Thursday, April 17, 2014

River of Peril by Susan K. Marlow

Recommendation: **** (4-stars)

In the 4th book of the Goldtown  Adventures Series Jem and his family are traveling to Sacramento - the big city! On a stagecoach full of gold being delivered to help the North during the Civil War is where the trouble begins. After the gold is stolen by the Knights of the Golden Circle nothing about their fun trip to the city seems right. Jem once again finds himself at the center of a dangerous adventure and this time his sister's life depends on his quick wit and determination.

Positives: Again, the historical backdrop to this book was fascinating to me. The details that went into describing the steamboats and the life surrounding them were intriguing. In this book, Jem relied on his faith in God to help him. Several times he cried out in prayer when he didn't know what else to do. I also liked how the author handled some of the historical realities of the time. She didn't shy away from the fact that along with the river-boating lifestyle came things like coarse language. While it was brought into the story as a reality, it was handled perfectly for her audience. She also touched a bit on slavery and allowed her young readers to think through the life of slaves on an age appropriate level.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: Romans 12:2-3 kept coming to my mind as I read this story.  Jem was surrounded by worldly people and confronted with worldly problems at every turn, yet his faith remained strong. While he struggled with fear, he knew where to turn when he felt overwhelmed with fear and cried out in prayer. Where do we teach  our kids to turn when fear and trouble surround them? Psalm 56 is a favorite at our house! No matter who is attacking us, no matter what we are fearing, we can trust in God and not be afraid. He is our very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)! Remind your kids of the commands given to Joshua to "Be strong and courageous..." and that the reason we can live without fear is because "the Lord our God is with us wherever we go" (Joshua 1:9).

Age Level: 5-10 years of age. These books will have a great appeal to young boys!

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publishing in exchange for this review.

Click HERE to purchase of e-book of version of River of Peril!

Canyon of Danger by Susan K. Marlow

Recommendation: *** (3-stars)

Twelve year old Jem (Jeremiah) Coulter is growing up in California during the Gold Rush. As a boy on the verge of manhood he is charged with many responsibilities around the house. He enjoys the times he gets to pan for gold, but he also takes his responsibilities of caring for the animals seriously. Goldtown, like any settlement that sprung up during the Gold Rush, is a colorful and sometimes dangerous place to live. Jem's father is the sheriff and Jem is proud of how he works to maintain order in Goldtown.  When Jem's father is called away for two weeks on business, Jem is left in charge as the man of the family. Jem is determined to make his father proud - even when a wolf threatens the family herd, an injured stranger comes into their family and Jem's own horse and his Pa's good rifle are stolen. How will he solve all these problems on his own? And what kind of danger will he face doing it?

Positives: A great story filled with just the right amount of mystery and danger as well as some fun humor that keep the reader entertained. The historical aspects of this book seem to be well researched and provide a great backdrop to the adventure. I enjoyed the characters and felt like I could picture each one. I appreciated Jem's character in particular as he seemed so real -a young boy who knows what is right, but still struggles to always make the right decision.

Negatives: None

Talking Points:  As I mentioned above, I enjoyed Jem's character as we saw his inner struggle to do what he knew to be right. What 12 year old boy doesn't struggle with this? What person of any age? Talk with your kids about their struggles. How do they handle situations and temptations that arise? Do they have Scripture verses that they go to? Do they pray? How do we as parents handle these things? Encourage kids that while they will always face temptation, they can stand strong! Arm them with verses to fight with in moments of weakness and offer them grace when they are weak (I Cor. 10:13, James 1, Heb. 2:18, Heb. 4:15, Gal. 6:1).

Age Level: 5-10 years of age. These books will have a great appeal to young boys!

I was given a free copy of this book from Kregel Publishing in exchange for my review.

Click HERE to purchase an e-book version of Canyon of Danger!