Sunday, October 25, 2009

Winners from Teen Read Week 2009

Thanks everyone for visiting us during Teen Read Week 2009! We have our winners! Jon M. won the Archives of Anthropos six book set by John White. Kk won Teen Idol by Meg Cabot! Please email your addresses to connievail at hotmail dot com and we'll get them mailed to you this week! Keep checking back for more reviews and more book giveaways! Be sure to keep reading!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Sword Bearer

This review comes to us from Angi's son, Cole. Cole is 14 and an avid reader, whose favorite books include Eragon (Inheritance), Hunger Games and The Lightning Thief. You can still enter to win this whole series! To enter, go here and leave a comment!
Title: The Sword Bearer (The Archives of Anthropos)
Author: John White
Primary Audience/age group: Ages 10-14
Genre: Fantasy
# Of pages: 294
Publisher: Intervarsity Press
Year of Release: 1980
Part of a Series? Yes, 1st of 6
Rating: 4 (View Scale)

Description: It was John's birthday. He would be thirteen. And what's more, it was on this day that his grandmother would tell him the mystery of his locket ... and of his parents. But it was not to be. Before he could find out, he was magically transported to the land of Anthropos where he was startled to be hailed as the Sword Bearer, the slayer of the Goblin Prince. Here, in this imaginative story of the early history of Anthropos, John White captures the excitement and wonder of another world.

Review: The Sword Bearer is a book with a solid Christian message. I found that the author has created a series much like the Narnia series. The story itself is pretty good, but the writer can get a little too descriptive. I disliked the main character, John, at first because he was a whiner, but I grew to like him later as his personality improved.

Rating: 4 for mild violence and the use of magic and mention of wine.

Positive: This book is rooted in strong Christian beliefs. As far as I could tell nothing contradicted Scriptures. Overall, the book is good for young readers and will strengthen them in their beliefs.

Spiritual Elements: This whole story is an analogy so naturally it is full of spiritual elements. In the book John fights an internal battle between good and evil and also over his belief in The Changer (God)

Violence: There is some mild violence, such as the detail of dead people/animals and when John kills the Goblin Prince.

Language: On one page a character called “The Guardian of the Old Way” uses the word “dam*ed” twice in the context of meaning cursed.

Sexual Content: None

Other: I got this book when I was twelve and it is great for people who don’t especially like long books. It is a wonderful book to read in your Christian walk, and while it can be a little slow, it is still a good read.

Recommendation: The Sword Bearer is great, especially for those who enjoyed the “Chronicles of Narnia”. The whole book is well founded in scripture and is nice for younger teens who enjoy fantasy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Hunger Games

By Reviewer Rachel (aged 18)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Adventure
# Of pages: 382
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year of Release: 2008
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 3 (Hunger Games series)
Rating: 3 View Scale
Recommend? Yes but with Reservations

Review of Catching Fire (Book 2) and Mockingjay (Book 3)

Description: Pamen, what once was North America, is now twelve districts ruled by the harsh Capital. Every year the Capital makes each district give one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to the Hunger Games. The kids are put into an arena to fight to the death, and the victor is rewarded with riches. When Katniss’ sister is chosen to play in the games, Katniss, seeing the games as a death sentence, offers to take her place. She is accepted, and she goes to meet her fate. She has survived death once before, but will she survive it again?

Review: When I read the book's cover, I was very hesitant. The book didn’t sound like the kind of book I would enjoy, and it seemed like it was going to be very violent. However, when I read the book I was amazed! It wasn’t morbid, and it kept me interested. It was highly suspenseful, yet it had some comic relief in it. I found that I got teary eyed at some places and was laughing at others

Rating: 3 for violence and drinking.

Positive: Gale and Katniss care for each other, and when one is in need, the other helps her get through it. There are numerous times when Katniss and Peeta try to save the others from death.

Spiritual Elements: None

Violence: This book is about an area with 24 kids in it fighting to the death, so naturally it’s going to get violent. However, since it is from Katniss’ point of view, we don’t see that many deaths. There are a few, however. Two scenes that I found to be the most violent are when Katniss is having hallucinations of decaying dead bodies and when she sees a boy being eaten by mutant wolves. Most of the killings in the book are not described in great detail, but death is certainly prominent.

Language: none

Sexual Content: There is a lot of kissing, and Katniss and Peeta sleep together to keep warm.

Other: Haymitch is a HUGE alcoholic. In almost every scene he is drunk.

Recommendation: The Hunger Games is definitely for young adults. Children would probably be scared by the violence. However, for the story line, Collins kept the violence to a minimal. The other problem I had with it was Haymitch’s drinking problem, but other than that I enjoyed the book a lot. It was well written and definitely worth reading.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Teen Read Week 2009 Book Giveaways

Teen Lit Review is celebrating Teen Read Week by posting many reviews this week and giving away some books.
Below is a list of books we are giving away:
Teen Idol by Meg Cabot - go here to enter
The Archives of Anthropos by John White - go here to enter

You can celebrate Teen Reading Week by going to the library or perhaps picking up a new book - Barnes & Noble has some coupons here. Or, you could always go to and buy your teen one of my favorite books/series - DragonSpell (DragonKeeper Chronicles) (DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul). (You can see the review here.)

Happy Reading!

Teen Idol

Be sure to go here to enter to win the drawing for our 2009 Teen Read Week drawing. We are giving away a six book set The Archives of Anthropos.

Title: Teen Idol
Author: Meg Cabot
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Fiction
# Of pages: 320
Publisher: Harper Teen
Year of Release: 2005
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 4 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes

Description: High school junior Jenny Greenley is so good at keeping secrets that she's the school newspaper's anonymous advice columnist. She's so good at it that, when hotter-than-hot Hollywood star Luke Striker comes to her small town to research a role, Jenny is the one in charge of keeping his identity under wraps. But Luke doesn't make it easy, and soon everyone -- the town, the paparazzi, and the tabloids alike -- know his secret ... and Jenny is caught right in the middle of all the chaos.

Review: Teen Idol is a cute, easy read. Jenny is an instantly likeable character who grows from a people pleasing girl to young woman, with the help of a new found friend, who finally figures out who she is.

Rating: 4 for mild language, mild disregard for authority, some rude or crude behavior or comic mischief.

Positive: Jenny is a good example of a responsible, smart, thoughtful young woman. She doesn’t succumb to peer pressure and typically does the right thing. She is a good judge of character and a true friend.

Spiritual Elements: None

Violence: None

Language: One use of the words he**, skan*, suc*s. The Lord’s name used in vain at least once.

Sexual Content: One reference to a boy being a homosexual. A comment that indicates teen sex is OK if it is safe. Jenny worries about Luke seeing through her shirt and crosses her arms to cover up. Jenny as Annie tells one of her readers that if her boyfriend stops trying to get into her pants then he is seeing someone else. Besides kissing there is no sexual activity, just typical teen references to sex.

Other: There was one narrative where Jenny talks about her menstral cycle and her ability to use specific sanitary products that is a bit explicit, but at the same time comical. Luke drinks a beer but gives Jenny a soda.

Recommendation: I do recommend Teen Idol to readers 14 and over. I think it’s appeal will be limited to girls. Overall, it’s a cute, fun, quick read.

If you would like to win my yard sale copy of Teen Idol, leave a message below. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Am Rembrandt's Daughter

Be sure to go here to enter to win the 2009 Teen Read Week Drawing for the six book series The Archives of Anthropos!

By Reviewer: Dianne
Title: I Am Rembrandt's Daughter
Author: Lynn Cullen
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
# Of pages: 307
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Year of Release: 2007
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 4 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes

Description: Fourteen-year-old Cornelia, daughter of the renowned and once prosperous painter, Rembrandt, seeks to come to terms with her identity. The death of her mother when Cornelia was nine years old devastated her, leaving her feeling unloved by her gruff and taciturn father who obviously favored her older half-brother, Titus. She struggled to overcome the taint of her illegitimate birth, poverty, and the rejection she sensed from her father and from society in Amsterdam. When Titus marries, she truly wonders if her father will even want her in the house. Without any friends, Cornelia is surprised at the attentions of Carel, the wealthy son of a shipping merchant. She becomes enamored of him and totally discounts the shy advances of Neel, a pupil of her father’s who has long concealed his interest in her. As she becomes aware of the true character of Carel, Cornelia also becomes aware of the deep devotion her father has for her and the honorable intentions of Neel. The revelation of a long held secret helps her determine the course of her life.

