Book Review: Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire is the 3rd in The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor series by Melody Carlson.

We meet Samantha in the first book of the series, Bad Connection. In this book we find out that despite the fact that Samantha appears to be a typical high school junior she actually has a secret. She gets visions from God about future events. Through the course of the first two books, we see Samantha grapple with the impact of this gift and work with her father's former partner on the local police force to solve the mysteries in the visions - and hopefully avert disasters.

In the third book, Samantha is still getting visions, but this time they're about her brother Zach who has recently gotten out of rehab. Samantha tries to balance her desire to help her brother with the fact that she doesn't want to be the one to help put him back in rehab - or worse, in jail.

If I were to try and sum up these books, I'd call them a Christian Dead Zone-Sweet Valley High combo. Samantha tries to use her visions to help people (in conjunction with the police) and still tries to maintain a "normal" teenage life. However this is made more difficult by the fact that she doesn't feel like she should tell many people about her ability and has therefore only told her best friend, the policewoman she works with, and her family.

The books are listed by the author as being written for a Teen audience - I'm not sure what age bracket that's supposed to encompass, but I would say that 11-13 year olds would be the most likely to enjoy these books. Kids who are the same age that Samantha is supposed to be would probably have difficulty relating to her. That said, some of the topics covered are probably a little on the mature side for that age bracket (dating/sex, drugs, and suicide) - so as a parent you might want to read them first before handing them off to someone on the younger side of that age range (though they might be a fun parent-child read together kind of activity.) Also, I don't know that I'd use these books as a way to try and get non-Christian kids to read Christian fiction -- they're really much more appropriate for an already Christian audience.

All that said, they were still pretty enjoyable - I'd give each book in the series a solid three stars out of five.

Now for the fun part -- I have two copies of Playing With Fire to give away. So, if you'd like a copy of this, the 3rd book in the series (which really could stand alone - you don't need to have read the first two to understand the plot, etc.) - shoot me an email: sleepybeth-at-gmail and then obviously .com at the end of that - and replace the -at- with the @. If I get more than two entries, I'll do a drawing and have Tim pull names out of a hat and post the winners on Friday. (I'll also notify winners by email - and then you'll need to provide me a snail mail address where I can send your book!)


  1. Good review! I'm posting my thoughts on Mexico tomorrow. Chat with you later, lgp

  2. Anonymous5:55 PM

    This sounds very interesting! I sent you an email.