D is for Deduction: Blogging Through the Alphabet

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  My friends Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time are co-hosting Blogging Through The Alphabet.  This week’s letter is D.



D is for Deduction

Social deduction, that is!

Is that even a phrase you’ve ever heard of?  Until recently, I hadn’t.  Social deduction games involve hidden identities; secret plans or agendas; and trying to figure out those secrets by social interaction with the other players.

And now, Chara Games has a Kickstarter project for their newest game, UNAUTHORIZED.

Why we are fans of Chara Games

We were fortunate to review Commissioned and 3 Seeds in 2016, and we had great experiences with each of these games (you can find out more about them by clicking on the highlighted links).   Chara Games was founded by Patrick and Katherine Lysaght to create Christian-themed games to bring families together for fun and fellowship.  And joy, because the definition of the Greek word “chara” is “unshakeable joy.”  Both the games we’ve played from Chara Games have been creative, interesting, and really fun to play as a family.



So, the newest game from the Lysaghts is called UNAUTHORIZED.  I’m sure that you know that there are countries in our world which forbid the practice of Christianity.  Churches in those countries often operate in an underground fashion, and the church members can face job loss, imprisonment, or even death if they’re discovered.

UNAUTHORIZED is designed for 6-12 players and a 30-minute game play time.  Players’ identities (individuals from the Church attempting to grow, or the State desiring to crush it) are determined by the draw of cards.  No one knows who is doing what, but during game play try to figure that out AND either grow the Church or eradicate it.  There are 12 different Role cards (Police, Pastor, Matchmaker, Clerk, Thief, and more) and 97 Experience Cards (State Education, Enduring Joy, and others) which influence what the player does.  There are also Reference Cards and a complete Rule Book.

And you can get UNAUTHORIZED now via Kickstarter!

You can join the UNAUTHORIZED Kickstarter Project (like we did!) and receive a copy of the game yourself for only $15.  (You can also become a Project Backer for less than that or more, depending on what level you choose.)  Just click on UNAUTHORIZED Kickstarter Project  to learn more.  The game’s base funding has been met (which means that the game will be shipping out in November 2017), but further funding will enable Chara Games to meet further game goals.

Just check out the UNAUTHORIZED Kickstarter Project page.

Who would like to play UNAUTHORIZED?

  • Families who love game nights
  • People who enjoy getting to get together with friends for tabletop gaming
  • Those who’d like to teach their kids what it’s like to be a Christian in a society that forbids it
  • People who appreciate social deduction games
  • Those who are drawn to high-quality games

In closing

UNAUTHORIZED will be our family’s very first social deduction game.  I love the idea of it, and can’t wait to investigate another amazing experience from Chara Games!

Blogging Through the Alphabet Linkup

Just click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the linkup.  You’ll be able to see lots of others’ ideas about the letter D!


Enjoy!  –Wren

Gorgeous Board Book to Teach Your Kids “Bible Basics” ~ A Review and Giveaway (ends 1/26/17)

We recently received a fantastic resource for parents and their little ones; Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer to use and review from the BlogAbout Blogger Network.  This precious, meaningful little board book uses Biblical principles and truths to teach children their numbers from 1-10.  Its artwork is incredible and its narrative, both beautiful and faithful to Scripture.  Let me tell you more…and at the end of this post, you’ll have an opportunity to win a giveaway for a copy of your own!



About Bible Basics

Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer is a sturdy, beautifully bound 7 1/3″ x 7 1/3″ board book.  Authored by Danielle Hitchen and illustrated by Jessica Blanchard, it’s designed to introduce children to principles and foundations of the Christian faith as well as to their first numbers, 1 through 10.  It uses Bible verses, hymns, prayers, history, and simple teaching to bring these tenets to life in ways that even the youngest listener can understand.  Gorgeous artwork accompanies each of the ten principles and makes them vivid and memorable.  Although the size is larger than most board books, it’s still well-proportioned for little hands to hold.  And, the size gives plenty of room for the text and illustrations, printed in readable font.



This is truly a unique and unusual idea for a board book.  It was birthed out of Danielle Hitchen’s question:  how could she teach her babies to know God and to love Him?  What an incredible answer Bible Basics is to that question!  I don’t want to spoil the joy you’d find when you read this book for the first time, so I’m not going to tell you everything that’s in it.  But here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find in this beautiful book:


  • The 9 fruits of the Spirit
  • The 10 Commandments
  • The Trinity
  • The 5 books of the Pentateuch
  • and 6 more!



