Snag: I’m Dreaming Of A Right Christmas

Thursday, December 30, 2010
Only six more shopping days till Christmas, and if I don’t make a dent in my Christmas list pretty soon, I may have to boycott the whole holiday. But doing my own shopping has gotta be different than shopping with the Greedy Gremlins, right?

Book: Snag: I’m Dreaming Of A Right Christmas by Dave and Neta Jackson, Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994
Genre: Adventure/Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 12-16
Subjects: Greed
Summary: More more more! That’s the cry of those around Drea this Christmas. Matt and Rebecca don’t see what good Christmas is if there aren’t a ton of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Arelene Blake helps her parents out – she purchases all her own things for them to get here. Then there’s the giving part of Christmas – how many people does she need to get gifts for and how can she find the time and money for all of them? Then there’s the final problem with this Christmas season: sixty degree weather! Not at all appropriate for Christmas! Drea’s Christmas is hitting a major sang! As usual though, a secret adventure helps straighten out at least a few things.
Notes: This story is based off the Secret Adventures movie: Snag. It teaches a lesson in what true love is – not words, but actions. Drea finds an especially difficult challenge with one person that she has no desire at all to show love to.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 John 3:18 – Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Short Cuts

Book: Short Cuts by Sigmund Brouwer, Bethany House Publishers, 2005
Genre: Adventure/Non-Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 10-14
Subjects: Faith, Overall walk with God
Summary: What if someone provided you with evidence God was not real? Would you believe it? What would it do to your faith? What if someone asked you to do something crazy, perhaps even stupid, but said if you didn’t, you’d be a chicken? Would you do it? What would you do if you had a little brother who was always in the way, popping up unexpectedly at random times, driving you nuts… and you came up with a plan to get rid of him for a short time every day – but that plan involved cheating him – making him do your work for a tenth of the pay? How guilty would you feel?  What would you do if a bully started picking on your little brother and the only way to stop him was to fight him? All these are more are questions Ricky faces in this collection of Accidental Detectives stories.
Notes: This story is a collection of short stories – some are true, some are not. Sigmund Brouwer writes a story about the Accidental Detectives. Then he tells a story from his own life and shares a lesson you can learn from the two stories. There are 11 of these in this book.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 11:6 – 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.

Sir Quinlan And The Swords Of Valor

Quinlan's eyes widened. What was He saying? Surely not...Everything in him wanted to deny what the Prince was asking of him, but he dared not.

Book: Sir Quinlan And The Swords Of Valor by Chuck Black, Multnomah Publishers, 2010

Genre: Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 12-18
Subjects: Faith, Doubts, Leadership
Summary:Twitch is nothing compared to his friend Tav, but somehow he is the one chosen to be a part of the Swords of Valor. It doesn't make sense, especially when he seems to fail at his first important mission. Later though, a Silent Warrior finds him and Twitch, now known as Quinlan begs to be trained so that he can truly serve His Prince effectively. He has no idea to what degree the Prince wants to use him though!
Notes: This allegory fits in the time of the Church, the time between Jesus ascension and His glorious return. It could take place anywhere, any time today. A young man seeks a second chance to serve his Prince. His heart is in the right place, but he is tempted to let fear stop him from doing what the Prince asks of him. It's also an interesting look at what it means to serve God with your heart. Another character also acknowledges the prince with his lips, but his heart serves himself rather than the Prince and when the time comes, the Prince rejects him.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 4:1 - I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Lady Carliss And The Water Of Moorue

“That is absurd!” Si Kon said as he slapped the table. “Didn’t you hear me? No one has ever survived the Despon Swamp!” “I must try, Si Kon. It is Dalton’s only hope.”

