Temporary Hiatus Notice

Hello, dear Reader,

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been pretty absent lately. However, I haven’t come to apologize for that, even though I do feel guilty about dropping off the face of the earth without warning. The simple truth is that I said I’d make posting here a priority and have epically failed. For that, I am truly sorry. Please forgive me.

The fact is that I am still reading, but my writing muse has left for now, and I am struggling to put words on paper. I find this extremely frustrating as I’ve signed up for the King’s Daughter Writing Camp this month. I just can’t find the energy to write both book reviews and work on my project at the same time.

Therefore, I’m planning on stepping away from this blog for the rest of the year. I have writing camp, a job, and family and friends with whom I need to spend time. Dear readers, please understand. I love this place and you all, but I find my priorities lie with the tangible relationships around me right now.

Thank you, and Goodbye for now,

Lacey

P. S. I may pop in at some point before January, but no promises.

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Summary

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?

Author: Trenton Lee Stewart

Rating: 5 stars

Content: Some mild violence; amnesia; talk of mind-sweeping; etc.

My Thoughts This has been a favorite for years. I remember the Christmas when I received it. I was like, “Hmm, this doesn’t sound like something I normally read, but since my parents bought it for me, it must be good.” And, it was. When I cracked the cover, I sat down and read it in one sitting, hooked.

Fun, clever, and a touch whimsical, The Mysterious Benedict Society is the perfect read for long road trips and lazy afternoons. Readers will be sucked in by the intriguing premise, and must hold on their hats as the story often takes sudden and unexpected twists. Often, the question, “Who is friend and who is foe?” arises, and the answer is surprising. Despite being geared toward middle-grade readers, I believe readers of all ages will enjoy it. The plot is fresh and original, full of puzzles and riddles, and wraps up neatly in the end.

Content-wise, there’s nothing I would have a problem with younger children reading, especially those who have a excellent grasp on vocabulary. However, I do feel compelled to point out that Constance’s behavior is often rude and is not a good role model. Without spoilers, I can say that there is a logical explanation and purpose for this in the end, but just be aware. Stories have powerful impacts on lives and personalities, and some children may not be able to understand why they can’t act like her and get away with it.

I would recommend this to those who love puzzle books, clean fiction, and twisty tales.

The Accidental Cases of Emily Abbott (Season 1)

Summary

He’s a spy, and he needs her help…

Emily Abbott is working hard as a coffee barista in downtown Phoenix, keeping one eye on her tiny college fund and the other on the mysterious new guy with his profound lack of coffee-making skills.

Just when she thinks they might be getting the hang of working together, she’s abruptly thrust into his world of espionage and danger. Brent Peterson needs her help to keep Red Rover safe and the information he carries out of the wrong hands. But she’s just a barista—what can she do?

Much more than she thinks.

“The Accidental Cases of Emily Abbott” is a series of clean spy-comedy novellas set in Phoenix, Arizona.

Author: Perry Elisabeth Kirkpatrick

Overall Rating: 5 stars

Content: Some violence, but it’s not graphic. No romance, however; things may heat up between Brent and Emily. Overall, very clean.

My Thoughts I love this series. After I stumbled upon these two years ago, they quickly claimed a spot as one of my favorite series ever. Normally, I’m not prone to fangirling, but Emily and Brent are just so fun! 😊 While a little corny and a lot unrealistic at times, the stories are surprisingly creative, taking worn-out clichés and adding fresh twists. Each story builds on the former, and ends on a cliffhanger, making them perfect for binge reading. Although the suspense levels continue to climb in each subsequent story, I wouldn’t hesitate to hand them to younger readers who love spy books.

While the characters are Christian and pray at times, I wouldn’t really call this Christian fiction. More like clean fluff.

I would recommend these books to those looking for a light, humorous read and have a soft spot for spies.

