Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review - "Thief of Glory" by Sigmund Brouwer

Thief of Glory
by Sigmund Brouwer
Published by WaterBrook Press
336 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction, Christian Fiction
About this book:
"A boy coming of age in a time of war…
the love that inspires him to survive.

For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all."

 **Note: I do not recommend this book for anyone who is not an adult due to some gruesome and graphic scenes/descriptions and mature themes.**

First off I would like say that I chose this book because I love reading books about World War II (both fiction and non-fiction) and I was excited to see a new realistic Christian historical novel based on that time in history being published. When I chose this book to read I was expecting a realistic look at what happened in the Dutch East Indies during World War II which is what this book was. I didn’t chose this book because I wanted to read a Christian romance novel and I wasn’t expecting it to be a feel good book with a happy ending. I’ve read enough books about World War II to know about a lot of the gruesome, brutal, and horrific things that happened from all different sides of the war. That being said, even though I was expecting this to be a realistic WWII fiction book, I unfortunately didn’t enjoy this book.

For the most part the book was a well written book. After reading it I can tell that Sigmund Brouwer is a talented writer that is knowledgeable about or has done his research about the subjects he has written about. I had only read a couple of Sigmund Brouwer’s juvenile fiction books before, and although I did enjoy them, the writing was more of a simplistic style since the books were written for kids. That’s not the case in this book. The author has done a good job at making me feel like I’m living the events of the story just like the characters. Sometimes it wasn’t always a good thing for this book to be so descriptive though, and one part, although short, actually made me squeamish and that part wasn’t even war related.

This book didn’t really feel like a Christian book to me either. Yes, there were a few references to the Bible and to Christianity, but the book still felt like more of a mainstream novel than a Christian one due to some of the descriptions in this book and because of the way most of the characters acted. Half the time Jeremiah was angry at God and thought the Bible wasn’t true. The other references included the children reading Bible stories, a couple short parts where the characters had discussions related to the Bible, and there was a faith related part toward the end of the book, but it was very subtle and not detailed, unlike the other detailed parts in the book that I could have done without.

Also, while I didn’t choose this book because I wanted to read a Christian romance novel, because of the summary this book has I’m sure a lot of people will think that this book is mainly a romance novel. It’s not. While it does have some romance in it, for those looking for their next Christian romance novel to read, I am suggesting that you look for a different book.

I didn’t know anything about the Dutch East Indies during World War II, so I did enjoy the historical aspect of this book and would rate that part of it highly. There were also a few characters I liked in the story. But overall this book was depressing and heart wrenching and I didn’t care for some of the crude or overly detailed gruesome descriptions or details that were in it, some of which weren’t even war related that I felt the book could have done without. I was also hoping for more of a Christian theme to it or more Christian related content. Unfortunately, even with my love for reading books about World War II history, I just didn’t enjoy this book.

I am putting the negative parts and sexual references in this book in a spoiler as some of these things could be spoilers to the story.

*I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review - "Samantha Sanderson On the Scene" by Robin Caroll

