Sunday, April 15, 2018

That Last Book of a Trilogy (April Reads 2018)

Sometimes I wait until the second book of a trilogy or series is published before I dive into the first one.  This way I don't have to sit around on pins and needles as bide my time til the next book comes out.  I know this isn't the best strategy  for supporting my favorite authors, but it is does save me some peace of mind. There are pros and cons to both methods.

This spring three series that I have been reading are coming to an end.  This brings a mix of emotions.  By this time, the characters have become my friends, and I am sad to bid them farewell.  On the other hand, I am ready for some  closure and hopefully a happy ending.  

My reading this month included starting one series, continuing another, and working on the ending of still another.



1. The Unblemished Trilogy by Sara Ella

This YA fantasy series focuses on Eliyana, a girl who has lived her whole life with a blemish on her face.  It starts in modern day NY with the story shifting between the different dimensions as Eliyana figures out who she is and what she wants to fight for.  The story is about discovering family's secrets, embracing your gifts, and fighting the evil within.  Here are the books in order with the third one coming out in May.  The first book is only $1.99 which is a great price if you are wanting to try the series out.

Unbreakable

From book 2:
"You still don't get it." He shakes his head.  " You think people need to look past your mirror mark to see you.  But your mark is part of you.  Love isn't about ignoring the pieces we don't like.  It's about accepting the complete and beautiful whole.  See yourself as I see you. Inside and out." 

2.  A Deliverer Comes (Kinsman Chronicles) by Jill Williamson

In this 8th ebook installment of the series, hope is reborn in the midst of overwhelming odds against Armania and its allies.  Trevn and others continue to entertain with their witty conversations and their quest to follow Arman fully.  As my husband and I read the book together, we found ourselves once again cheering for our favorites and not quite minding when certain characters got what was coming to them.  Since the series is so close to the end, this installment does end in a cliffhanger.  But not to worry, the next and final installment, Warriors of the Veil, comes out at the beginning of June.  If you like fantasy but haven't tried any of Jill's books, the first ebook Darkness Reigns is free.


3. The Wounded Shadow (The Darkwater Saga Book #3) by Patrick Carrs 

This series takes place in a world where some people are gifted and others are not.  The most rare gift is the gift of domere where the holder can see into someone's memories by touching their skin.  It is a world where the dark water forest is growing, and the evil in it is harder to contain.  In this final book, Willet, an unlikely hero, and others are fighting to stop the evil anyway they can.  Can it be defeated?  And if so, in time?

My husband and I are enjoying reading this last book together.  The twists and turns of the plot keep us guessing how it will all turn out. Hopefully by the end of this weekend we will have the answers to the above questions.  

What is your current favorite series?  Did you wait to start the series or dive right in when the first book came out?

Check out other book reviews at Modern Ms Darcy's Quick lit link up for April.

(Affiliate links are in this post)

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Friday, March 23, 2018

When Your Heart Keeps Getting Broken

I can see him clearly in my mind, sitting to the left of me at his desk, as I teach my Algebra I class.  His sandy brown head is bent over his paper as he tries to keep up with taking notes. It is my first year teaching at an International school in Central Asia. It is his first year at the school as a student.  M as I will call him was determined to learn, and he asked me politely to speak just a little slower.  I smiled and replied him that I would try.  



M was one of those students that make teachers happy that they chose the teaching profession.  He didn't expect life to be handed to him on a silver platter.  His attendance at the school was made possible by his dad's job on campus.  If he didn't understand, he was quick to ask questions or stay after school to figure it all out.  When M received most of the awards for his class at end of the year, the other students just smiled because they too were rooting for M to succeed.  

After that first year, I never had M in class again but would see him in the hallways between classes.  A smile was always on his face.  I will always remember his smile even now as tears fill my eyes.  Yesterday the news came that M died when in a bomb explosion near the university he attended.  It is a tragic loss for his family, his friends and his country. To many, including the teachers who taught at the school, M was the future hope of the country we had come to love.

M is not the first and will probably not be the last to die in that war torn country.  With each death, my heart breaks.  As I read the news, I am tempted to close off my heart.  People are dying for no reason in Syria, Afghanistan, Congo, and many other places.  These places are so far away, making it easy to forget about them except for the blips on the news.  But today I am remembering that each life had friends, family, and most of all a God who loves them whether they knew it or not.  On this day where it feels like hope is dying, I cling to  a Savior who endured the cross for me and others so that we could have hope.

