Book Review: The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner

“Old Natalia, soon after Captain Blackstar saved king and cause on the shores of Ayman Lake. 

Battered, but determined, Whitson Mariner leads his displaced rabbits into new dangers on a journey to their undiscovered home. 

Whitson the king, Lillie the queen, Prince Lander, and loyal Massie Burnson must rise from the wreckage of betrayal to rescue the cause once more. 

Treason broods.

Monsters menace. 

Battle beckons.

A community rises.” (from Goodreads)

So, I got this book for a younger sister for Christmas, and then she loaned it to me when she was done reading. Win-win. 😉

This book was a little hard for me to get into at first because my mind was blanking on character’s names (it’s been a long time since I’ve read the book before this) and nautical terms always throw me for a loop. Even if there’s a guide, which there was. 😉

I ended up liking it a lot though! I thought rabbits with swords were cool, but rabbits with ships might be even cooler. 😀 Sailing sounded really fun… and really dangerous. I enjoyed Queen Lillie in this one. She was brilliant, supportive of Whitson, and very brave. Lander was also really sweet but kinda sad too. Definitely a child of his war-torn time. 

The whole climax was very brilliant! I was a little astonished by how they worked everything out. Trick upon clever trick. O.o. (Not to mention a surprise character!)

Just a note, there are some moments that may be scary for younger readers, especially with the addition of a new, very evil enemy of the rabbits. 

Best quote: “I’ll not drop you, Your Highness!” Jake cried. “And they’ll not drop me,” he added, glancing back at his shipmates deliberately. 

Altogether, I love this storyworld and each new addition to it is a delight.

Book Review: Ember Rising!

“A harrowing adventure inside enemy territory. Heather and Picket are plunged into the darkness of Morbin’s shadow, fighting to bear the flame of the cause and light the way for rabbitkind’s upright insurrection.

Hope for a Healing

Work for the Mending

Fight for the Rising” (from Goodreads)

*zips lips against spoilers* *realizes I won’t be able to speak at all* *unzips lips*

I’ll just have to try to keep the spoilers out because OH MY WORD I went into this blind and was repeatedly gobsmacked by the twists and turns and reveals. O.o. 😀

The first 60% of the book was sooo slow, but it was worth sitting through all that development and “calm before the storm” for the brilliance that was the last several chapters. 😀 

Picket (sassmaster extraordinaire) and Heather were both amazing in this one. Everywhere and with everyone they met they were for the cause no matter how bad things got. And my personal favorite, Jo, just gets better and better. *sighs happily*

There was some new tech in this one, wow! Lots of people working hard with small steps and small faithfulnesses. I really liked the “ordinary” characters since they remind me that things as simple as stitches and songs can be used by God.

Same of my favorite side characters in this were Wheezie, Whit, and Emerson. And Helmer was so great too. 😉 And the scenes of rest and renewal were really sweet. (I need to hear those songs…) The battle scenes in this just might have the Battle of the Five Armies beat, though we’re still waiting for confirmation on that…

I was floooored by that last betrayal though. O.o. 

Just a note, the preylords’ methods of rule are very remniscent of the Nazis with some things as conceptually disturbing as SPOILER ALERT! carrying off and killing young ones en masse and giving one vile rabbit free rein to torture as he pleased. Also, some of the religious expressions in this could be slightly confusing for younger readers, and one character having “Truth” as part of his name made me slightly uncomfortable. 😉

Best quotes: “Who are you?” Daggler asked, stepping forward with an inquisitive expression. “I’m General Sunshine, and this is Private Misgivings,” Picket said, smirking.

“I believe you’re right, Picket,” he said, smiling through fresh tears. “I have only one desire in these painful days, to see my work matter for the mending. I know I help invent things that destroy, but they are aimed at the darkness. And I hope that, when they have blown a hole in that darkness, the light pours in.”

