Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Thursday, April 29, 2010
Throw pumpkin goop all over them? Wear atrocious outfits to a fancy dinner? Register her for the most ridiculous things in the store? These are all strategies today's character is willing to try in order to destroy the relationship between her dad and future stepmother!
#1 - Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt, FaithWords, 2009
Miracle Girls #2: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: A Miracle Girls Novel
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-18
Subjects: Loss, Relationships with parents, friendships, dating relationships
Summary: Christine needs creative ideas for how to destroy relationships. Her dad is engaged to another woman and it's barely been over a year since her mom died! Then there's the Miracle Girls. They seem to be splitting apart just when Christine needs them the most. Riley and Anna are bickering over who has the best grades, all the girls are getting involved with guys and activities that are pulling them different directions. Who can Christine turn to when she needs support?
Notes: Christine has turned away from God. She says her mom was a religious person, but she isn't interested in that. The car crash claiming her mom's life is proof of that. She does come to acknowledge Him a little bit more by the end of the book, but that's not the focal point. The characters' faith is more secondary to the story line, barely there.
Recommendation Scale: 3
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Truth Or Dare

How many of you played truth or dare as a child? An innocent game right? When Lindsay and her friends play it turns a lot more serious. 

#1 -  Truth or Dare by Nicole O'Dell, Barbour Publishing, 2009
Scenarios 1: Truth or Dare (Scenarios for Girls)
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Choose Your Own Adventure
Target Audience: Girls 13-16
Subjects: Alcohol, friendships, relationships with unbelievers, dating relationships, relationships with parents
Summary: The summer is over and the girls are officially 8th graders and way beyond ready for it! Or so they think... When their weekly sleepovers gain a new custom: playing truth or dare, they discover they aren't quite as mature as they thought. Lindsay wants to live out her faith among her friends, but she also wants to keep their friendship. Kelly isn't so sure Lindsay should have both. It's time for Lindsay to decide. Or maybe it's time for you to decide! Written as extremely simplified "Choose Your Own Adventure" style book, you get to decide what choice Lindsay makes and then read the consequences of that choice.
Notes: Nicole O'Dell is trying something a bit unique. Choose Your Own Adventure books have been around for a long time, but not in book targeted to Christian Teen Girls! It's not an adventure story, just typical realistic fiction, but it has the choose your ending format. Interestingly, she eventually shows Lindsay making good choices and receiving good consequences from either ending option. It would be neat to see her explore this genre a bit more, make a few more options throughout the story. It does get a little stereotypical for a bit of it, but outside of that it is pretty good!
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

The Case Of The Giggling Ghost

Monday, April 26, 2010
Darcy wants that helping Mrs. Pendleton is the right thing to do, but how can she convince her friends when they all believe the old house is haunted?

#1 - The Case Of The Giggling Ghost by Linda Lee Maifair, Zondervan Publishing, 1993
The Case of the Giggling Ghost (Darcy J. Doyle, Daring Detective, No. 3)
Genre: Mystery
Target Audience: Girls 13 and younger
Subjects: Helping others, siblings, truth
Summary: Darcy has made arrangements for her group to help clean the inside of Mrs. Pendleton's house next week, but when someone suggests the house may be haunted everyone backs out except her. Can she use her detective skills to prove the house is not haunted or will the Willing Workers remain unwilling to help Mrs. Pendleton?
Notes: This is a cute book, but it does not really deal with the issues that much. It doesn't deal with the fact that there is no such thing as ghosts, it doesn't deal with the bad attitude some of the other kids have towards helping others, etc. It does throw in a reference to Psalms 23 and trusting God when afraid.
Recommendation Scale: 2
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Mandie And The Secret Tunnel

A young girl's father dies, her mother sends her off to work as a servant, and when she finally escapes she finds that almost everything she knew to be true about her family was based on a lie!

#1 -  Mandie And The Secret Tunnel by Lois Gladys Leppard, Bethany House, 1983
Mandie and the Secret Tunnel (Mandie, Book 1)
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Adventure
Target Audience: Girls 8-13
Subjects: Loss, God's love, family relationships, friendships
Summary: Mandie's father has just died and her mother can not afford to care for both her and her sister, so she sends her off to work as a servant. When that family talks about getting rid of her too, Mandie has her father's friend, "Uncle Ned", take her to her real uncle's house - the uncle she just learns existed. However, when she gets there she finds a few mysteries and make a few discoveries that reveal secrets hidden since her birth.
Notes: This, the first book, in the Mandie series is actually quite good. Eventually the series gets somewhat tiring as the character never grows or matures, but each book if taken in of itself is good. Mandie learns a valuable lesson about trusting God in this book. When her father dies she takes that as a sign that God does not love her any longer. Later, she recalls a memory verse "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" and realizes God never left or stopped loving her just because bad things happened. He was still there, loving and caring for her in the midst of the pain. 
Also, this book has recently been made into a movie - as usual, the story has quite a few differences, but is taken for itself and not compared to the book, it is pretty good - some poor acting by one actor in particular, but otherwise ok.
Mandie and the Secret Tunnel 
Recommendation Scale (book): 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Land Of The Pharaohs

Saturday, April 24, 2010
A chapter book with about as many pictures as a picture book! 
Ideal for early or struggling readers!

