Category Archives: Fiction

These Nameless Things

Title: These Nameless Things
Author: Shawn Smucker
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3530-2

“It’s my fault he’s not with us. There’s no way around it. How could I let him go back on his own?” Dan guiltily questions himself in Shawn Smucker’s novel, These Nameless Things.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-thirty-six-page paperback targets those who like other-world allegories about coming to terms with one’s past and accepting mistakes. The topics of dispair, mental abuse, torture, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the author’s note, a chapter from another book by the writer, acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and advertisements.

Set in a small village at the base of a mountain, Dan and other survivors who had escaped unspeakable torture must make the decision to return for Dan’s brother or head east for a new life, hopefully free of pain and guilt. When a strange woman arrives from the other side of the mountain and uncovers the residents’ secrets, shame, and lies, Dan must find grace through the memories that haunt him.

~ Why ~
I like that this fiction read shows how the protagnist has to find his inner self while dealing with moral dilemnas. Since it is written in first person, it divulges the raw reality of how guilt eats away at the soul.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not care for a story that involves torture and abuse may not be interested in this book, but they are only alluded to and not described in detail. Some may not like that it is lightly based on Dante’s Inferno. Those dealing with trusting others as they work through their guilt may find it uncomfortable.

~ Wish ~
I wish the ending was not rushed and had more closure. I found loose ends in some of the characters and how they dealt with their own situations.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy mysterious fiction that is from a dark inner world, this is a good read that may force you to reflect on how you handle the guilt of your past.

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

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2YDSVdU

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The Lake and the Secret Sweetheart

Title: The Lake and the Secret Sweetheart
Author: Judith Grimme
Publisher: Encourage Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9985592-8-5

“Who do you think that card came from? It’s so mysterious, don’t you think?” Simone asks Lucy in Judith Grimme’s children’s book, The Lake and the Secret Sweetheart.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-fifty-six-page paperback targets nine- to twelve-year-old children who like stories about family relationships and friendships during the 1960s in the Midwest. With no profanity or adult situations, it would best be read out loud to some readers due to occasionally complicated wording. The ending includes extras and activities, the author’s biography, information about other books in the series, and content ratings.

The final of a four in The Front Porch Diaries, this series chapter book set in Indiana continues with third-grader Lucy and her family going to a cottage by the lake and having her best friend, Simone, and her grandparents visit too. Not only does Lucy have to overcome her past fears, but she wants to know who sent her a special valentine’s card. With her friend soon returning to France, the two cherish their last few weeks together.

~ Why ~
This is a nice read about the past when kids spent ample time outside, enjoying the dog days of summer swimming and fishing with family. I appreciate the references to games like Monopoly and Little League baseball along with G.I. Joe dolls, Cracker Jacks, McDonald’s, and various consumer items. Having read the 2 other books in the series to our six-year-old granddaughter via Facetime, she is anticipating hearing this one next.

~ Why Not ~
Children who do not like chapter books or series that are written about how it was over fifty years ago may not appreciate this read. Others may not be ready to learn about boy/girl relationships. Some younger readers may be concerned about the fear of swimming or do not like the mention of God and the Bible. It is helpful if you read the books in order to understand the background (we did not read the second book but wish we had since this one relates to its story).

~ Wish ~
I found the book may be too advanced for a first grader due to the protagonist’s fears and love interest. There were far fewer French words in this one compared to the first book. The series should be professionally edited.

~ Want ~
If your elementary-school-age child likes chapter books that are in a series, this would be a fun read if he or she wants to know about someone having a crush on them, overcoming a past fear, and praying about being afraid.

Thanks to BookCrash and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#TheLakeandtheSecretSweetheart #JudithGrimme #TheFrontPorchDiaries #EncouragePublishing #Bookcrash

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2Nt6pTG

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Dream within a Dream

Title: Dream within a Dream
Authors Mike Nappa and Melissa Kosci
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2646-1

“Trudi, I can’t let you go. I need your help,” Dream begs his new friend in Mike Nappa and Melissa Kosci’s novel, Dream within a Dream.