Altogether, this book is one to love. I was thrilled and satisfied. And the end has me contentedly speculating. 😉

Bear the flame. ❤

Book Review: Ember Falls!!!

emberfalls“The stage is set. It’s war. Morbin Blackhawk, slaver and tyrant, threatens to destroy the rabbit resistance forever. Heather and Picket are two young rabbits improbably thrust into pivotal roles.
The fragile alliance forged around the young heir seems certain to fail. Can Heather and Picket help rescue the cause from a certain, sudden defeat? 

My Place Beside You 

My Blood For Yours 

Till The Green… Ember Falls” (from Goodreads)

I took me forever to work up the courage to read this book because I accidentally read a review with a HUGE spoiler that made me doubt if it was worth reading. Even just the title filled me with foreboding. But I read it, and I loved it, and it’s worth the read, and I’m glad to be back into these books. 😀

Picket was fantastic in this one! In light of his attitude in the first book, it was really cool to see him moving beyond that as a capable leader working with his own elite squadron, the Fowlers. I also really loved how he took care of his sister Heather and her friend Emma. He was by no means perfect, though, and Uncle Wilfred’s advice about inner battle scars had me sniffing.

Heather was also very neat in this one. I liked how she cared deeply for others and spread hope wherever she could. Her decision at the end kinda shocked me. O.o.

Now that I think of it, all of the rabbits have kinda “leveled up” in this book. 😉 I liked the further character development of Lord Rake, Lord Ramnor, and even Helmer. They were strong but caring leaders. Please, let’s talk about the best thing ever that is rabbits with bows. 😀 😀 Jo Shanks is in this book–woohoo!!! ❤ 😉 And catapults. And Brother Heyward’s mysterious invention. 😉

The plot thickened with betrayal, conflicted loyalties, and self-sacrifice. There were fierce battles and crushing deaths. At the end of the book, our main characters are separated. But all through it, I was reminded by a certain Stitcher, Sween, and Mrs. Maggie that even in this dark world, ordinary people (or rabbits, in this case) can and must bear the flame of hope. ❤ It was really quite beautiful.

Just a note, there were some intense battles with rabbit injuries and deaths, though most are not described in detail. Also, since we do spend some time in the evil Morbin’s lair, it got a little dark with descriptions of YUCKY SPOILER! rabbit skulls and him killing an enslaved rabbit in front of the others. One other thing, while their religious system closely resembles that of Catholicism, I believe, there are a couple celebrations/ceremonies that may not directly correlate and could confuse very young readers.

Best quote: “Then rouse yourself, lad,” Uncle Wilfred growled. “Many wounds will bloom in this battle, and you will carry yours inside you. But carry them and fight on. Fight for Smalls, for Emma, for Heather and the whole wounded world. Carry your pain and let it fire you in the fight. Bear the burden and bear the flame.”

Altogether, this was a lovely book. I look forward to visiting Jo–I mean, all of these characters–again soon. 😉

Book Three awaits me.

Book Review: The Last Archer

lastarchercover“A Green Ember story set during Heather and Picket’s arrival at Cloud Mountain, The Last Archer follows the journey of Jo Shanks. Jo is a gifted archer with a burden on his back and a fire within. Eager to see the Longtreaders receive justice, he travels from his
Halfwind Citadel home to a Cloud Mountain poised on the brink of war. What he finds there will confront his convictions and test his resolve as the war begins and King Jupiter’s heir is revealed.

A kingdom in the balance. An arrow aimed at the heart of darkness.

Who will take the shot?” (from Goodreads)

This Green Ember short story is not to be missed! Thanks to a young Ember fan at church, I finally got to read this book. 😉

It’s probably no secret that archers are often my favorite characters. (Also, mailmen and doctors–with or without a capital d. :D) I loved reading about Nate his squad, fitly named the Bracers. Their competition was nice foreshadowing and very intense!

Jo Shanks, a character in this series I related to very much. Not necessarily in all ways, but his awkwardness, regrets, and desire to prove himself felt very real. I can’t tell you much about the end without spoilers, but I couldn’t be more pleased with what happened. 😀

Just a note, there was an intense battle and rabbits wounded by vicious wolves.

