Book Review: Rise of the Fallen

Rise of the Fallen

Remember the face of evil, my brothers, and never forget the price the righteous will pay because if it.

Two years ago, my brother and I met Chuck Black at a homeschool conference. We were thrilled when he told us he was working on a new series. When the first book, Cloak of the Light, released, we pounced on it. It turned out to be a totally unique story delving into the world of spiritual warfare. My brother describes it as “Spiderman meets Frank Peretti.” It’s an apt description, and Rise of the Fallen is no less unique.

Instead of continuing the tale begun in Cloak of the Light in a chronological manner, Rise of the Fallen switches point-of-view-characters and jumps back in time. We now get to view Drew’s story (and the history of the world) from the perspective of the angel assigned to protect Drew.

While Chuck Black’s writing style/technique is not nearly as polished as some other writers, he’s a superb story teller who knows how to weave Truth into his narrative with rare power. I put the book down not just with the satisfied feeling of finishing a good book, but also with a renewed appreciation of certain Bible events and an inward challenge to improve my prayer life. I love it when fictional books leave me feeling challenged but not hit over the head with a sledgehammer by the author’s “message.”

That said, some readers may be annoyed by the construction of this book. Chapters alternate between past and present. The “past” chapters work their way through Bible history, and are relatively basic in their narration. It didn’t bother me because I found it fascinating to “see” the events through such a unique perspective, but I think some might find it boring.

This is a book I feel very safe recommending to all readers old enough to handle intense battles where deaths are not glossed over. Readers sensitive to such things should be forewarned that there are two brief but heartbreaking scenes depicting the slaughter of the children of Jerusalem following Jesus’ birth and the death of a mother and child in the Sobibor concentration camp.

Rise of the Fallen kept me up till 1am to finish the book, and I can’t wait to read book three!

Free Book Alert

On a different subject, homeschooled author Sarah Holman is offering her short story, Cinderella retelling free on Kindle today (and for the next few days). Waltz into the Waves is a sweet little quick read (28 pages) that weaves a tale about a girl whose beauty is marred and her betrothed who chooses to love her anyway.

 

Book Giveaway: Cooper Kids Adventure Series (part 2)

Last week I posted a giveaway for the first four books in The Cooper Kids Adventure Series. The winner of that giveaway is…

Lindsay!

Lindsay was a newcomer to Leah’s Bookshelf during this giveaway, but hopefully it won’t be the last time she joins us! 🙂 For those of you who didn’t win, don’t despair. You get a second change this week, because I’m giving away books 5-8 of the same series. Let me emphasize that you DO NOT need to read these books in order. They’re all stand alone adventures that work well together or apart. What’s more, this set includes two of my favorite books of the series, Flying Blind (titled Mayday at Two Thousand Five Hundred Feet in newer editions) and The Legend of Annie Murphy.

The Legend of Annie MurphyThe Legend of Annie Murphy: The weird front cover of this book was enough to make me wonder if I would like it. None of the other Cooper Kids books had disappointed in the past, though, so I opened it up and started reading. For those of you looking at the cover still, yes, there are some “ghostly” elements, but Annie isn’t actually a ghost. She’s a woman who got stuck in a time warp and is unable to escape. This book has less of a faith-based message than the others, but I loved it because of how funny it is when Jay and Lila get stuck between the past and present. I think any of you wibbley-wobbly, timey-wimey fans would love this book.

Flying BlindFlying Blind: The lesson of faith in this book is quite strong. Young Jay Cooper gets a terrifying lesson in faith when a flying accident leaves him blind and in charge of flying his uncles Cessna. Fighting to stay conscious, running out of fuel, and flying straight towards a mountain range, Jay’s life balances on a razor edge.

I didn’t read this book till long after I finished the other books (we didn’t own it until later). I cried through the entire thing. Jay’s vulnerability, his conversations with his Dad, and his determination to trust God with his fate really touched my heart. Some people don’t like this one as much because it’s not the same thriller-style story as the other books, but I loved the change of pace.

The rules for this week’s giveaway remain the same. The books can only be mailed within the continental United States. To enter, leave a comment listing five of your favorite books. The giveaway will run for one week. Thanks for joining us!

Book Review and Giveaway: The Cooper Kids Adventure Series

This is our third week of celebrating 200 followers on Leah’s Bookshelf. Last week I reviewed Radialloy, by J. Grace Pennington and gave away a two week kindle loan of the book. Before I launch into this week’s fun, I’d like to announce last week’s winner. (Cue drumroll.)

OnionTea!

Congratulations, OnionTea! I hope you enjoy the book. I’ll be sending you an email asking for the email address associated with your kindle. After I have that I can send you the loan invitation. You’ll have to accept the invitation within 7 days. After you accept it, you’ll have 14 days to read Radialloy.

Cooper Kids_5This week I’m giving away not one but four books! The winner of this week’s giveaway will receive the first four paperbacks in The Cooper Kids Adventure Series. These books are great fun. The back covers of the books say they’re for 10-14 year old readers, and I think that pegs it perfectly. They’re interesting enough to be really fun quick reads for older teens as well.

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Gozan, this is no task for children! It will take an army, not just for men and two … children!” Al-Dallam only shook his perplexed head. “They will all be killed the first day. The Dragon’s Throat has no mercy!” —The Door in the Dragon’s Throat

“At any rate, we still encounter these forces from time to time, and one such manifestation is a terrible madness, an inescapable curse that sometimes besets people here. The native word is Moro-Kunda; it means the Madness Before Death. It has no known cause, no known cure, and is always fatal. The curse fell upon Tommy. He went mad, and though we tried to stop him, he fabricated that crude raft and fled from the island.” The man paused dramatically and then added,” But he couldn’t escape Moro-Kunda.” —Escape from the Island of Aquarius

Doctor Cooper shook his head with disgust. “Jay, it’s a perfect example of man’s sinful nature without God. That’s why the Lord commanded Joshua to drive out all the ungodly inhabitants of the land. He didn’t want his people coming into contact with this kind of moral and spiritual pollution.” —The Tombs of Anak

Lila floated in the pd for a while, weeping, resting her head against the cold metal wall. How long would her oxygen bottle last? Did anyone even know where she was? —Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea

~*~

Adventure, archaeological mysteries, and spiritual warfare intermingle in these edge-of-your-seat stories. These books are great for kids who like the weird and unusual, and they’re equally interesting for readers who enjoy non-stop action. I enjoy them as one-sitting reads that pull me into the story and don’t let me go until I turn the last page.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment explaining how you first found Leah’s Bookshelf. Due to the cost of shipping, the books can only be mailed to addresses in the continental United States. The giveaway will remain open for entries through August 7th.

Announcements

  1. Don’t forget that a new prize is available in the Story Shop. You can also find a new list of ways to earn Story Shop points. Check it out!
  2. In preparation for the release of Counted Worthy, I just started a professional Facebook page. Liking the page would be a very nice thing to do, and it will also earn you a point to spend in the Story Shop if you submit your Facebook name using the contact form. Be sure to let me know that you’re looking for Story Shop points in exchange for liking me on Facebook. The same goes for my Twitter account.
  3. Wild Thing, book one in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series, is currently free for kindle on Amazon. I don’t know if the deal is for today only or for the week.

Relationship Books: To-Read List

In lieu of a book review this week, I’d like to share my list of relationship books I hope to read in the future. I had planned to ask my brother to review a book for the guys this week, but he’s been so busy I didn’t even bother to bring it up. Besides that, this blog is home to lots of recommendations drawn from my last six years of reading. I’ve also done plenty of “real time” reviews of books as I read them. But I’ve never shared which books I plan or hope to read. So, since this month’s theme is relationship non-fiction, here are four books from that category that I hope to read.

Growing up DuggarGrowing Up Duggar: According to an interview the Duggar girls did, this book is “all about relationships.” Not just romantic ones. As a long standing Duggar fan, just knowing the older girls wrote a book was enough to make me want to read it. It just happens to be about relationships, which makes it a perfect fit for this list. I know a lot of people panic when they hear how many children the Duggars have (19 if you didn’t know), but I love it! Can’t wait to see what the girls have to say in this book.

I Kissed Dating GoodbyeI Kissed Dating Goodbye: I’ve been borrowing this book from a friend for far too long, so it should probably be the first book on this list that I read. Having heard Mr. Harris (the author’s father) speak at a homeschool conference and loving Do Hard Things (written by the author’s brothers), putting this on my to-read list was a logical course of action. I read Boy Meets Girl a while ago, and it didn’t really keep my attention well. Friends of mine love both books, so I’m curious to see what I’ll think of this one.

Redefining BeautifulRedefining Beautiful:I don’t really know much about this one. I found it at a used curriculum sale hosted by our state homeschool association. It looked pretty good (and it wasn’t very expensive), so I grabbed it. From what I can tell, this one only sort-of-kind-of fits this category. From the back cover, “Jenna reveals a foundational beauty secret: a father’s love. And whether a girl comes from a home with a devoted father, a home where that is only a dream, Jenna brings hope as she helps girls discover that they already have the perfect dad.”

When Sinners Say I doWhen Sinners Say “I Do”: This is a grab from last year’s used curriculum sale. Same story as with Redefining Beautiful, only I’d noticed this book several times in the CBD catalog. According to the back cover, “When Sinners Say ‘I Do’ is about encountering the life-transforming power of the gospel in the unpredictable journey of marriage.

Which of these books most interests you? Have you read any of them? Do you have a recommendation for which you think I should read first or will enjoy most?

While you’re here, don’t forget to take a moment and help me name a character in my next book. If you cast a vote, be sure to leave a comment saying which name you picked. I’m trying to come up with a fun surprise for the people who participate.

