In the Bookcase


Book Review: Implant

Implant by J. Grace Pennington (5 star review)

Implant // written by J. Grace Pennington

226 pages // published in 2015 // sci-fi


Welcome to the world of a universal cure.

Gordon Harding didn’t ask for the life he has. He didn’t ask to be orphaned. He didn’t ask to go through life with cancer. And he certainly didn’t ask to be pulled into a future world without warning–a world where every human being is controlled by means of a medical implant.

And when he learns that he’s the only one who can destroy the base of operations, he’s faced with an impossibly painful choice: either hide and let the world decay under this mysterious futuristic force, or rescue humanity from oppression, knowing that there’s someone out there who is willing to use any means necessary to stop him.

My Review...

5 Star Rating

I've heard much about J. Grace Pennington's books for a while, and finally found my chance to read one of hers! My initial thought? I'm impressed.

Starting with the first page, I was dazzled by the author's writing skill. Immediately I could tell she is a writer who has accomplished honing in the craft of working with words. As the story grew, built upon itself, introduced new characters and immersed you into this world where everyone is required to get a medical implant... I was totally engrossed in this story that materialized around me.

More Pros? Let's see... The characters are deep and three-dimensional (they seem so real, that they could have leapt off the pages!). The medical jargon and descriptions of procedures are done well and tastefully; the fact that our main character, a supposed hero, had a life-threatening illness? Priceless. And the plot just grew and twisted skillfully; I never could quite tell where the story was going to go next (and I liked it!).

"Well you picked the wrong guy." Gordon could hear his voice raising in pitch, rising with the beating of his heart. "I can barely ride my bike to work. You think I can destroy some control center, when all of you have failed?"
- Implant, J. Grace Pennington
Cons? There's not any cons.

But... my personal preference differed slightly on a couple of elements. For example, the Head. By the end of the book, I was hoping to see a glimmer of the villain's true self... I guess I had been hoping for a tiny flash of weakness, shame or sorrow... but that was just my preference.

NOTE to the discerning reader & parents: There are some minor mentions of smoking and drinking. Also, Gordon happens to "fall into" attending a birthing scene -- which I thought was written with tact.

Overall? A thrilling book -- one I could read again.

To end my review, enjoy this comical bit with me:

Honestly, it was more than seventy years since Star Trek. Shouldn't doctors be able to beam tissue to some computerized lab that would instantly process it and beam results back by now?
- Implant, J. Grace Pennington

Implant is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


Book Review & GIVEAWAY! Letter of Love // Blog Tour

Letter of Love by Amanda Tero (5 star review)

Letter of Love: Edward's Story, 1902
Orphan Journeys

written by Amanda Tero

20 pages // published in 2016 // tween fiction

A short story sequel to the novella, Journey to Love. Can be read as a stand-alone.

Edward Dixon is convinced that life is cruel, and he is not willing for anything to change his mind from that. A letter from his sister, Marie, reveals that she views life otherwise.

Will her letter, filled with love and forgiveness, make a difference in Edward's life? Or will he stubbornly refuse to change before it's too late?

My Review...

5 Star Rating

Light historical fiction. This is a companion book to Amanda Tero's Journey to Love. I think it makes better sense to reader to read Journey to Love first, so that you get the whole story, and then follow up with Letter of Love.

This short story provides the back plot of where Marie's older brother Edward was, and why his actions appear as they do in Journey to Love. It a simple, well-written story, which plainly illustrates God's love for us all. It has a spiritual message filled with truth.

I love the historical context of this series. Seriously, I love reading about the Orphan Trains, and Amanda Tero does well in implementing actual historical events into her writing, like in this story and in Journey to Love.

It's a short read that holds deep meanings. Kids will definitely enjoy it and it could also easily be read aloud with the whole family.

Letter of Love is available on Amazon in e-book format.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Orphan Journeys Series

Imagine yourself as an orphan, struggling for survival on the filthy New York streets, where disease and crime run rampant. Journey from these wretched streets to a temporary lodging in an overcrowded orphanage and then to the train station. After riding the train for hours, picture yourself lining up with other children, waiting as adults look you over. Would you be chosen—or would you have to hold onto the hope that maybe, at the next station, someone would want to bring you home?

  Minister Charles Loring Brace had a vision for New York orphans that brought them through this journey from streets to homes. He began his orphan work in 1853, then in 1854, because of lack of orphanage space, Brace sent the first orphans by train to Dowagiac, Michigan, where the children could be sheltered by local families. The "orphan train" continued until 1929, bringing at least 150,000 children to new homes where they were fostered and, occasionally, adopted.

