Monday, June 12th, 2017

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To Be Young In America: Growing Up With the Country 1776-1940


Title: To Be Young in America: Growing up with the Country, 1776-1940
Author: Shelia Cole
Primary Audience/age group: Ages 10+ (See Recommendation)
Genre: Non-Fiction
# Of pages: 135
Publisher: Little Brown & Co.
Year of Release: 2005
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 5 (View Scale)Description: From Inside Cover:
While most American History books discuss presidential elections, the fight over slavery, or the settlement of the West, they are silent about young peoples lives. They do not discuss what it was like to be fifteen years old and fighting the British in 1776, or a young slave growing up on a plantation. Nor do they say much about when children became sick in the era before modern medicine, what it was like to learn in a one-room school house, and how much of a childs daily life involved hard labor-whether at home, on a far, or in a factory. Yet throughout history, children have been working, playing, making friends, flirting, fighting, taking care of themselves, and becoming the next generation of adults.Review: Whether they are working, playing, sick, or in trouble, Cole captures and illustrates the kids and teens of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. By including dozens of photographs and neat side facts, To Be Young in America teaches history like it should be: fun, interesting, and inspiring enough to pass it on.

Rating: 5, for a positive outlook on life and history

Spiritual Elements: None

Violence: None

Language: None

Sexual Content: None

Other: Just so youll know, there is an old photo (pg. 89 Chap. 6) of some naked boys (dont worry, only their backsides are shown) jumping into a river.

Recommendation: When I was younger (say about ten or so), I loved reading books about children in the old days. I read many fictional books about children in various eras, but could never find any non-fiction books about them. During a recent trip to the Book Mobile, I finally found what I had been looking for. This book was definitely worth the wait.
Although this book is for any age, children ages 10 or older would be an appropriate age to start. Children and teens should have at least a basic knowledge of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, The Immigration Era, and the Great Depression.
This book would be great for a research paper.
I recommend To Be Young in America: Growing up with the Country, 1776-1940 in so many ways. The author not only provides information for todays young people, but lets them take a peak into the past.

Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington’s Runaway Slave

Title: Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington’s Runaway Slave
Author: Ann Rinaldi
Primary Audience/Age Group: Young Adult; ages 12-16
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages:
264
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year of Release: 2002
Part of a Series? No.
Rating: 5 View Scale

Description:
Inside cover
The only life Oney Judge has ever known is servitude. As part of the staff of George and Martha Washington, she isnt referred to as a slave. She is a servant-and a house servant at that, a position of influence and respect on the plantation of Mount Vernon. When she rises to the position of personal servant to Martha Washington, her status among the household staff-black and white-is second to none. She is Lady Washingtons closest confidante and, for all intents and purposes, a member of the family-or so she thinks. Slowly, Oneys perception of her life with the Washingtons begins to crack as she realizes the truth: No matter how close she becomes with Lady Washington, no matter what secrets they share, she will never be a member of the family. And regardless of what they call it, its still slavery and shes still a slave. Oney must make a choice: Does she stay where she is, comfortable, with this family that has loved her and nourished her and owned her since the day she was born? Or does she take liberty-her life-into her own hands and, like her father, become one of the Gone?

Review: Taking Liberty is the story of Oney Judge, one of George Washingtons real slaves, and how she took the freedom that was rightfully hers. Between luxury and comfort that no other slave had, Oney was satisfied with her life. Yet when her mother urges her to take liberty and never again return to Mount Vernon, Oney starts to think. With the help of a freed woman, Oney makes plans to run-before its too late.

Rating: 5, for a mild, yet, truthful look on slavery.

Spiritual Elements: Though Martha makes them attend church services and pray, anything that has to do with God is kept on a minimal level.

Violence: None.

Language: None.

Sexual Content: None.

Recommendation: While the American Revolution is raging and George Washington is elected as the first President, theres another war being fought in secret. The battle between slavery and freedom is told through the eyes of Oney as she recounts her life story to a reporter.

I have read many books about slaves, but Rinaldi is one of the few that exhibits the truth about how our Founding Fathers were pushing things like all men are equal and liberty and justice for all-Rinaldi gives you something to think about.

Rinaldi is a quite a master of detail in this autobiography style book, though some sections were a little confusing at times. The Authors Note contains real facts about Oney Judge and various characters. Rinaldi also cites several biographies on Washington in addition to Washington’s own writings about slavery.

Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby

Title: Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby
Author: Natalie Jane Prior
Primary Audience/age group: Preteen (ages 9-12)
Genre: adventure/fantasy
# Of pages: 152
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year of Release: 1999
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 7
Rating: 3 View Scale
Recommend? Yes, but with reservation

 

Description: (from book jacket) As a family of dragon slayers, the Quenches of Ashby have always been burning successesuntil the evil Black Count invades, and the familys fortunes go into a downward spiral. Then a dragon arrives unexpectedly in Ashby and young Lily, the last of the Quenches, is called upon to fight it. Lily doesnt know anything about quenching dragons! But despite this, she soon finds herself on a desperate, magical quest to save Ashby from destruction and restore the lost heir to his throne.

 

Review: It seems that all the fantasy/adventure stories star a boy, with a girl as a sidekick. I wanted to find an adventure story with a girl as the hero, but Im afraid Lily Quench is not my girl. Before going any further, let me say this review is based on only the first book and that there are apparently several in the series, so some of what I didnt like may have changed over time. But I wont be recommending this for my nine-year-old daughter its just too dark, without enough redeeming qualities to overcome the darkness.

 

Rating: 3, for implied violence and overall dark atmosphere

 

Positive: (Spoiler alert!) The good guys win in the end. Lily overcomes her lack of self-confidence to do some brave things.

 

Spiritual Elements: Religion has been banned by the Black Count, but one preacher continues his work underground (although it seems that work is mainly to perform marriages). There is some magic central to the story, as when Lily consults the Oracle to find what she must do.

 

Violence: This is what most bothered me about this book. Certainly, there is not graphic violence, but there is enough implied violence that Im not comfortable with it for the audience the book targets. There is some torture (off screen) at the climax of the book. And as silly as it sounds, I was bothered when the soldiers came in and ruthlessly destroyed Lilys home and possessions while looking for something.

 

Language: Its been a couple of weeks since I finished the book, and I dont remember any objectionable language. However, there are a couple of characters who seem like the type of people who would use bad language, ha ha!

 

Sexual Content: Miss Moldavia is going to force the Prince to marry her.

 

Other: The main reason I didnt like this book was because it was just so dark. The Black Counts conquest of Ashby has left life a dreary, hopeless drudgery where people are forced to work their lives away in the grommet factory. The villain of the story, Miss Moldavia, is consumed with ambition and will do anything to anyone to get what she wants. I thought sometimes she was a little over the top for a pre-teen book. Another thing I didnt like was that Lily was completely alone at the beginning of the book, her grandmother has died, and shes left with no one. I think there is some effort to have Lily be friends with the dragon (which happens in a very unconvincing way, in my opinion), but I never feel like she has anyone to support her. At least in the Harry Potter series, Harry may be an orphan, but he had loyal friends.

 

Rating: 3, for implied violence and overall dark atmosphere

 

Recommendation: In a world thats already so dark and depressing, I dont need Lily Quench. I personally think there must be better adventure series out there for pre-teens. My daughter loved the Fairy Realm books by Emily Rodda (which also have a girl for a hero), but she read the first two or three chapters of Lily Quench and then dropped it. I asked why, and she said it was boring at first. Obviously, other kids dont think so, since the series has seven or eight books by now.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Title: Journey to the Center of the Earth (Enriched Classic)
Author: Jules Verne
Primary Audience/age group: 12 and up
Genre: Science Fiction
# Of pages: 288
Publisher: Signet Classics
Year of Release: 1986
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 5 (View Scale)
Description: From the back of the book:
From the moment a strange Icelandic parchment is discovered in an old booksellers shop to the fantastic descent into the dark hollow heart of the earth itself. A journey to the Center of the Earth is fiction at its very best – a classic of science-adventure that remains as wonderfully entertaining today as when it was first published more than 120 years ago. Recognized as one of Jules Vernes finest novels, it contains that unique combination of believable science and wonderment that made this brilliant Frenchman the father of modern science fiction. A riveting odyssey into the unknown, it depicits a subterranean world full of danger and beauty. And for three men who dare to venture into this fearsome underworld, there is a fast-fading chance of ever returning to the surface alive. But it is what they discover at the Earths mysterious core that makes this a story still unequalled for high-tension excitement and great reading pleasure.
Review: Jules Verne takes readers on one wild adventure after another that keeps you turning pages and holding on tight! The Signet Classic version I read changed or as they put it anglicized the characters names. Professor Hardwigg deciphers a cryptogram and sets out on an adventure to find the center of the Earth. He takes his nephew, Harry (who is a grown man, engaged to be married) and an Icelandic guide named Hans (who was my favorite character). They explore empty lava caves and follow clues left by the one who wrote the cryptogram. The story is mostly about the journey to the center of the Earth, the shortages they face of food, water, light and faith, the difficulty in the finding their way down, and back up again. There is also some description of the terrors they face when discovering fierce and prehistoric animals. The book is full of intense action and adventure, but nothing inappropriate for young readers.