#1 - Land of the Pharaohs by David Hernandez, Tommy Nelson Publishing, 2003
Land of the Pharaohs (The Adventures of Toby Digz)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy (The characters go back in time and the focus is on learning the history rather than the fanciful way of getting back in time)
Target Audience: Boys primarily, but some girls as well, 10-14
Subjects: Friendships, trust in God, history of the Exodus
Summary: Toby Digz and his friends take a trip back in time to Egypt in the time of the Exodus to learn about the country, the time period, the event and a few things about God Himself.
Notes: This book is written in such a way as to be fiction, learning about history. It reminds me alot of the secular books: The Magic Tree House series, but focusing on Biblical history rather than more recent history. It would be an excellent book for a struggling reader - short chapters, large text, pictures to help explain the story, but still a chapter book rather than a little kid's book.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Red Velvet

How do you deal with the potential death of a loved one? This book shows how two characters respond to their mothers undergoing treatment for cancer.

#1 -  Red Velvet by Sandra Byrd, Bethany House Publishers, 2005
Red Velvet (Friends for a Season)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-20
Subjects: Death/potential death of a loved one, friendship
Summary: Quinn and Annie meet at a center for families to stay at while someone is being treated for cancer. Each girl is facing the possibility of losing her mom to it, especially Quinn. When Quinn discovers a list of things her mom wants to do before she dies, her brother thinks they should help her do them. Since the list was written years ago when her mom was young, Quinn is afraid that by doing these things, it is giving their mom permission to die.
Notes: Sandra Byrd does a really good job with her books, portraying a Biblical perspective on the issues of life. This is one of the books in the Friends For A Season series, a series focused on teen girls being drawn together because of something, then moving apart again, but changed because of their friendship with each other and the way they have helped one another grow closer to Christ.
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Finding Hollywood Nobody

Life in a trailer traveling from movie set to movie set with your grandmother can be quite exciting sometimes!

#1 - Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson, NavPress, 2008
Finding Hollywood Nobody (Hollywood Nobody Series, Book 2)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-18
Subjects: Faith in God, prayer, parents, crushes, popularity (hollywood)
Summary: Scotty and Charley are at a movie set in Texas. Scotty is finding new friends, getting some education in music to fulfill credits for her homeschooling, and trying to figure out how to deal with her feelings towards Seth who seems to like Karissa. When Biker Guy makes a few appearances and Charley starts running scared and tragedy strikes a new friend, Scotty turns to God wanting to know if He will listen and answer her.
Notes: The story of Scotty's spiritual journey is fascinating. Lisa Samson takes a unique look at what it means to become a Christian as she portrays Scotty's attempts to understand faith and all the different lingo that Christians use.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Secret Of The Missing Teacup

A book for younger readers, a young boy serving the president's family has to figure out if God listens to prayers of little boys as much as important people like presidents.

#1 - The Secret Of The Missing Teacup by Marianne Hering, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1998
Secret of the Missing Teacup (White House Adventures Series)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 8-13
Subject: Prayer
Summary: A little boy living at the time of John Adams' presidency has an opportunity to work for the president's family in hopes of earning enough money to provide for his family while his dad is missing. He isn't sure that God will answer his prayers, but feels sure God will answer the prayers of important people like the president's family. 
Notes: This story is part of a series called White House Adventures, books that take a look at life in the time period of various presidents. In this story, a young boy learns a bit about prayer. 
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

The Winter Of Candy Canes

Friday, April 23, 2010
Christmas is the season for joy, but for some the difficulties of life make it a bit hard to be joyful.

#1 - The Winter Of Candy Canes by Debbie Vigue, Zondervan, 2008
The Winter of Candy Canes (Sweet Seasons Novel, A)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-20
Subjects: Loss, love for others, God's will
Summary: Candance is once again working at The Zone, this time as an elf during the Christmas season. With the joys of Christmas come the realization that not everyone has the blessings she has. Candance wonders if there is something she can do to make a difference in the lives of others. 
Notes: This is the 3rd book in the Sweet Seasons series, a story about a young girl trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life and more importantly, what direction God is leading her. This series is quite enjoyable and fun to read. However, it is not all that deep spiritually.
Recommendation Scale: 3.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

The Mystery Of The White Elephant

Here is another review from one of my students! 
Please welcome Miss Samantha and leave a comment telling her what you think of the book she reviewed!

