Book Review: Raiders from the Sea

Her father spoke straight into her heart. “Briana, if a test comes, remember how much we love you. And know that you’ll have the courage to win.”

When Briana–or Bree as she is usually called–is captured by viking raiders, she needs every bit of courage she has. Enslaved by an arrogant young man, Bree clings to her faith to see her through and seeks God’s help and guidance.

This book is the first of the Viking Quest series. When a friend first mentioned the series to me, I said I wasn’t interested in the vikings. Thankfully she knew me better and convinced me to read them. My only protest when I reached the end of Raiders from the Sea was that she hadn’t lent me book two! This has become my favorite series. I highly recommend this book and the four sequels.

Audience: All ages (independent reading, age 10 and up)

Book Review: Gib Rides Home

No one had heard from Gibson Wittaker since he went away, but the rumor was that he had been adopted by a family who lived near Longford, a small cattle town in the next county. There was nothing especially uncommon about that. Half, or even full, orphans left Lovell House fairly often, going back with a remaining parent or out to an adoption, but what was so shocking was his reappearance. How could Gib Wittaker be strolling into the senior boys’ dormitory when the law said, at least the law according to Miss Offenbacher, that Lovell House adoptions were not reversible?

The fact is Gib Wittaker was not adopted–more like farmed out–and he didn’t really want to return to Lovell House. More than a year earlier a gray-bearded man had come and taken Gib from the orphanage he’s lived in for the past five years. As he works at his new home, Gib finds a sense of accomplishment from working hard and discovers a talent for handling horses. But the Rocking M Ranch is also full of mysteries, some of them related to Gib. He hopes to find out more about his past, but some secrets are better off left alone.

Audience: 9 and up

Book Review: Twenty and Ten

The Nazis are looking for those children,” said Sister Gabriel. “If we take them we must never let on that they are here. Never. Even if we are questioned. We can never betray them, no matter what they do to us. Do you understand?”

Janet and the 19 other boys and girls from her fifth-grade class have been sent to the French countryside for safekeeping during the Nazi occupation. None of them hesitate to agree when a tired man arrives in search of safety for 10 Jewish children.

“They’re coming! They’re coming!” she yelled. And suddenly Philip and George were also among us, panting. “They’re coming! They’re coming! The Nazis are coming!”

No one expects Nazi soldier’s to arrive while Sister Gabriel is away in town, but when they are spotted in the valley, the children must make a plan and execute it quickly. Will it be enough to keep them all safe?

Audience: Any age, either to be read independently or listen to. Target audience is probably 8 to 12.

Book Review: The Foundling

     The Constable pointed to Willy’s bundle. “This yours?”
     Willy nodded. “All my clothes”
     “Your mummy left you and all your clothes?”
     “Yes.” Willy drew himself up. “And she said the Constable would collect me very soon.”
     “Really!” The Constable pulled his hand from his pocket and jabbed his chest with his thumb. “I’m that very person. It seems your to come with me.” This was the third child he had found abandoned in the parish since Christmas. The infant girl had not lived long enough to be christened. He did not know about the boy.

And so, at four years old, Willy begins his life as a foundling. Each season of his life brings new experiences, new things to learn, and new obstacles to conquer.

My copy of this book is very well-loved (translation: beat up) from being read and re-read many times. I highly recommend it.

Audience: The Foundling is written at a teen reading level and would be an ideal family read-aloud.

Study Guide Provided by the Publisher 
The Foundling on Amazon

Book Review: A Father’s Promise

Rudi Kaplan is a young Christian Jew living in Warsaw. When the Nazi army invades his city, life grows increasingly difficult. When things are tough, though, Rudi knows he can depend on his father. That is, until his father tells him he must leave.

“I can’t–I just can’t go alone.”

But he must.

“The forest is God’s secret place for you, Rudi. There–there you shall be under His shadow, where you will be safe. Please, son, please don’t let me down.”

A place of safety. As Rudi obeys his father, he is painfully aware that his father has not made the same promise concerning himself. As he struggles to survive the war, Rudi must learn to trust his heavenly father as well as his earthly one.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Audience: 11 and up, or family read-aloud

Book Review: Bright Freedom’s Song


“The first time Bright had seen a brown face, she had been six years old, so proud of being allowed to gather eggs from the henhouse. She had gone alone into the small, dark log building her father had built to protect the eggs from the fox that sometimes wandered the yard at night.”

~*~

Bright still remembers the fright she got from finding human eyes peering at her from inside the henhouse. Those eyes belonged to her father’s friend Marcus, an escaped slave who helps on the Underground Railroad. As Bright gets involved in her parent’s Underground Railroad station, she begins to learn just how important freedom is.

Visit author Gloria Houston’s website.
Read the first two chapter of the book on Amazon.

Book Review: William Henry is a Fine Name

Jake pushed a greasy hank of hair off his forehead and hitched up his pants. “I guess whipping your pa for trespassing last week wasn’t enough, William Henry. We’ll see who thinks he’s funny when I tell my pa that darkies and white trash is stealing our fish.”

I felt William Henry’s muscles tense beside me, but his mouth never twitched.

~*~

Robert’s best friend is black, his father works on the Underground Railroad, and his mother still clings to the mindset of the plantation she grew up on. When his mother takes Robert to her childhood home, he meets his grandfather and finds himself trying to rationalize slavery. When he sees two runaway slaves brutally punished he realizes that the “peculiar institution” of the south cannot be rationalized. Will he make the right choice when people’s lives depend on him?

Visit author Cathy Gohlke’s website.
Read the first chapter on amazon.

Slang of the 1800s

Everyday Life in the 1800sIn every time period there are slang words. If you’re a writer and your story takes place 150 years ago (like one of mine does) it is important to know what words people were saying back then. In addition to being important for writers, the slang of yesteryear can be the “beatingest” fun. Here is a sampling of words used in the 1800s.

Acknowledge the corn: to admit the truth

Allow: to admit; to be of the opinion

Balderdash: nonsense; empty babble

Beatingest: anything (or anyone) that beats the competition

Chirk: cheerful

Picayune: used to signify something small or frivolous

Whip one’s weight in wild cats: to defeat or beat an opponent

Source: The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s