Miracles of the Swan’s Reflection Review (Firebird’s Blessings #2)

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Miracles.jpgFive heroes, three villains, the apocalypse and a curse, can the heroes save the worlds in time, despite the impossible odds? Miracles of the Swan’s Reflection is an epic quest through romance and worlds. As the shattering rocks the worlds, our heroes, Taj, the king, and Neriah, the warrior, Audry, the dark beauty, Roei, the peacemaker and Joshua, the guardian, must do everything in their power to protect the worlds. Following on the heels of Blessings of the Firebird’s Light, Bartholomew and Apollo, fallen angels, have placed their plan into motion. By acquiring the shards, the hearts of the worlds, Bartholomew can create a holy weapon. A weapon so strong that it threatens the balance between good and evil.To prevent our hero’s from succeeding, Bartholomew casted a curse on Taj and Neriah. In this life changing Christian fantasy, join Taj, Neriah, Audry, Roei and Joshua on their perilous holy quest to save the worlds from evil. Will our heroes succeed in thwarting Bartholomew and Apollo’s plans in time? Or, will the world’s fade into darkness?


I loved the first book in this series, and I was super excited to get into this book. Even though this book is a direct sequel to the previous, it focuses on only a few of the old characters while introducing many new characters. The author jumps back and forth between the past and the present, and the present in different worlds. The characters that I came to know and love were weaved into the story for the past and different worlds, and the new characters that I grew to love were a part of the present storyline.

My favorite story arc in the book was with Anthony and Odette. They were soulmates from childhood, but they had grown apart as the years went on. Then Odette got into a bad relationship and needed a place to stay, so Anthony came back into her life. I rooted for the two the entire novel, constantly hoping for a good ending. I wasn’t expecting the big secret of the two characters to be what it was, but I definitely liked where the story went with them. I finally understood how the different timelines connected.

I could understand what was happening in the present storyline, but it was a bit hard to keep up with the characters from the previous novel. I felt that I didn’t know everyone, even though I had just finished Blessings a week or two before I started this book. I found myself backtracking to the previous book just to figure out who certain characters were, and how they played out in the new setting. Even though I liked the new characters, I think I would have liked them more if I could have figured out what was happening with the old characters before jumping into the new. It was never confusing which “time” we were in, as the author always labels if it is the past or the present. But it was confusing trying to keep up with what was going on in the past, and then linking it to the present.

Out of all the characters, I think I connected with Taj and Neriah the least. I just didn’t quite understand what was happening in their storyline, and every time something big would happen, the story would switch back to other characters that I could keep up with. By the end, I could kinda understand what was happening, but I was confused for most of the middle of the novel.

I have mixed feelings about the ending. I don’t always like when books end on a cliffhanger, but I will see how well the cliffhanger does when I read the third book in the series. If I feel that it flows well from one book to the next, then the cliffhanger was a good choice! If I feel that the cliffhanger chopped this story off short and then the next book picks up at a completely different part of the story, then I will feel as if the cliffhanger didn’t do the entire book justice. I’ll simply have to wait for the next novel, but for now, this doesn’t affect my final rating.

The last thing I have to say about this book is that I love that it is Christian fantasy. I feel that it definitely included more Bible verses than the previous book did, but this was necessary for Anthony and Odette’s storyline. The single time it felt a little “preachy” to me was when Odette was talking about the college party. I’m a college freshman and I am a Christian as well. I probably wouldn’t go to a college party, simply because I’m not a party person. Not because it isn’t the “Christian” thing to do, but just because I don’t like them. When Odette went to this party, she seemed quite judgemental of every single person there. I didn’t quite like this scene, but it wasn’t the focus of the novel. Most of the time, Odette was using her faith to get through tough situations, and Anthony was returning to faith with her. It really strengthened their overall friendship, and I wish more Christian romances were written in this way.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this novel, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new Christian fantasy series to start. It has beautiful romance scenes, it isn’t too “preachy” but it does include the Bible in the story, and the characters are all enjoyable to read.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 books

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Blessings of the Firebird’s Light (Firebird’s Blessings Saga #1)

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Blessings of the Firebird's Light: The Firebird's Blessings Saga: Book 1Audry Duvessa knows something about dark forces. She has been given the moniker “Dark Beauty” for her role in her mother’s coven of sorcerers. Audry is destined to take over and continue her mother’s work, but a surprising ally opens her eyes to the possibility of redemption.