The Paris Betrayal

Summary

After a rough mission in Rome involving the discovery of a devastating bioweapon, Company spy Ben Calix returns to Paris to find his perfectly ordered world has collapsed. A sniper attack. An ambush. A call for help that brings French SWAT forces down on his head. Ben is out. This is a severance–reserved for incompetents and traitors.

Searching for answers and anticipating a coming attack, Ben and a woman swept up in his misfortunes must travel across Europe to find the sniper who tried to kill him, the medic who saved his life, the schoolmaster who trained him, and an upstart hacker from his former team. More than that, Ben must come to grips with his own insignificance as the Company’s plan to stop Leviathan from unleashing the bioweapon at any cost moves forward without him–and he struggles against the infection that is swiftly claiming territory within his own body.

Award-winning author James R. Hannibal rachets up the tension on every page of this suspenseful new thriller.

Author: James R. Hannibal

Rating: 3 stars

Content: Violence including shooting and explosions; reference to bioweapons and Covid-19, kissing. etc.

My Thoughts Although not my favorite Hannibal thriller, this was a solid read. While the writing was smooth it did feel bit slow at times. Honestly, the bioweapon aspect was a bit of a downer for me, especially since the language explaining it was a bit over my head at times. That may just be me, however, anyone who loves that sort of thing will appreciate that part. I personally enjoyed the fact there wasn’t much sexual content. It was refreshing because most suspense books have too much romantic content. Thankfully, this one didn’t. Violence was a major part of this book, but it didn’t become overly graphic.

I will say the faith content disappointed me. Since The Paris Betrayal wasn’t marketed as explicitly Christian fiction, I wasn’t really expecting much by way of actual prayer and walking the Christian life, but the whole Job allegory bugged me. It wasn’t so much about Ben’s suffering as the Director’s handling of it. No one but God has the right to treat humans as he chooses. I can’t say much for spoilers, but I couldn’t justify a higher rating for this book because of it.

I would recommend this book to those who love suspense novels.

Small Life Update (September 2022)

Free stock photo

I must admit, this year has been one of growth for me. I’ve been through some serious up and downs concerning my future life plans over the last few months. The Lord has been weighing my heart and convicting me on not trusting Him fully with my life. A lot of this had to do with whether I should get a job or not. Despite my reluctance to give him the reins, He gently corrected me and I finally gave them completely up. Of course it was then that I received a call regarding an application I’d sent in a couple months ago. Days later, I had a job. Where? At Arby’s. Yeah, it’s not where I envisioned I’d have my first job when I was little, but it’s a start. I plan on using this opportunity to gain life experience and time management. And, so far, I have enjoyed the work. Training has been a little stressful, but I am learning slowly but steadily. The Lord is faithful.

What does this mean for the blog? Don’t worry, I’m not leaving. However, since our family is taking a mini vacation this coming week, I won’t be posting a book review next Thursday. While a few are in the making, I plan on limiting my screen time to invest in family time. Also, because I now have less time to read, I may to resort to reviewing books I read in the past some weeks. (That’s still a lot!) All in all, I will still be making this blog a priority.

See you again in a couple of weeks!

The Blue Castle

Summary

When Dreams Come True

All her life, Valancy Stirling lived on a quiet little street in an ugly little house and never dared to contradict her domineering mother and her unforgiving aunt. Then she gets a letter—and decides that very day things need to change. For the first time in her life, she does exactly what she wants to and says exactly what she feels.

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Rating: 2.5 stars

Content: Taking of the Lord’s name in vain, a d*mn; mention of a child being born out of wedlock; alcohol;

My Thoughts I wanted to like this book. I really did since I’ve read most of Montgomery’s other works and loved them. But, alas, it was not to be.

First of all, the characters seemed stilted to me. While Valency as MC received a well-written character arc, the rest all seemed to be cardboard cut-outs; either portrayed as oppressive and unforgiving or buffoonish and backboneless. They just didn’t live like many of Montgomery’s other secondary characters. Barney was nice, but was a bit weak in development in my opinion.

