Kristian’s War: The Searcher Series Volume 1

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

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Book: Kristian’s War: The Searcher Series Volume 1

Author: Peter Wisan

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017

ISBN-13: 978-1548504977

ISBN-10: 1548504971

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 15 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)

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

Wisan, Peter.  Kristian’s War: The Searcher Series Volume 1 (Published in 2017 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform).  Thirty one year old Kristian Anders, who had married his sweetheart Christi right after graduating from high school, is a dirt-poor farmer who lives in Comfort County, a land where evil forces take the form of men.  It is ruled by the Janissaires who maintain control through public executions, such as that of Kristian’s friend John Dabble.  Christi is now a bitter invalid who blames her husband for her condition, and the sins of Kristian’s past weigh heavily on his mind. When a stranger named Evan directs him to take a new path, Kristian becomes a searcher and begins the journey of a lifetime towards the distant True King who is supposed to be able to solve all problems.

However, a ruthless soldier is dispatched by the ruler of the dark land to capture or kill Kristian. Everything leads to one final fight, where Kristian must defeat the demons of his past or die.  Is there really a King?  If there is such a person, how can Kristian get to Him?  And with all his enemies, will he make it to see Him, or will he be destroyed?  Kristian’s War, Book 1 in “The Searcher Series,” is a modernized retelling of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress set in an authoritarian, military-controlled dystopia at some present or future time that combines fantasy, folklore, modern warfare, and faith.  This imaginative tale by Marine Corps veteran Peter Wisan allegorically explores a man’s spiritual journey, in which he must free himself from his past to find the King, and to do so must win a brutal war.

The gist of the story is that Kristian must stay on the straight path even when things or people try to knock him off. During his journey to the King, he encounters adversaries who seek to make him stumble or try to divert him. He comes upon forks in the road and faces obstacles such as Discourage, Staff Sergeant Past, and others, plus the evil soldiers who are hunting him and trying to stop him from continuing his journey to the King.  However, he also gets help from Grace, Pastor, and his daughters Hope and Faith.  While Kristian struggles along his journey the author shares what is going on with his wife at home.  The story line and action move the plot along at a quick pace and make it easy to read.   It is recommended for ages 15+ due to mild violence and somewhat disturbing themes such as abortion.

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The Snailman

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

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Book: The Snailman

Author: Brenda Sivers

Illustrator: Shirley Hughes

Publisher: Little Brown and Co., 1978

ISBN-13: 978-0316791182

ISBN-10: 0316791180

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)

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

Sivers, Brenda.  The Snailman (Published in 1978 by Little Brown and Company, Boston, MA).  Ten-year-old Timothy Eden has moved reluctantly with his parents from Croyden in south London to a cottage next to old Mr. Thompson, who he thinks must be about 100, on Orchard Lane near the dreary little village of Stourley in the country, where he is bullied by the three Payne brothers and ignored by everyone else.  His father is a medical illustrator who draws parts of the body for doctors’ books, and his mother is a secretary but hasn’t been able to find a job since the move.  Timothy is warned by the townspeople to stay away from Bob Mimm, the village outcast, known as Bob the Snailman, who weaves for a living and is thought to be crazy because he keeps snails as a hobby.

However, bored and lonely, Timothy nevertheless becomes the friend of Bob and finds that he not crazy at all.  The boy learns how to weave, likes Bob’s dog Crabby, and discovers that the snails have distinct identities too.  But when Crabby is falsely accused of hurting some cows belonging to a nearby farmer, Bob’s loom is smashed and his snail collection destroyed, and Timothy comes to the snailman’s defense.  How can the youngster help?  What dog is really causing the damage?  And who has vandalized Bob the Snailman’s things?  Besides a couple of euphemisms (danged, blast), Timothy’s father uses the “d” word and Mr. Thompson says “Lord” as an exclamation.   There is also a reference to drinking beer.

Other than that, this is a good story with a nice conclusion.  It certainly gives thoughtful insight into what makes a true friend and how destructive bullying and vindictiveness can be. As a result of all his problems and disappointments, Timothy could turn bitter, but he finds enlightenment as the unconventional Snailman tells him that the real troublemaker should be “”pitied more’n punished.””  Thus, Timothy learns an important lesson.  There is also a listing for a book entitled Timothy and the Snailman by the same author.  However, I was unable to determine if it is actually a sequel or simply a reissue of the same book by another publisher under a slightly different title.

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Forgive the River, Forgive the Sky

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

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Book: Forgive the River, Forgive the Sky

Author: Gloria Whelan

Cover Designer: Matthew K. VanZomeren

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, republished 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0802851550 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 080285155X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0802852564 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0802852564 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.eerdmans.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 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)

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

Whelan, Gloria.  Forgive the River, Forgive the Sky (Published in 1998 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of the Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 255 Jefferson Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI  49503).  Twelve-year-old Lily Star lives with her mother at Rivertown on the Sandy River in northern Michigan.  Since her father had died a year earlier of a heart attack while fishing in the river they both love, her mother must sell the family’s rural forty acres along the river to the mysterious T. R. Tracy, and the two move to a small apartment over the hardware store in town which the family owns.  T. R. is a former test pilot whose legs have been disabled in an airplane accident, and both he and Lily are angry at the changes forced upon them by fate. Lily is terribly attached to her previous home and connects its loss with the loss of her father, blaming the river, while the paraplegic former pilot blames the sky.

Lily watches fences going up around her former home and resolves that they won’t keep her out, while the newcomer just wants to be left alone.  After their initial suspicions of each other, Lily and T. R. begin to bond when they nurse an injured bird back to health.   Does the girl ever come to terms with her loss?  Is there anything that she can do to help T. R. accept his condition and move on with his life?  Will the two manage to forge a friendship?  This is a story about accepting the death of a parent and accepting someone who is very different, both of which are worthy themes. The first-person narrative should help readers to identify with the irresistible Lily and her problems, and the northern Michigan setting adds color.

Some professional critics don’t like the book.  School Library Journal says, “The episodic story line is simply not compelling enough to bear out the serious themes that Whelan introduces in the very late chapters,” and, “the sum of this novel’s disjointed parts don’t quite add up to the whole of the poignant resolution.”  Kirkus Reviews calls it a “patchy” novel, saying, “The story never really comes together.”  With all due respect, I’m sorry, but I liked it, especially how the two main characters come to an acceptance of their respective situations.  The ending wasn’t exactly what I was expecting or even what I wanted, but it was a good and satisfying conclusion.  Author Gloria Whelan won the National Book Award for her Homeless Bird.

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The Mystery of the Laughing Cat: Ten Commandments Mysteries, Book 1

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

cat

Book: The Mystery of the Laughing Cat: Ten Commandments Mysteries, Book 1

Author: Elspeth Campbell Murphy

Illustrator: Chris Wold Dyrud

Publisher: Chariot Family Pub., 1988

ISBN-13: 978-1555136499

ISBN-10: 1555136494

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 7-10

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=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 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

Murphy, Elspeth CampbellThe Mystery of the Laughing Cat: The Ten Commandments Mysteries, Book 1 (Published in 1988 by Chariot Books, an imprint of David C. Cook Publishing Co., Elgin, IL  60120).  Sarah-Jane (S.-J.) and her cousins, Timothy (Tim) and Titus (Ti) are being taken to the flea market by her dad.  There they learn that a coin dealer has just had some of his best rare coins stolen.  S.-J. purchases a figurine of a laughing cat for $3.00.  While the saleslady is looking for a bag to put it in, a woman comes up and asks to buy the cat.  She is told that it is sold and angrily huffs away.  The children find out that the cat is really a bank and hear something clinking around inside it.

While Ti is looking for comic books and Tim for buttons, the woman returns and offers S.-J. $6.00 for the cat, but S.-J. says no.  The woman keeps following them around and later actually tries to steal the cat.  What does she want with it?  Why does she continue to follow the kids?  And what is in the cat?  The Mystery of the Laughing Cat is Book 1 of ten in the Ten Commandments Mysteries Series.  This series highlights the meaning behind the Ten Commandments couched in an enjoyable mystery series for kids.  As the three cousins figure out this mystery at the flea market, they learn about the commandment “You shall not steal.”

The series includes books at about first grade independent reading level, and younger, ages 2-5, for read aloud. At the end of this book, the three cousins form the T.C.D.C. (that’s the Three Cousins Detective Club).  Author Elspeth Campbell Murphy went on to write the exciting Three Cousins Detective Club Series of thirty chapter books for readers ages 7-10 that feature the further escapades of the famous detective-cousins Timothy, Titus, and Sarah-Jane, beginning with The Mystery of the White Elephant, which I have read and reviewed.  While the three cousins are solving mysteries, they’re also learning about living God’s way.

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The Skeleton and the Lantern: MotoMysteries Book 1

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

skeleton

Book: The Skeleton and the Lantern: MotoMysteries Book 1

Author: Sherri Kukla

Publisher: S & S Publishing, 2019

ISBN-13: 978-1697455281

ISBN-10: 169745528X

Related website(s): http://www.sherrikukla.com (author), http://www.ssormag.com (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 9 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)

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

Kukla, Sherri.  The Skeleton and the Lantern: MotoMysteries Book 1 (Publisher in 2019 by S & S Publishing Inc., Borrego Springs, CA  92004).  Jeremiah and Millie Anderson live with their parents Max and Norah.  The whole family rides off road motorcycles.  Both kids are homeschooled and adopted, but for some reason Millie’s adoption finalization is being held up.  Their father’s big dream, instilled into him by his own grandfather, is to buy a piece of property in the desert near Dry Brook, CA, and start a ranch where troubled children can do motocross.  Finally, the desired property is put up for sale, but problems with the purchase keep popping up.  While camping near the property, the Andersons hear stories from a fellow camper called Minnesota Mike about a lost gold mine on it guarded by a ghostly skeleton with a lantern.  These are similar to legends that Max had heard as a child from his grandfather.

