Book Review: Created to be a Help Meet

Preparing to be a Help MeetWow. No book review last Friday and I totally forgot about the Guess a Quote this week. Blame it on Memorial Day. Actually, you may have to excuse me if I go absent without leave once in a while over the next month or so. My mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer (she said she was okay with me sharing that with you guys) so we’ve been in a flurry of doctor’s visits and phone calls. In addition, my brother graduates from high school today, and he and I are preparing for a missions trip in July. So prayers and grace on skipped posts would be appreciated. And if any of you would be willing to write some book reviews for me, that would be lovely. Thanks so much!

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I remember seeing my mom reading Created to be a Help Meet when I was younger. At that time I’m sure I lumped it in with all the other excitements and ideas my parents brought back from homeschool conferences. When I got a little older, though, she produced this book for me. After she pre-read it, she decided it would be best for us to work through together at first. I loved (okay, I still do love on occasion) keeping my poor, early morning mom up late at night with incessant deep questions. If she was offering to read a book with me at nighttime, I was all for it! Preparing to be a Help Meet really grew me in a lot of ways. A meek and quiet spirit does not, unfortunately, come naturally to me. This book helped me to think about and desire to someday be a good help-meet. This book and several others I read around the same time gave me an understanding and respect for not simply being satisfied with who I was at the time. We human being are works in progress. Our tendency is to say things like, “Oh, well, that’s just the way I am.” But a lot of times the way we are is not necessarily the way God wants us to be. This book was one of the ones that made me realize that it’s never too soon to cooperate with God as he works on molding us into the people we will one day be.

I will say that mom and I read it together because she knew some of the content might concern me. For example, author Debbie Pearl and her husband got married just eight days after their engagement. Mom wanted to be able to gauge my reaction and make sure I knew she didn’t think that was necessarily the best way to go about things!

Have any of you read this book? What did you think? What points did you agree/disagree on?

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If time allows, I think I’m going to try to do a theme on “Marriage Prep” books. I’m not sure that’s really the right term for them, but you probably know what I mean. I may even try to rope my brother into doing one or two for the guys in the audience.

Also, what did you think of this review? My normal style is a lost more factual and less personal. This week I read a post on writing creative book reviews that encouraged bloggers to incorporate personal stories in their reviews and let people read the synopsis on Amazon if they’re interested. Which style do you prefer?

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!

Book Review: Never*

Never

“Listen to me, kid. It don’t matter what happens. It don’t matter what anybody thinks or does. All that matters is that you keep fightin’ and never, you hear me? never give up.”

I think this is the first time I’ve given a self-published book a five star rating. I found “Never” through a blog scavenger hunt the author did to celebrate the book release. When I downloaded the free sample, I didn’t know what to expect. The sample definitely hooked me.

Travis Hamilton, a scholarly young man, is an unlikely suspect for murder. When he is convicted and sentenced ten years labor in Dead Mines, his brother Ross is determined to clear Travis. Ross knows his brother cannot survive the sentence, and he knows Travis is not the murderer. But the web of deception is more tangled than either brother imagined. As their journeys increase in difficulty, both brothers turn to moral convictions that must “never” be abandoned, no matter what the cost. Can Travis survive the evil rule of the mine boss? Can Ross reach the bottom of an ever deepening mystery before it’s too late to rescue his brother?

Some of Travis’s experiences in the mine might make this book unsuitable for young children. If it was a movie I’d give it a PG rating. That said, this story was refreshing. Even in Christian fiction, it’s rare to see heroes sticking to what they believe as tenaciously as Ross and Travis. The author did a wonderful job showing principled good winning over unprincipled evil. I’ll be looking forward to reading more from this author.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Author: J Grace Pennington
Audience: Tween–YA
Genre: Historical Adventure
Pages: 318
Publisher: Self-Published

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*Review originally posted January 11, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway Winner

Rachel Heffington At long last, I’m here to present an interview with Rachel Heffington, author of Fly Away Home. I’ll also be announcing the giveaway winner. So fasten your seat belt and we’ll be off!