Ways you could use Bible Basics in your own home

So…I have a confession to make.  We do not currently have a baby or a toddler in our home!  (Our regular readers know that our boy is a 9th grader.)  However, I absolutely adored the idea of this gorgeous little board book and I loved that I could share a copy with one of you!  What I discovered, when I received Bible Basics, is that it’s not only an incredible resource and learning tool for little ones.  It also reinforces the beautiful tenets of Christianity for any believer, be he or she young and fresh, or more seasoned in the faith.

Here are some other ways that I know Bible Basics could bless you!

  • Read it aloud during family worship
  • Use it as a jumping-off point for a study of the Scriptural principles in it (for example, you could study one concept per week and look up related verses that go with each principle)
  • Allow it to inspire your homeschool art times
  • Prop it up on an easel in your home, and display different pages on different days
  • Purchase it for a shower or new baby gift
  • And of course, its primary purpose:  read it to your little ones 🙂



What our family thought

We LOVED Bible Basics!  During our family worship time one week, I read it aloud to my husband and son.  It was so encouraging.  It really made us all think about many of the different truths that make up our relationships with God through Christ Jesus.  And, it blessed us.  I really do think that I could use this to do a deeper study on each item that the author presents, by simply doing a word or topical study in the Bible and using that with my son.

We’re also a family who loves art.  So we weren’t just blessed by the biblical truths of Bible Basics.  We were also really moved to think more deeply about each of the 10 tenets, because of the way that the art helped to unfold those truths.  Plus, they were just beautiful pictures.

My guys knew that this was a book that I’d received for both review and for a giveaway.  But my husband loved it so much, he said, “You can’t give away this book!”  (He was relieved to hear that I received a separate copy to give away to one of our readers.)

We’ll definitely continue to use Bible Basics.  And, I’m going to follow my own recommendation and display the various pages via propping the book up on a small easel, open to one pair of pages at a time.  What better way to enjoy God’s Word and art at the same time?  🙂



My recommendations for you?

Get a copy of this book.  Read it to your little ones…again and again.  Use it for a basis for a deeper study.  And revel in the beauty, grace, and abundance that God offers to us in relationship and salvation through Christ Jesus.  You can find a copy and more (including art prints and a coloring book) at Catechesis Books.

Also, keep an eye out for more books in the Baby Believer Primers series.  This is the first of more to come.



And, enter my giveaway!  The BlogAbout Blogger Network has provided a copy of this wonderful book for one reader.  Just enter below in the Giveaway Tools “Enter Here” link.  Best wishes!

Enter here!


Find Catechesis Books at these social media sites:


Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclaimer:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.



“Parenting-14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family” ~ Review & Giveaway

So….how are things working in your parenting world?

Are you encouraged in what you’re building into the lives of your kids?  Or are you exhausted, worn out, and clueless as to what you need to do to replace what’s not working so well?

Or—is it a mix of these?



Regardless of exactly how you answered that question, I have a book that could seriously be transformational for you.  And I even have a copy to bless one reader with!  Propeller/FlyBy Promotions very kindly sent me Paul David Tripp’s newest parenting book to read and review.  It’s called PARENTING 14 GOSPEL PRINCIPLES That Can Radically Change Your Family.

Now, I don’t know about you.  But I can tell you about my own experience.  Suddenly our only child is in high school!  And all those other years of parenting; the infant and baby years, the toddler years, preschool, elementary, and middle school years—they are behind us.  I honestly do not know where they have gone.  But we have this awesome kiddo who’s in the stretch of life where he’s preparing for college and beyond.  How am I going to make these years the very best I can?

Paul David Tripp’s book is going to help me.  Despite the fact that this book’s subtitle is “14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family,” this is not a sort of “five steps to parenting success” kind of book.  Rather, it’s more of a vision-casting book; but one with very practical, down-to-earth actual perspectives that really can transform our parenting.  I knew when I read Mr. Tripp’s preface that I was going to love what he shared.  And I was right.

So what will you find in this book?

Paul David Tripp’s beginning perspective is that we are not the owners of our children.  Rather, we’re the ambassadors that God has chosen to raise the kids He has given us to know Him.  They’re not given to us to meet our own needs; to promote our identity; to make us look good.  They’re here so that we can love them, show them God’s grace, and His amazing love for them as we follow His path of life for them.