Altogether, this was a great addition to a wonderful series! I thought rabbits with swords were cool, but rabbit archers are even better. 😀 I hope Jo shows up in Ember #2 and #3. 😉

 

Bookish Happenings

Hello, I’m Shot Out of a Cannon. What’s your name?

Last week was one of the longest, coolest weeks of my life. (I got to celebrate a family birthday, participate in a Jesse Tree ornament exchange, help with a wedding reception, make new friends, and babysit the world’s sweetest kids.) And somehow during all of that, a ton of great bookish things still managed to happen. (Although, I didn’t get to read at all over the weekend.)

I wrote 5,000 hopefully useful-to-the-story words. I dreamed up Easter dresses for Kiera and Jade, wrote about them being sick (while having a headache myself–helps with the realism ya’ know), made sure the “romance” wasn’t going too quickly, and stressed myself out badly by the midpoint. Like seriously. My least favorite thing besides tragedy is uncertainty. Apparently I did a really good job putting my character through a situation I would hate; because, well… I hated it. 😉

keyboard-694709_1920

It’s a normal day and Kiera is cooking ahead and messaging her goofy bestie Destiny to invite her over to decorate sometime. Here’s what happens next…

“Do you want to come some morning with your fantastically weird scrap bag?”

“Yes please. If you please, ma’am. I’ll try to be good.”

“Hang on, dear. I’m getting a voice call.” Kiera realized seconds before it dropped. “Never mind. I missed it, but Mom’ll call back if she needs.”

“I was reading this really weird book the other day.”

“And Jade might be waking up, so keep talking while I’m gone.” Kiera set a few large knives up on the high counter, washed her hands again, and went upstairs to the sound of several incoming messages. Wow, Destiny was talking a lot.

She listened at the nursery door and decided she had just imagined that Jade was awake. Hurrying back down the stairs, she poured the spaghetti sauces into jars to cool and threw the cut vegetables into her soup pot. Now, what was a good breakfast to make ahead?

The device sounded again reminding her that Destiny was still waiting. She looked at the most recent message.

“I am so sorry, dear. That must be so scary! I’m praying for you.”

Kiera’s heart jumped. “Wait, what’s going on? Is this a payback prank?”

“I don’t think I should be the one to tell you. Maybe you should call your mom. Love you, dear.” Destiny was never this calm.

Kiera raced to check the voice calls. There were no messages left behind, but instead three missed calls were left in addition to Mom’s first try. One was from Ian? He never called her. All of this happened while she was upstairs? Her hands were shaking as she pushed the button to voice call Mom. No answer. She tried again. She even tried Dad and Ian. No one picked up.

Finally she did something she’d never done before and called Brennan. “Pick up, oh, please pick up. If I don’t find out what is going on…” She yelled at the device.

Brennan’s voice cut through the speaker. “Kiera, I’m coming home right now.”

“Brennan, what in the world is going on? Will you please tell me? I can’t get ahold of anyone!”

“Your Mom didn’t tell you?”

“I missed her calls!” She was desperate now.

Yeah, nice stuff, eh? I’m really happy to be this far through, and great things are coming! (After some really bad ones…)

71fc2cxadnl-_sl1094_

My copy of The Martian is done being attacked by white-out!!! My inner nerd adored the movie (I’ve seen it twice and can’t wait for the next time), so I knew of course that the book would be even better. Mom kept telling me how interesting it was as she was editing it for me (language problems), and all I could think was, “I can’t wait!” I really hope to get started on it this week. 😉

58d2fded7a80dfd831c78ab4225b7120

Ember Falls came in the mail! I finally splurged and bought it. It’s so beautiful. The name itself is so heartbreaking. I can’t wait to read it. But I’m scared. What happens to my favorite rabbits? *whimpers*

