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This blog is managed by us two sisters, known to some as Ants and Epic. We're a pair of up-and-coming authors and avid readers. This blog is mainly full of honest, Christian book-reviews and an occasional update about our writing. We love hearing from you all so feel free to drop a comment anywhere to just say hi!
Also, got any book suggestions? Something you'd like to see reviewed? Leave the title in the comments and we'll try to get to it!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

Summary: "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" 
  Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children-two boys and two girls-succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they'll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you're gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.

Thoughts: This was a really adorable book! I mean it had suspense, action, character development, and plot; but the overall feeling it left me with was warm and adorable. 
 The story is really great, like I said, action, suspense, nail-biting, and late night reading to find out what on earth went wrong this time, are all essential parts of the plot. 
 The writing does a good job of weaving the reader in and out of each predicament and changes smoothly from an endearing, heart-touching moment, to a hilarious mishap, to hair-rising danger all in a single chapter.
 The characters were really great, full of development, potential, and curious traits, they were all tons of fun! I would suggest this book to fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and The Girl Who Could Fly.

Content: Some danger and frightening situations. A small amount of violence. All in all, a clean book for most ages and a delightful read for all!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cover Reveal: Reintegration

Hi and welcome! It's been awhile since I did a cover reveal but I am jumping back into the world of blog-tours and am so excited to be sharing this cover with you guys today! First off, a bit about the book:

                    A perfect citizen. A captured rebel. One decision could destroy them both...
 As a Regulator, seventeen-year-old Katherine Holliday’s duty is to protect the people of the Federation from a group of violent rebels who have exiled themselves to the mysterious wilderness. When one of these rebels is captured within the Federation, the government leaders propose an alternative to execution, a procedure they call Reintegration. The procedure involves erasing the rebel’s memory and attempting to make him a member of society. The rebel, a young man named Matthew, is not the violent criminal Katherine expects, and she can’t help but befriend him. A few weeks after Matthew’s Reintegration, Katherine realizes the procedure failed and she is now presented with a choice no one else can help her make. Can she warn her superiors that Reintegration failed, which could mean death for Matthew? Or will she defy everything she knows to help him escape—and risk her own execution?

                                                          ~            ~            ~

Sounds exciting right? I honestly cannot wait to take a peek inside this book! The release date is August 18, 2017, so mark your calendars!

And now, what everyone' been waiting for.........................................................................

.................the cover!

I love the literal splash of color against the washed out background. 
Here's a bit about the genius behind the story:

Author Bio: When Ashley Bogner was in third grade, she decided she would be a published author when she grew up. Ashley is a homeschool graduate and has lived in seven different states. She completed a year of Bible college and in the fall will begin pursuing a degree in Communication Studies. After college, her plan is to work in the Christian publishing industry. When not writing, she can be found baking, posting book reviews on her blog, and watching her favorite movies over and over to the point of memorization.

You can find out more about Ashley and Reintegration on her Blog.

You can also find out more about the book on Goodreads.

Again, the release date is August 18, 2017. We don't have to wait too long so keep an eye out for it!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: The Amulet of Samarkand

 Summary: Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny." 
    If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn't tough enough, Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy's only saving grace is the master's wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.
   Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.

Thoughts: I'm sure you've all heard me spouting my love for the Lockwood and Co. series and if you haven't you can read them all hereherehere, and here (all in order). If you haven't noticed yet this is, in fact, the same author; the genius behind one of the few ghost stories I've ever read let alone loved, Jonathan Stroud. This was his first series and one he was renowned for so I picked it up one day when I was really missing Lockwood and Co. 
  First off, a warning, this is nothing like Lockwood. While the world itself carries a similar feel (London with a supernatural twist) they are vastly different stories. The characters all hated each other. Nobody liked each other or got along which was probably just as well because if they had agreed on anything they'd be conquering the world. Nathaniel and Bartimaeus were forced to work together but they made their loathing of each other quite clear. This made for a really funny contrast throughout the entire story. Bartimaeus especially. He was just so mean! Nathaniel...well, you felt bad for him, his life had been tough and he was still just a kid; but you couldn't help feeling that he got what he deserved every time his plans backfired. The characters were all really well thought and though I didn't feel that they developed a whole lot it felt as though they were finally read to start...growing up.
  The writing was great, Jonathan Stroud writes with a strong and masterful air, weaving the reader deep into his magic riddled streets of a very real-feeling London. He'll easily have you on the edge of your seat with your hairs raised praying that what you think is about to happen won't actually happen. And then it does.
 The really great part of the story was the plot. The mind games and political battles that the cast wage against each other and the mystery that needs to be uncovered make for a really great adventure. It's not as exciting as Lockwood (I just want you to remember they're nothing alike) but it's still a great story!

