I am a teacher, specializing in English/writing classes for home school and Christian school students. As I recently posted on my website, I am also a novelist. However, all of my life I have been an avid reader. It all began in the third grade when my local branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (the Baltimore public library system) held a summer reading program for kids. After that, I was hooked. Continue reading
Every month or so, I will write a short article dealing with some aspect of fiction. For example, the first post will be about the fact that reading helps students become better writers. In the post after that, we will discuss some ways in which reading improves cognition and general physical well-being for everyone. And so it goes.
With every post I will also recommend books for various ages, books that have been “around for a while”, but ones you may have missed. All of us look for certain things when we read fiction. Some people look for romance. Others want a “four hankie” book that will stir our deepest emotions. Some want mystery, suspense, or action. Me? I look, first of all, for a book that is well written. By that I mean a book whose characters are well developed, that is set in an interesting or unusual time period, whose narrative flows along easily. I also look for books that contain a strong Christian message, but I also enjoy books that, while not overtly Christian, still contain traditional values.
I will also ask you to reply to my blog either by letting me know how you liked (or didn’t like) my suggestions, or by making some suggestions yourself. NOTE: Please do NOT recommend books with sex scenes or swearing. All books should affirm a Christian worldview. If I like them, I will add them to my monthly recommendations.
THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, Trenton Lee Stewart. Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2008
Dozens of children respond to an unusual newspaper advertisement and then are put through a series of intellectually challenging tests (which the readers enjoy as well). Four children complete them successfully and travel undercover to an isolated school. Here, children are being trained by a strange genius masterminding a plot to take over the world. Using their considerable gifts, the four must work together to uncover and defeat Mr. Curtain’s diabolical strategies.
This combination of narrative and riddles keep the readers’ attention. The characters are very interesting. But I kept wondering why one in particular, a grumpy little girl named Constance, was among those chosen. We learn her value in the end and it confirms to us the value of each person to society. Continue reading
LONGBOW, Wayne Grant, Published independently, 2014. Available on Amazon.
Most YA boys love books where the protagonist is up against impossible odds and must face them down and conquer them. This adventure series set in 12th century England, filled with battles, swords, bows and arrows, evil villains, brave knights, and non-stop action, is one of them. Roland Innes is definitely a hero one can root for.
When Roland’s father is killed, he must flee for his life, but he is hounded by a relentless enemy. Continue reading
WATERFALL, Lisa T. Bergren. Published by David C. Cook (2012 Christy Award Winner).
While excavating a Tuscan tomb with their mother during a summer vacation, sisters Gabi and Lea are transported back to 1332 Tuscany and the battles between Florence and Siena.
Lots and LOTS of action. It is more fantasy than fiction based on historical facts. In actual fact, young girls sword-fighting with medieval knights is so highly improbable that normally I would discount the book because of it. Continue reading
ALL FOR A STORY, by Allison Pittman (2014 Christy Award Winner) published by Tyndale House.
Keep in mind as you read this that God sent His son to save sinners. In this novel set during Prohibition, the protagonist, Monica Brisbane, is not a faultless heroine. In fact, she spends her evenings in D.C.’s speakeasies. She also works undercover for a scandalous newspaper. You probably will not like her too much at the beginning. However, when she meets the new owner of the paper, an honorable and upstanding Christian, her world view changes. And isn’t that what the Good News is all about?
What I liked about this book was the way the author brought the Jazz Age to life and how a young girl, full of high spirits, without Christ in her life, could be caught up in it. I like the fact that the story line is a little unexpected. It is not grim or depressing. There is no violence or gory scenes. The characters are well written and the writing style draws the reader right along. However, I foresee that this is a book readers will either like a lot, or not at all.