Review: Life was hard in the 17th century, and Lynn Cullen gives a good portrayal of the hardships a lonely, poverty stricken teen would face on a day to day basis. The use of flashbacks fills in some background information of Cornelia’s life and gives insight into her actions and reactions. Almost as reticent to speak as her father, the author develops Cornelia’s thoughts as a means to understanding her. (At times I wanted to shake Cornelia for not speaking her mind.) A longing for love and a suppressed desire to follow in her father’s footsteps into the world of art make this novel an excellent read.
Lynn Cullen’s well researched novel has woven fact and fiction together to create a snapshot of life with an eccentric person who was an influential artist in the seventeenth century.

Rating: 4 for mild language, some description of nudity portrayed in the paintings of Rembrandt.

Positive: Cornelia holds strong feelings about the unity of the family, and very much wants a “normal” family. She may frequently be at odds with her father, but is wounded and inwardly defends him when he is criticized by others. It continuously bothers her that her father never did marry her mother and she seeks to know why, knowing that it would have been the proper thing. She is always conscious of those less fortunate than she is, and quickly steps in with a helping hand whenever she is able to be of assistance.

Spiritual Elements: Rembrandt is on “speaking terms” with God, and frequently refers to Him as his aide and guide.

Violence: None

Language: Infrequent use of mild language.

Sexual Content: There are some references to indiscretions on the part of several of the characters, nothing graphic. There were some instances of mild kissing.

Other: None

Recommendation: I would recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction. It was not a book that I “couldn’t put down”, but I found it to be informative and enjoyable. (Make sure to read the Author’s Note and the Character List at the end of the book.) It did spur me to do a little research on Rembrandt! It is age appropriate for the intended audience.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Raiders from the Sea (Viking Quest #1)

Be sure to go here and enter to win our Teen Read 2009 giveaway - the six book series The Archives of Anthropos!

Reviewed by Teen Reviewer Sarah
Title: Raiders from the Sea (Viking Quest Series)
Author: Lois Walfrid Johnson
Primary Audience/age group: Ages 10-14
Genre: Christian/ Historical fiction
# Of pages: 199
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Year of Release: 2003
Part of a Series? Yes, book 1 of 5
Rating: 5 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes

Description: (from book jacket) When Briana O'Toole rescues a stranger from drowning, she doesn't realize that her actions may have put her family and neighbors in danger. Then, in one harrowing day, Viking raiders capture Bree and her brother Devin and take them away from their home in Ireland.

All of the Irish prisoners are at the mercy of Mikkel, the proud young leader of the Vikings. When he separates Bree and Devin, Bree sails to Norway on the Viking longship. Devin travels the dangerous road home. What will they discover about living with the courage to win? How can they change what is happening to them? Can they trust their all-powerful God, even in life-or-death situations?

Review: Lois Walfrid Johnson effectively mixes historical, Christian, and adventure fiction to make a captivating read! This book is completely devoid of any violence or language (that would probably have accompanied the ruthless Viking raiders in any other book) and can therefore be recommended to all ages. But I would say the best part of this book is there are five more that follow it!

Rating: 5

Positive: Looking out for others is an underlying theme in this book as displayed in Bree's family and her close-knit relationship with her brother. Bree often finds comfort when she focuses on those around her and then comforts them.

Spiritual Elements: Although Bree and Devin have moments when they feel angry at God, asking "why?" did the raid and their separation have to happen, their faith runs deep. They learn to trust God even when a Viking raid, hunger, loneliness, and a raging storm threaten their courage.

When Bree suspects a Viking raid may be coming and runs to the village to warn Brother Cronan, she looks at the tall tower with 3 foot thick walls and comforts herself with its safety, then changes her mind and prays for God's safety, not men's. Prayer is central as the O'Toole family make preparations, afraid of the unknown, and as Bree and her brother Devin find courage on their own. When a storm arises and the Vikings pray to their god, Thor, Bree follows God's call to pray to Him and He answers her.

Violence: None

Language: None

Sexual Content: None

Other: Bree and Devin struggle with hatred towards their captors... but I'm sure that'll be answered in the sequels.

Recommendation: This book is exciting to read and easy to get engrossed in - but best of all appropriate for all ages. Be sure to have the 2nd book handy - you'll be eager to know how Bree's, Devin's, and Mikkel's adventure continues!

Monday, October 19, 2009

TLR's Summer Book Splash Winner

The winner of The Book of the King by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry is:

Danielle the Librarian

I will be contacting you by email.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Teen Read Week 2009

It's teen read week 2009! Teen Lit Review is going to celebrate by posting lots of reviews and giving away lots of books. Pass the word, and stop by often, it's going to be a fun week!

