Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nearly missed the weeks reviews!

ohh how time flies, especially when you decide to re-arrange and bump up the children's section in the shop (who knew kids books were so much fun! pretty sure it would have gone quicker if I hadn't kept stopping to read the childrens picture books and share them with others!).
Ohh and Don't forget to join us on facebook and keep up with what's going on in the shop, interact with us and take part in our competitions! this week I said I gobble books like others gobble sweeties and then asked what genre would be which sweet .. and there is a free 'Oblivion' T-shirt for one of the answer(er)s.  Oblivion being a rather good book from Anthony Horrowitz - but I'm sure you already knew that...
There's an #epicfail competition coming up soon too, with stickers and stuff for anyone as may want them and come in and get them! My favourite is the one that says 'Failure is an option' ;D
Anyway that aside (and watch out later on there could well be some children's book reviews in the offering at a later date - and a lot of them from the general kids selection too!) here are the reviews I did last weekend and this week ...

Now Remember:

All these reviews and indeed a geat many more can be found on the excellent Good Book Stall Website - well worth checking out :D
All the books reviewed here (and don't forget to check out the review page we have on here as well!) and those found on can also be found at or ordered from Unicorn Tree Books too, both in the shop and online at either or or at the wonderful (but please do remember to make us your favourite shop when you visit Hive! the online bookshop where every sale supports independent physical bookshops!)

Title – Un-Conditional – Rescuing The Gospel From The Gay-vs-Christian Debate
Author – Justin Lee
Format – Paperback
Price – £12.99
Publisher – Hodder & Stoughton
Date of Publication – January 2013
ISBN – 978-1-444-74541-2
Reviewer – Melanie Carroll

 Unconditional is a beautiful and honourable book with an honesty and gentle insight at its heart that has a passion for compassion and understanding shining through. This is not a book of argument or rhetoric but a book of apologia that works more for the lack of such heated argument, it moves one and tries to open the discussion up to the human realities and suffering, it invites us to understand and consider the reality away from the academic, the reality of the persons dealing with the issues, the gay person yes, but their family, their friends, their church – it asks us to look at this issue with the eyes of the gospel, with the eyes of Jesus, you know that man  that did not judge the adulteress but instead had compassion for her…
Perhaps one of the most important bits of the book is the discussion to do with and around the realisation that the word ‘gay’ has connotations that are at odds sometimes between those using it, for some gay immediately means sex, for some not, but for all the discussion becomes bogged down at this point until we work past the word and instead see and deal with the person, each one an individual and not a ‘type’.
Of all the books I have read on this subject I think I would say that this is truly the most pastoral of them all and there is a real need and place for this book within our churches and within the hands of our congregations, and for those who are Gay and Christian.

Title – C.S. Lewis Vs The New Atheists
Author – Peter S Williams
Format – Paperback
Price – £12.99
Publisher – Paternoster (Authentic)
Date of Publication – February 2013
ISBN – 978-1-84227-770-6
Reviewer – Melanie Carroll

An absolute must of a book for any fan of Lewis or for people who want to grapple with ‘New Atheists’ and their arguments against our mere Christianity! Honestly if you had ever wondered how Lewis would these days approach and deal with the new atheist arguments then here you will find your answer.
Given C. S Lewis came initially from an atheistic position to one of faith and then spent so many years as a keen apologist of the faith then it is obvious that his works are well suited as a base to help in dismantling arguments and building up a framework of arguments for the faith. Peter Williams does an excellent job of setting forth the new atheist arguments and positions with good outlines of Grayling, Dawkins, Hitchens et al positions and then in turn digging down into Lewis’ own work and arguments to proffer forward strong rebuttals and strategies of discourse.
The book is itself a beautifully strong apologist work with no little reference to academic knowledge and measures (indeed each section has an end reference that is almost encyclopaedic in it’s scope and coverage) but over all the book retains a style that is easy to read and for this reader thoroughly enjoyable.

Title – Immortal Diamond – The Search For Our True Self
Author – Richard Rohr
Format – Paperback
Price – £10.99
Publisher – SPCK
Date of Publication – February 2013
ISBN – 978-0-281-07017-6
Reviewer – Melanie Carroll

Richard Rohr’s new book has a profound depth that digs at the heart of who and what we are, making us work at mining our deepest beliefs and self delusions until what is left is the heart of our true self, our innermost being stripped bare of its self defences, our altered perceptions and the voices of others, until we find buried beneath all that the heart of ourselves as God see’s us,  unearthed at last the ‘Immortal Diamond’.
Like Rohr’s previous works this focuses on spiritual and psychological growth and insight, but in this one the biblical considerations and narrative of death and resurrection is deep and rich, indeed so much so that this book would make an incredible companion on the journey to resurrection that is lent and holy week -though to be fair it would be strong at any time. At the end of the book are a series of appendixes which form a series of practical exercises to really help you build on the understanding of the book. It’s a fantastic book and one not just for fans of Rohr’s previous work, indeed if you’ve never come across his work before this would be a wonderful place to start.

