Category Archives: 5 Stars


Stray by Andrea K. Höst

On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing: alone, she will be lucky to survive.

The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she’s being watched?

Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people’s skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a ‘stray’, a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.

Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?

5 Stars

I love it when I find a new favorite! Where to begin… (also, I tried really hard to keep the spoilers out, so sorry if some of this is a little vague)

The world-building is phenomenal. Confusing at times, but incredibly interesting.

The book begins with “survivor Cass” as she struggles to make it on a deserted planet. As far as I could tell, it was all pretty realistic and gives a nice set-up for later developments. Later, after the Setari pick her up, we get more glimpses into alien society and community. All very interesting. The info-dumps were handled well and didn’t detract from the plot at all. The book is written in journal form, which doesn’t always work, but which Höst pulls off well.

Cass herself is brilliantly portrayed. As you know, I have a strong dislike of wimpy female characters and insta-love. None of that here! Sure, Cass struggles, cries, throws tantrums at times, but who wouldn’t after being whisked away from her planet and thrown onto an alien planet and picked up by “space ninjas” who don’t speak her language. The language aspect was handled nicely, I thought. Cass’s decisions are ultimately rational, and I love that she keeps referencing all the sci-fi she’s watched and read as why she’s handling it so well. (One of my favorite references gives a nod to Stargate “Hm—must watch Tarens carefully in case their eyes flash mysteriously.”) I also love Cass’s wry sense of humor.

I have to admit that I sometimes got lost in all of the names of the Setari, but eventually straightened it all out. (Although sometimes I had to refresh my memory as to which Setari team each belonged.)

Definitely deserving of all 5 stars.

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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in 5 Stars, Reviews


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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

5 Stars

Ah, where to begin with this book? Let’s start with Panem. Taken from satirist Juvenal, the original was panem et circensus, or bread and circuses. Basically, a society governed by diversions and pleasures, not by the upright conduct of a leader. This describes the Capitol in Collins’s creation to a T. So how is the populace of the Capitol entertained? By the same activities people have been entertained by for centuries: think gladiators, public executions, pure spectacle. Suzanne Collins’s world is starkly drawn and sometimes horrifying, but she has a good grasp on human nature in that respect. Collins’s world building was very well done

And now the characters. Katniss is a believable, complex character. Her personality bugs me sometimes, but her reasoning and motivations are believable to the character Collins draws. Peeta is also well drawn. I think his character is probably the most admirable. I wasn’t sure about his obsession with Katniss for years, but it didn’t really bother me that much. In District 12 it seems as if most kids the same age knew each other at least superficially so it wasn’t as far-fetched as some. *coughTwilightcough* And Katniss’s reaction to it (mostly confusion) was also believable. I have to give a shout-out to Rue. Poor little Rue *sniff* that scene was so sad.

If I was in the Hunger Games… pretty sure I’d be the first to go.

What did you think of the first book? Did you have a favorite character besides Katniss and Peeta? I actually thought Foxface was kinda cool… What are you looking forward to about the movie?


Posted by on March 2, 2012 in 5 Stars, Reviews


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But God . . .

But God . . . by Casey Lute

Whether from the pen of Moses, Paul, or other biblical authors, “But God” appears in various forms hundreds of times in the Bible. To understand these two words as they are used in Scripture is to understand the gospel. This book focuses on nine of the most important appearances of this key phrase, drawing in numerous other passages of Scripture and in the process unfolding the magnificent drama of God’s sovereign grace—from his mercy on Noah to our security in a resurrected Savior.

Taken together, this collection of brief Bible expositions provides a big-picture overview of the consistent way in which God has chosen to save sinners. It has always been by his might, his power, his grace, and his initiative.

5 Stars

But God . . . is one of my favorite books now. As seen from the description, Lute traces this phrase throughout scripture. Reading through each of the examples that Lute has chosen highlights my own inability to save myself or even do anything good apart from God as well as God’s own grace and mercy toward me. It propels me to take a closer look at all of my circumstances, find the “but God” moments in my own life, and then worship God again for His amazing grace.

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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in 5 Stars, Reviews


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