Sir Rowan And The Camerian Conquest

Friday, August 26, 2011

I wasted my life on frivolous applause and pieces of metal, and now my life is over.” Rowan’s heart ached for the life he hadn’t lived. The prince lowered him back [and said] “Your life is not over, for you are a mighty knight of the King. Time is short, and I have a mission that awaits you in Arrethtrae.”

Book: Sir Rowan And The Camerian Conquest by Chuck Black, Multnomah Publishers, 2010
Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest (The Knights of Arrethtrae) 
Genre: Allegory
Target Audience: Boys and girls 13 and up
Subjects: Pride, Popularity, Loss, Gifts/Talents, Struggle of good vs. evil
Summary: Rowan was nothing more than an orphan working to earn enough to stay alive. Then one day a knight came in and Rowan earned the opportunity to hold his sword, just for a moment. On that day his life changed as the knight realized this young one needed to be trained as a knight of the Prince. But as Rowan’s skills increased, so did his pride. Instead of fighting for the Prince, he fought for the applause of the tournament crowds, for fame and glory for himself. Then brought low and humbled, he begins a different kind of fight that will cost him everything he treasures.
Notes: As with all of the Chuck Black books, this book teaches amazing lessons about what it means to be a follower of Christ. However (spoiler alert!) it lost it’s appeal for me in the last few chapters of the book as a main character died. So if you’re as sensitive as me, you might not want to read this particular one. However, if you can see beyond that, it is a very good story. It takes nearly dying for Rowan to surrender his sword to the One who gave him his talent in the first place. Then it takes losing a loved one to be willing to fight the battle he is called to. It’s a powerful lesson in what it really means to give up everything and follow.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Perhaps some things, like Grandma’s house and her dad’s inquisitions, would never change. But Christy smiled at the unknown possibilities of the evening as she made her way down the driveway.

She was the freckle-faced tomboy and everybody’s kid sister. On the other hand, what if she wanted more? What if she felt ready to encourage more in a relationship with a guy? Was that what Jana was doing when she put her head on Tim’s shoulder at the airport? What if Sierra had done that to Gregg? How would he have reacted?

Book: Departures by Robin Jones Gunn, Multnomah Books, 2011
Departures: Two Rediscovered Stories of Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen (The Christy Miller Collection) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-18
Subjects: Dating Relationships, sibling relationships
Summary: When Christy’s family goes back to Wisconsin for a family event and Christy runs into an old crush, she has to make a decision about what she wants in a relationship with a guy. When Sierra joins some friends on a vacation to the lake and her friend makes a choice to grow up and start exploring the world of flirting, Sierra has to make a decision about whether or not she wants to surrender her childhood and enter that world as well. Both girls receive opportunities to make decisions on these short trips that could have much longer term impacts on their lives.
Notes: This is a new cover on an old story. Robin Jones Gunn originally published this book, with one more story by Wendy Lee Nentwig in it, in 1999 with Bethany House Publishers. Feeling it went out of print too soon, she and her current publishing company opened it back up to the public with just her two stories in it this time. There is one story about Christy Miller and one about Sierra Jensen. Christy’s story takes place chronologically between the 11th & 12th books of the Christy Miller series. Sierra’s is at the same time – which is before we meet her in book 12 of the Christy Miller series. These are both sort of “coming of age” novellas. Each girl receives a chance to enter into a guy/girl relationship. Christy discovers that the guy she liked for years is interested in her as well. Sierra discovers that with a little bit of flirting, guys might just step up and take interest in her. Christy’s issue is thinking through what exactly she wants in a relationship and whether or not to pursue this one specific one right now. Sierra’s issue is to consider whether or not she wants to start pursuing guys. She recognizes that she likes certain aspects of it, but isn’t sure whether or not she’s ready to take that step. She makes one comment that does a great job summarizing it: “Well I think there are some definite advantages to lingering on the girl side a little longer. Once we step over to the woman side, it’s not likely we can ever turn around and go back”. These books are fun for those who have followed these characters through the books for years and do have some thought provoking spiritual elements in each. I recommend them for all girls who have reached the maturity level to start thinking about what they want in relationships with guys.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

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

The Alliance

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My whole new chance at life was not turning out as I had hoped. It’s kind of easy to think that you’ll be ale to reinvent yourself, to change the course of your life with a single decision. But then you turn around and you are facing the same people, who look at you the same way they always have.

