Lucy Finds Her Way

Sunday, February 28, 2010
Today I thought I'd be creative and write this review in the style Lucy uses - a list!

#1 - Lucy Finds Her Way (Faithgirlz!™ / A Lucy Novel) by Nancy Rue, Zonderkidz, 2009
Lucy Finds Her Way (Faithgirlz!™ / A Lucy Novel) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 11-16 (actually, most adults will enjoy Lucy's story as well!)
Subject: Identity in Christ, Standing up for yourself/friends, How to help friends struggling, The start of middle school
Summary: Lucy's dad is away taking some classes at a school for the blind, Aunt Karen is staying with Lucy and the town is falling apart. Lucy is trying to hard to keep everyone and everything together. She's defending J.J. from bullies at school, trying to convince Veronica that she doesn't like Gabe as a boyfriend even though Gabe flirts with her, protect her cats from Aunt Karen, even explain to the local grocers why she isn't supporting their business (Aunt Karen strikes again)! She may be small, but she's going to try at least, to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders!
Notes: And now for the fun part:
Reasons Why I Like This Book
- Lucy's amazing comittment to J. J.
- Two teachers seeing the truth about Lucy and reaching out to her in support
- Mr. Auggy's ability to see and understand and say just what Lucy needs to hear
- Aunt Karen making a positive difference in a woman everyone else just accepted as beyond help
- Inez fighting for Lucy
- Lucy fighting for Inez
- Mona helping Lucy by hiding her Book of Lists from Aunt Karen for her
- Dusty managing to be a friend to both Veronica and Lucy when the two of them weren't friends
- Dusty being a friend to Veronica in spite of her statement that Veronica refuses to talk to her at least once a week, accusing her of trying to steal Gabe
- Lucy & Gabe reaching an understanding
- (SPOILER ALERT) Aunt Karen saying to Lucy "Tell me who you are"!
In other words, this is an amazing book, just like the rest of the series and I can't recommend it enough! Nancy Rue, you have once again done an amazing job!
Recommendation Scale: 5+
Reviewer: J:-)mi

House of Dark Shadows

Saturday, February 20, 2010
I have hacked into my wife's website and am reviewing a book for her ...
actually she is sitting here forcing me to do this, so here goes...

#1 - House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings) by Robert Liparulo, Thomas Nelson, 2008

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings) 
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Target Audience: Boys, 13-15
Subject: Family Relationships
Summary: The King family has found a new home to move in to when they discover that the house has some added "character" of its own. Mysterious sounds and footprints start showing up and the family works to figure out what is going on. The children then find that some of the rooms have "doorways" into different places or times. These portals lead them on a handful of risky adventures. Who is it that disappeared in this exact house thirty years ago? What did Mr. King know about this house's secrets? And, how can a wrong be forgiven?
Notes: This book is a classic mystery/thriller along the lines of Stephen King, R.L. Stine, Frank Peretti, or Ted Dekker. In fact, it's somewhat like House for teenagers in that the emphasis is on the events in one house. As it is primarily a thriller, there is not a lot of spiritual emphasis outside of when one of the kids ends up in the Coliseum and the challenge to forgive.
Recommendation Scale: 2.5
Reviewer: Gil (under duress :-)

The Last Stubborn Buffalo In Nevada

Thursday, February 18, 2010
And 1 more for the day, just because! ;-)
The Last Stubborn Buffalo in Nevada/Never Dance with a Bobcat/Hawks Don't Say Good-bye (The Adventures of Nathan T. Riggins 4-6)
Genre: Historical
Target Audience: Boys 12-15
Subject: Prayer
Summary: Nathan T. Riggins is now the proud owner of perhaps the last buffalo in all of Nevada. Except... how can you own a buffalo that keeps breaking loose and destroying things and has a whole group of people trying to kill him? So Nathan comes up with another plan: donate the buffalo to the state to put in a zoo! Except... the last time this buffalo traveled anywhere he utterly destroyed multiple train cars! And he doesn't exactly "herd" like a cow or horse! So what is Nathan to do?
Notes: Nathan knows just where to turn when he needs help. And God is right there listening. He doesn't always give exactly what we want, but He is there loving and caring for us. If you enjoy western novels, you'll definitely enjoy the Adventures Of Nathan T. Riggins series! This book is fun, playful, delightful. It's not that intense, it's just a fun read - just like the author's adult novels.
Recommendation Scale: 4 (for fun and lighthearted, but not the most powerful)
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Slowdown at Sears Point, The Mind Siege Project, The Angel of Fire

It's been busy for a while, but I'm back with some new books for you. First up is a NASCAR book, about two young men who get a chance to be a part of a race car driver's team. Next is an intense life or death battle over ultimate truth. Then comes a book that seems to defy genre limitations. It's realistic, but fantasy, but not... read and see what you think it is!

