November 30, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Unblemished by Sara Ella {Book Review}

I was very excited to receive a gift package of SIX new books from The Fiction Guild (a review division of Thomas Nelson Publishing), in honor of their anniversary a couple weeks ago. There was a mix of genre and many were new-to-me authors. While I don't have to review all of them, I knew there were several I wanted to read. But where do I start? Every book lovers dilemna! LOL. I decided to start with debut author Sara Ella and her young adult fantasy book Unblemished. I really enjoy young adult fantasy, so I decided to give it a go!
Unblemished by Sara Ella ~ A Book Review

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About the Book

Unblemished is the debut novel for author Sara Ella. Unblemished brings us to the world of seven Reflections--parallel worlds, in which Earth as we know it is the 3rd Reflection. Our lead character Eliyana (aka El) lives in 3rd refection in the city of New York. She loves her city where she lives with her mom Elizabeth and her best friend (and yes her crush) Joshua. But it's not perfect in her world, and she knows this with every person she meets--for she was born with a birthmark on her face. An unusual red vine-like collection of flourishes that cover the right side of her face. Having been subjugated to all sorts of teasing, disdain, and avoidance by most of society Joshua and her mother are the only ones who treats her as if it's not there. 

A few weeks before she turns 18, her life turns upside down when her mother is killed in a fire. Suddenly she's thrust into a world without one of the only two people who have loved her. But then, after the funeral, everything she knows as normal explodes, when it's revealed that there is a boy with the power to render his victim immovable, arrows soaring through central park, a man appearing and disappearing, and her best friend Joshua revealing he's her Guardian from another Reflection. Thrust immediately into scenarios clearly unworldly, El must accept that everything she's ever held to be true, may be a lie---including her mother's death and her family history. Now she will do anything to find her mother and be reunited--including being taken to another Reflection where everyone is out to get her--because it turns out her birthmark is not just a birthmark, it's a sign that she's someone they have been waiting on for a very long time, and has the power to bring either light or darkness to the world, depending on who has her in their control.

My Thoughts

I don't know what I was expecting with this novel, but it blew me away! Once the story started going, I couldn't put it down. It was just the type of fantasy I enjoy with twists and turns every step of the way, and the kind of plot where just when you are sure you have it figured out--you get slammed with something else. 

There was SOOOO much in this book. I had to re-read chapters now and then because little pieces were strewn and I needed to make sure I didn't miss anything! The lead character Eliyana is very well done and really grew and changed throughout the book. I enjoyed having pieces of her past woven throughout the story. I am not always good with first person narratives, but this one was very well done and I think it might have lacked something if it had been done any other way. 

This book had pieces of other fantasy books I have enjoyed--like the 13th Reality series by James Dashner with its parallel worlds, the Animorphs series where humans can morph into other creatures, and Twilight in that people had a special gift (aka superpower). But I don't think I ever felt like "Oh I've read this before." It was like taking the best of everything I loved and putting it into this book.

The ending makes you think--and throws a MAJOR twist you don't see coming--or at least I didn't, and actually explains the Prelude in the book (which I JUST figured out). I was left just wanting to pick up the next book and start reading!

I think Hollywood could have a FABULOUS time with this book--it has everything they love. Love triangles, "super powers", secrets, good vs evil, battles, and personal sacrifice. 

I also want to add, that while I initially expected some sort of Christian fiction tie-in (there wasn't any mention of God or the gospel--beyond obvious dark v. light, good v. evil and a few deeper messages hiding--kind of like JR Tolkien and CS Lewis do), the book is a CLEAN fantasy. There are just a couple quick kiss scenes. And the battles aren't gory. I think this makes it a great choice for those who want to provide a "safe" fantasy series for their children.