Mr. Tripp has (as you might imagine) 14 categories of gospel principles that he recommends we rely on to inform our parenting choices and outlook.  They are:

  • Calling:  I am being called to form a human soul
  • Grace:  I am not alone–God is with me in this ginormous task!
  • Law:  Our kids need to know God’s law, but that law alone can’t fulfill the work of God’s grace in their lives
  • Inability:  I need to know what I cannot do, to be a good parent
  • Identity:  My identity is Christ, not the successes of my kiddo
  • Process:  Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint!
  • Lost:  The wrong we do isn’t just bad choices, it’s a condition in all of us
  • Authority:  How can I express authority lovingly and well–not harshly–to my child?
  • Foolishness:  Where does this come from and what does it do to my child?
  • Character:  Informs all of our actions and choices
  • False Gods:  What things, pursuits, satisfactions are we valuing too highly?
  • Control:  Controlling my kid isn’t a good parenting goal.  Character formation is.
  • Rest:  How can I rest in the midst of this vast job?
  • Mercy:  Am I a perfect person?  Or do I need mercy as much as my kid does?

Of course, these are very short summations of chapters that are full of beauty and value to me as a parent.  But they really have the power to shape me as a parent, and to help me to do well in the life of my child.

How this book impacted me

I admit it.  I so, so needed PARENTING 14 GOSPEL PRINCIPLES That Can Radically Change Your Family.  You never quite know where life is going to take you, do you…or the hard times you might have to endure.  (It’s probably for the best that we DON’T know that!!)  Our family has faced a number of challenges in recent years.  Illness, surgeries, poor health, other challenges.  But hard times do pass (even if they don’t feel like they ever will).  And eventually, we came out of some of these.  God has done some cool things, to be sure.

Yet still, I have been praying for a fresh outlook.  For my teaching, my parenting, my life and relationships.  And along came this book!  It has been everything I needed…and the breath of fresh air that I was longing for in my home.  I needed every single reminder that Mr. Tripp has included in this book.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • “If you don’t have this “who you are” perspective right, you will miss the essence of what God has called you to…”  (p. 13)
  • “Your work as a parent is a thing of extreme value because God has designed that you would be a principal, consistent, and faithful tool in his hands for the purpose of creating God-consciousness and God-submission in your children.”  (p. 30)
  • “It means that if you are God’s child, it is impossible for you to be left to your own limited package of resources.”  (p. 37)
  • “If you want to be part of the Father’s process in the lives of your children, you have to commit to being part of doing it his way.”  (p. 94)
  • “Children do what they do because of what they worship.”  (p. 150)

There is so much more that I could share.  But what I’d really like to do is to tell you to get a copy of this yourself, if you are a parent…or if you know someone who’s about to become a parent.  Paul David Tripp has taken a lifetime of experience, of study of God’s Word, and pastoral care, and distilled it into a visionary handbook that can truly transform our parenting.  Really, do this:  get a copy of PARENTING 14 GOSPEL PRINCIPLES That Can Radically Change Your Family for yourself!

Or perhaps, you might win your own copy here!

I have one copy of PARENTING 14 GOSPEL PRINCIPLES That Can Radically Change Your Family for one reader who is going to be SO happy.  Enter below in the Giveaway Tools form.  Giveaway ends on Friday, November 4.

Enjoy!  –Wren


“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


Our Review of The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury-Audio Collection

Are you ready for Christmas season yet?  It IS just October…but we’ve just had the opportunity to review a lovely series that your family will love at Christmastime!  The Familyman Todd Wilson has written and recorded The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury – Audio Collection.  We received both a CD copy of one story and the entire collection of Digital Downloads to review for the Homeschool Review Crew.  (It’s also available as a 6-CD set.)  What fun!



What is “The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury?”

How would you like a lovely collection of living stories for your family to snuggle up together and listen to this Christmas?  The Familyman Todd Wilson has written a collection of touching, hilarious, moving, and faith-building  stories which can be enjoyed by the entire family.  He’s put them together in The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury – Audio Collection in either CD format or Digital Downloads.  We received a CD copy of one story and digital downloads of 8 others (one as both CD and digital download).  All of the stories are engagingly read by Jim Hodge, who has a great background in audio stories.  The stories are also available in book form from The Familyman.  The bonus about having audiobooks is that (especially if you’re “read-aloud” fans) nobody has to do the reading; you can just pop in the CD or turn on the mp3 player and listen all together!

