Jarah's Spring Break // Day One

Spring has sprung, and so have my love and me. Sprung at the chance to take a road trip to go and visit Jared's family for nearly a week that is! I'll try my best to document our stay while we're here in the Sand Hills of NC, so we won't forget it and so you'll also be a part of our (Jared and Sarah's) Spring Break adventures.

I got up and finished getting my things together Friday morning and then momma, my sister and I decided to head out for bite to eat (for one last all-girl hoorah!) before Jared and I left for our trip. Jared was supposed to be in his health class at school, when I got a text saying he'd be leaving even earlier to come pick me up because his class was cancelled (do all college professors like to up and cancel on every  super-springy-and-nice Friday afternoon or something?

Anyway, Jared got to my house around 1:30pm, after us girls had finished eating Philly Cheese Steak Sammies and played chicken with an oncoming train to make it home on time (don't ask!) Then we had a rubiks-cube-shuffle-thon to get all of my stuff mixed in with Jay's stuff in his car, named Beulah. Usually Jay is a light packer, but this trip he decided to bring more stuff that he didn't need up in A-ville, like all of his Winter-wear. It was smart of him to do so, but it was interesting to play a game of close-the-trunk-quick-before-the-trunk-explodes.

After a 5+ hour car ride, one stop at a McDonald's for a Mocha Frappe/Mickey D's Sweet Tea and me talking non-stop (because of my chocolate and coffee intake) about everything from music to movies to theology...oh, and evil mermaids...we finally made it to the Fisher's new home, which I hadn't yet seen.

We quickly unloaded Beulah of all of our bags and satchels and suitcases of stuff, hugged the parents, toured the house and then settled in for an evening of watching AFV and Undercover Boss while we chatted it up and ate Pizza Hut pizza with Jared's parents (his brother spent the night with a friend, so we missed seeing Seth on day one.)

By 10pm Dad and Mom Fisher had turned in for the night. Jared crashed in Seth's room playing video games for a bit, and I decided on a hot shower to end the long day nicely. But before Jared and I went to our own rooms to sleep we decided to uphold our latest "tradition", if you will, of reading together before bed. So, Jay and I crept downstairs. I led the way with book and reading glasses in hand and we settled in on the love seat in the living room to read the penultimate chapter of Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone.

After we finished our chapter we headed to our rooms. Jared tucked me in for the night and we prayed together. Then it was supposed to be lights out time, but I ended up snuggling up in bed and reading Replication until I couldn't hold my head, or eyelids up any longer.

And that was how day one of Spring Break went for Jarah. Until next time...

white happiness, black sadness

Today was full of white happiness and black sadness.

There were quite a few happy, shining moments, and a lovely little brown package awaiting me when I got home from work today. I spent time talking and laughing loudly with my sister and momma as we watched I Am Number Four and nibbled on cheese and crackers and afterwards on crepes filled with chocolate and fresh strawberries. And then my dad called. I watched, anxiously, as momma's eyes started to brim with tears while I overheard dad struggling to talk on the other side of the phone line. It was then we knew... 

My Mimi's (my dad's mother/my grandmother) heart is giving out and she doesn't have much longer to stay with us. It scares me to think that she has only weeks to live, so the doctor's say.

Your prayers, dear followers, would be very much appreciated. 

Eye of The Sword {a book review}

Genre: Christian / Fiction / YA / Fantasy
Release Date: 3.13.12
Pages: 233
Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Tag Line: Where angels walk the ground and the future is told in song, does a man of low rank have a chance at love with a princess? 

Summary (snagged from Goodreads): In Camrithia, a land of shadows and mystical secrets, Trevin lives to serve King Laetham. But his heart belongs to the princess, Melaia. When the King sends Trevin on on a dangerous quest to find the missing comains—captains in the king’s army—he must leave Melaia to the advances of a swaggering Dregmoorian prince. 
Challenged to prove his worth, Trevin throws himself into his quest. Striving to prove his love, Trevin undertakes a second mission—find the harps Melaia seeks in order to restore the stairway to heaven. Through fire caves, rogue winds, and murderous threats, Trevin remains steadfastly dedicated to his quest—even when he is falsely accused of a heinous crime. As Trevin’s time runs out, he realizes he must face the shame and horror of his own past and the nightmare that has come to life. Will he have the courage to finish what he has started?

