Witch’s Mark

Saturday, November 5, 2016

 Em’s eyes flashed with anger. “Let me repeat what I told you last week. I said that God is real, and if you don’t watch what comes out of your mouth, He just might show you how real He is. And now He has.”
Em’s head whipped toward Megan. “And now He has!”
Megan looked back at Em with the same shocked look. “You think it’s Sam? God sent us back in the past because of Sam?”

Book: Witch’s Mark by Sarah Norkus, West Alden Publishing, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure
Target Audience: Girls 14-19
Subjects: Salem Witch Trials, Time Travel, Faith in God, Bullying, God’s existence
Summary: Enough is enough! Subtle bullying, insults, threats, vandalism – it all just builds up until Josh, Tim, Emily and Megan find it extremely difficult to not retaliate. Sam and her boyfriend Kyle identify themselves as witches and can’t stand the faith that Em and the others live out. Things are about to escalate though. Both groups are going on the senior class trip to Massachusetts. That’s hours together in the same bus. When they arrive, Kyle finally makes it physical, starting a fight with Josh and Tim. As he does, Em feels that same sensation she has felt twice before, the sensation of being yanked out of this time into the past. This time Megan and Sam experience it too. The three of them – one of whom openly claims to be a witch, wake up in Salem in 1692, right in the midst of the witch trials!
Notes: Witch’s Mark is the third in the series about a teenage girl who travels back in time to help rescue others and learn to increase her trust in God. In this one, Em and Megan get a chance to reach out to Sam in a way they couldn’t do in their own time. Sam has no choice but to listen when she finds herself dependent upon Em and Megan and other Christians. There is also a question of God’s will as Em and Megan wrestle with a very tough decision that will change their entire lives. The book definitely has suspense but no graphic violence. It does a great job making the spiritual elements the entire focus of the book.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 1:18-20 – The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse;

Thank to the author for providing me with a free review copy of this book! I greatly enjoyed it! This review reflects my own opinions.

Toward A Secret Sky

Friday, November 4, 2016

“I knew that ‘crackin’ was a synonym for ‘super’, but all I could think of when I heard the word was  the girl from Culloden falling to her death. I didn’t know yet that there were worse things that cracking your head open. Much worse.”

Book: Toward A Secret Sky by Heather Maclean, Blink 2017
Genre: Speculative/Supernatural
Target Audience: Girls 16-18
Subjects: Angels, Demons, Romance, Loss, Love, Sacrifice
Summary: …And alone again. It seems Maren is destined to live a life of misery and loneliness. No father, no friends, now her mom dies and she is sent off to live with grandparents she has never met in an entirely different country. It seems she won’t have too much trouble making new acquaintances though. There’s her grandparents who seem thrilled to have her even though Maren’s understanding was that they didn’t want to know her or her mother. There’s Jo, the girl from school who takes Maren under her wing, teaching her Scottish slang and how to stand up to the school bully. There’s Hunter, the girl who also lost her parents – to the same organization Maren’s parents worked for. And then there’s Gavin – the super hot guy who just so happens to be not human. As Maren attempts to settle into her new life, she quickly learns nothing is as she once thought. Angels and demons are very real and in a constant intense battle over humans. Her parents worked for an agency fighting against the evil side. And angels can be the object of every girl’s dream… and demons can be the object of every girl’s worst nightmare.
Notes: Toward A Secret Sky is the first in the series. It releases April 2017. It is continuing the trend of assigning human characteristics to supernatural beings and giving them romances with humans. Falling in love with humans is forbidden, yet God created the angel in such a way so as to desire romance. The angel is not a being as described in the Bible, but an ordinary human with wings and some supernatural abilities. It certainly doesn’t follow any sort of theological soundness. One character describes him very well when she says “”Angels don’t hate anyone. You probably just have him so mixed up, he doesn’t know what to do with himself – because he’s definitely not supposed to love you, either. So he threw a big, bad tantrum and stormed off. He’ll show up again, especially if something happens in your town. Who knew angels were so much like kindergarten boys?” Maren has some very messed up theology as well – theology that is not corrected anywhere in the book. One example is that she implies salvation by keeping the ten commandments. She says “I knew lying was a sin, a commandment even. But it wasn’t going to hell after I died that worried me. It was going there beforehand.” Another example is a reference to purgatory – thinking she is there. She hints are reincarnation when she says “What had I done in a past life to deserve so much heartbreak in this one”.  
The book contains much violence – the dreams Maren has are very disturbing in particular. Some of it is pretty graphic. There is also a close call with rape.
The theme is sacrificial love. One character willingly gives up their life for another. The blurb on the back concludes with “Along the way she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.”
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 1/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

John 15:13 – Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.

