sophiesperspective - Reviews

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Captured on the High Seas (AIO Imagination Station, Bk 14)
Review Date: 11/24/2014


A tasteful wartime capture for young readers

The middle installment of this 3 book story-arc about the Revolutionary War is tastefully handled. The English aren't villianized & selfless sacrifices are realistically portrayed. Naturally there were Americans & Englishmen who were nasty, selfish, & dishonest, but this book appropriately shows the nicer side of humanity while in a war.

The larger then usual font, many illustrations, and simple language make this series ideal for young readers.

Recommend.


Challenge on the Hill of Fire (Imagination Station, Bk 10)
Review Date: 8/19/2014


Best one I've read so far

I haven't read all of the books in this series, but I HAVE read a good many of them. So far, this is the best one. The title is relevant, the history is something children are rarely taught, and it's significance is hard to understate. I do roll my eyes at how Beth & Patrick conveniently "help history along", from time to time, in these books, as in this book - but it's a historical fiction children's book involving time travel ... and people like to have fun and interpret that differently anyway, so I don't fault the authors there. It's just not what I would do. This is my favorite book in this reinvented series thus far. Definitely recommend.




These books are appropriate for young elementary school aged children.


Chasing Dream (Backyard Horses)
Chasing Dream (Backyard Horses)
Author: Dandi Daley Mackall
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 9/18/2013


Solid presentation of a good lesson


Christian books for children can sometimes be painful to read. Either the book isn't well written, or the lesson is stuck in as an after-thought, or the whole story is cheesy. This book is none of those. I appreciate the ease with which this book is read and the well incorporated lesson. I checked this book out of the library, but plan on buying it for my daughter.


Christmas Abc's Board Book
Christmas Abc's Board Book
Author: Alice Gold, Linda Clearwater
Book Type: Board book
  • Currently 4.8/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 12/27/2014


Best of all worlds!

So many Christmas books for children focus on Santa or misrepresent Christmas in some way. This is surprisingly accurate for a board book. The author did a fantastic job of telling the story of Christmas through the alphabet ... and all in a well written rhyme! Even "X" & "Z" are cutely included. The illustrations are a great companion to the words. Easy to read, accurate and simple telling, educational for teaching the alphabet, excellent non complex rhyme, all in a sturdy board book. What's not to love?


The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Review Date: 12/15/2014


Wonderful illustrations are the perfect complement to this unique Christmas story

This is not a religious Christmas book, nor is it without tragedy (though there is a happy ending). The story does feel real, though, and is beautifully - almost lyrically told. The illustrations are top notch and really bring the story to life of the gloomy woodcarver and the boy who helped his spirit heal.


Cicada Summer
Cicada Summer
Author: Andrea Beaty
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/12/2015


Average

Interesting enough & written well. Like the main character, I have also read all the Nancy Drew mysteries. This one is more realistic than any Nancy & Co solved and it is for the same age bracket. The main thing I didn't like was the improper handling of grief (not speaking for 2 years) & the focus on her brothers death. Yes everything turns out ok, but its not my first pick of reading for my children. Its not a bad book, just not a stand out novel or one I feel compelled to add to my personal library.

Beaty's strength is in writing picture books (a task more challenging than it sounds!) & at that she truly excels. This novel is just average.


Cinderellis and the Glass Hill (Princess Tales, Bk 4)
Review Date: 11/24/2014


Cute, but average

A lot of reviewers compare this book to Ella Enchanted. While they have the same author, it is not fair to compare this novella to a novel - it is necessarily different. That being said, it is a cute story. Yes, it is a little predictable & the brothers are barf-worthy in their condescension, but it's not a bad read. It is also not the best thing since sliced bread. It is a short, easy read - great for children ...who will probably think it's wonderful. This is the only one of the Princess Tales I have read, but if other reviewers are to be believed, this is the best one. Honestly, that makes me a little sad. If you want a good introduction to Levine, I suggest The Two Princesses of Barmarre or Ella Enchanted over this book, but if you are familiar with her already or just want something short & sweet this may be the story for you.


The Crippled Lamb
The Crippled Lamb
Author: Liz Bonham (Illustrator), Andrea Lucado, Sara Lucado, Jenna Lucado, Max Lucado
Book Type: Board book
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 1/14/2015




Unlike others who give this book a low rating, my complaint isn't that the title calls the lamb "crippled" While I understand their concerns, it is a descriptive (accurate) word - it may not ve ideal, but its also not a surprise since it's in the title.

Instead, my complaint is that this story seems a stretch - even for an imaginative retelling of the nativity. Mary & Joseph (I doubt) would talk of their son as the new king, nor would they say that he came from heaven to teach us...to a lamb no less! My biggest complaint, though, is that Mary tells the lamb that God heard the lamb's prayer & that the baby Jesus was the answer. Lambs don't pray!

I don't have a problem with making animals talk, but that just goes too far. Especially as the conclusion of the story is basically the lamb kept Jesus warm and that was the "special purpose" of his LIFE. I know its a child's board book, but that's just too simplistic for me & isn't what I want my children believing.

