The exciting Anomaly trilogy comes to its conclusion with "Revolutionary." If you need a refresher on what has happened earlier in the series, check out my reviews of Book 1 and Book 2.

Finding herself forced back to the underground State, Thalli faces her greatest challenge yet. The evil Dr. Loudin, who is responsible for the nuclear war that wiped out most of Earth's population, wants to study Thalli and the friends she has made above ground, as well as use them as leverage against each other to ensure full cooperation for his plans.

Although Thalli and the others scheme of ways to overthrow Dr. Loudin, she battles a fair amount of despair because he always seems one step ahead of them. She feels distant from the Designer and wonders why He is allowing this wickedness to continue. A surprising ally is found in Dr. Turner, John's son who has worked with Dr. Loudin for years. He sees now the depths to which Loudin has sunk, and he desires to do what he can to stand up to the corruption around him.

The struggle going on around Thalli only magnifies her inner turmoil. Although she was genetically engineered as an embryo, she discovers she has a biological father, mother, and siblings, all of whom are still alive. She's never known family, and she cherishes the hope of getting away from the State and having a future with them. She is also torn between two young men who love her: Berk, her childhood friend, and Alex, whom she met in Book 2, who grew up above ground as a prince among his people.

There are some really gut-wrenching things that happen in this book, and the not all of the characters we love will make it to the end. Even though the Designer does not seem close, they must keep faith that He has a plan which will overcome evil in the end. No situation is hopeless when we know God is in control.

I received my copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Krista McGee's "Anomaly" was one of my favorite books of 2013, and I had been looking forward to this sequel since the moment I turned that final page. Let's recap quickly: Thalli was born in an underground State run by scientists after most of the world destroyed itself in nuclear war. Humans are now genetically engineered for specific career fields, and their emotions have been eliminated. It's a sterile and perfunctory enviroment. But Thalli is an anomaly. She feels emotions, and knows if the scientists found out they would annihilate her. As the pod musician, Thalli has a great outlet for processing her feelings, but it's only a matter of time before her differences are discovered. Go read my review for more details, but trust me: it's amazing!

"Luminary" opens after Thalli, Berk, Rhen, and John have made an escape from the State. They know their search for pockets of nuclear war survivors will take weeks, and John's age is a factor they must take into consideration. Thalli does not act like herself at all through the first portion of this book, and that was disappointing to me. Berk explains later in the book that the drugs pumped into her system at her attempted annihilation were likely affecting her judgment, but it was off-putting to me. It seemed that Thalli been replaced by Katniss Everdeen, who is an outstanding heroine in her own right, but she's not the Thalli I had grown to love. Thankfully Thalli did recover her spunk, although the storyline continued to have "Catching Fire" undertones which had me scratching my head.

When our group reaches the village of New Hope, they are welcomed with open arms. It's a new experience for Berk, Rhen, and Thalli to meet people who have always lived above ground. John is rapturous. Our foursome make friends and begin to settle in, but all is not peaceful in New Hope. The neighboring village, Athens, is technologically advanced but land-poor and unable to grow their own food. Their frequent attacks on the farming settlement are growing more and more violent, especially when New Hope begins harboring refugees who have sought protection from King Jason's ruthless dictatorship. A major conflict between the two groups is imminent, and Thalli and the other newcomers want to do whatever they can to help. Thalli volunteers to infiltrate Athens as a spy, and over loud protests by some in the group, it's agreed that she do so.

Pretending she is just then fleeing the State, Thalli is welcomed into Athens and even into the palace, where King Jason wants to get to know her and find out everything she can tell him about the distant underground entity. Prince Alex, who is near Thalli's age, becomes a fast friend and he is able to show her all around their factories and businesses. Athens seems so peaceful, but why are they resisting all talks of peace with New Hope and growing more brutal with each attack? Will Thalli be able to be the ambassador she hopes to be, or will she be a casualty of the mind control that King Jason wields over all his subjects?

My favorite part of this story was seeing Thalli learn and grow in her relationship with God, whom she calls the Designer. She comes to depend on Him, pray more fervently to Him, and even meditate on His Word in this story. John continues shepherding her young faith, which was very touching. Since she had never known anything about the Bible before, it was neat to see her really thinking and studying the verses John shared with her. I also loved the few scenes where Thalli was able to play a violin and work through her emotions in that familiar way. Those are beautifully written.

"Luminary" ends on quite a cliffhanger. The good news is that the final book in this series comes out in just a few months, so we won't have to wait too long for it. Thalli is going to be tested beyond anything she's endured before... and I will be there to see where she finds herself in the end!

I review for BookSneeze®

I received my copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own.

After a nuclear war has made most of the planet uninhabitable, a group of scientists called The Ten have taken refuge in a giant underground facility. They are genetically engineering future generations, creating life void of anything except productivity. Emotions have been removed to prevent questioning or strife, or even love.

But Thalli is an anomaly. She has emotions, and recognizes at a young age that this sets her apart from the others. Realizing that it would mean her annihilation if the monitors noticed that she is different, Thalli becomes adept at hiding her feelings and acting the part of the obedient student, training to be a musician. Music boosts productivity for those who hear it, and that will be Thalli's role once their generation has matured.

All of Thalli's years of acting as expected and hiding her curiosity are undone when the monitors bring her an ancient piece of music that has been preserved from the world before. As Thalli plays Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, she realizes that this piece of music somehow holds answers to some of her deepest questions. Her display of rapturous joy and wonder calls for her removal from the pod, and Thalli is taken to the scientist's area while knowing her annihilation will surely come soon. If only she understood what the answers in the music meant.

To Thalli's surprise, the scientists wish to run tests on her before ending her life. As the days of questions and simulations pass, Thalli meets a very old man who is also housed in the isolation wing. John remembers life above ground. He is more than happy to share with Thalli about the answers in the music, about the Designer who created things long before the scientists took over. He tells her of love and family and life. He teaches her that she has a part in the Designer's plans that are beyond anything The Ten might have thought up for her.

The plot of "Anomaly" is full of twists and turns. Just when you think you understand what is going on, everything changes. What is real? Will Thalli prove herself so useful that the scientists will not annihilate her? One young scientist was once part of Thalli's pod and he's fighting for his childhood friend, even scheming behind the backs of the others for ways to save her life. Can they stay one step ahead, or will the predetermined outcome be victorious at last?

I love Krista McGee's books! This one was well-written and intriguing on every level. It left me hungry for more, and so thankful that I have known about our Designer God my whole life. His plans for us really are beyond anything we can imagine. Our emotions and feelings are gifts from Him, and in the center of our beings is a deep need to know Him. Where Krista McGee will take the sequel to this novel is a mystery, but July 2014 can't get here fast enough for its release!

This book was provided for me by LitFuse in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own. Below is the information on how you can enter to win an iPad Mini and a chance to read "Anomaly" for yourself!

Krista McGee is celebrating the release of Anomaly, the first book in her new YA dystopian series, with an iPad Mini Giveaway!


One winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini

  • A $25 iTunes gift card (download Anomaly to the iPad!)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 31st. Winner will be announced at Krista's website on August 2nd.

Spread the word about Krista and her giveaway HERE!

Here's a story for all the spunky girls out there! Kara McKormick, Addy's roommate from "First Date," is pursuing her career in entertainment. When she is selected to take part in a month-long audition for a new teen version of "Saturday Night Light," Kara leaves her home in NYC for Orlando, FL, to live with 9 other hopeful young ladies and their unusual housemother, Flora. There are a number of things the girls don't know about the upcoming show, including the identity of the celebrity who is behind it, and the real surprise is that these auditions are more about their character than their talent.

Chad Beacon has had success with his music career, but now his real dream of doing live television is about to happen. But Chad is still 17 and his parents, who are naturally protective of their son, are insisting that his co-star be a Christian. They hatch the plan to have their housekeeper, Flora, oversee a selection of the nation's most talented young actresses so she can determine which one would be best for the role. Just as the girls can't know Chad is the star, Chad is not allowed to know the names of the 10 girls until Flora makes her choice.

There's a couple problems, though. Through mutual friends before the auditions started, Chad met Kara and has been unable to get her out of his mind. Her vibrancy, her long auburn hair, the way she treated him like a normal guy; everything about her has captivated him. But Kara is not a Christian. Chad is dedicated to praying for her and hoping their paths might cross again someday.

Housemother Flora completely steals every scene she's in. From her multiple shades of hair to her outrageous wardrobe choices, Flora is someone you won't be forgetting! In this tale loosely based on the Biblical story of Isaac & Rebecca, Kara finds that while she may be pursuing her dreams, God is pursuing her for an adventure greater than any she's ever imagined.

I loved Kara and her very real range of emotions, from her abundant excitement to her occasional fears and feelings of inadequacy. I might not be as outgoing to Kara, but she was very relatable and someone I'd love to be friends with, if fiction characters could jump off the pages! I'd recommend this story for anyone looking for a fun read that also incorporates the importance of parental guidance, Christian friends, and letting God lead in our lives.

I have just recently been introduced to Krista McGee's books, but I am decidedly a fan! Her characters are well-developed and I love that in every book she's written so far she has taken a Biblical story and presented it in a modern setting. They're not straight-up re-tellings, but it's not hard to see where she draws the inspiration from. In "Right Where I Belong" it was the story of Ruth, and in "First Date" it's the book of Esther on display.

Addy Davidson is a normal high school sophomore. She likes routine and order. When she suddenly discovers she's going to be on a reality television show, she's distraught and resists the notion. Her school was one of 100 in the nation selected to send one girl to compete on a TV show called "Book of Love," with the premise that these 100 girls will compete and be chosen as a date for the President's son's senior prom. Addy doesn't want to be famous. She just wants to finish high school and get into an Ivy League college. But she's not really given a choice, and she leaves the next morning for the set in Tennessee.

It seems like every other girl in the competition has aspirations. Addy just wants to be kicked off the show as soon as possible so she can go home. When she first meets Jonathon Jackson, the President's son, she makes quite an impression, and not necessarily a good one at that! Having her moment of frustration caught on camera, Addy immediately receives media attention, which infuriates the other girls. They are sure Addy also has a hidden agenda, and nothing she says can convince them otherwise.

