Saturday, March 18, 2017

Carol Recommends

A staff recommendation! Carol is one of our lovely Giftware Department experts, always welcoming with a smile and ready to help you find exactly what you're looking for, before even you know it.
"Gretl, an orphan girl, finds herself totally alone at age seven. Through harrowing experience she is spared from the concentration camp but life looks so bleak, she wishes she would still be on the train until she hears and sees the smoke from it being blown up.

Cover image for Girl From the TrainJakob is fighting for the Polish resistance and finds Gretl. They become very close but are separated by continents, politics, language, and religion.

Will Gretl ever see Jakob again, and if so, what will become of their relationship?

I dare you to read this book."
--Carol Dyck--
 For more information on The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert, visit our website here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Tangible Kingdom

     The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay is one of several books of its kind presenting what they might refer to as a "new hope" for anyone looking for a new way of living out God's mission. This book is is a "call for churches to take a leap from their safe environments of their buildings and truly enter into the real world - God's reality".

Cover image for Tangible Kingdom     I read this book for one of my Bible College classes last year and the reviews from the other students in the class were very mixed, which is why I really took an interest in it. The concept of re-defining the way the church gathers in community was one that I had heard talked about, one that I had been in discussion with other people about, but not one I had ever taken the time to pursue on my own. The Tangible Kingdom reminded me in various ways - especially in tone and gentle openness - of the book Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli. While Yaconelli is exploring the ides of personal, spiritual growth and the ways we are perhaps enslaved by tradition, Halter and Smay in The Tangible Kingdom seek to expand the bigger picture. They seek to develop the growth of the church.

     On a spectrum of avid disagreement or absolute consensus, the responses to this book were so varied. I find myself neither here nor there in many ways but my impression of the work as a whole was quite positive. Approaching their ideas with an open mind, Halter and Smay are two experienced followers of Christ always searching for a better way. As with any push back on tradition, there is a certain amount of aversion to their message, but I personally found their ideas refreshing. They are actively pursuing more and more tangible ways to build faith communities whenever and wherever they are.

    "Many faith seekers have tried different churches, methods, programs, leaders, teachers, and styles only to discover that nothing holds their interest." Halter and Smay want to present another possible way, in no way easier, and possibly in no way better than anything else the world has tried before. But they are actively pursuing possible avenues, which is more than many of us are doing, engrained in our places of comfort and ease of living.

--Elise--

     For more information on Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, visit our website here.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Good of Giving Up

Lent is upon us. The season of giving up. To me, it's always been like the Christian version of new year's resolutions: an attempt at curbing some bad habit, or to try to become more healthy. Aaron Damiani's The Good of Giving Up reveals the season of lent as so much more than that.

This tradition of fasting and prayer before the celebration of Christ's death and resurrection goes way back. While some may say it's not mentioned in the Bible, it is steeped heavily in the teachings and life of Jesus himself, and the Judaic traditions. Damiani delves into the rich history of Lent and gives the reader a quick overview as a basis for understanding it's importance in our lives. With that context in mind, he provides his guidance as a pastor as to the way to approach the season of Lent, not just practically but also spiritually.

The Good of Giving Up reads well, like having coffee with your pastor. Damiani has written with a great heart for the reader to seek God in all of their life, using Lent as just another part of the Christian calendar. At the end he even includes helpful tips and tools for parents and leaders to prepare and lead those under their care for the Lent season.

--Lauryssa--

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Come Back

     Here is a picture of pain, unlike that of any I have read before. Written from a deep place of personal experience, Rudy Wiebe weaves together the narrative of Hal Wiens, a retired professor mourning the passing of his wife. As the story opens, a new facet of grief is revealed: Rudy Wiebe follows Hal on a journey of reopening old wounds, processing buried grief, and coming to terms with anger and pain as a result of the loss of his son by suicide some twenty-five years earlier.


Cover image for Come Back     For there to be great impact and influence, there often seems to be a call for a great amount of pain. This offers the opportunity for rejection of both the pain and the influence altogether, of which denial in grief is a clear indicator. Through writing this novel, Rudy Wiebe has taken hold of the influence through the pain; he has written through his denial, his anger, his stages of grief, to bring an account of these things. Through his initial rejection of the pain and the influence, this book welcomes the possibility of both. Rather than hiding behind the secrets of the experience, Wiebe has taken the time to offer what he may for anyone willing to understand, trying to understand, or needing to understand for their own sake.

     I would not venture to say that this book would help anyone with a similar experience, although it could. I would not even say that it is a healthy outlook, or a helpful one, although it may help somehow. Come Back offers insight into a very dark, twisted and painful place where many people would not allow themselves to go. The poetic illustration of agony is masterful, impactful, and influential to the last page. Each word seems chosen with great care, especially in the dialogue, which flows so roughly, so like actual speech in the day-to-day. Wading through grief is violent, graphic, and in Wiebe's raw and real way, it took my breath away at times. This is not an easy read, but I would say a worthy one.

--Elise--

     For more information on Come Back by Rudy Wiebe, visit our website here.

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.

  --Lauryssa--

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.

--Lauryssa--

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]...to the punishment of being transported to our colonies...to 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.