Entertaining Angels

Blurb: Madison Andrews can’t face her reflection in the mirror. All she sees is a big, fat nobody. Yet, deep inside she longs for something more, something that’s not skin deep. 

Along comes Zach, the new guy in school. He’s smoking hot and totally out of her league. She somehow catches his eye, and he makes her feel beautiful for once. But just as she gets close to Zach, her nerdy best friend, Chase, won’t let Madison doubt her true beauty, no matter how many meals she skips.

Even as Madison begins to realize that she is more than what she thinks, darker forces are at work, darker than the lies and mocking from her peers, stopping her from amounting to her full potential. Can Madison find true happiness in her own skin?

Entertaining Angels by Emerald Barnes is a tough book to categorize but I think calling it a spiritual-warfare-romance about covers it. I was expecting a clear-cut Christian YA romance so the spiritual-warfare aspect was an interesting surprise. My first thought after reading the above blurb was that Zach was playing some kind of mean trick on Madison. But once you start reading, it takes all of two seconds to combine the Entertaining Angels title with the fact that Zach runs around saying things like “your body is a temple of the Lord’s” and I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say Chase’s concerns regarding Zach are unfounded.

Despite being nearly 20 years older than Madison, I didn’t have much trouble identifying with her. Body-image is an insidious battle and something many girls struggle with off and on. I’ve never connected body-image with spiritual warfare before but it makes perfect sense and I appreciated the concept. Satan will latch on to anything to undermine or prevent our walk with Christ; weight can definitely be one of them. But regarding the rest of the spiritual warfare in the book I have mixed feelings.

I was raised Southern Baptist and while I know speaking in tongues is biblical, I am seriously skeptical about tongues being used without an interpreter; not to mention other, more pentacostal practices like being “slain in the spirit”. So when the book took a sharp veer into that territory I was caught off guard. That being said, I think the subject was handled fairly vaguely – mentioned in passing and then not really discussed again. Frankly, so was Madison’s salvation – rather than being preached at the reader, it’s glossed into a hazy experience and never defined as such.  It’s easy to overlook or debate theological differences in secular fantasy but I find myself more critical of books that are out-and-out Christian.

The romance was sweet and one of those “everyone knows what’s going on except the two involved” situations. But while clean, I don’t think they had the best habits regarding avoiding temptations. There’s a lot of hanging out alone in each other’s rooms, etc. Zach points this out once but it was never really followed up on. (Though my lasting thought after finishing the book is they were probably never tempted to go too far when they knew there was an invisible angelic presence always hanging around that just might pop out and say hi! lol)

Lastly, while a nice story, I never really bought the reasoning behind Zach appearing in the first place. Had he not come along, would things really have gone differently? Not to mention I don’t agree with the belief of personal guardian angels. And his actions toward her when she though he was a normal boy who might like her were awfully familiar and misleading – a lot of hugging, hand-holding, forehead kisses – which I felt were rather inappropriate when they were not in a relationship and very misleading when he had no intention to be. Not to mention Madison’s fixation with desiring to kiss him for the first half of the book…

So, overall, this was a simple spiritial-warfare/body-image story with cute romance aspects. I think it’s a good read for showing the spiritual side of the struggle and something most girls can relate to, but only if one is comfortable with more pentacostal Christianity.   (And I’ve already got a close friend clamoring to read it after previewing this review. 😉

How do you feel about body-image and spiritual warfare?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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21 comments

  1. Interesting. I’m taking a class on Angelology this semester. Paranormal romance with angels is more popular in spec fic than I think it should be. And then there’s that whole Gen 6 thing. But you’ve peaked my curiosity about this book.

    I was raised Southern Baptist as well but lately I’ve been wondering about speaking in tongues and miraculous gifting (such as prophesy). But that’s a conversation for another day…

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    • The love affairs between angels and girls bothers me a lot. Genesis six, …and the songs of God took the daughters of men… the flood came after that. However, I’m always looking out for good stories that are able to put new spin without going off the edge of truth.

