Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Few Recent Reads....


The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

This is a sweet book. I enjoyed it, and think that most younger readers that enjoy fantasy will, too. It's an excellent book for those that want just a touch of darkness, but still need things on the lighter/brighter side.

For me, though, this is one of those book that I can't think too hard about. Why is such a young person being sent out on their own? That was the biggest issue my mind had. Too, with the beginning and end(as far as testing goes), it left a bit of pondering as to the middle. It's not a deep read, but as a quick, rainy day read, it's quite satisfying(at least for me).

Overall, it's a nice, enjoyable story.

*I got an ARC through Amazon Vine.




The Waking Land by Callie Bates

This book is compared to Uprooted, but I'd put it closer to The Legacy Trilogy by Cayla Kluver(which I had mixed feelings about, in general). I wouldn't actually compare it to Uprooted at all. The Waking Land is *not* a fast paced story. When I first started it, I was in love with it. It was just as beautiful as the cover. I found the nature references appealing, and I was intrigued. That didn't last long, though. I don't know what happened, but by the end, I was forcing myself through it. If not for review, I don't think I'd have finished it, nor do I plan to read any future books at this point. It gets really slow by the end, and I didn't even care what happened by then. (I don't even mind slower books, in general, but this one didn't work for me.) Too, just like in the Legacy Trilogy, the main character annoyed me more than not.

This book wasn't for me, but it does have enough going for it that it might be the perfect read for you. If you don't mind investing time in a slower moving read and the content doesn't bother you, go ahead and give it a try.

Content:

There's a sex scene(which I found confusing...the scene, not the fact that it was there...though I'd have preferred it had been left out), mild profanity, and violence. To me, it's in between YA and Adult.

*I got an ARC through Amazon Vine.




The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

The content kept me from truly enjoying this book. The F-word is used frequently. (There's also a few sex references.) This is a short, very quick read, so it's a lot packed into such a small story. I'd did a bit of research on this author, and thought I was getting a clean read. Just because an author writes one clean book doesn't mean they all will be. That's a lesson one would think I'd have already learned.

Aside from the content, it would have been a nice choice for a rainy day. It has its sweet moments. (Arthur is the best!) It also has its annoying moments! It's not a deep read, by any means, but it does pull on the heartstrings.

If you're like me and don't care for "extra" content, pass this one up. If you don't mind the content, and want a quick and light read on the sentimental side, this might be just what you want. On a personal level, though, I don't recommend it at all.


*I got an ARC through Amazon Vine.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NKJV Journal the Word Bible


My Thoughts:

This Bible is very similar to the KJV Journal the Word Bible I just posted about. Its cover is cloth bound, though, and definitely looks more geared to women. It's partly covered with turquoise cloth and partly with flowered cloth. It's lovely!

The pages are thicker than the average Bible, but still not super thick. (That would result in a much larger, heavier book!) The letters are larger than the average Bible also, making it much easier for eyes to see. It has a blue ribbon bookmark attached, and has lines on the sides of each page.


Just like the KJV Journal the Word Bible, this one is plain and simple, other than the cover. It doesn't have extra notes, comments, quotes, or pictures. It just has titles to sections, like most other Bibles, along with the words of Jesus in red. Otherwise, you're just getting God's Word, in the NKJV.

This NJKV Journal the Word Bible would make a perfect gift for special occasions(involving females). It's also a wonderful choice if you're looking for a simple NKJV Bible to fill with notes and/or creativity.

*I was given a free copy of this book.

KJV Journal the Word Bible


My Thoughts:

Journaling Bibles have many wonderful uses. I wish so much that we'd had one at our wedding, so that people could have wrote us notes and advice, and let us know their favorite verses. They're wonderful presents to give to children, or to leave behind for them one day. They're also great for simply writing study notes in.

This one is simple, but elegant. There are quite a few that are lovely for women, but it's harder to find them for men. This one is perfect for men to use(and women, too). The pages aren't super thick, but they're much thicker than the average Bible. They're also off white in color. The writing is larger than average, but not huge. The cover is thick and sturdy.


Other than the lined space for writing on the sides of each page, the titled sections(as is normal with most all Bibles), along with the words of Jesus in red, this is a basic, no extras Bible, in KJV. There's a black ribbon bookmark attached, along with a black elastic band to hold the cover closed. There are no extra notes, comments, quotes, or pictures. It's just a plain and simple Bible.

