The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Shirer: a Book About Spiritual Warfare Written for Young Adults

Do you have teens who love action and adventure books? Patricia Shirer has authored a new series- The Prince Warriors. I was able to read for review the first book in the series- The Prince Warriors.

The books are written to illustrate the spiritual warfare that we are all involved in, whether we're aware of it or not. There is plenty of adventure and fast-paced action taking place to grab the attention of readers.

Review of The Prince Warriors for teens

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In this first book of the series, Evan and his brother Xavier, along with two other teens- Levi and Brianna, are caught up in an alternate world. Evan and Xavier are siblings constantly at odds with each other. Levi and Brianna, who hang out at the same rec center as the boys, struggle with taking up for a bullied kid. The four find themselves in Ahoratos, an alternate world, being guided by Ruwach, an elf-like creature.

In Ahoratos the four fight evil in a very real way. Back in their normal lives, they are encouraged to make good decisions in the struggles they experience. They also realize that they can be called to return to Ahoratos to go on missions.

The book is written to make readers aware of the spiritual battles that we face all of the time, even though we aren't usually aware of them. No mention is directly made of the Bible or God or anything spiritual. But, if readers are knowledgable about the Bible and spiritual warfare they'll make the connections when the four teens are armed with the armor of the Spirit found in Ephesians and when they are introduced to a Book with rules and instructions for their time in Ahoratos.

I think that the books will capture the readers of teens. There's plenty of adventure and fighting and excitement and magical elements that will hold their attention. What I'm not sure of is whether or not teen readers will "get" the connection with the idea of spiritual warfare.

I think teens that have read much of the Bible or that have been taught biblical concepts may understand the references in the book, but readers who haven't had the biblical teaching may not even catch on that the book has spiritual references. In some ways this may be effective because the book will appeal to a larger audience. But if you're choosing it because of a Christian worldview, you'll probably have to add some explanation and discussion with your teens in order for them to catch on.

If you're interested in The Prince Warriors series, you can learn more at the website here and watch a trailer for this first book here. You can purchase The Prince Warriors on Amazon here. You can see a preview of the Kindle version below.

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The Captain Takes a Wife: Historical Fiction by Doris Durbin

The Captain Takes a Wife begins with a chance encounter. Set in the South at the end of the Civil War, it's a fast-moving story that involves love at first sight, gentlemanly bravery, and a young woman on the run from danger.

Historical fiction review

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From the book's description:

Sarah Franklin, a young teacher escaping an arranged marriage to a corrupt man, runs straight into the arms of Captain Harry Richardson as he prepares to board a train leaving Macon, Georgia, in 1875. She begs him to help her, and the captain soon finds himself in the midst of a ruse to hide her identity from her pursuers. When he impulsively kisses her in front of his amazed friends and some curious newspaper reporters, everything changes, and events soon spiral out of control.

Harry is a handsome man who carries his Bible and sidearm in a worn, leather valise. He fought on the side of the Confederacy until he was captured at Missionary Ridge; he spent time in a northern prison, but was released when he agreed to go west and fight the Indians with the U.S. Cavalry. Now that the war is over and he has earned his theology degree, Harry is looking forward to a new beginning as a circuit-riding preacher in the North Georgia mountains. But first, he must survive the train trip, protecting a woman he barely knows and putting his life in jeopardy to battle a determined band of hired gunmen.

In this inspirational historical tale, a soldier-turned-minister learns that even if you're starting a new life, there are some things you can't leave behind.

I was eagerly anticipating this read when I had read the synopsis above. I like this time period in historical fiction. And the idea of a dashing hero come in to save the day unexpectedly was one I thought would make a sweet romance and an interesting story.

Unfortunately I thought the story often fell flat.

The storyline was an interesting one, but the events unfolded in a pretty unbelievable manner. Sarah and Harry were falling in love before they had met when she attended a revival meeting at which he was preaching. He was drawn to her and she to him in such a way that when they actually ran into each other- literally- there was love at first sight. Harry was willing to believe everything she told him as she was running away, jump in and protect her, and then offer to marry her. In addition, all of his friends took all the events at face value and jumped to Sarah's aid as well, including Harry's buddies who abandoned all of their plans in an instant and jumped on the train Harry was boarding when they saw events unfold.

I wanted to like the story, and there were a few likable elements. Sarah and Harry were likable characters, but they weren't very much developed. I felt as if there was much action- a chain of events- but not much look into the thoughts and intents of the characters.

The book is a fairly light and easy read, and there is a tender romance that unfolds. If you're looking for that and don't mind events being a little unbelievable, you may enjoy The Captain Takes a Wife. I give the book 3 stars and a G rating for content. You can find the book on Amazon here and read a Kindle sample below.