Book: Lady Carliss And The Water Of Moorue by Chuck Black, Multnomah Publishing, 2010
Genre: Allegory
Target Audience: Girls 12-18
Subjects: Faith, Doubts, Sacrifice
Summary: Lady Carliss may be great as a Knight of the Prince, but as a woman in love, she’s a mess. Her attraction to Dalton causes her to finally flee his presence, but when he comes after her, he arrives just in time for an attack by a strange lizard that leaves it’s poison spreading through Sir Dalton’s body. Her only hope is to get to Moorue and find a certain flower in time. Doing this may mean sacrificing the lives of many others though. Carliss has some very difficult choices to make.
Notes: This allegory fits in the time of the Church, the time between Jesus ascension and His glorious return. It could take place anywhere, any time today. A young woman seeks to have her whole heart devoted to the King and His Kingdom, but faces the potential for great sacrifice if she does.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 10:38-39 – Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Dangerous Decisions and Hidden Choices

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
So many regrets. So much hurt. Some nights I dream that I’m back in Indy, that I’m here with you. But then I wake up and I remember that I’m here and alone.

Book: Dangerous Decisions and Hidden Choices by Matt Tullos, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boy and Girls 15-18
Subjects: Dating relationships, Friendships, Evangelism, Sexual Harassment, Teen Pregnancy
Summary: Autumn has an amazing opportunity opening up to her. Her big mouth and knowledge of politics has drawn attention to her by a state senate candidate. The only trouble is that he and Autumn may have a slightly different idea of the kind of help Autumn can give him. Autumn discovers this when he makes an attempt to kiss her. Meanwhile Clipper and Jenny are a wreck. Clipper wants so bad to help Jenny, but is marrying her the right way to do it?
Notes: This book shows the importance of putting complete trust in Christ. When things are difficult or confusing, that’s the place to turn for answers. This is book 5 of the Summit High Series a series that shows role model characters who are making right choices or at least coming around by the end.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Quest For The Lost Prince

For six long years, Jova had kept his secret. But now his tribe needed a new king, and he was the only one who knew where their prince had gone.

Book: Quest For The Lost Prince by Dave and Neta Jackson, Bethany House Publishers, 1996
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 10-16
Subjects: Salvation, God’s power
Summary: Jova knows what no one else knows – the prince did not die, but rather he escaped to the world of the white man. Now the current chief is dying and is Jova can not find a strong leader for his people, their enemy will destroy them once and for all. Jova begins a long quest, all the way across the jungle, then all the way across the ocean, then all the way across the country of America to search for Samuel Morris, the lost prince. When he finds what he is looking for, he realizes it is not what he thought he would find.
Notes; This book tells the story of the Samuel Morris. It is #19 in the Trailblazers series, a series designed to introduce readers to famous missionaries throughout history. The authors always have young characters who interact with the missionaries and who the story is centered around. These characters often are helped by the missionary, then learn to understand the heart for the lost themselves.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer:  J:-)mi

1 Timothy 6:13-16 -  I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Light Weaver

The look that came over Consuela caused Punk to stop his antics and ask, "What's wrong?" "I don't know. All of a sudden I feel different. Everything seems more. I don't know, real or something." 

Book: Light Weaver by Thomas Locke, Bethany House Publishers, 1994
Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13-16
Subjects: Faith, Courage, Honor
Summary: Two young people from our world experiencing something crazy. For Consuela it's not that new. She's always been able to escape in her mind to this world. But it's no longer just her imagination. She's somehow really there now. For Daniel it's nuts. He was driving, got into a wreck and woke up here. It's driving the doctor crazy the way both of these patients lie there refusing to wake up - nothing is wrong with them, they just won't wake up for days and days at a time. In the fantasy world they are given important tasks to rescue the Book of Light.
Notes: This is the first in a fun fantasy series about characters who travel back and forth between our world and the fantasy world. It teaches a young boy how to be a man of honor and a young girl how to be a girl of honor. The other books appear more futuristic/sci-fi with a lot of space travel but this first one is simpler, just a fantasy land where animals can talk and the salvation of the world can depend on simple choices.
Recommendation Scale: 2/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 11:6 - 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.

The Cards

Phillip sat for a long minute. His heart raced to keep up with the questions flooding his mind. Was he really going to do this? What were the odds that a little stack of cards could give him the answers and the hope he craved?

