Raising A Lady in Waiting: Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Daughter Avoide a Bozo by Jackie Kendall ~Review~

Raising a Lady in Waiting: Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Daughter Avoid a Bozo

Raising a Lady in Waiting

I am enthusiastic about this book so much that I am tempted to go all gushy over it, and I am not a person who easily gushes over a book. What grabbed me right from the beginning was the intimate tone of the book, as if two moms were seated at the kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee or tea and a cinnamon roll, telling each other our life stories. In the preface, Jackie Kendall shares two special memories most women love sharing with each other–her engagement story and her wedding story. The tale as she relates it reveals her heart, her back story and a couple of unexpected bonus moments. By the time I began reading chapter one, I knew the author was speaking from personal experience. She had herself overcome such abuse that it was a miracle she could live a peaceful, fruitful life without bitterness, rancor and anger. Knowing what she had overcome was the driving force for reading this book, for me. I wanted to know how she conquered the tendency to attract losers that matched her background. The principles she shared in the chapters are well worth getting the book for further reference. My only regret is that I didn’t have this book fifteen years earlier.

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This book was published in 2013. I have to confess that it took me this long to finally read it and write this review. My bad. But the good news is now I have the New Lady in Waiting book published in 2014. It is the 20th anniversary edition. I will be reviewing that one soon, probably in a couple of posts. Be sure to look for that so that you know what has been updated.

Ms. Kendall issued a disclaimer for this book in the introduction. “These words are meant to ‘throw cold water’ in your face if by chance you are under the illusion that there exists some type of perfect formula for successfully mentoring your child. These pages simply describe the pilgrimage I have been on as a mom. I admit to all that I am simply a fellow struggler who is addicted to hope in Jesus.” I like this humble attitude. I agree that there is truly no magic formula for rearing our children to become responsible, caring, successful adults. But she does share with readers sound biblical principles that should improve their chances.

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Raising a Lady in Waiting is an extended Bible study of the book of Ruth from the Old Testament. The story of Ruth is about a young woman, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, whose wise decisions brought blessings to her family so protracted that the ripples from such grace shown her by God was felt hundreds of years later. The author shares valuable tenets from this study chapter by chapter:

  • Being a Young Lady of Reckless Abandon
  • Being a Young Lady of Diligence
  • Being a Young Lady of Faith
  • Being a Young Lady of Virtue
  • Being a Young Lady of Devotion
  • Being a Young Lady of Purity
  • Being a Young Lady of Security
  • Being a Young Lady of Contentment
  • Being a Young Lady of Conviction
  • Being a Young Lady of Patience

Each chapter is chock full of stories, examples, research, lists, tips and word pictures with the intent to help mothers (and grandmothers) model and implement each main principle. The author’s humor and ability to package the tidbits into palatable nuggets that will nudge our memories in the future is priceless. At the end are discussion questions, Bible verses, and sometimes projects for the mother and daughter to do together. This makes the book a valuable resource you will want to return to repeatedly.

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Not only does the book point the way for our precious Ladies in Waiting toward becoming Ladies of Excellence ready for the Boaz in their lives, it also teaches them how to distinguish a Bozo from a Boaz. Through this book, parents are to help our girls guard their hearts from predatory men and dead-end relationships.

What I liked best is how the author talks to us, mom to mom. We are coached to model each of the character traits we desire to see in our daughters and granddaughters. We are encouraged to be patient because it’s a gradual process that takes time, prayer, and dedicated effort. We are to remember that we will make mistakes, or fail to model Godly character from time to time because we are human. But above all, the author encourages us to place our young girls in God’s competent hands. I intend to give a copy of this book to my daughter now that she is out of the nest, to use when she begins her own family.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Zaci the Zebra is Very Brave by Pippa Wilson ~Review~

Zaci the Zebra is Very Brave by Pippa Wilson

Zaci the Zebra Is Very Brave  This book is available on Amazon kindles.

Zaci the zebra is very braveIn this bright, cheery picture book for toddlers and preschoolers, Zaci the Zebra leads a group of his animal friends on an adventure across the African plains. When a mischievous monkey leads them astray, it is Zaci to the rescue leading his friends home.

This book is written in charming rhyme and meter that trips along adding to the light-hearted tone of the story. For me, it is never too early to emphasize good character qualities in the stories we read to our children. Zaci demonstrates good leadership ability when he took responsibility to get his group of friends home safely. Discovering they were lost, he becomes an encourager when their fear overcomes them. He is inventive by creating several diverting games while leading them home. They didn’t have time to be afraid. He uses his natural abilities to lead the group back to familiar territory. And in all this time, Zaci thinks about others above himself. In the end, he even finds a little piece of himself that has grown up just a bit. Children will enjoy the happy, cozy ending. I know I did.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody ~Review~

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Will in Scarlet

According to Matthew Cody, author of this book, there really is no official version of the Robin Hood tale. The basic foundation of the folk lore surrounding this classic hero seems to change with the political climate often enough to suspect that perhaps the legend evolving over the years is more a conglomerate of characters and repeated among the downtrodden to keep hope alive. In any case, in his research the author found very little about young Will Shackley, a member of Robin’s Merry Men; he felt comfortable enough, then, to add his contribution to the plethora of tales about the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest. I love the final product of this author’s fertile imagination. The story reads like a convincing historical fiction about the birth of a legendary character.

Will in Scarlet opens with an adventure that turns Will Shackley, the boy of 13, into Wolfslayer the young man, under the tutelage of Sir Osbert, an old knight in the service of the Shackley family. It was a time when boys had to grow up fast, especially young lordlings about to get kicked in the teeth by life. Will’s father, Lord Roderic Shackley, was at the side of his king, King Richard the Lionheart, sailing home after two years of fighting in the crusades in Jerusalem. News had just arrived of the capture and imprisonment of King Richard and his men. When Sir Guy of Gisborne shows up at the lad’s celebration, Will’s life is forever changed.

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The Shackley family friend, Mark Brewer, once a friend of the family, now Prince John’s appointed Sheriff of Nottingham, turns traitor and the Regent of Shackley Castle, Will’s Uncle Geoff Shackley is deceived and slain. Will and his mother narrowly escaped the ignoble Sir Guy through a secret underground tunnel and flee to safely. Will’s mother traveled to France and took refuge with her family. Will struck out on his own and ended up in Sherwood Forest where he was found by the Merry Men, nearly at the end of his life. Much the Miller’s son nursed him back to health. He takes up the mantle as Will Scarlet, eventually one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men. His adventures have only just begun.

I enjoyed the fast-paced adventures of Will and Much, the Miller’s son. The author tells the story so well that I quickly became engrossed in the tale. There’s suspense, danger, a touch of history, and a lot of imagination. The characterization of Will, Much, and Robin himself is well-written, each one maturing enough to find himself and the purpose for his existence. It is an appealing middle grade read, attractive for boys and girls alike, even to those who may be new to reading period books or historical fiction. I highly recommend it.

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One cautionary note: I found a tiny bit of crude language, something that would have been historically part of an outlaw’s language. But those moments are rare and not actual swear words. I believe most careful parents would find it of little concern. When my children were young, if I owned the book, the words became a topic of discussion and/or whited out.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley, on behalf of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Mom’s Night Out (Based on the screenplay written by Andrea Nasfell and Jon Erin) by Tricia Goyer ~Review~

Mom’s Night Out  (Based on the screenplay written by Andrea Nasfell and Jon Erin) by Tricia Goyer

Mom's Night Out

Mom’s Night Out is the funniest book I have read this year so far. It’s pure fun to read about a group of women out to wrangle some girl time while their husbands and guy friends take over on the home front. The theme isn’t a new one, but for me, fresh and read-worthy all the same. The results of such an arrangement? Two sets of side-splitting hilarious fast-paced adventures, a comedy of errors, updated, but which never grows old. Find out what a biker gang, a buttoned- down pastor’s wife, a man-child addicted to video games, a stressed teen Mom, a tattoo parlor, and a crazy bowling alley all have in common.

Allyson is a mom who loves her kids and loves her life, yet wonders why she’s not happy. Her “moments” have been way too frequent. Sondra is a pastor’s wife who does her best to hold everything together at church and at home, but she’s putting on a show. Her beautiful teen, Zoe, is forcing her to face old nightmares. Bridget has had to grow up too quickly for her liking, and she’s struggling to find a balance and maturity at the same time with a child in tow. Izzy is faced with an unplanned pregnancy while her husband is freaking out with the twins they already have. Dealing with a disappointing night out these women had been looking forward to a long time, however, was nothing when they all discovered baby Phoenix has gone missing. Now, they are on a mission.

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I remember those days being a mom of little ones. And unfortunately I also remember the Mom moments tucked between the great memories. So I have a lot of empathy for the set-up in this scenario. Nights out are something we would live for, strive for, and yearn over. Life with small children is an unforgettable era in our lives. Parents look back on those early days with a mixture of feelings. The author of the book works this into the story so well. We laugh and poke fun at times when things went completely wrong. It’s a strong premise for a book like this. I consider this book at the top of my list for funny adventures.

