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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017 // Wrap-Up + Goals

By On December 31, 2016
Okay so apparently 2016 is almost over?? EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO FLAIL FOREVER BECAUSE I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S ALREADY GONE. Nonetheless it was still a fabulous year!!

But since I'm a good blogger (ahem, don't question), I am here to discuss some things about 2016 and some things about 2017, all wrapped up into one post. You're welcome.

Obviously this is not going to QUITE like a monthly wrap-up. Because I mean how am I supposed to pick favorite blog posts for the whole year? And do I look like I kept track of my writing/reading stats ALL YEAR LONG? (LOL NO)

So basically instead this post is going to be something ENTIRELY IT'S OWN. I'm just letting it become what it wants. So be warned, because at some point it might decide it wants to become a dragon. WILL I QUESTION? NOPE.

(Thanks to SavannahMaryChloe, and Sarah for helping me take a decent picture. YES I NEED THE HELP. I HAVE ACCEPTED THIS FACT.) 

This was kind of a big year for me writing-wise. Which honestly isn't saying all that much since I've only been writing since I was 16, hehe. But so many things happened this year nonetheless. 

1. I started a blog. HELLO YES THIS WAS A HUGE DEAL. I mean would you be reading this if I hadn't of started a blog? NOPE. 

2. I finished my first novel. MY PRECIOUS BRAINCHILD IS COMPLETE. Of course it needs lots and lots of editing and I haven't exactly started that yet, but this was still a big step for me! It's (tentatively) called The Raven Project and you can read some more about it here

3. I started beta reading. I actually didn't even know what beta reading was until I did start a blog. But this year I had the opportunity to beta read for at least a few awesome bloggers out there, and I think it really helped me to grow as a writer. Because when you give feedback on someone else's work, that naturally makes your own work improve. 

4. I participated in NaNo. THIS WAS HUGE. I'm assuming most of you know what NaNo is, but if not, it's basically just a writing event that happens in April, July, and November, and participants have to try and write a certain amount of words during the month. I met so many great writers through NaNo, and I got done so much writing. It was tiring, but also so much fun. If you're a writer and you haven't participated before, I highly recommend it. 

5. I wrote most of my second novel. I haven't finished it yet, but the reason this was so big is because I can look back at my first novel, and I can see how much I've grown as a writer. I can see how much I've improved, how much deeper my characters are, and how much more developed my themes are. It's super inspiring. I had a page for this one at one point- but I accidentally murdered it. Ahem. 

(in no particular order) 

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton- OH WELL HELLO YES OF COURSE THIS ONE IS AT THE TOP. Technically it was a reread, but this is still going on here. Because this book is incredible and beautiful and plus I got the 50th anniversary exclusive collector's edition for Christmas. If you haven't already read it then IDK WHAT YOU'RE DOING SITTING AROUND HERE. (Oh wait fine you can finish my blog post first. But then you must go read it.) 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys- Anyone up for some WW2 feels? WELL OF COURSE YOU ARE. This one actually won the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Young Adult Book. It's written in split pov with four first person povs, which is great. (and which also inspired me to try something similar in Library of Lies so #bonus points) 

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool- This was just so well-written and very, very character driven. Plus it had a super unique plot with tons of creative elements and an ally with autism. IT'S SUPER GREAT.

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken- It's a missionary biography about the persecuted church, mostly. (at least that's what I remember, haven't read it in a while.) THEY ACTUALLY MADE A MOVIE OF THIS. I didn't see it but maybe you did. 

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges- I loved how this was both convicting and inspiring at the same time. The author was able to take an issue like 'respectable' sins and address it in the light of the fact that all of our sins are forgiven if we've put our faith in Jesus Christ.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- IT'S AN AMERICAN CLASSIC FOR A REASON, FOLKS. It's got fabulous, original characters and a quirky plot line that subtly throws in some fantastic themes.

Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt- This was just so, so creative and original and thoughtful. It's about a boy who's older brother gets hit by a Vietnamese (?) driver in a time period where racial tensions abounded. It reminds me a lot of Navigating Early in the sense that it's a coming of age novel, but it's still a book all its own.

