Camp Club Girls & The Mystery At Discovery Lake

Saturday, August 28, 2010
I wanted to visit the golf course before dark. "Don't worry" said Alex. After the story you and Sydney told, I think we all want to find out what's down there." "Really?" asked Bailey. "You'll all come?" "You bet! said McKenzie. "The girls of cabin 128 stick together!"

Book: Camp Club Girls And The Mystery At Discovery Lake by Renae Brumbaugh, Barbour Publishing, 2010
Camp Club Girls & the Mystery at Discovery Lake
Genre: Mystery
Target Audience: Girls 10-14
Subjects: Treasure, not judging others
Summary: Strange noises, a stray dog and holes dug all over the golf course at Camp Discovery Lake lead the girls in cabin 128 curious enough to start trying to solve the mystery. But taking care of the stray dog without getting caught, spying on the "grouch" digging the holes in the golf course without being caught, and poking around old buildings without being caught winds up harder than they thought! 
Notes: This is the first in a new series about 6 friends ranging from 11-14 who meet at summer camp and build a friendship through solving mysteries. The oldest girl reads Bible verses about treasure multiple times and occasionally comments on them or prays, but that is the extent of the spiritual content. There isn't really that much of a spiritual theme running through the story, no particular lesson they are learning from the Word of God. They are all at a Christian camp though and so the Christian influence is there.
Recommendation Scale: 3.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 6:19-20 - Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.

By Darkness Hid

“What power?” 
Achan gave a cynical laugh. 
“You speak of kingly fables. No such ability exists in the real world of flesh and blood.

Book: By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson, Marcher Lord Press, 2009
By Darkness Hid (Blood of Kings, book 1)
Genre: Allegory/Fantasy
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 14-19
Summary: Achan always thought blood voicing was just a myth, but something seems to be going on. One day he begins to hear voices in his head, calling to him, begging to know who he is and telling him he is very strong in his power. Meanwhile, Vrell, a young girl hides as a boy to avoid an evil suitor, but having the power of bloodvoicing herself, neglects her own journey in order to help Achan. All too soon, both find themselves caught up in something much bigger than themselves, something Vrell knows is from Arman, the one true God, but is dangerous and confusing nevertheless. Achan does not know Arman, nor His call on his life. Only Arman can get them out of the trouble they are in though.
Notes: A true allegory, By Darkness Hid has an ultimate being, some who know of Him and follow Him and some who don't. However, the actual spiritual content, growth of characters, teachings from the Bible, etc. aren't prevalent. A true fantasy, characters are doing things that are impossible in the real world - in this story it's about bloodvoicing - the ability to hear what others are thinking. The book is very well written, enjoyable to read, keeps you guessing, wondering what things are or mean, with the mysteries only revealed at the very end of the story. Yet, there is so much left hanging -it makes you eager to read the second in the series!
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.


Friday, August 20, 2010
You wanted to make your boss happy, so you worked really hard and won her favor and even a promotion. And you wanted to make your friends happy. But where in all of that do we see that you want to make Jesus happy?

Book: Magna by Nicole O'Dell, Barbour Books, 2010
Scenarios 3: Magna (Scenarios for Girls)
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Choose Your Own Adventure
Target Audience: Girls 12-18
Subjects: Stealing, friendship, living for Christ
Summary: Molly will do what it takes to make people happy, whether that be her boss, friends, parents or school bully. The problem is it all sort of jumbles together. When her friends ask her to do what her boss would not approve of, she has to decide whose approval she wants more: her friends or her boss. The question is, are either of those the ones she should be striving to please the most?
Notes: Most of the book is a standard realistic fiction book with girls in their mid-teens pursuing fashion, the money it takes to have it, and friendships. Then at the climax of the book it becomes a choose your own adventure style with two endings the reader can pick from. All through the book the character is a Christian, but not until the end does she finally realize that something even weightier than her friendships or job was at stake - her walk with Christ. This one was pretty well done. Both endings were fairly realistic, not a happily-ever-after fairy tale with one choice and misery with the other, but rather both open and real about possible consequences of choices.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 5:1 - Be imitators of Christ therefore as dearly loved children.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010
"Something will come along, sooner or later." "Yes, many things have lately. A crown I don't want, a rebellion I don't need, an unseen presence I can't feel, an entire army out to kill me, and now these giant trees with nothing better to do than mix up the paths at night. I look forward to the next thing coming along. I really do."