 

Rating: 5


Positive: Harry and his Uncle were very close and looked after each other, they had each others backs so to say. Though the journey was important, it was not more important than they were to each other. This book goes to show that an adventure does not have to include bad language and sex to be interesting and exciting.

 

Spiritual Elements: The professor acknowledges a Creator of the Earth and an Architect of the Universe. Professor Hardwigg also observed a day of worship and rest.

 

Violence: No violence – just intense, exciting action and suspense.

 

Language: None

 

Sexual Content: None

 

Other: Dont rely on the recent movie to tell you the story in this book. The movie, while a fun, family-friendly movie – is quite different from the book. The movie is about the son and brother of Harry (aka Alex) who in the book, went into the Center of the Earth with his Uncle/Professor Hardwigg (aka Lindenbrock).

 

Recommendation: I have never been a reader who is dedicated to reading classics. I tend to prefer more contemporary books. That being said – I thoroughly enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth. It was fast paced and full of adventure, it kept me wanting to find out what happened next on this exciting journey. However, I will admit I had to skim some parts of the story when the author got way too detailed and the science part of the fiction got too deep. Dont let that stop you though – this is a journey youll be glad you took!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made  

By Reviewer Shawna
Title: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Author: Jewel D. Williams
Primary Audience/age group: 13 and up
Genre: Non-fiction
# Of pages: 168
Publisher: Pleasant Word
Year of Release: 2008
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 3 (View Scale) (See Recommendation)
Recommend?Yes!
Description: From book jacket: Where do our young ladies find answers to their questions about themselves? Are the movies or music videos correct? Does today’s music hold the answers? NO! Our Young girls are being bombarded with the wrong images. The world is giving them incorrect answers to the questions they have about life. It is time to change where our young ladies get the answers for the purpose of their lives. That is where Fearfully and Wonderfully Made can help. When our young ladies realize that God wants to be a vital part in their lives and that he has the answers, then the stronghold the enemy has on them can be broken. They need answers to the question of who they can become. They need answers to the questions of what the Bible says about sex, abortion and so much more. They need answers that the world is not capable of giving. They need the answers that only God’s Word can give.
Review: Remember your teen years? Its a time of growth, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. Its the time when you began to make your own decisions separate from your parents. It can be such a difficult time, but with Gods wisdom, young ladies can make wise, Biblically-based decisions. Because even at that age, the decisions they make can affect them as adults. Jewel D. Williams uses the struggles she faced and overcame with Gods help to encourage young women in their walks with Christ. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made is a much-needed guide to Gods word on the hard decisions young women will face in an easy-to-read study-guide format. 

 

Rating: 3 for mature content dealing with sexuality and mention of child abuse and a rape (see below)

 

Positive: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made encourages young ladies to meditate on Gods word and teaches them Gods principles on topics like peer pressure, dating and drinking. Williams encourages girls to set Christ-centered goals for themselves and search for Gods purpose in their lives. She also encourages young women to look to their parents or other Christian adults as mentors. Williams also uses the results of several teenage studies to help young ladies identify with the choices other teens are making as well.

 

Spiritual Elements: The entire book is Bible-based and uses many quotes from Scripture to guide young women in decision making.

 

Violence: Williams details her own difficult story as she faced abuse from her parents and even a rape in college (which is not discussed in depth.) With Gods help, she was able to overcome her difficult circumstances and choose to live a Christ-centered life.

 

Language: none

 

Sexual Content: Gods plan for waiting for sex until marriage is spelled out. The book also talks about how to deal with pressure to have sex before marriage and how to avoid sexual temptation.

 

Other: Teen drug and alcohol use are discussed as well as the consequences of use and what the Bible says about such behavior.

The truths about abortion are covered as well as the importance of human life.

