Contemporary Fiction

The Black Key...A Sneak Peek

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Welcome to Sneak Peek Saturday on Reading List! 

Sneak Peek Saturday on Reading List  a glimpse into what I am reading currently

Current book:

The Black Key

Amy Ewing

The Black Key by Amy Ewing a Sneak Peek on Reading List

Goodreads Summary:

For too long, Violet and the people of the outer circles of the Lone City have lived in service to the royalty of the Jewel. But now the secret society known as the Black Key is preparing to seize power.

And while Violet knows she is at the center of this rebellion, she has a more personal stake in it—her sister, Hazel, has been taken by the Duchess of the Lake. Now, after fighting so hard to escape the Jewel, Violet must do everything in her power to return to save not only Hazel, but the future of the Lone City.

Sneak Peek:

"'You want us to fight them with hugs?' Sienna asks. 'Love is stronger than hate,' Indi says. 'Violence is the only option, so there isn't any point in arguing about it.'" p 30

Initial Thoughts

I enjoyed the first two books of the series- even though I know it has gotten mixed reviews - so of course, I would be reading the final book!  While there were some unexpected dips in the journey, overall this final book was a good and strong finish to the series.  I'll put a review on Goodreads soon...

Meet the Hosts of Saturday Sneak Peek:

Marissa @ Reading List

Marissa, writes book reviews from a variety of genres and  shares thoughts on motherhood & life on Reading List. She loves to see what others are reading to grow her to-read list.  Marissa also enjoys photography and a new journal to fill. 

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Alyssa @ Sunrise Avenue

Alyssa reads a variety of genres and writes about it at Sunrise Avenue. She is always looking for new bookish friends and recs'! Besides reading, Alyssa loves to bake and anything Doctor Who.

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Karen @ Dino Hero Mommy

Karen is a reading teacher who loves to listen to books as she commutes to and from work. She prefers crime thrillers and mysteries but enjoys a good book from any genre. She blogs about her life as a wife and mom at Dino Hero Mommy.

Here are some rules if you decide to join in:

• Pick up whatever book you are reading (non-fiction, fiction, children's... really the sky is the limit)
• Open to any page you have already read
• Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page - make it interesting without flipping to a ton of different pages. 
 BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away -- You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so we can all add your book to our To-Be-Read lists!

You can leave your teaser, author, and title in the comments (click over to the web version if you're on the mobile site). Or write up your own post and join us weekly!  Then you can share your link in the comments, and I will stop over and leave you a comment!!!  YAY!

Marissa at Reading List

Linking up with these fun hops, check them out!

adult fiction

What I've Been Reading... Holiday Season 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

What I've Been Reading

 Quick Lit Reviews

What did you think of last month's quick reviews?  Were they more enjoyable?  Did you miss it? Oh, well then, check it out!  

Quick Lit Reviews Holiday Season 2016

There is nothing quite like curling up with a great book and a cup of hot cocoa after a long week, right?

I am totally selfish in claiming time every. single. day. to read a book I enjoy.  Granted, I also read about three to five kids books aloud each day too, which is its own kind of therapy.  And let's be honest, around the holidays, we need to find ways to calm our kids and our own minds down each day.

With the holidays my own reading pace slowed a bit.  And I'm thinking that with the colder winter days ahead - read that as the period of the year when parents have to come up with a million indoor activities to wear out the kids- I doubt I will be reading much for the next few months.  But here's my list of recently finished books and my quick reviews.  

Twisted Palace by Erin Watt

Twisted Palace (The Royals, #3)Twisted Palace by Erin Watt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book series is most certainly in the guilty pleasure reading category. The whole series is off the wall extreme, and yet once you start you cannot put it down. And because of that, I am sure it has a specific audience, you either love it, or you hate it.

And I was more of the love it kind of reader. I read book one and book two quickly, and waiting for book three was difficult. This whole series is like watching a train wreck, you cannot look away, and yet...

So this story continues to follow Ella Harper as she finds her place in the world - and for that reason, I understand why it's billed as a YA, typical coming-of-age plot... But I am not sure this is something high school kids need to be reading. Now, as I mentioned in the other reviews, yes this book takes it to extremes with the money, parties, and behaviors, but when you are in high school with the extremely wealthy, this isn't that far off.

Now this third book, it turns more into crazy soap opera territory in most of the action scenes. But I am so invested in what happens with Reed Royal, I didn't care.

And side note- the big twist... wasn't too much of surprise, but still totally fun!

