Tuesday, December 18, 2012

American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom by Rick Santorum

ISBN: 978-1-4143-7908-1
An absolutely wonderful book to read!!  I agree whole heartedly with another review that this should be required reading for any high school history class.  In fact, the chapters are so short that it could easily apply to middle school students as well.

Rick Santorum has addressed 25 heroes of the American Revolution and how they were instrumental in the formation and foundation of our country.  He draws from the “The Declaration of Independence”…”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  He centers on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and introduces Patriots who believed strongly in these areas and pursued them with their very own lives.  Many of the individuals within this book were also firm in their belief that without the hand of our Creator upon our lives, we would all be lost.  These biographical sketches draw our hearts and attention back to God and how He ultimately is our “life, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness.”  Without Him, we are nothing.

I found the Patriots in this book absolutely fascinating.  Mr. Santorum highlights several women who served as marksmen and spies, a gentle giant who fought like a madman, a baker who fed George Washington’s army, a financial hero who supported the movement even unto poverty at his death; a bi-racial man who was the pastor of a white church for 30 years until the congregation realized he was “black” and asked him to leave.  While all of these are not signers of the Declaration of Independence, they were most definitely instrumental in the foundation of our country and deserve our gratitude for their sacrifices.  We also have a responsibility to teach our children the heritage of our country and how far we have strayed from the founding fathers original “Call to Freedom.”

Rick Santorum has created a wonderful history book!  I highly recommend “American Patriots – Answering the Call to Freedom.”

About the author:   Rick Santorum was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2012. His grassroots approach to campaigning catapulted him to frontrunner status. Prior to running for President, Rick served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

DISCLOSURE: We received a complimentary copy of American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom from Tyndale Blog Network on behalf of the publisher, Tyndale, and author to facilitate our honest review. Positive remarks were not an obligation.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Anna's Blizzard" by Alison Hart

Children of all ages would enjoy this book, but it is especially suitable for upper elementary readers.

This historical fiction takes place during the blizzard of January, 1888 on the American Great Plains. Anna Vail and her pony Top Hat head to school as usual with no indication of how the weather was about to turn. Anna is a hard working young girl who helps with herding the family sheep, but school is another matter. Anna struggles with her schoolwork and has a difficult time making friends with those students who are smarter and have more of this world’s treasures.

But, Anna is very brave, and her bravery is never more evident than when the blizzard hits during the school day. While the school appears to be the safest place to ride out the storm, it becomes obvious as the blizzard bears down on the little sod school building that the children must depart if they are to survive. But where will they go and how? Read and find out how Anna’s bravery and the instincts of her faithful pony see the children to safety. (rev. J.La Tour)

About the book:  A young Nebraska girl discovers the courage to save others during a life-threatening snowstorm. It is 1888. Twelve-year-old Anna loves life on the Nebraska prairie where she lives with her parents and four-year-old brother in a simple sod house. When a fierce blizzard suddenly kicks up on a mild winter day, Anna, her schoolmates, and young teacher, Miss Simmons, become trapped in the one-room schoolhouse.

About the author: Alison Hart is the author of more than forty books for young readers, including Emma's River, Anna's Blizzard, and the Racing to Freedom trilogy. Hart is a teacher at Blue Ridge Community College and lives in Virginia. You can visit Alison Hart’s website here.

DISCLOSURE:  A complimentary copy of Anna's Blizzard was provided by Peachtree Publishers on behalf of the author for the purpose of facilitating our honest review without obligation to render a positive review.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Betrayal" by Robin Lee Hatcher

ISBN: 978-0-310-25809-4
Zondervan Pub.
Betrayal is the second book in the “Where the Heart Lives” series written by Robin Lee Hatcher.  Though this book could be read on its own, this reader would recommend reading book one Belonging first as intended by the author. There are several details in book two that would not be clear without the reading of book one.   

This book is set in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s in Wyoming.  The main characters, Julia Grace and Hugh Brennan, have lived lives filled with disappointment and betrayal.  Hugh finds himself as the book opens happening upon a ranch on his journey to Idaho to seek out the whereabouts of his orphaned sisters.  The ranch belongs to a beautiful young widow, Julia Grace.  

Woven throughout this book is the guidance of the hand of God on the lives of two who have found Him to be their only solace in the midst of great difficulty.  This beautiful story of finding peace and love when least expected is one this reader found captivating and a joy to read.  Book three in the series, Beloved promises to be just as enjoyable. (rev. J.LaTour)

Author bio:  Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of over sixty books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin currently resides in Idaho. 

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary review copy was provided by Zondervan to facilitate our honest review. No obligation was made to provide a positive review.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Belonging" by Robin Lee Hatcher

In book one of Robin Lee Hatcher’s “Where the Heart Lives” series, the town of Frenchman’s Bluff in the high desert of Idaho is in need of a new school teacher.  Felicia Kristoffersen is in need of a teaching position, one that will take her to a new place with the promise of new beginnings that will help her forget her painful past.  She arrives in Frenchman’s Bluff with a desire to prove herself in this position; but unbeknownst to her, there are those who never wanted her to come in the first place. 

Colin Murphy, a local merchant cares most about his motherless daughter Charity.  While he knows the town needs a teacher, he believes a single, inexperienced lady teacher will not provide the educational advantages he wants his daughter and the other students of Frenchman’s Bluff to have.  Experience has told him they just don’t stick with the job for long.  He is about to learn that Felicia is not your average teacher.

