The Mind War

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

“And why…?” Rick shook his head again, trying to dispel the last fog of the drug. “Why are you telling me these things? All this stuff about Kurodoar and how he’s trying to destroy everybody? Why are you telling ME?”
“Because we want you to stop him,” said Jonathan Mars.
“Me?” Rick actually laughed out loud. Now he was sure: This had to be some kind of joke. Or a dream or a hallucination. It had to be. “A mad scientist is trying to destroy our computer systems and you want me to stop him? What do I know about this stuff? I’m an athlete man. I was, anyway. When it comes to computers, I know how to send e-mails and watch videos and that’s pretty much it.”

Book: Mindwar, The Mindwar Trilogy Series #1 by Andrew Klavan, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2014
688943: Mindwar, The Mindwar Trilogy Series #1

Genre: Speculative, Adventure
Target Audience: Boys 14+
Subjects: Family Relationships, Trust in God, Physical disability
Summary: He may excel at video games but lately that’s the only thing he excels at. That’s the only thing he does in fact. Ever since the accident that destroyed his high school football career, Rick just sits in his room playing video games and shutting out the world. On a guilt trip from his mom and brother he goes for a walk one day and promptly finds himself the victim of an attack where a syringe is pressed into his neck and he is hauled away. When he awakes he finds himself in a room with impressive holographic technology where he learns of an evil genius’ plan to destroy the entire world. The crazy part is that the good guys think Rick is the key to stopping this plan! Rick reluctantly agrees and soon finds himself in a giant video game – the difference being he can die for real in this one!
Notes: The Mind War appears to be the first in a series. The premise is a teenage boy’s video game skills qualify him to participate in some kind of virtual reality world that an evil scientist has created to destroy The United States of America. In this world he will no longer have disabled legs. So he agrees to it and enters the world. The spiritual emphasis is the idea that since the accident that ruined his ability to be a football star and since his dad ran off with another woman, leaving himself, his mom and little brother behind, Rick has felt like God left too. There is just a tiny bit of focus on this. Then towards the end he feels like a voice from Heaven assures him that God is still there. Other than that it’s just the adventure though. Rick has to rely on himself and his abilities to achieve success. It does portray strong morals though – Rick will sacrifice to help others.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 13:5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Thank you to Booklook for giving me a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Sword Bearer

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Will he do what the prophecies say?”
Mab frowned. “Their meaning is disputed,” he said. “Certainly he will complete the tower. And just as certainly he will control the planets from it. But whether he will defeat the Changer’s purposes for Anthropos…”
His voice faltered and he stared at John hard. John flushed. Mab’s eyes were twin accusations. “A good deal depends on the Sword Bearer,” Mab breathed, his voice as soft as his eyes were hard, “for only the Sword Bearer can bring about the ruin of the Mystery’s tower.”
John’s heart beat unpleasantly. He was sorry he had asked. Suddenly he didn’t want to know anything more about the two towers. He even wanted to forget he was the Sword Bearer.

Book:The Sword Bearer #1 Archives of Anthropos Series by John White, Intervarsity Press, 1986
5905: The Sword Bearer #1 Archives of Anthropos Series

Genre: Allegory/Fantasy
Target Audience: Boys 10+
Subjects: Family Relationships, Salvation, Good vs. Evil, Truth, Power
Summary: His thirteenth birthday is here. He has been promised that all will be revealed on his thirteenth birthday. But it’s not the grand unveiling John dreamed of. Instead he arrives home to find him grandma dead, the neighbors ready to ship him off to an orphanage and Nicholas Slapfoot – the legendary enemy of every child in the city – ready to pursue him. Before anyone can catch him though, John is whisked away to Anthropos, another world! Here he finds himself to be the prophesied Sword Bearer. But first, the Mystery – Lord Lunacy ensnares John, filling his head with lies and bitterness. Only by drinking the wine of free pardon and choosing to follow the Changer can John be of any use to Anthorpos or even survive to make it to his own world again.
Notes: The Sword Bearer is the first in the Archives of Anthropos series, an allegorical story. The author claims his children begged for more stories like the Chronicles of Narnia and this is his attempt to imitate that. However, for an imitation it has a lot of creative, original content. The allegory is clear – the Changer – the unmade Maker represents God and the Mystery – Lord Lunacy represents Satan. There is a prophecy about Gaal who will come and save them someday. The regents – two humans who “walked with Him daily, but then failed to believe what He told them, fled from His presence and hid, and then were clothed in furs and appointed to rule a kingdom” appear to represent Adam and Eve. The Matmon seem to represent humans – people given a choice of who to follow. The message of being unable to save yourself is very clear in this story. Only through the power of the Changer can one find true peace and joy and be freed from the evil inside of them.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.