Book: The Alliance by Sarah Anne Sumpolec, Moody Publishers, 2004
The Alliance (Becoming Beka Series, Book 2) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-18
Subjects: Loss, New Age religion, friendship, popularity, dating relationships, family relationships
Summary: Beka really had hoped things would be different now that she’s a Christian. But just because she has changed doesn’t mean those around her have – particularly Gretchen, a girl at school who rules the popular crowd. Gretchen has decided Beka should rejoin the popular crowd, but popularity comes with a very high price. Gretchen has gotten into some New Age stuff, attempting to cast spells and such. Even worse is the fact that Gretchen has it in for Beka’s friend Lori. She puts a plan in motion to ruin Lori, but the results may just ruin Beka as well. Meanwhile, Mark, the boy she likes, tells her some things that make her uncomfortable. When Beka sees him showing interest in another girl but professing interest in her, she gets quite confused. She knows she should talk to her dad about all that’s going on, but keeps trying to control it all herself. It takes a dangerous situation to make her finally break the truth to her dad.
Notes: This book is an interesting look at one girl’s attempts to grow in her walk with Christ while still facing the realities of highschool. It does a good job painting a realistic view of things, showing the struggles a teen would face as they seek to live for Christ. There are people in Beka’s life who are challenging her to mature and grow spiritually. It’s a lot of highschool drama with all the “she likes him but he doesn’t like her, but instead likes this one so she hates this one”, etc. It is pretty good in it’s spiritual content though – even at one point Beka realizes that one boyfriend hasn’t mentioned God at all, while one boyfriend talks about Him every time she sees him.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 12:2 - Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Less Is More

Finding a sweater that actually fit was about all the adventure Abby could take at this time. Losing her dad, losing her friends, losing her church, and losing the body shape she was accustomed to was all she could handle right now. Who was she kidding? It was way more than she could handle!

Book: Less Is More by Wendy Lawton, Moody Publishers, 2005
Less Is More: Real TV, Take 3 (Real TV Series) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 12-20
Subjects: Name calling, Weight issues, friendship, Faith in God, Loss
Summary: When Abby gets stressed, she turns to food for comfort. And since she and her mom moved in with her grandma after the loss of her dad, there is plenty of food available for comfort! Abby wasn’t small before, but now she’s becoming more overweight all the time. She hates it, but has no idea how to stop it… until a friend signs her up for the tv show “Less Is More” a reality tv show about people losing weight. When connected with a food coach and a personal trainer, Abby’s life takes quite the change!
Notes: The weight loss struggle may seem like the focus of the book, but what I really like is the other story going on. One of the new friends Abby makes is Isabella, a girl who knows a lot of facts about Christianity but is not a Christian and not interested in what she sees of the Church youth group. The popular kids run the youth group with minimal accountability from the adults and they make up cruel nicknames for everyone. They don’t think of it as rude. Their view is that it the main guy is “a stronger leader. He feels his style is perfect for peers. He says it’s fast paced, a little sarcastic, with just enough attitude to keep things moving”. He views it as a good thing. And the group is large. But the one girl on the outside sees things differently. She’s been asked to go for a long time, but refuses because of what she sees and hears about it. Then Abby comes into her life and Isabella is draw to what she sees there. Abby has suffered a great loss and continues to put her faith in God and love those around her. That causes Isabella to dig into her Bible to find out for herself who God is. Name calling and the use of sarcasm to be humorous are issues not normally dealt with, but this author isn’t afraid to call it for what it is: rudeness. I highly recommend this book to all teenagers!
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 22:1 – A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Isaiah 62:2 –The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.

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