Average Boy’s Above Average Year

Author: Bob Smiley

Series: Adventures of Average Boy

Publisher: Focus on the Family

Release Date: March 8, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Average Boy’s Above-Average Year is just the fun clean read that I have been looking for to give my boys to read for a long time. It is funny, cute, clever and clean with no content that I have to worry about my kids reading!

Adventures of Average Boy has been a longtime character from the Clubhouse magazine that follows Average Boy through the school year with all the hilarious ups and downs he faces. A middle-grade fiction to be both funny and clean without the potty humor or other vulgarities so frequent in the books these days is very rare. Readers will follow Bob (Average Boy) through the year as he works through the challenges of his youth group to stand up for God. With each passing day, Bob encounters kids at school that are set on making his life difficult no matter what. Will he be able to come out on top or continue his average streak?

Finding books for middle school boys that are filled with good moments and none of the negative the world has to offer is one of the most difficult things I have encountered as a mother. I know that the world is full of both great and horrible things and trying to navigate what to expose our kids to and how to handle what they are exposed to without our control is hard. There were several laugh out loud moments throughout the novel that didn’t have anything crude or the normal potty humor so many kids books include. I loved the way Smiley made these characters out to be funny and also relatable making the book a fun and quick read for all ages. I read it in a day and can’t wait to pass it down to my sons to enjoy as well.

Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts

Author: Erika Lewis

Publisher: Starscape

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fun and engaging read for young readers looking for tales of magic, mystery and so much more.

Kelcie Murphy has always felt unwanted going from foster home to foster home and never knowing who her parents are or where she is from. While on a field trip with her school, she is attacked and ends up being transported to another world, a world at war. The Academy for Unbreakable Arts is the kind of place Kelcie has only dreamed of but never thought existed. She is now training with warriors and finding her hidden powers that will hopefully help her find her parents and her past. Kelcie learns that she is a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld and one of the most powerful. Together with her new friends she will have to fight to save herself and her new school before it’s too late.

Kelcie Murphy starts out fast and doesn’t let up; this is the exact right kind of book I look forward to recommending to young readers looking for fantasy, magic, adventure and a great story. I loved the way Kelcie used all the hardships she went through to bring out the strength she needed to prove to herself and others she belonged. This is a story similar to Harry Potter; it is her 12th birthday when she finds out about a world beyond her own with magic, friends and her past she knew nothing about. There is a lot of world building throughout the entire book which sets things up for what I am hoping is many more books to come. The plot is fast paced and very interesting, I found myself breezing through the pages to find out how it would all end up. The relationships that Kelcie has with her friends and classmates add to the tension of the story with some not liking her from the beginning and some, like Niall, taking a liking to her and being a good companion. It is hard for her to believe she could have friends after being on her own most of her life, this new concept makes her everyday life so different than what she is used to. All these different dynamics made the story realistic in terms of how different kids act and treat others and moved the story along at a great speed. I highly enjoyed this story and recommend it to young readers looking for books on magic and full of adventure.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Stitchers

Author: Lorien Lawrence

Series: Fright Watch #1

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Release Date: August 3, 2021

A perfect thrilling and creepy read for young fans of Goosebumps that are looking for a fast and menacing story.

Goodie Lane has been the home of “the Oldies” for as long as thirteen-year-old Quinn Parker or anyone else has lived there.  The Oldies never seem to age leaving Quinn and her friend to wonder if they are vampires, aliens, or something else supernatural. Quinn and her dad used to come up with theories about ‘the Oldies’ but since he died, she has had to carry on the investigation by herself; that is until her neighbor Mike joins her to solve the mystery. The further into the investigation they get, the more dangerous it becomes as ‘the Oldies’ are onto them and what they are doing.