As well as the cattiness of dozens of teenage girls, Addy must deal with the hostility of the show's host, Hank. He's all charm for the cameras, but once they are turned off he is demanding and rude. He's far more concerned with furthering his own career than with helping anyone else.

If there's one bright spot, it's Addy's roommate, Kara. The friendship of the spunky redhead is just what Addy needs. It's not long before Addy discovers that Jonathon might not be so bad himself. but she can't tell whether he is also putting on a false front for the cameras.

I loved how Addy was portrayed. For the most part she's a quiet thinker, and even in the middle of conversations sometimes she'd drift off into her thoughts. An introvert! Her struggles with how to respond to criticism and outright mean-spiritedness seemed genuine and something a lot of teenagers could relate to. Maybe not everyone gets the chance to be on TV, but all of our lives are on display in one way or another. The question is if we'll choose to do our best to honor God no matter the situation, or let pressure and strife change us into people we wouldn't want to recognize as ourselves. A great story for young women today!

2012 held so many good books. This was a hard list to compile. Please click on any of the titles below to read my original review!

Historical Fiction
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

Fans of Downton Abbey will love this story. The wealthy Margaret Macy must pretend to be a lowly housemaid to avoid the unscrupulous man her stepfather plans to force her to marry.

Young Adult Fiction
Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Brielle Matthews is frozen with fear and grief after her best friend's murder. She slowly becomes aware of the spiritual battle around her, angels and demons in combat over the souls of men. Amazing.

Contemporary Fiction
Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee

Although this is actually a young adult title, it was the best of all the contemporary setting books I read. Natalia is 17 and her father is divorcing for the third time. Deciding to leave her home in Spain to go with her stepmother to Florida, she must adjust to a new country, new friends, and a new school, as well as all the decisions reaching adulthood brings.

Speculative Fiction
H2O by Austin Boyd and Brannon Hollingsworth

The Ice Queen, Kate Pepper, is devoted to her life of business. Her world is shattered when she begins having visions, sparked by contact with water, of a Living God who desires a personal relationship with her. The imagery in this novel is outstanding!

By Faith, Not By Sight by Scott MacIntyre

A finalist on Season 8 of "American Idol," Scott is a musician who was born blind. This is primarily the story of his struggle with kidney failure and the road God took him on to overcome many obstacles in order to fulfill his dreams. I would recommend this book for everyone!

Classic Literature
Sanditon by Jane Austen

This was an Austen I'd never read, and was truly a treat for this longtime fan. I thought the author who finished it did a fantastic job and gave a wonderful gift to Janeites all over the world.

The cover and title of this book caught my attention right away. Two things everyone loves: sticking their feet in the ocean, and knowing we're where we are supposed to be. Both are amazing feelings! I was so happy when this book lived up the expectations built on such a great first impression.

This is Natalia's story. She is seventeen when her life is rocked again with her father's announcement that he is divorcing wife #3 in favor of yet another younger woman. Her current stepmother, Maureen, has brought so much good into Natalia's life, including introducing her to Jesus Christ and His saving grace. When Maureen decides to leave their home in Spain and her return to her family in the United States, Natalia feels God prompting her to go along, leaving her native country for adventures that only He can see. Her father agrees, knowing it will be helpful for Natalia to get into a good American college if she graduates from an American highschool.

Everything about her life changes in Florida. There's the new culture to deal with. A new school and new friends. Maureen is very depressed to be returning with her life in shambles, and Natalia does her best to be strong for her while learning and adjusting to all these changes. While hoping to make friends, she's also made a promise to herself: she's not going to get involved in a romantic relationship. Ever. She's seen too much heartbreak from the constant turnover of her father's wives and girlfriends.

Her promise is challenged by two young men: Brian, the tall and pale pastor's son, and Spencer, the most popular guy at her school. One's servant heart and humor make an impression she can't shake, while the other pursues her with persistence and charm. Natalia also makes some really great female friends, and I know just enough about this author's other books to know some of them have stories of their own. Those books are now on my wishlist so I can learn more about these kids!

One thing that I loved about this book was that it featured a Christian school. As a Christian school teacher who had never seen one portrayed in fiction, that was fun and thrilling for me. Then I read that the author is also a teacher at a Christian school herself, which cemented my feeling that she's a kindred spirit. I loved checking out her blog, too.

Another thing I loved was that all the emotions were incredibly realistic. Whether it was Maureen's depression, Natalia's uncertainty, Brian's self esteem issues, or the thrill of ministry, I felt it was very relatable and real. The issues were current and ones that resonated. What do you do when you feel your calling from the Lord goes against the wishes of your parents? How do you even know what God's will is for your life? Excellent subject matter wrapped up enjoyably in young adult format. I don't read a lot of young adult fiction, but Thomas Nelson is publishing some great stuff these days that you won't want to miss!

This book releases on December 11 and would make an excellent Christmas gift. I received my copy from the publisher in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own.

I review for BookSneeze®



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