Matthew 22:30 – At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Matthew 10:28 – Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Blink is an imprint of Zondervan, a subdivision of HarperCollins – their mission statement can be found here: http://www.harpercollinschristian.com/mission-and-values/ 

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book. My opinions are my own. 

The Prince Warriors

“Wait!” Xavier said. “Do you really think it’s safe?”
“Hey,” Ean replied. “We’re in a cave, under a lake, with a little purple dude that’s not a troll. What could be safer?”

Book: The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Shirer and Gina Detwiler, BandH Books, 2016
Genre: Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 10-16
Subjects: Armor of God, Family Relationships, Friendships, Bullying
Summary:  There’s nothing like a visit to a new world to boost one’s confidence! Or knock one’s pride down a few notches! Evan is very uncertain of a number of things. He can’t seem to find the confidence his big brother has. In fact, he is missing a number of things his big brother has – size, favor with parents, popularity, intelligence. Xavier on the other hand is totally sure… or at least he pretends to be. Being the new kid in town is never easy, but his basketball skills are quickly giving him the in he needs. Then comes Levi and Brianna. Levi has been acting a bit strange lately. He’s not playing the role of the lead skateboarder. He’s been having strange dreams about a place called Ahoratos. He doesn’t want anyone to know – not even his best friend Brianna. Anyone would think he was crazy! But Brianna’s grandpa gave her a book a while ago that told all about Ahoratos. She doesn’t think he’s crazy at all. Landon doesn’t seem to fit with any of the other kids. He’s just a bully who picks on those weaker than himself. Yet, somehow, all of them wind up in Ahoratos together! Here they will face great challenges and learn to either use the armor of God, putting their total trust in Him or face the consequences that come with going their own way.
Notes: The Prince Warriors is the first in the Prince Warriors series by Bible Study writer and women’s conference speaker Priscilla Shirer. It is an allegory focused heavily on teenagers using the armor of God to overcome challenges. It has them overcoming them in the fantasy world, but then also applying the things they learned to the real world. They learn about truth – and clinging to it no matter what lies they get told. They learn about faith – trusting even when you can’t see the way. They learn about love – sacrificing oneself for others. They learn about freedom – that if Christ has set you free, you are free.
Even in the suspense, this book does not contain anything too violent or graphic.
I would highly recommend this book.
Spiritual Content Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 6:10 – Put on the full armor of God so that you may be able to take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book. This review reflects my personal opinions.

Time Trap

Sunday, October 9, 2016

“The next grouping is an invitation for us to come into Spider’s parlor. And the last…” As her voice trailed away, she gave a violent shudder.
Peter grimly finished her words, “The last grouping indicates that Spider is waiting for us. We’re walking into a trap.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Laura said firmly. “We have to find the location of Spider’s parlor before he kills Phoebe!”

