Welcome to The Book Guardians!

We sincerely hope that this site is a blessing to you, and that it will help you in deciding which books are a good fit for your family!

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Vivian Apple At the End of the World

by Katie Coyle

Religious/Secular Content : Yes; both. 
Adult Content : Yes; references
Mature Topics : Yes
Strong/Inappropriate Language : Yes; extreme
Magic/Witchcraft : No
Disrespect/Rebellion : Yes
Drug/Alcohol Use : Yes (underage as well as adult)
Violence/Abuse : Yes
Educational Value : -
Positive/Negative Message : Much more negative than positive; it is tricky

About the book (from Google):
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivian Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.

I was actually quite shocked with this book, which is offered freely through Sync2016 to those over 13 years old. Admittedly I downloaded the audio book because of the mention of the Rapture although I have not personally read any books on this topic before.

The second reason I downloaded it was simply because it was offered free to teens. I wanted to see what kind of books were being offered to get kids to read (or listen in this case). I will say again: I was shocked by this book. But it really should come as no surprise that it is put out there for teens to read. It twists religion and presents it as kooky and hair-brained. It presents religion as a ploy for money and power by those who are higher in the structure of religion.

The religious aspect of this book is twisted. The basis of the religion is a mix of Christianity and other religions, especially those that have strict adherent requirements. There are bits of Mormonism, Charles Masonism, Jehovah Witnessism, David Koreshism, Megachurchism, Agnosticism, Pantheism, Joel Osteenism, Joyce Meyersism... etc. (yes I'm sure I made up words there). But at the bottom of it is the theme that salvation is only through a particular organized religion and through one's adherence to works. Both of these are completely against true Christianity. One's membership will not save them. One's works will not save them.

In this one, the church is started by Beaton Frick, the Church of America, and it is terrible. The founder, Frick, was visited by Jesus (in a powder blue convertible that had the ability to travel through space and time). I imagine this is what those who are opposed to organized religion think of organized religion: fakely sweet disposition, strict adherence to the requirements, extremely judgmental, and downright vicious. Ah, yes, and its members extremely disillusioned.

"'For God saw that Americans were industrious and made money in His name, and He saw it was good'...It's one of the many parts of the Book of Frick that made you wonder whether or not Frick was just straight up on shrooms when he was writing it."

The book's start really is steeped in the secular, with the underage drinking right at the start (Alcohol Use). Here also we are subjected to the first of many instances of inappropriate language, cuss words from teens. It is not simply "s..t" or "d..n" but the more extreme f-word. There is way too much of taking G-d's name in vain. Also, there is much reference, and acceptance of gays. But also I think it is to point to the emphasis of the religious focus on these groups.

Adult Content is more referenced in the sense of taking 'scriptures' (from the Book of Frick) to detail the abhorrent actions of sinners (gays, lesbians, girls or women who appear to be promiscuous). Of course, these are fake, made up verses but they are similar to the actual Bible verses that talk about these things. In regard to the gays, two teens are a couple and there is some talk of their relationship in the sense of how much they care for each other.

There are also many references to inappropriate relationships of teens. One character, Edie, who I believe is just barely 18/19, was essentially seduced by a member of the Church of America- although she married the man before becoming pregnant- who leaves her when she is 5 months pregnant.

There are Mature Topics through the entire book. Crime, death, rioting, etc. Shortly after it is discovered that there were 'believers' who disappeared, there was rioting and looting. But there are also 'believers' who were not raptured, which causes some problems. Those left behind, but who people thought should have been raptured, begin to carry out vicious attacks on non-believers. Spray painting houses with "Sin" is only a small bit of it. Another time a family is burnt alive in their home because the daughter is viewed as 'loose' by 'believers'. There is an instance where one of the main characters' brothers, who was one mentioned above as a gay couple, is killed by the non-raptured believers. There is more death and murder towards the end as well.

This can of course fall under the Violence/Abuse: the rioting and such. There are instances where many people yell at each other using foul language.

Also, along with this is Disrespect/Rebellion that is prevalent in the book. The main characters are teenagers who are now in a world where many of their parents have been 'raptured'. There are many who are organizing themselves together to make the world continue on, although it is predicted that the End of the World is coming. There are other groups that are bent on destruction- both 'believers' and non-believers.

