Thor Heyerdahl: Across the Seas of Time

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Thor Heyerdahl: Across the Seas of Time

Author: Paul Westman 

Publisher: ‎ Dillon Press, 1982

ISBN-13: 978-0875182254

ISBN-10: 0875182259

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: 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

     Westman,Paul.  Thor Heyerdahl: Across the Seas of Time (Published in 1982 by Dillon Press Inc., 500 S. 3rd St., Minneapolis, MN  55415).  When I was growing up, I had a fascination with the “South Seas,” and one of my favorite books was Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl (October 6, 1914–April 18, 2002), a Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer with a background in zoology, botany and geography. Heyerdahl is most notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947, in which he sailed 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean in a hand-built raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands. The expedition was designed to demonstrate that ancient people could have made long sea voyages, creating contacts between societies.

      Heyerdahl made other voyages and visits to demonstrate the possibility of contact between widely separated ancient peoples, notably an expedition to Easter Island In 1955–1956, resulting in the international best-seller Aku-Aku; the 1969 and 1970 Ra and Ra II boats made from papyrus to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco on the west coast of Africa, chronicled in The Ra Expeditions; and the reed boat Tigris in 1977 which was intended to demonstrate that trade and migration could have linked Mesopotamia with the Indus Valley Civilization in what is now Pakistan and western India, as told in The Tigris Expedition.

     In the years that followed, Heyerdahl was often outspoken on issues of international peace and the environment.  He died on April 18, 2002, in Colla Micheri, Liguria, Italy, while visiting close family members. When I saw this biography of the Norwegian explorer, whose many voyages were undertaken to prove his theories about the migration patterns of ancient people, on the free shelf at our local library, I immediately picked it up. It is part of the “Taking Part Books” series of children’s biographies about famous twentieth century personalities published by Dillon Press.  This one gives a good overview of Thor Heyerdahl’s life and activities up to about 1981.

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Do Superheroes Play the Piano?

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Do Superheroes Play the Piano?

Author: Denise Shick

Illustrator: Yana Popova

Publisher: Shick and Popova, 2021

ISBN-13: 978-1736595169

ISBN-10: 1736595164

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 6-8

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Category: Children’s book

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

     Shick, Denise.  Do Superheroes Play the Piano? (Published in 2021 by Shick and Popova ). Lucas and Ricky are friends who love to play superheroes together after school.   One day Lucas hears Ricky’s sister, Allison, playing the piano. The beautiful music makes him want to learn to play the piano too. But Ricky tells him, “Boys don’t play the piano. That’s girl stuff.”   He even calls Lucas a weirdo and asks if his friend were going to start wearing dresses.  Lucas is sad, but with the help of his parents, he learns that God gives boys and girls many interests and talents and that being a boy is more about celebrating who he is than fitting into someone else’s idea of who he should be.  

     His father shows him from the Bible that King David was a hero who was smart and brave enough to slay Goliath but who also played music on the harp.  Why can’t boys play the piano?  Isn’t it possible for a boy to play both superheroes and a musical instrument?  What will happen between Lucas and Ricky?  Do Superheroes Play the Piano? allows children to explore gender identity, peer pressure, and problem-solving through a story grounded in the truth that our Creator designed us and loves us.  The book can be a valuable tool for parents, teachers, and counselors who seek to demonstrate love and compassion as they help children develop gender confidence.  Lucas learns that a boy doesn’t have to think about becoming a girl to enjoy playing music.

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Song of the Gargoyle

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Book: Song of the Gargoyle

Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder 

Cover Illustrator: Paul Zakris

Publisher: Harcourt, republished 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0385303019 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0385303017 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0153003783 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0153003782 Paperback

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 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: 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

     Snyder,Zilpha Keatley.  Song of the Gargoyle (Published in 1991 by Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 666 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY  10103).  Thirteen-year-old Tymmon lives at Austerneve Castle with his father Komus who is the influential court jester for King Austern IX.  Tymmon’s mother died when he was only a couple of years old.  One night, five mysterious men in black armor abduct Komus and want to take Tymmon too, but the boy has hidden himself on a high window ledge.  Later, as Tymmon plots to rescue his father, he flees into the vast Sombrous forest depths, where he acquires a strange animal companion named Troff, a huge, ugly, dog-like beast which the boy believes is a stone gargoyle come to life. Together, the two wander the land while Tymmon supports them by the jongleur’s arts.

     They begin in the walled city of Montreff, where Troff displays an unexpected talent for singing while Tymmon plays the flute, enabling them to make a decent living as street musicians.   Who has kidnapped Komus, and why?  Will Tymmon ever be able to find his father?  And when he learns that the black knights are still looking for him, how can Tymmon and Troff keep from being captured?  Author Zilpha Keatley Snyder also wrote three Newbery honor books– The Witches of Worm (1973), The Headless Cupid (1972), and perhaps her best known The Egypt Game (1968).  Song of the Gargoyle is a well-paced adventure story that borders on medieval fantasy.  There are a few references to drinking wine, but I especially liked the scene where Tymmon “took a brief moment to offer thanks to God for such a marvelous feast.”  There is much for preteens and early teens to enjoy in this tale of a boy and his gargoyle.

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I’m Glad God Made Me a Girl

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: I’m Glad God Made Me a Girl

Author: Denise Shick

Illustrator: Yana Popova

Publisher: Independently published, 2020

ISBN-13: 979-8637561117

ISBN-10: 8637561117

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 5-8

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Category: Children’s book

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

     Shick, Denise.  I’m Glad God Made Me a Girl (Independently published in 2020).  Susie and Amy live next to each other, go to the same school, and play on the same soccer team.  They play with each other every day.  When at Susie’s house they have tea parties, and when at Amy’s house they go to her tree house pretending to be pirates.  Then one day, Susie is surprised when Amy cuts her hair short and dresses like a boy because she thinks boys are braver, smarter, and stronger than girls. Susie feels sad. Can’t girls be brave, smart, and strong too?  What should Susie do?  How can her parents help her deal with the situation?

     Recently, I reviewed a book entitled I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, the first and perhaps the most infamous of a plethora of such books recently mentioned by Wil and Meeke Addison on their American Family Radio program “Airing the Addisons,” which are aimed at young children, some as early as kindergarten or even pre-school, to promote “transgenderism” and homosexuality in general, or at least the acceptance of it by making it sound normal and creating sympathy for those who flaunt it.  On that same radio show, the Addisons interviewed author Denise Shick who has written a series of children’s books to help young people understand the Biblical view of these subjects.  The Left does not like books such as this.  One critic wrote, “Please do not take the message of this book to heart. Transgender and Queer people that exist outside the gender binary many of us are accustomed to deserve information about why they feel the way they do and how to explore it, especially at a young age.”

     However, there is no hatred or even condemnation in this amazing book filled with love and wisdom.  With her parents’ guidance using Scripture, Susie learns to be glad that she’s a girl.  I’m Glad God Made Me a Girl is intended to help young girls discover God’s design and purpose for them and also demonstrates the reasons some girls think becoming a boy is right for them, showing girls that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and, that as females, they are not only beautiful and kind but also can be brave, smart, and strong. This book is a valuable tool for parents and counselors who seek to demonstrate love and compassion as they minister to children who struggle with gender confusion.  All young girls should have this read to them at least once in today’s climate as it will help to raise their self-worth and also give answers for parents to help their daughters feel comfortable in the body which God gave them.

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The Rhise Of Light: Book One in the Darkness Overcome Series

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Book: The Rhise Of Light: Book One in the Darkness Overcome Series

Author: Max B. Sternberg 

Cover Illustrator: Robert Sternberg

Publisher: Max B Sternberg, 2021

ISBN-13: 978-1736998922 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1736998927 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1736998915 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1736998919 Paperback

Related website(s): http://maxbsternberg.com/ (author)

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 12-18 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: 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

     Sternberg, Max B.  The Rhise Of Light: Book One in the Darkness Overcome Series (Published in 2021 by Max B Sternberg).  Twenty year old Leon Rhise is the son of the wealthy Lord Lucian Rhise, a very important nobleman in the kingdom of Xaelon, but the young man left home five years ago to fight in the Undead Wars.  After a horrific, wartime accident which brings his career in the airship navy to an abrupt end, Leon returns home, hoping for a warm reunion, but finds that his reception is very cold, and he is abruptly driven away. His only possessions are the clothes on his back, a necklace with a Levigem that represents his family, and an ancient, rusty spear.  Disowned, unemployed, and friendless, he feels that all hope seems lost. Then he discovers that the old spear is actually a mysterious relic, which opens up the possibility of his becoming a Judge, a hero of legend that has not been seen for centuries, according to what an angel tells him that night in a bizarre dream which he experiences.

     Will Leon choose to follow his destiny as Judge and bring back the knowledge of the forgotten God known as Adonai?  Does he find anyone who believes his story and agrees to help him?  And what happens to him when wanted posters appear offering a reward for his capture whether alive or dead?  This book could be categorized as “Christian Fantasy.”  Woven through the plot with plenty of action, humor, and intrigue are themes like repentance, redemption, faith, and forgiveness from abuse, as well as numerous Scripture references. The Rhise of Light , which is a clean novel with an interesting story line, well-developed characters, and rich description, as well as a good amount of adventure, is Book 1of the “Darkness Overcome Series.”  Author Max B. Sternberg has been working on two additional novels for the series.  Book Two is The Rhise Of Hope.

