Tag Archives: middle grade

Oddball Ornaments Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Oddball Ornaments

Author: Terry Overton

Genre: Middle Grade Christmas Story

Release date: November 16, 2021

The ornaments in the attic are excited. It’s almost Turkey Day, and they know when they start smelling turkey, they’re going to be pulled down out of the attic and hung on a tree for the humans to enjoy. After all, Box Day is all about admiring the ornaments, isn’t it? But when Grandma joins them for Turkey Day instead of Box Day and brings a bunch of new ornaments with her, the Oddball Ornaments know something isn’t right. Determined to find out the source of Grandma’s sadness and what Box Day is really about, Nutcracker sets out on a quest to climb to the top of the tree to ask Angel about the true meaning of Christmas and discovers the truth is much more wonderful than they could ever have imagined.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Terry Overton is a retired university professor of educational and school psychology. She has an Ed.D. in Special Education and a Ph.D. in Psychology. Her professional experience includes teaching public school, teaching at the university level, and being a college dean. She has two children and six grandchildren. Her writing and publication experiences include textbook and journal articles in the fields of special education and school psychology. She seeks to answer God’s call to share the good news and grow the church by writing Christian books and devotionals. Her book Both Sides of the Border is a Firebird Book Award winner in the categories of Cross-Genre, Socio-Political Fiction, and Women’s Fiction. Both Sides of the Border also won the American Writing Awards in the Multicultural Fiction category, Social Change category, and a finalist for the Women’s Fiction category. Her book, America of We the People was awarded the Firebird Book Award for Socio-Political and Political categories. She and her husband live in the southern tip of Texas where they enjoy semi-tropical weather and spending time with their friends and family.

More from Terry

Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas was written one late fall while I looked at my own Christmas tree. I wondered, “If the ornaments could talk, what would they say? Would they even know why they were hung on the tree?” And that was how the book began. I played Christmas music and imagined a cast of characters like toys in Toy Story but ornaments and humans. It was such fun to write. I ran a few things by my regional experts (grand Angels) and they approved. It always means so much more when family are involved in my writing projects.

Not long after the book was out, the sequel was completed, and it will be released late summer 2022. “Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Forgiveness.”

I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!

My Review

A short but sweet children’s chapter book, Terry Overton’s Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas retells the Christmas story from the perspective of a small group of ornaments. Though not the first tale told about anthropomorphic objects during the holiday season, this one stands out for its succinct life lessons and for the unique incorporation of the reason for Christmas. I love Overton’s choice of “oddball” ornaments, which they themselves define as “unique, unmatched, or special ornaments, unlike any other.” In an era when bullying is far too common, demonstrating that being oneself—who God created each of us to be—is a blessing and should be embraced rather than seen as something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, is crucial. Likewise, the theme of working together and reaching out to others both to give and receive help is essential.

Among the ornaments, Nutcracker serves largely as a main character due to his role in the story, leading the quest for answers when new ornaments arrive for decorating the tree and Grandma seems sad. The ornaments decide that Nutcracker should ask Angel, who is at the top of the tree, about the true meaning of Christmas. Overton manages to explain this concisely through Angel, revealing the egocentric view that we all have until we come to know the Gospel: “This was news to Nutcracker. His whole world was being turned upside down. He thought he knew everything. He thought he understood all about the decorating, the singing, the staring at the tree, and the boxes and all of the stuff in the boxes.” Angel tells Nutcracker that in order to truly understand and find the answers to the ornaments’ questions, he has to visit the place at the bottom of the tree, advising, “I have faith in you. I know that you can. But you must decide that you want to find out, and you must decide to climb down to see.” This hearkens back to Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Furthermore, this underscores the fact that Jesus must be personally experienced. The way in which Overton inserts Scriptural truths into the narrative naturally via inference is very fitting for a young audience and leaves room for adults to explain these connections if they are reading the book to or with children.

My only criticisms of this story are really nitpicks on my part, and I’ll mention them briefly, but they do not lessen my overall enjoyment of this book. Because angels are not women, I did have a few qualms about Angel and her role, but obviously due to the nature of the story, her character is understandable. Also, there is mention of a Bible ornament that the characters should read, but it seems that they don’t, as Nutcracker continues to get the answers from Angel. Again, I very much enjoyed this story, and I do recommend Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, July 2

Inklings and notions, July 3

Lights in the Dark World, July 4

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 5

Girls in White Dresses, July 6

Older & Smarter?, July 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 8

For Him and My Family, July 9

deb’s Book Review, July 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 11

Mary Hake, July 11

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, July 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 13

For the Love of Literature, July 12

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 12

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 14

Blogging With Carol, July 15

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Terry is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1f7f2/oddball-ornaments-celebration-tour-giveaway

Courage Doesn’t Always “Rawr”: A Book Review of “Fearless” by Kristin Johnson

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But if you do worry, remember that being fearless doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. And if you can help someone else through their fears, you’ll be less likely to be afraid yourself.