Educational Value- unless you consider reading through this with a group to find fallacies presented to argue and debunk; or to discuss the different feelings of people in extreme situations- I can't really say it has a positive value.

Which goes onto does this have Positive/Negative Message- yes it does. It is both positive and negative. It is positive in the sense that those who are left behind, 'believers' or non-believers, are striving to keep going. The main character, Vivian Apple, who has always been good by just about everyone's standards but she's been too complacent and don't-rock-the-boat type personality, has to come out of herself, to stretch herself; she has to fight. That is the positive. These people (I will say that the non-believers are painted in a much better light than the 'believers') are trying to work together for what appears to be something good.

The Negative however, is much more prevalent, is that those who believe in religion (not just this fake, made up farce of Frick, but really the actual institution of religion is what is meant here) are not well. Mentally not well. For teens reading this, especially those who do not have a solid foundation of what they believe, will come to believe this: Religion is for those who are mentally unwell. It is not for those who are smart and 'with it'.

The bottom line of this book (imo) is that it is based on the author's disillusionments with religion, and her desire to bring this to the teens of today. But to do so there needs to be a plot worth following. I must say though that the plot is choppy and rather lacking in feeling and depth quite often. The characters (with the exception of Vivian's 'friend' Harp) do not have much to them. I was unimpressed with this book as a means of getting teens to read more (or listen in this case) as it just perpetuates confusion and distrust of authority and truth.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Last Christian

by David Gregory
illustrated by

Religious/Secular Content : -Christian, secular setting
Adult Content : -Yes
Mature Topics : -Yes
Strong/Inappropriate Language : -No
Magic/Witchcraft : -No
Disrespect/Rebellion : -No (although this is iffy)
Drug/Alcohol Use : -Yes
Violence/Abuse : -Yes
Educational Value : -
Positive/Negative Message : -

Product Details
This may contain spoilers- if you don't want to know what actually happens... well, you've been forewarned *wink*

From the back cover: 
In the future, it's possible to live forever -but at what cost?
A.D. 2088. Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village. Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out. A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter the insurmountable odds. 
But a larger threat looms. The world's leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form. Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether -but at what expense?
As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father's unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals. Hanging in the balance -the spiritual future of all humanity. 
In this fast-paced thriller, startling near-future science collides with thought-provoking religious themes to create a spell-binding "what-if?" novel. 
And that sets the stage for this book. What attracted me to the book was the title: The Last Christian. Christianity can't 'go away', we think. Christians who've read their Bible for any length of time would find this a very improbable scenario. 

This book is definitely fiction; science fiction at that. Let me start at the beginning with this book. I won't be really telling you what the book is about but will tear it apart for things you'll find in it. I'm sure I will miss some that others will find when/if they were to read it. You will probably get glimpses of what I thought of the book as you read.

It begins with what appears to be a surgical procedure about to be completed. But it's obvious the patient does not want the procedure done. Personally, I think this is the first instance of Mature Topics because it completely disregards another person's ability to choose. Some others may not feel the same way. In the category of Mature Topics I do place ethical decisions such as prolonging life beyond the natural years, or more profoundly, downloading the human brain to a silicon form! The book covers so many technological advances that were absorbed, fictionally of course, into the medical field but all, in my opinion, are a way of playing God. 

The story continues with Abby, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that ravaged her village, seeking help from the outside. Here is where some may find first instance of Mature Topics- all the people die, even the children. It isn't graphic, thankfully. The 'disease' simply makes those affected get dizzy, become forgetful and then finally fall into a coma that leads to death. As we go through the book, there is more death: Abby's grandfather is thought to be dead at the start, Creighton Daniel's father appears to have committed suicide and a few other people suspiciously die.

I think in terms of Mature Topics, death is the most pronounced -besides man trying to play God. Those who begin to try to piece together the mystery that surrounds Abby, her grandfather and some messages that have tried to be hidden, sometimes meet an untimely end. Abby's grandfather is not dead as we are initially made to believe but he is killed by the end of the book. Along with almost all of the 'main characters'. A lot of death but fortunately, not graphic.

