The Ark, The Reed And The Fire Cloud

Monday, June 30, 2014

There is more to this mission you are on than you realize now. The Maker has a way of bringing multiple purposes out of singular events, and they will all become clear with time. Always remember to look to the Maker for direction as those purposes unfold. Without His revelation you will surely lose your way.

571980: The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz #1: The Ark, The Reed, and  the Fire Cloud

Genre: Adventure, Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 10+
Subjects: Bible stories, Friendship, Faith, Fear
Summary: “Follow the fire cloud”. What kind of direction is that? But when the Maker calls, they obey. So from all parts of the earth, creatures begin a journey to wherever this mysterious fire cloud is leading them. Leaving behind all that is dear and precious to them they soon find themselves on the run from wolves, crossing the ocean on giant sea beasties, nearly starving, traveling with some very difficult creatures and many other challenges. When the fire cloud stops, the creatures’ assignments don’t stop, they merely change as they board a huge boat called an “ark” and sail as the earth is covered in a flood. By the time their journey is finished, Max, Katie, Al and Liz will have experienced more adventures than they could have ever dreamed of!
Notes: This is the first in the Amazing Tales of Max and Liz series (the later books of the same series are under a different series title: The Epic Order Of The Seven). The series is about 2 dogs, 2 cats and later a few other animals that lived during the time Bible stories took place and witnessed many events of the Bible. The series is highly entertaining, filled with lots of humor and adventures. It’s also spiritually rich as the characters not only witness
In this book the characters first experience the call of their Maker and travel from all over the world to join up with Noah’s ark. For their faith and obedience they are granted immortality and have a job similar to that of an angel to be “special envoys for missions in pivotal points in human time… be fruitful and multiply… teach your offspring to take care of humans… when it’s time, I’ll send a messenger.”  The characters learn a lot about the basics of faith and obedience through this story as many of the experiences they have are filled with danger. They are tempted to turn back or give up many times throughout this story. It takes a great deal of faith to continue on despite the challenges, faith that steadily grows throughout the course of the book. I highly recommend this story and the others in the series.
Spiritual Content 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.

Full Court Pressure

Sunday, June 29, 2014
“And then there’s our sweet little Joy,” said Patti. “I don’t know how you did it, but you’re the one who talked Coach Evans into taking me out of the starting lineup. You play up your little pity act to get what you want, but I know better. You’re just a lying, scheming little – “
Joy couldn’t take it anymore. “I’ve had just about enough of you!” she said, standing up to face Patti.
“Too bad!” Patti said. “If you don’t like it, you can quit the team and save us all from a losing season you… loser. I’ve heard your mom was a namby pamby loser just like you.”

Book: Full Court Pressure (Game On!) by Stephen D. Smith with Lise Caldwell, Standard Publishing, 2006

Genre: Sports Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 11-14
Summary: They WILL lose. No one has any doubts about that. With Patti on the team there is a pretty much guarantee of the team losing every single game. She is a skilled player, but a horrible teammate. She won’t pass the ball, she insults and stirs up trouble amongst everyone until every girl at the team is too upset to focus on basketball. And now she blames everyone else for her not making starting player or team captain. And if all of the pressure there isn’t hard enough, Joy’s best friend isn’t even on the team this year! And with the death of her Mom last year and her dad now dating someone else, Joy is about ready to burst from all the stress! Something has to change – and soon!
Notes: This book is a part of the Game On! series - a focus on young atheletes overcoming obstacles. This one is about an eighth grade girl who plays basketball. She lost her mom last year and is dealing with some uncertainty about God and where she stands with Him because of it. When her dad starts dating another woman Joy is extremely uncomfortable, but Kristen encourages Joy in her faith, pointing her back to God. The basketball challenge is dealing with Patti, a girl who is lashing out in hurt and anger at everyone around her due to her mom running off with a boyfriend, abandoning Patti and her dad. It takes Kristen showing Joy that assumptions about people can be wrong, to convince Joy to go reach out to Patti in love instead of the anger Patti encourages. The spiritual emphasis is definitely there. It’s a bit more simplified than some – as if a single conversation can suddenly make Joy be ok with her dad dating Kristen, ok with God despite her mom’s death, and ready to reach out to the girl who has been vicious to her, but there is most definitely a spiritual focus in the book.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4.5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi
Matthew 5:43-46 –"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your 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. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

