Threadbare and the Genesis Tree



Threadbare by Bethany A. Jennings

Threadbare is a short story about a young woman who has lost control of her powers. In this magical world, powers work like threads. After a fight, Bess’s threads are tangled. She faces the choice of being strangled by them or having them severed. Unable to fend for herself, she faces a life without magic, and puts her team in danger.

I loved the world building of this story. It was immersive, unique, and fun. I’m ready for a full length novel. Bethany wonderfully handled dropping us into this world for a short time without losing us with threads, waves, Sinkholes, and Drifters. I never felt confused or turned around. In fact, I just wanted more.

Bethany kept the pace moving forward at a run with a magical battle used to show us the depth of pain Bess felt at the choice she is forced to make. The ending brought hope and light to the story. This is where I longed for a full length novel the most. I wanted to taste everything a little longer before resolution. This is the hard part of a short story for the reader. I didn’t want it to be short.

If you want a quick adventure to read during a lunch break or while standing in line, this is well worth your money.

The Genesis Tree by Heather L. L. FitzGerald

After being on this journey with the Larcen family for several years now, it’s hard to believe it’s over. I read…devoured really…this story in a few short hours spread over two days. It didn’t let up. Gone were the childish elements. They’d been buffed away by the storms of life. Only strength remained behind.

With their return home from a second adventure into the Tethered World involving Trolls and Gargoyles and the threat of exposure, you might expect the Larcen’s to get some well-deserved down time. Wrong. Evil thwarted isn’t evil stamped out. The threat of exposure still looms over them, but now with a modern twist. It takes all of Sadie and Brady to withstand the death throes of their enemies.

There are two things I loved about this book. One I can talk about in more detail than the other. Spoilers, you know.

The first is Sadie. When this Chronicle started, I didn’t really connect with Sadie. She didn’t want to visit a magical world and have adventures. She just wanted to go home and be a normal teenager. She was everything I wasn’t. I connected with Sophie. Now there was a girl who appreciated riding dragons and meeting dwarves and gnomes. But Sadie is the main character, so this is Sadie’s story. I suffered her complaints and still enjoyed the story.

By book 3, Sadie has been tried and tested in the deepest of ways. She has faced lies, monsters, torture and betrayal. She has seen those she loved hurt and even killed. Adventure has taken on a decidedly harsh tone. Sadie has been tempered. In Book 3, we walk with a Sadie who is strong. I loved it. She’s not an Amazon woman by any means, but she has had the dross boiled away and found her faith solid. Sadie is ready to fight for the world she didn’t even want to visit a few months ago.

I really enjoyed the growth Sadie endured. She has gone from my least favorite character, to my favorite.

The second thing I loved about this book was a few difficult decisions the author made. This is a family friendly fantasy that tends to favor those who don’t enjoy fantasy. It’s a gateway fantasy. If you’re someone who hasn’t ever gotten into Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, or any fantasy, this is the one for you. Heather never loses this element of her stories. But, in the Genesis Tree, she weaves in the cost of war in a way that kicks the reader in the gut. She takes this story out of the gateway realm for a time and gives it the heart of deep fantasy. I loved that.

I also found that the lack of epic battles worked well in this book. She worked out the details of betrayal and exposure without taking it into a mythical clash between Trolls and Gnomes, Gargoyles and Nephilim. At the end of Book 2, The Flaming Sword, I found that to be a letdown. At the end of the Genesis Tree, it felt right. Small events diffused mass battle.

The Tethered World Chronicles is now complete. Sadie is ready to join her family in their unique responsibilities. As a reader, I was satisfied. This is a wonderful series to share with your family. Children of all ages will enjoy it. It is clean but not safe. A hard balance to strike, but Heather does masterfully.

Available for Pre-order!

Review of Book 1.

Review of Book 2.

A Book and a Video Game

I want to talk about a two random things that have nothing to do with one another, other than they are dear to me and I have enjoyed them.


First, before he went to be with the Lord, Ron Baines gave me a copy of The Journal of Esther Edwards Burr, 1754-1757. He gave me two copies, “For his literary girls”, with the promise that I would give the other copy to my dear Stephanie Florentino. He then proceeded to read me a passage from it and explain that he thought I would enjoy the book because Esther sounds a bit like someone from Pride and Prejudice.

