Good-Bye To All That

Friday, April 22, 2011

“Well,” Solona said, reach for her backpack. “You forget: I don’t let the Bible dictate my life. It’s great that you think of sex as sacred and all that, but I personally believe it’s up to each individual person. I do think sex is special. And that’s why I plan to wait for the right person, someone I’m really in love with, someone who feels the same about me.”

Book: Good-Bye To All That by Jeanette Hanscome, Focus On The Family Publishing, 2002
Good-Bye to All That (Brio Girls) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-20
Subjects: Sex, dating relationships, friendships
Summary: Solona has no intention whatsoever of having sex with any random person. But she has no intention whatsoever of waiting for marriage either, just the right guy and the right setting. Enter Ramon – good looking, smart, interested in her, a gentleman, and someone who shares her beliefs. But giving herself away just feels empty, not fulfilling like she thought it would be. Will her relationship with Ramon ever be the same? Will she ever be the same?
Notes: Solona, the one member of the Brio group that is not a Christian gets to experience some of the consequences of trying life outside of God’s plan. Everything is perfect about Ramon and the setting is just right. It’s everything the way she wanted it. But it doesn’t bring it fulfillment, but emptiness and a realization that she gave away some precious that she can never get back. Her friends who have decided to wait seem wise all of a sudden. This book does an amazing job of discussing the issue of sex outside of marriage – from all viewpoints. There’s the jerks in the locker room that think girls are there for the taking. There’s the extremist Hannah who not only won’t have sex, but won’t even date or go anywhere alone with a boy – even to get a ride home. There’s Becca who is dating another Christian that she cares deeply about who just makes an effort to avoid being alone in situations where she would be tempted, who openly admits that there are times she wants to go all the way with her boyfriend, but sticks to her decision to wait till marriage. And then of course there’s Solona with her views that sex is special, but not because of God and shouldn’t be limited to marriage, only to true love. I highly recommend this book if you want to see all perspectives and the consequences of not waiting.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

You Were Made To Make A Difference

The questions we want to know is this one: Does Jesus still use simple people like us to change the world?

Book: You Were Made To Make A Difference by Max Lucado & Jenna Lucado Bishop with Natalie Gillespie, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2010
You Were Made to Make a Difference 
Genre: Non-fiction
Target Audience: Girls & Boys 12-18
Subjects: Missions, Purpose
Summary: Do you ever wonder what your purpose in existence is? Do you feel as though you have nothing to give, as though your life is pointless? If so, this book can encourage you. Well-known author Max Lucado with the help of his daughter and Natalie Gillespie wrote this book to talk about your purpose in existence, what your Creator designed you for.  The focus is that “You were made to be a world-changer – yes you”.
Notes: This book is written in a journal or scrapbook style with little sections here and there. It’s designed to look a bit like a bulletin board with notes tacked or stuck to it in various places. It is written directly to the reader, as though they were there having a conversation with the teen. There are sections for journaling and questions to consider, snippets of stories about teens who are currently making a difference in some way, verses to look up and read, and research projects to do. The goal is to get teens to wake up and realize they were created for an amazing purpose and should not let their “youth” stand in the way of doing great things for God.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Timothy 4:12 –Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.


Koren buried her face in her hands. Don’t despair! Concentrate! But too many mysteries swirled in her mind and they seemed to multiply with every passing moment. Koren looked up at the Bassilica ceiling.  Nothing but blackness met her eyes. Was that really how life worked? Humans toiled, suffered, and waited for relief, praying and hoping that someone more powerful than they would reach down from the heavens and help them. Yet so many times it seemed that no one was there, just a void where prayers drifted into the darkness and died without ever being heard. How could listen to the laments of broken men, desperate women, and starving children for so many years and not be moved to bring solace to those in bondage? And if no one in the heavens listened, what was life worth?

Book: Warrior by Bryan Davis, Zondervan Publishers, 2011
Warrior (Dragons of Starlight) 
Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 14 and up
Subjects: Faith and Doubt
Summary: Taushin has hatched and his control over Koren is strong. She attempts to flee for a time, but his ability to plant doubt may be strong enough to gain complete control over her. Jason is in the north discovering someone once thought dead and attempting to continue on the mission to rescue the humans from the dragons. Wallace and Elyssa are on a mission to free and feed the starving cattle children. Arxad is finding it more and more difficult to keep his word while still obeying his conscience. The dragons continue to rule and the human slaves continue to suffer as these brave souls seek ways to win the battle once and for all. But there is so much tied up in this mission, so much they still do not understand…
Notes: Confused yet? Bryan Davis packs so much into his story it’s hard to keep track of who is doing what. Not only do his characters not know what’s right and what’s wrong, the reader does not either. But that’s partly what makes this book good. The characters wrestle constantly with their doubts and faith. All of the good guys in the story are truly good guys, longing for what’s right, longing to serve the Creator, longing to heal the hurt. But what that means is very difficult to figure out. It means questioning, doubting, checking and double checking their hearts, their motives, even whether or not they’re even in control of their own thoughts or perhaps could have fallen under enchantment. It’s easy to relate to the characters as they struggle to not let doubt gain the upper hand. The quote at the top of this review is long, but does a good job showing what is at the heart of this book. This is the second in the Dragons of Starlight series – I highly recommend not reading this until you have read the first one and perhaps the first in the Master’s and Slayers series as well – the companion series focused on the same situation, but from a different character’s point of view.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5

James 1:2-6 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Breath Of Angel

Hanamel was wrong on at least two accounts,” said Benasin. “For one, as you surmised, an angel can also be killed by an immortal.”… “You said Hanni was wrong on two accounts. What was the second?” Benasin glanced at the corridor. “That, for the moment, is better left unsaid.”