Book: The Cards by Bill Myers, Tyndale House Publishers, 1998
Genre: Supernatural/Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13-18
Subjects: Occult, dating relationships, trust in God, outreach
Summary: A hope and a future. Phillip craves this and is desperate enough now to do whatever it takes to get it. When Madame Theo promises hope and a future he can predict and control, he willingly gives himself over to the tarot cards, breaking off the associates they say will hurt him – including breaking up with his girlfriend and pursuing the things it says to. The problem is Madame Theo isn’t who she pretends to be. And the one living in her happens to be quite dangerous.
Notes: This is another book about demon possession and another form of the occult: tarot cards. The character, coming from a difficult home life, is longing for hope and a future, and the tarot cards promise a future and give hope for being able to control it. He has to learn where real hope and a guaranteed future can be found. Just as the others in the series do, this book does a good job looking at how serious the occult is and how seriously powerful God is.
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 Wiccan

She didn't know much about Wicca. She just knew Wicca had something to do with witchcraft. And in a few hours she'd be face-to-face with what's-her-name from The Hex.

Book: The Wiccan by Bill Myers, Tyndale House Publishers, 2003
Genre: Supernatural/Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13+
Subjects: Occult, Spiritual Warfare, Friendship, Wicca
Summary: Rebecca really does not want to go to her best friend's birthday party - but with good reason! The girl who tried to kill her last year will be there and got them all tickets to the occult bookstore where they will meet with the star from the TV Show: The Hex - a show about a girl who promotes Wicca. Becca's friends have all bought into this, even after what Julie experienced she still thinks that this is innocent. After all, the star says it is, so that makes it true right? When Laura asks for help casting a spell, everyone gets a slightly different perspective of Wicca and how "harmless" it is.
Notes: This book brings up a somewhat controversial form of the occult: Wicca. Those who practice Wicca like to claim it is harmless, innocent, good. However, just like any other form of the occult, it is inviting the evil one to take control of your life and as Scotty says in this book: "They're opening themselves up to demons. And demons don't mess around. Sooner or later they'll destroy you".
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Timothy 4:1 - The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Christy Miller’s Diary

Dear Silent Friend, this is the beginning of what I hope will be a long and happy friendship.

Book: Christy Miller’s Diary by Robin Jones Gunn, Robin’s Nest Productions, 2010
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-30
Subjects: Dating relationships, friendships
Summary: Christy Miller is a young girl who has just moved to California from Wisconsin and this is her diary, a sneak peek into her life, from the time she is a sophomore in high school, all through high school and college, through college graduation, getting married, celebrating her first anniversary and on. Christy is a normal girl with hopes and dreams, friends and boyfriends, parents, little brother, and aunt and uncle, choices and decisions. The diary shares her heart through the best and worst times of her life.
Notes: This is a beautiful remake of the original “From the Secret Place In My Heart, Diary of Christy Miller” book published years ago. It includes the original, but also goes on to tell more of her life after that book took place. The best part is that it goes farther in time than any of the other books about the characters from the original Christy Milller series so far. It takes us even a little past the ending of the Katie Weldon series! The spiritual lesson more than anything is to trust God in all the details of life, especially in regard to boyfriends. Christy has to learn that lesson many times over throughout her life, with Todd, Rick, Doug, and finally once again with Todd. The illustrations used to describe her relationship with God are beautiful.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Deuteronomy 4:29 - But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

The Encounter

She began sobbing, “Don’t let me go… don’t let me go.” Rebecca looked on. She wanted desperately to help but knew there was nothing she could do. It wasn’t until Ryan touched her arm and pointed toward the drawing in the dirt and ash that her concern gave way to another emotion. The markings were several inches deep. Only now it was clear they were not drawings. They were words. WE AWAIT AT CABIN

