Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Marlow's Latest is a Real *Jem!

Roasted rattlesnakes! Have you been confounded in your search for an adventure-filled, wholesome story for tweens? That’s a tall order these days. And if you hope to find one with a bent towards boys it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Author Susan K. Marlow comes to the rescue with her new series for boys—just in time for Christmas! Marlow has turned her big imagination from Andi Carter in her Circle C Adventures series, to Jem Coulter in her new Goldtown Adventures series. But, honestly, it’s good, clean fun for everyone—boy or girl! 

In book one, Badge of Honor, we meet twelve-year-old Jem Coulter and his little sister Ellie. The two want to help their widower father take care of things around their broken-down ranch. It was with the best of intentions that they both skipped school to pan for gold one fine, spring day. Surely the melting snow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains washed some gold down Cripple Creek to their little family claim, right? It's worth an afternoon standing in the freezing water to find out!     

When their father, Matt Coulter, hunts down his truant children, they’re in double-trouble. Not only are they grounded from gold-panning until school gets out (a whole month away!), but their dad is sporting a six-pointed star on his chest. 

Matt Coulter has been named the first sheriff of the unruly, mining settlement of Goldtown, California. Jem is devastated. Goldtown is full of hot-tempered men carrying firearms and that badge seems like a target on his father’s chest. Not to mention the example Jem will be expected to portray as the sheriff’s son. What could be worse?

Well, the day isn’t over yet. The Well’s Fargo wagon brings an aunt and cousin from sophisticated Boston to live with the Coulters. What are a couple of greenhorns from the city going to do on a ranch in a mining settlement? Change things—much to Jem’s dismay. He and his sister have been making it just fine since their mother passed away a year prior. The only bright side that Jem can find is that his cousin, Nathan, will be another set of hands to help with chores.

And so begins a new chapter in Jem’s life . . . as if being caught between boyhood and manhood at age twelve isn’t complicated enough. When summer finally arrives and the kids can officially return to pan for gold, things really heat up. The creek is nearly dry and Jem, Ellie, and Nathan stumble on something much more life-altering than gold . . .

Using humor and historical accuracy, Susan Marlow weaves a tale of danger and mystery that is sure to please most young men at about this age-n-stage themselves. 

With godly, moral lessons as an underlying current, you can be sure that Susan’s new series will please the conservative palate without being stuffy or preachy. As mentioned, girls will enjoy the Badge of Honor as much as their male counterparts. It would also make a great read-aloud for the whole family. It's a book I've thoroughly enjoyed and I'm waaaay older than the approximate 9-13 year old target audience!

You can read some sample pages from Badge here. Or you can download the free study guide and make it a very well-rounded adventure!

Publisher Kregel books sent me a complimentary copy of Badge in exchange for this honest review. Thank you, Kregel! It is a pleasure to review any of Susan Marlow’s books. 

For three other reviews of Susan K. Marlow’s stories, click here.

At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.