Category Archives: Biography

Review: Beneath the Bending Skies

Title: Beneath the Bending Skies
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3612-5

“I was still a child who wanted her father’s blessings. And I wanted to never disgrace my mother’s memory by being disobedient,” Mollie tells herself in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, Beneath the Bending Skies.

~ What ~
Based on a women’s memoir and written in first person, this three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those interested in romantic historical fiction about living in Montana in the 1860s. With no profanity, topics of mistreatment, mental abuse, war, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The beginning includes reviews, a list of the author’s written books, and a cast of characters while the ending has the author’s notes, acknowledgments, thirteen discussion questions, part of another novel by the writer, a biography, and advertisements.

In this true story set in Montana during the mid-1800s, sixteen-year-old Mollie Sheehan feels she is never enough as she strives to honor and obey her father’s every command, especially after her mother has passed away and he has remarried. When she falls in love with an older man, not only does her controlling and demanding Irish father forbid the courtship, but also he moves his family out to California. Over time and with God’s providence, the young woman learns what is important in life and how to obtain the desire of one’s heart.

~ Why ~
This is a tender, redeemable tale of an agile young woman who feels she consistently fails her controlling father, yet over time, she experiences the meaning of true love. I appreciate the persistence Mollie showed in obeying her father, even when he was often wrong in his decisions. From living among gold miners to adjusting to the San Diego culture to accepting the ways of working for a government agency on a remote Montana Indian frontier, she comes to grips with being true to God and herself. The author’s notes clearly explain what facts are gleaned from Mary Ronan’s memoir and what is fictitious in the novel.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like rewritten true stories may want to pass on this one, but its detail told with emotion and frustration is well done as one reads about tillers, land rights, and Indian superstitions. Some may not care for the Catholic references.

~ Wish ~
Having read several books by the author and finding them wordy at times, this was my favorite read so far, but I wish it spelled out the simple plan of eternal salvation. I also prefer all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like historical fiction taken from a protagonist’s memoir that focuses on coming of age and growing up despite an overprotective father, this is an exceptional story that promotes feminine individuality and perseverance as one relies on God.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#BeneaththeBendingSkies #JaneKirkpatrick #Revell #MargaretRonan #MarySheenanRonan #MollieRonan

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3x5sr5R

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The Story of Easter

Title: The Story of Easter
Author: Patricia A. Pingry
Illustrator: Alice Buckingham
Publisher: WorthyKids
ISBN: 978-1-5460-0105-8

“Now on Easter morning, you’ll know that Jesus loved us so much that … he gave his life for us so that we can live too,” Patricia A. Pingry ends her children’s book, The Story of Easter.

~ What ~
This twenty-page board book with rounded corners targets children ages one to four years old. With no scary scenes but mentioning Jesus dying on the cross, it contains the story of Easter. Colorful, engaging illustrations cover both sides of the pages with an easy-to-read font size.

Beginning with the declaration that Spring is coming, this short story reminds us that Jesus loves everyone, was called the Good Shepherd, died on a cross, and rose from the dead on the first Easter. It discusses going to church to sing about our Savior, why there are crosses on church steeples, and why He died for us.

~Why ~
This is a wonderful reminder about the true meaning of Easter. I appreciate it is Biblical instead of secular regarding the holiday and only shows three cross silhouettes so young ones will not get alarmed about Christ’s death. There is enough activity in the pictures to keep a child interested while reading.

~ Why Not ~
Some may not like a book that explains the real meaning of Easter is about Jesus’s resurrection. It does not discuss that our Lord died on the cross for our sins or the eternal plan of salvation, but that may be due to the targeted age group. There are many complicated words that young ones may not understand or comprehend, but they could be explained by the reader. The book may be too hard for beginner readers.

~ Wish ~
I wish all pronouns of Jesus were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for an Easter book for toddlers about Jesus and His love, this would be a lovely addition to a child’s basket this year.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, WorthyKids, and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Hachette #WorthyKids #TheStoryofEaster #PatriciaAPingry #AliceBuckingham

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/story-of-easter-patricia-a-pingry/1100311393

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The Story of Abraham Lincoln

Title: The Story of Abraham Lincoln
Author: Patricia A. Pingry
Illustrator: Jesus Lopez
Publisher: WorthyKids
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1393-8

“Every February, we celebrate the birthday of the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln,” Patricia A. Pingry begins in her children’s book, The Story of Abraham Lincoln.