But where is the balance?  How can I love and grieve without totally falling apart?  How can a heart handle loss after loss?  Is what I am doing even making a difference?  Many cope by putting up a wall trying not to care.  Others ignore the hurt not out of spite but as a way to cope.  Some dive into trivial pursuits because they feel like they are not making a difference.

In this season of Easter, we are reminded that the answer is found at the cross.  It is at the cross that we lay down the grief, hurt, and fears that come from loving deeply even when death and evil seem to be winning. It is at the cross where our Savior suffered for all us so that sin would not have the victory.  In this season, we hold on to Jesus more tightly and abide in him more fully.  It is at the empty tomb that hope is revived because our Risen Lord holds the keys to death and hades. (Rev 1:18).  The empty tomb is a reminder that God will be victorious.  

My prayer is that I will be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord no matter what is happening around the world. Our labor for God is never in vain.  (I Cor. 15:57,58)  I ask that my heart will weep with those who weep and will not be closed off to the suffering even if is an ocean away from me.  May all that I do be done with love. (I Cor. 16: 14)


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Eclectic Reads (March 2018 Edition)

What do you do when you are awake at 5:30 and can't get back to sleep?  Sometimes I get up and start my day but ost of the time, I am not ready to get out of bed.   I would rather continue reading whatever was on my nightstand from the night before.  The best thing about reading so early in the morning is that my brain is less cluttered making it easier to absorb nonfiction.  

Most of my books this month came from holds at the library.  This resulted in books from different genres and styles.  Some months, my reading seems to have a theme.  This month was not one of those.  Here are my books read, in progress, and on my bookshelf... for the past month.

READ:



1. Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown

My word for this year is Connection.  This book talks about connection and belonging and so much more.  I loved her four main points and how she used stories to back each up.  

Favorite quote:
"True belonging is not something you negotiate externally; it's what you carry in your heart."



2. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Oathbringer is the third book in a fantasy series called The Stormlight Archive.  This very long book has great character development, realistic but unique kingdoms, and lots of twists and turns.  By this third book the characters have become either friends that you cheer on or enemies that you wish would fall over a cliff.  (Okay, maybe not that drastic.) My favorite part of the book is the underlining themes that have me thinking about life and connection and meaning.  

Favorite quote:
Still, he held to her hand.  "What do you become out there, Shallan?  Who do you become?"
 "Everyone," she said.  Then she reached up and kissed him on cheek.  "Thank you for being you, Adolin?"
"Everyone else was taken already," he mumbled.


3. Snapshot by Lis Wiehl

What if an old snapshot held the key to solving an old crime that put the wrong person in prison?  Snapshot mixes some real history with the assassination of a fictional civil rights leader.  For being a mystery, it was a relaxing read because it was more about the characters than the crime.  Still, the reader is kept on her toes trying to figure out who did it plus the other questions that keep being raised about the past of these characters.

IN PROGRESS:


4. Code Girls by Liza Mundy

Being a math major and a teacher, I would like to think that I might have been a code girl if I had lived during that era.  Code Girls is about the women behind breaking the secret codes and encryption machines during WWII.  It is a nonfiction book that looks at different ladies who worked in the government and what roles they played.  It is part of WWII that I knew nothing about so I am enjoying this peek into a part of history that is mostly unknown.


5. Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned from Doing Stupid Stuff by Chip Gaines 

I originally checked this book out for my husband to read, but we decided instead to read it together.  Chip's stories keep us laughing but in the midst of those stories, Chip adds words of wisdom and lessons learned.  I like how Chip views what some would call failure as an opportunity to learn.  I also love Chip and his wife's vision and love for making their city of Waco a better place.

NEXT READS:



A Deliverer Comes (The Kinsman Chronicles) Part 8... by Jill Williamson

This is the 8th ebook installment of the series.  The story continues with one of my favorite characters still figuring out how to be king as he and others fight against the evil that wants to overtake the kingdom...

For reviews of other books in the series:
Darkness Reigns: Part One

King's Folly (Parts 1-3)

King's Blood (Parts 4-6)

What did you read this month?

For other book reviews, check out the quick lit link up at Modern Ms. Darcy.  

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are in this post.