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer- Super fun, light-hearted, and bouncy with some extra small-town charm thrown in. 

A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes- The conclusion to one of my favorite trilogies ever, this definitely didn't disappoint. I loved the development of the plot and characters, and YOU SHOULD PROBABLY GO READ THIS SERIES.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stuart- Honestly I think part of the reason I liked this so much is that there were some parts that were just so FUNNY. It was overall tons and tons of fun, but the author still took the opportunity to make a point with his book.

Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire- I had the opportunity to beta read this for the author. AND WHOA. GUYS. This book is 100% fantastic and I can't wait until it's published so you all can get a chance to read it!! THERE WILL DEFINITELY BE MUCH FLAILING. 

It's not about following the rules, it's about a personal relationship with Jesus. Don't be afraid to fail. There's always grace. Comparing yourself or your work to others brings nothing but discouragement. Don't let other people or your writing or anything define you except for Jesus. Don't be afraid to say sorry. 

Perfectionism is more draining than it is anything else. You can make a difference even when you don't feel like it. Keep smiling, you never know who might need one. Focus on what you have instead of what you don't have. Always think the best of the people you love. 

Do things that scare you. Get out of your comfort zone. Gratitude is a choice, not an emotion. Focusing on externals doesn't do any good for anyone. Stay gold.

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1. Finish Library of Lies. This is the novel I mentioned earlier- the one I was trying to finish before 2017 but didn't quite get there. So this goal shouldn't be all that hard, seeing as I probably have less than 5k left. (I might do a post when I finish, but I will for sure get a new page back up at some point. XD)

2. Start edits for The Raven Project. I AM IN MORTAL FEAR AND WILL MOST LIKELY SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST WHEN I READ OVER THIS MESSY FIRST DRAFT. But I've already procrastinated for too long, heh. 

3. Write We Are the Guilty. Oh, yeah. Sort of forgot that I kind of need to have this thing done by June for a writing conference. Psshtt no don't look at me like that of course I've started it. not WHOOPS. So that's probably what I'm going to move onto as soon as I finish Library of Lies

4. Journal at least three times a week. Because I think I did fairly well at journaling most of last year? BUT THEN I SORT OF FAILED IN DECEMBER. So I think a concrete goal should help me journal more often. 

5. Reach 250 followers. Okay so this probably sounds super ambitious- but I'm counting email suscribers in this number, hehe. So I already have about 150 followers of the 250 I'm going for. And since I've only been blogging for ten months, I should be able to get at least a hundred from another year. :D

6. Read 100 books. THIS DEFINITELY IS AMBITIOUS. Because while I used to be a super fast reader, that's not the case anymore. But I did manage to crank out 36 books from September to now? Which was about a third of a year. SO MAYBE I CAN PULL THIS OFF. XD 

7. Comment more often. I will be the first to admit that I am a TERRIBLE commenter. I MUST COMMENT MORE ON ALL OF YOUR FABULOUS BLOGS. 

Okay well that ended up being gargantuan. O.O IT DIDN'T MORPH INTO A DRAGON THOUGH SO THAT'S GOOD NEWS. (actually wait is that good news or no) Tell me about your year!! What were your favorite books? Anything in particular that you learned? Are you setting any goals for 2017? 

~ Jonathan 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Unto Us

By On December 24, 2016
Yes, I know I just posted yesterday. Yes, I know that I still have a bunch of comments to reply to.

And yes, I'm aware that it's Christmas Eve. That's actually why I'm posting.

Honestly if I had to choose which I liked better- Christmas Eve or Christmas Day- I think I would choose Christmas Eve. There's just so, so much to love. The excitement. The anticipation. The joy, the magic. 

And all because of a baby, wrapped in a manger. All because of a child who was born of a virgin. All because of a Son who was given unto us. 

The Son of God. 

He is the reason for it all. He is the reason that we have anything at all to celebrate. And He is the reason people all over the world are giving gifts to each other, in remembrance of the greatest gift of love.

