, he was a rambucksious boy who was always getting himself into trouble. He was funny and talkative. As he grew older and went through so much hardship, he became solemn and reserved. But there was always a quiet defiance about him. He had a temper that he barely kept under control. Emeth was awesome. He was humorous. He was a great friend to Corin. He brought him out of the darkness that Corin had sunk him. Azrahil was a great captain. He was stern, but he cared about his Phoenix Guard. Nicar was the learned in healing. He was calm and wise. Ahmed was quiet, but very loyal. I would like to learn more about him, I feel like I hardly know anything about him. Martin was fun and a bit reckless. He was so willing to do anything to save his friends.

The plot was extremely exciting. It was so fast paced. I was sucked in from the beginning. There were many dangerous battles. It got a bit violent, but I loved how medieval it felt. It felt like I was back in time on real campaigns. That was cool. People were captured. Towards the halfway point it had a Robin Hood feel as Corin took risks to take back Aredor. It was really fun. It had me stressed too many time to count. Especially at the end, I was worried.

The only problem I had was that the book was very rushed. It moved fast, which moving fast isn’t bad, but it was a bit too fast. I felt that it could have been more drawn out. That there could have been some more dialogue. The beginning was also a bit choppy with the way it moved fast through the first few years, but then it smoothed out and kept a pretty even pace.

Overall, it was a great book. One that I would recommend to all teens. I am very excited to start the next book and read more about these wonderful characters!

I got this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. 

-G. Paige

Book Review: A Time to Die (Out of Time: Book 1)

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Wow. Just wow. I was worried about not liking this after seeing everyone love it. But I shouldn’t have worried. I loved it!

In Parvin Blackwater’s world everyone has a Clock. On that Clock the Numbers tell how long you have to live. Parvin has a year left to live. She wamts to do something meaningful. She wants to be remembered. She begins to think she is doing something right, when she is discovered to be sharing a Clock with her twin brother. As punishment she is thrown through the Wall that divides the world in half. On the other side she may find something that can save her people, if she has the time to tell them.

Usually when I love a book, it is mainly that characters that I love. It wasn’t exactly the case for this one. I loved all aspects of this book! I only liked Parvin at the beginning, but as I read more she grew on me and now I love her. She seemed very normal, and I liked that. She had a temper, which I totally relate to, but she also had an inner strength which grew as the story went on. There were moments when she was whiny, but I thought it realistic (Aren’t we all whiny at times?). I fell much more easily in love with many of the side characters. Reid was an awesome brother. He was humorous and fun, but was serious about protecting his family. I want to learn more about him! Solomon Hawke was amazing. I loved him from the moment I saw him. He was such a gentleman. He was quiet, but his presence held authority. He was trying to do the right thing, but he might be on the wrong side. Jude, ah, Jude. He seemed to care about know one but himself, but under that hard shell he was caring and loving. He was protective and aggressive. He was mysterious and had many secrets. Willow was a sweet young girl. Elm was neat. I must see more of him! Skelley Chase was a different and unique “bad guy”. I’m still trying to figure out his motives for what he’s done. I kind of liked him, but then he stepped crossed the line. So now I love and hate him.

I haven’t read many Christian dystopians, but this was probably the best one I’ve read. The world building was fantastic and unique. I loved the feel of it. I’m still a bit confused about a few of the strange devices in the world, but I get the gist of it.

The writing was great. I really do like first person. It was gripping and I found myself really connecting with Parvin in a short amount of time.

The plot was ingenious. There were a few things that felt really coincidental, but overall it was pretty realistic for the story. It was slower paced at the beginning, but it quickly sped up. It became unpredictable, intense, scary, exciting, and terrifying all at the same time! The deaths destroyed me! How could that happen? But I think it helped make the story all the more special. But now I’m scared. How many characters are going to make it through this series? The ending was so messed up! I must have the next one! It can’t leave me hanging like that!

I’m recommending this to a bit older teens and up because some of the violence was gruesome and might be scary for younger kids. Totally everyone should read this though! It was exceptionally good and I can’t wait to read more!

-G. Paige

What’s Your Motivation to Follow Christ?