Abby eventually travels to the United States where she has a cousin living. Here is where I think may be some Disrespect. Lauren, the cousin, is so cold and just rude, in my opinion, that I might label it disrespect. Abby is subjected to the same attitude a few times throughout the book. One instance, where Abby is having dinner with 'important' people (senators? and if not, they are politically affiliated with Lauren in some way) who are condescending but use  the phrase, "I mean no offense," before or after each derogatory statement or question. The general attitude of a multitude of characters I found to be just rude. 

Adult Content is found a few places throughout the book. The first mention of it is, I believe when Abby is getting the tour of the house of her cousin's "life partner" (they don't marry any longer but instead have 'life contracts' that are renewable- more on that in a bit). There is a teenager lying on a couch, apparently sleeping. Fortunately -again- there isn't much in the way of description here but we do learn that she was having s** with her boyfriend in virtual reality. The teenagers of this fictional reality are allowed virtual reality privileges such as that when they reach the age of thirteen! We thought Facebook was bad... 

Other instances include references to Creighton's possible previous virtual reality 'jaunts', if you will, of the same nature. As the book progresses, Creighton and Abby become close and there are scenes of kissing and description of strong feelings -nothing beyond kissing. They do have a conversation in which Abby tells Creighton that she will not have s** with him and he accepts that. 

We also are given a brief description of a strip club where two of the characters meet at a point or two in the book. Other instances of Adult Content could include the rocky relationship that many of the characters have currently or had in the past. Lauren and her life partner, Sabin, are one such couple. The writing just exudes tension when they are together. And many of the people of the time have kids with their life partners but when their contract runs out, they leave and have no relationship with their children. It is equivalent to divorce for me.

A problem with the people of this book -this fictional future- is that they are amoral. They have not right or wrong any longer.

The  Alcohol use is referenced quite a few times throughout the book: people have beer or wine with their meals. It mentions a bar and a dance club with the characters ordering and drinking. I think that the virtual reality in this book can be considered a 'drug' because there are places that have been designated as safe places for those who have lost their jobs, families, everything because they are addicted to the virtual reality. They stay in virtual reality and have nothing else because of it.

The Religious/ Secular Content is evident from the start to finish. It is written as a secular world with Christianity underlying everything that is to happen in the book. It makes reference to a few other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jewish, and some others that I can't recall off the top of my head- but the main character (Abby) refutes them all as false religions. 

I personally had a problem with the Christian message trying to be put forth here but not all will, I understand. Basically, the message states that we need to let Jesus live in us and through us, more importantly than realizing that we are sinners in need of salvation. It was stressed that we cannot attain what God wants us to attain because we are imperfect -agreed. But it gave the impression that we should really stop trying so hard. Almost like a meditate and you'll get that 'peace' you need- and all will be great! 

It just didn't appeal to my beliefs as accurate or appropriate. 

Finally, the Violence. It is throughout the book but in spurts. It might be near the beginning but we don't see it consistently; it's strategically placed perhaps. When things feel calm and moving along nicely then bam! Some violence- generally with guns or a fist fight. There are only three accounts that I recall without looking, which means there are more. 

I didn't mark Educational Value or Positive/Negative Message because I think both of those are going to be up to the parent (or reader if not a child). The scenarios in terms of technology and the laws of the future are indeed thought provoking! Some of the references in the book to 'history' (which would still be our future in reality), I can see being a possibility -if things continue the way they are. The initial feel of the book could be either positive or negative, depending on how one looks at technology's role in life. The same with the view of Christianity -first is it 'extinct' but it has a chance of living on in a small group of people touched (not physically) by Abby, the woman from the jungle. 

