Once upon a Kiss

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Once upon a Kiss

Author: Susan Mendonca

Publisher: Scholastic, 1985

ISBN-13: 978-0590332675

ISBN-10: 0590332678

Language level:  3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: 16 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Romance

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Mendonca,Susan.  Once upon a Kiss (Published in 1985 by Wildfire Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 730 Broadway, New York City, NY  10003).  Paula Rizzoni, a senior at Beecher High School, lives with her parents, older sister Regina (Reggie), and younger sister Meg. Her best friend is Laurie Wellington, whose boyfriend Don recently moved away to California and started seeing someone else.  Her own former boyfriend, the popular Ricky Castle, dumped her for Carla Brent.  Paula plans to go to the New Year’s Eve costume party as Snow White and Laurie as Cinderella, but Laurie gets sick and suggests that Paula go as Cinderella to confuse the others.  At the party, Paula is kissed by popular Kevin Stevens, dressed as Prince Charming.  She feels attracted to Kevin but fears that his popularity will result in another situation like that with Ricky, so to keep from being hurt again, she runs away from the party, tries to convince Kevin that Laurie was Cinderella, and encourages Laurie to date Kevin.

     Can Kevin ever find out who Cinderella really was?   Will he and Paul be able to get together?  And what happens to Laurie in the process?  Once Upon a Kiss by Susan Mendonca is identified as “Wildfire #70.”  Wildfire Books is apparently Scholastic’s imprint for teenage romance novels.  There is really very little objectionable material.  In addition to some common euphemisms (i.e., gee, darn), the name of God is used a couple of times as an exclamation.  The only other thing that I have to say about the book is much emphasis is placed on common public school activities such as dancing, kissing, dating, falling in love, going steady, breaking up, etc., which many of us parents feel are not appropriate for teenagers and choose to homeschool our children to protect them from such things until they are more ready for them.

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Others: A Very Short Book About Beliefs

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Others: A Very Short Book About Beliefs

Author: Martyn Percy

Publisher: Christian Alternative, 2023

ISBN-13: 978-1803410685

ISBN-10: 180341068X

Website(s): http://www.christian-alternative.com (publisher)

Language level:  1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Primarily for adults

Rating: *** 3 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Religion

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Percy,Martyn. Others: A Very Short Book About Beliefs (Published in 2023 by Christian Alternative Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd., No. 3 East St., Alresfor, Hampshire, UK  5O24 9EE).  The blurb on the back of this book begins as thus:  “Do we really understand others and their beliefs? Martyn Percy believes that if we better understand the people in our churches, in our communities and in our societies, then we might cultivate more ease in the 21st century, not only in local and national politics but also in international politics.”  Based on this statement, I assumed that Others was a book which simply encouraged the reader to understand and respect the beliefs of others, even though we may disagree with them, a concept with which I completely concur.  It does deal with that but goes much deeper.  The author seems to imply a “multicultural theology” in which all beliefs are held to be equally valid and therefore to be considered acceptable.  He may not actually believe this, but that is what came across to me, and I strongly disagree with it.

     Percy identifies his religious philosophy “As a Christian priest in a mildly liberal Anglican tradition.”  I come from a far more Biblically-oriented conservative position, and he seems to save some of his strongest criticisms for those of us who believe something “because it is in the Bible” and are “inclined to read Genesis as science” (i.e. fact as opposed to viewing it as metaphor or myth).   At the same time he appears to endorse or at least speak favorably of a Father Hugh Bishop who resigned his position to set up house in Yorkshire with Bob as his partner, John Robinson who wrote Honest to God and was a rank situation ethics proponent, liberation theology, and even B.L.M. (I certainly agree that black lives matter as all lives do, but I do not agree with the Marxist ideology of the Black Lives Matter organization that has led people to burn, pillage, plunder, and loot).

     The author concludes, “This very short book was designed as a modest stimulant for thinking….It will be obvious as you read through it that it raises more questions than it answers.  It does not attempt to do anything other than this.”  Some of us prefer answers, which is why we turn to the Bible (another subject for another time).  Percy quotes far more philosophers and theologians, especially feminist ones, than he does the Bible.  I suppose that this is why the book comes across to me as almost religious psycho-babble.  Having said that, I have to say also that I do not necessarily disagree with every observation in the book, and that it does have some useful material in it that will indeed stimulate thinking.