Content: D*** and Bloody H*** are mentioned a few times as well as some profanity. There is magic and sometimes the djinni are referred to as demons but they dislike the term and insist on djinni so I don't believe they're meant to be demons as the Christian Bible refers to them. Bartimaeus is not human and has little respect for any other life form or species, this leads to him transforming into a woman sometimes and once he considers turning in a naked woman to shock Nathaniel. He doesn't do it but we hear him think it. There's a bit of violence and some death but it's not excessive and there's no gore. There are a few mature themes and the setting is really dark with some overriding creepy feels. There are some mentions of religion and the symbols used for the demons that could be a little offensive to certain readers for religious reasons.
 All in all, I found the book a little slow at first but it picked up towards the end and it was a really good read. Mostly clean if a little creepy, great for middle-grade readers and older.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Manga Series Review: Hunter X Hunter

Summary: Hunters are a special breed, dedicated to tracking down treasures, magical beasts, and even other men. But such pursuits require a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Those who do pass gain access to restricted areas, amazing stores of information, and the right to call themselves Hunters. Gon discovers that his father was a famous Hunter, and so he embarks on a journey to find his father, meeting reliable friends and going on dangerous missions as well.

Thoughts: This is another 'I watched the anime first' series. As far as content goes, I've only managed to read up to vol. 12 right now but I'm fairly aware of the the content in the series so bear in mind that I might miss a few specific scenes but I will relate the extent of all problematic material. 
 Image result for hunter x hunter manga

 Alright well, you're all not going to hear me mention many manga series that I didn't like for the sole reason that I don't review things that I dropped (it doesn't seem right or fair) and I tend to drop series tat I don't like (too long to bother with). So, needless to say, this is another favorite of mine. I've watched both of the shows, all the extras, and am now reading the series. I'm a bit of a nerd for this story. But then, the few people I've actually convinced to watch/read this series have fallen head over heels for it so I may be on to something!
 The characters are the real treasure here. The main story follows 12-year old Gon but soon come to include Killua, Kurapika and Leorio; all of them young adventurers with dreams and goals that can only be accomplished by finishing the acclaimed Hunter Exam. And that's the beginning. The story takes off from there and we're swept away into this amazing world filled to the brim with excitement and danger. 

Image result for hunter x hunter vol 1 manga

 Through many trials and some really heartbreaking moments, we watch these kids persevere and survive and the friendship they have is amazing. It is impossible not to cry while moving along in this story.
 The art is good but it really coveys the point of the scene rather than catching your eye. And the writing...well, did I mention you'll cry? It's not poetic or beautiful. It's rough and simple but it just makes you care even more for the cast that enters and for the many that leave.

  Image result for hunter x hunter manga

Content: In the beginning and occasionally throughout the series there are rude or inappropriate comments along with some poorly dressed women. These are fairly scare and rarely last long. Language sticks mostly to D***, Sh**, B*****d and C*** with profanity used frequently 'Oh my ***'. The violence is the biggest problem. While it starts off with a light, childish atmosphere, the series quickly spirals into a darker twist. Blood, gore, and extreme violence are to be expected. I'm talking everything from man-eating beats to horrifying surgical-like torture. Depending on your tolerance level for violence and all things painfully gross, be careful with this series. There are certain sentient creatures that have human-like bodies and don't wear clothes. There are a few characters who imply that they are gay or bisexual but nothing has been confirmed.
 All in all, this isn't a clean series but it's amazingly good when it comes to characters. If you like the Marvel universe and anything with great plot twists you'll at least like this series!

 Image result for hunter x hunter manga

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Book Review: Lady Molly of the Scotland Yard

Summary: First published in 1910, Orczy's female detective was the precursor of the lay sleuth who relies on brains rather than brawn. The book soon became very popular, with three editions appearing in the first year. As well as being one of the first novels to feature a female detective as the main character, Orczy's outstandingly successful police officer preceded her real life female counterparts by a decade.