Maverick Mania

“You don’t think he knows we’re following him?”
“Impossible,” I answered. “We’re just another set of headlights.”
Five seconds. Charlie Riggins suddenly stepped onto the highway with a flashlight, waving his arms to stop us. Steve slammed on the brakes. “Now what?” I didn’t answer. I was too busy diving into the backseat. Unlike Steve, I was wearing our soccer team sweats. Mr. Riggins might not recognize me, but he’d know the team uniform. “Now what?” Steve repeated. “Stop,” I said, getting down on the floor and pulling a smelly blanket over me. “Like you would for any guy waving you down. Tell him you’re on your way to Parker, and you’ll get help from him there. What’s he going to do pull a gun?”

Book: Maverick Mania (Orca Sports) by Sigmund Brouwer, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998/2008

Genre: Sports Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 13-16
Subjects: Child Abuse, Soccer, Friendship
Summary: Their star soccer play is just gone. No one really knows why. He simply hasn’t shown up for the past couple games. Something weird is up and Matt knows it. As he begins his investigations he realizes that it’s even more serious than he though. Caleb isn’t just grounded for a bad grade, he’s being held captive by an abusive father. As Matt and his family and friends dig deeper into Caleb’s past they find some extremely suspicious information that may indicate Caleb’s very life is in danger. Matt is determined to rescue Caleb, but it will mean risking his own life!
Notes: Maverick Mania is one of the Sports Mystery Series. This one is about a middle school soccer player who investigates a mystery surrounding another member of the team. By the end of the story he has unveiled a cover up of an entire family’s disappearance and the near murder of three members of the soccer team. There isn’t much of anything for spiritual elements in this story. There is one section where Matt remembers his dad saying he could pray about anything so Matt prays briefly and feels better. That’s all the spiritual content though. It’s just a fast paced mystery story with sports scenes.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 1/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 25:40 –"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

The Secret Of The Hidden Cave

“I’m sorry if I made you mad.”
”You don’t have anything to be sorry for. I was afraid and I tripped and fell. I’m afraid of everything.” The words came in a rush. “I’m afraid of the dark, and of snakes, and of meeting new people, and that nobody will like me. I’m afraid of so many things. That’s why Jean doesn’t like me. I guess the fact of the matter is that I’m just no good!”

Book: The secret of the hidden cave (Pathfinder series : 9) by Bettilu D. Davies, Zondervan Publishers, 1980
Genre: Realistic/Adventure Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 11-14
Subjects: Fear, Salvation, Loss of Loved One, Family Relationships, Friendship, Moving
Summary: Grandmother Lewis may be harsh and critical and demanding but it’s all Penny has ever known. Now her grandmother is in a nursing home recovering from a stroke and Penny is sent to live with a dad she doesn’t know. Everything in life is messed up. Life out on her dad’s farm is quite different from living in the city with a housekeeper/nanny to provide for her every need. Her fear and city ways keep the other kids from liking her and Penny finds this new home to be an extremely lonely one. The bright spot is the chance for an adventure, although, even fear drives her to actually explore the hidden cave. She won’t be the same person when she comes out again though!
Notes: The Secret Of The Hidden Cave is part of the Pathfinder series, an old series published by Zondervan showing upper elementary/early teen characters finding the “path” to salvation. In this book, a 12 year old girl has to figure out where to find peace when everything in life completely changes. Another kid tells her that God “can help in every situation” but that “you had to accept Jesus as Savior, because only that could make you a Christian and on friendly terms with God”. She finds she doesn’t have to be as afraid because she is no longer alone once she puts her trust in Christ for her salvation.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 8:15 – For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father."

