Book Review: Single, Gay, Christian by Gregory Coles

Title: Single, Gay, Christian
Author: Gregory Coles
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction, Biography, Memoir
Publisher: IVP Books
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Format: Kindle
Pages: 144
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★

In an age where neither society nor the church knows what to do with gay Christians, Greg Coles tells his own story.

Let’s make a deal, you and me. Let’s make promises to each other.

I promise to tell you my story. The whole story. I’ll tell you about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attractions were persistently and exclusively for other guys. I’ll tell you how I lay on my bed in the middle of the night and whispered to myself the words I’ve whispered a thousand times since:

“I’m gay.”

I’ll show you the world through my eyes. I’ll tell you what it’s like to belong nowhere. To know that much of my Christian family will forever consider me unnatural, dangerous, because of something that feels as involuntary as my eye color. And to know that much of the LGBTQ community that shares my experience as a sexual minority will disagree with the way I’ve chosen to interpret the call of Jesus, believing I’ve bought into a tragic, archaic ritual of self-hatred.

But I promise my story won’t all be sadness and loneliness and struggle. I’ll tell you good things too, hopeful things, funny things, like the time I accidentally came out to my best friend during his bachelor party. I’ll tell you what it felt like the first time someone looked me in the eyes and said, “You are not a mistake.” I’ll tell you that joy and sorrow are not opposites, that my life has never been more beautiful than when it was most brokenhearted.

If you’ll listen, I promise I’ll tell you everything, and you can decide for yourself what you want to believe about me.

This book wasn’t written for me. It probably wasn’t written for you either. Unless, of course, you happen to be LGBTQ, Christian, and single/celibate by choice. Gregory Coles did not write this book for straight Christians to teach them how to treat their LGBTQ sisters and brothers in Christ. He wrote this book to help those brothers and sisters in Christ who are LGBTQ understand they are not alone in their struggles.

I’m not saying straight Christians can’t learn something from this book. I absolutely believe they can. They can learn what struggles a person who identifies with a sexual minority feels in the Church. How they cope. How scared, frustrated, and even how lonely they may feel. Thsi book is a 5 star representation everyone should read, but any LGBTQ Christian needs to read.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

Title: A Whole New World
Series: Disney’s Twisted Tales Author: Liz Braswell
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Disney Books
Release Date: September 1, 2015 Format: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★★

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

I’ve read some pretty unflattering reviews of this book. All I can say is, I don’t think they were reading the same book I was. I’m not even kidding. Many of the things people complained about didn’t seem to even be a part of the book.

Yes, the beginning of the book gives a recap of events at the beginning of Aladdin. It is not word-for-word as some have claimed and things were added to the story as well. When the story does branch away, which is well before most reviewers claimed it did, it immediately and completely changes. For the better, in my opinion.

Honestly, if Aladdin had gone like A Whole New World, I think it would be one of my favorite movies, even more than it already is. The action scenes are awesome. The feeling of pity for Street Rats, hatred for Jafar, and heartbreak at certain events make this a must read book. Five stars for this magnificent what-if version of Aladdin.

Book Review: Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Title: Shadow Frost
Author: Coco Ma
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Release Date: October 1, 2019 Format: eBook
Pages: 400
Source: Edelweiss Plus
Rating: ★★★★★

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes. Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm. Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.

When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields—though has yet to fully understand—Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her friends begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

Pianist Coco Ma has a second passion in which she is just as talented – writing. Her first novel, Shadow Frost, is an absolute wonder.

The world Coco Ma has built is reminiscent of Earth, but with magic added. It seems most people have the ability to use magic, each person having at least one magical affinity. The use of stones to assist them with using their magic is an interesting concept and not one often seen.

This novel definitely reads like a seasoned author wrote it, which is amazing for a debut novel. Coco Ma did an excellent job of building characters, the world, the magic system, and creating plot twists to keep you on your toes.

I sincerely hope a sequel is coming as cliffhangers are to be had in this book. I gave this one a solid 5 stars because this debut novel is truly amazing.

I received a copy of this book free from Edelweiss Plus in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

Title: Once Upon a Dream
Series: Disney’s Twisted Tales Author: Liz Braswell
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Disney Books
Release Date: April 05, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 440
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★☆

What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? Once Upon a Dream marks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways.

It should be simple—a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess’, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.

With a desperate fairy’s last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent’s agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

If you’re familiar with Sleeping Beauty, then you already know what Once Upon a Dream is going to be about. But trust me, this isn’t your Mom or Grandma’s Sleeping Beauty.

Liz Braswell has woven a tale that asks what if it required more than just true love’s kiss to break the curse on Aurora? What if Maleficent had to be defeated before the curse could be broken?

The world building in this story is top-notch. I didn’t even realize what was actually going on until a good way into the story. In fact, I didn’t figure out what was happening until just before Aurora figured it out.

Fans of Sleeping Beauty who crave a stronger princess will love this book. While I didn’t enjoy Once Upon a Dream as much as I did As Old As Time, this book still gets a solid 4 stars for awesome character use and building of the world.

Book Review: As Old As Time by Liz Braswell

Title: As Old As Time
Series: Disney’s Twisted Tales
Author: Liz Braswell
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Disney Books
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 484
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★★

What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.

But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.

Who doesn’t love the tale of Beauty & The Beast? Well, except for a few people who seem to be hell-bent on dragging Disney’s version of the classic tale through the mud, claiming Belle has Stockholm Syndrom (which is actually addressed in this book). But have you ever wondered who the Enchantress was? Why she was so worried about this particular prince? Well, As Old As Time might just give you the “canon” answers you want.

As Old As Time explores the possibility of what would have happened had the Enchantress been Belle’s mother. I know, in the live action version of Beauty & The Beast, we are told that Belle’s mother died of Plague. But honestly, I like this idea much better.

Liz Braswell has done an amazing job of bringing the characters to life – including the ones that she created such as Alaric, Frederic, and Rosalind. She’s given a superb backstory to to the classic tale – even if this version doesn’t end quite like you might be expecting.

This is a 5 star read and if you’re a fan of Beauty & The Beast, you really need to read this.

Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Title: The Wicked King
Series: The Folk of the Air
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 322
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★★

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Another great novel that takes place in Faerie. You can really get a feel for how things work in the land of Faerie. You get to see war, love, betrayal, and you even get twists and turns you may not anticipate.

This book could not have been a more perfect sequel to The Cruel Prince. Questions were answered, more questions were raised.

You got to see what makes Jude and Cardan tick. I’ll be honest, I’ve been shipping them since The Cruel Prince. Locke, well, I’d like to smack him because I don’t think he’s right for Taryn and he’s such a brat.

Then again, by the end of The Wicked King, I’d rather have beaten Taryn, Madoc, and Cardan than look at them.

Cardan made me wonder what the hell he was thinking/doing, but I suppose the next book will give me the answers I need. This was another 5 star read from Holly Black and I can’t wait for The Queen of Nothing to come out in January 2020. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy so I don’t have to wait for it at the library.

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince
Series: The Folk of the Air
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 370
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★★

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Stories about Faerie fascinate me. The many different takes that never fail to include one common thread – Faerie is cruel, violent, & just plain a place no one should want to go.

The Cruel Prince is everything Faerie is made out to be, but with one twist – mortals, humans, can play the games as well if they’re smart about it.

Jude is the one who doesn’t fit in, kidn of wants to, but at the same time wants to fit in on her terms. She wants to be one of them, but not? Jude wants to fit in by being a member of the Court as someone’s knight.

Taryn just wants to fit in. She just wants to be one of them, but not in the same way her twin sister Jude does. Taryn wants to fall in love and become the wife of one of the Gentry and fit in that way.

Vivienne is half-fey, half-human. She’s the reason Jude and Taryn ended up growing up in Faerie in the first place. She would honestly rather live in the mortal world.

Cardan is an ass, but he’s a loveable ass in a way. You realize that his hatred for Jude isn’t what it appears to be.

This was one of the best representations of Faerie I’ve read and the best recent novel dealing with Faerie. I didn’t want to put it down. It has such a unique perspective. You don’t usually get Faerie novels from a mortal’s point of view.

Extremely well written, this book needs to be read by anyone who has a love of Faerie. I gave this one 5 stars because it is just excellent.