We're going to start the week off big with the grand prize giveaway. We are giving away a complete set of the Archives of Anthropos by John White, Jr. This six book set has a retail value of over $70! To win, just leave comment telling us what you're reading this week. Be sure to leave an email address of where we can contact the winner. Entries will be accepted through midnight on the 24th. Good Luck and happy reading!
The Archives of Anthropos Series starts with The Sword Bearer (The Archives of Anthropos). It was John's birthday. He would be thirteen. And what's more, it was on this day that his grandmother would tell him the mystery of his locket ... and of his parents. But it was not to be. Before he could find out, he was magically transported to the land of Anthropos where he was startled to be hailed as the Sword Bearer, the slayer of the Goblin Prince. Here, in this imaginative story of the early history of Anthropos, John White captures the excitement and wonder of another world.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

TLR's Summer Book Splash Giveaway

It's the end of TLR's Summer Book Splash. I wanted to thank all those who participated. Since one of our goals as a book review blog is to encourage reading, we wanted to open up the book giveaway to all our readers. We are giving away a copy of The Book of the King by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. We will draw the winner on Monday, October 19. Please leave an email address so that we may contact you.

Devil on My Heels

Reviewed by Shawna
Title: Devil on My Heels
Author: Joyce McDonald
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
# Of pages: 272
Publisher: Laurel-Leaf
Year of Release: 2004
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 2 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes but with strong reservations

Description: From Amazon: It’s 1959 in Benevolence, Florida, and life is as sweet as a Valencia orange for 15-year-old Dove Alderman. Whether she’s sipping cherry Cokes with her girlfriends and listening to the Everly Brothers, eating key lime pie made by her housekeeper, Delia, or cruising around town with the coolest boy in school in his silver-blue T-bird convertible, Dove’s days are as smooth and warm as the soft sand in her father’s orange groves.

But there’s trouble brewing among the local migrant workers. Mysterious fires have broken out, and rumors are spreading that disgruntled pickers are to blame. Suddenly, black and white become a muddy shade of gray, and whispers of the KKK drift through the Southern air like sighs. The Klan could never exist in a place like Benevolence, Dove tells herself. Or could it?

Review: I found this book at a book fair at my local library. The title, Devil on My Heels, first drew me in followed by the setting, Florida and its orange groves. I’ve often seen movies of the 1950’s Deep South but never with this same setting. The main character, Dove, is a fifteen year old girl, who lives a comfortable life on her dad’s orange groves until news of the KKK sweeps through town. Dove’s life begins to change drastically as she is called to choose sides. The characters and mindsets are very reminiscent of the 1950s, and although the book deals with racism it has a positive message of how you can be courageous and make a difference at any age. However, the book is not appropriate for all ages due to some mature content.

Rating: 2 for language

Positive: The most outstanding lesson of the book is do not let violence happen in front of you without doing anything about it. Dove learns what it’s like to standby and watch a friend being abused and not have the guts to do anything. This scene plays out in her mind throughout the book, and she chooses to stand up for what it right later on.

Spiritual Elements: Dove believes in God based on some of the things she says, but God is not a central part of her life. She prays and feels the answer she gets is, “God is on vacation.” Later on, she swears on the Bible.

Violence: A central part of the theme is that Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members are present in Dove’s town, and the violence they bring slowly escalates. A man was killed in a hit and run, and his killer was not found because of the victim’s race. Dove remembers seeing a picture of a black man hanging as a child. (Spoiler) The Klan chases down a young man. Once they have him, they burn him with cigarettes and beat him and another young man with belts. Earlier two prejudice teens beat up the same man as passer-bys watch. The scenes are somewhat descriptive.

Language: The book is riddled with language from ten plus accounts of the words h***, d***, and a** to s*** giving the book a 2 rating. It also uses several phrases demeaning to God and the African-America race (which is used to build character qualities and the setting).

Sexual Content: The third page of the book explains how Dove has already been French-kissed. Later on, she sneaks out on numerous occasions to make-out with her boyfriend. I will have to say that once the plot turned to the KKK, I forgot about the make-out scenes. They just didn’t seem to be as important.