The world’s loooongest computer cord also came in the mail. 😉  My parents bought it for the computer I use most of the time, and I’m so happy to have it back in commission. Hopefully this means more writing. 😉 I’m also really happy that its so long (see above) at fourteen feet or so. The battery isn’t working so I have to stay plugged in, but this means I can plug in at one end of the room and sit at the other. XD

I also signed up to be part of a clean Christian reads Black Friday sale, which I’ll tell you more about later if you promise to be good. I can give you a list of the amazing authors that will be participating…

Now, what to do first? Write, read, read, or read? 😉

Exciting Things

Right now I’m super excited about four things–mainly.

31327371

Number one: the second Green Ember book released yesterday!!! Hooray for more rabbits with swords. 😉 I can’t wait to read it especially because of that horribly intriguing title.

Invitation

Two, that blog party is coming together! Save the date everyone. 😉 Lots of great book recommendations, giveaways, etc. coming soon. I just finished making my contribution to the grand prize, and I’ll post pictures here soon. Several of the participating bloggers have already drafted their posts, and the emails have been flying between us to get the last minute details straightened out. 😉

I asked my Goodreads people which Dickens books were their favorites, then looked them up, and finally decided on Nicholas Nickleby. We picked it up at the library today directly after my lovely dentist appointment, and I snagged Pickwick Papers and Fairest to try out as well. 😉 You can see more about them and my other library finds on my virtual shelf “Library Hopefuls”. When my stack starts getting dangerously low again I need to pick up some Sherlock Holmes and Anne Shirley. 😉 That’s the third thing.

And fourthly, I’m getting reading glasses! This may not sound super exciting to you; but in my field/job/hobby they just might be pretty important. 😉 We’re picking them up tomorrow.

What are you excited about?

Fantastic Fantasy Finds

I don’t read many fantasy books, but I have found a few I enjoy and can recommend wholeheartedly. Let me share them with you. 😉

dsc09964-1

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

When asked what book has most impacted my life, I immediately thought of this series. Light on the magic side with great [witty, British] characters and compelling stories, these books never fail to draw me in and nearer to my Savior.dreamlander

Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland

This book is soooooooo amazing!!! It has ginormously good worldbuilding, adventure, and characters. I love that the fantasy elements are kept to miraculous objects, unusual creatures, and world-jumping. Read my review here.

TheGreenEmberThe Green Ember by S.D. Smith

I read this book last year and loved it to pieces. The author describes it as “a new story with an old soul”, and I completely agree with him! It is such a beautiful, inspiring story; and an added bonus is that it’s completely magic free! If that wasn’t enough gushing about it for you, read my review. 😉 I can’t wait to read the second book, intriguingly titled Ember Falls.blackstar

The Blackstar of Kingston (also by S.D. Smith)

This book is a prequel to The Green Ember series and the first book in Tales of Old Natalia. I loved discovering the history of some of my favorite rabbits in an adventuresome, non-magical story! Read my review here.

24022364Water Princess, Fire Prince by Kendra Ardnek

I picked this book up just because it’s on sale this summer for Read-to-Win and was immediately pulled into a nerd’s dream world. What book would quote Jane Austen, Alice in Wonderland, and The Prince and the Pauper among others?!! The world-building was fantastic and only included other-wordly powers (excluding mind-control) as part of the fantasy. Find out more about it from my review. 😉

41egzxvm-5l-_sx311_bo1204203200_

 

Song of the Sword by Hope Ann

This book absolutely took me by surprise! There were so many good quotes to store away in my memory…so many lessons to tuck away inside my heart…so many things to love. This is another fantastic non-magical tale that serves to draw me nearer to my Lord! I’m so, so sorry [but not sorry :P]; but you are going to have to wait for my review until launch day this Friday. I’m mean like that, I know.

