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Friday, November 23, 2012

The Traveling Restaurant: Jasper's Voyage in Three Parts, by Barbara Else

Jasper is about to turn 12 when the book opens, but his parents seem disappointed by this fact and attempt to hide it. Magic has been prohibited in Jasper's country for all of his life, and no one is even allowed to name it. Early in the book Jasper's parents come to believe they need to flee Lady Gall, the interim ruler of their land. In their attempt to flee, Jasper gets separated from his parents and baby sister. What follows is the tale of his adventures as he seeks to be reunited with them, escape Lady Gall's wrath, and foil her plans to name herself queen.

This was a fun, quick, middle-grade fantasy read. I found it acceptable, neither exceptionally wonderful, nor objectionable. To say I'd recommend it might put the matter too strongly, but I'll be allowing my 11yo daughter to read it.

Thank you Netgalley and Gecko Press USA for allowing me to read a review copy of this book.

The Lamb, by John R. Cross

The Lamb is a beautifully written and beautifully illustrated book for children which tells the history of redemption from creation to the resurrection, focussing on the theme of the lamb of God. It is simply and compellingly told in ten chapters, with review questions at the end of each chapter.

I only had two problems with its presentation: I believe in particular atonement, but the description of atonement in The Lamb was not a description of particular atonement; it includes pictures of Jesus. That objectionable description of atonement only arose at one place in the book, and led to a wonderful discussion with my children. Sadly, the pictures of Jesus show up on many pages.

Five of my children, ranging in age from 11yo to 3yo, listened attentively to my reading The Lamb out loud, and the 1yo's inattentiveness is not to be wondered at.

I would highly recommend this to those who are in a position to read to children.

Thank you, New Book Friend, for loaning me your copy of this lovely book.

A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love, by Milton Vincent

This is an excellent book for Christians, one which I would highly recommend to all readers. The book is short and simple, but a treasure trove for believers. It is divided into four sections: Reasons to Rehearse the Gospel Daily, a prose Gospel Narrative, a poetic Gospel Narrative, and a brief account of how the author came to write the book. This book can be life-changing.

God's grace is not only sufficient, it is beautiful and powerful and humbling.

Thank you, New Book Friend (you know who you are), for giving me a copy.

What Your Husband Isn't Telling You: A Guided Tour of a Man's Body, Soul, and Spirit, by David Murrow

The title is a bit scary, but the book is well worth the read. I can't say that I learned a whole lot, but it was good to be reminded of some of the differences between men and women, what's most important to my husband, and why it's okay for that to be most important.

I'd boil down Mr. Murrow's advice to this: a man needs plenty of food, sex, and respect from his wife.

Mr. Murrow backs up some of his claims with some reasons that smack of evolution, which I don't care for, but that doesn't mean his claims are false. I was not entirely surprised at the end to learn that Mr. Murrow is an elder in a Presbyterian Church of the USA church.

I'd recommend this book to wives.

Thank you Netgalley and Baker Publishing Group for allowing me to read a review copy of this book. My husband thanks you, too.

Quest for Celestia: a Reimagining of The Pilgrim's Progress, by Steven James

This was a great Christian fantasy read, which kept me up late at night, and caused me to neglect my family, so I could read just another page. Or two. Or the rest of the book. As soon as I was done with it, I let my 11yo daughter read it, and she loved it just as much as I did.

The subtitle lets you know the thrust of the book. Mr. James adopts a high-epic tone throughout. In fact, my only problem with the story came in the few times when a bit of the dialog struck a more modern tone.

I would recommend this book to those who like to read fantasy and who are about 11yo and up (certainly exciting enough to keep me up at night!). It is a bit 'gritty' in places, so if you're considering this for a young reader, keep that in mind.

Thank you Netgalley and Living Ink for allowing me to read a review copy of this book.

Graceful (For Young Women): Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life, by Emily P. Freeman

Mrs. Freeman wrote Graceful for young women of high school age who are 'good girls,' who try hard to do what is right, who try too hard and who do not rest in the grace of God. Graceful is Mrs. Freeman's plea for them to rest in God's grace.

Mrs. Freeman's style is winsome, poetical, and engaging. She tells many personal stories, of her own youth and of her friends. I especially appreciated that she did not talk down to her audience, nor dismiss their concerns as frivolous (a fault I think I would commit).

I suspect I would have some theological disagreements with Mrs. Freeman, but they would be minor and do not much impact this book. Her love for the Lord and his grace shines through in this book. I would recommend it to the 'good girls' of my acquaintance.

Thanks to Netgalley and Revell for the review copy they allowed me to read.

Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden

Shin Dong-Hyuk was born in a prison camp in North Korea, a child of a 'reward marriage.' His parents were allowed to be together five nights a year. Shin Dong-Hyuk is the only person known to have been born and raised in a prison camp and to have escaped. Escape from Camp 14 tells the story of his early life, his escape, and his life now that he is a free man in the West.

His story is a chilling, disturbing, harrowing, horrifying story. He was raised to be a snitch. He was always hungry. He never knew love, but did not realize he was missing out. He was tortured. One of his fingers was cut off because he dropped a sewing machine. He ratted on his mother and older brother when he overheard their plans to escape, which led to their executions. Every facet of the prison experience worked to dehumanize Shin and the other prisoners.

He only came to realize there was a life outside the camp, a life of civilization, a life where many people are able to eat to fullness, when he became responsible to train a recently imprisoned man. The man filled Shin's ears with tales of the food available in other places. Shin eventually decided to escape with this new friend, more from hunger than from any desire for freedom.

Every part of Shin's story saddened me, but I think the saddest part of all was how his early experiences unfitted Shin to be in society. He has an extraordinarily hard time trusting anyone, or expecting them to trust him.

If you are interested in reading a behind-the-scenes, factual account of life in a North Korean prison camp, look no further. This is the book for you. However, I feel it only fair to warn you that it is so disturbing as to be stomach-turning.

Blaine Harden is to be congratulated for telling Shin's story in a straight-forward, non-histrionic manner. Shin's story is compelling enough without embellishment.