  Brace desired to place children in good, Protestant homes. Many orphans experienced Brace's desire, but some orphans had different stories: siblings were separated, and some couples took orphans to use for cheap labor. Though many orphans ended up as successful men and women, not all of them turned out to be trustworthy citizens.

Orphan Journeys is a fictional novella series based off of the American Orphan Train saga, following orphans not only as they adjust to a new life, but also as they embark upon a spiritual journey.

Purchase Link
Order on Amazon!


Amanda TeroAbout the Author
Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again – starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda!

Enter the Giveaway
In honor of "Letter of Love's" release, Amanda is having a dual giveaway!!

If you live in the US, enter here.
If you live out of the US, enter here.

The fun doesn't end there though! Mark your calendars, because both Journey to Love and "Letter of Love" will be FREE on Amazon, August 1-2!! You'll only have only two day for you and your friends to snatch them both, so share about this free deal!

Also visit these other lovely blogs, featuring "Letter of Love"
July 20, 2016

July 21, 2016

July 23, 2016
Honey Rock Hills -

July 25, 2016

July 27, 2016
Christian Author A.M. Heath -

August 1, 2016
With a Joyful Noise (wrap-up) -

*Any purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


Book Review: Five Magic Spindles

Five Magic Spindles by Rachel Kovaciny, Kathryn McConaughy, Grace Mullins, Ashley Stangl, Michelle Pennington (5 star review)

Five Magic Spindles: A Collection of Sleeping Beauty Stories // written by Rachel Kovaciny, Kathryn McConaughy, Grace Mullins, Ashley Stangl, & Michelle Pennington

488 pages // published in 2016 // fairy-tale


Awaken the Magic!

Emma, a good-hearted midwife, rushes to warn a neighbor about the hired gunman headed to his ranch but can't prevent the catastrophe in store for his daughter.

Palli, the prophesied daughter of a king, is fated to rescue her people from the destruction called forth by a vengeful priest.

Roselee, a ghost with a faulty memory, flits through the halls of an insane asylum in search of the mortal boy who can help her save the day.

Arabella, a living spirit trapped in her own comatose body, helplessly watches from the realm of dreams as her usurping cousin plots to destroy her once and for all.

Tanza, a tomb raider on a distant planet, struggles to make a living and doesn’t need a long-lost prince to complicate her difficult life.

One way or another, these beauties have no intention of sleeping away their problems.

My Review...

5 Star Rating

For those enjoy a bit of magic and fairy tales, I'm sure you'll fall in love with this book. In 5 different ways, you get to relive the story of Sleeping Beauty. Each with a different author's spin on the story.

My favorite in the collection is Grace Mullins' The Ghost of Briardale. What do I love? The connection between a spell cast more than 500 years ago and how it all came to a climax as the spell finished its cycle, in the early 1900s, I believe. Immediately this gives the reader something interesting -- definitely something I'd never read before.

Franz Happernickle, a bank's clerk, is sent to the Briardale asylum as a lunatic, a place where no one ever gets out again. (The asylum bit adds just enough of a tinge of creepiness to the story.) Well, that and Lady Mara who is just evil and is about to reign after her 500+ year wait. The truth is, though, Franz is embarking on the quest of his lifetime: to save a sleeping princess turned to stone. And so he starts out... with only a little ghost to guide him.

Really cute book. A fun collection!

"And how hard can it be? Heroes aren't so rare as all that."

"True Heroes are," said the second fairy irritably. "A True Hero has to have performed one of the Three Great Deeds: save a kingdom, slay a dragon, or move a mountain."

"Well," said the youngest fairy, trying to smile through her tears, "at least we have a hundred years to find one--"

- Five Magic Spindles, The Ghost of Briardale

Five Magic Spindles is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads.

*Any purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


Book Review: The Last Battle

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (5 star review)

The Last Battle // written by C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia series

184 pages // published in 1956 // Christian fantasy


During the last days of Narnia, the land faces its fiercest challenge-not an invader from without but an enemy from within. Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear in this, the magnificent ending to The Chronicles of Narnia. The Last Battle is the seventh and final book in C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, which has been drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over sixty years.

My Review...

5 Star Rating

This series is the best of the best. And this book is a phenomenal way to end The Chronicles of Narnia.

I love how C.S. Lewis brought back our favorite heroes and heroines of Narnia, just one last time. The writing in this volume is vivid. And the Christian allegory is perhaps the most intense it's ever been in the entirety of the series. This is where we get into the "real" Christianity, in permanent, life or death matters.

In this last installment of the series, Narnia is polluted with phony commands from Aslan. The rumors are dividing the land, much like politics. But very few who live there, the ones who show true faith search for a different answer -- that Aslan would never combine his power with a god from the another religion -- they are not the same! Instead, we find that he does give grace to those who need it... and for those who are lost, there is still hope for them to find the way.

