Code of Silence by Tim Shoemaker

Tim Shoemaker books

Jessica Rose’s Review:

Code of Silence

Four-Rose Book!

Code of Silence is the first book of the “Code of Silence series” of three books. It is a very intriguing book that has chapters which leave you hanging at the end. After reading it, I tried to get my cousin to read it for two whole years. Then I used the book’s secret. Once when she came to my house, I asked her to read the first chapter and I wouldn’t ever ask her to read it again. Sure enough she wasn’t able to put the book down.

The book is about three friends in 8th grade who are suddenly faced with intense danger. Cooper MacKinnon is the leader (also the main character). Gordon Digby – aka Gordy, is the funny one, the peacemaker and Cooper’s cousin, and Hiroko Yakimoto (aka Hiro) is the brains of the group. One ordinary Thursday evening the three friends are in ordinary restaurant owned by Frank Mustacci who seems more like a grandpa than a business owner. They witness some crooks robbing the poor business owner, who doesn’t use a bank. Suddenly, they are faced with a life-or-death situation. They are sure it is curtains for Frank Mustacci and more likely them too.

While escaping, one of the criminals catches up to Cooper and gets his house keys. Cooper, who grabbed the hard drive to protect him and his friends from being discovered is threatened by the crook who promises to find him. The friends form a pact and promise not to tell anyone about what they saw, not even the police – because two of the crooks wore cop clothes. However, Cooper, left his backpack in the diner and the police know there was a witness and are determined to find him. The backpack pins the witness to an 8th grade boy in Plum Grove Junior High.

Cooper is starting to think that the “Code of Silence” isn’t really a good idea when it starts breaking up their friendship. A few days later, Frank is coming out of his coma and is in more danger than before because he guessed who the person is that betrayed Frank. With their parents away and the cops still suspect, will they be able to save Frank’s life?

The Code of Silence shows that “living a lie comes with a price.” Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro have to decide to tell the truth or keep the lie. “Telling the truth could get them killed. Remaining silent could be worse.”

Recommended age: Nine and up

Re-readability: Most definitely re-readable!

 

 

Bonita Jewel’s Review:

Code of Silence Review

Four-Jewel Book!

An evening at Frank ‘n’ Stein’s diner doing homework and playing video games turns into a nightmare when junior high friends Cooper, Hiro and Gordy witness a violent act. The diner owner, Frank Mustacci is left for dead, and Cooper escapes with proof of the act, but when one of the criminals grabs his house key and threatens him unless he returns the proof, Cooper has a single plan: Keep quiet until the three friends find their way out of the dangerous mess.

But their “Code of Silence” seems to be doing more harm than good. They don’t know who to trust or where to turn. Everyone looks suspicious. The solid friendship between the three starts tearing at the seams. Cooper starts to feel like he’s the one being pursued rather than the robbers. His final plan might save them all … or get him killed.

Author Tim Shoemaker knows just how to get a reader hooked at the beginning by combining a powerful plot with crazy-real characters, and heaping on the conflict in every chapter. Every page, it seems. When my daughter and I first read Code of Silence together, we stayed up for hours every night until we had finished the book because neither of us wanted to stop reading.

Recommended age: 10 +

Re-readability: I plan to reread the series in the upcoming year, this time with my 10-year-old son.

Note for parents: This would be a great book to read together with your child, as it touches on real-life concepts such as honesty, knowing when to keep quiet, friendship, and trust versus mistrust. The author added some questions for reflection at the end of the book, which could serve as good conversation starters.  

Code Of Silence Tim Shoemaker

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The Warden and the Wolf King (Wingfeather Saga #4) by Andrew Peterson

The Warden and the Wolf King

Jessica Rose’s Review

Five Roses

Five-Rose Book!

The Warden and the Wolf King as the last book of “The Wingfeather Saga” needs to wrap up all the questions that still remain from the other three books (and some new questions that the book itself makes). Will they ever return to Anniera? Can Kalmar and Artham overcome the monster within? Will the Hollowsfolk win the war? And who is Gnag the Nameless? Andrew Peterson answers all those questions and more in an exciting and unexpected way.

The Warden and the Wolf King has four different sections of the book. When I saw it, I was very happy because it is twice as long as the other ones (which means it might last me over a day). The sections are entitled “The Green Hollows”, “Skree”, “Throg”, and “Anniera”. They show the continuing story of every one of the characters we have met along the way. The book also has sections of a few pages put throughout the book telling the woeful and bitter tale of Bonifer Squoon.

Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli are still in the Green Hollows while they prepare for war but when the Fangs of Dang make the first move, chaos ensues. The Jewels of Anniera are separated! Janner is lost all alone in the hills where Ridgerunners and deserter Trolls roam. He is trying to get back to Ban Rona where unbeknownst to him a terrible battle is going on. Leeli is fighting Fangs with her newly-found weapon from the rooftops of the city. Kalmar is going on a mission to Throg without anyone else knowing. Meanwhile in Skree, an uprising is secretly going on. Artham became broken after finding out that his brother the High King had still been suffering all that time without him knowing and Sara Cobbler is trying to care for him. Maraly Weaver must face her father and decide whether to be a Strander and live, or be with Gammon and most likely be killed.

Will the two Throne Wardens be able to protect the ones they love or will the possibility of death prevent them from doing so? Janner must decide whether to protect his young brother – his charge – the boy who is turning more into a Fang day by day, or turn back. Will Sara ever have a family of her own? Can Leeli stay strong and protect Ban Rona from the bat fangs? Will Artham conquer his shame? And can Kalmar keep the boy inside of the wolf alive long enough to do what needs to be done?

The young Wingfeathers discover that the way to conquer the enemy may be different than they all thought, and if they do win, what can they do to heal the world that he broke? The Warden and the Wolf King shows that remembering who you truly are will bring pain, love is real when you are willing to get hurt for another person, and that there is a price for healing. It is the astonishing, page-turning, meaningful, bittersweet, and sweeping finish to the Wingfeather Saga.

Recommended age: 11-110

Re-readability: In the words of myself, “most-definitely, of course, most-assuredly, positively, totally … YES!”

 

Bonita Jewel’s Review

Five Jewels

Five-Jewel Book!

On his thirteenth birthday, Janner is dropped off in the middle of a snowy forest and expected to find his way home. Blindplopped. It’s a Durgan Guild thing.

Spring is nearing in the Hollows, as Leeli trains hounds daily in the Houndry, preparing for war. But the battle finds them unprepared with winged Fangs descending on Ban Rona.

Kalmar’s courage in fighting the Fangs is passionate and sincere, but his fear constantly plays at the edge of his mind. How long until the beast looming in the shadows of his mind takes control? He chooses to embark on a secret mission. In the midst of the Blackwood, he and Janner discover an astonishing ruin, hear of an inexplicable dream, and find help from the most unexpected character.

In the closing book of “The Wingfeather Saga,” Andrew Peterson leaves the reader with a powerfully resounding message of belonging, acceptance, and the transforming power of love. He tells of a sacrifice – the seed of a new garden. The healing of bodies by a flaming glow “like the word that made the world.”

Recommended age: 11 and up.

[Note for parents: sensitive readers might be affected by certain parts toward the end of the story. No specific spoilers will be given, but I recommend that parents either read the books with their children in advance of their children, as the messages of love and sacrifice are powerful, yet poignant.]

Re-readability: In the words of my daughter, “YES!”

Jewel Rose Review

 

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Monster in the Hollows (Wingfeather Saga #3) by Andrew Peterson

Monster in the Hollows

Bonita Jewel’s Review

Five Jewels

Five-Jewel Book!

Something within us perpetually seeks a place we can call home – whether we’re half a world from friends and family or have never ventured more than a few miles from our hometown. Monster in the Hollows begins with Janner anticipating home. Somewhere. If not in the Shining Isle, perhaps in the Green Hollows. After fleeing Fangs from Glipwood to Dugtown to Kimera and across the Dark Sea, he longs for acceptance and belonging. But his brother Kalmar is not a typical boy. And the people of the Green Hollows do not take kindly to strangers, much less so to anything – or anyone – resembling a Fang. Janner’s primary responsibility, as a Throne Warden, is to protect his brother … but even he is not sure how safe Kalmar is.

Janner’s sister, Leeli, fits right into the Green Hollows with a position at The Guildling Hall that seems tailor-made for her (in short, she’s good … real good). His grandfather, Podo Helmer, can finally put up his feet in front of the fire and enjoy sharing and hearing tales. His mother, Nia, back among her kinsman, has the chance to embrace life anew. But animals and livestock begin disappearing, and the distrust of the town flares up. Is a monster at large in the Hollows? Is Kalmar responsible? Will Janner be able to protect his family when they near the gallows of treachery?

I read this book in January, and read it again this past month (a rare action with over 100 books on my to-read list). I thought it unique and stupendous half a year ago, and found myself just as engaged in the story this time around. Perhaps more so. With deep-threaded themes of trust, acceptance, belonging, weakness, humility, and true strength, Andrew Peterson weaves a story that beats with a heart of its own.