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      • I don’t believe in love affairs between angels and girls either. It really bothers me. That’s not what this is about. 🙂

        She had it right when she said it’s a fake – out romance. He’s trying to prove a point. It’s hard to explain without giving it away. lol

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    • This one wasn’t so much paranormal romance as… fake-out romance? Maybe? It’s hard to explain without spoiling more than I already have.

      I’ve never studied it too indepth though I remember having a meeting with one of my professors after I read a missionary biography from a required-list and had questions due to the glossolalia. It’s one of those “fine for the Christians who are into it but makes me uncomfortable” type things. Unless they are speaking another earth-language in missions work – I wouldn’t bat an eye at that. Prophesy and such are, too – something I need to learn about more but I don’t fault the people who do believe in or practice them.

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  2. For all the times you’ve posted on our blog, I thought I’d read and subscribe to yours! Once I found out you had one.Give you a little love. I just entered a short story in a contest. My story title is ENTERTAINING ANGELS. It’s got angels, cornfields, twisters, dogs, swing dancing.

    I spoke in tongues the moment I got saved. My mom had to tell me what I was doing. Oh, and slain in the spirit? It happened right after I spoke in tongues. No one laid a hand on me. I can tell you I hit the floor l a bag of flour. No one caught me, but that didn’t matter. Was battling some profound depression, but when I got up, I never experienced joy like that in my life. I’ve had people tell me that it was a “cathartic” experience. I really could care less, I went down broken and came up fixed.

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    • When I had a friend review the review before I posted it, her first comment was “who’s the author? There’s too many Entertaining Angels titles for me to figure it out!” lol You’ll have to share the short story sometime!

      That’s a neat testimony and it’s stories like yours that confirm to me it can be a valid biblical thing. It’s just not something I’ve had even heard of or encountered until my late teens so I still get a bit uncomfortable around it. I really need to do some studies. I do take issue with the stance some Christians have that “if you’ve never spoken in tongues, you don’t have the Holy Spirit inside you at all”. But I think that’s a fairly limited view.

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  3. I do like the way your book sounds, I just might have to buy it and do a review. I normally post books for boys, but I might have to try something a little newer.

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  4. I am much like sparksofember on this one as well. I feel uncomfortable around these things BUT I am not out on out against it. And I definitely wouldn’t belittle those who have had the experience. It’s just not something I was raised in. This book does not sound like something that would be up my alley. I make that statement more on the review above that had some issues with the believability of some of the plot issues and not on my faith background. Plus, pure romance isn’t normally my thing. Although the spiritual warfare would be. I’ll let Tim read it and let me know what he thinks. 😉

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  5. Hello, Sparks of Ember! Your site has a fresh, calm look–I love it, and I’m now following. If I had known you were releasing this novel in June, I would’ve included it in the recent Summer’s YA Releases post on my Bird Face Wendy blog. Oh well, maybe next time for your next novel? Best wishes for success!

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    • Just to clarify, it’s not “my” book – I was given an ARC to review. The author is Emerald Barnes and her website is here: http://www.emeraldbarnes.us/

      But thanks for the compliments on the look. It;s just a free template but I like it. Though someday I’d like something that matches the “sparks” name a bit more. 😉

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  6. Thanks for all of your interest, guys!

    I was actually raised Free Will Baptist, and I left it and now I attend a non-denominational church. Much like some of you, I never believed that speaking in tongues or being slain in the Spirit was for me until I experienced it. Sometimes, when that happens, you cannot explain the joy that comes from it. 🙂

    I’m not judging or trying to convert anyone because I’ve been where most of you are. It took me a long time to fully accept it. I’m just telling you my experience. It was much like Madison’s when I wrote the book.

    That being said, thank you for your honest review. I’m glad you’ve piqued the interest of your readers with it as well. 🙂

    Hope you have a great day!

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  7. Sparks of Ember, I never realized you had your own blog (I should have!). So now I’m a new follower. I got saved in a charismatic church. I’ve seen it both ways. I believe some people truly have received miraculous gifts of the Spirit, including tongues, and I have seen some people think they have such a gift and spout nonsense in the middle of a church service with no interpretation (or an obviously fake interpretation). I would certainly be open to reading Emerald Barnes’ book.

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