When Audry’s mother tasks her to find a firebird, she meets Roei Shurwud, a hunter who follows the word of God. Roei hunts dark creatures and sorcerers like Audry and her family, but something about the young woman fascinates him.

These two very different people find their paths aligning time and again during Audry’s quest for the firebird, and Roei’s faith is tested by several calamities. He ends up partnering with Audry for his own reasons, and the two discover a conspiracy that could destroy both their homes.

Audry has a reason to hate hunters, but she’s surprised by Roei’s gentle faith and devotion. Even in the midst of destruction and disaster, Roei must decide whether this imperious young witch is ready for redemption—or whether her lack of faith will lead her ever further away from the path toward God.

I have read a few Christian fantasy novels, and each one seems to be different. This one has to be my favorite one yet!

Roei and Audry start off being mortal enemies. Roei is a respected hunter who has a strong relationship with the other hunters, and with God. He is living an honest life, he protects the people he loves, and he loves what he does. Audry is a witch who he suspects is up to something, but he can’t help but be drawn to her in some ways. Once disaster strikes and he loses almost everything he loves, their paths cross again. Roei must help Audry on her quest to find the feathers that will lead her to the Firebird, and Audry must learn to trust both God and the men who follow Him again.

At first, things seem very black and white in the story. You know that Audry is evil and Roei is good. Audry is a witch, and Roei follows God. There’s no way that there could even possibly be a grey area. That is, until they begin their journey. Roei learns about some fo the things that men like himself have done in the past, and Audry learns that not all people who follow God are the same. Not all people who follow God are the same as those who want to hurt her and other witches like herself.

The journey to the Firebird takes a long time, a few years it seems, and Audry and Roei have to learn to rely on each other more during that time. At first, they are mortal enemies. But the Firebird’s feathers are not going to reveal themselves unless they work together. Once the stakes are heightened and both parties see what they have to lose, they quickly decide that they need to start working together in order to get home as quickly as possible.

This story element of the search for the feathers was such a good way to set these characters on a meaningful journey. I honestly think that it couldn’t have been done any better than it was! And, believe it or not, this book has so much more than just that one journey. That is the main focus, but there are many other storylines weaving in and out of it.

As I got further into the book, the characters just began to unfold in front of me. You learn the truth about the backstories of both Roei and Audry, as they tell each other secrets that no one else knows.  Many, many years pass as the story progresses, and you can see their bond grow stronger and stronger. It’s truly a beautiful book, these two characters come to life as you read the story.

My only small complaint would be how fast the story moves closer to the end. It has a slower and more detailed format at the beginning, which really worked for this sort of novel, and then it had a lot of timeskips closer to the end. It didn’t confuse me in the slightest, but I would have loved a deeper look into the characters’ lives. This didn’t really affect my overall reading experience though, I just really need to know more about these characters! I hope that more information and details about those lives are given in the second book of the Saga.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new, wonderful Christian fantasy novel.

I received a copy of this novel, and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Sober Faith (Payton Skky #2)

Sober Faith (Payton Skky, #2)Payton Skky and her girlfriends are in their senior year at their Georgia high school and loving every minute of it. But the rest of Payton’s crew has strayed from God and continues to make bad decisions. While chasing after a good time, her friends begin experimenting with alcohol, drugs, and sexual sin. How can Payton help her girls turn toward God and away from those sins? Can she resist her own impulses to try things she knows are against God’s will? See if Payton discovers how to show her friends that true faith is sober faith.

This book definitely talks about the important teen issue of drinking. Payton just drinks because her friends do it, but when she sees how alcohol can make her friends crazy. But this wasn’t the best part of this story.

Payton still held herself on a pedestal above her friends for most of this book, but once she drinks, she starts to see things from her friend’s perspective. I felt that she definitely humbled herself in this story when she started to see herself in the same boat as her friends rather than just labeling them “sinners.” They all had to get past the peer pressure of teen drinking and get out of the dangerous situations that their choices had put them in.

