A Journey to Unshakable Faith

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: A Journey to Unshakable Faith

Author: Sydney Witbeck

Publisher: Book Baby, 2021

ISBN-13: 9781098389888

ISBN-10: 1098389888

Related website(s): https://www.ajourneytounshakablefaith.com (book)

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 8-14

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Category: 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

     Witbeck, Sydney.  A Journey to Unshakable Faith (Published in 2021 by Book Baby).  Fourteen year old Esther is a princess, the daughter of Pellingor and Ariana, king and invalid queen of Alvastia.  Their castle is surrounded by enemy soldiers under General Ornus, leader of the northern army of Malon, the older brother of Pellingor, who was disinherited because of his rebellion against their father but has now returned to conquer Alvastia.  For her own safety, the king and queen send Esther through a secret passageway exit to Talenthor, the homeland of her mother’s people.  Caught by Malon’s scouts, she is secretly let go by a young soldier.  At Talenthor, Esther is befriended by Reia, a girl her own age, and Reia’s family, with whom she stays.  Will Esther ever be able to return home?  What has happened to Alvastia and her parents?   And why did that soldier in Malon’s troop allow her to escape?

     A Journey to Unshakable Faith has a strong good versus evil theme firmly based on a Biblical worldview.  Scriptures quoted throughout the book are footnoted.  The main take away is trust in God, who is real, no matter what happens, as illustrated by Esther’s growth in both faith and courage.  While author Sydney Witbeck, who is seventeen and homeschooled, says that the book is “the result of hearing how many moms were looking for fiction novels for girls that were both clean and Christian,” and the central character is a girl, a young man plays a vital role in the story, and there is enough excitement in the final battle scene, without being gory, to appease the appetite of any red-blooded American boy.  I certainly enjoyed it.  As one reviewer wrote, “I was really impressed by how clean this novel was.”

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Hymns of the Father: The Trinity Project Volume 1

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Hymns of the Father: The Trinity Project Volume 1

Authors: Cameron Frank, Preston Norman, and Nathan Drake

Cover Designer: Cameron Frank

Publisher: A Frank Voice Publishing, 2021

ISBN-13: 979-8477294664 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 8477294664 Hardcover

‏ISBN-13: 978-1732458499 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1732458499 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.afrankvoice.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: Teens and adults

Rating: ***** (5 stars)

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

Category: Non-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 to a library.  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

     Frank, Cameron; Norman, Preston; and Drake, NathanHymns of the Father: The Trinity Project Volume 1 (Published in 2021 by A Frank Voice Publishing).  I love hymns.  And I love studying the history, background, meaning, and application of hymns.  This book is a 28-day devotional journey through a look at twenty hymns.  Each week is structured to take the reader through a specific element of the Father’s character and reflect on Him—Creation, Grace, Faithfulness, and Worship, with the week having five days of hymns (lyrics of hymn, history behind it, devotional, Scripture reading, and response/questions), one day of reflection based on the week’s theme (a devotion, Scripture reading, and response/questions), then one day of prayer (a written prayer focusing on the reflection of the past week).

     Most of the hymns are quite familiar to everyone, such as “This Is My Father’s World,” “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “and Holy Holy Holy;” a few might be a little less well known to some, like “Here Is Love Vast as the Ocean.”  Hymns of the Father is designed to spend four weeks experiencing the presence and person of God the Father through a musical journey of timeless hymns that begins at creation and ends in our response of worship.  One can go deeper than the hymnal to learn the inspiring and encouraging stories behind the hymns and connect the words of the hymns to Scripture in a unique and thought-provoking way.  Volume 2, Hymns of the Son, reflects on Jesus through hymns focused on salvation, sacrifice, sanctification, and communion with Christ.  And Volume 3, Hymns of the Spirit, points out that the Spirit is our source of daily comfort, guidance, and purification, and that through the Spirit we worship.

