Thursday, December 31, 2015

God Is With You Every Day - Max Lucado

Confession time.

I've actually only ever read children's books by Max Lucado. With the onslaught of college and my delightful diving into fiction since graduation I just never got around to him.

The collection of children's books he has written though never fail to delight me, so when I had the chance to look at Lucado's new 365 day devotional so close to the new year it seemed like a good fit.

God is with you every Day by Max Lucado is a 365 day devotional meant to easily kick start or end one's day. As the release says


God Is With You Every Day is a brand-new 365-day devotional from Max Lucado, and his first new devotional since the creation of the Grace for the Moment® line. Max’s signature reassuring and encouraging voice, paired with the practical, relevant, and personal message that God is with you every day, makes a great way to start each day of the year.

Overall I found that to be a fairly accurate explanation of this little book although, as always, I had a few opinions to flesh it out.

I was actually surprised how nervous I was accepting this book for review. Lucado is a well known name and can bring out strong opinions. This was a good thing as I was also able to recognize my own preconceptions going into the book. 
Given Lucado's reputation I think I expected more consistency within the book itself. Some days just seemed to simplistic, to rushed through in an effort to make sure each day had something written. This was a let down for me given my familiarity with his children's literature which has such impact with it's message within the story. 

On a positive note, the book was also easily accessible. Each day's reading was short and to the point. Easily read in 5 minutes Lucado seems to have striven for and achieved a book where a busy schedule could be put forward as an excuse not to read. This devo is streamlined and compact enough for any schedule.

I was also pleased with the construction of the book itself (I know a seemingly little detail). However, ever since our second little arrived I'm finding simplicity adds to success. Having a sturdy construction so a book can survive my bedside table (toddlers are so creative and resourceful) as well as a built in bookmark is a huge plus. Now if they could just make books a bit more waterproof for the teething infant I usually have attached to me these days.

I can see Lucado having a lot of reach with this book. His stories are easy to relate too, his writing seeks to connect with his readers hearts, and he speaks simple truth. I was disappointed that sometimes the stories seemed too simplistic but, keeping that in balance with my love of academics, realize I may be the minority on that.

Easily accessible, relatable, and simple truths.
3.5 stars out of 5


 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, December 11, 2015

Good Night Little Love

Looking for a new bedtime story to share with your little ones? Good Night Little Love may  just be what you're looking for.



Good Night Little Love follows the journey of two bunnies as they get ready for bed and explore all the adventures they plan on having the next day.

This book has a lot of positives that are sure to attract the attention of younger children in your lives. The illustrations, wonderfully crafted by Anna Currey, fashion a beautiful world that is simultaneously intriguing (my two year old loves pointing out all the pictures with multiples and gleefully getting me to count them out loud) while still capturing the soothing and familiar style that just fits with a pre-bed story.
The attention for detail means that kids can connect and discover new things even after multiple reads (which lets face it, if you have kids you are going to read that story over and over again).

The story itself is fairly simply. Each page opens with the same line "Good night little love" which build in some wonderful familiarity (which I've been hoping to use for our sons echolalia) while using the following line to expand and branch out into the bunnies anticipated adventures.
This format really helped my son engage with the book as the repetition keyed him for a new page while the variation helped keep his curiosity and engagement.

My only negative with the book is the length. With my son's love of repetition each story is read 2-3 times in a sitting, however, this book is just long enough that my son just hasn't reached a long enough attention span to sit through a book this long twice. This Mama also felt the pages got a little draggy at the end. That's a pretty easy fix though with some creative page turning we get a slightly different book each time and my two year old is great at creative page turning ;)

4 out 5 stars



 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Painter's Daughter - Julie Klassen

If you like historical fiction with some Christian romance you really need to be reading Julie Klassen and her new book The Painter's Daughter is a great place to delve in and fall in love with her work for yourself.




The Painter's Daughter follows the story of Sophie Dumont, daughter of a reasonably well-known artist with undiscovered talent of her own. Following a whirlwind romance with the charming but immature Wesley Overtree, Sophie finds her future a frightening mixture of unknowns until Wesley's younger brother Stephen steps in and offers her a way out, but is Stephen's rescue more favourable than Wesley's abandonment?

I've sat and pondered just what it is about Klassen's work that keeps drawing me in.

At first I wondered if it was the length of the book. 
Klassen's work often feels more substantial than some of her contemporaries and doesn't hold the same loose ends feel that many authors in this genre seem to favour. 
I really appreciate how plotlines weren't just discarded for convenience or page number. From Sophie all the way down to Winnie each character got their own moment to shine. This really allows the characters to grow into themselves.
Obviously, Sophie and the Overtree's were natural characters to grow but I was pleasantly surprised to see the care given to Winne, Ms. Blake, and Mr. Keith as well. It's become a personal pet peeve in novels of late to see characters short changed in the name of space and I love that Klassen bucks this perceived trend.

