Entertainment and the Value of Human Life

I remember taking an American Literature class my senior year of high school. I really enjoyed it, and not just because I love reading and I love history (especially American history). I found it fascinating, because it showed me how entertainment not only reflects culture, but also influences it. When I looked at the various time periods, I saw how the books, poems, and short stories written expressed how people felt at that time. I witnessed how society viewed God, morality, science, technology, government, etc.

We oftentimes dismiss entertainment as just that. Entertainment. Movies, books, and songs make us laugh, stir our emotions, and provide a brief respite from the reality of life.

But there is something deeper to entertainment that we often fail to realize.

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Book Review: In the Shadow of Denali by Kimberley Woodhouse and Tracie Peterson

Hi, everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted! I had some technical difficulties with my blog, but my hosting company fixed it! I’m very excited to post my review of In the Shadow of Denali by Kimberley Woodhouse and and Tracie Peterson.

(Fun fact: I interviewed Mrs. Woodhouse’s daughter in this post)

Their Future Depends on Unlocking the Secrets the Mountain Holds From the Past

Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel near the foot of Mount McKinley–Denali as it’s still called by the natives. John is the wilderness and exploration guide for the wealthy tourists while Cassidy works in the kitchen as Cook’s assistant. The entire staff buzzes with excitement during the busy days preparing for the President’s imminent visit. His historic trip to dedicate the new national park on his way to driving in the golden spike to officially complete the Alaska Railroad will be the beginning of a new era for all of them and place The Curry at the heart of Alaska.

Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice to the seasoned Alaska mountain guide, with hopes of discovering the truth about his father’s death on the mountain years earlier. His father’s business partner blames the guide for Henry Brennan’s untimely death, but Allan cannot be at peace until he knows for sure. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.

*Book cover image and synopsis taken from the publisher’s website*

There were so many things about this book I really, really enjoyed.

  • Cassidy was a very likable character. In a time where most fictional heroines are cynical and vengeful, Cassidy’s sweet innocence was a refreshing breath of fresh air.
  • Family relationships played a big role which was awesome! We don’t see very many family relationships–especially child-father relationships–in books.
  • Cassidy works in a kitchen and reading about all the desserts she baked definitely made me hungry.
  • I haven’t read a lot of books that take place in Alaska, so that was cool to read.
  • I could tell the authors put a lot of research into make sure the historical setting was accurately portrayed. I love history, particularly American history, so there were some intriguing facts in this book.
  • The Christian message didn’t feel like an after-thought but a seamless part of the story.

There were a few complaints I had, though:

  • The romance developed way too quickly. At just a few chapters in, the main characters were already thinking about how much they liked each other. They had just met, and I didn’t find this totally realistic. Their relationship was sweet, but it developed a little too fast for me.
  • The mystery aspect felt a little…lackluster. I don’t think it was intended to be very suspenseful, but it fell flat to me.

Despite those two complaints, I still really enjoyed In the Shadow of Denali. I liked the characters and themes a lot. While I may not read a lot of historical romance (you know, space travel, corrupt future governments, and castles are more my thing), I thought this was a really sweet book!

*Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy!*

Have you read In the Shadow of Denali? What did you think?

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Interview with Author Shantelle Hannu

Hi, everyone!

I am very excited that today I’ll be posting an author interview! Thank you very much to homeschooled author, Shantelle Hannu! She is the author of A Dream Not Imagined, a sweet Cinderella retelling. Here is a little bit about her:

Shantelle Mary Hannu was born in the mountainous west, spending her golden childhood years there. Since then, she has relocated time and again with her parents and seven siblings, making cherished memories in both the South and Central United States.
A Christian homeschool graduate, Shantelle has a passion for writing and all things books. From a young age she’s been penning tales with a hope of sharing with the world adventurous and soul-stirring stories that bring glory to God.

A Dream Not Imagined, a fairytale novella, is her first published book. She’s currently preparing a full-length fantasy novel for publication as well, and working on its sequel.

One of Shantelle’s joys is connecting with fellow writers and readers! 🙂

You can check out her blogs here and here!

Now for the interview….

What are some of your favorite things to do (other than reading and writing, of course!)?

I enjoy blogging, hanging out with friends, conversation, and watching a good movie now and then! 🙂

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Psalm 91, Psalm 139, and Psalm 103 are a few of my favorite passages.

Who is one Christian author you’d like to meet someday?

Just one?? I’d love to meet Jaye L. Knight, Tricia Mingerink, Nadine Brandes, and Laura Frantz! 😀

A couple of those authors are on my would-love-to-meet list, too! 🙂

What inspired you to write A Dream Not Imagined?

I was inspired to write a Cinderella retelling because there was a contest going on for that. And I just love fairy tales and adding a meaningful message!

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what bands/artists are your favorites?

It depends. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Lauren Daigle is one of my favorite artists right now. I also enjoy violin/cello music.

Can you tell us anything about your current project?

Yes! 🙂 I recently finished re-writing a fantasy story called Silver Rose. It’s a bit of a Christian allegory, and full of adventure, struggles, and a little bit of romance. I’ve sent it to some beta-readers, and am hoping to start the publication process after going over their work!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

To have a “power hour”! When I’m on a writing deadline (of sorts), it really helps to set aside an hour each day to write. A full hour – no distractions, no checking facebook, etc. Just write. It helped me so much with re-writing Silver Rose!
Thanks for having me on your blog, Ashley! I’m honored! 🙂

Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview! I can’t wait to read Silver Rose when it comes out!

