Thursday, March 2, 2017

Disney Films: Zootopia- The Persistent Problem of a Perfect World

For decades, nay centuries, mankind has sought a perfect world where we can all live in peace with one another. Where we all get along, look out for each other's best interests, and appreciate each other's differences.

Turns out, humans aren't the only ones interested in a utopia. Animals are, too. At least, they are in the Disney fantasy world that lives in Zootopia. In this computer animated dimension completely devoid of humans, animals (or more specifically, mammals) have developed a city where predators and their former prey live civilized urban lives in a shining metropolis.
It's always been a dream of young rabbit Judy Hopps to leave her small rural carrot farming town and become a cop to help make the world a little safer in the best city on earth, where "anyone can be anything". Where even a bunny can be a cop.

Not that that's ever happened before. But thanks to, uh...affirmative action on behalf of Zootopia's lion mayor, Judy gets her chance. And she uses all the years of racist...erm...speciesist oppression that's been dumped on her since childhood as fuel in her passionate fire to graduate top of her police academy class.

Sadly, in Zootopia, anyone can't really be anything. Judy may officially be a cop, but her department chief doesn't have time to babysit a tiny rookie bunny in his department full of bears, rhinos, elephants, and other giant mammals. So he sticks her on parking duty, where she can do the least amount of damage to herself and the department's reputation, and he can get back to his 14 missing mammal cases.
While Judy struggles to come to terms with being less than the officer she dreamed of being, she's forced to deal with some of her own internalized racis....um...species-ism when she suspects a fox of shady dealings. At first, Judy berates herself for thinking less of Nick Wilde when he seems to be a decent father just trying to care for his son. But she comes to find out her stereotyping was spot on. Nick is up to some shifty business and Judy is humiliated at having been duped by his nice-guy routine. But when Judy makes a deal with Chief Bogo to solve one of the missing mammal cases in 48 hours or resign from the force entirely, she's forced to team up with Nick as he's her only lead to the victim's last-known whereabouts.

Can Judy overcome the expectations of others and finally be taken seriously as a cop? Is Nick conning Judy yet again? Can a leopard...or a fox...really change its spots? And is a utopia, animal or otherwise, ever possible?
The short answer is: no. Emphatically no. Utopia, Zootopia, whatever you call it, isn't possible on this earth. At least, not under the current circumstances. But more on that later.

I suppose the first thing I was really surprised by was how adult this film is. Not in violent or sexual ways. Though...it's not completely devoid of that. After all, this is basically a buddy cop movie for kids, with underworld contacts, mafia families, drug deals, political corruption, and following a lead to a nudist colony. For animals, of course, but still.

But it also touches on a lot of very current adult issues. The distrust between cops and civilians, racism, affirmative action, tokenism, and mass protesting. And it really manages to hammer home that you can never judge a book by its cover.

On the one hand, Nick, for all his shadiness, has only become so after becoming disillusioned with life thanks to prejudice against his predator status as a fox. "If the world's only going to see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there's no point in being anything else." He's got a good heart. He just let circumstances dictate his personality for far too long. It takes Judy's naïve innocence and passion for justice to draw him out of his callous shell.
You know. More or less...
On the other, seemingly sweet Assistant Mayor Bellwether is tired of being treated like the sheep she is. Well, she's not cowering in a herd anymore. She's out for revenge against all predators, and she'll take out anyone that gets in her way, even fellow prey animals like Judy.

In spite of all that heavy artillery, though, the movie manages to come off as lighthearted and fun. My favorite bits center around Nick and Judy's witty repartee and all of the scenes dealing with Flash, the sloth who works at the DMV. (Odd that a movie that bashes stereotypes also thrives on laughable stereotypes.)

At the end of it all, Judy confesses that while Zootopia isn't the utopia she thought it was, it's still a pretty nice place to live. There will always be bad guys who don't want peace and harmony so much as they want power, money, revenge, or just to hurt others. But there will always be good guys out there to try and stop them, restoring some semblance of balance and justice. Even Chief Bogo confesses this in one of Judy's darkest hours.

"I came here to make the world a better place, but I think I broke it," Judy laments. Her boss replies solemnly, "Don't give yourself so much credit, Hopps. The world has always been broken, that's why we need good cops. Like you."