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The Secret of the Mystifying Twins

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Secret of the Mystifying Twins

Author: Joan Price Reeve

Publisher: Ridgeview Publishing, republished 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1597650274

ISBN-10: 1597650274

Language level:  1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12 and up

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: General youth fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Reeve, Joan Price. The Secret of the Mystifying Twins (Published in 1964 by Moody Press, a division of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL; republished in 2007  by Ridgeview Publishing, a division of Brookside Bookstore, 110 Bluebird Lane, Parksburg, PA  19365).  Lois and Lettice Belmont are identical twins who attend Rivercote Girls’ Private School in England with their best friend Jane Smith.  After the three return for their final year, a sudden accident cripples Lettice.  She had wanted to become a nurse but cannot now, so Lois, who loves her sister very much, promises to become a nurse in her place.  However, due to the cost of Lettice’s care, there is not enough money for Lois’s training. Jealousy, hate, and fear fill Lettice’s heart, while Lois is downhearted and discouraged at the whole turn of events. 

     How can Lois get the education she needs?  Will Lettice ever be able to walk again?  And what part does young Dr. David Leonard play in trying to solve both problems?  In the first book of this series, The Mystifying Twins, Lois and Lettice’s daring pranks at Rivercote continually got them in trouble, not only with their friends, but also with the headmistress, until they both accepted Jesus.  Now they must turn to the Lord even more so in their suffering and tribulation to learn that “all things work together for good,” and that faith, hope, and prayer may bring victory. The twins grow up quite a bit in this book, and it is somewhat  more serious than the first one, but it is still a fun story.

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The Pilgrim’s Progress for the 21st Century: A Modern Adaptation of the John Bunyan Classic

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Pilgrim’s Progress for the 21st Century: A Modern Adaptation of the John Bunyan Classic

Author: David Andrew Harakal 

Cover Illustrator: Aasman Iqbal

Publisher:  Ignite Press, 2022

ISBN-13: 979-8986340821 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 8986340821 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 979-8986340807 Paperback

ISBN-10: 8986340807 Paperback

Website(s):  http://www.DHarakalAuthor.org (author), http://www.IgnitePress.us (publisher)

Language level: 2 

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 13 and up

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Allegory

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Harakal, David Andrew.   The Pilgrim’s Progress for the 21st Century: A Modern Adaptation of the John Bunyan Classic (Published in 2022 by Ignite Press, 5070 N. Sixth St., #189, Fresno, CA  93710).  Christian Pilgrim lives with his wife Christiana, daughter Joyful, and sons Self-Disciplined and Looks-Good, in Pleasantown, but in reading the Bible becomes convinced that the town will be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah.  So they head off in their high-end SUV which they call “the Chariot” to find the Celestial City.  They meet an elderly man named Good-Guide who tells them to go to the Narrow Gate.   Along the way they come across several other individuals, some of whom help while many try to hinder them.  They also pick up some friends who follow them.  Christian makes some mistakes at times but is always willing to receive correction.  Will the whole company make it to their goal?  Or will there be those who fall by the wayside?  And is there really a “Celestial City” to begin with? 

     This book is a modern adaptation of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Christian and the others have to confront the same sins that plagued Bunyan’s characters, but they stay in Bed and Breakfasts and inns, eat in diners and cafes, and deal with expressions of sin that would have been unimaginable in Bunyan’s time.  I especially appreciate the way that author David Harakal portrayed what happened in a place called “Vanity.”  It mirrors perfectly what is going on in our culture today.  A few common euphemisms (e.g., gosh) are found.  There is some sadness, such as where the Pilgrim family return to where they are staying and find a note from Looks-Good saying that he is leaving and not going with them any further.  This is followed by the statement, “They never see him again.”  Some very sincere Bible-believing Christ followers may not agree with some of the Calvinistic implications underlying Bunyan’s story, but this wonderfully-written modern-day version of a classic will resonate with modern readers  as they relate to Christian and his family in their struggle to be the men and women that God intends them to be.

