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Sunday, July 31, 2011

How Huge the Night

"When Had God Ever Stopped a War Because a Teenager Asked Him To?"
                                                         Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms

Storyline - Julien doesn't want to live in his dad's old, small home town. And he doesn't want to board the Jewish boy, Benjamin, that his parents took in. All he wants it to play soccer, be excepted at his new school, and go home to Paris. What is the big deal? The war wasn't going to come to France with their great army protecting them. But, as the war moves closer to his new home and two young refugees from Austria show up, Julien has to make some big decisions and, as his world changes, he has to see what God wants him to do and his will not only for himself but others.

Author - Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

Publisher - Kregel Publishing

Age Group - 14 or 15 and up

Content - Julien learned a lot about God, forgiveness, and love. He also wanted to protect others against opposition against them because of race or religion. I really liked the parts when he saw the truth about himself and want to change and then does. Some people are not willing to change or have excuses about not changing. This was refreshing and a wonderful example for others.

Personal Opinion - Good book. I really liked it. The only things that bothered me were technical aspects within the book, such as when the word "he" is used to start every sentence in a paragraph. I also wish there had been more on Nina and mentioned the sister more because there were several times that I forgot Julien had a sister because she didn't show up where I would expect her to be at least mentioned. Lists were also given to show what the character was doing from a day to day bases. This should how things changed from before the war affected them to how it changed everything but I don't think it was the best way to relay the information. The only other thing I wish there had been was a guide in the back of the book on the French words. Sometimes they would use a word and I would forget what it meant from when they said it earlier in the book. I like how the main character was portrayed and developed in this book. Main characters are sometimes seen as bigger or better than the other character, somehow more right or better. But, in this book, the main character is the one who has lots to learn and is even shown the error of his ways by those who might surprise you. It was a refreshing take, more human like or real is perhaps a better word. It was such a moving story about WWII and the people who lived through it. It shows persecution and how the war affected different people. I will definitely read next book by the authors. I will also recommend it to friends and family but I see why some people might not be able to read it because of how much they heard, or experienced, during the time it was happening. It could bring back memories of those who lived it (there really wasn't anything graphically described but there was enough to give an idea of what happened and could bring back memories). The book had a sobering affect on me and what happened in WWII.

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Links - Learn more about the book and authors at:

Special Notes - Apparently there will be another book. Don't know if there will be any characters from this book to that one but it will take place during WWII.

To read, comment, and rate this and other reviews, stop by http://bookwormreading.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Young Samuria: The Way of the Warrior

Bookworm's Ranking - 2 Worms

Storyline - Book 1 - In 1611, Jack Fletcher is on a voyage with his father to find the Japanese and trade with them. But when ninja assassins attack the wounded ship, everyone on board is killed except Jack who is rescued by a Japanese family and then adopted by a samurai. Not understanding the language or customs is difficult but, as he is learning, Jack also starts to pick up the bokken (a wooden version of the katana) and gets attacked again by the ninja who killed his father. Eventually, he is take to a samurai school to learn the Way of the Warrior. As he's there, he has to over come people who resent him because he is not Japanese, learns Bushido, and must defend the school's honor.

Author - Chris Bradford

Publisher - Disney Press

Age Group - 12 or 13 and up

Content - There were so many honorable lessons in this book (one of them being honor). The students would talk to the teachers and learn from them and one of the teachers, Sensei Yamada, was shown to be wise and very helpful (he had the best advise). This Sensei also told Jack not to seek revenge and that one day the ninja who killed his father would pay for what he's done, even if it has to be in the next life. Forgiveness was a big thing among the Japanese and apologies were seen as taking responsibility for ones actions. A student told the truth once to help Jack when he got in trouble because of another student, putting himself in trouble with the bully as well. Another student told the truth to give Jack a honor that he was going to give up to help him. Bushido, or Way of the Warrior, is very interesting. It consists of rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, and loyalty (I took this right out of the book but can't remember the page number). These are all good things to have and support and, if everyone did them, I think our world would be a better place. The book also showed that girls are tough and gave a good example of a strong girl who was also a samurai (did anyone else know girls could be samurai back then?). Unfortunately for all the good things in this book, it was very tit-for-tat with negative behavior or happenings. A fellow student of Jack's constantly picked on him so when the bully got in trouble, Jack and his friends enjoyed his predicament. One of the characters you are supposed to like gets drunk once, even though he knows not to. God's name was used in vain once (if I remember correctly) and Jack told someone to go to h***. Jack also lied a couple times to keep something safe and to help out a friend. A friend tried to kill himself but Jack saves him and talks some sense into him. Some things that might make others uncomfortable but I saw more as historical stuff that was a lot of killing, the mention of ritual suicide, and Buddha was mentioned on occasion (there was a hall called Buddha Hall and a monk said "even Buddha will wait"). But, my biggest problem with the book was that it painted the Catholic faith in a bad light. I found it very insulting how it was depicted and, if the author tried at all to redeem the look he gave it, it didn't even become lukewarm. More details about this in the 'Personal Opinion' section because this is getting a little long.

