The Treasure Map by Tyler Scott Hess

Book Blurb:

Jack is a 10-year-old boy ready for a joyous Christmas vacation, but as punishment for a poor report card, he is tasked with cleaning out his family’s long-forgotten attic. Inside, he finds a chest with a treasure map and a letter that transports him to another time, place, and existence.

Jack finds himself living the life of a young man named Niko, an enemy of the State of Ariel, a martyr of the Faithful, sentenced to die during the Independence Day celebrations. When an earthquake strikes, Niko finds the opportunity to escape, discovers a guide known only as the Elder, and teams up with a group of the Faithful to change history.

My Review:

I agreed to write this honest objective review and received a complimentary pre-release copy to do so. It is the first Tyler Scott Hess book I have read.

The story changes time and place every few chapters, some chapters revealing 10-year-old Jack’s life working on cleaning up the attic while missing out on some of his family’s Christmas activities and being fascinated by the treasure map and letter. Other chapters take us into the time and place of the treasure map and letter where the Faithful are in trouble, in prison. Then an earthquake strikes and Niko finds the opportunity to escape. He discovers a guide known only as the Elder and finds a small group of the Faithful who also escaped during the earthquake. They concoct a plan to change history.

I enjoyed this story. Jack is a delightful, typical 10-year-old boy, and the story of Niko’s struggle is believabe and a little frightening.

The story grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept my attention until the end. Jack learned a lesson and learned more about his family. Tyler Scott Hess did a good job of tying Jack and Niko’s stories together as well.

This would be a great story to read aloud to your children. It’s a good story that is suitable for elementary age children through adult, although there is one murder/death near the end, but it is not dwelt upon and it is not graphic.

I recommend this book to families and to those who enjoy stories that include Christmas. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Hess’s books.

A Christmas Poem

A Christmas Poem
by Kelly F. Barr

Difficulty finding a place to park;
Endless checkout lines.
Not sure my purchases will hit the mark.
Surrounded by tired children who begin to whine.

Wait! Slow down! I have to stop!
This picture’s all wrong.
On a bench outside, I flop
As I hear a beautiful song.

Then a child takes my hand
And leads me down the block
Until, before a church I stand
Where I see shepherds with their flocks.

There are animals in a stable,
Three wise men on bended knee.
This is it! No, it’s not a fable.
But the truth that sets men free.

Mary, Joseph and the babe – most precious gift.
I bow before this sight, by many unseen,
And here my spirit lifts.
This babe, Jesus; He’s what Christmas really means.

Christmas — Happiness is . . .

Last night we watched “Miracle on 34th Street” (the original with Ed Gwinn and Maureen O’Hara).  I love this movie, but last night it really struck me when Doris criticized Fred for placing such importance on intangible things like joy and love; to which Fred responded that some day she will realize that the most important things in life are the intangibles.  I completely agree with Fred.

Then, today I visited my friend Lisa’s blog:  Lisa’s Musings and thoroughly enjoyed her post on Happiness is . . .

So, I left her a comment letting her know that I was going to borrow her wonderful idea to share my own version of my Christmas version of Happiness is . . .

I thought it might be nice to frequently post something a little more personal about me, so that you, my readers, can get to know me a little better, and I thought Christmas was a great time to do so.

happiness is

Lisa shared this cute picture from a book by Charles Schultz.  I remember this and all of the “Happiness is . . .” stuff that followed.  Something wonderful to focus on:  things that make us happy, and for this Christmas season, I’d like to share some of the wonderful intangibles that make me happy.

This Christmas, Happiness is:

A warm puppy, yes I love our affectionate,black Labrador Retriever

A cup of Chai tea and a good book

Watching our favorite Christmas movies together, as a family

Loading everyone in the car and taking a drive to look at the wonderful Christmas light displays

Listening to, and singing along with, Christmas carols, especially the ones that direct our focus to the true meaning of Christmas — the Christ child, who came to save us

Family get-togethers where we share love and laughter, oh yeah, and food  🙂

Watching our sons hang their homemade ornaments on the tree

Our Christmas Eve service, (that isn’t usually on Christmas eve anymore), with our loving church family

Baking my sons’ favorite Christmas cookies and making their favorite brunch recipes for our brunch on Christmas day

Shopping with my husband — because we get some treasured one-on-one time

How about you?  What are the intangible things that make you happy during the Christmas season?


I’d like to include one more item in this post, and that is My Favorite Christmas Movies:

It’s a Wonderful Life starring James Stewart

White Christmas starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye

Miracle on 34th Street starring Ed Gwinn and Maureen O’Hara

The Polar Express (animated)

The Little Drummer Boy (also animated, or, rather claymation, I think)

A Christmas Carol starring Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge and Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit

The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews (I know that this is not technically a Christmas movie, but I love to watch it at this time of year)

Frosty the Snowman (animated)

Frosty’s Winter Wonderland

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (again, I believe this is claymation)

How about you?  What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Leave a comment and let me know the intangibles that make you happy at Christmas and your favorite Christmas movies, or do a blog post sharing these things and leave a link to your post in the comments.