It’s My Life

Then in a calm but firm voice, I say, “This is my life and I intend to live it however I feel is right. So you better get used to it.” Now I’m thinking perhaps that last line was uncalled for. But, sheesh, isn’t it the truth?

Book: Diary of a Teenage Girl Series, Caitlin #2: It's My Life by Melody Carlson, Multnomah Publishers, 2001
52053X: Diary of a Teenage Girl Series, Caitlin #2: It"s My Life

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-19
Subjects: Dating Relationships, Sex, Family Relationships, Salvation, Friendship, Teen Pregnancy, Anorexia
Summary: Does being a Christian mean you just roll over and do what anyone else wants you do? Does it mean you shouldn’t have any fun anymore? I mean, just because her best friend is pregnant doesn’t mean Caitlin should sit around and be miserable with her instead of going to the lake for the weekend or the mall for the afternoon. And just because Josh is aroused by her appearance doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be able to wear the brand new pink bikini she just bought. And just because her parents think college is oh-so-great doesn’t mean she has to do that when she’s thinking of doing missions right out of high school instead. Why can’t anyone just let her live her life the way she wants to?
Notes: Becoming me is the second in the Diary Of A Teenage Girl – Caitlin series. There are 4 separate series in the Diary Of A Teenage Girl sets. This one tells the story of a girl growing up in a semi-Christian, at least religious, home. It starts her story right in the middle of high school and leads her through quite a few challenging situations. Through the course of the first book Caitlin finds out more about Jesus Christ and is able to put her trust in Him for salvation. She also makes some decisions about not having sex before marriage and not dating. In this book Caitlin is now a senior in high school and ready to start making a lot more independent decisions while there seem to be more and more demands on her life. The biggest demand seems to be God Himself. So many times she is tempted to let go of the promises she made to follow Him, abstain from sex until marriage and not date. She’s not the only one facing trials though. One friend is anorexic, one friend is pregnant, one friend has a dad that just assumes his daughter will cook and clean for him leaving him to take no responsibility for himself, two friends have mothers so bad it’s just not healthy for them to live at home anymore, a classmate she is parenting with on a school project is declaring himself an atheist. Caitlin has to learn how to help and show God’s love without taking on responsibility for their problems herself. Most of all it just shows an ordinary teenage girl facing things that many many many other teenage girls face and shows how she learns to turn to Christ to figure out how to deal with them. I highly recommend the five books in the Caitlin set of the series.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

The Door Within

Saturday, June 28, 2014

There are passages and doors that realms that lie unseen. There are roads both wide and narrow and no avenue between. Doors that remain closed for those who in sad vanity yet hide. Yet when Belief is chosen, the key appears inside. What is lived now will soon pass, and what is not will come to be. The Door Within must open, for one to truly see. Do you see? Believe and enter.

Book:The Door Within Trilogy #1: The Door Within, Softcover by Wayne Thomas Batson, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005
310111: The Door Within Trilogy #1: The Door Within, Softcover

Genre: Fantasy – Allegory
Target Audience: Boys 13+
Subjects: Faith, Good vs. Evil, Salvation, Friendship, Love
Summary: He hates it here! Aidan is furious that he was ever forced to experience this! He was forced to leave his best friend and go far away. It’s going to totally ruin his whole life! At least he assumes it will… until the day he discovers the scrolls hidden in the basement. Suddenly his family moving in with his grandpa doesn’t seem quite as bad. His grandpa doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, he’s the only one who believes Aidan and not only believes, but encourages him. On his grandpa’s advice, Aidan firms up his own belief and enters the Door Within where he begins his adventures in Alleble as a knight of the realm. Dragons, poisonous huge centipede like creatures that like eating humans, a good King, a rebellious follower and betrayer, unicorns, majestic swords can all be found in the old story… and in the world Aidan gets to experience for himself.
Notes: First in the Door Within Trilogy, this book sets up the fantasy world and how Aidan gets there. The allegory is very clear – an all-powerful, loving King who sacrifices Himself to save His people, then comes back to life. A fallen creature who leads people astray, twelve chosen one of whom betrays, and a written account of the King and His interaction with people. From there the author develops his own unique way of telling the story while still using the standard fantasy elements. There is a strong focus on whether or not a person has decided to have faith in the good King or not and an outward indicator of their choice. There are numerous references to the King never abandoning them – “Never alone!” is a phrase the characters repeat multiple times to encourage one another. The book definitely shows a strong focus on love meaning you are willing to give up your life for another.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 7:7-8 – "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Becoming Me