Now, I do not recommend this book to high schoolers, and I also want to give fair warning that the language in this book is crude and raunchy. There are serious romance scenes, and adult behavior going on with these high school kids, so fair warning. But still, it was fun. So if Contemporary Romance is your thing, you will probably love these, as they are super quick reads, and simply fun.

I have to give this book a 4.5 rating... I wish there would have been less in the soap opera and extreme language/romance, but overall I enjoyed it. It was a fun look at what happens with too much money and no morals.

View all my reviews

For more on this one, check out my sneak peek!

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast (Steampunk Proper Romance #1)Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In response to a tag on Instagram, I picked up three Steampunk books randomly. And this was by far the most out of left field for me, and to be honest, the best in the bunch!

I was skeptical. Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghosts are not my thing. Stories with them tend to be obvious and quickly stale for me... granted I would have said the opposite about six or seven years ago... but that's neither here, nor there...

I plunged ahead with this book strictly because of the tag line: Jane Austen meets Beauty and the Beast.

And yes... it is... there is no better way to describe it quickly.

Lucy is a strong female, quite a surprise for the era (well not for steampunk...) but for the setting in the story yes... She has a high sense of morality and desire to care for her family. She is smart and thoughtful... both of which cause problems early on for her. As her intellect causes her to take leaps on people's character after only a few minor details... not even a first impression, and she has another person all figured out and categorized. Lord Miles is every bit of what a fan of the Beauty and the Beast tales would want. Dark, mysterious, not quite proper, yet knows how society works - he is a wonderfully complicated character to run parallel to Lucy.

Overall, the plot, characters, and setting are well developed and quickly capture you. There is no way you can escape the need to keep turning the page to see what happens next. I fly through this book, ignoring a ton of my responsibilities just to know what happened!

I would recommend this to any fans of the steampunk genre for sure, but also, this is a great pick for fans of fairy tales (especially Beauty and the Beast) and it certainly has a Halloween-y creepy like feel with all the mystical aspects.

All that said, this is not a clean book... it is a romance, and there are a few scenes that probably just push it outside of the clean romance territory... And there is violence... I mean there are vengeful ghosts, and vampires, as well as a ton of guilty driven activities- oh and some very creepy graveyard scenes late at night. But it is all necessary for the plot advancements, and never overdone.

So maybe this isn't for the teen steampunk group... but a more mature audience totally.

I really loved this one, and hope there are more like it coming out.

View all my reviews

For more on this one, check out my sneak peek.

A Lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson 

A Lady of High Regard (Ladies of Liberty, #1)A Lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mia Stanley is used to the comfortable life as a daughter of a successful businessman. Yet, unlike her peers, she does not dream of getting married and basking in the easy life. She has a heart for others, and a knack for writing, so when she takes the position as a writer for a lady's magazine, her parents are less than thrilled. When a new writing assignment puts Mia directly into the abysmal and heartbreaking reality of the seaman's wives along Philadephia's docks she refuses to walk away, even after her father convinces her to stop her position at the magazine.

All the while, Mia is trying to find the perfect match for her big-brother-like next door neighbor, Garrett. She has successfully matched up a few of her friends and knows that Garrett would make a wonderful husband and father, so she sets her sights on eligible women for him. Of course, her focus on other women for him, get her own feelings stirred up. All the while Garrett is running the family business, watching his father succumb to illness and dreaming of his true love finally noticing him.

Overall, I was disappointed. This is a slow moving story with very little action to drive the plot. Even the words slow the pace, and the dialogue drags in an attempt to show the time period. I realize this isn't the quick paced genre like some, but why can't there be a little more push from the characters to do and act. The overabundant use of passive voice screamed at me through the entire book, and as an editor minded person, that is just never a good thing.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Christian fiction cannot stuff the Bible and God at people in superficial ways. Throwing in a few prayers or comments about faith will not move a person to seek out the God of the Bible. It comes across false. If only there were a way to create a character who would really wrestle with an idea or characteristic of God throughout the story, similar to how so many contemporary character wrestle with a societal worldview...

View all my reviews
For more on this one, check out my sneak peek or get my full review here

The Wrong Prince by C K Brooke

The Wrong PrinceThe Wrong Prince by C.K. Brooke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lucie is in love with the prince, but as a daughter of a Baron, she knows she will never be allowed to be with him. To make matters worse, as the story opens, she finds out she has become engaged to a man according to her father, and she is obedient to her father. So she makes the heartbreaking decision to cut ties with the prince whom she has given her heart to.

