In 2005, Allison starting blogging to track the ups and downs of living life as an artist.
Today, she blogs to share our Infinitely More adventures in music and ministry! 
Read, comment, share! 

Book Review: Everything Is Just Beginning, by Erin Bartels 

A few days ago, I mentioned another SuperFan Author Review was coming.
Well, here it is!

I am a SuperFan of Erin Bartels!

So far, I've read, reviewed & LOVED:

We Hope For Better Things

All That We Carried

And one of my favourite books of 2022:

I think she only has two other books for me to search out!

Today, I'm excited to share her latest creation:
Everything Is Just Beginning

I know what you're thinking: "Of course you wanted to read this, Allison. There's a guitar on the cover."

But let me share a secret: Reading novels about music can be very frustrating when you're a musician! So often, people get it all wrong, especially when it comes to the process of songwriting. When the author makes too many assumptions, or trivializes the process, it can become incredibly frustrating!

Fortunately for all involved, Erin knows what she's talking about! Music Creation is almost like a character in this novel, driving the plot forward, traversing relationships, and giving the human characters voice to their emotions.

Michael Sullivan is a young musician without a band, an apartment, and most of his family. In the final days of 1989, his uncle receives an invitation to the New Year's Eve party of the year, hosted by a family of music legends. Michael and his uncle share a trailer and a name, so no one will notice if he accepts the invitation, right? At that swanky, celebrity-filled party, Michael meets the girl, the musician, who will change his entire life...

I read this quickly, over a few restful days in beautiful Fergus, Ontario. We stayed in a B&B in an 1850's stone building, resting in a hand-carved four-poster bed, overlooking the Grand River. Talk about a decadent way to read a book!

The story is well paced, but never at the expense of the characters or the relationships. There's so much depth going on here, but it's all told so well and with the perfect amount of emotional detail. Most of the story takes place in either Michael's uncle's run down trailer or the Wheeler's luxe, music-filled home. The tightness of his world and the contrasting settings tell us so much about Michael's struggles and dreams.

As a special gift for readers, Erin has created a hidden webpage with recordings of the song, videos, chord charts, and all kind of other gifts! It's only accessed via a QR code and a special password you'll learn by reading the book. Check out the last page of the novel for the link. So fun!!!

I'm always happy to recommend an Erin Bartels book,
and Everything Is Just Beginning is no exception! 

Grab your copy today and enjoy ...

Erin's site has a blog, videos, book club resources, and all kinds of fun things.
You can find her here:

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

Book Review: All The Lost Places, by Amanda Dykes 

Since I started reviewing fiction, I've become a SuperFan
of a select number of authors!

Amanda Dykes is one of those few. 
(A review of another SuperFan Author is coming this weekend...)

I'd read, reviewed, and LOVED: 

Whose Waves These Are

Set The Stars Alight

And one of my very favourite books of 2021:

Amanda is a beautiful storyteller, creating decadent and tactile worlds for her characters. I was beyond excited when my review copy of All The Lost Places arrived in my mailbox.

Our story starts in California, but the true setting of this book is romantic Venice. This is literally historical fiction within historical fiction.

In 1904, we meet Daniel Goodman, a man in need of redemption. In an effort to save his mother's home and business, he takes on a challenging job: travel to Venice to procure and translate a rare "unfinished" book. Along the way, he meets Vittoria, a bookshop owner and true Venetian. As Daniel winds through the city's canals, the mysterious book - and the city's true history - come to light.

In 1807, a baby is discovered floating along the canals of Venice. Here, we meet the real-life characters of The Book of Waters. Our hero - Sebastien Trovato - wrestling with his unknown past. A guild of artisans, raising the lost boy as their own. And Mariana, a woman who washes ashore during a storm.

The challenge of writing this book was monumental! Not only is Amanda writing in two historic timelines, but she also writes huge swaths of The Book of Waters, masterfully weaving together the "novel' and the "history" of the story. (When you've read the book, that'll make sense!)

There's so much to love about All The Lost Places. It's a thick one, not so much in pages, but in mood, story, and history. It deserves to be read slowly with huge cups of tea. I didn't discover this 'til after I'd read it, but Amanda actually created a Thematic Soundtrack for the novel via Spotify, that's available on her site.

I will always be first in line to read an Amanda Dykes book!

Do yourself a favour and pick up any of her treasures today...

You can find more of Amanda's writing, as well as lots of FREE bonuses at:

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

Book Review: Why Gather? by Martha Tatarnic 

Full Disclosure: This is a book review with lots of bias!
Not only is the author a great friend and colleague, but I also handled the online promo for last year's book launch (including the fun video below!) That said, this is an awesome book and I can't wait to tell you about it!

After not being able to gather in person for almost three years, many of us have started asking the question, 
"Why gather now?" 