~ What ~
This four-hundred-and-sixteen-page paperback targets those who like suspense involving mobsters, artwork, and shattered relationships. Containing the slang words such as darn, the topics of physical abuse, torture, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the authors’ biographies and advertisements.

Part three of the Coffey and Hill series, Trudi may be divorced from Samuel, but somehow both still care enough about each other, especially since he works as a CIA operative who is trying to avoid his past and she, a private investigator, is dragged into helping Dream, an accused murderer who has a knack for quoting random facts. As the pair try to protect Dream, they are caught up searching for stolen art that everyone including the Boston mob wants.

~ Why ~
This is a fast read that not only has the chase to find stolen artwork but also how two past lovers try to reconnect their hurtful paths. As each is forced to trust one another along with others, the palette is painted by a frightened yet highly intelligent artist determined to find answers, no matter the cost. I liked the first-person writing by Dream and pace of the book, which could be read as a stand-alone novel.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the Biblical references, but they are not too often or deep. Others may not care for a story that involves torture and abuse. Some may wish they knew more about the protagonists’ background from the prior books in the series.

~ Wish ~
I prefer Christian books not to have slang words as they detract from the story. I wish the ending was not rushed and a bit hanging.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy mystery and suspense while gleaning the truth, this is an engaging read, especially some of the interesting tidbits of random facts spread throughout.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

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

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2YbnPu7

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What Momma Left Behind

Title: What Momma Left Behind
Author: Cindy K. Sproles
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3704-7

“Answer me, Momma! Where am I gonna put these youngins?” Where?” Worie cries out in Cindy K. Sproles’s novel, What Momma Left Behind.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-fifty-six-page paperback targets those who like historical suspense involving orphaned children fighting to stay together to survive. Containing slang words such as darn and hell, the topics of illness, rape, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the author’s note, author’s biography, and advertisements.

Set on the rural Sourwood Mountain in Tennessee in 1877, seventeen-year-old Worie Dressar is devastated when her mother makes a personal sacrifice that she cannot understand. When homeless children appear at the young girl’s doorstep, Worie has no other recourse them to take them in and feed them. With the help of an awkward pastor and friends with secrets, the out-spoken girl becomes closer to her charges and is forced to make decisions that will alter her dreams and wishes.

~ Why ~
This is a precious, tearful read written in first person that shows the love, angst, and trust one must have in another when it comes to uncovering the past and dealing with the present. I love how Sproles describes her protagonist as broken, bold, and bewildered when learning about God’s timing, forgiveness, and acceptance. The loss of parents and family members due to typhoid fever and influenza over a hundred years ago is tragic and sad.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the Biblical references, calling on God for His protection, or confessing past sins. Others may not care for a story that involves the hardships and suffering children endured as it is discouraging and depressing. Some may get frustrated with the intentional misspellings and incorrect grammar that convey the uneducated language of poor mountain living.

~ Wish ~
I prefer Christian books not to have slang words as they detract from the story. It would be thoughtful to have included the complete plan of eternal salvation.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy tenderly told stories of heartbreak, redemption, and trust from the 1800s in the Appalachian Mountains, this will make you realize how family bonds are tied tightly, even when sorrow and hurt abounds.

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

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2XRrT1i

 

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The Farm and the Risky Ride

Title: The Farm and the Risky Ride
Author: Judith Grimme
Publisher: Encourage Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9985592-7-8

“I cannot wait, either! That will be such a fun holiday! But I’m still a little nervous about riding horses,” Simone confides to Lucy in Judith Grimme’s children’s book, The Farm and the Risky Ride.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-forty-four-page paperback targets nine- to twelve-year-old children who like stories about family relationships and friendships during the 1960s in the Midwest. With no profanity or adult situations, it would best be read out loud to some readers due to occasionally complicated wording. The ending includes extras and activities, the author’s biography, information about other books in the series, and content ratings.