I will tell you that I read this through in one day. I was captivated by the book. I didn't feel the characters were well done -not developed completely. And as I stated, I don't necessarily agree with the Christian message put forth by the end. But, I found it to be a very interesting read. Surprisingly, I don't recall any Strong/ Inappropriate Topics. (I will mention there is supposedly the Tolerance Act of 2036 that makes it illegal to say anything against another person's religion- you'll be thrown in jail if you do- how's that for tolerance!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Hero for WondLa

by Tony DiTerlizzi
illustrated by

Religious/Secular Content : Both
Adult Content : No
Mature Topics : Yes
Strong/Inappropriate Language : No
Magic/Witchcraft : No
Disrespect/Rebellion : Yes
Drug/Alcohol Use : Yes
Violence/Abuse : Yes
Educational Value : No
Positive/Negative Message : -

The boy pilot of a battered airship flies twelve-year-old Eva Nine to the human city, New Attica. Eva is certain that this will be the perfect start to a new life with her good friend, the Caerulean alien named Rovender Kitt -especially after the tragic loss of her robotic caretaker, Muthr. However, like many things on planet Orbona, appearances can be deceiving.

Eva encounters many new people in New Attica, including a long-lost relative she was unaware of. And she uncovers the secrets of the Sanctuaries, the HRP, and the history of her planet's past. But then new questions arise, and the delicate spirit of life is threatened once again. Was coming to New Attica the right decision? 

A Hero for WondLa continues Eva Nine's adventures in the series... I posted about the first book, In Search of WondLa, in July of 2011. I am trying to not compare the two books but it might happen anyway. I will warn that there may be some 'spoilers' in this post, unintentionally, in order to let you know what to expect from this book. 

The author does have a note at the end of the book saying that his character, Eva Nine, had grown (in many ways- transformed and matured, he says) since the first book and that he, too, had grown. I think that it is quite evident in this book that there is a change. It still has the same feel (?) to it as the first but it is different. It takes a different path than I thought it would in terms of character development.

In the first book, I marked that there was neither religious/secular content and I suppose that is true but if a book is not religious, or makes no mention of God at all, wouldn't it be secular content? I chose to say "Both" in this case. It is about 'worldly things', not Godly things. It does have a few references to spirits and an afterlife but doesn't go into details. It reminded me (vaguely) of Native American beliefs (the spirits of the plants and animals somehow having a connection with humans- that is a generalized description) and/or the reincarnation religions. It doesn't actually say that the characters believe the spirit will return as another form but that it just travels on...to where? There aren't specifics given. 

Near the end of the book, when Eva and her companions are searching for the 'generator' that the creator of New Attica is after, and they reach the center of the Wandering Forest, it gets ...weird. I don't know how else to put it but that. Basically there is an 'entity' in the center of the forest that is the Mother of All Nature; the Spark of Life. It takes one of the characters and 'evolves' her into a tree-girl. Also we learn that the Mother is really an evolved machine. But it evolved on its own, over time. 

There isn't any 'love' in this book but the love of friendship and siblings. No kissing, hugging, or any real displays of affection of that sort. So no adult content in that regards.

As with the other book, there is mature content. The book starts right where the first one left off (there'd been quite a battle and Eva's Muthr was destroyed). There are creatures that can only be contrived by the imagination that are capable of snapping people and machinery in half quite easily. There are instances where someone is hurt by a creature and they bleed, another time when a new friend sacrifices their life to save the group (we are only given the description of an explosion where the character had been). Also there is the topic of families being separated, torn apart. 

After Eva is registered in New Attica, she finds out that there are no aliens in the city- because they are used for experimentation by the leader and 'reprogrammed'. I gathered that they are actually tortured but we aren't given details on that, thankfully. 

I didn't find any strong or inappropriate language in the book, in terms of how we speak. There was a scene where three girls are making fun of another girls hair and I'm sure the words they use are intended to be insulting. Pretty much the words were made up. And as for the witchcraft/magic, I put no but Eva can communicate with many of the creatures (including plant-life) on the planet. I don't know if that would classify or not.

There is disrespect/rebellion on the part of Eva, Eva Eight, and the pilot, Hailey. For the first two, it is rebellion against corrupt authority. They sneak around after curfew and Eight removes the identification chip that is in Eva so that they cannot be tracked. Disrespect is evident from Eight when she is presented before the leader of the city. Hailey is disrespectful to his grandfather in one scene; calls him crazy. 