As we get older, I think some of the magic and wonder and excitement definitely slips away. It fades with time as we grow more mature. 

But what will never fade, what will never slip away, is this gift from God to man.

And for the record- I'm sleeping under the tree tonight. Beneath the lights and by the presents. Because that's the best place I can think of to pray, and to remember this gift God gave, unto all of us. 

His Son, Jesus Christ. 

~ Jonathan 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Who Do You Say That I Am

By On December 23, 2016
Whether you like it or not, your answer to this question will determine your destiny. So naturally, that makes this really, really important.

"Who do you say that I am?"

If you're not a Christian, then you probably don't know where this comes from. If you are, then you probably know it's in the Bible. (Because I mean, that's always a safe guess. xD) 

So let's just go ahead and take a look at the verses: 

Matthew 16: 13-15 (KJV) 

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 

And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 

Did you notice how Jesus asks 'whom do men say' He is, and then how He sort of pushes that aside? Because in the end, it doesn't matter who the world says Jesus is. 

What matters is who you say He is. 

Was He an important political figure? Was He a prophet from God? Was He a historical figure advocating social justice and equality? 

If you're not a Christian, then I want you to think on this for a second. Who is Jesus? 

Who do you say that He is?

And now, if you're a Christian. 

Who do you say that He is?

Your view of Jesus changes everything, whether you're a Christian or not. I think most everyone in America knows something about Jesus- but whether that something is true or not is a different story. We're used to seeing a comfortable, cozy sort of Jesus. A cute little baby wrapped in a manger. 

This Christmas, I want to ask myself who Jesus is. Is He the Lord of my Life? Is He the center of Christmas? In today's commercialized, money-focused world, there's so many things to get distracted by. So many things that will take our focus away from where it belongs. 

Christmas isn't about reindeer, or Santa, or getting presents. Instead, it's about God becoming flesh. It's about the Savior of the World. 

Let's take a look at what I didn't show you earlier- a look at the verse following Jesus' question.

Matthew 16: 16 (KJV)

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 

And that's who Jesus is. Not a cute little baby, not a decrepit historical figure. He's the Son of God, He's alive, and He's my Savior. 

But is He your Savior? Is He your King? 

I want to celebrate His birth, yes, but I also want to realize that He's no longer a baby in a manger. One day, He's coming back. 

Am I ready? Are you? 

~ Jonathan 

Monday, December 12, 2016

10 Things to do When You Don't Know What to Blog About

By On December 12, 2016
HELLO EVERYONE I have arrived right on schedule (hey don't you raise your eyebrows at me) to deliver advice to you on what to do when you don't know what to blog about. You're welcome. And no I am not writing this post at myself because why on earth would I do something like that? I've got everything down, obviously. Ahem.

1.  Scream

Image result for screaming gif

Because this is obviously the logical solution. Everyone knows that screaming ALWAYS HELPS MATTERS. Don't question. 

2. Run from your blog 

Aka, shut your computer and put it as far away from you as possible. Then fly to Fiji because that will make it even further from you. 

3. Throw something 

Bonus points if this object is thrown at your blog. However it's probably wise not to maul your blog permanently because you might want it back at some point. Plus, you don't want it to turn against you. 

4. Stall 

Just insert random posts [sort of like this one]. No one will ever know that you're suffering from blogger's block. Of course not. 

5. Pretend like you know what you're doing

Actually this is me 100% of the time to be honest. Whoops. Sorry. (and yes I know I've used that gif before but it is just so perfect so I'm using it again) 

6. Pretend like your blog doesn't exist and stalk other blogs to get ideas. 

BUT DO NOT STEAL IDEAS. That is very rude and entirely unacceptable in the blogiverse. Just look around and maybe you'll get inspired or something. 

7. Cry 

It's sort of like screaming only more dramatic (I think), more exhausting, and even less helpful. Because I'm just full of good advice today, right? XP

8. Blame it on NaNo 

[actually to be honest if I did have blogger's block that's what I do so this is 100% valid] 

9. Unleash a Star Wars gif, they'll never fail you 

Okay but make sure you don't use Kylo Ren because he might fail you. BB8 is good though. Also Han Solo. 

