Review: FOUND by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Illustrated by Jago

I’m doing something a little different today… reviewing a picture book!

Found: Psalm 23

by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Illustrated by Jago

Published by Zondervan: February, 2017

Find the book here: Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

My Review

FOUND is a charming board book, 20 pages in length, and is an adorable and touching depiction of the 23rd Psalm.

I’m firmly of the opinion that we can never outgrow children’s books, and this one is lovely!

It’s a precious picture book about the Shepherd looking after His sheep. The text is simple but lyrical, basically a simplified version of Psalm 23. I would have preferred it to have the exact words of the psalm, but, that being said, there is also a sort of charm to the way it’s written so that it’s easier for smaller children to understand.

(illustrations © 2017 by Jago)

The illustrations (of the Shepherd, sheep and lamb, and lush meadow and stream scenes) are deceptively simple, but further inspection shows the depth of detail—I could look at it over and over again (and I have!).

(illustrations © 2017 by Jago)

The lamb is my absolute favorite. It has SUCH personality and is just the most adorable thing! I love when it smiles. ❤ This book is worth it just for that little lamb. It’s so cuuute!

If you have a child, nephew, niece, or other little friend (or even for yourself!), I highly recommend checking it out. Just in time for Easter, too! I really enjoyed it. ^_^

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

So, do you ever read picture books? Isn’t this one cuuute? ^_^ Do you have any favorites from childhood (or recenter)? And don’t you want a lamb like that? 😀 (I know, I know, that’s beside the point, but still!) Thanks for reading! 🙂

Lord of the Rings Celebration!

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Mae Govannen once again, my Middle-earth-ish friends!

Today, July 29th, marks the 62nd anniversary of The Lord of the Rings (specifically The Fellowship of the Ring) being published for the first time in 1954!

So I am here today, following the wrap-up of the first ever Silmarillion Awards, to celebrate all things Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, and Middle-earth, as I wish “Happy Birthday!!” to my favorite book of all time. ❤

I don’t have any actual cake, but virtual cake in the form of Bilbo’s 111th birthday cake will do nicely in its place.

I celebrated today by pulling out all my Tolkien books and photographing them, and I’m typing this while listening to the gorgeous soundtracks of The Lord of the Rings films…

Turns out I have a lot more Tolkien books than I thought. I . . . may have a small obsession. *cough*

TolkienBooksJuly2016

What can I say — I go to a lot of library sales and I’ve been getting Tolkien-related things every year for birthdays and Christmases for the last ten years… So apparently that can add up. 😉

There are also the films, soundtracks, and audiobook versions floating around the house somewhere, also much beloved.

Me & Middle-earth

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first read The Hobbit, but I know I greatly enjoyed it at that young age . . . But I do remember, some time later, first reading The Lord of the Rings. I was 10, and we were listening to the audiobook versions. That was the first time I remember really entering Middle-earth . . . and I think a little part of me (okay, at times a much larger part) has been living there ever since.

After that, I reread The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings from time to time, I devoured The Silmarillion a few times, and started collecting and reading all the other Tolkien books I could get my hands on (as I said, my birthday/Christmas wishlists were usually full of them, as were the paper bags I carted home from library book sales). I still have many Tolkien books (for instance the rest of the History of Middle-earth series that Christopher Tolkien put together) that I haven’t finished reading yet, but that only makes me happy to think of more in store to discover.

To call myself addicted to Middle-earth would be a large understatement . . . For a few years there when I had just gotten really into Lord of the Rings, I was a Tolkien hobbyist, and still am to some extent. I did lots of Elvish calligraphy in Tengwar (the Elvish alphabets Tolkien developed), memorized poetry from the books and wrote them out in journals, made large posters of the complicated genealogies of Elves and Men from the First to Third Ages . . . Yep, I was a little addicted, you could say.

I also vividly remember the first time I saw the Lord of the Rings movies, specifically The Fellowship of the Ring. I was visiting relatives, not so long after having read the books for the first time, which I was already in love with. I vaguely knew there were films but hadn’t seen them yet. I remember the excitement of gathering late at night with cousins and staying up to watch The Fellowship of the Ring. I came in after the movie had already started, so I incidentally missed out on the prologue and the quiet green Shire parts, coming in right when Gandalf has just ridden off to find answers and the camera pans past Sauron’s tower of Barad-dur in the dark with scary epic music — naturally nervous ten-year-old me would come in at a terrifying part. 😉 The movie fascinated me, and I remember the next day I got to go back and watch the beginning, which I had missed, all by myself, with the Shire and the prologue and everything, and it was delicious.

I have a few quibbles with the movies which I will not forgive them for (Faramir; Frodo sending Sam away; the general de-noble-ifying of many characters like Aragorn… a few things like that) but on the whole I still love them. Especially the music, which captures the feel of Middle-earth marvelously, I think.

But nothing can ever touch the original books as Tolkien penned them. ❤ The Lord of the Rings is one of those things at the core of my being. It has been an enormous part of my life so far (and will certainly continue to be!), and I can’t imagine life without it. I’m so grateful to J. R. R. Tolkien for giving us that glimpse into Middle-earth which I will always treasure.

Happy 62nd birthday to The Lord of the Rings!

*cue chorus of hobbit “happy birthday’s!” from Bilbo’s party*

LordOfTheRings

(Editions with the covers drawn by J.R.R. Tolkien, and maps from “The Maps Tolkien’s of Middle-earth” drawn by John Howe)

#SilmAwards2016 wrapup

silmarillionawards2016And here, with this birthday post for my favorite book, I’d also like to look back at the last several weeks of the first ever Silmarillion Awards, because I don’t know about you, but I definitely had a blast with them!