The Stitchers was not my normal read but my son picked it out, so I wanted to read it before he did. I love being able to do that so we can talk about the books afterwards. I am happy to say that this was a fun read that I know he will also enjoy. The main characters were a perfect blend of fun, energetic, detective skills at just the right point for their age and a storyline that is great for young readers to enjoy. This is the perfect blend of spooky that both kids and adults can enjoy. When I saw the recommendation by Stephen King, I figured it was going to be a good one, and he didn’t lie. This is the start of a new series and I am very curious to see where the story is going to go next; the end of this one tied things up in a great way but did leave me wanting more. I loved the way the author brought together different generations to help the kids solve the mystery, it showed us that we need each other and must work together to make a difference in our area. I was able to read this in a single day and know kids will fly through the pages and enjoy the story within. I recommend this to adults and kids that love a thrilling story like Goosebumps but with nothing to worry about any questionable content.

Rise of the Light Bringer

Authors: Ted Dekker & Rachelle Dekker

Series: And They Found Dragons #3

Publisher: Scripturo

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The final book in the Dragons series goes back to “Old School, Dekker” for me. Still a great read but nothing spectacular.

Jack is fighting to make Earth safe for the rest of his family and crew to come home but finds problems at every turn. The Red dragons are trying to convince him they are the only way to survive while the Silvers try to show him love is the way. All he has been taught growing up will be put to the test in order to save humanity.

Anyone who has ever read anything by Ted Dekker, especially his early works will recognize a lot of the writing in this final story in this series as “classic Dekker.” I call it that because it is nothing new, it is a different character and setting but a lot of the very same imagery as found in his other books. There is a lot of great Christian content in showing that love wins out in the end over fear and if we will look to “Yeshua,” for love and not let the fear of all that is going on in the world take us over we will flourish. At this point in the story I got a little tired of Jack and his wishy-washy attitude. He needed to make up his mind on what he believed and let the story flow in that way, which would have made me as a reader a lot happier with how it played out.

I got this series for my son, and I look forward to the discussions we can have after he reads these. It is appropriate for readers age 9 and up but I believe adults will also enjoy this series as well.

Journey to the Silver Towers

Authors: Ted Dekker & Rachelle Dekker

Series: And They Found Dragons #2

Publisher: Scripturo

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second book in the And They Found Dragons series picks up where the first left off and continues the adventure readers will enjoy.

After landing on Earth as some of the sole survivors after a nuclear war, Jack now searches for a way to take down the dragons after most of his team died upon arriving. The more Jack explores, the more he discovers things are not as they seem with the dragons and the other humans he finds after arriving on Earth. Those on Earth have been bowing down to the Red dragons and following all they command, especially the take down of the Silver dragons. Jack quickly learns that the Silver dragons are not bad but are the key to helping make Earth safe for everyone to live once again. Now he must convince the others who are blind to the love the Silvers give before it is too late.

This is the second book in the And They Found Dragons series and readers will enjoy the continuation of the adventure. This book looked more like classic ‘Dekker” writing for me. The first started out a little different but this one looked more like the writings of Ted Dekker that I have read for many, many years. Even though this is written by both he and his daughter, I really only see his writing style here. Jack is a great main character and readers will enjoy going on the adventure with him. This is probably my favorite book in the series. The content is just right for young readers, but older readers will get a lot out of this as well with the imagery throughout. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and one I look forward to my son reading and being able to discuss with him.

The Boy Who Fell From the Stars

Authors: Ted Dekker & Rachelle Dekker

Series: And They Found Dragons #1

Publisher: Scripturo

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The start of the new Dekker series is full of mystery, drama and dragons! What more could readers ask for?

In the near, distant future most of humanity has nearly been wiped out by nuclear war and only a little over 100 souls are able to survive by escaping on a shuttle named Arc. While they have been away from Earth, the nuclear devastation brings forth more unexpected problems, Dragons. Any teams that have been sent aren’t able to live because of reactions to the dragons, until they find out kids are not as susceptible to the toxins from the dragons. One child, Jack, is immune to the toxins and he is not fit to go on the mission with the other kids chosen to travel to earth and slay the dragons. When one of the other kids falls ill, Jack is the only choice to help complete the mission to make it safe for all of humanity to return to Earth.

