Sunday, November 20, 2022

Book Review #2- A Sparrow Alone

A Sparrow Alone by Alicia Petersen. Roman occupation of Palestine. Brunette girl with red and purple clothing. 

Today we have A Sparrow Alone by Alicia Petersen. 

Genre: Historical fiction
Series: Stand alone novel
Time Period: approximately 30 to 33 AD
Setting: Israel
Summary: "Two Jewish orphans living in a small village attempt to earn their livelihood in Roman-occupied Jerusalem. Mala sews for the wives of wealthy Roman aristocrats and watches in dismay as her brother, Abdon, becomes deeply entrenched in a life of crime. Then, suddenly, the whole village is rocked by the transformation of one of its residents- and the name that seems to be on everyone's lips." 

The summary is from the back of the book. I couldn't have summed it up in a more perfect way.

Characters: Mala- 17 years old
Abdon- 19 years old
Tahath- 19 years old  
Writing Style: written in third person, solely from Mala's perspective. At times the writing feels a bit strained, with prolonged pauses between words shown with ". . ." or lots of dashes, but overall, the writing is well done and intriguing. A Sparrow Alone had a quiet, simple feel to it, while still being deep and sometimes intense. The plot twists were well written and never expected.  
Character Development: I found the characters to be rich and developed, even though I did not relate to them. Mala's struggles were well written and brought you close to her heart with simple words. Her character arc from the beginning to the end shows lots of heart development in her perspective towards her brother, Jesus of Nazareth, and life in general. Abdon's character arc was the most moving and heartbreaking, but I can't say more than that without spoiling the story. Tahath's kindness and care for Mala is quite sweet. He wasn't as deep as the other two main characters, mostly because you don't learn much about his background and history, only about him at the time of the story. But overall, he was still a well developed character. 
Plot Development: A Sparrow Alone was definitely a moving story. I never expected how it would end. The whole story started off with a bang. You learn about Mala's background slowly while unraveling the mysteries of the plot. 
At first glance the book appears straightforward and serene, but inside is a masterfully woven plot which follows the life of someone mentioned only once in the Bible. The way Alicia Petersen took him and wove his story was shocking and surprising, which made it all the more impactful. It made his story tangible and living.      
Theme of the Book: Jesus Christ is the one who heals all wounds
Spiritual Content: Christianity is just coming to light at the time of this story. Jesus heals a woman as Mala watches.
Positive Content: Mala took in a fugitive slave out of kindness. Tahath consistently puts Mala's well being over his own. Mala treats her brother with love despite his character.  
Negative Content: Abdon is hinted to be in an impure relationship, but it is not directly stated. There is some violence, not firsthand, but mentioned and remembered. Roman crucifixion occurs.   
Age Rating: 12+ 
Overall Stars:

Friday, November 18, 2022

Book Review #1- Raiders from the Sea

Book cover of Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson. A girl and boy with blonde and red hair before a Viking ship. Green and gold background. The Viking Quest Series
The first book review of this blog is Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson. 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Moody Publishers (2003)
Series: Yes, 1st book of 5 in The Viking Quest series
Time Period: 10th century
Setting: Ireland/Norway
Summary: When walking in the mountains near her home, Briana O’Toole rescues a young stranger from drowning, not expecting the consequences of her action. One terrifying day soon after, Viking raiders capture Briana and her brother, Devin. Together they sail towards slavery in faraway Norway. Their only hope of escape lies with finding a weakness in their captor, the arrogant Mikkel. When Devin is released, the two siblings must embark on separate journeys. Both of which require tremendous amounts of courage.
Can Briana and Devin find the courage they need, forgive their captors, and trust in God through this tragedy?

This by far one of my most favorite books. Medieval Ireland, Vikings, main character who is close to my age... what could get better?

Characters: Briana (Bree)O'Toole- 13 years old
Devin O'Toole- 14 years old
Mikkel- 14 years old  
Writing Style: written in third person, switching between Bree and Devin's POV. Mrs. Johnson's writing style is simple but enchanting. Holds your attention with simple foreshadowing, deep emotion, and easy-to-understand language.
Character Development: This one is hard to answer since this is the first book in a series. In Raiders from the Sea, there isn't a lot of character development. It's more like character introduction. You meet the characters, you see their struggles and their hearts, and their personalities are developed, but they don't have that much personal growth. The characters are stretched but they don't reach the height of their conflict. Devin has the most character change-especially in his spiritual life. However, you see a lot more of that in the next book of the series. They are amazingly well developed dynamic characters who I think are extremely relatable. 
Plot Development: The plot of Raiders from the Sea is simplistically complicated. Since this is the first book in a long series, there are still many questions and conflicts raised that need to be answered at the end. The main idea of the story, being captured by Vikings, is a typical plot line for a book during the 10th century. But the events around that main idea are unique; the rest of the series expands to ideas and concepts that are not at all typical. The climax of the story is superb, yet simple. There isn't a definite "aha!" moment. It's more of a quite, gentle "there it was" in the hearts of the characters. The plot and story can't be described as intense, but it is still wonderfully enthralling.      
Theme of the Book: Forgiveness, trust in God, have "courage to win"
Spiritual Content: Briana and Devin are Christians and openly profess their faith. Bible verses are mentioned and Jesus Christ is called upon to still a storm. The Vikings believe in their Nordic gods. Mikkel wears a necklace of hammers for Thor. 
Positive Content: Briana helps the other captured children before worrying about herself and stands up for her faith. Devin vows to find his sister no matter what. Irish families take Devin in and show him kindness/generosity as he struggles to get home.  
Warnings: None
Age Rating: 10+
Overall Stars: