Thursday, 11 October 2018

International Day of the Girl - Combatting Period Poverty

Today is the International Day of the Girl, and I'm going to divert from my regular book review posts to highlight some incredible work that is being fostered by Compassion Canada (a child sponsorship program that is very dear to my heart).  Did you know that in Uganda, girls will often trade sex in order to obtain sanitary napkins?  I was shocked when I learned this!  What is something we take for granted, others are forced to sell their bodies in order to obtain.  Fortunately, a local church, community, and Compassion project centre in Uganda are coming together to combat this period poverty - and empowering girls as a result.  You can read the incredible story about it here on Compassion Canada's blog.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Caught by Surprise

Back Cover

After years of hiding her true nature, Miss Temperance Flowerdew is finally enjoying freedom outside of the shadow of her relations, so the lat thing she expected on her way to work was to be grabbed off the street by a stranger and put on a train bound for Chicago.

When Mr. Gilbert Cavendish is called upon to rescue a missing woman, he follows the trail to Chicago only to discover thyat the woman is his good friend, Temperance.  Before they can discoger who was behind her abduction, they're spotted along together by a New York society matron, putting their reputations at risk.

Even though Gilbert is willing to propose marriage, Temperance is determined not to lose her newfound independence.  But when the misunderstanding in Chicago escalates into a threat on her life, accepting Gilbert's help in solving the mystery may lead to more than she ever could have dreamed.


In her typical lighthearted, quick-witted style, Jen Turano has written another fun read.  My only disappointment was discovering this was the third in a series, "Apart from the Crowd", so I've missed reading the first two installments!  Overall, it did not detract from my enjoyment of the story.  

Similar to her previous works, Caught by Surprise has characters that do not take themselves too seriously, always seek to find the humour in every situation, and the friends depicted therein are friends for life.  These are very "feel-good" aspects that I greatly appreciate!  But also added to this particular story is the element of intrigue with the inclusion of a kidnapping, murderous attempts, spies, and mysteries galore.  The author pulls out more than one surprise that kept me guessing to the very end.  A very good and highly enjoyable read!

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

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond

Back Cover

For over a century, the town of Gossamer Grove has thrived on its charm and Midwestern values, but Annalise Forsythe knows painful secrets, including her own, hover just beneath the pleasant facade.  Yet her strange and sudden inheritance of a run-down trailer home - full of pictures, vintage obituaries, and old revival posters - leaves her wholly unprepared for how truly dark and deadly those secrets may be.

A century earlier, Gossamer Grove is stirred into chaos by the arrival of controversial and charismatic twin revivalists.  The chaos takes a murderous turn when Libby Sheffield, while working at her father's newspaper, receives an obituary for a reputable church deacon hours before his death.  As she works with the deacon's son to solve the crime, it becomes clear that a reckoning has come to town - but it isn't until another obituary arrives at the paper that they realize the true depths of the danger they've waded into.

Two women, separated by a hundred years, must unravel the mysteries of their own town before it's too late and they lose their future - or their very souls.


So, so good.  Truly, this book was excellent!  I became a big fan of Jaime Jo Wright after reading her debut novel, The House on Foster Hill, whereby she combined the past and the present into a thrilling mystery.  This form of writing appears to be becoming her signature style as The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond follows the same premise.

In 1907, deadly intrigue is at the forefront of this particular story as a small town, which has already been sent reeling with the arrival of twin revivalists - the Corbin brothers - now has to come to turns with the sudden death (and apparent suicide) of Deacon Greenwood.  Libby Sheffield has her doubts with the determination of suicide as she received a mysterious obituary for Deacon Greenwood foretelling his death.  As troubling events continue to unfurl, which seemingly involve the Corbin brothers, and which events are  leaving more questions than answers, Libby finds herself in the thick of things and worried that her own deadly secret could come to light.

Fast forward to present day, and Annalise Forsythe also finds herself in mysterious circumstances with the inheritance of a run-down trailer full of pictures of herself and historical events about the town.  The last thing Annalise wants is her carefully concealed history made public, but she soon realizes that her past may be the key to the intrigue surrounding Gossamer Pond.  But the answer does not only lie in her past, but in the town's history, forcing her to work with people she doesn't even want to be in the same room with.  The only thing for certain is that if Annalise has to throw back the veil on her own secrets, she will ensure that everyone's secrets will also be revealed.

This was a thrilling read (be sure to leave a light on if diving into this novel at night!) full of twists and turns that kept me guessing to the very end.  I highly recommend this book for those who love a good mystery!

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

Little Women (Movie)


I was so excited to learn that Little Women was being remade.  I loved the original film and novel, and it was with great expectations that I sat down to watch this new version about four close-knit sisters with huge imaginations and even bigger hearts.  I was not disappointed!

The filmmakers have done an excellent job of setting this beloved classic in current times while still capturing the innocence and lightheartedness of its predecessor, as well as showcasing all four March girls' personalities in their truest form.  Jo is as outspoken and imaginative as ever, Meg is bashful yet still tries to fit in with the crowd, Beth still has the heart of gold and is the peacekeeper of the bunch, and Amy is the precocious youngest sister, brimming with artistic talent, and just wants to be like her other sisters.  Their mother, fondly called "Marmee", is the glue to their family while their beloved Papa is fighting overseas.