This KJV Journal the Word Bible is a nice choice if you'd like something simple, but elegant. It has lots of room for creativity and/or notes.

*I was given a free copy of this Bible.



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Everything Beautiful: A Coloring Book for Inspiration and Reflection


Description:

Rediscover the beauty around you.

Open this coloring book and be reminded of splendor everywhere. Beauty abounds in the extraordinary and the ordinary…and even in the mundane. Whatever your circumstances, beauty is there, waiting to be noticed and cherished.

Allow yourself the time to stop and see the beauty our God has fashioned in creation, in one another, and in His grace.

Each perforated coloring page features an original design from one of nine different artists, beautifully illustrating an inspirational quote from hymns, Scripture, writers, preachers, and teachers.

So grab your colored pencils and your closest friends and take some time to relax and reflect on the beauty all around you.

To help set the perfect mood for worship, contemplation, and creative expression, a link to the “Everything Beautiful” Spotify playlist is included.

My Thoughts:

This is a nice, simple coloring book. Many of the pictures are on the larger side, making them easier to color. Sometimes coloring pages like this are better for releasing stress. (And then sometimes I prefer more detailed coloring pages.) This is a nice one to color in at the end of a long day.


The pages are thick, with the illustration on only one side of the paper. The other side has quotes, Bible verses, song lyrics, and a bit about the writer that each one comes from, along with the name of who drew the illustration and did the hand lettering. I admit that there are many authors that I don't care to support. I did enjoy the Bible verses and song lyrics, though.


Overall, if you want a coloring book in the simpler realm, this is a good choice.

*I was given a free copy of this coloring book.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Bit of Catching Up....

Hello, everyone! How are y'all doing?

I didn't mean to take as long of a break as I did, but I have quite a bit of catch up to do. I have several review debts, and Lord willing, those will be flowing through in the next few days. I've been reading tons of non-review books, too, so I hope to mix those in, just so I can keep a record in some way or another. It has drove me insane that I've let so many books float by without writing down any sort of thoughts at all. Most of all, I hope to add my Feedly back into my days, so I can keep up with all of you. I know I can't be the only one that struggles with time management. ;)

Here's a few books I think are worth the reading time, in one way or another.


A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

I bought this one for my kindle awhile back, and forgot about it. I hate to admit that, because Anne Elisabeth is one my most favorite authors ever. The Twelve Dancing Princesses is probably my favorite fairy tale, and to say I was excited about seeing her take on it would be putting it mildly. Children, as lovely as they are, will do that to your mind, though. ;)

I actually had to start this book twice, just to be honest. Based on my experience, I'd recommend some quiet time to really get into the book before putting it down, if you must. Once I got well into the book, I flew through it and enjoyed it greatly. As I've come to expect from Anne Elisabeth, the characters were flawed, yet likable. Romance is only hinted at, ever so slightly, and it never comes quickly. Best of all, the story is pretty amazing, and I was thrilled with it. It made me want to visit all the other books from Goldstone Wood again. (This one is perfectly fine as a standalone from the other books in the series. It's only slightly tied in.) I can't wait to read more from her! It only reminded me why I like her writing so, so much.




Deerskin by Robin McKinley

This one won't be for everyone. Parts of it are disturbing, parts of it are incredibly weird, and parts of it are confusing. If you're willing to look past those parts, it's such a beautiful story. When I first left the last page, I didn't think it'd be a story I'd ever want to read again, but it's stuck with me and wrapped itself around my brain. I now think I would be willing to read it again, especially to get a bit more of an understanding of the confusing parts. My first time through a book, I tend to rush to see what happens. With each rereading, I always see little details I missed the previous times through. Plus, my mind is looking past the odd parts more and more and remembering little details that give the story its beauty.

Deerskin is a retelling of the fairy tale, Donkeyskin. Apparently, it's pretty difficult to find Donkeyskin in its original form. Most of the revisions have made it more tolerable. I feel like this book(Deerskin) could be such an encouragement for those that have had a painful past similar to the main character. It seems written with that purpose in mind, and I greatly appreciate it, especially for that reason. That said, I could also see how this could be a painful book for those that have went through something similar, at least through certain parts. It's an empowering read if read all the way through. Again, though, it won't be for everyone.

Though difficult at times, I think it's worth reading!

Content:
I think I recall a couple mild words of profanity, but I know it wasn't bad.