We're thankful for Zoom, Skype, and live streaming. These technologies saved many families and ministries over the last few years (our ministry included!). But if we're being honest, we know we're supposed to be with each other. We're meant to live face to face.

Martha asks and responds to the question of Why Gather? with stories of flawed, faithful people living out their doubts and beliefs in the midst of both good times and bad. Some of these stories will hit close to home, rubbing close to your own personal experience. Some will open windows into lives and communities rarely witnessed by others. Each will expand your own sense of empathy and humanity.

As we wrestle with the issue of gathering in a post-pandemic world, Martha isn't afraid to challenge us, both as individuals and as the Church:

So often, we're looking for the next great "thing" that will save our declining churches.
But what if, instead of "saving" the Church, we seek out where God is already at work
in our lives and in our communities? 

Across Canada, many Indigenous communities suffer from a severe lack of a most basic need:
clean drinking water. How do we make our gatherings more inclusive to the needs of
our Indigenous brothers and sisters, and those pushed to the fringes of our society. 

We want the world to change before we're willing to change.
But what if we look to the world of sports and discover the mind shift of "Ultrarealism"? 

Why Gather? encourages all of us to look deeper into our hearts, our churches, and our world, and see that the Kingdom of God is already at hand. And then asks: what is our response to that?

Why Gather? is a book of living out your faith, appropriate for laypeople and church leadership alike. Each chapter ends with discussion questions, perfect for your own reflection or group discussion.

This Lent, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Why Gather?
Read it and then, I encourage you to get yourself to church.
We need each other more than ever ...

Why Gather? has been chosen by Bishop Susan Bell, Anglican Diocese of Niagara, 
for the Lenten Book Series 2023.
You can find the FREE STUDY GUIDE HERE

Martha wrote a blogpost about the concept of Ultrarealism for this blog HERE.

You can find out more about Martha and her writing at:

Why I Wrote "Why Gather?"
By Martha Tataric

Guest Post - Snowy Lessons For Our Reflection, by Rev. Hollis Hiscock 

Please welcome my Dad - Rev. Hollis Hiscock - as today's guest blogger!   

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

Snowy Lessons For Our Reflection
By Rev. Hollis Hiscock

On February 23, 2023, Eastern and Central Canada, along with many parts of the United States,
were blanketed with heavy snow and blizzard conditions.

Snow is mentioned some 20 times in the Bible!
Not bad for lands that rarely, if ever, experienced individually designed,
small, tongue-catching snowflakes fluttering to the ground.

Job - while enduring life-threatening struggles which drastically altered his family - called snow “an amazing thing that we cannot understand,” which falls on the earth. (Job 37:5-6)

Isaiah reflected that snow “came down” to water the earth “making it to bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” (Isaiah 55:10)

The writer of the Psalms stated that everything and everybody should praise God, including snow, hail, frost and stormy winds. (Psalm 148:9)

These Biblical ideas direct my attention to a book which my father used for many years.
Today - in its well-worn condition - it still occupies a prominent place in my study.

You see, as a Church Lay Leader, Dad conducted worship almost every Sunday. As was the practice back then, he was not permitted to write and deliver his own sermons or homilies. Rather, he had to read sermons from books, usually written in England, which he had to deliver verbatim in small and isolated communities in Newfoundland-Labrador.

“The Lessons of the Snow” was one such sermon.

Including his snow sermon, the Reverend H. J. Wilmot-Buxton published 23 short sermons for children (maybe long by today’s standards) which he dedicated to his children because he was “more than ever impressed with admiration for the powers of those who clothe holy teaching in language suited to the intelligence of the little ones.” His conclusion reminds me that Jesus also used simple stories and parables to explain the complexity and mystery of God.

Wilmot-Buxton never imagined my father would read his children’s sermons to people of all ages in the colonies, and that in 2023, I would be asking you to reflect on his lessons from the snow, but here we are.

Here are 4 Snowy Lessons for Our Reflection:

Firstly, we learn how wonderfully God works through the great workshop we call Nature. Moisture, drawn from the reservoirs of the earth, is condensed and returns to give new life to the earth. God is the great recycler! 

Secondly, we learn about the wonderfully quiet and irresistible way God works. The snowflake seems so fragile and weak independently, yet when one comes together with millions of others, they become powerful enough to bring a megacity or country to a standstill. “We can get more things done when we pool our resources of time, skills and treasures, than when we act alone” is fodder for our reflection and action.

Thirdly, we learn that God works in our lives in a manner similar to how snow preserves life under its protective covering. The earth may seem dead, but it is only sleeping and is ready to burst into new life. We may feel the same. At times, personal and external circumstances may cause stagnation without hope. Then suddenly, or not so suddenly, we are transformed by God’s power and newly enriched life emerges from the embers. 

