Monday, February 21, 2011

God Gave Us the World

Storyline - Little Cub and her family go to the museum to see and learn all about the bears of the world. As she sees the displays, she asks her mother why are they different from her and not made the same. The mother patiently explains how God made us all different but we are all still bears. She explains how he is creative and how he made the world and filled it with different bears.

Author - Lisa Tawn Bergren

Illustrator - Laura J. Bryant

Age Group - 5 and up

Positive - The story talks about how we're are all different but still created by God and we are each special. We each have our own place in the world and are important. The book has wonderful examples as Mama Bear explains why thing are the way they are. It also has wonderful lessons about God and about being different.

Negative - Nothing was really negative in this book.

Writing - The story and explanations were simple to understand and would be easily grasped by a child. The pictures were cut and had nice, vivid colors. There was not a lot of description in the story but the pictures helped in that aspect.

Personal Opinion - I thought the story was cute and had a good message for children on God and how others are different but still special. I can't wait to share it with my nephew when he gets older or even my own kids when I get married and have some. A nice story for anyone who wants to teach their kids about why we are different or just to read to them a story with a good message.

Links -  Learn more about the book at: (there is also a discussion guide and coloring pages there). Learn more about the author and her books at: . Lastly, learn more about the illustrator at: .

Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Special Notes - Other books about Little Cub and her family are also available.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Ranger's Apprentice

Storyline - Books 1-7 - The Ruins of Gorlan, The Burning Bridge, The Icebound Land, The Battle for Skandia, The Sorcerer of the North, The Siege of Macindaw, Erak's Ransom - Will, orphaned when just a baby and doesn't even know who his family was, is excepted as an apprentice to the Rangers Corps. While learning the art of being unseen, the longbow, and throwing knives from one of the best Rangers, Halt, Will goes on dangerous adventures and has to save himself and his friends countless times. Of course, sometimes he's the one in need of help from his friends Horace (a talented knight), Gilan (a ranger), Alyss (an old friend), and Evanlyn (who has an interesting secret). As he goes through these adventures, he grows up and even becomes a full Ranger himself. But the adventures don't stop there.

Author - John Flanagan

Age Group - 14 and up

Positive - It's great how the characters stand up for each other when danger is around, anything from bullies to chopping blocks. They defend and protect one another and back the other up when they need it. The apprentices listen to their masters and learn from them and take their advise but sometimes have to use their own intuition when things don't go as planed but they still think of what they have been taught. Horace stands up to some bullies who have been terrorizing him to protect Will after he makes a promise to him to help him whenever he needs it after Will saved his life in the first book. In book 2, Will places himself in danger in order for his friends to get away and to foil a bad guy's plans. (There might be more than this but I can't remember)

Negative - Bad language is regularly in the books. There are some instances in the books that bugged me though, such as in book 3, when Horace and Halt are trying to rescue Will and Evelyn, they are in this port and Horace sees this girl with a really short skirt. He asks Halt why that is and he gives him a reason but it isn't true but Horace believes it so Halt decides to let him keep his innocence and not tell him the real reason. I didn't like what this was hinting at with the girl and I get the feeling that Halt thought that Horace, being so pure minded, was something childish or something like that. Also, once when Will and Alyss are working on something together, she has to change and Will catches a glimpse of her back and quickly turns away which makes her laugh. I didn't like the idea of how Alyss just laughed off Will trying to respect her, like seeing her back was no big deal and he was over reacting. Besides those things, Halt doesn't always use the best means possible for getting the job done, like 'the end justifies the means' kind of policy. He only respects religion so as not to offend someone he has to work with and once used what someone believed to get him to do something (okay it was to keep the person from killing someone but it was still liked he used the religion against the man). Halt also has no qualms about forging signatures and seals. (There might be more than just this but I can't remember)

Writing - Each book has a new storyline and a new adventure. Sometimes, series get boring after a while but this one is fresh and new with each book and does a great job for keeping your attention through it. The series is more about the adventures Will has as a Ranger instead of just one big event in his life which is what might make the series so entertaining. When one adventure ends, another begins. Like in real life. The descriptions and pace are also very good.

