Book Review: Snow Treasure

Snow Treasure

“Look!” Michael could not take his eyes off the beach. “Soldiers marching right up our sled track. How’ll we get down?”

In the winter of 1940, Peter Lundstrom and the other members of his Norwegian village watch helplessly as German soldiers invade their homeland. While there is little they can do about the Nazi’s presence, they determine not to surrender everything quite so easily. Instead of waiting for the invaders to steal their large store of gold, they come up with a dangerous plan to sneak it out of the country. A plan that depends on the courage of young Peter and his friends. The school children of the village begin transporting the gold bullion right past the Germans and hiding it for the adults to move onto Uncle Victor’s boat. Can the children succeed in outwitting the Germans and saving the gold?

This story is one of the first books I distinctly remember listening to during one of our road trips. Since that time we’ve listened to it again, and I’ve read the book once or twice on my own. Snow Treasure is believed to be based on a true story, though the tale has never been proven. Whether true or not, the courage and adventures of Peter Lundstrom and his friends are well worth reading. A wonderful living book to add to your library.

Author: Marie McSwigan
Audience: Middle Grade–Tween
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 156

Book Review: Captain Blood

Captain BloodAt the beginning of this book, Peter Blood is sticking to his plan of abandoning his life of adventure and becoming a physician. This resolution is destroyed when he goes to tend the wounds of a rebel and is arrested, subjected to a sham trial and sold into slavery. Thus cast back into a life of action and adventure, Peter leads a band of slaves in escaping, seizes a Spanish boat and becomes a pirate. But despite his new role as a buccaneer, the memory of Arabella Bishop (his ex-master’s niece), causes him to retain his honor. What will happen when, in a chance reunion, his love is spurned by the woman enshrined in his heart?

After friends lent us an old black-and-white film of this story (it was part of the Errol Flynn collection), I was excited to find the book available for free on my kindle. I was even more excited to find that the book and movie matched each other perfectly for quite a long time. After a while, the book began sharing adventures not shown in the movie. The third quarter of the story dragged a bit, but over all the story trotted right a long with the distinct style of an old-fashioned adventure novel. Both style and story bear some resemblance to The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Prisoner of Zenda, yet the tale is unique from both.

Author: Rafael Sabatini
Audience: Young Adult–Adult
Genre: Adventure
Pages: 296

What’s your favorite old-fashioned adventure story?

Book Review: Code Orange

Code OrangeWith the flurry of activities surrounding grandma’s funeral, a lot of my normal activities got sidelined. One of those activities was selecting the theme for book reviews this month. As a result, this month’s theme is “Miscellaneous.” πŸ˜› I’m going to pull out some reviews jotted down in my notebook. Hopefully by next month my schedule will be sorted out enough to come up with a proper theme. Anyone have suggestions for patriotic novels? Now here’s this week’s review.

~*~

Mitty Blake is not at all interested in scholarly pursuits. The mere mention of a term paper on infectious disease is enough to send his brain into lock-down. In a last ditch effort to turn something in, he wanders into his mother’s book room and opens an old medical book. Inside he finds an envelope containing 100 year old smallpox scabs. In the following days, Mitty learns that because he handled the scabs, the smallpox virus could be incubating in his body. Once he becomes infection, he could cause the deaths of people across the country. What should he do?

I have had this book on my mental to-read list ever since hearing the author talk about it several years ago. It did not disappoint. While Mitty’s initial immature choices can be a bit frustrating, he is a likable and ultimately heroic character. Despite his distaste for school he is smart and resourceful. I appreciated his views on self-sacrifice and heroism. For those of you who, like me, prefer to avoid boy/girl stuff, there is a slight subplot in that area, but the farthest it goes is a brief, undescribed kiss on page 83. Definitely a unique and suspenseful story.

Author: Caroline Cooney
Audience: Young Adults
Genre: Suspense
Pages: 200

Book Review: Precisely Terminated

Precisely Terminated

Her teeth chattered. “I don’t care about being free. I want things to be normal. I’ve looked for the paper enough.”

In a futuristic society, everyone has a microchip implanted in the back of their heads. There is only one exception to the rule. When her home was destroyed, Monica barely escaped with her life. Now a wall slave serving the higher class nobles, Monica represents the slaves only hope for freedom. But being a chipless slave has its downsides. Monica must continuously risk her life on missions she doesn’t even understand. Will her courage fail when she faces her biggest challenge yet?

My favorite part of this story was the way Monica struggles with the risks she is asked to make, yet always ends up making the right choice. At the beginning of the story she takes the risks because she is given no option, but as the story progresses she becomes more and more proactive. My main frustration was the fact that Monica moves around so much that there is no consistency in the supporting cast. The ending opens the door for the inclusion of more overt Christian themes in book two. Overall I have no complaints about inappropriate content and will be keeping my eyes open for a copy of book two.

P.S. The cover of this book looks like it’s some kind of creepy, haunted ghost story or something. At least it does to me. Don’t worry. It’s not. πŸ˜‰

Author: Amanda L. Davis
Audience: Tweens to Young Adults
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 464

Book Review: Among the Brave

Among the BraveGreat, Trey thought. I do one brave thing in my entire life, and now it’s like, ‘Got anything dangerous to do? Send Trey. He can handle it.’ Doesn’t anyone remember that Cowardice is my middle name?

