Thursday, July 25, 2019

Birds of Pray

We have a new reviewer in the house! Twelve-year-old Logan Klassen, grandson of Barb, (she's been here for over 20 years!) who loves to read, has wanted to review some books for us and we're very excited about that!
Some things to know about Logan are: he goes to Abbotsford Christian School and is in grade 7. He LOVES sports and dreams of one day being a sportscaster (I've heard he's very good at it already). He's involved in ball hockey, basketball, volleyball, cross country and track!

"In 2017, when the Eagles (being the underdogs), won the Super Bowl, the team had many Christians on their team and they prayed regularly as a team. The team grew closer because of their faith. This book is good for sports fans who would like to read how faith and prayer can have a positive effect on a team."

-Logan Klassen-

For more information on Birds of Pray by Rob Maaddi, visit us in store or visit our website here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Camp Average

Why be number one when you can be number two?

Sports summer camp Camp Average (officially Camp Avalon) loves to boast about being in second place. Their team chant is “we’re number two!”. They never win at any sport, and Mack and the other boys of cabin 10 are quite happy with it that way. But this summer is different. This summer, they have new camp director, and this guy is hyper competitive and has one goal for their camp: to win. In an attempt to reclaim their easy going summer routine, Mack tries to lead the whole camp in a rebellion of utter failure. The boys will have to work together, and push through the torturous training Winston insists on putting them through in order to win back their Camp Average fun.

I picked up this book at the recommendation of a customer, and it was well worth it. Craig Battle, a Canadian author who has written for OWL magazine and has worked as a camp counselor, writes a great story. While I am in no way a sports fan, I found myself getting pulled into the boys story and the hi-jinks, plotting, pranks and struggles that ensued. The boys of the cabin are well varied in character and can appeal to a wide variety of readers. Battle’s writing is simple, concise but clear, and does an excellent job of conveying enough for the reader to have a vivid picture of the campers and their camp life without being overly wordy.

For a kid struggling to get into reading, or someone who loves a good sports story, I recommend this fun Canadian read. 


For more information on Camp Average by Craig Battle, visit us in store, or visit our website here

Monday, June 3, 2019

Far Side of the Sea

Colin Mabry was briefly introduced in Kate Breslin's other WWI novel Not By Sight as the brother of Grace, that novels' heroine. In that story, he goes missing in action in the chaos of the European front.

Picking up several months later, we find Colin attempting to come to terms with his new reality as an amputee; having lost his left hand in a tunnel collapse and haunted by memories of the terror he experienced. Colin is tasked with decoding messages delivered by carrier pigeons from France and he is shocked to receive a missive from Jewel (the woman responsible for once risking her life to save his, and one he long thought lost). Gathering the tattered remnants of his courage, Colin returns to France, determined to keep his youthful promise to rescue Jewel from the horrors of war.

But instead of Jewel, another woman awaits him in Paris--Jewel's half-sister Johanna, who is determined to find her long-lost sister with the help of the soldier who had once captured her sister's affections. Convinced her sister is in the clutches of a German spy, Johanna is desperate for Colin's help to find and free her sister. Colin reluctantly agrees to become Johanna's ally, and the two embark on a quest to find Jewel across France and Spain. But Johanna's fervor to find her remaining family, conceals secrets of her own. Ones if revealed, would threaten the tenuous connection building between herself and Colin.

This book is a combination of stunning historical detail, (the pieces regarding carrier pigeon use during WWI are fascinating) full of action, adventure, suspense, mystery and romance. Breslin seamlessly weaves together all of those elements, leaving you frantic to read the pages as quickly has possible. The emotional themes Breslin deal with in these pages are gutting; (i.e. PTSD, illegitimacy, violent rebellion) and in lesser hands would risk seeming melodramatic of cheap. But Kate Breslin is a master at unraveling emotional turmoil and depth with nuance and compassion, leading her characters through their respective valleys toward hope and restoration.

