A Terrible Tyrant

casper and jasperCasper and Jasper, twelve-year old twins, constantly bicker and always find themselves in trouble. Don’t be fooled because they also love their parents and help each other.  Parents might like to know that these two brothers compare to the Laurel and Hardy comedies of the 1920’s to 1950’s.  Younger people probably won’t know about Laurel and Hardy, but when parents hear laughter as their children read this book, they’ll know that similar comedy is taking place.  The boys get their positive outlook on life from their parents. While this book has serious situations and a dangerous plot, Casper and Jasper, give just enough comic relief to lesson the negative effect of a dystopian.  They aren’t the only protagonists, but they certainly add to the enjoyment of this book.

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“Between Shades of Gray”

between shades of grayAs terrible as it may seem, I’ve always been fascinated with the WWII time period. People write stories, both fiction and non-fiction, along with first hand accounts, so the rest of the world will not only know what truth, but they will never forget the horrors and the countless lives of innocent men, women, and children, that were lost.

“Between Shades of Gray” by Ruta Sepetys  is a fictional story based off of events that took place in Lithuania from 1940-1954 after WWII under the rule of Joseph Stalin and the Soviets.  Fifteen year old Lina, along with her mother and brother are ripped from their home and shoved into cattle cars hauled to many different destinations.  Throughout the book, Lina uses her artistic talent to draw pictures, passing them along hoping they will reach her father whose location and status is not known.

To start off on a more positive note, I want to point out that I absolutely adore the cover of this book.  I usually don’t like that extra flap they sometimes put in a book, but I feel it really relates and sets the mood for the story you’re about to read.

The cool thing about this book is even though the story itself is fictional, the author’s grandfather was a Lithuanian military officer.  her grandparents and father fled the country yet many of her grandfather’s family members were deported to Siberia.  About six pages into this book there are two maps representing the journey from Lithuania to Siberia.

Everyone knows about Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust, but what happened in Lithuania took place after WWII was over and their genocide was hushed. In my opinion this book is not as graphic as “Night” by Elie Wiesel, but it’s still not a book for the faint of heart.

There aren’t many positive things to say about the elements of the story simply because it is such a sad story. I know this review sounds more like a history lesson than a book review, but it’s just so, soo, sooo important that we talk about the brutality brought on by hate.

Overall, I loved this book.  I took my time reading it so I could really feel the emotional distress portrayed through each of the characters.  I have a love/hate relationship for the end of the book. It’s like the perfect ending for this type of book, but you just wish it would give you a little more.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.  I always enjoy hearing other people’s opinions and what they thought so you can leave those opinions in the comments.

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About this Book

It’s 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin’s extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It’s a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

A Captivating Adventure

The Captured Bride 3“The Captured Bride” by Michelle Griep is the third book in “The Daughters of the Mayflower” series and is my favorite.  This might be because of the characters, the time period, or just that each book in this series will be my favorite as I read them.  No matter the reason, it’s inspiring.

Michelle Griep creates characters in “The Captured Bride” that you want to know at a deeper level. Mercy Lytton, Matthew Prinn, Elias Dubois and Rufus Bragg are multifaceted characters with pasts that you can’t wait to have exposed.  You want to understand how each came into their present characteristics and you want to know what drives them to the actions they take. For example, in the first chapter the following sentences peak your curiosity about Mercy:  “She stared at him but said nothing.  A survival tactic – one her mother should have learned.”  Later in the book we learn why Mercy thought these thoughts. The character developments are not disappointing and the relationships that progress are natural and satisfying.
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“Postcards from Berlin”

postcardsfrom Berlin“Postcards from Berlin” by Margaret Leroy is a book I picked up at a book fair.  I didn’t realize until I got home how horrid this book smelled and it smelled like a wet dog stuck in a garage for 6 years, at least. I came to this conclusion based on the dog hair literally falling out of the pages as I flipped through the book. Even after several attempts to mask the smell with perfume, I decided to try my best to ignore the disgusting odor and am extremely glad I did.

To start off, I looked at the book online and it has a general rating of 3 1/2 stars.  Although that’s not bad, I was a little disappointed.  In all honestly I REALLY enjoyed this book.  I read the entire book in a day and a half.  I couldn’t put it down.
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My Favorite Series

I’ve never been a book series lover because I like quick fixes for my mood reading. It satisfies me to begin one book and to have that same book end with all my questions answered.  Reading a cliff hanger ending that takes months of waiting for the “next book in the series” release “to find out what happens” just isn’t my thing

When I do read a series they usually fit into one or two of my personal criteria. They must be able to be read out of order, not follow a family line,  be complete and already published, and of course, a series must not bore me. On the other hand, there are some series that surprise me  and I consider them among my favorite books of all time.  They are as follows:

A little known series by L.A. Kelly called “Tahn”


Alan Bradley’s books about Flavia de Luce



“The Mark of the Lion” series by Francine Rivers



“Chronicles of the Kings” by Lynn Austin



Another more recent series that is surprising me is “The Daughters of the Mayflower”. It isn’t even a completed series and I’m beginning to understand the anticipation others feel while waiting for the next book.  In this case the wait isn’t long because the books are written by different authors.  I enjoy being able to read new authors (to me) while completing the series. I’m reading book #3 “The Captured Bride” by Michelle Griep and will soon be done. I can’t wait for book #4, “The Patriot Bride” by Kimberly Woodhouse. It comes out in August – the perfect time for more summer reading days.






The Trap of Offense

the bait of satanIf you use the Google search engine to define the word “forgive”, you’ll find many forms of almost the same definition.  The first definition I read was  “to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.”  While this sounds good in theory, it’s too elementary for my curiosity and didn’t satisfy my need for something more meaningful.  I didn’t buy this easy definition because forgiveness isn’t always easy. After all, can a person just stop feeling angry toward an offense?  Wouldn’t there be more thought and soul searching involved before forgiveness can be offered?

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“Faith Among the Faithless”

faithA title is sometimes all it takes.  “Faith Among the Faithless” was all this book needed to capture my attention, but then the added “Learning from Esther How To Live in a World Gone Mad” elevated my interest to a new level.  Esther, an unlikely young woman chosen to be queen, found herself with a difficult task.  She lived among those who didn’t believe the same as her and the decisions she had to make put her at risk.

Mike Cosper compares Esther and her situation to Christians in today’s world – a “world that has gone mad”.  The overall message is that there is a better life than the madhouse around us, but that life isn’t easy to live. It comes with opposition and trials.  Cosper expands on many aspects of our culture that go against God’s ways, but He also says that “God Himself is at work in the world gone mad.”
What do we put our faith in and what are we allowing to influence us?

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