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note to self: i’ll be there for you, always

written june 6, 2021. Photo by Kristine Cinate on Unsplash I have always looked for myself in other people. I think the idea was that they would somehow hold the pieces of me that I felt were missing. That maybe, if I wrapped my identity up in theirs enough, we would somehow make a whole person. It's not healthy to live like this, but I did it anyway — burning through relationships and searching for something I couldn't quite name. It was never enough, not to be myself, but it was never enough to latch my identity to other people, either. I got close, several times — I thought I had reached the pinnacle of self discovery. I thought I had completed myself. But in the end, relying on other people to help build yourself is never a viable way to do things. It's only recently that I've started to become comfortable with the idea of being enough, as I am, on my own. Several years ago, in this same position, I would have searched for another person to attach my identity onto,

The New Recruit + Giveaway

God has called. You have answered.
Welcome to the Mission League.

Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.

These guys mean business.

Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

» my thoughts «

I could talk about this book all day.

It was that good.

When I first heard about the premise—a sarcastic jock being recruited into a Christian spy organization—I fell in love immediately. I knew this was a character and book I’d most likely adore, and I hoped I wasn’t disappointed.

I wasn’t.

The New Recruit exceeded my expectations and more. When I first picked it up, I was thrown into the action from the very first page. It took me a little while to get my bearings, and I was a bit confused, but it wasn’t in a bad way. I figured it out and within no time I adored this story about a kid named Spencer.

From the very first page, Spencer’s voice drew me in. He is one of the best-written male characters I’ve ever read, if not the best. I connected with him in a very deep way, and I loved his sarcastic, straightforward viewpoint. What amazed me was Jill Williamson’s ability to write a male character with such accuracy. It was so cool for me to be inside the head of a fifteen-year-old boy, and it opened my mind in many ways to what a teenage boy might be thinking and feeling.

Another thing I very much appreciated about Spencer’s perspective was his outsider’s view of the Christian world. This is always something I’ve always wished was explored more, since Christians look pretty weird to those who aren’t in the “secret club.” I even feel out of place a lot of the time, and I’ve been raised knowing Jesus my whole life. I connected to Spencer so much on that level, and I appreciate the way Jill Williamson handled that issue.

And now the part you’re probably most curious about: the Christian spy organization. This was seriously right up my alley. I absolutely love writing weird things like that—being kidnapped by a boyband, anyone? The only thing I’m surprised about was that I didn’t come up with this idea. I loved the concept, the members of the spy organization, and Spencer’s skepticism to the whole deal. As Rachelle Rea said in her review, when Spencer started to believe, so did I. I felt like I was in Spencer’s shoes, actually living out the book. It was amazing.

The only con I can think to mention is that there were a few grammatical errors—which were fine, but jarred me out of the story just a bit. Other than that, there wasn’t much else that I found to complain about, which is pretty impressive.

The book kept me hooked all the way through, which isn’t accomplished very often as I have a short reader’s attention span. I’d been pretty disenchanted with reading at that time, since all the books I’d been trying to read didn’t hold my attention, so The New Recruit was extremely refreshing. I will admit that during the middle of the book I set it down for a few days. The action had lulled a bit, yes, but even then was still exciting and the reason I put it down had to do with life circumstances more than anything else. I kept thinking about it during my break, and when I picked it up again I blew through the last chunk of pages.

When I was in the last quarter of the book, I stayed up till one o’clock reading it. Then I woke up at eleven the next morning and stayed in bed for two hours reading it. I would have stayed longer, but I was pulled out of bed for my orthodontist appointment. (Because I was so caught up in the book, we were running a bit late. I don't think I’ve ever eaten lunch so fast before.) I got my braces on that day, and thinking about The New Recruit helped keep me distracted from the discomfort. I literally feel like these book’s characters were my friends, and it was a very bittersweet feeling when I finished. The story came alive in my mind.

