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Thursday, December 30, 2010

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor by Chuck Black

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor
Chuck Black

Page Count: 208
Release Date: 5 October, 2010
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah (Random House)
Complimentary copy provided by publisher, via Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

Two friends face the  Dark Knight's deadliest scheme, but only one knight has the courage to overcome. Sir Quinlan leaves his boyhood friend to serve the Prince, fighting a battle darker and more intense than any he's ever known. The mysterious Sir Baylor recruits him into the ranks of an elite unit of knights known as the Swords of Valor, but when tragedy strikes and everyone blames Quinlan, the Swords of Valor disband, ending a legacy of heroic deeds.

Alone and despairing, Quinlan wanders the kingdom, fleeing his past. His providential encounter with Taras, a mysterious Silent Warrior and former trainer of Valor Knights, offers Quinlan a chance to redeem himself and learn the ways of the secret warriors.

The training is grueling, and just when Quinlan seems to have left his failures behind, he receives an impossible challenge from the Prince—one that will force him to face his past... and the mighty men who blame him for the tragedy that ruined them.
Can Quinlan reunite the Valor Knights in time to save the people from the Dark Knight's evil plot to rule the Kingdom off Arrethtrae, or will the Valor Knights lose the most important battle of all?

What Stephanie Thought: As a middle-age children's novel, Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor was exceptional. Kids are normally reluctant to read bible stories. However, this one didn't shove biblical references down the reader's throat and instead, used many creative gestures and characters to symbolize the ultimate figure of Christ. The reading guide at the end was extremely helpful, as it cleared up many of the connections the reader was supposed to make. 

In the land of Burkfield, Quinlan, nicknamed "Twitch" for the uncontrollable facial spasms he experiences, is not much a hero. In fact, the story starts off portraying him as sort of a sidekick to his longtime friend: the more confident, handsome, and warrior-like Tav. However, when Tav makes the decision not to serve the Prince (who is the Jesus Christ figure), it becomes clear Twitch is the true fighter.

I found many of the symbols fascinating. For instance, there was a scene where the knights of Burkfield were seduced by cute little critters called paythas. The creatures seemed adorable and harmless at first, but soon, Quinlan learned, that they were deadly monsters that were trying to rid the people of their belief for Him, the Prince. Rearrange the letters in "paytha" and you get "apathy", which is a state of indifference and lack of caring or concern. Thus, Black makes the point that apathy is one of the deadliest, contagious sins that makes mankind more vulnerable than anything. 

Another thing I liked was how action-packed this book was, but in a awing, age-appropriate way. There was mild blood and gore, but nothing you want to keep away from your kids. A couple battle scenes may be frightening for younger children, but conclusively, the knights are fighting for their love for the Prince (Christ), and good always overpowers evil.

Summing the entire book up sums the Bible up too: the Knights of Valor (Christians) fight the dark knights (evil). Lucius (Satan) is the main enemy and his Shadow Warriors (demons) are the corrupt forces attempting to overthrow Arrethtrae (Earth—Earth and Terra combined and spelled backwards). It's a good thing the Silent Warriors (angels) always come to the rescue, saving the day. The ultimate message of Black's middle grade novel through simple, youth-friendly prose, is that good will always win, as long as faith is kept strong, and love for Him is honest and eternal.

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Monday, December 27, 2010

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Hollywood Savage by Kristin McCloy

Hollywood Savage
Kristin McCloy

Page Count: 352
Release Date: 27 July, 2010
Publisher: Washington Square Press (Simon & Schuster)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Romancing the Book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

A scalding exploration of love, marriage, fidelity, and betrayal.

"Meet me at five," the voice said on the answering machine. Four ordinary words yet, when heard by the wrong person, enough to change the course of a marriage.

Marooned in Hollywood while writing a screenplay based on his latest bestselling novel, Miles King records in his journals his escalating conviction that his glamorous wife, a New York-based journalist named Maggie, is having an affair.

Amidst the sun-buffed egos and the longing for connection and fame he encounters at every cocktail party and no-name bar in Hollywood, Miles finds unexpected comfort in an affair of his own with Lucy, a young mother whose open, eager mind sparks an irresistible passion in him. Miles's constantly shifting emotional state—a potent brew of lust, guilt, anger, and betrayal—is only one of the perils he must navigate as his fantasies become increasingly hard to distinguish from reality.

Hollywood Savage, acclaimed novelist Kristin McCloy probes one modern man's psychological depths with stunning accuracy, and illuminates the ways of men and women desperately try to reveal themselves to one another, while always keeping a part of their hearts a secret.

What Stephanie Thought: I wasn't sure whether to be disgusted, or enraptured with this book. The plot is very poor: man has an affair with a woman who is completely different from his wife; man battles depression; man goes back to wife (without even telling her about the other woman!).

A lot of it was unrealistic. Miles is a man who suspects his wife is cheating on him. So then he goes off to Hollywood and cheats on her back? I'm not really certain what kind of person would do that, but that's the entire story in a nutshell.

