Monday, May 30, 2011

Richard Peck's Wings of Eagles

On the Wings of Heroes is another great offering from Richard Peck. I loved this one because it told the story of a young boy and his friends in small town America while World War II was fought across the oceans. He illustrates what the war was like on the homefront in a way that truly entertains.

Here's the synopsis: Davy Bowman's dad looks forward to Halloween more than a kid, and Davy's brother, Bill, flies B-17s. Davy adores these two heroes and tries his best to follow their lead, especially now. World War II has invaded Davy's homefront boyhood. Bill has joined up, breaking their dad's heart. It's an intense, confusing time, and one that will spur Davy to grow up in a hurry. This is one of Richard Peck's finest novels—a tender, unforgettable portrait of the World War II home front and a family's enduring love.

Cara again: I love the way the story illustrates you can be a hero by donning the uniform or by living like one every day. This family was one that we loved to come back to the pages and read more about. My seven year old son loved it, and my ten year old daughter kept asking to read just one more chapter. Each chapter represented an experience Davy had that propelled him from childhood to becoming a young man. And the recapturing of the time and history was perfect. I loved it! This was our first try with one of Richard Peck's book and was a delightful start.

The School Library Journal also has this book at a 4-8th grade reading level.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris

A different kind of teen book





Janna's REVIEW:

I had to put this book on my Top 8 of 2008 list because of how awesome this book is. Some people would say it should be on my Most Awesome YA list, but no. This is not a book just for Young Adults. Every Christian should read this book - who of us does not revert back to that "teen part" of us that will do the bare minimum in our lives and then we're miserable because of it. It is time to break out of that and to start exceeding the low expectations placed on us!

I was absorbed by this book when I started it and was blown away by it when I was done reading it. I told our church's youth pastor about it and made mention that as wonderful as it is geared towards teens, I think this is the kind of book that every Christian should read to encourage all of us living for God to rebel against low expectations. I loaned him my copy of the book and he put it off for a few months... when he finally read it he finished it in a couple days and then went out of his way to tell me how amazing it it. He plans on buying about 6 copies and circulating them among the youth. I plan on making this my standard graduation gift for people I know. But no matter what you decide to do with it, this is a book that I would strongly suggest getting your hands on, for you and everyone you know :-)

I was not able to reach Alex and Brett with them being away at college now and the Christmas holidays and everything, so I don't have an interview and giveaway - but I wanted to get the word out one more time on this great book!


Alex and Brett Harris founded in August 2005 and today at age 19 are the most popular Christian teen writers on the Web. The twins are frequent contributors to Focus on the Family’s Boundless webzine, serve as the main speakers for the Rebelution Tour conferences, and have been featured in WORLD magazine, Breakaway, The Old Schoolhouse, and the New York Daily News. Sons of homeschool pioneer Gregg Harris and younger brothers of best-selling author Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), Alex and Brett live near Portland, Oregon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Richard Peck's A Long Way from Chicago

My friend Jenny B. Jones pointed me to Richard Peck when I asked her for advice on age appropriate but challenging books for my ten year old to read. It's a challenge, isn't it, to find books they can enjoy.

A Long Way from Chicago tells the story of a brother and sister who spend one week of each summer with their grandma who lives in a small town that seems miles from Chicago. Each chapter tells an outrageous story from their stay in one year. My kids loved the stories and begged me to read just one more. The chapters are about twenty pages each, though the last one is only two pages and will grab your heart.

August 1929: They see their first corpse, and he isn't resting easy.
August 1930: The Cowgill boys terrorize the town, and Grandma fights back. August 1931: Joey and Mary Alice help Grandma trespass, poach, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungry -- all in one day. And there's more, as Joey and Mary Alice make seven summer trips to Grandma's -- each one funnier than the year before -- in self-contained chapters that readers can enjoy as short stories or take together for a rollicking good novel.

The town is a character. And the people who populate it will make you think of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. But Grandma is the jewel in the book. She claims to be a loner who cares nothing for her neighbors. Instead, I'd label her a free-wheeling individual who won't follow what others want. Yet she has a way of helping those around her. In the process Joey and Mary Alice have some pretty incredible experiences in the midst of the Depression. 

The kids and I can't wait to start Mary Alice's story.
The School Library Journal slates this book at a 4-8th grade level.

Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris: Cara's review

I have been reading the most fascinating book this week. In about 40 minutes on Saturday I blew through the first 60 pages. This book is targeted at teenagers, but will resonate with many, many more. In my opinion, this book should be a graduation gift for all junior high and high school students. It phenomenal.