What I Loved: Eye of the Sword's story moved much more quickly than Breath of Angel did, quite to my liking. I also found that I got into this particular novel's story line easier than I did with the first novel in the series. For me there was less confusion, a stronger plot in place and more adventure to be had, with many new faces to get to know too. 

You know, there's something about reading into the life of a character with a "lower station," a very stout heart and many questions that they must quest away to find their long awaited answers, that excites me down through my core and keeps me turning pages faster and faster, instead of having to read all about a Princess the whole time. I guess I just love my under-dogs! That said, I think this is why I actually loved this book more so than the first, because it focused on Trevin and his journey to find not only the last two harps and the missing comains for King Laetham and Princess Melaia, but also himself, his heart and more about his dark history. 

I don't usually read too many books with male leads very often, but I loved the quick manly dialogue and the chance to climb inside the mind of a "lower status knight", if you will. I also loved that there were two tasks at hand for Trevin (finding the two harps and searching for the lost comains) which seemingly stretched him (as the newly named comain of Camrithia) and grew him as a person most worthy of being loved by himself, his comrades and most importantly Princess Melaia by novel's end.

Some of my favorite scenes and characters were introduced outside the walls of Camrithia, leaving King Laetham and Princess Melaia behind. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Windwings (horses with wings), Windweaver, Seaspinner, Flametender, the gash trade (which involved child trafficking by the Dregmoorians [human trafficking is a serious thing and I loved that Ms. Henley thought to shed some light on it in Eye of the Sword in her own way]), a new way to house souls for ill fated intentions (I won't tell you how), the eye of the sword in Eldarra, new characters like Prince Resarian and the feisty sword maiden, Ollena, both of which I adored. I also love getting to know Pym and Jarrod more in this installment. I hadn't felt a real connection to them earlier on, but now I quite like their characters.

Oh, and I just must gush over the swaggering gash running, vomit inducing, Prince of the Dregmoorians. I thought his character was brilliantly vile and I savored reading through each scene where Trevin and him had to face each other. Varic totally made my skin crawl. He is the perfect villain, really. He's charming, deceitful, trying to steal the Princess away from a man of lower status, etc. ((spoiler alert)) I don't like how things went down with Varic. I really don't. Actually, I found it quite disappointing. I think he deserved something a bit more just and sinister, truth be told.

To wrap things up: I really felt like I got to know the characters on a much deeper level in this second book of the series than in the first one (Breath of Angel.) I enjoyed getting to know the new characters, seeing the story told through the eyes of Trevin and experiencing all of the plot twists that came about.

What I Didn't Like So Much: A few of the fight scenes in the book seemed a little too easy (especially one of the main ones towards the end of the novel) at times. I mean, it's not like I wanted to read about blood spewing and rampant brutality or anything, but I just felt that things worked out a little too easily for what should have been slightly more complex, wear-and-tear inducing brawl. 

I really did like the whole idea of seeing the true reflection of your heart, character, and worth, within the eye of the sword, but there was a BIG hyped up "trial period" for Trevin while he was in Eldarra that took place before the sword came about and I kind of felt like things were, again, a little too easily fixed and remedied without much raucous uproar or a dynamic shift in the story as I would've loved to have seen.

I didn't like the unjustly manner in which Varic was dealt with. (That's all I'll say for fear of major spoilers.)

I'm Recommending This Book... While a few scenes seemed to come about a bit too easy for some of the characters along the way, the story of Trevin finding out more about himself and his heritage, while on his journey to find one of the harps for Melaia and King Laetham, quite excited me. It was refreshing to see the world of Camrithia through the eyes of a lowly comain who had much to learn about himself and a young princess' love to gain. 