Another thing that bothered me was the overall tone of the book. It was more depressing than many of her other works. Of course, it is one of her adult novels, not YA. However, what irked me the most was how Valency’s family was portrayed. They were insipid and always oppressive toward Valency, and you are made to feel glad when Valency tells them off. Family should be a good thing, not something to ridicule. I came away with a feeling that Montgomery was insinuating that casting off society’s restraints and recklessly living was a good thing. Oh, Valency was quite of age to think for herself and was never a libertine, but I still felt a bit uneasy.

The romance was sweet. Despite his flaws, I really liked Barney. I will say I did see one plot twist coming, but not the other. For sake of spoilers, I shall not say which one. 😉

I personally didn’t care for this book, and I can’t say that I’d recommend it except to die-hard L.M. Montgomery fans.

Strike Out Challenge

Today, I thought I’d do something different for a change. While this is a primarily book blog, I decided I wanted to do a more personal post this week. And when I saw this tag was out for grabs on Grace’s blog, I jumped at the chance. Enjoy.

Kissed someone – Does my family count? I’ve never kissed someone romantically, that’s for sure.

Gone to a rock concert – Umm….no? I’ve gone to a couple of concerts, but I don’t think they were rock.

Helped someone Isn’t that the whole point of Luke 10:25-37?

Gone fishing Ah, yes. Once a year. Never more.

Watched four movies in one night – Gee, I should hope not. I don’t hanker after the self-inflicted headache I’d get from doing that.

Lied to someone What! Me? Do I look like a sinner?!?

Failed a subject – Thankfully, no.

Been in a car accident Yes, a small one. Just the door was dented. I was a wee bit shaken though.

Been in a tsunami – Thankfully, I don’t live in that part of the world. *wipes brow*

Watched someone die (including pets) Well, we did come home one day to find our fish on the floor expiring. He’d somehow gotten out of the mixing bowl (he was just a fair prize, okay!) and landed there. So, yes, it counts.

Been to a funeral Just a few. I remember my grandmother’s the most.

Burned yourself Years ago I burned my arm on the stove, but for some reason, was too afraid to tell anyone. In fact, no one knew till Mom saw the scar. I didn’t get in trouble, but my parents were disappointed that I didn’t come to them. The scar is faded now, and will probably be gone in a few more years.

Run a marathon – I don’t run unless I have a good reason to, like being chased by a bear. So, no.

Spend over 10,000 bucks in one day – Good grief, who has that kind of cash on hand?

Flown on an aeroplane Yes, because I was born in a different country and I couldn’t exactly swim over being a baby and all that. However, I don’t remember it and would like to do it again sometime.

Written a 18 page letter (front & back) – I am not the Apostle Paul.

Gone skiing – I’ve been tubing, but not skiing. I do enough faceplants as it is.

Lost someone you loved Nai Nai, my grandma whose funeral was mentioned above.

Got into trouble for something you didn’t do Totally. You’d be surprised at the miscommunication that can occur in just a household of four.

Stolen a book from a library – And break the 8th commandment! Never! *gasp* Although I have to admit I broke a DVD case just a week ago. Talk about timing.

Gone to a different country Again, I was literally born in a different country. ‘Nuff said.

Gambled in a casino – I’m a Christian! And, underage. Plus, I don’t have that 10k. So, no.

Been in a school play – I’d die of stage fright. Also, I cannot act to save my life.

Taken a lie detector test – I can’t lie very well either. Face gives me away every time. See why I don’t gamble?

Voted for someone on a reality TV show – That’s possible?

Read more than 20 books a year Every year since I was six, I’m sure.

Gone to Europe – Unfortunately, the country I was born in was not in Europe.

Had a surgery Yeah, I have.

Had stitches – I haven’t even twisted my ankle yet.

Ridden a tuk-tuk (autorickshaw) –I have no idea what that even is. *goes to google it*

Had more than 5 IM conversations going on at once – No. My social life is not that crazy.