Book: Breath Of Angel by Karyn Henley, Waterbrook Publishers, 2011
Breath of Angel: A Novel 
Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience: Girls 15-18
Subjects: Angels, Demons (sort of), Pride, Independence, Trust
Summary: Melaia has grown up knowing the stories, but she thought that was all they were – just stories. Stories of two brothers, a stairway, a tree, angels and an ongoing battle. Not only does she discover it’s all true, but she’s thrust right into the middle of it. She has been serving as priestess, specifically a chantress and a death prophet. Her world gets shaken up when an angel is killed right in their own courtyard. She learns that she is not who she once thought she was and that she is not only in the midst of a great battle, but that she somehow has an important role to play in that battle.
Notes: This book lacked the spiritual element. Yes it had angels, but not as servants of God, an ultimate being, but merely as supernatural beings “trapped” in this world. There is a God in Heaven but it doesn’t seem like He has anything to do with the story. It’s about creatures or beings that are supernatural, but not all-powerful or not under the control of an all-powerful God. It taught some good lessons such as trust – Melaia has a hard time trusting those who are on her side and she is impatient, not willing to wait for wisdom, making foolish hasty choices because she can’t let herself trust. But overall, it’s not a “Christian” book. It’s just a fantasy story that’s is a lot more moral than most non-Christian fantasy stories.
Recommendation Scale: 2/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 103:20Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

Romans 8:38-39 - For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


“Una”, he said, and put out an arm to block her path. Aethelbald did not touch her, but she few back as though bitten. “I love you, Una”, he said. “I will return to ask for your hand. In the meanwhile, please do not give your heart away.” The next moment he was gone.

Book: Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Bethany House Publishers, 2010
Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood) 
Genre: Fantasy/Allegory
Target Audience: Girls 13+
Subjects: Love, romance, family relationships, sin
Summary: Give her heart away is exactly what Una intends to do. She has dreamed of romance for years and is now old enough to have suitors coming to call. Three of them in fact. The question is which one to choose. Some seem romantic, some scare her, some are hiding secrets, some are loyal, some are willing to betray her. Only one truly loves her. But how can a romantic dreamer see through the outside to find what’s truly on the inside? Soon her choices lead her entire family into great danger as a dragon comes calling as well. Una must make extremely difficult decisions in order to save herself and her father and brother.
Notes: This book seems to be an allegory with one of the suitors sort of representing Christ. It’s blurry and hard to tell. Here are the hints of the allegory: characters must die in order to be saved from evil. And the one potential Christ figure loves willingly and freely by choice rather than by returned affections or any kind of selfish motives. He has a separate kingdom not quite accessible by humans. However, he is portrayed as a human wanting to marry Una, has limited power, and does not appear to be any kind of ultimate being or have ultimate authority. There is no book of ultimate authority either. So it may just be a fantasy story designed to teach a couple of allegorical concepts: dying to sin and being deeply loved and chosen. There is nothing overly descriptive about sin or relationships so the book certainly contains nothing inappropriate. This is the first in a series called Tales of Goldstone Wood, each book appearing to be about new characters in the same world.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Flirting With Disaster

Saturday, April 9, 2011
I mourned the loss. One more time I glanced at my phone, and then tried to push away fears about Hazelle’s forward and future impending disasters.

Book: Flirting With Disaster by Sandra Byrd, Tyndale House Publishers, 2010
Flirting with Disaster (London Confidential) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-18
Summary: It’s a simple text message forward that leads to all this disaster. Forward this to your friends and avoid disaster. Savvy deletes the first one, thinking nothing of it – until a series of catastrophes comes down on her! When she gets another chance, she takes it and passes on the forward. And life turns around, simple as that. Is there really such a thing as good and bad luck and is it really controlled by passing on forwards? Savvy knew it wasn’t, but now she’s just not so sure.
Notes: Savvy gets caught up in a false belief that actually leads her towards even more trouble. And once again, she has a decision to make: turn back to the Word of God or continue on the path she is taking away from the truth. Potential boyfriends and her role on the newspaper are at stake again, but there are others involved too – others who could be hurt or helped much more than Savvy.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The Bark Of The Bog Owl

Around here, everybody thinks I made the whole thing up – about the panther, about you, everything. Sometimes I wonder myself if I just dreamed it all.

