Sunday, December 28, 2014

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

 
Bookworm's Ranking - 3 Worms

About - Ever tried to rectify science and religion? Wondered about genesis vs. the Big Bang? How about what was going to happen when the world ends? Or even the question Pope Francis asked, would you baptize an extraterrestrial? Fr. Guy Consolmagono and Fr. Paul Mueller, priests, work for the Vatican Observatory, and have degrees in science, are asked these questions and more which  they now present in this book. To help explain, they write as if they are having a conversation together in various locations (from art galleries to Antarctica). They talk science and religion and how they don't compete with each other even if they don't always seem to agree. Yet, God created both and they both share important truths of our world and Heavenly Father.

Author - Guy Consolmagno, SJ and Paul Mueller, SJ

Publisher - Image Publishing

Age Group - 15 and up

Personal Opinion - Like most Catholics (or Christians for that matter) I have heard the arguments on science vs. religion before, which is why I was interested in this book. I might have wanted a way to show how religion is true and science can prove it when I started this book (which the authors warn against) and learned some interesting things (such as the Vatican has an observatory and astronomers! ;) ). The idea of using conversation style writing and locations was intriguing in the beginning and seemed like it would help explain the science and religion in a common form so it might be more understandable. But, it got awkward pretty quick. It didn't seem to be used as effectively as it could and, on occasion, the authors got on tangents on the location or example they were sharing for a couple of sentences that felt like the discussion was going off topic for no good reason. I struggle with science so that didn't help me and the explanations seemed long winded and over done. To a scientist, everything was probably necessary and it was pretty much understandable but overwhelming. I could only read so much at a time and then needed a break, yet, at the same time, I felt like if I kept reading everything would come together clearer. I did appreciate what they were trying to do. This book I would recommend to someone who understands science more than me, even borrow them the book. But, someone who struggles with science, I would tell them about the book but hesitate in giving it to them.

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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History



 
 Bookworm's Ranking - 4.5 Worms

About - In the early 1980s, two men shared comic drawings of a turtle with  a pair of nunchaku as a joke between friends which grew into one of the most popular team of ninja warriors. From comic books to an animated series to the silver screen, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been battling crime and their arch foe the Shredder for several decades and are still loved by many. If you are a new or old fan of the turtles, this book contains the beginning and growth of the Turtles to current day, learning all about how they changed, affected the people who worked on them, and influences a couple of generations of fans.

Author - Andrew Farago

Publisher - Insight Editions

Age Group - 15 and up

Personal Opinion - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History is a great source not only to learn how the Turtles began and changed over the years but also to get the stories of those who worked on them. Each chapter was fun and I loved the pictures and inserts (except a couple of times I was afraid I might pull one out by mistake). All through the book, everyone told their stories and journeys with the Turtles and I liked how no one was villainized when things and relationships changed between the people (I don't know why they would but it just seems to happen in some books). The book comes with a poster and a copy of the original comic. I was first introduced to the Turtles by TV Teddy and the 1980's series episode where Leo thinks he is a Musketeer. Years later, I looked into them again and found the 4Kids version running on TV and really got to know them and loved the adventures. After reading the original comic, I was surprised how dark it originally was and wonder if I would have continued to have an interest in them if I had read that first (I honestly don't see the difference between vengeance and revenge which is a big part of the first comic). But, I think I will continue my interest in the turtles and will read the comics. One thing I wish had been done differently (and this is just a personal opinion) was the chapter on the 4Kids TV Series. I would have liked to have known more about the creation of that series and the work behind it and I would have preferred the images been taken from seasons 1-6 instead of the last season's. This is my preference because it is the version where I really got to know the Turtles so it is kinda important to me. Beautiful, colorful, and detailed book on the history and growth of the Turtles and I am looking forward to where they are headed next.  

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

William Skakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return


Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms
Storyline - Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy, and the droids are preparing to face their final battle against the Empire. Luke is struggling with the truth of his father while also discovering a secret that he has a sibling. Leia and Han work with local inhabitants of a planet to help the rebellion. Darth Vader will face a choice: his son or his master. It all comes down to this but will it be enough or will all fail?

Author - Ian Doescher

Publisher - Quirk Books

Age Group - 15 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Luke ponders an old tale that resembles Oedipus. Internal turmoil affects all the characters on what they should or should not do. Each character has to decide to give up or stand for what they believe in and the ones they care about, even if it means their life.