They both are about to find that God is “working all things together for good” in spite of their past sorrows and disappointments to give them the love, joy, and guidance they so desperately desire and in ways they least expect.

I found this book to be a wonderful read; one I had difficulty putting down. (rev. J.LaTour)

About the book:  Leaving behind her bitter past, Felicia Kristoffersen seeks to make a brighter future for herself as a teacher in Frenchman’s Bluff, Idaho. But in this tiny high desert town, she can’t afford to fail. And not everyone is happy she’s here to begin with. Award-winning novelist Robin Lee Hatcher weaves a historical romance that asks the question: Can faith triumph over life’s harshest storms?

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher was provided by Zondervan on behalf of the author to facilitate an honest review with obligation for positive remarks.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens Full-Cast Audio Dramatization

Binding: 5 CDs & 1 DVD
List Price:$39.99
Release Date:November 2012
The Focus on the Family rendition of Charles Dickens Oliver Twist is very well dramatized with well-placed narrator information interspersed in the dialogue.  There is an excellent interpretation of the plot, and believable character voices. 

The story of young Twist follows the path of a lonely orphan boy from the parish workhouse, to the London criminal underworld, and finally to a peaceful life with his father’s best friend.  Mr. Brownlow, and his Aunt Rose in the country.  Dickens’ story of greed, justice, and redemption is captivating and worth the time to listen and learn from the complex journey of Oliver Twist.

My children and I enjoyed listening to it together.  They each hardily agreed it was well done and we are looking forward to a time when we can listen to it again! (rev. A.Freeman)

About the production:  An audio drama of the highest quality, Oliver Twist was recorded on location in London with an award-winning cast. This classic story will steal your heart as the timeless characters are brought to life in Focus on the Family Radio Theatre’s edition of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale. This amazing audio production comes on five CDs, with a bonus DVD that includes behind-the-scenes production footage and the documentary Modern Day Oliver. Purchase of the product also benefits Focus’s “Wait No More” adoption initiative.

With cinema-quality sound and an original soundtrack, this audio drama tells the story of a young orphan sent from a child farm to begin life in a workhouse. After committing the unpardonable offense of asking for more food, Oliver is sent off to apprentice with a coffin-maker whose wife mistreats him. He runs away to London, where he meets the Artful Dodger and Fagin, who trains kids to be pickpockets. Despite his many trials and hardships, he finally gets his happy ending, bringing hope for redemption to all around him.

There are 5 CDs and 1 DVD including a behind the scenes glimpse into production.  For more information visit http://www.RadioTheatre.org/OliverTwist

DISCLOSURE: We were provided a complimentary copy of this production by  Tyndale Blog Network on behalf of Tyndale Publishers and the Radio Theatre (you can view a sample of production of Oliver Twist audio and see and hear the actors in action) in exchange for our honest review without pressure for a positive review.

"It Can't Be Done Nellie Bly" by Nancy Butcher

“It  Can’t Be Done Nellie Bly” by Nancy Butcher is a delightful story of a newspaper reporter's attempt to travel around the world in 75 days to beat the record of the fictional character of Phileas  Fogg.  The author weaves a wonderful tale of the adventures faced by this daredevil woman and creatively inserts Nellie’s own words. 

The chapters are short and flow easily to make a young reader encouraged with reading chapter books. The connection with factual information of events and the fictional dialogues created by the author is smooth and accomplished through a study of journals and other research. 

This book will be an enjoyable read by middle readers.  I also enjoyed the added factual information and pictures in the back few pages of the book. The short bibliography at the end would be helpful for further research. (rev. C.Delorge)

About the book: This book tells the true story of a courageous woman's famous journey in 1889 that took her all the way around the globe in record time.

Nellie Bly was a newspaper reporter for the New York World in the late nineteenth century. But instead of writing about "ladylike" subjects like tea parties and charity balls, Nellie wrote about the social problems of her day: poor job conditions, dilapidated housing, and dishonest politicians.

Many people objected to the things she wrote about. But Nellie Bly was unstoppable. If someone told her "It can't be done, Nellie Bly," she went right ahead and did it anyway.

Author and Illustrator:  Nancy Butcher is the author of more than two dozen books for children and adults, including It Can't Be Done, Nellie Bly! and The Fire-Us Trilogy, coauthored with Jennifer Armstrong. A graduate of the University of Chicago, she lives in New York.

Jen Singh studied illustration at Kendall College of Art & Design and has illustrated several books. She lives in Georgia. 
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of It Can't Be Done, Nellie Bly! was provided by Peachtree Publishers on behalf of the author to facilitate our honest review with no requirement for a positive review.

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Jangles a BIG fish story" by author/illustrator David Shannon

ISBN: 978-0-545-14312-7
Published by The Blue Sky Press an imprint of Scholastic
 Review:  Jangles a BIG fish story by Davis Shannon is a delightful tale of the fish that got away.  The story is smooth to read and would make a great read-a-loud story for children to anticipate what will happen at the end.   I enjoyed the illustrations that make you feel like you are part of the story.   Every town has a story that has been passed down for generations and this book is a wonderful depiction of a father passing down a tale to his children. (rev. C.Delorge)

The illustrations in Jangles a BIG fish story seem to literally jump off the page at you.  You are amazingly brought into the story by the bold, active, strong art.  
About the author/illustrator:  David Shannon has been telling tales all his life. When he was a little boy, he created a book that later inspired his international bestseller No, David!, a 1998 Caldecott Honor Book, as well as David Gets in Trouble; David Goes to School.; and It's Christmas, David!  Shannon  is the author and illustrator of numerous popular picture books, including Too Many Toys; Good Boy, Fergus; Alice the Fairy; and A Bad Case of Stripes. This year, the Blue Sky Press reissued How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 1994 and the first book Shannon wrote himself.  A native of spokane, Washington, Shannon has been an avid fisherman since childhood. 