Book: The Encounter by Bill Myers, Tyndale House Publishers, 1995
Genre: Supernatural/Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13+
Subjects: Occult, Spiritual Warfare, Dating Relationships, Role Playing Games/Video Games
Summary: Airheaded Krissy isn’t such an airhead these days. She’s got power and is welding it carefully. Ever since the encounter with the demon in the mansion that used her hand to write messages, she has been pursuing more of the possession, although she does not know that’s what it is. They are disguising themselves as “aliens” that are here to cleanse the planet and are saying that Krissi has been specially chosen. Phillip gets scared though when “an encounter” happens and hours pass that he can not account for. Meanwhile Scotty is fascinated with a video game that Daryl’s cousin has set up. It’s a video game/RPG and Scotty is determined to win – at any cost – any cost.
Notes: This book discusses demon possession, aliens and role playing games. It also continues building the theme of Rebecca’s reluctance to get involved in more spiritual warfare but her responsibility to do whatever it is Christ asks of her. It gets quite intense, scary and graphic at a couple of points but as with the others in the series, it clearly communicates Biblical truth. At the end, as with the others, it also includes a note to readers about spiritual warfare and the occult.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 5:16 - Be very careful, then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.

The Scream

Book: The Scream by Bill Myers, Tyndale House Publishers, 1998
Genre: Supernatural/Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13+
Subjects: Occult, Spiritual Warfare, Temptations, Dating Relationships, Screamo music
Summary: Just as Scotty finishes complaining that they never go anywhere “fun”, tickets to a Scream concert arrive in the mail from Z. He is concerned about one of the band members and feels Rebecca and Scotty can help. Much to Scott’s delight, this means attending their concert, working with the stage crew, attending their parties, and staying in the same kind of luxury they do. Rebecca has the opposite feeling. She’s so tired of the spiritual warfare and isn’t sure she even wants to help these people. Both of the kids will have to undergo a major change in attitude or find themselves powerless to be of any help.
Notes: This book discusses a member of a band that has gotten out of control. In order to be more successful, the band gets the audience riled up, excited, out of control, and almost angry. The special effects the lead singer is bringing in are actually dangerous and the image presented to the crowd by the band is one of sin and lack of any kind of moral conscience. Scotty gets drawn into this world a little too easily and discovers it’s dangers. The other main character, Rebecca quickly discovers the spiritual aspects – the lead singer is a Satanist – the kind of person she is tired of helping. Due to the attitudes of both kids, lessons are taught about both kinds of things. The book did an especially good job with Rebecca’s struggle – judging others and being unwilling to help those that are the most lost. This is the 9th book in the Forbidden Doors series.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Luke 6:37 - “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

The Haunting

`”There is a spirit – the soul of a deceased human – that is trapped in a mansion across town. It desperately wants to be free, to reach its resting place, but it cannot do so on its own. It needs your help.”

Book: The Haunting by Bill Myers, Tyndale House Publishers, 1995
Genre: Supernatural/Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13+
Subjects: Occult, Salvation, Spiritual Warfare
Summary: A middle of the night visitor sets off a chain of events that lead to doubts, belief and near disaster for Rebecca, Scotty and Ryan. “Ascension Lady”, the leader of the local occult movement has come to ask Rebecca for help in freeing a trapped soul. More specifically, she wants her to come to an old mansion known to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl murdered there, and participate in a séance. The more Rebecca looks into it, the more she doubts she own beliefs, putting her in a scary position for spiritual warfare.
Notes: This book dives into the theory of ghosts and ultimately discusses how you can believe the Bible to be 100% truth. It also gets into unforgiveness and the consequences of that. It gets quite intense, scary and graphic at a couple of points but as with the others in the series, it clearly communicates Biblical truth. At the end, as with the others, it also includes a note to readers about spiritual warfare and the occult, as well as a list of verses referenced in the story. This is the 4th book in the Forbidden Doors series.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 9:27 – It is destined that men die only once and after that comes judgment.


Oh, God..." I prayed. I ran frantically toward the house, the wind around me snatching my breath. My wet jeans clung to my legs like ice, hampering my steps. The sound of splintering glass rang in my ears as I shoved open the door. I drew back as shattered fragments slammed against the walls. "My picture! My paintings. They're all I have right now!"