 

Recommendation: I highly recommend this book to any teenage girl struggling with the tough decisions on the road to adulthood. The book is set up in such a way that it is ideal for individual and group study. Although the book discusses mature topics, it is a much needed resource for girls as young as thirteen or fourteen. The topics are covered in an appropriate manner with Gods word at the center of it all. I would encourage parents to study along with their daughters or at least have some follow-up discussions with them about the topics discussed in the book.

Chataine’s Guardian

Title: Chataine’s Guardian
Author: Robin Hardy
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Romance, Christian Fiction
# Of pages: 269
Publisher: Nav Press
Year of Release: 2004
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 3
Rating: 2 (View Scale)
Recommended? Maybe but definitely not for younger teensDescription: Spoiled and manipulative, ten-year old Chataine Deidre is accustomed to getting her way until she is appointed a guardian as a result of her life being threatened. Roman, a 22-year old soldier, is guided not only by his loyalty to his country but by his love for God. He has assumed the role of Deidres protector and is ordered to risk his life for her until the day she is wed. But when the time of her betrothal arrives, will she choose her husband out of devotion to her country or out of the love of her heart?Review: Gods grace is woven throughout this passionate tale of love between Roman, a follower of the Way, and Deidre, the young woman he serves. Romans feelings for Deidre grow from that of a guardian appointed over a child to that of the love between a man and a woman. Their budding adoration is the pivotal plot element and makes for a very romantic story that at times deals with more mature, intimate situations thus making it more suitable for an older audience. Please see the recommendation below.

Rating: 2 for some detail of sexual situations other than kissing including sex and for violence

Positive: The book strongly warrants life lessons through Roman as he stands up for his faith. He shares it openly and wisely with anyone who will listen. Deidre on the other hand grows from a selfish, manipulative child into a woman of value as she learns hard lessons about how her actions may cause serious consequences for others. Their love, particularly Romans, mirrors the love of Christ as he often has to sacrifice his will and even his life for that of Deidres.

Spiritual Elements: Roman is a Christian and speaks often of his love of God the Father and the Son. Roman has many characteristics that shadow Jesus, that of self-control, honesty, loyalty, and love. He even presents the gospel.

Some sorcery takes place when Deidre and Roman visit another kingdom. They enter whats called the Sorcerers Rooms where Roman is under attack spiritually but prevails in Jesus name.

Violence: As part of Romans assignment as guardian of Deidre, he must except extreme punishment if she comes to harm. Roman is flogged 20 times for not being able to prevent Deidre from injuring her hand when she disobeys him and enters the fence of a wild horse. Deidres father is rather cruel and intolerant.

The story is set during a cruel time where people are beheaded, hanged and flogged. There are several kidnapping attempts on Deidres life, and a couple of her kidnappers are killed during her rescue. Although none of the accounts are gory, they are still in a time of war where many soldiers face death. A few murders take place as well as a suicide.

Language: A couple of forms of the word d*** are used on several occasions and one use of the word h***. Roman is talked about as being illegitimate but a courser word is implied.

Sexual Content: There are several kisses along the way and several mentions of improper sexual behavior but not necessarily with the main characters though. Brothels are commonplace, and Romans mother is described as a harlot. A servant girl invites Roman to her room, but he refuses because he knows she doesnt have the purest motives.

One scene in particular goes a bit further with Roman giving Deidre swimming lessons as ordered by her father. They are in proper swimming attire, but she notices his body under his wet clothing which causes embarrassment for both of them.

Spoiler Warnings: Deidres mother becomes pregnant with Deidre by another man before she is wed to the Surchatain. Roman and Deidre do wed after she turns 18 and wedding night activities are assumed but not described.

Other: Several small characters along the way are seen drunk.

A magician visits the palace and hypnotizes some of the guests except Roman because he serves a higher power.

Recommendation: Although the book does show strong moral values and teaches many a Bible-based lesson, it is foremost a romance between Deidre and Roman and lingers heavily on their passionate feelings toward each other. That is my greatest concern. The book deals with mature content and although God-centered it is definitely not appropriate for younger teens. I would encourage you as a parent to consider what affect this type of book could have on an impressionable young females mind of any age. The book stirs the mind and the body greatly and although these feelings are not wrong, they can make it harder to resist lustful thinking which in turn can lead to making wrong decisions concerning sexual behavior in relationships.

Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires reads Song of Songs 3:5b in the NIV of the Bible or in other words dont awaken sexual desire until the time is right. Heavy romance novels such as this one may not spell out sexual situations in detail but they do arouse the senses and bring about intense emotions. I would encourage you to talk with your daughter about physical relationships and the emotions they bring up if she does read this series.

My Life Unscripted: Who’s Writing Your Life?

Title: My Life Unscripted: Who’s Writing Your Life?
Author: Tricia Goyer
Primary Audience/age group: 14+ girls
Genre: Non-Fiction
# Of pages: 224
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Year of Release: 2007
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 5 (View Scale)
Description: Using the metaphor of screenwriting, My Life, Unscripted explores relationships in every teenage girl’s life-with herself, her friends and enemies, her parents, guys, and with God.
Real-life scripts, screenwriting terms, and timely topics, make this an interesting read for teen girls as they delve into their own inner struggles and outward relationships. They’ll also learn the importance of “scripting” their own responses BEFORE challenging life-situations arise so they are able to think about, pray about, and consider how to face these situations before the scene begins. By contrasting real-life with TV or movies, teens will understand they don’t have to get caught up in the drama.
Review: My Life Unscripted is what I would call a 20 week devotional for teens ages 14 to 18. Each chapter has a script that has a situation that is either actually from Tricias own life or one that she has made up but is very common to teen girls. Then, there is discussion on the script. Next comes the Intermission where the script/situation is related to a similar situation in the Bible. There are usually questions that the girls are to ponder and write down their thoughts. Also in each chapter is a section called My Script which has comments from teens on the subject/issue discussed in the chapter. Woven in every chapter are bible verses, strategies for evaluating situations and the way we react. I found the scripts very relevant and interesting I was looking forward to the script in each chapter. I like how the script was tied to a similar situation in the Bible showing that the Bible is as relevant today as it was hundreds or thousands of years ago. The goal seems to be to get young women to THINK about their choices before they make them. To THINK about God when making daily decisions. To think about possible consequences if they make their choices without bringing God into the decision making process.
Rating: 5 This is an excellent book for teen girls ages 14 and up. I dont think it would be appropriate for those 12 or under the scripts/situations are too mature.

Positive: The way the book is laid out makes it entertaining to read. The chapters go by quickly and you look forward to the next script. It really gets you to think about how youve been making our choices and learning how to make better choices choices based on what God would have us to do. 

 

Spiritual Elements: The book and lessons are based on lessons/stories and verses from the Bible. The book is not preachy but rather from the view of someone who has been there and can relate to todays teens. All the while, it shows that if you rely on God more, you are more likely to make choices that will benefit rather than hurt you.

 

Violence: No violence, just mature situations.

 

Language: No bad language.

 

Sexual Content: No sexual situations, just talk about pre-marital sex and pregnancy.

 

Recommendation: I highly recommend My Life Unscripted for teen girls. It would be a great devotion to use at home or with a youth group of girls. This book was such a creative way to deal with self-image, popularity, true beauty, hate, friendship, and so much more!

Jenny of the Tetons

Title: Jenny of the Tetons
Author: Kristiana Gregory
Primary Audience/Age Group: Young Adult, age 13-16
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 163
Publisher: Gulliver/Harcourt Books
Year of Release:
2002
Part of a Series? Yes, Great Episodes series (various authors & stories)
Rating: 3 (View Scale)
Description: From Back Carrie Hill hates Indians. Indians killed her parents. Indians left her wounded and alone. Indians ruined her life.Now fifteen year old Carrie is on her own in the wild pioneer country.With nowhere else to go , she signs on to care for the growing family of Beaver Dick Leigh, an English trapper. To her dismay, Carrie discovers thatDicks wife, Jenny, is a Shoshoni Indian. An Indian! Carries parents would kick the dirt from their graves if they knew she was living with a native and a mountain man with no school or church to attend.But as her wounds heal under Jennys gentle care, Carrie learns to respect and love this kind and sensitive woman. Shoshoni appreciate the beauty of the towering Tetons and the feeling the oneness with nature. She learns that sometimes, even when it seems impossible, enemies can become friends.
Review/Recommendation: Though it was a short book, I fully enjoyed flipping the pages. Kristiana Gregory re-created the wondrous and dangerous world of the pioneer days. Carrie tells the story through her own words and the beginning of each chapter includes a few sentences from the real Beaver Dicks journal.
Positive: Struggling with loss, Carrie learns to live and respect Jenny and her family, all while dodging bears, disease, and most of all, find love. 