As always, Ron was right. I did enjoy the book very much. The Introduction is exactly what you would expect two modern feministic women to say about intimate letters written by two Christian women. Where they see chafing against male leadership, I saw sanctification. Where they see the trappings of a society that put women down, I see Christian women trusting the Lord.

I tend to be focused on fiction, books on doctrine, and military history. This book was my first venture into non-military biographies since I was a kid. It is a collection of the letters written by Esther to her best friend as she moves with her husband, deals with health issues, brings two children into the world, worries about her extended family, and tends to her hearth and home.

Because of her letters, I was able to live with her through fear for her parents from the Indians and French, through fear of sickness, through her struggles with trusting the life and death of her children to the Lord, and all the other things two women would correspond about.

The sense of loss which filled me when I came to the end of Esther’s letters surprised me. I had become attached to this woman. Knowing the book ended because she passed away, and not just because we lost the rest of her letters, saddened me greatly. But how different that sadness is when your reading about real people compared to fictional ones. I love Sam, Harry, Hazel and so many other characters, but they are temporary and all dust in the end. Not so with Esther. I will actually get to meet this dear saint who went to be with the Lord shortly after her husband and left her children behind. Ron is now with Esther in heaven. What a glorious hopeful thought.

I highly recommend this book. It is funny, dull, beautiful, hopeful, sad, and everything normal life is. I’m very thankful Ron gave it to me, and I will treasure it for as long as the Lord gives me.


Second, the game Price and I have been waiting for for a very long time finally came out this Fall: Final Fantasy XV.final_fantasy_xv_wallpaper__whit_new_prompto_by_realzeles-d9fy76x

After the huge disappointment of Metal Gear Solid V, we tried to go into this game with low expectations. That proved difficult after going to see Kingsglaive late one night like we were 20 again, and after the four anime shorts released on YouTube about the four main characters, and the free pre-game that included an adorable fox-like creature named Carbuncle. Just you try to stay calm.

In November, we got our copy and started to play. Right away this game was perfect. The story was perfect, the build-up was perfect, this game was perfect.

Before FFXV, Red Dead Redemption, Brothers, and StarCraft all proved to be moving stories that brought me to tears. Final Fantasy XV has replaced all of them except Red Dead Redemption.ffxv_key-art_tgs2014-noscale-1920x817

This story is a brotherhood story written from a man’s perspective. It is a very masculine game, which is refreshing when so many games and stories have lead females and are told from a feminine perspective. This game isn’t a romance story. There is love in it, but the focus is on the relationship between the four young men. Not their relationship with any girls. Its smart remarks, food, fishing, adventure, and battle.

This story follows four friends on a road trip. They are Noctis, the prince, his bodyguard Gladiolus, valet/cook/driver Ignis, and friend Prompto. Noctis is on his way to marry the beautiful Lunafreya, but taking his time to get there with no shortage of teasing from his three friends. While they’re having a good time on their road trip, their country is attacked. Noctis’ father, the king, is murdered, Luna is whispered to be dead, Gladio’s father is dead, and their capital city is destroyed. Darkness begins to encroach and deamons fill the land.

The rest of the game follows Noctis, now King, as he seeks to gain the favor and power of the gods so he can reclaim his kingdom. Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto follow faithfully after him, protecting him, encouraging him, and keeping him focused. Lunafreya, not dead, goes before him to prepare for each meeting with the gods.FINAL FANTASY XV EPISODE DUSCAE_20150317222557

Or, that’s what you think the rest of the game is going to be about. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

In an epic battle, which has split the four friends up in defense of a city, Noctis is injured and Lunafreya is murdered while he watches. This sends Noctis into a tail spin of emotional gloom for weeks. Ignis lost his sight in the battle, but Noctis doesn’t seem to care. The four friends begin to fight as Gladio is torn between frustration with Noctis, who won’t shoulder his kingly responsibilities, and Ignis, who needs constant help. The game play became very interesting here, and emotionally painful. Through the first 2/3 of the game, you are literally tripping over your friends. They are always right there with one. With Noctis and Gladio fighting, and Ignis’ loss of sight, they are now always behind you. The fun joking turns into demands that you slow down and think of someone beyond yourself. As the player, you feel alone and isolated.

(At this point, I went to bed. I couldn’t handle the characters fighting. It was so painful. It made me realize that I would rather kill off a character than have friendships fall apart.)

