Two Historical Fiction Novels You Should Buy

One of the fun parts of getting to read books for review is having insider information to share with my online friends. Today is a day pays off particularly well. See, today is the release date for one of the best books I’ve read this year, and also exactly a month until the release date for one of my favorite books from last year.

First, the book that releases today.

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green.

This book takes place in Montreal during the 1750s and the main character is a half-Mohawk, half-French lady who runs a trading post for her not-so-nice father.

Y’all. This book had so much amazing information about the war that I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to read it again sometime super soon just so I can focus on more of the details. I’ll admit to having some air-headed moments where I completely forgot history and couldn’t remember how the war ended (aka, who won), and instead of looking it up, I kept reading with the suspense propelling me on.

There was a plot twist that I found to be completely unexpected. When I first read it I was like “Oh, well, okay….” and was kinda disappointed that it didn’t shock me more. But then I kept reading and was like “But, but, but, how could that have happened?” And I finished the book as fast as I could so I could shove it at my friend and beg (maybe demand?) she read it so we could discuss it.

I knew the outcome of that plot twist would determine my overall feelings of the book. If it worked out one way then the story would squeak by with barely three stars, but if it worked out another way I’d happily give it four solid stars.

Probably needless to say I gave the book four stars and right away set out on a quest to find some friends who don’t read a ton of fiction so I could give them all the spoilers and rant and rave and tell someone what happened. Because yes, the author did a great job of breaking the normal Christian Historical Fiction mold and surprising me as a reader.

So yeah. You should probably order the book right now or request it at your library.

Plus, ya know, the more you look at the cover the more details you see, and that’s pretty amazing. Way to go, Miss Jocelyn, on writing another fantastic book!

Between

Next off, the book that releases in exactly a month.

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Y’all. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre (no, really?), and I especially like it when an author tackles a time period or subject that isn’t really well known, especially in the fiction world. Miss Stephanie takes a well known time period (WW2) and then flips the idea over and presents us with a side of the war that isn’t often talked about.

Japanese Internment Camps in the USA.

It’s a subject a lot of Americans skim over or are completely unaware of, and yet it’s a real part of our history. Miss Stephanie masterfully weaves together a story of a Japanese boy and Italian girl and the prejudices, injustices, and mindset of the people during the 1940s.

When you read the book you’ll feel the dust of the camp. The scorn of onlookers. The helplessness of those left behind. You’ll disappear from 2019 and suddenly find yourself in a very different era as the details surround you and you make new friends, feel new heartache, and see the world through different eyes.

Within

To my surprise, there were several similarities between these two books, including the fact that they both deal with prejudices, trying to understand different cultures, and how to move forward when someone doesn’t do what you expected.

You can pre-order Miss Stephanie’s book here (which means it’ll be automatically sent to you a month from now and that’s pretty amazing). I already pre-ordered her book (back on June 23rd, the first day the cover went live on Amazon), and despite having an ARC copy of it, I’m so excited about the final version arriving in the mail.

And there you have it, folks, some insider information on two amazing books. I’d be delighted to know in the comments if you’ve read either of these two authors or if you plan on buying either of these fantastic books.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill (I walked nearly two miles while writing this)
Listening to: Spotify on shuffel 
Random Fact: We live in a valley so we often have fog 
Question of the Day: Do you like Historical Fiction? 

Flights of Fancy

Today I’m not feeling well so I decided to rest for a bit and read a nice, light-hearted book. And so I started looking through Overdrive for such a book. And do y’all know how hard it is to find a good book!?! It was rather annoying as book after book looked promising but as I read the sample I ran into content that wasn’t appropriate or else swearing. Really, authors?

And then I remembered NetGalley. So I hoped on there, requested this book, and here we are, folks!

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 371
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: (January 1, 2019
Title: Flights of Fancy
Author: Jen Turano
Fiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I pretty much decided Jen Turano’s books weren’t for me a few years back because they’re silly – like to the point where my personality didn’t find them fun anymore because they are so unrealistic. I realize lots of people really like this style of book and that’s great, I just don’t.

And then today came. And I’m fighting off the flu so I didn’t feel well. I had a stack of books just waiting to be read, but instead, I wanted something that would be exceedingly lighthearted and easy to read. I’ve heard various other book bloggers talk about this book recently, so I decided to give it a go. Also, I think the cover’s really pretty. 😉

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

This book was more enjoyable than I expected. I read it all afternoon and although I did skim in parts, it kept my attention and made me wonder what was going to happen next. It’s kinda like a Hallmark movie, just not quite so predictable.

