The List by Patricia Forde

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From the Publisher: “Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.

“In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

“On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.”

While The List by Patricia Forde is categorized as a middle grade dystopian novel, I found it to be so much more than that. It is a compelling statement on the power of words to condemn, to incite, to change, to hurt, to heal, to love. Words are one thing that make us human, but they can also be used in horribly inhuman ways. Words can create, and they can destroy. And, as this story points out, if you can control someone’s words, you can control them. When we are not allowed to speak out, we can’t speak up for ourselves. And if we can’t speak up for ourselves, who will?

This is a lesson that young people desperately need: it’s the old “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” idea. When you give up a freedom (the freedom of speech, in this case), you give those in power permission to take more and more away from you (usually in the guise of protecting you from harm) until you have no freedom left. And this story highlights that idea in a way that young people can understand and maybe even empathize with in some ways. It would be a terrific story to use in a middle grade classroom. I can only imagine the discussions it could spark.

I did enjoy reading The List and would recommend it to tweens and teens, not for its dystopian elements (which were nothing super extraordinary, but were decently well written), but for the greater lessons to be gleaned from its words.

The List will be released in America in August 2017.

 

Many thanks to Sourcebook Jabberwocky and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe & Jerry B. Jenkins

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Avery’s thirteenth birthday didn’t go exactly as she’d planned – after all, that was the day she was kidnapped by and old woman. The woman has taken her to the castle, where Avery is dropped off to hide in the unused areas of the castle with all of the orphaned thirteen-year-olds of the kingdom. There, Avery learns that even beautiful castles hold dark secrets. Desperate to escape and find her little brother and her father, Avery will need to uncover those darkest secrets and find the strength hiding in herself.

I had no idea what to expect when I started this story. I recognized the authors – Trisha White Priebe from A Sherlock Holmes Devotional – which I really like – and Jerry B. Jenkins from the Left Behind series (of course), as well as books like Riven and I, Saul. Honestly, the authors were why I decided to give this one a go. I didn’t realize how wrapped up in the story I would get…but it happened! It turned out to be a great coming-of-age fairy tale with well-crafted, interesting characters and enough mystery to keep you thoroughly engaged.

I would highly recommend this story to a wide variety of readers. As an adult, I definitely enjoyed it, and I can imagine that the target audience (middle grade youths) would relish it just as much. My only disappointment? The sequel (The Ruby Moon) doesn’t come out until the Fall of 2016!

Many thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Search for the Shadow Key by Wayne Thomas Batson

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Archer Keaton is more than just your average high schooler – he’s also a Dreamtreader, able to pass into the world of dreams to keep the evil from seeping out into the waking world. But when his neighbor, Rigby, and ex-friend, Kara, use their company, Dream, Inc., to take people on dream “safaris,” things start to go crazy, both in the dream and the Waking World. Archer needs help to find the Shadow Key and stop Rigby and Dream, Inc. from tearing apart the fabric of existence.

Search for the Shadow Key is actually book two of the Dreamtreaders series. I did not read the first book, but had no problem following the storyline and really getting into the tale. The dream world is beautifully imagined with no lack of detail. Archer is a great character, because he is such a typical teenager – he questions authority, he thinks he knows everything, his pride gets in his way, he speaks and acts before he thinks – but he has this extra responsibility of Dreamtreading that makes every move magnified in importance. That makes this more than just a fun and exciting story, but also teaches some important lessons – (as noted in the blurb on the back of the book) “resisting temptation, being a light in the darkness, and making wise choices.”

I did enjoy this book and would not hesitate to read the others in the series and to recommend it to teens (or anyone who likes Christian fantasy).

I received a free copy of this book from the BookLook Blogger Review program. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!! 🙂

*Note: Wayne Thomas Batson has another series called The Door Within that looks pretty cool too. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think…

Fire Prophet by Jerel Law

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What if you could see the spiritual warfare that is taking place around us all of the time? Well, the Stone children can. After all, their mother is a nephilim – half-fallen-angel, half-human. Jonah, Eliza, and their little brother, Jeremiah, are quarterlings who have the ability to step into the hidden realm, interact with supernatural beings, and even engage in spiritual battles. They lead quite the exciting lives! Last year, Jonah and Eliza learned of their special abilities on a quest to save their mom. This year, after they find themselves under attack, Jeremiah joins them, along with all of the other quarterlings from around the world, in a sort of school for spiritual gifts. As they discover and learn to harness their talents, they must utilize them to save themselves from Abaddon and his demonic forces.

Jerel Law’s latest installment in the Sons of Angels Series, Fire Prophet, is a non-stop ride for young adults, filled with twists that lead the reader to a deeper understanding of both the spiritual realm and how God works with and through His children. It is wonderful to see how the kids form friendships and gain confidence as they face hardships in their determination to follow the will of Elohim. This series is a great introduction for young readers into spiritual warfare and a fabulous alternative to other youth series that are not edifying.

I received a free copy of this book from the BookSneeze Blogger Review program. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!