Sunday, November 24, 2013

Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty

This is the second book I've read by Dannah Gresh and it just confirmed my belief that she is the most talented and inspired female christian non-fiction author.

This book explores what modesty really is compared to today's standards. With soo many conflicting images in the media it can be hard for Christian girls to know what is morally acceptable to wear. Dannah breaks down what the bible says and what it means for christian girls who want to be morally and spiritually pure for God and their future husbands. You can flaunt your allure but it most be done to God's standards, not todays fashion trends.

It's a short little guide with written exercises, tips for being fashionable yet modest, pictures, personal testimonies. This is a perfect guide for young christian girls.  

I was given this book for free from Moody Publishers in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Dirty Girls Come Clean

For the few of you that follow my reviews I feel the need to say, I am not addicted to pornography! But if I was I would definitely have found this book very useful!

Call me naive but when I thought of pornography addiction I generally only thought of it as a male problem. But as the author, Crystal Renaud, pointed, that's a big part of the problem. The women that do have an addiction feel they have no where to go and think that they have to face their problem alone. Thankfully now, there are resources for them. Crystal not only wrote this book, but founded "Dirty Girl Ministries," an organization aimed at helping women who are suffering from pornography addiction.

One thing I really like about this book was that, even though it is a Christian self-help book, the author states,

"I write this book from a Christian point of view because it's my personal belief that Jesus is the reason I stand free from pornography today. But as I said, pornography addiction knows no creed. Pornography affects everyone. So it is my hope that the steps provided throughout this book will be beneficial to all women, from all walks of life."

I like that it isn't as exclusionary as other Christian self-help books can be, the author really tries to help everyone with this addiction. That being said it is very Jesus-centric but not enough to be a huge turn off for most non-Christians.

This little manual contains, personal stories, writing prompts, surveys, tests, resources, testimonies, and more. I'm sure it is a massive help for those coping with pornography addiction. I've read self help books for drug addictions (again dear readers, I'm not suffering from drug addiction either, I just read a lot!) and many of the steps listed are similar.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers in return for my honest, unbiased, opinion.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The City of Dreaming Books

I won't deny it, this book was inventive and unique, but..... not my cuppa tea. As a bibliophile I appreciated everything this book was about, it's ingenious and clever, but again, not my cuppa tea.

This story follows Optimus Yarnspinner, a dinosaur from Lindworm castle who ventures to Bookholm to find the author of a manuscript. Once there, things go horribly wrong and he ends up poisoned and in the deep dangerous depths of the catacombs that run deep beneath the city. He fends off bookhunters, booklings, and other horrifying creatures as he tries to make his way back up to the surface.

Book lovers and bibliophiles will appreciate the beautiful imagery and book lore, but it might be a bore for others. This story is full of adventure, high fantasy, and bibliophilia but it's not for everyone. Wonderfully written and crafted but I just wasn't feeling it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Book Thief

Geoffrey Rush said it was a five handkerchief film and I think the same is most definitely true for the book. It starts off innocently enough, with a word of note from death, the impartial narrator. Death tells the tale of Liesel, a young German orphan who finds a new home in Nazi Germany and forges a strong bond with her new papa. Papa slowly coaxes her out of her shell with his accordion, cigarette rolling, and reading lessons. They start off with "The Grave Digger's Handbook," a book Liesel stole at her brother's funeral, but soon progress to other novels (the majority of which Liesel has stolen). Each novel she conquers marks a new phase in her life. As the war progresses into Germany, reading is her true salvation. It also helps her bond with the Jew hidden in their basement.

This is one of those books that will stay with you. It's haunting and poetic; Death is a fantastic narrator and his insights to the future and value of human life will astound you. It's also nice to read a book from the perspective of the "protagonist," an eleven year old German girl and member of the Hitler Youth, rather than the "victims" (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with reading about the victims, it's just nice to switch it up, I've read dozens of memoirs from survivors and other literature from the side of the oppressed).