Book: Time Trap by Danele J. Rotharmel, Prism Book Group, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 16+
Summary: An ordinary time counseling trip takes a very unexpected twist when the time counselors disappear. When the first man disappears, everyone assumes he’s simply gone back to his alcohol pursuit but when Drake and Phoebe - two more disappear, no one can deny something strange is going on. Soon, a letter arrives demanding two of the directors come and face the kidnapper. Peter and Laura cautiously follow the clues straight into to the kidnapper’s lair where they face a game of life and death. In the meantime, Dan and Gillyflower are facing a personal crisis as Gillyflower finds herself in the hospital giving birth to their firstborn and facing heart problems. Nicki, the young girl the missing cadets were counseling finds herself in danger as well and gets brought to the present time where her current time self becomes acquainted with the TEMCO staff and gets drawn into some interesting experiences, particularly with one man who seems quite attracted to her!
Notes: Time Trap is the second in the Time Counselor Series. The series focuses on the concept that inventions have been made to allow people to travel through time. They use this for the purpose of counseling people who are facing serious decisions that will lead to a life of crime or suicide. In this book someone had been advised to discontinue a relationship with a man. The man is seeking revenge against TEMCO, wanting to see all of them destroyed. He goes to elaborate lengths to not just hurt, but actually do prolonged torture to those in his captivity. The big theme in the book is love and what it looks like and how to know who to marry. There are three sets of characters making decisions about love. They are seeking to follow God’s leading on relationships. One has made a decision to not kiss anyone until marriage and is waiting for someone who has made the same choice. One is told by someone from the future who they will eventually marry and has to make the choice to love that person even before they have time to build a relationship. One character uses the technology to study someone’s past and makes the choice to pursue and love them based on what they know of that person and their character. All of that characters are seeking to be very intentional about their pursuit of relationships.
There is also an element of trusting God even in the midst of terrifying times – Dan and Gillyflower facing the health issues, Phoebe facing the torture, Peter and Laura walking straight into what they know is probably a life-threatening situation. Overall, the spiritual elements are present and a huge part of the life of the main characters.
One note is that the book was very hard for me to get into. I enjoyed it once I got over a third of the way through and got more familiar with what characters were which and how things worked. It seems as though it is a series that needs to be read in order if the reader is to understand what all is going on. There were a number of elements I had a difficult time understanding. And there are nine main characters in the story, most of whom you get part of the story from the viewpoint of. I suspect this problem would be solved if I had read the first book in the series though.
Spiritual Content 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 does not dishonor others, 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.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book for my honest opinion. I enjoyed it! 


To celebrate her tour, Danele is giving away a package that includes an autographed paperback copy of both Time Tsunami and Time Trap, a Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord” journal, a lovely coffee cup, and a 4X4 picture frame. Click here to enter:https://promosimple.com/ps/a5da

You can learn more about Danele by visiting her blog athttps://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/

Blog Stops

October 6: A readers brain
October 10: CTF devourer
October 12: Pause for Tales
October 13: Blogging With Carol
October 14: Donna’s BookShelf
October 15: Carpe Diem
October 16: Petra’s Hope
October 17: henry happens
October 18: Vic’s Media Room

The Long Journey To Jake Palmer

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
As Jake crawled out of the canoe and slipped into the chilly water, the cry of a ron ten yards to his left startled him. The bird jerked its head back and forth as if puzzled by what Jake was about to do. What was he about to do? Place his trust in a… uh… man he knew but didn’t know? Choose to believe that whatever journey he was on would lead to light in the end? He stretched out his arms and stroked the water. The debate could rage in his head all day. Right now, there was only action or inaction.

Book: The Long Journey To JakePalmer by James L. Rubart, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2016
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Adults, especially men
Subjects: Faith, Divorce, Friendship, Identity, Abuse
Summary: All he was doing was helping a damsel in distress. Isn’t that was
All he was trying to do was rescue a damsel in distress. Isn't that what good guys are supposed to do? What else was he supposed to do - drive off and leave her in the hands of the thugs who were obviously dealing in human trafficking, forcing the woman to prostitute herself over and over in an attempt to earn her freedom? But the price he pays for it is heavy - when all is said and done he is scarred from the burns that devoured his body from the waist down. His wife has left him in search of someone more attractive. One friend seems to have turned on him, another friend is setting him up with blind dates. He has lost his faith. And he has no hope of life ever becoming what one might call "good" again. His journey isn't over though. A forced attendance at the annual friends vacation reveals a hidden corridor where hope springs to life, wild and out of control. Maybe he can find faith again, love again, even confidence in who he is.
Notes: The Long Journey To Jake Palmer is a stand alone novel exploring the long-term effects childhood abuse can have on a person and how much of our true identity and what we believe about ourselves effects how we respond to crisis and tragedy. Jake Palmer is a very successful man, running his own business, telling others how to find their identity and believe and accept good things about themselves. In an instant, a heroic stand against evil wipes that out and leaves him doubting everything he thought he knew. A journey into the mysterious sort of magical corridor reveals he has not dealt with his childhood and has to let go of the responsibility he has taken for his parents' abuse and eventual suicide.
The spiritual content comes with the being he meets in the corridor being an angel who is sent to help Jake accept the truth about his childhood and help him learn to see himself correctly, rather than being defined by the scars from the burns. It's almost a "discover who you are in Christ, how He sees you" but stops before it gets there. It's merely a recognition of natural talents and skills and learning to have a positive view of oneself. During his final presentation in the book, he references stepping back and letting God's Spirit lead.
Overall, there is definitely a spiritual thread running through the book, but it's not the main thing. The main theme is merely learning to believe positive things about yourself despite any circumstance that may have taught you to believe otherwise.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 3/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 1:17-19 – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray 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 his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Thank you to Book Look for giving me a free book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Fire, The Revelation And The Fall

