Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Heart Reader

Title: The Heart Reader of Franklin High
Author: Terri Blackstock
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Young Adult/Christian Fiction
# Of pages: 144
Year of Release: 2002
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 5 - Highly Recommended

Description: When Jake Sheffield, a typical Christian teenager, awakens to discover that he can hear the deepest spiritual needs of those around him, the reality of the deep needs of the world hits him. And the lives he touches, through the help of the Holy Spirit, will never be the same. As his friends witness the power of sharing Christ with others, they too begin to "hear" like Jake. (

Review: This book is interesting, powerful, and extremely relevant. The storyline has a wonderful, supernatural element to it that takes the reader into the troubled minds of today's teens and shows that God is the hope that every Christian has to offer. Written to motivate teens to evangelism, this book will impact any person of any age.

Positive: Jake really wakes up to the needs of those around him and becomes much less self-centered. He fights his gift at first, but with the help of his youth minister, he soon becomes a true missionary everywhere he goes. When his ability to hear the deepest needs of the hearts of those around him disappears, Jake is tempted to return to his life of mediocrity, but after speaking to those whose lives were changed because of him, Jake continues to be a witness to those around him.

Violence: One of the students that Jake witnesses to is planning an attack on the school, but no violence ensues.

Language: None

Sexual Content: None

Other: Jake comes into contact with many people with dark secrets and troubling problems. He talks to a kid in re-hab for drug addiction, a pregnant teen considering abortion, and a girl contemplating suicide, just to name a few.

Rating: 5 for being a relevant, well-written page-turner

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to teens 15 and older, and all ages of adults. If you're the parent of a mature teen or pre-teen, just be aware that the book addresses the more serious issues facing today's youth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Window to the World

Title: A Window to the World
Author: Susan Meissner
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Young Adult/Christian Fiction
# Of pages: 315
Year of Release: 2005
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 5 - Highly Recommended

Description: Megan Diamond is an unbearably shy 6-year old who is unable to come out of her shell until her new classmate, Jen Lovett, befriends her. The two become inseparable until one unforgettably tragic day.

Megan must learn how to cope on her own even though the details of the devastating event haunt her life. Along the way, Megan searches for who God really is to her and who He wants her to become.

Review: It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story that deals with God, love, and overcoming tragic circumstances. It’s nice to read the type of story that teaches good, sound morals along the way, and what a refreshing love story.

Positive: Megan has always believed what her parent’s have taught her about God but must spread her wings and grow into the person God wants her to become. Megan makes some tough choices like all teens will eventually have to make and ends up finding God’s will for her life.

Spiritual Elements: Megan’s parents believe in God and raise their children with Christian values. Jen’s parents are not Christians. They have very relaxed rules, but Megan’s parents hope to be good influences on them.

Violence: Jen is kidnapped in the beginning of the book. This incident has an impact on every aspect of Megan’s life thereafter. Megan is petrified of dating because it reminds her of the physical intimacy and thus her deepest fear, that Jen was hurt by her male abductor. Somewhat of a spoiler: Jen, in actuality, was not molested

Language: “God, no!” is exclaimed. H*** is mentioned once.

Sexual Content: There are two kisses in the book.

Other: Charlie’s parents are unable to sustain their relationship after Jen’s kidnapping. They divorce, but both were unfaithful to each other beforehand. Both live with their significant others.

Rating: 5 for teaching good, sound morals.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to older teens although it’s such a good story I think parents would enjoy it as well. It can really be used to lead to some needed conversations between yourself and your daughter, conversations about finding yourself through God and the benefits of having moral relationships.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Primary Audience/age group: 9-12
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
# Of pages: 533
Year of Release: 2007
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 4

Description: Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery. (

Review: I was completely impressed with the great creativity and uniqueness in the way this author told this story! Illustrator Brian Selznick uses illustrations, graphics, movie shots and words to move this story along. It’s a feast for the eyes…just really neat! The story itself is a good one, but it’s all the different components that really make it stand out. This book has been awarded the 2008 Caldecott Award for illustration.

Positive: Even though Hugo is a thief and a liar, he does have the trait of perseverance. He diligently works to repair a found automaton. Using his knowledge of clockworks, he is able to make the necessary parts to make the repair.

Several friendships are formed in the book. Though they start out shaky, they all grow into good relationships. One friendship that stands out in my mind is that of Etienne. He was able to see past Hugo’s circumstances and appearance and was eager to help him when others were not.

Spiritual Elements: At one point Hugo and Annie are discussing Prometheus. Hugo learns that Prometheus stole fire to help the people survive and was then punished. He acknowledges that he has stolen to survive and to fix the automaton…he starts to wonder what his punishment will be. Later on, Papa Georges points out to Hugo that Prometheus is eventually released. Reminds me of sin and forgiveness! I also think it would be a great lead-in to a discussion about whether or not it is ever ok to steal.

Violence: Toward the end of the story, Hugo is captured by the Station Inspector and thrown into a cell.

Language: The Lord’s name was used in vain once.

Sexual Content: none

Other: I bought this book for my 11year old son who is a reluctant reader. It was my hopes that he would read this “chunkster” (thick book) and be proud of himself upon completion. It was a perfect book for him because of all the different layers used…and just as I had hoped, he was quite excited about finishing the book and has asked if we would buy him another book to read!

Rating: 4 for stealing and lying

Recommendation: I would certainly encourage others to read this book. I feel that the unique format of the book is just wonderful. The story itself introduces several opportunities to discuss some hard issues.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kingdom's Dawn

Title: Kingdom's Dawn (Kingdom, Book 1)
Author: Chuck Black
Primary Audience/age group: 9-13
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
# Of Pages: 140
Year of Release: 2006
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 6
Recommend?: Yes
Rating: 5

Description: Sixteen-year-old Leinad thought he was a common farmer's son, nothing more. He wondered why his father had trained him for years to master the sword--not exactly a tool of the trade for farmers--but one tragic event initiates a world of revelation.
Only then does he understand his true calling--a calling no other man in the entire kingdom of Arrethtrae can fulfill--a calling given him by the King Himself.

Teamed with a young slave girl, Leinad is thrust into adversity and danger--for the Dank Knight and his vicious Shadow Warriors will stop a nothing to thwart the Kings plan to restore the kingdom. Leinad will need more than a sharp blade and a swift hand to fulfill his mission and survive the evil plots of the King's sworn enemies!

Journey to Arrethtrae, where the King and His Son implement a bold plan to save their kingdom; where courage, faith and loyalty stand tall in the face of opposition; where good will not bow to evil--and the future of a kingdom lies in the hands of a young man. Exciting fiction for teens.

Review: I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. The story was exciting and fast paced and the characters are likable.

Positive: Leinad's father was an excellent role model. He taught him the ways of the "King" and told him of his journey to follow Him. The father was kind to people, admitted his imperfections, and did his best to prepare his son for the life the "King" has planned for him.

Spiritual Elements: Kingdom's Dawn is the "most Christian" fiction teen book I've read yet. All the characters and story lines have parallel's in the Bible. There is a section at the end of the book that asks a couple questions on each chapter and another section that gives the answer. I liked that section - I generally read it before I read the chapter. Then I could see how this person's journey was similar to Moses's and the event in the book represented another from the Bible. I think it's also helpful to teens in helping to relate the people and the events to their own lives and situations.

Language: No bad language

Sexual Content: None

Other: I wish the books were longer, perhaps making it a series of 3 books rather than 6.

Rating: 5 - There is nothing inappropriate in this book.

Recommendation: I highly recommend this book. I am anxious to read the rest of the series.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Running Out Of Time

By Reviewer Sonya

Title: Running Out of Time
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Primary Audience/Age Group: 8-12 year olds
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
# of Pages: 184 pages
Year of Release: 1995
Part of A Series: No
Rating: 5
Description:(From book jacket) "Jessie lives with her family in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana, in 1840 -- or so she believes. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie's mother reveals a shocking secret -- it's actually 1996, and they are living in a reconstructed village that serves as a tourist site. In the world outside, medicine exists that can cure the dread disease, and Jessie's mother is sending her on a dangerous mission to bring back help.

But beyond the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and threatening than she could have imagined, and soon she finds her own life in jeopardy. Can she get help before the children of Clifton, and Jessie herself, run out of time?"

Review: I really enjoyed this book. The story was very interesting. Margaret Peterson Haddix did an excellent job making this story believable. I could relate to almost all of the characters in some way and found myself rooting for their village to remain a secret and be successful.

