Broken Wings

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Being back here is strange. It feels very disconnected to me, and yet if I’m to believe Virture, all this turmoil was caused because the grave was empty. Because my dad his emptiness below the ground. All this because I wanted truth.

Book: Broken Wings (An Angel Eyes Novel) by Shannon Dittermore, Thomas Nelson Publishers 2013

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Supernatural
Target Audience: Girls 15+
Subjects: Faith, Loss, Angels, Fear
Summary: The fear is growing. Damien is back, truth is being revealed, new enemies are moving in and the fear is pouring off of them all. With her gift of sight, Brielle can literally see it. What she doesn’t see is all the reasons for the fear. Jake is afraid they won’t have a future together after all, now that the ring from the Throne has disappeared. Why has the Throne taken it back? And replaced it with Damien’s dagger? She doesn’t see her father recalling the last time he heard angelic music – the day her mother vanished – not died as Brielle has been told all her life – vanished right out of her sick bed she lay dying in. She just see the past that Marco and Oliva have had to wrestle with. But she sees the fear in all of them. And she feels it in herself. Evil has targeted her and has no intention of letting her go.
Notes: The second in the Angel Eyes Trilogy, Shannon Dittemore speculates on what a halo might be and what kind of experience someone would have if they could see the spiritual realm. The story began in book one with a retelling of the story of Elisha praying that the eyes of his servant would be opened to see the angelic warriors surrounding the enemy army and how the servant saw the spiritual realm (Found in 2 Kings 6:8-23). Then it introduced the story of two eighteen year olds, ordinary humans who are given a special gift from God. When wearing the halo of his angel guardian, Jake was given the gift of healing. When wearing the halo after Jake gave it to her, Brielle is given the gift of seeing the spiritual realm – the angels and demons and the physical manifestation of feelings such as fear and love. In this book their story continues. The demons desperately want to get their hands on these gifted teens and will stop at nothing to do so. In the midst of fighting that battle, the grave of Brielle’s mother is uncovered and discovered to be empty, forcing her dad to reveal the truth to her. The ring that appeared to Jake’s guardian from the Throne that represented Jake and Brielle’s future together has vanished and been replaced with the sword Damien used to stab Brielle in the last book.
 The application/lesson focus in the story is actually the same as the first book - fear and the power it holds over its victims in contrast to the freedom from fear that is found in Christ. In this one Brielle has to learn the power believers hold over the powers of darkness. A powerful angel tells Brielle that it’s the song of the redeemed that causes darkness to tremble. Jake and Brielle recite Psalm 91 when battling the enemy.
Overall – this series is speculative, but in it’s speculation it does not contradict Scripture in any way, but rather supports and even quotes it. I highly recommend this one!
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 8:37-39 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  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.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson (Book Sneeze) for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Saturday, February 16, 2013
“We’re doomed!” Guinevere cried. “We’re dead,” another sobbed. “We’re dinner,” another wept.

Book: Yikes!!! (TJ and the Time Stumblers) by Bill Myers, Tyndale House Publishers, 2012

Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: Girls and Boys 10-14
Subjects: Being a servant, leadership
Summary: It’s just a theme park. A field trip to a theme park. But with the help or Herbie and Tuna, this field trip to a theme park quickly becomes a field trip to a rain forest. Even that wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the family of gorillas that thinks Herby is a baby gorilla, the mama gorilla that is holding the Swiss Army Knife that can send them back to the park, Tuna being turned into an ostrich, swarming ants, barbequed leeches, and the cannibals! Herby and Tuna are supposedly almost ready to leave. That departure can’t come too soon for TJ!
Notes: This is the sixth and final book in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series about TJ, a new seventh grader in town is being visited by two teenage guys from the 23rd century. They claim she is going to be famous someday and are doing a school report on her. They make many attempts to help TJ with the various adventures in her life. In this book their “help” puts TJ’s entire class in the rainforest. TJ finally learns what being a leader is all about as she risks her life to help save her worst enemy and with the help of the time stumblers, sees how being a leader always means being a servant – whether serving by washing dishes or saving a life.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 20:25-28 – Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

A Cast Of Stones

Sunday, February 10, 2013

“Can you shoot?”
He nodded. “I know how it’s done, but I’m not a very good shot,” he confessed.
Cruk sighed, squeezed his eyes closed, “Don’t you do anything well besides drink?”
“I never really needed to learn. Nobody’s ever tried to kill me before. Now it’s happened twice in one day.”

