A few weeks ago, I read The Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty. The story is mostly set in Egypt, about forty-five years before the Israelites leave Egypt. The main character is a boy named Amuba, who is prince of the Rebu, a tribe somewhere just south of the Caspian Sea.
The book opens with the Rebu preparing to battle the Egyptians, who are trying to expand their empire. When his father is killed in battle, Amuba finds himself as king of a tribe under siege. The Egyptians triumph, and send most of their army back to Egypt with some slaves, among whom are Amuba, and his faithful charioteer, Jethro. When they reach Egypt, Jethro and Amuba are given to a man named Ameres, who is the high priest of Osiris. Ameres is a kind master, and the two slaves enjoy their new home, forming friendships with their master’s son and daughter, Chebron and Mysa.
One day, Chebron and Amuba go to hunt a hawk that has been killing some of the pet ducks. Upon seeing it, both boys shoot their arrows. Amuba’s finds its mark, bringing down the hawk. Chebron’s arrow strikes a twig and flies wide, killing the sacred cat of Bubastes. The punishment for such a crime is death.
Fleeing their pursuers, they escape and make their way back to the Rebu land. Through a long series of events, they manage to overthrow the Egyptians, and make Amuba king once again.
When I started reading The Cat of Bubastes, something that surprised me was how favorably the Egyptians were portrayed. After all, that’s not exactly what you expect in a book where the main character is enslaved to them. One other thing I think is worth mentioning would be the lack of emotion and character development. You never really get to “hear” the characters’ thoughts, so it is rather hard to sympathize with the main characters. In addition, the story is quite predictable, having no plot twists or evident character development.
After all that, you’re probably expecting me to say I hated it. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t. The story moved at a nice pace, despite having many descriptions of Egyptians’ daily life. Though not my favorite book ever, it was a nice story with a good ending.
Recently I read the graphic novel The Apostle by Randy Alcorn. I found it to be very well written, with amazing illustrations. This book centers on Paul’s life, following him from the stoning of Stephen until his death. I’ve read these stories before, but they always seemed like individual journal entries, loosely tied together. As I read The Apostle, I began to see how the accounts in Acts are part of a bigger, better story - God’s story.
By using Luke as a narrator, Mr. Alcorn gives a glimpse of how difficult it was for the church to accept Saul at first. The death of Stephen still echoed in their minds. The only things Saul had brought to them before had been misery, death, and imprisonment. And yet - this was who God had chosen. He was chosen to live and die for Jesus, bring God’s Word to thousands of people, and write many books of the New Testament.
I loved this book, and will definitely be reading again! It is very well written, and stays true to scripture. Better yet, it very clearly presents the gospel throughout the book. In short, this is a great book, and I highly recommend it.
You can purchase a copy here. Also, check out his other graphic novel, Eternity. (You can find my review here.)
God works in wonderful ways that we often don't expect. For instance, if you had told me a year ago that my review page would be something that many people would read, I would have said you were crazy.
Thanks to God, that is now a reality. Alex and Brett Harris found my blog through my review of Mr. Alcorn's book, Eternity. The Harris twins generously sent me a copy of their book, Do Hard Things. It is a challenge for teens by teens. The challenge is to... do hard things. To not just be satisfied with being average. To go above and beyond for God's glory and our strengthening.
Another issue that the Harris brothers address is that of the low expectations for teens in today's culture. If we expect to fail, either we won't try at all, or we will give up when we come against our first challenge. Do Hard Things should be at the very top of everyone's reading list, regardless of age. While I was reading it, my eyes were opened to the many areas in which I had been shirking doing hard things that I knew I should do. As the writers state, they are not encouraging a mentality of always choosing the hardest path. Their message is that drifting along with the low expectations for young people is not our only option. God gives us the opportunity to do way more than is asked, expected, or required. You might be wondering what kinds of hard things are discussed in the book. Normally, when I think of 'doing hard things', my first thought is something big. Like raising thousands of dollars for a charity. Those things are addressed, but doing the small hard things, like breaking bad habits, and doing things outside your comfort zone are sometimes the hardest of all.
I was pleased to find that the Rebelution movement doesn't end with the book, Do Hard Things. In their second book, Start Here, Alex and Brett Harris answer many common questions about how to actually do the hard things. Their website (TheRebelution.com) is a great place to find out what hard things other teens have been doing, and how you can help. Besides that, there are many inspiring and encouraging articles to be read. In Do Hard Things, the Gospel is presented in a straight-forward manner, which I was glad to find.
I cannot recommend this book enough.
Click here to buy a copy of Do Hard Things.
For my birthday, I was given the book Eternity by Randy Alcorn. (Thank you, Mr. Manning!) Being an avid reader, I quickly dove into this book. Since I don't read comic books very often, I was rather skeptical. However, in a few minutes I was so enthralled that I don't think I would've noticed if the house were burning down!
Eternity illustrates the parable of the rich man and Lazarus through the eyes of the rich man's servant. It also tells of Jesus' teachings, crucifixion, and victory over sin and death. In this one hundred twenty plus page book, Mr. Alcorn skillfully weaves together two seemingly separate stories into an intriguing and thought provoking book. Some details and conversations have been added, but they fit with the time period, and aren't contrary to Scripture.
True to comic book style, Eternity is filled with wonderful illustrations, and amazing details. Another thing that I feel is very well portrayed is the emotion. Everything from the grief felt by Jesus' followers at his death, to the angels' righteous zeal for justice is captivating. Eternity doesn't give just the bare facts. While reading the book, I found it easy to understand what the characters were thinking, and the reasons behind their choices. Very few books I have read are able to do that.
Eternity isn't just for believers. The story requires no foreknowledge of the Bible, and the Gospel is clearly presented at the end of the book.
The Boxcar Children books are some of my favorites. If you aren't familiar with this series, it is about four children ages six to fourteen who solve mysteries. With over 130 books, I still haven't read them all! Of course, there are some that I haven't read simply because their titles don't interest me, such as The Mystery of the Runaway Ghost. In some books, the characters think that a location is haunted, but it always turns out that the "ghost" is a prankster.
If you want to read adventure/mystery books, but don't like boatloads of suspense, these are the books for you. I would recommend these books for ages seven and up, and give them a rating of four and a half stars. If you want to find some Boxcar Children books, most libraries have them.
For Christmas, Uncle Jon and Aunt Lisa gave me "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims."
Once I began reading, I simply could not put it down. It is about a twenty-first century history teacher named Rush Revere, and an always-hungry horse named Liberty.
Liberty can create time portals, turn invisible, and talk. One day two students discover Liberty's amazing capabilities. Together, the students travel with Rush and Liberty to the year 1620, and experience history from a fresh perspective. As they gallop through history, the students discover the Pilgrim's courage, perserverance, and faith in God.
Salted with wisdom and peppered with humor, this book is definitely one I will be reading again soon! Even though the story is directed toward young people, I did not think it was juvenile. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.