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I Am Jazz

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: I Am Jazz

Authors: Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas

Publisher: Dial Books, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0803741072

ISBN-10: 0803741073

Related website(s): http://www.penguin.com/youngreaders (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: Said to be for ages 4 – 8 years (Grade level: Preschool – 3)

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

     Herthel, Jessica, and Jennings, JazzI Am Jazz (Published in 2014‎ by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY  10014).  Jared Jennings was born a boy, but from the time he was two years old, he claims that he had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body and says that he was born that way. He loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like imself in boys’ clothing. This confused his family, until they took him to a new doctor who said that Jazz was transgender, so they let him be a girl and changed his name to Jazz. This story of a transgender child is based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere. Barbara Walters said, “Jazz is a sensitive and courageous young woman. Her story is inspiring and important to read. By sharing her experiences and view she has added to our understanding and compassion for the transgender experience” (no surprise there).

     I Am Jazz is described as a “picture book”—i.e., for young children.  It is the first and perhaps the most infamous of a series of such books recently mentioned by Wil and Meeke Addison on their American Family Radio program “Airing the Addisons, along with It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity by Theresa Thorn and Noah Grigni; A Kids Book About Being Transgender by Gia Parr; Boys Can Wear Dresses and Skirts Coloring Book With Positive Affirmations: A Gender Non-Conforming Coloring Book For Kids and TweensEmpowering Inclusive Diverse Children by Purple Prince Press; My Awesome Brother: A Children’s Book About Transgender Acceptance by Lise Frances; Trans Kids and Teens: Pride, Joy, and Families in Transition by Elijah C. Nealy; Trans Kids: Being Gendered in the Twenty-First Century by Tey Meadow; Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders and Steven Salerno (for Ages: 5 – 8 years);  George (published by Scholastic Gold—again no surprise there) by Alex Gino; and Calvin by J.R. Ford and Vanessa Ford. 

     All these books are aimed at children, some as young as kindergarten or even pre-school, to promote “transgenderism” or at least the acceptance of it by making it sound normal and creating sympathy for those who flaunt it.  Conveniently, but thankfully, we are spared any references to Jazz’s genitalia.  But if “she” still has a male package, “she” is still a boy, no matter what she says, thinks, and feels (and imagine what issues that can cause when “she” is allowed to use the girl’s bathroom!).  And if she doesn’t, well that’s just plain, old mutilation.  Gender dysphoria, which the book says is “something children can’t control, and therefore society needs to embrace them,” used to be considered a mental illness that needed to be treated and cured, but is now deemed a “civil right” to be celebrated and even encouraged.  The bottom line of this review is that “they” are out to get “our” kids.  And “they” seem to be winning.

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Kaytie Flame and the Mystery of Two Kingdoms: Prequel to the Hidden Danger Beyond Fantasy Three-Book Series

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Book: Kaytie Flame and the Mystery of Two Kingdoms: Prequel to the Hidden Danger Beyond Fantasy Three-Book Series

Authors: Harriett L. Ford and Kathryn Mofley

Illustrator: Kathryn Mofley

Publisher: Independently published, 2021

ISBN-13: 979-8520779810

ISBN-10: 8520779810

Related website(s): https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B08FJHXV91 (author)

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 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)

Category: 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

     Ford, Harriett L., and Mofley, Kathryn.  Kaytie Flame and the Mystery of Two Kingdoms: Prequel to the Hidden Danger Beyond Fantasy Three-Book Series (Published in 2021 by Ford and Mofley).  Sixteen year old Kaytie Flame O’Hara lives with her parents in Louisiana but during summer break from school is going to visit her best friend Annie who, with Annie’s parents and super cute brother Ryan, have recently moved to a rural area near Goblin Valley, outside of Moab, Utah.  When Ryan tries to teach the girls to rappel up the nearby slot canyons, they face deadly perils. Ryan, after a seriously stupid mistake, needs rescuing. Bleeding from a self-inflicted wound, he’s dehydrated. Then the girls are missing. The weather could mean serious danger, and a killer cougar is on the prowl. 

     Who is available to take care of Ryan?  Will the girls be found?  And what happens with the cougar?  This novella, part of the “Hidden Danger Beyond Fantasy” award-winning series, is a prequel to a book that I previously reviewed and recommended, in 2019.  It was then titled Voodoo Vanquishing Vixen, but has been reissued as Dance on the Devil

     In Kaytie Flame and the Mystery of Two Kingdoms, Kaytie makes a monumental discovery that directs her toward a future she yearns to achieve with all her passionate heart.  Some common euphemisms (gosh, durn, heck) occur.  One character smokes a pipe.  And there references to using peyote and smoking Manzanita, as well as drinking beer, but it is clear that the drugs and alcohol are to be frowned on.  This is a well-written book with outdoor adventure and a splash of clean, teen summer romance which also has an important spiritual message.  Author Harriet L, Ford asked, “Isn’t it time our youth learned there is an actual unseen kingdom of darkness and also a kingdom of Light, both of which greatly affect the world we live in?”  She has since written the two additional books in the 3-books series.  They are Daring Deceptions of Daemons (Book Two) and Devil’s Triangle Temptress (Book Three).