Rovee (Rovender) drinks some sort of alcoholic drink a few times in the book. It specifically says it is a fermented drink that dulls the senses. 

Violence and abuse are frequent throughout the book. The descriptions range from just a mention to somewhat descriptive. 

I found no educational value in this book but perhaps for 'creative writing'. 

I had said that the other book had what could be called a positive message: don't give up. This book at first seems to focus on following ones heart but toward the end, I felt more along the lines of doing what's right and best for all, not just oneself, was the message.

I didn't like this book as much as the first. It is 437 pages of actual story but the font is large and the words-per-page is perhaps a few hundred. There are illustrations throughout, which I did like for the most part. One of the last ones though, shows Eva Nine in a fetal position, naked (it doesn't show anything) with translucent skin -like an xray. That was my least favorite image. 

I would consider this book 'twaddle' based on CM's words:
“What manner of book will find its way with upheaving effect into the mind of an intelligent boy or girl? We need not ask what the girl or boy likes. She very often likes the twaddle of goody-goody story books, he likes condiments, highly-spiced tales of adventure. We are all capable of liking mental food of a poor quality and a titillating nature” (Vol. 3, p. 168).

I think there will be one more book in this series but I'm not sure if I will read it. The first book is, in my opinion, better than this one, which makes me wonder how the third book will be. Maybe I will read it after all.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

by Jacqueline Kelly
illustrated by NA

Religious/Secular Content : It talks about Darwin's theory of evolution and makes no arguments about it; mentions religion, church, Bible but not God. Fairly secular.
Adult Content : Does talk a bit about courting, crushes, kissing.
Mature Topics : Instance of referring to photographs from the Civil War, describes a bit; one girl has a brother that is 'addled', describes him briefly in one part of the book; amputation is described (the experience, not the procedure) as well as burning the appendages later. Calpurnia wonders about seeing a dead body.
Strong/Inappropriate Language : There are a few words, 'darn' and pi**.
Magic/Witchcraft : No
Disrespect/Rebellion : Yes; Calpurnia backtalks a few times. She also meddles where she shouldn't in her brother's affairs and it causes some strife in the family.
Drug/Alcohol Use : Yes; Calpurnia's grandfather drinks a few times and is trying to make pecan alcohol; he gives it to Calpurnia, who is 11 at the time, as well as offers it to her again later. Calpurnia's mother also drinks a tonic that is 20% alcohol for headaches. There is wine at the holidays.
Violence/Abuse : The piano teacher thwacks Calpurnia's knuckles. Two brothers have a scuffle over a girl. One of Calpurnia's brothers pinches her to try to get her in trouble.
Educational Value : Yes; many scientific names and descriptions.
Positive/Negative Message : Neutral. More positive.

This is a great book. Those who are interested in nature study will enjoy the theme throughout this book. 

It takes place in 1899 to the New Year of 1900 in a smallish Texas town. Calpurnia, or Callie Vee to most of her family and friends, is 11 3/4 years old and the only girl. Her oldest brother, Harry, dotes on her and she is his 'own pet'. He starts her love of science (and nature) by giving her a nature journal to write down all she sees. 

At first she writes down very little but through the book she progresses to more detail descriptions. We are only given a glimpse into what she wrote a few times and later it is only the questions she is pondering that we know she writes in her journal. When she comes upon a strange occurrence, she asks anyone she can what it means. No one knows and really no one seems to care. 

Someone either tells her to go as Granddaddy or she decides to ask him herself. He is someone that most of the kids are afraid of. He doesn't talk much and when he does most of the adults just humor him because he is old. Calpurnia is just afraid. When she finally does get the nerve to ask him, he tells her to figure it out. Not much help, huh? 

But it is! After that, she starts asking the real questions that will help her find the answers. When she comes to the answer herself, she tells Granddaddy- and their relationship blooms from there.

There is a lot of humor in this but some may be 'naughty' humor, I suppose. Granddaddy gives Calpurnia some pecan alcohol that he is trying to perfect and although it's a shock, I'll bet Calpurnia never drank again! He also teaches her the words to pirate and sea chanteys with 'naughty' words. 