To make this easy, I’m just going to go with a few pros and cons that I came up with while reading the book. And please, keep in mind that this isn’t the style of book that I normally read – so if you’ve read any of Jen Turano books in the past and liked them, then you’ll probably really like this one. It’s my favorite of hers that I’ve read. (I think I’ve read two or three before.)

Pros: I liked the main character. She was realistic most of the time, she didn’t annoy me, and she was amusing. Plus, even though she wasn’t telling the truth about her life, she basically told them that she wasn’t telling the truth. Which that sounds weird, but it worked well in the book and was actually a big selling point for me. Also, the book was well written and easy to follow which isn’t always the case for me when there are dukes and such involved.

Cons: It was exceedingly silly – which is both a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because it was amusing, a bad thing because it was kinda eye-rolly with how often “bad” stuff happened. Like rolling down hills, landing in mud, etc… Also, the main character was always being picked up and carried by the main guy when she had gotten hurt, etc… I mean, really though? I’m fairly certain that wouldn’t have happened and so that type of thing bothers me a lot.

The book starts with the main character being at a ball with a duke, and the duke’s not a cool guy and he’s not being nice with how he treats the main character. He’s just kinda leering at her, so it’s not detailed or anything. Also, later in the book, there were a few things that happened that weren’t “bad” but I wouldn’t consider proper.

CONCLUSION

I’m glad I gave this book a try because it was what I was looking for today (silly, light-hearted, and not needing much brainpower), but not my normal read at all.

RATING

I’m giving Flights of Fancy 3 out of 5 stars.

((I got this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for me reviewing it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Winter Mornings for the Win {plus a book review}

It’s one of those delightfully cozy mornings. I’m wrapped up in a blanket with a hot mug of French Press and lemon biscotti listening to the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman as I watch fine snow drifting down outside.

Today’s list of things to do has grown until there’s no way I’m going to accomplish everything I want to before leaving to pick up my car (where it just got snow tires) and then head to work at the coffee shop. So, instead of stressing about it I decided to just chill and work systematically through my list and see what I can get done.

And, the first thing on the list is to write a book review for one of my most recent reads. The 10 Commandments of Marriage is the third marriage book I’ve read in the last few months and also the one that made me be like “I’ve no clue what I’m reading” the most.

Do y’all ever read books that don’t currently apply to you?

And now, on to the review.

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FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 224
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: October 1, 2014
Title: The 10 Commandments of Marriage: Practical Principles to Make Your Marriage Great
Author: Ed Young
Nonfiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

Marriage is God’s idea. He planned it. He designed it. And if you follow His blueprint, it will be more rewarding, more loving, more exciting than you ever imagined.

In 10 Commandments of Marriage, Dr. Ed Young shares the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots” of successful relationships—straight from the pages of God’s Word. Long-married couples will find love-building precepts that will revive a failing marriage and make a great relationship even better. Soon-to-be-marrieds will discover what marriage is all about and gain priceless insights into starting on solid ground.

In words that are profound, often humorous, but always biblical, Dr. Young draws from decades of counseling couples to provide 10 commandments for a lifelong marriage that sizzles. God wants your marriage to be nothing short of incredible. And it could begin with this amazing book.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

When I’m reading nonfiction “practical” is a big selling point for me – because if a book isn’t something that can’t be applied to everyday life, then…?
Also, as mentioned previously, I’ve decided to read marriage books because I figure that I currently have more time to do that now than in the future. And, on that note, a disclaimer: I’m not married, nor am I in a relationship, so all my thoughts regarding this book come from a rather unique point of view.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

How The Book Is Set Up: At the beginning of each chapter, there’s a little bubble that says “A Personal Word” and in it, Mr. Ed writes a short paragraph where he summarizes the entire chapter and what he feels like is the most important concept. Throughout the book, there are shaded squares with some of the most important quotes, stats, and statements written in bold so you can flip through the book and quickly read something to make you think. At the end of each chapter, there’s a section called Reflecting on Your Relationship that includes questions for married people, as well as questions for those who are contemplating or preparing for marriage.

One cool part about this book is in the introduction Mr. Ed mentions that this book is for pretty much everyone – not just those who are married, but also for those who are preparing for, contemplating, or have been, married.

