Monday, 5 March 2018

There's a place for historical fiction in your life!

Our historical fiction section is growing.  Not with cheesy romantic novels that have little solid content but books with real history, gripping fiction, and faithful gospel messages. I can't talk about historical fiction without mentioning Douglas Bond - a favourite author in this shop who has written great historical fiction for a variety of age ranges. Deborah Alcock is another well known writer of deeply historical, excellent fiction titles. And there are many more to go at! (Just ask us if you need some advice as to where to start). New to our shelves is author Christina Eastwood who has recently written 'Trasna Na Dtonna: A Tale of Three Cities'. This covers a period of the Reformation in Italy and Ireland through a story of the life and times of Willian Bedell (1570 - 1642). We received a review copy a few months ago and one willing teenager has devoured the book for us and written this review...

Christina Eastwood here weaves an enjoyable, well written story with the very real yet relatively unknown history of the reformation in Venice and Ireland.  The story follows Samuele throughout much of his life, his childhood in Venice in the Servite Monastry, his education in Geneva and then his travels in England and Ireland.  Eastwood links real people and real events with Samuele's story. She develops both these and her fictional characters, making the happiness and grief throughout the book very real and poignant.  I think it is a compelling book, and I would recommend it, mainly to teenagers with an interest in history, but I am sure that any young person would find it enjoyable.
Matthew (age 14)

Trasna Na Dtonna: A Tale of Three Cities by Christina Eastwood, £9.99

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Tackling Mental Illness Together

This is a most welcome book on a hot topic, especially coming as it does from a respected authority on the subject currently working in the UK National Health Service, Alan Thomas, who is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Newcastle University.
A recurring theme in the book is reflected in its title - that 'people with minimal training can provide real therapeutic benefit to the mentally ill'.  Professor Thomas is concerned that DSM-5, the psychiatrist's diagnostic manual, has widened the definition of mental illness. Now, it seems, the behaviour is the disorder.  More people are thus brought within the realm of treatment by the health profession, and this can send a discouraging and disempowering signal to ministers and churches - "this is a job for professionals." The truth is that both have complementary roles, and that wise, experienced, empathetic,  'ordinary' christians with good listening skills, who know the sufferer, can provide vital support to those with mental illnesses.
The subtitle of the book is 'A Biblical and Practical Approach', and hence begins with emphasizing the body-and-soul nature of man (mental illness is not just "all in the mind"), and the implications of the Fall on what we were made for. Professor Thomas roundly criticizes Freud's view of the unconscious mind, and provides a very clear assessment of the issue of personal responsibility in relation to mental illness ("Is it sickness or sin?"). He fascinatingly observes the effect of culture upon the manifestation of stress, eg. shell shock, before coming on to an overview of treatments - drugs, ECT, psychological approaches, and their effectiveness across the whole spectrum of mental illness. This is an informative guide and provides a good number of illustrative case studies drawn from many years of clinical practice.
Mental illness is difficult territory, but this book impresses as a go-to resource - not a slick read by any means, but giving an all-too-rare Christian perspective on a big subject.

Tackling Mental Illness Together by Alan Thomas, published by IVP, p/b £9.99

Thursday, 11 January 2018

New Year!

It's January! We had a very busy run up to Christmas, for which we are thankful. We very much appreciate the loyalty and support we receive for our small independent shop. Suddenly we have arrived in January and are needing to do a long awaited sort out (not just of books, but of our desks 😨).  In the meantime, many of you will be settling down to a new daily reading book.  If you haven't yet found a suitable one, we have some suggestions in our latest eBulletin... click here to view.
Don't forget though, that a sort out around here means that lots of books will be heading onto our sale lists - especially the £3 list. So go on, pick up a bargain while you can!
Our £3 sale list!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Cosy Christmas Evening

Our annual Christmas evening is usually a cosy affair - much more pleasant than most Christmas shopping experiences! Homemade mincepies & cakes, steaming mugs of hot drinks, relaxing background music, friends and chat... you get the idea. Oh, and of course, there are the book deals! We're excited to be offering 'Wonders of Creation', the new coffee table book from Day One, at a 'you-won't-find-this-cheaper-anywhere' price, plus Helen Roseveare's new 'Count it all Joy' alongside a 3 for 2 on children's books. We've even sneaked in a few Martin Luther's - yes, we couldn't resist the Playmobil Martin Luther figure, so we have a few 'lil Luther's in the shop for you to pick up as stocking fillers!
We look forward to seeing you on Monday 27th, or if you really can't make it but you don't want to miss out on one of the offers, just give us a call to make your order (we draw the line at sending out mincepies though 🙂).

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Sweet Taste of Providence

Christine Farenhorst is a master storyteller, always engaging and finding new ways of pressing a message home. This book of 74 short stories from history is no different. Not all the stories are about Christians, some are about obscure and little known places and people but all are thoughtfully told so that the reader is drawn to consider and clearly see God's providential workings.  Each short chapter begins with a scripture passage and ends with well crafted 'Food for thought' questions. These are not trite, repetitive questions but at times real mind benders!
For example, in one chapter where we read about the man whose technical skills developed the techniques that led to the creation of the Gutenberg Press - the printing press that began the mass printing of Bibles. The gentleman himself was not thought to be a Christian, and he died friendless and penniless, but what wonderful good has come from the development of his techniques! In this chapter, one of the 'food for thought' points is... 'We live in an age where technology has advanced much beyond Gutenberg.  How can we be accountable and use this technology to God's glory and honour and to the advance of his kingdom?'.
I think this book really fills a gap in the market for devotionals for teenagers. It could be used as a daily reading or adapted for group discussions, but however it is used it will provoke careful analysis of the situations that face us in our daily lives and will cause the reader to consider our sovereign God who has all times, situations, people and places in his hands for the furtherance of the gospel and his glory.
The Sweet Taste of Providence - 74 Devotional Episodes from History, by Christine Farenhorst, published by Joshua Press.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Battle of Seattle - A Review

This book is classic Douglas Bond - a fast paced thriller with a Christian undertone.  The characters are beautifully developed, so that their emotions can be shared with the reader.  They feel the fear of battle, the painfulness of loss and the toughness of finding courage when there is none.
The story centres around William Tidd, an orphan who cares for his sister, with the help of his friends Noclas and the Indian, Charlie Salitat.  As war breaks out between white settlers and Indians, he joins the Washington Territorial Militia tasked with defending Washington Territory and finding the Indian chief Leschi.  William Tidd becomes an express rider with his beloved horse, Prophet, and fights through skirmishes, raids and battles, culminating with the Battle of Seattle.
This is a compelling novel and an amazing addition to the 'Heroes & History' series.  I recommend the book highly, even if you do not have much prior knowledge about the Pacific Northwest, as none is needed.

'Battle of Seattle' by Douglas Bond is published by P & R Publishing in paperback, £8.99.

Review contributed by a teenage reader

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The First London Confession of Faith

We seem indebted to US publishers for so many valuable reprints these days. Particular Baptist Press have brought out a quality edition of a much neglected early Baptist Confession. Lumpkin thought it the Confession that had the greatest 'formative ... influence on Baptist life.' It was first issued in 1644. Then, when some degree of toleration was experienced by nonconformists, it was revised and reprinted in 1646, together with an Appendix by Benjamin Cox to clarify some points of doctrine which had been questioned by opponents. Seven Baptist churches in London came together to produce it, probably to distance themselves from continental Anabaptists and to assure the authorities of their peacefulness and morality. I'm not sure that Michael Haykin's view expressed in the historical introduction that it was written to 'demonstrate once and for all their fundamental solidarity with the international Calvinist community' is quite true. The later Baptist Confession of 1689 smacks more of that: it falls much more into line with the Westminster Confession. But in 1644 conditions were more precarious for Baptists. The Civil War was on, but neither side could be looked to for granting liberty of conscience. There were many amongst the Parliamentarians who were as intolerant of them as the King was. So this Confession is a brave, unflinching declaration of faith, having the feel of something forged in the fires of persecution - a kind of 'here I stand, I can do no other' type of Confession. It is notable for its conciseness, its Christ-centredness, and its grasp of the New Testament doctrine of the Church and the life of the believer.
A facsimile of the original title page is included in this edition. It looks back to the past with affection, but is also intended to be of practical use today, and modern formatting facilitates that.
'The First London Confession of Faith 1646 Edition' is published by Particular Baptist Press in paperback. Our price is just £3.50.