Indeed, the world has always been broken. At least, since a couple God placed in a garden decided they wanted to become gods themselves. But must it always be broken? Can we tap into the goodness in all of us and bring about the utopia we've been craving for ages? Disney bravely answers that question with, "No." And once again, coming from Disney, that's a real surprise. Like I said in my Inside Out review, Disney thrives on their "happiest place on earth" code. They strive to make their theme parks as perfect a place as you can find. But the healthy dose of reality contained in this film is refreshing.

Life can be a mess. And sometimes, you just have to make the best of a bad situation. You cling to truth and justice. You don't judge without knowing all the facts. And you work to live beyond the expectations of others to make the world a slightly better place. But there is no perfect world. And there never will be.

Well, not quite. Our human efforts can never eradicate the sin in the world, but there will come a utopia one day. A day when all will live in unity and the lion will lie down with the lamb. But only when the Lion who is the Lamb sits on the throne of eternity. Then, and only then, will every knee bow before Him. Then, and only then, will there be peace.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book Review: Courage to Change by Elizabeth Maddrey

If you read my previous review of Elizabeth Maddrey's Wisdom to Know, then you know that, while the book was decent in and of itself, the ending left a bit to be desired.

I'm thrilled to say...the second book more than makes up for it.
Courage to Change shifts focus from the main couple of the original book, Lydia and Kevin, to Kevin's long-time attorney friend, Allison. She has a secret crush on her law firm partner Phil. But Phil comes with some pretty heavy baggage: a psychotic ex-wife. It's a part of his life he doesn't talk about much. Since getting saved and leaving the hard partying lifestyle they shared, Phil tried everything he could to salvage his marriage to Brandi. But Brandi would have none of it. She walked out on him and he was left with the stigma of divorce, a condition he believes makes him ineligible for remarriage.

When Allison finally works up the courage to even hint at the beginnings of a relationship, Phil quite literally runs away. Allison is left wondering what it is about her that seems to drive men away. After all, she's 27. Her parents expected her to be married and settled by now. Even her friends are beginning to mock her for holding onto her purity for so long instead of playing the field and having a little fun.

But Phil and Allison will be forced to draw closer together when they begin working with a client in some pretty extreme circumstances. Can Phil overcome the problems of his past? Can Allison overlook the emotional baggage that comes with loving a divorcee? Or will disapproving parents and a vengeful ex-wife tear them apart for good?
I really liked this book. It has a lot of the punch and drama that the first one was missing. Every other chapter has a new twist or angle to keep your interest. I actually listened to the audiobook version (because when you have 2 small kids, you can't take your eyes off them for a second) and found myself loath to turn it off whenever I got interrupted. Every time I thought I knew where the book was going, it would shift directions on me and keep me guessing.

I love the characters. They have so much personality and I feel as though I actually got to know them rather than just know about them. I did think Phil's belief of not being able to remarry was just a tad out of character for him. He is an attorney after all. I get the feeling the first thing he'd do after becoming a Christian would be to research everything to learn what is and isn't allowed. But I suppose I can chalk that one up to his brains running off with his emotions.

We do get to hear more about Lydia and Kevin as they plan their wedding. Lydia seems to have mellowed and matured a bit since the last book (a welcome change). And I really liked getting to know Lindsey, the pregnant teen that Phil and Allison are working with.
Not only does her portrayal give an accurate description of teenage pregnancy (fathered by a much older man, which is something my family actually knows a bit about) but it shows just how wonderful and beautiful adoption can be. As a friend to several women who either adopted children or were adopted themselves, and as a mother who hopes to adopt some day, it really does my heart good to see it shown in such a positive yet realistic light. It can be messy. It can certainly be painful. But it's almost always worth it. In a world where children are treated like disposable accessories, I'm glad there are authors out there willing to show that giving life is far more heroic than taking it. I almost found myself wanting to know more about Lindsey and her journey after the book ended. Maybe she'll get her own book some day. (Hint, hint!)

All in all, it was well written, action-packed, realistic while still being romantic (a tough balance to pull off), and a beautiful story about how a person's past may affect who they are, but it doesn't have to define or limit what they can become. An excellent read through and through.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Once Bitten, Twice Shy Cover Reveal

Time for another great cover reveal from the amazing Kelly Martin. I've not read this one yet, but you can bet I'll be publishing a review once I do!

Today is the official cover reveal for the very last Love in the 80s book from WaWa productions! 1989 finished out the decade in style, as does Kelly Martin's scandalous ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY. 




Nancy Corbin makes a living screwing with the minds of Nashville's less than upstanding men.

As the owner of the underground business, Once Bitten, Nancy makes it her mission to give scorned women the justice they deserve. She lures in the man who has wronged her client, flatters him with her considerable charms, then strikes. 

