Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson ~ Book review

The Warrior Maiden (Hagenheim, #9)

“The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson

Part of the Hagenheim series

Review copy through BookLookBloggers

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the Book:

Mulan isn’t afraid to pretend to be a son and assume her father’s soldier duties in war. But what happens when the handsome son of a duke discovers her secret?

Mulan is trying to resign herself to marrying the village butcher for the good of her family, but her adventurous spirit just can’t stand the thought. At the last minute, she pretends to be the son her father never had, assumes his duties as a soldier, and rides off to join the fight to protect the castle of her liege lord’s ally from the besieging Teutonic Knights.

Wolfgang and his brother Steffan leave Hagenheim with several other soldiers to help their father’s ally in Poland. When they arrive, Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier Mikolai who seems to either always be one step away from disaster… or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.

When Wolfgang discovers his former rival and reluctant friend Mikolai is actually a girl, he is determined to protect her. But battle is a dangerous place where anything can happen — and usually does.

When Mulan receives word that her mother has been accused of practicing witchcraft through her healing herbs and skills, Mulan’s only thought is of defending her. Will she be able to trust Wolfgang to help? Or will sacrificing her own life be the only way to save her mother?

My Thoughts:

 

The Disney version of “Mulan” is a favorite of mine. So I was both excited and a little hesitant to read a retelling of this fun tale. The excitement was fulfilled – it had a lot of the elements of the Disney version while still remaining unique to its own story. I admit I kind of wanted her name to be something other than Mulan, but I still can look past that fact. ;)
Right from the start we are plunged into the thick of it, and I really enjoyed that. I was apprehensive of how far the whole ‘feminist’ thread would be pushed, but it wasn’t as strong as I was expecting, at least in the first portion of the book.
One of the things that I love about the Disney version is Mulan’s desire to protect her family – yes, she is strong, but also caring. And for the most part, this story’s ‘Mulan’ character was that way too. I appreciate that she could still be gentle and strong at the same time. That was handled quite well. I didn’t care for that she did take more of the glory when it should have been equally split between her and Wolfgang. He was completely overlooked most of the time, even though he was just as much a hero as she was. And he didn’t seem to mind that. It was all boastful of what a strong woman she was, and yet he was sometimes shown to be a little weaker but that was shown as okay – their roles were swapped. Now, as I have said in reviews past, I am not against strong women, but I do struggle with the view that “women have to be better than men or else”.  God created men and women for different roles, and they are both equally strong and wonderful – He will fulfill what He wills, and each person’s life is uniquely different. But the message of women constantly triumphing over men (when the men can be shown as strong too – I want more strong men in fiction) wears on me, I admit. Mulan, in this book, became pretty proud and was glad she could do what so few men could – I found that distasteful and boastful. She was also disrespectful at times. I understand that she had inner scars, and while that sometimes came into play, she also acted in ways that didn’t have reason for that.
I loved Wolfgang, and his desire to protect Mulan in all stages of knowing or not knowing her identity, but was saddened when it was often portrayed as a bad thing, or that he didn’t need to protect her because she was “stronger than most men”. Even if I was super strong, as a woman, I would want to be protected  -I’d be flattered. Because Wolfgang was not doing it in a demeaning way – he was respectful and honorable. I just wish that would have been shown a bit more, and not put down as a bad thing.
Other than that, I did really enjoy this book. It was exciting, and full of adventure with good writing. There wasn’t a dull moment, and I really appreciated the fast-pace of it all!  A four star read for me!
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.
Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Orphan’s Wish” by Melanie Dickerson ~ Book Review

 

 

 

“The Orphan’s Wish” by Melanie Dickerson

Book #8 in the Hagenheim Series of Fairy-tale retellings

Review copy from the publishers through BookLook Bloggers.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break.

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn’t enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he’s an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save her from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?