Also, I must applaud Karyn Henley for painting her scenes so vividly, and for not being afraid to write out-of-the-ordinary and very much so unique beings into the literary world (such as the Draks, Wingwings and Malevolents.) I'm really looking forward to seeing how this series continues on in the years to come. This one gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me.

About The Author: Karyn Henley is a best-selling children's book author and an Emmy Award winning musician. She is the author of the original Beginner's Bible, which sold more than five million copies and was translated into more than fifteen languages, and Breath of Angel, the first novel in the Angelaeon Circle series. An accomplished songwriter, Karyn has been a Dove Award nominee and received a regional Emmy Award as music composer for a Christmas television special. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Check Out These Other Links...

Purchase Eye of The Sword HERE
Watch The Book Trailer HERE
Click HERE To Download & Read Chapter One
Click HERE To Read My Review of Breath of Angel (Book One In The Angelaeon Circle Series)

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Team Novel Teen Blog Tour: Halflings by Heather Burch

Age Range: 15 and up
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
Release Date: Jan 2012
Pages: 288
Publisher: Zondervan

Tag Line: "What if following your heart meant losing your soul?"

Summary: After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves Halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with it. A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

What I Loved: This book started out with a bang, and sucked me in for an enticing stay. If you love strong female leads, motorcycles, young love triangles, infectious mystery, scientists with dark intentions, handsome protectors and "wolves" you are in for a delectable treat. 

I absolutely loved being introduced to Nikki Youngblood and her unique world, as well as her protectors, the Halflings. Nikki is really just a girl trying to find and be herself, ultimately, in the midst of some rather strange happenings. I loved how genuine and unique her character is, and how she clings to being her authentic self throughout the whole story. I definitely found myself identifying with her on more than one occasion. 

As far as the Halflings are concerned though: THEY ROCKED!  I loved that they came across as being normal-yet-supernatural teen guys with wings, tricky situations to muster through and that they were such strong fighters for souls that are at stake, including Nikki's. I was kind of worried about how Heather Burch would conquer the whole half angel/half human shtick since it's been done a few times already in literature, but she totally pulled it off and made it her own. All of the Halflings in the novel were totally believable for what they were created to be, including the group of female Halflings and the other members of Mace, Raven and Vine's band of heaven-side team mates, which I quite liked.

Needless to say I'm very excited about reading the other two books in this series (Guardian is the next in this trilogy's lineup, due out sometime this October.) The writing was extremely clever and the pacing throughout the entirety of the novel was simply perfection.

What I Didn't Like So Much: The story ended on a cliffhanger, which I don't much care for, but I guess I can completely forgive it because there will indeed be a Halflings Trilogy. (Yay!)

I'm Recommending This Book... This book was utterly exciting, fast paced, super strong and a wonderful new world to find yourself falling head over heels into. This book deserves a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars for sure! It's definitely a favorite book of mine now, and Heather Burch is most definitely a new favorite author of mine too. 

About The Author: Heather Burch grew up in Branson, Missouri, where she learned to love fiction. She then married into a family of published novelists and quickly learned writing was her heart's desire. When she's not working on her latest book, Heather can be found watching a sunset at a beach near her home in Southern Florida, along with her sons Jake and Isaac, and husband, John--who is her hero in every way. 

Check out these other links...

Author's Website:
Purchase Halflings HERE
Get the FREE ebook prequel HERE
Watch the Book Trailer HERE

Check out these other Team Novel Teen bloggers to see what they had to say about Heather Burch’s Halflings. 

The Book Fae • Bookworm Reading • Colorimetry • Fiction Fire • My Story Shelf • Jill Williamson • Katie McCurdy • Oh, Restless Bird • Rachelle Rea • SLY Games • Terri Harr • Virtuous Girlhood  

Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Halflings by Heather Burch by clicking on the links above, and check out www.NovelTeen.com for more information about Team Novel Teen.