Fantail Journeys by Mary McElroy

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Molly had a burning desire to see the world. But could she leave the safety of home and family and a special boyfriend to live on a college ship for a semester while visiting seventeen countries? At first she didn’t know a single person, even her roommate, but she soon found herself in a tight-knit group of students who traversed three continents together. Through such events as tragedy striking at Easter, a friend disappearing with the flirtatious guide in Morocco, and an angry lady in France trying to destroy Molly’s camera, the group learned to protect each other during hard times. They stuck together using a variety of resources to cope with different cultures and languages. But was Molly’s faith strong enough to endure whatever adventure came with the next port?

Fantail Journeys has exposed a new dream of mine: To go on a 4 month cruise, doing college and touring the world. I would love to grab a friend or two and head off on this extraordinary adventure. I couldn’t imagine a funner way to experience college.
The story in itself was okay. I wasn’t a fan of the whole thing being written in diary form, it just wasn’t what I enjoyed. I though the storyline was fairly easy. Though it felt like a lot of stuff was crammed into the pages, I didn’t really get to experience much. All I got was a simple description. It was also very hard for me to keep up with who was who. By the end I just gave up on figuring it all out.
I also felt like the whole part of Christianity was thrown into the story. It didn’t seem to show Mary grow in her faith like it said she did at the end of the book. If the book is supposed to be considered Christian and about her growing in her relationship with Christ, I would like to see more growth then a short church service once a week.
I also would have liked to get to know Mary better. I don’t know much about her home life, her family, or some things about her, for that matter. She seems sorta underdeveloped. Most of the characters seem that way. I wouldn’t have minded a few extra pages of it meant I got to know Mary and her friends better.
Overall, I thought the book was easy and comfortable to read, but it felt crammed and underdeveloped.

-Lilian-

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

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“Mother? ” There was no reply. She hadn’t expected one. Her mother had been dead, now, for four days, and Kira could tell that the last of the spirit was drifting away … Now she was all alone.

Left orphaned and physically flawed in a civilization that shuns and discards the weak, Kira faces a frighteningly uncertain future. Her neighbors are hostile and no one but a small boy offers to help. When she is summoned to judgement by The Council of Guardians, Kira prepares to fight for her life. But the Council, to her surprise, has plans for her. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, the young girl faces new responsibilities and a set of mysteries deep within the only world she has ever known. On her quest for truth, Kira discovers things that will change her life and world forever. A compelling examination of a future society, Gathering Blue challenges readers to think about community, creativity, and the values that they have learned to accept. Once again Lois Lowry brings readers on a provocative journey that inspires contemplation long after the last page is turned.

Gathering Blue is the second book in The Giver Quartet. It was an enjoyable book, but I feel the book seemed to lack in its storyline.
I read The Giver and instantly knew I had to read the next book. Little did I know, the next book, Gathering Blue, doesn’t even involve anything in the first book. I was really looking forward to getting to know more about Jonas and Gabriel and seeing how their life went on. But I was sad to see Gathering Blue didn’t even have a mention of them. I felt like I was reading a separate series.
With that in mind, I did enjoy the book. It didn’t take very long to read, but I thought it covered the basics. Sadly, it didn’t answer all my questions. It left me feeling like I stopped the book halfway through it. I don’t know what happens to any of them, which is sad because Thomas and Jo were growing on me. So unless the next two books continue the story somehow, I feel incomplete.
In the end, I can’t say I didn’t like the book. It was very enjoyable. It just feels like I am missing half of the story. It feels incomplete. I’ll have to read the next two books to see if Lois gives me an explanation.

-Lilian-

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

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Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one.
Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved … and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know—and love itself.
Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. In Book One of the River of Time series, Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.
And thus she comes to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Waterfall is the first book in The River of Time Series. Let me tell you, I was hooked from chapter 1. The suspense, the action, the romance.. It’s all so intoxicating.
I think what makes this book stand out is how it’s not cheesy like some other romance novels. I have read some books where the romance is plain and forced, and the words don’t seem to mean anything. But in Waterfall, that’s not the case. I think the romance is new and refreshing.
Another thing I like about the novel is how it is not particularly focused on the romance. Gabriella wants nothing more then to find her sister, and I think Lisa does a very good job of keeping that as the focus, along with the romance and action involved.
Upon reading this book, I instantly fell in love with Evangelia’s character. She is strong and independent, yet she has a big heart. She cares for her family dearly and wants nothing more then to have her original life back.
Overall, this is a beautiful story of love, life, and family. It includes many perils along the way. It beautifully shows Gabriella’s struggles to trust God in everything. Showing those inner struggles in the book really makes this book feel like your Gabriella or you are Evangelia. This is one of my favorite books I have ever read!

If your interested in learning more about Lisa and The River of Time Series, along some of Lisa’s other great books, check out her blog @ http://lisatawnbergren.com/books/waterfall/

Lilian-