Son by Lois Lowry

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

As some of you may know, I have mixed feelings about The Giver quartet. On one hand, they are great stories with very likable characters. On the other hand, they can have a slow start and be hard to keep along with due to quick character perspective changes. Son had both of these things. But it has to be my favorite book in the quartet.

Let me tell you why.

Meet Claire. A young girl who has grown up in a world of no choices, no love, and no freedom. It’s all emotionless and life is about nothing more then being as effective and productive as can be. When she turns 12, she, and all the rest of the kids turning 12, gets their job. They will get to know what they will do for the rest of their young lives until they get old. Claire can’t wait. She’s expecting a high-end job that will make her parents as proud of her as they are of her older brother, who works in law and order. So when Claire gets her job, she is none too happy.

Birthmother.

Claire’s purpose in life is going to be to get pregnant (in a genetically produced way that just requires a shot in the arm). She will have no contact to the outside world for a few years while she births up to three children. She’s 14 when the book opens up and she is having her first child. A son.

If you’ve read the first three books, you may be able to easily place together her life, and especially who her so- I mean new child, is.

What I liked about this book is how it incorporated all of the main characters (and some lesser ones) from the past 3 books into this one. Jonas. Gabriel. Kira. They are all here.

I also like Claire. Her personality makes her so likable. She is determined. Strong. Motivated. All good qualities to look for in a female protagonist. And what makes this whole series different from a lot of ones is that it is not focused on a romance or love triangle. Phew. I never thought we would get out of that phase.

But this book is also a lot darker and scarier then all the rest, thanks to the trade master. He brings a darkness and violent element to the books that I never expected.

In the end, this darker book is my new favorite in the series, brining back all my favorite, lovable characters while adding some new ones. I felt it was a perfect ending for the series, though it did continue with the feeling that their should be more to it. As if there should be 5 books. I guess Lois Lowry is leaving the rest up to the imagination of the reader.

-Lilian-

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Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa T. Bergren

Gifted teens known as Remnants have been chosen and trained to act as humanity’s last hope to rectify the horrors that are now part of everyday life in 2095. The Community has trained these teens as warriors and assigned them Knights of the Last Order as protectors; together they are a force that will be difficult to bring down. The Sons of Sheol, of course, are hell bent on doing just that.

I am a huge fan of Lisa and her writing, so of course I have to read all her books that I can get my hands on. So when I saw my local library had this book, I ordered it immediately!

So let me set the scene for you.

It’s around 50 years in the future. Everything has changed. Their was a nuclear war and a lot of the earth was destroyed and wasn’t deemed livable for years. Society is now back to its simple and hard ways. A lot of animals have gone extinct, and the ground is very hard to plant in without tools, so food is very scarce.
Now comes in this 17 year old girl, Andriana. She has been raised and trained all her life, along with her knight Ronan, to save the world from the dark and evil forces that are rising to power. So throughout the book, the two of them, along with several other people just like them, go on a journey to save the world. But they don’t do it alone. They do it all with the help and guidance of “The Maker”, aka God.

Now on to my review.

From page one, you dive right into the story. You are suddenly immersed in the world and life of Andriana. At first, it was a little confusing as I tried to get used to the lifestyle and words and phrases of the story. But after awhile, I just got used to them and could effortlessly read the book.
I loved the characters! I absolutely fell in love with them. Lisa provided just enough depth for them so that I can imagine them my own way, yet have a basic idea of where to start. And if you’ve rad my reviews before, you probably know how much I value that in a book!
The whole plot worked perfectly. It made me want to keep reading and reading it! I was so caught up in the story, imagining it like a movie playing out in my head,
The ending was horribly perfect. It ended on such a cliffhanger!! My favorite character (I won’t name her/him for spoiler purposes) may be dead and I won’t know it until book two (Remnants: Season of Fire) comes out! Thankfully I don’t have to wait long, it’s comes out March 3😊. So anyways, the ending just hooked me on and I MUST know how it continues.
In the end, this is now one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. I totally recommend it to anyone looking for a good dystopian YA read! It’s a story of Faith, romance, and staying focused on God when the going gets tough.

-Lilian-

2015 Reading So Far

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How’s everyone’s 2015 reading going so far? This year I am participating in the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge! It’s been fun! So far I’ve completed-

-A Book by a Female Author
-A Book with a One-Word Title
-A Book from an Author You Love that you Haven’t Read Yet
-A Non-Fiction Book
-A Book with a Love Triangle
-A Banned Book

I’m a little behind on this list because I didn’t start it until the beginning of February.
I’ve read around 13 books so far this year! My goal is 50😊

Is anyone else participating in this challenge?
How many books have you read so far this year?
Any good book recommendations for me to add to me TBR (to be read) list?