Personal Opinion - Honoring the story while also paying tribute to William Shakespeare, this book is funny, accurate, and, as others have put it, insightful. Trying to read R2 D2's noises and seeing beloved lines put into Shakespeare style made me laugh out loud. The story moved just like it did in the movie yet also provided a new lens to view the characters. Their monologues and when they spoke in their minds, gave new depth and insight into what the characters were thinking and feeling during different parts when they originally didn't have lines in the movie. So want to read the first two book and hope the Anakin arc will also be written in Shakespeare form.   

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables

"There is One Spectacle Greater than the Sea:
That is the Sky;
There is One Spectacle Greater than the Sky:
That is the Interior of the Soul."
 
Bookworm's Ranking - 4.5 Worms
 
About - Author Bob Welch takes readers on a journey through the popular book, beloved musical, and famous movie, Les Miserables and examines some of the deeper lessons it shares. From sacrifice to loving your enemies, 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables compare God's word with this Victor Hugo tale and how it calls readers to live a better life and see others as God sees them. The poor can teach us more than one might think.

Author - Bob Welch

Publisher - Thomas Nelson

Age Group - 15 and up

Personal Opinion - Wow, what a great book. A perfect devotional-type book that takes the story of Les Mis and examines lessons and examples that we can take and learn from for our own lives. Each chapter begins with a quote and summary before leading into what Jesus has taught us and/or personal experiences. It made me think of my own life and how I treat or react to others and what I could do to change. One chapter I am still debating over on some of its points but I was very happy with the whole book. A read for those who love Les Mis or using books/movies/popular culture as examples to dig deeper into their faith.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ruby's Tale

"A True Rags to Riches Story"

Bookworm's Ranking - 4.5 Worms
About - Ruby defies the stereotypes of pit bulls and shows the true nature of the breed. When adopted by her new home, she loves everyone she meets and goes on to host a radio show, perform in stage productions, and be a finalist in a Milk Bone competition. Her love abounds as she works as a service dog visiting others in nursing homes. Ruby might be a pit bull but she is not what someone would expect.

Author - Patrick Bettendorf

Publisher - Tasora Books

Age Group - 15 and up

Personal Opinion - With charm, humor, and honesty, Ruby's Tale is full of wonderful tales and lessons on dogs and their abilities. It made me laugh at her antics, happy at the change of people, and furious at the behavior of some people to dogs. Through her adventures, Ruby defies her breed's stereotype and inspires her owner and fans though her exploits on stage, radio, and service work. Ruby's tale is not the only one to grace the pages but also that of her owner, other dogs, and the experiences around them. This, though, at times made me wonder why Ruby's story was chosen to tell over one of the other dogs in their life and seemed to derail from what the point of the book was. But this is becoming one of my new favorite books and would gladly share it with friends and family.

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Awards - Indi Excellence Winner
                Book of the Year Finalist

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Knitting Reimagined


Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms

About - With simple designs, knitting modern clothing can become a work of art that allows the knitter to either follow the prescribed pattern or change it up. For levels for beginner, moderate, and advanced, designs from dresses, sweaters, and pull overs fill the pages for any occasion. Let the needles run wild.

Author - Nicky Epstein

Publisher - Potter Craft

Personal Opinion - Being a knitter between beginner and moderate, there were a handful of questions I had from the directions but were not clear in the book but my inexperience is what I will have to sum that up to. I will just have to buy a dictionary for the future. Anyways, this book is easy to use and has a guide in the back to demonstrate stiches if need arises. I like how the Nicky Epstein gives suggestions how to change the pattern because then I am not stuck just doing what is there on the page but can use my imagination. In fact, the patter I tried was so simple in nature yet looked cool that I did change it up a little. This book would be good for moderate to experienced knitters who want modern day patterns and a chance to use their creativity.

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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Crater Trueblood and the Lunar Rescue Company

"Crater Trueblood has to Rescue
his Ex-Girlfriend...
and the Entire Human Race."
 
Bookworm's Ranking - 2 Worms

Storyline - Crater is doing just fine, mostly, without Maria as he, Petro, and Crescent develop and work their new company, Lunar Rescue Company, saving wayward people out in the dust. Maria is also doing just fine, mostly, working in her grandfather's business. But when she is kidnapped, Crater runs off to find her with his friends in tow. The earth is being threatened and it might cost Maria, Crater, Petro, Crescent, and several more lives to save it.