The third of four series chapter book set in Indiana continues with third-grader Lucy and her new friend, Simone, going to Lucy’s grandparents’ farm for two weeks in the summer while her brother and Simone’s sibling stay home and build a treehouse. Lucy and Simone not only get to collect chicken eggs, milk cows, pick berries, and make camp pies, but they also go horseback riding and witness the birth of a foal.

~ Why ~
This is a lovely read about the past when kids spent ample time outside, enjoying nature and animals. I appreciate the references to kite flying, Instamatic cameras, Barbie and Midge dolls, Bible stories, drive-in movies, the Amish, and various outdoor games. Having read the first book to our six-year-old granddaughter via Facetime, she was excited to start having me read her this one.

~ Why Not ~
Children who do not like chapter books or series that are written about how it was over fifty years ago may not appreciate this read. Others may not relate to the characters, especially if they have no siblings or do not live in a small-town environment. Some younger readers may be concerned about getting injured riding horses or do not like the mention of God and the Bible. It is helpful if you read the books in order to understand the background (we did not read the second book but wish we had).

~ Wish ~
I found the book a bit anti-climatic, so the series may not be for older readers. There were far fewer French words in this one compared to the first book.

~ Want ~
If your elementary-school-age child likes chapter books that are in a series, this would be a fun read if he or she wants to know about life on a farm before electronics consumed our lives.

Thanks to BookCrash and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#TheFarmandtheRiskyRide #JudithGrimme #TheFrontPorchDiaries #EncouragePublishing #Bookcrash

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2Tsp7y7

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Jairus’s Girl

Title: Jairus’s Girl
Author: L.R. Hay
Publisher: Salted Lightly
ISBN: 978-1-916077003

“Well I’m not dead now, and I’m hungry. It’s essential I get some food: this Jesus person said so,” Tammie demands after she is healed in L.R. Hay’s children’s book, Jairus’s Girl.

~ What ~
The second in the Young Testament series, this one-hundred-and-eighty-page paperback targets nine- to twelve-year-old children who like enhanced Biblical stories. With no profanity or adult situations, it is a young girl’s version of the life of Christ as an adult.

Set in Capernaum two-thousand years ago, eleven-year-old Tammie is an only child who loves to help others with her tender heart as she happily keeps tabs of everyone and everything in her village. When she becomes deathly ill, she is awoken by a wonderful man named Jesus, who does miracles near and abroad. As she hears about Him and meets His friends such as Matthew, Simon Peter, Andrew, and Lucius, she learns and witnesses the many stories from the Gospels from Christ’s miracles and healings to His death and resurrection.

~ Why ~
This is a charming, quirky read from a young one’s standpoint living when Jesus comes to Earth. I enjoyed the blend of many Biblical characters such as the healing of the centurion’s slave, the woman with the issue of blood, the paralyzed man, and others. The added humorous comments and conversations between Tammie and her friends, Daniel and Dibs, will delight some readers.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not approve of this book. Children who do not like chapter books written about the Bible may not appreciate it. Others may not agree with the made-up scenarios that have a young protagonist hearing, seeing, or talking about the multiple miracles of the Son of God. The eternal plan of salvation contains no obvious confession of one’s sin.

~ Wish ~
Due to the British punctuation, spelling, and grammar differences in the book, I wish an American version were offered to make it easier for young readers here in the United States to comprehend. I found the main character to be too perfect and idealistic. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If your preteen likes historical fiction of Jesus in the New Testament, this would make a nice gift, albeit ample liberties have been taken that are not completely accurate to the Word of God.

Thanks to BookCrash and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Bookcrash #SaltedLightly #LRHay #JairussGirl #TheYoungTestament
This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2Zf6zoE

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Book Review, Childrens, Fiction

On a Coastal Breeze

Title: On a Coastal Breeze
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3499-2

“Yes, she did wish well for Rick O’Shea on this momentous morning. As long as he kept his distance from her,” Maddie tries to convince herself in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s novel, On a Coastal Breeze.