~ What ~
This twenty-four-page board book with rounded corners targets children ages two to five years old. With no scary scenes, it partially contains the story of America’s sixteenth president. Colorful, engaging illustrations cover both sides of the pages with an easy-to-read font size.

The book explains that Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky in a log cabin but moved to Indiana at the age of seven, worked on a farm, told funny stories, and became a lawyer. He married Mary Todd, became America’s president, and was involved in the Civil War where he fought to end slavery in the Confederate states. The ending includes how a monument was named after him and his face is depicted on our currency.

~Why ~
This is an educational story about our president and parts of his life. I appreciate it mentioned Abe’s family was poor, his mother died when he was young, and that he was against slavery, later writing the Emancipation Proclamation. There is enough activity in the pictures to keep young ones interested while reading.

~ Why Not ~
Some may not like a history book that discusses slavery, but it was an integral part of the American Civil War. There are many complicated words that young ones may not understand or comprehend, but they could be explained by the reader. The book may be too hard for beginner readers with its three-to-five-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
With the board book being for toddlers, its contents are more for kindergartens and first graders who may want to know the history of America. I wish it had less detail for its targeted audience or reformatted into a regular book for older children.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a series about famous people, the author has several books for young ones available, and this one on Honest Abe will give a young one plenty to learn about a past U.S. president.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, WorthyKids, and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Hachette #WorthyKids #TheStoryofGeorgeWashington #PatriciaAPingry #JesusLopez

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/332BYiF

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The Healing of Natalie Curtis

Title: The Healing of Natalie Curtis
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3613-2

“When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you told your story?” Natalie is asked in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, The Healing of Natalie Curtis.

~ What ~
Based on a true story, this three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those interested in American Indians’ music, lore, and legends. With no profanity, topics of mistreatment, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The beginning includes a list of characters while the ending has a glossary, author’s notes, acknowledgments, a dozen discussion questions, suggested additional reading, part of another novel by the writer, biography, and advertisements.

In this tale set in the early 1900s in America, twenty-six-year-old musical prodigy Natalie Curtis feels no joy, having not played the piano professionally for six years. To get out of her funk, she leaves the comfort of her New York family home and travels to the West, falling in love with the Native Americans’ singing, dancing, and story-telling. Criss-crossing the country multiple times, the music ethnographer makes it her goal to write a book of the eighteen tribes she visited and their music.

~ Why ~
This is an interesting rendition of how a broken woman became an observer and agent of change as she befriends indigenous people and heals from her past. I appreciated the detail of her not wanting to be a usurper of the Indians yet was the Song Maid of the West who approached President Roosevelt to challenge the United States government’s Code of Offenses that disallowed the natives to cherish their history through music.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of the hardship of American Indians and how they were forced to assimilate into the white man’s world may not enjoy this book. Although Biblical references are mentioned throughout the read, it may not be of interest to those who do not believe in God. Some may think the author’s notes capture more of the protagonist’s life than the novel itself that covers only a ten-year period.

~ Wish ~
As with other books by the author, there is too much information and detail on the many places the main character visited and who she met to the point it was monotonous, especially the last quarter of the book. I also wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like historical fiction based on how a woman found her calling loving American Indians who expressed their heritage through song, dance, and tales, this is a good read that focuses on their culture, love of the land, and ways of life.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#TheHealingofNatalieCurtis #JaneKirkpatrick #Revell #AmericanIndiansCodeofOffenses

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/38UxEB7

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Family Tree Workbook

Title: Family Tree Workbook
Author: Brian Sheffey
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64611-608-9

“This workbook is arranged so you do not have to work your way through it sequentially,” Brian Sheffey explains in the beginning instructions of his book, Family Tree Workbook: 30+ Step-by-Step Worksheets to Build Your Family History.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-twenty-four-page paperback targets those who want to document one ancestor’s life or an entire family group in book format. After an introduction and directions, there are five chapters covering the topic; it ends with a glossary, resources, index, acknowledgments, and author’s biography.