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A Crazy Wind of Love

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: A Crazy Wind of Love

Author: Pierce Smith 

Publisher: ‎ Independently published, 2020

ISBN-13: 979-8643769408

ISBN-10: 8643769408

Website(s): http://authorpiercesmith.blogspot.in/ (author)

Language level:  5

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: I would recommend it to no one

Rating: no stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Not recommended

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Smith, PierceA Crazy Wind of Love (Published in 2020 by Pierce Smith).  John April is a multimillionaire who lives in Los Angeles, CA, and is a widower with an estranged daughter Sarah by his late wife Margaret.  He is also secretly bisexual.  His fiancée is Ally, but she finds out about a liaison that John had in a bar with a young man named Kelly and leaves him.  Later John becomes engaged to a widow named Mira but while Mira is on a visit to Sarah, John is on a visit to her ranch and falls in love with her virgin son (he later learns is actually a stepson) Aaron.  Aaron’s father had died in a terrible automobile accident under mysterious circumstances. 

    I would never had read such a book, but someone wondered if it would be a good source to read and learn how a bisexual man thinks in preparation for trying to share the gospel with such a person.  Umm, no.  It is basically pornography in print with several detailed and graphic descriptions of homosexual acts between males.  Besides this, as another reviewer noted, it is difficult to read because of character names changing, misspelled words, bad grammar, confusing sentence structure, inconsistent verb tenses, sloppy punctuation, and other typographical errors.  In the end, John and Aaron get married.  “Nough said!

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The Blue House: An Elder’s Lifelong Search for Meaning and Purpose

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Blue House: An Elder’s Lifelong Search for Meaning and Purpose

Author: Myrna Denham Porter, with Jacob Shefa

Publisher: Independently published, 2022

ISBN-13: 979-8785915688

ISBN-10: 8785915688

Language level: 

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Older teens and adults

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Biography

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Porter, Myrna Denham, with Shefa, Jacob.  The Blue House: An Elder’s Lifelong Search for Meaning and Purpose (Independently published in 2022).   This is a memoir of a woman who was born in 1940 into a family of seventeen children in a remote area of Saskatchewan, Canada, and grew up at the edge of the Canadian Prairies. It was an area where conditions were harsh, aspirations were low, and few attended high school. Inspired by her mother to further her education, Myrna left home at the age of fourteen to work as a nanny while attending high school. At the age of seventeen, she emigrated to the United States where she finished high school in Chicago, IL. After a successful career in the early sixties as a flight attendant, she married, raised two children, and obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

     When Myrna began her memoirs several years ago, her intention was to leave a legacy of strong values and a guide for “a life worth living” for her grandchildren as well as future generations. But as Myrna wrote, she began to realize that others might benefit from her story.  Myrna believes that “no woman is an island,” and she attributes her “life worth living” attitude to her combined parents’ Christian values as well as the other mentors along the way.  Commitment, persistence, hard work, love, and forgiveness, though harshly delivered by her father and lovingly delivered by her mother, were all part of Myrna’s early childhood.  Through her career and volunteer work, Myrna has made a difference in the lives of others. She believes that through these activities a sense of contentment and peace can be obtained.

     The book is not for young children.  A few vulgar terms are found in quotations of things that Myrna’s husband said to her in anger.  Otherwise, this book is very well written. Myrna’s love and admiration for her mother gave her strength and courage to face life’s challenges as did her religious values.  Both Myrna and her husband faced  cancer diagnoses.  He subsequently died. The Blue House is a fascinating book, revealing the introspective process which the author experiences as she examines her feelings and responses to events during her lifetime. It is a story interwoven with moral lessons, such as lives beginning in hardship can end with success, and meaning and purpose in life can be found by persevering one’s challenges.

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The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai

Author and Illustrator: Francois Place

Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1567922608

ISBN-10: 1567922600

Website(s): http://www.godine.com (publisher)

Language level:  1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages‎ 9 – 12

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Historical fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Place, Francois.  The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai (Originally published in French in by Editions Gallimard Jeunesse, Paris, France; republished in English in 2003 by David R. Godine Publisher, P. O. Box 450, Jaffrey, NH  03452).  Gakyorojin Hokusai was a real Japanese painter who lived from 1760 to 1849 in Edo, the old name for Tokyo, Japan, during what is known as the Edo period.  In this story, Tojiro, a nine-year-old orphan boy who lives with his uncle and aunt, sells his uncle’s rice cakes on the streets of Edo.  One of his customers is a grumpy, strange, old man named Hokusai who draws. The old man takes a liking to Tojiro, whom he affectionately refers to as “Sparrow,” and soon engages him as his assistant.   Can the artist overcome the boy’s ignorance and teach him how to draw?  Is Tojiro even willing to learn?  What kind of life will he choose?