Kristin Johnson’s Fearless struck a chord with me, and it was not a note of fear but of empathy and nostalgia. The story’s premise is that 11-year-old Jessie Nelson and her dad head to her grandpa’s house in southern Minnesota after her active-duty mom goes missing in action. Jessie becomes friends with two local boys, Oscar and Nicky, and when an adventure turns into the discovery of a puppy mill, Jessie tries to be fearless like her mom as she rescues one of the dogs and endeavors to keep it a secret. She reflects that “now I had chosen a war, too. I hoped the research I had done at the library would help with that. The dogs were prisoners of war. Dog POWs.” This is one of my favorite aspects of Jessie’s character; Johnson does an admirable job of demonstrating how Jessie connects the events happening in her own life to what her mother or other military members might be experiencing in Afghanistan. Not only that, but the range of honest emotions and the insightful thoughts that Jessie has, such as how another person or a dog is feeling in a certain situation, add depth to her character. I love that she journals in poems, which might encourage readers to explore writing or poetry, or both! Furthermore, the imagination and thought processes of early adolescence are relatable for middle-grade readers and nostalgic for older readers.

With all that is going on in the world today, Fearless addresses how unsettling and upsetting events can cause us to grow when we rise up to meet them and help others along the way. Johnson neatly juxtaposes this with elements from The Wizard of Oz, which was particularly poignant for me because my mom loved that movie. As may be expected with a story featuring military families, serious topics appear throughout the narrative. There is a military funeral for a townsperson, and one of the characters suffers from PTSD, which is important for people of all ages to be aware of at age-appropriate levels. The puppy mill that is central to the storyline is heartbreaking to read about, but Johnson writes it in such a way that she conveys the awfulness of the situation in as palatable a manner as possible. Fearless contains Christian elements, including faith, prayer, and God’s protection—although there is a mention of a same-sex couple—and all of the aforementioned potentially triggering aspects throughout the narrative are handled with care and sensitivity. Everyone faces daunting challenges at one point or another, and it seems that Jessie sums it up best when she tells her dad: “And I know you still hurt, and you’re probably scared, but you can’t not take risks because you’re afraid of getting hurt. You have to put yourself out there again. You have to be…fearless.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Booksprout and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

Get your copy HERE!

The Kidron Valley Spotlight and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Kidron Valley

Author: Caryl McAdoo

Genre: Young Adult and Mid-Grade Readers

Release date: November 11, 2021

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As evil heightens all over the world, Jackson, his best friend Al, and his girlfriend Aria learn to live in their new world, fighting off those who would kill, steal, and destroy family and neighbors in Red River County. The story is one of survival under the guidance of Uncle Roy and his brother and God’s Words of Knowledge and angel unaware. No one discounts the Great Pyrenees Boggs’ part either. Though Jackson still holds fast to his agnostic beliefs, God keeps making it harder for him to deny His existence and the sacrifice of His Son. Will he finally believe?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Award-winning author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory, and her best-selling stories—over sixty published—delight Christian readers around the world. The prolific writer also enjoys singing the new songs the Lord gives her; you may listen at YouTube. Sharing four children and nineteen grandsugars (three greats), Caryl and Ron, her high-school-sweetheart-husband of fifty-three years, live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas. The McAdoos wait expectantly for God to open the next door.

More from Caryl

Back in the day (2012), after my agent Mary Sue McAdoo Seymour had my first historical romance VOW UNBROKEN under contract with Simon and Schuster, but before its publication, she received a request for a mid-grade dystopian and asked if we—my husband and cowriter—wanted to write one.

We kicked it around and came up with an idea for THE KING’S HIGHWAY. Her client rejected the idea of an end times story for so young an age, but the ZonderKidz editor I pitched to at ACFW loved it! She updated me later it was going to committee.

Next thing I knew, doctors diagnosed her with a terrible disease, and she left the company before it was approved. Time marched on until I decided to publish it myself after we went Indie in 2015. By then it would be the Days of Dread Trilogy: THE KING’S HIGHWAY, THE SIXTH TRUMPET, and THE KIDRON VALLEY!