If you've been around the homeschool movement for any length of time, then you're probably familiar with Gregg Harris. If you've been in a bookstore since 1997, then you're familiar with I Kissed Dating Good-bye and Josh Harris.

Now it's time to meet sons and younger brothers Alex & Brett Harris. I first ran into them with their modesty survey and posted about it at Generation NeXt Parenting on February 20, 2007. Then I was given the twins' book Do Hard Things. Here's the official blurb...but keep reading for my take and the giveaway details:

With over 10 million hits to their website, Alex and Brett Harris are leading the charge in a growing movement of Christian young people who are rebelling against the low expectations of their culture by choosing to “do hard things” for the glory of God.

Written when they were 18 years old, Do Hard Things is the Harris twins’ revolutionary message in its purest and most compelling form, giving readers a tangible glimpse of what is possible for teens who actively resist cultural lies that limit their potential. Combating the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility, the authors weave together biblical insights, history, and modern examples to redefine the teen years as the launching pad of life and map a clear trajectory for long-term fulfillment and eternal impact.

Written by teens for teens, Do Hard Things is packed with humorous personal anecdotes, practical examples, and stories of real-life rebelutionaries in action. This rallying cry from the heart of revolution already in progress challenges the next generation to lay claim to a brighter future, starting today.

This book is incredible. Many of us have seen teens, young adults, even thirty-somethings who are floundering through life. They can't seem to get any traction. Frankly, this approach to life drives my crazy, because I live on the other extreme. The Harris twins pinpoint the problem as a plague of low expectations when we're teenagers. As a result, we aren't trained to push ourselves and ask how God can use us -- especially during our teen years.

The verse that motivates their ministry is I Timothy 4:12. I smiled when I saw that as it was my life verse until I was 30 and decided I might need a different verse since I wasn't exactly a youth anymore. I've often wondered what my parents did or didn't do that made me believe anything I wanted to do/be was possible if it lined up with God's Word and will. Telling them at 12 or 13 that I wanted to start college at 16 -- no problem. When I turned 16 and still wanted to do it, they marched me down to the community college and figured it out.

There was an expectation that everything was training. The teen years weren't a time to goof off. Instead, they were a time to prove myself and gain increasing independence as I proved myself faithful. Everything I've done, accomplished, am doing is a direct result of that philosophy.

So I find myself in a church that doesn't offer a Bible study I'm interested in. No problem. I'll offer to lead one. So I want to teach at a major Big Ten University. No problem, I'll fill-in until I earn a contract spot. So I want to write books. No problem. I'll read books and wait until God says go. Then I'll invest the time and energy to write the books and take the steps necessary to prepare myself as God opens doors.

In a sense this is exactly what Do Hard Things is about. It challenges teens to do intentionally do 5 kinds of hard things:
  1. Things that are outside your comfort zone.
  2. Things that go beyond what is expected or required.
  3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone.
  4. Things that don't earn an immediate payoff.
  5. Things that challenge the cultural norm.
We'd all benefit from applying those principles to our lives. But how much better if we taught them to young people. I've talked about this book since starting it. Eric is lined up to read it. I'll be giving it as graduation gifts. And it will land in my children's hands by the time they are twelve, so we can fully discuss and apply these principles in their lives.

Friday, May 20, 2011

In Grandma's Attic & More Stories from Grandma's Attic

Any of you remember reading these books as tweens? I loved the In Grandma's Attic books, but my one complaint is that the print was so small I haven't been able to interest my ten year old in them.

These new editions take care of that issue, by making these wonderful short stories easy-to-read.  And engaging illustrations have been added to several of the stories in each book.  Each short story tells of an event in Arleta's grandmother's life. Everything from a hoop skirt to a quilt or a button serve as the launching point for a story that illustrates an important life truth.

These short chapters are easy for young readers to enjoy. But the content is great for any age. If you like Little House on the Prairie, you will equally enjoy these books.

 Synopsis: Remember when you were a child--when all the world was new, and the smallest object a thing of wonder? Arleta Richardson remembers: the funny wearable wire contraption hidden in the dusty attic, the century-old schoolchild's slate that belonged to Grandma, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces--each with its own special story--and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. And best of all was the remarkable grandmother who made magic of all she touched, bringing the past alive as only a born storyteller could.

