My Life As A Torpedo Test Target

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a pretty decent swimmer. In fact, during the last couple of days, I’d even gotten the hang of using the face mask and scuba tank. It’s just when you put the possibility of anything going wrong and me, Wally McDoogle, in the same room (or ocean(, the chances of something catastrophic happening are pretty high. It’s like a law or something. If you’re looking for a disaster, just make sure I’m around.

Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Target Audience: Boys 11-15
Subjects: Greed
Summary: Sunken Pirate Treasure! Wally, Wall Street and Opera have joined a crew searching for the treasure! In WWII an old sub was sunk and at some point, someone stole some gold and hid it in that sub, then promptly died. Now the treasure is in a hidden sub, supposedly guarded by a prehistoric monster known as “The Stinger”. Wally and the rest of the crew want to find that gold and become rich. They are calculating all they could do with that much money. Unfortunately, greed comes with a high price. Wally’s crew isn’t the only one searching for the treasure. To beat the other crew, Wally with have to take some risky moves – which could be a problem considering we are talking about Wally McDoogle – the boy highly talented at clumsiness and causing disasters.
Notes: The Wally McDoogle series focuses on a twelve year old boy that is impressively clumsy. He calls himself a “dork-oid”, someone he describes like this: “While everyone else is wearing hot new fashions, we’re sporting frozen-oldie hand-me-downs. While everyone else has these terrific put downs, we usually say something stupid or, worse yet, polite.” Whenever an opportunity for adventure comes up, Wally finds a way to accidentally get himself into trouble. In the process he learns some lesson from the Bible.
In My Life As A Torpedo Test Target, Wally discovers just how serious of consequences can come from greed.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Luke 12:15 – Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Sarah And The Lost Friendship

Sarah heard Teacher sigh. “I haven’t wanted to pry. Whatever it is, these little Christians seem to be pretty thorough in their hating. Remember the old saying, ‘Behold how they hate one another?’ Would you have supposed that cherishing grudges was a Christian virtue>” She laughed as she spoke, but Sarah didn’t feel like laughing.

Book: Sarah and the Lost Friendship ( Prairie Adventure Series ) by Margaret Epp, Victor Books, 1970
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Target Audience: Girls 11-14
Subjects: Friendship, Jealousy, Forgiveness
Summary: It’s wonderful attending school with your best friend. Sarah and Susan have a great time together. When Sarah’s older sister marries Susan’s older brother and starts to show sisterly kindness towards Susan, Sarah begins to feel the stirrings of jealousy. When Susan’s mother insults her multiple times and even makes accusations against her to her own mother, Sarah starts to think maybe Susan isn’t her friend after all. When Susan implies that some of the girls are school are only being nice to Sarah because they want attention from another of her big brothers Sarah decides that settles it. Susan just won’t be her friend any longer!
Notes: Sarah and the Lost Friendship is the third in the Prairie Adventure Series. This book was originally published in hardcover under the title “The Princess Rides A Panther”. That title is based off of a section in the book where Sarah, who’s dad’s nickname for her is Princess, compares the poem A Lady From The Tropic of Cancer Rides A Panther, to her unforgiveness of her friend. Sarah’s mother, brother and teacher all try to help Sarah see that her attitude is not godly, but Sarah is too caught up in her hurt and anger to accept the truth. It’s not until she overhears her teacher pointing out how hateful these two Christian girls are, that she is willing to stop holding a grudge and forgive her friend.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Colossians 3:13 - Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

The Hidden Kingdom

It was her land, her world that was an illusion, she mused. A wizard’s fabrication. But not this. This was a piece of the actual world above. The world that was created ages ago, designed for humans to inhabit. The world she and her people were from and were meant to be a part of. As wonderful as the box had felt under her hands, moving to her will, this rock felt even more wonderful. For it spoke to her heart and soul. To her origins that cried out in her blood. She felt as if she had been wandering lost her whole life, looking for her true home. She knew now she had found it.