What gave you the idea for Fly Away Home?
The idea came from a piece of flash fiction I wrote (“How About Coffee?”) that wouldn’t get out of my head. I wondered about the characters, their lives, their motives. All that wondering finally made its way into a defined plot that wouldn’t leave me alone till I’d explored all its nuances. 🙂

Are any of the characters real historical figures?
None of the main characters (though it’s a well-known fact that Gregory Peck IS Wade Barnett in looks), but historical pop-culture figures are mentioned, and in one particular chapter of the book, you get to rub elbows with the Nelson family of The Ozzie and Harriet Show as well as actress Priscilla Lane and her husband.

What is the most interesting fact or story you uncovered while research for Fly Away Home?
Probably the existence of The Stork Club. I hadn’t realized that there really was such a centralized, well-documented site of celebrity relationships. Every famous person in the 40’s and 50’s visited the Stork Club; researching for the scenes there was so much fun…I was even able to view a video tour of the “Golden Room” from the 1950’s that had been part of a TV spot. Quite fascinating!

What are some of the challenges and rewards of self-publishing?
The challenges are the fact that you are a newbie and you are on your own. I am so blessed to have a lively group of fellow indie authors who have helped make the debut of Fly Away Home a rousing success, but the marketing and publicity side of things is entirely up to you as the author. And that is after you have already gone through the mess of design/formatting/editing. The rewards, though, are that you get to direct your career; I don’t have to write historical romance that is exactly like everyone else’s historical romance because it sells; I have the privilege to write in whatever genre I like. Also, on a terribly shallow level, I get higher royalty percentages than I would as a traditionally published author.

What message would you like readers to take away from this book?
The measure of success is not defined by your salary, your career, or how high you’ve gotten on the corporate ladder. God has a definite plan for your life and it might not look exactly the way the world tells you it ought to look; but it will be fabulous.

Do you have any final comments?
I am so thankful for the opportunity to visit here on Leah’s blog and I hope I may get to know you all better. If you would like to learn more about Fly Away Home, come visit my blog; we have such jolly times!

Thanks so much, Rachel! I’m sure everyone enjoyed the interview. And now, the winner of the Fly Away Home giveaway is…

The Aspiring Illustrator

Congratulations! I’ll be sending you an email to get your mailing address so you can get your copy of Fly Away Home. Hope you enjoy it! For those of you who didn’t win this time, but still want to read the book, the kindle version of Fly Away Home is currently on sale for $2.99 on Amazon. It’s a good price, and supporting a homeschooled author is always a special addition to a purchase. 😉 Enjoy!

Book Review: The Heart of Arcrea

Heart of Arcrea, The I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews for The Heart of Arcrea, so it’s been on my to-read list for quite a while. The homeschooled author theme for this month seemed a perfect reason to finally get to it, and I had good intentions, but it didn’t quite happen. So starshining4ever saved me by agreeing to do a guest post and review it for me. Enjoy her review!

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This is a great read! No magic but clearly a fantasy because of some fictional names, creatures and plants. I love the strong Christian message! It’s not often you get that in a fantasy.

A boy’s father being taken from him sets off a passionate quest. The strong moral character of Druet faces its tests when he is joined by a series of unlikely companions whom he must mold into a successful traveling band. Jealous lords, spies, a princess bound by fears, and betrayal pose challenges to the achievement of his goal. Can Druet find the heart of Arcrea and become the land’s king? Can he even hold his group together? Or will it be torn apart through internal strife or by outside enemies?

The characters are amazing… Druet is really someone you can sympathize with and Nathaniel is the perfect “mate” (aka friend) for him. Talon and Bracy are hilarious—unlikely companions who learn to get along and become best friends. And can I just say that Renny is really cool?

