Book Review: Fly Away Home

Fly Away HomeHappy Valentines Day everyone! In honor of the day, here’s a review of a sweet, newly released love story. Yes. It is a love story and I am reviewing it. Miracles do happen. And, as I said, it’s very sweet. And clean. The giveaway is open to residents of the continental USA. To enter just leave a comment explaining why you’d like to read the book. The winner will be announced on Thursday (or as close to Thursday as my schedule permits).

—–

Calida Harper has big dreams, a depressing reality, and a pain ridden past. When she’s offered a position as assistant to one of the countries most famous and successful reporters, she knows she’s just had the biggest break of her career. But one false step and she’s out of a job. Matters get further confused as Callie’s emotions begin tying themselves in knots. Her boss, Mr. Burnett, is infuriating and “a darling” all at the same time. His down to earth boyishness and Christian faith remind Callie of things she’s sworn to leave in the past. But when a jealous co-worker presents her with a dreadful either or, Callie must face both her traitorous emotions and her past.

When Rachel Heffington contacted me to ask if I’d like to review her soon-to-be-released book, I was a little skeptical. After all, she presented it as a “christian/historical romance” and I don’t read those! She assured me the romance was clean, and I agreed to give it a try. I’m glad I did. This is as much a story about friendship, trust, and forgiveness as a romance. And the romance aspect is my kind of love story too. Both characters fall for each other’s character and heart instead of lusting over physical characteristics. This isn’t a story I’d hesitate to recommend because of blush factors.

Knowing it was self-published also made me a little wary at first. At the beginning of the book, I occasionally felt the description and historical detail was a bit heavy handed, but I suspect that might have been a result of hyper-awareness more than anything else. Over all the book was well written and well told. Thumbs up.

Note: I received a review copy of this book from the author. I was under no obligation to give a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Death Cloud

Death Cloud At fourteen years old, Sherlock Holmes thinks he is facing a boring vacation in exile. His brother Mycroft sends him off live with his eccentric Aunt and Uncle and study beneath an American tutor named Amyus Crowe. Instead of boredom, he finds himself confronted with his first mystery, a new friend, and relentless enemies. Even if he manages to escape with his life, Sherlock’s life is changed forever.

In my personal opinion, the adventure element in this book (and book two of the series) far outweigh the mystery element. But, it’s Sherlock Holmes, and you can’t go wrong with Sherlock Holmes when you’re doing a mystery theme. Besides, 240 people classified it as a mystery on Goodreads, so we’re all good. 🙂 I really enjoyed the fast action of this story, and the glimpse of Sherlock as he might have been as a boy. I tend to doubt this version of young Sherlock is quite what all you BBC Sherlock fans imagine, but I bet you’d enjoy the book anyway. After all, the author is English and, judging from his author bio, seems to have a thing for BBC TV shows.

P.S. If the weird and slightly grotesque bother you, this book might not be for you. There’s nothing over the top, but it’s worth the warning.

What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes story, whether from the original books, old movies, BBC Sherlock, or side shoots like this.

Book Review: The Light in the Forest

Light in the Forest, The
Kidnapped as a child and adopted into an Indian family, True Son thinks of himself as an Indian. He knows with certainty that he no longer has a place in the white men’s world. But when his tribe signs a treaty with the white men, True Son has no option but to return to the white family he feels no connection to. He becomes John Butler again and struggles to relearn the strange language and practices of his family. But perhaps there is no place of belonging for a white Indian.

It has been years since I read this book, but I vividly remember my frustration with the ending of the book. In fact, it remains in my top five least favorite endings. Perhaps now that I’m older I might be able to appreciate it more if I re-read it. I also remember being captivated by the rest of the story. I felt bad for John and wanted to see him adjust and fit into his family. The ending just left me stunned. Perhaps the fact that I still remember it after all this time means the author accomplished his purpose with the story. I don’t know. If you want to find out for yourself, you’ll just have to read it.

Author: Conrad Richter
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 192

Book Review: Indian School

Indian School

Bring only sensible clothes. Your mother, God rest her soul, was not a practical woman. It may be that you have fripperies in your wardrobe. Do not bring them. Our life here is a simple one.

The Indian School tells the story of Lucy, a young orphan who goes to live with her aunt and uncle who run a school for Indian children. When two new Indian children arrive, Lucy forges a tentative friendship with tough Raven, and even her stern aunt becomes fond of Raven’s little brother, Star Face. When the little boy becomes gravely ill, Aunt Emma and Raven learn to work together to nurse him back to health.

Pros: After recently visiting an Indian mission in Missouri, I enjoyed this fictional taste of what that life was like. As usual, Gloria Whelan’s writing feels authentic and well researched. Definitely a great book for supplementing history lessons.

Cons: While it is not portrayed in a positive light, Lucy’s aunt acts in a condescending manner to her husband. This rubbed me the wrong way at first, but it does sort out in the end to show her aunt beginning to change. Also, Lucy’s growing sense of self-sufficiency and independence sometimes carries a slightly rebellious flavor.

Author: Gloria Whelan
Audience: 6–12 year old
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 89

P.S. My internet connection may not be functional on Monday so the Guess a Quote this week might be late.

Book Review: The Sign of the Beaver

Sign of the Beaver, The

“Six weeks,” his father had said that morning. “Maybe seven. Hard to reckon exactly.”