Samantha Sanderson On the Scene
by Robin Caroll
Faithgirlz: Samantha Sanderson series, Book #2
Published by Zondervan (Zonderkidz)
256 Pages
Target Audience: Girls, Ages 8-12
Genres: Christian Fiction, Youth Fiction, Mystery
About this book:
"What if getting to the bottom of a mystery means learning how to love your enemy? As Samantha and the rest of the middle schoolers prepare for the upcoming Spring Fest, “mean girl” Nikki faces the reality that her parents are getting divorced. Samantha has a hard time sympathizing---Nikki has never been very nice to anyone, let alone Samantha. But when Nikki becomes victim of a string of attacks, Sam takes it upon herself and uses her super sleuth abilities to get to the bottom of the bullying. After all, articles on bullying are just what the school paper needs instead of all that silly fluff like popularity tips. Samantha enlists the help of her tech-savvy BFF, Makayla, but while the two track down clues, they leave a trail of trouble behind---and may even be directly responsible for the break-in of their very own school’s computer lab!
Samantha Sanderson is a resourceful seventh grader with the extraordinary dream to become an aspiring award-winning journalist. Sam and her best friend, Makayla, are always sniffing out the next big mystery to report in the school paper---that is, when they aren’t busy navigating the crazy world of middle school, faith, and friends."
 In book #2 of the Samantha Sanderson series, Samantha Sanderson On the Scene, Sam finds out that “mean girl” Nikki Cole is being bullied and decides to try to help her, even though Nikki has never been very nice to Sam. After learning about Nikki being bullied, Sam comes up with the idea to write about the topic of bullying for her school's newspaper. But Sam’s articles get her into trouble again and this time they may be the cause of a break in of their school’s computer lab. Can Sam figure out who is bullying Nikki and why? Is the break in of the computer lab related? And can Sam learn to befriend Nikki and others who have never really been kind to her?

I liked Samantha Sanderson On the Scene just as much at the first book in the series. It’s a great continuation of the series. I really liked how Sam tried to befriend and help Nikki in the story, even though Nikki had never been friendly toward Sam. It illustrates a good lesson for girls that we should love and be kind to even our enemies.

The spiritual content is similar to the first book. Sam goes to youth group at her church and the Bible verses Psalm 34:12-14, Proverbs 31:8, and Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 are discussed while at youth group. Sam prays at different times in the story. Also, Sam learns to trust God while her family is trying to make a tough decision about something that will impact all their lives.

This book does deal more with the subject of divorce than the first book. It also has more mentions of crushes, who likes who, who’s going to homecoming with who, etc. than the first book.

I enjoyed reading Samantha Sanderson On the Scene just as I enjoyed the first book in the series. It’s a great mystery for girls that deals with the real topic of bullying. I’m really looking forward to reading the third book in the series when it comes out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sewing Book Review - "Super Stitches Sewing" by Nicole Vasbinder

Super Stitches Sewing
by Nicole Vasbinder
Published by Potter Craft / Crown Publishing
176 Pages
Genres: Nonfiction, Sewing, Crafts, Hobbies, Reference
About this book:
"Does your sewing machine come with lots of fancy stitches that you've never thought to try? This essential guide to machine and hand stitches will teach you how to use any and every stitch for professional-looking seams, hems, gathers, darts, and more. Unlock your full sewing potential with 57 machine stitches, 18 hand stitches, and tips to choose the correct needles, threads, and sewing machine accessories, complete with detailed step-by-step tutorials and illustrations.

This comprehensive stitch dictionary is a must-have companion for any sewer, whether you just bought your first sewing machine or you’re a seasoned expert looking to polish your skills. If your passion is dressmaking, tailoring, or simply mending your own clothes, Super Stitches Sewing gives you all of the information you need to make every project a success."

Super Stitches Sewing is an excellent stitch guide for sewers. The book is broken up into three main sections. Section 1 features Machine Stitches and Section 2 features Hand Stitches. For each stitch featured in the guide, there is a photographed example of the stitch and an illustrated tutorial on how to sew the stitch and/or how to use the stitch. The book also lists the difficulty level of each stitch, and there is an “Essential Facts” box for each stitch which has information such as alternative names for the stitch, key features of the stitch, substitute stitches, the common uses for the stitch, the fabric types you can use the stitch with, which presser foot to use if it’s a machine stitch, and the thread and needle types to use.

The third section of the book features different types of tools and equipment. It lists the different types of hand sewing and machine needles, thread, and presser feet, and gives information about each type such as key features, common uses, sizes (needles), the fabrics to use them with, and more. This section also lists the different types of sewing machines and the differences between them.

Also including in this book are “Expert Tips”, which are helpful sewing tips printed all throughout the book, a glossary of sewing terms, and an index in the back of the book.

