One Realm Beyond

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Since arriving in Effram, Cantor’s thoughts had skittered from one surprising idea to another. With so much information to process, he hadn’t latched on to this wordless communication with him at the farm was not so extraordinary. Perhaps it meant nothing. He hoped it meant nothing. It didn’t mean he would be stuck with this buffoon of a dragon. As soon as they finished this rescue, he’d make some excuse and detach himself from this motely crew, the whimsical girl, the know-it-all healer, and the boorish dragon. Their adventure invigorated his heartbeat, and this realm walker was nothing like he’d expected. Ahma and Odem had never mentioned daring rescues perpetrated under the noses of a region’s lawful, albeit corrupt, authorities.

Book:One Realm Beyond, Realm Walkers Series, Volume 1 by Donita K. Paul, Zondervan Publishers, 2014
735809: One Realm Beyond, Realm Walkers Series, Volume 1Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13+
Summary: Cantor’s been training to be a realm walker his whole life and the day has finally come! He can’t wait! He’s been attempting to sneak in to portals on his own for a while now. His two mentors have spent hours giving him all kinds of lessons. From the first moment he sets foot into a new realm though nothing goes as he expected! The first dragon he meets is determined to be his constant but he’s clumsy, has a pet cat and is a bit strange. The first realm walker he meets is a young girl with a flair for fashion, a head full of knowledge, and a fascination for all kinds of skills. If all these odd companions weren’t enough, it seems the council itself is corrupt and can’t be trusted! So what on earth is Cantor supposed to do now? Everything he thought he knew is now in question and the ones he would normally turn to for answers are missing!

Notes: The first in the Realm Walkers series, One Realm Beyond introduces a new world with Primen representing the Ultimate Being, Primen Warriors as angel type figures, realm walkers as the ones supposed to protect and help the people and the council as the ones supposed to lead and guide the realm walkers in protecting the people. This story deals with the young realm walkers seeking to figure out what Primen expects of them and how they can learn to serve and trust Him. It also deals a bit with judging by mere appearance. Not all the characters are what they first seem.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 37:4-9 – Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

Thank you to the publishers/booksneeze for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Garden Gate

Friday, February 21, 2014

The guards could not touch him, but their words made him wish he could stopper his ears. Feral boasts. Foul predictions. Furtive suggestions. The former Protector cared only for violence. The fallen Messenger loved rumors and half truths. But worst was the Fallen watching him from the shadows in the corner. His ears came to telltale points and his eyes missed nothing. More than the others, this demon frightened him. He stood as proof that even an Observer could Fall.

Book: The Garden Gate, Threshold Series #4 by Christa Kinde, Zondervan Publishers, 2014
724971: The Garden Gate, Threshold Series #4

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Target Audience: Girls and Boys 11-15
Subjects: Angels, Family Relationships, Friendship, Spiritual Warfare, Trust in God
Summary: Prissie is so thankful for the angels around. They have truly become her closest friends. So when they are threatened or hurt she hurts with them. The battle with the evil ones is intensifying. The ones she loves are in danger. Her family is struggling to recover from the destruction wreaked on them the last time the evil ones went on an all out attack. She has to figure out what on earth to do with Ransome and his determination to make friends with her. And if all that isn’t hard enough, she is being asked to give up what has become most precious to her. It’s time for Prissie’s faith to turn into action.
Notes: The Garden Gate is the fourth in a kid-friendly series dealing with serious issues such as spiritual warfare. In this second book, Prissy, a fifteen year old girl has become familiar with being able to see the angels all around her and be friends with them. The focus on this book is on faith, trusting God when it seems impossible. Like other speculative fiction, it speculates “what if”, in this case, “what if someone could see all the angels around them and could interact with them”. But it does a good job carefully not doing anything to contradict Scripture in its speculations, but rather teaches and enforces Biblical concepts. I highly recommend this to upper elementary and young teens.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 11:1,6 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free review copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Redcoats Are Coming

Thursday, February 20, 2014
“Have a nice trip,” Whit said. “And don’t forget. Ask for ink if someone offers you a quill.”
“What does that mean?” Beth asked. But the doors to the Imagination Station slid closed. White didn’t hear her.
Beth looked at Patrick. He shrugged and said, “I guess we’ll find out.”
Beth reached to push the red button.