 

 

What's Yourto Follow Christ?As a Christian, with Christian parents, I can not tell you how many times I have been told to do what’s right. Told to “be kind”, “be honest”, “be loving”, “be thankful”, and the list goes on and on. Or I’m told not to do what’s wrong. Told to “not be mean”, “not to lie”, “not to be ungrateful”, and I think you get the gist of what I mean. I even find myself saying these exact things to my siblings.

The Bible also tells us to do what’s right and not to do what’s wrong.

Galatians 5:25

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

And the Spirit’s leading is:

Galatians 5:22-23

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Now my point is not to say that this is bad. No, definitely not. It’s good to be reminded of what’s right and what’s wrong. Especially since we, as human beings, seem to forget things so easily (Just look at the history of the Israelites for proof.).

But when we decide to do the “right thing” or the “wrong thing”, what is our motivation behind that decision? More to the point, why are we following Christ?

Is it because we’re told to?

Is it because it is right?

As children when we’re told to do or not to do something by our parents, we obeyed. And all the explanation we ever need to obey is because our parents told us to (or maybe because we also didn’t want to get into trouble). But as we got older and smarter many of us asked the question “Why?”. Why should we do this? Why should we not do this?

And now I’m asking you again: what is your motivation behind the decisions you make? Why are you following Christ?

If it’s because it is “right”, how do you know it’s right? Well, if God’s standards are your moral compass for judging what is right and what is wrong then you are on the right track.

But because it’s “right” shouldn’t be the only reason you follow God.

The most important reason we should follow God and do what’s right is because we love Him.

John 14:23

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.

We do everything for God out of love we have for Him.

If you don’t have that love for God, it’s like doing a exercise you never want to do. How long will you keep it up until you quit?

Knowing that something is right in your head is not enough. It’s not going to keep you going. You need a reason more motivating that. Your heart needs to be in it. You have to want it with all your heart. You have to love Him.

Mark 12:30

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.

Loving Him can motivate you to do anything for Him. It is the reason that Christians can face persecution with joy.

We need to make sure that we have that love for Him, because we can never really live for Christ without loving Him first.

-G. Paige

Book Review: Rogue (The Paladin Prophecy: Book 3)

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Okay, so, um, what happened? The series ended like that? There was so many things left unsolved!

Brooke has betrayed them. All along she had been working with the Knights of Charlemagne. Now Will is working for Franklin Greenwood, his grandfather. If he doesn’t do what he says, his friends are dead. But aren’t they dead anyways? Will and his friends hatch a plan to escape from Franklin and the Knights. In escaping they’ll set out to save the world from the monsters from the Never-Was, by entering the Never-Was. This crazy plan may just claim some of their lives.

So um, the characters were pretty great in this one. All their neat abilities seem to be expanding or getting better in one form or another. Will has a sort of telekinesis (which, by the way, I’ve always loved that sort of ability). His stamina and healing is off the charts. He can run fast. He also has a bit of a telepathic ability. It’s all cool, and it’s getting cooler. Elise is now one of my favorites. The way she manipulates sound with her voice. It’s amazing. And I love her telepathic connection with Will. Now that’s Brooke it out of the picture, I’ve started to like her relationship with Will. Ajay is as smart as ever. His sight just keeps getting better and better. His memory is…wow. He’s learning to be more brave than he ever was. Nick’s agility skills are awesome. He may not be the smartest, but I love his loyalty. And he’s the most relaxed dude in the group. He’s just so chill about it all (for the most part, anyways) and it is absolutely hilarious.

So the writing confused me. It wasn’t the pace, the pace was pretty great in this one. But at times, in random paragraphs it seemed to switch points of view. It was really weird and disconcerting because there was no pause in the flow, but at one moment it was Will’s point of view and then at another is was Elise’s or anyone else’s point of view. I don’t know what happened.

The plot was very exciting. The Never-Was was so interesting. There were so many weird things about it. It was a scary and dangerous place. It was intense, life threatening, and just plain fun. The only major complaint I had about it was that the Alliance never seemed to have a definite plan to defeat the monsters or the Knights of Charlemagne. Their plans always seemed random and impulsive. Even the plan they had in this one seemed so unrealistic. I mean, where did it come from and how did they come up with it? The ending felt so unfinished. I don’t mind a few things left to your imagination, but this was too much. It frustrated me.

There was some language and a little bit of kissing. But nothing much. The book got a bit spiritual as started to explain how everything was connected. It began to sound like karma or something close to it.