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
“Aye, I guess ye’re r-r-right, Mousie,” Maz agreed. “So now we need ta get Paul an’ the Tyr-r-rant ta meet.”
Liz started walking daintily over to the student with her tail curcled up in the air. “And I know exactly how to make their introduction.”
“HEY, CAT!” cried Aristarchus, lunging for Liz. “Come back with that! Stop!”
Liz bolted out of the portico and down the steps of the School of Tyrannus. In her mouth, she carried the boy’s parchment containing four hours of hard work. He young boy went blazing after her as fast as his feet would take him.
Max grinned wide. “I guess the Tyr-r-rant wouldn’t believe the lad if he said a god ate his homework.”
“Jolly good joke, old boy!” Nigel quipped, grooming his whiskers. “I say we stay here and wait for our educational Tyrant and until Liz accomplishes her mission.”

Book: The Fire, The Revelation and the Fall by Jenny L. Cote, Living Ink Books, 2015

Genre: Historical/Biblical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 10+
Subjects: Biblical History, Trust in God, Paul the Apostle, Peter the Apostle, Persecution
Summary: From Rome, to Jerusalem, to a random island and everywhere in between! The Epic Order of the Seven is busy carrying out their missions to help the apostles and ensure the writing of the New Testament. Whether it be stealing a fish to lead one man to another or leaving a secret note or dropping an object in front of them, the animals are on it! Their jobs become much more difficult though, when Nero takes the throne and the intense persecution of the Christians begins. It will take all the strength their Maker can give them to stand strong during the dark days of the Roman Empire.
Notes: This is the fifth in the Amazing Tales of Max and Liz/The Epic Order Of The Seven series. The
series is about 2 dogs, 2 cats and later a few other animals that lived during the time Bible stories took place and witnessed many events of the Bible. The series is highly entertaining, filled with lots of humor and adventures. It’s also spiritually rich as the characters not only witness, but influence history.
In this book, the animals are assigned to assist some of the apostles during their last days on earth. One is on the island of Patmos with John. One is down in the cell as Peter and Paul write their final letters. One is by Mary’s side as she leaves the earth. The animals witness the intense persecution of Christians and the horrific games in the arena from Nero to the day Telemachus stands in the arena begging for it to stop.
I highly recommend this book and the entire series!
Spiritual Content Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Peter 1:6-9 - In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Miracle In Music City

“Annabeth and Emily are mad at us,” Maddie said. “You know how we made that dance, since they had one that didn’t include us? Anyway, I guess making our own dance was the wrong thing to do. And then they got even more upset because we’re singing at the Opry. Everything feels, I don’t know. Like how things felt when we first sang our song today. Everything is off-key and out of rhythm. And I don’t know how to fix it.”
Mom’s rock skipped once, and then twice, and she picked up another rock to try again. “Ruby, Annabeth and Emily, plus the concert – that’s a lot of challenges to be thinking about at once.”