SPOILER!!!!!!! ONLY READ IF YOU MUST!!!!!
There's a rape scene and a miscarriage scene. The rape scene and afterwards is emotional and disturbing. The miscarriage scene was confusing and I was only sure that's what it was when it says so at the end.
END SPOILER



Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I'd consider this story in the magical realism realm, which is a category I happen to love. It's hard to find good, clean ones, though. I managed to get my name on the e-book library's wait list early, and got to read it before I really knew what I was getting into. I was surprised at just how much I liked it.

I actually read this book because of the author's name. Many years ago, when I was in 4th grade, an older girl by the same name did something super sweet. I didn't even know her that well, which made her kindness especially memorable. At my class's Christmas party, I ended up with Barbie doll clothes. I didn't have a Barbie doll. This sweet girl rode the same bus as me briefly, and when she found out, she brought me a Barbie doll from her collection, tucked away inside a shoe box. So, so sweet, y'all! I still remember this 26 years later. Though that really doesn't matter in connection with this book, it's a memory worth writing down. ;) When I saw the author's name, I wondered if it was her, and decided to read it. It's not her, but I am super glad I read the book anyway.

The story is full of mystery and I was guessing until the end about what is real and what's not. I flew through it, so I recommend starting it when you have a little time to give to flipping rapidly through the pages. I was a little disappointed at the end, until I discovered there will be at least one more book to go with it. I got a satisfying end to the story, but a bit more is added to bring us into the next one, which I can't wait for.

Read this one for pure entertainment!

Content: Religious exclamations. I don't remember any profanity, otherwise. (This is the disadvantage to not immediately writing my thoughts down.) There's some touching/kissing(though nothing I'd consider overly graphic). There's also some violence.




Uprooted by Naomi Novik

There's a bit of content(sex scene) that would keep me from completely recommending this book, but otherwise it's a gorgeous book. It's also one that kept me rapidly turning the pages, and kept me up well past when I should have already been asleep. It's a bit of a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I can't say I was overly fond of the leading man. He takes his role as Beast seriously, apparently. I love the old fashioned feel to it, though. It's violent at times and very dark, but there's still such beauty in it. I do hate that the sexual parts were there, and it seems like they were just thrown into an otherwise clean and lovely book just to make it more "adult". If you think you can skip over those parts, and borrow it from the library, it's otherwise a worthy read.

Content:
An almost sex scene and a full out sex scene. Mild profanity. Violence.

*Library E-book



The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

I greatly enjoyed this book. It has an old fashioned fairy tale feel to it. It's dark, and the romance portion was minimal. Many times, the story felt more historical than fairy tale-ish, and for many I think it will be slow moving, but it was perfect for me. Also, I love that there are plenty of thought provoking ideas touched on within the story, but it's done so in a way that's not obnoxious. It has wonderful re-read potential!

My only semi-complaint is the ending. I felt like there was this great build up for something truly horrifying, and I flew through the book, curious to see what would happen. Unfortunately, the ending felt a bit too easy. Still, I enjoyed reading it, otherwise.

I'd definitely recommend it to those that enjoy darker, old fashioned fairy tales. I can't wait to read more from this author, since these types of books are treasures for me.

Content:
The only profanity is used as a word for "poop", so you can decide if you even want to consider that profanity or not. The romance portion is very mild, and only a small part of the story. It's a dark book, but even the violence is not bad at all. I'd label it as mature, in general, but it's very clean for YA, in my little old opinion.

*I got this one from Amazon Vine.

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, April 24, 2017

'The NKJV Woman's Study Bible' Grow in the Word Giveaway

You're invited to receive God's truth for balance, hope, and transformation in the fully revised and redesigned The NKJV Woman's Study Bible. The new edition features a beautiful, full-color redesign and poignantly reveals the Word of God with Scripture insights and the contributions of more than eighty women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Special features designed to speak to a woman's heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman's identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.




This spring, cultivate your heart's spiritual roots and enter to win the Grow in the Word Giveaway!






One grand prize winner will receive:


Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on April 27. The winner will be announced April 28 on the Litfuse blog.




Friday, April 21, 2017

NKJV The Woman's Study Bible


Description:


The Woman's Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God's truth for balance, hope, and transformation.