Plot notwithstanding, I'll talk about the conveyed emotions. Miles definitely tells it how it is, and every word is so raw and honest, it really haunted me. He is cynical and smart-assed with a voice, though disturbing, is unbelievably intriguing.

It really was a difficult read because the prose is in journal format. There are no chapters, and Miles [McCloy] seems to just ramble on about whatever is on his mind. I liked Miles, but I didn't like McCloy. Her style sounds extremely snobbish, and that's very off-putting. She characterizes Miles as arrogant and I couldn't get myself to really feel sympathy for him. However, as a character, he is strong, and I liked how he personifies things poetically.

Overall, I think it was a good tragic romance, but I think it really could have been better with dialogue and plot structure. I will say for sure say I've never read a book quite like Hollywood Savage, but it wasn't particularly extraordinary or anything, just structured in a way I am unfamiliar with. I recommend this to anyone who has the patience to read through a bunch of fluff before getting to the actual point!

Radical Rating: 7 hearts: Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Saturday, December 25, 2010

can i fill your words with colour ❤

99 stills of Robi...

I think some people would call this creepy. However, I personally would call it captivated, thank you very much.

Actually, to be truthful, I would call it creepy. Very creepy. But you know.

 Me and my creepy ways

Random Notes 12/9/10

Rolling Stone Random Notes I found amusing to no end.

And then, when nobody was looking, Ke$ha took a whiz at Bondi Beach in Sydney.

King's of Leon's Caleb and Nathan Followill were all smiles when they met Rihanna at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

All pictures, captions, and links property of issue 1119 (December 9, 2010) of Rolling Stone magazine.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm dreaming of a whiiiite Christmas {but it's unlikely}

Hi everybody! I am sooo happy right now! My Midwinter's Eve Bloghop has been such a blast! I had 73 entries total. That's I was so sad only two winners could be chosen. If it were up to me and not my wallet, there would be seventy-four winners not just two! I couldn't give away the spicy gift set because I was 27 entries short. Recall, I promised it IF I reached 100 entries. However, I'll save that prize pack for another time, for another giveaway :)

Here are some pictures from the Hershey Light Show my friends and I attended a few weeks ago. My blurry photography does not do the beauty justice!
These are all LIGHTS. Incredible!!

Now for the winners. 
Brenna was the winner of the sweet prize pack. Here's what she won:


Vicky won the awesome prize pack:
Okay, okay...I'm weak. I'm a weak little kitten. I succumbed into having ANOTHER tiny little contest, just because I felt like it.

Crystal won an autographed copy of A McKaslin Homecoming (by Jillian Hart) for being the first entrant! 

Marie won an autographed copy of A McKaslin Homecoming as well for leaving such a nice comment on the blog!
Lisa won a copy of Living Life in the Zone (by Kyle Rote Jr.) {read my review HERE!} for leaving three great comments on the blog.
Miranda won an autographed copy of First to Kill (by Andrew Peterson) and a copy of Pulse of Power (by Anne Elizabeth) because I'm an idiot...and for leaving three great comments on the blog :)
 Lora won a copy of Dakota Child (by Linda Ford) for being the first one to leave four comments on my blog!
Donna won a copy of Stronger Than Sin (by Caridad Piñeiro) for being the second one to leave four comments on my blog!

Benita, Khyla, Lisa, Stacey, and Beverly won goodie bags/swag packs :) Congrats and THANK YOU to all those who entered and won. I certainly hope you continue to follow and read my blog for upcoming reviews, contests, giveaways...and all that other crap I write about :) Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

stephanie xx

holidays were meant for being happy ❤

We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Yeah I just spent about fifteen seconds typing alllll of that out. No copy&pasting crap for me, oh no. Just wanted to wish everyone a very jolly holiday season, AND share my all-time favorite Christmas recipe with you all! Ready for this? (Can you tell I'm super excited?) The recipe is.......
MONSTER COOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! nomnomnom

No silly goose, not that kind of monster. More like

THIS kind of monster! Or since I'm such a cookie dough fan....

THIS kind of monster. That's right.

I will tell you my secret recipe that's not so secret anymore now that I'm releasing it to the world wide web. It has 50% less sugar than the regular version (and no artificial sweetener junk, I assure you) but it still tastes amazing because it's basically the ultimate cookie with all sorts of sweets in it. There's also no butter (woohoo!) but instead lots and lots of peanut butter, so it still tastes amazing and is packed with protein. But don't make this if you're allergic to peanuts. That's all.

  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup peanut butterbutter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup red and green M&Ms
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a very large bowl, beat the eggs.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients in order, mixing well. Knead with hands if needed. Mixture will not be too sticky, and the oatmeal may feel like it will fall apart.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to put on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. 
    Isn't that just succulent?
    Why am I so happy, you ask? Well for one, it's CHRISTMAS if I haven't made myself clear. Also, NO SCHOOL! You do the math. I sure won't be over break. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

❤ midwinter's eve giveaway hop!

