Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears was a delightful book that proved not everything is as it seems. Even though this book is set in 1905 it goes a long way in showing today's Christians what true ministry should look like in this day and age.
Lydia King, is a member of the Teaville Moral Society. The name says it all - these ladies clearly think they are the example that everyone in the town should strive to be like. Their forays into the seedy parts of town to sing about sin and redemption are, quite naturally, met with disdain because while they flaunt their self-righteousness, they do little to help those in need. Nicholas Lowe, one of the richest men in town, finds the people of his church to be hypocritical snobs and to Lydia he seems miserly, because he won't donate to the church or help the poor. She bases her opinions on what she sees, but what she doesn't see is what Nicholas is really doing to help the less fortunate in the city. As Nicholas takes her under his wing to show her what true Christianity is all about, Lydia must make a decision to follow his lead, or remain safe in her own little world where those the Moral Society "claim" they want to help are ignored for the sake of propriety.
This is an engaging, thought-provoking book dealing with issues most churches today seem to ignore, like prostitution and hypocritical church members who say all the right things but don't want to get their hands dirty. Making judgments without getting all the facts is another reason this book is so engaging. We deal with these types of judgmental people all the time but rarely do we get to put them in their place like the characters in this book do. A very satisfying story with a wonderful ending. I look forward to more from this author.
Beyond the Attic Door
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Beyond the Attic Door by Tracy Del Campo is an exciting book for children that they could read themselves or read with a parent. Set in 1925, brother and sister Lulu and Buddy have accidentally stumbled upon a time machine in their uncle's attic workshop. Set during the time of the Scope's trial the children soon discover whether or not God is real and almost get lost in time during the process.
The author has presented a short story that will capture the attention of children who love adventure, their Bible, and time travel. I was disappointed that it was over so quickly. The only problem I had with the book was that it was written from the author's point of view in that she "told" rather than "showed" the action and feelings of her characters. That said, most children probably would not notice that one little flaw and would still enjoy it. It is my hope that the author expands this book into a series as I believe they would be excellent history/faith books for homeschooling parents as well as an excellent addition to any church library.
Once Beyond a Time
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Once Beyond a Time by award-winning author Ann Tatlock should come with a warning - "Once begun you will be unable to put it down." I loved everything about this book. The characters were real and well developed, the settings clearly described and the story was incredible. I loved that each chapter would be coming at you from the point of view of a different character. For instance, how did Meg feel about Sheldon's marital infidelity? We find out. How did Sheldon feel? He tells us in his own words and their teenager, Linda? Well - she has some serious issues to deal with.
I thought this was a time-travel novel at first, but it is far more unique than that. The characters find themselves living in a house where all time intersects - The Eternal Now. Whoever lived in the house in the past or future can appear at a moment's notice - like a ghost. And the relationships that develop between the Crane family and those from the past and future will keep you reading long into the night.
The Kingdom of Thrim
Reviewer: Margaret Welwood
I Corinthians 3:9 for Children
“Can it be that I need to go home . . . ?” asks a sadder and wiser Yoj. He is beginning to understand that our gifts are not “items” to be used for selfish reasons, but rather talents to be employed where and how the Giver intends. Indeed, the doll maker learns that using his gift without the blessing and guidance of the Giver brings no joy, fulfillment, or help to others.
What a useful lesson this is! “We are labourers together with God” (I Cor. 3:9)—not just for Him, and certainly not without Him.
I shared the “The Kingdom of Thrim” with my 10-year-old granddaughter, and—no surprise here—she came up with an entirely different take on the story. As she reflected on Yoj’s concern for the other factory workers, Tina commented, “I liked that it showed that you should always be kind to someone.”
The Two Trees
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
Two brothers. Two trees. Different and yet the same.
Jaxon’s older brother Syd suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder and struggles to interact socially at school and at home. When Jaxon brings home two young trees to plant in their back yard, he gives one of them to Syd, who is fixated on lining up his collection of gem stones, rather than on planting his tree.
As the school year progresses, both boys struggle to make new friends or even keep the friends they have made, as Syd’s differences become more apparent and their family is forced to adjust their routine according to what is best for their oldest son. What a blessing those two little trees will become.
Sally Meadows has written a beautiful, poignant story for families who are entrusted with children whose daily care requires the help of others and celebrate even the smallest of accomplishments.