#1 - Slowdown at Sears Point by Ken Stuckey, Baker Books, 1999 

Slowdown at Sears Point
Genre: Sports
Target Audience: Boys 12-18
Subject: Trusting God, helping others, wittnessing
Summary: Two young boys have a chance to be a part of NASCAR racing: Doug and Paolo. Orly Mann, a famous racecar driver has given them a chance to be a part of his team for this race. Both boys are struggling with some things. Doug is trying to figure out why his dad abandoned his family – although his mom claims he didn’t. Paolo is trying to solve a mystery that someone told him could be dangerous. Orly and his crew have to figure out how to fix what’s wrong with Orly’s car before he crashes again.
Notes: You have to like racing to enjoy this book. It's that simple. You don't have to know about it- alot is explained as the book progresses, but you have to want to understand that world. It's the main focus. The story is secondary. The story is fine, it's just not the focus of the book.
Recommendation Scale: For sports fans: 5, for non-sport fans: 1

Reviewer: J:-)mi

#2 - The Mind Siege Project by Tim LaHaye and Bob DeMoss, Thomas Nelson, 2001 
The Mind Siege Project
Genre: Realistic
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 14+
Subject: Truth - ultimate truth, tolerance
Summary: 8 students on a houseboat for 1 week. They have agreed to be a part of a school project for extra credit. Little did they know the project was a battle for life and soul. Teacher teaches and preaches tolerance at all costs. There is no ultimate truth. Right and wrong are up to the individual to decide. Except... when she and her husband give instructions they're supposed to be followed. However, her students have learned well. Right and wrong are up to them. Pretty soon one is in life threatening condition, one wants to commit suicide, two risk their lives trying to save another, no way to get help... but tolerance must prevail!
Notes: This is one of those everyone should read. It's so typical! The teacher says everyone must be tolerant of everyone else, but threatens to take away a Bible when a student reads it in private in a corner during meditation time. The students go with the "no ultimate truth" theory and get hurt because of it. It's just so logical! It's a great picture of what life is like when someone really does try out this worldview. The ending is pretty awesome too! It's just about the best ending the book could possibly have!
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

- The Angel Of Fire by Lena Wood, Standard Publishing, 2006   Angel of Fire (Elijah Creek & the Armor of God)  Genre: Realistic + Spiritual sort of fantasy/allegory - kind of hard to define   Target Audience: Boys 15-19   Subject: Spiritual Warfare - Armor of God  Summary: Elijah and his clan have found so much of the Armor of God, but clues to finding the last pieces seem to be non-existent. That's not all Elijah is struggling with though. The reality of high school and a mom who isn't a believer is wearing him down. When one thing after another seems to go wrong with life, Elijah retreats to the woods where he gets in a major accident and begins an intense spiritual battle.   Notes: This book was fascinating. It compels you, draws you in. You can't understand it all without the context of the earlier books in the series, but the story that takes place in The Angel Of Fire is well done. You feel the characters' struggles. The spiritual realm isn't something normally dealt with in teenager books, but Lena Woods writes it well. Primarily because of this aspect of the story, I highly recommend it.   Recommendation Scale: 4.5   Reviewer: J:-)mi

Rite Of Brotherhood

Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Ever heard of Warriors: Cats of the Clan?
Did you know that one of the authors of that series wrote science fiction too under a different name?
Check out today's book to read her sci-fi works!

