The Winds of God: A Review

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The Winds of God by Gilbert Morris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a re-read for me. This is a series from my childhood, and I felt like reading something nostalgic this summer. I was really into historical fiction at the time, particularly from this era, so I was interested to see if I would still enjoy it.

So the last book ended with Henry the eighth and Anne Boleyn, but this next book skips ahead to the reign of Bloody Mary and Queen Elizabeth, particularly the conflict with the Spanish Armada. It continues with Myles’s grandson, Robin for most of the story. He wants to be a sailor, so we are taken through how the boats were built and sailed, as well as how combat evolved on the sea during this time period.

As for the fictional part of the story, Robin’s father was burned at the stake as a heretic by the Catholic ruler, Bloody Mary (this was on the back of the book, so not a spoiler). He grows in hatred for the Catholics and through his journey he learns where that hatred can take him and what it can take away from him.

The writing is slightly better in this book than the first one. It gets really detailed with all of the ships and the political intrigue, which at times could be a little slow. But I enjoyed the plot. The twists were a little predictable, and the ending was a little too perfect, but it was still a good story.

I felt like the transformation of the main character was better done in this book than the first one. It was more of a slow progression and depended on things that were happening. Plus, you could see his flaws more clearly than Myles in the first book. The conversations had a little more depth to them, though it could still be, at times, pretty surface level.

Profanity is not used in these books. There is some slight sexual content, but nothing graphic. And there is a lot of violence since much of the book either talked about executions or combat. There is an abusive relationship also included, but, again, it’s not very graphic.

Again, this was a nice nostalgic re-read for me. The Spanish side of the conflict was fascinating. I didn’t know a lot about that particular part of history. I would recommend this to late middle grade who like historical fiction, particularly boats (it had a lot of ships and naval information).

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Sword of Truth: A Review

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Sword of Truth by Gilbert Morris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a re-read for me. This is a series from my childhood, and I felt like reading something nostalgic this summer. I was really into historical fiction at the time, particularly from this era, so I was interested to see if I would still enjoy it.

The teen Christian novel is set in the 1500s during the reign of King Henry VIII. It follows the fictional family, the Wakefields, who are wealthy Protestant landowners. Because of their position, they are able to interact with some notable historical figures, including William Tyndale, King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragorn, Anne Boleyn, and Thomas Cromwell. It highlights the evolution of the Protestant movement in England, as well as mentioning other key historical events in the world. The author interweaves the Wakefields into these events very well.

There were two criticisms I had about the book. The writing is a little over the top with the present perfect and past perfect verb tenses. “I had written” “He had gone”. It was just enough to pull me out of the story a few times. Also, while the author does include some of the darker sides of that time period, it’s very muted. Infidelity, promiscuity, greed, and dishonesty are all part of the plot but they are alluded to or implied. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I felt like it affected the character transformations, particularly of Myles. For example, without spoiling anything, his relationship with the court in London was downplayed, so when he had a choice to leave it, I couldn’t understand why that choice was hard.

There isn’t any profanity. As I mentioned above, the sexual and violent content is muted or alluded to. I didn’t feel like there were any graphic or detailed scenes at all. There is an almost sexual assault in the first chapter, and another in the middle of the story, but both are not explicit at all. There is mention of beheadings and heads on posts as they entered London, but, again, nothing graphic.

The story, itself, is actually really good despite the above criticisms. I really liked the way the author includes the characters in major events without affecting the history of those events. I didn’t remember everything that happened in the story, so it was nice to re-read and follow the adventure again. I would recommend this book to a younger teen, possibly preteen. This was a fun, nostalgic read for me, and I plan to continue the series!