~ What ~
The second in the Three Sisters Island series, this three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those who enjoy contemporary Christian fiction regarding family interactions on a small Maine island. Using slang words such as darn and drats, topics of premarital sex, injury, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. Using the several versions of the Holy Bible, the beginning has a cast of characters while the ending includes a food recipe, twelve discussion questions, excerpts from the next book in the series, acknowledgments, biography, and advertisements.

In this current-day story, a widowed father and his three daughters have successfully completed one summer at their recently purchased Camp Kicking Moose. Focusing mainly on the middle child who is starting a marriage and family therapy business on the island, Madison Grayson is blindsided when Ricky O’Shea, the town’s new pastor, skydives into town and upends her fortitude and determination. While her siblings deal with their shortcomings, faltering dreams, and forgiving others, the now-mature girl who had feelings for a boy over eight years ago must face her anxiety and fears as she trusts in God and those who love her.

~ Why ~
Having read the first book in the series, I appreciate the updates on the Grayson family and the island’s residents. Being an innocuous read, this one centers on one woman’s desperate need to overcome her panic attacks by practicing what she preaches to others in therapy sessions. Some readers may like the friction between two engaged couples and wanderlust in one who is searching for herself. The addition of a loyal duck brings charm to small-town living.

~ Why Not  ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the Christian undertones that include Scripture and praying to God. Others may tire of the predictability of a romance of two protagonists who have a past littered with meanness and misunderstandings.

~ Wish ~
Although Madison professionally has her act together, the writing type-casted her character as having all the right answers to everyone’s’ problems. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reference.

~ Want ~
If you like a contemporary Christian read about family dynamics with an ongoing love-hate relationship, this novel may occupy your time while noting that God can handle our fears and frustrations.

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

#OnaCoastalBreeze #SuzanneWoodsFisher #Revell

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2SISVG8

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Lucy and la petite nouvelle

Title: Lucy and la petite nouvelle
Author: Judith Grimme
Publisher: Encourage Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9985592-0-9

“Just tell them to consider it a great adventure–that’s what Daddy always tells us when we are going to be doing something new,” Lucy explains in Judith Grimme’s children’s book, Lucy and la petite nouvelle (The Newcomer).

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-twenty-five-page paperback targets nine- to twelve-year-old children who like stories about family relationships and friendships during the 1960s in the Midwest. With no profanity or adult situations, it would best be read out loud to some readers due to occasionally complicated wording. The ending includes the author’s biography and information about other books in the series. Also mentioned is an online website of extras and downloadable activity pages.

In this first of four series chapter book set in Indiana in the 1960s, nine-year-old Lucy Miller loves her family, especially her older brother, Eddie, who reads to her daily. When their father mentions a new family from France is moving nearby, all of the Millers pitch in to welcome the newcomers and acclimate them to small-town living. Not only is fishing, bike riding, and a county fair experienced, but also the joys and struggles of making new friends, accepting one’s differences, and dealing with emotional feelings are told through the eyes of young ones.

~ Why ~
This is a nice read about old-fashioned upbringings mentioning games, singers, and sleepovers from the past. I liked the special relationship between two of the siblings, the added French words, and how the pre-teens dealt with issues. During the coronavirus lockdown, I Facetimed with our six-year-old granddaughter and read the first two chapters to her; she wanted more, so it is applicable for younger readers.

~ Why Not ~
Children who do not like chapter books or series that are written about how it was over fifty years ago may not appreciate this read. Others may not relate to the characters, especially if they have no siblings or do not live in a small-town environment. Some younger readers may be concerned about getting injured, beat up, or made fun of due to their skin color.

~ Wish ~
I found some chapters a little boring, so the series may not be for older readers. I found the family a little too perfect in their interactions with others.

~ Want ~
If your elementary-school-age child likes chapter books that are in a series, this would be an adventurous read that encourages friendship while dealing with biases and prejudices.