The Treasury includes….

six wonderful audio stories.  We actually received 8 digital downloads (plus we received The Bishop’s Dream in CD format); Todd Wilson was kind enough to provide two extra Christmas stories for us:

  • Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster
  • Gladys Remembers Christmas
  • Cootie McKay’s Nativity
  • Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest
  • It’s Called Christmas
  • The Stranger
  • The Bishop’s Dream
  • The Secret of Snow Village

Each story is read by Jim Hodges and lasts 15-20 minutes.


So….what are these stories actually about?

All kinds of subjects and family events that would have to do with Christmas.    And without sappiness, but with lots of great redemptive storylines, and truths about what Christmas really is!  Here are some summaries of some of my own favorites, just to give you a bit of flavor of these stories:

  • In Gladys Remembers Christmas, a woman who sort of hates both her name and Christmas is packing up her widowed father’s home after he’s had to move into assisted living.  She enters the big dark house to find a particular box her father has asked for, that is tucked away in the attic next to the Christmas ornament boxes and supplies.  What she finds inside the box is –not to oversell the story– transformational.
  • On a kid-friendly note that still tells a meaningful story is Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster.  Jason thinks that Christmas and the manger would be a LOT more interesting if Captain Chaos and his trusty blaster had participated in the story.  He is TIRED of that story and thinks it needs some livening up.  Or maybe he just wishes it hadn’t happened.  In a way that reminded me of “The Man Without A Country” updated and reshaped around Christmas, Jason gets a taste of what things would be like if baby Jesus hadn’t ever come to earth at all.
  • Cootie McKay’s Nativity tells the engaging tale of a wrecked town nativity scene and the town oddball who fixes up a replacement nativity set when the town’s budget won’t cover a brand-new one, told from the eyes of a boy and his dad who see the whole thing from start to finish.  Wonderful!
  • Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest provides a moment for a dad to tell his child why he hauls out the garish, outlandish vest every Christmas–and what it means to many.
  • There’s also The Bishop’s Dream (what if the read St. Nicholas traveled forward through time and saw what Christmas is like today?); It’s Called Christmas (what if in the future, “Merry Christmas” has been replaced completely with “Happy Holidays”?); The Stranger (what happens when a homeless-looking man knocks at everyone’s doors at Christmastime–do they let him in or not?); and The Secret of Snow Village (if you were a little girl, wouldn’t you want to step inside your grandmother’s tiny snow village for yourself?).


thefamilyman-logoHow we used them:

As I mentioned, we received The Bishop’s Dream on CD.  That made it easy to pop into the CD player in the car for trips around town.  All the rest of the stories were downloaded digitally.  I saved some of them to our PC and the rest of them to my Kindle Fire.  (I find that I’m not always able to be at my computer, but I usually have my Kindle with me, which made listening easy to do!)

Our family is in a season (we’ve just started high school homeschool) during which it seems as though we don’t have as much time for listening to audio stories.  (We made time for these though!)  We still love read-aloud stories though, so adding “living-books”-type stories continues to be a value for us.  We listened to these either just playing from the Kindle, or sometimes with earbuds via the computer.

What we thought

First of all, there couldn’t have been a better choice for an audio performer than Jim Hodge.  He is the best storyteller ever!  (Now, can I just find a way to bring him to our house to do our family read-alouds….)  He makes things so interesting and it’s always clear what’s going on in the story.  Just fabulous.

The audio is beautifully-recorded as well.  I really don’t enjoy it when we listen to audio books or stories and constantly have to turn the audio up (when there are voices) or down (when the background music swells, but swells so loudly it hurts our ears).  That just makes us less likely overall to listen to those books or stories.  I can happily tell you that we didn’t have to do that one single time with this Christmas Treasury!  The audio levels were just perfect.

And of course, I have to mention the stories.  Without being saccharine or sappy, these stories are sweet.  But in many ways, they pose interesting questions, like “What would things be like if Jesus hadn’t come?” or “can that weirdo do anything right?”  Or, they show us what Saint Nicholas might think if he were able to observe how we “do” Christmas today.  Todd Wilson has asked some fascinating questions in his stories, and answered them in ways that are believable, redemptive, and memorable.  And I can’t forget to include the adjective “enjoyable!”  Your family, with kids who are younger or older, will enjoy listening to these stories.  Grab a cup of hot cocoa, a warm blanket, and cuddle up together to hear stories that will not only show you the true meaning of Christmas, but get you in the mood for joyful celebration at the same time!