10. Ask your minions for suggestions 

No I'm not asking for suggestions because I obviously know exactly what my next post will be about. Ahem. 

SO YES IT'S BEEN A WHILE BETWEEN POSTS. I shall leave the reason for that up to you to induce. xP Anyone ever had blogger's block before? How does it feel? (because never having had it I'm curious. Obviously.) 

~ Jonathan 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

November is Over

By On December 03, 2016
Well, November is over, and with it so is NANO. And no don't look at me like that I'm still perfectly sane. Still 100%, fully functional and sane. *ahem* (I can feel you questioning me, do not question me. Tsk.) 

Basically my brain is completely dead (BUT I'M STILL SANE DON'T THINK THROUGH THIS LOGIC ELSE IT WON'T MAKE SENSE JUST ACCEPT IT KAY) so I'm doing a mini wrap-up thing that's actually mostly just snippets disguised as a wrap-up post + a few thoughts on NaNo + a few other things. Shh. Don't tell. because someone may or may not have taken a pair of scissors and cut out half the categories.  

top fiction book 

Image result for the mysterious benedict society and the perilous journey

WELL I FINISHED THIS SERIES ASDLKJ. It was kinda a bittersweet thing? I really liked this one (the second in the series) but the third wasn't my favorite. MUCH SADNESS RIGHT NOW. However this one features the same cast of bold, funny characters with an engaging plot and more wit than ever. (That ship on the front is called the Shortcut. Tell me that is not the most brilliant thing you have ever heard.) 

top nonfiction book

Image result for respectable sins jerry bridges

THIS WAS GOLD. I loved how the author could take issues like pride, anger, and things like that and somehow make it both convicting and inspiring AT THE SAME TIME. He doesn't let you off the hook because there's no excuse, but at the same time he talks about sin in the light of the gospel. We're forgiven. 

blog happenings 

- I did a new banner WOOT WOOT. I really like this one because it has black font and I think that helps a lot. So far the most comments I've gotten on it have been it's more masculine, which I'm assuming that's good, right? xP 

- I broke the sidebar again. Yes, those weird empty box things are back and they will not go away but I will fix it when I have time do not fear.

- my pageviews have increased dramatically? I'M NOT REALLY SURE WHY BECAUSE I HAVEN'T POSTED ALL THAT MUCH. But one day I got like 400+ and today I'm already at 200 and yesterday I got more than 300. I AM HAPPY BUT ALSO A VERY CONFUSED LITTLE BLOGGER. SEND EXPLANATIONS PLEASE. I'm not complaining though, I hear pageviews are good for the blog. xD

- yes I'm mentioning the blogger update despite the fact that it's rather controversial

- 87 GFC followers + 60 email suscribers = 147 total readers. No I am definitely not freaking out why on earth would you think that 

Image result for internally screaming gif

how I beat NaNo

YES IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING, I DID FINISH NANO. With a perfectly even 50,000 words because I'm just amazing like that. Ahem. *cough* 

But basically I was doing really good at the beginning of the month because we started off with a 5k and then I started to get behind but in the middle of the month we did another 5k which got me caught up. Then I got super behind again and on Monday the 28th I was only at 35k. SO GUESS WHO WAS DOING THREE 5K DAYS IN A ROW? HA, ME. 

I think the main thing I noticed was how at the beginning of the month I was like "oh my goodness 5k is a lot and I don't know if I can do that many words in one day." Obviously this was proven to be a 97% unnecessary concern because in the end I did 5 5k days? So I did half of NaNo in five days and the rest in 25. No I do not know what my mind was thinking I am just glad I made it.

SO ANYWAYS. MORAL OF THE STORY: Do a few 5k days because they're amazing and they get you on track. 

things I learned during NaNo

- if you do NaNo with someone they will find out all your secrets including books you've cried in, how to blackmail you, the fact that your brothers can hack your phone with little to no trouble doing it, and other things like that 

- they will also find every single typo in your post and then POST ABOUT YOUR TYPOS ON THEIR BLOG. honestly I was super amused though 

- words flow super smoothly if you do a word sprint 

- they flow even better if you use My Write Club 

- beating certain people in a twenty minute word sprint BY SEVEN STINKIN' WORDS is one of the most gratifying things ever

- 5k in a day isn't nearly as hard as it sounds 

- making powdered sugar isn't nearly as hard as it sounds either

- there's actually a word for 'fear of glitter' and it's sparkalaphobia 

all those snippets you knew were coming

Yes of course you knew I was doing snippets because 1) I sort of told you at the beginning of the post and 2) everyone and their grandmother's pet chinchilla is posting NaNo snippets. 

My favorite thing ever is those people who are like "I'm posting my unedited NaNo snippets okay so don't judge too harshly" and then I'm over here like "HA. HA. HA. YOU ARE SUCH A BRAVE SOUL AND I LOVE YOU FOR IT." *edits all my snippets to death* 

Plus their snippets always end up being lyrical and gorgeous and altogether amazing anyways. Y'ALL ARE GREAT JSYK AND AN INSPIRATION TO US ALL. I ASPIRE TO THAT LEVEL OF AMAZINGNESS. But while I'm still aspiring to get there let's read a few completely edited snippets, shall we?

AND THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY, FOLKS. Tune in next time to hear another ramble from yours truly. But in the meantime, HOW WAS NANO? DID YOU SURVIVE OR WIN OR BOTH? (in which case I applaud you) 

~ Jonathan 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why Gratitude is the Key to Living in Joy

By On November 23, 2016
HELLO YES I AM HERE TO FAITHFULLY DELIVER A THANKSGIVING POST TO YOUR FEEDS. And we all know that when I try to write something that's not in a list it ends up being just a tad rambly. So. Be warned. 

Sometimes it's easy to feel like everything is going wrong in the world, am I right? It's easy to feel like no one cares about how you feel, or that nothing will ever work out. It's easy to get stressed out about things (*cough*NaNo*cough*) and lose sight of what's really important. But you know what I think is easier than all of those? 

Failing to be grateful for what we've been given. 

Just think about. Right now, there at least four things you can be thankful for, no matter who you are. 1) your heart's beating, 2) you have wi-fi, 3) you have the ability to read, 4) you're reading my blog. (lucky you! xP) 

Alright, alright. That was more or less for the sake of humor- but the point is still important. 

No matter your situation, there's always something to be grateful for.

Even when it seems like your world is falling apart, there's always something, something that you can choose to recognize and choose to be thankful for. 

And I think that's key- because gratitude is a choice. It's not something that comes naturally. 

You, as an individual, have a choice to make. 

Are you going to choose gratitude, or discontentment? Are you going to choose to find the things you can be thankful for in your everyday life, or are you going to choose to ignore the gifts you've been given? 

It's only once you've chosen to become thankful in everything can you take the focus off of yourself and your own problems and instead begin to see the world in a new light. To see the struggles of others around you. To find beauty in the least expected places. To choose that instead of focusing on the things that are going wrong, you can find the joy and meaning in life.

Just as Jesus chose that instead of being served He was going to serve- you can do the same. You can recognize hurting now that you're not so focused on yourself, and you can reach out to others around you. 

And all this starts- just when you choose to be grateful and count your blessings. 

Stop focusing on everything that's gone wrong in your life, and start focusing on everything that's gone right. 

Your sins are forgiven. Your old man has been crucified. God will never leave you nor forsake you. You can know where you're going when you die. If God is for you, no one can be against you. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. (and if all that doesn't make any sense to you, PLEASE don't hesitate to drop a comment or shoot me an email with the contact form, I'd love to discuss it with you!)

When you're ready to focus on the blessings God has given you, that's when you can truly show others the love of Christ. That's when you can get your mind off yourself and start sharing the Gospel. 

Because in the end- our joy doesn’t come from your self worth. It comes from what Christ has made us and what he's doing for us. 