Eventually, through several trials, Noctis becomes who he is supposed to be. Ignis demands Gladio and Noctis heal their relationship. And, Ignis learns to fight by sound instead of sight. Prompto is captured by the enemy, and they go to rescue him and find the crystal which will heal their land.

As the player, you’ve acclimated to Noctis being out front with his party behind, and are really happy everyone is friends again. Then, you have to abandon your three friends in a battle against the deamons to reach the crystal. Noctis’ only hope is that by reaching the crystal he can save his friends. Instead, Noctis disappears inside crystal he thought would rid his kingdom of darkness and deamons. Noctis is lost and his friends must carry on without him.

While inside the crystal, Noctis is told by the gods that the only way for him to save everyone is to die. He must sacrifice himself to bring light and peace.

When he returns, ten years have passed. There is no light. But, his friends are waiting. They are waiting for the King to come back. They believe and have always believed Noctis would return. (Seeing this Christian theme played out brought me to tears. They waited on their friend. They waited for the King.)

FINAL FANTASY XV_20161019220106

There are many more sub-plots, side quests, unique monsters, and even a whole other villain I haven’t talked about who is behind all the evil and treachery. This is a dense game with a very ‘living world’ feel. The ending fights and scenes, with characters 10 years older than before, are very moving. Noctis willingly gives himself to save his land. The last campfire scene where he tells Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto how much he loves them hurts with its beauty.

Uniquely, Luna’s entire role is to help Noctis. She goes before him to demand the gods help him, which is her role as Oracle. She could have gone down a different path, but instead she chose to help her intended husband become the man he needed to be. How rare is it to see this feminine virtue praised and shown as honorable in any modern media?

This is an excellent game for young men to play, because it honors the relationships between men without turning them into any weird homosexual thing. It shows warriors fighting for their home, setting aside boyish things to take on responsibility, and standing together against darkness. It shows a King taking on his burden, and it shows the men around him helping him. This is a beautiful game about masculine friendship.

I loved everything about this game. I loved the story, the characters, the brotherhood, the music, the setting, the gameplay. I always enjoy any story which focuses on masculine friendship and the strength found there. FFXV did just that.

Rated PG-13: There is a bit of mild language in the game, but this rating is mostly for the handful of scantily clad women. The girl who runs the garage and one of the summon spells are far from modest. This would be the main issue for me in recommending the game for young men. It’s probably nothing worse than what you see in most movies, like Star Wars, but I still wanted to give a heads up about it.

I just couldn't resist this perfect picture. lol

I just couldn’t resist this perfect picture. lol

The Book of the Dun Cow and The Flaming Sword

The Book of  Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr.
I was recently gifted with The Book of Dun Cow by Emily Shiflet with the promise that it would probably end up in my Favorite Books list. That’s quite a promise, but not a vain one.

The Book of the Dun Cow is a beast fable written in a style that is a bit more telling than showing at times and strongly steeped in myth and Christianity. It has some of the most beautiful prose that I have ever read, some wonderful characters, a heart wrenching plot, and so many truths woven skillfully into a gripping story.

This is a book you savor. You could devour it in a few hours, but it’s so beautiful, you want to take a bite or two and then wait, letting those digest fully, before you take another bite.

The weird part about this book is its intensity. I have struggled with where to put it. It’s considered a YA book, but there is some language, a gruesome scene with the villain, and a depth that only gets deeper with age and re-reading. It reminds me a lot of Watership Down in that way. Yes, it’s a story about animals, but no, it’s not for little kids. It’s for older kids. It’s like Lord of the Rings. We often read it to high schoolers, but it’s really for adults…or it grows as we grow requiring a re-reading.

I would have loved this at 14 or so, but I don’t know that I would have grasped all the different layers of humanity and truth at that time. It is truly a book for all ages and one that should be revisited regularly.

Rated: PG-13: intensity, war, language (mild), adult situations (very well written, just sad and to an adult, a bit disturbing)

The Flaming Sword, Book Two of the Tethered World Chronicles by Heather L. L. FitzGerald

The long anticipated sequel to the Tethered World is about to make its appearance. If you loved going on an adventure with Sadie, Sophie, Brady and Brock to the Tethered World to rescue their parents, you won’t be disappointed when they return.

Filled with political intrigue, factions, unexpected enemies, a coming war, and the Larcen family again in danger, Book 2 ratchets up the action and builds towards book 3.