Mr. Ed has been married for around 50 years and pastors a large church so he’s had a lot of experience, stories, and examples to share not only from his own marriage but also from the marriages of people who he’s counseled over the years. The advice he shares really is practical – just like the cover promises. He also does a good job of writing in a way that’s easy to relate to and amusing at times.

There were a few things in the book that felt slightly overboard to me, but I’m obviously not a good judge on that. For the most part, I felt like the book was balanced and had a lot of good information that would be very helpful for a married couple.

Some of the “commandments” of marriage that I enjoyed reading the most included: Thou Shalt be Selfless (good for anyone to learn!), Thou Shalt Continually Communicate, and Thou Shalt Avoid the Quicksand of Materialism.

CONCLUSION

I feel like I would have gleaned a lot more from this book if I was actually married (which, duh, makes sense), but overall I’m glad I read it as it had a lot of good information.

RATING

I’m giving The 10 Commandments of Marriage 3 out of 5 stars.

((This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for me reviewing it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Money Problems, Marriage Solutions {Book Review Plus An Explanation​ of Why I’m Reading Marriage Books}

Back in November, I was on my way to Tennesee with some friends and one of them was reading the book Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. It looked interesting so when it was his turn to drive I asked him if I could take a turn reading. I finished the book before we arrived at our destination and found it to be incredibly interesting.

It was then that I realized that although I’ve read thousands of books on dozens upon dozens of topics, I’ve basically never read any books about marriage. And I figured what better time to start than now? So I promptly requested a few for review. Here’s one of them. 😉

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FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 192
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Title: Money Problems, Marriage Solutions
Author: Chuck Bentley & Ann Bentley
Nonfiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

It’s not just about the money…

Arguments about money are by far the top predictor of divorce, says Sonya Britt, a professor at Kansas State University. “It’s not children, sex, in-laws, or anything else. It’s money—for both men and women.”

Satan seeks every means possible to destroy marriages, and creating conflict around finances is one of his favorite tactics. But there is more to money problems than not sticking to the budget. Chuck and Ann Bentley reveal the underlying issues of financial and relational discord—and show how it robs couples of joy, intimacy, and marital satisfaction.

Money Problems, Marriage Solutions presents seven keys to peace in marriage and helps couples unite and conquer to resolve financial issues together. Through real-life stories, a solid foundation from Scripture, and practical steps for application, this book gives a plan for getting back on the same team. Here is a clear and lasting way forward for couples struggling with money problems.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Although my life is busy right now, I know in all likelihood it will just get busier. Therefore, it seems like a rather logical idea to read marriage books now, even though I’m not married. (And that’s a disclaimer, folks: I’m not married, nor am I in a relationship, hence all my thoughts about this book come from the perspective of a single person.)
Plus, I’ve always found relationship (of any kind) oriented books to be really interesting because I like the psychology aspect of why people do what they do, etc…
Last of all, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve not spent a lot of time learning about money, budgeting, and everything that entails, so I’ve been working on learning about it.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Just reading the table of contents is enough to give you a boatload of things to think about. Key Two is about Grasping the Biblical Definition of Prosperity, Key Four is about Living By God’s Philosophy of Money, Key Five is about Understanding and Respecting Your Spouses Personality, and the list goes on.

Even as a single person I’ve heard over and over again from people, books, and media, how much contention money can cause in a marriage. People are raised with their own “culture” regarding money and finances and often times they don’t realize how truly different their ideas can be compared to their spouses.

This book is written by a husband and wife team who know firsthand about the trouble money can cause in a marriage. The first twenty years of their marriage were filled with strife, misunderstandings, and miscommunications when it came to the arena of finances. Through the pages of Money Problems, Marriage Solutions, we get to explore the seven keys they discovered to help them overcome their problems and align their hearts – and finances – so they could work together as a team.

Reading this book was a breeze. Although I (obviously) am not in a position to work through money issues with my spouse, I still found the advice and examples they gave to be very interesting and logical. I liked how they talked about the heart of the matter (which is making sure that your lives are in sync with each other and where God has you), instead of just giving material tips of how to work things out.

CONCLUSION

This is one of the books that I want to keep around so I can re-read it when I’m married because it seems like it will be very helpful in a relationship.

Rating

I’m giving Money Problems, Marriage Solutions 4 out of 5 stars.

