Review of Hello Stars by Alena Pitts With Wynter Pitts

Hello Stars offers a unique tale about Lena, a fifth grader with an amazing opportunity to spend the summer working on a movie with one of her favorite singers. While it sounds like a perfect way to spend the summer, Lena learns a lot about herself and her relationship with God. No matter what the situation, there’s a lot of opportunity to gain a better understanding about life and what it takes to be able to pursue something you’re interested in.

From the very first sentence, Lena’s voice comes shining through. It’s written from her perspective and you can almost imagine getting a glimpse into the mind of an almost sixth grader, complete with exciting moments and disappointments. The different events that are mentioned demonstrate the highs and lows of things that take place in life and I appreciate that there were struggles that didn’t always work out perfectly in the end. It offered a sense of reality that some books often overlook. Lena learned actual lessons, some of them because of mistakes and others because of circumstances.

It was a quick read for me but I was surprised that my ten year old daughter didn’t finish the book. She’s a fast reader but just couldn’t seem to get into it. When asked, she struggled to relate to the main character a little bit. I’m guessing that’s just personal preference as she’s more into fantasy books. I plan to pass the book onto one of her friends as I think that the author really does provide a great character for this age group to enjoy and appreciate. The idea that a series of books will follow is great. As a parent, I love when the kids find a book series they can’t get enough of.

This book was provided to me by Handlebar: Direction for Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

My Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition

My Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition

My Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition offers a great way for young girls to read the Bible and leave behind notes or thoughts in the margin. Written in the New International Version, the text is easier to understand that some of the other translations and the Bible is ideal for reading alone or even following along in a church or devotional setting.

My daughter, age 9, has used the Bible since the beginning of the month. She mentioned that normal Bibles often have covers that come across too “serious” or “boring,” But this cover made the book look interesting and something that a young girl would actually like to read. The ribbon bookmark and the band that keeps the Bible closed adds to the detailing that she liked.

The Journal Edition is completely appropriate for a girl, however, by simply modifying the front cover, it could work just as well for a boy. While there is room on the sides of the Bible text for journaling, the space is probably more applicable to an older girl - maybe middle school or high school. Even older elementary school aged girls often write a little larger, making it possible to make small notes but not really write an entire journal entry. My daughter also enjoyed the subheadings throughout the text, making it easier for her to find the exact passage that she was looking for.

Overall, My Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition would make a great gift for any young girl looking for a way to read the Bible and make notes along the way. It is something that looks appealing and, I think, makes the Bible a little more approachable for a younger generation.

This book was provided to me by Handlebar Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis

The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis takes the idea of imagination and completely expands it past what you might have previously supposed. While there is no question that C.S. Lewis was an imaginative individual, the book breaks apart the types of imagination that Lewis uses in various writings. Root and Neal provide a guide for getting more out of Lewis’ books by going beyond the surface and the stories and looking into how imagination played a key role in not only content but also the message behind the words.

I was a little surprised to find the depths to which the authors went when unpacking Lewis’ imagination. But after acquainting myself with the style and message of the book, I’ll admit, I was eager to get to the next chapter. Presented in these pages is a deep look into more than just imaginary creatures and captivating stories. Instead, there are examples, using Lewis’ own words that explain an overall worldview and perspective that many have left behind. I count myself one person that has had an eye-opening experience reading this book, looking at life in a new and different way.

There is no doubt that the text can be challenging and at times read like a textbook. But despite the academic language and explanations, this is still a book that is well worth the read. In fact, it doesn’t need to be read cover to cover. Lewis enthusiasts may just want to pick out one chapter of interest that corresponds to one of their favorite Lewis writings. If you think you have a grasp on the imagination, I would challenge you to read The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis and see if you have truly pushed your imagination and thought as far as it can go.

Just as Lewis consistently used doors as a metaphor to transport someone to a new location, consider this book your door to a new perspective on imagination.

Nightmare City by Andrew Klavan

Klavan’s story begins with a high school journalist that wakes up to find that life as he knows it has taken a dramatic turn. With people missing, cryptic messages over the phone and television, and a mist that seems to be taking over the neighborhood, Tom must do what he does best: seek out the truth. Unfortunately, learning the truth always comes with a cost.

This book, much like the other books by Andrew Klavan that I have read, is written in an easy to follow manner. As the descriptions are provided, characters come to life and their struggle continues to keep the reader’s attention. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where the story was headed but it was interesting enough to stick around and find out what was going on with Tom and his situation.

The message, while subtle, offers an interesting look at the supernatural versus the reality that we feel most comfortable with. I love that his stories don’t tend to be over the top or preachy as far as the message goes. It leaves the reader hopeful and encouraged. While most people won’t face the difficulties that Tom was subject to, everyone has times when the struggle and fall prey to fear and disappointment.

This book would be a great read for middle school students, high school students, and even adults looking for something that provides a little bit of mystery.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Dark Halo by Shannon Dittemore

If you had the choice, would you give up being able to see the good in the world if it meant that you no longer had to see the bad?

Brielle has been gifted with celestial sight, the ability to see beyond the current circumstances in life and into the realm that includes both angels and demons and the fight for people’s souls. Through circumstances beyond her control, she comes to a crossroad and must make a decision. Both choices will affect her life with her boyfriend Jake, another gifted individual with the ability to heal, her father, struggling to come to grips with a secret that he has held onto for years, and the city of Stratus that is currently under attack.

Dark Halo by Shannon Dittenmore is more than just a book. To me, it was a challenge to realize that things are not always as they seem. In moments that we feel most alone, we aren’t. In times when it feels like life is a struggle, there really are two sides that battle it out. This book, much like one of my favorites, This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti gives the reader a glimpse into the celestial and the things that our human eyes and sometimes out human hearts cannot truly comprehend.

After agreeing to read Dark Halo and complete the review, I realized that this is book 3 in the Angel Eyes series. While the author says that it is possible to read this one without having read the others (it is) I would suggest going back and reading the first two, Angel Eyes and Broken Wings. Both were well worth the time and ensured that Dark Halo completed the circle.

Thomas Nelson Publishing provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.