Bonanza Girl

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By Patricia Beatty

Ann Katie is excited when she hears that her family is moving East. Her mother, Katherine Scott, packs them up and moves her two children out to the wild Idaho Territories. Her hope is to find a better life, teaching school for the children of the miners in the gold fields. However, things quickly change when the family arrives in Eagle City. The town has hardly any wooden homes, most of the people live in tents, prices are high, and the food consists of beans, beans, and more beans. Worst of all the town is full of rough gold miners, who if they have families they are nowhere to be found.

On the way the Scotts meet Miss Helga Storkersen, who forces her way into the family, taking on their difficulties as her own. With her help, the Scotts open a restaurant in Eagle City, and things start to look brighter for the Scotts and Helga. However, an unintentionally made enemy still looms in the background of their lives, and it would seem that their troubles are far from over.

Bonanza Girl is based on the discovery of gold in the Idaho territories, in 1883, followed by the discovery of silver a couple of years later. I appreciate the way that Bonanza Girl gave a different perspective on the rough gold mining towns in the Idaho Territory, through the eyes of a young girl and her family. It was a very enjoyable book.

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Traveling Light

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By Max Lucado

We all carry a burden, some burdens we choose to heave onto our shoulders, and others we drag along without being completely aware of their presence. However, we can usually feel the weight. We might not know what it is the pulls on us, but we are conscious that it is heavy.

Using the twenty-third Psalm Max Lucado shows what burdens, you might be carrying, loads that you were never intended to bear. In eighteen chapters he identifies some of the burdens that we unknowingly carry with us. Each one is connected to a portion of the Twenty-third Psalm. Showing what God intended for you and that he wants you to let him lighten your load and trust in him.

To me, this book was an inspiration and revelation. Max Lucado’s word and opinions are simplistic and refreshing. The book also contains a study guide for each chapter. Although I haven’t used the study guide personally, I would think, after reading the book, that it would be very interesting.

The Family of Jesus

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By Karen Kingsbury

The Family of Jesus tells the story of six people who were close to Jesus during his time on this earth. It will take you through the lives of Joseph, Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, James, and Mary. Each story gives you a taste of the pain, joy, sorrow, and struggles that they encountered in their lives. Told in vivid detail, these Bible-based stories, capture your heart, bringing a new light to the Bible as never before.

I appreciate the way in which Karen Kingsbury brings each person to life, giving them depth and emotion that makes them more imaginable and relatable. Included in the book are five-day Bible studies and group discussions for each story.

The Ravenmaster’s Secret

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By Elvira Woodruff

Forrest has lived his all his life in the shadow of the Tower of London. He and his raven love to look through his old spy glass and pretend that adventure is on the way. Forrest has always dreamt of a life outside of the castle and a chance to prove his courage. However, there is no time for such games in his work filled life.

When a group of Scottish rebels is captured and brought to the tower, Forrest hopes that something exciting might happen. But he is soon to be disappointed when he finds that the prisoner entrusted to his father is a young girl.

But Maddy is not as pathetic as she could be thought to be. She is a ferocious, noble, and strong Scottish girl. Through the few times that Forrest sees her, he begins to realize that he has come to think of her as a friend. When she is sentenced to be executed, Forrest takes it upon himself to help her escape from the tower.

The Ravenmaster’s Secret tells a story of the choice between right and wrong and the fight between courage and fear. Forrest must choose between the family he loves and the friend he cares about. He finds that courage is not about being fearless, but about being brave when you are afraid.

Dragon’s Gate

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By Laurence Yep

All his life Otter has lived in the shadow of is Uncles dreams and just like his father would follow him to the end. However, the time is coming when Otter will realize that his uncle is not the amazing man he is thought to be and that life in America is very different from all that he thought.

In the year 1867, Otter leaves the Middle Kingdom bound for America. His hope is to help his father and uncle in their great work. However, California is much different that he expected. The mountains are cold, rough and covered with thick snow. They work in ground, tunneling to make a path for the Americans trains. The Chinese people are treated poorly and paid less than the American workers. Otter astonished by his father and uncles demoted position finds himself questioning their leadership and decisions on their small team or workers. Can he still bring hope and a future to the people in the Middle Kingdom?