I consider myself an advanced sewer when it comes to hand sewing and an intermediate sewer at machine sewing. For the most part, I only use the straight stitch and zigzag stitch when machine sewing because, to be honest, I never knew what most of the other stitches were called or how to use them. Well, this book now shows how to use all those stitches in an easy to understand and informative way without having a bunch of unnecessary or confusing information. How to use those stitches is no longer a mystery for me and I can’t wait to try some of them. There are even a couple of hand stitches in this book that I didn’t know before. This book is an excellent sewing reference guide that I would definitely recommend to beginner and intermediate sewers, as well as some advanced sewers who may want a refresher on stitches they haven’t used in awhile. I will definitely be keeping this book next to my sewing machine for reference purposes from now on.

*I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review - "Samantha Sanderson At the Movies" by Robin Caroll

Samantha Sanderson At the Movies
by Robin Caroll
Faithgirlz: Samantha Sanderson series, Book #1
Published by Zondervan (Zonderkidz)
272 Pages
Target Audience: Girls, Ages 8-12
Genres: Christian Fiction, Youth Fiction, Mystery
About this book:
"Sam Sanderson is an independent, resourceful, high-tech cheerleader. She dreams of becoming an award-winning journalist like her mother, and so she’s always looking for articles she can publish in her middle-school paper (where she secretly hopes to become editor). And with a police officer for a father, Sam is in no short supply for writing material.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity. When an explosive device is found in the local theater, Sam gets the lead on this developing and controversial story---controversial because the movie theater has recently come under attack by a renowned, outspoken atheist for allowing a local church to show Christian movies. Sam’s police-officer father happens to be heading the investigation, and Sam can’t resist doing some sleuthing of her own with the help of her best friend Makayla’s techno-genius. But when Sam’s theories end up being printed in the school paper, she lands in big trouble---and danger!"
Samantha "Sam" Sanderson dreams of becoming a journalist like her mother. When there is a bomb scare at her local movie theater, Sam finally has the lead on a story for her middle-school newspaper, where she hopes to eventually become chief editor. She thinks this is a story that will help get her there. But the theories and suspicions that Sam writes about of who may have placed the bomb make some people angry and may put Sam in danger. Can Sam solve the mystery?

I really liked Samantha Sanderson At the Movies, the first book in the Faithgirlz: Samantha Sanderson series. It is a well written mystery book for girls that had me guessing until the end. Sam learns some good lessons the hard way about how to be a good journalist and about not betraying someone’s trust.

Sam is a Christian in the book. She goes to youth group at her church and she prays at different times in the story. She also witnesses to her friend. 1 Timothy 4:12 and Proverbs 22:11 are quoted in the book.

Sam and her friend Makayla do some questionable things in this book, however, that I think parents and adults should be aware of. While at school, Makayla hacks past the school’s firewall in order for the girls to look up something on the internet. Sam also eavesdrops a few times in the story (although it usually started out as an accident) and she doesn’t always do what her dad tells her to do.

Overall, I really enjoyed the first book in the Samantha Sanderson series and I would recommend it, especially for those who like mysteries. I’m now looking forward to reading book #2 in the series, Samantha Sanderson On the Scene!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review - "Wild Thing" by Dandi Daley Mackall