 

Rating: 3, mild language and sexual reference.

Spiritual Elements: The Leighs read the Bible.

 

Violence: People have to put-down animals and hunt, but nothing in detail.

 

Language: A few d words from Dick.

 

Sexual Content: Kissing.

Inkheart

Title: Inkheart
Author: Cornelia Funke
Primary Audience/age group: Ages 9-12 *(see recommendation)
Genre: Fantasy
# Of pages: 560
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Year of Release: 2005
Part of a Series? Yes, 1st of 3
Rating: 3 (View Scale)
Description: One cruel night, Meggies father reads aloud from a book called INKHEART and an evil ruler escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books. Meggie must learn to harness the magic that has conjured this nightmare. For only she can change the course of the story that has changed her life forever. This is INKHEART a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life. Dare to read it aloud.
Review: When I was about 5 years old I thought the shadows cars made as they passed by my dark walls at night were friendly ghosts telling me stories. At 10, I believed my dreams were an alternate reality they took me to the place I lived at night, and I returned here to Earth every morning. Inkheart captures that same kind of imagination reading out loud by special, gifted people can pull people and things out of stories and send nearby people and items into a story. How often we wish a well crafted story would never end if only we could jump in for a bit! But, many of the characters of Inkheart are not the sort Id want to visit and live with. They are scary and mean. I really liked the relationship between Meggie and her father, Mo. They were close and really looked out for each other. 

 

Rating:3 for a few instances of violence/meanness and a few curse words.

Positive: The main character Meggie a 12 yr. old girl does things she never believed she would be able to do. She is brave and courageous, I think shes a good example of a young person digging deep and being tough.

 

Spiritual Elements:To me it appeared Capricorn symbolized the Devil very evil and ruthless.

 

Violence:There are some incidents of violence and meanness – Capricorn and his men are not nice and do things such as hang roosters by the neck in the houses of neighbors. More violence is eluded to than is actually described.

 

Language:A few instances of he** and da**.

 

Sexual Content:None

 

Recommendation: I thoroughly enjoyed Inkheart and look forward to seeing the movie with my 13 year old son, who also liked the book. However, I would change the suggested reader age to 12 and up. I feel like Amazons reading age suggestion is a bit young, considering the intense action and evilness, meanness and violence of some of the characters. I have read that the second book, Inkspell is even better than this one.

Mixed Bags

 
Title: Mixed Bags (Carter House Girls, Book 1)
Author: Melody Carlson
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult, ages 13-16
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
# Of pages: 219
Year of Release: 2008
Part of a Series? Yes. The Carter House Girls Series
Rating: 5 (View Scale)
Description: From book jacket: Mix six teenaged girls and ’60s fashion icon (retired, of course) in an old Victorian era boarding home. Add boys and dating, a little high school angst, and throw in a Kate Spade bag or two… and you’ve got The Carter House Girls, Melody Carlson’s new chick lit series for young adults!
Review: In this, the first book in the series, DJ is forced to live with her grandmother when her mother dies. They do not see eye-to-eye on things since DJ would rather wear her basketball uniform than haute couture as her grandmother wishes. As the girls begin to arrive for the school year, each one tries to discover exactly how they fit into their new home.
Rating: 5, although there is a situation dealing with alcohol and some situations of affection (please read recommendation below) 

Positive: Each girl comes from different circumstances. One girl is a Christian and tries to be a good influence. The others try to figure her out. Though the girls don’t always agree, they do try to work their way through their problems. This book does a good job of showing that situations that arise in teens’ lives are not always what they seem and are not always cut and dried.

 

Spiritual Elements: Mixed Bags is not overly religious. It is a fresh, modern take on each individual girl’s walk through her teen life. The professing Christian, Rhiannon, is misunderstood in the household for her forgiving nature.

 

Violence: none, though there are instances of anger

 

Language: none

 

Sexual Content: Dating is a topic in this book, so attraction and one instance of heavy kissing occurs. There are accusations tossed around of some girls being “easy.”

 

Other: While it would be more comfortable for the alcohol and dating issues to have been left out, that would not have been realistic. They are woven in as part of the storyline and not overwhelming or out of place.

 

Recommendation: I enjoyed this book that is clearly intended for young adults and not children. I do believe it handles a few weighty issues quite well. It would provide an open door as a conversation starter in helping young people decide how they would handle certain circumstances if they were faced with them. I was glad that this book has a sequel.