So, this wasn’t the best book. It was a bit better than book two, but the first book was still the best of the whole trilogy. But if you’re interested in something fun, with superpowers, and action packed, I recommend this. It was still pretty good.

-G. Paige

Book Review: Alliance (The Paladin Prophecy: Book 2)

Rating: 3/5 stars.

This one fell short of the first book. But that ending?! What? No! I need the next one now!!!

Will West has lost much. So so much. He tries to bury his feelings, but he pushes people away, is silent, and alone. He struggles to understand his mental and physical abilities. But now he must get things together and Awaken. Spending their summer at the Center, an exclusive prep school, Will, Ajay, Nick, Elise, and Brooke explore the area to learn more about the Knights of Charlemagne. The plans and secrets they uncover may lead to the end of the world as we know it.

The characters is probably one of the only things that was pretty good in this book. Will’s abilities expand and grow as he learns to control and understand it. But his love life confused and frustrated me. He had started to have a relationship with Brooke in the last one. But all of the sudden he is also in love with Elise too. What is going on? Also right it the beginning it was mentioned the Brooke had ignored Will for like six months. Then she kisses him and all is better. I don’t get that. Ajay was still great as always, but at sometimes it seemed he was a bit too scared and over dramatic about it. Nick was his funny, kind of dumb, self. Without him, the Alliance would get very gloomy. His loyalty to his friends is something you wouldn’t expect from the way he acts. Elise is probably my second favorite character after will. Her abilities are so out of this world! She is strong and fearless and…somehow deeply in love with Will now. Brooke felt a bit flat at the beginning, but towards the end she felt more herself.

The pacing off balanced me. The first chapter starts four months later after the last book. Then the next chapter skips three months. There it started to smooth out. It went on well from there, but I didn’t care for the plot. For about two-thirds of it, it felt like some sort of quest. It was interesting, but I didn’t see the need for how long it went on. It also didn’t feel like it fit right with this kind of story. But the whole book was still very exciting. And that last third was much more interesting. So many mysteries were revealed. Something shocking happened that I had never even thought of. Then the ending! Woah. That was a great cliffhanger.

There was some language. A few words here and there. Some characters were spying on something and this woman shows up naked. One of the characters makes a comment that he wasn’t looking at her face.

It wasn’t the best of books storywise. But I will continue on with the last book and hope that it improves a bit. If you like an action filled book with superpowers and humor, go read it. It is still turning out to be a pretty good series.

-G. Paige

Taking That Step of Faith

Step of FaithEvery religion of some sort has a measure of faith involved. Some more so than others, but they all essentially do. Whether it’s believing that you reincarnate into something else after you die or believing if you do enough good works in this life you’ll earn your way to Heaven or believing that there are gods that control different element and forces of nature.

For Christians, it’s believing that there is only one God who rules over everything.

It’s believing that God created the world by just speaking it into existence.

It’s believing that the world was once perfect, but we brought sin into it.

It’s believing that God is three in one: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

It’s believing that God sent his son, fully God and fully man, to earth to save us from our sin.

It’s believing that his son lived a perfect, a blameless, life.

It’s believing that Jesus suffered torture then died on a cross.

Most importantly it’s believing that Jesus’s death was the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect atonement for our sins. That if we only confess them and ask for forgiveness, we will be forgiven. We will have a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin it is, it is forgiven. To God’s eyes, sin is sin. One is not worse than another. They are all just as bad and he forgives them all.

It’s believing that against all odds he rose again on the third day.

It’s believing that he later ascended into Heaven.

To believe that takes faith. A lot of faith.

Yes, there is plenty of physical evidence that all of this happened. But even with this evidence you have to have faith. Evidence in many cases isn’t the reason that people believe. If that were true, then probably just about everyone would already be saved.

But there is more to believing in God than believing in the evidence. It takes faith. And having faith in something we can’t see, feel, hear, or smell, in something not physical is hard.

At times, we can find ourselves doubting. But we have to let go of that doubt. It will get us no closer to Jesus, but fully believing in him will.

John 20:29

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

This doesn’t mean that those who saw Jesus and believed weren’t ever blessed, but they weren’t blessed for that reason.

Faith in Christ is like believing that there is invisible hands there to catch you as you fall from a cliff. You are submitting to Him, placing your life in the hands of someone you only believe is there. But the thing is…

Your life is already in God’s Hands. It has always been in his Hands. Taking that step of faith is just you finally opening your eyes and believing in someone who has been there since the beginning of time.