Six weeks, maybe seven. That is the length of time thirteen-year-old Matt must hold down his family’s claim on his own. Alone in the Maine wilderness, it doesn’t take Matt long to run into trouble. A bear breaks into the cabin and destroys much of his food supply, and Matt is attacked by a swarm of bees when he attempts to get honey from their hive. Saknis, an Indian, nurses him back to health and makes a treaty with Matt. Saknis’s grandson, Attean, will hunt for Matt if Matt will teach Attean to read. At first, Attean has little but contempt for Matt and his white ways, but over time Matt wins Attean’s respect, and a friendship is forged between the two boys.

I grew up watching Keeping the Promise, a movie based off of The Sign of the Beaver. I didn’t discover the book until I was thirteen, and I was delighted to find it much different and even better than the movie. Skimming through it again to write this review reminded me just how much I enjoyed it. It’s also unique in that most pioneer stories are set out west, while this book explores an eastern frontier. Another book that works well both as a fun read and as a history curriculum supplement.

Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Audience: Middle Grade–Tween
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 135

Book Review: Moccasin Trail

Moccasin TrailI’m still trying to work out exactly what to call this month’s theme. Frontier stories or stories with a native american theme or frontier stories with a native american theme. Anyway. You get the general idea. 😉 I’ve decided to try a new take on the monthly theme. I’ll still be announcing one, but I won’t tell you which books I plan to review. There are two reasons for this. One: to keep you in suspense. 🙂 Two: to give myself a bit more flexibility. If you have any feedback on this idea, please let me know. I’d love to hear it! Now, the review of one of my newest favorites.

Jim, if you’re still alive, come help us….If you ever cared anything for mother or any of us, then come. It’s our only chance.

Moccasin Trail encases a powerful story about the strength of family in a page turning adventure from the days of the pioneers. Jim Keath ran away from home as a young boy and now, at the age of 19, is more Indian than white. When he receives a letter from his younger brother pleading for help in staking a claim, Jim rejoins what is left of the family he ran away from nine long years ago and finds himself stuck between two worlds.

Jim’s confusion over how to fit in and the pain of rejection that he tried to hide even from himself makes him an easy character to like. Eloise Jarvis McGraw does an amazing job of showing his struggle and inability to understand what his family expects of him while maintaining his rugged, impenetrable personality. You will be rooting for him the entire time as he transforms from a rugged, wandering loner to an equally rugged but devoted, responsible family man. A masterfully told story.

Author: Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Audience: All Ages (Intended for Middle Grade readers, but this seriously isn’t a book you want to limit to 8-12 year olds.)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 247

What is your favorite frontier/wild west story?

Book Review & Giveaway: Burying the Sun & Angel on the Square

Burying the Sun *Giveaway Closed*
It’s been a while since I did a giveaway, but this month’s giveaway item is a copy of Angel on the Square, book one in Gloria Whelan’s St. Petersburg series. The giveaway is open only to readers in the US. To enter, leave a comment telling us about your favorite WWII book.

All that was long ago, and until that morning I had thought I would have no chance for my own adventures, only day after day of dreary study and work. With talk of war with Germany, the world was suddenly more exciting.

To fourteen year old Georgi, the idea of war with Germany seems exciting. Though too young to join the army and unable to find a way to sneak in anyway, Georgi throws himself into volunteer work, determined to help protect his country. It isn’t until the Germans begin surrounding Leningrad that reality sinks in. Now Georgi concerns himself with protecting his shrinking circle of family and friends. Can Georgi succeed in bringing himself and those he cares about through a brutal winter as he grows into manhood?

I enjoyed re-reading this book in preparation to write this review (I’m actually not quite finished yet). It’s been several years since I read it, and this time through I’ve been really appreciating the amount of research woven into the story. Gloria Whelan draws you into the lives of the people trapped inside Leningrad during the winter of 1941. A unique angle on the events of WWII.

Author: Gloria Whelan
Audience: Middle Grade–Tween
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 205

Don’t forget to comment for your chance to win Angel on the Square! The winner will be announced next Thursday

Book Review: Number the Stars

Number the Stars

Then he continued. “I’m sending Inge to you today with the children, and she will be bringing you a carton of cigarettes.”

At her grandparents home in Denmark, Annemarie Johansen can look across the water and see Sweden. When the Nazi’s begin deporting Jews, Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen, comes to live with them. But even masquerading as one of the Johansen’s daughters, Ellen is not safe. After Nazi’s invade their home and question Ellen’s parentage, Annemarie’s parents make plans to visit her Uncle Henrik, who fishes the water between Denmark and Sweden. Her father promises to send Uncle Henrik a carton of cigarettes, and Annemarie realizes they’re talking in code. Cartons of cigarettes are Jews, and they’re talking about Ellen.

I can’t remember if we did this book as a family read-a-loud or listened to it on a road trip, but either way, Number the Stars is the first book I remember “reading” about Jews during WWII. While Lois Lowry is probably best known for her dystopian novel, The Giver, Number the Stars still takes first place for me. It’s another great book for learning about about or supplementing a class on WWII. Or just to read for fun. 🙂

Author: Lowis Lowry
Audience: Middle Grade–Tweens
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 137