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Oh, God, help me to figure this all out. And help me to be true to You. I love You, God. I want to choose You above all else. But I might need some help. Amen.

Book: Diary of a Teenage Girl Series, Caitlin #1: Becoming Me by Melody Carlson, Multnomah Publishers, 2000
37357: Diary of a Teenage Girl Series, Caitlin #1: Becoming Me

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-19
Subjects: Dating Relationships, Sex, Family Relationships, Salvation, Friendship, Teen Pregnancy
Summary: A ton of help is more like it! How any 16 year old can navigate through the turbulent waters of dating, friendships, popularity, fashion, finding a job, parents who still treat you the same as your little brother and this thing called faith, is beyond Caitlin O’Connor! Sweet sixteen is supposed to be exactly that: sweet. And yet here she is on New Year’s Eve just at home writing in her diary while her friends are out having a good time. As the next semester of school begins she finds herself suddenly accepted by the popular crowd – which of course comes at the price of her friendship with the girl she has been friends with since elementary school. Keeping up with them also involves dressing just right, talking just right, and playing the dating game. Do you continue to go out with a boy you don’t like that much just to have a date to the dance? What do you do when your friend’s boyfriend starts acting like he likes you? What should you think about sex? And if all of this isn’t enough, her dad decides he’s interested in having an affair – which of course threatens to completely destroy their family! How on earth is she supposed to deal with all of this? Where can she find answers? And when the unthinkable tragedy happens, where can she find hope?
Notes: Becoming me is the first in the Diary Of A Teenage Girl – Caitlin series. There are 4 separate series in the Diary Of A Teenage Girl sets. This one tells the story of a girl growing up in a semi-Christian, at least religious, home. It starts her story right in the middle of high school and leads her through quite a few challenging situations. Through the course of the book Caitlin finds out more about Jesus Christ and is able to put her trust in Him for salvation. She also makes some decisions about not having sex before marriage and not dating. She faces quite a few temptations before she makes these decisions and other characters in the book completely give in to the temptations to have sex with their boyfriends. It shows the importance of listening to Christ and following what convictions He leads you to. It shows the value of true friendship as opposed to trying to become someone else just to be accepted. It shows the importance of parents setting godly examples – Caitlin wants nothing to do with Christianity when her supposedly good Christian dad wants to have an affair. Most of all it just shows an ordinary teenage girl facing things that many many many other teenage girls face and shows how she learns to turn to Christ to figure out how to deal with them. I highly recommend the five books in the Caitlin set of the series.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Deuteronomy 13:4It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

Snap Decision

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chase staggered through his classes the next few days. He was having trouble focusing, between feeling awful about his friendship with Tripp and all the excitement of the upcoming playoff game, it was no wonder.