Recommended age: 10 to as-old-as-they-get

Re-readability: Yes. Oh, yes.

Monster in the Hollows quote

A favorite quote!

Jessica Rose’s Review

Five Roses

Five-Rose Book!

The Monster in the Hollows, like the others in this series, has a personal thing that makes it even better. In On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness the thing is its humorous and often extensive footnotes. In North! Or be Eaten it is its pictures of the various creatures of Aerwiar. Well, in The Monster in the Hollows I believe it is the songs. The Monster in the Hollows resumes the wonderful (yet dangerous) sea trip of the young Wingfeathers, their guardians, and their uncle, Artham, Throne Warden of Anniera (who had just saved Kalmar from the evil Stone Keeper’s clutches).

Janner has decided (a while before the current time) that he is tired of running and just wants to live normally in a real home. But where could he live? His old home of Glipwood is overrun (and ruined) by the Fangs of Dang, and his birthplace – his true home, and his younger brother’s kingdom – Anniera, is still burning after Gnag the Nameless’ attack nine years before. There might be a possible home for Janner and his siblings though, his mother’s original home – the Green Hollows, a land feared by the Fangs.

However, when the Wingfeathers arrive, they are faced with a huge problem; Kalmar had been captured by Fangs on their trip to the Ice Prairies thanks to his bad choices and now has fur, pointed ears, and a tail. Just when Janner could possibly get a home, his hopes are dashed when the Hollowsfolk hate Kalmar who resembles a Fang. Even after Kalmar is released, Janner feels unhappy. Leeli made a friend on her first day at school and has a guild that suits her perfectly, Nia is starting a new life, Oskar has everything he could possibly need with a library to go to whenever he likes, Podo can actually relax for once, while Janner is stuck at a guild where you get punched thanks to Kalmar. Janner tries to fit in but that’s hard to do with a brother who is a wolf. Still, Janner wishes for his true home the Shining Isle of Anniera and hopes that one day he will be able to see it with his own eyes.

Meanwhile, Sara Cobbler is having troubles of her own. Who wouldn’t if they had to work in the dreaded “Fork! Factory”? But she has a secret weapon against all the dread and doom of the factory. She has the light that Janner left behind. Can that do anything against the misery around her? Artham, though he turned into a mighty winged being when he saved Kalmar, is trying to deal with his shame. Janner tries to find out what happened to his beloved uncle, who is now back in Glipwood, and also tries to find out the secret magic of Leeli’s songs, while trying to protect Kalmar and to protect others from him too.

The Monster in the Hollows doesn’t only show what is happening, it shows the headaching swirl of Janner’s confused thoughts, the intensity of Artham’s shame, Kalmar’s hidden fear, and poor Sara’s wish to be free. The book shows the intense mystery, the awful betrayal, and the secret monster in the hollows. (Though you might have to wait until the end.)

Recommended age: 10 to 100

Re-readability: Y E S  E X C L A M A T I O N  P O I N T I have read it five times since 2015’s Christmas and some parts over that.

 

Monster in the Hollows review

Another favorite quote!

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North! Or Be Eaten (Wingfeather Saga #2) by Andrew Peterson

North or be Eaten

Bonita Jewel’s Review

Five Jewels

Five-Jewel Book!

Through the dangers of Glipwood Forest, across the Mighty River Blapp, and toward the Ice Prairies, Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby – along with their mother Nia, their ex-pirate-grandpa Podo, and the quote-speeling Oskar N Reteep – race northward to escape the deadly pursuit of Fangs.

Yet the danger from within is nearly as poisonous as the Fangs’ fangs.

Janner’s resentment of his younger brother, Tink, grows as Janner notes his brother’s immaturity and recklessness. His overwhelming emotions oscillate between an ingrained need to protect, protect, protect … and a frustrated desire to let go.

Joined by unseemly friends and confronted by unexpected enemies, the young Igibys encounter betrayal, loss, sacrifice … and the fierce love of those devoted to protect the Jewels of Anniera. As Andrew Peterson’s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness rang with humor and depth, North! Or be Eaten resounds with a clarion cry: Remember who you are.

Recommended age: 10 to 103 (or older)

Re-readable: Definitely (just ask my daughter … comments below)

Janner in North or be Eaten

Janner. A favorite quote.

Jessica Rose’s Review

Five Roses

Five-Rose Book!