Good books are the ones that stick in your head long after, and The New Recruit is one such book. This book has quickly rocketed to my favorites list. It has a place of honor on my bookshelf’s first shelf (which is reserved for only very special books, so you know it’s gotta be amazing). I loved everything about it, and it won’t be long until I go back and read it a second time. Thank you so much, Jill Williamson, for writing a book that made me fall in love with reading all over again.

As part of my review, I had the chance to sit down with Spencer Garmond, the star of The New Recruit, and ask him a few questions. Hopefully you enjoy meeting him as much as I did.

» interview «

Hey Spencer! Thanks for being with us today.
Hey. Sure, whatever.

What’s up?
Nothing. Waiting for Kip to get online to play some PoP. Don't know what's taking him so long. Probably texting Megan.

What’s your favorite color?
Lakers purple, baby. Pantone 526.

Uh... Because it's awesome.

If there’s one thing you want everyone to know about you, what would it be?
Yeah... I don't know. That I clean up at basketball.

You play basketball? When did you start? 
Sheesh. I don't even remember. My dad used to play, Grandma said, and she has a picture of me in my crib with a ball that my dad put in there, so... yeah. Some kids had a stuffed animal. I had a basketball.

Why do you enjoy it so much?
Yeah, I don't know. 'Cause I'm good at it, I guess. And it's fun.

Tell me about this… Christian spy organization… thing.
Oh, it's a... wait. Uh... What? I mean... Uh... Do you like red? 'Cause if you know the right answer, you know I can't answer that for the Internet. Come on.

Okay, last question, and it’s a big one: You have two options. You can live in a cave and never have contact with any human ever again. Or you have to live in a crowded neighborhood in New York City and never be alone for any second of any day, ever. What’s your choice?
That's easy. Party in the city. It would suck to live in a cave, man.

Thanks for your time, Spencer! 
Yeah, sure thing.

As you probably already know, you’re awesome.
*laughs* Awesome is my middle name. Jason Bourne learned his awesomeness from me, you know.

» giveaway «

And perhaps the best part of all is that Jill Williamson has offered to give away a copy of The New Recruit to one lucky winner of a giveaway on my blog. You can enter to win by commenting below and answering these two questions (which will earn you two entries).

What would be awesome about being a secret agent? 
What would be the drawbacks?

For more info, visit Jill Williamson's website & Facebook page
or find out more about the book by clicking here.

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I'm intrigued and I have saved the book onto my amazon wishlist for later. The story certainly has an unusual premise what with being recruited into a Christian spy agency.

  2. I loved the book review! I absolutely can't wait to read this!
    What would be awesome about being a secret agent? Probably serving the organization or country that you believe in, as well as learning to think on your feet, take risks, and (hopefully!) help others
    What would be the drawbacks? People who go undercover actually suffer psychological problems afterwards, often feeling cut off from the world around them. As a secret agent, you are constantly in danger and if your identity is revealed you could be shot there and then. It's a dangerous life. But worth it? Probably!

  3. That sounds like a really neat book! I've always been interested in spy stories, but haven't really had the chance to dive into reading them.

    So... what would be awesome about being a secret agent? Going all over the world, being able to see this wonderful world the God made, meeting all kinds of interesting new people, trying new things, helping people through the secret investigations and such... the list can go on and on.

    The drawbacks? Being away from your family during missions, not being able to spend a lot of time with them, going on risky ventures and always being alert to the fact that you could be killed any second and your mission might fail.

  4. Loved the review! And (I'm always reading GoTeenWriters) I'd LOVE to read The New Recruit. So, answering questions...

    What would be awesome about being a secret agent? A life of action and adventure! Being able to see new places. Always on the go, doing, being, exciting.

    What would be the drawbacks? I think, in a way, you'd be living in your own *fantasy* world, and it would be hard to *snap out of it* at times. Also, the feeling of never being *safe*.