Special features designed to speak to a woman's heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman's identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, the Woman's Study Bible reflects the contributions of over 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Since the publication of the first edition of The Woman's Study Bible under the editorial guidance of Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, this landmark study Bible has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Features Include:
-Beautiful full-color design throughout
-Detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women
-Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes
-Over 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues
-Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archaeology, and philosophy
-Book introductions and outlines
-Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees
-Quotes from godly women throughout history
-Set of full-page maps of the biblical world
-Topical index
-Concordance


My Thoughts:

I've made it no secret that the NKJV Study Bibles are my favorites. The fact that this Woman's Study Bible is gorgeously designed with women in mind gives it a more special feel. I know it doesn't(or shouldn't) take anything fancy to get us in God's Word. His Word is sufficient. It sure does help to have a fabulous, beautiful Bible, though. I have the imitation leather covered one, and it looks simply elegant. It's two-toned brown, with flowers engraved on the darker brown. There's also the option to get a hardcover or a cloth covered one. Inside, the features are fully colored.

The writing is large. (I've also made it no secret how I detest tiny writing.) Aside from the normal features within a study Bible(footnotes, historical tie-ins, maps, authors/dates/background information on books, etc), there are also several features with women specifically in mind. There are quotes throughout from other women. At first I was a little bothered by the fact that the words of women were put right in between God's Word. These quotes seem to have been chosen to go along with the specific verses they are put beside, though, and that does have its appeal. There are also features about women of the Bible, both good and bad, well known and not so well known, like Rachel, Dinah, Gomer, and Drusilla.

In John, we get a feature on "The Samaritan Woman". We're given a bit of background, showing us 3 ways Jesus broke the social rules by talking to her in the first place, and how much more special that made His forgiveness for her. There are also features about things women commonly deal with(in one way or another) like prayer, husbands, abortion, widowhood, the loss of a child, and even birth control.

This Bible is wonderfully done! If you want a plain and simple Bible, with no extras(and sometimes I do want just that), this isn't the one for you. Otherwise, I can't imagine any woman would be disappointed in it. I'm thrilled with it. It's perfectly lovely.

*As I always say, don't ever take the extras/features as facts. The features are written by imperfect humans. God's Word is all that matters and it IS perfect, all on its own. I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated the extra study helps, though, just like I appreciate teachers and preachers guiding me through God's Word. (I don't always have to agree for a message to be beneficial).

**I was given a free copy of this Bible.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd


Description:

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Drury Lane Theatre Royal. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

My Thoughts:

This book was such a treat! It made me want an extra cup of tea, even with all the talk of Turkish coffee.

I've read and loved all of Sandra Byrd's adult novels, but it's been her gothic romance series, Daughters of Hampshire, that I've loved more than any other. I've been greatly looking forward to reading A Lady in Disguise, and now as I leave it, I'm left greatly looking forward to reading more from her.

In this book, we meet Miss Gillian. She's middle class, and works hard as a costume designer. She loves her work, but when her father dies suddenly, she's left with more worries, along with the hope to prove his innocence, both to herself and to others. She learns quickly just how dark and untrustworthy those in control can be, even those claiming to be friends. We're also brought into the world of theater and the children that suffered as a result of it, particularly young girls that were ushered into a world they should never have had to face after their acting was finished.

There were times I felt completely hopeless for Gillian and cringed at the turn events took. There were also plenty of moments filled with love and hope, not only with the leading man, but also with friends and new acquaintances. I'll even freely admit that I cried at one special moment of honor. There was plenty to keep me rapidly turning the pages, in all ways.

The writing is fantastic, the time period is well researched, the mystery is full of drama and suspense, and as I've come to expect from Mrs. Byrd, the romance was perfectly done, meaning I didn't roll my eyes not once. While plenty of scenes were beautifully romantic, they were never taken into inappropriate territory. There are even quotes from Little Women and references to Alice in Wonderland. Really, what more is there to hope for from a book?

I enjoyed every moment I spent in the pages of A Lady in Disguise, and can easily recommend it! (The books in this series can be read in any order, since they completely stand alone from each other.)

*I was given a free copy of this book.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Would You Like to Know Collection by Tim Dowley, with Illustrations by Eira Reeves




My Thoughts:


This is a cute little set of books. It looks like something that would be used with preschool aged children that aren't used to being taught the Bible or aren't used to going to worship services. It might be great for little ones just being introduced to God's Word. While I don't have experience in the realm of foster care, I can't help but think that these would be perfect in the situations where a child is in a new Christian environment.

