Book Review: “Fairytale: The Novel”

Good morning, friends!

Recently, I got to be involved in the twitter read-along for Hope Pennington’s “Fairytale: The Novel.” I was super excited to be a part of this because I’ve been following Hope Pennington for some time now and have really enjoyed the content she makes. Joining the read-along seemed like a no-brainer because I never got around to reading her book and I was so excited to see what it was all about!

Of course, maybe I should have thought about how little time I would have this month before I decided to do this, haha! I ended up not being able to participate as much as I wanted to! But nevertheless, I loved the book, and I’m super excited to get to be a part of it’s blog tour!
So without further rambling, here is my spoiler-free review of “Fairytale: The Novel.”
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Hope Pennington is a homeschool graduate, a YouTuber, an author, and an overall encouraging, lovely person. I first stumbled across her Instagram and fell in love with her posts and the way she was inspiring people to embrace their geeky side. I then decided to look into her YouTube as well. Hope posts videos on a lot of topics, but pretty much all of them have a tone of encouragement and I love that so much. Her mantra is “we are epic heroes” and I think that’s so awesome.
So, of course, after falling in love with Hope’s Instagram, YouTube, and overall personality, I would have to read her book. When this book tour and read-along came along, I had my opportunity! And, overall, I’m glad I got to read it.

The story is about an average teenage boy name Sean who is sucked into a cliche fantasy world and forced to be involved in your typical fairytale plot line. What he finds is that his ability to predict the storyline is just what he needs to help save their world from destruction.



~ What I liked ~

Here’s what I liked most: The voice. Some could interpret this book as cheesy, but I think the author was well aware of that and used it to the story’s advantage. The book plays around with all the cheesy fantasy themes that we’re all acquainted by now and the outcome is pretty hilarious. Our main character, Sean, is the voice of reason in all of this. His sarcasm and sense of humor contrasted with the average fairytale storyline is perfect. The author somehow manages to take two cliches, the “sarcastic teenage boy” cliche and every fairytale character you grew up with, and come up with a very interesting and humorous balance.
I think overall, the characters were very strong. And despite most of them being cliches, they were original and unique in their own ways and managed to win my favor. I also really loved Steve. Steve is great.

The story itself was very fun and I think Hope has a great writing style and an awesome sense of humor. I’m really interested to see what else she’ll write!

~ What I did not like ~

I always hate to say anything negative when I enjoyed the book overall, but I did actually have a hard time with some of the book. A lot of it was that I was very busy and did not have the time to give it my full attention, but I do think some of it was the writing itself. The book at times very much had the feel of a first-time novel. And while it was very good and I enjoyed it very much, I felt that the author is still developing her voice.

There were some parts that I found a bit confusing, some plot points that I didn’t get. There were moments when I felt it was dragging on or that it wasn’t cohesive enough, but it was little enough for me to ignore.

~

I will also say two other things, just for the sake of the accuracy of this review.
First is that I have not, as of writing this review, completely finished this book. The ending could be a total wreck or totally amazing for all I know. And that’s entirely due to me being busy with finals and I apologize for that.

The second thing is that the review copy that I received was not the final copy of the book. I noticed some editing mistakes here or there as well as some distracting editing notes and so that affected my overall perception of the story to a small degree. (Hence, perhaps, the perception that it is feels like a very “first time” sort of novel.) I don’t know how much of that (I assume, all of it) was edited out of the final copy and so I’m recommending you take the negative part of my review with a grain of salt this go around.

I will actually be purchasing the final copy soon, but I don’t think I’ll be updating this review. So you’re on you’re own for this one, buddy.

 

~ Would I recommend it? ~

I would! Not only to support an epic creator, but to enjoy an awesome story. If the idea of this satiric story struck your fancy, absolutely go for it!
And check out Hope’s other stuff too, while you’re at it! She has an epic social media presence and her YouTube is so lovely.

 

~ Rating ~

My scale, for reference, is…

One Star: I hated it
Two Stars: I didn’t like it
Three Stars: I liked it, but I probably won’t read it again
Four Stars: I really liked it and I might read it again
Five Stars: I loved it and it is my precious and I will read it again every fortnight and probably buy all of the available merch.
…I’m giving this 3 and a half stars. I liked it, and I’m super interested in reading whatever Hope writes next!

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Thanks so much for reading, friends!

And a special thanks to Priya Prithviraj at Writerly Yours for being so lovely and so patient with me!!

I hope you have a lovely Friday, beautiful readers. Tune in next week for more finals week related existential crises! Or maybe I’ll write about cats, who knows?