Positive: Jessie is the main character in this story and a very brave, 13 year old girl. She is obedient and helpful to her mother, who serves as midwife in the village. Jessie’s mission is a dangerous one. It is a mission she must complete in order to help save the children of her village. Jessie displays courage and determination and never gives up; even after being kidnapped by someone on the outside she thinks is a friend.

Spiritual Elements:
The people of the village are very dependent on one another and do a wonderful job at loving their neighbor. The villager’s work together to make sure the community runs smoothly. They look out for one another and each has their own gift, which contributes for good to everyone else. They have reconstructed this village so that they might bring their children up in a world less corrupt than what they found 1996 to be.

Mr. Neely is another character in the book that is deceptive. He pretends to be helpful and a friend to Jessie when all the time he views her as a threat that he may have to eliminate.

There is mild violence in the book. The violence occurs when Jessie is kidnapped. She is hit in the head, drugged, and locked in a room. Jessie also overhears Mr. Neely speaking to someone over the phone about the possibility of having to murder her. This adds suspense and helps to develop the story and I feel that it is appropriate for the targeted age group.

I do not remember any language in this book.

Sexual Content: No sexual content is contained in this book.


I would recommend this book because I think the story is very interesting and totally engrossing. When I read it, I did not want to put the book down because the story had so many great developments. I think everything presented in the book helps to make the story such a good read. The book is targeted to children ages 8 to 12 and I think most children in that age category would find the book interesting and enjoy it. I think it is age appropriate and I also think many adults will find the book to be a very good read.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Title: Crispin: The Cross of Lead
Author: Avi
Primary Audience/age group: Ages 9-12
Genre: Medieval Adventure/Thriller
# Of pages: 272
Year of Release: 2002
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 2 (so far)
Rating: 4 (See Below)

Imagine a 13 year-old boy, known only as Asta's son, living only to work. The only parent he's ever known, his mother, dies suddenly. Blinded with grief, his world is turned upside down. Added to his pain, he must soon run and fight for his life when he stumbles upon a secret meeting and overhears a conversation that was not meant for his ears.

Review: This book was a nice surprise. It was a page-turner that I hated to put down. The downside of the book was that it was a bit dark and depressing, but no language or unnecessary violence. The ages of 9-12 seem to be appropriate, though a person over 12 would also enjoy this book.

Positive: The main character is faced with one bad situation after another. One constant is his love for his mother, though he knows she wasn't always as loving as she could have been, and even after he discovers some things about her that he'd never known before. He is a man of his word, even at such a young age, and sticks to his values even in the worst of times.

Spiritual Elements: There is a large spiritual element in that the main character, a Catholic, is in so much trouble. He is constantly relying on his teaching and beliefs to sustain him.

Violence: There is some violence that is in line with the storyline. It is not too bad or gratuitous.

Language: No bad language.

Sexual Content: No sexual content.

Rating: I give this a strong 4, even leaning toward a 5. I am very excited about reading the next book.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Shortlisted Books

Even as adults, we might find some books too offensive for our minds. Therefore, we've decided to make a list of books we have chosen not to finish due to content but still want to share in order to advise parents. They will be referred to as "shortlisted" and will be added to our book categories on the sidebar.

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal

Title: Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal
Author: Mal Peet
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
# Of pages: 432
Year of Release: 2007
Part of a Series? No
Rating: Shortlisted (Not Recommended)

Description: From book jacket: “When her grandfather dies, Tamar inherits a box containing a series of clues and coded messages. Out of the past, another Tamar emerges, a man involved in the terrifying world of resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Holland half a century before. His story is one of passionate love, jealousy, and tragedy set against the daily fear and casual horror of the Second World War -- and unraveling it is about to transform Tamar’s life forever.”

Rating: Shortlisted for language and violence

Recommendation: Although this book won a Carnegie Medal, it turned out to be not suitable for young readers or some readers of any age for that matter. I read the first 17 pages and was offended by the amount of language thus far in the book. I was unable to finish it due to that reason. To give a fair review of the book, I’ve linked to Becky’s Book Reviews for her review of the book. It looks like the book was pretty violent in addition to the language.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Capture

Title: The Capture
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Primary Audience/age group: 10 - 14
Genre: Adventure
Year of Release: 2003
Part of a Series? Yes 1 of 8 - Guardias of Ga'hoole
Rating: 4
Recommend: Yes!

Description: At the beginning of this new series, a young Barn Owl named Soren lives peacefully with his family, participating in rituals like the First Meat ceremony, and enjoying legends about the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, knightly owls "who would rise each night into the blackness and perform noble deeds." After he falls from his nest, his idyllic world transforms into one of confusion and danger, as he is captured by evil chick-snatching owls and taken to the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. Soren and his new friend Gylfie work to develop strategies for withstanding "moon blinking" (brainwashing), while secretly striving to learn how to fly. The legends of Ga'Hoole help them to survive, and they are able to escape to find their families and warn the world about the dangers of St. Aegolius. While the owls have human characteristics, such as Soren's determination and Gylfie's creative ideas, their actions and culture reflect Lasky's research into owl behaviors and species.

Review: The Capture was a fast paced read, well written, and addictive. I did not want to put the book down. I was rooting for Soren and Gylfie through their many tests and trials. These two very different owls form a special friendship and fight for what is right. They make tough, selfless choices and had me applauding them outloud!

Positive: Soren and Gylfie are owls who have been kidnapped from their nests and taken to a bad place. They both really miss their families. I loved their sense of family and how they spoke so fondly of them. They were both smart owls who thought hard and questioned what was going on around them. They did not give in to "peer pressure" and blindly follow the others. They were true, very loyal friends to each other and welcomed other owls into their new "family".

Spiritual Elements: There were no real spiritual references made.

Violence: As common with adventure/fantasy books there are some battle scenes with mild violence. No gory details, just intense.

Language: The owls occasional curse, but not with our curse words, they are owl curse words - such as "racdrops" (raccoon droppings).

Sexual Content: None

Rating: 4 for mild violence/battle scenes

Recommendation: I enjoyed this adventure. I would recommend it to the younger adventure/fantasy reader - about age 9 - 13.
And here is the rest of it.


By Reviewer Angi
Title: DragonSpell (Dragon Keepers Chronicles, Book 1)
Author: Donita K. Paul
Primary Audience/age group: 11 and up
Genre: Fantasy
# of pages: 340
Year of Release: 2004
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 4 (so far)
Rating: 4
Recommend: Yes! I loved it!

Description: One dragon egg holds the key to the future
Once a slave, Kale is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. Yet this young girl has so much to learn about the difference between slavery and service.
A desperate search begins
A small band of Paladin's servants rescue Kale from danger but turn her from her destination: The Hall, where she was to be trained. Feeling afraid and unprepared, Kale embarks on a perilous quest to find the meech dragon egg stolen by the foul Wizard Risto. First, she and her comrades must find Wizard Fenworth. But their journey is threatened when a key member of the party is captured, leaving the remaining companions to find Fenworth, attempt an impossible rescue, and recover the egg whose true value they have not begun to suspect.

Review: Once I entered the land of Amara, I did not want to leave. Kale, the main character is very likable, and I could relate to her in so many aspects, both when I was a teen, and now on the journey's of my adulthood. The book was a page turner, you won't want to put it down. I suggest you buy the whole series because once you finish one, you'll want to start right in on the next one!

Positive: This is a fantasy book that the whole family can read. It is full of lessons of friendship, loyalty, honor, responsibility, and most importantly, faith.

Spiritual Elements: This is a very spiritual book in which "Wulder" symbolizes God. Kale is called by God to serve him by going on adventures. Her gift is finding valuable dragon eggs that have various purposes. She is both excited for the opportunity, but hesitant to commit to serving this being that she knows so little about. At many points she must continue on in faith, and eventually make a deliberate decision on what if she wants to serve Wulder or not.
One of my favorite passages:
Kale says "I know Wulder made all things, and Pretender tries to copy His work. But I didn't know Wulder is everywhere. How could that be?"
"You're thinking of Wulder as having a body and moving from place to place." Dar stood and pivoted in a circle with his arms outstretched. "Wulder is everywhere. You can see his power by recognizing His work. When a flower opens, that's His work. When the stars twinkle at night, that's His work."
later in the chapter Dar says "So many people don't know who Wulder is or what He's capable of doing. Their ignorance doesn't make Wulder less of a being; it makes them less. Until they know, they can't be whole."

Violence: There are some intense scenes, as is common in fantasy books. There are fight scenes, but the details are not very violent or gory. The book would have been a 5, but I had to give it a 4 because of the battles. All battles were clearly good against evil.

Language: No bad language.