Which may seem like a foreign concept to many of us. Joy that doesn’t depend on ourselves? Joy that is completely disjointed from our self worth? 

But that’s exactly what Jesus gave us when He died on the cross. He gave us true life, true meaning, that doesn’t come from ourselves. It comes from Him. It comes from outside of our changing, shifting, undependable selves, and shifts the focus to someone who never changes. And because our joy isn’t found in ourselves or our circumstances, but instead in Him, it’s constant. Steady. 

This is the greatest blessing of all- a blessing we can choose to accept when we trust Him as our Savior. 

WELL THAT'S IT. Kinda long, but hopefully some of you liked it! xD NOW TELL ME ABOUT YOUR THANKSGIVING PLANS, NINJAS. Anyone going out of town? :D

~ Jonathan 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Confessions of a Guy Blogger: Seven Secrets You Never Would Have Known

By On November 18, 2016
(Edited version of a guest post I did for Abi aaageeess ago)

Today we’re discussing GUY BLOGGERS. Yes, those strange creatures with blue and green and brown blogs that float conspicuously through the crowd of girl bloggers with pink and purple and red blogs.

Yup. We’re on the same page now, aren’t we? (that was rhetorical; don’t answer that)

There’s a certain amount of mystery about these finicky creatures; a certain amount of wondering. What do these mysterious bloggers use as motivation? Why do they blog? Are all of them agreed on the fact that Pinterest is feminine? WHY DO THEY NOT USE A PINK OR PURPLE BLOG TEMPLATE?


Because apparently we stick out. We’re basically just the ducks paddling through a pond 85% full of swans.  And while normally you wouldn’t want to stick out, in the blogiverse, it just means more publicity. And more publicity = followers. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BLOGGING SKILLS.  (Ok so maybe that helps a little? But that’s not relevant so moving on.)


While some of us are extremely techy, this definitely IS NOT a general rule. Not all guys are super into computers and tech things. Of course those of us who are super techy are the ones who never have problems with their blog. (*cough*notme*cough*). So if the dude’s blog is imploding, he probably broke his blog html so give him a break. (DO NOT LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT THIS MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT HAPPEN TO ME) If his blog looks gorgeous and you’ve never heard a reference to any problems whatsoever, he’s got this tech thing in the bag.


But let’s be real, guys. NOBODY DOES. LIKE WHO EVEN HAS TIME FOR THAT? So this point probably shouldn’t even be here because it’s more of a general blogging secret, not just something that applies to guys. Don’t tell anyone I let the cat out of the bag and I won’t have to hypnotize you, kay?


I would give more details on this but basically this post is a perfect example in and of itself. You’re welcome.



I KNOW. ALL THIS TIME YOU THOUGH THERE WAS ONLY FANGIRLS. *pops that bubble* Yes, fanguys are definitely a thing. Although we definitely don’t have the numbers that fangirls do. Basically though this just gives what we say more weight. FEEL OUR POWER MWAHAHAHA.


#SHOCKVALUE. HA I GOT YOU FOR A SECOND DIDN’T I?  Because I’m actually just kidding. Maybe.


WE’RE BRILLIANT MASTERMINDS, WHAT CAN I SAY? We don’t always employ this tactic though. Just sometimes. And when we do, we tack an extra reason on to the end. But hey, if you realized there was a missing reason, kudos to you. I applaud your skills.

Of course, now that I told you all of this, the secret society of guy bloggers will have to send an assassin after me. The same assassin will probably come after you also, now that you have this secret information in your mind. HEAD FOR THE HILLS.

But hey, before they find you, you might as well find out everything you’ve wanted to know about guy bloggers. Anything you want to know? Ask me in the comments! Also, what’s your biggest blogging confession?

~ Jonathan

Friday, November 11, 2016

Saffire: Intriguing Historical Mystery (but with a Number of Critical Flaws)

By On November 11, 2016
And here I am, faithfully bringing to you another book review. Go me. Also, does anyone else notice how this isn't actually at the end of the month and is instead towards the beginning? (of course you did) MAYBE I'M ACTUALLY STARTING TO GET ON A SEMI-SCHEDULE? (instead of frantically pumping out a book review at the end of the month in order to meet my goal of one review a month.) Don't get your hopes up though.

plot summary

I reminded myself that once you start to defend someone, it's difficult to find a place to stop. But I went ahead and took that first step anyway. 

Image resultFor President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to 'let the dirt fly' and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats. 

It's in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt takes that first step to protect a mulatto girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics. It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course or bring an end to it. 

A love story set within a historical mystery, Saffire brings to vibrant life the most impressive and embattled engineering achievement of the twentieth-century.

my review

I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED RIGHT NOW. Because to be honest, this book had a lot of potential. But, in the end, this was a definite no for me. 

For one, that synopsis? It doesn't represent the book very well at all. It labels this as a 'love story' (psshttt it's 95% mystery/historical and 5% romance). Also it kinda overemphasizes Saffire's influence in the book. She's honestly really not even in that much of the book. It also doesn't capture most of the main events of the book, which revolve more around James' being hired as a private investigator of sorts instead of his search for Saffire's mother. (which is prominent at first, but quickly fades away) 

Also, the pacing in the book was uneven. I can take a slow or a fast-paced book, but I can't stand those books that inevitably drag in the middle. It starts off fairly fast paced, gets super slow in the middle, and finishes off with a bit of a bang. 

Another issue I had was the romance. Like I said, there wasn't very much at all (which is a good thing), but the little bit of romance that was present was utterly ridiculous, based ENTIRELY off externals. It wasn't an accurate depiction of a relationship that would actually work. 

[SPOILER ALERT] I think I can safely say there's probably less than six or seven scenes together between the guy and the girl, and at the end, they're getting married. Excuse me, what? [SPOILER OVER] 

It was super aggravating to see this, especially in a 'Christian' (more on the quotation marks later) book. 

On the bright side, the plot was really well done. It was thick, filled with an intricate web of names, faces, locations, and events, and the author obviously did a lot of plotting. I think the setting was one of the book's biggest strengths, a rich historical setting that I knew nothing about, which was interesting. But unfortunately, I felt almost completely lost towards the end of the book. I'm sure the events all tied together perfectly, but it's just super hard to follow, and extremely confusing at times.

Although another bright spot is that the author writes amazing prose, crafting beautiful sentences and descriptions of the setting that made me feel like I was really there. However, the lack of character development alone was enough to nullify the benefits of the setting. I didn't notice any changes in any of the characters.

And speaking of characters, the main one (James) wasn't particularly likable, and I couldn't relate to him at all. (actually when I think about it that applies to most of the characters) He's... hard to describe. Not quite cynical, but overly sarcastic. 

On top of all this, there was a number of other things that were just plain unnecessary and had me raising my eyebrow going "Really?" Not the least of which was when one of the characters makes a joke about homosexuality. Just to clarify, none of the characters are homosexual, and it's definitely not promoted, but still. I was shocked to find a 'Christian' author (now you know where the quotation marks come in) who would make a joke about such a serious issue. Excuse me, sir, but that's just not okay. 

And because of that, I'm basically 95% confused as to why this book is considered 'Christian.' There was pretty much nothing that held even a close resemblance to a Christian theme of some sort. I'm sorry, but this is kinda a pet peeve for me. 

If you're truly a Christian, WHY DOES YOUR BOOK NOT REPRESENT CHRIST? The world is looking at books like this by authors like Mr. Bruower, and what are they seeing? They're seeing fiction that's nearly indistinguishable from secular fiction. That's not okay. As Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ, and you're not being a very good one when you write something like this that hardly mentions God at all or doesn't even include Christian themes. 

So yeah. This one's getting 2 stars for those reasons. XP I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Weellll I think we can all honestly agree that THAT WAS A RATHER DEPRESSING REVIEW. *throws glitter everywhere and passes out sour patch* And if you feel like commenting, feel free because I've got no questions today.  XD

~ Jonathan 


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