Book: Oneprince by Bill Hand, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992
The Oneprince: The Redaemian Chronicles (Volume 1) 
Genre: Fantasy/Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 11-14 and Boys 15-18 (see notes)
Subjects: Faith, calling
Summary: The way of a king isn't easy, but it's especially hard when you never wanted to be king in the first place. Quad knew, like everyone in the kingdom knew, that the crown would go to his brother. But his father had a different idea and moments before his death, revealed that the crown was to go to Quad. Bookish, meek, Quad has only one hope of running the kingdom successfully and stopping the war and treachery that have broken out: Find the Oneprince, the one the prophets and his father have told of. 
Notes: Talking rats, moving trees, magic spells, a king, a rebellion, an ultimate being to seek. It's a classic fantasy/allegory story. It starts out as very appropriate for upper elementary, early teens. Then about chapter 13 it takes a turn and gets darker. A young girl is being tortured and the evil plots become more descriptive. It sort of jumps to an older target audience halfway through the book. The story is ok, not the best one I've ever read, the way the allegorical Jesus is portrayed isn't that flattering, it's explained, but still makes him look a bit like a fool. It really is just a story of the search to find Him, so we don't get a whole lot of spiritual content, just at the end.
Recommendation Scale: 3
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 7:7 - Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you.

Love Rules

Monday, August 16, 2010
"I've always been able to be, to impersonate, people - professors, security guards, waitresses, just about anybody but myself."

Book: Love Rules by Dandi Daley Mackall, AreUthirsty, a division of Tyndale House Publishing, 2005
Love Rules
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls primarily, but also guys 15-21
Subjects: Identity in Christ, love, dating relationships
Summary: Mattie can be anyone but Mattie. She's amazingly smart, talented, beautiful, but insecure. When her best friend, Emma, asks her and Jake, Emma's brother who is going to the same college as Mattie to send postcards back home with rules about love on them, it causes Mattie to think about what love really is. What kind of love does God offer? What kind of love is she looking for from a guy? What are the rules of love?
Notes: This book is so much fun! Mattie's impersonations are great entertainment. But more than that is what she learns about God. She's a Christian, but sort of a baby one, one who just hasn't fully embraced God's love for her. Jake has grown up surrounded by Christian influence, but is unsure of taking the final leap for himself. What they learn about God's love is a valuable lesson all people need to get, especially those who are having a hard time believing in God's love for them.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.


"Do you remember what I said to you about the chains?" "If I stay in chains long enough, I will learn to love you. It is better that I love you by force than be given freedom to choose."

Book: Starlighter by Bryan Davis,  Zondervan Publishers, 2010
Starlighter (Dragons of Starlight)
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Alternate Reality
Target Audience: Boys 12-18
Subjects: Love for others, sacrificial love, belief/faith in God
Summary: Jason has a lot of respect for his family’s faith in God. But that doesn’t mean he has embraced it for himself. The time for decision has come though. He has to decide what values and beliefs he will embrace when he embarks on a dangerous, quite likely, life-threatening quest to the world of the dragons who have been taking captive their people.
Notes: Once more Bryan Davis writes an extremely complex novel that gets confusing fast. And also as usual, those who can't keep up with all the alternate reality stuff, can still enjoy a really good story that calls into question valuable things. This series and the alternate series take a look at honor and what it means to be a true gentleman, even though that is far from the terms used. The characters have to face themselves and what they believe, have to question their hearts and find within themselves the ability to stand for faith when all seems lost.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 John 4:9-11 - This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

I Have Seen Him In The Watchfires

Saturday, August 14, 2010
The question is not whose side is God on, but whose side are we on? Do we stand for God or against Him? Do we stand and serve where we are called or where it is convenient? Think about that. Where are you called? To what are you called? Then answer Him.

Book: I Have Seen Him In The Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke, Moody Publishers, 2008
I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 16-18
Subjects: Slavery, God's calling, love for others
Summary: A desperate letter for help sends Robert running  to the rescue of his cousin and mother, and uncle farther south. The problem is, his uncle is in a prison and gets him mixed up in a whole bunch of trouble involving running for his very life! When he finally connects with family, he discovers that alot of tragedy has struck and he is now the one responsible for the welfare of his entire family as well as others. When further tragedy strikes Robert has to reexamine his views of God and where it fits into the war and other difficulties in his life.
Notes: Set in the middle of the Civil War, this story continues the story started in William Henry is a fine name. Robert knows his views on slavery, but what his role in getting rid of it is, he only thought he knew. Whereas the first book was Robert growing up, this one occurs when he is more grown, but has alot of spiritual growth needed still. Warning: This book has some extreme parts, the description of one of the tragedies that occurs is very difficult. I would highly recommend this to students 16 and over, not any younger.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 1:18 - I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints

Dreams of Promise

Allison forced a smile. It's not that she wasn't glad, but it felt like someone had just knocked the wind out of her sails.