A Torch Against the Night: A Review

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Torch Against the Night is the second book in a series by Sabaa Tahir. Just like the first book, this one is very plot-driven, very action packed. I won’t go too much into the plot or the characters because I don’t want to spoil anything. But I enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed the first one.
This time, the story is told from three different perspectives. Sometimes these perspectives interacted with each other. But they were separate from each other, it gave them the ability to really transform and evolve as characters.
There were some really big reveals and plot twists, some that I didn’t see coming. And these twists happened all the way up to the end of the story. It will be interesting to see how they all play out in the next book.
Even though the story jumped from one character from one chapter to another in the next chapter, the writing, itself, was very fluid. The one critique was that it got a little slow in the middle of the book. There was a lot of character building in some chapters which seemed to slow the plot down a bit. It was necessary for the ending to be the big reveal that it is, but sometimes the descriptive paragraphs were a bit long.
As far as profanity, like the first book, there is no profanity other than the profanity of that world. “Ten hells” and “bleeding skies” were used a lot throughout the book in place of real-world profanity.
There is a little more sexual content in this book, though it’s more implied than graphic details. A few kissing scenes (one where her back arched into him and things like that).
And as for violence, it is all throughout the book. There is a genocide happening in this book in the series, and there is mention of shallow graves, beheadings, and stabbings. Also, there is poison and slow death included as well.
I continue to enjoy this series very much. I definitely will put the next book in the series on my list to be read. A definite recommendation for those who enjoy political intrigue, magic, and quest fantasies.

Ember In The Ashes: A Review

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since the third book is coming out in June, there was a lot of hype around this series. So, I thought I would check it out. I really enjoyed this first book and look forward to the rest of the series. It’s a YA fantasy series written by Sabaa Tahir that has a lot of Roman Empire influences.
It’s told from two different perspectives. Laia is a Scholar, a group who have been conquered and mostly enslaved by the Martials. Laia has tried to keep a low profile, but when her brother is taken to prison, she finds herself involved with a Rebel group and became a spy in hopes to rescue her brother. Elias is a Martial, the oppressive ruling group. He is a student at a harsh, dangerous school for elite soldiers and plans to escape. But events change his plans and fate brings these two perspectives together.
The plot was fast-paced. And it’s pretty dark. I like the theme of faith, not just believing in yourself, but believing in a bigger part of a story you can’t see. Faith is something personally important to me. It’s how to function through dark or tough times.

There is some light profanity. They used “hells” and “bleeding” as curse words. Also, as far as sexual content, there are a couple of kissing scenes which imply more graphic sexual desire. Also, there are some threats of rape or sexual assault. And there are a lot of instances of violent content. There are fights to the death throughout the story, some to answer the question what would you sacrifice for the greater good?

It’s a well-written book that I really enjoyed. It’s not very in depth, but I felt like it hit the theme points pretty well. I’m hoping I will enjoy the rest of the series just as much! It’s a recommend from me!

Thunderhead: A Review

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Thunderhead
by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I will try to write this review without any spoilers. I really enjoyed this book, the second in the Arc of the Scythe series, The Thunderhead. It picks up about one year after the first book ended. I felt like the first book was more focused on how the Scythes interacted with civilians and gleaned (killed) to curb population growth since death and illness had been conquered on Earth. The second book was more focused on political intrigue, the inner workings of the Scythedom as well as a closer look at the computer system, The Thunderhead, that managed, cared for and protected civilians, but is separate and apart from the Scythe world.
The continued world building in this book is fascinating. One thing the author does in a lot of his series is included journal entries or letters between chapters. In the first book, they were the entries of Scythes, but this time, it was primarily entries from the Thunderhead, itself. The Thunderhead was pretty quiet in the first book, so this was really fascinating. Also, we are introduced to Greyson Tolliver, who also gives more insight into the Thunderhead as well.
The book moves pretty fast and was pretty plot driven. I enjoyed all of the new settings and how they fit in and interacted with the rest of the world. And some of the plot twists I did not see coming.

I don’t remember there being any profanity in this series. There really wasn’t much sexual content in the book either, other than one person ogling another person. There is one scene where a character throws themselves at another character in a very vulnerable way, but there isn’t anything graphic. But the violence is pretty substantial. The books are, after all, about a group of people who kill people to help curb the population growth. So, keep that in mind.