I loved watching Sadie’s character grow as she was tried and tested in some terrifying ways. For fear of spoilers, I won’t talk about my favorite moments with her, but they were many. Her dealings with her dad, the trolls, a nasty villain or two, and her Aunt Jules gave her plenty of opportunities to practice being brave. I was glad to see her rise to the occasion while relying on truth and the love of her family. I enjoyed having parts of the story told from Brady’s perspective. They helped balance out Sadie’s reluctance to adventure and showed Brady growing from boy to man. Heather skillfully jumped from one to the other giving us a very fleshed out story.

There were a few moments I expected the punch to be pulled and it wasn’t. I’m thankful for that…I can’t say more. Spoilers. ☺ Go get the book!

This series is excellent for introducing your family to fantasy. It allows the reader to meet creatures of myth without feeling like they’re trying to learn a whole new language, and with Sadie as the main character, those more reluctant to jump into an adventure are represented. Heather FitzGerald wanted to write a family-safe story that honored home-schoolers, the autistic, and Christianity. She’s done all that with loads of fun heaped on top.

While I missed Sophie’s unflappable courage, I think her being sidelined gave Sadie a chance to find her own courage when faced with ultimate and horrible choises.The slightly anticlimactic ending drove me to look excitedly towards Book 3. I can’t wait to get my hands on the last book of the Tethered World Chronicles.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book and am giving it an honest review.

Rated PG: intensity and war

Pre-order for $2.99: coming Nov 1!!!

There is Beauty Even Here: All the Light We Cannot See and Hamburger Hill


It seems odd to connect the book All the Light We Cannot See with the violent war movie Hamburger Hill. One is filled with elegant and gripping prose. The other reeks of dirt, blood, gore, language, and nudity. And yet, a beauty resonated within them both.

All the Light We Cannot See is the story of a blind young girl, and a smart, small boy caught up in WW2. Werner is a German and Marie is French. Their lives touch for the briefest of poignant moments. Instead of getting down in the muck of war, Doerr captures haunting horrors in words of longing, and broken grace. You know all that is happening is gross, mean, and destructive, yet you are removed from all that by a prose that takes you higher. And somehow this lofty view makes it all the more terrible. It paints death with beauty which only makes the death more jolting, more revolting. Your heart weeps at the loss of innocence, family, goodness. You see souls torn more deeply by the careful choice of each perfect word.

Hamburger Hill is as opposite as you can get. There are no majestic shots, no moving music, and no quotable dialogue. All there is is a handful of very young men cussing, fighting, and lusting. They are covered in dirt, sweating, and unattractive in every way. But, as the movie culminates, beauty blazes through. It is seen in the worst guy who hasn’t said one pure thing about a woman, hugging the other guy who’s girl just dumped him. It’s seen when a Lieutenant weeps as his men are mowed down by friendly fire, when a sergeant explains why he came back to Vietnam, when race is sponged away between white boys and black boys cause they’re all dying, when a private wipes his sergeant’s face, and when a man holds so gently his dying buddy. Great tenderness blooms between these men as they attempt to fight their way up a hill for ten days.

Beauty is found even here.

Two stories of war, as different as can be, and yet both show a light burning bright in the darkness.

Reading/watching these back to back was emotionally taxing, and yet it reminded me of why I’m drawn back to war stories over and over. I love seeing the light in the darkest moment. I love the beauty that blooms in battle. I love brotherhoods. There is something magical about men who have fought together that we’re losing in our feministic culture. I plan to go down kicking and screaming. I will be a woman who honors warriors without demanding to be one.

I love these stories because they capture the reality of my existence. I am not what I seem on some level. It’s true, I am a middle class, white, suburban housewife. But, I’m also a saved sinner, a healed monster, and a warrior in the battle against sin. War movies are my unseen reality and my church family is my band of brothers. I may not want women to be forced into the bond of battle formed between men, but I can also be part of that great friendship in the spiritual army of the Lord. When I see them fighting down in the dirt, when I see two children suffering all that war brings, I look with my Christian-colored-glasses and see the spiritual battle I engage in every day.

Life is more than it seems, both uglier and more beautiful.

Sometimes as a writer, I lose my way. I forget what story I’m telling when I’m in the middle of plot lines, time lines, and commas, but movies and stories like this help re-align me. They help me keep fighting. They help me to pray for my family. They remind me to hug and hold cause I don’t know the battle my fellow soldier may have engaged in this week.