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary review copy was provided by Scholastic to facilitate this honest review.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Who Is It?" by Sally Grindley & illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

About the book:  An exciting read-aloud book turns classic fairy tales upside down and lets youngsters join in the fun. Children will be eager to shout out the answers to the question "Who Is It?" and to warn the unsuspecting characters about what's going to happen next.

But young readers will also be thrilled to find out there's a big surprise in store for them, too!

Review:  Parents have long shared the classic fairy tales of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Billy Goat Gruff, Little Red Riding Hood, etc. through the years.  Kiddies love them.  Sometimes we as parents take a few liberties with the tale to make it fit our  personal ideas and ideals as well as that of our child.

In Who Is It? author Grindley doesn't really tell the stories.  She has created a parent/child guessing game of "Who Is it?" with clues from which the child is to identify the story.  An interesting concept and one that many parents and children will thoroughly enjoy.

The book is illustrated with vivid, bold stroke art colored richly in the primary colors.  The illustrations of the story characters are cute and boldly engaging. 

I can visualize parents having giggly fun with their child with this book and the child requesting the Who Is It? game repeatedly.  I personally would not use this at bedtime because sensitive children might feel threatened just prior to falling asleep.  The same sensitive child could easily engage with the story/game without difficulties an another time in the day.

About the author & illustrator:
  • Sally Grindley is the author of numerous books for children. She lives in England.You can visit Sally Grindley’s website here.
  • Rosalind Beardshaw has illustrated numerous books for children. She lives in England. 
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Who Is It? was provided by Peachtree Publishers on behalf of the author to facilitate our honest review.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Historical Fiction is Not Dead" by Margo L. Dill (author of "Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg") (plus GIVEAWAY)

I'd like to welcome Margo L. Dill as guest blogger today.  She has written Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg which is an engaging story of the Civil War from a Southerner's stand point.  Let's see what Margo has to say to us today about historical fiction....
From Margo L. Dill....   I recently had a chance to go on my first school visit since my middle-grade, historical fiction novel came out at the beginning of October. Luckily, the teachers had read the book to the students before I got there for Family Reading Night, and they all seemed to really like it. I never got to my prepared presentation because the kids had so many questions about the characters and the events in the war, and many of them wanted to know if I was writing a sequel. To see these children so excited about a historical fiction book warmed my heart—especially after attending a writing conference earlier in the year where New York agents and editors said that historical fiction was on its way out and could not be sold.
        Before this experience at Reading Night, I knew children responded better to historical fiction than they did history books or social studies lectures from my years as an elementary teacher. It’s almost like historical fiction authors along with parents, teachers, and librarians are ganging up on the kids (in a good way!) and tricking them into caring about some characters and a story, so that they will also learn history. Thank goodness for this little bit of trickery. It helped me when I was in school, too, reading books like Little House on the Prairie or Johnny Tremain.
        I don’t think historical fiction is dead, despite what’s selling the best on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I think it’s important to share it with our children and students—to point out what’s fact and what makes the story fiction. Once you’ve read a historical fiction book to a child, then you can teach her more about the history that goes with it. They’ll have something to connect with when they learn why the Declaration of Independence was so important or the North won the war or the causes for World War II. 
        In my book, Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, I was determined to give students a view from the Southern citizens during the United States Civil War because so many books out there are from a Northern point of view and focus on the soldiers. I wanted to show how the war affected people’s lives, but I also wanted to share this time period with children. What did kids do for fun back then? What did they read? What chores did they do? What did they do when supplies ran low because of the war? Were kids back then like kids today? I hope that I was able to accomplish this and more.
        One of the best compliments an author can receive is: “Is there going to be a sequel?” especially when children are learning while reading! I’m thankful for the genre of historical fiction. I’m glad my first novel is a part of this, and I hope that we will be using the genre to connect children and history for many years to come. 

Margo L. Dill is the author of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg,  about 13-year-old Anna Green and her struggle to keep her family together during the Siege of Vicksburg.

To read a summary or purchase an autographed copy (a perfect Christmas present for children ages 9 to 12!), please go to http://margodill.com/blog/finding-my-place   or  on  Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-My-Place-Strength-Vicksburg/dp/1572494085/ .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A copy of Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg provided by author, Margo L. Dill.
Begins Dec. 4 and Ends Dec. 17, 2012 12:01 a.m. EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway  
Read the review of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg" on Reader's Review Haven.

Monday, December 3, 2012

"The Face of Heaven" by Murray Pura

ISBN: 978-0-7369-4949-
About the book: In April 1861, Lyndel Keim discovers two runaway slaves in her family’s barn. When the men are captured and returned to their plantation, Lyndel and her young Amish beau, Nathaniel King, find themselves at odds with their pacifist Amish colony.