Those who read book one loved it! New to Indie publishing, I bit off almost more than I could chew that first year—eleven new titles! Between getting all those to market and writing sequels to my historical romance family saga, I never got around to write books two and three!

Fast forward to 2021. It appears the dominoes are falling; signs of the Apocalypse are coming more frequently, so we decided to get to THE SIXTH TRUMPET which debuted in June, followed with the release of THE KIDRON VALLEY in November!

I never planned to include all the Bible’s graphic descriptions of the Battle of Armageddon—it is mentioned, but I downplayed but it. While some soft-pedal the tribulation, I believe many of His children will live through it. I hope to bolster my young readers’ faith to be able to trust God for their protection and provision.

In the Days of Dread stories, I used dreams and visions to put my hero and some of his friends in that final battle without predicting any specific time—only Father knows the day and the hour! I believe, as Jackson discovers, there will be places of refuge where those who follow God ban together for mutual protection and benefit.

it’s so pleased me that many grandparents love these books as well. One read it twice, back-to-back because she loved it so much and didn’t want it to end! Though rampant evil throws the world into chaos, I believe His Chosen will walk in power and peace, spreading His Good News to the lost until the end!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 12

Texas Book-aholic, January 13

Inklings and notions, January 14

deb’s Book Review, January 15

For Him and My Family, January 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 17

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 18 (Spotlight)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 18

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 19

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 20

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 22

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, January 23 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, January 23

Cats in the Cradle Blog, January 24

For the Love of Literature, January 25 (Author Interview)

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Caryl is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/17c55/the-kidron-valley-celebration-tour-giveaway

Armor of God Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Armor of God

Author: Allen Brokken

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Release date: November 19, 2021

In a battle to possess the armor of God, Lauren, Aiden and Ethan stand against their father as he fights for the enemy.

The Dark One has a foothold in the Iron Mountains, and his steel warriors have corrupted the giants. With a formidable army behind him, he fights to secure power over the heathlands. Darkness pervades Zoura’s frontier.

Reunited with Mother and Uncle, twelve-year-old Lauren and her younger brothers, Aiden and Ethan, must light the Tower of Light in Blooming Glen to save Zoura. But the enemy stands in their way. They need the lost Armor of God to overcome the forces of darkness.

As the children search for the armor, the enemy raises a new champion—their father. Knowing the power of the armor and the children’s plans, their father dispatches the Steele Brothers to retrieve the armor for the Dark One.

Zoura’s last chance for salvation will be lost, if darkness corrupts the armor before the children can take it back. Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan have prevailed against the forces of darkness before, but do they have the faith to stand firm against their father as he fights for the enemy?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Allen Brokken is a teacher at heart, a husband and father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. He began writing the Towers of Light series for his own children to help him illustrate the deep truths of the Bible in an engaging and age appropriate way. He’s dedicated 15 years of his life to volunteer roles in children’s ministry and youth development. Now that his own children are off to college he’s telling stories and sharing clean humor on social media @allenbrokkenauthor, and through his blog https://www.allenbrokkenauthor.com

More from Allen

Armor of God is the fourth book in the series, and it takes a significant departure from the others in that the children’s mother has joined them in their journey. After rescuing her from the Iron Mountain in Fear No Evil, she is ready to take charge of the group to save Father. However, things are a lot more complicated than they appear, and her children have grown used to making important decisions independently.

This book challenged my writing skills. On the one hand, middle grade so often sends the parents away to give the kids agency to be the heroes of the story. But what happens when the parents are active participants? Most middle grade goes one of two directions. The parents are incompetent fools who the wise all knowing children must save, or the parents become wicked antagonists working against the children’s best interests.

As a parent, I cringe when those stereotypes come up in a read-aloud. The parents I know are not bumbling fools and generally work hard to provide the best for their children. So stories that emphasize something else tweaks something in my mind as I’m reading. After talking to a lot of parents, they feel the same way.

So I worked hard to give Mother a very specific objective, save Father. At the same time, the children have concerns that could take them off that path. With the help of my editor and critique partners, I was able to cast Mother in a good light. Armor of God provides readers a realistic portrayal of the family working through conflicts in a positive way, which makes the surprise ending all the more powerful.

So if you are looking for a middle-grade story to read to your kids where the parents aren’t bumbling fools or wicked abusers, you should check out Armor of God.