Book: Cast of Stones, A (The Staff and the Sword) by Patrick W. Carr, Bethany House Publishers, 2013

Genre: Fantasy/Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 13+
Subjects: Showing love to others, alcohol
Summary: He’s the village drunk for goodness sakes! The local priest has put him in the stocks plenty of times. The citizens of his town rely on his craving for ale. They know how predictable he is. Errol never intended to get mixed up in the Church. He simply agreed to deliver a message one day. The man who gave him the message was paying him well and he knows the trails better than anyone. And his desire to spend his earnings on drink will guarantee his return. Yet, the next thing he knows, he’s under a compulsion to turn himself in to the Church to present himself as a reader – a highly important role in the kingdom! A number of near death escapes later puts him at an old farmhouse learning to use the staff. A number of battles later eventually get him to the city to obey the compulsion put on him. When he arrives though, he finds nothing is as he thought and he is a pawn in a deadly game of survival. What’s at stake? Nothing less than the entire kingdom itself!
Notes: The first in a new series promoted as an “epic medieval saga fantasy readers will love”, A Cast of Stones, tells the story of a young man’s rise from the status of town drunk, to one of the most important people in the entire kingdom. A reluctant hero, Errol simply fights for survival and freedom. What he most longs for though is companionship – family and friends. There are definitely spiritual references in this book. A number of the main characters serve the Church and swear by or pray to “The Three”. At one point, the story of God’s sending Christ to earth and His death for our sins is allegorically told as they share the kingdom’s history with Errorl. The best spiritual reference is actually the night Errol stays with the priest he delivered a message to. Not having gone this long without a drink in years, he is sick the whole night through, but rather than the judgment and condemnation like he receives from his local church leader, this priest shows compassion and grace, promising and following through on the promise, to help Errol through the night. I don’t, however, see a strong lesson that is being taught. The spiritual elements are more a part of the culture for the characters, sort of the setting.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 3/5
Quality and Enjoyment Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Peter 2:5 – You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book to review. 

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

A Cast of Stones
by Patrick Carr
Paperback, 400 pages
Expected Publication: February 1st 2013 by Bethany House Publishers

Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame

Friday, February 8, 2013
Ophelia set down the book. Three days. Three days with Quasimodo, a medieval, Parisian hunchback recluse, right here in Kingscross, right here in this house, right here in the enchanted circle.

Book: Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame (The Enchanted Attic) by Lisa L. Samson, Zondervan Publishers, 2012

Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 12-16
Subjects: Discrimination/Bigotry, Empathy
Summary: Ophelia liked reading. I mean she really liked reading! She had no trouble getting engrossed in a good story. But even she never imagined that she’d actually meet a character from the story! Fourteen year old twins, Ophelia and Linus are living with their aunt and uncle when they discover a science lab in the hidden attic. As Ophelia sits there reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame one night, Quasimodo appears! Apparently the scientist who lived in the house before her aunt and uncle bought it had found a way to bring characters from stories into our world. Now the trouble is getting them back. It takes being in a specific place at just the right time and having finished reading the entire book you brought the character out of, to achieve this. That wouldn’t be a problem except that that specific time is three days away – three days in which a lot of rain begins to fall, enough rain to likely cause the flood that generally occurs in the area every hundred years or so. And a severe flood could cause great damage to their plans. That’s not the only problem though. Another character has escaped from the story and if chasing down Quasimodo with ill intent on his mind. It’s up to the twins and their new friend Walter to kept Quasimodo safe for these three days and make sure all details are in place to send him back.
Notes: This is the first in a series about twin teenagers who live in a house with an enchanted attic with the ability to bring characters out of books. The style is a bit similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events. There is a narrator telling the story the whole way. He inserts humorous comments and explanations into the story, not giving the characters too much room to talk for themselves. This book is not blatantly Christian. It makes reference to a verse Ophelia reads in the Bible and compares it to her response to the story she’s reading. It shows the characters living out principles that are certainly Biblical such as loving and caring for the less fortunate. It just doesn’t say that their reasons for doing so have anything to do with a faith in Jesus Christ or a command in the Bible. They are just generally good people and that’s what causes them to act good.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2/5
Creativity: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Thank you to Zondervan for giving me a free review copy of this book!

On Hope’s Wings

“Home.” She thought in frustration. “I have no home!”

