Book Review: The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey

The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey
The Cooper Kids Adventure Series book #6
by Frank Peretti
read by the author

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christian adventure

Dr. Cooper is asked to solve the mystery of some treasure hunters who disappeared in the jungles of Central America, and if he happens to find the treasure himself, all the better for those who brought him in. The stories of a curse on the treasure may seem ridiculous at first, but there’s no denying the fact that the treasure hunters who disappeared all have either died or gone crazy. Soon enough, Dr. Cooper and his two kids are in danger themselves and have precious little time to solve the mystery and save lives.

This book had a lot of excitement and even some moments that could be a little scary for kids (not in a bad way). All 3 of the members of the Cooper family are on their own at some point, and all 3 are in peril at some point, upping stakes from previous books. I like the pure reliance on God, turning so quickly to him for help in desperate situations. The curse and other aspects that went along with it were, in the end, an interesting concoction and pretty scary menace.

Though I didn’t quite enjoy this story as much as I did others in the series that I gave 4 stars, I still think it was a solid addition. I listened again to the audiobook, and I’ve decided that I love hearing Peretti read his own books. There are 2 books left in this series, and I’m looking forward to listening to both of them.

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

February in Review

I read 11 books last month, which was only 1 less than last month, but the total page count was about 1/3 of what I read last month. Apparently I read a lot more short books this month!

Here are the books I read in February:

Awake and Alive to Truth by John L. Cooper (5 / 5)
The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli (3.5 / 5)
The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun (5 / 5)
Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein (3.5 / 5)
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (3 / 5)
Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
The Secret of The Desert Stone by Frank E. Peretti (3 / 5)
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom with John & Elizabeth Sherrill (5 / 5)
John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as retold by Gary D. Schmidt (2 / 5)
From this Moment by Kim Vogel Sawyer (3 / 5)
Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game by Chris Grabenstein (review pending)

This list includes 2 ARCs and 2 re-reads. My favorite book from February was The Hiding Place. I finished 0 series, continued 3 series, and started 1 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: The Secret of The Desert Stone

The Secret of The Desert Stone
The Cooper Kids Adventure Series book #5
by Frank Peretti
read by the author

My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christian adventure

Dr. Cooper is summoned to a country in Africa to investigate a giant stone that appeared overnight, separating the country’s new dictator and his army from other parts of the population. The stone is miles high and wide, so the big question is, who put it there? When Dr. Cooper and his teenage kids, Jay and Lila, end up stranded on the other side of the stone, will the locals be welcoming or try to harm them? Will they discover the secret of the stone before the dictator loses his patience with them?

This installment of the series didn’t have quite the excitement of previous books, but it still had its moments. I think the best thing about the story is that it sort of brings Romans 1:20 to life. (“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”) I may have already said too much, in regards to avoiding spoilers, but I really appreciated the simple faith and thirst for more understanding about God exhibited by “primitive” people in the story.

I think one of the things that bothers readers most about these books is the unrealistic nature of things that happen. I like that Peretti isn’t afraid to explore what could happen, even while we know things like this don’t really happen much in modern times. Still, he paints an interesting and entertaining picture.

One final note–I listened to the audiobook specifically so that I could hear it read by the author. I love how he did roles like Mr. Henry and even his small role in the movie Hangman’s Curse, and I figured the book would be that much better in his own voice. It did not disappoint! I will most likely listen to the rest of the series this way too.

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea

Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea
The Cooper Kids Adventure Series book #4
by Frank Peretti

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christian adventure

Frustrated by her father’s lack of willingness to discuss her late mother, teenager Lila insists on leaving Japan, where Dr. Cooper is teaching about his work, and going back to the States. But on the way, her plane is hijacked and crashes over the ocean. While she is trapped at the bottom of the sea in an air-tight weapons pod, Lila’s dad and brother try to find her before it’s too late.