Nathaniel enlists in what will become the famous Iron Brigade of the Union Army. Lyndel enters the fray as a Brigade nurse on the battlefield, sticking close to Nathaniel as they both witness the horrors of war—including the battles at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. Despite the pair’s heroic sacrifices, the Amish only see that Lyndel and Nathaniel have become part of the war effort, and both are banished.

And a severe battle wound at Gettysburg threatens Nathaniel’s life. Lyndel must call upon her faith in God to endure the savage conflict and to face its painful aftermath, not knowing if Nathaniel is alive or dead. Will the momentous battle change her life forever, just as it will change the course of the war and the history of her country?

The Face of Heaven is a dramatic story that will release on the 150th anniversary of the historic battle of Antietam, September, 1862. (August 2012)

Review: The Face of Heaven is a lovely historic fiction story that opens just before the Civil War in 1861. Lyndel Keim is an Amish girl growing up on her father’s farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

One morning Lyndel discovers two runaway slaves hiding in the barn. Ultimately the sheriff discovers their whereabouts, and the slaves are dealt with very harshly. The treatment of these slaves and the knowledge of thousands of others across the South causes Lyndel and her beau, Nathaniel King, to go against the wishes of their parents and Amish church leaders in joining the Civil War. Nathaniel enlists in the Iron Brigade serving in the Union army. Lyndel becomes a Brigade nurse working on or near the battlefields. Both see first hand the atrocities of the war, young men giving their lives for their beliefs and country.

Throughout their efforts to serve the Union Army in such famous battles as Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Antietam, and finally at Gettysburg, they find themselves entirely dependent upon God’s strength and wisdom. Sometimes they work alongside of each other; other times they work far apart, hoping and praying that God would preserve them both. (reviewed by S.Fincannon)

About the author: Murray Pura earned his Master of Divinity degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and his ThM degree in theology and interdisciplinary studies from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more than 25 years, in addition to his writing, he has pastored churches in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Alberta. Murray’s writings have been shortlisted for the Dartmouth Book Award, the John Spencer Hill Literary Award, the Paraclete Fiction Award, and Toronto's Kobzar Literary Award. His novels for Harvest House include Face of Heaven and The Wings of Morning. Murray pastors and writes in southern Alberta near the Rocky Mountains.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of The Face of Heaven was provided by Harvest House Publishers on behalf of the author to facilitate our honest review. Positive remarks were not required.

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Snakehead Invasion: An Up North Adventure" by G.M. Moore

The book Snakehead Invasion by G. M. Moore promises to keep the reader interested as each adventure unfolds.  This Juvenile Fiction is the third book in the series called An Up North Adventure.  The setting takes place at the lakes of Northern Wisconsin where we follow Griffy and Pike through many dangerous situations.  The boys become entangled in a mystery that can ruin the lake and the livelihood of everyone on it.   

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the great outdoors and the sport of fishing.  This book goes into gory details on how to dissect a fish which is sure to interest boys.  It is fun to follow the strange events that take place in The Lost Land Lake while we enjoy figuring out if Griffy and Pike can solve the mystery.  G. M. Moore has captured the art of telling an exciting story through this series. (reviewed by M.Hicks)

Other books in the series reviewed here on Reader's Review Haven are:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Red Sky At Morning" by Steve Wilson

ISBN: 978-1-61808-035-6
White Feather Press

About the book: When Marine Lieutenant Michael Neill is ordered to the former Soviet Union, his assignment is to verify nuclear disarmament. But before his mission begins, he suffers both a personal and professional loss—an American reconnaissance plane is attacked by a Russian fighter, and a Navy pilot is killed. Ironically, the dead airman is Neill’s good friend and former Naval Academy classmate. After the incident, Neill’s mission changes.

The President’s National Security Advisor wants Lieutenant Neill to investigate Russian stealth technology, in addition to his original assignment. Photographic evidence—and the lack of radar images of the attacking aircraft—lead the American intelligence community to conclude that something new has been developed in the skies over Russia. The National Security Advisor believes that Neill’s friendship with a high-ranking officer in the Ukrainian Air Force is the key to establishing Red Sky at Morning—the existence of new aviation technology that could upset the balance of power between East and West.

However, ultra-nationalist forces are at work. After arriving in Eastern Europe, Neill quickly uncovers a conspiracy of terrorism secretly instigated by the Kremlin. Government leaders in Moscow will stop at nothing to rebuild the Soviet Union as they try to force the breakaway republics back into the fold.

Review: Red Sky at Morning by Steve Wilson is a great read.  The story is compelling and exciting.  The characters are well developed and interesting to become involved with.  The writing style is easy and fluid making the book hard to put down as you begin to be drawn in by the drama.  There is a good mix of romantic interest as well as lots of excitement and intrigue as the characters evolve and the story line unwinds. 

I enjoyed the many different connections between the characters.  There is a slight reference to Christian living that I found to be a nice addition to the story.  The events, although fictional, contain a strong link to realistic events that could possibly happen.  I would highly recommend this book  to readers looking for intrigue and excitement.
Author:  Steve Wilson is a multimedia designer and has worked in advertising for over 25 years. He is a prior service Marine and now serves as a senior NCO in the Air Force Reserve. He has deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, in addition to tours in the United States, Germany, and the Pacific, and has visited the former Soviet Union multiple times. He lives in Florida with his wife. Red Sky at Morning is his first novel. Purchase
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Red Sky at Morning was provided by the author to facilitate our honest review with no expectation nor requirement of a positive review.

