I Should Have Never Joined A Gang Review

Picture books are a way for authors to tell a story to people of all ages through powerful images and compelling almost-poetic writing. This book truly tries to reach out to the readers, leading them in the shoes of a young boy who gets wrapped up in the wrong crowd. He simply wants to fit in and have popular older friends in the neighborhood, but then a drive-by shooting turns his entire life upside down. The main character doesn’t understand how those who promised to be his friends would beat him as a part of an “initiation,” and he starts to realize that those who claimed to be his family were truly just using him. But by then, it might be too late.

Although this book is a picture book, it is definitely not appropriate for young kids. It has a few graphic pictures/scenes that would just be too much for an elementary schooler. A middle schooler might pretend to dislike the picture book, but the message will definitely stick. Even I am thinking about it hours later as a college student. I do think that some of the best good that this book could do would be to teach adults the mindsets behind some gang members. The kids hanging out in front of the liquor store aren’t hardened criminals, they are kids who are on the wrong path and who think that they are having fun with their friends. Maybe more adults will have more sympathy after reading this simple picture book.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an eye-opening story of the truth about many gangs.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 books


Insperience: Meditation Unbound Review

Inspirience: Meditation Unbound: The Unconditioned Path to Spiritual Awakening
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Inspirience is an audiobook by Richard L. Haight that describes his journey with meditation. He teaches his readers how to properly meditate and become one with their surroundings to gain inner peace. I would suggest that you read the book rather than listening to the audiobook, as the audiobook still has several audio glitches where the volume will increase and decrease between chapters. This made listening a chore as I had to remember to constantly turn my sound up and down. Other than this, it was an enjoyable listen.

I would recommend the book to anyone looking for a real guide to meditation, and I would recommend the audiobook to anyone looking for a more sound-led version of the book but who can ignore the glitches.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Read my full review on Online Book Club.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books


Misreading Judas Review

Misreading Judas: How Biblical Scholars Missed the Biggest Story of All Time

Misreading Judas by Robert Wahler is analysis of the Gospel of Judas from a Gnostic perspective. Scholars who have analyzed this extremely short Gospel in the past have done so incorrectly, according to Wahler. They have disregarded the Gnostic and Western hints in the text and only analyzed it from the Orthodox Christian perspective. I enjoyed this book, and Wahler definitely explains the Gospel of Judas well. Even though I didn’t know much about Gnosticism and had never read the Gospel of Judas myself, I was able to understand this book. The only thing keeping me from giving it a perfect 5/5 rating is the fact that it didn’t read nicely on an e-reader. There were big walls of text in some places, with the Gospel of Judas and the 4 other Gospels being quoted and analyzed at the same time. Without the proper spacing and the proper distinction between the quotes and the analyses, I found it difficult to understand what was going on a times.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a nonfiction Gospel of Judas analysis.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books


The Events of My Life Are My Proof of God’s Existence Review

The Events of My Life Are My Proof of God's Existence #christiannonfiction #nonfiction
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Brenda is truly a strong woman. She has gone through a lot in her life, from living with a “functioning heroin addict” multiple times to having a child at a young age. She gives credit to God and the Holy Spirit for helping her through these events, and after reading this novel, I completely believe her. Christians should definitely read this book to see how God can work in even the toughest of situations to save people. Those who don’t consider themselves religious or those who are non-Christian should still read this book for its amazingly inspirational story.

Read my full review here: https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=105821&p=1177059#p1177059

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books


The Other Wes Moore Review

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two FatesTwo kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.

In December 2000, the Baltimore Sunran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper also ran a series of articles about four young men who had allegedly killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One was named Wes Moore.

Wes just couldn’t shake off the unsettling coincidence, or the inkling that the two shared much more than space in the same newspaper. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting him: Who are you? How did this happen?

That letter led to a correspondence and relationship that have lasted for several years. Over dozens of letters and prison visits, Wes discovered that the other Wes had had a life not unlike his own: Both had grown up in similar neighborhoods and had had difficult childhoods, both were fatherless; they’d hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and both had run into trouble with the police. At each stage of their young lives they had come across similar moments of decision, yet their choices would lead them to astonishingly different destinies.

Told in alternating dramatic narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

Another book I had to read for a class this past semester! The Other Wes Moore is quite the intriguing read, and it brings quite a few important questions to the table. I’m actually going to talk about one of my personal theories in this review.

Why did one Wes Moore go to college while the Other Wes Moore went to jail?

I think that Wes Moore went to college because his mother had support. Wes Moore was determined to get into trouble when he was in Brooklyn, but his mother had the support of her parents while raising her child. When she saw what Brooklyn was turning her son into, she pooled together money from all different members of the family, and sent him to military school. The Other Wes Moore’s mother did not have this support. She had lost her mother, her father was a drunk, Wes’ father was a drunk, and Tony’s father was only interested in supporting his own son. She couldn’t send him off to any sort of military school, and she couldn’t afford to move out of her neighborhood. So she decided to just cope and pretend that her son wasn’t doing anything wrong, and pretend that she had a happy family. If she had the support of her mother, she probably would have been able to do something more for the Other Wes. But she didn’t

Now onto my thoughts on the book as a whole. I think that this book is flawed.

Why is one Wes introduced as Wes Moore, and the “Other Wes Moore” is the other Wes Moore? They both have the same name, but they are introduced as if one is the main character and one is a side character.