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Second, there are some terrific teachable moments in this story line. For example, it’s not unusual to feel like a failure as Mom, especially when there’s pressure from so many directions in the family’s life. We tend to focus on what to do to fix the problems we see around us, but it isn’t always something we need to do so much as something we need to perceive. We can’t always control the circumstances around us, but we can change how we view ourselves and the circumstances. This book is filled with examples of that principle.

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The book and the movie are not preachy, but both are filled with great humor that doesn’t depend of crudity or foul language to be funny. Underneath the humor are some terrific themes, some lessons we can all learn from and plenty of fun. I believe it will appeal to a wide range of readers, not just women or Moms. I highly recommend it for all age groups and interests.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Netgalley on behalf of B&H Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox ~Review~

Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox

Just 18 Summers

Just 18 Summers is particularly relevant for many readers because it is about the brevity of parenthood, the struggles parents experience, and at least in the Western culture, trying to balance busy lives with our children’s need for us to be there for them. Four families loosely connected to each other become the backdrop for the events embroidered on it. Some of the scenes are funny, some are poignant, some are very serious in nature. The book touched my heart in a good way, and I hope it does the same for you.

Butch Browning was suddenly thrown into single fatherhood when his young wife died in a car crash. Butch and Jenny’s daughter was 8 going on twenty it seemed. Since the day he received news of his wife’s death, he could barely function in real life. He didn’t know anything about rearing a little girl. His sister-in-law Beth offered her assistance, but his pride refused to allow anyone to help. So they struggled on with sometimes humorous results. Butch owned a small construction
company with his best friend Tippy as foreman. Friends often do for each other, so Butch didn’t resent it when Tippy came over to commiserate.

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Tippy, however, was having problems of his own. His wife Daphne was pregnant with their first child. Tippy thought she was high strung before the pregnancy, but now she was fanatical about child care, child rearing and safety, and parenthood in general. He admitted to Butch that she had bought nearly 50 books on the topic. She wanted him to read them all as well, and quizzed him on what he read. But it seemed all the articles and books and research she has read has only caused more tension as she strove to change every aspect of their former lifestyle. It was starting to drive Tippy crazy. He turned to Butch for advice and distraction. When he took on extra hours at work, his absence only drove the wedge deeper. Daphne found some consolation in the scrapbooking group she attended once a week. The group had been started by Jenny, Butch’s wife.

Beth Anderson was also a part of the scrapbooking group her sister Jenny had started. It was a bright spot in what looked to be a difficult summer. Larry and Beth Anderson lived in a nice neighborhood. Larry was a great provider which allowed Beth to stay at home with their three children. But regrets reared their ugly heads after the death of Beth’s sister. She realized how fleeting life really was, and it hit her hard when their oldest son graduated from high school. Larry, too, felt the crunch of time when he understood this was the last summer their family would experience as a whole unit. When Robin, 21, announced her engagement and upcoming marriage in the Fall, Beth went through full-blown panic, while Larry launched his last ditch effort towards family unity that he called “The Summer of Intense Fun.” His plans worked fine with the boys as they went from one crazy scheme to another, but it left Beth devastated because her daughter would not allow her to assist with the wedding preparations–something she had dreamed of doing since Robin’s birth. She was left bereft over her sister’s death and the imminent loss of two of her children. She did not handle all this change very well. She felt deeply her plunge from supermom to blubbering, chaotic mess.

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Across the hedge from the Andersons were Charles and Helen Buckley. Helen was also part of the scrapbooking group Jenny had organized. They had noticed the sudden frenetic activity in their neighbor’s yard–strange games with whipped cream and cherries, rocket-powered kites, picnics, charades, and Pictionary. It was not dignified and Helen was unsettled by it all. Charles hadn’t noticed much because he was always away at work. But their youngest boy Cory noticed, wistfully. He wished his dad would make a kite with him, but his family was too buttoned-up to have fun together like the Andersons.

One of the many things I loved about this book is the humor embedded in the multiple streams of the plot lines. For me, one of the funniest incidents was when the culinary-challenged dad, Butch, was to bake cupcakes for Ava’s class. I could only laugh when Tippy showed up with a toolbox, especially later when they lost a screwdriver in the batter. I really have to try using a glass to cut out cupcake shapes from a sheetcake, just once. But the peanut butter covered beef jerky with M&M’s on top really struck my funny bone. How could we not chuckle at such attempts to make little Ava’s upside down life turn topside. I give Butch an A for effort.

