Friday, July 29, 2022

Book Review: Joanie, by Elizabeth Deveau

I always love when I can claim this bias:

I'm friends with this author!

Is there anything more thrilling (and more stressful!)
that being able to review a friend's art?

Gerald and I met Elizabeth Deveau at our first GMA Canada event in Ontario (Gospel Music Association of Canada - the folks who give out the Covenant Awards). Over the years, we've kept in touch, and followed her passionate and prolific music ministry.

Earlier this year, Elizabeth shared that she'd been working on a biography of her mother, Joan. She asked if I could read the book and provide a review.

I jumped at the chance, but yes, there is definitely added stress when you review a friend's work! I've done it a few times over the years. It's both a tremendous honour and responsibility. I know how much time and heart goes into creating art, and I never want to take that effort for granted.

Joanie tells the story of a young girl growing up in troubled times. Joan Crabb and her siblings experience a tumultuous childhood, worthy of any dramatic film script. When Joan is only 6-years-old, the children unexpectedly find themselves living in the orphanage of their home province of Nova Scotia. After several troubled years, they're adopted by a loving couple, only to be ripped away from them years later by the birth-father they barely know.

But Joanie isn't just the story of a troubled childhood.
It's the story of a life redeemed, and the deep love that can grow from a broken heart. 

Joanie is also a love letter. The book is rich with details of Joan's entire life, which must have taken countless hours to collect. As I read, I often imagined Elizabeth sitting with her mother, hearing the stories of her past, and lovingly transcribing them for the ages. 

Reading the comments on the book's Facebook page,
it's clear that Joan had a tremendous impact on her family and her community.
I know this book will be well received, and will celebrate Joan's legacy of love!

You can find out more about Joanie at 

A complimentary e-copy of this book was provided in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Book Review: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip, by Sara Brunsvold

I'll admit, the title and cover of this book 
completely pulled me in,
but what I found inside was so worth discovering:

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip
by Sara Brunsvold
might be one of the most special books
I'll read this year.  

Aidyn Kelly is a young, ambitious reporter looking for her big break. In her enthusiasm, she steps on some toes and is relegated to the menial assignment of interviewing a dying woman and writing her obituary.

But Mrs. Kip is no ordinary woman. Behind her failing body and witty sarcasm beats the heart of spiritual warrior, carrying a story for the ages. This is a woman who's experienced grief, and learned the power of sacrificial love.

I don't want to reveal too much about this book, because I think it's one that really benefits from its own gentle reveal. Like last year's The Nature of Small Birds, it's a book that's driven by character, story, moments, and relationships.

In sharing Mrs. Kip's fictional story, we also delve into a piece of real history. Again, I love the power of historical fiction to shine light on the hidden and lost stories of our past. Strangely enough, it's a story that is still current today.

I highly recommend The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip!

I think it would be a particularly lovely selection for a book club,
especially one open to faith-based discussions.

And, look at all the neat bonus opportunities that come with this book:

Baker Book House is offering a FREE ONLINE AUTHOR'S NIGHT with Sara this Thursday!

You can sign up here:

UPDATE: The video for this event is now on the Baker Book House Facebook page.

Signing up for Sara's newsletter gets you some free gifts,
and she even has a neat trailer for the book. 

You can find out more at: 

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

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Book Review: When The Day Comes, by Gabrielle Meyer

This is going to be a different kind of review for me.
I've got a bit of a hot take on this book, 
and I've genuinely struggled with how to write this.
Okay, here we go...

When The Day Comes by Gabrielle Meyer 
is a fun blend of historical fiction, romance, 
and time travel science fiction.

Libby is a "time crosser." She was born on the same day in two completely separate locations and eras. From birth til her 21st birthday, she exists in both 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the other without any time passing. When she reaches 21, she can choose one path for the rest of her life, but choosing one means forfeiting the other path forever. 

There is so much that I love about this book! The story is so creative, and Libby is a wonderful heroine and guide to the novel's unique world. I loved all the characters, settings, and relationships. 

I haven't read much about Colonial Williamsburg, so that was a really fun journey. That said, I know a fair bit about the Gilded Age New York, and that felt both familiar and exciting.

The storyline kept me guessing with some really smart twists, and the ending was beautifully written.

But here's my struggle, and full warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Seriously - if you haven't read the book - STOP NOW!!!

Also, full disclosure, we're about to discuss some difficult trigger topics.

(Whew, dramatic!)

Warnings done. Here we go...

I would love to wholeheartedly recommend this book, save for one important matter. In her Gilded Age life, Libby is forced into an arranged marriage (not uncommon for the era and her status). Libby is raped not once, but twice by her new husband. They have no incidents of consensual intercourse in their marriage. The second rape results in a pregnancy. 

I'm not offended by the subject of marital rape in a novel. What offends me is how it's handled.

In the historical context, marital rape was legal. In the novel, her husband blames his "bad behaviour" on drunkenness, which historically, would also have been accepted as an excuse.

I always want my historical fiction to be in a proper historical context, but here's where I struggled:

First, as her husband writes her "kind" letters, we see Libby second-guessing her own feelings about the rape and her future with this man. At one point, she actually asks "Reggie's letter made me wonder if he would be a good father. Could we find a way to move part the tragic way our marriage started?" Again, she's asking this about her two-time rapist. In other sections, Scripture is used in a disturbing way to justify her choices.

Second, it's hard to stomach this thinking within the context of the novel because of Libby's mom. Also a time crosser, she spent the first part of her life living in 1990's America. This shapes her as a parent, and there are many references to Libby being raised with modern, feminist values. Why on earth would she never say to her daughter, "This is wrong. In the future, it'll be illegal, but you can still make different choices now."

I've read several discussions about this book online.
Some people don't seemed phased by the rapes or Libby's reaction.
Others hated the plot choice entirely. 

I guess the good thing is that it's encouraging dialogue about a difficult topic,
and that's the sign of good art.

But because of the way it's handled, I just can't recommend the book.

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