Reading Roundup | March 2017 (+Giveaway)

Reading Roundup monthly book review linkup. Book reviews on Oliver Twist, The High Calling of Motherhood, Stardust, and Graceling.

I read four — FOUR — books this month for Reading Roundup. Granted, I read the last 20-50 pages of three of them yesterday!!!! But still! One book was a Bendon Junior Classics abridged classic, one was a library book, one was a Christian book I got for a review, and one was a book club book.

Reading Roundup monthly book review linkup. Book reviews on Oliver Twist, The High Calling of Motherhood, Stardust, and Graceling.

Reading Roundup March 2017: How many books have you read? Link up with your book reviews! Click To Tweet

Bendon Junior Classic Abridged Version of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Book review on Benton Junior Classic abridged version of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

Can you believe I have never read Oliver Twist nor seen any movie adaptation of it before? All I know about Oliver Twist is “Please sir, can I have some more?” and whatever resemblances it has to Disney’s Oliver and Company. But, I love Charles Dickens, especially Great Expectations, so I definitely wanted to read this one.

Again, this is another one of the $1 fourth grade reading level classic abridgments I found at Target. It has a list of characters in the front, and to be honest, I had to keep referring back to that! Partially, I blame the confusing character issue to the way this book was abridged, but I also attribute most of it to Dickens himself. He really liked to add a lot of characters in his books!

True to Dickens, there were surprise endings and surprise connections to hidden family members, etc. Although this is a classic, and the main characters are youngsters, and this is an abridged book at a higher elementary school level, I still wouldn’t suggest it to young students–not when I got so confused with the characters. There are many subplots in here, again, true to Dickens’s form. But, maybe if it was paired with an accurate movie adaptation, it would make it easier on the students to understand the plot and character relationships.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

The Graceling by Kristen Cashore book review for Reading Roundup | March 2017

This is the book I read for my church congregation’s book club. I was so happy it was a fantasy book! Graceling is set in a fantasy world where there are 7 kingdoms. Many people have two different colored eyes because they have a “Grace”–a special talent or skill. It could be mind reading, cooking, swimming, fighting, art, etc. Katsa, the niece of the Middlun King, is Graced with killing, or so she believes. However, she doesn’t like doing King Randa’s dirty work anymore and has created a secret Council to do good in the seven kingdoms. During a rescue, she meets Prince Po, a Leinid prince Graced with fighting–or so it seems. Together, they embark on a journey to figure out the premise of the kidnapping and the truth behind Monsea’s King Leck.

This was a great and fascinating read–I loved the idea of Graces, especially having the physical manifestation of two different colored eyes…it made me think of my 16-year-old sister who is super talented with cooking–she was born with a green/brown eye and a blue eye.

I felt that the author tried to put her own opinion on women and marriage and feminism too heavily into Katsa’s character–we talked about it during book club. She is against marriage and giving birth–Katsa was NEVER going to do either. And, she believed women should learn self-defense to protect themselves against men. I also thought the names of the kingdoms were a cop-out: “north”, “south”, “east”, “west”, “middle”.

I also thought the climax happened too quickly, too early, and was too anti-climatic. The last almost 70 pages were mostly falling action and resolution. I also thought 10-year-old Bitterblue, regardless of being a princess, was way too mature in her words and thoughts.

But, I did like the character growth of both Katsa and Po. I really loved the truth behind Po’s Grace, especially after he became blind.

I really don’t want to give much more away, but I will say that we had a great discussion about this YA (but higher reading level) fantasy novel at book club. I highly recommend reading it. The author has created a sequel that makes 10-year-old Bitterblue the protagonist at 18 years old. There is also another side book that exists in the same world but isn’t a linear sequel. I will definitely be reading these other Graceling books.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Book review of Stardust by Neil Gaiman for Reading Roundup | March 2017

When the movie Stardust first came, I fell in love with it! Justin even used it as part of his proposal! But, I honestly didn’t know that it was a book until very recently. Those years between, I always thought how cool it would be if Stardust was a book–I would definitely read it. Finally, I saw it at the library and immediately check it out.

Now, I’m the type of person to say you should read the book first, then see the movie. If I had known it was a book, I definitely would’ve done that–books are typically more detailed and don’t have plot holes like movies. I’m also the type of person to say the book is always better. However, that wasn’t the case. I saw the movie first, and since it is one of my favorite movies, I think that kind of made me biased while reading the book….I like the movie better….

Gaiman does a good job of writing this book in “old fantasy style”…like Tolkien would’ve. It made it seem a bit more authentic. However, I do see how the movie veered from the book on many cases. The book has a little dwarf who seriously helped Tristran begin his journey. The pirate ship was 10 pages or less, whereas it was a major part of the movie. And, the captain isn’t gay like in the movie. Septimus is poisoned by a snake during the witch’s bidding, there is no dramatic puppet fight. Yvaine has a very anti-climatic resolution with the witch. Like I said…there is no dramatic fight. The book ended very anti-climatic. I was disappointed.

The movie also does a much better job at actully showing the growing love between Tristran and Yvaine than the book does. The book barely scratches the surface of their budding love.

I’m glad that I read Stardust, but I was honestly a little disappointed in it.

But now, I really want to go watch the movie!

By the way…Gaiman not only wrote Stardust, but also Coraline, which movie I own and love, but haven’t read the book.

The only time @themorrelltale will admit the movie is better than the book! #readingroundup Click To Tweet

The High Calling of Motherhood by Chimene Shipley Dupler

Book review for the High Calling of Motherhood for Reading Roundup | March 2017

*I received a copy of this book from Ambassador International in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Did you know that motherhood is a divine calling–that God planned for women to have this holy duty? It’s true. It’s definitely what Mormons believe about motherhood and women in general. That is why I was super excited to read this Christian (not Mormon) book about our divine calling as mothers.

