In the Bookcase


Book Review: Make Yourself Amazing

Make Yourself Amazing (Christian Living): 30 Days to a New You Make Yourself Amazing
30 Days to a New You

written by Sarah Coleman

160 pages, Christian non-fiction
published in 2013

4 Star Rating 4 Star Rating 4 Star Rating 4 Star Rating

"You were born to be amazing. It's true.... An amazing you is your destiny."

Australian author, Sarah Coleman presents Make Yourself Amazing as a study for Proverbs 31. The book is split into 30 days of reading, providing you with a whole month of inspiration to become a fantastic and amazing person for God.

"Life isn't about doing what is right for you but about doing what is right for God and others."

Each day, Coleman provides the verses from the renowned Bible chapter, and illustrates ways of implementing each of them into your life, to truly "make yourself amazing". She also shares insights about her own life while using the guidelines of Proverbs 31, and how her own experiences turned out. There are plenty of lessons in this devotional which we all can learn from.

"No one is born with excellence. For every human being, it is a pursuit."

This book makes for a wonderful daily devotional, especially for the modern virtue-seeking woman. As you read through it, every day, you're given some great thoughts to ponder, and the encouragement to become an even more incredible Christian.

"The challenge of Proverbs 31 is to be this completely amazing person who can accomplish what is written in its thirty-one verses."


Book Review: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

written by Trenton Lee Stewart

496 pages, children's fiction
published in 2012

5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating

"The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict" makes an excellent example of creativity and ingenuity in an author's writing style.

This book is actually the prequel to the "Mysterious Benedict Society" trilogy. You really must read the trilogy first, in order to catch all the little details hidden in the prequel. While we've so enjoyed the adventures and quests of Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance who form the Society --- and all of whom are very bright children that Mr. Benedict cultivates --- we finally get the chance to meet the boy himself, young Nicholas Benedict.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Shall I tell you what I'm thinking, Mrs. Ferrier?"
"Heavens no, Nicholas! That would take hours and we have only moments."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

With the prequel in hand, we can learn about Mr. Benedict's childhood --- about how he came to be the old man with narcolepsy, who uses a wheelchair, wears green plaid, and knows ever-so-many things. The entire back-story is finally revealed in a truly "extraordinary" way.

Young Nicholas is a nine-year-old boy with a mind that works overtime. Sometimes it's a great asset, and sometimes he finds himself in trouble because of it. He's always thinking, reading, and trying to figure out the next puzzle of life. Starting over at yet another orphanage is always hard, but that's exactly where he's going... Rothschild's End, the place where he will find friendship, enemies with the Spiders, and an unexpected treasure hunt. All great elements for a good story to be told.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"He had plotted any number of different strategies (plotting strategies was the sort of thing Nicholas did when other children were playing jacks or Old Maid)..."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I simple adore this book. It appealed to me on so many levels... the charm of a long-ago childhood, the love of libraries and books, the dreary orphanage holding so much potential within its walls, the wit found in tricky puzzles and clues, and the one boy who sees everything differently and can change it all. Complete with a few surprise twists now and then, to make sure you're awake.

By the time I arrived at the last chapter, I felt so sad that I would have to finish it and part company with the characters within its pages. It's a book to laugh and cry over. "The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict" is a book to cherish. This is the way an author writes a book that all ages can enjoy.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
My reviews of MBS titles:
The Mysterious Benedict Society
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Book Review: Lindbergh

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse Lindbergh:
The Tale of a Flying Mouse

written by Torben Kuhlmann

96 pages, children's picture book
published in 2014

5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating 5 Star Rating

If you're looking for a new picture book to share with your family, Lindbergh is the one to pick.

Before the Spirit of St. Louis became an airplane... before Charles Lindbergh flew across the ocean... THERE WAS A MOUSE WHO LIVED IN HAMBURG.

This mouse, a courageous inventor and pilot, dared to go where no four-legged creature had aspired to go before.

To the skies.

Studious and intelligent, this mouse has been presented with a problem: the appearance of metal contraptions to which his other furry friends, one by one, have succumbed to.

Lindbergh by Torben Kuhlmann

He decides his best chance at survival would be in America -- but how? Although ships could take him to his desired destination, he runs into predicaments at the docks... leaving him nowhere else to turn to except the uncharted, faraway clouds.

With a Victorian-era steampunk elegance, the illustrations in "Lindbergh" are stunning and beautiful. You'll find richly fascinating and tasteful details throughout the pages. (Oh, and the mice are so cute and cuddly!)

Lindbergh by Torben Kuhlmann

The imagery truly "makes" the book, for the pictures alone speak volumes even without the accompanying text. Consistent with the vintage ambiance of the plot, the sepia-toned artwork beams with brilliance.

Overall, young readers will pick up on historical cues and the pioneering aviation ideas. The story is about exhibiting fortitude and ingenuity against the odds... and innovation in the face of failure.

Lindbergh by Torben Kuhlmann

You couldn't ask for any more from a book. It is PERFECT.

The hardcover copy comes with a full, striking 96 pages of wonderfulness.

Author bio (via publisher): Torben Kuhlmann was born in Germany. Creative as a child, small airplanes, strange machines and steaming railways made their way into his drawings and later into his acrylic and oil paintings. He studied illustration and design at the University for Applied Sciences in Hamburg. He works as a freelance illustrator. Lindbergh - The Adventurous Tale of a Flying Mouse is his first children's book.

Thanks to NetGalley and NorthSouth for the free book.


Book Review: Zane and the Hurricane

Zane and the Hurricane Zane and the Hurricane:
A Story of Katrina

written by Rodman Philbrick

184 pages, children's fiction
published in 2014

4 Star Rating 4 Star Rating 4 Star Rating 4 Star Rating

Zane Dupree, a boy from New Hampshire, is visiting relatives in Louisiana when a disastrous storm strikes: Hurricane Katrina. The tragedy leaves his life forever changed, but it allows readers a glimpse of the details of the horrific tragedy. But Zane knows nothing of the forthcoming tempest.

His father died before Zane was born. When, out of the blue, word arrives that his father's relatives are living in the New Orleans area, Zane's mom is eager for him to meet his great-grandmother, Trissy. He sets off on his summertime journey, although without much enthusiasm about making the trip. At least Bandit, his trusty dog, will be with him. Soon after, the fatal winds start to pick up in the Gulf Coast.

The aftermath of the 2005 hurricane, as told in the book, sound pretty gruesome sometimes, especially for younger readers, I'd expect. Through Zane's eyes, you are centered in the midst of the chaos and trauma, with horrible sights and smells, particularly in concerning the lives that Katrina took. I think for many readers, the scenes are eye-opening to the intensity of the hurricane situation and the wreckage it produced.

"Zane and the Hurricane" is a story of triumph through tragedy. It shows how, when in the depths of despair, banding together with the people around you can lead to great victory. It is the story of the human instinct for survival.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scholastic for the free book.