Friday, June 23, 2017

One Dominion by Paul Richardson and Bob Beasley

One Dominion







One Dominion: Celebrating Canada, Prepared for a Purpose invites readers into an exploratory journey through Canada’s history, highlighting key moments of faith and Christian influence, from the founding of educational institutions and hospitals, to the creation of countless charitable organizations and architectural masterpieces. With inspiring accounts of individuals who founded our country upon the Living Word of God, One Dominion helps readers uncover a deeper understanding of Canada’s foundations and futures, through Scripture and the tests of faith passed by those who have gone before.
(Press description)

With the upcoming celebration of Canada's 150th birthday, there has  been a flurry of Canadian pride and  celebration.  When I heard that the Bible League of Canada had released their own book chronically key points and people from Canada's history of faith I was curious to learn more about this often overlooked aspect of Canadian history.


One of the biggest strengths of this book is the pictures. The gorgeous photo layouts and pictorial timeline give a "coffee table" feel to this book. The bright colours and smart layout make it so easy to pick up and flip through casually when you're short on time. My kids loved seeing the "Canada pictures"and it served as a great conversation starter. That said, I do wish the pictures had been labelled. There were some pictures I would have loved to look up the area or history but couldn't as there was no identifying marks.

It also seemed as though One Dominion suffers from a slight identity crisis. At different points in the book I felt like I was reading a  publicity promo for Canada, others felt  like a history book, still others felt like a Bible League promotional. In the end, it just felt like the book had too many voices and not enough central foundation pulling it together. It was far too  easy to loose track of what the point was being made. In all honesty, I wish there had been more historical stories, especially of the style they used in the inserts. These sections were the textual highlight filled with interesting, personal stories of Canadians of faith and the impact  they had on their communities  as  a result.

While Canada may pride itself on being a mosaic, trying to replicate it within the book just felt too rushed and chaotic. The book needed to be more narrowed down and, perhaps, a few pages longer.

3  out of 5 stars


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

The Captain's Daughter


When a series of circumstances beyond her control leaves Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater putting on the most popular show in the city. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. That is, as long as the shadows from her past don’t catch up with her.
(excerpt from press release)

Jennifer Delamere's newest series brings adventure, romance, fun historical tidbits and yet, I found myself not loving this story as much as I wanted too.

First the good. 
I enjoyed the concept of the plot and  for anyone who enjoys theater, Delamere has included fun little details that help bring the world of the stage alive. Using Gilbert and Sullivan as an anchoring point was so much fun (although I've had Modern Major General stuck in my head since I finished reading the book). Having done some amateur stage work I loved the backstage details, the tech work, and the way Delamere captures the  life and hard work behind the scenes.

I also found the many plot lines to be engaging and varied enough to give the series enough interest for a healthy start. Although the love triangle is often overused within historical romance, Delamere adds a few twists and turns along the way to make Rosalyn's suitors stand out from other contemporaries.   

That said, I did find myself struggling with a few issues. 

The pacing. The first day takes a full third of the book. The issue that drove Rosalyn to run through the early chapters? Resolved in mere paragraphs without warning or preamble. This seemed  to be a common styling leaving the book feeling too brief and rushed in some areas while simultaneously too slow regarding alternate plot points throughout the course of the book.

I also found the title confusing. While each Bernay girl is a "Captain's daughter" there was very little mention of the  absent sailor, nor did the Captain factor in significantly to the plot. In fact, many of those mentions actually focused on the youngest sister's grief   at his unknown fate not Rosalyn, the title character.

While not the strongest novel I've read this year, there is definitely promise for the remainder of the series.

3.5  stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

With you Always by Jody Hedlund

With You Always


Jody Hedlund is one of those authors who sits on my to read list without ever getting off. With the release of her newest novel With You Always it seemed the perfect time to rectify that oversight.

While there are some plot points that were left frustratingly open for this completionist, if the following books match the interest and skill of With You Always Hedlund has gained another fan.

I really enjoyed the attention Hedlund gives to her plot lines. This could be a weakness if the author doesn't follow through in subsequent novels, however, I found the hints and lead ups for upcoming plots  to be tantalizing in their leading and encouraging in helping me as a reader question and explore how the characters world could expand following the covered events. Characters like Isaiah, Elise's sisters, and the alternate Mr. Quincy all have the potential to hold their own story lines in later books. I appreciate the forethought that these lead ups hint.

I also appreciated Hedlund's skill in research. While I was familiar with the history of orphan trains, I was unfamiliar with the stories of women such as Elise and Fanny during this era and the way Hedlund has fictionalized their realities sparks interest while giving voice to what seems an overlooked aspect of history.

As for the central story, I loved Elise. Honestly, her care and concern for her sisters, the allowance for a slow building relationship over months rather than days, and the inclusion of some friendly sarcasm gave Elise a fuller character. This really helps her to stand out amidst the events she faces in ways that feel true to character rather than mere plot devise.
Yes, the ending does feel a bit rushed but I'm curious how that pacing will play out in light of the sequel.

4 out of 5 stars (with potential to go higher if some loose ends are wrapped up later in the series)

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Imperfect Disciple by Jared C. Wilson



The Imperfect Disciple





Too many discipleship books are written for perfect people who know all the right Sunday school answers.

This book is for the rest of us–people who screw up, people who are weary, people who are wondering if it’s safe to say what they’re really thinking. With incisive wit, warm humor, and moving stories, Jared Wilson shows us how the gospel actually works through us and in us, even when we can’t get our act together. The result is a faith that weathers storms, lifts burdens, and deepens our friendship with God.
(excerpt from the back of book)


The Imperfect  Disciple takes what  most  readers expect in a book on Christian discipleship and turns it on its head in all the right ways. I have read many books in the last few years and most books on discipleship and life growth are at best engaging and at worst exhausting in their never-ending list of things to do. Wilson strikes a fascinating balance in his simplicity - keep pointing back  to the gospel while sharing what you know best. The result is a book that is not only engaging but eye-opening, encouraging, and unflinchingly honest in it's message.

I loved Wilson's method of delivery. 
He's not one to pull punches, stating his case without pretense. However, this directness is tempered  by the  ever present infusing of grace, openness, and vulnerability as Wilson invites readers into the gospel as it  interacts with every day life.

Wilson's background in preaching definitely comes through within his writing as the book is less a to do list (as many books on this topic are likely to fall  back on) and more teaching intermixed and conveyed through story. This allows the teaching not only to feel more personal but also more achievable. Wilson makes the concept of discipleship  not only a possibility but impractical and harder  to not involve in daily life as a Christian.

I really feel this is one of those  books that can be reread multiple times with different gleanings each time one goes through it just due to the  scope of material and the practicality of how life changes as we journey on.

5 out of 5 stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."