TombQuest by Michael Northrop

Recently, I have been enjoying TombQuest by Michael Northrop. I started it a couple of weeks ago and am on the last book now. The story is sort of like Percy Jackson meets The Infinity Rings.

The story centers around Alex, a boy with a mysterious illness who is suddenly cured when his mother uses an ancient Egyptian artifact to save him. Unfortunately, while Alex is saved, his mother’s actions open a rift (for lack of a better word) that allows an old Order to return and gain strength. Before he knows it, Alex is and his friend Ren are in a fight to save the world, battling beings from ancient Egypt as well as human foes.

There are several aspects of this story that I like. First and foremost, I love the relationship that Alex has with his mother. He really respects her and loves her; he appreciates the sacrifices she makes for him. Second, I like Alex and Ren’s relationship. While they are good friends, they do have disagreements (in one book they have a pretty big argument.) Most of the time in stories, you find that best friends get along perfectly. This story shows you that you can be best friends, have an argument, realize you were wrong, forgive each other, and move on. Third, I like the emphasis on forgiveness. I can’t really say much about this without spoiling something. But not only do Alex and Ren forgive each other when they disagree, there is betrayal in this story and forgiveness. Fourth, I like how Michael Northrop infuses humor into the serious situations. I think it is cleverly done. By just adding a word or phrase, Mr. Northrop breaks up the tension just enough to take the edge out of the situation.

I am adding this to my list of “favorites” for pre-teens and adults with a childlike heart. I will caution that the author does not hesitate to kill characters in his book. (Mini Spoiler: so far, he hasn’t killed any main characters, but there are minor characters that die.) So, if you have a child who is particularly sensitive to death in stories, you might want to steer clear of it until they are older.

Unplanned (my review)

Unplanned tells the story of how Abby Johnson, a former director of Planned Parenthood, grows to realize that abortion results in the killing of unborn babies. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the story and the R rating it received. I went to see the movie last week with some friends, and, honestly, I was torn as to what I would have rated the movie if I was on the panel. I would say the movie is somewhere between PG-13 and rated-R. Overall, the movie is clean; however, there are two relatively bloody scenes which may (and are intended) to make viewers squeamish as they depict two different types of abortions.

In terms of the movie, I’d give it 3-stars for overall quality. While the shooting of the film was good and the acting was solid, the script needed work. There was a lot of voice overs where “Abby” is telling you what is going on or what she is thinking, as opposed to the audience being shown through her actions and interactions with other characters. I also thought the ending was a bit rushed. The movie ends shortly after her court battle with Planned Parenthood, a battle that was anticlimactic as you don’t even know what was said in the court room and how Abby refuted it.

Personally, I would have liked to see more of her life after she left planned parenthood – what it was like for her when it came to finding jobs and how she dealt with the guilt she felt at having aided in the procurement of abortions. The story did a decent job setting up how she rose through the ranks of Planned Parenthood, but fell short of showing how she adjusted and healed after leaving.

I will say, I appreciate the message of this movie. It is eye opening in terms of how abortions are performed and the toll it takes on the women who receive them. I also appreciate that they do not condemn the women who have had abortions nor the people who provide abortions. The message was one of healing, and at the end, they offer assistance to those who have had abortions or those seeking to leave the abortion industry. I have put the information below for those who may need it.


If you are an abortion worker and are interested in leaving the abortion industry, visit: And Then There Were None

If you are a woman seeking healing after an abortion or a family member of someone who received an abortion, visit Unplanned’s resources on abortion healing. (Resources with lists of organizations to contact are available if you scroll down).

Splendors and Gloom

Splendor's and Gloom.jpgWeird. That is the only way I can describe Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz. As far as children’s fiction books go, this is rather dark, and the story is confusing. The story bounces back and forth between different character’s and perspectives, and the real focus of the story does not become clear until much later in the book. (About ½ way through the book you finally figure out what happened to Clara, and ¾ of the way through the book you finally realize how all these characters relate to one another.)

The synopsis of the story makes it sound like the focus is discovering what happened to Clara, however, in truth, her disappearance is only a small part of the bigger picture. Perhaps a better synopsis would be:

An old curse, two enemies, and the lives of three unhappy children collide in this tale of magic and greed set in London in the 1800s. Cassandra, a witch who will stop at nothing to dispel her curse, and Grisini, a master puppeteer with a desire for power and money, care little for the lives they must take and the happiness they will destroy in their quest for freedom and power. Caught in between are three children – Clara Wintermute, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall – each being viewed as a tool – a puppet – for Cassandra and Grisini to achieve their desires. Life was hard for the children, and thanks to Cassandra and Grisini, it just became harder.

The story though, is not without merit. The children, even Parsefall who is the most “hardened” of the children, are examples of selflessness and courage. Lizzie Rose in particular is a good example of compassion, showing mercy and kindness even to those who hurt and mistreat her. The story also has an interesting way of dealing with each character’s grief and helping them find the peace and healing they very much need.

Angela’s Christmas (Netflix)

AngelasChristmas.jpg

Angela’s Christmas is a cute Christmas story geared towards young children and based off of a book called Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt. The movie tells the story of Angela who notices that the Baby Jesus in the manger has no clothes. Concerned he is cold, she steals him in an attempt warm him up.

While the movie is geared towards children, adults will enjoy watching the show with their child/children as Angela’s genuine sincerity as she tries to warm Baby Jesus will put a smile on your face. I will be putting it on my “favorites” list for those with young children.