Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book

Saturday, June 26, 2010
Which is worse? Living with the dad she thought was dead or living with a bipolar mom who only has two phases: in-bed, and no-bed.

Book: Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book [Real Life] by Nancy Rue, Zondervan, 2010
Motorcycles, Sushi& One Strange Book (Real Life)
Genre: Realisitic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-18
Subject: Mental Disorders, Relationship with Parents, Word of God, Friendships
15 year old Jessie lives in Atlanta with her bipolar mom. Life is hard, but it is all she has ever known so it seems normal. When a tragedy puts her mom in the hospital the bipolar is discovered and Jessie is sent to live with her dad in Florida while her mom gets the help she needs. The problem is that until a day ago she did not even know her dad was alive. Her world may be strange, but it is comfortable and familiar. So she makes a determination: Toss out her ADHD meds and use her disorder to drive her dad crazy enough to send her home. Can she survive living with this dad and her half-sister until then? Will a strange book that seems to speak directly to her make a difference?
Notes: As usual, Nancy Rue has done an amazing job! Jessie’s life is portrayed as very difficult, but in reality, it is all too common in today’s world. Children living in broken homes with parents who aren’t getting the help they need, whether that be because of an illness like Bipolar Disorder or a drug problem or lack of time to devote to their children due to work, is not at all unusual. Many teens can find themselves relating to Jessie and her life. Another strong point is that even though it is very realistic, it isn't dirty. There aren't things that would be worried about younger teens reading. The spiritual aspect comes in a book Jessie finds that is a Bible in a modern paraphrase, but goes beyond that to actually supernaturally speak directly to them. Nancy Rue, in the back of the book, writes about how the Bible really is like this in our lives, even if it doesn’t answer direct questions like this book sometimes seems to, it does give us direct guidance for our lives. Jessie finds challenge, comfort, encouragement and wisdom from God through her reading of the book, just as the Bible does for us.
I highly recommend this book!
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Thanks to Zondervan & Nancy Rue for sending me a copy of this book to review!

Hebrews 4:12 – For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Owling

Sunday, June 20, 2010
"Either we run back home to hide and pretend everything Master Jesmet told us about the Maker was a joke, or we go out and tell people the truth."

Book: The Owling by Robert Elmer, Zondervan, 2008
The Owling (The Shadowside Trilogy, Book 2)
Genre: Allegory/.Sci-Fi
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13-20
Subjects: Faith in God, persecution, racism against different people groups
Summary: Jesmet has risen from the dead and His followers rejoice! But hard times are ahead. A choice must be made: keep silent about what they have seen and survive, or risk getting in huge trouble to tell the world about Jesmet and the Owlings. A charismatic new leader comes in wanting Ori to share everything in order to help the Owlings. Can she be trusted? Do they do as Jesmet said and wait for Numa or is this new leader perhaps the Numa they were to wait for?
Notes: This book is amazing! The allegory of Christ’s followers right after His resurrection is amazing. Numa is the Holy Spirit. His followers lived in a world where it was not ok to share truth, most died for sharing the truth. These characters too risk their very lives if they decide to share the truth of what they learned.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Who Made You A Princess?

Saturday, June 19, 2010
Dating the heir to the crown may be more trouble than Shani realized!

Book: Who Made You A Princess by Shelley Adina, Faith Words, 2009
Who Made You a Princess? (All About Us, No. 4)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-19
Subjects: Dating, relationships with parents, salvation, friendship
Summary: When the guy she likes sends signals of "not interested" Shani agrees to go out with Rashid al Amir, the new guy at school AND the heir to the crown in his country! She gets a bit more than she bargained for when she learns that his family and hers are already tied together in business and arranged marriages and she is next in line! 
Notes: This one does a pretty good job including the Christian elements. Shani realizes her need is to be a princess of God rather than of Rashid. 
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 John 3:1 - How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Out of Time

Monday, June 7, 2010
The earth is turning itself inside out!

Book: Out Of Time (Perimeter One Adventures) by David Ward, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994
Genre: Science Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 14 and up
Subjects: Trust in God
Summary: A famous and beautiful, but spoiled scientist is ready for her demonstration to the public. Or so she thinks. One minor glitch causes an extreme explosion and she somehow manages to create a rift in time. Now the earth is turning itself inside out and destroying itself in the process. Thankfully, her theories were not entirely her own. They were based off the work of a friend of Chris and he and Chris are called in to attempt to literally, save the world. The question is can they figure out exactly  what this scientist was doing and reverse it in time to save the planet?
Notes: This book is true sci-fi. I didn’t understand most of it! For those out there who are science fans and like to wonder about the “what if”s of space and time, you’ll be delighted with this book. For those like me who don’t understand a bit of it, well you might want to select a different book ;-)
It does do a good job including spiritual elements. The character who has the potential to save everyone is a new Christian and is just learning things like turning to God and asking him for help or praising Him for His amazing creation.
Recommendation Scale: For those who enjoy the genre: 5, for those who don’t: 1
Reviewer: J:-)mi
Psalm 46:1-3 – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountain quake with their surging.