Both? Both is good.

Bye!



More information on Hope Pennington…

 

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Bio: Hope Pennington is a homeschooled graduate living in Kerrville Texas, author of the young adult novel Fairytale and creator of The Epic Place YouTube channel where she encourages geeks, nerds and fan girls to always remember that #WeAreEpicHeroes every single day of our lives. Coffee is her spirit animal and if she had it her way she’d be living on the TARDIS from Doctor Who going on endless time travel adventures.

 

 



Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr // Blog // YouTube



 

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Book Review: Unlock Your Dream by Philip Wagner

Good Friday!

What are y’all excited about today? I’m excited about Tangled’s Before Ever After (OH. MY. GOSH. I CANNOT WAIT — today is a very big day, Pascal!), finally finishing Stranger Things, and watching Doctor Strange after all this benny-cumberbutting time. So yeah, mostly hopelessly geeky stuff! Which is good! Hehe.

~

Today is a book review of “Unlock Your Dream” by Philip Wagner. It’s a book of the inspirational, Christian non-fiction niche. I’m always looking for good books in this niche. It’s easy to find Christian non-fiction, but I’ve only really been floored by a handful of Christian non-fictions.

So I was hoping for much with this book. The summary on the back was enough to fascinate me. This book is all about finding your God-given assignment and living out God’s dream for you. Sounds amazing, no? The word “dream” on a book alone is usually enough to catch my interest, but add in faith and a call to action? Ah! I was very excited.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the review.



~ What I Liked ~

Philip Wagner is the leader of a church in LA. He is the founder of an organization that provides clean water to those in need. He writes books. He’s been married for more than thirty years! This guy is pretty epic.

Indeed, I enjoyed this book very much. I enjoyed hearing all his fascinating life stories and how God has moved in his life. (Because honestly, watching how God moves through lives is one of the most amazing things ever; amiright?) There was some brilliant advice and I took my highlighter out more than once. I also enjoyed the pop culture references, haha.

You can tell that Wagner has a big heart for sharing the gospel and a passion for writing.

~ What I Did Not Like ~

It was… a little dry. Sorry! 

Maybe it was a personal thing, maybe I just don’t click with the writing style. I found this book a bit difficult to get into. It at times seemed longwinded and I found myself skimming passages at times.

Despite this, I am glad I read it and I respect Wagner big time for his work and his heart for God. He had some real, applicable wisdom in this book. Like I said, I highlighted. But, I have to be honest and if I’m honest, it was a challenge to push through this book.

~ Would I Recommend It? ~

Eeeek. See, honestly? No?

If you’re mega interested in it after looking at the information below, I would say go for it and you may very well enjoy it, but as it wasn’t completely wowing to me, I have to be honest and say I would not recommend it.

Sorry, Phil.



My Official Goodreads Rating™ is 3 stars because I 10/10 would not read again but 8/10 was glad I read it anyway because Wagner is an important human.

Yay! That will be all for me today, folks. I hope you enjoy your Friday and your Saturday and all the other days too.

— Brooke



Disclaimer: I got this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books. All opinions stated are my honest ones!

If you’d like to learn more about Philip Wagner and “Unlock Your Dream,” I’ll list some links below:

The Book

The man behind The Book

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Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

Hey there, blog! Just a quick review today.
I wasn’t quite sure what specific criteria I wanted to use when writing these book reviews… It’s been on my mind for awhile now. Should I only write reviews on books that are new? Like review copies? Or should I not do ARCs at all and stick to only books I’ve purchased myself? Is it bad to review books that have been around for awhile?
But I think I’ve decided on what is best. I will review books I find interesting. I’m not going to pick out any ARCs that I wouldn’t have liked to read anyway and I won’t worry about books being newer either. I’m just going to promise myself that I will review only what I feel like reviewing.

 

So yes, I’ve picked out a book to review that’s been around for a little while. (Just checked the copyright— 2007. How have I not heard of this book until now??) Well, it’s new to me. And it’s one of the nicest pieces of new-to-me fiction I’ve read for awhile. I thought it was cute and interesting and worth talking about a little bit.

 

The book is called “The Mysterious Benedict Society” and is written by Trenton Lee Stewart and illustrated by the lovely Carson Ellis.  It is a series, but I’ve only read the first so far. The cover art is gorgeous and honestly totally my aesthetic. (I try not to judge a book by its cover, but oh my word.)

 

And, dears, the inside is quite as lovely so let’s get to it.

 


~ What I Liked ~
 
SO. MUCH.

