Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: Imagination Station Books #8 & #9

Adventures in Odyssey The Imagination Station® Series #9: Escape to the Hiding Place  -     
        By: Marianne Hering
 Adventures in Odyssey The Imagination Station® Series #8: Battle for Cannibal Island  -     
        By: Marianne Hering, Wayne Batson
Battle for Cannibal Island and Escape to the Hiding Place are fun, easy to read books for children ages 7 & up. The dialogue and descriptions are simple but the plot for each book is interesting. The main characters are 7-year-old cousins named Patrick and Beth. I like how they introduce a historical figure and time period in the books. In Battle for Cannibal Island, it is the 1850s in Fiji and they meet missionary James Calvert. Escape to the Hiding Place, not surprisingly, introduces Corrie ten Boom and is set during World War II. The illustrations (especially of Whit) are not what I am used to but they’re not bad. At the end of each story, the children learn a lesson that they can apply to their modern day lives. I think it’s cool to see a Christian historical fiction book series for young kids. 

Note: I received these books for free through Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Book Review: The New Recruit by Jill Williamson

Official Book Description:  The Mission League--Mission 1: Moscow Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club. These guys mean business. Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

My Review: The New Recruit (Mission 1: Moscow) by Jill Williamson is a unique twist on the spy genre. A Christian spy organization where spies memorize Bible verses, do mission work, help the homeless, etc. is a very creative idea.

My favorite character is Beth because she’s one tough girl. I do think she shouldn’t be punching the guys on her team (in the shoulder)–even if she doesn’t mean it in a bad way–it’s good for girls to know they can be tough without throwing their weight around/being aggressive unnecessarily (i.e. just because you can kick someone’s butt to Mars doesn’t mean you should :)). I understand that in books, to show a character’s personality, actions like hitting guys in the shoulder may be necessary and don’t get me wrong, I love that there’s a Christian girl in a book who can fight. It’s awesome! I just wanted to make a “real life” note to girls who want to be seen as tough; it’s enough that you know you are don’t need to flaunt your skills :). And by the way, I would love to take League Combat Training (LCT)!

I sympathized with the main character, Spencer Garmond, most of the time. (*spoiler alert* As a nitpicky note, I was disappointed in Spencer because as a 6'3'' athlete, he didn’t do a good job (in my opinion) of fighting back against his teammates when they tried to kidnap him for the drill. And in reality, a team leader would have to have a few screws lose to send students to kidnap teammates. If I didn’t know they were my teammates, I’d have fought back to the death–literally. If someone tried to kidnap me, I’d break their bones and/or hurt any other part of their body I had to. So unless the “attacking” teammates wear thick (preferably knife proof) padded clothing (and a cup), they really shouldn’t be sent on a drill like that. This is another “real life” doesn’t mean the writing is bad. It actually made for a very interesting scene in the book! And we find out Spencer is not a great fighter. *end of spoiler*)

My opinion on the other Mission League teens? Gabe and Arianna are nice and very missions-minded. Isabel comes across as very nice but terribly naive. I don’t think I ever quite figured out Jensina, Isaac, or Jake. And Nick is a certifiable jerk. And I would’ve sent him packing in a minute if I was in charge. Just saying.

Speaking of the leadership of the Mission League, I personally don’t like that they recruited Spencer since he’s not a Christian. I mean, it’s explained in the book but a real-life mission organization would (hopefully) not send a non-believer to do mission work so it still doesn’t quite sit right with me. It does make for an interesting book seeing the Mission League through the eyes of a skeptic, though. And as a side note, I wish there was a Mission League in real life.

These are all life principle things. The only critical thing I have to say about the actual writing is that there were several typos (missing letters/words/etc.) throughout the book that were distracting and sometimes jolted me out of the book as I tried to understand what the sentence meant.

I don’t know how much I can say about the plot without giving things away. The villains are very creepy, dark characters. I think it’s great how this book gives a glimpse into how cults try to lure people into their organization and then keep them in bondage. They make it sound appealing to join and then they don’t let people leave. That part of the book is very realistic. I think it’s cool that most of The New Recruit takes place in Moscow, Russia. It’s interesting to see Russian words/phrases sprinkled into the dialogue.

Wow, I don’t normally write reviews even close to this long which means this book made me think a lot. I thought about the characters and what I would do if I were in their shoes which is why there are the three “real life” notes above.

If you read The New Recruit, I’m sure you’ll have some thoughts of your own!

You can buy The New Recruit from Amazon, B&N, CBD, or directly from the publisher.

Note: I received this book for free from Team Novel Teen in exchange for my honest review.