Been in a fist fight With my sister when we were little. Not since then.

Had a pet An adorable calico cat.

Petted a wild animal *blink* Do zoo animals count? I did see a bobcat in our old backyard before, but I didn’t pet it.

Had your own credit card & bought something with it – Nah, not yet.

Dyed your hair – Nope. And not planning on it anytime soon. I like it the way it is.

Got a tattoo – NO

Had something pierced – Not even my ears.

Got a straight A – I think so? I know I maintain an A/B average, but I don’t know about straight As.

Taken pictures with a webcam They were hideous.

Gone to sleep with music on We used to go bed every night with a CD on. Fun Fact: I’ve also fallen asleep during a firework show.

That was fun! Were any of these answers what you were expecting me to say? Since I took it from another’s blog, I am going to leave this tag open for anyone else who wants to use it (or not). Have a great rest of the day!

Tribulation Force-Assassins (Left Behind #2-6)

Summary

In one cataclysmic moment, millions around the globe disappear.

Those left behind face war, famine, plagues, and natural disasters so devastating that only one in four people will survive. Odds are even worse for enemies of the Antichrist and his new world order.

Rayford Steele, Buck Williams, Bruce Barnes, and Chloe Steele band together to form the Tribulation Force. Their task is clear, and their goal is nothing less than to stand and fight the enemies of God during the seven most chaotic years the planet will ever see.

Author: Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

Rating: 3.5 stars

Content: Quite a bit of violence: semi-detailed deaths by shootings, explosions, and various plagues. Mention of cursing; mention of porn and homosexuality; a miscarriage; kissing; a depiction of childbirth; etc.

My Thoughts That was exciting. Admittedly, Tribulation Force was mostly politics and slow, but once the Tribulation began in earnest, there wasn’t a dull moment. Absolutely don’t get attached to any of the characters, for your heart will get trampled because lines are drawn, good and evil wage war, and millions are killed in the process. You will have moments of bitter anguish with the characters and find yourself clinging to the moments of happiness that are few and far between. While the Tribulation Force converge into a network of like-minded believers seeking to survive and even thrive during this time, Carpathia’s cunning evilness begins to show through. You will be fascinated by the overall picture that begins to form of what may happen in the end times. This first half of the series is well done and ends on the cliffhanger of the first death of the Anti-Christ.

Some parts were wordy. Despite every book building and dependent on the former, the authors felt the need to rehash what happened previously. That’s great unless you’ve been binge-reading them like I have been doing. Then it gets rather monotonous. Also, while the faith content was biblically correct, it was tedious to read about everyone and their neighbor’s conversion. Yet, I wouldn’t wish it to be cut out because if an unbeliever happened to pick up any of these books, they would be given the gospel in very clear language.

On a side note, I find I don’t agree with all of the aspects of the authors’ interpretation of the end times. I’m not going to go into detail because it would take too long, but I had to point that out.

Looking ahead, I admit I’m curious to see what happens in The Indwelling and what the authors’ opinion of the mysterious number 666 is. And, yes, I will finish this series because, I mean, after all the heartbreak this series has put me through already and will continue to do, I must have that happy ending.

Overall, I recommend this series to biblical fiction lovers, adventure junkies, and those looking for long epic sagas.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Summary

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. “To Kill A Mockingbird” became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, “To Kill A Mockingbird” takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Author: Harper Lee

Rating: 5 stars

Content: Profanity including son-of-a-b–ch, d–n, h—, b–tard and godd–n whore; taking of the Lord’s name in vain; court case involving r*pe; gossip regarding a recluse; mention of shooting a man to death; a death by knife; racial prejudice; etc.

This is NOT a children’s book, despite the POV being of a child. Strong parental guidance for those under 14 suggested.