Tell me in the comments!

-Lilian-

Matched by Ally Condie

In the society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one… until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion.

This was my second time reading Matched. I have to say, reading it again, I can see things I didn’t see before.
For example, my perspective on characters change. Before, I always sympathized with Ky. I thought him and Cassia were meant to be. But this time around, I sympathize with Xander so much more. I realize how he just lost everything he cared about. His future. The love of his life. I couldn’t imagine being in his shoes.
I don’t like how Cassia gave up Xander, but I do understand her situation. She had a lot of tough choices to make. She had to choose to what extent she was willing to go for the ones she loves. I admire her bravery.
In this first book, most of it is a set up for the rest of the series. I feel like so much of this book is spent in flashbacks and explaining how she got to this point and her relationship with people up until now. Most of the time, I would have gotten bored with that sort of writing. But not this time. I think Ally Condie did a wonderful job setting up the story so you won’t be confused later on, but also adding in the current day to day life Cassia is living.
I also love the characters. They all have the perfect depth to them. It’s like I know them all and I understand them and their lives. They aren’t strangers to me, and I’m not left to wonder what they are like.
Overall, I recommend this book and this whole series. It has such a perfect balance and the story is so captivating and well written, it’s a must read.

-Lilian-

P.S. Click here to view the book trailer! http://youtu.be/xaeNWL8rlBI

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

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Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

The Princess Spy is the newest book in the fairytale series by Melanie Dickerson. Each book is based off of a classic fairytale. The books go in the order that follows:

The Healers Apprentice (Sleeping Beauty)
The Merchants Daughter (Beauty and the Beast)
The Fairest Beauty (Snow White)
The Captive Maiden (Cinderella)
The Princess Spy (The Frog Prince)

With this series, I have particularly enjoyed how all the books are related to each other through a family member. Normally someone in the third book would be related to someone in the first book and so on like that. That is something different and I really liked seeing how they all relate.
Now on to just this book.
I enjoyed reading it. I still got caught up in the medieval lifestyle (as I always do) and the budding romance. I also really enjoyed the depth of the characters. I loved getting to know them better and knowing their feelings and their prayers.
But, I also found some parts I didn’t particularly like.
First, as I’ve said with all the books, they are way too similar. They have there own little differences, but most of the plots are alike.

A boy who comes in to rescue the girl, falls in love with her, tells himself she doesn’t love you so you can’t love her, and ends up with her.

A girl who is wealthy (whether she knows it or not), is strong willed, fights for her life, tries to avoid a man she doesn’t want to marry, falls in love with mysterious boy, tells herself she doesn’t love him, and ends up with him.

A villain, usually a guy (but not limited to being one), normally wants to marry the girl, the girl doesn’t want to marry the villain, he goes off and attacks, kidnaps the girl several times, and ends up losing to the boy in the end. (Though The Fairest Beauty is the only one that changes away from this plot. It has a female villain.)

So I’m kinda tired of the same old plot line. It just gets old after awhile.
Next, I really couldn’t find any resemblance to The Frog Prince. It’s not a major problem, but I would have like to see a more obvious relation between the two.
Finally, I couldn’t find main character I can like. Colin was too stubborn and most times he made a decision, I thought he should have done the opposite. Margaretha is the most likable, though I felt her too strong-willed and wild for my liking. Though, I guess I could relate to her the most, because I can tend to talk to much, be too loud, and wonder if people think I’m annoying also.
In the end, I would recommend this book to someone looking for a nice, clean, medieval fairytale, but worn them that the repetitive storyline in all the books can be quite tiring.

-Lilian-

Messenger by Lois Lowry

Messenger is the masterful third novel in the Giver Quartet, which began with the dystopian bestseller The Giver, now a major motion picture.

Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Village once welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must risk everything to make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.

After reading Gathering Blue (the second installment in the series), I had drastically lowered my standards. The previous book disappointed me too much, I just couldn’t get my hopes up.
I was proven wrong. Messenger, while still possessing some qualities I don’t particularly like, was better then I thought it would be. The ending totally surprised me beyond words.
I was glad to see a continuation on the story of Matty, who is a part in Gathering Blue. This story line is just so unpredictable and spontaneous, it works. I’m kinda at a loss to explain it.
I think the story line was a little lacking, but it really made up for it when it kept me hooked on every page. I finished this book in 24 hours, it was just that good.
I would totally recommend this book to anyone. You don’t even have to read the first two books to get this one, even though it may help you understand everything. Since I enjoyed this one, I will be ordering Son, the fourth and final book in the quartet, asap.