Obviously, many don't have a problem with the content, but I thought I'd voice my concerns in case there were others who with they had known this information before acquiring the book.

The accompanying illustrations are well done.


The Crofton Boys (Dodo Press)
The Crofton Boys (Dodo Press)
Author: Harriet Martineau
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/15/2014


An enjoyable and easy read. This is the book that Jo gives to Dan to read in Little Men that he so enjoys, and is rightfully recommended in said work.


The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, Bk 2)
The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, Bk 2)
Author: Dan Brown
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 392
Review Date: 12/8/2014
Helpful Score: 1


Good style, bad content

This is an engaging, well written book and gets 5 stars on that front. There are many issues with the content of the book- not only much too sexual for my tastes, but the historical inaccuracies are appalling (others have gone into detail on this front so I will spare you). Brown maintains that this work of fiction is true which heightens the tension & raises the burden for truth. The content receives a disappointing 1 star for a book average of 3 stars.


Damascus Countdown (David Shirazi, Bk 3)
Damascus Countdown (David Shirazi, Bk 3)
Author: Joel C. Rosenberg
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 9/18/2013


Refreshing


When I picked up this book, I didn't know it was the 3rd in a series. Thankfully, you can follow along just fine without Books 1 & 2.

I had heard high praise for Rosenburg's work in the past, but never read any of his books until now. It won't be the last book of his I read, I'm sure. I really enjoyed Damascus Countdown. It's intriguing, well written, and is not predictable. In my experience, fiction written by a Christian author does not deliver quality work. Rosenburg does. And that is a refreshing change of pace.

I don't usually give books 5 stars. This novel deserves each one.


Damascus Countdown (Twelfth Imam, Bk 3)
Damascus Countdown (Twelfth Imam, Bk 3)
Author: Joel C. Rosenberg
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 9/18/2013


Refreshing

When I picked up this book, I didn't know it was the 3rd in a series. Thankfully, you can follow along just fine without Books 1 & 2.

I had heard high praise for Rosenburg's work in the past, but never read any of his books until now. It won't be the last book of his I read, I'm sure. I really enjoyed Damascus Countdown. It's intriguing, well written, and is not predictable. In my experience, fiction written by a Christian author does not deliver quality work. Rosenburg does. And that is a refreshing change of pace.

I don't usually give books 5 stars. This novel deserves each one.


Danger on a Silent Night (AIO Imagination Station, Bk 12)
Review Date: 12/9/2014


Good retelling with an important message

I was quite nervous going into this book & I was unimpressed with Showdown with the Shepherd - the other retold Bible story for AIO Imagination Station. In that story I felt that too many liberties had been taken & was concerned about what might be done to the birth of Jesus.

The book doesn't actually take place when Jesus is born (as the title seems to imply) but when the wise men arrive a little later.

I was very pleased with how the story was handled and that giving to the poor and your family are acceptable & commendable ways to celebrate Jesus & share his love.

To my surprise, this is one of the best books in the series.

The larger than usual font, nice margins, simple language, and oversized illustrations make this book (& series) perfect for young readers. Recommend.


Death Trap (Robot Wars, Bk 1)
Death Trap (Robot Wars, Bk 1)
Author: Sigmund Brouwer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 7/13/2014


Engaging book - hard to put down

While the Robot Wars title is groan worthy (really, you're going to be THAT obvious about trying to hook Star Wars fans??) this first book, Death Trap, is very good. The story is engaging and kept me turning the pages to see what happens next.The end of the book definitively made me want to go find the next in the series to keep reading. Well written, and scientifically informative - without being boring or getting bogged down. I thought how the author made it clear that science and faith in God were not mutually exclusive was really cool - conveying that to people is one of my passions, and this is an awesome way to do that. This book is not just for young adults - adults will find it interesting too!

Word of warning, though, this series is the Mars Diaries series by the same author, but repackaged, and some of the information has been updated to reflect modern times - so it's not entirely new. That being said, it is still a little different than the original. Kindof like reading one of the original Hardy Boy books and then reading the same story that had been updated to reflect modern detective methods: It's worth reading the old and the new books. Highly recommended.


The Donkey's Dream
The Donkey's Dream
Author: Barbara Helen Berger
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/9/2015


Open to interpretation

A donkey dreams he is carrying, in turn, a city, a ship, a rose, and a fountain on his back. The author's note explains how these symbols are connected with the virgin, Mary. This is the Catholic view. A Protestant could read this book & see all the symbols as representing Jesus. But a pagan could read the story & see it representing mother earth! Until the author's note at the end there is nothing to necessarily connect this story to that of Christmastime, & (as noted) the meaning is open to interpretation. If an explanatory note is needed (& it is) it seems like a poor story. A story should be understood without the need for the author to include the interpretation -especially a book designed for children.

The story is actually pretty strange and disconnected. The explanatory note makes it a little less so, but I still don't recommend it, especially for the very young.

Story: 1 star
Illustrations: 3 stars
Average: 2 stars


Dragon Rider (Dragon Rider, Bk 1)
Dragon Rider (Dragon Rider, Bk 1)
Author: Cornelia Funke, Anthea Bell (Translator)
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 214
Review Date: 1/30/2015


Standard fare for a children's adventure story

A jolly children's book that adults can enjoy too - if they accept the book for what it is (a book aimed at children) & don't expect what it isn't (the next classic, or something like Inkheart).

Nobody complains that the Hardy Boys are flat & lack character development or follow a troupe (though all those are true) Nor are similar complaints lodged against the Redwall series. For these are books designed for children. Indeed Dragon Rider could be straight from Redwall - make the dragon a badger, the human a mouse, and the brownie a mole & you're practically there, for it is the Redwall kindof troupe that is followed: lots of excitement, seeing new places, a villain that isn't too scary, & quest fulfillment. The length (500 odd pages) goes by quickly. This would make a great read aloud book. I prefer the Redwall books to this one simply because Redwall lacks humans & is easier to believe than placing the fantasy squarely in our world. This book may be nothing to write home about, but it sits squarely in the vein of adventurous children's literature.

The fold out map is neat, but does include all of the markings the map they used in the book, which was a disappointment.

A note for parents who care - humans at large are seen as bad, though some, the creatures realize, are not bad at all. Also, reincarnation is postulated as a plausible possibility, though it and the afterlife are not a focus of the book - the mention is more of a side note.


Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey
Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey
Author: Emily Winfield Martin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/3/2015


Truly a picture book

The illustrations are truly the star of the show in this book - some have a two page spread with no accompanying text! Unfortunately, the rhyme itself - while simple and charming - isn't anything particularly special. In fact, the implementation of the poetry isn't consistent throughout this work - some 2 page spread dream lands have accompanying text and others don't which makes reading the "story" more difficult as cadence is broken.

If you are simply looking for a book with illustrations to charm your children, this is it. If, however, you'd like some memorable words to go with the pictures this book will likely disappoint.

Illustrations 4.5 stars
Text 2 stars
Average 3 stars


Embracing Beauty: Practical Style for Every Shape and Season of Motherhood
Review Date: 11/24/2014


Pleasantly surprised

I was nervous going into this book -fashion books can be so persnickety. I was pleasantly surprised at what I read, however, as the focus is truly on finding the best way to worship God through what you wear. Huh? Trina (successfully) makes the argument that God is a God of beauty and whenever we admire beauty or do a beautification act, it can be an act of worship. Including what we wear.

On thing I appreciate about this book is that she doesn't tell you what is modest, what to or not-to wear. She puts forth suggestions, tips, but definitely makes it known that modesty is more than the clothes you wear, but the heart behind what you wear. It's very tastefully handled.

For me, the book was not eye-opening. While I have made purely utilitarian purchases because I *just needed something now* I have been trying for several years to make sure my wardrobe isn't just a covering, but something I love. That I feel good in.

I already know the answers to many of the questions Trina puts forth in her book. But I'm not at the end of my journey yet, and it was nice to have the ideas I've been working toward reinforced and spur me to consider making other changes sooner than later.There are many actually practical tips and suggestions in the book, and while I do differ in opinion with her a few times, I found myself agreeing with her far more often than disagreeing.

All in all, I believe this is a wonderful book that will help women embrace the beauty God gave them in a timely, budget friendly manner, all while saving time getting dressed and ready each day. That's something to get excited about.


Escape to the Hiding Place (Imagination Station, Bk 9)
Review Date: 8/13/2014


Different from other books in the series

This book is different from the other books I've read in this series - unlike other adventures, Patrick & Beth have no idea where they are going or even a hint as to what they might learn while there. I thought that aspect was nice. Unlike many books in this series, the title is actually relevant to the story - even clever! (They have to make a baby "escape" to the Ten Boom's house ... Corrie Ten Boom wrote a book entitled "The Hiding Place" about her WWII experiences.) This book provides a great springboard for discussion with your elementary school children about this time in history. As expected, the story is a little forced and short, but for it's target age, I believe that's probably needed.


Every Waking Moment
Every Waking Moment
Author: Chris Fabry
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 7/11/2014


Great hook, good build, but the ending doesn't feel complete. 

Fabry drew me into the story from the beginning. I didn't know what to expect, but I was enjoying the ride. The ending of the book is alright, not as good as the beginning and middle caused me to hope for, but it wasn't bad. The epilogue felt out of place, though...sure it was kindof sweet, but it raises a host of questions that just aren't answered. Why raise the questions when we're ok accepting what the characters have accepted? Unfortunately, that caused a bit of a letdown for me. It's still a nice story with memorable characters and some well told scenes, and if the ending had been strong this would be an absolutely stellar book. It's still worth reading, but it's not the knock-your-socks-off book I thought it was after reading the first few chapters. 


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