This book is all told from the point of view of the author, Wes Moore. The “other” Wes Moore is in jail, and so his story is based on what he told Wes Moore/what Wes Moore decided to include. How can I trust anything told from the other Wes Moore’s point of view if he isn’t the one writing it? They don’t even have a scene about what other Wes did to get in jail, because he insists that he wasn’t at the scene of the crime, and Wes Moore insists that he was. I don’t really care what other Wes says he was doing, it would have been interesting to at least hear what he had to say. Even if the evidence says he was there, what is going through his head right now as he is serving jail time?

What other portions of other Wes’ life were doctored if he wasn’t able to write his own story. I understand that his grammar might not be the best if he didn’t finish school, but other books have written characters with poor grammar to be more “realistic,” so why couldn’t he tell his own side of the story? What if Wes Moore cut out parts of the story that he thought would be too “inappropriate” or that he thought were unnecessary?

Overall, even though this book had good intentions, it just didn’t add up in the end. I don’t know how much information I can trust on Wes Moore’s part as he tries to tell the story of someone who is alive and could have told their own story, even from jail. The two boys were in completely different financial situations, with mothers having completely different levels of support, even if the book tries to say that they were both fatherless. And in the end, even if the Wes Moore’s met and were supposed to be seen as on the same level throughout the book, Wes Moore’s dismissive thoughts when other Wes said he wasn’t at the scene of the crime makes me wonder. Was the other Wes Moore as much of a “villain” as the book painted him to be at times, or would the story have been different if Wes had actually told it himself?

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books


Top Ten Tuesday: Best and Worst Villains

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I couldn’t find enough good or bad villains, so I have decided to split the post in half to do five of each!

In this post, I am going to rate the villains on how well they are villains. I am not going to say that the best villains are the ones that had the most elaborate plans, but instead the ones who did the most damage to the lives of the “hero” and who had the most detailed character development.

By the way, my song of the week is this! I listened to it as I made this list, and I hope you all enjoy it too.

Best Villains

5) The Forest Beyond the Earth

The Forest Beyond the EarthIf I told you what the villain did, it would spoil the entire book, but WOW. This villain has both a well-thought-out plan and basically, turns the world of the main character upside down. I was surprised to see a villain of this depth in a book that has a 12-year-old main character.




4) Pepin – Queen of the Darkest Hour

Queen of the Darkest HourPepin had Queen Fastrada living in pure terror. She was afraid to even look at him when pregnant or when holding her newborn child for fear that he would turn her into a cripple like himself. Pepin would pray that she would die every time that she got sick, but he still lusted after her. There was a lot more to him and the people he terrorized in his life, and I just loved reading about him.




3) Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and GlassAgain, this is one I can’t talk too much about. But it is interesting who is supposed to be “good” and who is supposed to be “bad” in the book, and how it all plays out.





2) The Monster in Frankenstein

FrankensteinI hated the popular media portrayal of the monster from Frankenstein after reading this book. He was so much more than a green beast with bolts in his neck (that weren’t there in the book) that wanted to kill people. If you haven’t read this book, I suggest that you do right away! It is a little hard to read, but you can look up things online that you don’t understand.




1) The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining WomenAnd then we get to the real villains. Real people in the real world. Every single man who was a doctor to the girls and hid information was a villain. They deserved to know what had been happening to them, but the doctors just wanted to collect a paycheck. Then there were the companies. When their girls started dying in one factory, they would build another one in a different state or in Canada and employ new girls that would have never heard about the deaths. They didn’t care about the girls, they didn’t care about anyone. This was one of the saddest books I ever read, but these villains knew what they were doing.

Worst Villains

5) The City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)Sebastian was evil at the start, but by this point, he seemed to have lost his steam. I couldn’t understand why he even tried to do half of the things that he tried to do. Even the incest arc of the story with his sister just came out of nowhere. Like, why? I would not go through this again.




4) Into the Gauntlet

Into the Gauntlet (The 39 Clues, #10)This is also a spoiler, but I have to say that the villain of this book was weak and kinda dumb. How are you gonna try to take on a room of people by yourself? It’s just not gonna work. I think that the villains from the previous books in the series were far scarier and deadlier than this one.




3) Twilight

Twilight (Twilight, #1)I know this is a spoiler, but I think that everyone has read this book on this site already. James was weak. I’m sorry. He’s a vampire, he had plenty of time to kill Bella before Edward and the gang could even show up. He seemed to be a psychopath in both the book and especially in the movie, but then he just kinda tosses Bella around and that’s it. I was expecting Bella to be really hurt. He has the strength to do all sorts of painful things to her. But he doesn’t. Why?



2) The Cellar

The Cellar (The Cellar #1)Colin is a foolish villain. He made a lot of mistakes that led to his demise. If Summer and the other girls weren’t so brain-dead, they probably could have figured out a way to take him down. It was so stupid that 3 girls couldn’t attack him and kill him or something! He seemed to be the type of skinny kid who would have been bullied, not some sort of bodybuilder, so I highly doubt that it was that difficult to take him down.



1) His (Cellar #2)

His (The Cellar #2)The only villain in this story was Summer herself. She wouldn’t have been in any danger if she hadn’t kept PUTTING herself in danger. If she was so scared to kill him when she was actually captive, why is she out there looking for him now? She should have fled somewhere where he couldn’t find her. I doubt he has a Summer GPS in his mind. But NO, you are gonna go to the basement where you were kept for months and try to confront him. It’s really like she wanted to be caught, which really hurt her loyal boyfriend. I just….this was awful.


There’s my list!