This book was quite a departure from what the series has been up to this point. Instead of uncovering secrets in Dr. Cooper’s capacity as biblical archaeologist, it’s more a straight race against time to find and save Lila. I liked it, though, maybe more than the one before it that had been my favorite so far. I liked the adventure and excitement, the ways that Lila tried to keep herself from panicking in the pod and tried to save herself, and the descriptions of the tiny islands in the South Pacific.

Though the heavier supernatural elements that came about in the previous books weren’t here so much, it was still clear God was involved in the story from start to finish. This book has led me to realize that the series is basically a modern-day parallel to certain biblical accounts and truths. It’s as if Peretti started each of these books by asking himself, “How would these certain verses of the Bible look if they happened today?” This one, for example, has shades of the story of Jonah (not subtly so either). It’s a solid addition to this middle-grade series.

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

December in Review

Happy New Year to all who see this post!!

I read 10 books last month, which surprises me, considering that it took me an entire week to read the last one, due to holidays slowing me down. I wrote my 150th review earlier this month, after starting to read more and put up reviews on my blog back in July 2019.

Also of note, I finished my Goodreads reading challenge back in November, though I forgot to mention it then.

Outcast cover, Kindle
Here are the books I read in December:

An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen (5 / 5)
The Tombs of Anak by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (5 / 5)
A Christmas Star by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer (4 / 5)
The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch (4.5 / 5)
The Old Lace Shop by Michelle Griep (4 / 5)
Cupcakes for Christmas by Kate Hewitt (3.5 / 5)
Joy to the World by Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, & Erica Vetsch (4 / 5)
All Through the Night by Tara Johnson (4 / 5)
The End of the Magi by Patrick W. Carr (4 / 5)

This list includes 3 ARCs and 1 re-read. My favorite book from December was Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. I finished 1 series, continued 2 series, and started 1 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: The Tombs of Anak

The Tombs of Anak
The Cooper Kids Adventure Series book #3
by Frank Peretti

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christian adventure

Archaeologist Dr. Cooper and his kids, Jay and Lila, search for a lost co-worker in a tunnel under an unearthed temple of the Philistine god Dagon. They find themselves on the wrong side of Ha-Raphah, the Fearsome One, whom the locals revere and fear. What will it take to discover the true identity of this evil power?

Though I thought the premise for this book sounded too similar to the previous book in the series, it turned out to be quite a different story with quite a different outcome. The story was engaging all throughout, and so far, it’s my favorite of the series.

I found the mystery behind Ha-Raphah really interesting, and even after light is shed on the mysterious being, he remained very sinister, as opposed to becoming less scary once his identity was known, which is what I expected. I read the last 1/3 or so of the book at night, and frankly, I went to bed feeling a little creeped out. This again reminded me of some of my favorite Peretti books, which is a big reason that I liked the book a lot in the end. As for kids that are the age the book is meant for, some might be a little scared, so it’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re thinking of this book for your kid(s). Maybe read it first and gauge that aspect on an individual basis.

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November in Review

I read 13 books last month, which is a startling amount for me, considering that it was the month of NaNoWriMo. Though not so surprising when you factor in how many of those were audiobooks, which I read at different times than my normal reading time that tends to suffer during NaNo.

Here are the books I read in November:

The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson (5 / 5)
A New Leaf by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer (3.5 / 5)
To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano (3 / 5)
The Death Cure by James Dashner (3 / 5)
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (5 / 5)
Obsessed by Ted Dekker (4 / 5)
Unclaimed Legacy by Deborah Heal (2.5 / 5)
A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen (4.5 / 5)
The Cat Who Turned on and Off by Lilian Jackson Braun (5 / 5)
Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (4 / 5)
Prophet by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
Escape from the Island of Aquarius by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep (review pending)

This list includes 2 ARCs and 2 re-reads*. My favorite book from November was A Castaway in Cornwall (yes, I know it wasn’t my highest-rated for the month; I’m complicated). I finished 3 series**, continued 4 series, and started 0 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

*One of the re-reads involved listening to the author read a few chapters of his book every night live on Facebook/YouTube to beat the quarantine blues. I count it the same as listening to an audiobook.