This book begins with individual and family-specific worksheets that cover pedigrees, ancestor overviews, family addresses, family groups, siblings, blended families, timelines, and United States and worldwide migration maps. The second chapter compiles information on marriage records, land deeds, military history/service logs, medical history, death records, cemeteries, interviews, photos, heirlooms, DNA tracking, family charts, newspaper articles, and color/enslaved/ Cherokee/Dawes cards registration logs. The third part has census information with passenger arrival records while the fourth contains managing information via research, worksheets, and sources. The final part reaches completion with tips and future-proofing genealogy research.

~ Why ~
Having a friend who loves keeping track of her family, this book is ideal as it has a plethora of charts to compile. I like the detailed charts that include a gambit of relative data. Adding the heirloom, newspaper, and U.S. Federal Census charts to complete are a plus.

~ Why Not ~
Some may have no interest in recording their family history and ancestors so they may not want this book. Others may think genealogy is too time-consuming to research and report the information on the worksheets. A few may feel overwhelmed in the book’s presentation.

~ Wish ~
While I appreciate the concept of having a family tree workbook, I feel this one is not organized well as there is jumping around to put names, dates, and places, causing possible duplication. I wished it focused more by date or generation.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a way to keep track of your beloved family, this is a lovely beginner’s book that helps organize the past while keeping tabs on the present.

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#RockridgePress #CallistoPublishersClub #BrianSheffey #FamilyTreeWorkbook #GeneologyWorkbook

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2ZdQ4Jt

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The Story of Alexander Hamilton

Title: The Story of Alexander Hamilton
Author: Christine Platt
Illustrator: Raquel Martin
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64611-425-2

“Explore how Alexander went from being a young immigrant with strong values to a celebrated American leader and icon,” the back jacket states in Christine Platt’s children’s book, The Story of Alexander Hamilton: A Biography Book for New Readers.

~ What ~
This sixty-four-page paperback targets children ages six to eight years old who enjoy biographies of famous people. With no profanity or scary scenes, expressive illustrations, timelines, questions, or quotes are on almost every page. After a table of contents, there are eight chapters, followed by a glossary, bibliography, acknowledgments, and author’s biography.

This is a book about the life of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. From his birth on a Caribbean island and being orphaned to coming to America, getting married, and having children, he became George Washington’s aide, a lawyer who served in the Confederation Congress, and framer of the Constitution, dying due to a duel. The final chapter includes ten multiple-choice questions and three “what if” scenarios relating to his life.

~ Why ~
I love children’s books that teach young ones, especially if they are about American’s past history. The educational story flows easily with the added drawings, charts, questions, and myth and fact sections. Plenty of facts are included that could be used for a book report.

~ Why Not ~
Some children will not like a read about a famous historical American figure from the past. Others may not care for the details of Hamilton and his son being killed in duels. The book may be hard to understand for some six-year-olds. Beginner readers may have trouble with some of the three- and four-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
Online it states the age group is for third and fourth graders but mentions six- to eight-year-olds (which may be in lower grades still), so it may be noted to be read by older children. I hope further books about famous people are being written by the author.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a biography on Alexander Hamilton for elementary-school-age kids, this may be an educational source, but be aware it does contain illness and death.

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#RockridgePress #CallistoPublishersClub #Stor bioyofAlexanderHamilton #ChristinePlatt #RaquelMartin

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/35xGYIL

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Blaze of Light

Title: Blaze of Light
Author: Marcus Brotherton
Publisher: Waterbrook
ISBN: 978-0-525-65378-3

“To really live, you must almost die. To those who fight for it, life has a meaning the protected will never know,” Gary is told in Marcus Brotherton’s biography, Blaze of Light: The Inspiring True Story of Green Beret Medic Gary Beikirch, Medal of Honor Recipient.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-seventy-two-page book is based on the true story of Gary Beikirch, a Medal of Honor recipient who was a Green Beret medic during the Vietnam War. Targeted toward those who like real-life accounts of dealing with the fog of war and overcoming the emotional distraught of it, topics of alcohol/drug use, dying, death, and war may not be appropriate for immature readers.