Book: Snap Decision by Nathan Whitaker, Zondervan Publishers, 2014
737002: Snap Decision

Genre: Sports Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 11-16
Subjects: Sports, Friendship, Sportsmanship, Trust in God
Summary: He always dreamed of being chosen to play on the varsity team while still in eighth grade but he never dreamed it would come at such a high price. It’s pretty rare for an eighth grader to be chosen for varsity. Chase was thrilled for his friend when it happened for Tripp but secretly a tad bit jealous. Choosing to continue doing his best on the Junior Varsity team, hoping to catch the eye of the coaches, he is thrilled when told to start preparing for the possibility of being moved up. When a bunch of seniors participate in Senior Skip Day, Chase’s chance comes. But an accident in a game leaves Tripp injured. Chase is the one who knows he had symptoms of a concussion but admitting that means Tripp will not be allowed to play for a while. When Chase admits the truth, Tripp is furious at what he views as a betrayal to their friendship. Now Chase has the pressure of dealing not only with being on the more advanced team and having less time to study, he also has to deal with the fact that his best friend won’t speak to him. How can a moment of truth lead to such devastating consequences?
Notes: Book One in the Game Face series, Snap Decision tells of thirteen year old Chase’s journey through one football season. Chase is dealing with the pressure from being put on the older kids team and the pressure from his best friend being mad at him. His role model in the story, a senior who is a strong Christian, provides some Christian content for the book. A Christian artist who is popular at the time of the writing of the book, gets mentioned a few times. His role model talks about how another player quotes the first line of Psalm 23 to clear their head before every football play. When Chase faces his most challenging moment in the game he recites Philippians 4:13 to himself to bring confidence. His role model also talks about how living his faith means having good sportsmanship, obeying authority and doing his very best with the skill God has given him.
The book also deals slightly with the issue of divorce. Chase’s parents are divorced and his dad is not at all active in his life. His sister has a recurring nightmare. The book doesn’t resolve anything or get into the spiritual look at the issue, it’s more just there to paint a picture of a normal teenager.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 3/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 12:17A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies
Proverbs 27:6Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Thank you to Book Look for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sophie Breaks The Code

Thursday, June 19, 2014
A sizzle went through Aurora’s veins. The vixens were trying to take Willow down, remove her from the Dance. But what could she do now? Everyone was watching, waiting for aurora to make a false move. Even the maidens were too frightened to act. Could she go it alone? The word rankled like a chain in her mind. It wasn’t a word she was accustomed to. And now she was hearing it from unexpected places. Aurora raised her head. There was no time to ponder that now. If she was going to know what to do for Willow, she needed more information. And there was only one way to get it.

Book:Sophie's Friendship Fiasco - eBook (Sophie Breaks The Code) by Nancy Rue, Zondervan Publishers, 20053359EB: Sophie"s Friendship Fiasco - eBook

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 11-15
Subjects: Friendship, Bullying, Forgiveness
Summary: Back in elementary school the bullying was under control. The teachers had caught the Corn Pops right in the act of causing trouble and everyone knew to keep an eye on them. But now things are starting all over again. These middle school teachers don’t know who is who yet. And the Pops are getting smarter and more devious. They’ve gone way past snide remarks in the halls. Now it’s finding ways to completely ruin those they target. And the Flakes are number one on their target list. Sophie longs to find a way to stop them and protect her friends, but this is bigger than her.
Notes: The seventh in the Faith Girlz series, Sophie Breaks The Code shows Sophie trying, as always, to be a strong leader amongst her friends. This one focuses intensely on the issue of bullying and some of the things school bullies can do. The popular girls don’t want one of Sophie’s friends on the cheerleading team and are finding sneaky ways to make sure she gets kicked off. The spiritual element is Sophie recognizing that she can not accomplish this in her own strength. She betrays her friends to try to help them and then feels she can’t go to Jesus anymore. A discussion with Dr. Peter about how the disciple Peter betrayed Jesus and then was forgiven and given a chance to show his love again, helps Sophie recognize what steps she needs to take in order to find her peace with Jesus again as well as help her friends.
Sophie Breaks The Code was republished as Sophie's Friendship Fiasco.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

James 5:16 – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Sophie Loves Jimmy

