Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mice of the Round Table

Camelot is in trouble again, and one little mouse must find a way to save the great city.

   The myths of King Arthur, the Sword in the Stone and Camelot have been retold countless times, in varying formats and styles. In fact there's a new Hollywood take set to come out this year. It's the timelessness of the rise of the ordinary to the extraordinary adventure that carries this story through the centuries to capture imaginations old and young. I know I love it. It's part of what drew me to this juvenile fiction by debut author Julie Leung.

   Young Calib is a mouse of Camelot, training to become a knight. These mice have been tasked by Merlin to protect the castle from smaller intrusions while in turn the castle provides them with protection from the elements and bigger predators. When tragedy strikes, dark forces begin arising around them, and Calib must find a way to unite all the creatures before it's too late.

   Leung has crafted an endearing tale of bravery and working together for children (and adults) to enjoy. The story is great, the characters are engaging and there is a great moral for all to learn. She crafts this neat dynamic between the humans and the mice without trying to make them a large part of each other. Now this isn't Narnia. They don't communicate, but the two stories intermingle in neat ways. Told from two points of view, the story moves between Calib and the page Galahad, the absent Sir Lancelot's son. Both have to struggle to feel acceptance in their world, and to overcome their fears to save the kingdom.

    A new tail of Camelot, this is a great addition to the library of any knight/animal loving child, with just enough magic to spark joy; without the story being held together by it.


For more info, check out our website here, or come in store.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Glass Arrow

     "Females are scarce. Hunted.
      And Aya's luck is about to run out."

      Dystopian fiction is all the rage now, and personally I don't get it. Then I found this book.Oh boy, did it rock my socks.
     The cover is a bit deceptive, as it looks more like fantasy than dystopian. However, the heart of the book is very much on point. This is a world where females are treated as cattle again. Their numbers are kept at a certain level and those that are allowed to live are bought and sold as "wives" in the hopes that they'll produce a son for their master. Some get lucky and become forever wives, but most end up back in the system until their used up and dumped in the red light district to die. 
      Aya is lucky, her mother escaped the city before she was born and hid in the mountains, building a little family with a few other runaways. But then the hunters begin venturing deeper into the wild, and she is caught for the auction. She's all the family has left to protect them. She needs to get back, somehow.
       This book hits all the marks of the dystopian novel, and then decides to trash most of them. You have the broken world brought about by destructive past events and a girl who is trying to survive under the corrupt system's eye. But the similarities end there. There's no drawn out drama of a battle, there's no annoying love triangle that feels contrived. It's a story of survival and family, and it tells this beautifully in one book. The story is not rushed, the description is enough to leave the imagination room to wonder and the characters are well rounded and intriguing. Kristen Simmons did an excellent job.
        If your teen (or you) are looking for a new read, look no further.


For more info check out our website here or come in store.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Mark of the King

"We believe that We can do nothing better for the good of our State than to condemn [convicts] the punishment of being transported to our serve as laborers." -- Royal Policy of France, January 8, 1719

Paris, France 1719. After the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier finds herself in prison and branded with a fleur-de-lys: the mark of a criminal with no hope of redemption. Hoping to reunite with her brother, a soldier, she trades her life sentence to exile in the French colony of Louisiana. The only catch, however, is a forced marriage to a fellow convict.

New Orleans is unlike anything Julianne ever expected. The fort isn't fortified and is made up of huts and cabins rather than streets and fine homes like back in Paris. And hiding her past and the mark she bears proves to be more difficult living within a small community.

This book captivated me right from the prologue. Anything I was reading currently got put aside because I could not put this book down. There were just enough twists that it didn't feel like I couldn't keep up with the story and it all flowed together so well. And I really enjoyed the theme: grace that eclipses judgment. This book was a great reminder that it doesn't matter whether you have physical or emotional scars, God's grace is bigger and grander than any judgement we face and that His judgment is the only one that matters.

--Elise Fast--

For more information on The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green, visit our website here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Great Spiritual Migration

     "Many of us feel on a visceral level that faith should not be reduced to a tool of social control or political manipulation. We believe faith has a more important and creative role to play in human life and evolution."