In this factual tale based in the 1970s, twenty-two-year-old Gary finds himself in Dak Seang, Vietnam, protecting the Montagnards, who he has come to value and love, from the NVC who surprisingly attack their village of indigenous fighters, women, and children. Even after being seriously wounded, he arduously tries to save the injured until he is helicoptered to a nearby hospital to heal. When he arrives back in the States, his emotional state is fractured and broken more than his body, and his only redemption is resolved when he turns to the Almighty.

~ Why ~
This is a hard read of the sacrifice and suffering a soldier makes for his country, especially when he returns back to America, only to be mocked and ridiculed. I appreciate Gary and any other serviceman who went to Vietnam and am greatly thankful for their commitment. Gary’s life story is full of confusion, disappointment, and tragedy, yet it shows how God’s hand was always there, protecting him and keeping him safe.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not appreciate the read that confirms God is the answer. Some may not like reading about the surgical procedures, detailed destruction, injuries, or deaths that are sad and heartbreaking.

~ Wish ~
Since I received an uncorrected proof of this book, I hope photographs of Gary and his family are included in the final print. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy stories about the physical survival during war and emotional and spiritual redemption, this would be a great book to read or pass on to someone struggling with their purpose in life and how God is in control.

Thanks to the Waterbrook & Multnomah Launch Team for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#BlazeofLight #GaryBeikirch #MarcusBrotherton #WaterbrookMultnomah

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3aQsAwG

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Star of Persia

Title: Star of Persia
Author: Jill Eileen Smith
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3471-8

“Why did she think for a single moment that God cared for a lonely young woman in a foreign palace in a foreign land,” Esther ponders in Jill Eileen Smith’s Biblical fiction novel, Star of Persia: Esther’s Story.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those who enjoy an enhanced version of the Biblical story of Queen Esther and her oftentimes lonely relationship with King Xerxes. Containing no profanity or explicit sexual scenes, topics of execution and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. An author’s note, acknowledgments, biography, and advertisements complete the book.

In this retold story taken from the Old Testament, King Xerxes banishes his favorite wife when she would not show herself at one of his banquets. Forlorn, depressed, and quick to make rash decisions, the dictator trusts the wrong people continually but finds new love in young Hadassah, a Jewess who has been unwantedly chosen as his new queen. As she falls in love with a Persian leader who is almost two decades older than she, the renamed Esther must not only deal with her secret of being a Jew and solitude lifestyle but also a vicious, scheming wife, an over-achieving advisor, and others.

~ Why ~
The book of Esther is one of my most cherished stories in the Word of God, so I was excited to read this rendition. I like the secular history interjected throughout the story as it relates to palace politics, interaction with guards and servants, and family-related dynasty outcomes. The trustworthiness and sincerity of young Esther are well developed and promoted between her relationship with the king and her cousin, Mordecai.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like fictionalized Bible stories may pass on this one as the author has used ample liberties to enhance the story. With Vashti having met Esther when the younger girl was only six years old, parts of the story are fabricated. Some may find the mix of secular history blended into Scripture confusing, but it does help comprehend Persia’s military and kingdom nances.

~ Wish ~
I liked the detailed descriptions of palace life in Susa during Old Testament times. I wish the novel was more accurate to the Bible and included the full story (however, the author does explain why parts are omitted). With a plethora of characters, it would be helpful having a list at the beginning of the book of which ones are fictional.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy learning about Esther’s rise to becoming a queen and how she had to stand up for her belief in God and her people, this is an intriguing read that has plenty of fiction added.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am not obligated to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2I6YPvi

#StarofPersia #JillEileenSmith

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Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents

Title: Spies, Code Breakers, & Secret Agents
Author: Carole P. Roman
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64611-101-5

“Spies appeared out of nowhere in many cities during World War II. Where did they come from, and where did they learn to be spies?” begins the second chapter in Carole P. Roman’s children’s book, Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents: A World War II Book for Kids.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets children ages eight to twelve years old who enjoy books about secret intelligence and the rogue side of war that includes spy biographies. With no profanity and a few adult situations, several black and white illustrations are added.

