Monday, November 14, 2016


Storm *****
by Bonnie S. Calhoun

Overview: A super volcano has mostly destroyed the United States. There are still a handful of cities with survivors. Eighteen-year-old Selah is the one who can some how save this last remnant. She must follow a trail of clues and head west with her friends and family.

Themes: saving the world, the importance of family

Positive elements: Storm is a well-written, interesting story with lots of action. The heroine learns how to sacrifice for others.

Negative elements: People die during battles. Non of the deaths are graphically described, but two of the characters die having their heads chopped off, which is still pretty gross. The ending of the book was a bit confusing and far fetched.

Conclusion: This book is part of a rather long series. Most series I've read start each book by quickly explaining who everyone is and what has been happening. This book just dives right into the story. Since the book has a fantasy feel, there are a lot of "made-up" words. I had no clue what was going on for awhile. However, the book intrigued me, and I kept reading. There was something rather fun and mysterious about not knowing what was fully going on.

I don't usually read books in the fantasy realm, but I did enjoy this one...but not enough to want to read the rest of the series. 

I think middle schoolers and teenagers would enjoy this book more.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Sign Of The Beaver

Sign Of The Beaver *****
by Elizabeth George Speare

Overview: Sign Of The Beaver is a really good book. It is about a boy named Matt who gets left in the wilderness to stay and claim the land that his father bought. He wanted to try some honey. So he went to a tree that had a hive. He climbed the tree and tried to stick his hand in the opening. That was a bad idea. He ran into the water, and he was covered in stings. He could barely breathe when someone took him back to his cabin. Guess who rescued him? The Indians!

Positive: The Indians and Matt become good friends.

Negative: Nothing

Conclusion: I loved the book. Ages 8 and up would like this book.            

By Sabrina Staples,8

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins ***** by Scott O' Dell 

Overview: This was a book about a girl who has to survive on an island because her tribe leaves her. She has to hunt, make weapons, and hide from her enemies. She makes a lot of friends with the animals after awhile. This is a great survival story. Eventually people come to rescue her. (The dog on the front is a wild dog that becomes her pet.)

Negative Elements: People die, animals die, and she has to leave all her animal friends that live on the island when she leaves.

Positive Elements: care, friendship. 

Conclusion: I loved this book, except for the sad parts. I think you should read it if you handle sad parts well.

by Summer Staples, 10


Wanderer ***** 
by Sharon Creech

Overview: This was a great book about three kids, Sophie, Cody, Brian, and three uncles, who sail to England. Sophie has foster parents because her other parents died when she was little. Her uncle owns a ship, and he's always wanted to sail it. So they sail the ship to England to visit Sophie's friend  Bompie. The six relatives have to figure out how to get along together on the boat.

Negative elements: fighting, disagreements

Positive elements: friendship, working together

Conclusion: I thought this was a great story. I think you should read it!

By Summer Staples, 10 

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Broken Way

The Broken Way *****
by Ann Voskamp

Ann writes about brokenness and weaves a parallel of her wheat fields beautifully through the whole book. She tells of her own brokenness and struggling with the pain and hardship of her life. She calls out to each of us to embrace our stop fleeing stop pretending we have it all together. God wants to set us free from sin, to use our brokenness to display his glory. He also wants us to stop shutting out the world's pain and be willing to reach out and engage in the lives of the hurting. Pain and suffering can lead us to community, and we were meant to share these burdens together. She calls us to give our lives for the service of others just like Jesus came to give His life for us.

She explores this brokenness of Christ that we celebrate during communion. He came to be broken so we could be forgiven. We now break the bread to remember His broken body. I love this quote from the book: "Standing there with the Farmer under the canopy of maples, I remembered Lewis's words echoing Christ: "I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down...Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked--the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours." It's like an echo of communion, of that intimate exchange of the givenness in my brokenness and the givenness of His acceptance."

Wow! Take a minute to think about that.

The insights in Ann's first book 1,000 Gifts were amazing; however, the strongly poetic style of the book made it hard to read at times. This book is so powerful and so well-written...very straight-forward but still with Ann's unique voice.

This book is a wealth of truth. I will probably re-read it every so often to remind myself of these truths and to ponder them. 

I would highly recommend this book for any one.


Remember and Return: Rekindling Your Love for the Savior

Remember and Return *****
by John MacArthur

Overview: This is a 31-day devotional book to help us know and love Jesus more. Each day has about five or six pages of reading, which isn't too much since the hard covered book is a smaller gift size. The chapters end with a "Daily Challenge,"  which is basically just summing up the principles taught for that day.

Positive elements: The book is full of scripture and theological teaching about Jesus. But, each day's reading is short and easy to read through.

Negative elements: If you are used to quick, upbeat devotional reading, this isn't the book for you. The book reads more like smaller portions of theological essays. 

Conclusion: It is important to be reading the Bible daily and to be reminding ourselves about what is true about Jesus. I have been reading a chapter of this each day along with my daily Bible reading. Like I said before, it is a very "dry" read, but I think many people, probably especially men, will appreciate its straight forward teaching.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 


Hatchet *****
By Gary Paulsen

Overview: This was a great story about a boy who crashed in a plane with the pilot on his way to his mom's house. His dad gives him a hatchet before he leaves, luckily. The pilot has a heart attack so he dies. The plane falls in a small lake, and the boy Brian luckily survives. He has to survive in the wilderness for a few months. A pilot rescues him after a few months. The pilot takes him back to his mom. Brian has to survive with his hatchet. He knows there is food and sleeping bags in the plane. But he doesn't want to go inside the plane with a dead pilot. Finally, he does go in there and get the food. 

Negative Elements: It talks about how the pilot dies and how the fish eat him.

Positive Elements: I loved how much action there was in it. 

Conclusion: This was a great action story! I really loved it! Find out what happens to Brian. 

By Summer Staples, 10

Thursday, November 3, 2016

French Country Cooking

French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyards *****
by Mimi Thorisson

As heavy as an encyclopedia, this French cookbook is full of beautiful, glossy pages with photos of amazing looking food. Most of the food looks so unusual and complicated to make that I probably won't cook it. But I love looking at all the photos. 

Even though I know little about French cooking, I am determined to try out at least some of the recipes.The first recipe I'm going to try has a cheese sauce with endives in it. I looked up what endives were...they look like baby heads of lettuce, but they aren't lettuce. Now I just have to find a store that carries them! Looking forward to the experiment.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.