ALMOST THERE

                      4 1/2  stars

SYNOPSIS: This is a really well written Christan YA Novel by Laurel Graver.  The story itself circles around the main character Dani, a 17 year old girl who is living a normal teenage life, dreaming about going to Paris and trying to maintain a pure relationship with her boyfriend.
Drama ensues when her grandfather becomes ill and Dani has to navigate going to stay at his house in Pennsylvania. During her time there she learns a great deal about love, truth and what it really means to be alive. 

( I realize that I am giving you a pretty short synopsis of the book that is because I honestly think you should read it for yourself!)

WHAT I LIKED: As I said this book is really well written with a good message attached to it,  The characters are really fun and supremely real, particularly Dani's boyfriend Theo, who is very sweet and loving, even through some of Dani's not so loving times. I knew before hand that this novel would be pretty clean, and even read some of it aloud with my 3 children around, though I am sure that they didn't understand exactly what was going on, they laughed at some of the funnier parts, and my 8 year old said he could visualize some of the descriptions. I honestly love the journey that is taken by the main character! She starts out as an angsty, drama driven teenager and ends up in a much better place.

WHAT I DIDN"T LIKE:  I have to say that honestly there wasn't a whole lot in this book that I didn't REALLY enjoy.  I will say that at the beginning Dan is a little dramatic I actually found myself rolling my eyes a few times at her.  BUT this is normal teenage angst, so really that isn't a negative point.  ( she really reminded me of myself as a 17/18 year old) This also is not a bad thing really, but the author gets a little wordy, and very descriptive, and I felt like the book itself might be better suited as for adults rather then teens.  But again that isn't really a bad thing.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you like a book with a lot of description and well developed characters I would definitely say you should read this book.  It is a fun and very interesting read.  There are some heavy parts but this is balanced out well.  There is nothing in this that you need to beware of with language or sex and the message is great and easy to follow!!! Give this one the time it deserves!!!


Laurel Garver, author of ALMOST THERE

1.  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I loved to live in my own imaginary world as a kid, but didn't really get turned on to reading and writing until middle school. A teacher who knew I was horse-crazy got me hooked on Marguerite Henry, Walter Farley, and Patsy Grey. Soon I was inventing my own stories when not voraciously reading.

2. Do you have a favorite place to write?

My office is on the third floor of our urban townhouse, a room crammed with bookcases and my desk and several inspiration bulletin boards. I love having lots of reference works within reach, and being out of the fray of family activities.

3.  If you couldn't be an author what other profession would you chose?

If I weren't working with words, I'd enjoy doing something else information-oriented, perhaps working as an archivist or a researcher for a media company.

4.  If you could choose any character from fiction to be for a day who would it be and why?

So many fun possibilities, but I think I'll go with Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series. I've always wanted red hair, and I'd love to be able to do magic and fearlessly play quidditch. 

5.  Who is your favorite character you have ever written? From this book or another you have written.

I have a pretty big soft spot for Theo, Dani's boyfriend. He's a smart, sweet, funny guy who rows crew and hopes to one day become a psychiatrist. Weathering his parents' messy divorce has made him empathetic and insightful on the one hand, and a bit self-protective on the other. 

6.  How do you develop your characters and/or plots?

I'm a voice-driven writer, so I start with one character who speaks to me, which sounds a little crazy, but it's not uncommon among writers. From that one character's ideas of who they are and what they worry about, I follow my curiosity, asking "what if?" questions. From there, I research, discovering numerous solid answers to those "what if?" questions. Plot ideas and thematic threads usually begin to suggest themselves between the research and thinking through how the character might strive to get what they want or escape what they fear. 

7.  What was the hardest part of writing "Almost There" and why?

I hit a major snag while drafting because I originally conceived the Laughlin character in a way that made the story grind to a halt. I didn't get unstuck for many, many months until I completely rethought his character and role. 

8.  What is your favorite chapter in "Almost There"?

Chapter sixteen, where complications in Dani's romantic life begin to really snowball. In the midst of some heavier family drama, it was fun to write some scenes where the tension revolved around attraction instead of conflicting wills.

9. What is your favorite part about Dani (Your main character)?

Her sense of humor, for sure. She gets to say and think the zingy comebacks that I'd come up with days after something happens. 

10.  Is there a message in "Almost There" that you hope your readers will grasp?

The hardest things we go through can be opportunities in disguise, if we can trust God to do something good through it, rather than try to simply escape it.

11.  Did you learn anything from writing this book? What was it?

Writing for me is a process of discovery, and I love researching whatever captures my curiosity. I learned heaps about personality disorders and the psychological damage they can wreak in families. I also learned lots about numerous medical conditions and elder care and more than I'd ever dreamed about emergency services. I am so thankful to have friends willing to let me pick their brains about their areas of expertise.

12.  Do you have any future projects that you are working on that you would like us to know about?

I'm currently working on a holiday novella that takes place the Christmas before Almost There, told in alternating points of view by both Dani and Theo.

13.  Do you have a blog or another place that you would like your readers to follow you?


                                 DRAGONS LOVE TACOS
                               4 STARS
SYNOPSIS: This was such a sweet little story, I read it with all three of my kids and the laughed and laughed!