Book: Colleen by Eva Gibson, Bethany House Publishers, 1985
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 18-25
Subjects: Salvation, family relationships, peace
Summary:Colleen is just lost. She can't seem to find her way home. She has run away and can't bring herself to go back to her family. She loves them and knows they love her, but something is missing inside herself and until she finds that, she can not go home. She pours herself into her paintings, but when a storm destroys her home and gallery, she not only loses those she has already done, but the ability to make more. She just can't seem to create anything anymore.
Notes: This book is an interesting look at a character who desperately needs Jesus in her life. The emptiness she feels is portrayed very well. Her lack of ability go back home or to use her talents and paint are just the symptoms of what's really wrong in her heart. The series – SpringSong books is geared at teens supposedly, but the character is an adult – a young adult, but definitely not a teenager.
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi
John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Buckskin Bandit

Note to self: The distance from Willis the Inventor to Willis the Slave is about 20 seconds.

Book: Buckskin Bandit (Winnie the Horse Gentler #8) by Dandi Daley Mackall, Tyndale House Publishers, 2004

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 12-16
Subjects: Relationships with parents and siblings
Summary: Winnie’s dad is off in another world. He’s so focused on his invention he doesn’t even seem to realize Winnie is there. When a school project requires inventing something however, he comes out of his project long enough to help Winnie with her project. The trouble comes when it is her sister that wins. Winnie is being eaten alive with jealousy for wanting her dad’s attention again. Meanwhile a friend asks her to help rescue an abused horse from its owner – without telling any adults what is going on.
Notes: Winnie learns a valuable lesson about jealousy in this book as she focuses more on what everyone else has than on what she has. This is the 8th book in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series, a series of books about a young, motherless girl, who trains horses and struggles to get along as well with people as she does with horses.
Recommendation Scale: 3/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 27:4 - Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?

Gift Horse

“I won’t make you call the vet. But I will make you face reality. That horse is almost guaranteed to die, no matter what we do.” “No!” My chest hurt as if I’d been kicked in the windpipe. Dad went on like he didn’t hear me. “And the longer you hang on to it – her the more pain you’re going to cause yourself and others.”

Book: Gift Horse (Winnie the Horse Gentler #6) by Dandi Daley Mackall, Tyndale House Publishers

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 12-16
Subjects: Relationships with parents and siblings, loss of a loved one
Summary: Christmas isn’t fun for Winnie. It hasn’t been since her mom died a few years ago, but it’s even worse this year. Someone gave her a gift that is a huge reminder of the pain of loss – a horse that is dying – a pregnant horse that is dying, that is likely too weak to carry and deliver the foal. The pain of loss is fresh in Winnie’s mind throughout this story.
Notes: This sad story gives a chance to share the Gospel. A friend of Winnie’s is near and helping work with the horse and Winnie uses the horse situation to illustrate what Jesus did for us on the cross. This is the 6th book in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series, a series of books about a young, motherless girl, who trains horses and struggles to get along as well with people as she does with horses.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

2 Corinthians 9:15 - Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

The Ancients

Book: The Ancients by Bill Myers
Genre: Supernatural fiction
Target Audience: Same as others
Subjects: Occult, friendships, spiritual warfare
Summary: Sometimes the lie has bits of truth woven into it. Sometimes it has just enough to make it look ok. Rebecca, Scotty, Ryan and Mom are sent to a Native American reservation where the tribe is clinging to the ancient ways, particularly the religion their forefathers practiced. Rebecca and Scotty can easily see the evil one’s fingerprints on much of it, but Ryan is so fascinated with the culture he is willing to explore any and all aspects of it that he can. After all, if you just change the wording a bit, their religion could line up with the Bible… couldn’t it?
Notes: This book presents a situation in which the lie looks so much like the truth, a believer is drawn completely into the spirit worship, endangering himself and the others. It’s a focus on how important it is to pay attention to warning signs when it seems something isn’t quite right and carefully hold it up against the Bible, that which you know to be true.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Timothy 4:7 - Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather train yourself to be godly. 