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The Accounts of Benny’s Diner and Other Stories

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Accounts of Benny’s Diner and Other Stories

Author and Cover Artist: D. F. Lopez

Publisher: Xulon Press, 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1498483865

ISBN-10: 1498483860

Related website(s): http://www.xulonpress.com (publisher)

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: Ages 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: 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 to a library.  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

     Lopez, D. F. The Accounts of Benny’s Diner and Other Stories (Published in 2016 by Xulon Press).  This book consists of stories that revolve around a central theme, namely the end time era.  Most of them are related to a small diner in New York called Benny’s diner.  At the beginning, small coincidences are finding June, a waitress at the diner, closer and closer to the conception of the end of the world. After her fiancé confides in her concerning the end of days, June must reconcile her ways to God in penance form.  The following stories lead up to and involve “the rapture,” of which the back of the book says, “The rapture, a word not used in the Bible (but it’s event is)” [sic].  It is definitely true that the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible.  Whether “it’s event is” or not depends upon what one means by the word.

     If one uses the word “rapture” simply to mean that Jesus will return to raise all the dead at the same hour (John 5:28-29), the righteous living will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:50-52), we shall all be caught up together to be with the Lord in the air forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), and the wicked will be punished with everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), that is fine because this is exactly what the Bible teaches.  But most people use the word to mean that Jesus will return once secretly for his saints, suddenly the righteous dead will be raised and the righteous living will disappear, both to be “raptured” in the air for seven years while “the great tribulation” will occur among those left on earth culminating in the “battle of Armageddon,” when Jesus will return again with his saints to defeat the foes and establish His literal kingdom on earth for a thousand years. From some fifty years of studying the Bible, I am convinced that this latter concept is not taught in God’s word but is the result of a misunderstanding and misapplication of several portions of Scripture, especially Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew chapter 24, and Revelation.

     In asking if I would do a book review, the author, David Frank Lopez, told me, “I fight schizophrenia. And I wrote a novel of short stories centered around the rapture. It is a book of comfort. Not doom and gloom. Rather, hope, love.”  In The Accounts of Benny’s Diner, there are references to drinking wine and beer and smoking cigarettes.  Terms like “My God” and “Jesus” are used as exclamations, along with some near vulgarity (e.g., bas*ard).  Miracles are performed, and people are told to be saved by saying “that sinner’s prayer.”  If taken as a simple warning to be ready for Christ’s return, the stories in the book are themselves interesting to read, although I sometimes had some confusion and a little difficulty comprehending exactly what was going on.  I would probably have understood and appreciated the book more if I accepted pre-tribulation dispensational premillennialism (which I don’t), or had some experience with someone who had suffered from schizophrenia—or both.

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The Prize-Winning Story

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Prize-Winning Story

Author: Ken Yoder Reed 

Cover Illustrator: P. J. Crook

Publisher: Root Source Press, 2021

ISBN-13: 978-9657738221

ISBN-10: ‎9657738229

Related website(s): http://www.root-press.com (publisher0

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: Ages 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: General 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 to a library.  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

     Reed, Ken Yoder.  The Prize-Winning Story (Published in 2021 by Root Source Press, Love of the Land Street #1, Maale Hever, DN Har Hebron, Israel).  It is November, 2016, and Vladimir “Pastor Vladdy” Krakow is a sixty three year old ex-hippie minister from San Francisco, CA, who has a twice weekly, one hour radio program For Zion’s Sake, and is leading fourteen pilgrims on his fifteenth tour of the Holy Land.  He lands Major Eli Bloom, Israel’s top counter-terrorist, as their licensed guide.  Vladdy and Eli devise a story-telling contest with a $5,000 prize.  As they visit various sites in Israel, different pilgrims tell their stories, in similar fashion to The Canterbury Tales.  Who wins the contest?  Where does Eli go when called away on a secret mission?  And how does Vladdy answer the question “What about the Palestinians?”  The book is called a satire, so it’s difficult to know exactly how to take it.  The “d” and “h” words are used as curses, and the terms “O my God” and “Gawd” are found as exclamations.  “Pastor” Vladdy is divorced and remarried.  And there are references to drinking beer.