((This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for me reviewing it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Unimaginable

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FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 240
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: December 5, 2017
Title: Unimaginable: What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianity
Author: Jeremiah J. Johnston
Nonfiction

BACK COVER BLURB:

A Stirring Account of Christianity’s Power for Good

In a day when Christians are often attacked for their beliefs, professor and speaker Jeremiah Johnston offers an inspiring look at the positive influence of Christianity, both historically and today. In Unimaginable, you’ll discover the far-reaching ways that Christianity is good for the world–and has been since the first century AD–including:
· How the plights of women and children in society were forever changed by Jesus
· Why democracy and our education and legal systems owe much to Christianity
· How early believers demonstrated the inherent value of human life by caring for the sick, handicapped, and dying
· How Christians today are extending God’s kingdom through charities, social justice efforts, and other profound ways

Like It’s a Wonderful Life, the classic film that showed George Bailey how different Bedford Falls would be without his presence, Unimaginable guides readers through the halls of history to see how Jesus’ teachings dramatically changed the world and continue to be the most powerful force for good today. This provocative and enlightening book is sure to encourage believers and challenge doubters.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK:

The concept of the book really grasped my attention. Other than that, I don’t quite remember why I chose this book because I got it a while ago. I didn’t read it for about a year because I thought it was going to be really heavy and I wasn’t in the mood for that type of book. But then I read it and…

WHAT I THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK:

Folks! I could barely put this book down. It was so good and grabbed my interest from the first page. Most of the time I skim read books – at least to a point – but I had to read every word of this book to get the full story. I read it over the period of two and a half days and want to read more by the same author.

The book was divided into three parts, so I’ll give a brief overview of each of the parts:

The World Before Christianity
This is probably the segment that I found most interesting. It talked a lot about what the world looked like before Jesus’ time, and how we often see the world back then through the eyes of how our world is today. Mr. Johnston then spent several chapters breaking it down subject by subject and showing the worldview was quite different back then. I really like history, so this part of the book was right up my alley.

The World Without Christianity
This section discussed some of the big influencers of philosophical thoughts from the nineteenth century – men like Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. There were several other men named also, and we got a brief overview of each of their lives, as well as what they thought/taught and what impact their teachings then had on the world.

This part was also highly interesting to me and made me want to read more books like it. I had to keep my phone next to me so I could look up what was being said from time to time because there were a lot of concepts I wasn’t familiar with.

The main point of this segment was pointing out what happens when men try to take God out of the picture, and what a disaster that turns into. (Examples: WW2 and Communism.)

The World With Christianity
The last section opens with a bunch of stats and that was really intriguing to me. (In fact, I promptly found a few people who I could share some of them with because it’s so interesting.) Overall though, the last few chapters of the book found my attention lagging a bit. I’m not sure if it’s because it covered more information that I knew already, or if I was simply ready to move on, but it was the last few chapters that brought the book from a five star read to a four star read for me. I still learned a lot from the last segment though.

Conclusion:

There were several things I didn’t agree with, plus a few things that left me confused. For instance: Mr. Johnston clearly sees how Darwin’s teachings negatively affected the world, and yet Mr. Johnston seems to believe that evolution is true instead of a literal interpretation of Genesis.
At times there were also concluding statements that were made that sounded reasonable, but I’m not sure if they were entirely accurate.
One warning: This book does deal with some harsh realities of the world, as well as talking about some pretty bad beliefs some people hold, so I don’t recommend it to anyone under the age of 15.

RATING:

This book was just a millimeter away from five stars. So Good! And yet, in the end, I’m giving it four out of five stars. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for reviewing it on my blog and I’m so thankful for the opportunity!

Unexpected Blessings

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FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 176
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: November 20, 2018
Title: Unexpected Blessings
Author: Sandra Peoples
Nonfiction

BACK COVER BLURB:

Unexpected Blessings helps special-needs families move past the pain and confusion of their circumstances and slowly, firmly face the future with hope. Speaking honestly about struggles that accompany a variety of disabilities, Sandra Peoples shows readers how to
· let go of false beliefs that hold them back
· work through the cycles of grief
· focus on self-care and healthy routines
· understand disability based on what the Bible says
· rebuild a strong faith foundation
· create support systems for themselves and others

Filled with real-life stories and hard-earned wisdom, this book shines a light on the possibilities and blessings that come when parents see their new purpose in life–which was God’s purpose for them all along.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK:

I have a family member with special needs and so the subject is one I find interesting. Also, the back cover blurb sounded pretty uplifting and interesting.

What I Thought about This Book

There were so many positives about this book – it takes you through an honest, but hope-filled look about what it’s like to have a special needs person enter your family. It talks about various things you have to work through, learning how to keep going, and also has a couple of chapters filled with very practical, everyday advice.