An enchanting new version of the well-known tale, The Orphan’s Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what “family” really means.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I think this cover has to be one my favourites of Melanie Dickerson’s. :) The colors are very attractive and it’s just a very lovely cover. ^.^
The story itself is a light, sweet read. While normally I don’t so much mind or notice when reading YA if it is below my age level, I admit that I found this one to be a bit simple for me. This isn’t really a bad thing, it just wasn’t as engaging as I was hoping. There were a lot of predictable and common troupes that I found a little over-done, but I think that partially had to do with the mood I was in while reading.
The characters themselves were pretty well built-up. I personally couldn’t really connect, and sometimes felt that Aladdin had a bit of a ‘poor me’ spirit about him, when I wanted to see more of an overcomer sort of character.
Besides the fact that the main character is named Aladdin and he has a little friend named Abu, and he was a street rat, there weren’t a whole lot of other related facts to it being an Aladdin retelling. Which was okay, just something I thought I would state. I really didn’t mind that it wasn’t much related to the original. And I must say, I do really like and appreciate that the author writes fairy-tale retellings without the magic.
The faith strand was pretty good – it was present, but light. I wanted a bit more emphases to be made that God is the One we go to to be fulfilled instead of turning towards people, but that wasn’t really shown all that much.
It was a clean book, which is always appreciated. There were a couple kisses in the end, but nothing too strong. I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t my favourite of this author. And as always, that doesn’t mean others won’t adore it, because I do think that it could be a favourite for someone else!   I think this would be a very good read for the ages that it is geared towards.  :)
Quotes:
“Aladdin pointed to the place where its slender trunk was shattered but still holding together. ‘Strange that it can be so broken but still so alive.’ Just like him.”
“But that’s not my job, is it, God? You’re the only One who can heal a soul wound.”

 

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

BookLook Review: “The Noble Servant” by Melanie Dickerson

“The Noble Servant” by Melanie Dickerson

Part of the Medieval FairyTale Series

Review copy from BookLook

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

She lost everything to the scheme of an evil servant.

But she might just gain what she’s always wanted . . . if she makes it in time.

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

 

My Thoughts:

A continuation to Melanie Dickerson’s Medieval FairyTale Series, “The Noble Servant” tells us the tale of Lady Magdalen whom we met in “The Beautiful Pretender”. While reading TBP, I was looking forward to reading Lady Magdalen’s tale, and so as soon as this came available for review, I grabbed a copy. :)
I found the middle and end of the book the most engaging, though perhaps a little predictable. Still, I enjoyed the book and am sure fans of Melanie Dickerson will enjoy it as well.
I did have some…concerns with this one, but for the most part I enjoyed it. It could be a little slow/long at times, but Lady Magdalen was a sweet character, and Stephen was a good one too.
The author does a good job with the setting and making you feel like you’re in the time period, and I do really like that.
There was a bit of violent description in this one, a case right in the first chapter that I didn’t care for and wouldn’t advise my 14 year sister to read. I’m not one for scenes of violence described so…thoroughly. I understand the circumstances and necessity of the scene, just don’t think it needs to be so gruesomely described in YA books.
Also, there is a strong Catholic theme throughout the book, which I know some love and some don’t, so I want to make sure that I mention that.  It isn’t just a “Christian” world view that every religion or belief system can relate to, it is strongly Catholic with penance and working for salvation.
Posted in Book reviews, Uncategorized

BookLook Review: “The Silent Songbird”

Eeek, I’ve been silent on my blog for quite a while! I should’ve posted this review sooner, but between life and memory, it didn’t occur…I apologize! 

 

 

The Silent SongBird by Melanie Dickerson

Review copy from BookLookBloggers.com

About the Book:

“Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy.Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?”

 

My Thoughts:

I really love the cover of this book. As usual for a Dickerson book, the cover is very beautiful and captivating, and represents the story inside very well.
This was a retelling of The Little Mermaid – what I love best about Melanie Dickerson’s books is that they are Christian Fairy-Tale Retellings *without* magic. That’s so great. And they have a historical feel with the setting, which is neat too.
This was a fun story to read. I enjoyed seeing the similarities to The Little Mermaid a great deal, and yet also reading new twists to the story.
There were only a couple slight concerns I had for this book towards the end. I don’t want to give too much away so I will try to keep it brief, but I wasn’t very pleased with an act of disobedience that was shown in a good light, and later condoned because it was “courageous”. The goal for this act could’ve been accomplished in a way that was not glorifying stubbornness and disobedience. That disappointed me, though I see it in stories a lot –  a strong female character doing what they want because they know they *can*, even when they’re requested not to out of care from the other person, and then later the other character saying she was right in going against his wishes. It just could’ve been handled in a better way, in my opinion, and still reached the desired ending.
The other thing was the romance bit, where they fall in love without knowing each other – even when a father warns against it because “the heart is deceitful”. They never really truly got to know each other better before kissing happened.
But otherwise, it was a great story, and a sweet romance for the most part. Strong characters, great plot, and a well-done retelling. :)

 

Posted in Books

Bookish Book Lover Tag

Hello!

‘Tis time for another tag! And this one is so very bookish – making it so very delightful! Shantelle at A Writer’s Heart tagged me for this, and since I love books as much as I do, I gladly agreed! :) So, let’s get on with the bookish!

 

Rules

Use the Banner
Answer the Questions
Use Lots of Book Covers :)
Tag Your Bookish Friends!
1) What Book Are You Currently Reading?  “Dawn at Emberwilde” by Sarah E. Ladd. I’m finding it alright. Not super-loving it, but I don’t hate it either. It’s one of my last review-books so I’ll have that ready at some point. :)

Dawn at Emberwilde (Treasures of Surrey, #2)

2) What’s The Last Book You Finished? I think it was “Kate’s Capitol” by Sarah Holman. That’s a review to come too.

Kate's Capitol (Kate's Case Files #2)

3) Favorite Book You Read This Year?  Oh dear… I’ve had several! This is the link to the books I’ve read so far: GoodReads2016  And then SOME favourites would be: “Family Lies, Deadly Ties” by J.A. Marx, “Land of Silence” by Tessa Afshar,  “Like Never Before” by Melissa Tagg, and “Light of the Last” by Chuck Black, to name a few. :)

Family Lies Deadly Ties  Land of Silence  Like Never Before (Walker Family, #2)  Light of the Last (Wars of the Realm, #3)

4) What Genre Have You Read Most This Year? Hmm…Probably a tie between Contemporary (rare for me!) and Historical Fiction.

5) What Genre Have You Read Least This Year? Nonfiction coming in at a whopping 1. ^.^

6) What Genre Do You Want To Read More Of? Medieval/Magicless Fantasy!

7) How Many Books Have You Read This Year, And What’s Your Goal? 28 and my goal is 60. We’ll see. :)

8) What’s The Last Book You Bought? Off-line: “Destiny Defended” and “Family Lies, Deadly Ties” both by J.A.Marx, and from a booksale: “Written on the Wind” by  Judith Pella

 Destiny Defended  Family Lies Deadly Ties  Written on the Wind (Daughters of Fortune, #1)

9) What Book Are You Saving Up To Buy Next? “Samara’s Peril” by Jaye L. Knight, the next book of Alicia Ruggieri’s, and more. Always more. :D

10) How Many Books Did You Check Out Last Library Visit? Maybe a bit unbelievable but I haven’t checked any books out from the library recently. BUT I just ordered “A Time to Die” by Nadine Brandes, so yay!

A Time to Die (Out of Time,...

11) What’s A Book You Can’t Wait To Read? “The King’s Scrolls” and “Samara’s Peril” by Jaye L. Knight (hence the reason I’m also saving up for it!).  Also “A Spy’s Devotion” by Melanie Dickerson and “The Silent Songbird” also by Dickerson.

The King's Scrolls (Ilyon Chronicles, #2)A Spy's Devotion

12) What’s A Series You’d Recommend to Everyone? The  Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. KKnight. So maybe I haven’t finished them yet myself, but I still adore them and would recommend them! Also would recommend highly The Knight’s of Arrethtrae series by Chuck Black. They are AMAZING.

