Beyond The Reflection’s Edge

Monday, November 12, 2012
Nathan gave a nod, then tightened his chin. He couldn’t believe it. No… he wouldn’t believe it. No matter how many times his dad’s investigations had exposed a nest of human rats, he had always managed to escape their plans for revenge. As a master illusionist, his collection of mirrors and lights would confuse his pursuers, allowing him to disappear like a phantom. Maybe even the bodies in the coffins were an illusion of some kind. And how could Dad ever be duped so easily by Dr. Simon? He was too smart for that. He was too… He shook his head slowly. Clara was right. This time everything was different. Dad was dead. So was mom. Not only that, his father had said that Dr. Simon wasn’t so bad, so maybe he really was fooled. And maybe this Mictar was just too powerful.

Book: Beyond the Reflection's Edge (Echoes from the Edge) by Bryan Davis, Zondervan Publishers, 2011

Genre: Science Fiction
Subjects: Loss, Good vs. Evil, Purity, Friendship, Love
Summary: His parents are dead. The evil men who killed them are after him. He’s been sent to the home of an old friend of his parents whom he does not even know. And when he plays his violin strange things happen. Places, people and alternate dimensions to the universe begin to appear in mirrors. Soon Nathan is on the run with a beautiful teenage girl, her friend, and a young child. Everything he thought he knew is about to be challenged. Can he hold on to what his parents have taught him in spite of the trials?
Notes: This is the first in the Echoes From The Edge trilogy. It’s a science fiction book about different dimensions/time travel/alternate realities. The idea is that the characters have found a way to visit different dimensions and interact with themselves in those different dimensions. The spiritual value comes in the realistic fiction part, the interactions between the teenagers. Nathan struggles to come to grips with his parents’ death and fights to cling to the values they’ve taught him. When Kelly, an attractive girl who is used to using her body to get the attention of boys, enters his world he must learn what love really looks like and how to show love to someone from a worldview so vastly different than his own. It’s a beautiful picture of change through love rather than condemnation and a beautiful picture of taking ownership of one’s faith.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 4:22-24 – You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

The Cryptic Clue

“Hello. Are you Heather Reed?” he asked politely.
“Yes” she answered.
“I came to speak with you.” He opened a wallet and presented a badge. “I’m Special Agent Peter Roselmann of the FBI,” he announced.

Book: The Cryptic Clue (Heather Reed Mystery) by Rebecca Price Janney, Word Publishing 1993

Genre: Mystery, Adventure
Subjects: Friendship, Truth
Summary: Gone. Vanished. Back only one day and he totally disappears! The Reed’s family friend, a professor at a local college who just returned from a research project in the Middle East has mysteriously vanished with very few clues as to his whereabouts. The FBI are convinced he is a terrorist while his friends and family are convinced he is innocent and likely in great danger. Sixteen year old Heather, dragging her brother and friend along with her, sets out to solve the case herself and prove the professor’s innocence – despite warnings of danger and commands to stay out of the case.

The Cryptic Clue (Heather Reed Mystery)Notes: The characters in this story are portrayed as Christian and use phrases such as “thank God”. The “cryptic clue” is a reference to a Bible verse. At the end of the story, Heather assures someone that God will forgive them. Apart from that it’s just an adventure story. There isn’t a real message or lesson in it unless maybe it’s the concept of having a good reputation. When reason is given to think the professor may be a terrorist, his family and friends are confident he is not since he has a reputation as a “Christian man”.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2/5
Reviewer:  J:-)mi

Proverbs 22:1 – A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.


Friday, November 9, 2012

They exited from the elevator, straight into the dark heart or Acheron. The five of them were speechless. All of the rumors were true. But none of the rumors were true.