 

The characters are some of the coolest I’ve met for awhile. The main four are Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Wetherall, and Constance Contraire. Each character has, upon seeing an interesting ad in the paper, elected to take an interesting, and progressively more mysterious, series of test. After the tests — that only the four of them end up passing — they meet the eccentric, narcoleptic Mr. Benedict who proposes they help him in unraveling a conspiracy. And they say yes. And they do.
This book is chock-full of amazing, quirky characters. Sticky, for example, is named Sticky because he remembers everything; it sticks in his brain. But also because his real name is George Washington and that is way too embarrassing. Of course.
And Kate. She carries around a bucket full of necessities like rope, a flashlight, and a spyglass disguised as a kaleidoscope. Mr. Benedict himself is awesome. And Reynie, the main character, is very lovable. Especially when it comes to his dear Miss. Perumal. I’m not going to even set myself going on Constance. I love her to death.
Besides all that, the story itself is very interesting. I loved the conspiracy and the underlying tone set. I felt suspicious of my television for quite some time after reading this book. But, to be honest, I’ve always been a little annoyed/suspicious of television.

 

One of my favorite things about this book is that it emphasizes that there are different kinds of intelligence. Intelligence could be remembering tons of facts, it could be figuring out the intended solution, it could be coming up with an unexpected answer, it could be refusing to be put in a box. Intelligence is creativity, it is also memory and practicality and stubbornness. It made me realize that perhaps everybody has their very own brand of intelligence. And I really like that.
Another message I took away from this book is that the truth is very important. And it is very, very easy to accept a lie. It may even, in fact, be very enjoyable to accept a lie. The truth is harder, but it is worth fighting for. Each of the kids in the Benedict Society was very different, but what they all had in common was their love of truth. They refused to accept the lies that were fed to them.
And maybe, in the end, intelligence is just a love of looking for the truth.

 

(???)

 

Oh! And one more thing!! THE ILLUSTRATIONS. I absolutely loved the illustrations (particularly the cover especially, but they were good all throughout the book as well) and I thought they really helped set the tone of the book and were super cute and quirky, just like the characters themselves.


~ What I Did Not Like ~
 
I always hate criticizing books I overall liked very much, but I do have a few things that keep this book from being one of my absolute favorites. Though, I really actually don’t have much to say against it.

 

It was a little slow-going at times. Much of the book was confined to one setting and that might bother some people. The writing style wasn’t the most genius thing I’ve ever read, but I liked it enough and it was never obnoxious or distracting.
The book was overall very readable and very likable. It is not my favorite book ever and I may not end up reading more of the series, but I did enjoy it very, very much.

~ Would I Recommend It? ~
 
Yes!

 

Though it was a little slow-going at times and it wasn’t my favorite book of all time, I definitely loved it. It had amazing characters, a fascinating and original storyline, a cool message, and some great plot twists. I’d recommend this to people who liked A Series of Unfortunate Events. If unique and quirky characters and page-turning mysteries are your thing, you’d like this. And this one has a happy ending! And it’s yellow! Yay!

 

I believe I rated it between four or five stars on goodreads? I think I’d officially give it four. Five = I loved it and I would read it again for sure. Four = I really liked it and maybe I will read it again.


That’s about it for me today. I hope you all have a lovely Friday and a wonderful, wonderful weekend.

 

Love ya!
— The Great Brooke Weather Machine aka Brookie Lizzy aka -… .-. — — -.- .

Book Review: Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life

[Warning. If you are sensitive to randomly inserted Hamilton quotes, you may want to Say No To This book review.]

Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life by Jeff Wilser is probably best described as “written by Hamiltrash, for Hamiltrash.” I knew this when I first picked it up and let me tell you, I was pretty stoked. I’ve recently fallen into an obsession with the musical Hamilton and it’s amazing writer and star actor, Lin Manuel Miranda. This play has made me do something I never thought I’d do: attempt (emphasis on “attempt”) to rap about the founding fathers.

I think this particular book is definitely building on the recent popularity of the musical Hamilton, but that said, I think it’s still worth a read for Hamilton fans, history buffs, and otherwise.

I learned a lot more about the beautiful Alexander Hamilton than can be gleaned from the musical. I haven’t read Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton yet (that’s the one the musical is based off of), so I can’t say if it had any more interesting tidbits than a biography such as that one would have given you, but I think it’s a unique book and not really intended to mainly be a biography anyway, so there you have it.

Without further blabbering, let’s get into some nitty-gritty details about this little Hamil-gem.

~ What I Disliked ~

We should start with negative so we can end with positive, shouldn’t we? Yeah, let’s do that.

