Tag Archives: teen

Perfectly Invisible

21 Oct

Perfectly InvisibleKristen Billerbeck

Publisher: Revell

Publication Date: 2011

Paperback: 272 pages

Book Blurb:

It’s Daisy Crispin’s final trimester of high school, and she plans to make it count. Her long awaited freedom is mere months away, and her big plans for college loom in the future. Everything is under control.

Or is it?

Her boyfriend is treating her like she’s invisible, and her best friend is selling bad costume jewelry in the school quad and hanging out with her boyfriend. To top it off, Daisy’s major humiliation for the year will be remembered in the year book for all eternity. It’s enough to make her wonder if maybe being invisible isn’t so bad after all.

Stand alone or series: This is the second Universally Misunderstood Novel, the first was Perfectly Dateless—a personal favorite.

Why I read this book: As I said above, I loved the first so I was not going to miss the second.


Daisy is at it again. Graduation is just a few months away, and Daisy can’t wait to get out, especially with Claire acting even crazier than normal. As always, she has it all planned out. But the more she tries to hold on to her perfect plan, the more it falls apart. Her dreams could snuff out like a light, or God could trade them for brighter ones.

The cast is as quirky as quirky as ever and I love them for it! Mrs. Crispin is still making all Daisy’s clothes, including a violet suit. Claire has traded spider nose rings for “trings,” don’t ask, she’ll tell you all about them anyway. Gil is eating onions, which is apparently a bad sign. And while Max makes her feel as if her heart has traded places with a butterfly, he’s distant and she can’t figure out why.

That being said, I must be honest with you. As much as I loved Perfectly Dateless, Perfectly Invisible fell a little flat for me. It could be that my expectations were too high, but I think it had more to do with the climax. I won’t give it away, but I will tell you I didn’t buy it.

If you are a lover of Perfectly Dateless, I’d go ahead and read it anyway. Like I said, the characters are still great. Just adjust your expectations accordingly. If you haven’t read Perfectly Dateless, check out my post from December 17 and have fun. Happy reading!


Found in Translation

8 Oct

Roger Bruner and Kristi Ray Bruner

Publisher: Barbour PublishingFound in Translation

Publication Date: 2011

Paperback: 365

Book Blurb:

Faith, obedience and forgiveness intersect in a remote Mexican village.

When Kim Hartlinger—eighteen and spoiled—arrives on a mission trip to Mexico and discovers, to her chagrin, that she’ll be doing construction in a remote village without plumbing and electricity, rather than evangelism in a medium sized two with a fast food joint…she has only two choices. “Rough it” (which isn’t exactly what Kim had in mind when she signed up for this trip) or turn around and head home.

Will Kim be able to touch the villagers’ hearts with the Gospel? Or will her time in Mexico be up before she gets the chance?

Stand alone or series: This book can easily stand alone but it now part of a series

Why I read this book: While searching for books in a seemly endless stream the cover and title caught my eye. Once I read the caption, I was hooked. I found it in the year leading up to my move to Mexico. I knew that a missionary view of a remote town will be far different from what I experience but I’d love to find ways to help if I can. And never having been on a mission trip like this I wanted to hear a close-up account, albeit fictional, of the goings on. I was not disappointed.


Kim, or Kimmy as she hates to be called, is the picture of a stereotypical teen—irresponsible and self-obsessed—but the situation she is about to encounter is anything but typical. Her bags are crammed with make-up, hair products and designer clothes. Her attitude is on edge after a missed flight, a nasty airport worker, a few missed emails and a less than friendly reception from the mission trip crew. The perfect recipe for disaster if God wasn’t in the mix as only He can turn a disaster into a blessing.

With the help of her spunky new friend Aleesha, Kim is able to win over the hearts of her team members but winning over the hearts of the villagers proves more difficult as their last minute change of plans left not only left Kim without a sleeping bag but also left the group without translators. Despite the language barrier Kim and many others form bonds with the villagers. The mission members care for the villagers’ physical needs while rebuilding houses, but they know it will all be in vain if they can’t care for their spiritual needs as well.

Kim’s “me” focus turns to a “He” focus as the novel lives up to its subtitle: An Altered Hearts Novel. Her transformation is fun to watch—filled with laughter, challenges and doubt. But with a little time and a little faith she learns to trust God’s plans and God’s timing even if they take her way out of her comfort zone.

The novel had a great voice and fun characters that you couldn’t help but care for. I didn’t want to put it down and, well, neglected everything that I should’ve been doing to finish. I’d recommend Found in Translation to any and all, but specifically to teens and college age.

Notes From a Spinning Planet: Mexico

16 Aug


Melody Carlson

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 225 pages, and thank goodness I had it in paperback. I couldn’t stand another e-book fiasco.

Book Blurb:

Madison Chase’s holiday break is drawing to a close and she’s eager to leave the grey Washington winter and join her Aunt Sid on a warm vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Maddie is pleasantly surprised when her good friend Ryan McIntire shows up to enjoy the trip with them. But when Ryan runs into his high-school crush—the beautiful Shelby Wagner—Maddie’s jealousy threatens to spoil their sun-drenched days.

Unsure of her relationship with Ryan, Maddie distracts herself by befriending a local girl, Fracesca Tarrago, who is both intelligent and hardworking, but lives in deep poverty. As Maddie does what she can to help Francesca, she discovers a secret that Shelby has been keeping from all of them. Can Maddie put aside her conflicted feelings and love Shelby enough to help her?