To me this story was presented kind of like a mix between a food network show and a "if You Give a Mouse a Cookie' type tale.  It talked about what the dragons like, and what they don't like or it seems do like but can't tolerate (IE spicy salsa).
In the story the dragons accidentally get into the spicy salsa and wind up burning up the story tellers house.  but then they come back to rebuild.  (But it's really for more tacos)

WHAT I LIKED: This story was so cute and the illustrations were awesome! I really loved the way this book was written and I think it really could appeal to kids of any age.  I thought that my 8 year old son would be a little board with it,  but it turned out to be right up his alley (especially since the dragons don't like spicy salsa and neither does he )

WHAT I DIDN"T like: Honestly the story is a little thin, there isn't much of a plot.  One could argue that this is because it is a child's picture book, but I have seen some picture books with some pretty strong story lines.  If you are looking for a really well developed story, you might want to look elsewhere.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is an AWESOME book! If you have kids read it to them!!!

Book Review: ADAPTED BY: BERTIE From the Welch Book of Fairy Tales
                        THE FAIRY EYE OINTMENT

                       4 starts

SYNOPSIS: Apparently this is an older Welch fairy tale, I love reading the older fairy tales and this one was actually really sweet.

It involves an older couple who hire a young maid to come and help around their farm.  The maid Eillen- (pronounced Elli-an) becomes involved with a group of Fairies who live in the area,  they help her do her work and seem to be treating her very nicely.  But then one day she disappears and the older couple don't know where she has gone.  A year or so later a man arrives and asks the old woman to come and watch over his child because his wife has taken ill. The old woman has no idea who he is but goes with him anyway.
Long story short, the mother ends up being Eilleen, who has been forced to marry the Fairy king in exchange for the work that the fairies did for her. Ellen begs the old woman to not tell anyone that she can see fairies because they might hurt her and they are very tricky.
The woman is allowed to go home to live out her life and the ending in this story is that one day she sees the fairy king and approaches him.  When he finds out the old woman can see him he cuts out her eye.  Apparently there is another ending where Eileen comes back and restores the old woman's sight with fairy magic, however that was not mentioned here.

WHAT I LIKED: I love any fairy story and this one was no exception! I thought that it was well written and the person who narrated it ( I listened to an auto version) had a very nice voice that went well with the story.  The story was very traditional so if you are looking for something that you personally can read (I wouldn't read this one to your kids, just because of the ending) with obvious tradition behind it, here is something to check out!

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE: I really don't like stories where the fairies are evil and also I would have liked there to be a few more descriptions in the book, I didn't really feel like I got to get to know the characters that well, however that is common with the older more traditional stories

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I honestly really liked this story, it is short and sweet and is full of traditional values.  Something I would definitely recommend, like I said though I wouldn't read this one to your kids.


3 stars

SYNOPSIS: This is the traditional Cinderella story retold by one of the step sisters.  It basically goes through the whole story, Cinderella's mother and father are married, he dies leaving his wife (Cinderella's step mother) to raise the three girls. In this version of the story, Cinderella has been pretty spoiled by her father and after her death throws herself into the house chores so as not to have to deal with the grief over the loss of father.  Early in the book the step sister narrating the book (Anna) says that because of Cinderella's similarities to her father her step mother doesn't really want her around, and basically lets her do what ever she wants.


Cinderella still married prince charming, though the step sister seems to think he is kind of a dork....and the step sister ends up running away with the stable boy....)

WHAT LIKED: This was the first book I have read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge, and it was nice because this was a pretty quick read (I read the whole thing in about 20 minutes) I think it's about 50 pages and I also liked the fact that it is a retelling of such a classic story.

WHAT I DIDN"T LIKE: The flip side of what I said I liked is definitely true of this book.  Even though it was a quick read it felt pretty rushed, and because it's a retelling it's pretty predictable.  Also something about the language the author uses makes it feel kind of unprofessional.  I don't know really how to explain it, but it contributed to the idea of the book feeling rushed.

Overall this was a pretty good book, there were things I didn't like but they won't effect whether I read any more books by this author, in fact I have already bought the second book in the series.  This book was free on Amazon Kindle and was definitely worth the 20 minutes I spent on it!!

                            I Will Carry YOU            


SYNOPSIS: This was a book written by Angie Smith, wife of Todd Smith, member of the christian band Selah. The book itself chronicles  the heart breaking journey they family took after a fatal diagnosis was given to their fourth daughter.  Despite the pain that the family was going through they used the experience to expand their ministry and heighten awareness for infant loss.

THINGS I DID NOT LIKE: I am going to start with this today.  Honestly because this is going to be a pretty short.....There really wasn't anything about this book that I didn't like.  The authors writing style was wonderful and the story itself pulled at my heart.  I guess the only thing that I can say about this book that was negative is that I really wish this family would not have had to go through this....

THINGS I LIKED: WOW! There is so much here that is helpful to read.  If you have lost a loved one whether it is a child or not this would be helpful.  I would certainly recommend reading this if you have had a friend who has gone through this situation.  I will say that is part of the reason I wanted to read this.

Several years ago my best friend went through a very similar situation to what Angie and Todd Smith went through.  Her son was given a prenatal diagnosis and lived for only 12 hours after birth.  While I did the best I could for her at the time, and while I myself had experienced loss, I did not know how to help my friend.  I really wish this book had been out at this time because I feel like I would have been better able to cope with the reality of not knowing what to say and realizing that sometimes saying nothing is the best thing to do.

The long and the short.  Read the book, it is amazingly well written, and in the time since I got the book (about 2 weeks ago) I have read it twice.  It is sad so be prepared to cry but also know that you will learn important lessons and gain insight.


                              HIGH ON ARRIVAL

This was my first ever book review that I completed on youtube.  This was a book that I have had for a long time and I felt a strong need to review it, and tell people about this amazing book!!

Before you watch the review be aware there is some discussion of topics in the book that are not suitable for children.

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