Posted in Book Reviews

Mini Book Reviews of 2018 – Part One

“It’s not for us to choose our times, Jacob. But we must be ready when they come.”
-The Auschwitz Escape

Hello fellow readers!

It’s been a hot minute since I last blogged, so I thought I’d start it up again with a revamped version of something I’ve been doing for a while now. Since 2015, I’ve been writing a compilation of mini reviews of all the books I read per year, usually in sets of 5. I’m always about 1 year behind on these, but I love writing them and giving you guys a glimpse into what I’ve been reading and what I think of them. But I didn’t really like the name I had for them (First Five Books of 2017, Second Five Books of 2017, etc.). So as I start writing about the books I read last year, I thought this was a good opportunity to change the name!

So, as you’ve seen from the title of this blog post already, the new name is: Mini Books Reviews of 20__ Part __! I think this title is more concise, easier to say and easier to work with! So without further ado…here are my first five mini reviews of 2018!

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

  1. Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren – This book was an interesting take on the time-travel romance from the YA perspective. When Gabi and Lia were transported to 16th century Italy, I felt transported, too. I loved Bergren’s descriptions of Italy’s countryside and the Italian architecture. The plot moved swiftly, though there was little conflict until the climax of the novel. I enjoyed Gabi’s character, but didn’t love the romance she had with Marcello. Overall, I enjoyed their conversations, but felt like the actual interactions they had and the corresponding feelings they felt were a little forced. To be in love as much as they were would take a little more than just the outward attraction they had for each other. So I enjoyed the unique setting and Bergren did a great job with the vocabulary of the 16th century Italian characters, but it wasn’t very deep.
  2. * Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – I enjoyed this book much more than the first one. I think this one made me laugh the most out of all the books in the series (except for Order of the Phoenix) because Ron had so many good one-liners. I loved the climax and twists at the end and was much more intrigued to read the third than I had been to read the second. Click here to read my full review on the entire series!
  3. * The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg – A coworker lent this to me and I really enjoyed it! It was hard to read at times, but I learned so much through it. I think it’s super important to read about hard times in history so we fully realize the atrocities committed back then and can be able to raise awareness to others. There are so many people who turn a blind eye to horrible things that happened in history and that’s just not acceptable. I loved Jacob and Luc and the partnership they established in order to escape. And the detail upon detail of their plan to escape was also so fascinating. I will say that my one complaint was that there wasn’t a lot of emotion in the actual main character’s thoughts, but I think Rosenberg made up for that in the accuracy of the setting and events of Auschwitz. Throughout the novel, Jacob wrestles with his faith. Though he was put in Auschwitz as a Jew, he hadn’t really practiced Judaism growing up and his faith was shaky. By the end, his relationship with and trust in God is strengthened, but I’ll admit, I felt sad. Without Jesus, his life and even his “relationship” with God held very little hope and meaning. I wished so much that he could find that. After finishing it, I was surprised to learn that The Auschwitz Escape was based on a true story. It made the novel that much more impactful for me.
  4. Moral Philosophy: Theories and Issues by Emmett Barcalow – I read this for my Ethics of America class for school. It was very straightforward, with some helpful examples, but besides that, super boring to read.
  5. CLEP American Literature by Jacob Stratman – I read this to study for the American Literature CLEP exam. Most CLEP textbooks are snore-worthy, but this was one of the few where I felt like it was written by a person and not a robot. Stratman seemed really passionate about American Literature and really brought the authors to life with his descriptions.

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Posted in Book Reviews

Fourth Five Books of 2016

“You’re going to be something, you and that language you speak on paper.”
-Pictures of Hollis Woods

You can find books 1-5 of 2016 here, books 6-10 here and books 11-15 here!

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

16. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey – I posted a review on this book through the Literature Approved website and you can read it here.

17. My Face to the Wind by Jim Murphy – A Dear America (surprise, surprise!) about a young girl who becomes a schoolteacher in Nebraska. Not one of my favorite Dear Americas, but certainly a very sweet one where Sarah tries to prove her worth to the people of Broken Bow. I think what’s really too bad about this book is the little time we actually spend with Sarah as a teacher. It took about half the book for her to reach that point, so by then, we weren’t left with much time for her to develop relationships with her students.

Continue reading “Fourth Five Books of 2016”

Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Another one of my book reviews is up on Literature Approved!

I read this book for my own personal pleasure and was not required to write a review. Therefore, all comments and opinions are entirely my own.


Cassie Sullivan’s life is much like anyone else’s: she has a loving family, a hard-core crush on a football player and attends an average high school. All this changes when the Others arrive and the world starts to end. The Others (or aliens) enact 5 waves to wipe humans off the planet. The first three waves succeed in killing half of Earth’s population. After the fourth wave, Cassie and her brother, Sam, are orphans. When the two siblings get separated, Cassie begins a journey with Evan, her rescuer from a dangerous shoot-out, to find her brother. Ben, Cassie’s high school crush, survives the third wave and is taken to Camp Haven where children are trained to fight the Others and where his bitterness toward them is fostered. Both Cassie and Ben will do all they can not only to survive, but to fight.


What if everything had been taken away from you by mysterious creatures? What if you were then given a choice: to hide or to fight?

Check out the full review here!

Contributor Reviewer

Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I know what you’re all thinking, so I’ll say it first.

“Hold the phone–Valerie reads popular YA fiction? As in…something that’s not a classic or historical fiction??”

I’m here to tell you: yes, I sure do. Sometimes.

One of the first true YA fiction novels/series I read was The Hunger Games. After reading it over a year ago, I’m so excited to finally release my many feelings about it in this review…

Continue reading “Highlight: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins”