Book Reviews

The Orphan's Wish (Hagenheim, #8)The Orphan's Wish by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So I made myself finish this. I did receive it in exchange for a review, but review was not required.

I'll be quite honest--I hated this book. I'm going to try to find some good things, but we'll see. XD

+The 1400s was kind of a cool setting! I didn't feel like it was utilized as much as it could have been, but that's an era I haven't read a ton of fiction from.

+Childhood friends to lovers is a trope I enjoy, so the fact that it was present (despite the fact that I wasn't thrilled with the way it was executed) was fun.

+Abu, while not a terribly interesting character, was cute.

-Oh boy, where to start.

-For one thing there's the awkward fact that while this is ADVERTISED as an Aladdin retelling, other than the obvious fact that the male lead was named Aladdin and he had a little sidekick named Abu, I couldn't have told that for the life of me. I can kind of find some parallels? But for the most part they were not present at all.

-The characters were incredibly flat, and also insanely Mary-Sue and Gary-Stu-ish. The only word I can come up with to describe Aladdin is "perfect." Don't believe me? Take the word of the other characters for it. They probably called him that fifty times over the course of this novel. Aladdin is perfect. Kirstyn is beautiful. Abu is young. Michael is cruel. There's no depth to these characters, and it made it incredibly difficult to care about any of them. Eventually, I stopped trying.

-The writing style is uninspired, flat, and rank with "telling not showing." I'll concede that this is something I need to work on myself...I'm not always good at writing with showing and not telling. But in a published book by a famous author? I don't know. I never connected with the world, and I felt like the scenes that were supposed to be suspenseful were way too short and undetailed.

-On that note, I was never genuinely worried about the characters at all. So there's that.

-The world was simply never clear to me. Like, they were constantly talking about Aladdin being "King Midas with the golden touch" but when did that story originate? Was it around in the 1400s? I'm just not sure. And then there were some other things that maybe I simply wasn't picturing right...but again, it just didn't make sense.

-The dialogue. Oh, the dialogue. So cringey. I'm sorry. It was...sad, honestly.
In context: They are drinking water from a stream in the woods. They're like twelve.

Kirstyn: "It's refreshing. Try some."
Aladdin: "Good. Whoever lived here chose a favorable spot for fresh water."

This is just a random example. The book is full of dialogue like this, and I'm...just not a fan. Sorry. :/

-Then the sheer number of flashbacks to Aladdin and Kirstyn's childhood walks in the woods, where apparently all they ever did was talk about what good friends they were and how they never wanted this to change. I...don't know how accurate this is. Seems like they should have a lot more memories of chasing each other through a forest and swimming and playing games than of telling each other how much they love each other (JUST AS FRIENDS!!!!!) as little kids.

-The plot was kind of all over the place. I just....was there a plot, beyond Aladdin becoming successful? Besides the romance? I don't even know.

I'm going to give this book 2.5 stars, because I did finish it and I really tried to find a couple of positive things to say about it. But overall? I did not like this book. That doesn't mean I don't recommend it...this is more a matter of personal taste than anything, I think. But it does mean that I don't think I'll be reading anything more by this author in future. A pity...I had really hoped to like this one.

 Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and SexualityLove Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality by Nancy R. Pearcey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By contrast with the secular worldview, it will become clear that a biblical ethic affirms a full-orbed, wholistic view of the person that supports human rights and dignity.

This is the book I've always wanted. The book I've always wished existed but hasn't. And Baker Books was kind enough to send me a free hardcover in exchange for an honest review! Huge thanks to them. This review is my honest opinion and not affected by the fact that it's a free hardcover (but at the same time...whoa.)

Nancy Pearcey is an evangelical theologian who became famous for her book "Total Truth," which deals with a two-story worldview (you can live a secular, obvious life downstairs in the public space, but keep your private junk like religion and morals and opinions upstairs.) In this book Pearcey uses that ill concept to tackle some of the Big Issues plaguing the church and American society today.

Chapter 1 is a basic overview of this worldview, which is very interesting and talks about how modern American society separates the person from the body pretty much constantly. We think that our culture is obsessed with their bodies, but the thing is that they aren't--it's demeaning the body, treating it as a chunk of meat piloted by a brain, that our culture is obsessed with, know it or not.

Chapter 2 deals with abortion. I will admit that this made me nervous--I'm always cautious around authors I don't know dealing with abortion, simply because that issue is so close to my heart and I have seen much harm in people who don't treat it right. But Pearcey quickly laid my fears to rest. She tackles this difficult problem with ease and--glory be--a Christian worldview. Everything else I've read about abortion takes it from a secular view, angling on the scientific or health-based side, so that the pro-life position can appeal to even those who are not Christians. But Pearcey takes it on from the Christian point of view, which was amazing--absolutely amazing--to read.

Chapter 3 is about assisted suicide and euthanasia. This may well have been the most chilling chapter in the book, as summed up by this quote: It doesn't take a genius to see that the easiest way to reduc healthcare costs is physician-assisted suicide. When human life is no longer seen to have inherent value, it will be subject to purely utilitarian calculation of cost and benefits.
Voluntary euthanasia may not remain voluntary.