My Thoughts

While I can’t say I have a specific favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird comes close. Despite having originally read it as assigned reading in American History, I soon loved it based on its own merit. Harper’s writing style is natural and you can almost hear Scout’s (the narrator) voice as she reminisces over the various events that marked her childhood. From the seeming unconnected tales of pranks played on Boo Radley, the shadowy recluse, to the trial of Tom Robinson, a framed black man, and, finally, to the drama that unfolded with Bob Ewell, a shamed white man, Scout weaves the threads into the tapestry of the overall theme. To kill a mockingbird is a sin. Over the course of the narrative, this is highlighted more than once. With Arthur Radley, Tom Robinson, and even Scout and Jem.

Many dismiss the story as nothing more than an example of racial prejudice. In doing so, you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. *spoilers ahead* Yes, Tom was convicted, but the whole point was that Atticus showed that Tom was innocent in one of the most iconic court scenes ever and made them think about what they were doing. The book To Kill a Mockingbird is a multi-layered story that showcases the sad truth that people often see and act upon only what they want to see and act upon, be they black or white. After all, Boo Radley was white and the community shunned him as much as he did them.

Overall, I love this book for the simple sweet moments between Scout and Atticus amidst the drama, the taste of the South, and for not being afraid to make me think.

A Pulitzer Prize, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of America’s modern classics in its own right, and I recommend this to historical fiction lovers, especially American History.

P.S. I totally recommend the movie as well.

Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days (Left Behind #1)

Summary

An airborne Boeing 747 is headed to London when, without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun…

Author: Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins

Rating: 3 stars

Content: People literally vanish and this book covers the trauma those ‘left behind’ go through. Mention of thinking adulatory thoughts and contemplating an affair; attraction between characters; alcohol; mention of swearing, some fill-in words; depiction of a nuclear attack; a couple of murders are described; a person hypnotizes others. (May be updated)

My Thoughts Over the years in my ever ongoing search for new reading material, I have contemplated starting this series a few times. However, I never actually did it. I suppose this was mostly because I was skeptical and cynical regarding all the hype about this series. I’ve never been one to pick up a book that has bunch of rave reviews. Also, the overall premise of the story sounded way too depressing to tempt me to pick it up the last couple of years. With the real world gone wild and everyone predicting doom and gloom, I didn’t want to read something which was similar in nature to what was going on at the time. But, at last I caved to curiosity and read the first book.

And the verdict? I actually enjoyed it, reading it in one day. The beginning was a little slow, but once the action started, it was very intriguing. I did find the multiple POVs confusing, sometimes making me go back and refresh my memory when it changed, but overall they weren’t terrible. The cast of characters is large and I suspect it’s only going to expand, but they were well-rounded. Since this is only the first book, the characters’ arcs are just beginning, but there is plenty of potential. (Carpathia is one seriously creepy dude…)

Many reviewers complain about the preachiness of the series, but isn’t that the whole point? If the Rapture occurs and all the Christians around the globe disappear in thin air, don’t you think people are going to be concerned about their spiritual welfare? The Tribulation is God’s final wakeup call and tiptoeing around the truth of the gospel isn’t going to save souls. Knowing and believing that salvation is by grace through faith will. This series is openly Christian, making no bones that peoples’ only hope is to trust Christ, surrounding their lives to Him. Personally, I loved that the Gospel was spelled out so clearly in this novel.

I am not a Biblical prophecy expert, so I cannot say if this book was accurate. This whole series is merely the authors’ take on the end times, so take it with a grain of salt. I mean, it is fiction. Read your Bible, especially the passages in Scripture that are referenced throughout, and compare them to the text. I will say, some events in the book seemed more plausible than others. After all, this series is now roughly twenty years old, so it is outdated in some areas. And, finally, remember that God the Father is the only one who knows everything that is to occur.

I do plan on continuing the series. Hopefully, they don’t start to become too unbelievable or boring.

I would recommend this book to Biblical fiction and dystopian/futuristic lovers.