The Wishing Pearl

Sunday, September 30, 2012
After an eternal pause, Mom cleared her throat, “Oliva, I had wanted to talk to you about going somewhere, just the two of us today-” Her voice sounded stern. Her hands frozen on the half peeled banana, Olive tried to smile. “That s-sounds nice.” She still didn’t look at Mom. “-But I can clearly see that last night was a repeat of a few weeks ago. In fact, you’re still drunk, aren’t you? You’re slurring and stumbling. You reek to high heaven of who knows what.” Mom cleared her throat. “You leave me with no choice.” Oliva put down the fruit. That didn’t sound good.

Book: The Wishing Pearl (Diamond Estates) by Nicole O’Dell, Barbour Publishing, 2011

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 15-19
Subjects: Alcohol, drugs, death, family relationships, sexual abuse, salvation
Summary: Locking her door doesn’t work. He takes removes it from the hinges and takes it away entirely. Telling the police certainly wouldn’t work. No one knows better than he does how to fool people. They’d definitely believe him over her. No, the only answer is escape. So escape is what Oliva does. Escape to parties. She learns to drink and smoke pot. This plan works great, even after the police catch them once. It’s not until someone suffers the extreme consequences of their choices that Oliva commits to Diamond Estates, a place of healing for teen girls. If Oliva will open up and let them in, she could find healing herself. But does her past have too strong of a hold on her to do so?
Notes: This is the first book in the Diamond Estates series, a series about a kind of rehab and healing center for teen girls. Each book takes a young girl with a serious problem and shows how only through finding Jesus and getting support and making changes in their life, can they find the healing they so desperately need. In this one, a girl has dealt with a stepfather sexually abusing her from the time she was twelve. She’s turned to alcohol and drugs and partying as an escape. When a friend is killed due to these choices she agrees to go to Diamond Estates, partly just to escape her stepfather but partly ready to seek healing. It’s a very realistic portrayal of how tough it truly is for a girl in this situation. They aren’t automatically cured as soon as they show up. They still battle addictions and relationships. Even after becoming a Christian, they still struggle. It shows not only the main character, but the side character’s struggles as well. It’s a good series for someone who needs to see a realistic portrayal of the struggles a teen girl faces and where hope can come from.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale:  5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 42:11 –Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

The New Recruit

Thursday, September 27, 2012
I was speechless and streamed that this loafer-wearing, braces sucking, four-eyed mama’s boy had the nerve to get all up in my business. What had I done that was so bad? It was going to be a looooooooong eight weeks.

Book: The New Recruit: Mission 1: Moscow (The Mission League)by Jill Williamson, Marcher Lord Press, 2012

Genre: Adventure
Target Audience: Boys 13-18
Subjects: Missions, Salvation, Crime, Friendship, Spiritual Gifts
Summary:  Spencer is one of the kids least likely to be chosen for a mission trip. He’s not even a Christian for goodness sakes! But when God sends a message to one of His followers in the Mission League Organization Spencer finds himself in Russia hanging out with Christians. Hey, it was a better option than military school at least – his grandma’s other choice for him. Now it’s time to see just what this club of Bible geeks is all about. A couple of near-death experiences later he’s ready to take it a bit more seriously! A discovery of prophetic gifts and a few pretty girls also help change his impression of course. What Spencer discover though, could change his whole life, not just his summer.
Notes: The first in a new series, New Recruit tells of an unsaved boy living with a grandmother who is tired of his fighting and getting into trouble. He goes on the missions trip just to keep out of military school. While on the trip, one girl tries multiple times to witness to him with words, some just show kindness, one of the kids tries to bully him, etc. It is their words that keep coming back to him when he’s in danger and finally ready to talk to God. He learns about spiritual gifts when he discovers that some of his dreams are warnings of specific events. This book is an interesting mix. There are good and bad examples set by all of the characters, it’s just that it’s pointed out clearly which are which most of the time so the teenage reader isn’t left confused. The strongest theme running through it is how to deal with unbelievers as we see the main character’s response to the things the other characters say and do. The book is clearly just the beginning of a series though. Spencer’s spiritual journey is far from over. The spiritual elements are certainly present in this book, but it’s building up to something.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Colossians 3:4-6 – Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the free book in exchange for my review.

The Kingdom

Friday, September 21, 2012
Ana peered over Teo’s shoulder as he examined the caravel. “Do we really need to know? Isn’t it enough that we escaped?” Teo turned around, resting his hand on the pommel of his sword. “He’s our enemy, Ana. He stands opposed to everything we believe. I can’t back down out of fear. If I don’t confront him, who will?” Teo glanced down at his waist. “This is the sword of Arman. Your grandfather believed in fighting injustice with courage and honor. I’m a solider of his regiment. Those are the principles I live by as well.” Ana stared at the sword for a moment, then lifted her eyes to Teo’s. “Alright. Whatever you face, I’ll stand by your side.”

Book: The Kingdom by Bryan Litfin, Crossway Books, 2012

Genre: Fantasy/Futuristic
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13-19 but honestly, enjoyable for anyone older than 13
Subjects: Power of God’s Word, Good vs. Evil, Love, Sacrifice, Trials
Summary: The Word of Deu needs to come to Chiveis. And Theo and Ana are the ones to bring it. But they have a great enemy who will stop at nothing to be certain that does not happen. A kidnapping, an attempted human sacrifice, a volcano, political struggles, shipwrecks, war, and multiple chases from those bent on taking their lives all must be faced before they can make it home and safely present Deu’s Word to the people they love.
Notes: The third in the Chiveis Trilogy, this story takes place in a future time under the concept that God’s Word has been lost for centuries and an accidental discovery of it changes the lives of those who hear it. It’s been primarily the story of a young man and young woman as they face banishment from their country due to their following of Deu and many trials as those who follow and worship evil do all they can to prevent the truth from being heard. In this story Theo and Ana face not only the continuing battle to destroy them and the truth, but also trials in their relationship as temptation to go too far grows stronger and strong wills clash. In the first book Theo faced great temptation. In the second, it was Ana who faced it. This book is more focused on their adventures together and the war against evil than specific temptations for them, but a few short ones occur. It’s also a look at the power of truth as those back in Chiveis face another opportunity to stand up for the truth or deny it.  
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 John 4:4 – You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Thank you to the publishers for sending me a free review copy!

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