     This heart warming book, originally written in French and translated into English by William Rodarmor, is lavishly illustrated on every page with both author Francois Place’s charming water color artwork and reproductions of Hokusai’s own drawings.  It is a pleasant read that would make an excellent literary complement to a homeschool study of Japan, with lots of information about Hokusai, as well as the technique of woodblock printing and the Japanese social customs of the period.  Hokusai’s sketchbooks, called manga, have had a big influence on modern Japanese cartoons.  To make the book more useful, an illustrated glossary is found in the back.

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Cross Intents, Volume 2: The Baptism

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Cross Intents, Volume 2: The Baptism

Author:  Scott R. Wells

Illustrator: Phil Elsner

Publisher: Illumify Media, 2022

ISBN-13: 978-1955043694 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1955043698 Hardcover

ISBN-13: ‎978-1955043687 Paperback

ISBN-10: 195504368X Paperback

Website(s):  http://www.AuthorScottWells.com (author), http://www.IllumifyMedia.com (publisher)

Language level:  1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level:  Ages 13 and up

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Historical Fantasy

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Wells, Scott R. Cross Intents, Volume 2: The Baptism (Published in 2022 by‎ Illumify Media Global).  Jesus has been born in Bethlehem of Judea, but Herod seeks to kill Him, so Joseph and Mary are instructed to flee, taking the Child to Egypt for safety.  Then, when it is time to go home, they learn that Herod’s son Archelaus is ruling in Judea, so Joseph is told to return to Nazareth in Galilee.  There, Jesus grows up, is educated in the Scriptures, gains four brothers and some sisters, learns to work in the carpenter’s trade with Joseph, and experiences the loss of His earthly father.  Eventually, His cousin, John, known as the Baptizer, begins His ministry to prepare the way of the Messiah.  While all this is occurring on earth, in the Middle Realm, Elric and the angels do battle with Molech and his demons to protect Jesus from the merciless devastation unleashed by His relentless enemies until He is old enough to begin His campaign.

     What will happen?  When will the King be revealed? When will He start His campaign?  The author writes, “The primary angelic characters in this story are fictional, and the specific actions they carry out are the simple musings of a single man.”  However, Christians believe that the historical events which are mentioned in the book about the life of Jesus Christ are true.  I have used the term “historical fantasy” to describe the “Cross Intents” books.  Author Scott Wells takes the actual facts from scripture and weaves through them what might have been the spiritual warfare going on at the time. The fact that the adventure continues non-stop makes it difficult to put down.  We know who finally wins, but at what cost?  The Baptism is Book 2 of 3 in the “Cross Intents” series.  In The Birth, the first book in the “Cross Intents” trilogy, Elric hides the location of the King’s birth.  Book 3 will be The Battle.

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The Lost City of Light: The Noland Kids Adventure Series, #2

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Lost City of Light: The Noland Kids Adventure Series, #2

Author: Mike Curtis 

Cover Illustrator: Elena Karoumpali

Publisher: Powerline Productions, 2022

ISBN-13: 979-8986466415

ISBN-10: 8986466415

Website(s):  http://www.powerlineprod.com (publisher)

Language level:  1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 12 – 17

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Mystery – Adventure

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Curtis, Mike.  The Lost City of Light: The Noland Kids Adventure Series, #2 (Published in 2022 by Powerline Productions, Lake Mary, FL).  The Noland kids—Caleb, now twenty, younger brother David, now eighteen, and younger sister Lizzy, now sixteen— live with their parents, Dave, a seminary professor, and Bethany.  While the young people are on a missions trip to the Congo in Africa, they learn that Kitoko and Juliette Kabambi, both college professors and the parents of twelve-year-old Lens Kabambi have mysteriously gone missing in their search for a lost city of light. The Nolands agree to help find them. But with dangers lurking around every corner, can they uncover the dusty clues to this ancient city and discover its long lost light?  Will they be able to rescue Lens’ parents and themselves?  And who is the unexpected enemy endangering their search?