If you read many of my reviews, you may notice that faith is one element of a story I appreciate most. I’m not talking about organized religion, but of a deep spiritual relationship we can have with God through Jesus Christ. That relationship can be as close or distant as we choose. Because of that, we are all at different stages in that relationship. We go through steps of struggle and resolution as we journey through life learning to trust God. Just 18 Summers illustrates this point very well. I admire how the authors used a licensed Christian counselor with the many individuals grappling with their life stage of trust in God’s plan. The friends also encouraged and shared their experiences with each other, listened and empathized, modeling what Christian fellowship should look like.

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I enjoy character-based books as well as I like adventure and action books. Characterization is important in this book, especially in the addition of the deceased Jennifer Browning, whose presence is felt all throughout the story. In fact, her absence is the catalyst for the fallout two main characters experience and is the element the authors use to further bind the four families together. Her loss served to create tension; eventually that tension is resolved through the events of the storyline.

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Throughout the book, a single theme rings out loud and clear: time is short and you may never recover special family moments if you allow them to slip past you. Because four families are struggling with this basic factor, it tends to get repeated often in various ways. I found this a tad bit irritating. But that’s just me. Overall, I give this book two thumbs up and recommend it to parents in all stages of life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from The Book Club Network on behalf of Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Raina’s Choice (Western Justice Bk. 3) by Gilbert Morris ~Review~

Raina’s Choice (Western Justice Bk. 3) by Gilbert Morris

Raina's Choice

Raina’s Choice is a simple tale of two people caught up in circumstances outside their control. Both were seeking freedom from drudgery and imprisonment. Both found each other and sensed a rescuer in the rough, a potential savior of sorts. Both leaned on each other in their direst moments and in turn found a friend. Both searched for more out of life and eventually found purpose.

Tyler Kincaid was a rough and tumble man, a drifter who worked where he could to survive. He ended up working on the railroad in Mexico where he eventually got caught between two sides in a revolution. He was thrown in prison, along with his friend, Jim, and left to work in the mines until their death. Being a gringo did not stand in their favor. But his resourceful friend arranged escape for the two of them. Jim gave his life so that Ty would find his freedom, something Tyler never forgot. Ty eventually arrived in Texas and worked several jobs to earn his passage further to the northwest. He was unaware, however, that the Mexican government had put out a notice of arrest and reward on posters.

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Raina Vernay grew up in the Silver Dollar Saloon, La Tete, Louisiana, that her mother owned. When her mother passed on, she left ownership of the saloon to both her daughters. Raina’s sister Roxie married a hard man whose only interest was to get his hands on the business. He made life miserable for both women, especially for Raina, who had grown to become a beauty. Her brother-in-law made it clear, as Raina approached adulthood, that he wanted her. She was desperate to get away, but had already been caught once trying to flee. So she waited for an opportunity to escape. One evening, she met a surprisingly thoughtful stranger whom she overheard talking about his journey northwest to the Oklahoma Territory–Indian Territory. But before he made it to bed that night the sheriff of La Tete arrested him when he recognized Ty from the wanted posters.

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However, all this gave Raina an idea for a plan of escape. Even though Ty was in jail, she managed to get him out, sell her part of the deed for the saloon to the town’s lawyer, and escape that same night hiding under a pile of straw on a horse-drawn wagon. But that was only the beginning of Ty and Raina’s adventures.

What drew me most in this wild west tale was Ty Kincaid’s integrity of character. He was not a stranger of hardship, cruel circumstances and the unfairness of life. Yet in spite of all that, he would get back on his feet and try again to make the best of a situation without complaint. When he worked, he worked hard. He took care of Raina even after they reached their final destination, Fort Smith, in the Oklahoma Territory. He had a core of trustworthiness that made him a strong person. In much the same way, Raina was also a person with steel in her make-up. She was an intelligent woman who was not afraid of hard work or of serving others when she needed to. She was especially persistent in her efforts to find her father in this new land.

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But sometimes a person’s greatest strengths can become one of their greatest weaknesses. This was true of Ty. His persistence, stubbornness and self-sufficiency were great qualities, especially once Ty took on the job of Marshall out in Indian Territory. But it also built a wall between him and God. There is no question in my mind that the author built into this story great moments where God was seeking Ty out to be His own. It is one of the things I admire most in this author’s writing. He doesn’t expend a lot of words about the spiritual side of this book. Instead, he demonstrates the tug-of-war through events and incidences. Ty was a bit too hard-headed, so God had to allow a few things to shake him up so he would listen to His voice. This is what makes the second half of the book so suspenseful, filled with anticipation, tension and tragedy.

