The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson, a review

Andrew Peterson’s middle-grade Wingfeather series that started out as an amusing tale full of rollicking names moves to epic scope along the way. In this fourth book, The Warden and the Wolf King (2014), it builds to a mighty conclusion full of heroic deeds. Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga is the story of the widow and […]

The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson, a review

We learned in the second book that the fangs, which look like beast-humans, are actually recycled humans. In fact, the bad guys nearly succeeding in turning young Kalmar Wingfeather, the 11-year-old next king of Anniera, into a wolfish fang.

Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson, a review

In Dreamtreaders, a middle-grade story by Wayne Thomas Batson, Archer Keaton, age 14, serves humanity as a Dreamtreader. In his dreams, what he imagines becomes “real.”

Failstate by John W. Otte, a review

Failstate: Legends by John Ottte (2013) looks like a graphic novel, but it isn’t. It’s a middle grade novel, the middle book of a three-book series, but it stands alone very well . No one who picks it up cold like I did will think this is an unfinished story, and unexplained details from the past just make it seem more realistic.

Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard, a review

Robert Treskillard concludes his terrific YA Merlin trilogy with this book, Merlin’s Nightmare (2014), leaving some threads open for starting a new work focused on Arthur.  I’m really enjoying Treskillard’s re-imagining of Merlin as a non-magician. Merlin is a Christian who occasionally has visions. As the book opens, Merlin, in hiding in the North, has […]

The Book of the King by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry, a review

The Book of the King (2007), by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry, tells a tale full of the supernatural. Its young protagonist, Owen, is one courageous guy.

My father, engineer

This slide rule belonged to my dad, the engineer. Eldred W. Hough, although he was the oldest son, wasn’t named for his father, Thomas C. Hough. Instead, his younger brother got the name Thomas Hough. So, why did the younger one get the father’s name? That’s kind of odd. Dad’s names came from his mother’s […]

Thomas Hough, immigrant and entrepreneur

Thomas Hough, an enterprising young man, was born in 1844 into a lower-class family in Yorkshire, England, and didn’t like his prospects. His education stopped at the sixth grade, and his dad was a wagon driver. He got a job at the local  cotton mill as a lift operator, but whenever there was a pay […]

Granny Jennie’s mother, stuck on the prairie

This is about Granny Jennie’s mother Mary Jane, who dominated the Illinois prairie around her in the late 1800s but may have longed for a trip to … Switzerland? My great-grandmother, Mary Jane Robertson, always wanted to go to Switzerland, or so I imagine. So she painted this fantastic landscape with a crooked chalet and […]

Granny Jennie, a genteel lady

My Granny Jennie, born in 1885, hand-painted this pitcher in an art class in college. She had a college degree, rare for her generation, especially for women. I remember her the best of all my grandparents, because she traveled south to live with us in the winters when I was small. She spent plenty of […]