The contrast between good and evil is harder to define in this final volume, especially when compared to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe -- we knew exactly who had the evil gene and who did not. Not so with The Final Battle, the epic finale of Narnia. The lines are blurred. Of course, there may be a few characters who decidedly are on the evil side, such as Swift the Ape, who takes advantage of the good name of Aslan himself...

There's so much packed into this one book to make you think.
About heaven.
About our religion and how we believe.
About the book of Revelation.
About the end times that approach us.
About the day we see our Savior.

This book ranks high on my list of favorites. Now, I still can't decide if I can actually like The Last Battle better than The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, but together they are definitely my favorites in the whole series. One day, I'll have to re-read them all again.

The Last Battle is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audiobook format.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads.

*Any purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


Book Review: Red Rain

Red Rain by Aubrey Hansen (5 star review)

Red Rain // written by Aubrey Hansen

150 pages // published in 2012 // Christian science-fiction


17-year-old Philadelphia has been imprisoned most of her life because of her Christian beliefs. When her father is sent to Mars against his will to work on a mysterious science project and a benevolent official allows her to accompany him, Philadelphia knows she must keep her head down or be sent back to prison on Earth. But when she stumbles into the wrong hallway and accidentally learns too much, Philadelphia is faced with a question she doesn’t want to answer: the choice between returning to Earth—or destroying it.

My Review...

5 Star Rating

I love Red Rain! It has a Christian sci-fi plot, and I rather thought it was well-done -- and exciting.

In this futuristic setting, the government is taking away Christians' rights. Our heroine Philadelphia has been moved to a regulated school, and then is offered the chance to live in another family's home -- if she gives up her religion. She fights these advances at her Christian beliefs, with her father by her side, even as he himself fights his own similar battles. Then, after a digital virus attacks everyone's devices and wipes out the Bible, authentic scripture is scarce on Earth..... and on Mars too, as Philadelphia soon finds out.

Overall, the plot can be a scary predicament to think about. Christians being sent away to concentration camps? God's Word stricken from our hands? It's unthinkable. But I believe this is something good to think about -- something that sets you to thinking. How far would you go to keep the faith and run the race as true as you can?

Homeschoolers will rejoice to find this book that involves a homeschool girl (until the government cuts out that possibility) who is on a mission to bring back the Bible. Christians too will enjoy how this story makes one feel like standing up for your beliefs and fighting for truth.

A fun and exciting book!

Red Rain is available on Amazon in paperback & e-book format (currently $0.99!).

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


Book Review & GIVEAWAY! Just a Closer Walk // BLOG TOUR

If you have read any mail order bride stories, you've probably noticed that even though the bride and groom never met each other, they are both genuinely good people. It's a rare story that has a scam or a truly bad person either write or respond to the mail order bride advertisement. Faith Blum took that rare theme and wrote three novellas about five young ladies duped into becoming mail order brides only to find out the men they were supposed to marry weren't what they had appeared in the letters. The first of those novellas just released on June 26th and Faith is here today to share a little about it.

About the Book

Just a Closer Walk_FrontI am weak, but Thou art strong/Jesus, keep me from all wrong/I’ll be satisfied as long/As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Katie and Joanna meet on a train headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming. They start talking and find out they are both headed there to become mail order brides. They quickly become good friends. When they get on a stagecoach with three other young women, Katie becomes suspicious. What is going to happen to them? Or is it really possible that nothing untoward is happening?

Buy on Amazon
Just a Closer Walk
written by Faith Blum

113 pages // published in 2016 // Christian romance

My Review...

5 Star Rating

This new novella from Faith Blum tells the backstory behind the plot in The Solid Rock. Sort of like a companion book, it retells the story from a different point of view -- the view of the 5 young ladies who are mail-order brides. Except that they're being duped by outlaws. (If you want to read the full story, you have to read The Solid Rock too, preferably before Just a Closer Walk for the complete experience.)

One of my favorite things about the book is probably the sprouting relationship between Katie and Joanna. Through their mutual experience as mail-order brides to Cheyenne, they met, shared a little heartbreak and the need for a friend. I think their friendship is one that will last a long time. (And I wouldn't mind reading more stories about them and their future families!)

Just a Closer Walk touches on some mature topics. Of course, there is much romance hinted at throughout, as the 5 ladies are looking for marriage; the plot also includes much about a woman from a saloon, especially in regard to how the other ladies respond to having her in their presence.

Christian romance readers will especially enjoy it. I like how author Faith Blum brings in the Word of God and how her characters easily fall into the simple act of praying.

I think it's a fairly quick book, perfect for an afternoon read, or something to fill your time before bed.

Just a Closer Walk is available on Amazon in ebook format.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.