I loved the characters and how their faith and stumbles helped them grow and change throughout the story. Despite his disabilities and the challenges those pose to him in his everyday life, Colin forges through, trusting God is good even when things seem dark. A lesson we all need to be reminded of.


For more information on Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin, visit us in store, or visit our website here

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Within These Lines

How can someone be loyal to a country that has cast him out? How can love survive when all the odds stand against it? How can goodness prevail when those fighting for freedom also violate the virtue they've gone to war to protect?

In 1941, Evalina Cassano is an Italian American teenager living in San Francisco. Her family owns a very successful restaurant and she has a bright future ahead of her after being accepted to attend Berkley. But the heart wants what the heart wants and hers belongs to a young Japanese American boy named Taichi Hamasaki, the son of the produce farmers that help supply her parents’ restaurant. The relationship is difficult enough as it is, but on December 7th, the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor and overnight America develops an anti-Japanese sentiment. As the days continue, his family volunteers to go to Manzanar Internment Camp for the duration of the war. Communicating via letters, they at first seem sure their love will survive the separation. But Taichi's life in the camp is far from okay.

 I found it tremendously moving to see how Taichi, his family, and the other brave Japanese families worked to maintain a sense of dignity and order and community in the midst of terribly heartbreaking conditions. Within These Lines deals with many things, but mainly daily life in internment camps. I knew a little bit of what life was like in internment camps during this time, but this book shines a light on the living conditions, the day-to-day activities, and the conflicting beliefs of the interned people throughout the camp. It was incredibly heartbreaking and often hard to read at times. But very important. This is one of the only times I’ve seen books approach this topic so closely and so raw and near to the matter, and I love that the book wasn’t shrouded in depression and darkness, but rather in hope – even though the situation was full of despair.

This quote from the book resonated with me, "As the brilliant sunset cools to gray, I vow my anger over blatant discrimination will not cool. As these rocks stay steady through season changes and time, so I will remain steady. I will not be silent. I will not let this go.” Stories like this remind me not to judge neighbors based on fear and assumptions. Stories like this inspire me to be courageously compassionate, fiercely loyal, and graciously determined. And stories like this remind me that holding to one's convictions and moral compass is always the right course of action, even when your pride is bruised and your loyalty tested.

-- Candace --

For more information on Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, visit us in store, or visit our website here .

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Of Fire and Lions

A little fun fact about me: I absolutely love the book of Daniel. Everything about that wonderful little book gets me so excited. Seeing how Daniel resolved to follow God in chapter 1 and seeing that same choice to have faith throughout the whole book despite everything that happened to him and his friends, inspires me to be like Daniel and have a faith like his. And it is so chock-full of God's sovereignty and his goodness and mercy towards Israel and Babylonians alike. It's just so great (even those prophesies)! I also just got done doing a Precept study on the book of Daniel. So imagine my excitement when I found out that Mesu Andrews' new book was about Daniel!

Mesu Andrews (or her publishers) did such a good job at summarizing and leaving one wanting to know more on the back the book without giving anything away. So I'm just going to put that here for you because I don't want to give anything away either!

"Belili wears her children's disdain like a heavy cloak. The weight of their contempt threatens to crush her spirit, but she has perfected the art of survival. She first learned it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago after the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took its finest young people as captives. Years later she survived among idol worshipers and in King Nebuchadnezzar's court by donning an identity that shrouded her with guilt and shame.

She's kept secrets from Daniel, her childhood friend and the lover of her life, but as the Medo-Persian army invades, the thread of Belili's deception unravels and her tightly wound secrets begin to unfurl. 

When tensions mount in the land of their exile, Belili will do anything to keep her family safe even though each step leads them closer to the truth. Will Daniel die in a pit of lions before she can make things right between them? Or will the God who rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego save her husband and replace her spirit of heaviness with a garment of praise?" 