The Magic Bicycle

“That’s quite a bicycle, young man,” Grandfather Kramar said, his bright eyes twinkling in his old wrinkled face. John jumped off the Spirit Flyer, knocked the kickstand down, then ran to hug his grandfather.
”Aren’t you surprised it flies?” John asked excitedly.
“Well, when you’re as old as me you see a lot of strange things over the years if you stay alert,” the old man said and smiled. “Like your face. You’re awful pale, boy. Looks like you’ve seen a ghost. And you’re trembling.
“Something’s after me!” John said. “Something’s in the air. And it’s terrible… it’s big, bigger than tornado. And it looks just like a snake. It has red eyes and red fangs and a white circle with a Z inside on its chest. It was behind me, its mouth open. Then something happened and I was here all of a sudden.”

Book: The Magic Bicycle (Spirit Flyer) by John Bibee, Inter Varsity Press, 1983

Genre: Fantasy/Allegory
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 12-16
Subjects: Family Relationships, Salvation, Good vs. Evil, Truth
Summary: Being raised by an uncle that’s a police officer doesn’t make life easy for John. Everything is about what’s fair and following the rules. So when his bicycle gets run over, there’s no way his uncle is getting him a new one. So it’s off to the dump with his friend to scrounge together parts to make one. He’s thrilled to discover a complete bike on his first look. It doesn’t look the best, but it will get him around… more than he realizes! This bike doesn’t just move along the ground – it flies! Of course John is ecstatic to realize this, but what he doesn’t realize is that the bike is a gift from the Three Kings and because of this, he now has an enemy who wants nothing more than his destruction!
Notes: The Magic Bicycle is the first in the Spirit Flyer series. The series uses a flying bicycle to represent faith in Christ. The bicycles are made by the “Three Kings”. When a person chooses to believe in them, the bicycle arrives and will fly when they are trusting. The series takes place in an end times setting, with it finally ending at the rapture. Throughout the series, the struggle between good and evil is shown in those choosing to ride Spirit Flyers battling Goliath Industries, an organization that desires to see death and destruction. In this book, John first learns about Spirit Flyers and the Three Kings. His grandfather teaches him the truth and John gets the chance to choose whether or not to follow the Three Kings. He is given multiple choices to give up, to trade the magic bicycle in for a newer nice looking one plus a bunch of money. He also learns about the enemy wanting his destruction. I highly recommend this book as well as the others in the series. It offers great spiritual value as well as a creative storyline and enough suspense and adventure to keep readers interested.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.

Angels Watching Over Me

I saw from the look on her face that she was going through the same struggle I had the morning before – thinking it must all have been a dream. And now she’d come down to find her dream looking at her from the stove where her mama should have been instead. The sight of me caused her whole world-the one that a night’s sleep had put back together in her brain – to crumble. If there’s any second day could be worse than the first, it’s from having the reality of the nightmare plunge its knife into your heart all over again. And then it’s worse, because you for sure that it’s just as bad as you thought. Whatever tiny bit of hope you were clinging to suddenly vanishes into thin air.