Book: The Hidden Kingdom (The Gates of Heaven Book 7) by C. S. Lakin, Living Ink Books, 2015

Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 12-16
Subjects: Faith
Summary: Destruction. One site after another is being destroyed. The Gates of Heaven that were set up to protect the world from evil are crashing. Sha’kath the Destroyer and his gryphons have been loosed and are seeking out all seven of the Gates of Heaven to destroy them. What the keepers and kings and wizards can not figure out is why Heaven is allowing it. Perthin, King and Keeper of Elysia is told that he will be the last king and the last keeper. Perthin, Kael, Adin, Joran, his father and other wizards, and Justyn from Wentwater join together in an effort to find the seventh kingdom in hopes of finding out how to stop Sha’kath. Back during the time of Lael, when Heaven first set up the sites, one wizard managed to escape Sha’Kath’s attack by creating a city hidden inside a mountain. The city is now failing as the wizard is aging but the only hope of saving their world is a young girl with a curiosity about the outside world that could complete the destruction in one rash move. Heaven holds the answers to all, but finding them is more than just searching scrolls. The kingdom is hidden and yet within. And only when finding it will the answers be revealed.
Notes: Seventh and final in the Gates of Heaven series, a series that constantly reminds us that Heaven exists, that personifies Heaven, almost takes on the role of God Himself. “Heaven favors the honest and valiant” is an example of one of these.  This series is designed to be fairy tales that teach Scriptural truths in fantasy settings. The biggest spiritual element in this book is the incredible power of God’s love. All throughout the series, we have been introduced to sites where Heaven set up a gate and a keeper to guard against evil in the world. All ancient literature points to there being seven such sites, yet no one knows of the seventh. The seventh is apparently hidden – even more hidden than the site under the lake or the site inside the ice kingdom that no one can even see without knowing the secret to it, or the city that appears to have no entrance. At the end, the characters finally learn that this kingdom is hidden in their own hearts – it’s God’s kingdom – accessed through His love. That’s the huge element – the conclusion of the whole series. There’s another element in this book though – the discussion of whether or not to hide the truth for the sake of protecting the innocent. A wizard creates a city inside and under a mountain and casts a spell so the inhabitants of the city don’t even know there is an outside world to protect them from the extreme evil that was destroying everyone.
Overall, this story completes the series well. At one point I was hesitant about it in terms of spiritual elements – it seemed to imply that a powerful wizard could create – just like God – and was powerful enough to accomplish about anything. At the end though, it turned it back around to show how the power comes from Heaven. Here’s how they describe it: “She knew now what this sensation was. It was the same thing she had felt in her cell in the Destroyer’s fortress – the wellspring of love that had grown from a spark into a wildfire. But this wasn’t just the love she felt for her father, or that which she felt from him, however deep and pure and strong and enduring. No, this was another’s love, and it was far more pure and strong than any human’s love could ever be. It was more powerful than the burning orb in the sky. More powerful than a pounding waterfall or an avalanche of rocks. This was the source of all creation, what fueled and sustained not just the world around her but the whole of life, of existence. Every tiny particle of everything in and under heaven had this spark of life. Yet it was not only everywhere outside of her; it was also within. The wellspring of her life. The key to the kingdom.”
In conclusion: I highly recommend this entire series!
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 103:19 - The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Psalm 145:13 - our kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.

Sheep Tales

Gayla couldn’t believe his ears. Oh, they had been through their arguments; they had gone round and round. But it was so rare that Edgar wanted to listen. He liked to be the one doing all the talking. Perhaps he would question every little bit of the narrative and throw in nasty and sarcastic remarks to boot. Who could say? Gayla only knew he now had a chance to tell the Sheep Tales and he loved doing so.
Edgar rolled his eyes as Gayla began: “There are the stories that hold the mysterious key of hope that will last long after you and I are gone.”

Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 10+
Subjects: Bible History, Hope
Summary: A hurt raven, angry and bitter for years forms an unlikely friendship with a spotless sheep. When Gayla is selected for sacrifice, Edgar stops raging long enough to listen to why Gayla claims to have hope. Gayla tells him the stories that have brought him hope through the years – the stories of Arvid the platypus, Sub the elephant, Dandy the lion, Herman the sheep, Clarence the horse, Glubber the great fish, Earl the worm, Socrates the sheep and Sable the rabbit. Taking place over hundreds of years, these stories show how the Creator interacts with His creation and how He has a plan to rescue them from the sin that plagues their world.
Notes: The Sheep Tales is a retelling of some Bible stories as might be described if an animal had observed them. It’s also the story of how the animals’ lives were changed through the events that happened. All throughout the story it’s also the tale of how Gayla is trying to bring hope to Edgar. Edgar’s bitterness and pain over his mother’s death when he was young and his partial blindness has made him unable to believe in love. At the end of the story, Edgar is present at the death and resurrection of Christ and finally finds the hope Gayla had been sharing with him. The reading level is that of a ten year old or older, but it would make a great read-aloud for younger children as well.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Romans 5:5-8 – And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks to my friend Katie for telling me I needed to read this and loaning me her copy!