If you've read her other books and loved them, then you'll enjoy this book as well. Andrews is a great story teller and makes it impossible to stop reading.

--Elise F--

For more information on Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews, visit us in store or visit our website here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Between Two Shores

"She has always moved between worlds, but now she must choose a side..." 

Jocelyn Green's third novel again follows the french theme. But this time taking place in North America in 1759 Montreal during the Seven Years' War between Great Britain, France, and the native tribes surrounding the Montreal and Colonies area. I've really enjoyed her previous books and I couldn't wait to pick this one up as well.

Catherine Duval would rather remain neutral than to pick a side. Trading to both the French and the British, Catherine is suddenly thrown into the war when her ex-fiance, Samuel Crane, shows up and is taken prisoner by her father. Claiming to have information that could help end the war, Samuel asks Catherine for her help to escape since she knows the way to Quebec, but she's hesitant. Conflicted on whether or not to help the man who broke her heart, Catherine knows that New France is starving and cannot survive another winter with no food, Catherine agrees.

And drama and intrigue ensues.

I was surprised by the fact that this book was taking me longer to get through than her other two books (Mark of the King and A Refuge Assured), both of which I've written reviews for, when the plot suddenly twisted and my doubts and disappointments disappeared. Jocelyn Green writes so well. Each time I've kinda expected these books to all be very similar (you know, conflict happens, girl meets boy, girl marries boy, then the end) but they are all very different. There is the tease of a romance, but that's not the central focus of the book and BOY, it was like a breath of fresh air.

--Elise F--

For more information on Between Two Shores  by Jocelyn Green, visit us in store or visit our website here.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Log Driver's Waltz

I was so excited when I saw they had made a picture book version of the Log Driver's Waltz. I grew up listening to the playful, whimsical song from the 1979 original short film, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book.

The story is about a young girl whose parents want her to marry someone respectable and well-to-do - a doctor, a merchant, or a lawyer - but she is in love with a log driver, who woos her with his talent for dancing - a talent he has developed driving logs. It is a charming, lighthearted story that brings history to life.

Jennifer Phelen has outdone herself with the illustrations. Her style combines elements of the 1920's - both city and country - and the 1970's, when the original film was created, and the pictures perfectly match the style of the song. There are some precious details that add an extra sweetness to the story, like the log driver checking his reflection in a waterfall before the dance. While this picture book would be delightful for any child, it would make a great addition to a classroom, or to complement a children's study of Canadian history.


For more information on "The Log Driver's Waltz" by Wade Hemsworth, visit us in store or visit our website here.

To listen to the song (and sing along with the book if you have it!) follow this link:

Saturday, March 2, 2019


   Stephanie Land almost broke my tear ducts with her memoir. Maid is a crucial, desperate, important installment in showing that people in poverty are some of the hardest working, least appreciated, most disadvantaged people in our society. The next time I hear someone say people in poverty are lazy, I hope I can recommend this book to them.

   Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

   Stephanie Land is a single mother struggling to escape domestic abuse, to keep custody of the child her partner never wanted but fights her for at every turn, and to provide enough for her daughter so they can at least survive. She narrates a messy, belittling, dehumanizing journey of food stamps that never provide enough food, homeless shelters that can't offer proper shelter, and low-income housing that could be ripped away at the merest threat of a $50 emergency.

   "Struggling to make ends meet" is probably the most passive, deplorable, understatement one could apply to this woman's life. Throughout the memoir, Land takes painstaking creative steps to illustrate the sheer reality: she's not making ends meet at all. She rations her coffee in the morning to quell her hunger so that her daughter can have more to eat. She can't afford produce unless it's below a certain price-point, but the middle-class shoppers at the grocery store vocally harass her for buying less nutritious food - the only food that she can afford - and for making them wait longer because of her food stamps. The amount of times other shoppers shout "You're welcome!" at her because she's using food stamps from the government, funded by taxpayer money, is atrocious. 

