Friday, January 24, 2014

A Review: "The Dancing Master" by Julie Klassen

The Dancing Master"The Dancing Master" by Julie Klassen introduces the reader to Alec Valcourt, a London dancing and fencing master who was forced to relocate with his mother and sister to the village of Beaworthy after a scandal forces them to leave London. Shortly upon relocating, the family learns that dancing has been forbidden, an unwritten law for the last twenty years. As Alec attempts to find his way in a new profession while his heart lies with dancing and fencing, he encounters the Midwinter family, the leading family in the village. Lady Amelia Midwinter appears stoic and aloof, but harbors family secrets. Her daughter, Julia, is an unabashed flirt, reckless, and headstrong, yet longing to find the affection and love that she's been missing from her own family.

While much of the story is told from Alec's point of view, there is a good deal told from Julia's, as well as a small amount from Lady Midwinter's. At times it was a little hard to follow because Lady Midwinter's memories and Julia's daydreams were interjected without any real transition.

Normally, I really like Klassen's work. Her stories are typically very solid and engaging. But this one was missing that spark, that something special that really drew me in to the story. Maybe it was because this was her first story that was told primarily from the man's point of view. Maybe it was because Julia was simply not a very likeable character. There were many other secondary characters that were more likeable and deserved greater development.

The first half of the book was pretty slow to start and I often found it dragging. The plot picked up in the second half as the story developed further. It still wasn't enough to salvage the book for me. Overall, it was just an okay read. As much as I enjoy Julie Klassen's work, I just can't recommend this particular book. If you are new to her work, start with her earlier ones before diving into this one.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Review: "The Question That Never Goes Away" by Philip Yancey

The sequel to Philip Yancey's best-selling book, "Where Is God When It Hurts", addresses the question of "why" in the midst of suffering. "The Question That Never Goes Away" takes the reader on a journey to three different parts of the world that were stunned by tragedies that befell them. In the span of one year, Yancey visits the scene of the devastating tsunami in Japan, Sarajevo, Bosnia where incredible ethnic cleansing ripped apart a region, and Newton, Connecticut where 26 adults and children were brutally murdered in their elementary school.

While never truly answering the question of "why", Yancey provides a framework for anyone undergoing suffering. He draws the reader back to the fact that no matter what painful circumstance we may be going through, God is with us. He reminds us that until eternity "...no answer to suffering will satisfy, even if we had the capacity to comprehend the answer" (p. 47). He brings balance to living in our present fallen world and remembering that perfection awaits us in heaven, our eternal home. Many of the stories he chooses to share in the light of these tragedies remind us that light does still shine in the midst of overwhelming darkness.

This book is a good read for anyone who is struggling with finding their way through pain or suffering. It may not hold the answers to "why", but it points us to the One who does know "why" and who suffers along with us.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

A Review: "The Lifegiving Parent" by Clay and Sally Clarkson

"The Lifegiving Parent" by Clay and Sally Clarkson completes the "Lifegiving" trilogy that also includes "The Lifeg...