Many thanks to DJ Edwardson and Jenelle Schmidt for creating and organizing this fun event, and to all the other hosts for your splendid posts, and everyone who participated through nominating, voting, or commenting — you are all awesome! I had such a good time celebrating fantasy, beloved characters, and Tolkien’s works. 🙂

silmaril-strangest-award-mediumIf you haven’t seen all the award ceremony posts — where ten of Tolkien’s characters present the awards to the top-voted contestants of this year’s awards — do hurry and check them out because they’re all so much fun! 🙂

Awards and their presenters:

Best Fantasy Weapon (presented by Arwen) | Most Epic Hero (pres. by Aragorn) | Most Nefarious Villain (pres. by Saruman, Gollum, & Sauron) | Best Redemption Story (pres. by Boromir) | Best Fantasy Mount (pres. by Eomer) | Riddling and Poetry (pres. by Bilbo) | Wisest Councellor (pres. by Gandalf) | Strangest Character (pres. by Tom Bombadil) | Most Faithful Friend (pres. by Sam Gamgee) | Most Heart Wrenching Death Scene (pres. by Thorin)

LOTR party posts

And don’t forget — you can post your own celebratory post for The Lord of the Rings’ birthday today (or through the weekend) and share the link in the link-up at the end of this post of Jenelle’s so we can all see it! (And if you post on social media, use the hashtag #SilmAwards2016 for this LOTR birthday celebration wrapup!)

Be sure to check out the other LOTR celebration posts listed there because they’re all fantastic! (No pun intended. ;))

Happy Lord of the Rings Day to you all!

P.S. (Because Gandalf made them notorious with his multiple post-scripts.) Aaand now I’m tempted to leave my Tolkien books stacked in the corner of my room like that because they look nice there. Who needs a nightstand anyway — pfft. ;))

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began . . .

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

beautifulpretenderThe Beautiful Pretender

(Thornbeck/Medieval Fairy Tale Romance, #2)

by Melanie Dickerson

Adult Christian Romance / Fairy Tale Retelling / Beauty and the Beast & The Princess and the Pea

Published May 17, 2016 by Thomas Nelson


beautifulpretender2

My Review of The Beautiful Pretender

5starrating

5 stars

I loved this book so much! Definitely a favorite of Melanie Dickerson’s books, for me. Ever since meeting the Margrave of Thornbeck Forest in the first book in this series (THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST), I simply couldn’t wait to read THE BEAUTFUL PRETENDER to get his story. I liked this one even more than the first book!

Although THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER is a sequel, it can very easily be read alone (though readers of the first book will be delighted, as I was, to see Jorgen and Odette, the hero and heroine of the first book, throughout this one!). If you haven’t read the first book, no worries — just read this one right away because it’s even better! Adults and young adults alike would I think enjoy it. (I don’t recall anything about it that teens wouldn’t be okay reading. :))

I have a thing for fairy tales, so the retelling aspect was awesome. It was somewhat subtle at times, much like it was in the first book, but I could definitely see the hints of the Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Pea plots. It was fabulous! I loved seeing them weave throughout the plot, so much a part of it but also so original. I was quite impressed with that.

It also got rather exciting, especially later in the book. So much excitement! Peril and plots and deception and wolves and fire and mystery and all of that thrilling stuff. I also absolutely LOVE how the book turned out at the end! Not to give anything away, but that ending was super satisfying! 😉

The setting was also splendid — a castle in medieval Germany, yay! I just want to live at Thornbeck Castle in Thornbeck Forest in the snow!

The characters in this book were splendid. Let me go through them:

Reinhart, the margrave, was incredibly awesome. He’s very much of the “Beast” type of character, gruff and stern and growly, but he’s also a fundamentally great guy, just embittered at the world about his injured ankle and having to choose a wife when he doesn’t want to. He was my favorite! I really felt for him, and his dark, grouchy, short-tempered, man-of-few-words personality was so fun to read about. Beneath it all he’s actually noble and awesome.

Avelina was a wonderful main character. Her struggles with having to impersonate a Lady when she’s only a servant, were really interesting to read about. I also love her name! She and Reinhart have the best romance story — I loved it so much! Melanie Dickerson pens another sweet love story which was so enormously enjoyable to read. Especially with how complicated their story is… 😉 I also really loved the alternating viewpoints between them!

Lady Magdalen, who befriends Avelina, was another character I really liked. She was fabulous and such a good friend to Avelina. Magdalen was so NICE. With all the people being nasty to poor Avelina, it was so refreshing to read about a really sweet character like her. 🙂 I haven’t read an adorable friendship like that in a long time. It was touching and wonderful. Magdalen was so lovely and I hope we’ll see more of her in the third book…

Jorgen and Odette are pretty much Reinhart’s right-hand people in this one, so they’re in the story a lot, which was great. They’re so helpful, nice, and awesome. Loved seeing them more in this book! They really added to it in a good way.

I don’t really have any complaints. I do wish there had been more with Reinhart, maybe him talking more; but he’s not a talkative sort of person, so that was in character, I suppose… But really, no major complaints. It was just so good! I’m very much looking forward to another Thornbeck tale from Mrs. Dickerson… Her novels are always so enjoyable and this was one of the best yet! Now what are you waiting for? Go read THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER! Go on! 🙂

Many thanks to the author for the Advance Reader’s Copy of this book which I received in exchange for my honest review. These opinions are my own.

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About the Book

What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Publisher


About the Author

Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama.

She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

You can find her online at www.MelanieDickerson.com.