   At one point, Land and her daughter are using eight different government programs at once, just to survive. The way that the various government programs operate, qualifying for one may disqualify her for another. If she makes slightly more money from her multiple part-time (minimum-wage) jobs, that extra pocket change could tip her over the edge and disqualify her for another program or two, leaving her scrambling again the next month. The system is built in such a way that it beats her down and keeps her there, and I don't know where she finds the will to beat it back, but she does, in a white-knuckled, teeth-gritted kind of way

   Maid is a stepping stone to addressing and erasing the stigma around people in poverty; to establishing the compassion and empathy we need to work towards a better world. I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially to the middle-class and the rich - the more financially privileged people in society.

--Elise T.--

   For more information on Maid by Stephanie Land, visit our website here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Curse of Misty Wayfair

   Questions of identity, family conflict, wondering whether God cares, and ghostly apparitions popping up in windows to scare your socks off...
   I love Jamie Jo Wright. She writes creepy in a truly wonderful way.

   Much in the style of her debut novel, The House on Foster Hill (read my review on that here), The Curse of Misty Wayfair is written split between two timelines - 1908 and present day. Between Thea Reed, lonely orphan and postmortem photographer on the search to find her mother, and Heidi Lane, visiting her own mother who struggles with dementia, Jaime Jo Wright spins another brilliantly frightening novel. The curse of Misty Wayfair is an unexplained phenomenon lingering over a place called Pleasant Valley, where both characters seem to find their way home. An old, questionable asylum in the woods and sightings of a woman long-believed dead - in both timelines - make for a chilling and terrific tale of mysteries, relationships, mental illness, and old family secrets.

   I found myself drawn by Thea Reed and her adventurous spirit, and Heidi Lane amidst her bouts of anxiety and panic attacks. The characters compelled me, the dark shadows and voices whispering in the woods scared me out of my pants, and the two timelines pulled me along in a riveting twirl and dance that I couldn't put down.
   I'd recommend this for adults, teens, and young adults alike -- anyone who likes a little bit of a thrill, a chill, and classic campfire ghost stories.

--Elise T.--

   For more information on The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright, visit our website here.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Before We Were Yours

"Did you know that in this land of the free and home of the brave there is a great baby market? And the securities which change hands...are not mere engraved slips of paper promising certain financial dividends, but live, kicking, flesh-and-blood babies."  --From the Article "The Baby Market,"
The Saturday Evening Post, February 1, 1930.

This book made me feel A L L the feels.

 I can't believe this book is based on fact. I had never ever heard of Georgia Tann, the woman who pioneered child trafficking in America during the Great Depression, and all that she got away with...makes me so angry and breaks my heart all at once. Although the children in this book didn't actually exist, their stories are based on real stories from real survivors of Georgia Tann's children's home.

The book follows present day Avery Stafford and twelve-year-old Rill Foss. Rill and her four younger siblings: Camellia, Lark, Fern, and Gabion, grow up on the river in a shanty boat. We enter her story in August 1939 when her mother and father leave them to go to the hospital, telling them to not leave the boat and stay hidden. The next day, thinking it's their parents, they are stolen away being told that they are going to visit their parents later. But Rill knows better. Rill and her siblings end up in the Tennessee Children's Home Society, run by Georgia Tann, where they are beaten, neglected and separated.

Flash-forward to the present day and we meet Avery Stafford. Daughter of a senator, engaged to her childhood best friend, and a successful lawyer, Avery believes she has it all. Until the day she visits a nursing home and meets May Crandall, who believes her to be someone else. Avery soon gets swept up in old family history, unraveling her grandmother Judy's past and begins to question on whether or not what she's believed she's always wanted is actually what she wants.