Thoughts: This book was a little disappointing for me. I've read other works by Baroness Orczy before (namely the Scarlet Pimpernel) and adored them. I was excited to discover that she had a story of a female detective just as I was in the mood for some good detective fiction. Unfortunately, Lady Molly was a bit of a let down. I guessed the conclusion of most of the cases. Very little time was spent in showing off the Lady's actual talents and usefulness while too much time was spent comparing her with her male counterparts and lauding her for simply being female. 
  Now I realize that a female detective was a bit groundbreaking at the time this was written, but that should have been even more of a reason to make the mysteries intriguing and the sleuth actually talented. As it is, the story is told from the wide-eyed perspective of Lady Molly's maid who recounts several different cases with an abnormal amount of adoration and honor given to Lady Molly who is actually rather mean to the maid. 
 And everything ends on Molly's own personal story instead of a grand case which, though it did involve a murder, seemed to almost solve itself. It was kind of uninspiring.

Content: Blood, gore, and murder-mystery violence are mentioned. Most of the cases have mature events involved such as illegitimate children, affairs, and of course death. SPOILER One of the cases involves a man cross dressing END SPOILER. 
 Basically what you would expect from a collection of detective stories. All in all, an easy read but not one of the best. I highly recommend the Scarlet Pimpernel series before this one.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Series Review: Hogwarts Library

                       Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander's classic compendium of magical creatures, has delighted generations of wizarding readers. With this beautiful, large-scale new edition illustrated in full color, Muggles too will have the chance to discover where the Runespoor lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why shiny objects should always be kept away from the Niffler.
 Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief and J.K. Rowling's international charity, Lumos, which will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, one can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore.

                        Quidditch Through the Ages: Did you know that: there are 700 ways of committing a foul in Quidditch? The game first began to evolve on Queerditch Marsh - What Bumphing is? That Puddlemere United is oldest team in the Britain and Ireland league (founded 1163). All this information and much more could be yours once you have read this book: this is all you could ever need to know about the history, the rules - and the breaking of the rules - of the noble wizarding sport of Quidditch.

                          The Tales of Beedle the Bard: The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. 
 Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” But not only are they the equal of fairy tales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.

Thoughts: This was an adorable addition to the Harry Potter universe. Fresh off the shelves of Howarts itself comes these classical feeling stories that are a wonderful expansion of the wizarding world. 
 They are writing with the fun style of the Harry Potter books but with a schoolbook feeling. Of course, if my schoolbooks had been about Quidditch and Fantastical Beasts I would have enjoyed them a lot more. As it is, they were fun easy reads.

Content: Magic. In Quidditch Through the Ages there's a bit of sporty violence. All in all though it's a clean, fun series for all ages!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn

 Summary:Yona is the sole princess of the kingdom, living the luxurious and carefree life as a princess should. She has it all: the finest clothes and cosmetics, the most divine sweets, a loving emperor as a father, and the hottest cousin crush, Soo-won, anyone could ever hope to have. Now, if only her bodyguard, Son Hak, wasn't so annoying to her and her hair wasn't so red.
 But her nearly perfect world quickly shatters as the man she loves, Soo-won, murders her father and the path to his ascension to the throne is assured. Son Hak escapes with Yona, and they lead a life on the run from that point on.

Thoughts: First off, the above six volumes have been translated into English and, at this point in time, the seventh is about the be distributed in English speaking countries as well. I just couldn't find a picture of all the translated covers.
 Image result for yona of the dawn