It's only business.

Until the ex-girlfriend of tabloid-proclaimed Romeo, Chad Harris, comes in. According to the ex, Chad is the worst Nancy has ever had the pleasure of manipulating. However, after their first encounter, Nancy isn't so sure.

As business becomes pleasure, will Nancy be able to finish the deal? Or will Chad prove to be more of a challenge than she ever realized?



ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY by Kelly Martin is on pre-order!
Get it for 99 cents for a limited time!
Book release: October 28th, 2016
Once Bitten, Twice Shy is a standalone story.

PRE-ORDER on Amazon:

PRE-ORDER will be on all online retailers soon.

Bio: Kelly Martin loves paranormal books, villainous characters, and the dark... but she can't sleep without a nightlight. She has been married for over ten years and has three rowdy, angelic daughters. When Kelly's not writing, she loves taking picture of abandoned houses, watching horror gamers on YouTube-- even though she's a huge wimp-- and drinking decaf white chocolate mochas. She's a total fangirl, loves the 80s and 90s, and has a sad addiction to Netflix.

If you ever have a question or comment, feel free to email her at kelly@kellymartinbooks.com ♥ You can follow her writing adventure at
http://www.kellymartinbooks.com/


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Top 10 Movie Soundtracks (Non-musicals)

Since I'm between books at the moment and was at a total loss for what movie to review (my days have largely been consumed by preschool programming, courtesy of my 3 year old son) I decided I needed to take a break from visuals and focus on the auditory. (I have to get that "Three Special Steps" song from Special Agent Oso out of my head somehow!)

So, I'm going to share my top 10 movie sounds tracks. This is going to be specifically from movies that aren't explicitly considered musicals (because, let's face it, they'd dominate the list) so any movie where characters dance about and burst into song is excluded (sorry, Beauty and the Beast and Prince of Egypt).


10. Kung Fu Panda 2

Not the last time DreamWorks will be on this list. I specifically chose the sequel because while the original did have some nice bits, the sequel really shines in it's musical quality. DreamWorks upped their game from the first one and took what was originally a remarkably silly concept (a fat dorky panda learning martial arts) and turned it into a genuine story that's almost adult in its maturity. And boy does it have a score to match! This is the kind of music I'd expect in an actual Chinese kung fu movie. With a distinctly Asian flavor throughout and a general feeling of enormous size and weight, it's a joy to listen to even if you've never seen the film.


9. The Incredibles

Not the last time Pixar will be on this list, either. If you love the thrill of first generation Bond-era spy flicks, not only will you love this tenderhearted thriller, but you'll love the score that accompanies it. The music is fast paced and frantic, conveying all the energy and excitement that a superhero movie should. It's not so light that you can't take it seriously, but not so heavy that it doesn't have a fun quirkiness to it. Composer Michael Giacchino infused 60s jazz with so much enthusiasm and action, you can't help but call it incredible.

8. Brave

Told you Pixar would be back. This Celtic flavored gem accompanied a mediocre (by Pixar standards) film, but it many ways it far outshines its source. The first few songs and a couple later in the album are lyrical and the rest is instrumental score. But all of it is positively gorgeous. Julie Fowlis's vocals are simply stunning to listen to. I could hear "Touch the Sky" again and again and still want to get up and dance a jig every time. I just hear this soundtrack and picture myself running through green picturesque glades chasing will-o'-the-wisps under a bright blue sky.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

I know what you're thinking: 'Finally, a movie that isn't animated!" What can I say? I like what I like. And what I like...is 70s music. Ok, I like a lot of decades. Blame it on being raised by 2 generations of people. The movie's now-famous Awesome Mix was even released on LP vinyl and audio cassette (when's the last time you saw one of those?) and still managed to sell over 2.5 million copies. Whether you're rocking to "Cherry Bomb", grooving to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", or jamming to "Hooked on a Feeling", I can almost guarantee that if you don't love this album...your parents probably will.


6. Home Alone

Yeah, the soundtrack is probably not the first thing you think of when it comes to this movie. Odds are you just picture a deranged psychopathic child inflicting untold pain (enough to kill his victims multiple times over, I might add) on a pair of bungling burglars. But if I played you the soundtrack and didn't tell you where it was from, you'd probably never guess until you got to the track "Somewhere In My Memory"...a song that will surely make you misty-eyed if you hear it around the holidays. Especially if you, yourself, happen to be home alone at Christmas.

