Christmas is a time for tradition. Time-honored traditions have a way of unifying our experience of the holiday in ways that few other things can. I started a few traditions when my children were young and we still find them comforting today. Still, I wish I had started more traditions…and reading from a book of Christmas stories daily as the days count down is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
Home for Christmas is a delightful anthology of short stories with Christmas themes. The authors are familiar (Pearl Buck, Henry van Dyke) and less-familiar, but all are enjoyable and pleasant. Most are secular stories that capture the “spirit of Christmas” in subtle ways. The 20 stories are all great for reading aloud to children or adults and most are about 10 minutes of reading or less. I didn’t get the book until right before Christmas so I didn’t get to read it much in my run-up to the holiday, but I will next year.
I received a complementary copy of this book in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Life Behind the Wall is really a trilogy of books. Book one is Candy Bombers, book two is Beetle Bunker and book three is Smuggler’s Treasure. The trilogy traces a German family’s story from just after WWII in 1948 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The books are fictional but recount actual historic events. They are written from the perspective of a family which is separated by the Berlin Wall. It shows what life was like during the time that Germany was divided into two opposing political systems.
The characters were very likable and relatable. The protagonist in each story is a 13-year-old, so the book is a great choice for advanced elementary school and middle school readers. Even as an adult, I enjoyed the book and the story line woven throughout. Historical fiction is a great stepping-off point into the study of history, personalizing the conflicts, hardships and victories experienced in a time other than our own.
I enjoyed the book and will read it with my son, along with studying the REAL “Candy Bomber,” Gail “Hal” Halverson. Hal’s story is one of hope and charity in the midst of strife and I highly recommend that students look into his remarkable life story.
Life Behind the Wall is a compelling story of 4 generations affected by the aftermath of WWII and their sacrifices and struggles as well as their triumphs. The Christian message in the book is very subtle and not at all preachy, and there are discussion questions at the end of each of the books to stimulate application of such principles as honesty, courage and freedom.
***I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Drew is strong, courageous and talented. His life is changed by the side effects of a physics lab explosion. Drew can see invaders, both good and bad, all around him. These invaders change lives and Drew feels compelled to intervene on behalf of the innocent people who might be hurt by the dark invaders.
Cloak of the Light is a good book, and I enjoyed reading it. It is very much written with a young-adult audience in mind. The story was a bit slow in parts, but not to the extent that I wanted to give up reading. I would have given it 5 stars had the exciting pace kept up consistently.
It is important for readers to know that the story in Cloak of the Light is not self-contained. There is a sequel forthcoming, but until then, there are a number of issues (as well as a few MIA characters) left hanging at the end of the book.
Chuck Black is a talented writer with a wide knowledge base to draw from. His spiritual insights are not heavy-handed, but still straightforward, and thought provoking. I really like the readers’ guide at the end of the book. It’s a great feature for adults who are reading with their t’weens and teens, as a stepping-off point for deeper discussion. The readers’ guide is also a great tool for people who read the book who are not Christian, to help them see spiritual truths within the fictional setting.
I will look forward to reading Chuck Black’s next book, and in the mean time, I’ll get the Kingdom Series for my son to read. It is great to know that there are authors who write for teens in a way that subtly, but directly, points to Christ.
*I received a complementary copy of this book from Multnomah Books in an exchange for my honest review.