I also find myself drawn in through Klassen's creation of atmosphere within her novels. There is something in the way Klassen crafts her settings and character that make it far easier to become absorbed into the story than to tear yourself away and The Painter's Daughter is no exception. The characters stayed with me long after the book was finished and the landscapes of Overtree Hall and Castle Rock were vivid enough to spring to life in my head.

The plot itself did fall on some familiar stories: the honourbound solider, the rascal brother, the ex, the wise woman, intrigue, etc . . . but Klassen fully commits and breathes life into her novel making it a worthwhile and satisfying read.

Highly recommend this book and there's still time to get this one under the tree for the reader in your life!

5 out of 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Nuts About Books  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Every Little Thing - Deidra Riggs

Every once in awhile I come across a book that is hard to review. It's unique, it's necessary, and it really does take reading the book to discover how special it really is. As far as I'm concerned, Every Little Thing by Deidra Riggs is something special.



It's also hard to describe as a book. Some sections don't read like a book at all, they feel more like Mrs. Deidra Riggs has popped over and you've found yourself in the middle of a good conversation. Other sections are meant to be shared, read over and read aloud to get the full impact (something my husband will confirm though it may come with some mutterings about reading in bed at 11:30 pm, oops) Still other sections brought me back to my college days with the depth of the subjects Deidra dove into while still maintaining a beautiful simplicity this tired Mama could grasp at midnight.

The book opens with a quote about finding the extraordinary how it's here, how it's hidden in plain sight in the ordinary. Over the course of 9 chapters Riggs takes her readers through the ordinary, pointing out the pitfalls that can hinder us and the truths that can lift us into that extraordinary in the every day.

As a flipped through the pages (especially in sections 1 and 2 as the book is split into 3 sections) it was like having a conversation with Riggs. I'd sit and go "yes, that's nice but" and the next page would dive right into my unasked questions. Riggs honesty was refreshing and her humour delightful. Having started to come through the other side I alternated with giggles and knowing nods during her recounting of the first seven years in Nebraska (a definite highlight).

This book is timely and because of that, some people are not going to like it. For some, the combination of Riggs' honesty and the subject matter will be too painful. For others this book will be the breath of fresh air they've been looking for. Personally, I'm wondering how hard it would be to turn this into a book study. It's that good! Riggs writes from what she knows and that's part of the books appeal, her topics are the questions I hear over and over again: what to do with the lies, when we miss the mark, when we don't want to go, are we hearing right.
This is a book about life in all its moments.

5 out of 5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Nuts About Books  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Until The Dawn -Elizabeth Camden

A new month means new books and there's nothing like diving into some historical fiction as a way to get a new month started off right. (Not to mention I may be a wee bit stressed and any type of relaxing is most welcome in my books!)


Until the Dawn, introduces readers to Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion - save the loyal staff who maintain it and one Sophie van Riijn who makes their meals and maintains a weather station on the roof. When the long absent owners return following an unexplained tragedy 60 years prior, life at Dierenpark and the surrounding village faces an uncertain future due to the Vandermark "curse".
For Sophie, the curse bears far more personal implications as she sorts out her relationship with the foreboding Quentin Vandermark.


Overall, this was a fun read.

It had the marks of a standard historical fiction - including the innocent young maiden who retained her faith in light of hardship and the dark brooding man who enters her life. The addition of Pieter was a welcome one as his sweet and innocent conversations with Sophie provided room for character growth, depth, and faith based conversations to feel more natural and less contrived.

For myself, Until the Dawn moved into memorable territory thanks to the depth of these characters, Camden's willingness to show their pain and confusion, and a lovely plot the complete ending of which did surprise me in the end.

Although the character types are familiar to this genre, I really did enjoy the trio of Sophie, Quentin, and Pieter. The characters all showed growth over the course of the story and held strongly memorable personalities within their given roles.

Also, I found these characters believable within their environment. Sophie wasn't just the Vandermark's guide but the readers, sharing her childhood haunts with the readers. Pieter, in turn, gave readers a voice within the pages as his discovery of his new world matched pace with the readers unveiling.

My only concern with this novel was the pacing. While the first three quarters felt natural and progressed at what felt to be natural speeds, the last quarter felt rushed jam-packed in a jarring way.
It struck me like a college essay that realized they were nearing their word count and were desperate to cram in all in. Unfortunately, this meant that areas such as Quentin's self-exploration, the heart of the Vandermark curse, and the events of the final chapter felt under-explored and more tacked on. I would gladly have taken extra time reading to see these event more fully fleshed out and the characters given a more natural unfolding.


All in all this was a solid read and a definite consideration for anyone on your Christmas list with a taste for Christian/historical/women's fiction.
4 out of 5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Nuts About Books  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.