Book: Miracle In Music City by Natalie Grant, Zonderkidz, 2016

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 10-14
Subjects: Fear, Homelessness, Love for others, Jealousy, Friendship
Summary: Summer vacation is over and the Glimmer Girls are ready for life to get back to normal. They excitedly greet their friends on the playground, but discover their friends didn’t spend the summer sitting back and waiting for them to get home. They’ve done things together, made a dance together – a dance that has no room for two more. Maddie and Mia aren’t quite sure what to think! It seems their friends are jealous of the adventures they’ve had, jealous and losing interest in them. In the meantime, their mom is recruiting their help with a benefit concert and auction to help a local homeless shelter. The girls find their hearts being impacted as they meet the residents and hear the stories. They are devastated though when the big ticket item for the auction is stolen! It’s time for the Glimmer Girls to put to use those detective skills again and solve the mystery!
Notes: Miracle In Music City is the third in the Glimmer Girls series – a series by music artist, Natalie Grant. She writes a story comparable to her own life – 3 daughters, the oldest two twins, a singer mom, a producer dad. The strength of the story is in the way the family lives out their faith, making it a party of everything they do. It shows young girls asking the kinds of questions girls do at that age and parents giving them the answers they need, directing them to the right source.
In this third book, the twins, especially Maddie, wrestle with questions about friendship and how to truly show love to someone else. Hurt feelings and jealousy are destroying their friendship with the two girls at school they consider their best friends. A girl their age they meet at the homeless shelter creates a longing to reach out and actually make a difference in someone’s life. There is also the issue of fear – Maddie doesn’t enjoy performing the way her sisters do. She gets extremely nervous when she takes the stage. The last issue dealt with is miracles or maybe just the power of prayer and God working in people’s lives. When the guitar for the auction is stolen, it is acknowledged that God knows where it is and can help them find it.
I highly highly recommend this book and the others in the series! They are very well done books that challenge young girls to grow in their faith.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 19:21 - Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion! I greatly enjoyed it!


“Sir Randel Penigree has the purest, the gentlest heart a knight could ever possess. He threatened Sir Sebastien to protect the children, but I know he would never murder anyone. Let his guilt over the accident at Gravensworth be proof enough that he is not capable of such an intentional act of evil.”

“Why would you believe her?” The venom turned Rosalind’s way. “She is no better. Thief! Harlot! Murderer!”

Each word hurled like a dagger. Slow and sure. Straight to Rosalind’s heart.

Book: Courageous by Dina Sleiman, Bethany House Publishers, 2016

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Adventure
Target Audience: Girls and Boys 13+
Subjects: Guilt, Forgiveness, Crusades, Love, God’s Will
Summary: Forward. Ever forward. The words, calmly, purposefully spoken at just the right times when the dark threatens to descend bring encouragement to Rosalind and Rand’s hearts. Thirteen year old Sapphira has led them on this crusade to free captives in the Holy Land. Rosalind and Rand oversee the training, instruction and care of the children on the crusade. They find great comfort in each other’s presence, but neither one will let anyone entirely into their hearts. Guilt over the past is trapping and binding them more than any chains ever could. A dangerous crusade is not the time to lug around extra burdens though, and all too soon, the secrets will spill out and only destruction can follow in it’s wake.
Notes: Courageous is the third in the Valiant Hearts series. This series focuses on showing strong, independent women and the strong men who love them. The author is encouraging young girls to be bold and strong and follow where God leads them and then if/when God brings a knight in shining armor into the picture, to join together in following God.
In this story, the maid to the main character from book two is the heroine. In book two, she made the choice to indulgence in fornication with a young man who had no intention of making a commitment to her. Pressured by her family, she surrendered to an abortion – a decision that left her torn apart by guilt and despair. In hopes of doing enough penance, she joins the crusade, following the vision of a young maiden who dreams of setting free captives.
Sir Randal, the hero of the story, also carries around guilt. His is over a battle gone wrong in which, an attack at the enemy who suddenly approached him wound up being an attack of one of his own men instead, a young man who died as a result. In fact, he was the only one in his group of soldiers who did survive the attack. He feels the need to surrender to his parents’ wishes for him since he failed at his own.
Neither one wants to let themselves fall in love with the other, even though the gentle friendship and support they offer is what sustains them through the journey. An enemy is among them though, an enemy who will stop at nothing to see them destroyed.
The spiritual aspect comes in their accepting God’s forgiveness, God’s redeeming work in their lives. There is also a strong thread of how to know God’s will. The vision of the thirteen year old is taken over by her elders and they question whether or not to listen to her or their own experience. Then she herself questions how to know if she made the right choice or not.
The spiritual threads are strongly woven all through this book and are actually an important part of the storyline itself. I highly recommend this book.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 - Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion! I enjoyed it!