Does he realize what’s going? I want to shake him until his tie flaps like a birds wings! “Wake up!” I scream. Does he see how not normal this is? Does he see Becca’s tiny heart breaking? Does he see me standing here surrounded by everyone and their questions without any answers? But his windows are up, drowning out our pleas.

Book: Angry by Laura L. Smith, Nav Press 2010
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-18
Subjects: Divorce, anger, family relationships
Summary: Her life is being torn apart and no one has solutions. She tries to lose herself in the music, the drama she is performing in at school, but even that can not completely distract from the reality of her parents’ decision to destroy her life. Her anger is growing and consuming her with no end in sight.
Notes: This book takes a hard look at the hard consequences of divorce. It’s also a look at the only One powerful enough to heal a broken heart. Distractions aren’t enough. The character’s anger just grows and gets worse until she lets it go and surrenders it to Christ.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 13:2,5 - How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

Double Shot

I’m almost blinded by tears as I drive. God, this couldn’t possibly be Your will. I sniffle as I drive, swiping away my tears. I feel guilty that Jack is so excited and I am so not. I am shocked that he would even get excited over something that would involve this.

Book: Double Shot by Erynn Mangum, Nav Press, 2010
Genre: Romance
Target Audience: Girls 19-30
Subjects: God’s will, engagement, friendships
Summary: Life is going great. Dreams are coming true and hope is alive and well. Then tragedy strikes a family member and Jack’s dreams come true in the form of an offer that could rock Maya’s whole world. She has no doubt it is not God’s will though. God would not ask something like that of her… would He?
Notes: First, a note about the target audience. As far as I can tell, this book is supposedly for teens, but the character is an adult woman. There are not teens in the story. It’s more a book for young adults – twenties or early thirties. However, as it is marketed to teens and placed with teen books in the bookstore, I’ll review it. Next, this book starts out as just fun to read, but has a tough twist later in the book. Maya is asked to make a very difficult decision and it leads into some interesting looks at how to find God’s will and the sacrifice one sometimes has to make for someone you love.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.

The Deceived

If she had been someone great in a previous life, if she did hold some kind of secret powers, wasn’t it her responsibility to find out?

Book: The Deceived by Bill Myers, Tyndale House Publishers, 1994
Genre: Supernatural/Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13-19
Subjects: Reincarnation, Hypnotism, dating relationships
Summary: Rebecca is excited – very excited! She has been attracted to Ryan since the first day she met him and now he has finally asked her out on a date! Her excitement quickly turns to uncertainty when Ryan takes her to hear a speaker on reincarnation. She shoves aside her doubts however, when this impressive man, reveals that she, Rebecca, was someone very important in her “past life” and has a great future ahead of her. The trouble is that the more convinced she becomes that this is great, the more convinced her family becomes that it is dangerous and wrong.
Notes: Sometimes a lie looks like the truth. And sometimes evil appears as something good.  What Rebecca hears sounds right and certainly seems harmless at first. Later on, it sounds even better than harmless, it sounds wonderful! It takes someone on the outside, someone who has studied the beliefs of Reincarnation carefully and knows how it contradicts the Bible to help Rebecca’s family see the truth. This is the 2nd book in the Forbidden Doors series, a series about the occult. The characters face many unique forms of the occult and learn about spiritual warfare.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 9:27 – Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

On Hope’s Wings

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

Book: On Hope’s Wings by Melody Carlson
Genre: Realistic Fiction (Historical too – setting is in the past anyway)
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 6:2-3 - "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."

The Masquerade

I felt like an alien. I didn’t speak their language and it seemed like when I wasn’t fighting with them I was in isolation zone. I couldn’t stop it. I Told myself I didn’t care, but my heart ached. I felt so alone.