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Series Review: War of Rain by H.W. Vivian

First of all, I would like to thank the author for sending me both of her novels so I could review them!

There are two books in this series: War of Rain and The Goddess. War of Rain is about a teenage girl who is sent on a journey to save her people. The Goddess is about a teenage girl whose world is turned upside down. There are some similarities in the stories–an impending war between people groups due to the protagonist’s actions, a subtle hint of romance, the protagonist wondering if everything they grew up believing is a lie. The plots were quick-paced and both books were fairly easy reads.

The stories had enough differences to be unique from each other, however. War of Rain had more of a fantasy feel while The Goddess felt more futuristic. Overall, I thought the story of The Goddess was more engaging and offered more in the way of plot twists.  I enjoyed the crisp first-person writing in both books. Not too wordy with a decent amount of emotion.

Here is my biggest complaint: While I was under the impression that the books were Christian, after reading them I decided the worldview does not reflect a Biblical one. War of Rain,for example, wonders why the different religious groups don’t just get along because they all serve the same God. Jesus makes it clear that He is the only Savior (John 14:6). This (short) article also points out that various religious can’t all be true if they contradict each other in their basic beliefs about God. I didn’t notice this view in The Goddess; but both books overall depicted general spirituality, not a personal relationship with the one true Savior, Jesus Christ. While I enjoyed the suspense and the writing, the un-Biblical worldview was a  turn-off for me.

Your turn: Does a book’s worldview affect your opinion of it?

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Book Review: Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig

This Is the Way the World Ends.

Four years after a tragic mission decimated his team, Cole “Tox” Russell has been disavowed by the United States. And that’s fine–he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Tox and his former Special Forces team regroup to work with FBI deception expert, Kasey Cortes, and fiery archaeologist, Tzivia Khalon, to search the globe for answers–and a cure. As the mission leads from one continent to another, it becomes clear they’re not just fighting a plague but battling an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and the threat for a global pandemic rising, Tox and his team realize their sole chance might be to reach back through centuries of silence to find the only answer that can save them all.

*Book cover and synopsis found on the publisher’s website*

Secret organizations+Biblical history+a dangerous virus=Conspiracy of Silence.

Conspiracy of Silence is very exciting. Wow. The action is nonstop and you’re never sure who to trust. There are tons of twists that resulted in me quickly turning pages to figure out what happened next.

Also, I loved the fact that Biblical history and archeology played a big role in the plot. The book frequently refers to the book of Numbers, and I appreciated reading a book where the Bible events are regarded as history.

I’ve read several Christian mystery books, and I’ve noticed that a lot of them have overpowering romance elements . Not so with Conspiracy of Silence. Romance is present, but it doesn’t dominate the story. I do feel like the relationship could have been developed a little bit better, but overall I was pleased that the actual mystery was given the highest priority.

If you enjoy quick-paced suspense novels, I think you’ll like Conspiracy of Silence!

*My Rating: 4 of 5 stars*

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of Conspiracy of Silence! The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Do you enjoy books where Biblical history play a big role?

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Highlights of 2016

Well, it’s officially 2017!

I can’t believe 2016 is over. It was a pretty big year for me, and it flew by so fast. Also…I updated my blog’s theme! 

Some Cool Things That Happened in 2016…

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A Star Wars Geek’s Review of Rogue One

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

I apologize that I haven’t been very regular with posting this month. Between finals and preparing for Christmas, I haven’t had a lot of time to post. But I will be more regular now!

One exciting thing that’s happened is that I got to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last week.

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Book Review: Life after ELE by J.C. Morrows

life-after-ele-jc-morrows-hd-coverExtinction Level Event: An event where all species on the planet can become extinct.

Rule#1: Be inside the gates before sunset.

Eve was born inside the caves. She was taught that rule – and many others – before she could walk. It should be the easiest thing in the world for her to remember.

But life is not always simple.

Life does not always go as planned.

When a rogue moon was discovered on a collision course with the Earth, we thought we had a solid plan.

We were wrong. And we were lied to.

Now Eve is in a race against time, discovery and danger around every corner – to find a truth that has been hidden for more than ten years.

A truth her father died to protect her from.

*Image and blurb taken from the author’s website*

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Top 3 Fictional Heroines

Female protagonists are all the rage these days.

I almost always write from a girl’s perspective; that’s just what comes naturally to me. I love reading a book or watching a movie where the protagonist is someone I can see as a role model. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find female characters who actually are role models.

So….*drumroll*….here are my top three fictional heroines!


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Book Review: Reached by Ally Condie

The final installment of a trilogy is always bittersweet.

There’s the excitement of finally seeing how the story ends. There’s nothing more satisfying than to come to the resolution of a series you’ve invested time and emotion into. But there’s also a bit of hesitation. What if the series doesn’t end as you hoped it would? There’s the realization that this is the last time you’ll visit the world and characters.

Isn't that cover amazing?
Isn’t that cover amazing?
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