I loved this book and everything about it. It was one that I was sad to finish. The characters came to life on the page and their story made it impossible for me to put down. While reading, I had to remind myself to slow down, but when I wasn't reading, all I wanted to be doing was reading slowly didn't happen. It doesn't surprise me at all that this book has been a number one seller for over a year. Lisa Wingate really out did herself on this one. It's not always easy to jump from past to present day, but she did it seamlessly.

--Elise F.

For more information on Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, visit us in store or visit our website here.

Saturday, January 26, 2019


You know it was a great book when, after you finished it days ago, you find yourself still thinking about it. I'm at a loss for words. It has been ages since a book has affected me like this emotionally.
I've got no flowery language, no qualms, nothing. All I really have to say is wow.

Educated is the memoir of Tara Westover, who didn't step foot into a classroom until she was seventeen. Born to survivalist Morman parents in the mountains of Idaho, she grew up preparing for the end days by sleeping with a "head for the hills" bag and spending summers canning anything they could. Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a nurse or a doctor. Serious injuries were treated at home by her mother, a self-taught midwife and herbalist. And because they were so isolated from anyone, there was no one to intervene when one of her older brothers became violent or when her father became even more extreme in his beliefs.  Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to teach herself math and grammar. Which lead her to being admitted to Brigham Young University in Utah, then to Cambridge, then to Harvard, and then back to Cambridge to receive a PhD in History. It's amazing.

I can't tell you how many times this story made my jaw drop. Everything about this story is shocking; how her parents could ignore the abuse that was happening under their roof, for one example, is beyond me. And then go so far as to disown Tara instead of dealing with their son is appalling. Author Claire Dederer says this about Tara's memoir and it explains how I felt so well: "A punch to the gut, a slow burn, a savage indictment, a love letter.... Rarely have I read a book that made me so uncomfortable, so enraged, and at the same time to utterly entirely absorbed. I loved this book, and this woman".  The way Tara writes her story, I think, is what I loved the most. For someone who has literally gone through hell, she doesn't write about her experience in a bitter tone at all. Being so isolated as her family was, there was nobody around long enough to tell her what was happening wasn't even close to being okay, and that's how she writes. She didn't know any different. How could she have? And it doesn't end happy either. To this day, her parents still won't see her. And of her seven siblings, she's close to three.

My goal this year is to read more non-fiction. And to be honest, I'm a little upset that this was the first book that I've read not only this year, but within my goal, because I honestly don't know how anything I'm going to read now is going to top it. This book was that good.

--Elise F--

For more information on Educated  by Tara Westover, visit us in store or visit our website here.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Color of Lies

   Far be it from me to sneer at a title where they spell [colour] without the 'u'. Unusually enough, it wasn't the title of this one, or even the cover, that drew me. It was the concept.

    Ella Cleary has a rare medical condition known as synesthesia, which messes with her brain and senses, allowing her to read people's emotions based on the colour that appears around them whenever she looks their way. So when a stranger approaches her exuding no colour at all, and calling her by the name "Nora" which she hasn't used since she was three years old, she has every right to be confused. Cautious.

   Downright suspicious.

   Even more unnerving is that he wants to ask her about a murder she's certain she never witnessed. She's not even sure she believes it happened, because first of all, her parents died in a fire--there was no murder involved, just a freak accident. And second of all, she wasn't ever there to see it.

   C J Lyons evokes an exciting, emotional mystery as these two characters encounter and re-encounter each other while they try to unravel the mysteries around Ella's parents and their sudden deaths. It's a story that made me wonder again and again, "how could they possibly figure out this mess?" and there's nothing more satisfying than finding the answer to that question.

   An intriguing, easy read for Teen or YA Fiction reader who enjoys a tragic past, a dark mystery, and a high-stakes race to uncover the truth.

