Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Between Shades of Gray // REVIEW

Summer has been a roller coaster ride.  A fun one, but a crazy one.  Not having school has been a blessing, except for the one health class I'm taking *headdesk*.  I HAVEN'T POSTED IN OVER TWO MONTHS.  Yikes, that's bad.  Summer flew by, and so did every Tuesday.  I've been on a whopping four vacations... not exactly sure how that happened... but it did.

I'M GOING INTO HIGH SCHOOL THIS YEAR, GUYS.  Wait, whhaattttt???  My brain is on overload trying to comprehend the fact that I only have four more years until I graduate.  And no more homeschooling.  NOOOOOOO.  I can't sleep in any more, or go places during the school day, or do school with my awesome homeschooling friends *sobs*.  But, I have been blessed to go to an awesome Christian private school in my town.  Yippeeee.  I played soccer there last year, so I know a lot of girls there already.  I'M EXCITED AND TERRIFIED.

Now that I'm done getting my ramblings and updates out, let me move to the actual post...

For summer reading this year, I had to read two books.  One of them is Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I'm on page 74, and its pretty good.  It's just a little slow and difficult to follow.  Then again, It is a classic.  I think I got to like Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes way too much.  ALL THE SASS.  BBC has ruined me.

The second book I read was Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  RUTA SEPETYS *FANGIRLING*.  Her writing style is beautiful.  I just -- *sighs* -- she's amazing and I can't wait to read The Salt of the Sea, another awesome (well, at least, I'm sure its awesome) book.  First of all, this book is NOT to be confused with Fifty Shades of Gray, which I would probably never read.  Now That I've got that cleared up, here's my review.

Book Details

Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth?  That morning, my brother's life was worth a pocket watch.

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

Between Shades of Gray is a riveting novel that steals your breath, captures your heart, and reveals the miraculous nature of the human spirit.

My Review

This book is beautifully written.  The message presented is inspiring, and I am 100% sure you will cry.  PERIOD.  Crying is going to happen.  Accept it.  THIS BOOK IS SO EMOTIONALLY TRAUMATIZING (IN A GOOD WAY).  Moving on... IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL.  Did I already say that?  Well, there it is again.  There was a little questionable content, which you can review at the bottom.

Between Shades of Gray takes place during World War II, destroying the lives of many people.  Most people know the cruelties of WWII through Hitler and the Holocaust, but this book covers the Soviets.  The main characters are from Lithuania, which became part of the Soviet Union under Stalin.  Stalin was much like Hitler -- he deported and sent people to prison and work camps.  I think the author brought to light a matter that very few people remember in WWII.

Characters. The author took two trips to Lithuania to research the book.  Now that's dedication.  Many of the characters are based off of the experiences of real people.  AND SHE DID A GREAT JOB PORTRAYING THEM.  They were so real.  I cried with them (soooo many times), laughed with them, grimaced in pain with them, and sympathized for them.

The main character, Lina, was so real.  She was the perfect picture of how someone would react to being taken from their home, loaded on a train car with over fifty other people, and forced into work camps in brutal living conditions.

One of my favorite parts about Lina's character was her drawing.  She used drawing as a way to express her emotions and feelings about the terrible events in her life.  THE MANY TERRIBLE THINGS.  *cough* Death *cough*.  Being an artist myself, I admired her creativity and expression.  My style is expressive and emotional (or at least I aspire to this being my style).  I loved how she held nothing back in her drawings and just let the lines form something beautiful. She wasn't afraid to show herself through her art.  Lina is just like me... we're like twins.  *Spoilers in white*  I especially liked when she gave Andrius her drawings.  Like sooooo sweet.  I need a ship name for them.  NOW.

Oh my goodness, Andrius!  I started out not liking him (just like Lina) and slowly grew to adore him.  I SHIP THEM SO HARD.  *Spoilers in white* When they were separated, I had to put the book down and go cry in a corner for ten whole minutes.  It was dreadful.  You can't just create a whole romance and then split them up when they start falling in love.  That defies the laws of writing.  I MEAN, HOW DARE YOU RUTA SEPETYS???  ARE YOU TRYING TO TORTURE ME???  *slams fingers on keys*  <<< Sorry for my excessive venting over the ship *blushes*.  I wasn't planning on writing any spoilers in this review, but I just couldn't help myself.  Does anyone agree with me over Ruta Sepetys' heartlessness?  She just kills characters and gives you zero time to recover.  *collapses*  I CAN'T HANDLE THAT.  Except I love it.  I make no sense.  *flails*  I want to give them both a big hug.