Book: On Hope's Wings (Allison Chronicles) by Melody Carlson

Genre: Realistic/Historical fiction (The time period is set in the past, but the story has a modern “feel” to it.)
Target Audience: Girls 12-15
Subjects: Family Relationships
Summary: Allison has had enough! Her movie star mom has “abandoned” her once again – not boarding school this time, but to a summer camp – a stupid summer camp that she hates going to. So she comes up with a plan to stay alone in her mother’s New York apartment. When she finds a letter from an unknown grandfather she dresses in her mom’s clothes, takes her money and sets off to visit this grandfather.
Notes: This is the 1st in a series about a young girl from a broken family as she seeks a loving adult to parent her rather than her mostly absent mom. In this book Allison meets some Christians and starts to learn a little bit about forgiveness but these themes are developed a lot more throughout the series.
Recommendation Scale: 3/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 6:1-3 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Jean’s Black Diamond

Jean found it hard to sleep that night. Many times she sat up and gazed out of the window, on to the moonlit peaks and dark valleys, imagining herself out there among the horses – even riding her – yes, her black mare – Black Diamond! Oh, what a name! She would call her Black Diamond! And suddenly, Jean thought of another thing – would her father let her have the mare?

Book: Jean's Black Diamond by Deborah Bennett, Christian Literature Crusade, 1951

Genre: Adventure/Horse Story
Target Audience: Girls 12-16
Subjects: Horses, relationship with family, salvation, sacrifice
Summary: She’s the most beautiful horse Jean has ever seen! And that’s saying something because Jean has grown up on horses. When their family catches some wild mares to train and sell, Jean falls in love with one of them. She takes full responsibility for the training of Black Diamond. She wants desperately to keep her, but the money from the sale will go towards her brother’s medical school – something else she wants desperately. The family can not afford both. Either Jean or her brother will have to give up their dream.
Notes: This is a story written by a 15 year old girl that won 2nd prize in a competition. It’s very much a family story – Jean is the main character but the story is about interactions with all of the family members. A guest comes and the way of salvation is explained and the whole family is involved in encouraging him in putting his trust in Christ for his salvation. A cousin comes to visit and the whole family is involved in helping this city girl experience the joys of the country. The siblings put on a play together for the parents. It’s all focused around the family. The big issue is that Jean doesn’t want to give up her horse and her brother doesn’t want to give up the dream of medical school but both love their sibling enough to be willing to sacrifice their dreams for the other one.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 12:10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

The Peaceful Warrior

I feel very alone now, and I’ll admit a secret to you: I’m frightened and I’m having my doubts. Who am I to serve Deborah as her armor bearer? I have no experience whatsoever. What if I’m a hindrance to her? I suppose time will tell, but I hope it tells before I make a terrible mistake and harm others or myself because of my ignorance.


Genre: Historical/Biblical Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 11-16
Subjects: Story of Deborah, Courage
Summary: She’s not an ordinary girl. And her family knows it. She has a hunger to serve God and a courage unusual in such a young girl. So when Deborah, the Judge, calls Israel to war, Persis goes to Deborah to offer her services. To her surprise, her family, friends and Deborah herself, all support Persis’ decision and Deborah appoints Persis her armorbearer. All too soon she finds herself standing next to Deborah as she gives the command to attack the Canaanites. Will she find the courage to stand strong or give up and go home?
Notes: Fourth in a series that creates a fictional story about a young girl around a true historical event from the Bible, this book tells the story of Deborah as if it were seen through the eyes of a young servant girl. It takes place right around the time when Deborah and Barak lead the Israelites into battle against the Canaanites. The spiritual lesson, outside of simply telling the true Bible story in the midst of a fictional story, is focused on courage. Persis feels afraid and asks Deborah if she has made a mistake in choosing Persis to be her armorbearer but Deborah assures her that courage isn’t the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to stand strong and do what’s right even when you are afraid.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Priceless Jewel At The Well

“Alisah, I want to talk to you.” Tova’s eyebrows were knit together and she licked her lips. “We have to help Mother and Father. We have no brothers to help Father tend the flocks, and he grows worse each day. Our situation grows worse. Soon there will be no food to eat.”


