Book Reviews

Egypt's Sister (The Silent Years #1)Egypt's Sister by Angela Elwell Hunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Many thanks to Bethany House and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC for this book!**

The Silent Years. They passed between the days of Malachi and the first Christmas. Every Jew longed to hear God's voice, but he did not speak. At least not through the prophets.

Chava and her father, Daniel and brother, Asher, live in Alexandra, Egypt, during its glory days. Egypt is as prosperous as its ever been, and Daniel has work at the royal palace, tutoring princes and princesses. Even for Jews in Egypt, not a great position to be in, they're content.

Especially Chava, who's lucky enough to be friends with Urbi, the second princess of Egypt. One day Chava seems to hear YHVH's voice, telling her that she and Urbi will be together on Urbi's happiest and last days. For a while Chava is content to dwell like this, her life given to serve her best friend who will one day rule as the queen of Egypt.

But then political tensions rise as Julius Caesar and others vie for dominion of the Roman Republic. Chava finds herself caught in the middle- and when she is sold into slavery, it will take all her resilience and faith to escape- and survive.

-This was a genuinely well-written Christian book. It was all about the Silent Years, a period which fascinates many, and managed to weave Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Octavian and Julius, into the story of a small Jewish family. The writing was lush and descriptive, and it had the feel of a lovely mainstream book with great editors.
-The characters make mistakes. Hallelujah, a Christian book where not everyone is a saint!
-I was constantly guessing about what would happen next, although some of the foreshadowing got a little obvious. More on that later.
-I thought the romance was genuinely well done and did not dominate the story at all. While the book never really talked about a call to singleness, it did incorporate that into the story, and it was well-done.
-All the clever references to things that I know are true about Jewish life. Things like the name of God and the stories about the Septuagint. It felt very authentic.
-Cleopatra was a real person, and truly made sense. Her figure was tragic, but still very human.

-The Chekhov's guns were frequent, and it got a little bit predictable.
-I didn't feel like Chava was all that well-developed at first, but that got better as the story progressed.

Content warnings:
-SEX: the story takes place in Rome, and many of the main characters are female slaves. The sexual aspect is not glossed over, but it is never depicted either with any kind of detail, and the main character is never taken advantage of. A few characters are pregnant, there is some talk of mistresses, and much of the later story deals with being a midwife.
-VIOLENCE: While there are massacres and revolts mentioned, no violence is really straight-up depicted. A baby is still-born, a mother dies in labor, a character is found with throat slit. Another character commits suicide.

This was a good book, and I enjoyed it. Thanks again to Bethany for the ARC.

Digging in the Stars
Digging in the Stars by Katherine Blakeney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**Thanks to BlazePublishing and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC! All opinions expressed are my own.**

Where to begin? This is the story of Carter, a girl who loves archaeology and the history of her namesake, Howard Carter. She and her Archaeology of Outer Space class are leaving for an excavation apprenticeship on the planet Magnus, and as the professor's teaching assistant, Carter is tasked with buying the tickets.

Well, she's preoccupied with her worries for he best friend Conrad, who vanished to the planet Thror a few weeks earlier, and this accidentally books their flight to... not Magnus, but Thror.

Once they reach Thror, nothing is as it seems, and Carter and her group will have to dig (no pun intended) deeper than ever to find the answers.

-Professor P. She was just kind of great. She reminded me of Professor McGonagall. She had so much personality, and... yeah.
-The actual mystery parts were really well done. When you have no idea what's happening and the characters are confused also? Love it.
-The Archaeology of Outer Space group is a group of five girls, with a female professor. Quite frankly, I loved that. The dynamic was perfect and they all acted like oblivious teen girls.
-The descriptions of the food were hilarious. I cried when they could never find anything to eat. Because it all sounded SO INCREDIBLY Nasty.
-The last ten percent or so (on my Kindle) was amazing. I raced through it.