Reviewer: Michelle Evans
The Two Trees is a lovely story. A family of four – two children, one with ASD and one seemingly ‘normal’ or not on the spectrum. The story shows what it might look like from the sibling’s point of view, having to deal with an older brother with ASD.
This story didn’t grab or draw me in as I read it, but I can see the value it would have on the child who had a sibling who was on the ASD spectrum. ASD being something that more and more children are being diagnosed with this is a growing niche. I’m sure psychologists, counsellors, parents of ASD kids and social workers would welcome this book in their bag of tools.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Truth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare by Pastor Jim Osman is probably the best Bible-based study on Spiritual Warfare available today.
There is so much detail in this book it is hard to know where to begin to give it a proper review. The author has divided the book into four different sections - Establishing Biblical Principles, Exposing Unbiblical Practices, Explaining Biblical Perspectives and Examining a Biblical Passage. He begins by helping the reader to understand a proper interpretation of Scripture on what spiritual warfare really is according to the Bible. He then tears to shreds, using scripture alone, current beliefs on spiritual warfare that the church fell prey to years ago from authors like Neil T. Anderson and Mark Bubeck. Incredibly, I was once a believer in the unbiblical doctrine Anderson and Bubeck taught, but many years ago the Lord showed me that these self-proclaimed "spiritual warfare experts" were teaching false doctrines, so I am very thankful someone has finally debunked them.
Spiritual warfare is one of the most misunderstood topics of the church and the author, using Scripture alone, proves the fallacies Anderson and Bubeck and others have fed the church for over 20 years. He exposes unbiblical practices like praying hedges of protection, binding and rebuking Satan, generational curses, Territorial Spirits (or Mapping), demon possession, deliverance ministries, exorcisms and even examines how much authority we actually have in Christ. He proves quite clearly that Neil T. Anderson has done more to promote errant doctrines, like deliverance ministries, than any other author to date. In truth, most of Anderson's claims are assumptions that are not based on Scripture at all. Yet, incredibly the church as a whole has fallen for it hook, line and sinker. The best part of this whole book is the author's final look at Ephesians 6 and what it is really talking about in regards to what the "spiritual war" really is.
Many people after reading this book, claim a heavy burden lifted from their shoulders. I would agree with that assessment. If there is one book you and your church should be reading about Spiritual Warfare, it is this one.
The Prussian Lieutenant
Reviewer: Theresa Goldrick
This book takes place in 1814 Europe, during the German Russian occupation of France. It was originally written by Karl May in German and translated into English by Robert Stermscheg. This book is a historical fiction. While the story was good and the plot well laid out, I did find this book was not in the genre that I usually read. I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, but personally, while trying to spread my wings to different genres, I couldn’t get absorbed into this book.
Reviewer: Jane S. Daly
Stermscheg has done a marvelous job of translating this book into English. It’s a historical romp through France during Napoleon’s reign. Lots of romance, adventure, and larger than life characters. Don’t start reading it until you have lots of time because you won’t want to put it down.
Reviewer: Carol Brown
To properly review this book, I had to review on two levels—the translation and secondly the novel by itself. But let me say to begin with that I loved this story!
The translation was masterful. I quickly became immersed in the storyline and completely forgot about the translation. That indicates native fluency with both languages, English and German. Sentences were so fluid and grammatically correct that I could not discern whether English or German was the translator’s first language. And I am a retired English As A Second Language instructor! I have had students whose first language was German in my classes. If the translator had been less fluent I would have encountered some German constructions or places where the English felt “wooden.” The only times I found the language a bit stilted were places that accurately depicted the types of “courteous” exchanges between individuals during that period. They reflected the social mores of the day rather than any problem with translation.
I should also commend Stermscheg for his ability to find equivalent language for idioms. Idioms are very difficult to translate—often making no sense whatever in translation. Such was not the case here. It should also be noted that this is his first work of translation. Bravo! It’s brilliant.
