An Eight-Book Review? (Eight is My Favorite Number!)
In this review, I’ll be featuring eight books I recently read for review* – and, of course, reviewing them! These reviews will also be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and, if possible, NetGalley.
These reviews are gonna be in a bit of a different style than my previous one, just talking about what I thought about the book and maybe adding a joke or two (e.g. I’m not purposefully being super serious anymore) as well as allowing myself Freedom to Rant if Feelings Were Strong.
*Note: I do not accept review requests at this time. Sorry!
Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings
OKAY WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS BOOK IT IS PURE GENIUS AND I ADORE IT WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING.
Okay. Let’s be serious now. Good? Good.
I actually grabbed book 2 of this series on NetGalley a while back because the premise intrigued me so much. Turns out, it was so good I had to buy myself a paperback copy of book 1.
However, like all books I buy, it got dusty on my shelf and suffered months – even years, though I honestly have no clue how long it really was – of neglect before I picked it up.
And I’m glad I did! It was such a sweet story.
I loved the main character, and I felt like she had such a unique arc for a character in this genre. I also adored the comedic moments combined with the themes and … basically, it worked really well.
Also, kudos for a pretty well-done teenage character. You don’t see those two often, and it was great!
Overall, this was just a well done, light-hearted read. I give it 5/5 stars.
A Pursuit of Home by Kristi Ann Hunter
Okay … *sigh* I’ll admit it. I held off reading this book for FOREVER because I don’t like mysteries (outside of television and movies, in which case I CANNOT GET ENOUGH SIGN ME UP FOR A MARATHON), and I didn’t think I’d like Jess that much (she just rubs me wrong), and I was being #stubborn.
But dude. We all make mistakes. Stop holding that against me! I HAVE CORRECTED THE ERROR OF MY WAYS! #forgivenesstime
In all seriousness, I did wait waaaaaay too long to read this book – and even after I started it, I delayed continuing to the point of “hooked.”
Okay, now granted, it was my least favorite of the series, and it did take me forever to read it (though only a few days once I read past the first chapter), but I did really enjoy it. The mystery part was interesting, and I liked Derek. I still don’t really care for Jess – like, she’s funny, but I never rooted for her or really got emotionally involved in her story, so that was just … eh.
I also still don’t see why someone as cool and smart and sweet as Derek has to end up with Jess, but eh. I guess it … works … ish? I just never really bought their relationship even though LITERALLY EVERYONE was telling me I should.
I also loved seeing Ryland and Miranda, though THEY SHOULD HAVE MORE KIDS WHAT THE HECK!?
Every couple Hunter has ever written may be in love, but there’s nothing passionate about their relationships, no matter what they try to tell you
(or even write out heh), BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT PRODUCING BABIES AT THE RATE THEY SHOULD. *tsks*
The only reason I read serieses is because then you get to see children from other couples. (I mean, not the only reason, but … that’s a big reason.)
I also wasn’t a huggggeeee fan of the ending, but that’s just me.
Overall, I give it 4/5 stars.
Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes
I wanted to like this book. I really did. But … I got so bored in the modern parts. I honestly remember nothing about them, and I skim-read to the end.
I didn’t like it much at first, and the writing style was too melodic for me. I also felt that the POV wasn’t well-managed, and I’m not a fan of present tense. I feel like only The Hunger Games really did it well.
Plus, present tense in the “flashback” scenes was just … frustrating. Like, y’all, the past is in the past, right? *my brain does not equate*
I was just … disinterested. In the modern setting. In the “quaint” little town. In the characters’ emotional arcs. In anything that wasn’t related to the historical story arc.
I found that I couldn’t care less about Annie. She had the typical boring Hallmark story – she just didn’t interest me.
I didn’t like Jeremiah much at first, but I did once I got to know him, after which I found him somewhat sweet – but not enough that I was particularly interested in his story beyond the moment of, “Aw, that’s too bad.” Still, he had a sweet moment or two.
The story that started in the 1940s onward was fascinating and emotional and … awesome. I loved the characters. Robert, Eva, and Liesl were my favorites! Especially Eva. Eva is the literal bomb.
However, that wasn’t enough for me to give this book a high rating, so I settled on 3/5 stars.
The Heart of a King by Jill Eileen Smith
This book was all right but nothing special, and I found a couple sections pretty boring.
It was also very frustrating because … well, Solomon was sort of a wasted opportunity. He had wisdom, yeah, but he didn’t apply it properly. Wisdom without complete surrender to God is useless.
I also feel that there were times when the author took liberties that just seemed like a bit too much of a stretch. I know we don’t know a lot about the Queen of Sheba but, to me, the author’s telling of the story seemed … unrealistic.
And also, what the heck? Is she gonna tell? Her subjects? When she gets? Home??? “Whoops”???
There wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with this book, but it simply didn’t hold my interest. 2/5 stars.
What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles
Ugh, this book. I grabbed it on a whim, and honesty, it is so frustrating.
Just … the writing. And the storyline went on and on and felt so pointless. And the characters weren’t even that likable. I also found myself not liking the children! The cardinal sin for any author – I do so love children, and if they don’t write them well, I’m instantly done.
But the writing. The writing was the main thing that killed me inside. Some people might find it charming or unique. It made me cringe with every word.
And when you’re cringing with every word, it’s difficult to get invested in the story. So maybe I would’ve been more objective in that case.
I know what the author was trying to do. She was trying to be … whimsical? To get the reader inside the head of the main character?
But y’all. I write accents. I write them all. the. time. And I always try to focus in on the character’s voice, to the point where I have always told my students, “You don’t need to have a strong author voice if you have a strong character voice. Character first, you second.”
And this is just … too extreme for me? Too silly for me? And honestly, maybe even a bit too degrading for me.
It made the main character sound stupid, and I can’t stand that. Not the way she talked, no. I expected that to be accurate to the setting. The way she thought – e.g. the actual writing style.
If you wrote the point of view of a black character that way, you would be in so much trouble. I don’t see it as being any different with a white character from the Appalachians.
Especially a poor white character who, of course, was not given the benefit of an education and other things that are so commonplace to America these days. Just because she talks a bit different doesn’t mean she’s stupid!
Anyways. That’s my mini rant of the day. Because honestly, I’m not a “grammar Nazi,” but I can’t take constant misspellings, weird phrasing, etc., in the name of uniqueness. It just frustrates me and makes me dislike a poor main character who may or may not deserve my dislike.
But if that’s your thing, well, this is the book for you!
1/5 stars because I honestly could find nothing to like about it, but that’s just me.
At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer
Don’t let the cheesy title fool you – this is a really good book! Also, why is book 2 not out yet? *quiet weeping* I may die.
So a bunch of random likes in no particular order:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Jonah. Oh. My. Gosh. What an awesome team! And they’re so great together. I remember them all distinctly even though it’s been a while since I read the book – they really stuck with me! (I CAN’T WAIT FOR THEIR STORIES!)
Also, Josephine is now officially the Only Type Of Offended Feminist I will accept. Patent pending. That is a trope in historical romance that I HATE HATE HATE, but the author took that hated trope and made it work so. dang. well.
Like, Josephine is STRONG but she also has relatable flaws and weaknesses but she also IS WILLING TO STAND UP FOR HER STRENGTHS (e.g. she’s like, “dudes, I am a doctor whether you like it or not, so I’m GOING to be HELPING this PERSON”) – but she also admits she needs help and is respectful to people REGARDLESS OF THEIR FEELINGS ABOUT HER.
She’s just so great. If every woman was like her, we’d have been voting … whenever this novel was set. *checks book* We’d have been voting in 1893. So there.
She just has sooo much gumption, but it’s not Scarlett-O’Hara-in-your-face-I-do-what-I-want gumption. It’s good gumption. It’s actual strength – not just “I’m a feminist – watch me fly” (followed by a jump into the swoony hero’s arms) gumption.
Matthew also contributed to this by being legitimately respectful and strong in his own right. He was surprised at first – who wouldn’t be? – and protective – who wouldn’t be? – but he was never overbearing or cruel. And, again, I really respected Josephine’s acceptance of his protection. (I am so dang sick of heroines who are like, “I DON’T NEED HELP!” and then immediately get kidnapped. It did not play out like that.)
Anyways. I’m a fan. Karen Witemeyer, you may add me to the list of “people who are a bit tooo obsessed with my books” because I loved this story! (Thankfully, I am too lazy to stalk you online and bug you about finishing the rest of the series – which I’m sure you shall do anyways – but … I FEEL LIKE DOING IT!)
5/5 stars – and much excitement for book 2!!!
Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano
Yet another book I wanted to like so much! In fact, I put off reading it because I wanted to like it so much.
It sounded like it was right up my alley … sort of a Rebecca vibe. But I knew it wouldn’t be. It’s Christian fiction. Christian fiction doesn’t do Rebecca vibes.
So yes. I was disappointed. It did not go how I wanted. And so, I shall pout and be a baby and make a big stink.
But I’d like to note that it’s not the author’s fault. She’s writing Christian fiction, not mid-century women’s fiction that doesn’t need a conclusive end. It’s not her fault that she fell in love with a story that works much better if you’re an atheist. (I’m not, but … gah, I wish everyone could just be mean to everyone. It’d be so much more intriguing.)
Let’s attack the dislikes that I can say, honestly, are fair. (The rest of them are not fair because I wanted this book to be something the genre would not be. Which is dark and brooding and Gothic.)