Personal Opinion - Very interesting series and each book is original and captures the reader's attention. But not great on the moral side of things. There are good things in the books but there is a lot of negative stuff in the books as well. I also felt that in book 6 and 7, Will was rebounding when he became interested in Alyss. But I do like how the characters try to protect and are loyal to one another.  The books don't really get into any of the negative stuff I stated above, except for bad language, until about book 3. I also wouldn't give the books to the suggested age of 12 because I just feel that some of the things that are stated above are not needed to be read by someone that age. Someone also pointed out to me that it might be a good idea to give these books to someone who already knows what is right and not because some of the good characters do some unsavory things to get the job done and shown to be okay. Plus, once they read book one they'll want to go on to the next.  I mostly like this series for the adventure and relationships of the characters.

Links - Learn more about the series and the author at:

Awards - In the bio about the author on the Ranger's Apprentice website, it says that the books have been on the New York Times Best Sellers List and has been shortlisted for different awards in Australia (the author's home country) for children's books.

Special Notes - The final book in the series, which will be #10, is out in April. All other books in the series are available now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dragons of Starlight

Storyline - Book 1 - Starlighter - Jason is a brilliant swordsman trained by his brother. The two don't see eye to eye on things but when Adrian goes off to find the Lost Ones, Jason takes his place in protecting the governor. When the governor is killed, Jason is framed and has to prove his innocence. On the way, he finds a way to the dragon planet that is told to hold the Lost Ones. Koren is a slave to the dragons with a gift for storytelling. But when a friend is promoted and scared of what that really means, Koren goes to find out and learns that she is a Starlighter, a prophesied girl who is said to help the yet to be born prince that some believe will free the slaves while others believe it means they will be killed. Will the truth be found out and how will the slaves be freed? Also, can Jason and Koren get out of the trouble they get themselves into that might cost them their lives?
Book  2 - Warrior - The dragon prince is born and Jason and Koren are in the Northlands trying to find help to free the slaves. But as the prince's calls and the dangers become more persistent, Koren goes back to protect Jason and a new friend. Elisa and Wallace help Axard escape from Magnar only to be caught and imprisoned. Axard and Magnar then get locked in the human world and have to find a way out. Elissa and Wallace, mean while, escape and begin to learn some history of the dragons and go to free the cattle children. What will happen when Koren goes back to the prince? Will she resist him or is what he tells her true? What waits for Jason in the Northlands and will he be able to succeed a test set before him? And what of Randall and Tibalt? What is waiting for them when they return to Darksphere?

Author - Bryan Davis

Age Group - 15 and up (some grown up issues which makes this series more appropriate for high schoolers on up)

Positive - Koren fights and wishes to live her life according to the Code set down by the Creator and wants to help her fellow slaves, especially the cattle children who are the worst off. Jason fights for the freedom of slaves as well but has lessons to learn before he can do that such as how far he is willing, and should, go to help a stranger. There is much fighting to help those who are less fortunate and who are helpless. Wallace, who only has one eye and has been a slave all his life, helps those he cares about and even rises up to be more then he ever was before.

Negative - Something from book to really bothered me (there might have been another thing but this one really stuck out for me) from book 2, Warrior. A statement by one of the characters. Cassabrie and Jason are talking about how if they don't fulfill what the Creator sets out for them he will find another and if they get in the way of the Creator's plans he will eliminate them. Cassabrie once says, "You are free to make your own decisions, unless you get in the way and endanger the outcome of the game" (they are using the game of chess as an analogy). But I don't think that is true. I don't think God just gets rid of someone because they mess up his plans. I don't believe anyone can mess up God's plans intentionally or not, but I do believe we can not do what God wishes we would do (that is our free will he gives us). But God can use our mistakes for the better and even make us stronger and still get his plan fulfilled through us and our mistakes (this doesn't mean go out and do what ever you want and not bother trying to do God's Will). I don't think God is ever out of control of the game or else, then, he is not all powerful. God created every person for a reason so would he really just get rid of someone because they don't do what they are suppose to? Is that really compassionate? And if God did just eliminate those that get in his way then do we really have free will? And would any of us still be alive?