#1 - Rite of Brotherhood (Saga of the Six Worlds) by Cherith Baldry, Chariot Books, 1990
Genre: Sci-fi
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 11+
Summary: Aurion's home on the six worlds is being taken over. They are a peace-loving nation. They follow and serve the one true God. Other nations don't feel that way. Tar-Askans worship the god of power and war: Askar. However, they are willing to accept a hostage as a sign that Two Islands will not fight the takeover. Aurion, being the king's son, is the hostage. When he arrives in Tar Askans he begins the attempt to make peace and friendship with Arax, the son of the king of Tar-Askans. Arax tolerates him, but to save the world from the war Tar-Askans wants to have, he will need to do more than be tolerated. He needs to change the hearts and minds of the people, especially those in power!
Notes: This is one of the books in the Saga of the Six Worlds series. It is also published under the title Hostage Of The Seas.
The story isn't that complex, but it is definitely an enjoyable read.
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

The Battle Of Trickum County

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Standard Publishing sent me some books to review (Thank you!) so you will be getting a few of those for a couple of days. Here's the first one: an adventure story for boys about a boy who lives with a circus.

#1 - The Battle Of Trickum County, Standard Publishing, 2007

The Battle of Trickum County (Caleb Pascal & the Peculiar People) 
Genre: Adventure & Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 12-15
Subject: Salvation, relationships with non-believers, attitudes towards those who are different, spiritual warfare
Summary: The Circus isn't doing so great at the moment! Another circus, a not-so-good one is sneaking ahead of them, stealing their territory. There are also problem within the circus itself. Twin seems to be getting more and more consumed with these supernatural beings he is serving. Thad is in great danger. And someone seems to be deliberately sabotaging their train!
Notes: Caleb Pascal & the Peculiar People is both intense and light-hearted. The writing is definitely more focused on the adventure, moving the story along, then on dwelling on the hurt or pain of the characters. But the hurt and pain is there. We get just enough glimpses to make this book extremely realistic, although, quite a different lifestyle than the average teenager leads. In this particular book there is a demon-possessed man wanting the bones of a young boy, multiple people who are not saved but are facing life or death situations, and prejudice talk towards those considered to be "freaks". The need to be saved is communicated very clearly multiple times in the book. The Christian characters are dealing with forgiveness and love for enemies. I definitely recommend this book for young boys wanting to read of a good adventure and for those needing to hear good Biblically-based teaching!
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Newspaper Caper

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Book: Newspaper Caper by Max Elliot Anderson, Tweener Press, 2004
Newspaper Caper (Tweener Press Adventure Series #1)
Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: Boys 10-13
Subjects: Trust in God, responsibility, helping others
Summary: Tom, Matt and Jim stumble across what looks to be a group of criminals stealing cars for a chop shop as they do their newspaper route. When they hear the sad story of how much one lady's stolen car had meant to her, they begin to take matters into their own hands.
Notes: This is the first book in the Tweener Press Adventure series by Max Elliot Anderson. The books are specifically targeted for boys who don't like reading.
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Out With The In Crowd

Monday, February 1, 2010
Today's review is of a new book that Revell Books publishing company gave me for free in exchange for a review!
Thank you Revell!

#1 - Out With The In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill, Revell, 2009
Target Audience: Girls 16+
Teen pregnancy, divorce, dating relationships - including petty games of boyfriend stealing, fashion, school, friendships, trying to live as a witness to non-believers, forgiveness of those who've hurt her, there's alot in this book!
How can I trust? My parents promised to love each other and look where they're at!
That's what this book all boils down to. Skylar doesn't know how to open up to her boyfriend, how to trust him when the girl who stole her last boyfriend starts making moves on Connor too. And Skylar doesn't know how to decide anything. Her mom says not to arrange her life around a guy - look where it got her. Yet, Connor is the one who's been there for her through all this mess. How can she leave him? And that's just what her mom wants: Skylar to leave - move to Hawaii with her. Skylar just wants to be a teenager, but refereeing with her parents, parenting her younger sister who is pregnant, preparing for her sister's baby, trying to change herself into someone who is responsible with school and is kind to others, and trying to learn not to be obsessed with fashion, sometimes it's all just too much.

The key to this story is where Skylar is going to turn for answers. She makes attempts to turn to God, but doesn't seem to have the whole "give it all to God" thing mastered yet. She's really trying to balance it all on her own. And it clearly doesn't work. There's only so much one person, let alone a highschooler can handle. When we see Skylar shopping for baby clothes and diapers and car seats because her mom isn't there, her dad isn't doing anything and her sister just checks out when she's stressed, it's a pretty extreme picture. I'd recommend this book to any adult actually. It's an interesting look at how choices the parents can make impact the kids. The parents are trying to do what they think is right, but their choices have impacts far beyond themselves.
Recommendation Scale: 4 for a highschooler, 5 for a parent
Reviewer: J:-)mi

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