  5. I answer questions now. 'Cause um.. I kind of want to read it now. :)

    What would be awesome about being a secret agent? D'oh.... having all those skills and knowing you're good at what you do. Wooot! Can you imagine being able to fight like a spy? Dang, that'd be cool.

    The drawbacks would have to be that it's a dangerous business, and you never know when your next mission will be your last. And the fact that you may have to kill someone. That would be hard.

    **crosses fingers**

  6. Heard a bit about this book--sounds really good. I loved the Gallagher Girls spy seires... spies are cool.

    What would be awesome about being a secret agent? Nothing would be boring. Ever. Things would be new, and you could do so much stuff you'd never get to do in a normal life. And the travel!

    What would be the draw backs? What Cait said. And you could never have any friends outside of the organisation. No one could no who you really are, and it could be quite lonely. I also think that that sort of lifestyle would really affect a person mentally... But hey. Sacrifices. :)

  7. Alright, TWO of my favourite blogs have recommended this book now - I think fate is telling me to buy it, haha! Time to enter your contest, methinks!

    What would be awesome about being a secret agent:
    - Getting to play with all the awesome gadgets and go to exciting places and do exciting things! To feel like you're making a difference to the world would be amazing too, of course ;)

    What would be the drawbacks?
    - You'd probably get a little paranoid about failing and letting people down. The stress of some of the nastier missions might get to you to. And the possibility of death. That wouldn't be much fun either.

  8. I heard about this earlier & I was very interested. Glad you had good things to say about it.

    What would be awesome about being a secret agent:
    all the cool things you could do from the gadgets to the sneaking around to like saving the world! It'd be just like the TV show Chuck, awesome!

    It would be kind of dangerous on the missions. And it'd be better to be clumsy (which I am) or scared. :)

  9. Let me put this simply: this book looks bloody fantastic. Yup.

    What would be awesome about being a secret agent?
    Believe it or not, being a secret agent/spy was always my dream job as a kid (and still is, but I've become much more of a pessimistic realist in my old age). All the cool gadgets I'd get to use, the mega fantabulous thrill, the feeling of doing something useful for the world, all the secret...stuff... It would just be brilliant!

    What would be the drawbacks?
    Well, the physical requirements, for one thing. I was always rubbish at that sort of stuff. And always being afraid of letting people down and ruining the entire mission. :/


  10. It would to be a secret agent because it would be exciting traveling and doing adventuresome things! A drawback would be having to be really athletic...and face bad people..and be brave..and pretty much everything, yeah, not really for me. XD

    Great post!

  11. Whoa. That sounds like a fantastic book. :D

    What would be awesome about being a secret agent?
    My youngest sister and I continually play secret agent and go on missions together (mostly just spying on my brother and his girlfriend), but it would be so cool to actually *be* a secret agent. I suppose the awesomest part would be the technology I'd get to play with and the traveling.

    What would be the drawbacks?
    I'm not the stealthiest of people, so being clumsy would be one drawback. xD

  12. THAT BOOK. Sounds fantastical!

    Ok, answering the questions:

    -What would be awesome about being a secret agent?
    Well, just 'being' a secret agent on a whole. The whole mystery, and since Secret agents get ubber cool technology, and can kick butt too, It's not to shabby a job. And then, I'd like being able to uncover conspiracies, and such stuff. Yeah. lol

    -What would be the drawbacks?
    Well, 1) I'd have to be in better shape (Can Secret Agents get Cyborg implants? yes? no?), 2) I wouldn't want to actually kill anybody, which, might get in the way from time to time... 3) I'd have to be a lot more brave and daring. and 4) Not being able to tell people you are a secret agent because, well, that's just a no brainer. XD

  13. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the story, Sky. Thanks for reading and reviewing it. And for interviewing Spencer too. :-)
    You've got an awesome blog!
    I love reading about what everyone would like or dislike about being a secret agent.

  14. Awesome part: world travel. adventure.

    Worst part: danger. injury. excessive physical movement. (I'm a sit at my desk and type, watch the trees change outside my window person.)


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