Book Review: Tasting Grace by Melissa D’Arabian

My routine is looking a little different these days and while I’m not sleeping the day away, I may be sitting in my pajamas. Connection is all being done digitally (because I still don’t like the phone) and sometimes we go for a drive just to get out of the house. Streets are very quiet, many stores are closed, and life just feels uncertain.

One thing that remains is food. My boys seem to be constantly snacking and a trip to the grocery store is something I’m avoiding for health reasons. My husband has been the primary, list in hand shopper, but many times the needed items aren’t in stock yet because people still don’t understand that our food supply chain hasn’t shut down. Regardless, we’re spending time in the kitchen, cooking out of creativity, eating out of boredom, grazing a million times a day because food is there.

I’ll admit that the first reason I selected this title was the cover. The colours stood out and it piqued my interest. Reading more about the content intrigued me even more. Last night, after a meal that was less meal and more snack, I thought I’d dive in, not entirely sure what I’d be reading.

I’ll admit that the author’s name meant nothing to me, although in hindsight I’ve probably seen her one of the random times we’ve binged the Food Network. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read non-fiction but I just kept coming back to this title.

Wow. That’s all I can say (which is obviously untrue as I’m going to say a lot more below.) I read this in one sitting and will be buying a copy to read again, to highlight, to make notes in. I’ll be recommending it to a ton of friends and family members who are about food or passionate about people. That’s how much it spoke to me. My hope is that the tagline reads as true for them by book’s end as it did for me: Discovering the Power of Food to Connect Us to God, One Another, and Ourselves

I’m not entirely sure I interpreted each chapter in the spirit it was given and there were a few statements that made me pause – not in a bad way, but more of a I need to think about this a bit longer. Each chapter includes an invitation at the end, drawing the reader into a real-life application of this refreshed viewpoint on food. I thought of them as little morsels of food for thought – and in all honesty – much of the book itself was food for thought.

Part autobiographical, part motivational inspiration, D’Arabian tackles subjects of acceptance, grief, success, value, identity, connection, and so much more. For such an easy-to-read book, it’s chock full of anecdotes and reflection on a variety of topics relevant to our relationship with food, society, and more. It’s not a follow this diet tome at all, but a gentle encouragement to reshape your connection with food and others.

Throughout, I found myself copying statements that aren’t new, but that hit me with their transparency and how I could relate to them. I felt as if I was having a kitchen conversation with a good natured, down to earth friend.

Overall, Tasting Grace provided a unique perspective into food and spirituality. It’s a gentle call to authenticity and connection, written in a captivating tone as it invites conversation, introspection, and most importantly, a call to accepting grace. I’ll be contemplating this further while I attempt the author’s Potato Bacon Torte.

My thanks to WaterBrook & Multnomah for the complimentary copy via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

This title is available through your favourite bookseller now. It published in September 2019. Go pick up a copy for yourself and let’s compare notes.

Book Review: Code Name Lise by Larry Loftis

I am not a big fan of non-fiction. It can be so dreary and difficult to read. Give me fairy tales and love stories and make-believe any day. This is a review on a work very relevant to today. It is most definitely not fiction.

But Lindsey, if you don’t enjoy non-fiction why would you request such a title?

I asked myself the same question many times over the last few months. In fact, I downloaded the advanced copy of this book on April 12th. It was published May 9th. I reluctantly dug in this weekend.

The answer to the question above? Sheer curiosity. I am so glad I indulged this whim.Code Name: Lise” highlights the remarkable life of Odette Sansom, Britain’s most highly decorated WWII spy. A true story loaded with facts regarding an incredible woman. There was no drudgery involved in the reading.

While based on first-hand accounts, the author did a remarkable job of bringing factual information into a beautiful and exciting tale that will leave you in awe of the mission and the exploits and the incredible courage and humanity of a very normal woman. Perhaps not normal – Odette was almost unbelievably amazing – but normal, in that she was a wife and mother who just wanted to contribute something bigger than herself. Loftis presented her story richly and with colour, weaving a beautiful narrative through a terrible time in our history.

With Remembrance Day observed here in Canada today, I’m particularly glad I dove into this one. The timely reflection on the absolute sacrifice and suffering of people serving their country for a greater purpose at absolute cost to themselves was significant. The book was easy to read, yet painful, and evoked great emotion.

I would highly recommend this for anyone who has an interest in general WWII history and for those who enjoy fiction along these lines with romance and bravery (i.e. fans of The Nightingale.) Once you get into it, Code Name: Lise reads like fiction while being entirely based on fact. Incredible.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a complimentary digital copy of this title for review. All opinions are my own. (Seriously. Go pick up a copy of this book!)

Book Review: Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman

I was excited to see a memoir written by Fredrik Backman on the new release lists for spring. More commonly known for his lovable curmudgeonly characters overcoming loss and kindling unlikely friendships in entertaining fiction, I was curious to see what a parental letter from the beloved Swedish author might include.

I was not disappointed. With his telltale blend of wry humour and droll wit, Backman tackles all manner of issues and advice to his young son in this heartwarming, comical read.

Whether you agree with all the author’s philosophies on life or not, you are sure to appreciate the authentic and self-deprecating account of the wild and wonderful world of parenthood. (It involves a lot of poop…) Beautiful and amusing anecdotes ooze love for wife and child while sardonic commentary balances the overly sweet.

Ultimately, the author manages to convey his desire for his child to one – be a better person than he is, and two – know he’s loved unconditionally… just like the best of us as parents wish for our children.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World is a remarkably enjoyable piece of non-fiction. Available for purchase April 30th – would make a fantastic Father’s Day gift for the reader dads you might know!