Other: Several of the characters smoke (again, part of the 1959 setting), one being Dove’s eighteen-year old love interest. Dove steals cigarettes from her housekeeper but is reprimanded with a lesson on why smoking is bad. Some of the adult characters drink and are seen drunk.

The author brings in a couple of scenes on banning books. Dove is all for reading the banned books chosen by her favorite teacher.

Recommendation: The only reason I would recommend the book is because the author has a new take on this time period with the setting being Florida’s Orange Groves. The book held many reservations with the language and sexual situations; therefore, I would recommend it for more mature teens, probably aged 16 plus. I would love for our readers to make suggestions on other more appropriate books for this time period.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lifting the Sky

By Reviewer: Dianne
Title: Lifting the Sky
Author: Mackie d’Arge
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Fiction, verging on Fantasy
# Of pages: 310
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Year of Release: 2009
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 4 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes but with Reservations

Description: From Amazon: In the spirit of The Yearling comes the unforgettable story of a ranch hand’s daughter. Blue’s wandering mother has always told her, “Just bloom where you’re planted.” And it’s been a pretty good motto, considering how Mam never stays put in one place for very long. Then Mam gets hired as a hand at a tumble-down ranch, and for the first time, Blue sees a place she longs to call home for good. There she makes a friend in an enigmatic Shoshone boy whose search for an ancient petroglyph intrigues her. And it’s there that the faint lights Blue has always been able to see around people begin to shine with new energy. But Mam begins to show signs of getting restless once again, and when the father who abandoned Blue years ago suddenly shows up at the ranch, the family she always thought she wanted may not be the one her heart is craving after all

Review: I found the story of Blue Gaspard riveting as the paranormal is skillfully interwoven with the everyday hard work that running a ranch requires. Blue’s loneliness resonates with anyone who has given up on making friends because adverse circumstances always seem to intervene. Instead Blue finds comfort in caring for the animals on the ranch – both domestic and wild. There seems to be a silent understanding that develops between them, and the animals often calm at her presence and touch.

Blue’s relationship with Shawn, a Shoshone boy about her age, gets off to a rocky start as she is trespassing on Native American land in addition to rescuing a pronghorn antelope fawn which he accuses her of poaching (which technically she is). Shawn is definitely not interested in being friends with a white girl, but the connection is made when Shawn becomes aware that Blue has the ability to see auras. His great-grandmother had also had the ability and had named him “Sees the Living Light”, even though he did not see any such lights. Though she finds him touchy, Blue connects with Shawn and I found myself cheering as at last she finds a friend.

The story is not without adventure as Shawn disappears for several days and Blue sets out to find him. She has a pretty good idea where he went, and ends up facing various perils as she seeks him out. I think most teen girls would rate Lifting the Sky as a “really good book”.

Rating: 4

Positive: Blue is not afraid of hard work and is willing to stick with a job until it is done. She shows initiative in that when she sees something that needs doing, she simply starts working. She has much love and empathy for animals. Blue’s main desire is for her father to return so they can become a whole family unit again, not realizing the negative influence that her father had on their family life.

Schooling was valued and Mam cautioned Blue to do something with her life...Mam had married at seventeen, and told her not to do what she did, that her school lessons were too valuable to be set aside for marriage.

Spiritual Elements: Blue prays frequently, but has no idea of who to pray to. Sometimes she prays to a tree, other times to Indian spirits, other times she prays to whoever is out there to listen.
The emphasis on the mystical (the seeing of auras, supernatural healings, the Indian spirits, ley lines, crystals, the magic etc.) is a factor that makes me skeptical of this book for less mature teens. This is well written and makes the magical and occult very fascinating and attractive. Teen readers need to be aware of the influence of the occult.

Violence: Blue hated the branding time and the castrating of male calves was described in more detail than I wanted to read about.

Language: There were a couple of instances of “omygod”.

Sexual Content: Mention was made of a “fleeting affair” that Blue’s mom had with a cowboy from New Mexico. There was no description of anything that happened between them except that her mom threw a skillet at him when she learned that he was married with three kids. (This added absolutely nothing to the story.)

Blue and Shawn had no romantic relationship...only friendship.

Other: Both of Blue’s parents had a problem with alcohol. Her mom had generally overcome her addiction, but when Blue’s father showed up with two bottles of wine, she had no problem drinking both of them after he walked away again.

Recommendation: Know your reader and be prepared to discuss the “spiritual elements” in this book. Recommended for mature readers ages 14+.