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Helping Teens Discover How to Speak Love Languages: A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Paige Haley Drygas

My husband and I were fortunate to take a class and learn about the 5 love languages idea before we were married. The original idea comes from Gary Chapman's book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.  The concept of the five love languages is something that has impacted our marriage and our parenting in profound ways. I know it's something that has strengthened our relationships. So I was very interested to see A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages. 

We've shared the concept of the five love languages with our children often, so they understand the concept. But I love the idea of a book especially written for teens. In A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman along with Paige Haley Drygas explain the concept of the five love languages using words and examples that teens can relate to.

Review of A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages

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The 5 Love Languages

The idea behind the five love languages concept is that we all have a different way of expressing love. We receive and express in five main ways:

  • Physical touch
  • Words of affirmation
  • Time spent together
  • Acts of service
  • Gift giving
Relationship problems can arise if people don't speak the same love language. You think you're showing love, but the recipient doesn't feel loved. 

My husband and I speak different love languages. One of his primary love languages is physical touch. My main love language is acts of service. I feel unloved when I've been gone and come home to find the house messy, dirty dishes piled up, and the laundry undone. Meanwhile he's wondering why I won't hug and touch and be more physical because he's missed that while I was gone. The result is that both of us can end up feeling slighted and wondering why the other doesn't love us more.

Thankfully, because we know about love languages, we can make an effort to avoid this disconnect. We try really hard to deliberately speak the other person's love language even if it doesn't come naturally.

A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages

Because knowing about love languages is a key to good relationships, learning about them in the teen years is really important. Teens are often struggling with relationships- with their parents, their siblings, and with members of the opposite sex. Learning about love languages can improve their relationships in the short term but also set them up well for marriage later on (if that's the direction God leads them).

In this teen version of the 5 love languages book, Gary Chapman and Paige Haley Drygas explain the concept of love languages using language and examples that teens can understand and relate to. The book covers each of the love languages, giving specific examples of how they play out in relationships. 

As each love language is explained, teens are also given a "warning", a caution against using the opposite of each love language. For example, the opposite of using words as a love language is harassing and speaking harshly to someone. An opposite of listening (quality time) is excluding others. I really liked these examples that used situations that teens encounter regularly.

One thing I wondered as I began reading over this book is how it would address relationships with the opposite sex. We've discouraged close, exclusive relationships for our teens. And I wondered if a book on love languages would focus on these relationships. I was pleased with the way those relationships were handled. The authors talk about the difference between romantic love and real love- deliberately choosing to speak someone else's love language. It was emphasized over and over that love is a choice.

At the end of each chapter there is a section that encourages teens to pause and think about what was in the chapter. There are also occasionally specific action steps teens can take in regards to the chapter. After describing each love language, the book deals specifically with family relationships, anger (which teens can struggle with), and love relationships. There is also a question/answer with Gary Chapman and a questionnaire to help teens discover their love language.

I really like this teen version of the love language book. I'm going to bribe encourage both of my teens to read it. You can find more information about love languages, discover your love language, and get other resources at The 5 Love Languages website. You can find A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages on Amazon here. And you can read an excerpt from the book below. You can also enter to win your own copy of the book. The giveaway will end on July 23.

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The Life We Never Expected: Beautiful and Moving Encouragement for Parents of Children With Special Needs

When I read the synopsis of The Life We Never Expected I knew I wanted to read it.

What do you do when hard or painful circumstances turn your world upside down, resulting in a life you never expected? Andrew and Rachel Wilson grappled with this question after both of their children were diagnosed with regressive autism. Refreshingly honest, this book explores the highs and lows of raising children with specials needs, reflecting on the broader question of how to cope with suffering of all kinds. Sharing personal stories from their lives and encouragement rooted in the truth of God’s Word, Andrew and Rachel highlight lessons they’ve learned related to fighting for joy and thriving in the midst of trials—ultimately pointing readers to Christ, the One who promises to make all things new.

Review of The Life We Never Expected for parents of special needs kids

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Having several friends with children who have special needs and having taught special education before I stayed home with my own children, this is something that is near and dear to my heart. And there was something else. Beyond just the subject of special needs, something in this description really resonated with me. Because the fact is that whether it's children with special needs or a problem in our marriage or the unexpected death of a love one, we've all had times when something unexpected happened, when life certainly didn't go the way we had planned. And so I requested The Life We Never Expected to review.

And then life happened. It lay on my review shelf amid other projects awaiting my attention. And I thought I picked it up with all of the reading I gathered for our vacation. But it ended up that I had missed this one. So I arrived home with the intention of a hurried read-through, a review, and then a more in-depth reading...if the book was as good as I expected. I picked up The Life We Never Expected, opened it, and was immediately captured.

I was captured by the raw honesty. Andrew and Rachel Wilson, the book's authors, are the parents of two autistic children. Their children have some pretty intense needs. And their children are still pretty young. But Andrew and Rachel don't claim to be experts who have this whole journey through special needs figured out. They don't claim to understand God's plan and working in their lives. Instead, they tell readers that they looked for a book like this when each of their children was diagnosed and couldn't find one. And so they've written one.

The Life We Never Expected isn't a manual that will tell Christian parents the "right" way to handle the curveball of a special needs child. Andrew and Rachel don't come across as holier than thou people who are especially spiritual and have learned how to copy with all that comes their way. Instead, the book is a raw and honest look at how Christians deal with suffering. And, just as the thought resonated with me when I read the book's synopsis, this book is NOT just for parents with special needs kids. In the introduction Andrew says that the book is written for those parents. It's also written for friends and family members of parents with special needs kids. But it's also written for anyone who's suffered from something unexpected they've encountered, someone who's had life take an unexpected turn.

The chapters of the book follow a cycle- Weeping, Worshiping, Waiting, Witnessing, Breathing. This cycle is taken from Psalm 130- a Psalm of suffering. As Andrew explains in the book's beginning, the Psalmist seems to follow this cycle as he deals with the suffering in his own life. And, as Andrew says, grief and dealing with suffering isn't a linear experience. It's a cycle that can happen over and over again as we process. And for parents of special needs children, it's a cycle that they'll experience over and over as they learn more about their child and care for their child.

In the chapters of the book, Andrew and Rachel follow this cycle, sharing stories from their lives that fit each of these five categories. In some of the stories, you can feel their intense grief. In others you can see bright rays of sunshine that have come into their lives because of their special needs children. But over and over throughout these stories, Andrew and Rachel comfort parents of special needs children and those of us who have experience suffering in other ways. They comfort, not with meaningless platitudes or with success stories that show how life has finally worked out for them in the end, but by consistently bringing readers face to face with God's truths.

The book provides room to grieve, to weep. But it also beautifully, relentlessly points the reader again and again to God's amazing grace, amazing gifts, and amazing love.

There are so many quotes that I've underlined that my book is looking quite marked up. And since this has been a quick read-through, I'm sure I'll read it again, so I can chew on it a little more. Here are just a few of the words that have gone straight to my heart.

  • "I love my kids most not by loving them the most but by first loving God."

  • "I was always inclined to think that God's purposes came about through great leaders...Mostly, however, they don't.They come about through millions of unnamed people doing unheard-of things, in unnoticeable ways to the glory of God."

  • The Lion has tears in his eyes, and although I will never understand all that he's doing, I know that he isn't doing it because he doesn't love me. The cross proves that."
I encourage you to read this book. If you are the parent of special needs children, you need to read this book. If you have friends or family members with special needs children, you need to read this book. If you've ever suffered because of something unexpected in your life, you need to read this book. 

You can find The Life We Never Expected on Amazon here. You can also read a Kindle sample below. And you can enter to win your own copy of the book from FlyBy in the giveaway below.

The Life We Never Expected by parents of special needs kids

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Review of Lethal Harvest: Medical Suspense from William Cutrer and Sandra Glahn

Lethal Harvest is a republish of the original, published in 2000. It's interesting because the author talks about the need to update the technology used by the book's characters. There were still some places where you could notice that computers and other technology were different, but, overall, the update was very well done.

Christian fiction review
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From the book's synopsis:

In order to save the president's life, a brilliant embryologist-- the president's nephew--made a "devil's bargain" with a secret group of federal agents. But Tim Sullivan's illegal genetic manipulations of human embryos place everyone he knows at risk. Before he can finish his work, a freakish accident kills him and leaves only troubling questions behind.

Now his partner, Ben McKay, and Tim's widow, Marnie, must uncover the hidden truth about Tim's research before more lives are swept away. In the process, they're forced to face their feelings for each other and the dark secrets in their own pasts. This story of love, loss, and danger crosses international borders from Mexico to the former Soviet Union in order to answer one searing question: if Tim's research is completed, what form will the strange and dangerous harvest take?

Ambition, jealousy, and the ultimate meaning of love move this riveting story through the dark labyrinth that may lie buried under breakthroughs in genetic research and cloning.

Lethal Harvest was fast-paced and interesting. The characters were compelling, and I was drawn into their story easily. Because so much was happening with not much lag time, it was pretty easy to keep reading and not want to put the book down until I found out what was going to happen.

The characters were not extremely well-developed. There was more action and dialogue than actual thoughts and feelings of the characters. But because the book was fast moving and had quite a bit of action, this was okay. It worked with the story line in this book.

I didn't understand some of the science involved, but, having read the author's notes, it was interesting to note that the procedures and things done in the book are possible. It's crazy to think that research could really be going on that is similar to that in the plot of the book.

The story line was occasionally choppy. Things seemed to happen suddenly without much build up. And the conclusion happened a little too conveniently. But, all in all, it was an interesting quick read that had action, drama, suspense, and a little bit of romance.