Wild Thing
by Dandi Daley Mackall
Winnie the Horse Gentler series, Book #1
Published by Tyndale
192 Pages
Target Audience: Girls, Ages 8-12
Genres: Christian Fiction, Youth Fiction, Animals
About this book:
"Twelve-year-old Winnie Willis has a way with horses. She can gentle the wildest mare, but other parts of her life don't always come as easily. Along with her dad and sister, Lizzy, Winnie is learning how to live without her mom, who was also a natural horse gentler. As Winnie teaches her horses about unconditional love and blind trust, God shows Winnie that he can be trusted too. Readers will be hooked on the series' vivid characters, whose quirky personalities fill Winnie's life with friendship and adventure. In #1 Wild Thing, Winnie's fearful heart finally begins to trust God again as she tries to gentle the horse of her dreams, Wild Thing."
Wild Thing is the first book in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series. Twelve year old Winnie Willis, her younger sister Lizzy, and their dad have moved several times within the past two years since Winnie’s mother’s death. Lizzy doesn’t want to move again and neither does Winnie after she meets a beautiful Arabian horse called Wild Thing. Winnie wants to buy Wild Thing and gentle her the way her mom used to with her horses, but she doesn’t have enough money to buy the horse. Will she find a way to get the horse of her dreams? Or will Winnie and her sister have to move again?

I really enjoyed reading Wild Thing. The only other horse related book that I’ve read by Dandi Daley Mackall is Horse Dreams (Backyard Horses Book #1), and while that book was more of a cute, lighthearted horse story, Wild Thing has more of an emotional side to it. Winnie struggles with guilt because she blames herself for her mother’s death. She doesn’t think that her dad has forgiven her or that God could love her anymore. In the book she learns of God’s forgiveness, grace, faithfulness, and unfailing love and she begins to trust God again.

In the back of the book is a “Parts of the Horse” horse diagram, a “Horse Talk” guide, and a “Horse-O-Pedia” glossary of horse related words and terms, all of which make a nice educational addition to the book.

While this book is recommended for ages 8-12, I think older girls would enjoy it, too. Wild Thing was a great book and I would definitely recommend it for Christian girls, especially girls who love horses. I truly enjoyed it and would now love to read the rest of the books in the series.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review - "Horse Dreams" by Dandi Daley Mackall


Horse Dreams
by Dandi Daley Mackall
Backyard Horses series, Book #1
Published by Tyndale
160 pages
Target Audience: Girls, Ages 8-12
Genres: Youth Fiction, Christian Fiction, Animals
About this book:
"Fourth-grader Ellie James has a great imagination. She spends a lot of time daydreaming of owning a black stallion show horse and winning trophies in the horse show. But when the answer to all her dreams and prayers gallops into her life, will Ellie be able to recognize it? Join Ellie and her quirky family in their exciting, horse-loving adventures."
Ellie James is a fourth-grader who loves horses and dreams about owning a horse of her own. She daydreams and prays about someday owning a black stallion. Ellie daydreams so much about horses (including in class) that when she tells her teacher that she sees a horse outside the school, no one believes her and they think she’s just daydreaming again. But is she?

"Horse Dreams" is a cute horse related story for pre-teen age girls. In the book, Ellie learns that prayers aren’t always answered in the way we want them to be or the way we expect them to be answered. Another theme of the book is that we shouldn’t judge people (or in this case, a horse) by how they look.

Ellie’s brother Ethan is deaf and communicates with Ellie, her parents, and her friend using sign language. The title of each chapter is spelled out in sign language along with the English title, and the whole sign language alphabet is listed in the back of the book along with a glossary of horse related words and terms. I thought both made a nice addition to the book.

I like the way Ellie’s faith is portrayed throughout the book and how genuine it feels whenever Ellie is praying or thinking about God and her relationship with Him. Bible verses are also quoted at the beginning and the end of the book (1 Samuel 16:7 and Ephesians 3:20).

One thing to mention for parents is that in one part of the book Ellie leaves a horse show without telling anyone where she is going and walks alone to and from an animal farm a good distance away at night, which isn't a safe thing to do. Her parents never question her about this decision later in the book.