Thanks to BookCrash and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

Lucyandlapetitenouvelle #JudithGrimme #TheFrontPorchDiaries #EncouragePublishing #Bookcrash

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2XTiNCy

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What is Empathy?

Title: What is Empathy?
Author: Amanda Morin
Illustrator: John Joseph
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64611-687-4

“You can’t make people feel empathy. You can only be kind and hope they learn from you,” Sofia is told in Amanda Morin’s children’s book, What is Empathy? A Bullying Storybook for Kids.

~ What ~
This fifty-page paperback targets children ages five to seven years old who enjoy books about relationships, especially when dealing with feelings. With no profanity or scary scenes, expressive illustrations are on almost every page. The beginning has a letter to parents and caregivers; the middle has eight questions to consider, and ending includes the author and illustrator’s biographies.

This is a book about bullying, told from two different aspects. Sofia and Ava were best friends until one moved away and found a new friend. When school starts, both girls must deal with how their relationship has changed and why, especially because a third girl alters it with her bullying tactics. As the two girls grow further apart, they miss each other until they learn empathy can bring them together again.

~ Why ~
I love children’s books that teach young ones, especially if they are about dealing with feelings being hurt, saying mean things to others, giving away secrets, and learning how to get along. The topic of bullying is well stated within the unique style of two different stories of each girl’s viewpoint. With a six-year-old granddaughter who has dealt with a friend moving away and bullying, this was apropos to her situation and hopefully helped her.

~ Why Not ~
Some children will not like a tale about bullying, never considering they themselves may be the cause of discord. The book may be too hard to understand for some kindergarteners. Beginner readers may have trouble with some of the three- and four-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
I greatly appreciate this book that focuses on dealing with emotions. I wish a version of it containing boys would be available as it seems girls are often targeted as bullies when it is not always true.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for an excellent book that explains empathy from two aspects of a friendship, you will love giving this to a child who has been bullied. It may also help those children who are bullies so they can see how they are perceived. Adults who read it may be reminded to take a minute to think about other considerations in a hurtful situation.

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

#WhatisEmpathy #AmandaMorin #JohnJoseph #RockridgePress #CallistoPublishersClub

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

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Childrens, Fiction

The Traitor’s Pawn

Title: The Traitor’s Pawn
Author: Lisa Harris
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2917-2

“I just … I need you to forgive me, Aubrey,” the policewoman is told in Lisa Harris’s novel, The Traitor’s Pawn.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-thirty-three-page paperback targets those who enjoy crime suspense with Christian undertones and light romance. Containing no profanity, the topics of kidnapping, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the first chapter of the writer’s next novel, author’s biography, and advertisements for other Revell books.

Set in Corpus Christi, Texas, Jack and Aubrey used to be best friends as teenagers, but their relationship abruptly ended, with one fearful of divulging true feelings. When FBI agent Jack happens to be in the area hunting down an American involved in a Chinese spy ring, Aubrey, a policewoman, is kidnapped. As their paths cross unexpectedly, they race to catch the traitor before more are injured or killed.

~ Why ~
This is a fast read that packs plenty of action and tension between two past friends who must work together to solve who is selling government secrets. I like the sensitivity of Jack and how he deals with his past decisions. Aubrey’s character shows how trusting God helps her deal with heartache, disappointments, and life-threatening situations.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the calling on God for His protection. Others may not care for a story of a woman dealing with forgiveness of those she loves. The reader may feel frustrated that Jack appeared unaware of all the turmoil in Aubrey’s family life if they were once close friends.

~ Wish ~
While I liked the relationship between the two protagonists and how they both were scared to move forward, I found the persistent interruptions too obvious every time they tried to discuss the future. I prefer all pronouns of God to be capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you are into spy stories involving the FBI and police, this is a quick read that caters to those who like re-establishing relationships, forgiveness, and trusting in God.

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

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2yr27I1

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Christian, Fiction