Book: Dreams of Promise by Melody Carlson, Bethany House Publishers, 1999
 Dreams of Promise (The Allison Chronicles, 4) (Book 4)
Genre: Realistic/Historical Fiction (historical time period, but feels like reading modern realistic)
Target Audience: Girls 13-16
Subjects: Crushes, split family issues, friendships, dealing with someone who is out to get you
Summary: Marsha wants Allison with her over Christmas, but her dad wants her to stay home with him and Grace and the others. Shirley's hatred of Allison seems to be growing. New opportunities working for the school newspaper lead Allison to a dangerous mystery that Shirley only makes worse. Allison has some important decisions to make, and no matter what she decides, someone could get hurt.
Notes: This is just an ordinary story about a highschooler living a very ordinary life. She's dealing with the whole boy-girl relationships, friendships, mean girls, befriending those in need of friends, planning surprise parties, giving make-overs, and just regular school stuff. Allison is a Christian and when she's in doubt or hurting, she knows where to turn. God or the Bible aren't exactly a major part of the story, but they are definitely there.
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Colossians 3:13-14 - Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Autumn Secrets

She turned away and sighed. No, things had definitely not turned out the way she had thought they would.

Book: Autumn Secrets by Melody Carlson, Bethany House Publishers, 1998
Autumn Secrets (The Allison Chronicles Book 3)
Genre: Realistic/Historical Fiction (the time period is 1948 but it feels a lot more like realistic fiction)
Target Audience: Girls 13-16
Subjects: Crushes, split family issues, friendships, dealing with someone who is out to get you
Summary: Allison's dreams have come true. She gets to live with her dad instead of her movie-star, but mostly absent, mom! However, life in a normal highschool with friends and family isn't as easy as she imagined it would be. She's still a teenager and still has to deal with having a crush on a popular boy that prettier girls like too. Then there's Shirley, who is a mix between a snob and a bully. At first she latches onto Allison as if they are best friends since she is new at the school as well. But when things don't go her way, she is willing to do anything she can to hurt Allison. 
Notes: This is just an ordinary story about a highschooler living a very ordinary life. She's dealing with the whole boy-girl relationships, friendships, mean girls, befriending those in need of friends, planning surprise parties, giving make-overs, and just regular school stuff. Allison is a Christian and when she's in doubt or hurting, she knows where to turn. God or the Bible aren't exactly a major part of the story, but they are definitely there. 
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Colossians 3:13-14 - Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Carpet of Bones

Friday, August 13, 2010
God where are you? What am I doing wrong?

Book: Carpet of Bones by Lena Wood, Standard Publishing, 2006
The Carpet of Bones (Wood, Lena, Elijah Creek & the Armor of God, Bk. 7.)
Genre: Realistic/Supernatural Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 14-18
Subject: Faith in God, spiritual warfare, the Word of God, missions
Summary: The Magdeline 5, Elijah's clan are reunited. The Stallards have made it possible to visit Japan for a missions training conference. The sword has not yet been found, although they are sure it will be. Mei is ready to participate in baptism as a way to declare her faith. There is so much to take in, but tragedy strikes causing doubts to flood Elijah's mind. Does he really have what it takes to stand strong against the evil one? How can he know for sure what God wants of him?
Notes: As deep as ever, Lena Wood greatly challenges status quo in this book. It paints missions work in an entirely different light than nearly anything I've read before. It focuses alot of spiritual warfare, how the enemy is out there waiting to distract us or take us down. God's silence for a time is even another reminder to keep the faith and stand strong.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

William Henry Is A Fine Name

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Color does matter! It matters everywhere but here in this fanciful world you and Isaac Heath have created. It is high time Robert kept company with his own people.

Book: William Henry Is A Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke, Moody Publishers, 2006
William Henry is a Fine Name (Civil War Series #1)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 16-18
Subjects: Slavery, God's calling, love for others
Summary: William Henry has been his best friend for all his life. But things are changing. War looms on the horizon, dogs are chasing the runaways, and his slave owning grandfather is ready to make peace with his mom and raise him to be a southern plantation owner. Robert has lived on a plantation where whites and blacks work alongside each other, both paid to do the work they do. He has grown up viewing them as equals, knowing that the world doesn't, but not experiencing that first hand. Until now. Things are different at his grandfather's. Slaves are kept in poor conditions, beaten, bought and sold. When he learns that another young boy his age who he has gotten to know, is going to be sold, the time comes for a choice. Does he follow his father or his grandfather's footsteps. Does he help Jeremiah escape to freedom or does he stand by and let him be sold? 
Notes: This is one of those "coming of age" kind of stories. Robert has lived in a sheltered world all of his life, but within a short time, all of that comes crashing down on him. Removed from the secure environment and faced head on with the issues, he has to make a choice about what to follow. A kindly minister refuses to tell him what to do, but rather teaches him how to discern God's will for himself. Robert has to make a choice, not only about slavery, but about God Himself. Some parts of this book are very violent or sad. It does do a good job showing the difficulty Christians had in deciding what to do about the issue of slavery.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi
Philippians 2:3-4 - Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

Sweet Dreams

Sunday, August 8, 2010
She was amazed. It all seemed natural. Sweet. In every way, a dream come true. 