Sexual Content: None

Rating: 4 for mild violence/battle scenes

Recommend: It has been a long time since I've read a book I enjoyed as much as this one! The writing was superb! I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. My 12 year old son received book 3 and 4 of the series for Christmas, finished them both in a few days, and is hoping for a book 5!

Welcome to Teen Lit Review

Welcome to Teen Lit Review, a place where you can find detailed Christian-centered book reviews for all genres of 'tween and teen books. Our goal is to be a helpmate to parents in finding suitable books for their teens. All recommendations are solely the opinions of our reviewers. When in doubt of a book's appropriateness, we encourage you to read the book yourself.

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Young Adult Challenge 2008

Joy at Thoughts of Joy is hosting a Young Adult Challenge where you pick 12 Young Adult books to read in 2008. What an appropriate challenge for the gals at Teen Lit Review! Here is our list . . . .

Bark of the Bog Owl - Jonathon Rogers
The Capture - Kathryn Lasky
The Door Within - Wayne Thomas Balson
Flush - Carl Hiassen
I'm Not Joey Pigza - Jack Gantos
Love, Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli
Milkweed - Jerry Spinelli
The Name of This Book is Secret - Pseudonymous Bosch
Hollywood Nobody - Lisa Samson
Raising Dragons - Bryan Davis
Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli
Twilight - Stephanie Meyer

We will review each when we are done reading!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

By Reviewer Shawna
Title: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls)
Author: Ally Carter
Primary Audience/age group: Teen
Genre: Spy
# Of pages: 284
Year of Release: 2006
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 2 (so far)
Rating: 3 (See Below)

Description: To the outside world The Gallagher School for Exceptional Young Women is just an ordinary high society prep school. But Cammie and the other girl geniuses at her school aren’t just snotty rich girls. They’re spies in training with Cammie’s mom as their headmistress. But has Cammie met her match this semester as local boy, Josh, steals her heart? Sure she can dismantle a bomb and disarm any assailant, but can she date the guy of her dreams and still keep the dangerous secrets of her school hidden?

Review: First of all, what a fun idea for a book. Teenage girls as lethal weapons. Very awesome. The best part of the book for me was Cammie’s sharp wit that adds to her likableness as the main character. She’s not only witty but smart although her humor on occasion is crude and somewhat suggestive. There are a few concerns as a parent, but the book is very much light-hearted.

Positive: Cammie has a great relationship with her mom, especially since she lost her dad during one of his spy missions. Cammie isn’t as caught up with appearances as much as some of her other classmates. She also looks for the good in people, especially in her relationship with Josh. Although Cammie lies to him and sneaks out to see him, he ends up being a really decent guy. Cammie notices that he is very courteous and tells his mother that he loves her.

Spiritual Elements: There are no heavy religious connotations. One line in the book has Cammie thinking she is receiving “Karmic payback” for having to run home in wet jeans after having ice cream and a corn dog when she was supposed to be focused on a mission.

Violence: The book has several instances of mild violence meant to be humorous such as a sword that’s been jolted with electricity being touched by a freshman girl and catching her hair on fire. Several rumors are spread about teachers about how they killed various other spies in odd/funny ways.

One scene was particularly dark, but it wasn’t real. It was only meant to show the girls how serious their career choice of being a spy really is. Cammie’s classmates, Bex and Liz, were caught during a class Cove-ops assignment. Mr. Solomon shows slides of both girls beaten and bruised. He hints at them being tortured then reveals that the pictures were fakes.

Language: D***, h***, and bloody h*** are used. On a couple of occasions, Cammie hears other characters swearing, but in a different language. The words are not spelled out though. The “b-word” is used several times. It is not spelled out because that type of language is against the rules at the school. Macey calls Bex the “b-word.” Cammie feels that type of language is used by the inarticulate. But, she later refers to Macey and her mother as “the b-word.”

Sexual Content: The new teacher, Mr. Solomon is referred to as hot, a hottie, and sexy on many occasions. Cammie’s mom, Mrs. Morgan, is referred to as a hottie as well. One of the rumors at school was new teacher Mr. Solomon had killed a Turkish ambassador with a thong. Cammie’s remark: she wasn’t sure "whether he meant the sandals or the panties." Macey refers to Mr. Solomon as “an inappropriate-conduct case looking for a place to happen” then hints about how Cammie’s mother, Headmistress Morgan, brought him on staff for only one reason…you fill in the blank. Mr. Solomon then requires his class to meet him outside in plain clothes for their first Cove-ups mission. Most of the girls are very excited and want to dress to “impress” him. However, Cammie feels this is nonsense because dressing in sexy clothing doesn’t really matter “in real spy life.”