I know it's shocking, but I have given Unblemished one of my rare 5 star ratings. It was everything I could have asked for in a Fantasy novel and more--great plot, twists and turns everywhere, no slow parts, constant having to piece things together, a lead character with faults--and it left me wanting MORE! I cannot wait to get the next book in the series Unraveling which will be released July 2017. I have heard from the author, that this is a trilogy, which means nothing will be completely resolved in book 2 either! LOL

Unblemished (Book 1 of Unblemished Series)
by Sara Ella

It's going to be so hard to wait until July 2017 for the next book! But Unblemished is actually a book I would read again, so I could pick up things I missed the first go around--the true sign of a 5 star book! I hope you will add this book to your TO READ list if you like fantasy, it doesn't matter that it's YA genre at all.

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November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Blessings

Be safe my friends. There are a lot of crazies on the road out there. Enjoy this Thanksgiving! I know that we will be enjoying our first one with my parents moved out here. It's been a couple years since we had a Thanksgiving all together. I know that we have so much to be grateful for--especially considering what happened a couple weeks ago. Life is precious and I am blessed to be able to enjoy it surround by family and friends--may the same be for you!
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November 23, 2016

Homeschooling (and other) Black Friday Sales News!

It's hard to believe, but we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving again. One of the fun parts of Thanksgiving, is starting to find out what kind of sales are going to be happening the next day, including the incredible Cyber Friday/Cyber Monday deals that you can find for many of your favorite homeschooling companies! I have been trying to keep my ear to the ground, and have found two THREE major sales that I wanted you to know about!
The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

Cyber Weekend Membership Sale
As I shared earlier this year, NotebookingPages.com is a product that I didn't know I needed. I was blown away at how useful it was for my homeschool routine. And it was so easy to navigate and find things. I am happy to say that the Cyber Friday sale this year is a great offer--$25 off the LIFETIME membership.

Do you know what Lifetime means? It means one price--with forever access. To all the creations. Past. Present. Future! Access to everything that has been created and will be created! You don't get opportunities like that very often--so make sure you take advantage of it! I was leery about whether or not this product was right for me, but I'm so glad that I took a chance and explored it! Now I use it almost every week!

If you aren't sure if a membership is right for you, make sure you at least get signed up to get the 600+ page sampler!

Free Notebooking Pages Product Sampler from NotebookingPages.com.


#2 SchoolhouseTeachers.com w/Dove Channel Subscription!

Educational giant SchoolhouseTeachers.com and entertainment giant Dove Channel have teamed up to offer one full year of both services for one low price. From November 23-30, readers can purchase a full year of BOTH programs for just $99, a savings of $100. This gives them access to all 300+ courses on SchoolhouseTeachers.com and thousands of hours of entertainment and educational content from Dove Channel.If you are already a member of Dove Channel, SchoolhouseTeachers.com can be added for a special discounted price, and if you are already a member of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, Dove Channel can be added for a discount. All the details can be found on this page: https://schoolhouseteachers.com/2016/11/black-friday-special-signup/

I am currently using both of these homeschooling resources and am finding them incredibly helpful for supplementing what we are already doing. They fill in a lot of gaps, and help us out whenever we go on "rabbit trails". I hope that you will be able to snag them for your own family--or give them as a gift to someone you know!


#3 Educents

ww.educents.com
Educents is having a great deal for Black Friday! They are offering 15% off any order under $250 with the code GIVEJOY. And if you really want to save, you get 25% off any order of $250 or more! Not mention FREE SHIPPING on all orders AND you can earn 5% back on all your orders too! Whew! Talk about a great deal! I highly recommend you using this deal to get the LIFE OF FRED series if you haven't already! Educents already has some of the best prices on those books!

And did you know that you can get $10 off you first order just for signing up? Who wouldn't want an extra $10 to spend--I sure love "free" money! Make sure you sign up to claim your $10 and then enjoy checking out what Educents has to offer--there is WAY more than homeschool related products! Plenty of items for the home, school, or for gifts!

Oh and you don't have to wait until Friday to save...there are TWO PRE-Black Friday sales going on right now that you can take advantage of!
www.educents.com
AND
Either way you choose, you get to save money! Start saving at Educents today!
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Make sure you follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you don't miss any of the last minute Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals that I will find! They will always get posted there first!

Happy Shopping!


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