Also, one thing I wish had been written in the book was

This book was an enjoyable read and I think it is a great book for Christian girls, especially girls who like horses.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Review - "Death Trap" by Sigmund Brouwer

Robot Wars: Death Trap, Book One

Death Trap 
by Sigmund Brouwer
Robot Wars series, Book #1
Published by Tyndale
288 pages
Target Audience: Boys and Girls, Ages 10-14
Genres: Science Fiction, Youth Fiction, Christian Fiction
About This Book:
"Set in an experimental community on Mars in the year 2039, The Robot Wars series features 14-year-old virtual reality specialist Tyce Sanders. Life on the red planet is not always easy, but it is definitely exciting. Tyce finds that the mysteries of the planet point to his greatest discovery—a new relationship with God. He talks about his growing faith and curiosity in a manner that kids can relate to as they are probably wondering some of the same things. Each book contains two exciting adventures. In the first adventure, the Mars project is in trouble and only Tyce holds the key. In the second adventure, Tyce has discovered there may be killer aliens on the loose.
Robot Wars is a repackaged and updated version of Mars Diaries. There are now five books in the series; each book contains two stories. These new books contain a foreword about how far science has brought us."


In Robot Wars, Book #1: Death Trap, we are introduced to 14 year old Tyce, the first - and so far only - kid to be born and to live in an experimental community on Mars in 2039. Due to a spinal injury that happened when he was a baby, Tyce is disabled (his legs are crippled) and he uses a wheelchair. He longs to go outside the dome that they live in on mars and actually see what the real Mars is like rather than seeing it through a virtual reality program, but he can’t due to having to use his wheelchair which would sink in the sand on Mars. At the beginning of the series Tyce is not a Christian. His mom is a Christian and tells Tyce about God and trys to convince him to put his faith in God, but Tyce only believes in science and what he can see and measure.

Death Trap is split up into two journals. The two journals were originally published as books one and two in the Mars Diaries series.

In the first journal, the community on Mars is faced with an oxygen crisis where they are running out of oxygen and must figure out what to do. If they don’t find a way to fix the problem quickly, they could all die. During this crisis, a long kept secret is revealed to Tyce and he must make a tough decision of his own.

In the second journal, a scientist working in an experimental greenhouse is attacked by some unknown creatures. There aren’t supposed to be any living creatures on Mars, so what are these creatures and where did they come from? Could they be aliens? That is what Tyce wants to find out.

I used to see the original versions of these books (when they were published as the Mars Diaries series) a lot at my local bookstores and thrift stores and for some reason was never interested in them. Apparently I thought they were about a totally different plot or of a different genre than what they actually are. I wish I had given them a chance and read one of the books sooner as I did enjoy reading the first book in the Robot Wars series and probably would have liked it even more when I was younger. The book was interesting and had several plot twists. The first journal had some very emotional parts in it. I liked the pace of the book and I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. I really did like the book and I would now like to read the rest of the series to find out what happens to Tyce in his other Mars adventures.

I think this book is a good book for the ages it is intended for, and some adults (like me) will enjoy it as well, although a lot of adults will probably find it too simplistic in comparison to adult science fiction books. I like that this series can be read by both boys and girls. It seems there are an abundance of books published by Christian publishers for girls, but not many for boys. I definitely think this would be a great series for boys to read, especially if they are interested in space, science fiction, and robots.

One thing I do not like so far about this series is the newer “Robot Wars” title. I think it can be misleading as there is no actual robot war in this book (and although I haven’t read the other books in this series, I don’t think there is one in them either). I thought the Mars Diaries title for the series was a better choice that wouldn’t lead to confusion about what this book is about.


Hello, and welcome to my blog! My name is Alisha and I'm a 21 year old Christian who loves to read. I decided to create this blog so I had a place to post my book reviews and other book related stuff and also as a way to possibly help bookworms like myself discover some new books they might like to read. Most of the reviews I write will be for Christian fiction books (both children's and adult books) in all different genres, but I will also post reviews for other books (mostly youth fiction books) if they are books that would be okay for Christian readers to read. I'm also an artist, seamstress, and crafter, so I will be posting reviews about sewing, craft, and art books occasionally.
Once again, welcome to my blog! I hope that while you're visiting you may find a new book to read!