Payton almost ruins her relationship with her boyfriend due to her drinking. He refused to participate in those activities, but by being with her, he could get in trouble as well. Honestly, I don’t see their relationship getting very far. Payton barely trusts him and expects him to be perfect, and he is pretty “perfect” for the most part. But, she isn’t perfect, but she puts stress on him to be. Also, I think he has either a bad past or something negative about him that is being hidden at this point. Something just doesn’t add up, and I don’t know what, but I definitely have a weird feeling about his character. Hopefully, this will be explained in future novels.

Again, I have to say that even though I don’t particularly like Payton, I do enjoy this series. It talks about real teen issues, and if you are able to overlook Payton’s holier-than-thou attitude, you will truly enjoy the books. It has even been a good reflection series for a Christian girl like me to see how I view people. I would hate to come off as being like Payton, and I’ve started to see how I sometimes judge people, from strangers to friends. Payton loves to judge people, but in this book, she got a shock when she realized that even she wasn’t perfect.

The book’s plot moved smoothly, almost like a television show rather than a book. It definitely has a lot of 90s vibes as the book was written in the 90s, but it applies to teens today. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for YA teen Christian fiction with African American characters.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Staying Pure Review

Staying Pure (Payton Skky, #1)Payton Skky is beautiful and popular and dating Dakari Graham, the most attractive and desirable guy in their Georgia high school. The problem? He wants to have sex with her while she wants to obey God and stay pure until marriage. With pressures coming from all sides, Payton begins to wonder if waiting is really worth it. When he breaks it off with her for a more willing girl, Payton’s world crashes down on her. As she struggles to answer these questions and gets to know Tad Taylor, Payton realizes that following God is the real secret to staying pure.

I’ll be honest, it’s been a bit since I read a strictly Christian YA novel. Even though I am Christian, other Christians have been being so hateful lately that I have actually been too scared to even pick up any Christian fiction novels. Then I remembered Mrs. Moore’s Carmen Browne series from when I was younger and decided that I would give the Payton Skky series a try. Boy, was I in for a treat!

Payton wants to do what she believes God wants her to do and stay a virgin until marriage, but her boyfriend Dakari keeps pressuring her into having sex with him. She can’t deny that she has those feelings too, and she doesn’t want to lose the best and only boyfriend she has ever had. Even though the book focused on this issue from a Christian perspective, this is an issue that many teen girls and boys deal with. Yes, sometimes even the girlfriend of the relationship wants to do more than what the boy is ready for. She almost gives in, but by that point, he is already onto some other girl. This is the sad truth for those types of teenage relationships where a person is rushing for only the physical part of the relationship, they usually don’t end well. Then, she has a friend named Lynzi who has no problem with having sex with her boyfriend, but even he isn’t loyal to her. This story teaches teenage readers that the only way to have a healthy relationship is to find a healthy person to have that relationship with.

I’ll admit, I didn’t like Payton that much at certain times in the book. She did act immature at many times and even had somewhat of a “holier-than-thou” attitude with most of her friends. By the middle of the book, she starts to humble herself and realize that she was really no better than the other kids her age. This character development was important for the story, but it couldn’t stop me from disliking the person that Payton was at the beginning of the story.

I enjoyed the character Tad, but I don’t believe that any person can be as “perfect” as he seems to be. Sure, he is Christian and is also happy to bring God into their relationship and wait to be intimate, but something just tells me that something will happen along the line to pull the two apart. It just seems unrealistic that she would find a guy that fits everything that both she and her parents wanted in a boyfriend. Even making it that he was on the wrong path and then changed in high school through going to church would make him more realistic.

Even though I had these small issues, I enjoyed the overall story! I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a YA Christian fiction novel with African-American characters.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

TBR Tuesday!

TBR Tuesday is something that I am starting. I liked to do Top Ten Tuesdays, but they would usually end up with me searching for books that I had never read. I might still do them from time to time, but I would much rather combine my WWW Wednesday post and Top Ten Tuesday post into a different type of update post.