Sofee, the mail said. Check out this cool website. Sophie clicked on the website address. The minute she saw it, she turned to ice.
Who’s getting together at gmms?
it said. And before the visitor could even wonder, there was the answer complete with a photograph of Sophie and Jimmy huddled up like the were peeking out an imaginary window together.
”That was when we were practicing for the movie during lunch Friday!” she said out loud. “It was right out in the courtyard! Who took that?”
Sophie’s hand was so cold she could barely scroll down the page. There was a “quote” from Sophie’s own screen name. below that was a picture of Jimmy with his mouth open and a written quote: “I wanted Julia but she’s going out with Colton now. Lucky guy. Sophie’s okay but,”
For more, click here, the instructions read. Sophie did and heard Jimmy’s voice saying “She’s got some serious mental problems.
Even after the images disappeared from the screen, Sophie sat staring at it. It’s not true! She thought over and over. It’s all made up! And then it pinged in her head. She’d just been cyber-bullied.

Book:Faithgirlz! #10: Sophie Loves Jimmy by Nancy Rue, Zondervan Publishers, 2006710251: Faithgirlz! ™ Fiction Series #10: Sophie Loves Jimmy
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 11-15
Subjects: Bullying, Friendship, Dating Relationships, ForgivenessSummary: “You are a loser. Only losers go out with a cool guy like Jimmy and then dump him”. “You are scum. You aren’t even that cute”. “Who do you think you are?” “You’re such a geek. You’ll never get another boyfriend”. “You skinny little weirdo. I don’t know why Jimmy ever liked you in the first place” Now that the pops have been caught in the act of bullying, they have to find another way to attack Sophie and her friends. The internet and cell phones provide the perfect opportunity for that. Hate filled e-mails, websites set up with lies about anyone they dislike, pictures snapped with phones in the locker room. It’s all sneaky and extremely hard to prove or take action on. Unless it was done at school and caught by a teacher, nothing can be done. Sophie knows all the rules about cyber bullying, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less, especially when friends believe the lies that have been told about her.
Notes: Sophie Loves Jimmy is tenth in the FaithGirlz series, a twelve book series about a young girl in late elementary/early middle school who uses her big imagination to make movies and figure out how Jesus wants her to love those around her. In this book Sophie continues to struggle with bullying from the “Corn Pops” (Popular Girls) at school. However, having been caught one too many times, the bullies take it to a new platform: cell phones, e-mail and websites. As usual, Sophie tries to go to Jesus with her problems, but when her friends, particularly Fiona, betray her and believe the lies spreading around, she finds herself unsure how to respond. Dr. Peter, the counselor she saw for a time, who is now her Bible Study leader, uses an example of a time someone forgave Sophie to help her learn how to respond to her friends. As for the cyber-bullying, Sophie has to forgive,

and even trust, someone who was once an enemy in order to find the help she and her parents need to stop the bullying. This book really hits hard the issue of bullying and how it can destroy a person. Sophie finds her grades slipping, her friendships slipping, her ability to concentrate on anything slipping and her ability to just feel ok about life slipping. It shows how far bullies will go to attack their targets and how sneakily they can do it. It gives a lot of good insight on how to respond to it – especially in regards to parents being involved. And as usual, it weaves a very strong spiritual thread all throughout the story. It’s not just about bullying. It’s about forgiveness and love. I highly recommend this story.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 9:9 –The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Sinner's Garden

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Andy just started at her. He dropped to his knees in front of her and placed his ginger on the photo again, right beneath her father and Mr. Hart.
”Heather Marie,” he said.
”Here we go,” Rip said.
”What is it Andy?” Heather asked.
Andy’s eyes were closed. A peaceful smile quickly came and went and then he opened his eyes and tapped on the photo again. “They are able.”
Heather looked at Judi. It was only a three-word sentence, but Andy sounded like someone else.
”They are able to what?” Rip said.
Andy’s eyes blinked quickly. He looked around the room and suddenly came across dazed, reminding Heather of someone who had just come out of a concussion. “I just did it again, didn’t I?” Andy said.
”Yeah,” Rip said, glancing over at Heather and then back to Andy.
“What did I say this time?” Andy whispered.
“More importantly,” Rip said, “who told you to say it?”
“I don’t know,” Andy said. He showed the iPod in his open palm and then held up an earbud. “But whoever it was told me through this.”