After an introduction, this is a collection of six chapters regarding mostly undercover intelligent agents for the Axis Powers and Allied Forces during World War II. It discusses the spies on both sides, their missions, gear, secret armies, super spies, code breakers, and spies today. It ends with a glossary, resources, bibliography, and index. There are “Did You Know” and “Espionage by the Numbers” sidebars with information. Over fifty words are highlighted in the book and explained in its glossary.

~ Why ~
As the years go by, the sacrificial events of World War II are slowly ignored and forgotten, so this book confirms how spies from opposing viewpoints showed their patriotism by secretly serving their country. I loved how the writer explains the devastating history of the massive war that had over one-million Resistance fighters in underground armies plus over thirty-two-hundred British women, who were often recruited through social and athletic clubs, trained at Camp X in Canada, became code breakers and talkers, and learned how to use coal grenades, limpet mines, and hide maps in playing cards.

Some of the male and female short biographies include:
Josephine Baker
Morris “Moe” Berg
Eddie “Fritz” Chapman
George Dash
Tor Glad & John Moe (Mutt & Jeff)
Christine Granville
Virginia Hall
George Wood
Takeo Yoshikawa

~ Why Not ~
Some of the technical information may be above the reading level for some children. Others may not like the topic of war,  yet the book does not contain too much graphic content about abuse, torture, or death.

~ Wish ~
Although I greatly appreciate this book that focuses on spies and how they were recruited, trained, and served their countries, I wish photographs of the tools and people were added instead of drawings.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a wonderful book that not only teaches young ones about life during World War II as a spy but also has stories and sidebars, this would be the perfect gift for those who are fascinated by the topic or need to write a report about an interesting time in history. I think the author was spot on by ending the book with her teaser that “There are countless numbers of spies out there. If you pay attention, you may spot one yourself!”

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2MaYpGF

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The Horses of My Dreams

Title: The Horse of My Dreams
Editor: Callie Smith Grant
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2718-5

“But when that animal intelligence meets up with our human intelligence, wonderful things can happen. And stories are born,” Callie Smith Grant writes in the introduction to her book, The Horse of My Dreams: True Stories of the Horses We Love.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-twenty-four-page paperback contains thirty-two brief stories about horses and how the majestic beasts changed the writers. After an introduction, the four-to-ten page tales are written by a myriad of contributors who are writers, authors, editors, bloggers, professors, and animal lovers. The book ends with notes, contributors’ biographies, editor’s biography, and acknowledgments.

This is a quick read that focuses on how horses can change our lives, from a young girl dreaming for a pony and an actor trying to control a one-minded horse to a gal participating in a pageant on a horse she never rode before and an enthusiastic seventy-year-old rider to name a few. The reader learns how the relationship between a horse and its owner encourages empathy, understanding, and patience, forming an unforgettable bond. A few highlighted inserts are added about horse facts and Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee’s horses.

~ Why ~
Having two dear friends who own horses, I have always had a respect for equine yet have always been afraid of them. I appreciated how the love for the cherished animal grows over the decades of grooming, riding, and taking care of the animal. It is fascinating to know how the creatures are sensitive to a person’s moods, have a sixth sense, or can be easily injured or inflicted with the Potomac Horse Fever.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories about horses may want to pass on this short book, but it may help someone who is fearful of the one-thousand-pound animal. Others may wish the tales were longer, more in-depth, or were written by well-known writers.

~ Wish ~
Although I liked the concept of one remembering their beloved pet and how it changed lives, sometimes relating it to God, I wish there were more Christian aspects inserted that would bring Him the glory for creating such a fine creature. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you are a horse lover and like an eclectic compilation of stories about writers’ favorite horses, this is a lovely casual light read about the amazing animals. It may be a nice present for a young want-to-be horse owner.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Revell #HorseStories #CallieSmithGrantEditor

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2V5GynN

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