**This includes 2 series that I did not reach the end of but decided not to continue reading, after being at least 2 books into the series.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: Escape from the Island of Aquarius

Escape from the Island of Aquarius
The Cooper Kids Adventure Series book #2
by Frank Peretti

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christian adventure

Archaeologist Dr. Cooper and his kids, Jay and Lila, travel to an island in the South Pacific to find a man thought dead, after recent letter in the man’s handwriting was found floating in the ocean, on the dead body of a man whose cause of death was not completely clear.

I liked this book a lot more than the first one. While the first one had supernatural elements that require a lot of suspension of disbelief, the things that happened in this one were a lot more believable. The danger felt more real. And it had shades of two of my favorite Peretti books, The Oath and Hangman’s Curse.

I love the way Dr. Cooper stands up to everything with his faith and trust in God. I’ve gotten to a point while reading these books that when someone tries to warn his family away because the evil spirit or god in the area is dangerous or scary, I just smile as I wait for Dr. Cooper to tell them how much greater his God is. It’s a great lesson for the kids these books are written for. While they’re not likely to face anything close to what the Cooper family faces, their trust in God really can combat any fear.

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: Prophet

Prophet
by Frank E. Peretti
read by Cameron Beierle

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Christian suspense

News anchor John Barrett just wants to live his life in peace, without his over-zealous Christian dad causing problems. Or his estranged son making him feel guilty for how he does his job. Or his co-workers skewing the news to promote their worldviews. But all of these things come to a head when his dad dies under mysterious circumstances. With the help of a fellow reporter, his own son, and a number of other people along the way, John is determined to get to the truth.

This is a classic Peretti book that I had never read before. I was a little hesitant going into it, because as much as I love Peretti, I know that some of his theology in the past has been a bit questionable to me as I’ve gotten older. And while I’m not sure that modern prophets exist, it was still a very interesting take on what it might be like if they did. I really liked the way that the different threads came together, in true Peretti fashion, but to be honest, in the end, I’m not sure the prophet angle was necessary. 

A lot of behind-the-scenes views were shown of the news station, as well as political ads for the state’s governor who was running for re-election. I thought I might find some of that tedious, but for me, they really added to the feel of the story. I did listen to the audiobook, though, so I don’t know what it would have been like if I’d been reading (maybe no different). I also appreciated the way that John often saw real life through the lens of making the news show, because it’s his whole life and how he relates even to his own son.

Though the book was published in 1992, it was very timely to what’s going on in our world, proving that the question of truth in politics and in the media is nothing new. Some of it was a little disturbing, to be honest, because I fully believe that this kind of thing does happen in real life. I’m really glad I took the time to read this book and didn’t just pass it off as old and outdated, like I thought about doing.

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Door in the Dragon’s Throat

The Door in the Dragon’s Throat
The Cooper Kids Adventure Series book #1
by Frank Peretti

My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christian adventure

Archaeologist Dr. Cooper and his kids, Jay and Lila, travel to a small country in the Middle East at the behest of the country’s president. Dr. Cooper is tasked with getting past the door in the Dragon’s Throat, a cave that has proved deadly during past expeditions. The president is hoping to find a fabled treasure, but what is really behind the door?

This is the first book in a Christian adventure series for kids and teenagers. I expected more of a straight adventure with a Christian message. Instead, it had quite the supernatural element to it, but I don’t want to say more and spoil anything. I should not have been surprised by how the story turned out, given the kind of books the author is most known for. It wasn’t bad, but it was surprising. I’m curious to see how if the rest of the series is similar in that regard.

One thing that I think was strange about the book is that the dad is really the focal point, at least in the first half of the book. I expected the kids to be doing their own investigating and discovering, but that didn’t happen for most of the story.

I’ve read others say that this is not their favorite book in the series, so I’ll be interested to see how the others are.

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!