My first giveaway hop! Hurray!
the seasonI'll admit I'm not much of a winter fan. Excess frigidity is just painful. During the summers, the sweltering heat may be uncomfortable, but at least it doesn't hurt! So I am definitely a warm weather fan, even though I live in the most ridiculously cold part of the country (besides Alaska and...Maine?). 
I try to live life without too much complaint though, and I could totally name all the things about winter that I love. And so I will. I'm certain most blog hoppers won't even bother reading this part, so as a reward for those who are actually reading this, I'll give everyone who tells me what their favorite part about winter is in the "Additional comments" section of the giveaway form (NOT the "comments" section of this post!) an extra entry in the giveaway :)
1. Winter just has the most beautiful ambiance. The dazzling snowflakes, the cookie baking,  the necessity to cuddle up to stay warm -- it all just puts you in the mood to be happy!
2. The slopes get so much powder, it's insane. I do sort of make a fool out of myself on a snowboard, but hey, it's fun. 'Nuff said.
3. This one's a little juvenile, but...NO SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!
4. I get to sing walking in a winter wonderland...while walking in a winter wonderland. I try singing it during any other time of the year, and all I get are odd looks from concerned passersby on the street.
5. The city lights up so majestically, that you know wherever you go, you'll never be lost.
6. Fur boots (faux, of course), adorable mittens, gorgeous scarves: fashion is a whole nother story in the wintertime!

the hop The Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, is going to be a quick 2 day hop. Midwinter's Eve is the longest night of the year so why not spend it entering some great giveaways? :) It will run from 12.01am on December 21st to 11.59pm on December 22nd. Short and sweet! Speaking of sweet...
the giveaway Since we're all sweethearts, I'll be giving away a fabulously sweet gift set full of books, swag, and tons of other treats! The prize pack will include the following books:
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (brand new, unread trade paperback)

Highlands Rapture by Diana Gair (out-of-print 1982 Harlequin edition I discovered at a castaway bookstore. Tacky, I know, but couldn't help myself! A little worn for wear, but still a great reading copy)

A McKaslin Homecoming by Jillian Hart (autographed Harlequin Ambassador copy; brand new, unread mass market paperback)

Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming (also a Harlequin Ambassador copy;
brand new, unread mass market paperback)
All books have been determined sweet (well, sweet enough) by yours truly.
But that's not all. I'll also include a little packet of goodies including:
Sorry for the yuckiness of this picture! You know how sucky cell phone cameras are.
  • bookmarks, postcards, and other swag from various sweet authors
  • a sweet dreams sleep mask
  • vanilla orchid mist tea, which happens to taste sweet
  • vanilla flavoured coffee, which also happens to taste sweet
  • a sweet handmade friendship bracelet
  • Lancôme's Juicy Tube in Tickled Pink, which is a very sweet shade that is flattering for all skin tones 
So there are probably blog hoppers who aren't into that kind of stuff too (aka males). For you guys, I've put together another package that will include the following books:
First to Kill by Andrew Peterson (autographed; brand new, unread mass market paperback)

Pulse of Power by Anne Elizabeth (graphic novella; brand new, unread)
  • bookmarks, postcards, and other swag from various authors (not pictured)
  • assorted holiday candy!! (not pictured -- need to go grocery shopping)
Additionally, if I get more than 100 entries, I will throw in ANOTHER awesome gift set, only it won't be so sweet. That's right. I've got a package for those of us who are a little spicy too. Books will include:
Her Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry (Harlequin Ambassador copy; brand new, unread mass market paperback)

 Romance by the Book by Tina Gallagher (brand new, unread trade paperback)

 A Red Hot New Year by Cynthia Eden, Diana Mercury, Virginia Reede, and Denise Rossetti (autographed only by Cynthia; brand new, unread trade paperback)
All books have been determined spicy (hot!) by yours truly.
And you know the drill:
  • bookmarks, postcards, and other swag from various spicy authors
  • assorted packettes of Wet personal lubricant, which will make your love life extremely spicy
  •  chai spice tea, which happens to taste spicy
  • gourmet roast coffee which does not happen to taste spicy, but is guaranteed too keep you up all night, if you know what I mean
  • Lancôme's Juicy Tube in Beach Plum, which is a very spicy shade that is flattering for all skin tones
the specifics That's not one, but THREE  great prize packs being given away. To enter, all you have to do is:
  1. Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect
  2. Comment on this post saying "I'm following" or "I'm entering" or whatever INCLUDING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS (only for verification)
  3. Fill out the form below with your details and additional entries (+1 for following me on Twitter @lovestephaniexx) (+1 for commenting on any other posts besides this one. Make it meaningful and LEAVE YOUR EMAIL in that comment!
{This form is now closed, due to the giveaway's end.}

Because of shipping costs, this giveaway is open only to those residing in the US. If you're international and want to enter, you'll have to pay for shipping.
the end Be sure to enter all of the other giveaways going on for this hop; there are so many great prizes being given away! If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very merry Christmas, and if you don't, I hope you have an amazing winter season full of cookies, kisses, and lots of love. Stay warm, and best of luck!

Stephanie xxx