Book Review: Red Rover, Red Rover

He’s a spy, and he needs her help…

Emily Abbott is working hard as a coffee barista in downtown Phoenix, keeping one eye on her tiny college fund and the other on the mysterious new guy with his profound lack of coffee-making skills.

Just when she thinks they might be getting the hang of working together, she’s abruptly thrust into his world of espionage and danger. Brent Peterson needs her help to keep Red Rover safe and the information he carries out of the wrong hands. But she’s just a barista—what can she do?

Much more than she thinks.” (from Goodreads)

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts and opinions.

I love how I “accidentally” hide ARCs from myself and rediscover them at the exactly perfect moment. Especially when said ARC is the perfect blend of stimulating and lighthearted, a rare find indeed. Special enough to keep me reading late into the night and grab my Kindle first thing in the morning. 😉 You better believe that happened with this book. 😀

I expected this novella to be hilarious and banterful (same author as The Kitten Files, after all), but I was blown away by how clever and exciting the story was. If I ever have to be in a car chase, I know just who to ride with. XD These characters definitely stole my heart in just a few pages. 😉 All the Arizona references and Emily’s money concerns especially rang true for me, and I found the scenes with the coffee shop intriguing and fun. (Seriously, though, how do baristas keep all of that straight?!!) I look forward to Emily’s next adventure (and codename!).

Just a note, there was some peril and mentions of a gunshot wound, though not described. Also, a reference to a minor character “flipping someone off” and another cursing. 

Best quotes: “You are without a doubt, the second-worst barista this shop has seen,” Emily said seriously, staring down at the splatter pattern made by 16 ounces of iced soy latte. “Second worst?”

When they’d entered the narrow hall and opened the freezer, Emily whispered, “Is something going on?” “You’re very perceptive.” She stared at him. “Well, are you gonna tell me what it is?” “I just did. What is going on is…you’re very perceptive.” Brent gave her a smirk.

Altogether, this was a great read. I’m sure this series and I are going to be friends. 😀

Series stats so far…
Codenames: three
Car crashes: one
Awesomeness level: 101%

The Night Archers Excerpt (+ Reviewers Needed!)

It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything related to “The Night Archers”, so here’s an excerpt of what might be one of my favorite scenes. Gavynn and his archers are gearing up for action… (Insert obligatory this-is-not-the-final-draft warning here. 😀 )

A team of rebels rammed at the gates with a heavy log. Others held shields above their heads while Sir Heywan stood just out of bow range and directed their work. Gavynn clenched his teeth and turned toward his camp.

“Caelan, Rogan, you, and you,” he pointed out two more archers, “to me. Bring your bows.”

They grabbed helmets and ran forward, and Caelen tossed his bow up toward him. Gavynn caught it and strung it, then said aloud. “Let’s slow them down.”

They let loose a volley that glanced off the shields and embedded in the grass at the rebels’ feet. They paused in their work, but a shout from Sir Heywan sent them forward again.

“No good,” Gavynn said. He motioned to his archers to duck down and pulled off his helmet. “We only have so many arrows. Wait until they break rhythm with the men holding the shields and shoot then.”

They stood up again, bows taut and eyes narrowed in anticipation. Gavynn glanced at Sir Heywan and saw the mocking smile that twisted his features. He focused down the length of his arrow and murmured, “So, you’ve heard of our cavalry, meet our archers.”

I love my boys. XD

So, other reason for this post–I need early readers! 😀 Sign up HERE or HERE. (It’s the same link, I’m just being weird.) (Update: the sign-up is full! Thanks, everyone! :D)

And FYI, I’ll be sending chapter one to my newsletter subscribers in the next few days, so keep an eye out for that. 😀

Have a great week!

Book Review: Love Needs No Words

“Home from college for the summer, Shay Williams has many plans. Crossing paths with her childhood crush was not on the list. Yet when Daniel Rogers, a young mute man, reappears in her life, the friendship that once blossomed between them is rekindled. 
Daniel is mesmerized by this sweet girl who has a heart for deaf and mute children. But is it wrong of him to want to know her better, considering his inability? The last thing he wants to become is another charity case.
Follow these two young people through a summer of discovery as they learn valuable truths about friendship and love – a love that speaks not from the lips but from the heart.”
(from Goodreads)

I’ve been interested in this story for a while, and I was super excited to finally get to read it. It was just as sweet (and refreshingly pure!) as I was expecting. Daniel and Shay had an adorable friendship as evidenced by their BANTER and super cool service projects. 😉 I loved the ASL theme in this story, and it made me want to track down more fiction including that element.