What is TBR Tuesday? TBR stands for To Be Read, and To Be Reviewed. I currently have a lot of books that I have read, but haven’t gotten the chance to review. This will give you all the chance to see what is coming up in future days!

To Be Read

Netgalley

Bring Me Their Hearts

Edelweiss

Booksprout

Love Forbidden (Abberant, #1)Benjamin Forrest and the School at the End of the World (Endinfinium Book 1)

So this is the majority of my TBR. The only reason why I put all of these on here is that I have actually started reading the majority of these, so I am going to be done with 90% of them by the end of this week. They are all pretty short and pretty interesting so it won’t be that much of a burden for me. There are also some review copies sent directly from authors that I want to get through, so I will be working on those and spotlighting them next week. I have a lot on my plate, but I was being serious when I said that I wanted to start the next school year with a clean slate book-wise.

Don’t think that I won’t be reading non-review copies during this time though! I still hope to maybe have the chance to get through the rest of the Harry Potter series sometime this summer. I am currently struggling to get through Goblet of Fire, it honestly feels like the longest book in the entire series. I know it’s not even close to being the longest one.

To Be Reviewed

Divided (Enlightened Book 2)Autumn's Doctor (Daughters of Samuel Fox Book 3)

Harry Moon: Professor Einstone (doesn’t have a cover yet!)

I thought that I had more books to be reviewed, but I actually have a few scheduled for this week as I worked through the stack on the weekend! These are the only three books that don’t have any kind of in-progress review. Oh, and I also have some reviews on the Online Book Club that I never got around to promoting on here so I will be doing that as well throughout the week. They just don’t count because the reviews are already completed.

I also have some reviews coming up soon on Online Book Club, so keep an eye out on my review page here.

Thanks for reading through!

 

Circumvent Review

CircumventNikki traveled to Hawaii to do a report on a famous Swiss pastry chef living there named Ruggiero Delémont. She and him end up falling in love with him and becoming Mrs. Delémont. Soon, another assignment calls her to spend three weeks in France, her home country. Ruggiero can’t come with her due to work, and so he has to send her off by herself.

After safely arriving, Nikki finds herself in a dangerous situation, and wakes up in a hospital with no memory of even her name.

Ruggerio hasn’t received any notice from Nikki, and he doesn’t know if she even arrived safely in France. He is determined to find the love of his life, even though something, or someone, always seems to get in his way.

Having this mystery novel in double POV was possibly the best decision that this author could have made. Being able to see what was happening to Nikki, and then flashing back to what Ruggerio was going through gave the book an in-depth feel. I was able to see how confused Nikki was as she tried to remember who she was, and how frantic Ruggerio was to get back to his wife. The character development in this novel was great as Nikki has to basically re-learn her identity, and Ruggerio has to learn how to work with the technology that his wife uses all the time to try and find her.

This was also a very suspenseful mystery novel. Readers get the sense of time “running out” as Ruggerio tries to find his wife, and the trail keeps leading to nothing. I was also confused in Nikki’s part, and I kept trying to match things that she saw to what Ruggerio was seeing. This made for a very engaging plot.

The world-building of this novel was very in-depth, and the scenery of France was beautiful. I felt as if I was back there, going to restaurants in the streets. The only thing that was missing for me was the street crepes, but that’s beside the point. It was very accurate!

The novel was well-paced, and there wasn’t a dull moment. I hate mystery novels that have dry spots constantly throughout the story, but this one definitely didn’t have any. There were also no editing errors or ends that weren’t all tied up. It was simply a pleasant read throughout!

My favorite character was Nikki. Even though she seemed rather gullible in her state of amnesia, she seemed legit when she did have her memory. I would definitely like to read more about her and Ruggerio. Disappointing that this is a standalone novel! However, I would definitely read more by S.K. Derban after this.

This novel is advertised as being Christian, but I would still recommend this novel even if you aren’t religious. The story was great either way. If you are Christian, as I am, it definitely adds a special touch that other mystery novels don’t always have. I loved how neither of them gave up their faith, even as they struggled to find each other.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes mystery novels, Christian romance novels, or thrillers.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 5/5