Author - Homer Hickam

Publisher - Thomas Nelson
 
Age Group - 15 and up
 
Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Characters risk their lives to help others, even if they are not particularly fond of one another. Some recognized their mistakes and tried to overcome them. Torture happened several times. Death and destruction.

Personal Opinion - This is the end of the story of Crater and his friends. Sadly, I wasn't that impressed. There was a lot of action and stuff happening but that is all it felt like, stuff was happening that  was leading up to something, everything was prepatory. Now, that might seem like all books do that to a point but it didn't feel like it was building the story and characters. It almost seemed like the reader should already know the characters so they were not developed much. A lot of the information was detailed about the spaceships and their workings and there almost seemed like too many characters being followed so it broke up the story. There was also one question from book 2 to book 3 that I didn't get an answer too. The book did challenge the idea of love and what we do in desperation as well as sacrifice to save others. Plus, the Gillie's personality is still fun as ever and his conversations are charming. Still is not really recommended, though, because it was not a well told story.

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Other Book Reviews for this Author - Crater, Book 1, Review
                                                             Crescent, Book 2, Review

Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through BookLook.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Awakening

"Kallie Andreas is a Mystery,
Even to Herself."

Bookworm's Ranking - 5 Worms
 
Storyline - Kallie is trying to remember her life prior to the last seven years but nothing is there. Happy with her life as a researcher for her museum until she tanks an important event. When an offer comes along to discover the secret to an ancient civilization, she doesn't have any reason to refuse. As she journey's across the glob, her discovery into herself, the real world, and the story she is writing are taking terrifying turns to meld together.

Author - Tracy Higley

Publisher - StoneWater Press

Age Group - 15 or 16 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Several attacks take place on the characters. Several are willing to put their lives at risk to save someone else.

Personal Opinion - One of the best Tracy Higley books I have read and I have enjoyed each book of hers. Taking place in modern times, this book looked at facing the past, finding truth, and loving others over ones self. Using ancient mythology and fairy tales through metaphors, the story captured the unrealness to the protagonist's point of view while also combining two stories of the ancient along with the present and their affects on each other. The twist to the story was excellent by leading up to it, almost suggesting it, but keeping the reader surprised. There was even a small discussion an differences in religion, which I usually dislike because they make the non-Christians like idiots, but this one was respectful to the different points of view even if they didn't agree with each other. There were a couple of times if felt the characters change their thought processes that seemed a little quick and the love story was highly emphasized. Not that romance is a bad thing but it got a little mushy-gooshy for my taste. Loved the strong female taking the lead, though. This book is a must read for those who like mystery, ancient civilization, and even a twinge of fantasy.

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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free through Tracy's Caravan.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

East

"Rose Has Always Been Different "
Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms
Storyline - Rose is the youngest in her family and wilder than anyone. The love to explore and be free and create beautiful weaving makes her happy, even though it causes her family anguish. But when hard times fall on her family and a talking white bear makes her an offer which will help the ones she cares for, Rose is ready to sacrifice everything she holds dear. When her promise to the bear begins to challenge her curiosity, everything might fall apart. And a mysterious prophecy might be her undoing.

Author - Edith Pattou

Publisher - Magic Carpet Books

Age Group - 15 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Mother is really superstitious and, yet, despite her family telling her it is nonsense, most of the suspicion come true. Despite nothing happening, a girl knows someone is sleeping in her bed with her. Rose is willing to risk her life and freedom for the ones she loves.

Personal Opinion - Mixed with fairy tales and legends of the Inuit and Norse, East is one of the best fairy tale retellings I have ever read, blending these elements so seamlessly that it feels like this story could have happened in the real world. The cover is what first caught my eye for the novel... And the story does it justice. It enchants right away with suspense and characters whose concerns and experiences are relaitable. From the several points of view, the reader is given the perspectives and growth of each character which is masterfully done. East is written in straight forward telling but its building of  suspense and mystery kept me at the edge of my seat, wanting to know what happens next. There were a few slow spot but I wanted to know how it would end. Rose is an adventurous girl who dreams big and will not let anything stop her. The White Bear is a mystery through much of the novel yet it charming from what you do learn about him. That is actually one of my biggest complaints is that I wish we had gotten to know White Bear more with more of his perspective in the story. I wish I had seen more of his change, struggle, and growth. The only other thing that got to me was the novel began not doing the same time as the events of Rose and her family but it wasn't developed. But, East has found a place among the retelling of fairy tales that it rightfully deserves.