My Review

In an increasingly digital and secular world, it is encouraging to see books still being written that engage children’s imaginations and take place in the great outdoors rather than in front of a screen. There is still much to be said for creating adventures, both indoors and out, that stem from the dreams and imaginings of a child. So many wonderful hours that allow minds to grow and learn from experience. Narnia, Middle-earth, the American prairie…and now Zoura. As a series, Allen Brokken’s Towers of Light combines the delights of fantasy with the morals of Christianity to craft a continuing tale that gently teaches while taking readers on an exhilarating journey of rescue and discovery. Despite a middle-grade target audience, more mature readers will enjoy picking up on nuances and more profound meanings throughout the story, making Armor of God appropriate for anyone age 8 and up. The discerning reader will also notice Biblical allusions skillfully woven into the narrative.

There are a plethora of gems to be found within Armor of God, book four of the Towers of Light series by Allen Brokken. Reading the books in chronological order is imperative because each builds on the former to make one complete story arc, and as such I appreciate the brief summary of each preceding book that the author places prior to the narrative. This is a nice refresher that I would love to see other series authors adopt! Also, Brokken makes note that each book focuses on a specific Christian value, with this one’s being faith. Hebrews 11:1 instantly comes to mind, as the Scripture tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In Armor of God, all is not as it appears, and just as in real life, sometimes the line between good and evil, friend and enemy, blurs. This is such an important concept for children to learn, and sometimes in Christian literature this distinction can be sidestepped.

As with the previous three books, the characters constitute the heart of Armor of God. Continuing on their quest to save their father and light the tower at Blooming Glen, siblings Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan remain endearingly true to character. They are overall responsible and thoughtful, but I think that it’s important that Brokken portrays them as normal children who still act their ages and make mistakes. What’s more, they learn from their mistakes. Likewise, the adults are far from perfect, even the ones on the side of goodness. None of the books in this series come across as preachy, and the author incorporates witnessing on the part of the children in a natural way that demonstrates how what they’ve been taught and have heard has born fruit within them. This serves them well in the ongoing trials that they face in their battle against the Darkness. As Lauren reminds herself, and all of us, “With God on their side, who could stand against them?

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 4

Sodbusterliving, December 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 5

Texas Book-aholic, December 6

Inklings and notions, December 7

For Him and My Family, December 8

deb’s Book Review, December 9

Spoken from the Heart, December 10

For the Love of Literature, December 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 12

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 13

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 14 (Spotlight)

Mary Hake, December 14

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 16

Lights in a Dark World, December 17

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, Allen is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/14198/armor-of-god-celebration-tour-giveaway

Fear No Evil Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Fear No Evil

Author: Allen Brokken

Genre: Christian Middle Grade Fantasy

Release Date: December 5, 2020

Across the land of Zoura, people and creatures alike continue to fall prey to the persuasion of darkness. The seeds of evil pollute not only those outside the Light, but those within it. Pitting neighbor against neighbor. Brother against brother. The Dark One gains ground in his pursuit to shroud the heathlands in eternal darkness. Zoura’s only hope lies with three children.

Twelve-year-old Lauren and her younger brothers, Aiden and Ethan, are determined to reignite the Tower of Light in Blooming Glen. But an attack by dark forces separates them, driving them into a valley of darkness. Without each other or their Knight Protector, the three siblings must navigate the wilderness while fending off creatures tainted by evil. They fight not just for Zoura, but for their own survival.

Will the darkness overtake Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan? Or will they prove their faith is stronger and that they fear no evil?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Allen Brokken is a teacher at heart, a husband and father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. He began writing the Towers of Light series for his own children to help him illustrate the deep truths of the Bible in an engaging and age appropriate way. He’s dedicated 15 years of his life to volunteer roles in children’s ministry and youth development. Now that his own children are off to college he’s sharing his life experiences on social media @towersoflight, @twodadsandajoke, and through his blog https://www.lightofmine.net

More from Allen

The stakes have been raised in the 3rd book of the Towers of Light Series, Fear No Evil. The children have been separated from one another in the darkness shrouded, Muddy River valley. Evil prowls around them at every turn. Do they have the faith to fear no evil?

My favorite part about writing this book was a conversation I had with the real Ethan. I had a tight editorial deadline to meet and I decided to go on a writing retreat to finish the book. While I was trying to leave home, my youngest the real life Ethan kept asking me questions and delaying my departure. Finally, I said, “You know the last time I wrote there was a ferocious bear about to eat Ethan. If I don’t sit down and start writing soon, he’s going to be a bear food.” Ethan’s reply was, “Yah you better go write now!” You’ll have to pick up Fear no Evil to see if I got back to the story in time.