Courageous Teens by Michael Catt

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“The story is told of a battle where the flag bearer got so far ahead of the regiment that he officer called back to headquarters and asked, ‘Shall we bring the flag back to the regiment?’ The commanding officer said, ‘No, make the regiment catch up with the flag!’

Today we need young people with the hearts of warriors; people who will run to catch up with the flag Christ carries ahead of us. People who won’t turn back. But the responsibility to mentor those young people falls to me, to my generation. . . . Unless the people of my generation take the time to equip you, our young people, with spiritual courage, the church is always just one generation away from extinction.

In these pages I explore the examples of people int he Bible who displayed great courage when playing it safe would have been easier. Each section begins with a segment of Joshua’s story of courage and throughout we explore other leading examples of courage in the Bible. Esther and Moses, Daniel and Jesus–each story challenges us to keep moving forward. they cause us to examine our priorities and deal with any thing that brings fear to our hearts. They call us to have a faith that matches our mountains.

I’m praying God will call you to do something great for His name and His glory. It may not make the headlines, but greatness is determined by God, not by man. Most of all, I am praying that you have the courage to answer that call. . . . I hope and pray this book will find its way into the hands of young people who will say, ‘By the grace of God, I will make a difference with my life. I will count the cost, pay the price, stand in the gap, and confront the culture.’”

I was really looking forward to reading Courageous Teens. I’m really working on my relationship with God right now. I’m working from the inside out in myself. I’m especially focusing on leadership, standing out in my Faith, having the courage to be bold, and what I can do to further the Kingdom. So let’s just say I was really hoping this book would help me.
In some ways, it did. I got a more in-depth look at some Bible characters like Nehemiah, Paul and Timothy, Joshua, and Stephen. I didn’t know a whole bunch about some of them. This book also did offer inspiration and continue to fuel my want to be a leader.
But, parts of it also disappointed me. I don’t want to sound stupid, but there were some parts of the book I just didn’t understand. My spiritual and intellectual levels must not be high enough. Some paragraphs left me feeling confused. Maybe in a few years when I read it again I’ll understand those paragraphs. But for now, I’m befuddled.
Another problem I had is how it’s hard to read this book without seeing the movie. I was planning on watching it sometime after it came out, but difficult situations arised and I probably won’t watch it for a time now. So I did feel like they could have made it a little more readable for people who haven’t seen the movie yet.
Overall, I felt like it was a fairly informing read, but not the most interesting one I have read. It may have been a little above my “level” if I have one. I do recommend this book if you are looking for more insight on courageous people in the Bible and on being a courageous teen, but I think this book should be read by older teens or teens with higher intellectual and spiritual levels.

-Lilian-

God Girl by Hayley DiMarco

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Music, sports, entertainment, and politics–from Hollywood to Washington there are prominent women making a mark on the world today. And a media-rich society chronicles their every move for fans to follow. But what does it mean to be a girl who follows God and not just the latest popular public figures? In God Girl, bestselling author and teen mentor Hayley DiMarco will help girls make sense of it all as she points them to who they are, who they are becoming, and who God made them to be.
God Girl will help girls know what it means to be a woman of God in every area of life–with their thoughts, in their actions, and as they make daily choices about friends, fashion, faith, and everything in between. It’s sure to be an instant classic.

Wow. Just wow. I’m at a loss for words on this book, so excuse me if this isn’t my best review.
I could tell from chapter 1 that this book was going to be a good one. But I didn’t know how good it was gonna be.
Throughout the book, Hayley hits on a lot of good topics, but keeps them into 6 chapters. The first chapter kinda highlights everything that is gonna be in the next chapters. The next 5 chapters are about how a God Girl:

-loves
-finds true happiness
-knows herself
-knows how to communicate
-knows God

Every chapter offers valuable insight about how to become a God Girl, how a God Girl acts and speaks, how a God Girl would handle certain situations, etc. And it all has Bible verses to back up what is being said.
Upon finishing this book, I already feel a change stirring in me. I may end up reading this book a few more times to absorb everything and put it into practice. Some areas of my life and my thinking are gonna have to change. But if it’s for God, it’s all worth it.
I highly recommend this book. It’s target demographic is ages 13-18, and a lot of the situations in the book focus around teenage life. But I think this book can apply to all women, no matter how old you are. No matter what the age, you should strive to be a God Girl and become the woman God wants you to be, and this book can offer some outstanding advice for you.
I also must add that the designs and the font is adorable! It’s so beautiful on the inside and just makes me want to read it and apply it all the more!
So in the end, this book is changing my life. Now excuse me while I go read it a few more times through.

-Lilian-

P.S. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @lilians_books!:)