The Prisoner

Friday, November 7, 2014
The worst change, he decided later that night, was that he hadn’t seen Caroline since the afternoon she had come to warn them about Francis. He prayed about it every night, but so far God hadn’t heard. “Please, God,” he thought once again. “Please don’t let her be the enemy. I miss her.”

Book: The Prisoner (Christian Heritage Series: The Williamsburg Years #4) by Nancy Rue, Focus on the Family Publishing, 1998

Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 11-15
Subjects: Revolutionary War, Politics, Friendship, Reputation, Anger, Family Relationships, Secrets, Ethics
Summary: Exactly who IS the enemy? In this time of war, one household follows the patriot cause, another follows the loyalist cause. Thomas knew that Caroline’s parents followed the loyalist, but he was certain her brother, his instructor, his friend, his role model did not. Now a letter has arrived saying he has joined the loyalist army. So does mean Alexander is now his enemy? What about Caroline? Is she the enemy? It seems like it… But that’s not all that’s causing trouble for Thomas. His father has determined it is time for him to attend the grammar school his brothers did, the grammar school with the mean teacher who wields a whip, a dunce cap and stool for anyone who displeases him. That same grammar school is where some definite enemies are attending. Some new boys have moved into town and formed a trio of trouble maker who throw snowballs containing rocks at young girls and attack those who won’t help them cheat in school. Thomas has quickly become their prime target. And his father isn’t around to help him out of this situation. He’s in Richmond – right where the loyalists are attacking! He can’t turn to Dr. Quincey for help either because one of the leaders of the patriot army is imprisoning Dr. Quincey for being a Quaker and refusing to fight. Malcome is caught up in all the war movements. Thomas is really all on his own. 
Notes: This story focuses on the life of a young boy growing up as a patriot during the time of the Revolutionary War. His best friend and teacher are loyalists – some of the only ones in town, so he finds himself in the midst of much tension there. Then there’s tension within his own home as his father tends towards a more peaceful approach and his brother is determined to run off and join the army. It’s a story of growing up, and a story of growing in knowledge of and relationship with God. In this book, Thomas has to figure out how to respond to those who believe differently about the war than he does. In a time when most believe that anyone who does not share their beliefs about the war is an enemy to be hated, it’s hard for Thomas to figure out how to deal with the situation. Thomas realizes he isn’t alone though – that God hasn’t, and won’t, leave him and turns there for wisdom on what to do.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 12:2 –2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The Threat

“They said we were lucky to survive last time. We won’t be that lucky again”

Book: The Threat (Christian Heritage Series: The Charleston Years #3) by Nancy Rue, Focus on the Family Publishers, 1998

Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 10-14
Subjects: Slavery, Friendship, Truth and lies, Trust, Forgiveness
Summary: Growing rice in the summer is a stinky job. And it attracts mosquitoes like crazy. So, logically, the Ravenals leave the plantation for the summer and spend the season in Charleston. Austin is quite excited – surely there are lots of great adventures and picture perfect moments awaiting him there! From the very beginning though, things don’t go as well as he’d hoped. His uncle has made enemies of his neighbors by having a different idea of how to fight to keep slavery than they do. These “firebreathers” have decided that anyone who does not completely share their exact views is an enemy and should be attacked. The plans Austin overhears and accidentally observes are life threatening!
Notes: This is the third set of books in the Christian Heritage Series. Each set focuses on a particular time period and tells the story of a young boy growing up in that time. This set is about a young boy who has been raised as an abolitionist but is living with his uncle’s family on a plantation in the south where they don’t believe slavery is wrong. In this book, Austin learns about values. He has to decide what to value. He thinks it is a special pin his father sent him, but realizes it’s not an object at all, but the people he loves. He makes some serious mistakes in his attempt to get that which he thinks is valuable and causes great hurt in the process.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Matthew 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Stand

“I sound like Mr. DeWitt, God. He sure hates the Japanese – even the ones that were born here. Is that okay with You?” Will opened his eyes and looked at the map again. Was the answer up there? Were the Japanese who wanted ice-cream the same ones who wanted his father as their prisoner? If they were, he decided, Mr. DeWitt was right. He was going to have to hate them too.

Book: The Stand (Christian Heritage Series: The Santa Fe Years #3) by Nancy Rue, Focus On The Family Publishing/Bethany House Publishers, 2001

Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 10-14
Subjects: Friendship, Identity, Crime, Relationship with parents and siblings
Summary: Nips, Nisei, Japs, viper, slant-eyes, issei – what are the Japanese–Americans? Will needs to know. Some refer to them as “those miserable Japanese” in angry muttered tones. Some refer to them as “God’s creation”. Some refer to them as “untrustworthy”, claiming they aided in Pearl Harbor. Some claim they are innocent people being imprisoned. Will doesn’t know what to think! And if that weight on his mind wasn’t heavy enough, he has to deal with the fact that his decision about how to view the Japanese will make the difference between having friends at school or not and how much trouble he gets into with his mom. In fact, before long, the whole community seems torn apart by the decision and Will finds himself right in the middle of it.
Notes: This is the fifth set of books in the Christian Heritage Series. Each set focuses on a particular time period and tells the story of a young boy growing up in that time. This set is about a young boy who is growing up during World War II while his father is off fighting in the battles. In this book, Will faces the issue of how to view the Japanese people as a whole. Obviously the Japanese soldiers killing and capturing Americans are an enemy but does that mean Will should hate little Japanese-American children he meets right here in his own community? One of those who mentors Will tells him that God loves His creation, not hates it. There is a difference between hating the evil acts that men do and hating that which God has created. It’s also a strong focus on friendship as Will has to figure out who to listen to and follow. Will desperately wants to find friends and fit in at school so when Herb, a new anglo boy, the only other one in Will’s class, befriends him, Will finds himself going along with things he wouldn’t normally do and neglecting those he has previously called friend. In the issue of the Japanese, Will hears different adults telling him opposite opinions. One adult says to love them, another adult says to hate them. Right from the start though, Will turns to the right source for answers – he prays, asking God to show him what to do. Throughout the book he consciously examines his heart, seeking to determine what God wants of him.
Recommendation Scale: 5//5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Proverbs 1:5 – let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance
Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.


Sunday, November 2, 2014
“I’m a reporter, trig. I bring truth to the people of this nation. And certain stories have eluded me for far too long. Liberation, for example. And the Guilt Intelligence League. I’m tired of the lies the Guild tells its people. I’ve been a tool in Lawten Renzon’s drawer long enough. I want answers. She nodded to Omar. I saw this man liberated. I thought that meant death. But here he is. Back from… where? The people have a right to know.”

Book: Rebels by Jill Williamson, Blink (Zondervan) Publishers, 2014
48952EB: Rebels - eBook

Genre: Futuristic/Science Fiction
Target Audience: Girls and Boys 18+
Subject: Euthanasia, Sex, Jealousy, Selective Genetics, Freedom, Forgiveness, Marriage, Truth
Summary: Truth. It all boils down to that. The only reason the Safe Lands’ leadership is still controlling this land is because the truth is hidden from the people and lies are told to them instead. If they can just bring the truth to the general populace, all the captivity will be over. No one will work for the government any longer. The only problem is that those who know the truth have been “liberated”, meaning they have no access to technology to communicate messages to the people. And those not yet liberated are close to it as they continue to try to rescue all the women in the harem. It comes down to one crazy, totally insane, mostly untested science experiment put together by an untrained medic and dreamed up by a drug addict. If the experiment succeeds, the truth will be revealed. If it fails, pretty much all hope is gone.
Notes:  This is the third and final book in the Safe Lands series, a futuristic series on the issue of freedom – whether or not a person should deny themselves any desire and whether or not anyone has the right to force someone to help them. This third book has a lot more spiritual elements than the first book did and even more than the second. As with the second, the females in the story have a very strong faith and are determined to hold to the truth no matter what challenges or lies come their way. The men don’t usually dwell on matters of faith – at least not until they find themselves in the midst of a life or death situation where they need help! Mason recognizes his own lack of focus on prayer and thankfulness after being spared a brutal beating. It has an interesting discussion in the middle when those from the characters from Glenrock join a colony of Safe Landers hiding underground. There is a lot of debate between the two different cultures of women. The Safe Landers have created their own laws and theology that contradict the Scripture and take great offense at those from Glenrock even being around them, let alone defending anyone against the cruel condemnation the Safe Landers issue on anyone who doesn’t share their worldview completely.
Also, due to the issues dealt with in this book, it is not written as an enjoyable, entertaining reading, but rather than an intense, graphic look at a serious issue. If you would like more on this topic, check out The Center For Bioethics And Human Dignity, a Christian organization that helps people figure out how to respond to these sorts of subjects. 
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Overall Quality Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

John 8:32 – Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

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


Miles From Nowhere

I know You’re disappointed in me, Lord. I feel like I’ve gotten in too deep, and I don’t know how to get out. I don’t know who I am or where I belong. But I know one thing for sure, God. I miss my close relationship with my mom, and Todd, and You. Please lead me back to You. Amen.

Book: Miles From Nowhere by Amy Clipston, Zondervan Publishers, 2014
736707: Miles From Nowhere

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-19
Subjects: Family relationships, dating relationships, prayer, God’s Will, Alcohol
Summary: It’s Chelsea’s last summer before college! It’s time to live a little! That’s what Dylan – the super hot guy that seems really in to her, and Kylie – her new friend and partner in the costuming department of the theater, keep telling her. And it does seem as though her parents are being unreasonable and Todd, her boyfriend is never available anymore. So why not have some fun? It’s just some parties, a little bit of alcohol. It’s no big deal. She’s still making all the costumes, still working at the diner a lot, still going to church on Sundays, still helping take care of her little brothers. Nothing is changing… at least not all at once.
Notes: A powerful story of a teen girl struggling to find her identity, Miles From Nowhere is a companion story to Destination Unknown and Roadside Assistance. This one tells the story of a friend and neighbor of some of the characters from the last stories. This one pictures a girl who gives rebellion a chance. Sneaking out after her parents are in bed, lying to her mom, getting drunk, offending her boyfriend by flirting with someone else, till he breaks up with her, performing poorly at her job, and failing to follow through on her agreements – Chelsea goes all out. Choices have consequences for good or for bad and Chelsea is going to find out what some of the consequences of bad choices can be. There is also a spiritual emphasis as Chelsea recognizes that her choices are drawing her farther away from her relationship with God as well and desires to turn that around.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 1:21 – For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Two Renegade Realms