Because this was a short story, there were a couple things I was surprised to see resolve so quickly or drop out of the story completely, but it wasn’t a huge deal. 

Just a note, there was a scene of intense verbal and physical bullying.

Best quote: Shay didn’t answer, just watched him. Maybe words weren’t as important as he used to think. 

Altogether, this was a great story (I “accidentally” stayed up late to read)! I look forward to trying more from this author. 😉

Plate Update: Spies, Welsh, and Buddy Reads

Does anyone know what happened to May? I have my calendar here to prove that it happened, but still… 2019 is galloping by. XD

Last month’s plate was full of… more cake. I love this baking thing. 😀 (Oh, and this series is actually named after the idea of a “full plate” being all the responsibilities and projects and celebrations in life, but I still mention food because I like to.)

Anyway, here’s a quick update on my full plate last month…

Pleasure read:

Red Rover, Red Rover (five stars)

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA (five stars)

Lightporter (read-aloud, four stars)

Plan to Fail (five stars)

Beautiful Blue World (buddy read, four stars)

Opposite of Always (two stars)

Bad Things, Small Packages (five stars)

Threads of Blue (buddy read, four stars)

Answered:

Emails and texts

“Book or movie?” in a vlog with Anna

Googled:

Using half a cake mix

Strawberry cake

Gymnast hair (oh, the strange research authors do! 😛 )

Person of Interest fanvideos ❤

Welsh words

Enneagram types

How to steal–er, download–videos off Facebook

Congress/House of Reps

Granola recipes

Food allergies 😦

Tangrams

How to pronounce “Mjolnir” (very important)

Wrote:

Reviews, like crazy XD

Character profiles for a future story

My summer reading list 😀

Blog posts (the top five being My Bookshelf Had a Growth Spurt; A Fangirl-y, Suprisingly Thoughtful-y Vlog with Anna; The 5 Stages of Finishing a Book; I Love Duologies; and Books with Friends.)

Edited:

5,194 words on “The Night Archers”

A friend’s blog

Miscellaneoused:

Baked cakes x 4 (one was a cheesecake) 😀

Watched Avengers: Endgame again… 😉

Organized my new bookshelf!

Made a really fun greeting card

I also had some amazing celebrations/hangouts with family and friends, ate the world’s best Oreo ice cream, and enjoyed a double buddy read with Mikayla. 😉

In the remainder of this month, I’m looking forward to releasing “The Night Archers”, prepping for the Generation Rising booth at the homeschool convention next month, and experimenting with some web design. And we’ll see what else God sends my way. 😉

How was your May? What are you looking forward to this month?

The End of the Line: My Thoughts on Avengers Endgame

I’ve seen Avengers: Endgame twice now. The first time it was waaaayyy too late opening night with a big group. Not something I would usually go for but I decided to be spontaneous, and It. Was. AMAZING. No chance for spoilers, and the entire theater was so hyped we were literally cheering and howling.

The second time, my brother and I took Anna to see it (after rewatching a few more Marvel movies), and this time I could just really soak in every detail, every easter egg, every emotion. Also amazing.

This movie will not leave my mind for some reason. Probably because I’ve been delaying writing about it (which is never a good idea). I thought maybe it was because it was so hyped. Or because it was the last of its kind. Or maybe because the internet was literally filled with fan theories and random facts and observations, a.k.a. some of my favorite things. (Like this article about MCU stunt doubles [heads up: some language] or this cool news story.)

It was definitely a little of all of those things, but mainly I think it was because the movie really, really delivered. It delivered in ways I didn’t even know I needed it to, and at the end of the line, every character had their moment. A brilliant and heartfilled piece of writing that captured my attention more than any other Marvel movie before. (I don’t usually even think of myself as a Marvel fan, so it’s a little funny for me to be writing this post. XD)  It had themes I wouldn’t even expect from secular filmmakers and some moments that were literally perfect.

I can barely remember what I was hoping for before the movie. I think it went something like, “I need Black Panther back, and Steve Rogers’ death better be amazing and so him.”

I think I was vaguely expecting some time travel, and I was sure Captain Marvel would take over the team and there would be a weird power struggle.

But other than that, I was pretty much a bundle of I’m-so-tired-from-watching-InfinityWar-for-the-first-time-last-night-but-let’s-do-this-thing-anyway and some social anxiety.