At the end of one of the books, the child is told to ask their family if they can go to Sunday School. I wouldn't dare give something like this to a child without their parent's approval, so I'm not completely sure what the author had in mind here. It doesn't seem likely that these books would be randomly picked up by the target age very often, and most of them wouldn't be able to read it themselves. I can see adults stepping into dangerous territory with these.

Within this set are these books:

Would You Like to Know the Bible?
Would You Like to Know the Story of Christmas?
Would You Like to Know How to Pray?
Would You Like to Know About God?
Would You Like to Know the Story of Easter?
Would You Like to Know Jesus?

If you know me at all, you'll probably already know that I would change a word/sentence here and there, or leave them off completely. The first time I looked at Would You Like to Know Jesus, I got the impression that it had a "Prayer of Salvation" in it. Since this is nowhere in the Bible, I don't tolerate the teaching of it, especially not to preschool aged children. After a bit of time had passed and I read it again, I didn't see it that way quite as much. It seemed mostly to be a simple moment of prayer for a child. Of course, you'd want to read it for yourself and make your own decision there!

Overall, I wouldn't overly recommend these to children that have been taught the Bible well. It is a good set full of basics for those that are new to the Bible, and most of them would even be nice for Bible classes, especially when visitors came.

*I was given a free copy of this collection.


Friday, January 13, 2017

These are a Few of My Favorite.....Unlucky Characters



Today, Friday the 13th, is a celebration of Warren the 13th, from Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye. He won me over completely, and I'm greatly looking forward to reading more of his adventures in Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods. My Firefly is especially fond of Warren, too, as some of you that know us better might expect.

Would you like to read a special short story about Warren and his Friday the 13th? Here ya go! There's also some activities your child can do at the end. I'm not superstitious at all, but it's all in good fun.






Today, I'm mentioning a few of my favorite "unlucky" characters, from both books and movies. (I've tried to avoid spoilers, so explanations are brief.)

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Lady Edith from Downton Abbey

I have mixed emotions about Downton Abbey. I loved parts, and others not so much. I can't leave Lady Edith off a list of unlucky characters, though. She may just deserve the #1 spot!

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Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

She has a pretty unlucky past, and while her luck turns dramatically when the series starts, she still has moments of bad luck. (I'm currently in Anne of the Island, so I don't yet know how her luck plays out through the rest of the books.)

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Leonora Bowman, also known as Charlotta the Fourth, from Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I'll include Charlotta the 4th, since she describes herself as unlucky in Anne of Avonlea. (I happen to think she's more on the lucky side, though, considering her boss, Lavender Lewis, is one of my most favorite people in the series so far.)

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Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Coincidence that this series comes to Netflix today, Friday the 13th? Nah. These are 3 very unlucky children!

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Jane Hayes, from Austenland by Shannon Hale

The book wasn't my favorite, but I LOVE the movie. It's up there with my most favorite ever. That said, the book does show more of her "unluckiness" when it comes to guys.

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Salem, from Sabrina the Teenage Witch

As punishment, he's living life as a black cat.(He's quite the handsome cat, though, and reminds me of my sweet black cat, Bing. Some folks out there kill black cats, thinking they'll have bad luck otherwise. Don't be that person!)

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Speaking of cats, this list wouldn't be complete without Eanrin, from Tales of Goldstone Wood.

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Jurassic Park

In honor of my Grasshopper and his complete obsession with ALL things Jurassic Park, I include every single character from any of those movies in this list. It's pretty unlucky to spend any amount of time running for your life, attempting to not get eaten by dinosaurs. Dr. Alan Grant is especially unlucky in the third one. (My Grasshopper was Dr. Alan Grant for Halloween.) We must not forget the poor, cowardly guy that gets eaten while on the potty in the first one, and Zara in Jurassic World. My heart was even broken for a few unlucky dinosaurs.

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Bucky Barnes, from Captain America

This poor guy has a long string of unlucky moments through his life.

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Harry Potter

Some might consider him more on the lucky side, but he has plenty of unlucky moments.

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Ron, also from the Harry Potter Series

Poor guy!

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Batman

He had an unlucky past that he turns into good. Have I mentioned he's my most favorite hero? ;) He has no super powers, but uses his own strength and imagination.

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And last, but not least, Warren the 13th.

He's the thirteenth Warren, for one. He also looks a little like a toad. That's unlucky!

If you'd like to read more about Warren, check out his official site, where you can also learn more about his creators.


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Do you have a favorite character you would consider "unlucky"? I'd love to hear about them!


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