In the world Trey lives in, families are only allowed to have two children. Third children–shadow children–live in fear of being killed if they are discovered. Right after saving the life of Lee, another shadow child, Trey finds himself launched into another adventure. Lee is still in danger, and Trey joins forces with Lee’s brother, Mark, to try to rescue him. But when the Population Police catch Mark, Trey must come up with a new plan of action. Will he be able to rescue his friends? Or will his actions put all the shadow children at risk?

Among the Brave is book five in the Shadow Children series. Each book can be read separately, but I would recommend starting at book one and working forward. I chose to review this one because it happens to be my favorite. It took me a while to understand the world the shadow children live in, but after reading two books I realized that the population control concept is pretty similar to the one used in China. After making that comparison, the books made much more sense. All of the characters are relatable, and you’ll find yourself rooting for the third children as they fight to overturn the Population Police and win a place as legal citizens.

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Audience: Tween to Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 228

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Book Review: Scaramouche

Scaramouche

He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.

When Andre-Louis witnesses the death of a close friend in a grossly mismatched fencing duel, he swears to avenge the young man’s death. In tumultuous pre-evolutionary France, he gives voice to his deceased friend’s revolutionary sentiments. Over the following years, he alternately fans the fire of revolution and hones new skills as he hides from retribution. Whenever possible, he creates difficulty for his friend’s murderer. But what is his true motivation? And what will it take to stay the hand of vengeance?

Last night around nine o’clock I realized that I still had not finished reading this book. I finally reached the last page around midnight. Personally, I find the writing style of many classics to be tedious and, unlike The Scarlet Pimpernel, Scaramouche was no different. However, if you are a classic style enthusiast, you should have no problem. The story itself was excellent. It provides an interesting “other side of the story” when read alongside The Scarlet Pimpernel. Sir Percy and Andre-Louis actually have quite a few similarities. The ending of Scaramouche is hands down the best part. An foreshadowed possibility I had noticed ended up playing out, but not in the way I expected. In conclusion, I found this book to be a great title to add to your classic adventure reading list. Please note that there is some “thematic material” that is tastefully handled but not suitable for young readers.

Author: Raphael Sabatini
Audience: Teens–Adults
Genre: Classic Adventure
Pages: 367

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Book Review & Giveaway: Shadow of the Almighty & Through Gates of Splendor

Shadow of the Almighty*Giveaway Ended*

Happy day after Valentines Day everyone. I hope you had a good one. I got my college midterms done, my brother gave me earrings and Daddy bought home flowers for Mom and balloons for us. Pretty good day. πŸ˜‰

Today I am reviewing one of my all time favorite books, Shadow of the Almighty, and launching a giveaway for Through Gates of Splendor. For those of you who are not familiar with these books, they are both about Jim Elliot, a martyr missionary. As usual, all you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment on this post*. So, enjoy the review and enter to win Through Gates of Splendor.

β€œIs the distinction between living for Christ and dying for Him so great? Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first?”

From an adventurous childhood, Jim Elliot matured into an intense man. In college, he began journaling and searching for God’s will in his life. This book uses narrative as well as Jim’s letters and journals to follow him through his college years and into his mission work in Ecuador. It showcases his love for his Lord and his desire to serve Christ, even into death. In his own, now famous word, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

This was the first non-fiction book to make me cry. In fact, I read about Jim’s death while walking on a treadmill at the gym. Awkward place to start crying. πŸ˜› I love this book because it shows what passion for Christ looks like. I copied many passages from the book into my journal and now, a year after reading it, I still frequently think about things I learned from this book. So next time you’re looking to be challenged and inspired by a powerful book, try this one.

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Audience: Young Adults and up
Genre: Biography
Pages: 250

And, here’s a picture of the giveaway book.
Through Gates of Splendor

*Due to the cost of shipping, giveaway is only available to residents of the United States.

Book Review: Plague of Darkness

Plauge of DarknessWhen his parents die in a plague, eleven year old Teague is determined to care for his three younger siblings. But when raiders sweep through the village and kidnap the surviving residents for the illegal slave trade, Teague can do nothing to protect them. Separated from his remaining family, Teague is sold as a farm laborer. Forced to work under cruel overseers, he loses the will to live. He only starts eating again when Quinn, an older boy, promises that they will someday escape. Will the right time ever come? Will it come too late?

I must warn you that I am rather biased towards this book. Teague is a character rivaled in my heart only by my own character, Zaid. The author, Hannah Mills and I laughingly refer to Teague and Zaid as “our boys.” My biased opinion aside, this is a good book. Teague is a young man laden with guilt and searching for an escape. Though he’s not ready to accept yet, Quinn is gently pushing him towards Christ. Plague of Darkness is the second book in the Arridraen, but the story takes place before Called. It’s well worth checking Plague of Darkness out. Who knows. Maybe you’ll fall in love with Teague too.