"Finding My Place – One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg" by Margo L. Dill

This delightful and insightful historic fiction tells of thirteen year old Anna Green and the trials she and her family faced during the Civil War when Vicksburg was under siege. The book is written from Anna’s viewpoint and gives insight into how a young girl might have perceived what was happening during this time of conflict.

Though a fiction, the writer has been true to the historical accounts of what the citizens of Vicksburg had to endure when the city was being barraged with artillery fire. Caves were dug out and became home to many as their houses were no longer safe to indwell. The basic provisions of food and clean water were scarce, and the story relates the lengths to which the people of Vicksburg had to go to simply survive. Anna and her family had to endure an especially difficult tragedy in the midst of what was already a very difficult situation.

In the end, Anna proves to be a girl who has grown in confidence and courage and finds inner strength that heretofore she had not realized she possessed.

I highly recommend this book to middle school aged readers as an excellent means of learning about our country’s history during this tragic period of the Civil War while enjoying a story full of suspense as well as incredible heroism. (reviewed by J.La Tour)

Author: Margo L. Dill -Join me on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Editor-911-Margo-L-Dill/346210516982
  • Finding My Place, middle-grade historical fiction,White Mane Kids, October 2012 - To view lesson plans, writing prompts, historical facts, and more, go to this spot on this blog: http://margodill.com/blog/category/finding-my-place-by-margo-dill/
  • Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire and the Case of the Missing Cookies, picture book, Guardian Angel Publishing, TBD
  • Lucy and the Red Ribbon Week Adventure, picture book, High Hill Press, Publication date TBD

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Vietnam Free-fire Zone Book 3" by Chris Lynch

About the book: Four best friends. Four ways to serve their country.

Morris, Rudi, Ivan, and Beck are best friends for life. So when one of the teens is drafted into the Vietnam War, the others sign up, too. Although they each serve in a different branch, they are fighting the war together -- and they promise to do all they can to come home together.

Rudi is perhaps the most concerned about whether or not he'll be able to keep that promise. After all -- and he'd be the first to admit this -- he's not the most capable guy. He's not smart like Beck, or brave like Ivan. He lacks the strength of Morris's moral convictions. (from Barnesandnoble.com)

Review: This is the third in a series about a young marine in Vietnam. The setting of book three is toward the middle and end of the war.

Rudi is a marine who thrives on the adventure and “belonging” he finds as part of the Marines. He has to deal with many difficult situations but finds security in submitting to his superiors. Through his experiences in Vietnam he grows and conquers many fears. 

Vietnam is a well written book giving the reader a view of some of what a Marine faced during the war. The book does not concern itself too much with the policies of the war but more with the story of one Marines’ views and struggles. (reviewed A.Freeman)

Author: Chris Lynch is the author of numerous acclaimed books for middle-grade and teen readers, including the Cyberia series and the National Book Award finalist INEXCUSABLE. He teaches in the Lesley University creative writing MFA program, and divides his time between Massachusetts and Scotland.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Vietnam: Free-Fire Zone was provided by Scholastic in order to facilitate an honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer and there was no imposed obligation to render a positive review.

"The Amazing Mr. Franklin or The Boy Who Read Everything" by Ruth Ashby

ISBN: 978-1-56145-306-1
Hardcover $12.95
About the book:  Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin was an important statesman, inventor, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. But did you know he started the first library in America for the public good?

Ben Franklin was always a "bookish" boy. He was born in 1706, the seventh of ten children of a candlemaker. The first book he read was the Bible at age five, and then every printed word in his father's small home library. Ben wanted to read more, but books were expensive. He wanted to go to school and learn more, but his family needed him to work. Ben Franklin had lots of ideas about how to turn his love of reading and learning into something more. First he worked as a printer's apprentice, then he set up his own printing business. Later he became the first bookseller in Philadelphia, started a newspaper, published Poor Richard's Almanac, and in 1731, with the help of his friends, organized the first subscription lending library, the Library Company.

Review:    Ruth Ashby writes a delightful account of the life of Ben Franklin.  She weaves the events of his early life into the details of his growing up and becoming an adult that would influence the world.  Her style is easy to read and she does a superb job of incorporating the historical information pertinent to the time. 

I particularly like the part at the end of the book that is set up to focus on the accomplishments of Mr. Franklin through the different areas that he pursued. Interesting anecdotal stories fill the pages and keep the story interesting and compelling to read.  Young readers will learn history. (reviewed by C.Delorge) 

 For grades 4 - 5th (ages 7-10). Pages - 144. Categories:
Author:  Ruth Ashby is the award-winning author of dozens of nonfiction and fiction books for juvenile readers. She lives in New York.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of The Amazing Mr. Franklin was provided by the Peachtree Publishers on behalf of the author to facilitate an honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer and a positive review was not required.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Redemption" by Bryan Clay (Olympic champion) with Joel Kilpatrick

ISBN: 9780849948275
Hardcover: $24.99
About the book:  This is the story of the most unlikely Olympic decathlete in history. Despite size and stature, Bryan Clay is the defending champion of the 2008 Olympic gold medal and winner of the 2004 Olympic silver medal in the decathlon. His journey is as inspiring as it is gritty, as troubled as it is triumphant.