King’s Folly

Monday, May 23, 2016
“Everton staggers!” The man’s voice was raspy yet full of authority. “Armania is falling; the king’s words and deeds oppose Athos, defying his glory. He parades his sins, does not hide it. Five Woes to him! He has brought disaster upon himself and all of Armania. Justice will come from the hand of Athos. Stop, Prince of Armania, and answer for the crimes of your father.”

Book: King’s Folly by Jill Willamson, Bethany House Publishers, 2016

Genre:  Speculative Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 16+
Subjects: Truth, Judgment, Love, Loss
Summary: Whole towns just gone. Yet the earthquakes continue. More and more human sacrifices are offered to the gods yet the earthquakes continue. Prince Wilek longs to be king. Yet, his father refuses to name his heir. All Wilek can do is try to stay on the good side of the monster who sacrificed his little brother to one of his five gods. Treven
assumes he will never be king and focuses on his studies until the beautiful companion to his brother’s betrothed catches his attention. It soon becomes obvious that something more than just earthquakes is happening. Brutal murders occur. Long held secrets begin to be revealed. And rumors increase of the coming of the Five Woes that have long been prophesied. Some want to change the world. Some want to find hope again. Some merely want to survive. All look for truth in a world where the truth has been long suppressed.
Notes: King’s Folly is actually three books combined into one volume. The three were originally released as separate e-books. Now Darkness Reigns, The Heir War and The End of All Things, together make up the first book in the Kinsman Chronicles series.  
This series would be classified as a mixture of fantasy and apocalyptic. The characters are facing the end of their world. There are strange beings and creatures that have supernatural abilities. It’s not really fantasy animals as much as it is two supernatural powers – one good and one evil. And these supernatural powers grant power to humans. The evil power indwells like a demon possession. The good increases an ability beyond what is natural.
The storyline is about the slow unveiling of a one true god who created their land and now brings judgment on it for turning its back on its Creator. It works out the story through two princes trying to survive their father’s impulsive decisions to elevate one son above another at any given time and worse still his willingness to offer as a sacrifice to the gods anyone he is currently displeased with – including a prince.
The story does not yet contain a huge spiritual focus – the characters are just discovering the truth. It is clear that it is developing that way though.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 3/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 2:5 – But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I enjoyed it!

God in the Rearview Mirror

It was the best job I’d ever had. I had enjoyed the last year so much! My class of 21 first and second grade students at the private Christian school was what I thought my goal was. I thought I had achieved the best a Christian teacher could ask for! And apparently the administration thought I was a pretty good one for the job because at the end of the year, they not only renewed my contract, they gave me a raise! The next school year came and I was even more ready this time! Since it was a combined classroom, I already knew half the students and boy was I prepared! Until Friday on the very first week of school when I was called into the office at noon at told I was hired! WHAT?!? I was shocked, confused, horrified, devastated. I pleaded for another chance (not even sure what I had done wrong or what I could change) but the administrator refused to budge. The board had met on Tuesday and voted I would lose my job. Reasons given were: Not using the curriculum correctly (in the first 2 days of school?), and not being “unified” with the staff and administration (huh?). So much for a dream job! Oh the doubts and questions that came. How could I have done enough in two days of school to lose my job? With the help of others connected to the school I put together the pieces and realized it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with money. With a master’s degree I was the highest paid of the teachers hired the year before. A new teacher wasn’t hired, instead one of the two preschool teachers was forced to either quit or move up to my classroom and teach and all the preschool students were shoved into one classroom. But what on earth was God doing? Why did this have to happen? I knew I would never get a job that good again. My days of teaching from a Biblical perspective were over. I’d probably have to go back to being a para-professional in public school again.
Those were my Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday thoughts.
By Tuesday everything exploded. Parents arrived after Labor Day to drop off their students and found their children’s teacher gone with no explanation. Getting no answers from the school, they frantically called me wanting to know what was going on. I explained I had been fired and cited the excuses I had been given – excuses that made no sense to the parents (or me). Upset, one of the parents blurted out, “I wish we could just pay you to teach our kids!”. Hmm… actually… that IS legal in Nebraska. All of a sudden I had another classroom, one with six students – in my own home! Not only could I teach from a Biblical perspective, I could even teach using differentiated instruction the way I had been taught! No restrictions on curriculum, no rules about keeping students at a certain pace. I could teach each and every kid exactly what they needed to learn, when they were ready to learn it and in a way that worked for them! And I could make the Biblical education a huge focus! Soon we were learning to rollerblade in my driveway or taking bike rides to the ice-cream shop as a reward for good behavior or laying under a table painting like Michelangelo! We visited the local library once a week. And students from unchurched homes were memorizing whole passages of Scripture, identifying a summary of all 66 books of the Bible, attending Awana, getting exposure to popular Christian children’s music and reading Christian literature! Our “reading instruction center” was my couch. No more getting up early to make a 30-45 minute trip. No more hauling heavy teacher guide textbooks back and forth every day.