I found Raina’s constant waffling annoying. It was obvious from almost the first chapter what she was going to decide. Also, she kept all the wrong secrets and shared all the wrong ones, and it was just … stop, Raina. You clearly haven’t watched enough Hitchcock to know how to do this correctly. (Which makes sense since movies weren’t a thing back then, but shhh.)
I also just didn’t care about her character arc … I mean, the answer was obvious. Or what the author wanted the answer to be was obvious! It was just the painful wait until Raina caught up to reality.
Sully annoyed me on every possible level. He was condescending. He was “holier-than-thou” about everything. He was offended about things he had absolutely no right to be offended about. In fact – I would call him a chauvinist, and I never, ever use that term because I find it rather silly. But he was, as far as the term can be applied to a man in his era.
And don’t say he’s redeemed because he quoted Jane Austen once! He is not. I do not forgive him.
Here’s the thing: SULLY IS NOT MR. KNIGHTLEY! He is not older than her. He is not wiser than her. He is not BETTER than her in ANY WAY. He is not even a relative to has some rights to boss her around. He. has. no. claim. to. Raina. except. what. she. gives. him. Yet he treats her like his bratty little sister!
I know everyone is swooning over their cute system of communication and how sweet it is that they both like books … but a book lover does not make a good person. It does not. In fact, I have known a number of book lovers who are very BAD people. And Sully is one of them.
I feel like Sully was just book lover wish fulfillment combined with convenient “shoulder angel” therapy for Raina, and I couldn’t take it. I just couldn’t.
Sully functions as Raina’s conscience. And though I am not opposed to couples who are reliant on each other (that is after all what marriage is) or couples who influence each other positively (<<), I am very opposed to couples where one of them is the moral guider of the other. This doesn’t work, and it will lead to a bitter, empty relationship in the long run.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten my fair negatives out of the way … let’s talk about the unfair ones.
I didn’t like the plot. It wasn’t what it should have been. And the rest of this review will be semi-spoilers, but since none of this actually happened, it’s also not spoilers. But read at your own risk.
I wanted Raina to win. I wanted everyone to be convinced she was Lady Enderly. I sure as heck didn’t want her to get in trouble for it!
I wanted the lord guy to realize that she was actually really awesome. I wanted them to fall in love and get married. I wanted Sully to be executed and Raina to realize he was just a friend, grieve a little, and move onto her new life as a titled woman with a huge estate that actually belonged to her.
I sure as anything didn’t want some random cousin to get any money whatsoever. And though I wanted the other villain to get in trouble, I wanted it to be like, “And then he died in a random carriage accident” or, better yet, “And then Raina stabbed him in the gut with a letter opener.”
Basically, all the things Christian fiction will not do. All the things that are too much of a risk. All the things that are iffy or just plain immoral. I wanted them to WIN. I wanted them to GET AWAY WITH IT. I wanted it to ACTUALLY HAPPEN.
And the whole time, I knew it wouldn’t happen. I knew she’d end up with Discount Mr. Knightley. I knew she’d leave for some life of “fulfilling poverty.” I knew it wouldn’t be cool.
It wasn’t. So, my personal taste was disgusted. Reality said, “This was a good book; I can see why people like it.” But my mind doesn’t live in reality. My mind dwells in possibility – and my possibility sensors were going nuts.
Aside from that, I think it was a good book. But it’s hard to tell because I’m stubborn and annoyed, and those two things tend to lead to some very grouchy feelings.
So, upon examination, I give it 1/5 as a personal rating and 3/5 as a realistic rating, leading to an overall rating of 2/5. I’m sorry, Mrs. Politano and the many fans of this book. I tried. I could not like it.
Love Riot by Sara Barratt
This book wasn’t specifically geared toward me, I feel, because I’m not your typical “grew up in the church” Christian.
I mean, my parents tried, but the options are narrow here, I never had much interest, and honestly, for years, I didn’t even want to be associated with Christians because … many reasons. Reasons discussed in this book, in fact!
I was glad to read it, though, because I’m glad someone else sees the issues in the church! And the fact that it’s someone who actually enjoys church (I never have) is also intriguing to me.
Because I still feel that the modern church (which, despite the frail efforts of a few actual Christians, is nothing but a building these days inhabited by thousands of random people and a scattering of real members of the Church) has little to offer me, if anything, and specifically the churches in our area have nothing to offer me, I didn’t glean all that much from this book. However, I think it’s a book a lot of Christian teens should read!
I would like to see teens rise up. We are a selfish generation, an iGeneration, and there is a great need for revival, for a lack of self, for actual understanding and intelligence … and if that revival comes from anywhere, it must be from Christ.
So yes, I think this is a book most Christian teens should read! I’m glad I read it because it gives me a little hope – and seeing others read it gives me a little hope, too!
What’s a book you’ve recently read and enjoyed? And what’s a book that disappointed you?