Book Review: “Life First” by RJ Crayton

I received a digital copy of the book Life First to facilitate my review.

Life First


Strong-willed Kelsey Reed must escape tonight or tomorrow her government will take her kidney and give it to someone else.

In this future forged by survivors of pandemics that wiped out 80 percent of the world’s population, life is valued above all else. Those who refuse the obligations of “Life First” are sentenced to death.

 My Thoughts:

This was a  tough book for me to read, although it was riveting and well-crafted. There were a lot of pregnancy-related issues, abortion, etc.,  that characters face. Those were a struggle for me to read as a mother. It was sad. It was also difficult to read as someone who’s adamantly against abortion in all circumstances. However, I don’t want to make it sounds like the book is about abortion, because it’s not. In fact, *spoiler alert* a doctor in the book has successfully performed procedures to remove the womb and baby to live artificially outside of the mother’s body, thereby saving both lives. Primarily, this book is about donating organs, because the government tells you to.

From a moral standpoint, this book made me think. Did you know that in the U.S. more than 118,000 people are on the transplant list? Almost 20 people die each day waiting for an organ. I have always thought it’s terrible that in 2013, in a first-world nation,  so many people wait in vain. I’m a registered organ donor. When I die, my organs, tissue, and eyes will go to people in need, and may save several lives. But would I willing give up a piece of my body for someone else NOW while I’m still alive? If my brother or my son or my husband or a friend needed my kidney or a piece of my liver, sure. But what if it was someone I didn’t even know? What if I was the only one that could save that person’s life? Is it my moral responsibility to do so? Does the government have the right to force me to? Can they equate me to a murderer if I say no? What does the term “Life First” really mean? Does the end justify the means?

To answer those questions: Honestly, I don’t think the government should force me to, but, yes, I would give up an organ if I was someone’s last hope- even if it was someone I didn’t know. But as a follower of Christ, my world philosophy is probably different than most people’s. I’m not scared of dying from surgery. My eternity is secure. But I can see where the character is coming from. If I died from complications, my son would be motherless. What happens to me affects others. See!? This book raises all sorts of questions and internal dilemma.

This story is written in first person, of which I’m not a fan (kind of funny, since most of my blog is written in first person). But as I read, I got used to it. I know it’s a popular way to develop the main character and connect the reader to that character. Although, I am interested in learning more about the others. The story takes place very quickly, and since we only hear the story through Kelsey, I don’t learn that much about the characters, other than what she’s observed or they tell her. I may have missed the exact timeline, if it’s stated, but I think it’s 2-3 weeks from the beginning of the book to the end. There are two more books coming, which I’d like to read. I want to know if Kelsey and Luke settle into Peoria easily. Do they name their child Inga? Were they granted asylum? Does Kelsey’s story shake FoSS up enough that change is in the future?

If you like dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, then Life First will make you think, and it’s a page-turner. It will keep you hooked all the way to the end.


The author, RJ Crayton, has an interesting blog, you may want to check out. I like her sense of humor! Currently, you can find the Kindle version of Life First on (affiliate link>) Amazon for just $0.99.

Note: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. The above post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase through that link, I will receive a small commission. 

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Book Review: The Harvest by Clint Morey

As a member of the Tomoson community, I received an e-book of Clint Morey’s The Harvest to read and review.

The Harvest


The first in a series of four, The Harvest is about the perhaps not so distant future when “mutants” are bred for organ transplants. Mutants from one of these facilities escape and begin killing the humans “they were designed to save.” 

My Thoughts:

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a little girl, but my tastes have changed over the years. You’d think as an English teacher, I’d want to spend my precious few reading moments on classical literature, but actually…I love to be entertained! The Harvest was a fast, enjoyable read. I didn’t want to put it down and ended up finishing it in about 3 sittings. I would have read the entire thing in 1, but my iPad died at one point, and I have a baby that constantly needs my attention, so… 🙂

It’s important to note that this book is very violent. There’s a lot of death, on both sides. *Spoiler Alert* At one point, I almost quit reading the book…until I realized the newborns in the hospital were not going to be murdered, but instead rescued. It was, perhaps, a little unrealistic that the good guys were able to carry so many floppy newborns around in their arms and set them down in time to react to danger, but what is reality in a sci-fi thriller? I’m just happy the babies were okay!