#1 - The Mystery Of The White Elephant by Elspeth Campbell Murphy, Bethany House Publishers, 1994
The Mystery of the White Elephant (Three Cousins Detective Club #1) (Book 1)
Genre: Mystery
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 8-13
Subjects: Showing love to others
Summary: The Mystery of the White Elephant is about 3 cousins who go on a search for a white elephant cookie jar because Mrs. Foster's friend took it from the swap meet.
Notes: God is showing love and grace in this book
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: Miss Samantha!

My Life As A Screaming Skydiver

Today's entry is the another in the series of entries done by some amazing students from a school I volunteer at! 
Today's guest writer is Mr. Noah!
Leave comments to tell him how good he did and whether or not you'd like to read his book!
#1 - My Life As A Screaming Skydiver by Bill Myers, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998
My Life as a Screaming Skydiver (The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle #14)
Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: Boys 9-15
Subjects: Taking responsibility for your choices
Summary: This is a story about a kid named Wally. Wally goes to his friend's birthday party and they play lazer tag. While Wally is there he gets messed up in this agent thing and then things get a little messed up!
Notes: The lesson I learned was that you should take the blame for what you do and not blame someone else.
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: Mr. Noah

Asking For Trouble

When you know a secret that could put you in the spotlight do you tell it?

#1 - Asking for Trouble by Sandra Bryd, Tyndale House Publishers, 2010
Asking for Trouble (London Confidential)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-19
Subject: Secrets, popularity, friendships
Summary: Savvy is an all American girl - trapped in London. Her family has decided to move to a new country where no one in her new school wants to be friends - or give her a chance at the school newspaper! Savvy knows she has alot to offer, but it seems no one wants to give her the chance to prove it.
Notes: This is the first book in a new series - London Confidential. In this book Savvy has to make a choice about the price of popularity. She has multiple chances to force her way to the front by telling a secret, but the price may not be worth it. She has to decide when it is appropriate to share a secret and when it is appropriate to keep it. One person points out to her that doing something good in secret does not mean you are not rewarded, it means that God, who sees what is done in secret will do the rewarding and praising rather than people.
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

The Creepy Sleepover

Monday, April 19, 2010
Today's entry is the first in a series of entries done by some amazing students from a school I volunteer at! 
Some of these books are a little young, some teens may think too young for them, but as they are chapter books and fun stories I'm going to include them. 
Today's guest writer is Miss Christina! 
Leave comments to tell her show good she did and whether or not you'd like to read her book!

#1 - The Creepy Sleepover by Beverly Lewis
The Creepy Sleep-Over (The Cul-de-Sac Kids #17) (Book 17)
Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: 8-13
Subjects: Trusting in God
Summary: Dunkum Mifflin has finished reading his twenty-fifth book. The teacher has a sleepover at her house. She reads a poem called The Raven. The class goes to sleep. Dunkum wakes up and sees weird shadows and hears strange noises!
Notes: The lesson in this book is about being afraid and trusting God.
Reviewer: Miss Christina!

The Mystery Of The Yellow Hands

What do you do when you have gotten so good at your job as a detective that you're popular and can't investigate without people knowing what you're doing? You hire some street kids to sneak around for you and report what they observe! 

#1 - The Mystery Of The Yellow Hands by Jake & Luke Thoene
The Mystery of the Yellow Hands (Baker Street Detectives)
Genre: Mystery, Adventure
Target Audience: Boys 11-15
Subject: Showing God's love to others
Summary: Danny, Peachy and Duff are orphans in London who get recruited by Sherlock Holmes to help solve the mystery of the children being kidnapped all around London. Before they can solve the mystery the boys find opportunities to share God's love with others, and rely on God to be with them, watching over them.
Notes: This is the first in the Baker Street Mysteries series, stories about young boys who can travel more freely around London than Sherlock Holmes and are thus employed by him to be his assistants. 
This book is primarily adventure focused - moving from one action packed event to the next. However, there are a couple of times where the spiritual theme is focused on.
Recommendation Scale: 2.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi 


Sunday, April 18, 2010
Two girls, the same dream, different needs. Only one can win. 

#1 - Chopstick by Sandra Byrd, Bethany House Publishers, 2005
Chopstick (Friend's for a Season)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-20
Subject: Love for others, friendships, humility
Summary: Paige and Kate have the same dream - to win the singer-songwriter contest. Only one person can win though. The two girls each have reasons to win. Paige needs to be somebody in her family, needs to succeed at something. Kate needs to be able to buy Christmas presents for poor children without getting handouts from a snotty lady at Church. When a guitar sale brings them together, a friendship is born, a friendship tied to a competition they are both desperate to win.
Notes: Each girl has to learn what it means to truly show love, unselfish love to the other. They are challenged greatly in their journey together. The story of their learning about love leads them all the closer to the One who loves them the most. 
Recommendation Scale: 4.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

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