Follow Maddie to the romantic beaches of Mexico as she explores a love deeper than simple affection—and discovers the beauty of true sacrifice.

Stand alone or series: Third and last of the Notes from a Spinning Planet series.

Why I read this book: The novel that I’m currently writing is not so surprisingly set in Mexico. I wanted to see how another author would handle things like the language difference and the culture.


On her last adventure, Maddie explores Cabo, a Mexican tourist spot that ranks among Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Much of Maddie’s stay at the two wildly different resorts does not grasp real Mexican life as Carlson  has striven to do in her other novels. However, Sid and Maddie are here for a vacation and not a hard-hitting story. Some Mexican authenticity is found through Maddie’s friendship with Francesca. Much like Lydia in the Papua New Guinea trip, Maddie take Francesca under her wing and helps her out in whatever ways she can. Together they explore a small Mexican town a few hours for Cabo and visit Francesca orphanage where all may not be as it seems.

This novel also brings up self-image issues for Maddie when she begins to compare herself to the tanned and long-legged Shelby. She revisits past struggles and fights against a reoccurrence. The comparison game is easy to play but instead Maddie prays and distracts herself with the beauty of their surroundings. Though self nit-picking is something most women can fall into, I know I can when I have a particularly numerous amount of zits or when I can’t get my oddly wavy hair to sit just right, or one of a dozen other things I regularly pick on myself about. Maddie sets a great example of how to combat such thoughts and fights sinking into self-doubt and pity.

I was really proud of Maddie in this novel. Not only did she fight for herself with looks, she proved strong in many other areas. She stood up to a bully, confronted a friend with a problem and decided she would be just fine with or without the attention of a boy. I felt she really came into her own in this trip and though I don’t typically like drawn out series I would’ve been happy to read another and see where this next chapter in her life would take her.

Though I didn’t particularly enjoy the Papua New Guinea novel, I’m very happy I stuck it out for this final novel in the whirlwind Notes from a Spinning Planet series. Happy reading. And if you’re feeling the urge to explore Mexico after this trip I’d be happy to show you around!

Ruby Unscripted

31 Jul


Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publish Date: 2009

Paperback: 263 pages

Book Blurb:

Ruby’s finding out that life is all about improve…

Small-town girl Rudy Madden has moved to Marin County, California; home of high-dollar homes and green living. The girls wear shoes that cost more than her entire paycheck at the Underground Coffeehouse & Theater, and the students are well-traveled and full of life experiences that Ruby can only dream of.

All the stresses of adjusting to her new life have put a strain on her ability to trust God. Yet when mysterious and eye-catching Kaden invites Ruby to join the school’s film group, the puzzle piece start to fit. Her love of art finds perfect expression and the film friends really seem to get her. When a major Hollywood director hosts an amateur film contest, Ruby and her friends are stoked.

But Ruby’s old life is tugging her backward and her frantic balancing act throws her new life totally off track. To top things off, Ruby makes a mistake that could cost her the chance of a lifetime.

Life would be so much easier if Ruby just had a script to follow with a happy ending guaranteed. But what’s the fun in that?

Stand alone or series: Poor Ruby is all alone.

Why I read this book: I’m always looking for teen Christian fiction, it’s becoming easier to find but is still not as accessible as I’d like. Ruby is fifteen, in high school and is working on her faith; that was all I really needed to know.


This novel has a wide cast of characters, some bright and colorful, some not. The spunkiest of the cast, in my opinion, is her new friend Frankie. He keeps the conversations hopping and a page with him is never dull. Similarly, Mac, Ruby’s little brother, is a ray of sunshine owing largely to his little kid cuteness and Ruby’s affection for him. On the opposite end of the scale, Nick, the supposed love of her fifteen year life, is flat. He is fashioned after the stereotypical high school popular boy. Ruby’s character falls somewhere in the middle. She is nowhere near as fun and flippant as Frankie and she does follow many small town and teenage girl stereotypes but expands past a flat rendering. It seemed to me like most of action in the novel happens around Ruby, not to her, which can make for slow reading at times.

Slow or fast pacing, I can’t decide the target age for this book. Teen novels tend to be aspirational, meaning that the reading level tends to be younger than the age of the characters because teens and pre-teens want to read about kids older than themselves. The main character is 15, with that knowledge alone I would be led to believe that the target age is 13-15 year olds. Some of the plotlines and hurdles are completely befitting that age range. However, the novel also discusses sex in a way I’m not sure I’d be wanting my 13-15 year old reading.

(Be warned this is a spoiler) Ruby’s small-town best friend Kate has sex with her secret, much older boyfriend. Ruby doesn’t understand her friend’s decision and Kate does not attempt to provide an explanation. Ruby tries to remain supportive of her defensive friend but eventually tells Kate what she believes: She’s made a huge mistake. The two fight and Ruby feels “anger, even hate” for her friend who’s cut her off. When Kate’s parents find out all the consequences, mainly a grounding, happen off stage and are summarized in one short paragraph. Only after Kate’s parents find out do the two friends talk again. Kate  does not express regret for her decision as much as her regret for public and painful way it ended. That is not the example I would wish for young Christian teens to read.

As a writer of Christian teen fiction I found Ruby Unscripted an interesting study what to do and what not to do in this genre. The bright characters of the novel kept me coming back to see what they’d say next. However in the year since I read it, I’ve yet to recommend it to anyone and I recommend books like doctors hand out prescriptions.