Even though the premise is morbid, I still recommend the series. And the second book is even better than the first. I am looking forward to the third book in the series!
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The Book of Dust: A Review

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The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be fair, I didn’t read the Darkest Materials series, but I was familiar with the storyline and the controversy around that series being a bit preachy and pro-atheism. But this book was recommended to me and it had great reviews on Goodreads, so I decided to go for it. It is part of a second series that is running parallel to his original series, and this book takes place before the first series started. So it’s kind of a prequel.
It follows a boy named Malcolm who lives on the river in an inn owned by his parents. Across the river is a priory of nuns and he visits and helps them frequently. When the nuns take in a baby that gets the attention of both the religious circles and a spy network, Malcolm finds himself in the middle of it all. After a natural catastrophe, Malcolm, along with a girl who works at the inn, Alice, have to go on an adventure in an effort to protect this baby.
Maybe it’s because I didn’t read the first series, but I found this book to be a little convoluted. The first half of the book read like a spy novel, and I was really intrigued. But then, it abruptly turns into a completely different book after a natural disaster takes place. It became more like a fantasy folklore story.
Also, even though Alice is in the synopsis in the back of the book, she only makes a few appearances throughout the first half of the novel. Granted, she does play a more pivotal role as the story progresses, but I was confused during the first half of the story just why she was included in the story’s summary. Malcolm’s character does have some transforming experiences throughout the book, but it takes quite a dark turn towards the end.

I don’t remember a whole lot of profanity, but there were some mentions of urination in public to describe the unsettled evil of the story. As far as sexual content, there is a sex scene that is used to show how manipulative one of the bad characters was. And there are some implications for Alice being alone with a man. For violent content, there is a good bit. The natural disaster was a flood, and there are mentions of dead people and animals floating in the water. Plus, there is a lot of fighting, shooting, and killing among the characters.

Overall, the book wasn’t bad. It might just not be my kind of book. I didn’t, however, feel like it was anti-religion or pro-atheism. There were good and bad people on all sides. Maybe if I read the original series first I might have a different perspective. So, if you have read the original series, this might be a good book for you to pick up!

What Alice Forgot: A Review

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What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an adult contemporary set in the year 2008 in Sydney, Austrailia. The protagonist, Alice, wakes up on the floor of a gym after a nasty fall, having lost her memories for the last ten years. She thinks it’s 1998 and that she is 14 weeks pregnant with her first child, newly married to her husband, Nick. When in reality, she has three children and is estranged from said husband. The story continues as a mystery that slowly reveals the last ten years, through flashes and pictures, strong feelings, and the anecdotes of her friends and family.
What I did not know going into this book was how much of it was also about pregnancy loss and infertility. Alice’s big sister, Elizabeth, is almost a second main protagonist, who is the first person that really shows up after Alice is brought to the hospital after the fall at the gym. She helps Alice navigate through some of those first memories, but finds it hard because it means that she also has to relive a lot of those memories as well. And her story is pregnancy loss and infertility. And it is so accurate from my own story. I related so much to her experiences and her thoughts. I mention this without really spoiling anything as a trigger warning, but I found this part of the story also therapeutic. This is what made the book a five out of five for me.
The writing jumps from three different perspectives. Alice is told in the third person, though we are privy to her thoughts and feelings, they weren’t always dependable and accurate. When trying to piece together the last ten years, she goes down a couple of dead ends. Elizabeth’s perspective is told in first person journal entries to her therapist. Of course, this is also limited by only what Elizabeth actually knows about Alice’s life as well. The third perspective is from their surrogate grandmother, Frannie, who gives a little more insight, but not much. It’s in first person correspondence as well, as her point of view is in the form of letters to an old flame, recounting her experiences in her retirement community as well as what is happening to Alice.
For the most part, the plot moves pretty quickly. The clues and glimpses kept me continuing with the story, wondering not only what exactly happened in the past, but how the future would turn out as well. And there is a lot of character transformation, especially with Alice and Elizabeth. As Alice looks into her present life from her younger self, the fresh perspective helps her evolve, and it also helps Elizabeth evolve as well.

There is profanity in the book, but not much, and I felt like the profanity was there to show how much had changed in Alice’s life – almost for a shock value, but a necessary one.
As far as sexual content, there is mention of sex and there are a few kissing scenes, but nothing really graphic or detailed. Since pregnancy was one of the main themes, I think it was also something necessary to mention and discuss.
And as far as violence, there are a couple of deaths mentioned, but nothing, again, in graphic detail. It focused more on the grief from death or loss.

I would recommend this book with the caveat of the fact that a good portion of it deals with navigating life with infertility and pregnancy loss. But I think it handles that subject really well. I didn’t really know that I would like this book as much as I did when I picked it up, but I’m really glad I did!