     Publisher’s Weekly noted, “No satiric novel about the Middle East could please all readers.”  The theme of the book is stated by the author, Ken Yoder Reed, who wrote, “When people talk about Christians replacing Jews as God’s Chosen People, we need to say NO, God doesn’t change His mind.”  The position to which Reed says NO is often called Replacement Theology or Fulfillment Theology, and many devout Bible believers do not share Reed’s view.   Another reviewer expressed it as well as I could, saying, “A particular school of biblical interpretation called Replacement Theology is demonized by several characters….Characters call all proponents of this teaching anti-Semitic and Dr. Michael Brown states, ‘A straight line runs from Replacement Theology to Hitler and the Final Solution for the “Problem of the Jews.”’ While this theology has been used to rationalize terrible violence against Jews, it is not the cause of such crimes. There are many sincere Christians who believe Replacement Theology and are not anti-Semitic.”

      Blaming Christians today for 1600 years of persecution of the Jews, including the Holocaust, often led by so-called “Christian leaders,” is like blaming all Jews today for the crucifixion of Christ.  All racial and ethnic prejudice is wrong.  It seems that in the current climate, anyone who expresses any sort of criticism, however mild, of Israel or Judaism is called “anti-Semitic.”  I certainly believe in the right of the Jewish people to be secure in their homeland, and I support the State of Israel as the only democratically governed nation in the Middle East, but not because of what I am convinced is a misinterpretation of the Bible.  I really did not care for the book because of its theology, with which I strongly disagree, but from a purely literary standpoint, the plot of the novel itself is very engaging, the stories told by the pilgrims are intriguing, and the information presented about the history and geography of the area, assuming that it is all accurate, is quite fascinating.

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Stories of the Hymns

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Stories of the Hymns

Authors: Glenn Rawson, Jean Tonioli, and Jason Tonioli

Publisher: Rawson and Tonioli, 2021

ISBN-13: 9781685242503

ISBN-10: 1685242503

Related website(s): http://www.TONIOLI.com (author), http://www.GlennRawsonStories.com (author)

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: Suitable for everyone

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Category: Non-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 to a library.  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

     Rawson, Glenn; Tonioli, Jean; and Tonioli, Jason.  Stories of the Hymns (Published in 2021 by Rawson and Tonioli).   I have been studying the history and background of hymns for over forty years, during which time I published hymn studies on various e-mail lists, one of which was a daily “Hymn of the Day” for a number of years.  Currently, I have a “Hymn Studies” blog where I post a new hymn study each week.  As a result, I have amassed quite a collection of books about hymn stories, including one of my own entitled Songs of Zion and consisting of around one-hundred of my older hymn studies.  The latest one that I have added to my shelf is Stories of the Hymns by Rawson and Tonioli.

     This book of stories is intended to bring to life and give new perspective on the origin stories behind 41 of the most famous Christian hymns. It is not a music book but a story book with inspirational accounts that delve deeper into how the authors and composers wrote some of the most beloved hymns that cross denominational lines.  The stories are written to be three to six minutes long and should work perfectly for use as a spiritual thought to start a class or meeting. Or they could be read for personal devotions.  These stories will help the reader to look forever at many of these songs differently and sing them with greater intent. The book would make a fantastic gift for anyone who loves music and the hymns.  The authors hope that each story will bring greater meaning to worship.

     Glenn Rawson has been telling inspirational stories for over 30 years and now broadcasts throughout the United States on more than 50 radio stations each week.  Jean Tonioli is a former elementary school teacher who is currently on the Adjunct Faculty at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.  Jason Tonioli started piano lessons when he was in Kindergarten and has typically been known for his solo piano work and piano solo hymn arrangements.  Some of the selections in Stories of the Hymns are well known, such as John Newton’s “Amazing Grace” and James Black’s “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,” while others are perhaps a bit more obscure, like “Behold a Royal Army” by Fanny Crosby and “God Is Love” by Thomas Rawson Taylor.  There is an index of hymns but not of authors.  The book is identified as “Volume 1,” so I assume that we can expect future companions.