Thank you all for dealing with the large blank space... and especially those who had to resist the temptation of reading the spoilers before you read the book.  Now where was I?

Oh, right.  Characters.  Jonas.  His character development is superb.  At first, I see him as the perfect picture of a 10-year-old little brother.  By the end, even though just a year and a half have passed, he is like a man.  He grows up so quickly (which makes me a little sad, but just a pinch), as I would expect someone in his situation.  He's such a likable character. :D

Everyone else.  *cries* *cries some more*  MY LIPS ARE SEALED.  Mwahahahaha.

Plot.  Ruta Sepetys has no mercy.  As I already mentions about 300,000 times, this book is sad.  Ruta Sepetys isn't afraid to kill off a character, which you most likely grew attached to.  She's insensitive when killing them, too.

I thought the pacing was a little weird at some points in the book and the chapters really short (like an average of 4 pages).  That made it a really quick read.  I'm not sure if I liked that or not.  I don't like endings.  I DON'T LIKE GOODBYES.  Speaking of endings...

The Ending.  THIS BOOK ENDS SO CLIFFHANGER.  Be prepared.  I wasn't.  There are so many leftover strands.  That's all I'm going to say, but if you've read it, you know how I feel.

I had about 20 pages left and this happened:


If I was to wrap this up in a few words they would be...
            BEAUTIFUL           INSPIRING            SAD            TRAUMATIZING  

I give this book four and a half stars.  The only reason is for some content I didn't enjoy as much (listed below).  I would recommend this book for teens and above.  Warning:  This book will leave you emotionally instable for at least a week.  Maybe your life.  BUT, ITS SO WORTH IT.

Questionable Content

There are a few bad words, but I went over them with a black pencil.  Isn't that what those are for?  There is some violence and cruelty as well, but in the book's defense, it does take place during World War II.  The value of human life is worthless to the Soviets.  Enough said?  Some other things that might make readers uncomfortable are when the women line up naked for the bath house in front of guards (who are men).  Although, they had no choice in the matter.  One time, there is a brief moment where the main character is inappropriately touched by a guard.  Lastly, one of the ladies is forced into sleeping with the Soviet guards every night to keep her son alive.  This does not go into any details, except for mentioning the fact that it takes place.

About the Author

Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys) is an internationally acclaimed author of historical fiction published in over fifty countries and thirty-six languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Her novels, Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy are both New York Times bestsellers, international bestsellers, and Carnegie Medal nominees. Salt to the Sea, her latest novel, was an instant bestseller and debuted at #2 on the New York Times list. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over twenty state reading lists, and have been selected for several all-city read programs.

Ruta is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. Born in Michigan, she was raised in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. Ruta attended college to study opera but instead graduated with a degree in International Finance. Prior to publishing her first novel, she spent twenty years in the music industry helping artists and songwriters distill story through song.

Sepetys is the first American crossover novelist to address both European Parliament and Library of Congress. She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Resident Fellowship for Salt to the Sea.

Ruta was recently bestowed the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania for her contributions to education and memory preservation. She is intensely proud to be Lithuanian, even if that means she has a name no one can pronounce.

Ruta lives in a treehouse in the hills of Tennessee.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Samara's Peril Blog Tour // REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

*fangirl squeals*  I have been waiting so long for this book and its finally here!  AHHHHHH. Today, I will be doing a book review.  EEEEEPPP!  

About the Book

When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen. 

Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.

Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks!

Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!

My Review

Oh my goodness.  THIS WAS SO GOOD.  First of all, its Jaye L. Knight... what do you expect?  Of course, Jaye's writing style is so lovely.  It's descriptive and really makes me feel in the story.  I literally started crying when the book showed up in my inbox.  I was so happy.  This book was a little less exciting than the others, but in the grand scheme of the whole series, it is a slower part... and yet it was still awesome.

Plot.  Like I said, the plot wasn't quite as exciting as the others, but it was still good.  It was enough to keep me into the story.  I will say, to be honest, it wasn't quite as intriguing and suspenseful as the first two.  Something about it, though, seemed almost... repetitive???  I don't know.  Just something made it more predictable and different than the others.  

*Spoilers in white* (Please, please, don't read this if you haven't read the book.  I want you to have the best reading experience possible.  Don't ruin it, okay?  I want you to be surprised XD.  I'm being completely serious.  SO YOU BETTER NOT LOOK.)  I think the first half of the book was better than the second.  But that's just my opinion.  The mission to Rothas's house was really good.  The suspense was a little overwhelming.  Every turn, I was waiting for someone to be arrested or killed or something (What a terrible thought???).  JUST KILL BE NOW BECAUSE I CAN NO LONGER STAND IT.  (That was such a bad pun, but thank you for laughing out of sympathy.)  