In Calpurnia's time, women were to stay home and had to know how to cook, sew, knit, etc. Calpurnia doesn't want to do that but is torn between what is expected of her and her gender and what she actually wants to do. 

Very good book that I think kids and parents will enjoy. If it were a read-aloud it would quite easy to skip the few parts that are possibly 'objectionable'.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Peace Child

Peace Child
by Don Richardsons
by by
illustrated by

Religious/Secular Content:- Religious, Christian, missionary biography
Adult Content:- yes
Mature Topics:- yes
Strong/Inappropriate Language:- no
Magic/Witchcraft:- yes (real, demonic)
Disrespect/Rebellion:- no
Drug/Alcohol Use:- no
Violence/Abuse:- yes
Educational Value:- yes
Positive/Negative Message:- Positive

Your text here.Peace Child: An Unforgettable Story of Primitive Jungle Treachery in the 20th Century Don Richardson carries us deep into the jungles to the Sawi tribe and uses words to paint a clear picture of life among them. His story begins long before he even arrived. He begins with the conflict that created the atmosphere of revenge and hostility that he entered unknowingly, and how God moved to bring him there in the midst of it.

The Sawi people exalted treachery. Their highest honor was to befriend someone with what they believed to be genuine friendship only to turn on them after an extended relationship and kill and eat them. The cannibalistic rituals are described in detail in this book that obviously gets somewhat gruesome at times. Other rituals include dancing under a rotting corpse and a rarely used trick involves a woman touching a man's genitals. In reading to my kids, I intentionally skipped portions and summarized, sometimes vaguely the activities of these tribes.

Story after story shows the depravity of these people apart from Christ. Richardson does not dwell on them, but he does not sugarcoat them either. This is a powerful book but not one I would read to children under middle school without lots of omissions. And, even in handing it to a high schooler I would want them to know what they are in for and discuss the events as they unfold.

Despite the gory nature of many of their traditions and the danger and suspense of jungle living, the powerful story of life change left me in tears. Richardson ends up using one of these unbelievable rituals to show the incredible love of Christ. Only He was the eternal Peace Child that they were seeking. It was amazing how God placed this redemptive analogy in this corrupt culture to prepare their hearts for the gospel.

Each chapter ends where you will not want to put it down. Reading a chapter a day was not nearly enough for most of my kids. Life changing and unforgettable.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Search for WondLa

by Tony DiTerlizzi
illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi

Religious/Secular Content : none
Adult Content : No
Mature Topics : Yes
Strong/Inappropriate Language : No
Magic/Witchcraft : No
Disrespect/Rebellion : Yes
Drug/Alcohol Use : No
Violence/Abuse : Yes
Educational Value : No
Positive/Negative Message : -

Eva Nine had never seen the actual sun before, or walked outdoors. In fact, she had never even seen another living person in all twelve years of her life. That changes when a marauding huntsman destroys her underground home and send her fleeing for her life. She is desperate to find someone else who is like her, and a single clue give her hope: a crumbling picture of a girl, a robot, an adult, and the word WondLa.
The Search for WondLa begins a trilogy whose imaginative text and breathtaking illustrations are sure to inspire dreams.

Four-hundred-sixty-six pages long, this book took just over one day for my dd (14) to read and one for myself. It is easy reading; nothing too complicated.

There isn't a slant that I could tell that would categorize this book as religious or secular.

In terms of 'adult content', there is none. There is some 'mature content': it starts with Besteel, a huntsman, destroying the 'sanctuary' (or living quarters) of Eva ("Earth in Vitro Alpha"- the main character). There is violence toward other characters in the book, mostly by Besteel. There are a few instances where Eva is trying to escape and catastrophe seems to follow- destruction of property. There are also instances of animals being hunted for eating. 

In one scene, I felt it was quite sad, Besteel has captured many creatures and we are given the details of him killing one of the creatures. It isn't extremely graphic but it was definitely 'mature content'! Another time we are witnesses to a scene of a creature being 'preserved' for display in a museum- but it is alive when they begin the procedure. The animal is paralyzed and then frozen (?) before it's skin is removed so that its internal organs can be seen. Depending on the sensitivity of the reader, that could be quite bothersome.

