The Night Stand

The Night Stand

What’s on my night stand? (Or my audible player?):


A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towlesby Amor Towles

I am thoroughly enjoying making my way slowly through this tome. It’s a long one, and I’m a slow reader, but it is well worth savoring. I love how this NPR book review put it: “All of the verbal excess, the gently funny mock-epic digressions, the small capers and cast of colorful characters, add up to something undeniably mannered but also undeniably pleasant.” It may take me a few months to finish this one, but I know I will tackle his first novel, Rules of Civility, once I’m done.
 
 
 


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Book Review: Another Day, Another Dali

Book Review: Another Day, Another Dali

Another Day Another Dali by Sandra OrchardAnother Day, Another Dali surprised me.

The world of art theft can be a deadly game–one that Serena Jones understands all too well.

When FBI Special Agent Serena Jones takes on the case of a forged Dali painting as a favor to her grandmother, she assumes it will be a typical investigation. Hopefully collaring the thief will also mean finally measuring up in her grandmother’s eyes. But the deeper she delves into the forgery and the suspects surrounding it, the less typical it becomes.

The Dali isn’t the only painting that’s fallen prey to the forgery-replacing thief, raising the possibility of a sophisticated theft ring — one with links to dirty cops, an aspiring young artist, and the unsolved murder of Serena’s grandfather. To make matters worse, someone connected to the forgeries seems to be determined to stop Serena’s investigation — no matter the cost.

Another Day, Another Dali gives the plucky Serena Jones–and readers–a new high-stakes case to crack. You won’t want to miss a single brushstroke!

Never having read anything by Sandra Orchard, I didn’t fully know what to expect with this novel. Read more

Book Review: Maybe It’s You

Book Review: Maybe It’s You

Maybe It's You by Candace CalvertWith a threatening past, a young girl in trouble, and a romance on the horizon, Maybe It’s You has all the makings of a good romantic suspense novel.

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past — new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards. Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell. Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past. Can hope spring from crisis?

Candace Calvert’s latest novel tends to be rather middling, neither compelling nor boring, interesting but a little bit forgetable. I appreciated the inclusion of a “regular” job — Micah’s position working in marketing for the hospital (I myself work in media for a nonprofit). This novel had something of a slow start, but progressively improved as the story deepened. Read more

Book Review: Dressed for Death

Book Review: Dressed for Death

Dressed for Death by Julianna DeeringHaving read Rules of Murder a few years ago, when I had the opportunity to check out the latest in the Drew Farthering Mystery series by Juliana Deering, Dressed for Death, I snatched it up.

Amateur detective Drew Farthering and his young wife are invited to a special Regency-era house party being hosted by old friends. While a bit unusual (no vehicles allowed, only authentic Regency era resources), the fun is unabashed. Until someone dies. Was it a drug overdoes? An accident? Intentional? Was it murder? Drew sets about to help his friend (and satisfy his insatiable curiosity) by solving the puzzle. But what he finds leads to more bodies and more questions…

I think perhaps jumping straight from book 1 to book 4 has caused me some issues. I felt as though I was expected to know some of these characters (even secondary characters), their relationships and quirks before I opened the pages of this book. Truly, I think there is a way for authors to neither bore their followers nor leave new readers in the dark, so I was somewhat disappointed that I felt like the new person in the Farthering world, unaware of who the players were.

Otherwise, though, Dressed for Death, was a fun affair — if murder can be considered fun! The Regency era party sounds delightful. Who wouldn’t want to dress up and pretend to live in another era for a weekend of fun and frivolity? But the illusion comes to a crashing halt when Drew’s best friend’s fiancee is found dead. Read more

Book Review: The Snow Queen

Book Review: The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian AndersenWith a daughter now (she’s 11 months!), I have every excuse to surround myself with classic children’s literature and fairy tales. I jumped at the chance to read this delightful volume of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. The cloth binding and the illustrations are beautiful and classic. This will be a keeper for sure, perhaps even a new family heirloom for us!

Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is elevated from a children’s book to a unique work of art. It is an ideal gift for people of all ages.

After I read The Fir Tree, I immediately looked into what other books were available in this beautiful style. I have never seen anything quite like the beautiful illustrations in this volume. The beauty of the design combined with the timeless tale by Andersen makes this a collectible!

The story is interesting and beautifully told. In keeping with the tradition of true fairy-tales, The Snow Queen is centered on the struggle between good and evil — a truly timeless story that I believe will stay with my daughter for many years to come. Read more

Book Review: The Fir Tree

Book Review: The Fir Tree

The Fir Tree by Hans Christian AndersenI absolutely adore this beautiful little book by renowned tale-teller Hans Christian Andersen. The cloth binding and the illustrations are beautiful and classic. This will be a keeper for sure, perhaps even a new family heirloom for us!

Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic tale of naive greed and dissatisfaction is retold through the striking and contemporary illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in rich forest green, with gold foil embellishments, The Fir Tree is elevated from a children’s book to a unique work of art and makes an ideal gift for people of all ages.

The story is beautifully told, short enough for me to read to my daughter, but deep enough to maintain so much meaning. In the tradition of true fairy-tales, The Fir Tree is rife with lessons to be learned and takeaways that provide wisdom and insight for life well beyond the childhood years. Read more

Book Review: All is Bright

Book Review: All is Bright

All is Bright by Nancy Guthrie AdventI am absolutely loving this Advent coloring book. Might this be the one that finally pushes me to complete an entire Advent season of devotions??

All is Bright, by Nancy Guthrie and Lizzie Preston, is a beautiful adult coloring book and devotional for the Christmas season.

Grab your colored pencils, cozy up with your favorite blanket and a cup of tea, and settle in for a night of peace and wonder with All Is Bright.

I have already admitted my love of coloring, and when I saw this special holiday coloring book focused entirely on “a devotional journey to color your way to Christmas”, I thought this would be right up my alley. Sure enough, it’s a lovely collection of reminders of anticipation of our Lord’s birth (and, in fact, all the way to December 31). Most of the coloring pages are absolutely lovely, a few leave something to be desired. But I think that’s typical, as not every drawing is going to speak to every person.

The author of the devotionals, Nancy Guthrie, is familiar to me through the GriefShare program that she and her husband developed and host and through a women’s conference where I heard her speak. I know her teachings are Biblical and on point. Read more

The Night Stand

The Night Stand

What’s on my night stand? (Or my audible player?):


 

The Brutal Telling

by Louise PennyThe Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

I am absolutely loving the Inspector Gamache series, but I am trying to make it last all fall and at least up to the holidays. (Props to me if I can make it last all winter!) The Brutal Telling is the fifth in the Gamache series and at this point I love that I am getting to know all of the characters, including the best character of all — the town of Three Pines itself — a little more with each story. They are believable, enjoyable, engrossing mysteries. But it’s about so much more than murder, it’s about humans and emotions and real life. Penny’s writing has caused me to pause and think about my own life in new ways.


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Book Review: Zacchaeus and Jesus

Book Review: Zacchaeus and Jesus

zacchaeus and jesusI love children’s books, and now that I have a child of my own, I have an even better excuse to pick them up at every chance! I sometimes shy away from “Bible” story books, only because I have several storybook Bibles for my daughter and I was raised with plenty of Sunday school experiences to show me how cheesy these books can be.

But when I received Zacchaeus and Jesus by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Lisa Manuzak, I had a feeling it would be different. The story is the age-old, familiar tale of Zacchaeus climbing the sycamore tree to see Jesus. But, it’s told with a bit of a twist to capture my little one’s attention.

Read from the front to back, it is the tale told from Zacchaeus’ perspective, but from back to front it is told from Jesus’ perspective. I love this device to teach my child not only a Biblical story, but also to help her understand perspective, point of view, and perhaps how we see ourselves vs. how Jesus sees us. To help her learn more than just a story.

This book has large, colorful pictures and just enough text to tell the story without taking too long to flip the pages (very important for an impatient little one!). I would recommend this book to Christian moms and dads thanks to its new and innovative storytelling technique!

Want to win your own copy of Zacchaeus and Jesus? Enter here! (Open to U.S. mailing addresses only, entrants age 13+.)

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I received a complimentary copy of Zacchaeus and Jesus from Tyndale House Publishers, but I was not otherwise compensated for this review. All writing, thoughts, and opinions are solely mine.

This post contains some affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using this link.

One Thing: A Season of Stories

One Thing: A Season of Stories

Season of StoriesOne Thing: Where I share one thing that is making my life better or bringing me joy.

So I’m super excited about this opportunity for readers. Crown Publishing and Penguin Random House are hosting a free “Season of Stories”: an incredible collection of short stories featuring writers who have won the National Book Award and topped the New York Times Bestseller list. A bit of culture and truly good writing all the way through the end of 2016? Sign me up!

Starting October 11, for a limited time we’ll be emailing eleven fiction tales directly to readers, all written in the first person. Dive into a great story when you need a quick escape from daily stresses.

Lean more about Season of Stories.

Sign up here!

(Please note this caveat from the publishers: “Some of these stories contain mature themes and are more suited to an adult reader.”)