When Rachel turned out to be Jace's mother, I was dumbfounded.  I did not see that coming one bit.  I was so happy and surprised and curious and crying and... TOO MANY EMOTIONS.  As always, I wanted to give Jace a ginormous hug.  And then, Rothas found out and I stared at the words as my mind ran at a million times per second trying to figure out how the next part would play out.  Jaye is so good and making you feel what the characters feel, and trust me I felt it.  *sniffles*  JACE NEEDS A HUG FROM EVERY PERSON ON THIS UNIVERSE.  I hugged the book (well my iPad actually), so I hoped that counted.  

The battle, however was a little disappointing.  After the Makilien Trilogy (under another name, Molly Evangeline), I knew Jaye could write battles.  Like seriously, write some epic nine chapter battles.  But, this one, it just missed the mark for me.  It was slow, and really drawn out, AND NOBODY IMPORTANT DIED.  There are so many named characters, and not one of them died.  I found that a little hard to believe after Resistance and The King's Scrolls.  On the other hand, I would have been very upset about somebody dying, so it's a bit of a tossup.

I loved, loved, loved the parallel to the Bible and Jesus dying on the cross.  And Elon dying for Jace... specifically for him.  GIVE JACE ANOTHER HUG NOW.  Jaye, you did this part perfectly.  (If you read those spoilers without reading the book... shame on you.  *glares*)

Characters.  The Landale group is getting bigger and bigger with every book.  And I love it.  I love just watching everyone interact with each other.  The joy they have, even in the sorrow.

Anne. We got to see a lot more of Anne in this book, which I loved.  She is such a real character, and in the past two books, I really wanted to know a lot more about her.  In this book, I did.

Jace.  Just... JACE.  Enough said.  JUST GIVE HIM A HUG.  *spoilers in white*  Did anyone just start bawling when the little girl said Jace's eyes were pretty???

Kyrin.  She's so worried about everyone.  All she wants is for all her friends and family to be safe and happy and together, but it's just not possible.

Kaden.  Same old Kaden.  Dragons and food and protecting his twin.

Rachel.  *Spoilers in white* She is such an amazing woman.  Having to get married to Rothas and having to live with that son of hers?  I don't think I could do it.  The way she has trusted Elom through all of her struggles is such an example to me.  She chose to keep Jace alive, even when everyone told her to get rid of him.  That's a hard thing to do, especially with all the difficult memories that go along with it.  

JAYRIN.  THE KISS.  YASSSSSS.  I knew they kissed in this book, so the whole time I was reading, I was trying to guess when it was.

About the Author

Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.


Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Samara’s Peril, a John 3:16 necklace by FaithWearDesigns, and a green wire dragon bookmark by Wirelings! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

Click on this link to enter the giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1f7330c118/

Tour Schedule

Friday, May 13
Saturday, May 14
Sunday, May 15
Monday, May 16
Tuesday, May 17
Wednesday, May 18
Thursday, May 19
Friday, May 20
Saturday, May 21

Friday, April 29, 2016

Thriftbooks.com Haul

It's Friday.  Aren't you supposed to post on Tuesdays?  It's Camp NaNoWriMo (which I'm doing awful on at the moment).  But, I've got lots of tests and school stuff to wrap up for the year, which is both exciting and hectic.

Today is going to be a really short post... with a huge topic.  It's an online bookstore, everyone.

The site is Thriftbooks.com.  It's pretty much an online used book store.  And it has everything.  For most books, you can find a hardcover book in good or like new condition for just $4.  Four dollars!  It gets better.  For orders over ten dollars, you get free shipping.  That's always a plus! ;)  You should really go check it out!  I ordered nine books and it was only $40.  That's how to buy all those books that you really desperately cannot live without.  

The Hiding Place, Storm Sire, The Giver, Cinder, The Girl Who Could Fly, Found, Catching Fire, Mockingjay, Torn
So... GO CHECK IT OUT.  It's amazing.  

- Mickayla

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Mystery of the Midnight Trespasser Cover Reveal

Today, I am participating in the cover reveal of The Mystery of the Midnight Trespasser by Hosanna Emily which comes out on April 26!  To see how Alea Harper made this cover, head over to her blog, Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings.

The Cover...