Here are those marvelous tales--faithfully recalled for the delight of young and old alike, a touchstone to another day when life was simpler, perhaps richer; when the treasures of family life and love were passed from generation to generation by a child's questions, and the legends that followed enlarged our faith. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Part of the bestselling Grandma’s Attic series, these charming tales—updated with delightful new illustrations—will whisk you away to another time and place. And you’ll find something worth far more than any treasure or keepsake…timeless lessons of life and faith!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Finding Hollywood Nobody

Janna's REVIEW:
I can't tell you enough, how much I love this series of books by Lisa Samson. I've already talked about the first book, "Hollywood Nobody", and I'm so pleased that I've gotten to read this second one.
"Finding Hollywood Nobody" is an excellent follow-up to the first book, but I think you could enjoy this book without having read the first one. Lisa takes us back to Scotty and Charley and walks us through what happens as Scotty continues to grow and mature. Scotty goes on a spiritual journey and some amazing things happen along the way. The writing style is engaging and refreshing and the storyline is so original. When this one arrived in the mail - I dropped everything and read it (in an afternoon). As soon as I was finished I passed it on to my M-I-L and she said, "Oh, good! I've been waiting for this one!" She returned it to me by the end of the night because she couldn't put it down.
I recommend this series for anyone that likes a great, original and absorbing book!


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:

Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

Visit her at her website.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dear Mom: by Melody Carlson

Happy Mother's Day a bit late, everyone. Whether you have children, care for children, teach Sunday School, or pour your life into others, you are a mother. God calls us to constantly give in II Timothy. So enjoy your day!

Here's a book that may help you in your mothering.

Teenagers are a bit of a mystery. Let's face it -- even though I'm not old, the world has changed since I was a teen. And now that my oldest is getting closer to those mysterious years -- thankfully we still have a few years to go! -- I'm on the hunt for books that will help me prepare for when my girls are teens, but also to help me relate to the teens I know right now. And frankly, this book won't hurt me when writing teens either!

What book am I talking about? Dear Mom by Melody Carlson.
I found this book compelling. It addresses what teenagers think about their relationships with their moms and how can we as parents reach out to them in a way that encourages a healthy relationship. Very easy to read, but also very packed with great information.

This book is incredibly readable and filled with awesome information. For example, the chapter on privacy forced me to think about the importance of building trust so I don't have to snoop or violate my child's privacy to know what is going on in her life. There are times that may be necessary -- but there were strategies to avoid that, too. I found myself nodding as I read. Much resonated from when I was a teenager. And even more struck home as I considered how I should respect and treat teens. Read this book while handing your teen Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. Together they'll get you both prepared!

074914: Dear Mom: Everything Your Teenage Daughter Wants You to Know But Will Never Tell You Dear Mom: Everything Your Teenage Daughter Wants You to Know But Will Never Tell You
By Melody Carlson

Popular teen girls' novelist Melody Carlson helps moms cut through murky and uncharted waters so you can hear what your daughter is really trying to tell you through her anger, silence, and mixed messages. Dear Mom focuses on your daughter's heart and soul. Get to know her hopes and fears, doubts and dreams about her identity, guys, friendships, and even you. You can connect on a deeper, more intimate level that will carry both you and your daughter through the stormy seas of life.

Friday, May 13, 2011

YA Author Nicole O'Dell Stops by

I'm delighted to have my friend Nicole O'Dell drop by today. My oldest adores her Scenarios books. These great books set up a situation in which a teen has to make a choice. Then the book sets out the options: what happens with each choice. These books cover great topics from drugs to drinking to cheating to sex.

Please share about your newest releases.
Dare to Be Different and Risky Business are 2-in-1 repacks of the first four books in the Scenarios series. Swept Away is the anticipated 2-in-1 brand new release of books five and six in the series. In Swept Away, seniors and best friends, Amber and Brittany, are neck and neck in a good‐natured competition for a car being given away by a local business. When Amber cheats on her final exams to win the car and Brittany gets blamed for it, Amber is torn. Will she let her friend take the fall? Or will she admit she cheated and face the consequences? The second story finds sophomore Lilly Armstrong facing the question, “How far is too far?” with her boyfriend. When Jason convinces Lilly to lie to her parents about a church overnighter so she can stay at his house while his parents are out of town, how far will she let things go?

Each issue-driven Scenarios book has alternate endings that allow the reader to make an important moral decision for the main character and follow the consequences of her choice. They’re designed to help girls make their choices before they find themselves unprepared and face-to-face with peer pressure and end with a contract and prayer to help solidify her commitment to Godly choices.

Dare to be Different contains Scenarios for Girls books one and two: Truth or Dare and All that Glitters. (lying, peer pressure, boys, alcohol)

Risky Business contains Scenarios for Girls books three and four: Magna and Making Waves. (Stealing, loyalty, performance-enhancement drugs)

Swept Away contains the never-before released Scenarios for Girls five and six: High Stakes and Essence of Lilly. (cheating, loyalty, purity, honesty)

These are great books, but I know it's not all you're writing. What else are you working on right now?
I’m continuing on in the Diamond Estates series and the Drama Ensues series. I’m also wondering why I named them both with DE titles? Isn’t that a strange coincidence? They’re very, very different series—I hope you check them both out. Diamond Estates deals with troubled girls in a group home, to state it very simply. The Wishing Pearl, book one in Diamond Estates, is releasing on October 1, 2011. You can check it out on my website. Drama Ensues starts its appearance in 2012. It has a different style—quirky, drama club, artsy—yet it’s compelling in its coverage of the issues.

What interests do you have outside of writing?
Diapers? No, seriously, I love what I’m doing. I’m living my dream. I’ve given up a lot of outside things to give more time to my passion. How many people can say that about their work? Someone brilliant once said that if you’re able to do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life. I’m grateful to God for what he’s given me, and I happily give my spare moments to my writing and all that goes along with it. I do exercise. Sometimes.

Oh, and I speak at events, lead a local writing group, and teach a publishing course at the community college. I also host Teen Talk Radio—a weekly radio show where I bring guests on to talk about anything and everything today’s teens might be interested in. You can find it at

You are one crazy busy lady, Nicole. How do you choose your settings for each book?
I wish I could say that I got inspiration for my stories from my exotic travels. But it’s more based on the characters. They speak to me. I tried to have Carmen from The Embittered Ruby (book two of Diamond Estates--coming soon) hail from Virginia. But try as I did, that girl was from New York, no matter how hard I tried to make it otherwise. I love it when that happens!

You've been writing for awhile now. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
Honestly, what comes to mind is the one thing I’m glad I didn’t know. I had no idea how difficult the process was supposed to be. I didn’t know about people enduring years of rejection letters. I didn’t know that many writers had unpublished manuscripts gathering dust in the corners of their offices. I hadn’t heard the stories of pitches and near misses. I just had some stuff to write. So I did.

I often wonder if the results—or even my efforts—would have been different if I’d known how rough it was supposed to be. I’m thankful I was protected from both the knowledge and the experience.

Now one last question, one I've wondered the answer to for awhile: Why Teenagers?
Well, I didn’t choose this age group for my focus—God did. Honestly, it’s difficult. It’s heartbreaking sometimes, and exhausting a lot of the time. I often ask myself if I’m too old or too out of touch to minister to teens. But then I get a letter or an email from someone who was touched by something I did or said. I’m reminded in those moments that God has called me to reach out to teens, probably because those were the years of my deepest personal spiritual battle.

In my teens, I was pulled hard to both extremes. God wanted big things for me, and satan wanted the opposite. My struggles, my failures, my pain—those things drive me to want more for today’s teens. I want to spare them from some of the heartache I endure and help them tackle the temptations and peer pressures head on, confidently, secure in their Savior’s love.

They’re the future.

She writes. She talks. She reads. She changes diapers. Nicole O'Dell is a mom of six--including a set of toddler triplets who may or may not be potty trained sometime in 2011. Jury's still out on that one. She is the author of a bunch of YA books, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the upcoming Diamond Estates Series. She's also the host of Teen Talk Radio. You can find her books and links to all the fun social stuff at

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ryann Watters and the Shield of Faith

Creation House; 1st edition (May 5, 2009)
Every once in awhile a really good series comes out that you can read aloud with the family or read to yourself and you just get swept away into another world. I have been fortunate in some of my reading lately to discover some gems that I otherwise might not have been able too... Mike Hamel's Matterhorn series, Robert Liparulo's Dreamhouse Kings series, Lisa Samson's Hollywood Nobody series... and now I've been fortunate enough to have discovered Eric Reinhold's Ryann Watters series.