That is a terrifying thing to read, and this whole chapter is riveting in a morbid way. It's so important. I might recommend this book just for each individual chapter. They're all so valuable and excellent.

The fourth chapter, "Schizoid Sex," is about the hookup culture and the fact that the free attitudes towards premarital sex and not getting married and having kids at all is destroying this country and even the world. Sex amongst humans is not just about procreation, as in the case of animals, but that is still one of the goals and purposes of sex and people shouldn't be surprised when it is a consequence. Important, incredibly so.

Chapter 5 is on homosexuality. Rather than attacking the personhood of LGB+ individuals, Pearcey suggests that the real way to help them is to show them that Christianity leads them to embracing a Biblically ethical view of sexuality and marriage, or even to simply stay celibate. While the church and the Bible are both accused of being behind the times on homosexuality, Pearcey makes a compelling case for the fact that ancient Rome, where the New Testament and the Church originated, was rife with homosexual activity and other unnatural sexual activity, much of it far more perverted than what happens in today's culture, but most of it chillingly familiar. This is a chapter that it's difficult to say too much about in a review, and it's definitely the one that makes me recommend this book the most. If you're a Christian, maybe pick this book up for this chapter alone.

Although add chapter 6 and the whole thing becomes absolutely worth it. Chapter 6 is on transgenderism--this controversial, heartbreaking issue, that involves a small but so, so valuable group of people. Pearcey throws out that it's not always wise to get a gender-change surgery: She points out that the best way Christians can help those who are in turmoil about their gender is to help them embrace who they are as part of the gender they were born with. One of the most resonant things I found in this entire book was that the transgender movement actually works against feminism--pushing everyone into strict gender stereotype boxes where girls like pink, skirts, and talking about their emotions and boys like trucks, mud, and roughhousing. There's plenty of people who don't fit the stereotype, and sometimes, if it's serious enough, they will run to transgenderism, thinking they can't possibly fit into their biological gender the way they are. This isn't right, and Pearcey shares her reasoning with compassion and reason, in a beautiful way.

Chapter 7 is called "The Goddess of Choice is Dead." I was falling asleep as I read it so don't have a ton of memory, but basically, it's about how as people begin to lose sight of how valuable their bodies, their individuality, their lives, their personhood, are, they will begin to lose rights to the government and to social contracts. The family is joined together through love and biological bonds, not pieces of paper, but if the current track keeps up it will struggle more and more to hold together.

Overall? I really, really liked this book. It was chilling at times, often disturbing, and sometimes hopeless. But this was balanced by a firm "God's-got-it" attitude and a whopping dose of hope. I definitely recommend this book to any Christian who wants an evangelical attitude on the biggest issues facing us today. (Also, if you read to the end of this review, nice job! Sorry about the length :3)

5 stars, and thanks to Baker Books for the free copy!

View all my reviews If I Live (If I Run #3)If I Live by Terri Blackstock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was an amazing close to an as-amazing trilogy. The suspense did not let up and I was left gasping for breath at a couple of points, dying to skip ahead and find out what had happened...but I couldn't because kindle. *weeps*

But. Anyway. Review. I will try my very, very best to avoid spoilers. XD

-Casey. Dylan. My beautiful charries. <33333333 and="" back.="" br="" i="" love="" moon="" the="" them="" to="">-Keegan. I mean, I hate him--he is so despicable, and if you thought he was bad in the last two, he takes it up several notches in this one--but he's such a good villain. Oy. I simultaneously shook my fist at him and grinned every time he came on--because he was so bad but so awesome. But still not awesome. I'm sure all you bookish nerds know what I mean. XD
-There was less travelling in this one, which was kind of my least favorite part of the other two? Less swapping phones and chucking batteries away and stealing license plates and moving from hotel to hotel. Which I appreciated.
-Dylan's friend--whose name I, embarrassingly enough, cannot remember. Was it Brant? I think it was Brant or Brett or something similar. Me being me, I'm probably very, very off. If you remember, remind me because I CANNOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME REMEMBER.
-The suspense! I was on the edge of my seat the entire book--I do not trust this author. Sometimes you'll be reading a book and be fairly certain your precious characters will come out okay because no one else has died. But that was not the case with this book. SO MUCH SUSPENSE.
-The ending...I will spoil nothing. But. Hee hee....
-Casey's boss (the google lawsuits guy) was hilarious. I loved him. Every series that's this intense needs some good comic relief.
-Close to everything?

Mostly spoilers, so check the Goodreads page to read those!


SEXUAL: Not much. Again, some kissing. But this book is 100% focused on Casey and Dylan at this point so there is no sexual abuse as in the last two books, which was nice.

VIOLENCE: SOOOOOOO much. I don't remember exactly how many people died in this one, but there were a LOOOOOOOOT. We don't see any of it depicted graphically, but there's a lot of death, and you feel all of them regardless of how well you know the character. (One in particular was pretty darn heart-wrenching...)

LANGUAGE: N/A I think, although if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me.

DRUGS/ETC.: The same character as before drinks a lot, which doesn't have great consequences for him. :/ I don't think there was much else.

4.5 stars and I totally recommend this wonderful Christian suspense series!!!!!!!

View all my 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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