Far more than just a sports memoir, Redemption details the drudgery, devastation, and ultimate conversion that led Bryan to become a world champion. “[God] had a plan when I believed that dreams never came true because, in my life, they never did,” says Bryan. Through a remarkable series of events and devoted prayers of his mother, Bryan’s life was turned around into a victorious narrative of truly being redeemed.

Review:  Bryan Clay’s story is inspiring as well as sobering.  As a parent it reminds you that your actions and reactions do affect your children in ways you sometimes don’t realize, and it gives you hope and faith that God is in control no matter what.  God has a plan for each of our lives even when we don’t trust Him and follow Him.  

Bryan Clay lays his life out for all to see.  He shows you dark side of his youth, the faith of his mother, the struggles of his family and the grace of God through it all, not just his trip to the Olympics and 10 steps to his gold medal.  This book is its own medal to all the youth workers, teachers, and individuals who invest in our children’s lives.  You never know what kind of influence you may be to them and on who they may become.

DISCLOSURE:  We were provided a complimentary copy of Redemption by BookSneeze on behalf of the publisher Thomas Nelson and the author in order to facilitate our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. There was no obligation to render a positive review.

"The Shape of Mercy" by Susan Meissner

About the book: Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with convention and her family’s expectations by choosing a state college over Stanford and earning her own income over accepting her ample monthly allowance. She takes a part-time job from 83-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles, who asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.

Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped in the worldview of the day, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstition, and Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy’s story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail.

My thoughts:  Abigail, a wealthy elderly woman, hires Lauren Durough, an English major at the state college, to transcribe a three hundred year old journal written by her ancestor Mercy Hayworth. 

Mercy endured the notorious Salem witch trials, and Lauren's transcriptions of the journal reveal the horror and helplessness that Mercy felt when her innocent neighbors and friends were accused and convicted of being witches without any true evidence.  Eventually Mercy is also accused by a jealous neighbor of being a witch because she wrote fanciful  stories and loved a young man in the village.  During the trials Mercy trades her life to save another.

Mercy's experiences cause introspective Lauren to reconsider her own life and relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and her friend Raul.  She realizes that she judges people by what they have or don't have.  Instead she desires to "see people for what they are on the inside" before she comes to any conclusions.

Mercy's final sacrifice teaches Lauren that the choice is hers.  Consequently, Lauren chooses to make a difference in the life of someone else.  Readers will enjoy the resourceful plan that Lauren attempts in order to aid Abigail during a difficult time in her life.

The author Susan Meissner uses the three generational realistic characters in the book to enable the reader to reach the conclusion that "we tend to judge people based on notions rather than truth, and without stopping to consider if we even have the right to judge them at all".

The Shape of Mercy combines historical fiction with modern realistic fiction to write a thought-provoking tale of fear, mass hysteria, jealousy,and finally the right choices.  Certainly readers will be ready to evaluate their own lives after absorbing the lessons in this engaging book. (reviewed by S.Fuqua)

About the author: Susan Meissner is an award-winning author whose books include The Shape of Mercy, Lady in Waiting, and A Sound Among the Trees. She is the wife of an Air Force chaplain and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.

DISCLOSURE: The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner is published by Waterbrook Press. A complimentary copy was provided to us to facilitate our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

"14 Cows for America" by Carmen Agra Deedy & illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Hardcover: $17.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-490-7
14 Cows for America is a book written by Carmen Agra Deedy in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. It was a touching and true story of a compassionate act by a poor Maasai African tribe for the comparatively rich country of America.

Kimeli, who is studying to be a doctor in America, visits his Maasai relatives in a village in Kenya.  He tells them about the terrorists' attack on New York on September 11, which he personally observed. The tribe and elders are saddened and dismayed that anyone would do such a despicable act.  Kimeli as a child was taught to be compassionate and kind to anyone in need and to give others of what he valued most. The cows each family possesses in the Maasai tribe provides milk for them, but Kimeli's mother was too poor to own one when he was a child.  Now as an adult, he is able to have one.  He decides to give his cow to America.  Read the exciting conclusion about the generous sacrifice that the Maasai elders and people made for the hurting people of America.

Since I had lived in Africa for fifteen years as a missionary's child, I had observed the abject poverty of many African families, so the great sacrifice this Maasai tribe made brought tears to my eyes.

I read this book to my fifth grade class.  Several were moved by the story.  Here are their comments-
  • "This book is very touching.  The pictures were almost lifelike.  It was sad and touching.  It teaches a good lesson to always help others in need or suffering."     - Jonathan
  • "The pictures were great.  The person that did it is very talented.  The library...should get it for the early readers section."  - Jessica 
  • "I Iiked their fancy clothes and their hair.  What I really didn't like about it was it said nothing about God."   -John
  • "The pictures were pretty in the background."     -Taylor
  • "I liked how it showed the culture of Kenya and told some of the words they say in their language."     -Brooke
  • "I love the bold pictures and colors."      -Isaac
  • "It shows that he (Kimeli) is kind.  He cares about people.  He respects the elders, and he loves them.  He is really kindhearted, and I think he really was like God."     -Justin
  • "I liked how the pictures looked, and how they loved their cows."     -Micah
  • "This book was interesting, and the pictures were colorful.  It is a good book to read because it feels like you're in the book." - Jannah
  • "It's a kind book.  I love the pictures.  They are real realistic.  I don't like that they (the Maasai) are poor."   - Noah
  • "I like this book because there are warriors that are kind.  I like the background, pictures, and the title."   -Elijah
  • "I like when one of the little African boys held a baby cow.  What I don't like about it was that it brought back the memories of 9/11.   -Mark
  • "The book was very realistic."   -Daniela
  • "Some parts I don't really get- like the cow to them was life and close to their hearts."   -Laura
Most of the class felt it was a great book, but some thought it was more appropriate for younger children.  A couple thought that the book was boring, but the majority felt it was a touching story of compassion and generosity. As a class they gave this book a high recommendation.

(Book review by Sharon Fuqua and the Fifth Grade class at Alamance Christian School)
DISCLOSURE:  A copy of the book was provided by Peachtree Publishers on behalf of the author for the purpose of an honest review. No require was made for a positive review.

"Courting Cate - The Courtships of Lancaster County #1" by Leslie Gould

ISBN:  978-0-7642-1031-0
About the book: When This Couple Gets to Courting, Sparks Will Fly!

In Paradise, Pennsylvania, Cate Miller is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Her sweet and flirty sister, Betsy, on the other hand, seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!

But the sisters' wealthy father has made one hard-and-fast rule: older Cate must marry first, before younger Betsy can even start courting. Unfortunately, untamable Cate has driven away every suitor-until Pete Treger comes to town, that is.

Prodded by the men of the area, Pete turns his attention to winning Cate's hand. But is his interest true or is there a scheme at play?

Link to buy the book:

Our thoughts:  Courting Cate by Leslie Gould is the first book in a series called the Courtships of Lancaster County and is published by Bethany House.

"Betsy doesn't marry unless Cate marries first!" Cate's Amish father declares firmly. Most of the young Amish men want to marry Betsy because she is blond, beautiful, and sweet. Cate has been responsible for raising her sister since the death of their mother at Betsy's birth.  Cate's own beauty is marred by her temper that flares frequently and offends anyone who attempts to court her.  Betsy tries to manipulate and convince her older sister Cate into a marriage of convenience hoping then that their father will allow her to marry.  Three of Betsy's Amish suitors have tormented and teased Cate since childhood resulting in her insecurities and sharp tongue.  These antagonists continue their pranks causing Cate to doubt her suitor's intentions.  Was Pete only interested in her father's wealth?  Was he still despondent over the broken relationship with the girl next door?

Cate's suitor Pete at times is disappointing seemingly insipid and indecisive in his feelings toward her until his reasons are later revealed.

The theme of this romance book is learning to trust God and not one's emotions.  Cate's troubles and God's Word in the example of the life of Queen Esther teach her this valuable truth.

The author admits that the plot of this book is loosely based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.  The similarities between the characters of both works are clearly evident resulting sometimes in an unrealistic feeling when these characters from an English play are placed in an Amish setting.

The characters in this book are vivid and intense although their actions do not follow the typical Amish traditions portrayed in other books.  The Amish women are known for their hearty, appetizing meals, yet Cate raised her sister but never learned to cook.  Despite the fact that Amish men tend to work on large farms and the women usually work in the home, her father made his wealth in the cabinet and consulting business while Cate kept the accounts for him. Regardless of these discrepancies, the book would hold any reader's attention to the last page and is definitely worth reading. (Book review by Sharon Fuqua)

About the author: Leslie Gould is the co-author, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny. She is also the author of numerous novels, including Garden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006), and Scrap Everything. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She resides with her husband and four children in Portland, Oregon. Learn more at www.lesliegould.com.

Other reviews in the blog tour:
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Courting Cate was provided to us by Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher, Bethany House and the author to facilitate our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No monetary compensation was given for this review.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Imagination Station Books #8 and #9 ""battle for Cannibal Island" and "Escape to the Hiding Place"

Authors Marianne Hering and Wayne Thomas Batson capture the interest and imagination of the young reader.
ISBN: 978-1-60482-667-8
About "Escape to the Hiding Place":  Patrick and Beth arrive in World War II Holland in the farm country. They must smuggle a baby (by bicycle) into the capable hands of Corrie ten Boom at her home in Haarlem. Along the way they hide from Nazi soliders, meet a Russian surgeon forced into service by the Germans, and encourage two Jewish children who haven’t been outside in over three years. The children learn to appreciate the bravery and sacrifice of everyday people who helped the Jews.
ISBN:  978-1-58997-674-0
 About "Battle for Cannibal Island":  It’s 1852 and cousins Patrick and Beth sail to Fiji on the HMS Calliope under the command of Captain James E. Home. They arrive at the islands to find that the Christian Fijians are at war with the non-Christian Fijians. Missionary James Calvert is trying to make peace and suggests that the captain allow peace negotiations on board the British vessel. Patrick and Beth learn about sacrificial living when they observe Calvert’s determination to live on Fiji despite the dangers and impoverished conditions and that he is willing to risk his life to live as Jesus would.
Review: These books involve exciting historic adventures.  They are full of suspense and keep the reader engaged while learning about history.  The characters are believable and easy to imagine.  The books’ easy to read format will be inviting for early readers, and the story line is captivating for older readers as well.  Excellent choice for reluctant readers and those who love to read.  
My fifth grade son loved them and wants to read the others in the series. (reviewed by A.Freeman)

