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.

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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.

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.

Hawksmaid

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By Kathryn Lasky

When her father’s castle is attacked, her mother murdered, and her home destroyed, Matty’s world is shaken. However, she finds peace for herself among her father’s hawks. Each one is unique and special in their own way. As Matty’s bond with the hawks deepens, she begins to speak to them. Using their own tongue and in return understanding their voices.

However, the countryside has been thrown into disarray. Under the tyranny of Prince John, Sir Guy Gisborne, and the Sheriff, the people are poor and starving. Matty begins to work with her best friend Fynn and some of his companions, to help the people survive.

I enjoyed this version of the classic Robin Hood. The story follows the basics of the classic and yet is so much of its own story. Matty has an odd ability to communicate and get inside the heads of her hawks. Also at one point in the story, Matty spirit is intertwined with that of one of her hawks. Though these things are odd, they do add to the mystery and creativity of this story.

Banner in the Sky

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By James Ramsey Ullman

 

The Citadel soars upwards into the sky. Its peak is nestled among clouds. The unconquered mountain is Rudi Matts dream. Rudi has alway dreamt of climbing the icy slopes of the Citadel. It’s massive, terrible, splendour has always made him catch his breath. The people of the Alps say that it cannot be climbed. However, one man thought otherwise. Joseph Matt believed that the Citadel could be conquered. It was while pursuing this belief, that he lost his life. But, his son still believes that the slopes could be climbed and just like his father, dreams of reaching the summit.

There seems to be little hope for Rudi ever climbing the Citadel. Every moment he spends on its lower slope is stolen from his hours in the hotel kitchen. His family will not let him go. But, the Citadel still calls to him. Is there hope for Rudi? Will he overcome all odds to reach the top? Can he conquer the dangers of the mountain? Is there anything worth giving up this dream?

A Murder for Her Majesty

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By Beth Hilgartner

After her father’s murder, Alice Tuckfield, flees to York, seeking safety and help. However, on the way she meets the cathedral choir boys and her plan changes. The boys take her in and disguise her as one of them. As much as Alice fears discovery, she grows to love the life of a choir boy. But can she can’t keep up the disguise forever. It isn’t long before her father’s murderers find her, and Alice’s world takes another turn. As her danger grows, the choir boys band together, to help Alice escape. But, will they succeed?

A Murder for Her Majesty in a thrilling book. This story is full of friendship, the courage of a young girl, and adventure. I loved the engaging plot of this book.

The Sherwood Ring

 

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By Elizabeth Marie Pope

After the death of her father, Peggy Grahame, moves to live with her uncle Enos. The family’s ancestral home is a mysterious and lonely place to Peggy. Her Uncle remains secluded and aloof. There are few maids to talk with and after her Uncle had driven Pat, her one acquaintance, from the house, she seems to be alone. However, Peggy soon finds out that she is not as alone as she believed herself to be. The Rest-and-be-Thankful is full of ghosts.

Peggy finds herself caught up in the past of her ancestors. As they unfold the story of the family, Peggy begins to learn something about the present. Is there more than just a disliking between Uncle Enos and Pat? Could she possibly find true love?

The Sherwood Ring is an enchanting and mysterious story, full of excitement and romance. There are ghosts in this story. However, they are all exceedingly friendly and not in the least creepy. They appear and disappear at intervals, but while present, talk and act like people. The overall plot and unfolding history are very engaging. I really enjoyed this book.

 

InkHeart

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By Cornelia Funke

Her father’s words make things come to life from between the covers of a book, to stand right before you. However, the words of his tongue also take things away. Often the things they take away are loved and the things they bring into your world are evil and dangerous.

Meggie’s life has always been abnormal. Her father’s trade of bookbinding requires continuous travels from client to client, never letting her settle. But if she ever wished for normality, it was in vain. Soon after a visit from someone from her father’s past, her life becomes another rollercoaster of adventure.

An evil man, Capricorn, hunts for the last copies of the book, InkHeart, from which he came many years before. He is also hunting for the Silvertongue who brought him from between its covers. Betrayed, Meggie’s father is taken by Capricorn. Meggie, Elinor the book lover, and the homesick Dustfinger set out to find her father and save the last copy of InkHeart. The pain of the past, fear of what may happen, and the longing for a home long lost, hinder the characters on their conquest. Meggie faces the dangers of being hunted, Capricorns evil, the fear of losing her father, imprisonment and seems to her that her life has become a fairytale.

I enjoyed the story of Meggie and her friends. InkHeart is full of magic and imagination. Meggie’s father’s ability to read is not itself evil. It is used, accidentally or intentionally, to bring evil from the books. However, I really love the creativity of the story and found it very entertaining.

Princess Academy

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By Shannon Hale

Miri lives, high on the slopes of Mt. Eskel. Up there the world echoes with the sound of hammer against rock and the ground is full of the hum of quarry-speech. Miri longs to join her father and elder sister in the quarry. She longs to work along with the villagers and feel the quarry-speech in the stones beneath her. However, her father seems determined to keep her out of the quarry. Miri fills her days with keeping the families goats and trading their stones. But then the unexpected happens.

The prince must have a bride and that bride must come Mt. Eskel. All eligible girls in Miri’s village are taken to the princess academy to prepare for meeting the prince. Miri is faced with competition among the girls, the longing to go home, and yet the strong desire to learn. However, when danger threatens the Academy Miri must put aside her feelings and save the people she loves most.

I really enjoyed Princess Academy. Miri’s struggles and pain are made real to you as you pursue the story and your love for her and her people will grow as you turn the pages. The quarry-speaking is a rather mysterious talent that the mountain people have. They can communicate with each other through the mountains stones. Though rather unique, quarry-specking is not perceived in an evil light but rather an exciting form of communication.

Raiders from the Sea

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By Lois Walfrid Johnson

Brianna O’Toole lives on the Irish countryside with her family. However, Bree is not at peace, she dreams of adventure and travel. But she never dreamed of how travel would come to her. In one frightful day, all that Bree ever new is taken from her. Viking raiders from across the sea attack, taking many Irish people captive, including Bree and her brother Devin. On a ship headed away from home, at the mercy of Mikkel, a haughty, proud, young, Viking leader, Bree struggles to put her trust in God.

How can Bree and Devin bring hope to the people around them? How can they keep their eyes on God when the future looms dark and uncertain? Can they find to courage to win in the struggles ahead of them?

Raiders from the Sea in the first book in Lois Johnson’s Viking Quest Series. Bree’s story is encouraging and engaging as she struggles to find courage in the darkest times and be a light to the people around her.