While there was a lot to enjoy in Raina’s Choice, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the disappointments I felt as I followed the story line. I was a bit disappointed in the rough writing style the author employed. Taking into account common speech patterns of the characters, I felt the remaining narrative faltered in grammar and immature sentence structure. Sometimes conversations fell flat, narratives were not as insightful as they could have been, and interpersonal relationships remained shallow when opportunities for more depth were passed over. In a some instances, I saw a few inconsistencies in the story line, although it wasn’t too noticeable. It did catch my attention. Overall, the book is a pleasant read, but does not hold a place among my favorite books.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Netgalley on behalf of Barbour Publishing Inc. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagan ~Review~

Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagan

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle

What a delightfully fun book! Filled with adventure, legends, evil vs. good, villains, quests and young heroes, this book is a great read for both guys and gals.

Gabriel Finley’s world was a normal human world just like yours and mine (almost). There was really nothing extraordinary about it at all (that he knew of). Gabriel lived with his Aunt Jasmine in a classic old brownstone house in Brooklyn. It had belonged to his grandparents and was filled with odd-looking furniture and pictures of odd-looking ancestors, including a creepy picture of his Uncle Corax. Gabriel didn’t remember his mother because she disappeared when he was very little. But he remembered his father very well. He had only gone missing three years ago, leaving behind a mysterious note Gabriel’s Aunt Jaz had found. He and his friends walked to school every day. Gabriel wasn’t exactly hero material. He was even bullied once in awhile at school. He had no special talents except for one…he loved riddles. It was something he had in common with his father, who always said riddles were good for the mind.

It was one of those normal days where Gabriel was trying to get more information about his father’s disappearance from his Aunt Jaz when she finally relented and gave him his father’s diary, called the Book of Ravens. Reading it was an eye opener because it related an experience his father had when he was Gabriel’s age. Unknown to most humans of the day, ravens and humans had a history together. At one time, they were close friends. They spoke together as equals. Ravens sang lullabies to their friends’ babies and accompanied their amicus everywhere. They even went to war and served as look-outs.

But then something horrible happened to change the camaraderie to fear. It started with one bad raven who recruited other ravens to the same evil fate he suffered through temptations to become like him. Since then, there have been two types of ravens, the good ones and the evil ones. The evil ravens, called valravens were doomed to eternal torment and inner coldness, unable to die. To tell them apart, ravens would ask a strange raven a riddle. If the unknown raven laughed, he was accepted. Valravens never laughed. Their world was miserable, dark and humorless.

Most of what he read didn’t seem real to Gabriel until one day a raven chick asked him a riddle and he answered it. Then its next cryptic statement brought to focus all he learned in this father’s diary, “Corax must not find the torc.” It seemed the young bird, Paladin, Gabriel and his friends were destined for a long and dangerous adventure.

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle quote1

As a parent, an elementary teacher, and a tutor, I know this would be a book that would appeal to most boys and girls and young teens. It begins with humorous adventures as we become acquainted with Gabriel, Abby, Pamela and Soams. Then the story moves more into the fantasy arena when the young people begin to interact with ravens and those who befriend the ravens. Finally, we catch a glimpse of a grander scheme–the quest to keep a valuable and deadly item, the torc, out of the hands of Evil, and the rescue of Gabriel’s father. The story moves from light and entertaining to more serious and intense activity. There is darkness, but never despair and hopelessness. The story moves along at a quick pace, and tension intensifies in the final third of the book. I would recommend this adventure for fourth graders up to young adults, although I enjoyed it myself. The caveat I have to mention is that the valravens are referred to as ghouls and they do participate in some ghoulish behavior. This may disturb more sensitive readers. However, there is no crude or lude language, no swearing or major moral complications. It is a great epic adventure.

In fact, Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle is a book with potential, in my opinion, to become a classic piece of literature. Not only does it read like a classic, I believe this book would make a wonderful children’s cartoon movie. In its sweeping epic theme, we find the time-honored clash between good and evil, opportunities for young heroes to rise up and save the world, and a classic scary villain. There are world shattering stakes involved and lots of adventure, magic, and character building events. All the right elements are present. The scope of the story reminds me of the movie, “The Legend of the Guardians.” I think this tale could become
a similar type of movie.

From what I read at the end, I believe there will be more to this book in a series. If so, I’m looking forward to reading it.

Visit George Hagan’s website.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley, on behalf of Random House Children’s Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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