Then one night Jeremiah and Millie actually see the skeleton and the lantern.  Are they for real?  Does their family get the property and find the gold mine?  Will Millie’s adoption ever go through?  And is there any connection between the skeleton, the property, and the adoption?   The Skeleton and the Lantern, which is Book 1 of the MotoMysteries Series, is a great faith-based middle grade kids’ mystery-adventure story that will have readers on the edge of their seats with all its twists and turns and multiple challenges.  There are a couple of common euphemisms (i.e., darn and heck), but the short chapters, which alternate between Jeremiah’s and Millie’s viewpoints, are perfect for reluctant readers.

Several engrossing subplots full of suspense and action are woven into the fast-moving storyline which will keep one interested from chapter to chapter, each of which ends with a cliffhanger to get the reader wanting more.  Young folks who like dirt bikes and the desert will especially appreciate the book, which is well written and easy to read, but one doesn’t have to be an “off-roader” or know much about motorcycles to enjoy it, and it can be savored by anyone, even adults, with its refreshing family friendly content.  Also it has some great life lessons that parents will appreciate as well.  It is always encouraging to read good fiction in which families conduct their lives and seek to find solutions to their difficulties based on genuine trust in God.  Book 2 will be entitled Ghost Lights of Dry Brook.

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I Won’t Let Them Hurt You

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

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Book: I Won’t Let Them Hurt You

Author: Linda Barr

Publisher:  iUniverse, republished 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0595001866

ISBN-10: 0595001866

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 14 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)

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

Barr, Linda.  I Won’t Let Them Hurt You (Published in 1988 by Willowisp Press Inc., 401 E. Wilson Bridge Rd., Worthington, OH  43085).  Fourteen year old Katie Weber, a ninth grader at Northview High School, lives with her mother, who works for an insurance company.  Her parents had divorced when Katie was barely two years old.  Her best friend at school is Liz Humphrey.  Katie has been asked to go to the Spring Dance by Scott Dennis, so to make the money to buy a new dress she has been babysitting two year old Justin Stuart.  Justin’s father is the new vice-president of the biggest bank in town, and his mother Anne seems very sweet.

Scott’s parents have a new foster child, three and a half year old Laura, who had been terribly abused with permanent brain damage from shaking.  Katie starts to find bruises on Justin, and she can’t help but notice some changes in him that are similar to Laura’s behavior.  Is he being abused?  If so, by whom?  Should she say anything?  Who would believe what she suspects? What if she’s wrong?  Child abuse is a very serious situation that needs to be dealt with forthrightly, and this book certainly raises awareness regarding the problem.

I have but one caveat.  Before charging someone with abusing a child, make absolutely sure that there is not some other cause.  I have known of families who were put through hellish nightmares when it turned out that their child’s bruises and injuries were actually the result of some rare medical condition, but over-zealous social workers refused to consider that possibility.  I Won’t Let Them Hurt You is a spell-bounding, page-turning book that is very realistic.  Linda Barr has also written Secret of the Seaside and Emily’s Secret.

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A Family for Thanksgiving

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

thanksgiving

Book: A Family for Thanksgiving

Author: Patricia Davids

Publisher: Love Inspired, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0373875603

ISBN-10: 0373875606

Related website(s): http://www.SteepleHill.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)

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

Davids, Patricia.  A Family for Thanksgiving (Published in 2009 by Love Inspired, an imprint of Steeple Hill Books, 233 Broadway, New York City, NY).  Nicki Appleton, 25 years old, lives in High Plains, KS, and works as a teacher in a day care center.  Clay Logan, her high school sweetheart whom she once expected to marry, left town the day after graduation, sending only a post card saying, “You’re better off without me.”  Clay had been a little wild in his youth, and he blamed himself for his parents’ death in a car crash while rushing to bail him out of jail.  His older brother Jesse blamed him too.  Then a devastating tornado rips through the area.  Jesse’s wife Marie is killed, leaving him with infant triplets.  After the storm, an unidentified two-year-old girl was found wandering all alone.

Nicki agrees to be a foster mother in hopes of adopting the child whom she calls Kasey because of the initials K. C. inside her shirt. Then suddenly Clay Logan returns to High Plains.  Nicki still has feelings for him but, with her energy focused on a child whom she may not be able to keep, must guard her heart so as not to be hurt again.  Clay, who claims to be a changed cowboy, also has feelings for Nicki but must be careful not to impose himself where he may not be wanted.  Can the two former lovers overcome their obstacles to renew their relationship?  Is Clay able to reconcile with his brother?  And what will happen to Kasey?

A Family for Thanksgiving is the first of the Love Inspired series “After the Storm.”  The theme of family plays a big role in this book. Clay comes back to his family, both Jesse and their sister Maya. Maya, her husband Greg Harrison, and their children Layla and Tommy are trying to form a family through Maya and Greg’s marriage and through adopting Tommy. Nicki is forging a family with Kasey. And, in a way, the whole town is one big family, helping each other out after the storm.  This book in the series focuses mainly on Clay and Nicki, though we do get some glimpses into the other characters in the series as well.

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