What is Riversong doing here? XD

Ubiquitous Warning Spoilers ahead. The internet is literally seasoned with them by this point, but if you managed to avoid spoilers, please don’t let me ruin that for you. In order to fangirl properly, I will be sharing some of the most amazing moments of the movie. You have been warned. End of Ubiquitous Warning

One of the biggest surprises of this movie and something that made me love it so much was that this movie was focused on the original six Avengers. The team was bigger than just them of course, but they were the main characters and each had their own moment that either perfectly wrapped up or carried forward their storyline.

While I have quite a lot to say about the movie, including a file of memes and theories on time travel and Hawkeye’s hair, I’m gonna be focusing on these characters too. 😀

And these thoughts are by no means chronological or even sensical. 😉

Steve Rogers — a good man

When Steve first gets souped up, his doctor makes him promise him something. “Promise me that you will stay who you are, not a perfect soldier but a good man.”

In this movie, I saw Steve for the good man he is. I mean, he is a pretty perfect soldier actually (#Frisbeeskills) and a great leader of the Avengers as always, but that’s not all I saw.

I saw him visiting Nat even though they didn’t have any missions together, just to see how she was doing. To encourage her if he could, to be her friend.

I saw him finally pull out the skill he’d originally hidden for the sake of his friend to now save his friend’s life (if only for a few more moments) when he wielded Mjolnir. (And you can believe I HOWLED like I was at a football game when that happened. ❤ ❤ )

I saw him willing to die alone on that hill fighting Thanos just like he was willing to jump on that grenade or pilot that ship into the ocean or let the Winter Soldier pulverize him or go down on Sokovia or literally arm wrestle 2018 Thanos. He didn’t die like I expected, no, but he was willing to.

YES! YES! ALL THE YES!

I saw him trusted by all of his friends to carry the Infinity Stones–all of them!–and to return them to their proper times. Huge responsibility there.

And I saw him go home. Now that the world was saved and all his responsibilities taken care of*, he went home to the woman he truly loved and who believed in him right there at the beginning. (And he had that dance!!! ❤ ❤ Thank you, filmmakers!) “The war’s over, Steve. We can go home.”

I honestly think going home was his moment. He’s always been a man out of time, doing his best and continuing to fight and fight and fight other people’s wars, but never really being part of this time. Mjolnir was a fantastic moment, but that was more for us than for him, and I am happy to see the storyline of Steve Rogers, a good man, wrapped up so perfectly. (Go listen to that song. ❤ )

*Sam will make a great new Captain America, and I’m sure he’ll keep an eye out for Bucky. Bucky is free to either continue to be a soldier or live in his adopted nation of Wakanda, and I’m sure they’ll be able to help him if he has any more mental problems. And though Steve misses Natasha, he no longer has her to care for either. And the world is saved now too, obviously.

Tony Stark — a man with a vision

Wee disclaimer, I have never loved this character. In fact, I really, really, really disliked him until Spiderman: Homecoming. He has some great lines, makes some cool stuff, but his immorality and selfishness (especially in Iron Man 2) just really turned me off. In fact, when I first saw the poster for Endgame, I was like, “Seriously? Why is Tony so big? Is he the main character?” (Spoiler: he plays a big role. Big role = big on the poster.) His character arc has been a slow one, but in the last couple movies or so, I’ve enjoyed seeing him grow up into a man who, despite still being broken, haunted by his vision in AoU and a long line of earthshattering mistakes, is ultimately a hero. End of disclaimer.

After rewatching Age of Ultron, I was shocked by how much the vision Tony had has really affected him, shaken him, and caused him to make some really bad decisions. If you remember, he saw all of the Avengers lying around dead or dying and Steve Rogers asked him, “Why didn’t you do more?” (And by the way, Steve’s shield was literally cracked in half, just like in Endgame’s final battle. O.o. Good writing, people.) I honestly think that made a huge impression on him and is a large part of the reason, despite having the life he had always wanted, he was unable to rest.*

Looking back over his storyline, most of his problems/villains were created by himself.** So it was so AMAZING and terrible to see the gauntlet he made nearly kill him and then allow him with some sleight-of-nano-hand to give his life for everyone. Yeah, I cried.

That was his moment. Saving everyone, and being remembered for that and his mentorship of two teenage boys and a blue meanie, not his mistakes.

You can rest now. ❤

My heart. ❤

*And then there’s his kid, Spider Parker. *sobs*

**(Ironman 1, that missile. Ironman 2, the suits after him. Ironman 3, that guy he dissed. Age of Ultron, that bot he made.)

Natasha Romanoff — she found her place

You all are lucky I hate vlogging because I’d be crying right now. Seriously, this movie made me care about the Black Widow more than I ever have before. Suffice to say, she’s another character I’ve changed my mind about. 😉

Y’all, when Steve visited her near the beginning of the movie (no I’m not reading too much into that scene), they both referred to her as his friend. Such character growth since Captain America 2 when she outright told him friendship wasn’t gonna happen. The Avengers have become her family, and she is holding down the metaphorical fort because its all she has left. From the very first movie, she has been pulling and holding them together.