That is the difference between our faith and other people’s faith in their religion. Our faith rests in something true and real; their faith is in something nonexistent.

-G. Paige

Book Review: The Paladin Prophecy (The Paladin Prophecy: Book 1)

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Rating: 4/5 stars.

I read this for the first time over a year ago. Recently I decided to do a random reread. It was just as good as the first time, if not better. This time though I will continue with the series.

Will West has lived his whole life pretending to be normal, getting average grades, and moving about every fifteen months. His parents have never given him any real explanation, but he trusts them. Then he makes a mistake and scores extraordinary high on a nationwide exam. Now people want him to go to an exclusive prep school and he’s followed by black sedans. Then when something strange happens to his mom, he runs. His skills are put to the test and he realizes the rules that his parents taught him to live by may just save his life.

The characters were really good. Will had unknowingly been prepared for this (Whatever “this” is.). He is really smart and quiet, but not shy. He never let’s down his guard. Sine he’s been taught to not trust anyone, he hides his true self from everyone. Ajay is funny (usually when he isn’t meaning to be). He’s Southern with the accent that goes along with it (which I love). Of all of them, he probably gets scared the easiest. He has some great skills and is like a genius with technology. Nick is a gymnast. He’s hilarious and is rarely ever serious, but fiercely loyal to his friends. He’s not so very smart, but he knows his sports. Elise is like an Eygptian queen, literally. When she looks at you, it feels like she is reading your thoughts. She is a beautiful piano player and singer. Brooke is the parent over them all. She’s cautious, but brave. She’s kind and caring.

This book was exciting from the start. Even when reading it a second time I flew through it.  It was very fast paced. The running, the car chases, and then the new school was all intense. There was so many questions and intrigue. Especially concerning Will himself, his abilities were really neat. The monsters and who knows what else that were after Will were weird and ugly, but interesting. I need more answers. Everything must be figured out soon! The ending was intense and I was on the edge of my seat. That kidnapping! Those fighting scenes! They were great.

There was a kiss or two, but nothing major. There was language, not a lot, but not a little either. Words like d***, d***, b****** were common. F*** was in the book once or twice, but only the letter “f” was shown. God’s name was used in vain quite a few times.

Overall, this was a good book. I’m excited to see how this turns out. I recommend this to a little older teens (or just more mature teens) for some of the language, but was very neat.

-G. Paige 

Book Review: King (Books of the Infinite: Book 3)

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Well, that was an interesting ending. I’ve now realized that though this is a series, each book could be a stand alone except for the fact that Ela and Kien’s relationship grows and changes as the stories progress. It was a good conclusion, but not what I expected. I just feel like it needed something more.

Akabe Garric is now something he never wanted to be: king. He’s a warrior, and he has never faced the responsibilities of being king. To prove to himself and his people that he is up to the task, he sets his sights on rebuilding the Holy House of Siphra. But if he wants the land he will have marry a worshipper of Atea, a idol. What should he do? The Infinite doesn’t answer. So Akabe makes a rash decision that sets off a course of events that may lead to the destruction of Siphra. Ela ponders over whether it is the Infinite’s will to marry Kien. Kien faces a trial that could lead to his exile.

Ela faces more suffering and sadness, but she is stronger and has more confidence in the abilities the Infinite gave her. Kien is put through sadness, anxiety, and suffering unlike anything before, but he’s prepared to follow all of the Infinite’s commands. I must say, it felt like Ela and Kien’s relationship as friends to something more very quickly. It felt rushed. So I loved the direction it went, but I didn’t like how it was done. Akabe is probably my second favorite character after Kien. I was really happy to see more from his point of view. I connected with him well and I felt his struggle to make the right decisions. And I understood why he made the decisions he did, even if I didn’t necessarily agree. Caitria was a great new character that I loved from the beginning. She is shy and afraid at first, but she develops so much to become the lady who can handle the responsibilities she’s given.

The book moved very fast. From one moment to the next, the characters were always in danger. There were assassins, battles where the characters were way outnumbered, kidnappings, and more. It was certainly not boring. For me the ending just wasn’t very satisfying. It was good, everything was resolved amazingly, but I felt that there was something missing. But maybe it was meant to be that way.

