Category Archives: Mostly About Reading

Book Review: Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone – by Darlene Foster

Amanda in Alberta, The Writing on the StoneBook: Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone
Author: Darlene Foster
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Date: July 6, 2014
Genre: middle grade fiction
Pages: 98
Price: paper $9.35; Kindle $3.88
My Rating: an adventure young readers will love
 

I received a copy of Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone from the author in exchange for my honest review.

If you haven’t met Amanda before, you’ll need to know she is a twelve-year-old, adventurous, travel-loving girl who seems to find mysteries wherever she goes. This time, in Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone, not even the one leaving home she still gets involved in a situation.

Amanda invited Leah, her friend from England, to vacation in Alberta, Canada. For Leah – as it was for Amanda when she visited Leah in England – so much seemed strange to what she was accustomed to at home.

Amanda’s parents are busy people but make time to take the girls to various interesting places, such as dinosaur museums, a cattle drive, and unique stores for shopping for “cowboy” attire. While they were at a rodeo, Amanda noticed a little stone drop out of a clown’s pocket, but she couldn’t get the man’s attention to tell him. When she picked up the stone she noticed unusual markings on it, so she slipped it into her own pocket. Things happen from then on to make Leah’s vacation one to remember! Cowboys argue over something, a surly bothersome man keeps following her, she is suspicious of ‘questionable’ people – and Amanda and Leah are involved in another sometimes dangerous adventure.

Darlene Foster‘s writing is suited to young readers. The Amanda series is fast-paced, action-filled, and written so that the young main characters are the real problem solvers but with adult involvement.

You can read my reviews of two books in Darlene Foster‘s Amanda series: Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, and Amanda in England: The Missing Novel.

You can find Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

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Book Review: Amanda in England: The Missing Novel – by Darlene Foster

Amanda in England, The Missing NovelBook: Amanda in England: The Missing Novel
Author: Darlene Foster
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Date: August 9, 2012
Genre: juvenile fiction; adventure (age level 7-13, grade level 3-6)
Pages: 73
Price: paper $8.80; Kindle $3.65
My Rating: a fun read that educates while taking children on an adventure
 

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Amanda in England: The Missing Novel is book three of the Amanda series by Darlene Foster. Written for middle grade readers it is a quick-paced easy read. 

Amanda is a curious adventurous twelve-year-old whose friend in England invited her to come for a visit. Having a love of travel she happily accepted Leah’s invitation.

From the time Amanda arrives things begin happening. One thing leads to another, and she finds herself involved in the mystery of a missing valuable book. Young readers will enjoy the antics and escapades of Amanda, Leah and two local kids they meet as they encounter a strange acting lady, run into trouble when two men chase them, and try to keep all the trouble they’re in from Leah’s parents. While following Amanda readers will also be learning a little about some of the sites and sights of England.

Darlene Foster has written four books in the Amanda series so far. If you want to read my review of her first book in the series, go to Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask.

You can find Amanda in England: The Missing Novel listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: The Dragondain: a Moon Realm Novel – by Richard Due

Dragondain.2Book: The Dragondain: a Moon Realm Novel, book 2
Author: Richard Due
Illustrator: Carolyn Arcabascio
Publisher: Gibbering Gnome Press
Date: December 7, 2012
Genre: middle grade fantasy
Pages: 287
Price: $11.35 paper; $2.95 Kindle
My Rating: an exciting part two of a captivating, dramatic, exciting fantasy that keeps the reader enthralled to the end
 
 

I received a copy of The Dragondain from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Having read book one of the Moon Realm series, I was eager to read book two. This volume, The Dragondain, continues from where the first one left off.

You can read my review of The Moon Coin, which is book one of the Moon Realm, to get an idea of the thrill of this series. The Dragondain takes the reader on another burst of adventures, and fills one’s head with images and scenes that are amazing and wondrous. It’s as if the author, Richard Due (pronounced Dewy) stored in his mind every fantasy story he ever read, picked out the most exciting inspiring parts, tweaked them, added the Dewy imagination, and out came this exciting fantastical world … or, I should say, worlds. Wonderful! Note: The illustrations by Carolyn Arcabascio at the beginning of each chapter add a creative extra to the story.

In The Dragondain: a Moon Realm Novel we are reunited with fifteen-year-0ld Jasper and his fourteen-year-old sister, Lily, as they continue in their search for their missing mysterious uncle Ebb. Using a special necklace, they take turns travelling to other worlds where they meet with all sorts of dangers and strange characters, enter into serious battles, and discover their own unique powers. This time more dramatic events happen at their uncle’s mansion and their own house to add to the suspense.