North! Or be Eaten begins a few weeks after On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness left off. It has many interesting pictures showing creatures such as the Quill Diggle (whose quills make petting most unpleasant), and the hairy Bomnubble (Bomnubbles! Woe!). It follows the young Igibys, who just found out that they are heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and that their unknown father was the High King of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Janner faces jealousy and regret because the ancient law of Anniera makes his younger, trouble-making brother king, and Janner becomes a Throne Warden whose job is to protect Tink. Tink also wishes that he does not have to be a responsible and mature king, which enables him to make some bad decisions. While the young Wingfeathers are making their way to the Ice Prairies with their guardians, they meet up with people or things of many types, some heart-broken, some brave, and some more villainous than the Fangs of Dang themselves.

North! Or be Eaten shows very important principles and lessons the characters themselves need to learn. It is a picture that betrayal, shame, jealousy, and regret can only be conquered by forgiveness – both to others and to yourself – love, and sacrifice.

Recommended age: 10 to 100

Re-readable: Most assuredly yes. I personally have read it fully four times since 2015’s Christmas.

Artham P Wingfeather

Artham P. Wingfeather … Another Favorite Quote

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On The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (Wingfeather Saga #1) by Andrew Peterson

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

 

Bonita Jewel’s Review

Five Jewels

Five-Jewel Review

Andrew Peterson blends world-building, high fantasy, and belly-rolling humor to create a wondrous tale truly for all ages (I finished the book in a day, and my daughter, in her review, might decide to tell you how many times she has read it).

The story follows Janner, Tink, and Leeli, the three Igiby children, who live in a small town in a land occupied by Gnag the Nameless’ evil Fangs of Dang. Janner, 12 years old, faces a blend of resentment and responsibility at the duty of looking after his younger brother and sister. He wants to discover the world beyond the little town of Glipwood. But when the three children catch the attention of the Fangs, and everything Janner has ever known is brought into question, Janner learns there is more to fear – and more reasons for courage – than he might have dreamed possible.

Every character – from Podo Helmer, the grandfather of the Igiby children, to Oskar N Reteep, “Proprietor / bookseller / intellectual / appreciator of the Neat, the Strange, and/or the Yummy” – draws in the reader and welcomes an odd blend of laughter and something akin to homesickness. Even the places in Andrew Peterson’s land of Aerwiar (in spite of odd names like “The Dark Sea of Darkness,” “The Sunken Mountains,” or simply, “Skree”) seem to hold mysteries that would take far more books than the four in The Wingfeather Saga to tell.

It is rare I read a book that absorbs me so completely from the first page and carries such a grand mixture of entertainment and meaning. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness whispers a message of worth in the heart of the broken, new life beyond the shores of fallen cities, and the power of love and courage even in fearful souls.

Recommended age: 10 to 103*

Re-readable: I dare you to try to read this only once!

Suggested by: Luke Miller (Thank you again!)

* Will entertain (and possibly bring tears to the eyes of) adults, especially mothers, fathers, ex-pirate grandfathers, and sock men.

 

Jessica Rose’s Review

Five Roses

Five-Rose Review

Andrew Peterson’s series “The Wingfeather Saga” is an awesome tale that starts On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.* The book has lots of funny quotes and footnotes ranging from how the Glipper Trail was made to how repulsive Snot wax is; even the explanation of the game Ships and Sharks is given in one. Oskar N. Reteep, Proprietor/Bookseller/Intellectual/Appreciator of the Neat, the Strange, and/or the Yummy, makes the book even funnier by coming up with quotes from random books and authors for almost every occasion such as, “As the great Thumb of the Honkmeadow wisely wrote, ‘The games are starting soon enough’.”

The story is about the three Igiby children – Janner, age 12, Tink (whose given name is Kalmar), age 11 and Leeli, age 9. Janner, the oldest, often wonders about his father, whose name he just learned. His wishes to leave the small town of Glipwood and experience Aerwiar for what it really is, conflicts his un-wished-for responsibility of taking care of his two younger siblings, especially Tink who is always getting into trouble and taking Janner with him. On the Dragon Day Festival that Glipwood hosts every year, Janner’s life starts to turn upside down when the greatly feared Fangs of Dang try to kill him and his siblings. Janner finds that there is more fear in Skree (where walk the Fangs of Dang) than he thought and true bravery is hard to find – and achieve.

Recommended age: 10 to 100

Re-readable: YES! I’ve read it six times in seven months and the humor never gets old.

*The Wingfeather Saga is one of my two most favorite series of books and I must have read hundreds of other ones.

 

On the Edge Of The Dark Sea of Darkness

A favorite quote

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