My Review

Book three of Allen Brokken’s Towers of Light series offers a divergence from the first two in several ways, intensifying the danger and adventure while still serving to encourage and inspire young readers. This series needs to be read chronologically because it tells one complete story sectioned into five books. Fear No Evil picks up where the second book, Still Small Voice (see my review HERE), leaves off, and although there are enough reminders crafted into the opening chapters to refresh readers’ memories, the narrative as a whole will not be as enjoyable or as appreciated without the entire story arc.

There could not be a more apropos title for this book releasing at the end of 2020 than Fear No Evil. The target audience is children and middle-grade, but they are just as suitable for adults, with timeless lessons that we never outgrow and often need to be reminded of now and again. This story marks the mid-point of the series, and it proves to be the most challenging for the characters so far, with the poison of darkness spreading and the three siblings separated for the first time. Lauren, 12; Aiden, 9; and Ethan, 5 each end up on their own after an attack by the darkness that is overtaking Zoura. Struggling to maintain their faith in the midst of persecution, each sibling prays and recalls the twenty-third Psalm throughout their ordeal while also working with creatures they come upon. Due to their separation from one another, each chapter focuses on only one of the children, often ending with a bit of a cliffhanger to be resolved in a few more chapters, heightening the suspense.

Brokken excels at combining fantasy and childlike faith in a credible manner. The animals and beings he brings to life on the page are similar enough to reality and are described well enough that they are easy to envision, yet sufficiently diverse to stoke the imagination. Readers get a glimpse of how God’s creation was intended to work before sin entered the world, with prey and predator together and even helping one another. Likewise, the effects of darkness (sin) taint everything in its wake. However, the light dispels darkness, and in Fear No Evil especially, the children give compelling witness to their faith: through words, but also through actions and admitting when they are wrong. They each demonstrate their dependence on God through trials, embodying the words of David in Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Inklings and notions, December 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 7

Texas Book-aholic, December 8

Beauty in the Binding, December 9 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, December 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 10

For Him and My Family, December 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 12

Spoken from the Heart, December 13 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 13

For the Love of Literature, December 14

Artistic Nobody, December 15 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 16

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 17

Vicky Sluiter, December 18

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, Allen is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1045b/fear-no-evil-celebration-tour-giveaway

Saving Mount Rushmore Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Saving Mount Rushmore

Author: Andrea Jo Rodgers

Genre: Middle grade fiction

Release Date: April 15, 2018

When John Jenkins’ parents ship him off to stay with his aunt, he’s certain it will be the worst summer ever—until he learns he’s been accepted into a top-secret school. St. Michael’s Academy is home to gifted students with extraordinary talents. Although John has no idea why he’s there, he’s assigned to Team Liberty, who assist authorities with solving low-level crimes. Their first mission: stop a trio of mischief-making teens from vandalizing Mount Rushmore. John battles feelings of inferiority as he and Team Liberty compete against Devlin Black and his cronies to track down clues and solve puzzles at Mount Rushmore. Along the way, John makes several key contributions, and his self-confidence grows. When he discovers he was admitted to the school due to a clerical error, he’s mortified. Now, he’s strictly an “observer” until the mission’s end. But when his teammates run into trouble, John must summon up the courage to save Mount Rushmore, and he learns an invaluable lesson: every person has special God-given gifts—including him.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Andrea Jo Rodgers is the author of award-winning Christian middle grade fiction as well as inspirational adult nonfiction novels. She holds a clinical doctorate in physical therapy and specializes in women’s health, orthopedics, and lymphedema. She has served her community as a volunteer emergency medical technician for over thirty years, responding to more than 8,200 first aid and fire calls. She lives on the east coast with her husband, two children, and their two rescue dogs, a Shih Tzu and a Dachshund.

More from Andrea

Can John embrace his God-given gifts in time to save Mount Rushmore?

Have you ever admired the extraordinary talent of another person? Perhaps you enjoyed listening to someone belt out a spellbinding rendition of your favorite song at church or a concert. Or, maybe you have dreamed that you’d gain the same athletic prowess of a professional sports player.

The amazing gifts of others can take many forms. These gifts may be linked with intelligence, such as an aptitude for math and engineering. They may reflect the beauty of the arts through singing, dancing, or painting. Certain individuals may dazzle the people around them with incredible athletic talents, from gold-medal Olympians to professional baseball, football, and basketball players.