DISCLOSURE: The two Imagination Station books: Escape to the Hiding Place and Battle for Cannibal Island were provided complimentary by Tyndale Blog Network on behalf of Focus on the Family, Tyndale House Publishers, and the authors,Marianne Hering, Wayne Batson to facilitate our review. No obligation was placed upon us for a complimentary review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Ancient Elk Hunt: An Up North Adventure" by G. M. Moore

ISBN:  9781475004625

The book Ancient Elk Hunt in the series An Up North Adventure by G.M. Moore is a fun read that would be a great addition to any young reader's shelf. Set in the lake of Northern Wisconsin, two preteen boys enjoy the sights and adventures that this particular part of the country can offer. Since the author grew up exploring the landscape and lakes of Northern Wisconsin, he is able to describe first-hand the beauty and possible hazards of this landscape.

The two boys find themselves in many exciting situations that lead to an ancient artifact find that may help their new friend save his business. First, they must outwit a dishonest archeologist that has his own interests in mind. This book not only explores God’s beautiful outdoors but also teaches the value of friendship and helping others. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fishing, hunting, and outdoor activities.

Some reservations that may caution Christian parents: touches on evolution and slang words such as dang and darn. (Reviewed by M.Hicks)

About the author: G.M. Moore is a former newspaper writer and editor.  The author grew up exploring the lakes of northern Wisconsin and currently resides in Illinois.

Website for Up North Adventures:  http://upnorthadventure-series.com  There are two other books in the Up North Adventure Series:  Ancient Elk Hunt and Snakehead Invasion.

DISCLOSURE:A complimentary copy of Ancient Elk Hunt was provided by the author to facilitate our honest review. A positive review was not required.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action"by Nick Vujicic

ISBN:  978-0-307-73088-6
Waterbrook Pre
Our thoughts: Nick Vujicic’s story is inspiring.  He presents the story of his life in an easy to read format that is engaging and thought provoking.  It is amazing to see his determination to not allow physical limitations define who he is.  He consistently looks to God for wisdom and direction.  His faith that God makes no mistakes is clearly presented as a source of strength and encouragement to try new areas and to influence others. 

He chronicles events in his life candidly and presents both the positive and the negative situations that he has had to deal with.   There are many interesting events and some surprising twists and turns throughout his life that keep your interest peaked while reading.  Most importantly, throughout the whole book is the importance of “Faith in Action”.  Not only does he live this for his own life but he inspires others to do the same as he goes around the world speaking to groups. 

I would strongly encourage anyone to read and be encouraged by the story on Nick’s life and by the power of the God that he so faithfully depends on and serves each day. (reviewed by C.Delorge, Librarian)

About the author:  Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker and the director of the nonprofit organization, Life Without Limbs. Nick has become a great inspiration to people around the world, regularly speaking to large crowds about overcoming obstacles and achieving dreams. A longtime resident of Australia, he now lives in southern California with his wife, Kanae. Visit his website at www.LifeWithoutLimbs.org.

DISCLOSURE: Review copies of Unstoppable were provided for the purpose of an honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. There was no expressed requirement to render a positive review.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Be Still My Soul" by Joanne Bischof

ISBN:  978-1-60142-421-1
This book starts out with a young girl named Lonnie Sawyer. She is a very timid and quiet 18 year old living with a father who is abusive both physically and verbally. She has watched her father be abusive to her mother and felt the same rage directed toward herself. She is the oldest of three.

There were many times that Lonnie would take her younger sister to their Aunt's house to get away from the anger of her dad. Her Aunt Sarah introduced Lonnie to the Psalms and the Lord. Lonnie keeps her faith quiet and does not share it verbally. She tries to live it out.

One night a man by the name of Samson asked Lonnie's mother to sing for the town dance. Lonnie's father did not like when men noticed her mother so he was not going to let her sing. However, he did not mind having his daughter do it. Lonnie did not enjoy being in front of people but obeyed her father. After the dance her father goes home drunk and leaves Lonnie and her younger brother to find their way home. Lonnie was ready to go home before her brother. A young man by the name of Gideon Oriley offers to take her home. Lonnie had seen him over the years playing the fiddle in the band and new he had a bad reputation. She felt uncomfortable walking home with him but she had a long walk ahead of her. When they reached her house he joked with her about giving a kiss. She did not think that was appropriate at first but then felt bad so decided she would. Her father sees them and accuses them of more. He forces them to get married.

After getting married Gideon decides that they need to go out on their own and move to a big city. He has plans to get a job and be able to make lots of money. They travel through the mountains on foot for many days.They argued a lot. Gideon did not yet have a relationship with God and was not happy that he had to marry. One day the argument got so heated Gideon was about to hit Lonnie when an older man came out of the woods and threatened him with his gun. He then helps carry Lonnie back to his cabin where his wife was waiting with a warm meal. Lonnie and Gideon end up staying there for months. Through staying there Gideon notices that this couple has faith like Lonnie. Some things from his past come to haunt him, and he realizes that he needs their faith and their God. He starts to fall in love with Lonnie and eventually they have a relationship that pleases God.

I enjoyed this book but would not recommend it to teenage girls. There are a few parts in the book that teenage girls are not ready to read about.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Be Still My Soul was provided by Blogging for Books on behalf of the publisher Multnomah and the author to facilitate a honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. There was no requirement to write a positive review.