Eva is disrespectful to her Muthr (which stands for Multi-Utility Task Help Robot; a robot that has been Eva's 'mother' since her birth) and disobeys when she is forbidden to travel to certain parts of the sanctuary. 

I thought it was a good book. It feels like it is a different planet throughout the book. Strange creatures and languages. It is basically about a girl that is forced to survive in an unknown environment with simply her wits (because all she has been taught doesn't really come in handy). She makes friends of unlikely creatures and they all help her to overcome. I suppose it could be construed as 'positive' message- don't give up.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


by Alexandra Monir
illustrated by N/A

Religious/Secular Content : - secular
Adult Content : - yes
Mature Topics : - yes
Strong/Inappropriate Language : - no
Magic/Witchcraft : - yes
Disrespect/Rebellion : - yes
Drug/Alcohol Use : - yes
Violence/Abuse : - yes
Educational Value : - no
Positive/Negative Message : - -

This a 'romance' but definitely not in the Harlequin Romance fashion. Written for 'young adults', this book contains scenes of kissing, dating, and if not for the morals of a 1910 gentleman tossed in, there might have been more.

Michele is the sixteen-year-old daughter of a single (never been married) mother living in California. Going into her junior year of high school, Michele has just recently been dumped by her boyfriend for a sophomore. That is the first instance of adult/mature content, in my opinion. Michele's mother dies near the beginning of the book in a car crash (another mature topic). Quite sad.

Fast forward a bit in the book and there are more references to mature content. Michele meets Philip (who lives in 1910, and this is where the 'magic' comes in- see farther down in my post) and they instantly connect. At first it is just the feeling of 'puppy love' (butterflies, sweaty palms, blushing) but before long they do kiss. Although the author does a great job of keeping it mellow, the mind can definitely get carried away with the emotions that the characters are feeling (heart beating faster, breath catching, tingling skin, etc., -words from the book). The most 'intense' scene if you will is on page 166-167, where the chivalry from 1910 comes to the rescue of something happening that shouldn't!

One of Michele's past relatives is Clara, the illegitimate daughter of one of her great-great-great (?) grandfathers. A little later after meeting Clara (by going back in time mysteriously via a key and a diary), we learn that Clara's mother and Michele's g-g-g-grandfather had had an affair.

There isn't reference to God or religion that I can recall in this book and I've marked that it contains magic/witchcraft but in the book they would associate it more in a scientific way (think Einstein's Theory of Relativity) but it's still 'magic' to me. 

There is one or two scenes where Michele argues quite disrespectfully with her grandparents, and she on more than one occasion doesn't follow the rules that her grandparents have set. I have marked no for strong language because there is no cussing but the arguments may equate to 'strong' language for some.

At one point Michele goes back to 1925 and meets her great-grandmother, Lily. In the first scenes of this meeting they are planning for Lily to sneak out, against her parents rules, to perform at a 'speakeasy'. In another scene Lily has had some 'giggle water' and is obviously intoxicated. She is also accused of letting an older man 'practically feeling' her up.

And there is one particular scene, after Michele sees Philip for the first time in 1910, where his uncle gives him a beating. We aren't subjected to the details but Philip has a 'bruised and painfully red' cheek. When questioned about it, Philip says, "Our little dance cost me a good beating."

Although I have marked no for educational value, there are many parts of this book that include accurate historical information. Primarily of New York during the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties and during World War II. The author's detailed descriptions of the architecture, culture and society during those times is educational, but the frequency is so little that it is almost an after thought and it would be difficult, for me personally, to justify using this as a historical reference/book.

And now what the book is 'about' (courtesy of the front flap):
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor's family, she is forced to move from Los Angeles to New York City to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she has never met. In their historic Fifth Avenue mansion, filled with a century's worth of family secrets, Michele discovers the biggest family secret of all-an ancestor's diary that, amazingly, has the power to send her back in time to 1910, the year it was written. There, at a high-society masquerade ball, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life. And she finds herself falling for him, and into an otherworldly romance.

Soon Michele is leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves- and to complete a quest that will determine their fate.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phillipians 4:8