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Building Blocks

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Building Blocks

Author: Cynthia Voigt 

Jacket Illustrator: Eileen McKeating

Publisher: Sagebrush, republished 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0613450188 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0613450183 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0590477321 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0590477323 Paperback

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: Ages 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: 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 to a library.  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

     Voigt, Cynthia.  Building Blocks (Published in 1984 by Point Books, an imprint of Atheneum Publishers, New York City, NY).  What would it be like to be older than your father?  It is the summer of 1974, and twelve-year-old Brann Connell lives in New York with his father Kevin, who has a “lousy draftsman job” and wants to keep a farm which he has inherited in Pennsylvania near where he grew up, and his mother Diane, who has scored in the Number one percentile on her New York law school aptitude test and wants to sell the farm so that she can quit her job at Legal Aid to go to law school in New York.  There are also two older siblings, Harry, in college, and Sarah, a senior in high school.  Brann, who believes that his father is a “loser,”  is sick of hearing his parents argue all the time and thinks that his dad could stand up for himself more, instead of building a wall of excuses to hide behind.

     To escape the dispute, Brann creeps into the basement and falls asleep in the middle of a fortress of old building blocks belonging to his dad.  When he awakens, he has traveled back in time some thirty years to a different age when his father was only ten, two years younger than himself.  What was his dad like as a child?  Does Brann learn any lessons from this experience?  And will he ever be able to get back to his own day?  The language is a bit rough for children.  Brann’s friend Marty Elliot is said to consider his own dad “pretty much of a horse’s a**.”  There are references to having to “pee,” Brann uses the “h” word, and the term “Lord” is found as an interjection.  Also, mention is made of drinking beer.  Otherwise, Building Blocks is an interesting story of how Brann comes to understand his father’s defeatism and aloofness.

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The Chase Study Guide: Revealing the 3G Lifestyle for the Christian Life

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Book: The Chase Study Guide: Revealing the 3G Lifestyle for the Christian Life

Authors: Mario Busacca and Hoyt A. Byrum

Publisher: Koehler Books, 2021

ISBN-13: 978-1646634958 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1646634950 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1646634934 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1646634934 Paperback

Related website(s):

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:  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: Bible study

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 to a library.  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

     Busacca, Mario, and Byrum, Hoyt A.  The Chase Study Guide: Revealing the 3G Lifestyle for the Christian Life (Published in 2021 by Koehler Books, 3705 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach, VA  23455).  The Chase is a novel in which the main character, Tony Hunter, is an unbeliever who comes to understand through various circumstances, including the birth of twins, serious illness of his wife, and death of his father, that God is chasing him.  This study guide is written for members of small groups who come together to experience what Tony experienced: friends who will accept you as you are; friends who will listen to your story with no judgment; friends who will respond to you with truth and love. It lays out these principles and allows for differing points of view to be developed and analyzed in a forum of learning and personal growth.

      There are six sessions based on readings from the novel, which promotes the “3G” (Grace—Gratitude—Generosity) lifestyle, and the Study Guide is intended to help people learn how develop that lifestyle.   Each session includes an opportunity to tell “My Story,” questions to discover the “Biblical Perspective,” and an “Application” section with an action step.  As with any work by men, especially on the subject of religion, there will be portions with which people of differing backgrounds may disagree.  For example, the authors quote Jefferson Bethke as saying, “Religion says do. Jesus says done. Religion is man searching for God. Jesus is God searching for man. Religion is pursuing God by our moral efforts. Jesus is God pursuing us despite our moral efforts. Religious people kill for what they believe. Jesus followers die for what they believe.”