Writing - Bryan Davis is always original with his storytelling and has wonderful descriptions that draws you into the story and makes a clear picture in your head. There are things that are weird to me, like when a spirit of a dead girl enters someone living so they can travel easier, but I still enjoy the books and look forward to what is coming out next.

Personal Opinion - The books are exciting, the characters learning good morals and becoming stronger, the stories original, and they support faith and God which not a lot of books (especially secular ones) or are world today do. I think the only problems I ever have with this author's books is that (I believe) we are of two different denominations (I don't know what his is) so there are slight differences in our faith. I agree on the more universal believes of the Christian faith, such as trusting God, and the main morals of the story, such as helping others without looking for repayment. This series is exciting and, if you or someone you know like dragons, read this. Even if you don't like dragons, very entertaining and good lessons.

Links - Learn more about the books and author at:  and .

Special Note - There is more to come in this series so I will be updating this review as I read the books. Also, in book 2, there's a paragraph missing. The author mentioned it on his blog and wrote the paragraph there. I have copied and pasted the link here which will take you directly to the paragraph:  .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blind Hope

Storyline - Laurie had made many mistakes in life while trying to find love and belonging. After gaining a job at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, she hears of a place that has dogs and a horse for rescue. Wanting to help, she agrees to take a dog only to be repulsed by it when she finally sees it. Not wanting to go back on her word and seeing what kind of place she would be leaving it to, she takes the dog and starts helping it heal and gives it a new name, Mia, and eventually love arises between dog and master. As time goes on, medical troubles arise. One of those troubles is blindness. As dog and own work together, Laurie learns about trust in God and many other lessons that she was only able to learn through her blind dog.

Author -Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher

Age Group - 16 and up

Positive - The book teaches excelt lessons on faith and trust in God. On how he sees what's a head and we don't so we must listen to Him to find the right path. Also, it teaches that just because we begin to listen and have faith in God, doesn't mean that our troubles will cease but we will have peace.

Negative - Nothing really objectionable even though it hints that Laurie had done some wrong things in the past but it doesn't go into detail or ever show or say that these things were good. Quite opposite, it only talks about these things as bad.

Writing - The book was mostly telling of the instances of when Laurie learned something from her dog and the discussion between Kim and her about it and what it means concerning faith in God and growing in Him. It teaches many good lessons and points out many good things about faith and the love and forgiveness of God. The descriptions are colorful and interesting. I think the people who would get the most out of this book are people who suffered or think like Laurie once did but others will enjoy it as well and be reminded of many wonderful truths that should never be forgotten.

Personal Opinion - I found the book to be enjoyable and the of blind dog and owner who sees what is in front of the dog vs. humans and what God sees in our path in life depictions are wonderfull. I wish it had done more showing instead of telling but since it was mostly emphasising the lessons that the two learned and the growth in God, the telling might have been a way for the reader to focus on the lesson more. A really good book and I think anyone who has been in Laurie's situations or felt the way she did or has/is living the way she was would get the most from the book. But the lessons on love won't be lost on anyone and this book will bring those lessons back to the front of the mind as it is read.

Links - Learn more about the ranch and book at (there is also a video about the book at this link): . Learn some more at the publisher's website too at: .
Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Special Note - The reason I wanted to read this book was because I once had a blind dog too. He was a good dog, a little crazy but good. He has passed but he was sweet and loved tennis balls (and chocolate). He lived a good life and was well taken care of.

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