There was little I took issue with in this book, but I am going to give a little argument as to why you might not enjoy this book anyway.

This book could be seen as being heavily influenced by the recent Hamilton craze. Is that a bad thing? Personally, I’m satisfied. I listen to Hamilton non-stop. I love the musical and I love reading material by people who also love the musical. My only criticism is that people who don’t love the musical might not be interested in this book.

However, I think Wilser did a good job of being conscious of this fact and really tried to make a book that gave us something we can’t just get by listening to Hamilton or reading a biography. More on that soon!

I would like to mention before I move on that perhaps this isn’t a kid friendly book because of some of the topics (it’s A-Ham, y’all) so if you’re sensitive that, be cautious!

~ What I Liked ~

Yay! Positivity is my favorite! Because this book has a lot of good points.

This book is indeed new material. I know you might be worried that it’s just more crazy Hamilton stuff (I personally love crazy Hamilton stuff… I digress), but I promise this book truly does serve its own purpose. Jeff Wilser has a unique and very funny voice. This book covers a lot of Hamilton’s life, but it’s also very humorous and gives some pretty sound advice too. It doesn’t hide Hamilton’s flaws, but rather uses them to advise further and show that Hamilton was certainly not perfect.

This book also served to increase my affection for the “ten dollar founding father without a father” even more. Hamilton, though very imperfect, was a highly intelligent and extremely fascinating human being. And somehow, he’s just so darn lovable. This book actually made my hand go to my heart a few times  because sometimes you just feel sort of proud of a historical figure.

The book did actually make me laugh out loud quite a few times too. The illustrations are great, the history is fascinating, and I think this book was certainly worth a read.

 

~ Would I Recommend It? ~

Yes! I would recommend this specifically to Hamilton fans who are looking for something Hamilton-related to read. However, I think it’d be enjoyable to anybody who’s interested in history or the life of Alexander Hamilton as well. Even if you’re just curious, it’s definitely worth a go. I enjoyed it and I think you’d like it too.

And well, in summary, Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life by Jeff Wilser is humorous, informative, and helpful. This book highlights Hamilton’s beliefs, his dreams, his ambition, determination and his failures too and uses them to give some pretty decent advice about life.

We’re not all Alexander Hamiltons, but I think what’s so compelling about Hamilton’s story is how he started from absolutely nothing and became something way bigger than anyone would expect of someone in his position. It’s interesting to know we all have that potential inside us.

~

My Official Goodreads Rating is four out of five stars! Technically, 3.5, but that’s not really a thing on Goodreads. I gave it that because I enjoyed it quite a lot, but I feel it’s almost niche and that it’s not something I’d really want to read twice. In other words, read it once and that would be enough.

Despite that, it’s earned itself a happy place on my bookshelves. My sincere admiration goes out to Jeff Wilser who took his love of Alexander Hamilton to the next level and wrote a great book. Jeff, you did not throw away your shot.


My thanks goes to Blogging for Books who sent me a review copy of this book for my honest review!

If you’d like to know more about Jeff Wilser, you can find him at his website  http://www.jeffwilser.com or on his twitter and instagram which are both @jeffwilser. This dude’s pretty awesome so check him out!

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“Swish and Flick.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone depending on where you’re from) was written by J.K. Rowling. The American edition was published in the year 1998. It’s the debut book from a series we’re all familiar with to some capacity. And if for some reason you’ve never heard of it, allow me to shed some light.

…Lumos.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone introduces us to a young boy named, of course, Harry Potter. This boy lives with his aunt, uncle, and cousin who all happen to hate him. He’s ignored and made to live in the cupboard under the stairs. But soon Harry learns of his magic blood. It turns out his parents were wizards and that he is meant to be one too. He’s accepted to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and it isn’t long before he finds himself with an owl named Hedwig, new friends called Ron and Hermione, a sworn enemy called Malfoy, and a pile of new subjects to study.

Not to mention You-Know-Who, who causes a load of trouble, believe me.

~

I first picked up my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at a thrift store, I believe. I had been wanting to read it for quite a while and it seemed the time to spend a few dollars on a dear used book that was still in excellent condition.

Side note: I rather like used books, don’t you? Especially paperbacks that already have a few creases from being read. It makes me wonder about the history of the book. Which is nice. Yeah?

Anyway, at this point I was eighteen years old – an official adult – and free to make my own rebellious reading decisions.