Title – The Reunion - A Novel
Author – Dan Walsh
Format – Paperback
Price – £8.99
Publisher – Revell (Baker Books)
Date of Publication – October 2012
ISBN – 978-0-8007-2121-3
Reviewer – Melanie Carroll

The Reunion is a beautifully gentle novel with a considered pace and flowing words that really takes you along on this story of  what is ultimately about love and redemption, but covers loss, change, doubt, heroism and above all quiet lives of unexpected worth – how much do we know our neighbours, how do we really see ourselves, how easy is it to lose yourself or indeed to find yourself? All these were the questions and thoughts that this gentle novel brought to mind in me.
It’s the story of Aaron, a Vietnam veteran who war profoundly affected, now in his 60’s a simple handyman at a trailer park. It’s also about his daughter who never really knew her father, and a journalist whose father died in the Vietnam war and all the other people who intersect with these lives –it’s a story that has its base in war, but more importantly it’s a story of what happens after a war and it’s longer term consequences.

Title – The Jonah Complex – Rediscovering The Outrageous Grace Of God
Author – Greg Haslam
Format – Paperback
Price – £7.99
Publisher – River Publishing (Dist. Joining The Dots)
Date of Publication – February 2012
ISBN 978-1-908393-04-3
Reviewer Melanie Carroll

The Jonah Complex by Greg Haslam is an excellent book that is both critique and commentary, critique in some ways of our church and society today – pointing out the similarities between where we are and Jonah’s story and time, and commentary that works all the way through the book of Jonah highlighting and upholding the story and it’s worth for today. I have always been a big fan of the story of Jonah, not so much the fishy tale we get as children but the depth and intricacies that are in it about faith, about choosing to follow, about misunderstanding God’s Grace which are all in it, notably though for me the most important part of the story of Jonah is at the end, the castor oil plant episode, and to finally get a book that does not ignore or gloss over this section is lovely. Haslam instead uses it to really show and hold up ‘the outrageous Grace of God’.

Title – Not So Secret – Being Contemporary Agents For Mission
Author – Graham Orr
Format – Paperback
Price – £8.99
Publisher – IVP
Date of Publication – October 2012
ISBN – 978-1-84474-591-3
Reviewer Melanie Carroll

I found this book to be really enjoyable, being as it was a mix of testimonial stories of time spent in Tokyo, Japan as active missionaries and also a reflection on their time when returning and working in the UK, as such it has a personalness and genuineness about it that works well to demonstrate how we can be missionary agents in our own lives and communities. In each chapter not only is there this correlation between japan and the Uk but there is also a strong and considered biblical outline as well, looking at what Jesus would have and indeed did do in such circumstance and providing the scripture references and understanding that must be at the basis of our actions and understanding when we go forth under the Great Commission. This is an excellent book for those that like testimonials, for those considering mission work, and not least for those that want to be active in evangelism.

Title – Only Say The Word – Affirming Gay And Lesbian Love
Author – Alan McManus
Format – Paperback
Price – £9.99
Publisher – Christian Alternative (John Hunt)
Date of Publication – January 2013
ISBN 978-1-78099-309-6
Reviewer Melanie Carroll

This is a very different book, it’s intent is to offer forward a more merciful reading of scripture and theology that affirms homosexuality rather than suffering or rejecting homosexuality. In the book we are introduced to a rainbow of churches, each church preceding a chapter offers forward a different persepective of reception that gay or lesbian people may come across, these are all quite readily recognised positions – these short introductions to the rainbow churches are quite interesting in themselves given they are written in a first person perspective with gentle commentary on issues that may be at heart here. From these we then move onto more considered arguments, discussions or contemplations that help to develop the feelings and understandings of those from the gay community as they endeavour to make understood the position they are often in…
I’m not sure the book entirely achieved it’s aim of ‘Affirming Gay & Lesbian Love’ but for me the most moving piece is the ABC of the Cloud of Witnesses we encounter in the Violet Church on pages 54. This is something that for me should be read and reflected on by everyone, regardless of gender or opinion, and makes this book important because if we can’t be moved by this then there is fundamentally something wrong with how we understand the command to love others as ourselves.

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