The Dragondain is very well crafted and cleverly executed, with the final scene set for continuation in another book. It isn’t done in a mean way, either, but as an invitation to continue on the journey with Jasper and Lily. I look forward to it! There is a fourth book already in line for after book three is released.

If The Dragondain interests you, then it is best that you start with book one – The Moon Coin (at the time of this writing The Moon Coin is free on Kindle for anyone with Amazon Prime) – so you will get to know the characters and background. If you enjoy fantasy you won’t be disappointed.

You can find The Dragondain: a Moon Realm Novel, book 2 listed on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: Emma Bean – by Jean Van Leeuwen

Emma Bean1Book: Emma Bean
Author: Jean Van Leeuwen
Illustrator: Juan Wijngaard
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Date: September 6, 1993
Genre: picture book for ages 3 and up
Pages: 40
Price: can be found at a wide range of prices, from a few cents for used to phenomenal prices for new
My Rating: a book to love for its wonderful story and fabulous illustrations
 
 

The back story: I was studying, taking a course called Writing Children’s Literature. I had a long reading list of children’s books, so I began buying some from the bookstore and borrowing many from the library to read from that list. One day I made a trip to the bookstore and just wandered around lovingly looking at and touching the many, many books, when I came upon this particular one. Emma Bean by Jean Van Leeuwen was the most gorgeous hard cover book I had seen that day … and maybe ever up to then. I stood in a quiet aisle of that bookstore and read the story. Oh my goodness! It so touched my heart it was all I could do to keep from crying right there. In fact, I think I did sniffle a little. Not prepared to buy anything that day I reluctantly put the book back, but a few days later I went to the little shop with a specific purchase in mind and left with my own copy of Emma Bean.

Look at the words of the opening page:  Once there was a rabbit and she had a    girl. The girl’s name was Molly. The rabbit was Emma Bean.

How sweet and inviting is that beginning? This is the most adorable story. Emma Bean was made to be a cuddly toy bunny for a baby, and as the little girl grew Emma Bean got to have lots of experiences – from taste-testing to ‘flying’ (not always the best fun) to going to school.

The illustrations by Juan Wijngaard are fabulous. Rich, colourful, realistic, they help to make the story delightful and memorable.

Emma Bean2

 

 

 

This is the back cover.

If Emma Bean by Jean Van Leeuwen had been available for me to read as a little girl, for sure it would have been one of my most cherished. Even though it was published two decades ago, I highly recommend this book for a child you care about, or for your own bookshelf – like I did. :)

You can find Emma Bean listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

Book Review: The Michael Letters: Heaven’s Answer to Screwtape – by Jim Peschke

The Michael Letters, Heaven's Answer to ScrewtapeBook: The Michael Letters: Heaven’s answer to Screwtape
Author: Jim Peschke
Publisher:  Jim Peschke
Date: 2010
Genre: religious fiction
Pages: 142
Price: Kindle under $5; paper under $10
My rating: good attempt at a follow-up to C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

 

In order for you to make sense of the intent of this book – The Michael Letters: Heaven’s answer to Screwtape – you may first have to read C.S.Lewis’ famous classic The Screwtape Letters. Even having read Lewis’ book I found this one a little hard to ‘get’.

Jim Peschke‘s writing is good – the archangel is writing to a guardian angel whose main focus is on a man who is struggling with his faith. All through the book other people in this man’s life are mentioned, sometimes pulling the focus off the main character, but making connections to his life.

The angels address his conflicts with his mother, his interest in a lady friend – even talking about her being overweight, his problems at work, and his worries about being a charitable person.

There were a few places in what the angels were believing where the author did not line up with Scripture. This may be a matter of interpretation, but if I may give an example: “The Son came to wonder if he could die for mankind’s sin.” This is not quite accurate; Jesus never doubted His mission and godship, although as man he was not welcoming the suffering He knew was coming.

The Michael Letters is an entertaining read, not C.S.Lewis standard but the author claimed to not pretend to write the same as Lewis. He does give a modern reply by angels to what the devil and helper were saying in The Screwtape Letters.