Fourthly, we learn that underneath the snow each flower, plant or shrub is holding a placard declaring, “I SHALL RISE AGAIN.” It is the message of the resurrection from a loving God who promised, “I am with you always.”

In his sermon, Wilmot-Buxton suggested that when snow confines us to airports, hotels, residences, work places, traffic jams or wherever, we should take the opportunity to be safe and grasp the opportunity to learn and reflect more about nature, creation, God, others, and ourselves.

While flipping through Wilmot-Buxton’s sermon book, I found my copy of the song The Rose, written by Amanda McBroom and made famous by Bette Midler. I quote the lyrics here to indicate how the people of the Bible, those living in the mid-20th century and even artists today learn similar lessons from the snow. 

“Just remember in the winter, 
far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love 
in the spring becomes a rose.”

What are your reflections on our winter snow?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below or on social media... 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

The Reverend Hollis Hiscock 
is Interim Priest-in-Charge of 
St. John’s Church, Burlington, Ontario. 

You can read his New Year's reflection
"3 Guideposts & 1 Prayer for 2023"

Book Review: Where The Blue Sky Begins, by Katie Powner  

January is turning out to be an amazing reading month!
Week #4 and I'm already reading Book #5.
My Goodreads account won't know what hit it!

And, I'm already on Book Review #2:

Where The Blue Sky Begins, by Katie Powner

I can't think of a better description of Where The Blue Sky Begins than Katie's own:

"When a shallow but charming financial advisor from Seattle and an eccentric terminally ill woman in rural Montana are thrown together for the summer, their unconventional friendship will produce surprising results. Eric and Eunice couldn’t be more different, but they each must learn lessons about themselves, what friendship really means, and how to let go. When the end of summer comes, neither of them will ever be the same."

There were a lot of things to love about this book. The characters have rich backstories, woven together in a way only found in tight knit communities. The story unfolds with a great pace, and some unexpected twists. The town and landscape become characters themselves, shaping the people who live in their midst. There are strong themes of redemption, regrets, forgiveness, connection, and purpose. 

Eunice is definitely my favourite character. Her signature personality and sharp dialogue make you feel like she's in the room with her. I really appreciated the unapologetic portrayal of Eunice's health challenges. Nothing is too graphic, but at the same time, nothing is too pretty. It's a realistic picture of this particular character's physical, emotional and spiritual struggles, mixed with her unique humour, as she faces her final days.

I didn't really know what to expect when I requested this book,
but Where The Blue Sky Begins really hooked me in.
I read it quickly, yet it will stay with me for while.

Katie's website includes a section of fun FREE resources for individuals & book clubs,
including trivia sheets and discussion questions. You can find everything here:

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

Guest Post - 3 Guideposts & 1 Prayer for 2023, by Rev. Hollis Hiscock 

Please welcome my Dad - Rev. Hollis Hiscock - as today's guest blogger!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     

3 Guideposts & 1 Prayer for 2023

“Thank God 2022 is over! Hopefully 2023 will be much, much better.”

These sentiments have been echoed by many people in varying situations around the globe.

So, as we journey daily into the evolving future,
may these three guideposts and one prayer
help us navigate our personal, communal, and global life encounters.

Hand of God

The first guidepost comes from Sunday School teacher, poet, and college professor Minnie Haskins. Standing near a second story balcony window at dusk, looking down a long driveway leading to a gate which opened onto the street and the unknown, she compared it with a new year or new journey and wrote:

I said to the one who stood at the gate of the year,
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown";
and they replied,
"Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than a light, and safer than a known way."
So, I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night,
and God led me towards the hills and the breaking of the day.

Never Alone

The second guidepost comes from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. This song of comfort and encouragement was included to help a person coping with a devasting life situation. It is a reminder that we are never walking alone – God and other human beings are by our side.

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.

Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll never walk alone.

A Divine Perspective 

The third guidepost comes from St. Paul and Jesus Christ. 

In the Bible’s New Testament, Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (8:38-39): 

"I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Similarly, Jesus/God promised (Matthew 28:20): 

“I am with you always.”

A Prayer to Help 

This prayer, with which St. Paul concluded his letter to the Christians living in the city of Corinth (2 Corinthians 13:14) several decades after Jesus’ resurrection, may be a good mantra for us to repeat often as we traverse time and space.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all.”

Happy New Year!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     

The Reverend Hollis Hiscock 
is Interim Priest-in-Charge of 
St. John’s Church, Burlington, Ontario. 

You can read his 2022 Christmas message 
A "Way" in a "Lodge of Broken Bark"  

This Christmas, Celebrate Differently... 