Visit Todd Wilson, the Familyman, at the following links!

You can purchase The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury – Audio Collection  in a 6-CD format or as Digital Downloads at The Familyman.  Other Crew members also reviewed these, and you can read about their experiences by clicking on the banner below.  And don’t forget to visit Todd Wilson, the The Familyman, at the social media sites below!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/youdadad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toddwilsonthefamilyman/
Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/familymantodd/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/107435990705080484154

Blog: http://familymanweb.com/blog/

Enjoy!  –Wren


The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

“The Biggest Story” DVD & CD ~ Review & Giveaway

Have you ever read the spectacular picture book The Biggest Story?



We had the distinct pleasure of reviewing it last fall.  It is the amazing story of Jesus all through the Bible, from the book of Genesis all the way to Revelation.  It was a fantastic book with incredible artwork and illustrations.  And now, it’s available in DVD form as The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film AND The Biggest Story: The Audio Book on CD, narrated by author Kevin DeYoung.  Best of all, I have a copy of both the DVD and CD to bless some wonderful reader with!


the-biggest-story-dvd-pic-1The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film DVD

First, let me tell you about the DVD.  It retells The Biggest Story, chapter by chapter.  It includes Don Cook’s fantastic illustrations from the book, bu this time they are animated!  Author Kevin DeYoung narrates the book.  In 10 chapters, it tells the story of God’s promise of Christ throughout the Bible, as it appears woven in the lives of the men and women of God’s word:

  • Adam and Eve
  • Noah
  • Abram, who became Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob, his 12 sons, and Egypt
  • Moses and the Law
  • King Saul and King David
  • The Prophets…and then the 400 years of silence…..
  • and then!  The shepherds, Joseph, Mary….and Jesus!

Of course, the story doesn’t stop there.  There’s also Jesus’ ministry, disciples, and His death on the cross.  But then, His resurrection!  The Holy Spirit!  And the end of the book….where we get to go back to the Garden.

So how does Jesus appear in these varied individuals’ lives, years before Jesus ever even appeared on the earth?  Well, first He’s mentioned as the Snake Crusher to Eve and Adam.  He’s part of the blessing promised to Abraham and illustrated by the deliverance from Egypt.  His perfection is shown in the Law.  As Mr. DeYoung says…”Judah’s Lion, David’s Son!”  And His goodness is seen over and over as God intervenes in the lives of fallen, broken men and women.

The Biggest Story is faithful to the Biblical accounts, told in an engaging and, at times, humorous way.  But even more important, the hope of the Bible and God’s good plan for all of us, past, present and future, is brilliantly revisited by both words and illustrations.

With the DVD, you also receive a code for a free digital download of the video.  You get beautiful illustrations not only on the DVD case and on the DVD itself….but a double-sided free poster with two different pieces of Don Clark’s artwork!

The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film is a wonderful addition to a Sunday school class (whether for adults or children), personal enjoyment, or family devotional times.  Its vivid words and beautiful pictures bring to life again for viewers the beautiful story of God and His redemption for us.


the-biggest-story-dvd-pic-2The Biggest Story: The Audio Book

In the audio CD of The Biggest Story, listeners receive the wonderful story told in the book and in the DVD.  Each of the ten chapters is read by Kevin DeYoung, and each lasts just a couple of minutes, with the total length of 26 minutes.  Original music (also featured in the DVD) by composer John Poon plays alongside Mr. DeYoung’s words.  And there’s another piece of 2-sided art included, that’s different from the one in the DVD!

And now…the giveaway!

FlyBy/Propeller Promotions and Crossway have provided one DVD and one CD copy of The Biggest Story for one of my readers!  Simply enter via the Giveaway Tools entry form below.  Giveaway ends on Wednesday, September 21 at 11:59 PM, so enter today!


Oh, and you can also purchase these on Amazon, just in case you’re not the winner.  🙂

DVD:  https://www.amazon.com/Biggest-Story-Animated-Short-Film/dp/1433554801/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1470077304&sr=8-3&keywords=biggest+story+dvd
CD:  https://www.amazon.com/Biggest-Story-Audio-Book-CD/dp/1433554798/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470077385&sr=8-1&keywords=biggest+story+cd

Enjoy!  –Wren

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


New YA Christian Fiction Review: The Glass Castle

Shiloh Run Press (a division of Barbour Publishing) and the Schoolhouse Review Crew offered us the chance to read and review some fun new YA Christian fiction; The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins.