“So what now?”
Oliver nodded. It was time to claim his role, to cement his authority as their leader. “Everything has happened very quickly. I’m sure it’s all as much a shock to you as it is to me,” Oliver said solemnly. “It’s going to take some time to digest it, but we have to act now if we want to rescue our parents.”

Book: Taken (Quest for Truth, Book 1) by Brock Eastman, Focus On The family, P & R Publishing, 2011

Genre: Science Fiction
Target Audience: Boys 12-16
Subjects: Sibling Relationships, Responsibility, Trust, Truth
Summary: Oliver went to the house that night out of impatience and frustration. But he was not the same boy when he returned to the spaceship. The responsibility for keeping his siblings alive and finding and rescuing his parents from an unknown enemy was now on his shoulders. And he was determined to do it to the best of his ability. But little siblings don’t always obey and things don’t always go the way you want them to. And when you don’t know who your enemy is, it’s hard to know how to trust. Maybe Tiffany can find answers in reading her parents’ journals. Maybe the twins’ encounter with the blue people won’t ruin everything. Maybe Oliver can figure out how to do all the things he hasn’t had time to learn at the Academy yet. Maybe they can all make it out alive. Maybe…
Notes: The first in a science fiction series set way in the future, Taken tells of a time when no one knows of the Bible. A line of it is discovered – a line promising eternal life. This is all the bad guys need to know. A book that tells the answers of eternal life is definitely worth destroying some lives in a pursuit to possess the answers. This first book in the series doesn’t actually contain any more spiritual elements than that. It just hints that there is something out there, something more. This first book is clearly setting up the rest of the series. I suspect the series overall will get a 5/5 rating. But in of itself, the first book just doesn’t have the spiritual elements.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

John 10:28 – I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I enjoyed it!

The Golden Braid

Mother just didn’t understand what it was like to be young and to want to do things, to learn things, to meet new people. Mother was content to speak only with Rapunzel, to be always with her. What if she never did make a close friend? Was she destined to be alone with her mother until one of them died. To never marry or have children?

Book: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2015

Genre: Fairy Tale
Target Audience: Girls 16+
Subjects: Truth, Ethics, Love, Charity
Summary: Alone. That’s how Rapunzel feels most of the time. Her mother has denied her opportunities to get close to anyone. They move whenever someone begins to show too much interest in Rapunzel. No education for her outside of that she could scrounge out for herself. This move is different though. They are close to a big city. Opportunities can be found in a city that have never been available before – most importantly the opportunity to seek reading lessons. The opportunity comes in a surprising form though! On the road to the city, Rapunzel and her mother are attacked by a thief and then rescued by a knight – a highly educated knight… with an injury that will keep him from working for weeks! Carefully sneaking out of the house at just the right times, Rapunzel learns to read and opens her eyes to a world outside of the one her mother has created for her. When she finally finds the courage to break away, she learns that nothing is as she once thought and this knowledge places her in great danger.
Notes: The latest in the collection of Fairy Tales by Melanie Dickerson, The Golden Braid is a Rapunzel story. Like Rapunzel it has a girl kidnapped by a woman claiming to be her mother. Unlike Rapunzel, she is only locked in a tower for a short time. Rather than a prince, it’s a mere knight who has to come to her rescue. Due to her confined lifestyle, Rapunzel does not know all that much of Scripture. She knows what she has heard from some various parsons. Gerek has been able to actually read and even own Scripture. When Rapunzel is kidnapped, Garek fasts and prays and follows God’s leading to find her. Early on in the story he tells Rapunzel he is afraid of having a relationship with a woman due to his father killing his mother. She tells him that God can make him into any kind of man, no matter what his parents did. Rapunzel feels unloved but another woman shares how looking to a husband to fill our great need for love will not fill us. Only God can fill the ultimate need we have. She encourages Rapunzel to read Scripture and recognize God’s love written there.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 John 3:16 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I enjoyed it!

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