 Anyways, so about the series... I watched the anime first. It got me interested in the series and sticks to the mangas perfectly. These first seven or eight volumes are the same story as the anime and can be read or watched without missing anything. I chose to read them again and support their translations because I adore this series. It's basically everything I love in fiction! 
 The story revolves around a young girl who lived a perfect life until it was shattered by the person she loved. She then goes on a journey to discover herself and rescue her kingdom. Along the way she gathers around her an oddball group of strange misfits that make up a family. And, even though she's the only girl in the group, their is only one actual love interest, so no love triangles! Just...a lot of confusion. 
(Note: read manga panels right to left.)
 Image result for yona of the dawn manga
 Yona is a strong girl. She wears skirts ad likes pretty things but she also knows how to be capable. She learns how to take care of herself but never turns down a helping hand. This leaves her as one of the most lovable female heroines I've ever seen. 
 The rest of the cast is great too. They tend to leave me with tears streaming down my face because I was laughing so hard over their antics. 
 The story is breathtakingly wonderful. Yona learns about her kingdom and becomes embroiled in politics, war, and famine. From stopping drug dealers to making peace with kingdoms (pardon, I'm moving ahead of the six volumes in this review but I'll try not to include too many spoilers) the story keeps you riveted and actually has you caring for the well-being of an entire country. 
 The art is really good and the writing is great. Rarely do I see such great dynamics between such a mixed cast of characters. Despite being the only girl in the group, Yona is treated with respect and I don't worry about inappropriate scenes popping up. The humor is mostly clean and absolutely hilarious and the action scenes manage to be interesting without having to repeat dramatic scenes (which happens a lot in mangas targeted at girls). So, really, one of my all time favorite manga series!
 Image result for yona of the dawn manga

Content: Ok, yes, despite my previous advocation of how clean this manga is there are a few things I need to mention. In volume 1 Yona is seen coming out of a lake where she had been bathing, naked. This is to show that she has leeches on her but that, in turn, causes her to scream and her only companion, her male bodyguard, is required to come and get them off of her. The bodyguard did his best to remain composed and respectful in this scene and nothing more happened than the removal of the leeches but it was still inappropriate. There is a character who enters in volume six who flirts often and is often scene in the company of harlots or poorly dressed women (these peters out after the seventh or eighth volume). A male character is often seen sleeping with a female character but these are non-sexual and are often either for protection or due to lack of room.Yona is also shown to be in love with her cousin which, in the ancient setting that this is placed in, was actually considered a proper choice of marriage for a princess (this happened in England and China and...just about anywhere there was a monarchy for a long time. They liked to keep the crown in the family) so it was meant more a historical reference rather than something inappropriate. There are mentions of woman being kidnapped and sold into slavery and a few other mature topics. There is fighting, violence, and blood with some rather excessive gore later on in the series. There are certain characters that are given 'special abilities' and these could be seen as a magical addition to the story, otherwise there is no magic. The language contains a few mentions of D***, C***, H***, and B*****d (these are the common translations for the Japanese words used here and are not meant to be as offensive as they come off as in the English language). 
 A long list, I know, but it's a pretty long series and everything falls pretty far away from each other. All in all, this is actually a fairly clean series that I would say is appropriate for young teens and anyone who can handle the mature topics discussed (these being the most frequent content). But trust me, its a really good read!

Image result for yona of the dawn manga panels

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Manga Series Review: Yotsuba&!

 Summary: Yotsuba! presents the story of the new kid in town - little Yotsuba, a green-haired and wide-eyed girl who doesn't have a clue... about anything! With no knowledge of the world around her, and an unnatural fear of air conditioners, Yotsuba has her new neighbors' heads spinning.
 Image result for Yotsuba&!

Thoughts: This is one of the most adorable series I've ever had the pleasure of reading! Having lived with small children (mostly girls) all my life I find Yotsuba to be the most realistic fictional kid ever! At nearly five years old she wants to know about and discover everything and everyday brings something new! 
(Note: Read right to left with manga panels)
Image result for Yotsuba&!
 This series has some of the best writing! I laugh so hard at almost every chapter and then get teary eyed over the smallest of things. The art is really nice to. Not overdone but with more realistic sizing and proportions than some mangas.
 The story is simple and sweet; the world through the eyes of a five year old. It reminds you how amazing the world we live in really is and brings out a great appreciation for the small things in life. 
 The characters are fantastic. From Yotsuba's dad o the girls next and everyone else, either passing by or here to stay, are full of life and character. You never get tired of seeing them in their everyday life!
 Image result for Yotsuba&!

Content: Though nothing is shown there is occasional implied full-or-partial nudity (a scene where Yotsuba is in the bath with her dad, someone shouting in the background about their pants falling down). A few translations might include D***, C*** or even B******. These are the translators though, the original Japanese words would not have seemed as offensive. The official translation with Yen Press has labeled it 'A' for 'All Ages' so it should be clean. I hope so, this is a really adorable series and I approve of just about anyone reading them! It's a great insight into modern day Japanese cultural and a relatable story of very real characters. Trust me, if you want something lighthearted that will make you feel good and supply a good laugh, read this series!

Image result for Yotsuba&!