       If you feel this quote describes your current state of mind, than this is a book you should read. Brian D. MacLaren takes a hard look at the things we think we know about the Christian faith and then says "let it go". He seeks to encourage Christians to move forward and seek out even better ways to be Christian, to be human.
       This book is a big undertaking, and for the most part I think it succeeds at its goal. I had a lot of thinking to do while reading this book. There is so much that we hold as important to our Christian faith that are either founded in complete untruth or simply from misreadings we have since long moved past but have never considered to rethink. Brian's message may seem harsh and too extreme, but it's meant to be that way. If we don't take a harsh look what we think we know, we won't recognize the places we may have gotten it wrong.
       While he points to the areas we need change, Brian also holds that we should not be seeking to quickly criticize those we feel are not changing with us. Instead, to practice the Christian way of life he urges us to simply start practicing love to all, even those we disagree with. His encouragement is to begin building a better faith we should be putting it into action, including loving on those who oppose us. As he puts it, "the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better".
       Now I'm not saying I agree with everything MacLaren was going for, nor do I want you to when you read it. I don't think he does either. But there are many great truths in this book to take from this, and even if you choose not to, it's still a great exercise in figuring out where your faith stands and where your beliefs are. It also reads well, with great discussion questions at the end of each chapter (including the introduction) so that it can easily be used for a book club. There are some places where I feel too much is left unsaid by the author, leaving me unsure about what his view on the subject is. However, those are probably meant to be like that, to make you think for yourself rather than just taking someone else's word.
        "Christian faith for me is no longer a static location but a great spiritual journey. And that changes everything."


For more info, check out our website here or come in store!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Long Way Gone

      Billy Coffey says, "A beautiful story of redemption and love once lost but found again. Long Way Gone proves two things: music washes us from the inside out and Charles Martin's words do the same."

     Martin is one of our finest story tellers, I have enjoyed many of his books and this one was particularly excellent. The relationships between various characters were very well developed and the ups and downs of their lives were portrayed so well that I had to keep reading a bit each night till I was done. Very satisfying. I highly recommended it.

--Lando Klassen--

For more information on Long Way Gone by Charles Martin, visit our website here.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Waves of Mercy

Cover image for Waves of MercyA staff recommendation; Brent can be found on and off in our Bible Department. He is a wonderful addition to the House of James family.

Hello all,

I just finished reading Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin, featured in our Christmas catalog. It is a "page-turner" par excellence; a grand story demonstrating the Lord's ever faithfulness amidst many years of extreme personal loss, anger, and terrible pain (not to give away any of the story).

I highly recommend this book for anyone needing an example of the Lord's everlasting love. Waves of Mercy could touch a wide audience from believer to seeker to unbeliever.

Best wishes,

For more information on Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin, visit our website here.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Miriam (A Treasure of the Nile #2)

Cover image for Miriam     "The Hebrews call me prophetess; the Egyptians, a seer. I am neither. I am simply a watcher of Israel and the messenger of El Shaddai. When He speaks to me in dreams, I interpret. When He whispers a melody, I sing."

     WOW. This book by Mesu Andrews is just as good as the first, The Pharaoh's Daughter. The first installment follows the Egyptians closely while this second book follows the Hebrews, and more specifically, Miriam.

     We meet Miriam as an 86 year old lady who is devoted heart and soul to El Shaddai and His people, serving as midwife and messenger. But when Moses returns to Egypt from exile, he not only declares that Israel will finally be delivered, but says that God has a new name: Yahweh.

     Mesu Andrews does a beautiful job at bringing this story to life. We can read the Bible story and get all the information we need, but I'm one of those people who wants more detail like what was it like living in the midst of the plagues? And we definitely get that with this book: more characters, more insight to what living through the plagues might have been like. We read about the struggle of a God that to Miriam has "changed", a God she doesn't understand. We read about unbelief of the character Eleazar and the journey that Yahweh take with him. And we read about faith, and the struggle that Moses had being the bearer of bad news ten times to a pharaoh who wouldn't shake his stubborn pride that destroyed a nation. This story has always been one of my favorite Bible stories because of the amazingly awesome power of God and His promise of deliverance and seeing that played out.

     It's been awhile since I've been this excited about a book. You won't regret picking this one up!

--the other Elise--

     For more information on Miriam by Mesu Andrews, visit our website here