The novel by Karl May is a wonderful romantic historical fiction set during the German-Russian occupation of Paris in 1814 before the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. I found it a delightful read, albeit a massive 400 pages. It follows the young lieutenant, Hugo von Lowenklau who became a protégé of Field Marshall von Blücher. He rose meteor like from walking the streets of Paris, where he met and fell in love with the heroine whom he repeatedly rescues from one near tragedy after another, sometimes by himself but often with the assistance or advice of his mentor, to a position of spy for von Blücher himself. His information influenced the movements of von Blucher’s troops, which resulted in the final overthrow of Napoleon.
In one sense the novel follows the classic plot of “put your characters in an impossible situation...and then make it worse!” However, the formula does not detract from the story’s ability to draw you in. So I conclude that is also a masterful plotting job to keep that kind of formula grabbing the reader!
The characters are well done as well. You love the hero and heroine and despise the antagonists. You cheer for their success or demise...and the pages fly!
I would readily recommend this book. Especially to lovers of historical fiction and romance novels as this novel incorporates both genre.
Reviewer: Janis Cox
I loved this story. It's a fascinating fictional look at the war times between France and Prussia around 1814. It involves the return of Napoleon to France to try and recapture what was lost. The Prussian General Blücher is a central figure in the story.
I didn't know much about this time in history but after reading The Prussian Lieutenant I feel I know a little more and it has enticed me to research further into those times.
This work is a translation of a German writer, Karl May. Robert Stermscheg has done a marvellous job translating May's work into our modern English- no mean task when the original is from 1870s with colloquial German which I know we would not understand. Robert has even added fascinating translation notes at the back.
Besides the history, the story and the characters become real (even if they are not). I was captivated by the characters and the action. I cannot wait to read the sequels.
It was a story I couldn't put down and I found myself wanting to set aside more time to read. Thank you Robert for a truly inspiring read.
The French Collection
Reviewer: A. A. Adourian
I love Paris and I love God—not necessarily in that order. While it isn’t necessary to love Paris before reading this book (it is quite likely the author’s love for Paris will infect the reader anyway), it is obvious the author loves God, too.
I was drawn to this collection because I wanted to walk with the author in Paris and see how God revealed Himself there. And I was not disappointed. It was as though I was walking with a funny, creative, thoughtful friend who not only has right words at the right moment but is also a knowledgeable tour guide. So much so that readers may want more detail around facts mentioned in the book than what is provided in the notes section at the back.
If you have a friend thinking about going to Paris, be sure to give them this collection. It may even help with their trip planning. As for me, I scarce believe this is the author’s first book. I look forward to other collections by Kim Louise Clarke. Vive The French Collection!
Reviewer: Cheryl Colwell
What an enjoyable read. Kim’s adventures reminded me of my time in Italy. While traveling alone, we can make any choice we want, but sometimes there are just too many choices.
I love that Kim took the time to reflect and collect those special moments when God grew close and whispered to her. With no one else to lean on, it becomes a special time of drawing close to the God who is really there.
The descriptions of the sites she visited ramped up my desire to visit France all the more. This book is well-written and personal, a combination I thoroughly enjoyed.
Reviewer: Jane Daly
I thoroughly enjoyed travelling the streets of Paris with Ms. Clarke. She wove in timeless truths from God’s word using real-life examples from her observations of Parisian life. For instance, she tells of trying to cross a busy intersection after misreading the signal. “My mistake had been in looking at a signal too far ahead. Looking too far into the distance can be a problem. Focusing on the wrong thing way up ahead means that the things in between are often missed.”
This book is wonderful as a devotional, or for anyone who would like to experience Paris without the cost of a plane ticket.
Beneath That Star
Reviewer: Laura Thomas
Set in Bethlehem, Beneath That Star is the story of a young girl, Saray, who longs to be a shepherd, just like her brothers. She adores sheep and the great outdoors, but a crippling accident left her with a limp and a life destined for the not-so-great indoors.
One night in a dream, Saray is told to watch for a star and to follow it in order to find what her heart truly desires. She waits and waits, wondering if the voice in her dream was God, and when this star will appear. After almost losing hope, one night she sees the brightest star ever to light up the night sky, and bravely follows it. To her surprise, her brothers are already there under the star, along with a woman and a baby. She knows the baby is special just by feeling the love radiate from him, and as she encounters the Messiah, Saray experiences a very special miracle that night.
A sweet story of hope followed by a thought provoking set of questions for discussion, Beneath That Star is a beautiful book to read with a child at Christmas!