Most people consider extraordinary talents to be God-given gifts. They allow people to stand out and shine among others. However, do each of us need a breathtaking talent to be considered special?

In Saving Mount Rushmore, John Jenkins, an awkward thirteen-year-old teenager, is unexpectedly chosen to attend Saint Michael the Archangel Academy. The top-secret school’s mission is to protect our nation by assisting authorities in solving crimes. Since the academy is for students with extraordinary abilities, John is puzzled as to why he’s been accepted. After all, he’s an average teen without any notable gifts.

While working with Team Liberty to save Mount Rushmore from Devlin Black and Team Mischief, John struggles to discover his special gifts. He’s mortified when he discovers that he’s been accepted to the academy due to a clerical error. He becomes strictly an “observer” until the mission’s end. But when his teammates run into trouble, John must summon up the courage to try to save Mount Rushmore. He learns that every person has special God-given gifts—including him.

I came up with the idea for Saving Mount Rushmore while in the airport, just before our plane departed for the famous landmark. I wrote feverishly the entire flight, and the first chapters were born. Saving Mount Rushmore is a middle grade novel which combines information about Mount Rushmore, adventure, and Christian values. My goal was to write an exciting, fun, educational book for middle grade readers that incorporates Christian values into the fabric of the story. John and his friends have an opportunity to save another national monument in the sequel, Saving the Statue of Liberty. I hope you celebrate our country’s heritage by joining John and Team Liberty in their adventures.

My Review

For God and Country.

Going into Saving Mount Rushmore, I had no idea what it was about aside from the obvious location and the fact that it was a middle-grade novel. While reading, I kept asking myself if I would have enjoyed it had I been the target age group, and I think that I would have due to the historical connection. The idea of going on secret spy missions provided plenty of fodder for the imagination when I was growing up, and reading this book made me feel, in some ways, like a kid again. Author Andrea Jo Rodgers does a nice job with the main cast of characters, starting with 13-year-old John Jenkins, who will be spending the summer at his great-aunt Martha’s Winding River Ranch. I felt the most kinship with Annabelle the bookworm, and also with the shyness of John himself.

This is a good book for illustrating how we can work together to achieve a common goal. St. Michael’s Archangel Academy is “a top-secret school that helps authorities fight crime” in the words of Aunt Martha, and each of the students has a special gift. Except for John, who does not know if he has a gift or what it might be. How the other kids in his assigned group, Team Liberty, respond with complete acceptance and support is heartwarming and encouraging in a society that far too often teems with bullies. Similarly, Shaniqua and her stressful home life evoke her fellow members’ empathy. So refreshing! To keep things from becoming too idealistic, there are villains, too, in the form of other kids who do their best to foil Team Liberty’s mission. As a bit of an aside, I would like to comment on the seemingly negligent adults, with the exception of Aunt Martha, because it does irk me. John’s parents are too busy to take time for him on a normal day, and they do not seem to prioritize their kids, while Mr. Jorgenson seems rather indifferent and callous.

One of the things that drew me to this book in the first place is that it is written from a Christian worldview, as evidenced in the series title. God is mentioned a few times throughout the book, and on one occasion John offers a prayer for a meal he shares with his aunt and the ranch foreman, but faith does not seem to be as integral a topic as I thought that it would. I had been hoping for more, but this is book one of the series, so maybe the second book contains more specifically Christian content.

If you’re looking for a realistic, true-to-life middle-grade story, this book isn’t it. But if you can suspend your disbelief and enjoy a tale that mixes an authentic American landmark with a dash of fantasy and the adventure of being a kid, then Saving Mount Rushmore is worth checking out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

The Avid Reader, November 19

Texas Book-aholic, November 20

21st Century Keeper at Home, November 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

For Him and My Family, November 22

Mary Hake, November 22

Older & Smarter?, November 23

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 23

Inklings and notions, November 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 25

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 25

Vicky Sluiter, November 26

deb’s Book Review, November 27

Simple Harvest Reads, November 27 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 28

Artistic Nobody, November 29 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Captive Dreams Window, November 29

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 1

Blossoms and Blessings, December 1

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Andrea is giving away the grand prize package of a signed copy of Saving Mount Rushmore: Saint Michael the Archangel Academy, Mission 1 as well as a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/103a5/saving-mount-rushmore-celebration-tour-giveaway