There is beauty even here.


Circumnavigation of Shatterworld

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Circumnavigation of Shatterworld

By Lelia Rose Foreman

It’s always interesting to read a series out of order. Each of the Shatterworld books can stand on its own as a complete story, but they also form a series following Rejoice as a child, teen, and then adult. I read book one, three, and then two. While I knew what would ultimately happen by the end of the story, I had no idea how it would happen. The story wasn’t spoiled even with the spoilers I had because the how is part of the fun. I enjoyed seeing Noble, Rejoice, her parents, and Opportunity at this stage of their lives. I enjoyed seeing who they were before I “knew” who they become.

This series is very real, raw, exciting, funny, and well written.

Rejoice is a great female lead. She’s adventurous, smart, and brave without being annoying. She’s balanced with plenty of typical teen struggles and short comings. She’s not just a smart girl who has it all together, any more than this is just a teen romance. The story is based in the realities of life at sixteen with the bonus of having hexacrabs. There is romance for sure, but it wasn’t a sticky sweet romance and that wasn’t the main point of the story. Friendship, family, trust, and growth are far more important than falling in love. I loved watching Rejoice struggle with the fear of being alone in a way most girls can probably relate to. I loved watching her grow beyond the ‘end of her own nose’, to see the people around her as more than how they affect her. (I think this is the bonus when you have a wiser, more mature woman writing YA fiction: you get a teen book without teen self-focus, or with growth out of the self-focus. Maturity brings a broader perspective. Hopefully Leila won’t kill me for saying that.)

Another element that made this book for me was Rejoice’s work ethic. Even while she’s doing the typical teen pouting or moaning and groaning, she cooks, cleans, looks after her baby-sister, and helps on the ship. She’s respected by those around her for what she can contribute and expected to act like an adult. How refreshing! This girl, while much smarter than I’ll ever be, is expected to pull her weight, not be a whiny dead-weight.

In another words, this book is about a teen I would want to hang out with and be friends with even as a 36 year old. She doesn’t have everything figured out, and there are plenty of hard lessons for her to learn, but Rejoice shows that teens can bring a lot more to the table than we often give them credit for in our society.

On top of all that, this book has action, adventure, sailing, kraken, hexacrabs, sharks, circumnavigation, a horrible and creepy primitive race, and so much more, presented in a unique world of pacifism, colonization, Quaker type Christianity, and space exploration.

If you enjoy stories about the settling of new worlds, or know a teen who is looking for something deeper to cut their teeth on than most of what they can find on the shelves, I highly recommend this book. It can provide lots to think about and lots to talk about.

Rated PG: A clean Christian read with adventure and violence.


The Fiddler’s Green and The Stories we Tell

Due to my regular need to rest, I am reading a lot of books these days. I was trying to do a detailed review on my blog for each book that I read, but I found that to be too stressful. Instead, I’ve decided to try and hit the highlights, focusing on books I really loved.


The Fiddler’s Green

By A.S. Peterson

As a writer, one of the questions you get asked periodically is who you write like. You know the: If you liked this, you’ll like my book comparison.

Until I read Fiddler’s Green I was at a loss as to how to answer this question. I could tell you it was a bit like Lord of the Rings meets WW2 meets Steampunk, but that doesn’t really give you much information. All it does is tell you what has influenced me.

Then a dear friend put this book in my hand.

What a surreal experience to read something so very much like my own soul, my own voice, my own loves. Here was a book of visceral beauty, harsh reality, battles, loves, comradery, adventure, and faith. I read his battle scenes with great joy both for their poetic rhythm and the way they mirror my own desire to write something terrible in a beautiful way.

Peterson also doesn’t pull punches with his characters. As the story progresses, he constantly ratchets up the level of suffering.

I tend to prefer lead males, but Fin is a wonderful exception to my rule. Her journey from orphan to pirate ship captain and the men she leads is one you can buy into. Her struggles to find herself and her place in the world are heart breaking. Her loyalty is perfect.

I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages. It is well written, with exceptional prose, meaty paragraphs, and a fun and exciting world…plus, it’s a tiny bit like me. 😉

Rated: PG-13: This is a very clean PG-13. Minor language, well-handled adult situations.


The Stories We Tell

By Mike Cosper

I have often found great joy in noticing Christian themes in movies that didn’t intend to have any. I think the best stories resonate with us because they have captured a tiny amount of the real and true Story written by God. Even men who hate the Lord can’t escape that His stories are the best stories. They try and try, but in the end the tales of friendship, love lost and regained, redemption, self-sacrifice, family, saving, good winning over evil are what resounds with the every-man. From action flicks, comic book movies, war movies, and well done love stories, the writers just can’t escape the fact that to tell a good story they must include elements of Christianity.

This book basically teaches the same thing.

I found it encouraging to know that I wasn’t the only one who looked at movies and TV shows through Gospel-colored glasses.

I also found it very interesting to see how far he took this idea, even into paradise lost, fallen and flawed heroes, violence, and reality TV. Before this book, I’d never looked at the negative sides of the Redemption story as also being re-told over and over again in various forms.

If you’re a movie buff, or a story buff, I highly recommend this book. It can be helpful in starting conversations with people, giving you ideas on how to express your views, and further training your eye to see the mark of being made in the image of God.

This book would be a great book for home-schoolers as well. It is a great way to help your kids think through what they’re watching, along with sparking lots of good conversation.

I have seen many of the movies he talked about, though not all of them. I’ve only seen a few of the TV shows he talked about. As he repeats often, just because he can see a facet of Christianity in something doesn’t make it 100% worth watching. Pulp Fiction is one of the movies he covers in the chapter on Redemptive Violence. It is not a movie I casually recommend, even though I think it’s brilliant. Please keep that in mind as you read this book.

Here is a sample:

“Fall stories help orient us to a world that doesn’t work out how we expect. They help us make sense of the ruin we see around us. They help us know we’re not alone in our sorrows and failures, and they point to the deep need we all have for answers, for hope, and for redemption.

We have all lived our own fall stories in one way or another, and most of us hope that they’re not the last word on our lives.”

Rated PG-13: Some of the movies and shows talked about are very rough.



Pacifists’ War and Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors


Pacifists’ War (Shatterworld Trilogy, Book 3) by Lelia Rose Foreman

A while back I reviewed Shatterworld (Shatterworld Trilogy, Book 1). It was a wonderful “Pilgrim” space story with excellent world-building, amazing aliens, and a smart heroine named Rejoice.

Pacifists’ War picks up years later. Rejoice is married, has children, still looks to the stars, and still loves the hexacrabs. But life is about to change when a new group of colonist arrive with opposing views on all of life. Let the conflict begin!

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the realism mixed so firmly and beautifully in with the science fiction. Hexacrabs are just the beginning of all the strange and dangerous life surrounding the colonists. But it’s the real life marriage problems, health issues, damaged relationships, broken trust, sin, and very real humanity that sucks you into this story and keeps you reading, reading to find out if all that is broken can be redeemed. There were many times when I felt emotionally drained by the book because the relationship issues were so realistically portrayed. And, trying not to spoil, the ending was the refreshing hope you longed for through the whole book, even if great darkness had to be traversed to reach it. Foreman doesn’t use epic battles or huge mountains to create valleys of shadow, she uses interpersonal conflict on a faraway planet. Well done.

The other thing I loved about this series was the way it’s written. Rejoice was a child in Book 1, and Book 1 was written in that voice for that audience. As Rejoice grows, so does the depth and maturity of the story culminating in a very adult book in Pacifists’ War. This gives the reader a real sense of time and development of the characters. Parents may tell young children who loved Shatterworld that they have to wait to finish the trilogy, but if you’re a more mature reader, it can provide a safe setting to discuss many different topics ranging from marriage issues, parenting, rationalism, faith, Scripture’s authority, pacifism, death, homosexuality, and so much more. All of this is touched on in Pacifists’ War, providing excellent opportunities for some lively discussions if you feel your older kids are up for it. This also makes this the kind of story that can be read again as the reader grows themselves. You will see it with fresh eyes as you experience more of life.

This is a great book and a great trilogy!


Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors (Nyssa Glass #1) by H.L. Burke

Take lots of adventure, mix in a robots, a haunted house, plenty of steampunk-ness, a snarky computer, and a reformed pickpocket and what do you get? Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors!

Following her normal pattern Burke again provides a fun, enjoyable, quick adventure that is perfect for a Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday morning. Grab a bowl of popcorn and some chocolate and snuggle in for a grand time.

I loved this book because the adventure had a nice mix of horror which wasn’t overwhelming, but gave just a bit of spine-tingling. Nyssa is a fun heroine with plenty of moxie but also heart. And the computer is by far my favorite character. The interaction between it and Nyssa are hilarious and heart-felt.

I highly recommend this story and any other Nyssa Glass stories that are sure to follow!

(Remember, if any of these books catch your eye, just click on the link to head over to Amazon. I receive a small kick back for this, so you can think of it as supporting me if you enjoy this blog. THANK YOU!)

So many Books… where to begin???

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi

By Mitchell Zuckoff

For a long time, I’ve wanted to know more about what happened in Benghazi. Good reviews of the movie pushed me to go see this exhausting 2.5 hour battle. From it, I learned there was a book, which I wanted to read right away trusting it to provide more details and the facts. I’m happy to report that this book was truly honored by the movie. The movie didn’t follow it perfectly, but very closely. In fact, it may be one of the closest book to movie adoptions I’ve ever seen.
This book doesn’t seek to make a political statement. All it does is recount, from the perspective of the men there, what happened in Benghazi. It shows their doubts and their courage as they seek to do the right thing even while they’re cut off and without any support.
Much of what they said reminded me of similar situations in Lone Survivor and American Sniper. If you enjoyed those books, you’ll enjoy this too.
This is an event in American history that can’t be lost or forgotten. Read the book. See the movie.

I thankful these men spoke out, told their story, set an example of American courage in a time where that seems to be fading. I thankful I got to read the book.

Rated R: Language, violence, intense situations.


The Importance of Being Ernest

By Oscar Wilde

Many of the books I’ve been reading are heavy in their subject matter. I needed a break, something lighter. In dances this delightful play by Wilde. I’ve seen the movie before and loved it. The play is no difference. It is a tale of love, mistaken identity, a lost child, and well… the importance of the name Ernest.

I highly recommend this clever fun story.

Rated G: General hilariousness.


In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

By Nathaniel Philbrick

I’m not a huge fan of Moby Dick, but I like the ocean, ships, whales, and history. Most of the reviews I’ve heard about the movie say that it’s boring, but since it includes some things if find interesting, I decided to read up on a bit. That’s when I discovered the truly interesting thing about this story isn’t the whale attack… its the cannibalism.

This is an easy to read re-counting of the horrors of survive by a group of men. The captain fails them and the first mate proves the stronger man, but his life ends with him going insane.

If you enjoy some of the more unique situations in history, you should check this story out. It’s a true story with plenty of horror and an interesting study of humanity when all that lies between you and death is the body of a friend.

If your teen is working through Moby Dick, this would be an excellent companion piece.

Rated: PG-13: intense and gruesome subject matter.


Dachau 29 April 1945: The Rainbow Liberation Memoirs

By Sam Dann

I read a lot of WW2 related books and have always been interested in the history of the war. Because of this, I’ve wanted to include different aspects of it in my own stories. I have part of the plot and scene where some men come across a holocaust type setting. As I worked on it, my sister suggested I read this book as research to get a sense of what it would be like walking into a concentration camp and liberating it.

This book is a series of short memoirs written by the Rainbow Division that freed Dacha on April 29 1945. Because each memoir is about the same event from a different soldiers perspective, there is a lot of overlap. This did require some plowing through as you read and reread and reread about the same events with very little new information. I did feel like it was important to read each individual account. The terrible atrocities that happened shouldn’t be made light of or forgotten.

If you are a studied of WW2 history, I highly recommend this book.

Rate PG-13: Subject matter.


The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War

By Richard Rubin

Richard Rubin has done us a great service in his collection of stories from the last of the doughboys. He spent several years interview men and women well into their 100s, recording and researching the times they spent fighting WW1.

I read this through Audible and really enjoyed the narrator.

What a huge amount of history these people experienced and what a wonder to listen to them talk about it. I can’t recommend this book enough. From men who got in right before the end, to African Americans, women, and men who went on to live very colorful and amazing lives, this book covers it all.

I was struck intently by their stories, especially the man who at one point couldn’t remember his Father’s name. Heartbreaking.

There are stories here that will make you laugh, cry, and cringe.


Rated PG: real life, war, history


One Ranger: A Memoir

By H. Joaquin Jackson and David Marion Wilkinson

I think this quick and easy read should be mandatory for every Texan, and probably every teenage boy.

It tracks the life of Joaquin Jackson, one of the last of the real frontier Texas Rangers from his early life as a ranch hand, to watching his son be convicted of murder, and several of the high-profile cases he worked, and some of his more interesting ones.

I think what I loved most about it was his love for Texas and the honor and respect he paid to the Rangers he served with and who came before him. It is also fascinating to here his perspective on some of the troubling times in the 60’s and 70’s with race and drugs. More than that, it’s nice to read of real men with guns and spurs. 🙂

The part where he goes through the list of guns he always carried was amazing. He could easily qualify as World’s Most Interesting Man.

Rated PG-13: mild language, some intense descriptions of crimes and murders


Through the Valley of the Kwai: From Death-Camp Despair to Spiritual Triumph or To End all Wars

By Ernest Gordon

I’ve wanted to read this book for a very long time and I wasn’t disappointed. The subject matter is rough ( death-camp run by the Japanese) but the payoff of hope and Christianity is so beautiful that it is well worth it. A wonderful biography.

And yes, I almost didn’t return my Library’s 1st Edition copy.

And yes, this book will greatly influence the plot of my own book.

Rated PG-13: Gruesome details about death camps.


Heart Cries to Heaven: A Book of Payers

By David Campbell and Sara Leone

I used this book during my morning devotions and found it very encouraging to read a Godly man’s prayers. Writing down our prayers is not something that I think many of us think about, but it can be an excellent source of hope and also educational.


(Remember, if any of these books catch your eye, just click on the link to head over to Amazon. I receive a small kick back for this, so you can think of it as supporting me if you enjoy this blog. THANK YOU!)


Brothers in Valor, The Prayer of a Broken Heart, and The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology

(Courtesy of Google.)

(Courtesy of Google.)

Brothers in Valor by Michael O. Tunnell

I almost put this book down because the writing needed work. At first I couldn’t get my brain to stop editing the sentence structures and word choice. Even though it was 1st person, I couldn’t get into the head of the main character. I couldn’t even picture him, and keeping track of him and his two friends wasn’t easy. About to give up, I looked it up on Goodreads to see if everyone else had this same problem. All the ratings were very high. Curious, I Wiki-ed the side character and totally spoiled the story for myself. But, that one spoiler drove me to finish the book.
This is the story of three boys in Germany who stand up to the Nazis and pay a stiff price for their bravery.
I still wouldn’t claim it to be the best written book I’ve read, but the story was gripping. It showed what life was like for Germans during the war, the pressure to toe the line, and the persecution of not only Jews but other religions. It’s not detailed but it is chilling. It is also a reminder that no matter how young a person is they can be brave and stand up for others. Children and teens aren’t incapable of understanding, nor are they incapable of fighting. If you want a MG-YA book where teens don’t mope around in their bedrooms, this is a good place to start.
Parental Warnings/Talking: The main characters are Mormon. The book never suggests this is anything but true Christianity. There is a fair amount of violence. Not graphic but still there.

Rated: PG

(Courtesy of Solid Ground Christian Books)

(Courtesy of Solid Ground Christian Books)

The Prayer of a Broken Heart: Expository Discourses on Psalm 51 by Robert S. Candlish

I enjoyed this little book expositing Psalm 51. It was both convicting and encouraging as it delved into the different aspects of the Psalm. There was only one point I disagreed with doctrinally: at one point Candlish explained something as being entirely based on a deep emotion. He spent two pages talking about the deep emotional joy that was unexplainable. I can’t imagine that being very helpful for someone struggling with sin or in the process of repenting. I wish he had expounded more of that section with the truth and less with emotion. Other than that one part, the book was a delight to read.

Rated: G

(Courtesy of Google.)

(Courtesy of Google.)

The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology by Pascal Denault

Well, this may be the first book this in-depth and technical that I’ve managed to finish! Denault’s writing is easy to read and fairly easy to follow, though I think sitting through several of his lectures during our conference last year helped. I don’t think this book would necessarily convince a Pedobaptist to become a Baptist, but it is very encouraging to someone of like mind…like me. I’m thankful for the work Denault put into researching and tracking the Baptist distinctiveness. I don’t think I followed every argument, but I followed more than I expected. I would highly recommend this book to those looking for their Baptist roots, and for those seeking to understand the covenants.

(If you follow the links above they will take you to Amazon where you can purchase these books which will gives me a small tip. Thank you in advance!)