5. Fireproof

An indie Christian film that most mainstreamers have probably never heard of or watched, Fireproof is more than just the story of one man's quest to become a better husband. It's also a movie with some really kickin' songs in it. Aside from the score, which is decent enough, there are some great songs you'll want to sing along to by some bands you probably already enjoy. Third Day's "This Is Who I Am", Casting Crowns' "Slow Fade", John Waller's "While I'm Waiting", Grey Holiday's "You Belong To Me" and Warren Barfield's "Love Is Not A Fight" will probably all find their way on to your favorites list by the time the credits roll. Sherwood Baptist's earlier film Facing the Giants might have had a good album, but Fireproof upped the ante and did it 10 times better.


4. Fantasia

Some of you may complain that this is technically a musical, but since no one gets to sing anything, I'm allowing it. I've already talked plenty about this movie previously, so I won't rehash it here. Suffice it to say, if you love classical music, you'll love this.

3. Back to the Future

I'm an 80s kid. So I'm naturally a bit biased about this particular film. My father wouldn't let Keith marry me until he'd seen all three films. It's a pretty big deal in our family. And the soundtrack accompanying the film just oozes 80s nostalgia. I remember the first time I felt really old in my life was when I was at a doctor's office and they were playing Huey Lewis and the News singing "Power of Love"...on the oldies station. I wanted to cry. Most of the rest of the lyrical songs are good, too. "Earth Angel" and "Johnny B. Goode" are classics of course. But the movie's theme itself is something else. This score just makes you want to go on an adventure. That's really the only way to describe it. It's fun, it's exciting, and it just reeks of adventure. If ever I see a DeLorean go by, this song is all I'm going to think of.

2. Pride and Prejudice

Another film I've talked about before, so I won't take too much time on it. If you want a soundtrack to take a long tub soak in...this is it. Enjoy those bubbles and a good book while you listen.


1. How to Train Your Dragon

This is by far and away my favorite non-musical movie score. I could listen to it over and over and over again. I literally never get tired of it. When I had a day job and felt like time was crawling, I put this album on and I was suddenly a LOT more motivated. It's got action, it's got danger, it has wonder and mystery...it's just awesome. The score just feels so huge and epic. There are pennywhistles and bagpipes and drums and just...gah! It's freakin' gorgeous! If you don't want to listen to the entire thing (and there's no reason on this planet why you shouldn't!) you should at least listen to the tracks entitled "Forbidden Friendship", "Test Drive", and "Romantic Flight". They're easily the most magical in the film.



And that's it! My top 10 non-musical movie soundtracks. I'll probably do one strictly for movie musicals down the road (bet you can all guess what #1 will be!) but this should tide you over for now. Enjoy the music and dance like you mean it!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Book Review: The Glass Coffin by Kelly Martin

OK, so, we come to the end of Kelly Martin's Shattered Fairy Tale series (or is it...?) and it's...ok. Yeah, just...ok. I'll get to why in a minute, but first, let's get the formalities out of the way.
So, we started hearing about Gertrude "Trudy" Dodsworth all the way back in Betraying Ever After, but at the time she seemed like a throwaway character; she was just someone for Emma to bounce off of. But now, she gets her own book. We get to find out where she disappeared to and why William Haddington (Vaughn's BFF) was acting so strangely at the ball where Emma and Vaughn met. Seems old Frederick Dodsworth turned Trudy and her mother out of the house in order to continue exacting his nefarious revenge on some former "friends" who wronged him...or at least that's how he sees it. To go into all the whys would probably spoil a good chunk of the book (and the series as a whole, really) so we'll just have to leave his reasoning at that. Trudy and her mother have taken up residence in Everdale...which is unfortunately the same town where William has also drifted to. Only neither of them are the same person anymore.

Trudy has become engaged to the haughty and borderline abusive Lawson Stockwell, a wealthy earl, for the sake of her ailing mother. And William? Well, he's done unspeakable things. Become an alcoholic. Lost his virtue. Oh, and set the fire that disfigured Nicholas Wellington, Duke (or Beast, depending on whom you ask) of Ravenston. It was never Will's intention to harm anyone. He just wanted to spite Dodsworth for refusing his suit to Trudy. But that worked out all the better for Dodsworth, who used that knowledge to help accomplish his evil schemes. Will was hoping to start over, live out a quiet life in solitude.

But when he sees Trudy and Stockwell arm in arm, his bitterness gets the better of him, and he does...some of the stupidest things out of any of the male leads in the series. But more on that in a minute.
 