You can find The Michael Letters: Heaven’s answer to Screwtape listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: Heaven’s PREY – by Janet Sketchley

Heaven's PreyBook: Heaven’s PREY: A Redemption’s Edge novel
Author: Janet Sketchley
Publisher: Choose NOW Publishing
Date: November 1, 2013
Genre: suspense; regional fiction
Pages: 322
Price: Paperback under $16; Kindle under $4
My rating: hard to read but harder to put down
 

I received a copy of Heaven’s Prey from the author for my honest review.

This was a novel hard for me to read but also hard to put out of mind. I had to know how it ended, and not only in order to write a review.

In Heaven’s Prey by Janet Sketchley we meet Ruth, the main female character who is still mourning the loss of her niece, a young woman who had been brutally attacked and murdered. We meet Tony, Ruth’s husband who refuses to accept the God to Whom his wife prays … for the killer! In a dramatic turn of events we meet the killer, Harry, who had escaped from prison and was not on the west coast of Canada where everyone was looking for him, but in Nova Scotia – on Canada’s east coast.

Mild spoiler alert: On her way home from a prayer meeting Ruth makes a stop at a convenience store. That’s when things get dramatic. In an odd turn of events Harry is there and kidnaps Ruth, not knowing her connection to his last victim (her niece) before he was caught. This traumatic event leads to dramatic change in the lives of Ruth, Tony and Harry.

Janet Sketchley is a strong writer. Heaven’s Prey is well-structured, dramatic, hard to read in places because of content, and keeps the reader interested in knowing if/how Ruth will survive, and what will happen to Harry.

Although this novel is a story of redemption and forgiveness it is definitely not a book for young readers. If you enjoy a good suspense with no foul language, scenes that are on the edge but not graphic, drama that rises and falls and increases again, then this is the book for you.

Heaven’s PREY by Janet Sketchley was a finalist in the 2014 Word Awards in the suspense category.

You can find Heaven’s PREY listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

 Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

Book Review: Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom – by Tricia Goyer

BalancedBook: Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom
Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: GoyerInk
Date: December 17, 2013
Genre: women’s non-fiction, family living
Pages: 106
Price: Kindle, $4.97
My Rating: a must-read for all work-at-home moms who feel guilty because they can’t do it all
 
 

If you are a mother with still-at-home children to care for, if you are trying to work at home while caring for your children (this doesn’t mean that caring for your children is not work), if you are super-stressed with trying to do it all and maintain your sanity — this book is for you! Or if you know someone who falls into that category, perhaps even a work-at-home dad, this book should be in her/his hands.

Author Tricia Goyer is a prolific writer having many books to her credit. She doesn’t hide the fact that she lives by her faith in God, and that her writing talent is a gift from Him. If you are worried about “religious” content, don’t be. In a non-preachy way she shares about how to make change happen in your life to help you find balance as you try to handle both children and career.

The following is a list of the eleven chapters in which she shares practical and sound advice, ideas, and suggestions in a conversational, non-clinical manner.

  1. My Story of Finding Balance {And Some Practical Starter Ideas}
  2. How Your Work Benefits from You Being at Home
  3. How My Kids Benefit from My Work-at-Home-Ness
  4. What Does God Have In Mind When He Selects and Shapes a Person?
  5. Working and Serving from Your Core
  6. Becoming the Architect of Your Own Schedule
  7. Successful {Not Stressful} Family Living
  8. I Can’t Tell You How Many Times a Week I’m Asked, “How Do You Do It All?”
  9. Being a Mom and Following Your God-Given Dreams … I Give You Permission
  10. The Freedom of Knowing Yourself
  11. Balance Isn’t the Ultimate Goal – Knowing God Is

Since I seem to like quotes, a few things Tricia Goyer said stood out to me, such as:

  • “Dreams don’t happen if they stay dreams; you have to do something about them.”
  • “When we do the work He’s called us to do, we can trust the outcome to Him.”
  • “I want to live the type of life I can write about.”

I also liked these quotes she mentioned by other people:

  • “I am here to serve; not to show off. I am here to inspire; not to impress. I am here to make a difference; not to make a name.” – mantra of author and speaker Sam Horn when she gets up to speak
  • “When you want what God wants for the reasons God wants it you’re unstoppable … for the glory of God.” – Steven Furtick, pastor at Elevation Church
  • “There are two great days in our lives. The day we were born, and the day we discovered why.” – William Barclay

From my personal position, I found this book is not only for work-at-home moms, but for anyone with legitimate demands on their time and attention as they try to ‘work at home.’ Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom is worth the short time required to read it, and may help you discover things you didn’t know about yourself.

You can find Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)