     Wow!  Talk about adventure, excitement, and suspense!   With terrorist plots, volcanoes, gunfire, huge serpents, strange creatures, totally unexpected plot twists, heart-pounding and heart-rending backstories, mountain gorillas, more strange creatures, and an all-out, run-for-your-life ending The Lost City of Light has it all!  Plus examples of young folks ordering their ways according to God’s teaching and illustrations of how sharing the gospel can affect other people’s lives for good.  This is Book 2 of “The Noland Kids Adventure Series.”  The Noland kids are now eight years older since their first adventure.  The next two books are The Legend of the Craftsman King (No. 3), and The Secret of Paradise Cove (No. 4).

     There are several things to like about these faith-based adventure books. The relationships between the characters are good, and the evident love they had for the Lord is clear.  The author, Mike Curtis, does a great job of painting a picture with words as he cleverly intertwines good morals and adventure, drawing readers in so that readers feel like they’re part of the story and it’s very hard to put the book down.  The books are well written and well rounded, probing into the characters and even their flaws as well as their brighter and sometimes humorous sides.  Understanding the importance of what parents allow their children to put into their minds, I would agree with the reviewer who said, “These books are good seed. 100% recommended.”

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The Ruby in the Smoke: A Sally Lockhart Mystery, Book 1

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Ruby in the Smoke: A Sally Lockhart Mystery, Book 1

Author: Philip Pullman 

Cover Illustrator: Tony Meers

Publisher: Ember, Reprinted 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0375845161

ISBN-10: 037584516X

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: said to be for ages ‎ 12 – 17; I would say 16 and up

Rating: *** 3 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Mystery

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

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     Pullman,Philip. The Ruby in the Smoke: A Sally Lockhart Mystery, Book 1 (Published in Great Britain in 1985 by Oxford University Press and in the United States in 1987 by Alfred A.   Knopf Inc.; republished in 1996 by Sprinters Books, an imprint of Random House Inc., New York City, NY).  It is 1872, and sixteen-year-old Veronica (Sally) Lockhart is caught up in a mystery surrounding the death of her father, Matthew Lockhart, a partner in the shipping firm of Lockhart and Selby, when his ship, the Lavinia, went down in the Far East.  Sally, who now lives with her “Aunt Caroline” Rees but moves out and begins work with photographer Frederick Garland, receives several clues involving “the Seven Blessings,” a missing ruby, and sleazy opium dens.  Several people seem out to harm and even kill Sally.  What happened to the ruby?  Can Sally put the clues together to solve the mystery?  And will she even survive her investigation?

     There is a very interesting story here, but it is marred by several things.  Bad language includes using the name of God in vain as an exclamation, quite a bit of cursing (the “h” and “d” words), and some near-vulgar terms (e.g., bitch, bastard).  Instances of smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol occur.  A reference is made to “one class of well-dressed young women who moved in and out of hotels and restaurants” (i.e., prostitutes).  But the worst thing is the use of opium.  Even Sally goes under its influence once because it seems to help her remember certain events from her infancy that she had forgotten.  I would hesitate to recommend to a twelve year old a story that is centered on opium use, although I will admit that, in the end of the book, opium is pictured as something bad. 

    When I picked up the book on the free table at our library, the description sounded good, and I didn’t pay particular attention to the author’s name, or else I would probably left it alone.  Philip Pullman, an atheist, is also the author of “His Dark Materials” series beginning with The Golden Compass, in which I have been told (I have not read them) that he seeks to do for atheism what C. S. Lewis did for Christianity in “The Chronicles of Narnia.”  The Ruby in the Smoke is Book 1 of 4 in the “Sally Lockhart Mystery” series.  Book 2 is The Shadow in the North; Book 3 is The Tiger in the Well; and Book 4 is The Tin Princess.    To show Pullman’s world view and what he writes for readers as young as twelve, here is a synopsis of Book 2.  “Sally Lockhart realises she loves Frederick Garland almost too late in The Shadow in the North; they consummate their love and conceive their child hours before Frederick is killed in a fire started by associates of Axel Bellmann. Sally mourns the fact she and Fred never had a chance to marry and that their daughter, named Harriet, is illegitimate.”  Godly young people don’t need to be reading things like this.

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