A lot of the sexual situations in the book are about things that might happen as opposed to what really happens. For instance, there's only a couple of kisses between Cammie and Josh, nothing I feel was inappropriate. But, Cammie jokes about being proud of the fact that Macey thought she could have gone to second base.

Other: Macey, is a provocative character who has a nose ring, smokes, and wears ultra mini skirts. She also hints at being anorexic saying things like, “Food was so yesterday,” and I only eat 800 calories a day.

Lying is a huge theme in the book. The girls are taught to lie in a sense that spies in real life pretend to be someone else in order to gain and keep secrets. Cammie takes the lying to the next level when she makes up a new life for herself in order to see Josh. She sneaks out with the help of her friends to go out on several dates. The girls go above and beyond to find out details of Josh’s life in order to see if he is who he says he is by sneaking into his house, searching his garbage, and reading his emails. Spoiler warning: Instead of punishment for endangering herself and her school and sneaking out with a boy Cammie is praised by her mother for the best Cove-ops mission the school has ever seen. It seems as though her punishment does not fit the crime here.

Rating: 3 for talk of sexual situations, sexual humor, and an intense violence sequence.

Recommendation: Although Cammie is a sixteen year old girl, her wit sometimes crosses the line into somewhat sexually suggestive humor. To me, she seemed to have more innocence than what some of the lines that were given to her had. The book also deals with the girls dressing in sexy clothing to impress the opposite sex, which I feel is an issue that needs to be discussed with teenage girls since we live in a society that promotes the wearing of provocative clothing even at a young age. As well, I didn’t like how Cammie seemed to avoid punishment for sneaking out and lying. However, measures are taken to prevent this type of incident from happening again, and Cammie is punished in accordance to the rules of the spy school in the sequel “Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy.”

I loved the concept of the book. I do feel it is more appropriate for an older audience and would definitely not recommend it to anyone under the age of 15. Girls need to understand that sneaking out to be with a boy is not appropriate behavior. Going to second base isn’t something that should be glamorized seeing that as Christians we teach God’s word of staying virtuous until marriage. Reading the book as an adult, I didn’t find it very offensive. I thought it was a cute story with both action and romance. And I thought the second book was even better than the first. I will review it as well.

Teen Lit Review Content Rating Scale

All books are rated for suitability using the scale below. Books are rated 1 through 5 with 5 being the highest rating or least offensive. We realize different parents as well as different reviewers may have opposing views on a books rating. This is one reason we developed the scale. However, if you have a differing opinion about a book, please feel free to comment in a respectful manner. We hope that the scale below will be of benefit to everyone. If you have any doubt in the appropriateness of a book for your child, we recommend you read the book yourself.

5 (best rating): minimal reservations, promotion of good values in general, age-appropriate, no language, no sexual detail (other than mild kissing but only for books ages 12 and up), mild violence without much detail

4: some reservations, mild language (only words found in the Bible: d***, a**, h***), mild disregard for authority, mild romantic/sexual detail with promotion of Christian values, some rude or crude behavior or comic mischief, mild to moderate violence with more detail, non-glamorized use of alcohol or drugs

3: moderate language (more frequent use of d***, a**, h*** and any use of b***h or b*****d), moderate sexual detail (such as deep kissing, mild talk (or intent) of sexual situations other than kissing), moderate crude language, more intense sequences of violence with blood

2: coarse language (any use of the word s***), intense sensuality/passion, some detail of sexual situations, some graphic violence

1: may be too offensive to recommend, explicit sexual situations, frequent course language (and any use of the words f*** or G*** d***), extreme graphic violence and horror, encourages/glamorizes underage drinking or drug use, extreme disregard for Christian values

Shortlisted: Books we chose not to finish due to content. These books are definitely not recommended.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy

By Reviewer Shawna
Title: Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls)
Author: Ally Carter
Primary Audience/age group: Teen
Genre: Spy
# Of pages: 236
Year of Release: 2007
Part of a Series? Yes, 2 of 2 (so far)
Rating: 4

Description: Cammie Morgan is back for another semester at her ultra-secret spy school. Now that she’s broken it off with Josh, she’s made a commitment to not put her classmates in danger again. But when she finds out that her teachers are hiding secrets themselves, will she test the limits or keep her promise?