The Missing Video

Arrested in Cuba by a communist government for preaching, will they ever get home again?

Book: The Missing Video by Dave Gustaveson, YWAM Publishing, 1993
The Missing Video (Reel Kids Adventures) (Reel Kids Series)
Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 12-16
Subjects: Persecution, Missions
Summary: The Reel Kids are on a trip to Cuba where they film different aspects of a culture and it's history for school credit. However, they have another purpose: preaching the Gospel. They have made arrangements to share their testimonies in various Churches. When they see how hungry the people are for the Gospel, they can't help sharing outside of the Church, and beyond just their personal testimonies. The Cuban government doesn't like this violation of their rules and arrests them, denies them any right to a telephone or way to contact America and beats one of the new Cuban believers. How can the Reel Kids get out of Cuba?
Notes: This book is a good picture of the persecution people all over the world face when they choose to become Christians. Many countries now and/or in the past show little tolerance for the Gospel. This fictional story does a good job of showing how serious it is. Although, they make it seem a bit fake by allowing the kids to continue preaching even after being arrested. They are let out and allowed to go to Churches to share their testimonies even when the officials don't like it. 
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 5:10 - Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Danger on the Flying Trapeze

"Everything seemed strangely quiet... then he heard the band strike up "Stars and Stripes Forever" - the circus code that there had been an accident."

Book: Danger On The Flying Trapeze by Dave and Neta Jackson, Bethany House Publishers, 1995
Danger on the Flying Trapeze: D. L. Moody (Trailblazer Books)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 10-16
Subjects: Fear, the power of God to change lives
Summary:Casey’s life is a mess. He’s spending all his time hiding from the truant officer at school and being angry at his aunt and uncle for selling his family’s farm and moving them to Philadelphia. When he runs into the elephant trainer fro the circus he signs himself and his mom up for jobs working at the circus, doing things they love. However, Casey soon learns that it’s not all fun and games when he gets an opportunity to do an act on the flying trapeze. It’s fun at first, but then he becomes too scared to do it again. When D. L. Moody uses the circus tent for one of his meetings, Casey tries to get a job with him in hopes of getting out of doing his act again.
Notes: This book tells the story of the Dwight L. Moody. It is #15 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
Reviewer:  J:-)mi

2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.

Traitor in the Tower

Political unrest is causing all sorts of innocent people to be thrown in jail, including his own father!

Book: Traitor in the Tower by Dave and Neta Jackson, Bethany House Publishers, 1997
Traitor in the Tower: John Bunyan (Trailblazer Books #22)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 10-16
Subjects: Trust in God, Persecution
Summary: Traitor in the Tower by Dave and Neta Jackson, Bethany House Publishers, 2997
Richard is scared. His dad has just been arrested, the buried body of Oliver Cromwell dug up and hung on the gallows and warnings are being issued all over the country to any who would dare defy the king. Fleeing London, he stays with his uncle, a jail worker in a nearby town. While helping his uncle he meets John Bunyan, a religious prisoner who dares to preach without a license. John Bunyan could be set free at any time. All he has to do is agree to stop preaching. However, he refuses to do so and just preaches from jail. Bunyan helps Richard with his fears for his father and family through the allegorical stories he tells.
Notes: This book tells the story of the famous author of Pilgrim’s Progress: John Bunyan. It is #22 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.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 5:10 - Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Always Watching

Someone out there is watching Shaley "always watching" to be exact.... 
and it terrifies her!

Book: Always Watching by Brandilyn Collins and Amerly Collins, Zondervan, 2009
Always Watching (Rayne Tour, The) 

Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Target Audience: Girls 16-19
Subjects: God always watching over us, fear, parent relationships
Summary: Dead. Her best friend on the tour is dead. And she was the one who found him. She’ll never forgot the look of that eye…
Brandilyn is the daughter of a rock star and one night towards the ends of her mom’s performance, she walks into a room looking for her friend and finds him dead. The police investigation begins and soon more threats start to come, against her this time. Apparently Tom’s death has something to do with her. Shaley’s best friend Brittany has a sixth sense about things and is seems to her that she is being warned that something might happen to Shaley. The clues seem to indicate the same thing. But who? And why? Can they find out in time to prevent Shaley’s death?
Notes: This book is a teenage thriller, not too intense, but definitely focused on the murder mystery and messed up minds. The killer’s thoughts are shown throughout the story and it is obvious that he is not only dangerous because of his willingness to kill, but also because of the instability of his mind.
The message in this book is that the killer isn’t the one always watching, God is. He’s always there watching over her, even when it doesn’t seem like it. It’s not real deep, the point of the story in the intensity, not the message, but it is there.
Recommendation Scale: 3
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 13:5 - ...God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you".

The Miracle Girls: A Novel

What are the chances that everyone in detention on a random day have come back from the dead? At Half Moon Bay, pretty good!