    I think that I understand what Bethke is trying to say, and there is some truth in it, but it paints with such a broad brush that it can easily be misunderstood and misapplied and the baby thrown out with the bathwater, especially since God’s word explicitly endorses and promotes “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father” (James 1:27).  However, I find very helpful the observation about Tony’s experiencing the death of his father.  “The events that follow in The Chase show how God can take terrible situations that He did not cause and use them for His own purposes.  You may not buy into that thought.  The idea that God uses bad things for good seems to many to be a cop-out.   But the reality is that Jesus never promised us a rose garden.  Life for all of us can be hard, and it can be cruel….However, it is the way in which we respond to those events that makes the difference.”

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The Chase

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Chase

Authors: by Mario Busacca and Hoyt A. Byrum

Publisher: Koehler Books, 2021

ISBN-13: 978-1646633760 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1646633768 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1646633746 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1646633741 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.koehlerbooks.com (publisher)

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: 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: General 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 to a library.  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

     Busacca, Mario, and Byrum, Hoyt A.  The Chase (Published in 2021 by Koehler Books, 3705 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach, VA  23455).  Tony Hunter, a 6’1”, 210-pound thirty-something, lives with his wife Beth in a medium sized town.  He runs for exercise and works as an engineer at one of the larger local firms in town, but is angry because he has just been passed over for a promotion.  Also, Tony and Beth are at odds over the timing of having children.  Their best friends are Dave and Sarah Worthington.   Beth, Dave, and Sarah all attend church together, but Tony has been poisoned against religion by his father Tom after the death of Tony’s mother.  Then when Tony and Beth have twins, Christina and Joey, Tony begins to question his unbelief.  Can he find a meaningful relationship with God?  What are the factors that influence him as he goes about trying to do so?  And how will all of this affect his relationship with his father?

    As a novel, The Chase is quite easy to read, but it is also intended to be profoundly challenging for the person who wants to be “right with God,” leading the reader through some pivotal decisions and providing a simple structure, called the 3-G lifestyle, for living the Christian life.  Author Mario Busacca wrote in a letter to me, “We are not sure how appropriate these are for students that are not adults,” and I would agree that the book is not for young children, but mature, older teens, especially those who are facing challenges to their faith, might find it beneficial.   In addition to some common euphemisms, there is a bit of bad language as both the “d” and “h” words appear as cursing and the phrase “O my God” is used as an exclamation.

     As with any story remotely “religious,” various people may find different things to which they object depending on their theological background.  One aspect that did not sit well with me was what I thought was an overly large number of references to drinking beer (and a few hard liquors too).  Even “Pastor” Bob is willing to have a beer with the guys, saying, “I know many pastors do not believe it is appropriate to drink alcohol.  And I respect that.  However, many pastors, including myself, believe that while the abuse of alcohol is wrong, it is okay to have an occasional drink.”  The plan of salvation is typical Protestant evangelicalism.  “You simply say a prayer that acknowledges that God has a wonderful plan for you, acknowledge that you are a sinner and that your sin separates you from Him and ask for His forgiveness.”  Otherwise, the book is interesting and enjoyable.

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The Trespassers

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Trespassers

Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder 

Publisher: Yearling, republished 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0385310550 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0385310552 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0440412779 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0440412773 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.microweb.com/lsnyder/ (author), http://www.randomhouse.com (publisher)

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: Ages 9 – 12

Rating: **** 4 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 to a library.  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

     Snyder, Zilpha Keatley.  The Trespassers (Published in 1995by ‎ Delacorte Press, New York City, NY  10036; republished in 1996 by Yearling Books, an imprint of Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York City, NY  10036).  It is the summer after she finishes fifth grade, and Cornelia (Neely) Bradford, age eleven, lives near Carmel, CA, with her father John who owns the Sea Mist Motel, mother Connie, and eight-year-old brother Gregory (Grub), and is trying to entertain her little brother.  Her older siblings, Aaron, Julie, and Lucinda, are all gone from home.   Neely and Grub accidentally find a way to sneak into Halcyon House, a magnificent mansion nearby that was built in 1910 by wealthy businessman Harold Hutchinson but has been deserted for years, and inside discover a wonderful  playroom full of fabulous old-fashioned toys which becomes their secret hideaway.