Personal Opinion - I would have really enjoyed this book if not for my faith being put in such a bad light which kind of ruined it for me. First, a sailor called a Jesuit a devil and someone said that the Catholics could have "poisoned the minds of" the native Japanese so then, since the sailors were Protestant, they might be killed for being heretics. When Jack meets a priest, he is very insulting to Jack because he is a Protestant and English (the priest was Portuguese. There was some sort of conflict between the two countries at the time I guess). The priest was made out to be not a very great character and kept you second guessing what the man's motives were as he started being kind to Jack. Also, when the priest kissed a cross once, it was called a talisman. Now, there have been Catholics who have made mistakes because we are still human and, also, hostility between Portuguese and English and Protestants and Catholics might have been true during that time period, but it being the only example of Catholics is insulting and misleading. Not all Catholics are like that and it's not fair how that is how they are portrayed. The book showed even two sides of the samurai and the Japanese people but didn't even give Catholics a fighting chance. It is unfortunate how my faith was depicted because Chris Bradford is a good writer. He kept the story going well without losing any details but it didn't drag either. The 'Pronunciation Guide' in the back was very helpful in understanding Japanese words and one of the best I had ever used (in fact I learned a few with the book and I now how to speak Japanese a little. Whether I pronounce them right is another matter. A little interested in learning that language now but that is besides the point). The characters are diverse and interesting, too. You can understand how they feel and could identify with them. But, because of how my faith was shown in the book, it's because of this, and this alone, that will probably keep me from reading the rest of the books in this series. And keep me from recommending it. I could have over looked everything else, but this.

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Links - Learn more about the books and author at: http://www.youngsamurai.com/ .

Awards - On the author's web site it says the series is an award winner but I can't find exactly what awards they have won.

To read, comment, and rate this and other reviews, stop by http://bookwormreading.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Homelander Series: The Final Hour

 "You're Not Alone. You're Never Alone"
  Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms

Storyline - Charlie is in jail and waiting word from one of the people who put him in the Homelanders to uncover their secrets. Soon, he hears that all the Homelanders are in custody except for Prince, the leader of the terrorist group. Unfortunately, there is nothing they can do to clear Charlie's name of murder and thus have his sentence revoked. While trying to survive prison and find a legal way out, a memory comes back to him which reveals that the danger of the Homelanders is far from over. Desperate to reach someone and stop this final attack, Charlie has to make a major decision in order to save the US from another devastating attack but it could cost him his life and freedom. How far is he willing to go to save the country he loves and will he even be able to succeed in preventing Prince from his final plan?

Author - Andrew Klavan

Publisher - Thomas Nelson

Age Group - 15 and up

Content - Charlie just wants to do the right thing even though sometimes it is hard to do it or see what is the right decision. He makes a great observation on how easy it is to make a choice from a safe place and not when you are in the middle of it. He is also willing to place everything on the line, his life and freedom, to save countless people who are in danger. I loved how he pointed out it was not his duty to judge or hate the bad guys, it is to stop them. I think so many people are taught, or at least think it is okay, to be angry, or hate, someone who is bad or someone they don't like so the example in this books in an encouraging thing to read and gives hope that it might teach others how to see the enemies of life.