I love how Dupler is so focused on helping our children to be raised as good Christians relying fully on the Grace and Mercy of Christ. I truly believe that is what we should be doing–what Christ wants us to do.

However, since I am Mormon, I do have a few theological differences than she. She believes that our children are born as sinners, and we need to have them turn to Christ as early as they can–her kids believed and were “saved” by Christ before they were four…one of them was only two! I don’t truly believe that her two years old could comprehend the vastness and depth and meaning of the Atonement…many adult Christians don’t. As Mormons, we believe that young children are free from sin and don’t have to be baptized until the age of accountability–typically at age 8.

But, the intent was the same that the moms in our religion have. Here are some of the quotes I absolutely loved!

Every child born into the world is a new thought of God, an ever-fresh and radiant possibility.

Motherhood is, indeed, a calling—a high calling.

Motherhood is messy and hard. But it is also a gift. We are leaving a legacy. We are impacting the culture and the future. We are leaving our mark and handprint on society.

The irony is that we are all chosen, and we are all called. While, yes, Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus, it is no accident or happenstance that God has also chosen you to be the mother.

Just like Mary, the mother of Jesus, was called and chosen, you, my friend, were called and chosen. Motherhood is an honor. It is a responsibility. It is a gift. Motherhood is a high calling from God!

Fear breeds insecurity. Insecurity breeds comparison. Comparison takes our eyes off of Jesus. We have it all wrong when we mark success by looking to each other instead of God’s benchmark for success.

You are not JUST a mom. You are chosen! You are blessed. You are called.

Ministry is good work, but not at the risk of losing our own families. Too often we want to be in places of ministry sharing the gospel, but God gave us fertile soil right in our own homes that we are commanded to reach.

When we are looking for approval from anyone other than God, we are not fully living with confidence in who we are in Christ.

We are created to know God and to make Him known. We are created for His glory, not our own.Our lives and stories are for His glory, not our own glory.

You are not JUST a mom. You are chosen! You are blessed. You are called. Click To Tweet

Chimene Shipley Dupler, Founder and President/CEO of Pink Polka Dot Productions and the Passion4Moms ministry, is a well-respected speaker and professional on marriage and parenting. Chimene loves the opportunity to help others achieve their goals and work through struggles to make their marriages, parenting, and life experiences fabulous. Passion4Moms continues to bless, encourage, and inspire mothers through conferences, speaking engagements, and other events.

Previously, Chimene worked on Capitol Hill in the United States Senate and with foster homes and residential treatment centers as a social worker. Chimene graduated from Baylor University with a B.S. in Child and Family Studies.

Chimene is most proud to be living out her passion for marriage and parenting daily, endeavoring to bring God glory as a wife and mother and living life to the fullest. Chimene and her husband currently reside in Washington, DC, with their three princesses. Chimene’s greatest passion in life—being a mother!

You can find out more about Chimene and her ministry here:

Passion4Moms Facebook | Facebook | Twitter | Passtion4Moms Instagram | Instagram

You can pre-order The High Calling of Motherhood here:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Ambassador International

*Use coupon code “HighCalling” for 10% off at the Ambassador International site.

You have a chance to win your choice of a custom made “World Changer” necklace by The Giving Keys {that is being unveiled at the Passion4Moms conference} or two tickets to attend the Passion4Moms conference being held in DC, May 5-6, 2017 !

The High of Calling of Motherhood Blog Tour Giveaway

This year, I’ve decided to reopen up Reading Roundup to other to linkup with! I’ve partnered up with two good blogger friends who love books too!

Meet Your Hosts


Tayler from The Morrell Tale | Charlene from Enduring All Things | Autumn from Stay Gold Autumn

How It Works:

  • Reading Roundup will happen the last Tuesday of every month! The linkup will be open for two weeks!
  • There really aren’t “rules.” This is free and open. We are book lovers and want to read about your books!
  • Link up a post of a book review you did from this month. Or, a roundup of book reviews you did this month.
  • Try to hop around and engage on other people’s book reviews! Make some new friends!
  • Grab this pinnable image to put on the bottom of your post! (But, no pressure to do so!)
Reading Roundup

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.


  1. I don’t think that I knew that Stardust was a book either (although I have read a couple other books by Gaiman and liked them, so that’s too bad that you were so disappointed in this one). The only movie I can think of immediately that was way better than the book was the Julie & Julia movie—I actually did read the book first and HATED it (mostly just because I thought it was such a brilliant idea for a blog but just so poorly executed in the writing/construction of the book), but I adore the movie (and it definitely is one of my favorites). Funny how that works sometimes, isn’t it?

    1. I’ve only seen the graphic novel version of Coraline (and of course, the movie). I’ve stayed away from the Julie and Julia book because I’ve heard there was a ton of cursing in it.

  2. Girl, I’ve never read or seen any adaptation of Oliver Twist either. I don’t even remember much about Oliver and Company. lol Maybe I should start with the abridged version.

    Graceling sounds amazing! I’m adding it to my list for sure.

    My co-worker has told me about the Startdust movie on a couple occasions and it honestly just sounds too weird to me. But that’s probably just the way he talks about it haha.

    The motherhood book also sounds very interesting and important!

  3. I have never read or watched a movie adaptation of Oliver Twist either but that same quote is on my mind when I hear any references to it. There was an very old Simpsons episode that referenced that part so I think of Bart saying that quote, lol.

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