I give it 3.5 stars. You can find the book on Kregel here or on Amazon here.

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Review of A Flight of Arrows: Historical Fiction from Lori Benton

Over the past year I've read for review two books in a series by Lori Benton. The books are set in the 1770s during the Revolutionary War. They feature white people who end up fighting with the militiamen for America and American Indians from several tribes. I reviewed the first two books here- Burning Sky and The Wood's Edge. I was very excited to see the third book in the series- A Flight of Arrows. The Wood's Edge and A Flight of Arrows center on the same characters and are called the Pathfinder series. Burning Sky had different main characters, but some of them are in the later books as well.

Review of Flight of Arrows: historical fiction

From the book's description:

Twenty years past, in 1757, a young Redcoat, Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins— during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry and raised him as his own.

No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime. Not his adopted daughter Anna. Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back. Not Two Hawks, William’s twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna. Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God’s forgiveness— and her love.

Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army. The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York and the Continentals, aided by Oneida warriors including Two Hawks, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies. 

As with the previous books, I loved this one. The story line was especially interesting to me because of the historical time period. I honestly haven't read much about the Revolutionary War in regards to the American Indians and their role in the war. At the end of the book, the author offers some explanation about the events and which from the book were historically accurate. She also lets readers know what happened to the real characters from the story.

The writing in the book is beautiful. It is rich in descriptions. And the book is full of the story of the gospel without being "preachy" at all. 

The characters are well developed. I found myself getting to know and love them over the course of the books. There is a good balance of action and the characters' thoughts and feelings, letting the reader into their lives.

I loved A Flight of Arrows, and I can definitely recommend it with a 5 star rating. You can find the book on Amazon here and you can read a sample of it below.

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Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: a Humorous Memoir from the Life of a Country Vet

I love memoirs- especially memoirs that are personable and humorous and entirely interesting to read. Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing from Rural America was one of these.

Dr. Brock is a veterinarian in Lamesa, Texas. His life has been filled with humorous and touching moments as he's doctored pets as well as farm animals. In Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere, he shares a variety of stories that have come from his life as a vet.

Review of Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: a memoir

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Some of these stories made me laugh out loud, such as the story of Dr. Brock suturing a large gash on a horse in the middle of a Harley Davidson compound. Some made me teary, such as the stories of the clinic dog and all the great memories of him after he passed away.

Dr. Brock has a personable style of writing. This is his first book, although he's frequently been a speaker at events, and he's told his humorous stories many places- even to a group of terminally ill patients in a hospital one Christmas. His writing style is conversational, as if he's talking and telling his stories.

I thoroughly loved this memoir. As an animal lover myself, I could feel Dr. Brock's love of all of the animals he's treated over the years. I loved his writing style. I laughed, and I even cried at times.

I can definitely recommend Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere. You can find it on Amazon here, and you can read a sample below.

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Like a River From Its Course: A Hauntingly Beautiful Novel of the Holocaust

I love historical fiction set in the time of the Holocaust. Yes, it's often painful to read. But often there are stories of hope and strength and human kindness in the midst of suffering. It's these stories that draw me to read more from this time period.

Holocaust fiction

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Like a Rive From Its Course is a Holocaust novel. Unlike many that I've read, the book begins in the Ukraine and opens with the horrific event of Babi Yar- the "killing ditch." All of the Jews in the city were rounded up and shot over a ditch dug in the cemetery- 34,000 men, women, and children.

The author of Like a River From Its Course found her inspiration on a mission trip to the Ukraine when she was in high school. There she fell in love with the Russian culture and language. And when she returned a second time she met Maria Ivanovna. Maria told Kelli her story of living in the Ukraine during the war and of Babi Yar and her father's survival of the infamous slaughter.

Maria's story led to Kelli's further research. Like a River From Its Course is a culmination of Maria's story along with stories from other survivors Kelli met along the way.

The story is told from the perspective of four characters. I wasn't sure how this was going to work at first, as with each character change, the characters speak in first person. I quickly realized, however, that not only could I follow just fine, but that the style allowed me to be swept up in the life of each of these four characters.

From Babi Yar to other horrific acts during German occupation to a concentration camp in Germany itself, the story sweeps readers along in the emotions and experiences of each of the characters.

There were definitely times the stories were difficult to read. And there were times I could cheer for the courage of those who tried to stand up and do what was right during this awful time.

Like a Rive From Its Course is beautiful. It's a beautiful story told in the words of those who lived it. You cannot read it and walk away unchanged.

You can learn more about the author, Kelli Stuart, from her website here. You can also find information about the real life stories that inspired Kelli and more information about the book. And if you join Kelli's mailing list, you can get a free book chapter as well as a reader's guide.

I give this book 5 strong stars. You can find the book on Kregel here and preorder the book on Amazon here.

Find Kelli Stuart on social media here:

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