Review: I enjoyed this extension of the very fun first novel, I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, even more. Cammie still has her wit but seems to have learned from her previous mistakes. Plus, there are some very interesting new characters.

Positive: Cammie has decided that she’s going to stop lying and sneaking around except when it’s for her training. She won’t let another boy or anything else for that matter come between she, her friends, family, and “matters of national security” again. As a result of her previous actions the school has tightened up security and Cammie is taken to secret headquarters to experience first-hand what happens to a spy for stepping out of boundaries.

Spiritual Elements: The school’s motto is “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” The Bible is not referenced here, but Cammie knows the motto by heart.

Violence: While in secret headquarters, Cammie and her mother are told that a small bomb has been planted on them and will detonate it they violate security. It was actually a joke.

A rumor going around school is that Cammie’s mom once killed a man with a copy of People magazine.

One of Cammie’s classmates bloodies her nose with a can of Pringles. There are a few mild physical combat scenes including one where a teacher is knocked out cold and his face is bleeding.

Language: none

Sexual Content: A humorous list is made with the girls wandering what Mr. Solomon looks like without his shirt on. Cammie’s classmates help her get ready for a “date” with one commenting that she has to look sexy for her date when in actuality she’s not really wearing anything sexy. Headmistress Morgan is referred to as a smokin’ babe by members of the boys school. There is one kiss attempt and one actual kiss.

Other: Macey’s dad isn’t very understanding and believes she cheated to get As and Bs in her classes. Macey plans to get back at him by getting all As.

Cammie’s mom is keeping something from her. She and the other teachers lied about why the East Wing is closed. Cammie makes a point that adults and teachers don’t always tell the truth. She thinks about sneaking into the East Wing but has second thoughts since she promised her mom she wouldn’t sneak around anymore. However, she and the other girls later sneak in.

The girls are required to attend a ball along with the guys from the boys’ school. Cammie wears a strapless dress that causes her bra to unhitch while she is dancing. She runs out only to be followed by Zach who never realizes what has happened even when Cammie has to kick the bra out of his site.

Rating: 4 for some mildly sexual humor and mild violence mentioning blood. I didn’t feel it was extreme enough to warrant a lower rating.

Recommendation: Cammie does end up breaking her promise of not sneaking around although she didn’t put any secrets in danger of being revealed this time. Overall, I thought it had an even better storyline than the first book. I absolutely loved the new twist to the story. I still would recommend age 15 and above but with a lot less reservations. I think I enjoyed it better, in part, for that reason.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Reviewer Interview

Welcome Interested Reviewers! Our regular reviewers generally submit 1-2 reviews each month. We provide a standard book review format and a rating scale for them to use when reviewing books. We also have guest reviewers who submit reviews occasionally. But, first we would like to get to know you a little better.

Please copy the interview questions below into an email and send them to Shawna at

1. Full Name: (Please specify what name - nickname, first name, first and last name - you want to use on the site).

2. Age? (Teen Reviewers must be 16 years of age or older. However, we do not have anymore spots available for teen reviewers at this time. We are accepting reviews from persons age 18 and above).

3. How did you hear about our site?

4. Why are you interested in reviewing books for Teen Lit Review?

5. What types of books do you prefer reading?

6. What is your writing experience? Please include any websites or blogs you participate with. Writing experience is not required but preferred.

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8. Would you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ?

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1. Accept or reject any review at anytime.

2. Edit reviews for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

3. Change the ratings on all reviews.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a reviewer. God Bless!

Our Book Review Format

By Reviewer Insert Your Name
Primary Audience/age group:
# Of pages:
Year of Release:
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of __ or No
1 through 5 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes, No, or Yes but with Reservations

Description: In your own terms or from the description on the book jacket

Review: What you thought about the book in general

Rating: 3 for violence or 4 for crude behavior, etc.

Positive: What good does the character represent, what values are taught, etc

Spiritual Elements: Any where from religious connotations to the occult



Sexual Content:

Other: drug and alcohol use, crude behavior, etc.

Recommendation: Would you recommend it and why? What are you’re concerns, if any? Is it appropriate for the age group specified? Suggest an appropriate age group. Etc.