Children’s Review: Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Army Brats

Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Scholastic Press- March 28, 2017

Purpose: Requested for review

Source: Publisher

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 stars

This is the story of three siblings as they adjust to living on an army post for the very first time. The Baileys are moving from Pennsylvania to Fort Patrick because their mom, a military intelligence officer has accepted a teaching position.  All three kids are excited about this move, and even about starting a new school. They will finally be around people who understand military life. But not everything turns out the way that they thought that it would.  Charlotte makes friends with a new girl, who happens to be very popular. But she soon discovers that popularity does not mean being nice. Tom, though he tries very hard not to, becomes the target of the base bully. Though Rosie is content with just her family and dog, Cupcake, she learns that it’s not so bad having a friend.

This is the third book by this author, and I must admit she has become a favorite. Not just for me, but for read a-louds with my son.   She has a way of talking about very big (and sometimes complicated) topics and breaking them down to kid-size portion. And she does this without dumbing down anything. This is a rather short book, so I don’t want to go into details that will give anything away. But I will do my best. I do recommend this, especially for kids who are struggling with finding their place in the world, who are starting middle school and who may have trouble making friends.

Because of Tom’s interactions with the base bully, he begins to question himself.  But as the siblings take on the challenge of the secret mission, he learns that there are worse things than someone teasing you – accepting the harmful words/taunts as truth. He gains a deeper and truer understanding of what it means to be brave, and not in the way that he thought he would.  Charlotte has made friends with the school’s very own mean girls. She goes along with them even when her brother becomes the target of their meanness. Rosie is a spitfire of a character and is very comfortable being herself, even if it leaves her without any friends. But she slowly learns what it takes to be a good friend.

This was a very fun story, one that I will reread to my son as he grows. It deals with real issues and considers the individuality of the characters. How they respond to their situations is unique to their personalities.  The solutions presented in the book, are realistic and highly recommended. There isn’t a false promise of a happily ever after at the end, and all problems are not solved with a nice little bow. All issues are resolved, and after the characters learn more about themselves, the only reassurance that they have at the end is that whatever comes their way, even the teasing and bullying, dealing with gossip and mean girls and all of the other things that come with the journey of middle school, they will be able to handle it.

If you have not had the opportunity to read any of Daphne Bendis-Grab’s work, I highly recommend it. I also recommend sharing it and passing it around to all the young readers in your life. That’s what I’m going to do.

Always Shine!


Review: Worth Dying for by Rorke Denver

Worth Dying For: A Navy Seal's Call to a Nation

Worth Dying For: A Navy Seal’s Call to a Nation by Rorke Denver and Ellis Henican 

April 5, 2016 – Howard Books

230 Pages – Adult, Nonfiction, Military

Rorke Denver

Facebook: Yes

Purpose: Review, Howard Books

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

From Goodreads: In a fast-paced and action-packed narrative, Navy SEAL commander Rorke Denver tackles the questions that have emerged about America’s past decade at war—from what makes a hero to why we fight and what it does to us.
Heroes are not always the guys who jump on grenades. Sometimes, they are the snipers who decide to hold their fire, the wounded operators who find fresh ways to contribute, or the wives who keep the families together back home. Even a SEAL commander—especially a SEAL commander—knows that. But what’s a hero, really? What do we have a right to expect from our heroes? How should we hold them accountable? Amid all the loose talk of heroes, these questions are seldom asked.
As a SEAL commander, Rorke Denver is uniquely qualified to answer questions about what makes a hero or a leader, why men kill, how best to serve your country, how battlefield experiences can elevate us, and most importantly, why we fight and what it does for and to us. In Worth Dying For, Denver tackles many of these issues by sharing his personal experiences from the forefront of war today.
Denver applies some of his SEAL-sense to nine big-picture, news-driven questions of war and peace, in a way that appeals to all sides of the public conversation. By broadening the issues, sharing his insights, and achieving what civilian political leaders have been utterly unable to, Denver eloquently shares answers to America’s most burning questions about war, heroism, and what it all means for America’s future.

My Thoughts:  I am interested in all things military. My dad was in the army, and I will always regret (a small part of me will) not following in his footsteps. Anyway this was a unique perspective to read from. I have a huge amount of respect for Navy SEALS, not because I consider them heroes, but because I know that it takes a lot to become one. I enjoyed Denver’s voice and military experience.

I think that we often toss around the title hero, to those that are both deserving and undeserving, without putting too much thought of what the word means or the burden that it places on the person.

Denver digs deep into the meaning and the expectations we have of heroes. This is not just a military book though. Denver talks also about how the skills and developed training that he went through can be translated to the civilian world.  His tone is conversational, not quite serious but not completely laid back. It definitely sounds like a military person is talking, and this is not a bad thing. He mentions how a soldier should be a warrior as well as a thinker, and you can tell that he is of this caliber.

I enjoyed reading this, and I will be getting his other book Damn Few: Making the Modern Seal Warrior and I will be checking out the tv show American Grit, because I believe he is part of it.

4 stars ****

Always Shine!

DNF Review: Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle

Congo Dawn

Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle 

February 1, 2013 -Tyndale house Publishers

472 Pages – Adult, Christian, Fiction, Military(ish)


Facebook: Yes

Twitter: @jeanettewindle

Source: Tyndale Blog Network

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

From Goodreads: While former Marine lieutenant Robin Duncan is no stranger to corruption or conspiracy, she has always been able to tell the good guys from the bad, and the Congo jungle at first seems no different. But as her security team tries to track down an insurgent killer, Robin has to face a man who broke her trust years ago, and she discovers the gray areas extend farther in this jungle wilderness than she anticipated.A ruthless global conspiracy begins to surface, run by powerful men who can’t afford to leave any witnesses. Her life at stake, Robin doesn’t know who to trust and wonders how she can help protect innocent people. Why is God silent amid all the pain and injustice? And how do these people of faith continue to rejoice in their suffering?

My Thoughts: It is very rare that I do not finish a review book. (Though it seems to be happening more often now than in the past). I appreciate the authors and the publishers who entrust me with an ARC or even a finished copy for review. But they do that, understanding that not every book is meant for every person. Or at least,  I hope that they do.

Saying that, I have to admit that this book just wasn’t for me. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with the writing, in fact, I find that the book was well written. I made it to the halfway mark before I put this book aside. I had every intention of coming back to it. I thought that I was just getting bored with it because of Book A.D.D. But two weeks went by and I hadn’t even thought about it. I passed by it one day and decided to pick it up, to finish it and move on. So I flipped to my bookmark, and I wasn’t interested in it -at all. I had a vague idea of what was going on so I didn’t have to start over. But, I wasn’t pulled back into the world. Sure, I wanted to know if the main character (what was her name again?) reconnected with her old love interest, but not in the whole “read the book to find out” kind of way.

I can blame part of my disinterest in finding that the main character was not that strong of a female lead. I mean I know she wasn’t picked out to be a hired mercenary, and I know that she was physically able to take care of herself. But, she was too passive for my tastes (as evidenced by her conversation/confrontation with her sister).  I could be wrong, the ending may have redeemed the first half of the book. But, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t invested enough in the story or the characters to turn the page again. So, I moved on and admitted that this book just wasn’t for me.

DNF Review 

Always Shine!