The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials # 1)

I read this for the first time back in high school. The second time through was recent for me. I tore through this first installment fairly quickly, because it’s just as engrossing and well-written as the first time I read it.

I was once warned by my pastor Grandpa not to read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials because his novels “go against God.” I felt bad back then–for I had read The Golden Compass–but my Dad later reassured me that it was okay.

I’ve read many fantasy books that feature gods and goddesses, religions different and similar to my own beliefs. Why was Pullman’s work more dangerous than the morals of, say, Harry Potter or A Song of Ice and Fire?

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Darius the Great Deserves Better


Darius’ life has changed since visiting his grandparents in Iran:

  • He’s part of the varsity soccer team
  • Darius has a great internship at a tea shop going for him
  • Sohrab is only a Skype call away
  • Darius and his dad are connecting again
  • Landon is Darius’ first boyfriend!

Darius still has depression, but he’s doing much better. He finally feels like he’s supposed to be Darius Kellner.

But just as everything seems to have fallen into place, just as he’s sure that he’s got everything he could ever want, little things start to fall apart:

  • Sohrab isn’t answering his Skype calls
  • Dad goes away on a business trip
  • Darius grandmothers come to visit, but he’s not sure they even really like him. (It’s just so hard to tell)
  • He’s sure he likes Landon, he really does, but then he starts hanging out with his former bully Chip Cusumano, & now he’s not so sure about anything anymore

Thoughts on Darius the Great Deserves Better

This is one of my favorite YA books series. I loved the first book, Darius the Great is Not Okay, and recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered what it’s like to have depression. Or, if you’re like me, and live with depression, it’s nice to see depression accurately depicted through the eyes of a teenager.

Darius is one of my favorite characters. He’s funny, smart, nerdy, and just wants to live his best life. He sounds like a real, normal teenager. (Writing good characters is tricky, but Adib Khorram pulls this off effortlessly. He makes writing seem easy, which is a sign that he’s a good writer.)

In this companion to Darius the Great is Not Okay, Darius’ life is finally looking up. As I’ve mentioned earlier, he’s got a lot going for him: a good job that he loves, he’s reconnecting with his dad, and he has found a niche at school where he feels comfortable being himself. He has a first boyfriend, Landon, and stays in touch with his good friend Sohrab regularly. But as the school-year progresses, he starts to question whether he’s really has everything he really wants.

I personally really enjoyed the character development in this. I liked the addition of Darius’ grandmothers, and the dynamic of him having to balance having a boyfriend and discovering that he maybe likes Chip instead. (This is actually a good thing, because Landon begins to pressure Darius, wanting to have sex with him when Darius isn’t so sure he wants to connect like that with Landon.)

This was another emotional rollercoaster, one that I would definitely ride again. I’m really hoping that there will be a third book in the wings.

Thanks for reading,
Meghan B.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Book of Longings

I am Ana. I am the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth. All my life, longings lived inside of me, rising up like nocturnes to wail and sing through the night. That my husband bent his heart to mine on our thin straw mat and listened was the kindness I most loved in him. What he heard was my life begging to be born.– pg. 3


Ana is a normal girl living in Sephoris, listening to her aunt’s stories and recording narratives about the women in the Torah.

Ana longs to be a woman with a voice; she even puts her sacred prayer in her prayer bowl: “When I am dust, sing these words over my bones: she was a voice” (pg. 11). She wants to be someone who is heard and remembered, that her voice, as well as her writings, will live on long after she’s passed.

Her fierce aunt teaches her how to become her own person, and to revere the women in the Torah.

Then she learns that she is going to be married to a man she doesn’t know, and certainly doesn’t like.

Ana’s life changes once her betrothed dies. Relieved and overjoyed, she only wears the mourning clothes for show.

Her life changes again once she meets Jesus, a stonemason who is clearly devout. She is at first curious about this man, then falls in love with him. They end up marrying, and Ana goes to live with Jesus and his family.


Jesus begins to preform small miracles, as well as what I will call acts of kindness. He helps the lepers into the pool to bathe, and begins to form a following based around his beliefs about God. As he decides to leave his home to further create outreach for his ministry, Ana is left behind, and left excluded from the tales of Jesus of him preforming further miracles and practicing his ministry/what he teaches.

Final Thoughts

The story is limited, unfortunately, by telling the story of Jesus through the eyes of Ana. I feel like, while I know the story of Jesus, it would’ve been interesting to hear his take on what’s happening to him as he formulates his own ministry.

This is my only major critique of the novel. That, I guess, and the pacing. It takes a while for you to really get into the story, and then the novel itself is lackluster for large, exciting plot-lines.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Book of Longings, it just wasn’t my favorite novel by Sue Monk Kidd. I have The Secret Life of Bees, and am eager to see how the book matches up with the film.

I really appreciate, however, a woman’s perspective on Jesus, especially when women aren’t the narrators/writers of Jesus’s life in the Bible. Yes, women are mentioned in the Bible, but they aren’t the center of the Bible. They are put second in a world where men are put first. So, I enjoyed the perspective and Ana’s fierceness very much. I loved how she wrote poems and composed literature on the women of the Torah, giving them the credit and credence that they deserve.

If you like novels about religious figures, this book is something you should at least try. Even if you’re a practicing Christian like me, I say that this book helps give you something to think about in terms of women, the Bible, and who it’s written by and how this could have been different if women had been allowed to write the Scriptures alongside their male counterparts.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Little Fires Everywhere

In Shaker Heights, the Richardson family lives a comfortable life. They rent out their rental home to Mia and her daughter, Pearl. Mia and her daughter turn out to be interesting people, someone Mrs. Richardson can’t stop thinking about. She begins to obsessively hunt for clues about Mia’s life, determined to find out more.

Continue reading “Little Fires Everywhere”

In Shaker Heights, the Richardson family lives a comfortable life. They rent out their rental home to Mia and her daughter, Pearl. Mia and her daughter turn out to be interesting people, someone Mrs. Richardson can’t stop thinking about. She begins to obsessively hunt for clues about Mia’s life, determined to find out more.

Continue reading “Little Fires Everywhere”

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s classic futuristic novel focuses on a world in which firemen burn books instead of putting out fires. Guy Montag, a fireman, has his whole world turned upside down when he begins taking books from houses. He begins to question everything, thanks to his new neighbor Clarisse. Once he learns that books are sacred, Montag must make a decision: Should he return to his old life of burning books, or should he keep growing and run away from his peculiar life?

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