To complicate matters, Nicholas (thanks to Dodsworth's intervention) is hot on Will's trail, seeking his own revenge. Of course, he 's torn, too. In his thirst for vengeance, he may very well lose Elizabeth, the woman he's come to love. But still he doggedly pursues William and decides that what Elizabeth doesn't know won't hurt her. And he'll make sure she never knows.

Can William redeem himself enough for Trudy to forgive him? Can Trudy escape a lifetime of potential abuse and mistreatment by a man she doesn't really love? Or will Nicholas satisfy his bloodlust and destroy everyone's happiness? Well, everyone but Dodsworth's, that is.
I....wanted to like this book more than I did. It had a lot of good moments (the finale was EXTREMELY satisfying for...reasons. #DodsworthGetsHis) but it also had a lot of cringe-worthy moments. I get that William is dealing with a lot of guilt, and guilt (and booze) clouds your judgment, but dang. For a guy who was once so upstanding, he really lets himself go. I honestly don't think even Vaughn would stoop so low. Love 'em and leave 'em, maybe. But William positively slums with the lowest of women (sometimes more than one at a time) and lives in the bottle. I wanted to reach into the book and slap the guy.

Trudy's plight is rather more sympathetic. She's spent her entire life under her father's thumb and she's only trying to do what's expected of her. At least her motivations were selfless. She's still woefully naive, but at least there's justification for it.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the book is that it doesn't really follow the formula much. I mean, it's obvious that the first book was Cinderella and the second was Beauty and the Beast. It's rather unfortunate that a book that is supposed to reflect Sleeping Beauty, at least a little, really didn't fit with that concept. I mean, it tied all the ends up nicely enough. And it sort of picks up on the original story at the tail end. I guess I just expected it to be tied to the source material a bit better. It felt kind of shoehorned in at the end.

That being said, there's still a LOT to like here. Everyone has their own personal struggles to deal with. None of the characters are one dimensional or boring. Mr. Everett and Mrs. Bea were positively ADORABLE and I would have liked to see more of them. But I suppose they came into the story at just the right time and stayed only as long as they needed to. As I've said, the ending is very satisfying, they bring back basically all of the characters from the rest of the series, and...you'll never look at a stable the same way again.

I'm not gonna lie. As hot as the library scene was in Beast of Ravenston...that stable scene was en fuego. They never cross the line into actually having sex...but they dance on that line. Vigorously. So if you're sensitive to that kind of thing...you may need to skip a couple chapters.
All in all, it was a decent book and did a nice job of tying up everything with a nice bow. Could it have been better? Eh...yeah. But it definitely could have been a lot worse. Besides...it's hard to top Beast of Ravenston. ;)

For more of Kelly Martin's books, check out her website at www.kellymartinbooks.com. You'll find info on her, her books, links to all her social media (which you should subscribe to all of them, just so you can bask in her epicness in every possible forum), and all that other fun stuff.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Where in the World is Carm-...I mean, The Media Mom?

You're probably wondering why the blog went dark a few months ago. (Or no one actually reads this thing and I'm just talking to myself. In either case, HI!)
I know I've been as elusive as the infamous thief. But I can explain. Really!
To make a long story as short as possible, we sold our house (literally within 72 hours of listing it), packed up all our earthly goods, and moved a thousand miles away. That's not an exaggeration. It literally is a thousand miles away. That's right! This Florida city chick is now a certified North Carolina country girl. I mean, we got deer and everything.
In my yard, no less!
Obviously with packing a house, moving across country, unpacking a house, updating all the necessary stuff, and potty training a preschooler (yay, me), watching movies and reading books and writing about them totally got put on the back burner. And it took ages to find all my computer parts because in my rush top pack everything, some of it may have gotten disorganized. I still don't have speakers.

But, I'm back, the boys are on a (somewhat) normal schedule, and I even have a little time for pleasure reading again. (Not much, but some.)

So I'll definitely have all sorts of goodies coming down the pike for you. I still have to do a review of Kelly Martin's third Shattered Fairy Tale The Glass Coffin and I've got a few other posts in the works. Just bear with me as I try to put my life (and my PC) back together after so much upheaval. Your patience will be rewarded.
Because what isn't made better with an Alton Brown meme, amiright?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: Wisdom to Know by Elizabeth Maddrey

When a pastor's daughter goes completely off the rails, she feels as though she's ruined her chances at life, love, and forgiveness. But God has a way of bringing His own back to Him, and sometimes He uses tough love to do it. The road back for a prodigal is never easy, and it's never a journey that can be completed alone. This is a lesson that Lydia Brown, her family, and her friends are going to learn firsthand.

