4 Non-Fiction Books to Read Before a Missions Trip

Have you ever considered going on a missions trip? The opportunity to travel for missions usually presents itself to Christin youth sooner or later. Sometimes it involves a flight that crosses continents. Sometimes it’s a road trip to a location in your own country. Often there are a lot of questions you ask yourself before making a commitment to a missions trip. What can I really do? I’m not an evangelist, how am I supposed to tell strangers about God? I’ve lived a sheltered life and don’t even understand the issues a missions trip might address. Will my participation really help?

4 Missions Trips Books

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Author Interview: Samara’s Peril

Samara's Peril Tour BannerWhen I received the invitation to be part of the Samara’s Peril blog tour, I submitted my author interview questions and waited eagerly to receive Jaye’s replies. I really wanted to know which characters she’d pick to play which roles in her wedding!

Jaye L Knight

What did writing Samara’s Peril teach you about life?

Actually, I think it was more the opposite—that life taught me how to write Samara’s Peril. The last several years of my life have had quite a few ups and downs. There’s been a lot of emotions to deal with. But the one thing I’ve learned through all of that is to really cling to faith, no matter how painful it is. So much of Ilyon Chronicles was born out of these emotions and struggles, especially with my main character, Jace. He really sinks into despair in this book, yet it’s when he reaches his lowest that he finally finds the hope he’s always looked for. That is often true in life.

Clinging to faith and trusting God no matter what is something I’ve been learning lately too. It’s encouraging to see that struggle (and the benefits of it) play out in characters’ lives!

What’s one piece of advice you’d give people about pushing through hard times–especially as a writer, but for other things too.

Never give up or lose faith. I know, it is so easy to do, and there are times where you don’t really want to care anymore, but even if you slip, keep hanging on. This can be applied to both life and being a writer. Being a writer is scary. You bare your soul for anyone to see and might get crushed a little sometimes, but keep pushing forward. With every book I’ve ever published, including Samara’s Peril, there are inevitably times I start to worry it’s not good enough—that I’m not a good writer. That can be really hard, but just keep going.

Hmm. I admit this question was largely for myself because I’ve been struggling to make progress on the sequel to Counted Worthy. I’m going to have to take this to heart!

If the characters of Samara’s Peril were going to be in your wedding, what roles would they play?

Good question. Well, supposing my fiancé (are you out there anywhere? ;), was cool with anything I chose, Jace and Kyrin would definitely be part of my wedding party. Kaden too. Meredith would be the flower girl, and I would definitely have Talas and some of his crete friends do the music. 🙂 Lenae would probably be in charge of the food. Oh, and I would have Timothy do the ceremony.

Meredith is so perfect to be the flower girl! ❤

In upcoming books, which character’s personality arc are you most looking forward to?

Daniel! 😀 He gets a whole storyline dedicated to him in book four, so I’m really looking forward to sharing that. Also, Jace, of course. He changes a lot in Samara’s Peril, but it doesn’t stop there. I love watching him continue to grow throughout the series.

Oooh! My brother and I have been hoping for Daniel to get more screen time.

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Don’t Waste Your Time On (Trifling) Fiction

Face it. You can’t live with your head in the clouds forever. Fiction whisks you out of the real world and builds unrealistic expectations. Readers of fiction can become discontent with the lives they are leading. The lesson? Don’t waste your time on fiction–instead, determine to choose books that inspire.

Fiction Waste

 

A Bookworm Reacts to Fiction Bashing

Every time I read a blog post that bashes fiction or hear someone boasting that they only read non-fiction, I cringe. I grew up with my nose in a book. When I read A Little Princess for the first time, I immediately identified with Sara when her father said,

She is always sitting with her little nose burrowing into books. She doesn’t read them, Miss Minchin; she gobbles them up as if she were a little wolf instead of a little girl. She is always starving for new books to gobble.