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Awards - A list can be found on the Author's Website

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dark Eden


Bookworm's Ranking - 1 Worms
Storyline - On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return. But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark…and discover the truth about their world. (Copied from Goodreads.com)
 
Author - Chris Beckett
 
Publisher - Broadway Books
 
Age Group - 17 and up
 
Content - *May Contain Spoilers* When others didn't think or agree with the main character, he would ruminate how they are simple minded. Everyone seemed to have a problem with everyone else if they didn't agree with how they think things should be done or people behave. A physical romantic scene between a fifteen year old and a woman with several children. The protagonist risked his life to save another.
 
Personal Opinion - I didn't make it past the fifth chapter. My main issue with the story was the "slip" scene, fairly detailed, between a fifteen year old and older woman. For being what I thought a young adult book, this was unnecessary. Morally, I had a problem with this and is what caused me to stop reading the book (that and, according to other reviews by those who did finish the book, it sounded like there were going to be more of these scenes). Because I stopped reading the book, I have no idea what the author was trying to say about this stuff and might have had a good message about the whole "slip" thing but how it was going about the point was completely unnecessary. Before you think I'm just a prude, this is not the only reason I was frustrated with this book. For the first several pages, there was no description even though events were happening so it was hard to picture. Not only that, everything had different names than I am use to because it was a different planet so it was  confusing. The new language techniques, which I would have appreciated if it had been toned back a bit, were over used to the point they just became annoying instead of creative. The cover was very well done and represented well how the trees were suppose to give off light as well as the animals which I think sounds really cool. Having the characters reminiscent of caveman was fun and unusual. I am sorry I wasted mine, the author's, and publisher's time, though. This just teaches me once again I should research a book a little more before taking it.
 
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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Knight of Eldaran: The Traitor's Heir

"Every Man has a Destiny.
His is to Betray."
 
Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms
 
Storyline - Eamon Goodman has dreamed of becoming a member of the Gauntlet for years. But, when he makes his oath to the Master, something isn't right. Something is speaking to him and making him do things he is shocked at. When his life is turned upside down and meets another who seems to stand for what he believes in, Eamon must make a choice. Serve this over thrown King and betray his Master or betray this King, once a friend, and keep the oath he has made?

Author - Anna Thayer

Publisher - Kregel Publisher

Age Group - 17 or 18 and up
 
Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Several characters put themselves in harms way to protect another and desire to do what is right even though they question sometimes what that path is. A man attacks a woman but is not detailed. Two characters get physical romantically but the actual event is not shared but the lead up and morning after are shared as well as the passion felt remembered later. A few English swear words and some intense fighting scenes.

Personal Opinion - The cover made me first become intrigued with this book as well as the premise of trying to discover what side is right. It is not like some Christian fantasy books that make it really obvious and almost too easy for the character to choose the right side. Instead, Eamon's struggle is clear and well presented for both sides. It might seem obvious which side he should choose but, at the same time, the debate is real and the reasoning is understandable. The characters are so well created and so is the world that it seems real. Just when it seems the story might be slowing down and getting too much detail of regular life, new information is revealed and adds mystery to the story and characters. There were several scenes that surprised and shocked Eamon which didn't seem to make sense because they happened in broad daylight and in front of witnesses so I would have assumed he had known this before. Also, a handful of scenes that made the characters seem like they were in high school instead of adults that didn't seem to fit. I was also very uncomfortable when two characters got physically, romantically involved with one another. I was glad it was not a supported behavior but led the character down a bad path. It wasn't detailed, just right up to it and the morning after as well as remembering feelings afterwards as well as mentioning other times they get together and the lusting wanting which would make this book more appropriate for older audiences. None the least, those who love epic fantasies will proudly include this new fantasy to their bookshelf.

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Special Notes - Book 2, The King's Hand - Coming Soon

Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from Kregel Publishing.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Yawning at Tigers

"You Can't Tame God,
So Stop Trying"
Bookworm's Ranking - 5 Worms
About - We often talk about God's loving kindness, mercy, and companionship. Yet, in making God a buddy, we tend to bring God down to our own understanding, taming the tiger that He is. Beautiful and majestic yet capable of being ferocious and dangerous. With detailed sources from the Bible as well as scholars, Drew Dyck takes readers though an adventure of seeing both sides of this loving yet dangerous God that we call Abba, follow, and love.