Book:Adventures in Odyssey, Imagination Stations: Book #13 - The Redcoats Are Coming! by Marianne Hering and Nancy Sanders, Focus on the Family and Tyndale House Publishing, 2014
977747: Adventures in Odyssey, Imagination Stations: Book #13 - The Redcoats Are Coming!Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: Boys and girls 8-13
Subjects: American Revolution
Summary: Ink? A quill? What is that all about? Patrick and Beth are about to find out as they take a trip in the Imagination Station back to the time of the American Revolution, specifically the time of Paul Revere’s ride. When they arrive Concord it’s not long before they are assisting the Patriots, running from angry men and trying to prove they are not Loyalist spies!
Notes: This book did not contain as much for spiritual elements as I had hoped. This series is much like the secular Magic Tree House books but instead of wizards and magic it’s imagination and inventions giving them the different place/different time experiences. The radio show the concept is taken from is very solid – full of great spiritual elements and lessons and challenges as well as fun and excitement. But this book lacked a lot of that. It mostly contained suspense and some history lessons. It did have some a character taking note that there wasn’t any separation of church and state – the pastor preached his political views right in the midst of his sermon. But that was all for spiritual elements. Its biggest value is probably generating an interest in historical events for the reader.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 1/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 31:4 – Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Grandpa’s Box

“Do you have war stories for the whole Bible?”
“Oh yes,” Grandpa replied. “In fact, in one sense, you could say that’s just what the Bible is: the story of this war between God and Satan. It’s the story of whether Satan would win and there wouldn’t be.”

Book:Grandpa's Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption by Starr Meade, P and R Publishing, 2005
52866X: Grandpa"s Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of RedemptionGenre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 10-14
Subjects: Bible Stories
Summary: Grandpa’s secondhand shop was always a fun place to be. Marc and Amy were thrilled to be able to explore all the treasures and hear Grandpa’s stories. The day he got out his wooden box though, the stories he began to tell were important stories. Real stories. Stories of things that had happened thousands of years ago and yet still impacted their lives today. Each item in that wooden box represented some part of the story. Read along as Grandpa tells Marc and Amy each of the stories that go with the items in his wooden box.
Notes: Written in the form of a dialogue between a grandpa and his two grandchildren, Grandpa’s box retells Bible stories, showing how they fit together. He describes it in terms of a huge war between God and satan. Each chapter is another story, another battle in the war. Each chapter begins with a reference to show where in the Bible the story is taken from and each chapter ends with another passage that’s actually written out, often taken from another place in the Bible showing God’s character or a summary of the issue at the heart of the story. Therefore this book can be used as merely an enjoyable book to read or as an actual devotional.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 35:1-3 – Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, "I am your salvation."

Take Flight! A Sisterchicks Devotional

Yes this blog is focused exclusively on teen fiction, but when one of your most favorite CTF authors writes a devotional on a subject close to your own heart, how can you resist getting a review copy of it and recommending it to your followers?

By definition, a Sisterchick is “a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and gives you a reality check when you’re being a brat.” Whether you meet regularly with a gaggle of Sisterchicks or don’t have a Sisterchick in your life at the moment, this book is for you.

Book: Take Flight! A Sisterchicks Devotional by Robin Jones Gunn and Cindy Hannan, Multnomah Publishers, 2013
52537X: Take FlightGenre: Devotional
Target Audience: Girls 18+
Subjects: Friendship, Trust/Faith in God
Summary: Think about birds. What comes to mind? Their small size? Their colors? Their song? Or their flight? Birds can be kept as pets, trapped in a cage. But birds were meant to fly. Sometimes women are small and helpless, powerless. Sometimes they don’t have anything in their physical appearance to attract others to them. Sometimes beauty comes forth when they open their mouths and sometimes it doesn’t. But we weren’t designed to be caged, trapped in lies of doubt and uncertainty. This devotional encourages us to trust God, let go of the things holding us back and take flight!
Notes: Divided into four major sections with 3-4 devotions in each section, Take Flight contains fourteen devotions. It’s primary purpose is to be done with a close friend/s who can encourage one another to “dig deep into God’s boundless grace and take flight”. However, as mentioned in the quote above, it can also be done on your own as the goal of it is to draw you closer to Christ. Each devotion begins with a story, then the devotion part which includes looking up passages of Scripture to see for yourself what the Bible says about the topic. Then there is a section for journaling your thoughts. Then a page of quotes – from the Bible and other sources. It ends with a suggestion for an activity friends can do together to act on what the devotion taught.
Unlike many devotionals, this one is more than just one small verse printed on a page and then someone else’s opinions about that one verse. This one truly encourages getting into God’s Word for yourself. The other strength of it is that it is intended to have friends hold each other accountable to spiritual growth. I highly recommend this book.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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