Friends, it’s been a challenging year for us, rife with illness and struggle, and now we’re wrapping up 2022 with a wicked bout of Covid. We’ve been sick for almost 3 weeks. To date, we’ve cancelled 8 different Christmas concerts. It’s hard to state the toll this has taken on us. 

Frankly, we’re just exhausted - vocally, physically, and emotionally.

So, we’ve decided to celebrate Christmas differently this year.

We’re keeping it simple. 

We’re choosing new priorities.

One of my favourite Christmas traditions is decorating, but the idea of getting a tree and hauling out the tinsel was just more than we could handle.

So, we did something different:

We’d like to share with you our Christmas Card Tree for 2022.

Four feet tall, doesn’t need water, and placed on a table high above the reach of our little puppy, Max.

Last week, my parents dropped by.

We pulled out curling ribbon, pinking shears, and last year’s Christmas cards

Over cups of espresso, we cut the cards into ornaments, and tied them on the tree with ribbon.

Coloured lights and our Victorian glass beads tied the whole look together.

Finally, we tucked our nativity under the tree, surrounded by my collection of angels.

In just a few hours, with a few snips of paper, our home transformed from everyday to extraordinary.

It started as a simple art project, but in the making it became so much more.

It’s covered in cards given to us by people we love.
It was created in an afternoon of laughter and family.
And it’s giving us light in our darkness - something we all need.

Friends, we know we’re not alone. It’s been a tough year for many of us.

If you’re struggling this Christmas, may we encourage you to celebrate differently:

Choose to do less.

Spend time with the people you love.

Find new ways to do things.

Spend a little extra time in prayer.

And however you choose to celebrate,
remember that whatever our personal circumstances,
the Reason for the Season never changes.

From our family to yours,
we wish you a peaceful, joy-filled & healthy Christmas!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     

Please enjoy my Dad's Christmas message:

A "Way" in a "Lodge of Broken Bark"

Book Review: The Premonition at Withers Farm, by Jaime Jo Wright 

Well, here's a first: reading a ghost story at Christmas!
(And not a Dickens ghost story!)

Technically, this book came out in the fall, but when your copy arrives in December, whatcha gonna do?

I've already reviewed two of Jaime Jo's books - On The Cliffs Of Foxglove Manor and The Souls Of Lost Lake - and I will jump at any chance to read and review her fantastic stories!

The Premonition at Withers Farm tells the story of a Michigan farm haunted by murders, ghosts, and mystery.

In 1910, we're introduced to self-proclaimed healer, Perliett Van Hilton, and her spiritualist, seance-holding mother. When one of the Withers' daughters is murdered in her own family's corn field, the whole town in swept up in fear and mystery. Is the answer in the field or in the beyond?

In the present day, Molly and Trent Wasziak have suffered greatly in their personal lives. When they move into the Withers Farm, the young couple is forced to confront the unsolved mysteries of the past, a current murder in the present, and how their family's history ties into it all.

I'm hesitant to say much more.
This is a book that must be allowed to unfold on its own terms!

Like any great ghost story, The Premonition at Withers Farm relies on intriguing characters, a killer plot (pun not intended, but kind of perfect!), and copious amounts of tension. Jaime Jo is a Christian writer with a passion for all things Gothic, so you know it's going to get scary without getting too gory or bleak.

I am such a superfan of Jaime Jo Wright! 
Pick up a copy of The Premonition at Withers Farm,
and any other copies of her books you can find... 

Jaime Jo has a great newsletter, a really fun Facebook group, 
and lots of encouragement for writers. 
You can find out more at:

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

Book Review: The Blackout Book Club, by Amy Lynn Green  

For the last two weeks, we've been wiped out by Covid. It's the first time we've had it, and despite our vaccines, it's really done a number on us. 

The one perk? Lots of time for reading, 
and this book was the perfect balm for a rough few weeks.

The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green appealed to me from the start. Historical fiction, a library, letters from the front, and a secret backstory - what's not to love?

Avis Montgomery unexpectedly finds herself as a librarian in a privately owned library in small-town Maine. When the owner threatens to close the library, Avis creates a book club in an attempt to save the special place. A disparate group of men and women start to gather on Saturday mornings to read classics and favourites. As their lives weave together, they start to learn the power of story - fictional and real - to save communities and themselves. 

I loved this book! Amy's writing is beautiful, creative, and clear. I could see every person and imagine every corner of the library. Different characters lead different chapters, and each voice was perfectly clear. Amy also mixed in a few letters from the front, as well as "notes" from the book club meetings, all of which made for a fun narrative experience.

And check out this beautiful piece from Amy's Facebook page. Isn't this charming and kind?

I completely recommend getting two copies of this book - 
one for yourself and one to give as a Christmas gift.

You can learn more about Amy's books and writing at

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