Because, yeah – growing up, I wasn’t allowed to read this book, for reasons I respect. I’m a Christian and the main concern of my very much Catholic parents was that the book encouraged things like sorcery and witchcraft, forbidden by the Bible. We’ll get into why I don’t see it that way in a bit. For now…

 

~ Things I Liked ~

1. The Writing Style

It’s pretty clear that J.K. Rowling is very talented. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy the themes, Rowling’s writing style is smooth and easy on the eyes. She’s able to weave words in such a natural way that it makes it easy for you to do that weird, sort of zone-out thing where you barely even see the words on the page anymore and it’s just like you’re watching a movie in your head.

Eloquence. But you know what I’m talking about.

2. The Characters

This is one of the top things for me. If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t care too much for Harry himself. I like him alright and I’m interested in his story, but I’m actually more concerned for some of the more minor characters. I love that Rowling made that possible. There are so many interesting characters that you’re bound to find one you like.

The Sorcerer’s Stone introduced these characters well. You learn just enough about them to make you interested in learning more. And there is a lot more. I’m only on book four and there has indeed been a lot more already.

3. The Universe

This. This might be the top thing. Because the universe that J.K. Rowling creates in these stories is so rich and so vivid that you feel like magic is actually a possible thing. And that is talented writing.

Not only do I follow the story, but I get to put myself in it. I get to choose my Hogwarts house and imagine what it would be like if I got to hang out in the Hufflepuff common room. I get to learn about the culture and the terms and the history of it all. I get to get caught up in a world very different from my own, but no less real – in its own way.

This book is an exciting introduction to this exciting world. And, once again, there’s so much more in the books to come.

4. The Plot

The story was wondrous. Rowling is one of those Story Weavers. She’s able to write a book so that the second time you read it, you interpret things in a totally different way because you know what things are leading to. She’s able to write mysteries with unpredictable endings. She keeps me guessing until the very end, which is hard to find in a book.

There happen to be very few books I read that after I’ve finished I feel the need to give the author a round of applause. This is one of them.

 

~ Things I Disliked ~

I racked my brain hard for this one because I don’t want to be biased and I want to present both sides of things, but I can’t think of anything that I particularly took issue with.

I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Does that mean I will thoroughly enjoy the rest of the series? Not necessarily.

I’m not going to write a review of every single Harry Potter book, but if my opinions do change on the books or if I come across something in a book that I really don’t like, I will write another one. Just for the sake of keeping things unbiased and honest.

Again, I’ll get into the argument that Harry Potter is not for Christians in a second because I am a Christian and I think it’s an important argument, but I prefer not to under the umbrella of “Things I Disliked” as I don’t think it is relevant just now. As the book stands, biases from both sides removed, it is a good piece of literature. Good plot, good characters, rich setting. Yes.

 

~ Would I Recommend it? ~

Yes.

Yes, yes, yes.

This is the part where I bring up the Christian argument against Harry Potter. I want to present this in its best light because I think it is a valid concern.

There is worry among Christian communities that Harry Potter leads to interest in the occult, that it portrays good as bad and bad as good, that it sugar-coats things like witchcraft and sorcery.

I respect anyone who has this opinion and makes a decision not to let their children read the series in an effort to protect them. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m personally glad I waited to read it so that I could read it with more discernment than I would have had as a kid.

And after reading it, I’ve decided for myself that it is appropriate to read. It does not make me want to go out and purchase tarot cards. I’m not compelled to go out in my back yard and summon a spirit from the underworld.

I feel, spiritually, Harry Potter doesn’t affect me at all. Why?

Because it’s fiction.

Rowling used fictional elements to create a world that has nothing to do with our world. It’s a world in which there is good magic and bad magic. In this world students are taught traits like bravery, cleverness, loyalty, and cunning and are encouraged to use these traits for good.

There is a clear line between good and evil, light and darkness. When that line starts becoming blurred is when I become concerned about a book’s message. As far as I’ve read, with Harry Potter, that is not the case. It’s always good against evil. Though Harry himself may struggle with this line – as we all do – to the reader, it is clear that Harry and his friends are fighting for the good side.

So would I recommend it? Yes. It is a good book and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

~

In conclusion, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a book I rather enjoyed. Harry Potter has been a series I’ve rather enjoyed as far as I’ve read of it! I’m happy I waited to read it as an older person because I think I appreciate it a lot more. As a writer, Harry Potter is an invaluable example of good writing. Rowling is a big inspiration to me.

My Official Goodreads Rating is five out of five stars and I tell you, it deserves every one of those stars!

So if you haven’t read it yet, or if you’re holding back from it for religious reasons, I’d encourage you to give it a try and decide for yourself. It really is lovely.

Happy reading!

– Brooke Elizabeth