Author - Drew Nathan Dyck

Publisher - Thomas Nelson

Age Group - 17 and up

Personal Opinion - The premise of this book, that we shrink God down to a size we understand thus remove his awesomeness, hit home because it is something not only have I done but have seen in similar instances that Dyck cited. I loved how he used personal and media stories to introduce the topic of each chapter, bring it home, and the quotes he used to support his points. I also love that, despite this book is about not shrinking God to being your best bud but also seeing his wonder and power, it was not fire and brimstone either but brought back to the contradiction, near and fare, merciful but just, loving and wrathful, He has always been. This book was true to life and made me think of God in a new way but not contradictory to my faith. Instead, renewed the view of him. One thing I wish this book had done more was give ideas of how to renew that image and relationship with God. It mostly brought an awareness of what was happening but maybe that is a good start to changing how we approach and treat our Lord.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Frames: 20 and Something

"27% of Young Adults 
Have Clear Goals
for the Next 5 Years"

Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms
 
About - Today, 20+ year olds are coming of age in a world different from their parents. As they complete their education and find their way in the world, their thoughts and feeling of the world abound. In 20 and Something, research is gathered to give insight into this group of people; how they see the world, value their education, and feel about their faith. This ever changing world will have to be ready for these different humans who are entering, and planning to change, everything around them. Watch out for their hope, determination, and dreams.

Author - David H. Kim

Publisher - Barna Group: Zondervan

Age Group - 18 and up

Personal Opinion - I found this book interesting because I am 20 and something. The research and numbers sometimes surprised me while others it was what I expected. I especially liked the interpretation of the results like we are dreamers who want to make the world a better place and have hope despite the mistrust of organizations. It was written almost like a textbook (but more interesting) and the colorful diagrams helped illustrate the results of the research on this demographic. I could also see, from experience, that these results hit close to the mark and gave me hope for the future of this group. Honestly, though, it was the conclusion that I was disappointed in. I also believe that Jesus and the Church is important for your life but the rest of the book had been objective and the argument for needing God was personal experience and reasoning with no numbers. It almost seemed preachy with no research to back up what it was saying unlike the rest of the book's reasoning. Still, I believe God is important to someone's life and He gives meaning and this world needs it, but the book didn't build well to that and almost seemed like a slap in the face with no real suggestions on how to bring God in our lives. Besides the ending needing to be stronger, the thinking and believes of 20+ are something I have seen within my generation.

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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through BookLook.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wars of the Realm: Cloak of the Light

"Drew is Caught
in a World of Light -
Just Inches Away from Dark."
Bookworm's Ranking - 3 Worms
Storyline - Drew and his mother has suffered terrible afflictions all his life. Death almost seems to be just a step behind him. Then, one day, he suffers a terrible accident and goes blind. When miraculously his sight returns, he begins seeing people, or invaders, that no one else seems to see. The invaders seem interested in humans, but why? Drew has to figure that out with his friend Ben, who is missing, all the while trying to not get caught by the invaders or to reveal that he sees them, as well as learn is God is real, or just a myth.

Author - Chuck Black

Publisher - Multnomah Books

Age Group - 17 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Two deadly car accidents and several snering Invaders are featured through out the novel as well as one kid and a couple girls almost getting attacked.
A school shooting takes place. Drew doesn't believe in God but in interested in a girl who does. Characters try to look out for each other even if it means getting themselves in danger. 

Personal Opinion - I read Chuck Black's Kingdom Series years ago and it was really good. In Cloak of the Light, I like how Black developed his character and gave him a history of trouble and struggle to make him believable. Drew's trials help the reader identify with him and his experiences which showed him be a good person who made mistakes and bad things happen to. The Invaders were well portrayed to in how they influenced people or tried to strike out at them. Yet, I had trouble finding this book as a whole interesting because of how long it took. Drew's high school experience had to completely be depicted even though the catalyst event didn't happen until he was in college, one hundred pages into the book. Lastly, I was a little disappointed on how the issue of not believing in God was handled making Drew's reasons for disbelief make him look like he was stupid (Drew's disbelief wasn't brought up until he was in college either). I didn't feel that it was portrayed well and, if I had given this book to someone who didn't believe in God, they would have been insulted by how their view point was displayed. Cloak of the Light does hold promise, though, because the pace picked up speed halfway through and Drew is a good person who wants to protect others and fights for those who cannot.

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Special Notes - This author previously wrote The Kingdom Series which I recommend.

Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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