Book: The Masquerade by Sarah Anne Sumpoke, Moody Publishers, 2003
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-19
Subjects: Death of a loved one, family relationships, dating relationships, peer pressure
Summary: Beka’s mom died less than a year ago and things aren’t getting better, but worse. She’s got a secret she’s carried for years that was tearing her apart anyway, but now with her mom’s death she just can’t handle it anymore – anything. She’s angry, crying and screaming at the ones she loves the most, but can not find any way to stop it. Things she never even considered doing before, she suddenly can’t find any reason to say no to. She’s on a course for disaster unless God intervenes and gets a hold of her heart.
Notes: This is a very sad story. Beka’s pain is so strong, so real, that it almost hurts to read the book. Beka is not a Christian, but rather is fighting against it. At the end of the story a very strong Gospel message is presented. I recommend this book for those struggling with doubts about their faith because of the ending. The majority of the book is almost hard to read as you watch Beka suffer and sink deeper and deeper into depression, but the ending is full of hope.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.


She would pack everything up, grab Penny, and go. But where? With no job, no home, where could she and the baby be safe? Would she have to keep running forever? And then, almost through a mist, she heard the voice of Steven Sawyer. “There are few neighbors… the house is in an isolated setting…” A vision of a rustic sanctuary rose before her eyes. But it was insane! She couldn’t do it! And yet, what choice did she have?

Book: Leslie by Jeanne Anders. Bethany House Publishers, 1987
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 18-25
Subjects: Showing love to others, compassion, honesty
Summary: Leslie will do anything to protect the baby of her dead twin sister. When she got word that her sister was gone and the father was in jail but planning to seek out the baby, she knew she had to hide. The problem comes when the doctor who sees Penny right after Leslie rescues her assumes Leslie to the one who neglected her and forces her to end her job – the only hope of providing for Penny. He also offers another option for her though – go and care for his aunt – with the condition that she not reach out to those around her. He wants his aunt to agree to move to the city with him – not find life again in the country. Leslie and his aunt both have too much compassion for the hurting to let it go that easily, but Leslie’s secret and Penny’s safety are at stake if she doesn’t.
Notes: This book is primarily a romance story. The series – SpringSong books is geared at teens supposedly, but the character is an adult – a young adult, but definitely not a teenager. The message running through it is compassion and God’s will. Steven and Leslie both have compassion on the hurting, but Leslie is eager to do something about it and Steven can’t quite get there. It’s kind of complicated, attempting to tie in forgiveness as well, in order to explain why Steven won’t go back and serve the community he was raised in that desperately needs his skills. Overall though it is good, the characters are praying and seeking God throughout the story, making for good role models. The mistakes they make are turned over to God for forgiveness and help in righting them.
Recommendation Scale: 4
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".

Homeward Heart

He looked her up and down, taking in her short white top, her long gauzy Indian print skirt, her ankle-high lace-up boots. He especially stopped to study the dainty silver chain that hung around her waist, and draped through a tiny navel ring. “You can’t possibly be a Christian.”

Book: Homeward Heart by Lissa Halls Johnson, Paladises/Questar Publishing Company, 1996
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 17-19
Subjects: Dating Relationships, Family Relationships, Drugs
Summary: Always somewhere new, never staying in one place for very long – that’s how Maddie has grown up. Now Maddie is grown and is attending college and she has to make some choices. She has become a Christian and wants to live right so she says no to the opportunity to do drugs or anything like that. However she has two people, two guys to be exact telling her conflicting messages. Her boyfriend says she’s saying no to too much. Her coworker at the library says she’s not saying no to enough. How is this girl supposed to figure out what is right and what is wrong?
Notes: This book does a great job discussing the topic of personal convictions. One character harshly judges Maddie, assuming she can’t even be a Christian because of the way she dresses or hangs out with. He doesn’t even want to be associated with her. He can’t see her heart for the homeless or her caring towards those around her because he is too busy being judgmental of her. Maddie however has to learn that sometimes the small things you do send messages you don’t want sent to those around you.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Corinthians 10:23 – Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

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