The violence that followed was hard to watch. The drawings Canton had made with the pens they found in the ruins should have prepared her, but she found the Lymen invaders hideous. The large green men hoisted themselves out of the plant-like pods they traveled in, then attached the vessels to their backs. Whether the bulk was lightweight or the Lymen were immensely strong, the ships did not encumber the Lymen one bit. The invaders stood on two legs with a vine tail they often used as a third arm. Their arms resembled huge leaves, the one edge had teeth, must like a saw, and they ripped through wood and people with ease.

Book: Two Renegade Realms - eBook by Donita K. Paul, Zondervan Publishers, 2014
63854EB: Two Renegade Realms - eBook

Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13+
Subjects: Trust in God, Prayer
Summary: With the explosion, some of the enemies on the council are dead, but the leader of the movement to destroy the very people they are pledged to protect is still alive and has more plans for destruction. That’s not the most urgent of their troubles though. The most urgent is two planets that only come around every thousand years or so. And always cause trouble when they do. The biggest challenge is that they have developed vehicles to go between realms – negating the needs for Premin’s Realm Walkers and Portrals. Those who live on these renegade planets are completely evil, willing to utterly destroy, gorging themselves on all in their path. They must be stopped before they can land their ships. Cantor, Bixby, their dragons, Dukmee and some new friends are Primen’s chosen warriors to stop the invasion. That’s assuming they can free all the imprisoned, convince the wilder dragons, heal the sick and inured, find the missing books and maps, interpret the puzzles left by the ancients…
Notes: The second in the Realm Walkers series, Two Renegade Realms continues the story of the world with Primen representing the Ultimate Being, Primen Warriors as angel type figures, realm walkers as the ones supposed to protect and help the people and the council as the ones supposed to lead and guide the realm walkers in protecting the people. This story focuses on following Primen as best as you can with what He has given you. A “right hand man”, seeming to represent a prophet like Elijah is introduced in this story. He is given large amounts of information directly from Primen, but not all details. He is still expected to make decisions and live in the world without being omnipotent – something that is frustrating to the others at various times. Overall, the spiritual element isn’t so much one big issue as it is merely modeling characters who are walking closely with God – who have devoted their entire lives to following God.
There is also the start of a development of Cantor trying to avoid dealing with his emotions. It is a thread not finished in this book, but he seems to be unwilling to get involved in a relationship, entangling his emotions.
Of note, there is one page where I would recommend younger readers skip. It gives a very horrific detailed description of the violence of the enemy from the renegade planets. Most of the book is light hearted even in the midst of trouble and difficulty, but page 361 contains too much detail of violence that doesn’t fit with the rest of the author’s writing style.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Isaiah 55:9 " – As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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

Trading Secrets

I feel worried for Zach’s sake. His concern about the cost of something as minor as takeout is a reminder of his situation. He has nothing. No clothes to speak of. No money. No education. How in the world can he possibly make it in the English world?

Book: Trading Secrets by Melody Carlson, Revell Publishers, 2014
722271: Trading Secrets

Genre: Realistic/Amish fiction
Target Audience: Girls 13-19
Subjects: Amish lifestyle, Friendships, Dating relationships, Future/Career Decisions
Summary: Spring break should be amazing… or horrifying. It depends on how her pen pal of six years takes the news that his pen pal isn’t a boy, but rather, a girl. Back in fifth grade, pen pals were assigned – an Amish school with an English school. The trouble is that the Amish teacher, believing photographs to be sinful, removed all the pictures. And Micah’s name is one normally used for boys, not girls. So for six years they’ve been writing. They’ve gone through tough times together, encouraged and supported each other. And now it’s time for Micah to reveal her secret. But Zach has been keeping a secret too. His secret is that he has lost his desire to be Amish. He has a thirst for knowledge, particularly mechanics and veterinary care. It’s easier to keep secrets when your only interaction with one another is letters, but the time for meeting has finally come and all secrets are about to be revealed.
Notes: Trading Secrets is another of Melody Carlson’s youth fiction books exploring what would happen if an Amish and an Englisher entered each other’s worlds. The first half of this book shows an English girl entering the world of an Amish boy. The second half shows the Amish boy entering the world of the English girl. As usual, a large focus is put on the culture differences, focusing on the beauty of the simplicity and living close to the land that the Amish have and the beauty of the freedom to be who God made you to be that the English have. The spiritual focus is on the characters choosing to turn to God in prayer when they become totally unsure of what else to do.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2.5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 90:8 –You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.

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

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