Perfectly Dateless

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
"Prom Journal: Operation Prom Date – They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So I guess I have a problem. I’ve never had a single date."

Book: Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck, Revell Publishing, 2010
Perfectly Dateless: A Universally Misunderstood Novel
Genre: Realisitic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-18
Subjects: Dating relationships, friendships, relationship with parents
Summary: Daisy is determined. She will experience life. No matter what her parents views are, she will get a date for prom and she will go. So she begins a journal where she secretly records her attempts to get herself a date. There are 5 guys on her list, 5 possibilities for the perfect prom photo. Slowly, one after another gets crossed off. Soon though, she finds support in the form of her best friend Claire. They will hold the ultimate party and both achieve their goals: Claire to get her parents’ attention and Daisy to get a boyfriend. When things go majorly wrong at the party is all hope lost? Will Daisy remain permanently dateless?
Notes: This one is an interesting look at the side of Christian culture that goes ultra conservative. Daisy is not to dress like anyone else, not even wearing jeans to school, no boy-girl outings, no accepting rides home from work from a boy, no allowing boys to call her – even for homework questions, no mission trips that involve both boys and girls, and certainly no dating! Daisy can’t stand the strict lifestyle her parents want her to live and finds ways to rebel against it. However, her parents are doing it out of genuine love and concern for their daughter. Daisy and her parents both must learn a few lessons about culture and love for family.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi
1 Corinthians 9:22 - I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

Thank you to Revell for providing me with a free copy of this book to review! I apologize for forgetting to post this sooner!

Archangels: The Fall Volume One

Friday, July 16, 2010
Early Angelic History

Book: Archangels: The Fall Volume One by Theodore Beale & Patrick Scott, Cahaba Productions, 2005
Archangels: The Fall Collectors Tin
Target Audience: Boys 10-14
Subjects: Spiritual Warfare
Summary: What happened in the spiritual realm before the earth was created? This is the story of the Angels, the Creation of the universe, and of the origins of Satan. In the angelic realm, one of God’s archangels, Lucifer determines to stand on the altar reserved for worship of the Most High God. This one act forces all angels to line up on one of two battle lines and propels the heavenly realm into a devastating war lasting throughout all of time.
Notes: Christians who are lovers of Graphic Novels have been waiting for this one for a long time. The spiritual beings portrayed in this comic are awe-inspiring! After reading this, a person probably won’t think of angels as cute little kids with fluffy wings sitting on fluffy clouds. These are warriors, with bodies and weapons to match. The story line draws from various Biblical passages and ties them together into a familiar storyline about Lucifer’s fall. It is told as a first-angel account with some embellishments, but if it gets kids looking for the spots in the Bible we get these ideas, I’m all in favor of it.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: Gil

Captured By A Spy

Thursday, July 8, 2010
“Spect we got real trouble,” Zach whispered. “You think we locked in here Ben? We got to get out of here. Whoever they be, they mean no good.”

Book: Captured By A Spy by L. Travis, Baker Books, 1995
Captured by a Spy (Ben and Zack, Book 1)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 10-14
Subjects: Faith in God, showing mercy to others
Summary: Two boys in the midst of the Civil War, one black and one white face quite the challenge when their adventure lands them in the midst of a ring of spies and criminals. Their first priority is to get home safely. But beyond that, both boys must face a tough choice about how to tell right from wrong when the lines get blurry. Is it better to demand justice or mercy?
Notes: The spiritual themes in this book are two. First there is the good luck charm Ben wears around his neck all the time. He believes that is what will save him. Caleb however is convinced that the charm is useless and only God has the power to save them. The second theme is the hard choice the boys face towards the end of the story. They must decide between justice and mercy and their choice could not only impact them, but those around them.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Micah 6:8 - He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

The Rescue

King James issued a Declaration three years ago. It said all his subjects everywhere had the freedom to worship as they wished. By law, I am safe now. And still, the hate goes on.

Book: The Rescue by Nancy Rue, Focus On The Family Publishing, 1995
 The Rescue (Christian Heritage Series: The Salem Years #1)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 11-15
Subjects: Love for one another, accepting differences in people, family relationships
Summary: Josiah just can't understand it. Why do people have to hate one another? Why must one man hate another just because he is different? When Josiah nearly drowns, an Indian boy takes him to the Widow Hooker who herself has plenty of experience with hate. Just like Josiah's father however, she has made the choice to hate no one. But she is different, so in Oneko, his new friend. When an emergency occurs in the family, Josiah knows the Widow could help, but will she be accepted when she is so different or will she too feel the hate of the community?
Notes: Nancy Rue writes a powerful story. Set in the time of the Puritans, Josiah's family is not accepted as members of the Church as it is run by some corrupt men filled with hate. Yet when Josiah's family attempts to attend a different Church, they run into even more trouble. Josiah is struggling with how to become a dependable young man and wrestling with all these questions, but all everyone sees is a foolish boy who never thinks. Only the Widow Hooker sees the real Josiah and trusts him. There are alot of lessons in these stories of a young boy's growing up years, everything from religious differences to racial differences. This is the first book in the Christian Heritage Series, the Salem Years.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 5:43 - You have heard that it was said "love you neighbor and hate your enemy". But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven.

R U 4 Real?

You know, even if you don’t care what you look like, I do. 
And believe me, someone needs to care how you look.

Book: r u 4 Real? by Nancy Been Peacock, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000
R U 4 Real? ( #4)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-18
Subjects: Fashion, friendship, God's view of us
Summary: Maya is determined to not only have the prefect magazine body herself, but to force all her friends to as well. She has decided that the ultimate back to school mixer should be a fashion show. She will convince stores to give her their best clothes and she, her friends, and some of the popular people in school will model them. The problem comes when she takes it too far. She expects all her friends to lose weight, exercise all the time and devote all their time to preparing for the fashion show. A trip to the lake with smores? Definitely out! A chili dog with a guy friend? Definitely out! Maya may drive away her friends and her sister if she does not stop pressuring them to be something they are not.
Notes: This book is a valuable lesson in what’s really important. One of the girls keeps trying to remind Maya that God doesn’t care what we look like on the outside, it’s the inside He’s concerned with, a big part of which is how we treat others. Maya refuses to see it. She reads the verses and walks away doing the opposite of what they say. And she nearly loses everything that really matters to her in her pursuit of fashion perfection.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Peter 3:3-4 - Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

The Secret Baseball Challenge

 I envied th e players their uniforms, their equipment, their umpires, everything. The feeling started in the pit of my stomach. I wasn't hungry. I was hurting.

Book: Dallas O’Neil And The Baker Street Sports Club – The Secret Baseball Challenge by Jerry B. Jenkins, Moody Press, 1986
Genre: Sports Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 10-15
Subjects: Obedience to parents, relationship with parents, friendship, witnessing, responsibility
Summary: Dallas and his friends are extremely frustrated. They are just as big of sports as the rich kids across the highway but they aren’t allowed to play in the local baseball league, even though it’s only half a mile from their home. They’ve tried everything they can think of, but the league directors simply won’t allow them to join. Finally Dallas has an idea that may solve their problems. But it turns out his idea only solves half of their battle. Will the boys ever be able to play baseball with other teams?
Notes: This book reminds me A LOT of the Sugar Creek Gang series with just a slightly older main character. The main character is a young boy who is a believer and from a home where the parents are very involved in his development, physical, mental, emotional and definitely spiritual. So he reaches out his friends. He does a devotion with them every morning, prays for them, and encourages them in good choices. He’s a big fan of outdoor things, particularly anything sports related. It felt exactly the same as Sugar Creek Gang books! So if you’re interested in a book about a character who is devoted to Christ and share it with his friends, but is also a very normal little boy, this is worth pursuing!
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi
Ephesians 6:1 – Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.

The Gold Miners' Rescue

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
"What I want to do," said Adam in a quiet voice, "is become a success 
like you, Dr. Jackson".

Book: The Gold Miners' Rescue by Dave & Neta Jackson, Bethany House Publishers, 1998
The Gold Miners' Rescue: Sheldon Jackson (Trailblazer Books #25)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 10-14
Subject: God's calling, serving others
Summary:  Adam may have come from Indian tribes, but now that he has become "civilized" he has no desire to return to his previous life. He now wants to become someone big and important. Winning a scholarship to travel with Dr. Jackson seems like the key to his success. Dr. Sheldon Jackson is a missionary to Alaska. His current project is introducing reindeer herds to some of the tribes in the Yukon in hopes of providing them with a way of life that will allow for survival. Adam joins him on his adventures.
Notes: Adam has to learn some hard lessons about what is truly important. He makes multiple mistakes in his attempts to get rich or successful until he realizes that God is calling him to be a light to his own people, not to be someone big and important.
This book tells the story of Sheldon Jackson. It is #25 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

Mark 10:43 - Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

The Lost Canoe

"If there was anyone with more determination than Chris, I sure hadn't met him. I don't think he would ever give up, no matter what the odds or what the circumstances."

Book: The Lost Canoe by Jeffery Nesbit, Victor Books, 1991
Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: Boys 10-14
Subjects: Salvation, wittnessing, obedience to authority
Summary: Chris doesn't give up. Period. When he gets an idea in his head, he follows through with it all the way. So it's not really a surprise when he & Cally find themselves lost from the rest of the group in a canoe trip and unable to find their way back to camp. The question becomes, can that same determination help them survive long enough to be rescued or find their way back to camp? Or will that determination lead them straight into the path of a mountain lion?
Notes: Cally is a believer, Chris is not. Cally understands his younger brother's doubts and hesitations. He was the same way before he was saved. He had the same questions. So he gently listens and attempts to explain when Chris asks questions. This book's focus is on the adventure, but the underlying theme is Cally's salvation and Chris' need of it. 
Recommendation Scale: 4.5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 13:1-3 - Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Chosen Ones

"My name is Gaius", he said. "And I want you to fulfill a prophecy."

Book: Chosen Ones by Alister E. McGrath, Zondervan, 2010
Chosen Ones (Aedyn Chronicles, The)
Genre: Fantasy/Allegory
Target Audience: boys and Girls 12-15
Subjects: Faith in God, willingness to follow what is unseen
Summary: The silvery moonlight made the garden look so beautiful... only the moon wasn't out that night. Julia is quite willing to believe in magic and fairies and the unknown. Peter however, is only willing to believe in science and things he can explain. Both of them find themselves in another world though, not just Julia! And both are about to learn a few things about trusting in a Lord you can't see.
Notes: A new fantasy/allegory series! It's simpler than many, quite appropriate for younger teens. You can tell there's alot more to be developed, particularly in the spiritual realm. Both characters learned a bit in this story, but Peter especially has alot to learn still. This isn't stated, but Peter never really gets the instruction that Julia does, doesn't learn that the Lord they are working for in this land, is really God himself. 
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi


“You’re hot”. He grins and leans down and kisses me for one split second smack on the check as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do. I blush all over. I don’t want to push him away. I’m actually wondering how I got so lucky for him to kiss me, and how I can make him do it again.

Book: Hot by Laura L. Smith, NavPress, 2010
Hot: A Novel
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-19
Subject: Sex, dating relationships
Summary: Lindsay has never felt this way before. She’s always made an excuse to break up with guys she dates because she can’t stand their groping hands all over her. But Noah, he makes me feel warm and pleasured. When he naturally offers more and more she lets her body, her feelings lead and winds up a long ways from where she thought she wanted to be. Is it too late? Is there any hope of redemption now?
Notes: This book is intense, but real in it’s portrayal of a young girl’s struggle to choose purity in the midst of conflicting emotions. Staying pure was truly something she thought she had chosen, but staying strong and standing by her decisions when feelings conflicted was not an easy thing to do. The spiritual element is definitely present. At the risk of ruining an ending, the best way to describe the spiritual element is to quote the last line of the book: “And I trust with all my soul that God will be here to hold me tomorrow, even if Noah can’t”. (And really it isn’t spoiling the ending because the story leaves you hanging, not knowing for sure what will happen!)
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 31:30 - Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Thank you to NavPress for sending me a free copy of this to review!

Kingdom's Hope

"As we speak there is a great army approaching. They intend to take the city and all of it's spoils. The King will allow this because we have turned our backs on Him and on the Code"
Book: Kingdom's Hope by Chuck Black, Multnomah Books, 2006
Kingdom's Hope (Kingdom, Book 2) 
Genre: Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 12-16
Subjects: Faith in God, Following and obeying Him in hard times, His Word
Summary: The people are going to be free, settled in their own land, with the King as their ruler rather than one of them. But when they get too comfortable, they start desiring to be like the other nations nearby. In very little time at all, they have turned their backs on the King and His Code and are taken captive by their enemies. Now is the time for Leinad and the others to stand strong and faithful.
Notes: This book is pure allegory! Chuck Black takes readers through the Old Testament from the Exodus, through the period of the kings, through captivity, return, and the conclusion of the Old Testament. He just speeds it up and has it all happening to the same character rather than multiple characters. Leinad represents Moses in the beginning, then multiple prophets through the period of the kings and captivity, then Nehemiah at the return.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Revewier: J:-)mi

Jeremiah 1:14-17 - The LORD said to me, " I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made."Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.

In The Hall Of The Dragon King

“It was as if he had no will of his own. He felt compelled by something outside himself to respond to the dying knight’s plea.”
Book: In The Hall Of The Dragon King by Stephen R. Lawhead, Zondervan Publishing, 1982
In the Hall of the Dragon King (The Dragon King Trilogy, Book 1)
Genre: Fantasy/allegory
Target Audience: Boys 13-19
Subjects: Faith in God, seeking truth
Summary: Quentin is no one important, just a young acolyte serving in the temple when a strange knight appears with mortal injuries and begs to have a message delivered to the queen. Quentin would have never dreamed of leaving the temple, yet finds himself volunteering to go. Soon he is off on a huge adventure to save the king! Thus begins the Dragon King Trilogy, the story of a young boy who when faced with knowledge of the one true God and the opportunity to serve both Him and the king has to make a choice that will change his entire life and send him off on grand adventures and battles as he fights evil sorcerers, mighty army commanders and strange beings.
Notes: The allegory makes this book very well written. Quentin has to continually choose to follow and obey the one true God or go his own way or turn back to the powerless beings he worshipped in the temple.  
Recommendation Scale: 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.

Kingdom's Dawn

"What does sword fighting have to do with farming?"

Book: Kingdom's Dawn by Chuck Black, Multnomah Publishers, 2006
Genre: Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 12-16
Subject: Faithfulness to Christ in hard situations
Summary: Leinad highly respects his father and all, but he just can't figure out why a simple farmer is such an expert swordsman and is teaching him to be as well. The answers come with a story of his father's service to the King and the news that he, as his father's son, is chosen for a special task in serving the King. When the dark knights come and destroy everything he found familiar, he begins his journey of serving the King. Fleeing a plague of evil raptors, working as a slave in a foreign land, being imprisoned, teaching sword fighting to soldiers, and being abandoned in the desert are a few of the adventures he will face as he dares to serve the King.
Kingdom's Dawn (Kingdom, Book 1)Notes: This book is pure allegory! Leinad's father and mother represent Adam and Eve. Throughout the story Leinad represents everyone from Seth to Abraham to Noah to Joseph to Moses! Chuck Black takes readers through the Old Testament from the fall to Moses wandering in the wilderness. He just speeds it up and has it all happening to the same character rather than multiple characters. 
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Genesis 7:2 - ...because I have found you righteous in this generation.

Boyfriends, Burritos & An Ocean Of Trouble

Friday, July 2, 2010
"You obviously haven't believed any of our warnings, or you would have dropped the false charges by now. We're through threatening. We WILL take you down!"

Book: Boyfriends, Burritos & An Ocean of Trouble by Nancy Rue, Zondervan Publishing, 2010
Boyfriends, Burritos& an Ocean of Trouble (Real Life)
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-20
Subject: God's Word, abuse, friendships, dating relationships, family relationships
Summary: Bryn's attempt at hiding a terrible secret all comes out when she finds herself in the emergency room one night. Immediately a chain of events begins that leaves her desperately scrambling to survive. First there's her father's insistence that they press charges against the guilty one, leading all the way to a trial. Then there's her mom sending her surfing, dominating grandmother to live with Bryn & her dad while her mom is away on a trip with her sister. Then comes the threats from the guilty one and his friends. Then when everything becomes too much Bryn finds a book that beckons her to read it and finds hope and power within it's words.
Notes: This book hits on a heavy issue: date abuse. Bryn wants to believe in a fairy tale, wants to believe her boyfriend could really be all he pretends to be, but when the bruises on her are seen, the truth comes out and all choice is taken out of her hands. Her grandmother has a reputation for being forceful and rude, but despite Bryn's expectations, her grandmother teaching her to surf actually turns out to be a source of comfort for Bryn. The RL book truly proves to be as powerful as the Bible claims to be. As Bryn turns to it or fights it, she finds her very questions answered and things that apply directly to her situation. Nancy Rue does a great job in the back of the book including a note that talks about how the Bible really is as powerful as portrayed through the Real Life book in the story.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Thank you Nancy Rue for sending me a copy to review! I really enjoyed it and will do my best to pass it on to teen girls!

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.

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