*SPOILERS ABOUND*

When Lydia goes on a quest to marry the perfect guy (while completely ignoring the one right in front of her) she compromises her convictions and convinces herself that it was a worthy sacrifice if she ends up married to a powerful political hopeful. But when her pseudo-fiancé severs all ties afterward, and Lydia ends up pregnant, it seems there's only one option: abortion. It's an idea she's fought against her entire life. And now, it seems to be her only way out. If her friends and family knew she wasn't really the perfect Christian girl they all imagined her to be, they'd reject her for sure. And so she goes and does the most detestable thing she's ever done. It's the first of many compromises on a downward path to destruction.

Through it all, her best guy friend Kevin (who's only been hopelessly in love with her for practically forever) can't seem to figure out why Lydia is growing more and more distant. He's felt for ages that God had meant for them to be together. He's waited patiently as she's gone through boyfriend after boyfriend. But Lydia shows no signs of pursuing Kevin. And Kevin's all but given up pursuing her in return. Little does he know, he may be the only one able to bring her back from the brink.

Can Kevin ever forgive Lydia if he finds out her secret? Can Lydia ever forgive herself? Is there any sin so great that even God cannot forgive?

This book speaks to me on a lot of very personal levels. Primarily it is a book about one woman's recovery from the horror of abortion. But part of that process involves running away from life and burying herself in drug addiction. This hit very close to home for me, since my own father had been a drug addict for a number of years. Like Lydia, prescription narcotics was his drug of choice at one point. Many people talk about what the addict haS to deal with during withdrawals. But few touch on what the family has to deal with. The disappointment, constant worry, and fear that one false move could end a life weigh heavy on our minds. I think the book captures that essence brilliantly.

The book is also very accurate to the abortion recovery process. Having worked closely with a few pregnancy resource centers, I know full well the mental and physical consequences of abortion on a woman. Recovery is a tough road. But praise be to God, it is a possible one. There truly is no sin so great that our Father cannot forgive, if only we would ask.

And forgiveness has to come from more than God. On the one hand, family and friends must be willing to forgive. Of all Lydia's allies, Kevin struggles the most with the concept. It's understandable. After all, he's had Lydia on a pedestal for most of his natural life. It takes courage to step back and accept her as a flawed human being just as in need of love and forgiveness as any other. And such courage doesn't develop overnight. But Lydia, too, must come to forgive herself. And when you don't feel worthy of forgiveness, it's a bitter pill to swallow.

This is another area that hit very close to home. While I never had as severe a problem as drug addiction or an abortion, I did struggle with an addiction to perfectionism for years. Thinking that I was unworthy of forgiveness drove me into a deep depression, to the point of more than one suicide attempt. It took the Spirit of God to save me from myself and teach me what grace really was all about. I was right, of course. I was unworthy of forgiveness. But worthy or not, God was offering it to me anyway. Once I finally embraced that in my heart, I came to realize a very important thought: who am I to deny myself forgiveness if God doesn't deny it? Am I better than God? Why then should I presume to know better than He about who should and shouldn't be forgiven? That thought has made a world, nay, an eternity of difference in my life.

As interesting as Lydia's and Kevin's respective journeys are though...the most interesting couple in the book was their best friends Matt and Laura. I found myself wanting to read more about them! Their relationship history is only hinted at here and there throughout the book, but I'd seriously love a spinoff book about those two. It's rare to find such a true-to-life married couple in a work of fiction, and they were just oozing chemistry. They remind me very much of myself and my husband.

I do have one gripe, though. While the emotions portrayed in the book are very strong...the ending isn't. The last few chapters feel so rushed and predictable, I could see the ending long before I even got there. For a book that's supposedly all about drama and conflict, I was expecting the ending to have more drama than it did. As it stands, it's extremely anticlimactic. And that's a real shame. The finale had the potential to be something spectacular, but it just sort of fizzled out and came grinding to a halt. If I had my druthers, I'd rewrite the ending almost completely. It's a huge dent in what was an otherwise very good book.

Criticisms aside, though, if you're looking for a book that gives a painfully real exploration on what the after effects of abortion can be like, I recommend giving it a read.
For more books by and information about Elizabeth Maddrey, you can check out her website at elizabethmaddrey.com. And don't forget to stalk her (virtually, of course!) on Facebook.