Book: The Miracle Girls, a Novel, by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt, FaithWords, 2008
The Miracle Girls: A Novel (Miracle Girls Novels)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-18
Subjects: Relationship with parents, friendships, dating
Summary: This is the beginning of the story of the miracle girls. Four girls sent to detention on the same way are given a crazy assignment by the teacher monitoring them. Then they are forced to read the assignment aloud to each other. The assignment is an essay on “the day my life changed”. As it turns out, each girl has had a near-death experience. Each was in some accident that guaranteed their death, yet survived. And as the series progresses, we learn that each girl is also searching for why. This story focuses primarily on Ana, a girl who is new to the school and town. When one of the girls determines they should all be friends, Ana is all for it. Having friends again would be great. Home life isn’t so easy though. Her beloved nanny is ill and moving back to her home in Mexico. Her mom is determined to embarrass her by throwing a quince to outrival all parties, complete with a throne, a ballroom and six hundred guests! Her dad isn’t satisfied about her grades, demanding she be top of her class. And both parents are determined to make sure she has absolutely no social life whatsoever! (At least that’s her interpretation!) When Ana rebels with the miracle girls though, things spin out of control quite fast.
Notes: As with the other books in the series, it is implied that the solution to one’s problems are a good set of friends and staying true to them, rather than trusting Christ to take care of them and staying true to Him. This is the first in the Miracle Girls series.
Recommendation Scale: 2
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast your burdens on Him for He cares for you

The Angel And The Cross

Who is working for who? And what do they want with him anyway?

Book: The Angel And The Cross by Sigmund Brouwer, Harvest House Publishers, 2005
The Angel and the Cross: A Supernatural Adventure (Brouwer, Sigmund, Guardian Angel.)
Genre: Supernatural, Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 11-15
Subjects: Faith in God, history, Salvation, trust - knowing who to trust
Summary: It’s the year of our Lord – literally. It’s the year Jesus died on the cross for our sins. The setting is Palestine. The character is a young boy, a young Roman boy, the son of a legion commander. He has been chosen as a pawn in the war between the Zealots and the Romans. Each side is determined to use his to achieve their goal and will use kidnapping, poisoning, betrayal and any other means available to get their way.
Notes: As usual Sigmund Brouwer has a young boy who is not a believer interact with a young girl who is. Neither one is ready to trust the other one, but the boy sees something in the girl’s faith that he desires for himself and learns that even if he can’t trust her, he can trust the One she serves.
However, unlike his others, this one is poorly written. This is the only book in the Adventures of the Guardian Angel series that was written by itself, not as part of the Winds of Light series. And it shows. The “angel blog” section is essential to the understanding of the story. It’s not just a random unnecessary commentary interrupting a really good story like the other two. Instead the focus really is on the angel, more so than the real story. And the time period is quite a bit different. This story begins before Christ’s death on the cross, not during the Dark Ages.
In it’s defense, it’s message is still good. It does as good of a job as always of showing the value in putting one’s trust in Christ for salvation. So, for that, I will give it a 4 on the rating scale.
Recommendation Scale 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


A hit and run accident that never should have been... is it all her fault?

Book: Sara by Eva Gibson, Bethany House Publishers, 1996
Sara (SpringSong Books #17) 
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
Target Audience: Girls 13-16
Subjects: Growing up, dating, growing in your personal walk with Christ
Summary: Sara is tired of all the confines and limits her parents place on her. She too is a Christian, but can't Christians have some fun sometimes? When her job puts in contact with a cute guy who offers to take her on a date, she sneaks out of the house to meet him. Instead of him, what she witnesses is a hit and run accident between some car and a guy on a motorcycle. The car takes off and she and her parents help the guy who was on the motorcycle. As he heals from his accident he helps Sara not only try to solve the mystery of who the hit and run driver was, but also how to grow closer to God and make choices that glorify Him. 
Notes: This book was very well written. The mystery is just deep enough to be interesting without being an intense thriller. The discussion of one's faith is real and honest. Eva Gibson did a good job with this. I definitely recommend it for young teen girls.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 6:1 - Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.
                    (and teens!)


Who is the mysterious stranger upsetting her parents and what does he want with them?

Book: Paige by Judy Baer, Bethany House Publishers, 1986
 Paige (SpringSong Books #8)
Genre: Mystery, Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-16
Summary: A stranger comes around asking questions that are upsetting her parents. They insist it’s nothing, he’s just a charlatan. But Paige isn’t convinced. When she learns he is claiming to be her uncle, she determines to find out the truth. The problem is that it seems as though her grandmother’s life started when she married Pagie’s grandfather. There’s no records of her life  before that. With the help of her best friend Beth and the boy she likes, Bryan, Paige determines to find some way of uncovering the truth.
Notes: This book has a good message about what love is. Beth has an adopted cousin who has been through enough foster homes to know that no one will keep him or love him. Beth’s aunt is determined to do just that and Beth plays a part in helping him see this. 
Recommendation Scale: 4.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 John 3:10 - This is how we know who the children of God are... Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his neighbor.

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