Book: Sneak by Evan Angler, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2012
Genre: Futuristic
Target Audience: Boys 14+
Subjects: Loss, Relationship with family, friendship, fear, government conspiracy theories
Summary: He’s now officially on the run. Having escaped the mark, he’s a hero to the markless everywhere. But all he wants to do is make it to Acheron and free his sister. The rumors are terrifying. People are burned alive, people are eaten alive by snakes, people are frozen alive, people are boiled in tar, eyes are gouged out. Very few people know anything at all about Acheron, but those who do know to avoid it at all costs. It’s a sentence worse than death. And it’s exactly where Logan, Peck, Hailey, Erin and the others are headed.
Notes: This is a government conspiracy theory story. The government forces everyone to take the mark in order to survive. In this, the second book in the series, persecution against those who refuse the mark becomes much stronger in hopes of catching the leaders. The spiritual elements in the story are hinted at. There are references to the Bible or God as something that is outlawed by the government and therefore explored by the markless. But it still does not portray God or Scriptures as having the answer. The answer is just to be on the good guy’s side, defy the authorities and hope to be smart enough or fast enough to survive.
Recommendation Scale: 1/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Timothy 4:1 - The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits

Like Moonlight At Low Tide

The relationship I had dreamed of since I was thirteen years old, had, for a brief moment, shot into my life exactly as I had planned it. And I discovered that getting everything you always wanted still isn’t enough.

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-18
Subjects: Suicide, Drugs, Dating Relationships, Friendship, Salvation
Summary: Yanked back and forth, from here to there as her mom follows her latest boyfriend, Missy is used to a hard life. She doesn’t even know who her dad is. Her mom isn’t much of a mother figure and the boyfriends she brings home certainly aren’t there to be parents to the kids. When they return to the island where she grew up though, things are even harder. This is where kids knew the worst about her. This is where Missy became “Messy” – the unpopular girl who dared to look at the most popular boy in school with attraction in her gaze, an unforgivable sin in the eyes of the popular crowd. But things are different now. She’s grown up. And she’s grown pretty – pretty enough to catch the eye of that popular boy. Soon she has what she thinks is everything she wanted. But all it takes is one tragedy to show her how wrong she was. The boy next door seems to think he has answers, but how can he? How could anyone? There’s no changing what happened. It’s permanent. How can anyone claim a reason for hope?
Notes: This is the story of a girl from a broken home who has learned to view herself as totally worthless. She thinks worth and value is defined in popular kids paying attention to her. So when she gets it, she assumes herself to be valuable, but then realizes it doesn’t fulfill her after all once her brother commits suicide. The boy next door patiently, slowly speaks truth into her life and brings her to Church with him. Caught on the water in a hurricane, Missy finally sees what Josh has been talking about and finds the peace she is so desperate for. This story does a good job realistically portraying how the kind of situation Missy is in, leads to her incorrect views about life and God and herself. It also does a beautiful job showing the power of salvation to change a life. 
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Philippians 4:7 - And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong

People will treat you the way you expect to be treated.
“That’s not true! It’s all about race at school! You have to be one or the other. You don’t understand at all.” My voice is tight with trying to hold back sobs. How could my whole world have erupted from one day to the next?

Book: Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester, Zondervan Publishers, 2011

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-18
Subjects: Racism, Family Relationships, Friendships, Crime
Summary: Being mixed has always been beautiful. A white mom and a black dad make for a beautiful family. That’s what Nina thought. Until the divorce. Until her dad found someone else. Until the kids at school started treating her funny. Until the crime on tv becomes a racial issue. Until her whole world gets torn apart. How can she ever find a place to fit in when she’s not black and she’s not white? And why does race have to matter so much?
Notes: This is a sort of coming of age story. Nina’s world of innocence leaves and in it’s place comes a world of crime, broken families and racism. Her mom waves it away, says people will treat her the way she expects to be treated. Her brother is now committing crimes because of things her dad has said. And her dad? He gives her a book to read – a book he is writing about a family member who escaped slavery. Nina feels as though no one understands her or will listen to her and attempts to find a place where someone will. But the answer isn’t a relationship with God, with One who loves her unconditionally. It winds up being more of a resignation. She concludes her life isn’t as bad as it feels and just hopes that someday things will get better and just makes the best of it. So really, she finds no answers, just concludes there doesn’t need to be any. She does make a friend by the end of the story and does hope that maybe her dad understands her a little but that’s it. There really isn’t much spiritual content at all, just a few references to God or prayer as if it’s not really a big deal, not a central part of anyone’s life, nothing that holds any real power. I did not see anything in this book that would help someone grow spiritually.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 1/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 10:12 –For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

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