In every book, at least some of there characters visit a new place. This book visited Aeyrievale and Belaal. It was refreshing and fun to see how unique each place is. The descriptions were really well done. It was easy to imagine.

I’ll recommend this to older teens. It is a beautiful allegorical book with a fantasy feel. I don’t think this allegory is my type of thing, but don’t dismiss this book because of me. Give it try, you won’t regret it.

-G. Paige

When We Don’t Know God’s Will For Us

When We Don't KnowAt some point in our Christian lives, we are all told to follow God’s will for our life. To be what He has created us to be.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

But what about when we don’t know God’s will for our lives?

What about the times when we don’t know our purpose?

We were created to glorify God, but how are we to spend our lives glorifying Him? There are many different ways to go about it.

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m trying to finish high school (I only got two more years left! *freaks out*), but I’m also trying to get started with some early college classes this coming school year. To do that, I have to start to make a plan for what I’m studying and working towards to be. And, to tell you the truth, I’m really not sure. I got plenty (too many) ideas, but I’ve made no decisive decisions.

So questions like “What am I going to do with my life?”, “What is God’s plan for me?”, and “What is my purpose?” have gone through my mind over and over.

I know the Bible has given instructions to us on how to live. It teaches us to love our enemies and to live like each day is our last. It has even given us a task to fulfill during our lifetimes.

Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

But the Bible doesn’t tell me what type of career I’m supposed to have. Or how I’m to go about my life. Or what is the best way I’m to glorify Him.

But the Bible does tell me how I can get the answers that I seek.

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

He tells us to pray. To pray and to trust in Him.

Romans 12:12

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

God tells us to be patient. To wait. And waiting is one of the hardest things to do, I know.

Of course, I don’t have all the answers for you or for myself. But we have to trust that God does have a plan, a purpose, for our lives. Isn’t that what our faith is Christ is based on? Trust? Belief in the unseen?

All you must do, all you can do, is keep praying and wait for the answers God is sure to give you.

Never stop praying.

-G. Paige

 

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy: Book 1)

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Ahhhhh! What did I just read?! Something with a lot of tension, love, betrayal, and strategy!

Kestrel is a general’s daughter, wealthy, well known, and respected. She has had the most luxurious life. Arin, now a Herrani slave, has lost everything. When Kestrel makes the impulsive decision to buy him, it sets off a chain of events that will change her and her country forever. They begin to fall in love, something neither of them expected or wanted. But to be together, it would mean betraying everything they have grown up believing and defying all law and order. More important, Arin holds a secret that, if he is to be loyal to his country, will lead him to betray her and everyone she cares about.

Kestrel, I loved her. She wasn’t this tough warrior girl as you would expect. Though she did know a lot of  different types of fighting techniques, she was only adequate with them. She wasn’t a master sword fighter or knife thrower. But she was excellent at strategy. Also, she plays the piano! As a pliant player myself, I loved it! She was smart, but she didn’t even begin to be suspicious towards Arin. It was like he was too close for her to see through to his plans. I guess loving someone can blind you to their ways. Arin, oh I so felt for him. His presence was formidable. He was a defiant person, but he went about it in a quiet way. Silently, he rebelled against where life had put him. Every once in awhile, he would speak his mind. He too, was a great strategist. And full of many other surprises.

Plot wise, it was fabulous. It was fast and intriguing. I loved how Kestrel and Arin interacted with each other. They were each inquisitive, but very sly about it. Their dialogue was very tense at some moments and funny at other moments. It was so interesting and sweet! The smaller conflicts flowed within the story perfectly. I was tense the whole book. The betrayals! Oh, I was already freaking out for when it was to come, but once it happened. No. No. No. They weren’t the same from that point. And it tore my heart piece by piece. Then the end! No, everything must work out all right. It must!

The writing was beautiful. I mean really beautiful and so moving. It made the characters have more depth, more weight. I felt so connected to them. There were so many quotable moments. I enjoyed it a lot.

There was mentions of guys having affairs with certain married women. One guy started to make a move on Kestrel, but it was stopped. There was some kissing, but nothing more.

To conclude, I’m going to say that you just need to read this. It’ll probably be best for older teens. It was intriguing, exciting, heart wrenching, and beautiful. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book! I must have it!

-G. Paige