Review of Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South

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I love history, and I've always been interested in the time period of The Civil War. I was very interested to read Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South. The book, by Christopher Dickey, explores a side of the Civil War I've not read much about- the role that England played and interest that country had in the war.

Review of Our Man in Charleston; nonfiction; Civil War

With all of the events occurring in America at the time, it's easy to overlook what was happening in other places around the world. But when we consider the bigger picture, we can see the response to slavery that was taking place in England. At the same time the country disapproved of slavery, they also counted on cotton and other goods from the American South. And so, they had strong opinions about what the outcome of the Civil War conflict would be.

Ishtar's Odyssey: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide

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I love Advent traditions. Throughout the years we've come to have several traditions that we look forward to as a family. This year I was excited to have the opportunity to review a book that I think is going to become another great tradition.

Ishtar's Odyssey is a story meant to be read daily, beginning with the first day of Advent and leading up to Christmas. It's a story that is written for the whole family to enjoy. As well as the story, the author has provided ideas for traditional Persian foods that go along with the story so that families can add that component to this Advent tradition.

Review of Ishtar's Odyssey: a children's and family read aloud for Advent

The story is that of Ishtar, the son of a Persian wise man. When he discovers a star that didn't previously exist, he sets out on a journey with his father and others to find a newborn king. Throughout his journey, Ishtar will learn much about himself as well as about the king he's going to find. He'll have adventures and face danger and will grow and change throughout his journey.

Review of Hand Me Down Princess: Christian Fiction From Carol Moncado

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I was intrigued by this book's description when I first read it. After all, it's a modern-day fairy tale with a reluctant princess and a handsome prince. It's an unusual story with the fairy tale twist and modern day trappings. But I liked it immediately.

The story here is an interesting one with twists and turns that I didn't always expect. The character development was a little slow in coming, so there were parts that seemed a little stilted and forced. But there was always enough to keep me reading, and I ended up glad that I did.

Review of Hand Me Down Princess, Christian fiction from Carol Moncado

I ended up really enjoying the story and its characters. This is one I can recommend. I'd also like to read others in the series. Carol Moncado is a new to me author, but it appears that she has other books in this series as well as other series she has written. You can find out more about Hand Me Down Princess by reading below. I give it 4 stars and a G rating for content. And you can find Hand Me Down Princess on Amazon here.

Review of The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Buffalo Bill Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren

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I love to read biographies out loud with the kids. There is just something about sharing the life of a notable person that opens up the path for some good discussion. When we read about heroes, we can talk about what it means to act like a hero. When we read about the failures and frailty of a familiar character, we can discuss how we all fail and what to do in response to failure.

Biography of Buffalo Bill for middle grade readers

I recently had the opportunity to review The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Buffalo Bill Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren. This is a biography of the life of Buffalo Bill written for upper elementary and middle school children.

Review of A Father's Second Chance: An Inspirational Romance by Mindy Oberhaus.

I love to read good inspirational romance. When it is well-written, it's a light read but has enough depth and character development to be interesting. A Father's Second Chance was well-written.

The story isn't deep or complex, but I totally enjoyed the characters and thought they were well-developed. They both make assumptions about the other that prevent them from getting close at first. But, as both learn to open up more, they come to see that there is much more that they really have in common.

Review of A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner

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I love historical fiction, but I will admit that I didn't know much about the time period of the Dust Bowl before I read this novel from Susie Finkbeiner. I found myself very caught up in the story, and I learned so much about this very bleak time in history.

About the book...

Review of A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner

Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma's Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff's family, they've got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They're who the town turns to when there's a crisis or a need--and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.

Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother's unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn't sure she likes.

Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he's really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won't be the only thing darkening Pearl's world.

While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl's voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavy-handed. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart.

The story is told in first person by ten-year-old Pearl. I wasn't sure how I would like a book told from her childish perspective, but it worked very well for this story. In fact, having the story told from Pearl's perspective was an excellent way to deal with all of the things that happened to the family througout the story.

Although Pearl is the narrator, all of the characters in the story are well-developed as we see them through the eyes of Pearl. The author does an excellent job helping the reader to really get to know the interesting and compelling characters in the story.

The Dust Bowl was certainly a dark time in the period of our country, and, despite the fact that I've read quite a few novels set during the great depression, the Dust Bowl hasn't really come up. It certainly was a bleak time. And the author gives a little background information about it at the end of the book. The solidarity and love of Pearl's family throughout the awful challenges of the time- poverty, constant dust storms, loss of land and cattle, frequent death- is a great theme. The relationships that we see through the eyes of Pearl are touching and made me thankful for my own family and the relationships we have.

I've come away from A Cup of Dust with a newfound interest in this time period of history. The story as well as the words of the author at the end have aroused my curiosity, and I plan to read more about this period of history.

I give A Cup of Dust 5 stars and a PG-13 for content. You can find the book on Kregel here and on Amazon here.

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.

Review of Street God by Dimas Salaberrios: Nonfiction Memoir

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Although I often read and review Christian fiction, I also love a good memoir. I recently had the opportunity to review Street God by Dimas Salaberrios along with Dr. Angela Hunt.

Review of Street God: a memoir from Dimas Salaberrios

Dimas' story is one of hope and redemption. He began life with the desire to be a power broker in the drug industry. Beginning as a seller and going on to become an addict, his desire was to be a street god, one of the ones in charge of selling and the one making the most money. But along the way, people prayed for Dimas. As he saw people close to him get saved and have a relationship with God, it was always in the back of his mind. But it wasn't more consuming than his desire to rule the streets and the drug trade.