Saturday, April 23, 2022

Book Review: "God, Take Action", by Janis Cox


There's something so special about combining prayer and worship with visual art. I love attending a worship service where someone paints during the music, or reading a book of prayers with beautiful artwork.

That's why I was so excited when Janis Cox asked me to review her latest book:

"God, Take Action"
- Visual Inspirations for Prayer

In full disclosure, I don't know Janis personally, but we've "met" through InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship. She's an incredibly prolific writer and creator based out of Ontario.

"God, Take Action" was inspired by a 30-day Facebook prayer challenge. On the second to last day of the study, Janis was inspired to pick up her paint brush and add art to her prayer journey. One month later, Janis joined International Justice Mission Canada in a fundraising effort that also involved praying and painting. From this 2-month journey, "God, Take Action" was born.

Along the way, Janis also partnered with The Joy Smith Foundation in fighting human trafficking.
This extraordinary group has endorsed "God, Take Action." 

The format of the book is simple: Each of the 30 entries opens with one of Janis's bright and inspiring paintings. Next, we're given a verse of Scripture, followed by a prayer. Finally, we're given a "prayer focus" for our own private prayer time. The book itself ends with a helpful list of resources.

The prayers could be for anyone who is suffering, but Janis's heart for those who are trafficked and abused comes through in every line. More than once, I was reminded of the classic prayer, "Break my heart for what breaks Yours." In her generosity, Janis asks us to pray for people on all sides of the abuse spectrum, including vulnerable children, fragile families, and women in shelters, without every forgetting the more complex prayers for churches, perpetrators, and those in law enforcement. 

"God, Take Action" has such a heart for the vulnerable in our world! I can see this being a powerful, personal devotional for any season of the year. Likewise, its entries are brief enough that they could be used as the opening prayers in your weekly small group meeting. 

I read this as an e-book, but for those of us who like to make art ourselves, stay tuned:
Janis is also creating a colouring book of the same title!

Please check out all of Janis's beautiful creations at:

Screenshot from Janis's website.

This book was provided to me in exchange for an unbiased review. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Book Review: Until Leaves Fall In Paris, by Sarah Sundin

Paris in WWII seems to be an obsession with so many authors!

And it's easy to see why:
one of the most romanticized cities in the world, under siege. 

Art, war, romance, danger -
the dramatic possibilities are endless!

Until Leaves Fall In Paris opens in the rehearsal room for the Paris Opera Ballet - yes, the same one made famous by both the paintings of Degas and the novel and musical, The Phantom of the Opera.

On the cusp of the Nazi invasion of Paris, American ballerina Lucie Girard leaves the stage to buy and run her favourite bookstore, thus allowing her Jewish friends to escape Paris. 

American car manufacturer and recent widower, Paul Aubrey, wants to escape Paris, too, but the US Army convinces him to stay in business and feed them information about his German customers.

Each, in their own way, starts to find their path in the Resistance.

War is a time for secrets, so when Paul and Lucie meet, they don't know what to make of each other. But there's a connection they can't resist. And that's where our story starts to unfold...

As I mentioned off the top, there's a lot of competition for Paris-in-WWII books these days! Until Leaves Fall In Paris is a completely lovely book. Where it falls on the spectrum of similar novels will depend on your personal literary preferences. It's not as dangerous as some of the other books I've read about this era, but that might make it the perfect book for you!

Some of Sarah's writing is truly beautiful, and I especially found myself loving and underlining the passages about the dark and light green leaves (trust me, you'll know that part when you get to it!)

My favourite scenes involved the comings and goings at the bookstore. As I was reading it, something felt very familiar. Then, I read Sarah's wonderful note at the end of the book, where she recognizes the "real life" characters in the novel.

Lucie and the bookstore are inspired by real-life bookstore owner, Sylvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. Sylvia is a "character" in Ernest Hemingway's beautiful Parisian memoir: A Moveable Feast! I love it when books I've read overlap!

Until Leaves Falls In Paris also comes with a set of Discussion Questions, as well as a preview chapter of Sarah's upcoming novel.

Sarah's website has lots of great info about WWII,
including a special collection of blogposts when you sign up for her mailing list.

Screenshot from Sarah's website

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