Meanwhile, said prince, Geo, and his older brother, Dmitri, are in a battle when they both shoot arrows at the enemy, one specific Llewesian. Of course, the poor solider turns out to be the crowned prince of Llewes, the only heir, and the mourning king of Llewes becomes an even more poignant enemy to Tybiria.

Right after the battle, the King and Queen of Tybiria host an engagement announcement party for their crowned prince, Dmitri. And you've guessed it, Lucie is the lucky girl. Before Geo can even fully realize what happened - his love is not engaged to his brother - the Llewesian army sweeps in and kidnaps Dmitri. And of course, the adventure begins...

And why I gave this only three stars when I actually enjoyed the story...

I understand that the romance between Lucie and Geo early in the book was there so we would know just how much they loved each other. But the scenes are bit too explicit for the style of the writing. The intimate moments between these two reads like a mature YA book, yet the rest of the story, plotting, and adventure reads like a teen book. I simply wish there would have been a way to leave out some of the details of their need to sneak around to meet...

Also, later in the book, there is a point where they enter a brothel to find some assistance in the ongoing battle of the two kingdoms, and again, for just this scene the terms used are more mature than the rest of the book. Overall this is very much a fairy tale story, that should be a fun read for young teens, but some topics, in the detail described, are simply not necessary.

View all my reviews

For even more on this book, check out my sneak peek, or my full review here.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

My Lady JaneMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit, I probably would have never picked up this book, as the genre has never really captured my interest if it wasn't for OwlCrate sending this during the summer.

And of course, it sat on my bookshelf for a while... I should have read it right away.

This is a fun book. You will laugh out loud at different parts, so maybe take into consideration where you read this one...

While there is very little in this one that is historically accurate, it is still so much fun to read. I am sure anyone who enjoys reading will like this one. And for anyone who is a fan of rom-com in general... this is probably worth the time to read. You are sure to be taken to a wonderfully different England where Lady Jane is not beheaded and the conflict between religions is also replaced with magical powers that truly make so many one-liners possible.

Jane is a fun heroine to be sure. A well-bred lady, who has read enough books to be as educated as any man - who wouldn't want to follow that character? Then she finds herself in an arranged marriage to a man who holds a seriously surprising secret about what he does during the day... go ahead think up any crazy option here, and you will still be surprised!

While the first few chapters of King Edward were boring to me... he came off as a spoiled rich child king who didn't care a lick for his kingdom (oh wait... that is exactly how he was supposed to sound??) that changed around the halfway point and he quickly because just as compelling a character as the others.

Overall I would highly recommend this to YA fans, it is completely appropriate for teenagers as well as adults who are looking for a lighthearted and fun read.

View all my reviews

For more on this one, check out my sneak peek!

Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell

Moonlight Masquerade (London Encounters, #1)Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yes, I know the stars are a bit harsh... But hear me out...

I wanted something else... maybe I need to stop picking up Regency Romance type books...

Lady Celine, as a spy, truly intrigued me. I wanted to see what this plot line would unravel. Add in an agent sent to find out if she really is a spy... and well it sounded like it would be full of action, and force me to keep reading. I had to force myself to keep picking up the book to try. I wanted to know what would happen because I had high hopes, that never were met.

The romance between Celine and Rees was just full of crazy tension, and a bunch of inner dialogues for each character, but never much actually happened. They barely held conversations that were anything of substance. Even when he was healing (not really a spoiler... you will want to find out why... right?)

But then to add to my frustration over the characters, Rees seems to have a few chapters of a faith crisis about his interest in Celine... but then it disappears... was it resolved? I couldn't figure it out. It was crazy.

For me, this was a fail. But I see there are plenty of fans, and that is why I am so glad there are so many options for us fiction fans to try out.

I would suggest this to fans of the regency era fiction. It's clean and acceptable for any age readers (that would be interested in the genre of course).

Maybe I will take a break from this genre for a bit...

View all my reviews

For more on this one, check out my sneak peek!

Quick Lit Reviews Holiday Season 2016

Check out what I read this holiday season & let me know what you're reading! #Bookfanatics @Reading_List1

What have you been reading?   What caught your eye above?  What should I read next? Or even better, what do you want to get for Christmas to read??? 