I received a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley with thanks to the author. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Simon and Schuster Canada
Publication date: April 30, 2019

Book Review: The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

For those of you who migrated from my old blog by the same title (hosted elsewhere), to those who followed me even further back, you’ll know I’m a huge believer in hospitality and care, in transparency and connection. I’m also a firm believer in acts of kindness – actions speaking louder than words – and that “lifestyle evangelism” should be the base of every professed Christ-follower’s testimony. Life should be about building relationships and putting people first and love in action is a HUGE thing.

When I read the synopsis provided for blogger-turned-author Shannan Martin’s The Ministry of Ordinary Places, I was hopeful that it would “click” in a very real way and I was not disappointed. Overall, Ms. Martin presented a thought-provoking meandering memoir that felt like sitting down to chat and get real with an old friend.

It was a poignant reminder that there is a whole great big world of people craving connection right in our own backyards. Foreign mission fields and big campaigns aren’t for everyone, but in today’s society with it’s sprawl and heated differences, it can be difficult to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Sometimes, we get so much out of being the answer, the solution, the giver, or the one who knows best that we forget that there is experience in blessing in serving others and allowing oneself to be served. There are blessings and opportunities in all the ins and outs of our boring, everyday lives.

There is so much beautiful reflection in this book of encouragement and inspiration encouraging us to be neighbours and friends. It is not new information, just a real-life reflection on how the author was uprooted from a comfortable situation and had to find opportunities and connection in a new environment. It was non-fiction that I couldn’t put down – she spoke to my heart in an authentic lyrical way.

My only slight disappoint was that some of the stories reflected upon weren’t very “deep” or “gritty” but I pushed that aside as perhaps they weren’t the author’s stories to tell and she kept them superficial for anonymity purposes. Overall, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of this one if you want to expand your fences, listen carefully, and learn to see opportunities in the ordinary and mundane.

Published by Thomas Nelson. Publication Date: October 9, 2018

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley with thanks to the publisher and/or author. All opinions are my own.

#TheMinistryOfOrdinaryPlaces #NetGalley

Book Review: The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert


Inspiring and Humbling

I am one who finds it fabulous when I get my 10-12 thousand steps in a day. I enjoy a day at the lake with a fishing rod nearby, but most often with a book in hand. Kayaking and canoeing are enjoyable when I’m a few feet from shore and the water is glass without a cloud in the sky. I am not an adventurer and readily admit that I enjoy my comforts and the calm of my home. The rugged Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and even the Yukon are places I like to visit through pages and pictures, but would not want to conquer on my own.

I realise that 2019 is still in its first quarter, and I’ve read some really excellent books so far, but The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert is my most favourite read in a very long time. My poor family members had to listen to me narrate what was happening any time something caught my fancy. It’s not often that a memoir captures my attention and reads better than fiction. It is, as described by the publisher, “the gripping story of a biologist’s human-powered journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Arctic to rediscover her love of birds, nature, and adventure.”

The well written first-person narrative captured my attention from the opening paragraph and kept me in its grip until the very last sentence. A descriptive, relatable text chronicling human nature vs. Mother Nature. It was an incredibly beautiful tale of human endurance and a reminder of how small we are in the vastness of the wilderness. Inspiring and humbling all at once, I cannot recommend this title enough. It was a brilliant blending of insight and observation.

If you are looking for a book to point out that you are quite satisfied in your semi-rural, daily grind existence, this is it. If you enjoy living vicariously through the adventures of other individuals, this is it. If you find courage in tales of human vs. wild, this is it. If you find motivation in accomplishment and beating the odds, this is it. If you want to find yourself lost in a recounting of someone finding themselves in living and travelling by their own power through remote and austere environs, this is it. Colourful, descriptive, and moving. Absolutely brilliant – I have huge respect for the adventurer and her husband and how well she retold their story. I felt a strange sense of pride in their accomplishment.

(P.S. I’m not a huge fan of book to movie renditions, but I could vividly imagine this on the big screen with every new page.)

I was provided with a copy of this title via NetGalley courtesy of the author and/or publisher. All opinions are my own.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Book Review: Hope Blooms

I shared a link to this organization on my Facebook page a few weeks ago after briefly exploring the digital copy of the book I was provided. I actually requested the title on a whim – and I’m so glad I did! I enjoyed the preview of the digital Hope Blooms copy so much that I ordered a physical, actual book to hold in my hands the same day. (You may recognize some faces and names from their pitch on Dragon’s Den – just a small step in their story.)

While tackling many of the same issues of yesterday’s book review – social inequity, poverty, diversity, etc. – this non-fiction work chronicles the hope that’s been found in North End Halifax through gardening. The Hope Blooms organization’s history and impact are chronicled in a beautifully written portrayal of community, mentorship, and team-work providing ways to overcome food insecurity, health issues, and socio-economic imbalance.

This was a book that moved me to tears – it’s not a difficult read and it’s not a long read. It’s replete with photographs of the youth involved in the venture and filled to the brim with stories of hope, promise, and foundations laid for a better future. It is a tale of education, social enterprise, equipping, growth, victory, and success. It’s a story of a group of someones seeing the potential, the dream, and doing what is needed to not only better their own lives but the lives of those around them. It’s a success story of inclusion, equality, empowerment, and social enterprise. It is a reminder that from a small seed comes a big harvest. A definite must-read – especially for Canadians and those who want to impact their youth and their community. (Bonus, the recipes included look delightful. We’ll try the jerk fish tacos one day!)

Now to plan a visit Halifax to get my hands on some of those dressings… (that’s a long way to go for some salad dressing!)

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Nimbus Publishing
Publication date: October 31, 2018