-Carter. I don't know; she just wasn't my favorite protagonist.
-The beginning was a little improbable. No one thought to even check their flights before they boarded? They didn't get told, "Enjoy your flight to Thror" or see a sign that said that or anything like that? I don't know. It was weird.
-The first half of the book was kind of slow. But that's just me. If you're looking for lots of heavy action, this is not the book for you.
-There were a couple of creepy parts I didn't appreciate.

Two cuss words near the end.

Running jokes throughout the book involving non-English speakers trying to be nice and coming out flirty and/or suggestive.

No drugs, etc, as far as I know. A character uses a breathing machine.

This was a slow book and not my favorite, but that is my personal opinion: and the next person to read this book might really like it. Nice debut, and I appreciated the lack of offensive content.
Also: I loved Professor P so much. She was at times almost like a grownup version if Ms. Frizzle from Magic School Bus.

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Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships

Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships by Christine Hoover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are lots of books about friends. There are lots of books about women. There are lots of books aimed at Christian women. But now, finally, there is one about the importance of friendship in the lives of Christian women.
Having read Christine Hoover's previous book From Good to Grace, I was excited to read a new book by her, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and benefited much from it.
     Messy Beautiful Friendship does not glamorize friendship; nor does it rake it through the mud. Instead, it presents it just as it is: messy but beautiful. And completely necessary to the lives of Christian women.
     As a high schooler, I understood that this book might not have much to say to me - I am, after all, not yet a woman. But Christine Hoover writes with precision and wide brush strokes that are more and more detailed the closer you zoom in. What could be taken as general tips leave lots of room for the Holy Spirit to work. Even I, who is still in the place where, as Christine puts it, friendship just "happens", found many ways to benefit.
     There's not much to say about this book that's negative. Christine covers the making of friends (this one is in a little less detail than I might like, but that's okay), how to grow friendship and reach out to the outcasts, how to be a good friend, and how to receive friendship from others. Proverbs 27:17 says: "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." This verse is not mentioned in the book, as far as I can recall, but it is definitely one of the underlying themes.
     One thing I will mention is that there is not much on how a Christian woman is to be friends specifically with a non-Christian. The things said in the book will be helpful in friendship with just about anyone, but if you're looking for specific guidance in this tough area, this may not be the book to do it (although the chapters on inflicting loving wounds on your friends may be a help.)
     In short, this was a really excellent book that I would recommend to just about any Christian woman. If you have friends, you need this book.
**Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Baker Books. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compelled to give a positive review, but I'm thrilled to be able to!**

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay. I did not really like the first book that much. Not because it was bad, just because it was the most violent book I'd ever read and I don't love violence, and also because it was just kind of disturbing without a real reason.
This one. Was. So. Good.
Not only does it build on The Hunger Games, it makes a reason for it. There's a reason to have read the first one now, and reading Catching Fire makes the first book make so much more sense.

Different elements of the book and my reactions:
-Katniss. Meh. She's not particularly fun to be inside the head of, to my chagrin - I really wanted to like her, but I just have trouble with it. She's such an everywoman that it's interesting to read about her though, and to imagine myself in her place and try to decide what I would have done.
-Peeta: I finally figured out the deal with Peeta. He's like a little puppy dog. He is so lovable, like you just can't do anything to hurt him, but he is not likeable. Disagree with me as you will, but this opinion still stands. XD
-Gale: Unnecessary addition to a book that could have completely gotten away with not having a love triangle. This does not mean I am Team Peeta. I don't want there to be a love triangle at all. However, I am not Team Neither just for the sake of being Team Neither, so....
-Finnick: All the love. I loved Finnick.
-Johanna: At first, I was like, "Um, no." But then I found out what was wrong with her and I was like, "Aha! You're still weird, but not as bad as I thought you might be."

All in all, this was a good book. The beginning dragged a bit, but other than that it was excellent. I would totally recommend this book.

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  1. Is it bad that when I read it at the age of twelve I was disappointed because my parents wouldn't let me read it when I was ten, because of the violence, so when I read it I was expecting a blood fest and was oddly disappointed?! I honestly expected wayyyy more violence... xD

    1. I know, the first one was waaaay worse. I found this one strangely good. The third one, though.... *tearing out hair and screaming*


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