About Mama Szrama

I'm a wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, teacher, and always always an avid reader. I love stories in any form. I delight in words. Perhaps in another time I would have been a bard. Since childhood, I have been caught up in the Great Story of how a Great Prince planned an unbelievable Rescue Mission to save His One True Love, and to make that wretched, disgusting girl worthy of the crown He bought for her. Yes, I am talking about Christianity-- the Gospel; the Story of the Scriptures. This story runs deep in every human soul. Whenever we hear echoes of it-- and every good story has echoes of it-- they "ring true/ringing all the bells inside of you." That is why every child (and any person with a decent personality and modicum of humor) loves to hear a good story. I think it's why we struggle so much with gossip-- the stories are just too good to not repeat! We were made for stories; your children were, too.

But how to discern which of the thousands of printed words out there are worth your time? How can busy moms (who may not have grown up with much reading) quickly see what is good, great, and not so great about the books their children are assigned or want to read? How can teachers (home-schoolers too!) pick fiction that will complement other areas of study, such as literature, history, language, and culture? How can parents use shared books to discuss many issues of eternal importance?

Understanding my five-star reviews

I hope that my five-star review system will step in to help in all those situations. Whenever I review a book, I evaluate it based on 5 criteria, each represented by a star:

  1. Characters & Setting-- are they believable, enduring worthy, well-developed? Is the setting described in an imaginative way?
  2. Plot-- does it draw the reader along? is it plausible? how original is it? how many 'layers' are there to it?
  3. Writing-- is it good prose? rich? funny? would you want to underline portions to quote later?
  4. Character-building/Eternal perspective-- is it "morally compassed" (good & bad clearly defined, with true-to-life nuances between them)? does it provide parables, life-lessons, visions of Truth?
  5. The Wow Factor-- a book which stands head and shoulders above the rest, either in originality, thought, quality of writing, or a combination of the three.

Every book is starred, with a "star summary" that tells which categories it earned those stars in, and which it didn't. View this as a sort of ruler by which to compare very different books.

If you want to read further about a particular book or series, there are more in-depth reviews, with a book summary, cautions, recommended audience, discussion questions, memorable quotes, and thematic elements. (Of course, some books --the extra-good ones-- will receive more in-depth treatment than others.)

I hope that the book reviews and articles on literature, Story and imagination are helpful to you and your family.

May your faith be inspired through richer imagination, that you might "see" God and His Story in every 'word,' both written and invisible. Remember, this spinning universe was formed and still spins by the Word of His Power! Words and Story are literally all around us!

~ Mama Szrama

Want me to suggest a book or send a new title to me to review? Use the contact form. I'd love to hear from you!