So, there you are! What fantasy books have you enjoyed? Come back tomorrow to read about my personal standards for this genre…

Book Review: The Black Star of Kingston

blackstar“A century before Heather and Picket’s adventures in The Green Ember, a
displaced community fights for hope on the ragged edge of survival.
My place beside you
My blood for yours
Till the Green Ember rises
Or the end of the world.
Whitson Mariner and Fleck Blackstar face old fears and new enemies, forging a legend that will echo through the ages.
Old wars haunt. New enemies threaten. An oath is born.
A hero rises.” 
(From Amazon)

So after I read The Green Ember and loved it to pieces, I began to try to stretch my Amazon money to buy a paperback copy of its prequel. The author, S.D. Smith, had done such an amazing job with his other story that I wanted more, more, more. ; ) And why not buy paperback while I was at it? While I was still in the stretching process, The Blackstar of Kingston became free on Kindle. Oh the temptation to pick it up! Then I found out Mom had picked it up. Oh the temptation to read it! Don’t ever look at the cover, table of contents, prologue, and first chapter of a book if you intend to wait on reading it. Confession: I read it in a day and a half.

The Setting:
Again set in the fantasy world of Natalia, this book has a lot of the same feel as its sequel but a whole new dimension of its own. Instead of a broken kingdom with a lost king, this time it is the beginning of a kingdom being carved out in a new land. And again, it’s so awesome that the characters are rabbits because it makes action and danger so different. This time it’s not just rabbits with swords—some of them have bows too which is good because they are being attacked from above! (And the rabbits look really cute with them in the pictures, but that’s beside the point.)

The Story:
This book was a lot shorter than The Green Ember which naturally made it more fast-paced. While it lacked the fabulous mystery of its sequel, it made up for that in brilliant action and inspiring moments. (I underlined so much in some places because I seriously couldn’t read a page without finding some gem!) ; ) The main lessons of the book were probably loyalty and hoping for the future. I loved reading about Heather and Picket’s heroes of old, finding out the significance of the green ember, and having something more to read about Natalia. ; )

The Characters:
I loved Fleck Blackstar. He was loyal, passionate, cautious, and heroic. Definitely one of the best rabbits ever. (He invented that really cool pledge!) Humble King Whitson Mariner, Massie, Burnley, and Gavin were also huge favorites of mine. And little Prince Lander is pretty cute. ; )

The Concerns:
Parents should have caution in considering this book for younger readers because of some intense un-graphic action. (Seriously, birds of prey with blades strapped to their feet and torches to set your ships on fire is really scary when you are a rabbit!) Other concerns include a young child/rabbit in danger, a destroyed town, and a rabbit who is so scared he is going crazy.

So, that’s the prequel I was longing to read. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to decide which book is better because this one is an action-packed story of their inspiring history and the sequel is a complicated, surprising mystery full of hope for the future. To make this decision even worse, the author is coming out with another book this spring. (I seriously cannot wait to see what happens to my most favorite rabbits ever!) Sigh.

I really liked this part of the book because it was so unlike others I have read…

“’They are well, thank you,’ the king said. ‘Last night I broke the news to Prince Lander that he was not to accompany us on our return trip, and he was—how shall I say it—Most displeased.’ Fleck smiled. ‘His Royal Highness has spirit. It will serve him well when he is king.’ ‘But he must learn obedience,’ the king said. ‘That will serve him better.’”

And I have to share just this one quote in closing so you can see how awesome Blackstar is. ; )

“It was the little prince who spoke, arresting Fleck’s waking dream. ‘You don’t seem afraid, Captain Blackstar,’ he said. ‘You’re smiling.’ Fleck realized that he was and that now the prince was smiling too. ‘I am afraid,’ Fleck said, tenderly touching the prince’s head. ‘But I keep on loving what’s on the other side of this fight. And that will have to make me brave.’”

I just cannot wait for the next book… 😉

If you found this review helpful, please consider voting for it on amazing Amazon and good Goodreads.

Book Review: The Green Ember!!!


TheGreenEmber“Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.

Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?” (from Amazon)

 

Rabbits? That has to be something cute like Beatrix Potter’s stories, right? That’s what I thought when I heard about this book by S.D. Smith. I picked it up anyway since it looked all right and might be something my little sisters would enjoy. Rabbits, seriously? No, these rabbits are different—they have swords, and a war, and a lost king. They have a well-written, compelling story (good enough to have quotes out of it!) that surprised me with its depth of plot. The cover shows that it was probably intended for middle graders. Sorry, eight-to-twelve-year-olds, I claim it. It’s mine.

The Setting: Set in the fantasy world of Natalia—a world very much like our own—this book had a nice heroic and medieval feel. Since it’s told from the perspective of rabbits, that made the action quite different from your usual book; and it also made the regular dangers of the forest even scarier. Seriously, imagine being able to jump around like crazy while you are sword fighting or to give a wolf a hard kick with your hind legs.

The Story: The story was very good, better than some things I’ve read that are for older audiences! At first glance, it seems quite similar to all the other oh-wow-we’re-the-lost-heirs-of-wherever books. Not so in the least! Very surprising and satisfying.  There were also great lessons on forgiveness and heart-warming (even funny!) moments along the way.

The Characters: I loved Heather and Picket—they were so real. (I even forgot they were rabbits at some points.) Emma, Gort, Uncle Wilfred, and Smalls were also great favorites of mine. I found Kyle and Helmer intriguing and couldn’t wait to find out who they really were.

The Concerns: Parents should have caution in choosing this book for younger readers because of some intense, un-graphic action and some bad attitude that is later resolved. Also, SPOILER ALERT!!!! Heather and Picket’s home is burnt by some pretty scary wolves, and they don’t know what happened to their parents and baby brother. And because they are rabbits (that’s not important though, right?) when they are underground there is mention of creepy creatures chasing them and the wolves do threaten to eat them sometimes. And, SPOILER ALERT AGAIN!!! massive battle at the end does mention rabbits being dead or wounded.

So—read this book!!!!! I found it to be an awesome, well-written story! It is actually the second book, but it can pretty much stand-alone.

This review is getting dangerously long. You can drop off now, or you can stick around for some really awesome quotes. ; )

“Like the blazing branch they had only just escaped, the rain came down suddenly, with no pitter-patter of polite introduction.”

Smith, S. D. (2014-12-12). The Green Ember (Kindle Locations 137-138). Story Warren Books. Kindle Edition.

“What do I always tell you? ‘Not enough salt is an in-salt,’ and ‘Too much salt is an as-salt!’”

Smith, S. D. (2014-12-12). The Green Ember (Kindle Location 1432). Story Warren Books. Kindle Edition.

“This is from wisdom, child,” Mrs. Weaver said. “Growing up is terribly wonderful. But often it’s also wonderfully terrible. Ha, a riddle of words amounting to nothing. A stuttering cleverism that falls as short as my feeble steps. But this is true. A teacher could become rich if he ever perfected the art of helping mature students unlearn many awful things. Enjoy your innocence, my dear. Even if it only lasts the day.”

Smith, S. D. (2014-12-12). The Green Ember (Kindle Locations 2386-2389). Story Warren Books. Kindle Edition.

“He turned to look at Picket, and there were tears in his eyes. “Picket,” he said quietly, “stay angry. It’s okay if it’s at me, for now. If you aren’t angry about the wicked things happening in the world all around, then you don’t have a soul.”

Smith, S. D. (2014-12-12). The Green Ember (Kindle Locations 1017-1019). Story Warren Books. Kindle Edition.

And I, Lady Kate, leave you with this—the poetic Green Ember pledge. We nerds love it over here. ; )

“Picket smiled. “My place beside you. My blood for yours. Till the Green Ember rises, or the end of the world.”

Smith, S. D. (2014-12-12). The Green Ember (Kindle Locations 3366-3367). Story Warren Books. Kindle Edition.

If you found this review helpful, please consider voting for it on Amazon and Goodreads.