Marissa @ Reading List

**While some of these books I received from the publishers to review, all opinions are my own. 
*** Also, there are no affiliate links on this page, but once you click to my other pages to see more of the book you will find my affiliate links.  Since using affiliate links will not cost you more, but they help me out tremendously, please consider clicking through and helping out another book fanatic! TIA

Blog hop

Hearts for Home 12/15

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Welcome to the Hearts for Home Blog Hop

I am so glad you are joining us!  When you share your posts with us, your post will be displayed across 12 different sites, isn't that wonderful? 

And each week there will be at least one feature to check out from the previous week.  I hope you come back every week. If this is your first week, take a moment and say to me in the comments.  If you sign up for the community newsletter, you will get reminders of the hop, and some random freebies!  YAY!

Just for the Reading List Community

It's been a while since I've shared a special gift for those of you who are part of our little community. If you are already a member, and have received a newsletter at all in November, you already saw this, but I am still giving out monthly (more like bi-monthly) freebies. 

I enjoy creating printables, I just don't have much time to, which makes me sad. But since I've started keeping a Bullet Journal I am trying to create a few more now. So for the month of December, I am including a free link in the newsletter to print out a book tracker for you all for 2017. It will print up to an 8.5x11 sheet, or as small as you want to fit in your own BuJo or binders. Just sign up to be a member of our community above and wait to receive your first newsletter!

Reading List Community Freebie - Book shelf reading tracker for 2017

Once you print out your book tracker you can fill in the empty spines with the title of the books you want to read in 2017. Then once you read it you get to color it in. Hopefully, by the end of 2017, your bookshelf tracker will be full of color! I left space also for you to doodle if you want to embellish your sheet. 

And don't forget, I will be updating and sharing my Blogging Scheduler for you all soon!  It's my most popular freebie, so you want to make sure you are on the mailing list now. 

Most clicked post from last week

Stop by There's No Place Like Home, where Shelley shares her thoughts on Is It Time to Abolish Truancy Laws for Good?  - This past week's most clicked post!

Now for this week’s Hearts for Home Blog Hop!

Share your posts this week, and then take time to discover some new ideas from all the other fabulous posts in this week’s party! Click on the little blue rectangle below to enter your links.

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Children's Corner

Prayers & Answered Prayers... Gift for Kids

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Prayers & Answered Prayers

Gift Idea for the preteen girls in your life

Are you looking for a Biblically accurate book or journal for a preteen girl on your Christmas shopping list?  Maybe a Birthday gift idea?  Or just a tool to help the young girl in your life learn to cultivate a relationship with her Savior Jesus Christ through prayer, journaling, and Bible study?  This might be the perfect option!  And it is well priced.

Prayers & Answered Prayers... A Book Review on Reading List

About the Book

This is actually two books in one... isn't that awesome? 

Both books are colorful and waiting for your prayers and answered prayers.  Each page prompts you to answer questions about yourself. The concept is that you will learn to share your life with God so that a real relationship will begin. In one it's all about sharing of yourself, and how you feel. While the other is focused more on listening and interacting with God's word. 

Why We Like It

I think this is a wonderful way to for young girls (see my thoughts on this below) to truly build a two-way relationship with God through prayer, study, reading, and sharing.  So often we tell our kids that you should just talk to Jesus in your prayers like you would a friend, and then let them at it. But let's be honest, even adults struggle with such an open-ended concept.

These books give a little more guidance on the idea.  I felt like I was writing to a penpal in these books, which is a wonderful reminder of my early teens years when writing actual letters to friends really did make the world feel smaller. I grew wonderful foundations to friendships through writing, and applying the practice to God seems like a wonderful idea!

Now, this book is not claiming to be only for girls.  In fact, many of the prompts would be easy for boys to respond to. In fact, boys could greatly benefit from this practice. However, the designs and colors scream a girls journal to me. Doodled flowers, glitter, pinks and purples... well you can decide, but I am not sure my boys would care about it- in fact, neither one wanted to get it try with me - granted my boys are still a bit young for this tool.... But still...

Prayers & Answered Prayers... A Book Review on Reading List

Title: Prayers and Answered Prayers
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: Nov 2016
For ages: 7+
Type: Non Fiction, prayer, Christianity

Perfect gift for preteen girl! #PrayersandAnsweredPrayers @Reading_List1

How do you instruct your kids on how to pray?  Do you believe prayer should be a two-way conversation?  

Marissa on Reading List

**If you are considering purchasing this book, please consider using the affiliate link here, it won't cost you extra, but it will brighten my day.

***If you're interested in writing a book review on Reading List, please message me on the Facebook page! If you're curious about a book, ask me...  I love to hear from you!

**** Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Thomas Nelson & BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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