I knew what was coming when they sent her and Clint to Vormir together. Like, arrrgggh. Do your research before space travel, y’all. It was terrible. But also beautiful for her, because in the end, she saved everyone she cared about and the world.

She saved her best friend Clint in that moment, yes. (And that fight was the most epic of things.) By her actions she saved Steve, just like she’d asked him once if he trusted her to. But most importantly to me, and I think to her… she saved the Barton children.

Clint says to her, “Why do we have to listen to this guy? Just because he knows your father’s name?”

Nat: “I didn’t.”

And I think right there she decided: no more orphans.

Seriously that scene was the most beautiful, terrible thing. I cried so much at her self-sacrifice and ultimately, the redemption of her character. And I think it was amazing how even after their victory of getting all the stones, the guys didn’t rush to snap before anything else could happen, no, they paused to mourn her.

Excuse me while I eat a peanut butter sandwich in her honor.

Thor — still worthy

Thor has been through soooo much in the space of three movies. Like, seriously, I think he should sign a restraining order against Marvel.

Thor: Ragnarok — he lost Dad, hammer, eye, evil sister he just found out about, entire planet

Infinity War — he lost Loki, Heimdall (a better dad than Odin ever was), half of the Asgardians he just saved, eventually the entire world.

And he feels like that Thanos snap was pretty much all his fault, so the moment he gets a chance for what seems like a redo–he takes it. It doesn’t help anything.

When I next saw him in the movie, I found him pretty heartbreaking. I could barely even recognize the “god of thunder” in him, but physical evidences aside, he is not a stable man. He breaks down at everything, and you can tell he is sure that he just doesn’t have anything left to live for any more and that he is not worthy to be Thor.

But what’s interesting, is he’s actually still taking care of his friends in a way, and he goes with Hulk and Rabbit to try to do what’s right.

I loved the strengthening talk he had with his mother. The encouragement she gave him; the chance he had to just vent, confess, and gain some closure. And when he called Mjolnir, I held my breath, because it took so long… I did wonder. Was he still worthy?

He was. 😀 (His moment right there.) And he did some PRETTY AWESOME fighting in that last battle. 😉

It’ll be fun to see where his character goes next.

Bruce Banner — finally reconciled

Bruce Banner took the events of his last two movies and used them to reconcile the strength of the Hulk with the brain and values of himself. Which meant he could be a peaceful member of society. Score! Just what he always wanted, actually. 😉

But more importantly, he was the one who was able to snap the gauntlet and bring everyone back. “It’s like I was made for this.” Best ever moment for this character!!

All this time, he had been fighting the “monster” inside him, and because he conquered it, he was ready to save people. I hope he gets to stay Smart Hulk. 😉

Also, he sweetly gave Antman one of his tacos, and that was probably one of the best scenes.

Clint Barton — redeemed

Marvel, why do you have to break my heart like this???!! The beginning of this movie was so sweet for all of five seconds. *cries*

No wonder he turns into a freaky vigilante (I literally looked away from that fight scene *shudders* ). No wonder he could care less about living and immediately volunteers for the time travel experiment.

And in a short moment (that is making me nearly cry again), his best friend hands his life back to him. Tells him it’s worth it and, “It’s okay.”

From that moment forward, I saw him throw himself into the mission. His big moment was literally running the gauntlet in that last battle. (Let’s not forget he was in the right place just then because Laura called him! ❤ ) He got it away from those creepy monster things and ran it even further after escaping Other Nebula.

His reunion with his family was just one of the best scenes. ❤ And I still think about how his youngest child, Nathaniel Pietro Barton, is named after the two people who have given their life for his father.

Conclusion (If That’s Possible…)

That wraps up my thoughts–or at least all the ones for this post–on the original six Avengers. 😉 I really loved all the first Avenger movie throwback scenes with them. So hilarious…

Some of the other characters had their moments too–Antman bringing in that CRAZY idea, Spider Parker using “instant kill mode”, Wanda power-choking Thanos, T’Challa (YES!) bringing an entire army, and Nebula finally freeing herself and her sister and atoning for her part in helping her father.

And let’s not forget Falcon getting to say “On your left”. Major happy shivers. ❤

This movie had great characters and easter eggs and a plot and fanservice moments. But the themes of self-sacrifice and lasting friendship were the absolute best. ❤

What did you think of the movie? Fangirls, assemble.