So, what do I mean when I repeat the naysayers’ mantra of, “Don’t waste time on fiction”? Obviously I’m not telling you to throw out every novel in your house and feed yourself an exclusive diet of non-fiction. You wouldn’t listen to me anyway. On the other hand, I can’t deny that it is entirely possible to waste time on fiction and be negatively impacted by it.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. –Philippians 4:5

The Good and the Bad

Dear reader, don’t abuse fiction. Don’t neglect necessary and needful things like reading the Bible, doing school, working diligently, serving others, and spending time with God in order to read “one more chapter.” Don’t choose books that fill your mind with unholy thoughts.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. –Philippians 4:8

When people turn their backs on fiction, they’ve often been exposed predominately to books that don’t turn their thoughts to things that are true, lovely, pure, and of good report. That’s a tragedy.  There are many stories that can help you do exactly what Philippians 4:9 directs. That’s why I love fiction so much.

Fiction and Me

Novels have had a huge impact on my life. I can point to particular books that have shaped and grown me to the person I am today. The Hundred Dresses taught me to care about people who are different, left out, or made fun of. As a very young reader, I remember finishing this book with a determination to befriend anyone who didn’t fit in–a determination that led me to make a point of greeting each newcomer at homeschool group and church. When I was twelve, A Family Apart renewed my interest in orphan care, a passion that is a huge part of who I am today. At sixteen, Safely Home pulled me into the life of a Chinese Christian and suddenly made the persecution I had learned about my whole life real. Without Alcorn’s novel, I might never have written Counted Worthy.

These books are a tiny sampling of the timeline of fiction that positively impacted my life. These are the books that make me want to cry out in protest when people dismiss fiction as being less worthy that non-fiction.

Non-fiction can teach the mind, but fiction inspires the heart. [Tweet This]

Don’t Waste. Spend Wisely.

Don’t waste your time on trifling fiction. Spend it wisely on stories that teach your heart to care about the things God cares about.

Yes, stories have a tendency to change our expectations and cause us to look at the world with different eyes. This can be destructive, but it isn’t always.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. –Romans 12:2

Don’t choose novels that pull your mind away from what matters. Instead, find stories that cause you to–in the words of Do Hard Things–rebel against low expectations. Don’t choose novels that fill you with selfish discontent. Instead, find books that make you want to shed mediocrity and seek God’s best.

Don’t waste your time on books that shrink your world to yourself (and maybe an imaginary, perfect significant other that doesn’t exist). Read fiction–and yes, non-fiction too–that inspires bigger living.

What books have inspired you to care about things that matter? What makes you love fiction?

Book Review: Orphan’s Song

Orphan's SongThis book has been sitting on my shelf since I got it for Christmas, waiting to strike my fancy in a moment I was searching for a new read. Fancy struck on a Thursday two weeks ago, but my day was so busy I carried it around all day and only read the first chapter. However, on that Friday my work got canceled because of snow (snow, on March 20th!) , so I ended up plowing through almost the entire book in one day.

The first few chapters had me worried. The story had it’s unique points, but seemed to fall into the tired pattern of many fantasy stories. You know the ones I’m talking about. Poor orphan with mysterious beginnings. Crotchety, abusive guardian. And a randomly talking animal.

Thankfully, uniqueness spun out of the mundane beginnings. The biggest strength of this story was the mystery. Gillian masterfully steered clear of explaining too much too soon. The mystery of The Song and the Songkeeper unravel slowly and require continued reading to discover what’s going on. The roots of pain that hold Amos to his past and cause him to fight destiny are slow reveal themselves. The reader must keep nose to book to learn what the prize the dark soldiers and the children of the Underground are fighting over is and why it’s important. And the talking cat? Well, he’s a mystery too. 😉

Read the synopsis of Orphan’s Song.

Book Review: Resistance

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00026]After my brother’s review of The King’s Scrolls two weeks ago, I decided it was time I read the first book in the series. Resistance. As a result, you’re getting the reviews rather out of order, but now that you’re interest has been piqued for book two, you should know a little something about book one! (Reviews of Ilyon Chronicles books should be in order of release from now on. I’ll definitely be on top of reading future installments!)

“But, my friends, we must resist this evil. We must never be idle while it destroys the lives and hope around us. If we don’t stand, who will?”