Genre: Historical/Biblical Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 11-16
Subjects: Story of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, sacrifice, relationships with family
Summary: Sacrifice is required. And it’s up to the two oldest daughers to make that sacrifice. Tova agrees to marry the neighbor and Alisah is sent away to work for Rebekah and her family. At first Alisah is scared and frustrated. She has no desire to leave her family and the other girls in her new home don’t seem to like her much. And the older servant who she is supposed to help seems unconvinced that Alisah’s help is a good thing. Can anything good come of this servitude?
Notes: Third in a series that creates a fictional story about a young girl around a true historical event from the Bible, this book tells the story of Isaac and Rebekah and the story of Jacob and Esau as if it were seen through the eyes of a young servant girl. It takes place right around the time where Esau sells his birthright to Jacob. The spiritual lessons, outside of simply telling the Bible story in the midst of a story, are focused on maturity and unselfishness and pride. Alisah starts off by not wanting to have to go and work for this family, wanting rather to stay home. Then when she gets there she acts prideful since she can read while others can not. There’s a lot about family relationships as well – Alisah and her sister Tova and Jacob and Esau.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Philippians 2:3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Dead Man’s Hand

I took one final glance at the dead cowboy’s fixed eyes and bloody shirt and hurried down the steps, out of the barn, and toward the waiting stagecoach, certain of only one thing – this was going to be the best summer vacation ever.

Book: Dead Man's Hand (Caden Chronicles, The) Eddie Jones, Zondervan Publishers, 2012

Genre: Adventure, Mystery
Target Audience: Boys 12-18
Subjects: Life after death, ghosts, crime
Summary: Most vacations don’t begin with the discovery of a dead body. And most people aren’t nearly as glad to start vacation with the discovery of a dead body as Nick is. He’s part of a group of teens that use a computer software and research gained from tv detective shows to solve crimes. So the extremely boring family vacation becomes a lot more exciting when he stumbles across a murder. Solving a murder isn’t easy, but to make it even more challenging, he first has to prove that a murder actually happened. After all, by the time the police arrived, the dead body was gone. And the supposedly dead person left a voicemail saying he was going out of town – a voicemail that came in after his death. Somehow Nick has to prove there truly was a dead body – and find the killer before he strikes again.
Notes: The first in the Caden Chronicles, Dead Man’s Hand tells the story of a teen boy searching for answers about what happens to a person after death. Nick has never believed in God, the Bible or prayer, but when he finds a Bible marked with passages that he interprets to be about ghosts and vampires (Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the Last Supper) and has a dream in which he finds himself praying, his interest is piqued. He doesn’t find the truth in this story, but at the end of the book, all the passages are listed and grouped so the reader to do their own detective work. I get the impression that this book simply isn’t supposed to stand alone. It is written to get the reader curious about what happens to a person after death and then the answers are given outside of the story.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: With the notes in the back: 5/5, without the notes in the back: 3/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 9:27 – Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment
1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,

The Crystal Scepter

Monday, February 4, 2013
The seer spoke in a deep clear voice not his own. “The augury says, ‘What have you done, oh King? Great treachery leads to grim punishment. The sin of the father is visited on the son. As the son has done to the father, so shall be done to the son… You cannot run from your fate, oh King. You have set your heart as the heart of a god. You have stolen the heart of the king and therefore you will lose your own.”

Book: The Crystal Scepter (The Gates of Heaven Series) by C.S. Lakin, Living Ink Books, 2013

Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13+
Subjects: Love, Desire for Power, Life
Summary: A greedy king desperate to maintain not only his power, but his very life seeks out the land of Elysiel in hopes of stealing the power their kings have to live longer lives than most. He gets what he wants. But at a high cost. A prophecy declares his son will destroy him. He attempts to have the boy killed, but Perthin is saved and grows up under the good influence of a man who teaches him to follow the ways of Heaven. When a chance to save his people comes, he risks all he holds dear to take that chance. The journey will be long and sounds nearly impossible but he is the people’s only hope.
Notes: This, the 5th in Lakin’s Gates of Heaven series is loosely based off the stories of The Terrible Head, Oedipus, the story of Adam and Eve’s temptation in the garden and a few other Bible stories. But it takes off as an original, unique, story from there. It focuses primarily on greed, primarily the greed for more power and a longer life. The king’s desire causes him to do things that even he finds abhorrent and unthinkable. It contrasts this with the selflessness shown by Perthin as he leaves his comfortable, familiar life and the people he loves in order to try saving them, even though he knows it will be dangerous. One of the strongest characteristics of this story is how much we see the results of choices. The king starts off as selfish, but his choices lead him to do worse and worse things. Perthin starts off as timid but his choices lead him to do greater and greater things. As with others in the series, it personifies Heaven, almost using the word to represent God. It also makes reference to a Creator. But it’s clear throughout the story that something more powerful than the characters themselves is in control of their world.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 21:1-4 – The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin!

Thank you to Living Ink Books for sending me a free copy to review!

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