Book:The Sinners' Garden by William Sirlis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2013
687380: The Sinners" Garden

Genre: Speculative/Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 17+
Subjects: Crime, Prophecy, Miracles, Giving, Abuse, Family Relationships, Faith
Summary: “They are able”, “I have searched you and I know you”, “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more”, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Phrases that would not be uncommon to hear in church or a Bible Study, but that’s not where they’re coming from. Rather, they are being spoken by a teenage boy with a broken i-pod – a teenage boy who has avoided reading or learning about the Bible. He’s saying things he has never heard before, claiming a voice came through the broken i-pod and he repeated what it told him. Along with the messages from the boy in the community, a huge beautiful garden appears overnight on some abandoned property. Then if all of that wasn’t weird enough, an intruder begins breaking into people’s homes but leaving gifts instead of taking things. What on earth is happening to their small community?
Notes: A former criminal himself, William Sirls writes a story focusing on redemption through Jesus Christ. Sinner’s Garden features a former drug dealer, a mom who blames herself for her husband’s abuse of herself and their son, an angry teenager caught in a lie, a hurting young woman unsure of where her father is spending eternity, and a rich businessman who is trying to buy peace with money. He creates a scenario in which God uses some miraculous signs to get their attention and draw them to Him. This is one that the whole focus of the book is the spiritual content. Yes, there is action and adventure and suspense like any good story, but the main point is the spiritual crisis in the character’s lives. I highly recommend it.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jupiter Winds

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Out of nowhere, a catchship rose over the ridge. Completely silent, it sent stinging dust flying into Grey’s eyes. She held up her sleeve to ward off the debris, glancing in the direction of home. If she ran, she could make it. In a few mad springs she’d be safely locked behind their steel door, Tram and Trif looking up at her from their dinner wondering what all the commotion was about. But Grey saw the Mazdaar star insignia on the ship’s side and she realized that by running shed be leading the craft straight to their home. Straight to Rin. Grey covered her face with her hand and turned away from the hidden entry. Tears filled her eyes as much from the gritty dirt as from the understanding that her worst fears were coming to pass.

Book: Jupiter Winds by C. J. Darlington, Mountainview Books, LLC, 2014

Genre: Science Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 17+
Subjects: Good vs. Evil, Family Relationships, Sacrificial Love, Faith, Tragedy
Summary: Five years they have been on their own. It’s been five years since their parents disappeared and were assumed dead. They’ve learned to smuggle in order to survive and a family friend helps watch out for them. They’ve remained unconnected, refusing the implant that connects them to the Mazdaar government. It’s a dangerous life, but they’re surviving. Until now. For some reason Grey has been captured, leaving her sister, Rin, all alone. All of a sudden everything explodes into motion. They learn that there is a chance their parents are not dead after all, the reason for the spaceship in their home, and that the person they viewed as an enemy is actually a friend and an important political figure. Now if only they could both escape with their lives intact! But the Mazdaan government has no intention whatsoever of letting that happen.
Notes: The first in the series, Jupiter Winds is set in 2160 with space travel and colonized planets. The premise is a dictatorial government who wants to implant microchips into humans, turning them into drones. Another government is secretly rising up with plans to take over Jupiter before the tyrants do. The teenage sisters are caught in the middle of all of it when their parents, leaders in the rebellion against the tyrants, disappear. The spiritual element comes in the oldest sister’s relationship with God. Their parents left them a legacy of faith, but Grey rejects it while Rin clings to it. Throughout the story Grey recognizes that God never abandoned her and is still providing His love and care of her, even in the midst of trails. The suspense is the strongest element in the story, but there are verses quoted multiple times are Grey remembers things her parents have taught her.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Joshua 1:5b – I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Thank you to the author for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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