I can see why there is so much hype surrounding this book, it's outstanding and might I mention, very critically acclaimed. According to Goodreads, "First released in 2005, The Book Thief has spent a total of 375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and still remains there eight years after it first came out. It has been translated into over 40 languages and has been adapted into a movie."

Damn, I am obviously going to have to see the movie version of this in theaters.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Story by Elizabeth Smart

Smart, Elizabeth. My Story. 7 CDs. unabridged. 9 hrs. MacMillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427233424. $29.99. 

This haunting and inspiring memoir will have readers horrified at the atrocities that then fourteen year old, Elizabeth Smart had to endure. Having been kidnapped at knife-point from her safe Mormon home and then subjected to daily rapes and humiliation from her captors, Smart's story of despair turns amazingly into hope. Her nine months of capture just steeled her resolve in her faith and her commitment to doing the right thing and showing constant gratitude. Elizabeth's story captured the nation's hearts in 2002 and will continue to do so in this heartfelt memoir. Her intimate story sheds light on her captivity and how she was able to rebuild her life after such an altering and scarring event. The audio book has an extra dimension of truth and emotion since it is beautifully narrated by the author, Elizabeth Smart. For fans of inspirational and Christian memoirs. - Erin Cataldi, Franklin College, Franklin, IN. 


I was drawn to this book because I am an introvert myself, and I wanted to see what type of "powers" I posses. This book far exceeded my expectations. Such a fabulous read! Normally I don't go for "self-help" reads (which this book wasn't, not really) but I made an exception for this because it intrigued me so much!

It was very easy to read and had lots of clever anecdotes, it gave lots of tips for how to work well with extroverts and vice versa. In fact, this book is also a great read for extroverts because it lets you into the mind of your introverted friends and co-workers! A very insightful and informative book. Well deserving of the Goodread's Choice Award for best non-fiction book last year!

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

A Kingsbury Collection

This book isn't for the "light reader," it's size is quite intimidating. I didn't finish this in one sitting, I stretched out this three book collection over about a month. True Kingsbury and Christian romance fans won't mind though, it's got great monetary and emotional value (more bang for your buck!).

The first story, "Where Yesterday Lives," is about a female Pulitzer prize winning journalist who has haunting memories of her childhood. She goes home to make peace with her past and hopefully in the process can reconcile her rocky marriage and forgotten faith.

The second story, "When Joy Came to Stay," is about one wife's deep despair and fall into depression. Her husband and child do the best they can to hold everything together and help her out of her hole. A truly inspirational story.

The final story, "On Every Side," is about a small hundred year old statue of Jesus that stands in a park. A battle rages about the separation of church and state and citizens call for it's removal. Faith is a young newscaster who follows her heart and souls she must "battle" Jordan, a lawyer who is set on removing the statue. Can love develop in such a hostile situation?

All three books are classic Kingsbury. Feel good romances that lift you up.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for this unbiased review.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Eleanor and Park

There has been soo much good hype surrounding this story that I was more than eager to pick this bad boy up. What really drew me into this book was the realness of it. It didn't feel fake like many other of the young adult romances I've read. This book was seeped with emotion, heartfelt, sad, funny, and painful emotion.

This story is set in the eighties but it's not your typical John Highes romance. Eleanor and Park have nothing in common (or so they think) and they start off feeling nothing but embarrassment and resentment towards each other. Eleanor is a plump red headed, eccentric girl who's new in town. She has a hidden secret though. Her family life is AWFUL. Her stepfather is an abusive drunk and she has to protect her four younger siblings from his frequent outbursts. She views school as another obstacle that she has to tackle, that is until she gets to know Park.

Park is the shy yet mildly popular half Korean kid. When he first sets eyes on Eleanor he is just embarrassed for her. He only shares his bus seat with her out of pity. Soon though he starts sharing his comics, then his mix tapes, and then FINALLY they start talking and realize how perfect they are for each other... except that they're not. This is high school and nothing is perfect.

Everyone will be able to relate with some aspects of this book. It's raw, heartfelt, and gets right to the heart of what it feels like to young, confused, and in love.

Friday, November 8, 2013

How to Ruin Your Life By 30: Just Follow These 9 Easy Steps!