Book Review: Set-Apart Femininity

Set-Apart Femininity

Just as lasting and fulfilling romance is not found in the place that most of us search for it, neither is feminine beauty found in the place that most of us seek it.

Set-Apart Femininity could just as easily be titled “Counter-cultural Femininity”. As Mrs. Ludy mentions in this book, today’s culture tends to mock “all things pure, innocent, and uncorrupted.” Some girls, like me, haven’t had to face the full force of this moral decay yet, but someday we will. And many, many more already have. I’ll never forget the day I struggled to define modesty to a girl on my swim team because she honestly didn’t know what I was talking about. Yet even while our culture scorns and degrades purity, God continues to value it. And we, as Christians, should too. This book is a call to honor and pursue God’s standards rather than allowing ourselves to be dragged down by the world’s.

Because this book written to encourage young women caught in the middle of negative pressures, the writing is occasionally more graphic than I needed it to be. For this reason, I don’t recommend this book for younger girls to automatically pick up and read. For younger readers (tweens and young teens), have mom read it first. If you’re looking for something that doesn’t bring up all the junk in order to help you dig your way out of it, I’d highly recommend Before You Meet Prince Charming.) For older readers, this book definitely contributed to shaping the way I think of femininity. The concepts presented have helped me feel confident in my position when people have questioned my beliefs on the subject. I wish more girls would take this message to heart.

Have you faced challenges or mocking as a young woman seeking to live in purity before God? In what ways do you think Christians, especially Christian girls, should be different from cultural standards?

Book Review: This Present Darkness

This Present DarknessI forgot to mention this last week, but this month’s theme is spiritual warfare. Talk about an intense genre! Today’s review comes complements of my brother. I wanted to include This Present Darkness, but didn’t have time to read it. Thankfully he did, and he was willing to review it. Enjoy!

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A small town pastor attempts to hold a struggling church together while the town’s newspaper man tries to figure out mysterious happenings at the local college. Both men are unaware of the supernatural battle taking place in their families and neighborhoods. Tal, a mighty angel captain, struggles to get the Christians to provide the prayer cover he needs to do his work as he battles an ancient foe. Can the newspaper man and pastor hold the town together and can Tal defeat his demonic counterpart?

Peretti’s book is fascinating and exciting from the first pages. He makes the spiritual battle seem real, and it makes you think of just how little we really can see and understand of what is happening around us, and how effective prayer is. This is definitely a very intense book that is probably best for readers over age fourteen.

Book Review: Cloak of the Light

Cloak of the LightCloak of the Light is one of those “impossible to categorize” books. It’s not quite sci-fi, not fantasy, not allegory. My brother purchased this at a homeschool conference last weekend, devoured it in a day, and declared it one of the best books he ever read. He described it as Spider Man meets Frank Peretti.

Life has thrown Drew plenty of curveballs, starting when he lost his father at age twelve. He doesn’t believe in God. He doesn’t believe his best friend’s conviction about the potential of alien life either. Not until he sees an other-earthly invader with his own eyes. In an experiment goes wrong, Drew gets zapped with the equipment used to see into the other realm and soon discovers that he can now see into it without a machine. He finds himself observing a battle between dark and light invaders. Who are these mysterious beings that are invisible to all eyes but his own? What do they want? And what can one young man do against a force of evil that can affect the hearts of men?

I found the start of this book a little slow, but my brother said it drew him in from page one, so I’m guessing it’s a matter of personal preference and level of criticalness. If you’re like me, just view the first few chapters as an extended prologue and rest assured it will pick up soon. Chuck Black makes it clear in the afterword that this book is not intended to be an interpretation of actual spiritual warfare, but rather an imaginative, gripping story to help readers think about spiritual warfare as they might not have otherwise. I fully enjoyed the story and look forward to book two!

Book Review and Giveaway: The Big Field

Big Field, The

“Yeah,” Hutch said, not looking up at either one of them. “My Dad sure knows his baseball.”

Baseball runs in Hutch’s blood, and no position feels like home as much as shortstop. His father played shortstop during his baseball days, but those ended a long time ago. Now his dad struggles to hold down a job and rarely shows up to watch Hutch play baseball. When superstar shortstop Darryl Williams shows up to play on Hutch’s team, Hutch gets moved to second base. Hutch resigns himself to be a good team player and accepts the move, but when his consistently MIA dad starts showing up to coach Darryl, the situation gets more and more bitter. The biggest game ever for their team is coming up fast, but Hutch’s patience is running out.

I’ve yet to read a book by Mike Lupica that I didn’t like. My mom and brother enjoyed this one with me when we listened to it as an audio book. I love his down-to-earth, humble main characters. They’re not perfect kids, but they aspire to standards that make them worthy role models for young readers. And the feel-good stories are equally heart warming for older readers as well.

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY simply leave a comment explaining why you’d like to read this book. Due to shipping costs the giveaway is only open to residents of the continental United States. The winner will be announced on April 30th.