Tuesday, Reviews day: Livi Starling

One of the best things about being a member of the Association of Christian Writers is the opportunity to meet other writers and discover new books.  Recently I’ve been doing a bit of light reading penned by a new friend, and here is my review:

I’ve just finished reading two of the four Livi Starling books by Karen Ingerslev. Starring an eponymous 14 year old heroine, these are Christian books for teens – and British, which is so unusual and welcome for this genre!

The books are brilliantly written. For a start, they’re hilarious. The characters are all very appealing: stylistically, the books remind me a little of the Anastasia Krupnik series that I adored as a teen.  The author is so creative that even her whimsical, fictional reality TV shows or social media sites sound more fun (and sometimes, more possible) than the real ones they are parodying.

The Christianity in the books is handled perfectly – seen from the outside by the narrator, it’s detailed but not cringeworthy, and still very recognisable to a Christian from that church culture. It helps that the main Christian family depicted are delightfully eccentric, and that the author doesn’t shy away from acknowledging how weird and funny Christians can look and how oddly they can behave!  She also depicts Christians of many different flavours and experiences, rather than sticking to the bland or perfect image that some Christian YA writers fall prey to.

The storyline is gripping and relevant and completely unpredictable – I thought I knew where the first one was going, but I was wrong and loved being surprised by it!

Highly recommended for young teens. And adults, apparently – I now can’t wait to read the next two!

Tuesday, Reviews Day: Those Who Wait

I have been very fortunate recently to be part of the launch teams for a few great books.  One of these, which came out yesterday, is Tanya Marlow’s Those Who Wait.

Marlow

It’s a gorgeous book which explores, through the imagined thoughts and feelings of four Bible characters, all the spiritual learning and longing that comes with waiting for something.  From distant promises to urgent needs, the heartfelt desires of Sarah, Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary are seen from the perspective of not-there-yet, which gives a new breath of life to stories whose endings can be a little too familiar.

I loved lots of things about this book.  I loved Tanya’s skillful drawing of the characters so that each of them has a distinct voice.  I loved her equally clever weaving of little common elements through all of the stories (I won’t give examples, because half the fun is in spotting them for yourself).  I loved the combination of creative, imaginative retelling with detailed historical notes at the end of the book.  I loved her prayers, her benedictions and her insightful, gentle questions after each chapter and section.  And, being an Anglican and a season-dweller, I absolutely adored that the characters correspond with the candles on an Advent wreath; this book will definitely be coming back down from the shelf in December for journaling and prayer.

Whether you are waiting for a bus, a miracle or the return of Jesus, this book is super.  Grab a copy now while it’s still at the introduction price.  Lots more details and a link to buy are here.