The emperor of Arcacia has positioned himself as ruler appointed by the gods and has plans to eliminate all threats to his claim. With immorality spreading through the country, the emperor’s cruelty is tightening around followers of Elom, the one true God. The time has come when faith in Elom must be courageous unto death or abandoned.

I started this book with interest due to the enthusiasm my brother and various online acquaintances have shown for the series. The beginning drew me but didn’t immediately demand my undivided attention. That changed quickly. The magnetic draw increased as the story progressed.

Reading true stories of Christian courage in the face of persecution has convinced me that these stories, both real and fictional, are among the most gripping, heartbreaking, and beautiful when told well. Resistance is told well and it is inspiring. I can’t wait to see what happens to Jace, Kyrin, Kaden, Trask, Trev and Daniel next.

Bonus Tidbit: Jaye announced today that she plans to release a series prequel about Jace this summer.

Book Review: The Dragon of London

Dragon of London

“He offered to help me,” Floyd said. “And I am so desperate for help that I actually considered his offer.”

Jeffrey Floyd, defender of the earth, is back and faces more challenges than ever. The brash, smart-alec face he shows the world is only a thin veil over his inner turmoil. Afraid to love and unwilling to confide in the few friends he has, he fights his demons alone–all while continuing to battle the supervillain outbreak. A new string of mysterious but linked robberies seem to point to a new threat. When the dragon of London offers to help Floyd and give him relief, Floyd knows better than to trust him. But at the same time, he hesitates to kill the one creature who seems to understand.

This story was an interesting addition to Katie Lynn Daniels’ series. The light hearted, slightly inane Floyd has disappeared, and so have the comic bookish villains. In this book, the dragon is a creepy reminder that evil can portray itself as a beacon of light. But actions speak louder than words, and the dragon’s actions show his true nature. Floyd too has a lot to learn about trust, friendship, good and evil, and life in general. I’m curious to see how his struggles and triumphs will continue to develop.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, you can check out my review of Supervillain of the Day, book one of the series.

Book Review: Machiavellian

MachiavellianBetween the release of Counted Worthy, working on a new book, and the holiday season, my reading progress has been reduced to a crawl. You’ve probably noticed that the book reviews have been lacking the past few weeks. But, I finally finished something! J. Grace Pennington was kind enough to give me a free copy of her latest release in exchange for an honest review. So here it is.

In this book, Andi’s sympathies from the previous book are dragged into another adventure. When the Surveyor picks up some extra passengers, the get more than they bargained for. The trouble is, the heroes and villains seem as entangled and undecipherable as the motives and goals. As the line between right and wrong seems to blur, Andi struggles to discover the truth before more people get hurt.

This story leaves the humanistic tendencies of science fiction no where to be seen and quite un-missed. The Christian worldviews and morals of the author and her characters weave into the story without ever becoming preachy. This series keeps getting better along with the author’s improving writing prowess. I can’t wait to see what will come next.

Book Review: The Runaway King

Runaway King, TheBack in January, I reviewed The False Prince, book one of the Ascendancy Trilogy. All three of the books are now on the market, and I enjoyed all of them. As I mentioned in my last review, if you enjoy The Ranger’s Apprentice series, you’ll certainly enjoy The Ascendancy Trilogy as well.

After reading other reviews, I expecting The Runaway King to be good, but not quite as good as The False Prince. In some ways that expectation was true, but in many ways it was not. The beginning of the book was good, but felt a bit too similar to the last one. After it got going, though, I forgot my concerns.

In fact, in some ways, I liked this book better than the last. Jaron is forced to make several emotionally difficult decisions and, in my opinion, he chooses well. He has more responsibility, or at least more obvious responsibility, in this book. In The False Prince, he really only had to worry about his own safety. In The Runaway King, he fights for the safety of his country, of a little girl attacked by thieves, and of his friends. He’s still not an impeccable role model, but there were some good morals in the story and I’m confident Jaron will be a good king.

If your an older reader looking for edge of your seat, heart in your throat reading, you might find yourself disappointed by this book. However, if you’re looking for a good, honest adventure tale, The Runaway King will deliver exactly what you’re looking for.