There are also references to God in the book, and curiously, it was one of the mutants (and the main character) who believed in Him. I’m curious to read more about her background. Morey has told me that more of Steph’s past will be revealed in the subsequent novels.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book is where a chapter moves to another and seems to skip over an entire scene. The one chapter ends with the characters deciding to go to the football stadium, but the next chapter, they’re at the hospital. As the book continued, I was able to induce that they had gone to the stadium, but it wasn’t clear.

The Harvest really made me think. Initially, I sided with the mutants and thought the humans were murdering human beings with souls (the mutants). Then the mutants started killing, and not just in defense. They wanted to kill everyone in revenge. So I started to view the mutants as the “bad guys.” At the very end of the book though, it comes full circle. So who were the “good guys” and who were the “bad guys”? Well, except for the three main characters, the lines weren’t clear, and I think that’s the point. Moral dilemmas aren’t usually black and white, and too often both parties are guilty of something.

I’m looking forward to purchasing and reading the rest of the series when it comes out. I want to know what happens to the main characters, and I don’t see how this can end well for everyone!

Note: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Book Review: The Thirteenth by G. L. Twynham


*UPDATED 1/27/13

My avid love for books goes back to childhood when my mother taught me to read and carted me to and from the library several times a week. I suppose it was no surprise to my family and friends when I majored in English education in college. I then worked for several years as a high school English teacher before I had my son. While teaching (and even now), I made it a point to stay current on new and popular young adult novels and keep them stacked on my classroom shelves.

“The Thirteenth” is the first book in a young adult fantasy/scifi series by UK author G. L. Twynham.

Georgia Twynham has been writing since she was a child, beginning with short stories, poetry, then articles and now novels. In writing “The Thirteenth,” she wanted a strong female heroine, but one with a normal family. She created a main character that has regular problems that teenagers everywhere would be able to relate to.

The main character of this story, Val Saunders, seems like an ordinary teenager at first. She has her awkward moments and insecurities like any other teen. On the eve of her 18th birthday, strange things begin to happen to her along with the sudden appearance of a Zodiac tattoo on her arm. Along with her long-time best friend and several new friends, Val weathers the succession of strange events that lead up to a surprising twist explaining her destiny and who she really is.

My take:

I really enjoyed this book!  It moves quickly, and I was drawn into the story almost immediately, from one scene to the next. I wanted to know what was happening to Val and what her next adventure would be; so it was definitely a page turner for me.

When I read books, I always try to guess what’s going to happen, who’s the bad guy, etc. I have to confess that the strange developments/surprises at the end…yeah, I didn’t see those coming! Also, without giving too much away, I’ll say that the book seems a fantasy almost all the way to the end, when it suddenly turns into a scifi novel. I’m curious to see if the rest of the series could be classified in the elusive “science fantasy” genre.

The characters weren’t as developed as I would have liked; however, this is the first book in a series, so it makes sense that as the series continues, the characters will grow. Also, there are quite a few cliches (but, hey, my writing is obviously full of cliches!), but nothing I found overtly obnoxious.

Overall, I’m looking forward to reading the next installment, The Turncoats! You can learn more about The Thirteenth series and G. L. Twynham HERE. And there’s good news for readers on the go like me: all three of Twynham’s books are available for the Kindle!

G.L. Twynham is giving away 20 Kindle/e-pub copies of “The Thirteenth,” but the giveaway ends in 3 days! Hurry and enter HERE.

Note: I received a complimentary Kindle download of “The Thirteenth” from G. L. Twynham to review and was not compensated for this post. I was not asked to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed above are my own and may differ from the opinions of others. Affiliate link present.

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