Why this long story on a blog that is supposed to be book reviews?

Because that’s what this book is about. Not my story specifically, but about looking back and seeing “God in the Rearview Mirror”. Losing my job was the worst thing that could have happened to my career… for 4 days. Then it became the absolute best thing that could happen to my career. I can look back and see how God paved the way for an incredible experience for me. What I thought was going to ruin my life actually enriched it and made it more wonderful than I could have imagined! If I continued the story, you could see how that one horrid moment has continued to lead to some amazing experiences.
LaVila Henry has experienced that too. Many a time. She shares in her book how over and over again in her life, things don’t make sense at a certain moment. Sometimes they are merely confusing. Sometimes they are frustrating. Sometimes they seem downright horrible or disastrous. Yet, when she looks back in the “rearview mirror” she can see how God was at work, using the situations to accomplish His will!
Not every event in our life leads to us getting to see how God is working in the midst of it. Some things we may never know until Heaven. And sometimes, the results of sin rear their ugly head and life-altering tragedies happen. We don’t always get to look back in a rearview mirror and see how bad led to good. But those times we can help strengthen our faith and remind us that even in the most horrific of situations, God is still in control. He’s still good and is still completing the work He began in us.

Reading God in the Rearview Mirror is encouraging as you read stories of LaVila Henry’s life. Even more encouraging is when it inspires you to look in your rearview mirror and see examples of what God has done in your own life.

Thanks to my friend Katie for getting me a copy of her aunt’s book!

That’s Not Hay In My Hair

“We are just going to have to take care of the ranch ourselves now!” Mom whooped like a coyote – a very sudden change of attitude.
“What?” I exclaimed.
Now who is going to protect us from the coyotes?
Who is going to rescue us from a stampeding pack of wild hugs?
What is Mom is bitten by a snake in the middle of the night and has to go to the hospital… who is going to drive us?

Book: That’s Not Hay In My Hair by Juliette Turner, Zonderkidz, 2016

Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: Girls 11-13
Subjects: Prayer, Fear
Summary: Twenty-Five, count them, twenty-five thousand pound longhorns. And three horses. And five dogs. And no help caring for any of them. This is the life fourteen year old Jules and her mom left New York City for. When she’s not running from bats or snakes, she’s chasing runaway longhorns or riding out of control horses. School is forty-five minutes away, and that’s after a morning chore routine. One thing is for sure: life could not possibly get any more different from her life in New York. In fact, it could not possibly get any more crazy!
Notes: Written by a seventeen year old, That’s Not Hay In My Hair is a telling of adventures one girl faces moving to a Texas ranch. The focus is the comedic nature of the events Jules faces as she adjusts to her new life. Most of the characters are a little quirky and the situations are twisted to look crazy as well. Things that might be normal occurrences on a ranch are portrayed in such a way as to look comical. There really is not much of any spiritual emphasis in the story. There are a couple references to pray, but the focus isn’t to make a point, the story is merely meant to entertain. In fact, the main character does not know much of anything about the Bible. When asked to identify a favorite verse, she does not know of any.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 1/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 118:6-8 – The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

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

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