The Glass Castle banner

What is The Glass Castle?

Avery doesn’t know.  In fact, the only castle that she’s aware of is her own…the castle tree house her father built for her when she was a tiny girl.  It is two stories high, with winding stairs, a bridge, a library, and even turrets!  Just the place for an imaginative young girl who loves to play the queen, to paint and write.  Avery even has her own faithful subject, in the form of her younger brother Henry, who’s 3.  In Avery’s opinion, he makes an excellent serf and errand boy.

Avery’s castle tree house is also the very last place that she ever saw her mother.

Today, despite her father’s instructions to do her chores at home, in the cottage where their small family lives, Avery has made another plan.  After all, it’s her thirteenth birthday!  So instead of staying home and cleaning, Avery decides to go for a walk in the woods, clothed in her nicest dress and wearing the ruby necklace her mother gave her…..and pulling Henry along with her.

But danger awaits them both…not the fun Avery was expecting.

Feeling another’s presence and pursuit, Avery drags Henry along from tree to bush, attempting to hide in the woods which are suddenly very scary.  They make one last jump towards the tree house, where Avery is certain that they can hide…when everything goes dark.  And when Avery awakens, she’s not in the tree house with Henry, but in a rolling, caged cart with a frightening old woman.  And no Henry.

She is taken, miles away from her own home, to a glittering city perched on an island, a place watched over by enormous guards; where she is finally dumped out of the cart into a beautiful room.  She opens her eyes to see dozens of older children, all of whom are dressed in fine clothing.  And two teens, Kate and Tuck, offer to help her.

And so begins Avery’s adventure, and her exploration of mysteries with no apparent answer or solution.  Where is Henry?  Where has Avery been taken?  Who are all these other children…all seemingly the same age that she is?  What happened to the old queen?  And how on earth is Avery going to get out of this beautiful and pleasant prison, find her brother, and return home?

Avery has a long journey before her….with these and many other mysteries to unfold.

Our thoughts and impressions

The Glass Castle is the first in a brand-new YA series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Trisha White Priebe.  Because of course, Avery doesn’t find the solution to all her mysteries in this book!  After 41 chapters, which fly along as you read them, Avery still has more quests to follow.  (And Jenkins and Priebe will satisfy our curiosity for more of Avery’s story, in the upcoming The Ruby Moon, slated for publication in the fall of 2016.)

While our family loves adventure stories, my middle-school-aged son, Jackson, regarded The Glass Castle as more of a fairy tale or “girly” book.  Therefore, I was the reader at our house.  However, Avery is definitely not a “girly-girl.” She is adventurous, courageous, and full of ideas.  Her story of diving into a large group of peers and making her own way, building her own cadre of friends, is captivating and definitely keeps the reader turning pages.  Avery uncovers the truth for several of her questions, yet at the end of the book there is still much that we don’t know….and will want to discover in the next book!

I found most of the characters sympathetic.  But because the book begins with Avery’s disobedience and kidnapping—not to mention putting her younger brother at great risk—parents will want to decide whether their children have the emotional maturity for this book.  Of course, The Glass Castle does end up in a sort of Peter Pan collaboration of many children with no adults leading them, and there isn’t a lot of frightening peril against the children…other than Henry’s continued disappearance and the fact that all the children with Avery were apparently kidnapped as well, and are all being held captive.  The reader can forget these as he reads, because the story is engrossing and full of adventure.  But it’s still the basis of Avery’s plight.

In conclusion:

The fairy tale genre has experienced a resurgence in Christian fiction in the last few years, and I’ve truly enjoyed the books that I’ve read in this category. The Glass Castle definitely fits into this genre, although I’d say it’s for a slightly younger audience than the others I’ve read; I think this book would be enjoyed by early teens and older children especially. The Glass Castle is a novel full of adventure and excitement, and as such, would also make an exciting family read-aloud.

You can purchase The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins from Shiloh Run Press (a division of Barbour Publishing).  And be sure to keep an eye out this fall for book 2 of Avery’s story; I certainly will be watching for it!

You can visit Barbour Publishing at the following social media links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BarbourPublishing
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/barbourbuzz @BarbourBuzz

Enjoy!  –Wren

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}Crew Disclaimer