The Knights of Arrethtrae Series by Chuck Black --- one of the best series ever!
13) Who’s An Author You’re Hoping Writes More? Tessa Afshar most definitely. She’s got five books out so far, but I always want more!! And Alicia Ruggieri, Chuck Black, and J.A.Marx. I can never get enough of their books. <3

14) A Few Books Your Heart Adores? “Pearl in the Sand” by Tessa Afshar, “A Distant Melody” by Sarah Sundin, “Resistance” by Jaye L. Knight, and The A Time of Grace Series by Alicia Ruggieri, and “Not Abandoned” by MacKenzie Morganthal to name just a few.

Pearl in the Sand  A Distant Melody  (Wings of Glory, #1)  Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles, #1) The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, #1)  All Our Empty Places (A Time of Grace, #2) Not Abandoned

15) What Series’s Coming Conclusion Makes You Sad? Hmm…the “A Time of Grace” series by Alicia Ruggieri because it has been so fantastic and heart-touching. I’ve grown so attached to these characters! <3

16) What Books Are On Your Wish-List? Deardedear…I have so many but I doubt I’ll remember even half of them! But SOME are: “The Legend of the FireFish” by George Bryan Polivka (I have the other 2 books in the series, but not the first! And that’s the only one I’ve read. XD), “Samara’s Peril” and “Exiles” by Jaye L. Knight, “Courageous” by Dina L. Sleiman, The Blades of Acktar series by Tricia Mingerink, “A Spy’s Devotion” and “The Silent Songbird” by Melanie Dickerson, “Missing” by Lisa Harris, “Austen in Austin” by various authors, “The Butterfly and the Violin” and “A Sparrow in Terezin” both by Kristy Cambron, The Out of Time Series by Nadine Brandes.

The Legend of the Firefish (Trophy Chase Series)  Samara's Peril (Ilyon Chronicles #3) Exiles (Ilyon Chronicles, #4)  Courageous (Valiant Hearts, #3)  Dare (The Blades of Acktar #1)  Deny (The Blades of Acktar #2)  Defy (The Blades of Acktar #3) A Spy's Devotion (The Regency Spies of London #1)  The Silent Songbird (Hagenheim #7)   Missing (The Nikki Boyd Files #2)  Austen in Austin, Volume 1: Four Texas-Set Novellas Based on Jane Austen's Novels  The Butterfly and the Violin (Hidden Masterpiece, #1)  A Sparrow in Terezin (Hidden Masterpiece #2)     A Time to Die (Out of Time, #1)  A Time to Speak (Out of Time, #2)  A Time to Rise (Out of Time, #3)
Yeah, I’ve got a lot of books I want! :D
This post was fun, yes? I thought so! And I know I repeated several books/series, but it’s because I love them :D And again, I know I’ve forgotten many, many books, but I love so many! :)
As for who I tag:
Whomever doth desire it! But please, please do let me know so I can see your bookish loves!!
Posted in Book reviews, Litfuse

Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

I’m not really sure what happened…I am almost positive I had this post scheduled, but it’s no where to be found…but anyway, here is my review!

The Beautiful Pretender

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

A Medieval Romance

My rating: 4.5 Stars

About the Book:

What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

Another super sweet fairy-tale-feeling book from Melanie Dickerson!
The plot was so intriguing, and exciting, and I became engaged immediately. The hints of Beauty and the Beast, and The Princess and the Pea, were absolutely delightful. Having ten noble ladies come to the Margrave’s home as “possible brides” was entertaining, if not unconventional. ^.^ Again, I say: Delightful.
As usual for Mrs.Dickerson’s books, each character was written extremely well, and I clicked right away with Avelina (what a pretty name too!). And then I found out she likes to write stories – yep, I loved her even more then! Avelina did surprise me in some ways, but in good ways.
Reinhart was gruff, very much a “beast” kind of character, but true to tale, he had a gentleness about him and yes, he was very likeable. And very handsome, I hear. ;)
And Lady Magdalen was seriously one of the most kindest and sweetest friend-characters I have ever read about! Such genuine beauty, and I don’t just mean in appearance. She made me smile so often by her gentleness and kind heart.
There was only one scene that leaned towards the more graphic side, but it wasn’t really horrible as some books are. And then there were two other things that gave me a bit of concern – one of those was that Avelina did what she wanted, even when instructed to do otherwise. It wasn’t shown in an extremely blatant way, but it was shown in more of an accepting way at the same time which I wasn’t too sure about. For example, towards the end, Lord Thornbeck told her to stay put several times because he didn’t want her to get hurt, and while I understand that she wanted to be with him, I don’t really agree that he always gave in – “He knew her well enough to know he could not stop her”. It just seemed…disobedient at times.
The other thing was about a character being mentioned that was sleeping with a servant – it was only hinted at as ‘wrong’ one or two times, and not in the way I was expecting – that is, it wasn’t necessarily shown as morally wrong.
But other than that, I did really enjoy “The Beautiful Pretender”.
 There was just such…enchantment to this book. You really relish it as you read. And what a tremendous cover! Striking. :)
A very sweet, endearing story, one that is full of exciting and well-crafted plot lines.
I recommend it for ages 16+
“A woman wishes to be swept up by a man’s fervent feelings for her, by love and longing and depth of feeling. She does not wish to be married for her father’s coin or her noble birth or because she is a sensible choice. She wants to be wooed, even after she is married, to be cherished and loved for her very self, not just because she has a beautiful face, long after she has passed the age of freshness and youth.” Chapter 5 pg47
“I’m just curious. Do you think a God who sent His Son to be born in a lowly stable to poor people, announced to shepherds in a field, could care about gold and ivory and jewels? Perhaps God cares about our hearts, not our wealth.” Chapter 6 pg 62
“But it was the thought of him wanting to know about her stories that made her stomach tumble inside her.” Chapter 11 pg 101
“She’d never been in love before. She’d tried to save herself this pain, but all her pretending and hiding the truth from herself had not saved her at all. And even though this love was painful, it was worth it to remember how the sight of him and the sound of his voice had made her heart beat faster, that feeling of wanting what was best for someone else, even if it broke her own heart.” Chapter 23 pg. 220
“She no longer had to dream about love. God had given her a love all her own, one that the troubadours would sing about for years to come.” Chapter30 pg307

The Beautiful Pretender Melanie Dickerson

I received a complimentary copy from the publishers/Litfuse in exchange for my honest review which I have given.
Posted in Book reviews, Litfuse, reading, Reviews

Litfuse Book Review: “The Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson

“The Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson
Part of the Fairy Tale Romance Series
Review copy source: Litfuse
My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
About the Book:

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.

Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.

The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?

As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?

My Thoughts:
Such a lovely book!! It was a great retelling of the fairy tale, Rapunzel. I really really love how Mrs. Dickerson doesn’t have any magic or anything in her books.
This book was excellent, and I loved every page of it. It was exciting, and fun, and the scenery was delightful! It’s related closely to “The Princess Spy”, and sometimes that got a little confusing for me, because I hadn’t read that one in quite a while – but even so, it didn’t cause problems with this book. You can easily read “The Golden Braid” as a stand-alone. There are just ties to “The Princess Spy” – characters, setting, and such. I like when authors do that; it adds some fun!
Rapunzel was a fantastic character, and the whole story was just portrayed perfectly! Gothel was really well written. And I loved Sir Gerek. Who couldn’t? :)
The faith strand was pretty good, too. I really loved that Sir Gerek received instruction from the Lord. It gave me goosebumps. :)
Oh and I really adored what Lady Rose said about how only God can truly fulfil our every desire – not a man. And yet she said it with the conviction of still needing a man – yeah, it was really good!
Even though I know the story of Rapunzel, scenes in this book came as a delightful surprise! I really loved it. And her being able to knife-throw was quite nice. :D It wasn’t as prominent to the story as I thought it might be, but it was still good.
All in all, I loved “The Golden Braid” and am looking forward to reading more from the author!!
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.