Book Review: Healer’s Bane

“Kynet never planned to be at the forefront of the rebellion. That was her brother’s hobby: rallying the people. Plotting against the leaders. Running into dangers she’d have to negotiate him out of.

That was before the Poisoner tried to kill her.

Left with strange powers in the aftermath of his attack, Kynet is even more convinced the rebellion isn’t worth it. For every life her healing saves, ten more are wasted.

But her quest to stop the carnage before war breaks out will bring her face to face with the man who tried to murder her… and with her own helplessness against a grim reality she may not be able to change.” (from Goodreads)

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts and opinions.

Hello, my name is Kate, and I’m sometimes more empathetic than I know what to do with. Which is probably why this is now one of my favorite books.

Kynet was really relatable in her desire to help others no matter the cost to herself. The personal effects, both physical and emotional, on her when she healed were allegorically beautiful and so, so accurate. This tension and the themes winding throughout the book were so good and gave me a lot to think about. 😉 (Like, when you try to heal someone emotionally? Mind blown.)

I really enjoyed the fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian mash-up setting. The backdrop of a fledgling revolution made things especially interesting. (And had me worried for a certain Gavroche-like character.) Nayn (the hothead!) and Daven were interesting side characters. And Lael was as amazing and as eccentric as he should be. Don’t even get me started on what made him coolest, though. Spoilers, sweetie, but aaaaahhhh! Let’s just say, all the themes tied together–PERFECTLY.

Just a note, because the main character was a healer, there were descriptions of wounds and death as well as some traumatized memories. Also, one of the side effects of special abilities in this world is a voice in the bearer’s head called a “rift shadow”. I’m not sure what I think of this yet, so I’ll withhold comment until it’s explained further maybe in another book. 😉

Best quotes: “There’s got to be a way to pass on healing,” she choked. It wasn’t natural, any of it. And if one had been given something, surely they could give it to another. 

“Working on it.” He peered around a corner. “I have four and a half plans, depending on where we find him and how.”

Altogether, this just might be my new favorite book by this author. (Though Song of the Sword is still pretty high up there. 😉 ) Yes, I preordered it in paperback. No, I’m not impatient for it to come. *whistles innocently*

My Summer Reading Stack <3

Guys, I’m down to one library book. I should be panicking, but I’m not because most of my chosen summer reads are off my TBR shelf. Summer reading kinda snuck up on me, but when my younger sisters reminded me it was coming, I immediately started to make a list.

And now I get to start in on it. *rubs hands together*

Romance

Anne Mateer is the author of one of my absolute favorite books, Wings of a Dream, so I’ve been quite interested in trying another book by her. I picked up a copy of her book Playing by Heart, based on the reviews of friends, and I’m excited to see how it is. 😀

Non-fiction

For my birthday this year, my family got me two books I’ve been wanting to read for a while. Creating Characters Arcs by K.M. Weiland looks like it will be a fantastic supplement to everything else I’ve learned from her books on writing.

Finish That Series

I absolutely loved The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart last year, and I’m ready to read book two, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. These characters are just the best, and I love how smart and heartfilled these stories are. ❤

Reread

It is time. Sir Knight of the Splendid Way by W.E. Cule, a.k.a. medieval Pilgrim’s Progress (except not) and a book that has had a significant impact on my spiritual journey. I listened to the audio drama with a sister the other day, and I must read the book again soon. Really, truly. 😉

Historical

The other book I got for my birthday? God’s Will by Meghan Gorecki. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while, probably ever since I got into indie fiction actually. Several of my friends have loved it, so I’m excited to give it a try. 😀

Contemporary

The Accidental Cases of Emily Abbott series by Perry Kirkpatrick is being rapid released this summer, and there are three more books to come… *squeals* I have been loving this series so much! It’s a contemporary spy-comedy, and the main character Emily is quite relateable and hilarious. 😉 And bonus–the cases have been reeeeallly clever so far. 😀

Fantasy

Lifeway Christian Bookstores is closing (*cries* Don’t go away, happy place!), and I wanted to support them so I snagged a copy of Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World by Bryan Davis. It looks super cute and possibly something I can share with younger siblings.

Children’s

Last year, Wonder by R.J. Palacio so thoroughly wrecked me that I bought the sequel/companion book the first chance I got. Auggie and Me is one of my top anticipated reads this summer. ❤

Those are my planned reads, but who knows what shiny book from the library or my TBR shelf will sneak it’s way in there somehow as well. 😀 The more books the merrier. 😉

What are you reading this summer? Have you read any of these books?