    However, they hear rumors that the house is haunted by the ghost of a ten year old girl named Monica who died in the mansion.  Then relatives of the owner suddenly return to live at Halcyon House. Neely befriends their odd, troubled son Curtis Hutchinson, a boy her own age whose wild boasts and black moods make her uneasy.  He first accuses them of being trespassers and threatens to have them arrested but soon wants them to play with him.  Then Neely is warned by the housekeeper Carmen to protect her little brother.  From whom does he need protection, and why?  Is it possibly the ghost of Monica?  Or could there be a more present-day evil lurking in Halcyon House?

     In The Trespassers, author Zilpha Keatley Snyder, who won Newbery Honor Awards for The Witches of Worm (1973), The Headless Cupid (1972), and perhaps her most famous book The Egypt Game (1968), has created a Gothic type mystery young people with a truly suspenseful, haunting story line.  There are references to drinking wine and smoking cigarettes.  The phrase “for God’s sake” is found as an exclamation, and Curtis uses the “h” word a couple of times.  However, there is a deep abiding love between brother and sister and a protectiveness that shines through.  The School Library Journal said, “The Trespassers is a well-written alternative to mass-market thrillers, appropriate for youngsters who like to shiver–but not too much.”

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Jesus’ Silent Years Volume 2: Parable

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Jesus’ Silent Years Volume 2: Parable

Author: Vance Shepperson

Illustrator: Dorine Deen

Publisher: Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2021

ISBN-13: 978-1952025563

ISBN-10: 1952025567

Related website(s): https://vanceshepperson.com/ (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: Ages 18 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: Historical fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Shepperson, Vance.  Jesus’ Silent Years Volume 2: Parable (Published in 2021 by Carpenter’s Son Publishing, Nashville, TN).  Jesus’ Silent Years: Parable is Volume 2 in the “Jesus’ Silent Years” series.  Volume I, Foundations, covers Jesus’s youth from ages 12-18.  This second volume continues to follow along in the story of Jesus’ Silent Years from ages 18-23 as He goes to Rome, survives a shipwreck and attempted murder, and falls in love with the emperor’s granddaughter. In it Jesus matures through temptation, doubt, and longing to follow the classic path of the hero.  Parable is a bit more raw and earthy than its predecessor.  Since Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, it does not bother me that Jesus is pictured as dealing with sexual temptations.  As one person said, “Jesus doesn’t have an affair with the Roman emperor’s favorite granddaughter, but the opportunities are certainly there.”

     However, what I do not care for are all the discussions about and descriptions of sexual activity, with references to incest, brothels, and such like, and other sex talk.  I would not necessarily call it pornographic, but it is rather graphic.  Yes, I know the Bible mentions sexual immorality, but it does not fixate on it as this book seems to do.  And the language is rather “adult” and some of it what I consider vulgar.  Someone was said to be “pissed off.”  Another said, “No one gave a rat’s ass about” an individual.  There is a reference to a couple’s “hope for getting laid.”  Mention is made of sucking “boobs.”  A person is described as being “not even an asshole.”  And insofar as cursing is concerned, I just cannot imagine Jesus saying that an injury “Stung like hell” as He is pictured in the book.

     As a purely literary work, the book tells an interesting story and is easy to read.  Just keep in mind the Publisher’s Note.  “This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.”  The author even made the following admission.  “This series of four books, entitled Jesus’ Silent Years, is a work of historical fiction—more often fiction.  I worked at telling the truth by making up lies.”  And one positive reviewer wrote, “And if you would rather keep thinking of those years in Jesus’s life as ‘silent,’ it’s probably best if you move on.…there’s nothing to see here.”  I would agree.  Volume III, Journey, covers ages 23-26, and Volume IV is Homecoming.

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