Personal Opinion - What a good book and great ending to the series which I have been following since the first book, The Last Thing I Remember, came out in 2008. It was exciting and encouraging and a great wrap up for the series. A good series for teen, espessially those who like action, things blowing up, and lots of danger. Girls will enjoy the books too. The characters were nicly developed with different personalities and the storyline is new and exciting. The author has a nack for being able to carry on a story well. A couple of time I thought, "Where are they going to be able to go from here?" then, several pages later, I go, "Oh. That's how." There is one little thing I wish I had seen differently about the ending but, because I don't want to give it away (it is the ending part of the ending) that I can't really say it without potentially spoiling it. Part of me would like to re-read the series, starting at the beginning and seeing how it all goes now from start to finish but some more time should go by before I do that.

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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through Booksneeze.com.

Links - Learn more about the books and the author at: http://www.thehomelanders.com/

Special Notes - Check out my review of the previous three books here: http://bookwormreading.blogspot.com/2010/11/homelanders-series.html

To read, comment, and rate this and other reviews, stop by http://bookwormreading.blogspot.com/

Theodore Boone: The Abduction

Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms

Storyline - When April, Theo's best friend, disappears, he starts investigating and searching different areas of town with the help of friends in hopes of locating her. But as time goes on, the stakes get higher and April seems to be slipping more and more from their reach. Will they find her? And who is Leeper, a man convicted of kidnapping who just escaped from prison and has been seen within town? Did he take her like everyone thinks?

Author - John Gresham

Publisher - Dutton Children's Books: And Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Age Group - 12 or 13 and up

Content - Theo searches for his friend diligently even when others are giving up. Unfortunately, he tells a big lie to his parents and doesn't even get a small lecture about it. He lies a few other times too. On a couple of other occasions, he also, technically, listens to a cop who is being unreasonable and seems to like throwing his weight around, but still gets done what he wants to do. One time it was going somewhere the cop told him not to go so, instead, he heads somewhere else and watches the area he is not permitted to go.

Personal Opinion - The book was pretty good. Because of the cover, I kept waiting for Theo to go somewhere alone at night but he never did which I was thankful for. Too smart for that I guess. One of my favorite parts, besides the exciting and mysterious mystery of the missing April, was the funny spot in middle of the book which broke up the tense situation. The story was well developed and the mystery progressed well, making you wonder what was going to and what did happen to his friend. Wondering if she was okay and if they would find her in time. Wished it had developed some side characters more, especially one boy because of how much this he was in the story, and had toned back on the lying. This book will interest more readers than just those who want to be lawyers with the exciting storyline it promises. The book leaves you with a hint of a third book, which, perhaps, will continue the mystery of the first book (maybe I shouldn't have said that. Gave too much away perhaps?).

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Links - Learn more about the books and author at: http://www.theodoreboone.com/

Special Notes - Another book about Theodore Boone was published last year (you do not have to read that one to understand this one). You can read my review here: http://bookwormreading.blogspot.com/2010/09/theodore-boone-kid-lawyer.html

To read, comment, and rate this and other reviews, stop by http://bookwormreading.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Christy Awards

Being a Christian Reviewing blog, and loving Christian fiction, I have been excited about the Christy Awards since I was heard who was nominated a couple of months ago. I have heard and/or read several of the books that were up for the award. The ceremony to announce the winners was last night (I was there via Internet :). There was a link where you could read post by host and others watching only and hear what was going on at the dinner.) and thought I would share with you the winners. I'll give you a link so you can see who was nominated and who won for yourself. Perhaps you will also find something interesting to read with the stamp of good Christian fiction attached to it. Enjoy.

http://www.christyawards.com/ca_new/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=9&Itemid=56

P.S. Snagged the picture of the award of the Christy Awards website under Resources under Downloads.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

River of Time Series

"What do You do When Your Knight in Shining Armor Lives, Literally, in a Different World?" - Waterfall
"What if You not Only Fell Back Through Time... But Fell in Love, Too?" - Cascade
Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms

Storyline -  Book 1 - Waterfall - Gabi, her sister Lia, and their mom are going to be spending the summer in Italy. Unfortunately, it will be on a dig site and majorly laking in cute guys. But when Gabi accidentally gets transferred to the 14th century, she will have to figure out the customs of the time and find her sister who seems to have not been transferred with her. As battles are fought and politics flare, she will have to find a way to stay alive and get home. And not fall for the handsome, unavailable, prince, Marcello.
Book 2 - Cascade - The girls are back, with their mother in tow, but it hasn't gotten any easier in Italy. There are still land struggles and widows trying to make it on their own. When the Plague potentially hits, things spiral out of control and it will take everything the girls, and guys, got to fight off the Firenze. Will they make it through this again? Will the idea of trying to save their father from death make the girls leave the 14th century one more time?