Book: Sweet Dreams by Robin Jones Gunn, Focus on the Family Publishing, 1994
Sweet Dreams (The Christy Miller Series #11)A Time to Cherish/Sweet Dreams/A Promise is Forever (The Christy Miller Series 10-12) (Christy Miller Collection, Volume 4)Summer Promise/A Whisper and a Wish/Yours Forever/Surprise Endings/Island Dreamer/A Heart Full of Hope/True Friends/Starry Night/Seventeen Wishes/A Time to Cherish/Sweet Dreams/A Promise is Forever (The Christy Miller Series 1-12)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-20
Subjects: Dating relationships, God's calling
Summary: Todd and Christy are dating, really and truly boyfriend and girlfriend now. And when they get a chance to express their feelings about each other, it draws them even closer! A return trip to Disneyland that ends the opposite of the original one two years ago, tender moments while Christy has a cold, sweet kisses exchanged, it all makes for the stuff of dreams. But when an opportunity for missions comes up, both Todd and Christy have to ask themselves what matters most: their relationship or following God's calling.
Notes: This book is tender, romantic, and SPOILER ALERT: a tearjerker! In this book, almost more than any of the others yet, young girls can look to Christy as a role model of a young woman willing to follow God no matter what. Teen girls can relate to Christy and her struggles throughout the series, but also see a character who learns, sometimes the hard way, what the Biblical perspective should be. This is the 11th book in the Christy Miller series. This series has been republished multiple times and is available in multiple forms.
Recommendation Scale: 5!
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 19:29 - And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 

A Time To Cherish

I don't take it lightly. I've been praying ever since that night we met up. The only thing that gives me hope is that God said there is time for everything. This is a time to make major choices and to stick close.

Book: A Time To Cherish by Robin Jones Gunn, Focus on the Family Publishing, 1993
A Time to Cherish (The Christy Miller Series #10)A Time to Cherish/Sweet Dreams/A Promise is Forever (The Christy Miller Series 10-12) (Christy Miller Collection, Volume 4)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-19
Subjects: Dating relationships, relationships with Non-Christians
Summary: "I want to be your boyfriend". With those words from Todd, Christy saw two years of hopes being fulfilled. Todd cherishes her and his relationship with her. Everything should be great. She should be on top of the world. But Katie just entered into a relationship with someone who does not share her beliefs and is mad at Christy and not only abandoning their friendship, but also changing into someone entirely different. Christy is scared for her, hurting for her and unsure of how to respond.
Notes: This book deals with a hard issue that many teens will face - the desire to date someone who is not a Christian. Katie makes all the standard arguments about why it shouldn't be a problem, but Christy still believes it's not wise - strongly believes. How can she continue to love Katie, be friends, when something so huge has come between them? It also shows how a teen girl might go about a dating relationship in a manner glorifying to God. 
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ecclesiastes 3:1 - There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven

Seventeen Wishes

“Counselors?” Christy squeaked. “Katie signed us up to be counselors?”

Book: Seventeen Wishes by Robin Jones Gunn, Focus on the Family Publishing, 1993
Seventeen Wishes (The Christy Miller Series #9)True Friends/Starry Night/Seventeen Wishes (The Christy Miller Series 7-9) (Christy Miller Collection, Volume 3)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-18
Subjects: Dating relationships, serving, non-believers
Summary: Katie and her crazy schemes. Christy thought Katie had signed them up to attend camp as campers. Then Katie’s parents refuse to let her go and Christy finds herself at camp alone, but not as a camper, as a counselor to a cabin of 6th grade girls! Between trying to deal with the pettiness and bullying of some of the girls towards the others and flirting with the possibility of romance with another one of the counselors, Christy has her hands full! Now that Todd is back from Hawaii Christy can also once again consider possibility of a relationship with him.
Notes: In this book Christy learns a bit about the difference between a flirt looking for a summer fling and a long-term committed friend. Todd may not be all romantic and flirty, but he offers a steady dependable commitment. She also learns a bit about sharing the Gospel and ministering to young girls.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi
Proverbs 27:9 - Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.

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