Book Review: Stumptown Kid

Stumptown KidCharlie desperately wants to make the baseball team, but he can’t seem to focus when bullies taunt him. His lack of focus costs him his chance at the team. After the tryouts, he’s surprised when a black man offers some baseball advice that helps right away. The man introduces himself as Luther and says he’s looking for work. Charlie claims Luther as a new friend and, with the help of his mom, finds Luther a job. He also quickly decides he likes Luther much more than his mother’s boyfriend, Vern. Vern’s racist attitude doesn’t win him any brownie points with Charlie either. But Charlie doesn’t realize how much trouble can be found by trying to straddle the line between black and white. Sometimes it’s a matter of life and death.

I read this several years ago and enjoyed it again recently when my family and I listed to it on a road trip. The ending is…well, dramatic. Maybe even a tad too dramatic but not enough to complain about and plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat. Charlie’s innocence and loyalty make his friendship with Luther that much better. Luther is also an easy character to like. You’ll feel his pain right along with him. This book focuses more on the historical fiction side than the sports side, but it has plenty of baseball to make it count for this month’s theme.

Guess a Quote (4.14.14)

Question Mark *Points at today’s date.* I love when the numbers of a date look cool like that. :) We got a lot of good guesses for last weeks quote! I love when there’s some variety in the the guesses. The quote came from The Swiss Family Robinson. Jennifer Sauer, starshining4ever, Morgan Huneke, Becky B., and joy16live4jesus all got it right! Thanks for all the great guesses everyone!

Here’s a quote from yet another classic book. This is one my brother enjoyed, but I have always found confusing.

Sir, with no intention to take offence, I deny your right to put words into my mouth.

Happy Guessing!

Book Review: Cobra Strike

Cobra Strike

“And don’t do anything stupid like try to run,” he said. “I’d hate to have to get rough.”

Roy Linden can run like a deer, but his tongue is another story. His stutter prevents him from making friends and keeps him labeled a loner. His running isn’t doing him much good either. Everyone in his small Kentucky hometown thinks he could be great in football, but without a decent quarterback, no one outside Johnstown will ever see him. Roy’s luck changes when legendary high school quarter back Waymen Witley moves to town. Together, Waymen and Roy are unstoppable on the football field. But Roy has plenty to distract him from his growing fame. Birds have been dying on his Gram’s property. Roy knows something is wrong with the water, but he can’t get anyone to listen to him. Something strange is going on, and someone high up is pulling strings to keep it quiet. Roy fears his gram is in danger. What will he decide when he starts receiving threats?

I’m not a big football fan when it comes to the sport itself, but I seem to enjoy a lot of football stories (Facing the Giants anyone?). I first read Cobra Strike several years ago and enjoyed it enough to re-read it out loud to my mom. I enjoyed it again as I re-read it this week. It’s a quick read (I suspect it may have been written as a hi-lo book), but totally worth it. Let me know what you think! Bonus points: Cobra Strike is written from a Christian perspective!

Guess a Quote (4.07.14)

Question MarkHello everyone! Back for another round of guess a quote. Last week emilydm544 was the only intrepid commenter to guess and she got it right! The quote came from Robinson Crusoe. How many of you have read it? I think I listed to the abridged version when I was little, but that’s it.

Here’s the quote for this week. It’s the opening line to a rather famous book that runs along the same lines as Robinson Crusoe.

For many days we had been tempest-tossed. Six times had the darkness closed over a wild and terrific scene, and returning light as often brought but renewed distress, for the raging storm increased in fury until on the seventh day all hope was lost.

Happy Guessing!

Book Review: Million-Dollar Throw

Million-Dollar ThrowNew month, new theme. This month I’m going with sports stories. Which may end up meaning written-by-Mike-Lupica-books. I love his stories. But there are some other sports stories that look good, too, so we’ll see. ;)

“I mean, I’m excited about doing it, at least some of the time, when I’m not geeked out of my head about it,” Nate said. “But most of the time, it’s like it’s one more thing I don’t need right now. Like one more guy piling on when I’m already down.”

