Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"When God Made You" by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow

Image result for when god made you book

When God Made You is a beautifully illustrated children's book with the message that children are unique and exactly how they were meant to be.

Each page has one or two couplets expressing that God knows you and made you purposefully just the way you are. Later in the book some spreads of pages only have one line that rhymes with the line on the next spread of pages. Though the text is spread out, there is still quite a bit; there is definitely enough examples/evidence that God makes each child unique.

The illustrations are bright and whimsical. My favorite part is the scruffy puppy that appears on each spread of pages. The adorable puppy definitely would have been my favorite part as a child.

Its an encouraging and inclusive message that also inspires creativity: "use your talents and passions, / those gifts that God fashioned. / Think up ideas and then / put them to action." It gives up examples of art, story-making, and dancing.

I received a free copy of the book from Blogging for Books, but was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Review: "Life After" by Katie Ganshert

Image result for life after katie ganshertIn the Christian fiction romance novel Life After, a bombing of a Chicago train ends the life of 22 people, but inexplicably leaves one alive. Autumn Manning still struggles with the questions of why a year later. Her obsessive need for the people who died to be remembered leads her to revisit their graves, track newspaper articles, and search for photos of their lives. In the unlikely new friend, the young daughter of one of the victims, Autumn finds new purpose: creating a video memorial. In befriending the daughter, Autumn comes to know Paul, her father, and a complicated romance forms between the survivor and the widower.

Life After is a story of finding a way to move on past tragedy with faith as a guiding principle. Author Katie Ganshert does a nice job of weaving God into the heart of the story, but keeping it very natural and unforced.

As a former Chicago resident, I enjoyed hearing about the places that I was familiar with; of course, the premise of the book with the bombing also made it a little difficult at first because I took the train every day to work. It's a scary premise, but it was addressed respectfully in a way that explained the bomber's mental illness and it focuses not on tragedy, but on the hope of the future and healing through God.

The plot was captivating and the characters were well-rounded and a pleasure to get to know through the book. I appreciated the fast pace and various threads of plot that all moved together seamlessly.

I received a free copy of this book, but was not required to post a positive review.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Review: "In the Shadow of Denali" by Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse

Image result for In the Shadow of Denali (The Heart of Alaska)
In the Shadow of Denali is a pretty straightforward christian love story. The main story line involves a young woman, Cassidy, who is suddenly attracting two men at the hotel where she works. However, the main love interest, Allan, has come to Alaska to learn more about his father's death, which could have been the cause of some mystery and suspense, but is not presented that way. Cassidy's father ends up being a christian mentor to both Allan, and the smitten-with-Cassidy young kitchen hand, Thomas.

The relationship between Cassidy and her father is quite endearing. He shares a lot of wisdom with her and it is obvious throughout the book that she has taken his lessons to heart.

There's also an interesting story to the head cook with whom Cassidy works, Mrs. Johnson. She seems more genuine than the other characters and willingly shares her struggles with Cassidy. The parts where Cassidy and Mrs. Johnson talk about God and faith are more engaging than other moments where the interactions between characters seem forced.

As a work of historical fiction, the book performs admirably. I learned a lot about Denali from reading it. It includes some interesting passages where the President visits the mountain. There's a few pages at the end of the book that explain all of the historical context and what necessitated fictionalization. It was an interesting insight both into the available information (gaps included) and the writer's process.

However, overall the book fell flat for me with repetitive monologues from characters pining over one another, assuming that feelings were unrequited. If you're looking for a quick read that ties up all story lines in a nice little bow, has a tiny bit of suspense, and characters who fall in love with the idea of one another, you may enjoy this book more than I did. There were many places this book could have been more mysterious but chose to give everything away and spell things out for the reader. It ends in a tired way, leaving nothing for the reader to think or wonder about.

I received a free copy of this book, but was not required to write a positive review.