Little Women was perfectly cast and full of great acting talent.  I laughed (many, many times), through the hilarious moments, sighed at the tender ones, and cried through the difficult scenes.  It is tender and touching and completing heartwarming.  I highly recommend this film (mother-daughter and/or sisters theatre date!) and honestly cannot wait to wait it again!

To check out the movie's FB page, follow the link here.  And to view the trailer, simply watch the YouTube clip below. 

Screening provided by Graf-Martin Communications and Pure Flix.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

God Bless the Broken Road (Movie)


I'm so grateful for the opportunity to review this movie.  God Bless the Broken Road revolves around a young mother trying to provide for and raise her young daughter the best she can after the loss of her beloved husband on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.  His death not only puts her in dire financial straits, but it also shatters her faith to the point she no longer goes to church and her heart is so angry towards God.  The strain of her circumstances also takes a toll on her relationship with her daughter and prevents her from moving forward in life until certain events happen that push her towards the road of recovery - and regaining her faith in the Lord.

Heartfelt and a definite tearjerker, God Bless the Broken Road is a wonderful family-friendly movie (for older children due to some battle scenes) that exemplifies how important faith is when we pass through difficult circumstances in our lives.  Faith grounds us so peace can enter in and hope can spring out.  I enjoyed this movie - it made me laugh at a few moments, and it made me cry.  Its message of faith is one that should be viewed by many, and I would highly recommend this film.

Film has been provided courtesy of Pacific Northwest Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

The 49th Mystic

Back Cover
Some say the great mystery of how one can live in two worlds at once died with Thomas Hunter many years ago.  Still others that the gateway to that greater reality was and is only the stuff of dreams.
They are wrong.
In the small town of Eden, Utah, a blind girl named Rachelle Matthews is about to find out just how wrong.
When a procedure meant to restore Rachelle's sight goes awry, she begins to dream of another world so real that she wonders if Earth might be only a dream experienced when she falls asleep in that reality.
She is the prophesied one who must find and recover five ancient seals - in both worlds - before powerful enemies destroy her.  If Rachelle succeeds in her quest, peace will reign.  If she fails, both worlds will forever be locked in darkness.
So begins a two-volume saga of high stakes and a mind-bending quest to find an ancient path that will save humanity.  The clock is ticking:  the end rushes forward.
Ready?  Set?  Dream.
It's been a loooong time since last read the riveting "Circle" series when the world was first introduced to Thomas Hunter, the man who slept on Earth and dreamed in another time and place - the land of the Scabs, Roush, and Shataiki.  A land where you had to die to truly live.  A place in which the battle between good and evil was very real.  It was a thrilling series, and if you have not read it yet, I highly recommend you do so!  So, it was with great anticipation that I awaited for The 49th Mystic in order to return back to this world.  Overall, I was not disappointed. 
As there are two "Earths", there are two parallel stories, and both were equally exciting.  It did take me a few chapters to get into the story(ies) as there was a lot of laying the groundwork so readers who are not familiar with the Circle series would be comfortable diving into this book right away.  But once the story was underway, the suspense ramped up quickly, and I couldn't devour the pages fast enough.  Saturday morning last week I literally had to just sit down and read until the book was finished - I couldn't put it down! 
Aside from the action packed scenes, there was a lot of meaty, heavy dialogue in the book.  At times it felt like a theological discourse in an abstract sort of way (think Jesus' parables) as Rachelle learns about the gravity of her mission, and the message she is to share with the world.  The dialogue was thought-provoking, and not something one could easily skim over.
I'm super happy to have had this opportunity to dive back into the Circle, and I truly cannot wait for the sequel!

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

A Chance at Forever
Back Cover

Determined to protect the children of Teaville, Kansas, from the bullying she experienced as a child, Mercy McClain finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board.  When Aaron Firebrook, the worst of her childhood bullies, petitions the board for a teaching position, she`s dead set against his getting the job.
Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy`s mistrust, but he`s returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking the forgiveness of those he wronged.  He doesn`t expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the children`s best interests at heart.
Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron overcome the past in time to battle the threats against the future of the town`s orphans?


I was quite excited to dive back into the "Teaville Moral Society" series, having enjoyed the debut novel, A Heart Most Certain.  The newest novel in the series follows the tradition of a heartwarming romance carried by wonderful characters. 

There was one slight departure in this story, however, by the inclusion of a darker element: bullying.  Bullying is something that has become highlighted more and more in society today as with the advance of technology so has the means and opportunities of bullying increased.  (I'm not saying technology is bad - just that some misuse it to harm others, which is aggravating and disappointing to say the least.)  But no matter the means or time period, bullying always has and always will leave a strong mark on the victims of it.  Everyone has a duty to step up and speak out if they see someone being bullied to ensure that the practice is not endorsed in any way, shape or form. 

In the story, Mercy became the target of bullying because of a physical disfigurement.  Her main tormentor was Aaron Firebrook, which made me rather curious how the author, Melissa Jagears, would be able to turn him into a romantic love interest for Mercy.  How can one erase years of hurt and pain?  However, Melissa did the impossible and deftly pulled it off.  She crafted a wonderful and believable relationship between Mercy and Aaron that allowed Mercy to live up to her name, all the while pointing to the true source of grace and forgiveness - Jesus. 

Postscript:  Generally, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a Christian romance to high-school teen girls.  However, the bullying aside, there was an inclusion of another dark element to this book that would make me hesitate recommending it even to high-school aged children: sexual abuse against children.  Perhaps it would be best to have a parent read the novel first before deciding whether or not to allow their child to read it.

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