The Glister Journals: Bronze by BB Shepherd

Bronze is the first novel in a four-part series called The Glister Journals. It introduces us to Allison, a girl moving to a new place and a new school just in time for the start of her freshman year in high-school. Allison has always felt unpopular and out-of-place, and expects her new school to be no different. She is introduced to a group of people unlike any she has ever met before, and is surprised and shocked when she becomes included into the group. The next year is one of awakening for Allison; her new friends surpass her wildest expectations and she tries things she would have never considered before them. As a result, Allison really begins to grow; she becomes more assertive and independent, and has adventures she never would’ve dreamed about in the past.

I absolutely loved this book! It had me riveted from the first page. I can’t really put my finger on what it was that I found so interesting, but I am hooked!

The characters are beautifully developed and multi-dimensional. I especially love the Calderas, I am fascinated by their family dynamics and was left wanting more. Besides creating characters that are ‘real’, B.B. Shepherd also created characters that are truly likable! I found myself  really becoming invested in their lives.

Maybe the reason why I loved this book so much is that it is real, nothing is forced or phony. I remember being a freshman in high school, and I feel as though Allison’s emotions and actions are spot on. The desire to fit in and have true friends and the thrill and agony of your first real crush are things that everyone experiences; and Shepherd captured those feelings perfectly.

I also really liked that the author included a warning in the front of the book which stated that mild swearing and adult situations occur in the book. As a mother of a pre-teen I really appreciated that! I think that this book is definitely appropriate for high-school age students (and for older adults too!).  The swearing was very, very mild and there was no sex or drugs. I would let my 12-year-old read it without any qualms.

I will definitely read this book again! It earns a 5 out of  5 rating from me, which is rare!  At some points I blushed in embarrassment, chuckled out loud, or sobbed my heart out with Allison, and I love a book that can make me feel like the characters are real. Please hurry and finish the next three books, I can’t wait to find out what happens next!!

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Conversations and Cosmopolitans by Robert Rave and Jane Rave

Conversations and Cosmopolitans is an unflinchingly honest memoir of sorts written by Robert Rave after coming out to his parents. Each chapter relates an experience he had after coming out and is followed by commentary from his mother, Jane Rave.

The book is written openly and honestly; the author leaves almost nothing (and I mean nothing!) out. In some places I cringe with embarrassment for Robert, and in many, many other places I laughed out loud.

Rave had a pleasing writing style; I really admire his dry humor and wit. I enjoyed this book, I’ll give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was a quick, entertaining read, but not something I’ll read more than once. I really admire the author’s courage, both in regards to coming out in the first place and certainly in regards to publishing some of the more embarrassing anecdotes.

The book, in my opinion, is less about being gay, and more about developing an unbelievably honest relationship with his mother. Plus, its funny as heck. This book is self-deprecating humor at its very best.

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Radical by David Platt – 3.5 stars

Radical, by David Platt is an urgent call to all Christians to embrace the God of the bible, (as opposed to our Americanized view of Him) even the parts that sound ‘radical’ and make us uncomfortable.

Throughout the book, Platt argues that, in general, American Christians aren’t doing enough to bring the Gospel to unbelievers or alleviate the sufferings of the poor.

In general, the book was good. It was easy to read and structured; each chapter made a single point which was then backed up biblically. I think that some of the chapters were a little long-winded and, quite frankly, a little boring. I felt like, in some cases, 10 pages were used to make a point that could have been made in two.

I also disagree theologically with Platt on a few points, but that is just my humble opinion. I am neither a religious scholar or a theologian. As this is a review of the book, not the theology behind it, I’ll save that discussion for another place. Feel free to comment of contact me if you wish to know my views.

I also feel that in some places, the book was pushing readers to buy supplemental materials. For instance, you can not only buy the original book, but a booklet, and a bible study. I am certainly not accusing Platt of only trying to make money by selling the book, but plugging other materials rubs me the wrong way.

All in all, it was an okay book. It certainly gave me some things to think about, but it was the teensiest bit boring.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The opinions expressed are my own, I am in no way obligated to publish a favorable review.

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The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers

Young Grady has no memory of who he is, who his parents are, or where he came from.  As long as he can remember he’s been with Floyd, a liar, cheat, and general all-around charlatan. Poor Grady, the only person who could possibly tell Grady where he comes from is a world-class fraud.

Floyd and Grady make a living by tricking people. Grady dresses up in costumes and Floyd passes him off as a real-live feechie; a largely mythical race of wild, savage creatures. As years go by, people begin to believe in feechies less and less. Floyd needs to figure out a new career choice, but options are limited. Eventually, Floyd has the idea to revive the feechie trade, by fabricating another large-scale feechie scare. It works, but unintended consequences result.