Author - Lisa T. Bergren

Age Group - 15 and up

Content - Marcello wants to protect and honor his family. The men (at least the good ones) are very respectful of women and have many other admirable qualities such as defending those under their protection, assisting those who need a helping hand, and ready to sacrifice themselves for others. The girls also display good morals such as supporting and defending others and resisting the bad guys. Gabi wants Marcello to do the right thing by his betrothed but, for a while, kept wanting him to notice her. Eventually, he was ready to break his promises to his betrothed because he loved Gabi. There were also some intense scenes with the bad guys leering at the girls.

Personal Opinion - It was good. I liked the story and adventure . It was really exciting and I thought it was well put together but there were a couple of things that got to me while reading. I felt like Gabi changed her mind too much, going back and forth between wanting Marcello to see her and wanting him to do the right thing by his betrothed, and the constant use of the word "hot" to describe him got annoying. By the second book, I was thinking there were too many fight scenes. Actions scenes are good but reading the books back to back made it a bit much for me. Perhaps, if I had more of a brake between the two, it might have been okay but I still think it was a lot. It is always nice to have God and someones relationship with him brought into a book. Gabi and her family are not really strong Christians but she starts to turn to God as she spends time in the 14th century. Her journey to God isn't complete yet but she is praying more and asking for guidance which is a wonderful example for today's generation where religion and God are mostly not taught as the number one thing in our life. I don't know how much the average teen prays but it is great when you have a good role model who shows faith and guides readers down that path. I look forward to seeing more development in the girls' faith in God and the continuing adventure with their "knights in shinning armor". The books were well written and had good character development with different personalities among them and many good laughs from the character, Luca. I can't wait to read the last book, Torrent, and see how it all goes together. Definitely a series I will be recommending when someone asks about a good teen novel.


Video - Waterfall -

Video 2 - Cascade -


Links - Lean more about the books and the author here. I wrote a review for one of this author's children's books, which you can read here.

Special Notes - Book 3, Torrent, Review

To read, comment, and rate this and other reviews, stop by Bookworm
Updated - May 13, 2012

Sunday, July 3, 2011

On the Runway: CIAO

"The Sweet Life Might Just Turn Sour."
Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms

Storyline - Book 6 - Sisters Page and Erin are struggling with their personal lives as they continue to shoot their reality TV show, On the Runway. As they try to figure out if Page's fiance is cheating and Erin wonders about her own relationship with Blake, they have to go to Milan for their fashion week while trying to keep their hearts intact.

Author - Melody Carlson

Publisher - Zondervan

Age Group - 13 or 14 and up

Content- The sisters look out for each other, in there personal lives and fashion. When things got tough, they stood by one another or whoever it was who needed support. Unfortunately, there were a couple of things that bothered me. They didn't handle some sensitive situations very well in my opinion. One seemed like blackmail and the other didn't seem like the right place or time and was humiliating to the people involved. Okay, they might have deserved it but it just didn't seem right. I also wished it had gone more into the Christian aspect of things and explained more why it is inappropriate to be with someone before marriage.

 Personal Opinion - I hadn't read the other books in the series when I read this one so some things that I wanted more info on might be more fleshed out in the other books but I still think it is good and I got the story pretty quickly. I'm kinda like Erin when it comes to fashion; lost. But, I think someone who is interested in fashion and/or reality TV would find this book cool in getting the behind the scenes glimpse on how it works and what it is like. Also, a fashion enthusiast would be very happy with the clothes descriptions. The thing that bugged me the most, though, was how the girls handled the serious situations they were in where the truth had to come out but the other characters made it seem that it was handled fine. I also wish it had gone into more detail about themselves (but, like I said, this might have been covered in previous books). This book was good but discussing different options the girls could have done in those situations I mentioned might be beneficial.

Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher, Zondervan, through the Z Street Team.

Links - Learn more about the books and author at: http://melodycarlson.com/teens.shtml .

Video - Watch a trailer about the series below. It was with this trailer that I was able to understand, generally, what was going on in the series. That was helpful for me.
Special Notes - This is book 6 in the series On the Runway. The release of this book is in August 2011.
To read, comment, and rate this and other reviews, stop by http://bookwormreading.blogspot.com/

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