Nate Brody loves football and is a huge Tom Brady fan. He’s been saving up money to buy a football autographed by Brady. Despite financial hardships, his parents are holding to their end of the deal and paying half the money for the ball. Winning football isn’t Nate’s biggest worry, though. He spends nights staring out the window at the for sale sign hanging in front of their house, not wanting to sell their house but hoping the bank won’t get it. And then there’s his best friend, Abby. As far as Nate’s concerned, Abby’s problems trump all of his. When his name is drawn for a chance to win a million-dollars during half-time at a Patriots’ game, Nate feels the pressure piling on. Can he get things figured out before the big day and his million-dollar throw?

 This is the newest addition to my comfort-reads shelf. You know, those books you read on rainy days or when you’re sick? Miracle on 49th Street, another Mike Lupica book, has been on that shelf for a while along with A Little Princess and The Scarlet Pimpernel. These books cover a wide range of story types, but they have at least one thing in common. All of the stories feature strong friendships. That’s what made me enjoy Million-Dollar Throw too. Nate consistently puts the needs of his teammates, his family, and his friends above his own stresses and worries. As his mom says several times, he leads with his heart. And in the process he does a great job of capturing the heart of the reader. If you’re looking  for an edge-of-your seat story that keeps you guessing till the last page, this one isn’t for you. But if you want book that leaves you with warm fuzzies, go for it! :)

Check it Out! Stories for God’s Glory with New Vendor

Stories for God's Glory-Adventure My long time readers may remember reading about Stories for God’s Glory (SfGG) in the past. For newer readers, SfGG is a writing curriculum I authored. It’s designed to teach Jr. High students how to write quality fiction (you can learn more here –> StoriesForGodsGlory.com). It’s been carried by Schoolhouse Publisher for a few years now, and I’ve taken it to two homeschool conventions myself. Now I’m excited to announce that another vendor is carrying the curriculum!

Stories for God’s Glory
carried by
Finding Christ Through Fiction

Finding Christ Through Fiction is both an online store and homeschool convention vendor. Please check out SfGG on their website and share the news with your friends!

Guess a Quote (3.31.14)

Question MarkCongratulations to last week’s guess a quote winners; Kiri Liz, CJ, and Emily Ruth. They all correction guessed that the quote came from David Copperfield. It never ceases to amaze me that our memories can see a specific quote, sort through the thousands of story pages we’ve read, and land on the right book. Pretty incredible, huh?

Here’s the quote for this week. It’s inspired by something on last week’s guess a quote, but I don’t want to give too much away by explaining more. Here you go.

Those people cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them because they see and covet what He has not given them. All of our discontents for what we want appear to me to spring from want of thankfulness for what we have.

Happy Guessing!

Book Review: The King’s Shadow

King's Shadow, The

“You, Shadow!” the slave master shouted, as though Evyn were deaf as well as dumb. Laughter erupted behind him. “Shadow” was what they called dogs or horses. Evyn burned with shame. Uncle Morgan had even stolen his name.

Young Evyn is a Welsh serf in the 11th century. His life is turned upside down when his uncle betrays him and his father, leaving his father dead and Evyn a mute orphan. The uncle then sells Evyn into a life of slavery and pockets the money to repay a debt. Evyn becomes Shadow, a often mistreated and sometimes pitied slave boy. But his fortunes begin to change when he learns to read and write. He becomes a squire to Earl Harold and in time, the two become close friends. When Harold is crowned king, he makes Evyn his foster son. It’s a bond that will throw Evyn into the middle of two of the greatest battles of his time.

It’s funny how some books fade from your memory within a week of reading them, while some linger for years. The King’s Shadow is one that has lingered. I read it in 2008 (wow, is that really six years ago?), yet I still remember feeling furious at Uncle Morgan and deeply sympathetic towards Evyn. And it fits pretty well into the “hodge podge” theme this month because I’ve read very few books about this time period.

What’s your favorite time period to read about? Do you like any other books set in the 11th century?