About the Book

"Rosy growled, and I knew she was pacing the porch. I sensed her uneasiness. Something was wrong. Rosy never barked at cars; why would she choose this one?" 

13 year-old Emily Kessler believes in God, but when she discovers someone trespassing in the middle of the night, can she learn to trust in Him completely? Will she have the courage to solve the mystery with her friends? And when everything falls apart, will Emily be able to keep those she loves safe?


About the Author

Hosanna Emily wrote her first novel at age fourteen.  She is a homeschooled, independent author who is the oldest daughter in a family of eleven.  She enjoys exploring the sparkling creek by her home in rural Kentucky, reading, drawing, learning American Sign Language, and spending time with her family and with her Creator.

To learn more, visit her blog at:

I will not be posting tomorrow because of the cover reveal today!
- Mickayla

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Of Drawing, Writing, and Reading

I haven't done an update on any of these subjects lately, but today I am changing that!  EEEEPP!  April is a crazy month.  Camp NaNoWriMo -- which means nights of staying up late to finish my daily word count.  School -- I have to start wrapping up the school year, which is both exciting and stressful.  Then, I have my Goodreads goals and my endless reading list to keep up with.  Of course, I can't forget to draw...

ALL THIS EQUALS ZERO TIME FOR NOTHING ELSE.  I need the Doctor to pick me up in the TARDIS so I have infinite time to do all these creative things and only missing a second or two of real life.  Now that's how to finish a book quickly. XD


Let's talk about my art.  Over the past couple months, this has been put on the back-burner.  I haven't drawn nearly as much as I would have hoped, but I have so many other things to do.  Drawing didn't have a deadline.  It slowly moved down my priority list.  I was able to sneak a few drawings in, however.  All of four for 2016.

One of them is fan-art for Captain America: Civil War, which is taking wayyyy too long to come out.  ONLY 30 MORE DAYS.  AHHHHH.  I have officially watched the trailer everyday for a week.  I hope I'm not a little too excited.

Another one is fan-art for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  That movie was epic.  And sad.  It tore my heart out, ripped it to shreds and put it back in.  Anyways, I did this drawing of Kylo Ren, and I'm pretty proud of it.

Displaying IMG_1437.JPG
The third one is a little sketch of a cardinal.  No idea why.  I think I just felt inspired to draw birds that day.  *shrugs*

The fourth one, I am not going to show you.  *laughs evily*  This one did have a deadline.  When I heard that Jaye L. Knight was doing a contest for a fortress/castle for Samara's Peril, I couldn't resist the opportunity.  I mean, the chance at having my art in a published book.  AHHHHHH.  I finished it just a couple days ago.  I'm not sure exactly what Jaye plans to do with the drawings... show them to everyone, or keep it a secret until the book is published.  I promise you will see it sometime.  Just not yet.


It's April 5.  Five days into Camp NaNo.  I chose a low word goal of 10,000 words, but I am probably going to bring it up to at least 15k before the end of April.

I am working on this new contemporary book about horses.  I finally had a plot bunny that involved horses that's working (so far).  The current title is A Horse's Prayer, but I'm not sure if I am going to keep it.  We'll see when I get farther into the first draft.  I don't have a synopsis put together yet, but I when I do get to it, I will post it.

Here is my status for Camp NaNoWriMo so far...

... I know that I wrote nothing yesterday -- or today (yet).  I have an excuse.  I was reading the best series ever -- well, one of the best series ever.  That brings me to my next section.


So far, I have read 15 books in 2016.  That's 30% through my goal of 50 books for this year.  I don't feel like doing the math right now (I'm lazy), but I think I am on schedule.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer  Cinder by Marissa Meyer  Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo  Charlie Bone and the Shadow by Jenny Nimmo  Charlie Bone and the Beast by Jenny Nimmo 
Charlie Bone and the Hidden King by Jenny Nimmo  Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors by Jenny Nimmo  Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy by Jenny Nimmo  Charlie Bone and the Time Twister by Jenny Nimmo  Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo 
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins  Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins  A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes  The Greatest Book You've Never Read by Marjorie Jackson

That's all the books I have read this year.  My favorite so far is probably... A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes or either of The Lunar Chronicles books by Marissa Meyer.  EEPPPPPP!!!  THE LUNAR CHRONICLES.  I can't wait to start Cress.  This series is soooo good.  I will probably do a big review on the whole series, which might be very soon.  I love how each book in the series is longer.  It makes to series last longer.  I can't stand for a good series to end.

I think I've covered about everything.  I hope all you Campers are doing great with your word goals.  I wish you luck in this crazy month.

- Mickayla