In book #1, Ryann Watters and the King's Sword, we meet Ryann and his best friends Terell and Liddy. Ryann is visited by Gabriel who gives him a special staff, ring and horn and tells him that he will need to find the King's Sword. He is taken to a world called Aeliana where the animals talk and humans are few. It has a very Narnia-esque feel and is captivating. The beauty of this book to me is the way Eric shows spiritual warfare in such a way that it is easy for kids to understand. Searching the scriptures for answers, praying for wisdom, leaning not unto his own understanding... these are the ways Ryann finds answers on his quest against darkness.

Now in book #2, Ryann Watters and the Shield of Faith, Ryann, Terell and Liddy are back and sent on a second mission - for the Shield of Faith. It is back to Aeliana, but everything is not as it was. The passage of time, dragons, unicorns and evil. Ryann must renew his pursuit of the scriptures to find out what The Word says. Adventure reigns supreme in book #2 and I just love this series. It is a read aloud series for our family and is taking its place among the classics as far as I am concerned.


Eric J. Reinhold is the president of Academy Wealth Management and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. His passion is to write youth fantasy novels that incorporate strong moral character and biblical values. Eric teaches Sunday school at First Baptist Sweetwater Church in Longwood, Florida, where he attends with his wife, Kim, and three children.

Visit the author's website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Creation House; 1st edition (May 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599796260
ISBN-13: 978-1599796260

Monday, May 9, 2011

How to be God's Little Princess

As the mom of a tween and a three year old, princesses are quite the topic around my house. It's hard to say which Disney princess is a favorite, but I know I want my girls to totally get to the core of their being that they are the ultimate princesses.  Sounds like too much? 

It isn't, because they are God's princesses.
I've loved Shelia Walsh's Gigi, God's Little Princess books and DVDs. My tweener began outgrowing the books about the time my three year old began to fall in love with the idea of princesses. It's time to pull them out for her. And just in time, Shelia Walsh has written a book filled with royal tips for manners, etiquette, and true beauty. Currently, I plan to use the book with a tween class I lead on Wednesday nights at church. The content is perfect for girls who are growing into young women, and the way it is presented, in a beautiful pink and silver book with lots of fun activities is something that girls will enjoy. From how to dress, to friendship, to phone manners, just about every topic is covered. 

And what I know my tweener will love? All the great craft ideas and fun quizzes. It's like an American Girl interactive book -- only with a Christ-centered focus. Love it!

Teaching your daughter how to be a princess involves more than just a pretty dress! Women of Faith® speaker and recording artist Sheila Walsh returns to the Gigi, God's Little Princess series with a new interactive guide book for 9-12 year old readers. The book gives girls a fun tool to discover how to dress, how to act, and why that's even important!

Increasingly, we see tween girls of today embracing the prevalent "anything goes" spirit of our culture. Sheila seeks to combat that spirit and reinforce God's standard in their lives. She takes a holistic approach by not just focusing on behavior but also addressing the heart. Sheila says that "it is God's Word that has the power to hold us through the fiercest storms. It is God's Word that shows us how to live in a world that has largely turned its back on our Father. It is God's Word that allows us to stand firm when everything else seems to be falling apart." How to Be God's Little Princess will supplement what parents, churches, and youth workers may already be teaching their tween girls.

About the book: How to Be God's Little Princess: Royal Tips of Manners and Etiquette for Girls
(Thomas Nelson, April 2011, ISBN: 9781400316441 $9.99) A fun guide book for God's little princesses. What does it take to be a princess? Sheila Walsh has some important answers to share for every little girl. This trendy design features black & white line art and a two-color pink and black interior. The art will tie to each how-to topic in the book-how to make the best pink cookies, how to wear a tiara, how to earn money at home, how to care for a royal dog, how to be respectful, how to use good manners, how to help Mom, how to follow Jesus, how to act like a princess when things go terribly wrong, and many more.
About Sheila: Sheila Walsh is the creator of the award-winning Gigi, God's Little Princess® brand which has sold over 1.5 million units. Sheila is also a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and best-selling author with more than 4 million books sold. As a featured speaker with Women of Faith®, Sheila has reached more than 3.5 million women by artistically combining honesty, vulnerability, and humor with God's Word.