The Charlatan’s Boy is a fun, whimsical story. The book is geared toward older children, and hits the mark. As an adult, I didn’t find it particularly compelling; it was quick and easy to read but I was in no way reluctant to put it down. If I were rating this book for an adult audience I would give it 3 stars; I liked it, but didn’t love it.

However, this book is for kids. With that audience in mind I give this book 4 stars. It’s a fun story suitable for advanced readers and has no objectionable content. That’s quite a rare find these days! I think my 12-year-old will enjoy it, but it won’t become one of her favorite books. It’s not a story that she (or I) will reread over and over again. It was fun to read once, but thats probably enough. However, I am interested to see what happens next in Grady’s story. I will read the next installment, but it’s not at the top of my ‘to-read’ list.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The opinions expressed are my own, I am in no way obligated to publish a favorable review.

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Max on Life by Max Lucado – One of the most inspiring books I have ever read

Max on Life by celebrated Christian author Max Lucado is nothing more than a collection of small snippets explaining Lucado’s take on various aspects of life, and it is nothing less than an incredibly inspiring explanation of Christianity.

The book is dividing into seven sections; Hope, Hurt, Help, Home, Have/Have-nots, and Hearafter. Each section contains very short discussions of the questions that Lucado is most often asked in his ministry. The answers are concise, biblically based, and easy to understand. Lucado has mastered the art of turning confusing biblical topics into easy to understand, modern-day parables.

I loved the structure of this book. I must admit that I tend to have ‘book-ADD’, meaning that I get bored with most books very easily, and am usually reading 2 or 3 different books at any one time. I don’t like to spend too long on any one subject or genre; I crave change and switch between books more often than I change my socks. Max on Life was perfect for me; as a collection of bite-sized essays the book didn’t focus for too long on any particular topic.

Besides the structure of the book, I also loved the content! Lucado has a way of putting into words certain aspects of faith that I struggle to describe coherently. His descriptions of Heaven make me so excited to go! He reminds us that while we will face many trials on Earth, we are destined for Heaven and life’s upsets will cease to matter. This book is inspirational and informative, and all Christians, as well as those who are interested in Christianity, would benefit from reading this book.

I rate this book as a 5 out of 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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Here Burns my Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

Here Burns my Candle is a retelling of the biblical story of Ruth, set in Scotland during the Jacobite rising of 1745. Elizabeth Kerr is the lone Jacobite in a noble family loyal to King George. She is a Highlander, from a common family, who is married to Lord Kerr, a noble lowlander. Eventually, the entirety of the Kerr family comes to support the Jacobite cause, and loses everything in the process.

This book is a fantastic retelling of the story of Ruth and Naomi. Elizabeth, is a loyal wife, friend, and daughter-in-law. As a young widow, she chose (as Ruth did) to stay with her mother-in-law instead of returning to her family.

I really enjoyed this book, I rate it as 4 out of 5 stars. My biggest problem with the story is that much of it is written in Scottish vernacular. I understand why the author chose to do this, but it got tiresome quickly.  The biblical theme was subtle enough that I didn’t even realize it was there until the closing chapters, there were points in the plot that truly shocked me. I’m excited for the sequel, I can’t wait to see what happens to the Kerr women next!

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Escape by Carolyn Jessop

Carolyn Jessop was born into the secretive world of the Fundamentalist Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When she was just eighteen she was married off to a much older man and became his fourth wife. As a woman in the FLDS community she was subjected to extreme hardships. She had eight children in her 15 year marriage, one of whom is severely disabled following a battle with cancer. She was subjected to mental and physical abuse and had to witness the severe mistreatment of children in the community. Finally, she decided that she had had enough. She waited for an opportunity, then managed to flee the oppressive community with her children.

This book is one of the very few to earn my elusive 5 star rating. It was riveting, I couldn’t put it down. I was always dying to know what was going to happen next. This book was also haunting and disturbing, a week after finishing it I am still thinking about it. It made me wish that I could drive out to Colorado City, AZ and load up my vehicle with other women trapped in that place. Unfortunately, as Carolyn Jessop made clear, most of the women living in the FLDS community don’t want out. They have never known a different lifestyle, and due to the seclusion they endure, they don’t even realize that another way of life exists.

I recommend this book to any (adult) who had an interest in other cultures. The FLDS  culture, as portrayed by Carolyn Jessop, is strange, confusing, and disturbing in so many ways. Yet, it is also fascinating in a perverse way. I want to know more, but am constantly disgusted by what I find. I heartily recommend this book, but be forewarned that it may disturb you greatly.

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