The medieval setting is well done. The fights are really well written. The mystery is well carried out…I was still guessing through most of the book. There are even sprinkles of humor. It’s a really great, encouraging book all around.

Oh, and:
“We found the heart of Arcrea and all I got was this stupid tunic.”

Best. Line. Ever.

Book Review: The Abolitionist

Abolitionist, The When I began contemplating the theme for this month I only knew that I wanted it to tie into Independence Day somehow. I finally decided to do a WWII theme, but with an exception. For the next three Friday’s, I’ll be posting reviews on WWII stories, but today I’m doing a story set in the early 19th century because it captures the essence of freedom so well. Happy (belated) 4th of July! Enjoy.

Anna rushed to speak before she was overcome with fear–fear of consequences, of inconveniences she did not want to consider: “I … I cannot allow you to so mistreat a child and a dependent in your care, be he slave or … or free.”

Anna Ashwell is a young English woman entering adulthood in the early 1800s. Born into a family of abolitionists, she is pleased when her older brother and guardian writes to say that Mr. Wilberforce has succeeded in abolishing the slave trade. However, as she enters society, Anna soon finds that slavery and injustice have not ended. Her heart is gripped by the plight of a young slave boy. Yet, in the face of social pressure and scornful peers, Anna finds her convictions wavering. What, after all, can one girl do?

This story is one of those rare historical fictions that speaks just as eloquently to contemporary issues as to those of yesteryear. As I read I found myself encouraged to stand for what is right no matter what society accepts as socially or politically correct. The story itself is delightful. I had never before read a novel about slavery in England and found The Abolitionist to be a wonderful introduction. The book also contains a sweet love story which even the most sensitive of readers should be able to enjoy. I’m looking forward to sharing this book with my friends.

Author: Elisabeth Allen
Audience: Tweens and up
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 329

Which book(s) do you feel embodies the concept of freedom?

Book Review: Supervillain of the Day

Supervillain of the DayEarth is experiencing an outbreak of superviallains, and no superheroes exist to stop them. Only London is mysteriously free of these superhuman monsters, and reporter Jeffrey Floyd intends to find out why. He forms a shaky partnership with Adams, a Scotland Yard police sergeant, and the two combine their skills to hunt for supervillains. What sinister plots are being hatched in the seeming calm? And what is Floyd hiding?

I downloaded this book during a free promotional on Amazon because I wanted to support the writer, who is a homeschooled author. After reading some good reviews I figured I had nothing to lose even though it’s not the type of story I normally enjoy. To my surprise, I did enjoy reading it. In my opinion, Floyd’s character made the story worth reading. He’s dorky and nerdy, yet persistent and heroic at the same time. A quick read, it was perfect for a night when I was tired and ready to relax. It was also good enough that I have paid for the three sequels and I’ll be buying book five when it comes out.

Author: Katie Lynn Daniels
Audience: Tweens to Young Adults
Genre: Science Fiction

Book Review: Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled

Tales of the Heartily HomeschooledBeing homeschooled keeps life interesting and spending so much time as a family provides the opportunity to make lots of memories. Now multiply that times 8 or 12 kids. In this book, Carolyn Currey and Rachel Starr Thomson, oldest children in large homeschooling families, share the hilarious situations their clans have encountered. From a tipping Christmas tree, to exploding vacuum cleaners, to elf eating hobbits, life in the Currey and Thomson households is never dull.

I purchased this book as a gift for a friend and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew Rachel’s writing from her Seventh World Trilogy, but this kind of book is a completely different concept. It was the little preview I got on my kindle that sold me. I read the stories out loud to my family and we laughed through them. The rest of the book did not disappoint. Every story was well written and almost all of them were laugh-out-loud funny as well as relatable (even if, like me, you’re not part of a large family). I highly recommend this book to read yourself, and to give as a gift (my friend loved it too ;)).

Authors: Carolyn Currey and Rachel Starr Thomson
Audience: All Ages
Genre: Non-Fiction/Humor
Pages: 216