Author of the best-selling memoir Honestly and the Gold Medallion nominee for The Heartache No One Sees, Sheila's most recent release, The Shelter of God's Promises, has also been turned into a DVD curriculum and in-depth Bible study. The Gigi, God's Little Princess book and video series has won the National Retailer's Choice Award twice and is the most popular Christian brand for young girls in the United States. Sheila co-hosted The 700 Club and her own show Heart to Heart with Sheila Walsh. She is currently completing her Masters in Theology.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones

The Big Picture

(NavPress Publishing Group April 15, 2008)


Jenny B. Jones

Janna's Review:
I really enjoyed this book by Jenny, and I am happy to say that even though this is book #3 in the Katie Parker series and I have not read the first 2... I didn't feel left out at all! Jenny does a great job keeping you in the loop as the book goes on so that it is not a necessity to have read the books in order, although after reading The Big Picture I would like to go back and read the first 2.
Katie is a fun heroine, one of my favorite types - her heart is in the right place, but she's human and has flaws (and they show, alot!). She is surrounded by quirky characters who support and love her and then the unthinkable happens... her messed up, druggie mom gets out of jail and wants Katie back. Katie struggles to leave behind her wants and needs and be a good daughter and tries to find God in the middle of such a mess. Such an original story and Jenny's writing style made it so fun too! I would highly recommend this book - especially for the teen set, so if you are looking for good reading for your teen - then check out this series!

Jenny B. Jones is the author of A Katie Parker Production series. The other books in the series are In Between and On The Loose. Though now an adult, she still relates to the trauma and drama of teen life. She is thrilled to see her writing dreams come true, as her previous claim to fame was singing the Star Spangled Banner at a mule-jumping championship. (The mules were greatly inspired.)

Jenny resides in Arkansas, where, as a teacher, she hangs out with teens on a regular basis.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy—and Katie Parker is walking it.
School is winding down for the summer but Katie Parker is having a bad day. After leaving the drive-in, where her imploding love life was the main attraction, Katie arrives home to a big surprise on the Scott's front porch.

Her mother, Bobbie Ann Parker, a former convict and recovering addict, wants to take Katie away from her family, friends, and church. Now Katie's life will be changed by a series of dramatic choices as she struggles to understand what family and home really means.

Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving behind a family who loves her, a town drive-in to save, and a boyfriend who suddenly can’t take his eyes off his ex. When the life her mother promised begins to sink faster than one of Maxine’s stuffed bras, Katie knows she needs to rely on God to keep it together.

But where is he in all this? Can Katie survive a chaotic life with her mother—and one without the Scotts? And if God is there, will he come through before it’s too late?

A Katie Parker Production series offers teen girls real-world fiction balanced by hope and humor. The The Big Picture helps us realize that the difficult chapters in our journey are only part of God's big story for our lives.

You can read the first chapter HERE

"A heroine to love. Jones just gets better with every book, and The Big Picture is her best one yet."
~BARBARA WARREN, author of The Gathering Storm
"Such inspiration in a package of fun and faith!"
~EVA MARIE EVERSON, author of the Potluck Club series

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ally Carter's Heist Society

My writing friend extraordinaire Jenny B. Jones is very good friend. Last year when she was in town for the ACFW conference, she drove around with me while I delivered the kids to their grandparents for four days of spoiling while I worked and taught at the conference. What does this have to do with Heist Society? Excellent question!

I pulled out my ACFW conference MP3s a week ago and started listening to them and the kids asked to listen to the Jenny lectures. Really, it's the only way I would have listened to her YA lecture, much as I adore her and her writing. But in the lecture -- which was as hilarious as she is -- she highly recommended a book by an author I'd not heard of. Now keep in mind, I'm more than a few years past YA myself :-) but I'm constantly on the lookout for books for my 10 year old to read. And this one sounded like way too much fun. I bought it. And then I inhaled it. So now I share it with you.

Heist Society is an incredibly smart book that stars a fifteen-year-old and her band of merry thieves -- literally. Kat Bishop tried to escape her families art theft ways, but is now sucked back in when someone threatens her father. The writing is crisp, funny, and action packed. These globe-trotting teens have less than two weeks to steal back paintings that have been stashed in one of the world's premier museums. The pacing and sense of humor reminded me of the Ocean's Eleven movies. Loved, loved, loved it!

Now this book is published by Hyperion and is not a Christian book. However, I found nothing in it that would prevent me from handing it to my daughter and her friends. In fact, I wish I'd bought more copies so I could do exactly that. I haven't read Ally Carter's other books, but I will be looking into the Gallagher Girls series. The only one I can speak about is this one...and I LOVED IT. You can read the synopsis here. And while the main character is Kat, she's surrounded by teenage boys -- so I think boys might enjoy it as well.

If I could write something this fun, I'd move to YA immediately.
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