Book:The Bark Of The Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2004
The Bark Of The Bog Owl (The Wilderking Trilogy) 
Genre: Fantasy/Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 11-16
Subjects: Trust in God rather than yourself
Summary: The day he heard the bark of the Bog Owl and saw the feechiefolk boy was the day his life changed – although he didn’t know it then. Aidan arrives home to find the old prophet his father speaks so highly of, at his house, proclaiming him to the Wilderking. No one believes it, not even Aidan himself, and life seems to continue as normal, but little does he knows, his life has changed and that change will result in great adventure very soon!
Notes: This is the story of King David, told in a backwoods/medieval type of setting! It’s fun, playful and creative. It teaches the same lesson as the historic event – our trust is to be in God, not in ourselves. Sometimes the smallest, weakest person is the one God wants to use so His glory and power can be clearly seen. I highly recommend this to all young adventure seeking boys.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 20:7 – Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

The Secret Of The Swamp King

“ The old lore promises one sure cure for melancholy: the essence of the frog orchid. Bring me a live frog orchid, and I will have no reason to doubt your loyalty.” “A frog orchid?” barked Lord Cleland. “I know a little of the old lores too, Darrow. The frog orchid grows only in the depths of the Feechifen Swamp. Nobody has ever come back alive from the Feechifen Swamp!”

Book: The Secret Of The Swamp King by Jonathan Rogers, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005
The Secret of the Swamp King (The Wilderking Trilogy) 
Genre: Fantasy/Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 11-16
Subjects: Trust in God rather than yourself, loyalty
Summary: Life in the palace is going great for Aidan until the people start to gain a bit too much appreciation for Aidan and a bit too little for King Darrow. King Darrow, fearing for his throne drives Aidan away, claiming he is ill and if Aidan truly loves him, he will go deep into the Feechifen Swamp looking for the frog orchid to cure him. Of course, Aidan knows that if anyone truly can survive in the Feechifen Swamp it will be him, due to his friendship with the feechies. However, he also has to face quite a few challenges in his attempts, including attempting to stop an all out war between groups of feechies.
Notes: This is the story of King David, told in a backwoods/medieval type of setting! It’s fun, playful and creative. It teaches the same lesson as the historic event – our trust is to be in God, not in ourselves. Sometimes the smallest, weakest person is the one God wants to use so His glory and power can be clearly seen. I highly recommend this to all young adventure seeking boys.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Peter 2:17 – Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Romancing Hollywood Nobody

I heard the words love never fails over and over again. My father knows that that’s all about. Love didn’t fail with him. He kept trying and trying to find me. Charley’s love never failed either. She kept me safe, year after year. So if love never fails, then what I am doing with Seth?

Book: Romancing Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samon, NavPress, 2008
Romancing Hollywood Nobody (Hollywood Nobody Series, Book 3) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-18
Subjects: Dating Relationships, Alcohol, Family Relationships
Summary: Two hot guys from Scotland interested in Scotty and Charley! Now THIS is the life! At least, they think it is for a while. But when old flames such as Jeremy and Seth pop into the picture, it’s hard to know what direction to pursue. And in the midst of this, Scotty is finding she has some chances to learn just what loves means. There are definitely hurting people around her that need shown the love of God.
Notes: This is the 3rd in the Hollywood Nobody series, a book about a young girl connected to Hollywood without being a part of it. It shares Scotty’s spiritual journey as well as her ongoing journey to find out more about her past and her family. In this book, Scotty, a new Christian is attempting to figure out what it means to love those around her, particularly when they are making really stupid choices. She has to make some serious relationship decisions and watch those she cares about make serious relationship decisions.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.


“Of all the cursed luck, I finally meet the potential man of my dreams, and he’s almost 700 years old … literally.”

Book: Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergen, David C. Cook, 2011
Waterfall: A Novel (River of Time Series)
Genre: Fantasy/Historical/Modern Realistic
Target Audience: Girls 13-19
Subjects: Dating relationships, family relationships, faith
Summary: A mere touch of the hands. That’s all it took and the two girls found themselves whisked away to the past. Same place. But now they’re in the seventeenth century. And separates. In fact, Gabriella isn’t even sure that Lia made it. She assumes she did since they touched the wall at the same time, but she’s here and Lia isn’t. Someone else is though, Marcello, a very attractive someone, a someone who just so happens to be the son of the reigning lord of the area. As time goes on, Gabriella’s search to find her sister or a way back home draws her and Marcello closer and closer together. Never mind the fact that he’s betrothed to the daughter of a family his needs to be united with for political reasons.
Notes: This was an enjoyable book to read, but it did not contain a whole lot of spiritual content. Gabriella is searching a bit for faith. She states at one point that she knows the whole premise of Christianity but hasn’t really bought into it for herself. A couple of times she sort of cries out to God and Marcello and his family seem to have a slightly deeper faith. It’s just not the focus though. It’s there a few times in the background, but not a focus of the book, certainly not an emphasis on a particular message. 
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2.5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Acts 17:26-27 – From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

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