The first book in the new series by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker will set readers off on an adventure that is out of this world. With characters that young readers will be able to relate to and a story that has adventure, fantasy and much more, readers young and old will enjoy. I have been a Dekker fan for a long time and bought this for my son for Christmas. I wanted to read them before him so we could discuss the stories afterwards and am glad I did, I enjoyed the story and can’t wait to see what happens next. Jack is a great lead character, but I have to say Sammy is my favorite so far. The first book ends with just enough of a tease to keep me aching to start the next immediately. This looks to be a great new series for young readers to enjoy.

Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime

Author: Julie Lavender

Publisher: Z Kids

Release Date: January 11, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The perfect Bible story book for young kids that I love to see my young son reading on his own.

After a long day, kids need a way to wind down and a book with inspiring children’s Bible stories is just the right book to help with that. This is a wonderful collection of the first stories kids will learn about from the bible. Parents can sit down with their kids and pick a key biblical figure and go over their adventures together with illustrations that will capture kids’ attention and be a great conversation starter.

What I loved most about this was how easy it was to read with my son and know he was understanding and enjoying what we were talking about. It can be hard to get kids excited about reading the bible, but when they see the beautiful pictures and start reading the story that is written in a way they can understand it, this is a good way to get them engaged. Each story is broken down and short enough that the reader won’t lose interest. I love the end of each section that offers steps for settling down for the day, something that can be hard for kids and using these tips can really help. I recommend this book to everyone with small kids wanting a great addition to their nighttime routine that will not only help them settle for the day and feel good about the material their kids are seeing before closing their eyes for the night.

The Final Judgement

Authors: Ted Dekker & Kara Dekker

Series: Dream Traveler’s Quest #4

Release Date: January 1, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The final book in the series wraps things up nicely and gives readers a great finish to a fun series!

Theo and the gang must work harder than ever to defeat the evil around them in this world and “Other Earth,” before time run outs. All that they have worked for comes down to this and the lessons they learned about life, love and what it all means.

Fans of Ted Dekker will love this series and how it all concludes. Theo and his friends are great characters for young readers to follow and root for as they battle the forces of good and evil and learn about life and so many other great lessons. I gave this series to my son for Christmas a few years ago and just now got around to reading them all myself. I have been a Dekker fan for many years and love how things connect back to his other books. I can’t wait for my son to read the rest of his collection and tie it all together. I recommend this series for young readers that are looking for great books that will keep them excited about reading and learning.

The Garden and the Serpent

Authors: Ted Dekker & Kara Dekker

Series: Dream Traveler’s Quest #3

Release Date: January 1, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third installment in The Dream Traveler’s Quest is a must read as the stakes are higher than ever and evil is determined to win!

Theo has achieved the first to Seals of Truth and now must figure out what his next quest will be and how he is going to accomplish it with the help of his school friend that is blind. Once they get to “Other Earth,” Denny has his eyesight restored and can use his other senses that are heightened from years of being blind and together they work to find the third Seal of Truth.

This third book got a little darker but not so much that it was inappropriate for younger readers. Theo is learning lots of valuable lessons about life but also about love and how much God loves us even when we can’t see it. The way Theo and Denny worked together was a great lesson for kids. These books are a great start to the Dekker universe as they get older and can read more advanced books. I recommend these to young readers looking for adventure and fun reads.

The Curse of the Shadowman

Authors: Ted Dekker & Kara Dekker

Series: Dream Traveler’s Quest #2

Release Date: January 1, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second book in Dekker’s children’s book picks up right where the first one left off and is full of fun and adventure for all ages.

Theo Dunnery is back in his world after finding the first Seal of Truth. In order to return to “Other Earth,” as he calls it, he is going to have to bring someone with him to find the next Seal of Truth.

Full of the same adventure, action, and perfect storyline for young readers to grab their attention and help them fall in love with reading. I loved the progression of these books and how Theo had to rely on others to help him in both worlds showing him that no matter how alone he felt he was never truly alone. This will be a fun book for young readers to get started in the world of Ted Dekker’s writing, so many fun moments that kids and adults can enjoy.