Friends To The End

Saturday, November 20, 2010
Book: Friends To The End by Matt Tullos, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boy and Girls 15-18
Subjects: Crime, Teen pregnancy, Dating relationships, friendships
Summary: It seems everyone is under a cloud of suspicion. The bomb threat was real. A.C. claims he disarmed it, but the police aren’t buying it. Anyone associated with him is also under suspicion – including Clipper. Now that Kandi has broken up with Zach she and Justin are trying to piece their relationship back together, but Zach may not be ok. Autumn especially is getting really worried about him, but no one will admit he has any problems.
Notes: This book tackles some of the biggest issues that teens can face – teen pregnancy, dating relationships, drugs, and persecution of their faith. It tries to show how to deal with these issues with a Biblical or godly response. It is part of the Summit High series, a six book series about a group of friends in high school.
Recommendation Scale: 4
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Timothy 4:12 – Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Processing The Computer Conspiracy

“Wait!” Justin’s voice was urgent. “What’s he doing? He’s got five of those boxes in this truck. Something smells weird about this whole thing,” Justin continued. “I don’t think it’s a science project.”

Book: Processing The Computer Conspiracy by Matt Tullos, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boy and Girls 15-18
Subjects: Crime, Dating relationships, Friendships, Bullying, Evangelism
Summary: Clipper is ecstatic. He took the janitor from school to a Christian concert and the man got saved! Everyone else is excited too. How awesome it is to see this man who some consider dumb or retarded, so passionate about his new faith and so thankful for the kids he gets to serve by cleaning up after every day. But all of a sudden he stops talking to everyone, avoiding people, and sitting in corners crying. Something strange is going on and Kandi thinks it’s connected to the break-in at school and the stolen computers.
Notes: This book has an aspect of great beauty as it talks about the humble service of the janitor and how much his new faith means to him. He is portrayed as being slightly mentally handicapped, but his heart is huge. He has always enjoyed serving the kids as a school janitor and now as a believer, his love for them is even bigger. It also contains a neat picture of characters turning to God when times get tough. When it looks like the bullies will win, the faithful turn to God and plead for His help and strength. The other books in this series are typical realistic fiction, but this one, book 2of the Summit High Series goes beyond the ordinary to really show role model characters who are making right choices or at least coming around by the end.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5/5
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.

Unhappy Appy

When I swung down from Towaco, my legs felt heavy. Usually I can ride all day and not be ready to quit, but now I felt worn down. I’d tried so hard.

Book: Unhappy Appy (Winnie the Horse Gentler) by Dandi Daley Mackall, Tyndale House Publishers, 2003

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 12-17
Subjects: Friendships, family relationships, divorce, prayer
Summary: Hawk is as unhappy as her horse. And that’s not good ‘cause her horse is quite grumpy these days. If Towaco isn’t biting someone, he’s moping as if he doesn’t care about anything in life. Winnie thought that Hawk was getting to be her friend, but lately Hawk doesn’t seem to want to be her friend. It’s back to the ignoring at school and the always choosing to hang out with the popular kids instead of Winnie. Meanwhile Winnie’s dad is starting to spend a considerable amount of time with another woman. Winnie’s mom has only been dead for a couple of years. How can he even think about this? Winnie wants to turn to God, but still just has some doubts about Him and His goodness after her mom’s death.
Notes: Winnie has to learn an important lesson about friendship in this book. Hawk is truly avoiding Winnie, but the reason for it means she needs Winnie’s friendship more than ever. It’s a time for Winnie to fight for it, just like she does with the horses, not give up. She also continues to learn more about prayer as she struggles to talk to God and believe that He cares about the little details in our lives.
Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 37:23 – The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.


Book: Solitary by Travis Thrasher, David C. Cook Publishing, 2010
Genre: Suspense/Horror
Target Audience: Boys 17+
Subjects: Occult, Dating Relationships, Family Relationship
Summary: Solitary is not a safe place to be. After his parents’ divorce, Chris and his mom move there. There’s a bright spot – a beautiful, amazing girl that Chris falls completely in love with. But there’s a lot of scary things going on as well. Someone is watching… and doesn’t like Chris hanging out with Jocelyn. And there is a deep evil in this town. Kids have disappeared and from all indications, Jocelyn is next.
Notes: This book is for those who like horror and suspense. The spiritual element is that Jocelyn is searching for the God that Chris wants nothing to do with. God is always watching too and He does have the answers. This book doesn’t really come to any resolutions, at least not any positive one, so only read this if you enjoy horror. For a book containing aspects of the occult, it doesn’t do a good job providing real answers, answers that God is in control and is more powerful than the evil. It is just a tale of suspense.
Recommendation Scale: 1
 Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 6:1 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Taking Tuscany

“Oh AJ, everybody has a bad day now and then.” “A bad… day? I don’t just have a day, I have weeks…no make that months… make that, I have years, Mama. I have years ahead of me before I have something to look forward to again!”

Book: Taking Tuscany by Renee Riva, David C. Cook Publishing, 2009
Genre: Historical/Heartwarming Fiction
Subjects: Family relationships, friendship
Summary: AJ knows what it takes to make life perfect. And Tuscany isn’t it. No more summers at the island for her. No more Sailor. No more America. In fact, no more AJ. Her family has moved to Italy and will remain there, with no trips home, for the next six years. And in Italy, going by your initials doesn’t work, leaving her stuck with her full name: Angelina Juliana. She’s a “Yankee” with a weird family who, after being kicked out of the all girls’ school on false charges, finds herself at a school ruled by one “queen bee” as AJ describes it, who has decided to make AJ’s life miserable. All AJ wants is the one thing she can’t have: to go back home to the island.
Notes: AJ learns a bit about perspective in this book. She can’t change her situation, at least not for another six years. But she can change her perspective. She learns that God has joy waiting for her here, just as He did back on the island, if only she will open her eyes and allow herself to see it.
Recommendation Scale: 5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews – Be content with what you have because God Himself has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”.

Saving Sailor

Book: Saving Sailor by Renee Riva, David C. Cook Publishing, 2007
Genre: Realistic/Heartwarming fiction
Target Audience: Girls 18+
Subjects: Family relationships, friendship
Summary: AJ knows life doesn’t get any better than this. Being nine years old, hanging out at the lake, drifting in an old boat with her dog sailor, hiding a hamster from her parents, arguing with siblings, watching her mom pretend to be a movie star in public, and making friends with the new boy on the island – what more could a girl want? This heartwarming story is about a young girl during one summer of her life. There is about a page of suspense towards the end, but the rest of it is just life through the eyes of a nine year old.
Notes: This story is just fun. It’s not out to make any particular point or accurately represent something. It’s just the author telling a story, a story that from the info in the author’s notes, is similar to her own. It makes you relive your childhood. It makes you smile at AJ and her siblings. I recommend it for light, entertaining reading, but not something that will greatly challenge you spiritually.
Recommendation Scale: 3/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 18:1-3 – At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jake's Choice

Saturday, November 6, 2010
Ten minutes into his first college party and he was already cornered. He hadn’t had even a sip of alcohol since about nine months ago. He’d realized then that the new church thing he was checking out didn’t mix with all his old activities, and so he’d bravely left and never looked back. Now here he was again, but this pressure was even worse!

Book: Jake's Choice (To Save a Life) by Jim and Rachel Britts, Outreach Publishing, 2010
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 16-25
Subjects: Sex, drinking, dating relationships, accountability, homosexuality, friendships, relationships with parents, abuse
Summary: It all comes down to support and accountability. Jake has changed. He’s not the same person he was before Roger’s death. He’s accepted Christ and turned his life around. But then he goes to college. Alone. All of his support system is gone and the pressure is on to be like he was before. The other guys on the basketball team expect him to drink like them. The hot girls won’t take “no” for an answer. And Church? All Jake can find are a bunch of old unfriendly people in the Churches he checks out. Nothing that makes it worth getting up for on Sunday mornings. Amy is great, but she’s far away and Jake just isn’t sure anymore. Then there’s Amy herself. She’s not sure about everything anymore. She’s changed too, made some choices and intends to stand strong to those choices – whether Jake likes it or not. Can their relationship survive the change? Can their faith?
Notes: This book picks up right exactly where To Save A Life left off. It’s a great follow up to the story – primarily because it’s so real. Jake finds that it’s not so easy to stand strong and stick to his convictions when he’s away from his support and accountability back at home. Jake and Amy both face very strong and very real temptations and struggles. The book provides characters that are right there encouraging them and challenging them to make choices that are in line with what the Bible teaches. It’s focused on the college scene – this book covers a couple of years after Jake leaves for college so the characters are older. It makes it valuable not just to teens, but to young adults as well.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart

Book: Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart by Chuck Black, Multnomah Publishers, 2009
Genre: Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 12-18
Subjects: Faith, Doubts
Summary: Is the Bible really all true? I mean, does it really still apply to us today or is it just some old book that contains some good and helpful suggestions for life but is mostly outdated? These are the questions that Dalton must wrestle with as he trains to be a knight for the Prince. Only when his very life depends on his answers to the questions does he realize and admit that he has been doubting and his doubt is holding him back from true passionate service to the Prince.
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 to learn how to be a follower of the Prince, but realizes he is not confident in his faith. Seeds of doubt have been planted well. This book contains a great challenge in the introduction – “Sir Dalton dared to look into the shadows of his heart…. Shall we?”. And as you read the book you can not help but think about your own faith and listen as Dalton’s doubts get answered. Do you dare to admit you don’t know it all, dare to grow in your faith and become a more effective servant of the Prince?
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.

Saint Training

Book: Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer  Zondervan Publishing, 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 14-19 (Character is only 12, but some of the issues dealt with are not all that appropriate for 12 year olds.)
Subjects: The nature of God, Catholicism,
Summary: If she can’t find answers to her problems, then maybe it’s because she isn’t holy enough. 12 year old Mary Lou has decided that God has stopped answering her prayers due to her being such a horrible sinner. Her family can barely afford to feed themselves right now, and another child is on the way. Young men are being drafted for the Vietnam War.- even those like her brother, that don’t believe in it. And her mother has started to embrace the feminism movement, seeking employment outside the home. Mary Lou begins writing letters to a Mother Superior asking what she needs to do in order to not only become a nun, but her ultimate goal is to become a saint.
Notes: This book is catholic, completely and totally. The characters do not pray to God, but to the Virgin Mary. Their goal is to avoid years in purgatory. Mary Lou firmly believes that the Catholics know the only way to Heaven and tries to convert those around her to Catholicism. There is some discussion about the very character of God – loving and forgiving or just and condemning. There is also some discussion on whether or not there is more than one way – after all, doesn’t every religion think they have the only answer. The book never pursues salvation through belief in Christ alone as the way to Heaven or studying His Word as a means of knowing Him better. It is all about reciting memorized prayers. Mary Lou finds it wicked when a little sibling acts as though a prayer is stupid or meaningless when that sibling was not even understanding the words right, let alone understanding the meaning. This book makes for interesting reading and is thought provoking, but it does not provide answers. It is designed just to make you think, not lead to conclusions, and it is definitely more focused on Catholic theology than Biblical theology.
Recommendation Scale: 1/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

John 14:6 – Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

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