--Elise T.--

   For more information on The Color of Lies by C J Lyons, visit our website here.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Racing to the Finish

    This isn't the sort of book I would expect myself to read. Not because women can't enjoy NASCAR, but because I thought I'd had enough of NASCAR to last a lifetime. My brother, who is 5 years younger than me, spent a few years, a decade and more ago, obsessed with the sport. He could name every driver's stats, and not just NASCAR, but Formula 1 and IndyCar as well. There was always a race on TV, and so the names and locations found their way into my world as well. Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson were household names. While I would occasionally watch with him, and had my favourite (Jeff Gordon), NASCAR was not my favourite thing in the world. It may have had something to do with the fact that the Daytona 500 often fell on my birthday, and there was no way my brother was missing the Daytona 500.

   As I began to read Racing to the Finish, it felt like I was going back in time and back to my childhood, as names and places I'd forgotten were in the forefront of the story. But you don't have to be a fan of NASCAR to enjoy this book. This is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s story of injury and recovery, and the resilience it takes to be a racecar driver. Rather than being an account of his entire life - although he does reminisce about his father and grandfather, and discusses the beginnings and evolution of his racing career - Racing to the Finish is the story of Earnhardt's concussions, recovery, and subsequent retirement. His injuries and recovery happened at the same time the NFL was finally beginning to talk about the affects of concussions, and Earnhardt's journey shaped the way concussions and other injuries are viewed in the racing world.

   Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s story of resilience and healing - and the perseverance required for both - is inspiring, no matter what your own life looks like. I found it a fascinating book, and I was also delighted to find that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a gift for writing as well as racing; he has proven himself an insightful and skilled author, with a style both entertaining and honest.

   Earnhardt wrote this book not only to tell the story of why he was off the track for so long, but to help others who have concussions and other head injuries to understand what is happening in the brain, and know that help is available and recovery possible. As NASCAR's unofficial spokesperson for concussions, and thanks to his fame and fan base, he is in the perfect position to help raise awareness for the prevention and treatment of concussions. For me, this book also gave me a new appreciation of the racing world that I had long forgotten. The often wistful combination of nostalgia and glory which Earnhardt has woven into Racing to the Finish has made me fall in love with NASCAR again.

   While this looks like a man's book - it's a sports and medical autobiography written by a racecar driver, after all - I firmly believe books should not be marketed as "men's books" and "women's books." I am a woman in my mid-twenties and I loved it. I believe it would interest anyone with a taste for sports, medicine and psychology, or biographies. Or, like me, give it - or another book outside your comfort zone - a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.


   For more information on Racing to the Finish by Dale Earnhardt Jr., visit our website here.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Hidden Among the Stars

This book is a wonderful story that sees Callie, a bookstore owner in small town America, being given an old copy of Felix Saltern's classic children's book "Bambi". Inside she finds the original owner's name, Annika, and also a list amongst the pages, written in German. The list seems to be of valuables such as ruby bracelets, candelabras and the like, but why are they in an old children's book? And who exactly was Annika?
We go back in time to Austria in 1938, where Annika is a caretaker, along with her father, of an estate in the lake region of Austria. The castle is owned by a wealthy Viennese family as their summer house. Annika is in love with the owner's son, Max, but does he share her love? Or is there another that has captured his heart?
We slide between the two stories as Callie, aided by university lecturer Josh, try to find out what happened to Annika, and what the list is for. She also wants to find any remaining members of Annika's family to return the book to them. Meanwhile, back in 1938 Austria is being taken over by Nazi Germany, and it is a dangerous time for many in Vienna.
Melanie Dobson weaves a marvellous tale of two women, separated by an ocean and 80 years, whose lives are brought together by a simple children's book. It is an enduring story, the terror of the Nazi regime and the lives of the Jewish people devastated during the holocaust. And what becomes of Annika? 

Don’t miss Dobson’s other utterly amazing read, Catching the Wind. Fans of historical fiction will not be able to put either of these books down.


For more information on Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson, visit us in store or visit our website here.

Courageously Soft by Charaia Rush

  Courageously Soft: Daring to Keep a Tender Heart in a Tough World …. as I picked up Charaia Rush’s beautiful new book, the subtitle caug...