Several things I found particularly interesting/liked a lot were:
– Decision fatigue. Miss Sandra talks about how it can be so difficult taking care of special needs children during harder times in life (such as when facing medical issues), and that making even small decisions can be tiring. She then goes on to give tips on how your life/home can become more organized so you don’t feel as overwhelmed.
-How she dug into God’s word. When Miss Sandra’s son was diagnosed with Autism she really had to figure out what the Bible really said and what she had just believed because of her own experiences.
-How her family’s lives were changed when they found out James had Autism. The family became very involved with the special needs community around where they lived and even moved to be more involved with the special needs community. The experiences she shared in the book as a result of James having Autism were neat.
-How huge of a blessing children with special needs are. I think people sometimes don’t have a clue how special it can actually be to have a person in your life that lives on a whole different “level” of life than most people.

There were a few things I didn’t fully agree with. The main issue I had was that the subject of why there is suffering, etc… in the world in the first place never came up. Miss Sandra talks about how she had to work through why a loving God would allow bad things to happen (not her wording), but never bought up the fact that suffering is a result of sin being in the world. That is not to say that our sin causes children to be born with special needs, because that’s not what I mean at all – simply that sin in the first place is what brought suffering into the world.

CONCLUSION:

The book was a quick, easy read. I finished it in one day with no problem.

RATING:

I’m giving Unexpected Blessings four out of five stars, and recommend it to people with a special needs family member, or those who wish to better understand the special needs people/families in their lives.

This book was given to me from the publishers in exchange for me reviewing it on my blog.

Bringing Bookstagram to Noveltea (Or Something Like That Anyway…)

Y’all, today I decided to do something different: I’m posting my book review along with pictures of said book from my Instagram account. Yeah – it’s like a whole new element’s been added to the book reviewing deal. 😉 I hope y’all enjoy it and that it livens the book reviews up a bit.

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FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 224
Publisher: Chosen Books
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Title: Winning the Battle for Your Mind, Will and Emotions
Author: Robert Hotchkin

BACK COVER BLURB:

The most important battle you face is the battle for your mind, will, and emotions. Why? Because it greatly determines how much of God and his kingdom you will experience while you’re on earth. The thoughts we entertain, the words we speak, and the choices we make shape and influence not only our reality, but all of creation.

The enemy loves to highlight our temporary challenges; poke at our feelings and stir up fear, frustration, doubt, and self-pity; and get us mired in murmuring and complaining.
Yet the Bible shows us that all of heaven is available to us right now.

In these pages you will discover the secret of Colossians: the incredible power of Christ in you. When you learn how to access his ever-present power and goodness, feelings and fears will no longer control you. You will go from being overwhelmed to being an overcomer.

Heaven is only a decision away. How will you choose?

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK:

The more studying I do, the more I realize how important my thoughts and emotions are. This seemed like a great book to read to get a better grasp on the subject.

WHAT I THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK:

I have mixed feelings about this book because there was a ton I liked a lot, but then some stuff that annoyed me a bit, so I thought I’d do a Pros and Cons list.

Pros:
-This book is full of really good information that I think a lot of people really need to implement into their lives
-The author uses examples from his own life which makes it feel authentic and relatable
-For the most part he has what seems like a balanced view with the things he says
-He backs up his claims with the Bible, which is something I really look for in Christian nonfiction
-The points he makes are really solid and (for the most part) are statements I can get fully behind and support

Cons:
-The first half of the book felt redundant. I’m not sure if that’s because I already knew a lot of the information or if he really did say basically the same thing over and over again in slightly different ways
-There were several interpretations from the Bible that he made that I didn’t fully agree with
-He was more adamant about various other things than I feel like is supported in scripture, and while I think most people do that (me included) it rubbed me the wrong way

CONCLUSION:

After I got through the first (redundant) part of the book I found it to be interesting, thought-provoking, note-taking-worthy, and to be full of information that I’m now taking steps to implement in my life.

Also, cool note: The author describes a “mysterious illness” throughout the first part of the book and I kept being like “Oh yeah, he has Lyme disease.” And, yup. That’s what it was.

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RATING:

I’m giving Winning the Battle for Your Mind, Will and Emotions 4 out of 5 Stars and recommend it to people who want to grow closer to God and realize that what we say and think really does make a difference.

Yo folks, I got this book free so I could write this review. But yeah, all thoughts and such are my own. 😉