Dragons Gate tells the story of a young boy who after having his dreams and beliefs mislead and crushed, struggles to hold on to the hope of a better future for his people.

The Shakespeare Stealer

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By Gary Blackwood

All that Widge has ever known is the orphanage where he grew up and the home of the odd doctor to whom he was apprenticed. It was during his apprenticeship that Widge was trained to write in a coded shorthand. It is because of his ability he finds himself is the hands of a new cruel master, with orders to steal a “Hamlet” from Shakespeare’s troupe at the Globe Theater.

However, things do not go as planned and before he knows it, he is tangled in the life of the theater. As Widge falls deeper and deeper into the life of the stage, he grows to realize what it means to enjoy life and have friends. The actors at the Globe have welcomed him in and made him one of them. Widge finds himself torn between the fear of not obeying his master and friends that he has at the theater and the family that he has found.

This book is a fantastic piece of work, filled with drama, emotion, and action. It captures the time of the theater and the life of an actor.

Escape Into the Night

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By Lois Walfrid Johnson

Libby Norsted has gone to live with her father on his steamboat. For Libby, life on the river is very different than the luxurious and unhindered life that she led in Chicago. It does not take long for Libby to realize that something is up on the Christina. Caleb, her father’s cabin boy, has a secret. She soon makes the terrifying discovery that he and her father are working in the underground railroad.

As she learns more about the slaves and the way they are being treated, Libby begins to question everything she ever knew about slavery. As she gets more involved with her father’s mission, she realizes how wrong slavery is. However, does she have the courage to face the dangers, challenges, and consequences of being a freedom seeker?

Out of all of Lois Johnson’s books, this one is one of my favorites. Escape into the Night is the first book in a six book series, that follow the journey of Libby and her friends in their fight for freedom. I love how Lois Johnson has tied a Christian message into this suspense filled story. Her books are both thrilling, thought-provoking, and a great read.

The Call of the Wild

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by Jack London

Buck’s life had always had a simple rhythm. His domain has always been consistent. He has always known what to expect. But suddenly, Buck finds that his life has been turned upside down. He has been sold from his sun-kissed life in Santa Clara valley and is headed to the harsh Arctic and the life of a sled dog. The Arctic is cold and the trail is rough. Buck soon learns that the dogs of this wilderness are as wild and ferocious as the land. The team runs like a machine, pulls hard, works together, but each team has its leader and obtaining dominance often leads to death. There is much danger ahead, but Buck can feel his primeval instincts awakening in him, like a call from his past.

This is a wild tale of a dog that never will give up. The dogs do get into fights the details of which are rather violent and though mentioned, they are not dwelt upon. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I like the picture that The Call of the Wild gives of what it may have been like to travel on the trails of the Canadian Wilderness.

I Am David

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By Anne Holm

I Am David tells the story of a young boy who escapes from a concentration camp in Eastern Europe. David is alone and terrified of pursuit. All he knows is that there might be safety for him in Denmark. Travelling across the land, David begins to learn about the world beyond the concentration camp and the God who cares for him.

Life is dangerous for David, he meets friends and enemies, sleeps on the open ground and eats the food of the land. Always working his way toward Denmark. He hopes that there might be a family there for him. Will David find the home he longs for? Will he learn what it means to believe in the God of green pastures and still waters? Will he escape capture and reach Denmark?

David’s story is full of adventure and danger. He is full of questions and I love the way he faces each challenge as it comes.

 

My Side of the Mountain

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By Jean Craighead George

Life in New York is not for Sam Gribley. The young boy chooses to run away and live in the Catskill Mountains, where an ancestor of his had a farm. In the Catskills, Sam makes his home among the wildlife and learns the way of the mountains. However, survival is not easy. Sam must learn to use the land for his food and shelter. Winter is coming and he is determined to weather it in the mountains.

As Sam learns about the mountain world, he also learns what it means to be independent and intuitive. He learns to trap deer, dig for roots, and catch fish. He climbs a rock face, taking a peregrine chick from its mother’s nest, to raise himself as a companion. Frightful becomes Sam’s closest friend. He loves his quiet home, without any contact from people. Is it even possible that he could grow to miss his family and the people of this world? Or will he be content to stay with Frightful in the mountains forever?

This is a charming story about a boy and his bird and their love for the mountain they call home.