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Fighting Devil’s Backbone, Book 2: E. Z. and the Chikasha Warrior

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Book: Fighting Devil’s Backbone, Book 2: E. Z. and the Chikasha Warrior

Author: Tony L. Turnbow 

Illustrator: Hanson Suhendra

Publisher: Tony L. Turnbow, 2021

ISBN-13: 978-1736260814

ISBN-10: 1736260812

Related website(s): http://www.tonyturnbow.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: Ages 13-18

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

     Turnbow,Tony L.  Fighting Devil’s Backbone, Book 2: E. Z. and the Chikasha Warrior (Published in 2021 by Tony L. Turnbow).  It is 1809, and teenager Ezekiel (E.Z.) Perkins, his widowed mother Sarah, and little brother David have left their old home in Pennsylvania and been traveling the Natchez Trace, tha mysterious, frontier road known as “The Devil’s Backbone,” in search of a new home.  Sarah is injured in an accident at Colbert’s Ferry and asks their strange traveling companion, Mr. Burton, to be a good father to her sons if anything should happen to her.  Sarah does in fact die, but E.Z. doesn’t trust Burton, so the boys run away to Underwood’s Village where a friendly Chickasaw warrior named Tashka offers them a home.  However, when a party of enemy Creek warriors attack, Tashka is killed, and E.Z. and David are captured.

     What will happen to the boys?  Does Mr. Burton ever find them?  And if they escape from the Creeks, can they avoid the bandits who have been following them?  In Book 2 of the “Fighting Devil’s Backbone” series, as E. Z. struggles to survive, he must learn the skills of an Indian hunter and warrior to save his own life and the lives of his brother David and his best friend Isaiah.  E. Z. and the Chikasha Warrior contains excellent historic details that would be good reading for older kids learning Tennessee history, along with exciting plot twists that keep the reader turning the pages.  The story in this well-written and well-paced second book slows down and gets more into characterization of the main individuals.  I enjoyed it and look forward to book 3.

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The Discipling Of Mytra

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Book: The Discipling Of Mytra

Author: Rich Coffeen 

Cover Illustrator: Galadriel Coffeen

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-144047409

ISBN-10: 1440474095

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: **** 4 stars

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

Category: Science 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

     Coffeen, Rich.  The Discipling Of Mytra (Published in 2009 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform).  It is the Year of Our Lord 3125, and teenage Sarah Chen, with an IQ of 220, is the slowest member of a team with twenty members on the ship Veiled Glory sent by the InterPlanetary Missions Agency to open the closed planet of Mytra, an isolated humanist paradise inhabited entirely by homosexual men and boys who know nothing beyond their world. Beset by insecurities and scorn, she longs for companionship and the chance to prove herself.   Alex, a Mytran boy enslaved by robots, has four months remaining until coming of age on his twentieth birthday. If he refuses to obey his Rulers’ traditions, the very robots who raised him will carry out his execution. Alex and his Order of Wilderness resistors have no hope of survival, until Sarah’s ship arrives in orbit.

     Alex is captured by Sarah’s team to get more information about Mytra, but, mistaking them for robots because of their neural implants, he kills all the members except Sarah, so she alone must convince him to help her open the planet up.  Can she get Alex to listen to her? Against secretive tyrants who would kill their own people before losing a single soul, how will Sarah and Alex free Mytra?  And what will happen to Sarah?   The Discipling Of Mytra has been called a Reformed alternative to the Left Behind books.  This novel is really not suitable for young children.  There are references to drinking wine, the “d” and “h” words are used as interjections, and a moderate amount of talk about sex occurs, though nothing vulgar, obscene, or pornographic.  After all, the plot involves a planet of homosexuals, and there is also mention of lesbians.

     Depending upon their background, not all sincere believers will be in agreement with even some of the theological concepts woven into the story, such as total hereditary depravity, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, justification by faith alone, the role and form of baptism, and dancing in worship.  However, I liked the way the author includes non-politically correct truth about such subjects as morality, humanism, and homosexuality.  Some might wonder if it’s really possible to have “Christian science fiction” or not, but those who would like science fiction with fascinating technology and a Christian twist where character development is central to the story should find this book interesting.  Again, as one reviewer wrote, “There are some adult themes in the book so I’d recommend reading it yourself before giving it to anyone younger than 15 to read.”

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A Journey to Unshakable Faith

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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.

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     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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