Reviewer: Mary Hosmar
Beneath that Star, a Christmas picture book to accompany Sally Meadow’s original song by the same name, is a story full of hope, trust and comfort. Saray’s courageous journey through the night to follow the star reflects our own insecurities and pains as we, too, journey beneath that star. As we relate to her pain, her joy can be our joy.
The story is simple enough for a child to understand but thought-provoking enough to engage adults. The colourful pictures will hold a young child’s attention as the story is read to him or her.
For further enjoyment, read this book, whether to children or as adults, while listening to the song by the same name.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Beneath that Star, by author Sally Meadows is a lovely little children's book suitable for teaching children the importance of waiting and obedience. But most of all it would make a fine edition to your children's library for the Christmas season.
Saray is a young girl who longs to lead sheep like her brothers. Unfortunately she has injured her leg and her mother makes it clear that her place is in the home, not out in the fields. Saray becomes disappointed that she will never get to be a shepherd and asks God if He even hears her.
One night God reveals to her in a dream that she should be on the look out for a bright star and when she sees it, she should follow it. But the waiting takes a long time and Saray begins to wonder if the star will ever appear. But of course one night it does appear, leading Saray to the Messiah, where she learns the importance of waiting, obedience and that God does in fact hear her.
The back of the book has questions you can ask your child after reading the book. It is definitely a good bed-time story the night before Christmas, as it emphasizes the importance of waiting and the joy that comes when you obey. Well done!
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
It's a story that never ceases to be told. Through the eyes of a child, it becomes even sweeter.
"Beneath That Star" recalls the birth of the Messiah through the eyes of a young girl who longs to be a shepherdess, free to spend long hours outside with her family's sheep. Following an unfortunate accident, Saray's parents have discouraged her aspirations, encouraging Saray to improve her domestic skills in order to become a capable homemaker.
God has His own plans for Saray and interrupts her slumber one night with a message, "watch for the star, follow it, beneath that star, you will find what your heart longs for." Saray waits, and waits, and waits. Did she just imagine God's voice, or will the appearance of a divine star be the beginning of His special plans for her life?
In spite of the rearrangement of the biblical details surrounding Christ's birth, "Beneath That Star" was enjoyable to read, having received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
Voices of Angels
Reviewer: Theresa Goldrick
What do you get when you mix a woman who has ensconced herself in her home out of fear and loss, a police officer who is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, and a killer with his heart set on revenge?
Their adventure together starts when Officer Dany Howard, while on stress leave, is sorting through the attic at his grandmother’s house and he comes upon a bottle with a message in it that he had found washed ashore on the beach of the Bay of Fundy twenty years earlier. Dany decides to find the person who wrote the message in the bottle.
Who he finds is a woman who was the target of a shooting that killed her brother. As soon as Dany and Julia meet they realize that it isn’t by coincident that they are together but God’s way of bringing healing to both of them as they look for the killer. And once they find him, will Julia have the strength to forgive him?
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a good romantic mystery centered around living a life for Christ. I feel that the author was really able to impact the reader with the emotions a person feels when they live with varying aspects of depression and how God is definitely a part of the healing process.
Reviewer: Mary Hosmar
Daniel Howard and Julia McIntyre are both suffering what could very well be the end of their respective careers. Daniel, a policeman in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is haunted by the shooting and killing of a young boy at his hands. Julia, a singer from London, Ontario, saw her brother shot while trying to protect her from a mad stalker. A long forgotten message brings the two together.
What happens after that makes for an exciting tale – murder, intrigue, betrayal and romance – it’s all there. As Daniel sets out to help the London police find Julia’s stalker, both his faith in God and Julia’s faith are put to the test.
What should be an exciting tale tends to get bogged down at times in unnecessary details and redundancy. The author seems to want to make sure we get a point by repeating it several times in various ways. Much of the story is taken up by internal thoughts, telling rather than showing, thus interrupting the action.
The author’s faith comes through the story very clearly. And while what the characters say is true, the timing of these discourses is not always credible. For example, I find it difficult to believe a man bent on murdering his victim and knowing time is running out for him, would stop to listen for what had to be at least ten minutes, to a discourse on forgiveness. But then, that may just be my lack of experience with these situations.
In spite of these few shortcomings, this story itself is believable and interesting.
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