Thursday, March 9, 2017

January and February 2017 Book Reports

Between the Forest and the Hills by Ann Lawrence is set in a Roman British town at the time of the Empire's collapse. We listened to this in the van along with Kansas Dad and it was a particularly good choice for the whole family to enjoy: witty dialogue, easy humor from the squawking raven, brave and wise characters, all set in an interesting historical period. This book is one of the many wonderful books of historical fiction available from Bethlehem Books. (purchased audio book at Audible)

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff is another novel of historical fiction set near the end of the Roman Empire's presence in Britain. This is one of First Son's books for volume 2 of Connecting with History (seventh grade). It's a tale of daring and mystery when the son of a missing Roman soldier ventures north of the wall to discover the fate of the missing Legion and recover (if possible) their Eagle. It's a good book for a middle school boy to read and contemplate the meaning of loyalty, friendship, slavery, and civilization. I haven't seen the movie, but according to the review at Common Sense Media, it's not as good as the book. (library copy)

Virginia's General by Albert Marrin is a biography of Robert E. Lee and an examination of the Civil War from the Confederate standpoint, though not always favorable to the Confederacy. First Son read this book for his American History. The chapters are well-written, but long, so First Son struggled a bit to read them. Originally he was assigned two chapters a day, but I decreased it to one a day. I appreciated greater insight into the Confederate side of the war and a favorable presentation of Lee, a distinguished man worthy of respect. (library copy)

The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton - link to my post. (free Kindle version)

Oh, Ranger! True Stories from our National Parks edited by Mark J. Saferstein is a collection of short essays by National Park Service rangers covering just about every aspect of life as a ranger. It's a great peek at life in national parks from historical sites to the wilderness of Alaska, but I found the writing varied in quality. The photography, however, is amazing throughout. (purchased used on Amazon)

The Chronicles of Prydain (5 volumes) by Lloyd Alexander - link to my post. (library copies, though I have since acquired three from other members at

Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse is, I think, recommended in our Connecting with History curriculum even thought it's not available at their store. It's a series of letters written by a young Russian Jew who barely escapes with her family on a daring attempt to join her older brothers in the United States in 1919. It's a good historical fiction book to read alongside a study of immigration through Ellis Island. (library copy)

Transforming Your Life through the Eucharist by John A. Kane - link to my post. (purchased from the publisher, Sophia Institute Press)

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough  - link to my post. (borrowed from my dad)

The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl by David Kherdian is a fictionalized memoir of a young girl's experience of the genocide of Armenian Christians by the Turkish government and military during World War I. Mostly, the girl experiences the genocide in disease-ridden camps but there are scenes of terrible deaths and great fear, so it's not a book for young readers. I hadn't read of these events before and I think the book could be a good addition to a study of World War I to show that genocides are not the product only of Nazi Germany. It's a good book, too, to begin or continue discussions of harboring refugees from war-torn and unsafe lands. I hesitate, however, to recommend it whole-heartedly and share it with my children because I worry they will conflate the actions of Turkey in 1915 with Muslims in today's world. There's no doubt there are Muslim terrorists, but there are also Muslims in our own city who seem to be kind and generous people. With the news what it is today, I would probably wait a bit longer to share this book. (library copy)

Saint Herman of Alaska is a booklet published to celebrate the canonization of St. Herman by the Orthodox Church in America. It shows a glimpse of life for the brave missionaries of Russia who journeyed to Alaska to spread the Orthodox faith. You can read the first half of the book at the OCA website. The second half is the liturgical services, some of which you can hear on the site. There is an incident reported in the book of a martyr for the faith, someone who traveled down to California and was allegedly tortured and murdered by Jesuits. I can't say it's not true, but it's certainly not how the Jesuits behave today. (copy picked up at used book sale)

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis is a short clear evangelical response to the problem of pain - that there is pain and evil in a world created by an omniscient omnipotent God. There's nothing I can say about the book that hasn't already been better written by another. I was glad to read it because it is so often referenced by others. (Kansas Dad's copy)

Books in Progress (and date started)
The italic print: Links to Amazon are affiliate links. As an affiliate with Amazon, I receive a small commission if you follow one of my links, add something to your cart, and complete the purchase (in that order).

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Any links to RC History and are affiliate links.

Other links (like those to Bethlehem Books) are not affiliate links.

These reports are my honest opinions.

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