Book: Angels Watching Over Me  by Michael Phillips, Bethany House Publishers, 2003
12624EB: Angels Watching Over Me - eBookGenre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 16+
Subjects: Civil War, Slavery, Friendship, Faith, Prayer
Summary: They’re all dead. Mayme’s whole family and Katie’s whole family. All the slaves, all the masters. The Maurder’s killed them all. All that’s left from the two huge plantations are two teenage girls, one black, one white. They’re determined to keep anyone from knowing that though. When Mayme finds fifteen year old Katie standing in the midst of the dead bodies looking helpless and lost, she stays and helps Katie right her world again, intending to see her turned over to whatever relatives will take care of Katie. Katie has other plans though. She has no intention of living with any of her relatives or leaving the plantation. And she certainly has no intention of letting the best friend she’s ever had go away! They know though, that anyone who finds the two of them alone together will put an end to their plans in an instant. And there is danger still. Enemies with guns, searching for hidden wealth come thinking to raid the plantation. It’s going to take nothing short of a miracle for these girls to survive!
Notes: Angels Watching Over Me is the first in the Shenandoah Sisters series. The series tells how two 16 year old girls survive after the Massacre of Shenandoah County – where a gang of outlaw Confederate deserters killed a bunch of people. In this story, everyone on the two plantations they live on is killed. Mayme mindlessly wanders away and finds herself at Katie’s plantation just as Katie comes up from the cellar she hid in. The two girls stick together out of necessity for a couple of day and become close friends. Towards the end of the book they make the decision to fool people into believing Katie’s family is still alive.
This book sets up the whole story for the series. It also sets up the spiritual foundation. Finding their mother’s Bibles causes the girls to seek God and ask for His help. Both girls ask Jesus into their hearts. Mayme feels God speaking to her, telling her to stay at Rosewod with Katie.
The issue of prejudice is dealt with as well in this story. Neither girl is really bothered by the other one’s skin color, but Mayme is extremely aware of her place in society and how others will view their friendship and explains to Katie that she’ll be lynched if anyone finds out that she’s living like a white woman in the house with Katie. When another character enters the story, Mayme shows some hints of prejudice towards whites, but it winds up being more jealousy than prejudice.
I highly recommend this series.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Galatians 5:13 – You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

On My Own

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It’s like I’m not even me anymore. What happened to that Caitlin O’Connor who was always on the go, always thinking she could do anything, go anywhere, ready to change the world? I just don’t get it. Oh, I suppose I could pretend to be like the old me, especially if, say, my old friends happened to stop by unexpectedly (like that’ll ever happen!). But I’m not even sure I could pull that off. It’s as if something in me is broken and I don’t know how to fix it.

Book:Diary of a Teenage Girl Series, Caitlin #4: On My Own by Melody Carlson, Multnomah Publishers, 2002
520173: Diary of a Teenage Girl Series, Caitlin #4: On My Own

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-19
Subjects: Dating Relationships, Sex, Evangelism, Friendship, Sexual abuse, College
Summary: Can you say “homesick”? Caitlin is downright miserable! No one told her college would be like this! Away from all of her friends and family and support, stuck with the worst roommate in the history of the world, and wrestling (again) with her feelings for a certain someone… she just wants to go home! But God obviously has plans for Caitlin, including reaching out to someone suffering from sexual abuse that was done by a religious figure, turning her off to Christianity and filling her with anger towards everyone. Just as she starts to think she’s got some things under control though, Josh pops a shocking question on her that leaves her reeling!
Notes: Becoming me is the fourth 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. 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. In this book Caitlin is now a freshman in college. There are two really big issues dealt with in this book. One if how does God expect someone to go to love the unlovable? Caitlin's roommate gives her a long list of reasons to not bother, but God seems to keep drawing Caitlin back again. The other issue is letting anything come between you and your relationship with God. (SPOILER ALERT) Josh asks Caitlin for a sort of pre-engagement commitment. Being in love with him she accepts, but strongly feels it is wrong and has to let go of her dream of being with him in order to do what she feels God is leading her towards.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 10:37 – "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me;

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