I think this short, little book contains some great ideas, but it still falls short of the mark. Steve Farrar offers a lot of valuable advice such as how to find your true purpose in life, how to follow the laws of cause and effect, trust God, etc. But I think his message will only truly be appreciated by the most conservative Christians. The advice is well meaning but not always attainable or well advised.

A few of the things I had problems with are as follows:

1. The author makes it clear that divorce is never ever an option. Which I agree, in most cases divorce isn't an option. People need to take their vows seriously and work through their problems. But he fails to mention abuse or other severe cases when divorce is necessary. Putting forth ultimatums is never good. In rare cases divorce is justifiable and encouraged.

2. He considers homosexuality a "sexual immorality." Now I know most Christians frown upon gays, but I thought the teaching was, that being a homosexual was not a sin, only ACTING on homosexuality was a sin (not that I agree with that, I'm just repeating). The author makes no clarification and just calls out the gays. Not cool.

3. Farrar is borderline sexist/ very traditional in regards to gender roles. He states multiple times that women need to be comfortable in their femininity, allow their husbands to provide and lead, become mothers, AND not to dress cheap. There is nothing shaming boys from ogling pretty girls but there is a whole section on what women should wear. Again, not cool.

4. Finally, dating non-Christians is not worth your time?!? Really?! I thought for sure he would at least say, "convert your significant other" or something, but instead he says, "Don't give any consideration to the possibility that you might lead them toward the Lord. God doesn't need you to do His work in their life." Harsh man, harsh.

Overall, an interesting read, but maybe I'm just to liberal in my love for the Lord and humanity.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishing in return for my honest, unbiased opinion. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Perfect Pet for Peyton

This book was adorable! I'm a grown woman and I had fun discovering what type of love language I used. The colorful pictures and fun search and finds located on the pages will keep kids entertained while they learn what their love language is. I found out that I communicate love by giving, how neat!

This picture book follows twins Peyton and Penny as they go to the Pet Pal Emporium with their three friends for their birthday. While there, each kid is matched up with a pet that matches up with their love language personality. It's a great developmental tool for kids and parents and there are even more resources in the back of the book. I will definitely be looking for more "adult" books on the five love languages. I'm soo intrigued!

A copy of this book was provided by Moody Press for free in exchange for an honest review.

Shades of Mercy

A supremely cozy read. This budding romance warms you up and gives you the happy butterflies. I'm not normally a fan of romance, let alone the super sappy Christian romance, but this book went far beyond my wildest expectations.

This coming of age tale follows young Mercy as she learns just how prejudiced God-fearing Christian people can be. It's Maine in the fifties and a local tribe of Maliseet Indians have been shunted to the dump to live in squalid conditions. Mercy's father is a good Christian and hires the Maliseets to work on his farm even though people in town look down on the tribe as less than human. Mercy and her family have a soft spot for them, especially for Mick, a good looking boy that Mercy has fallen hopelessly in love with. Mercy discovers the hard way just deep the town's and her family's prejudices can go. Will she ever be able to be with Mick publicly? Doesn't Jesus love everyone equally?

This book is a fast read and doesn't get to sappily romantic or preach hell-fire and damnation. It's inspirational, happy, and leaves you in a happy positive mood :)

A copy of this book was provided by Moody Press for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Baker, Jo. Longbourn. 11 CDs. unabridged. 13.5 hrs. Books on Tape, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group. 2013. ISBN 9780804149426. 

This brilliant and inventive novel will have Jane Austen and Downton Abbey fans jumping for joy. Jo Baker
brings the below-stairs to life in Pride and Prejudice and manages to create as much intrigue and romance
as the Bennet girls experienced in the original classic. Baker fleshes out the lives of the servants, footmen, and cooks to create a classic tale of love lost, perseverance, and early nineteenth century life that will please even the most critical of Janeites. The story centers on Bennet's maid, Sarah, a naive yet likable young girl. When new footman, James, joins the Longbourn staff, things are turned upside down and may never be the same again. Emma Fielding brilliantly narrates this novel with her smooth English accent and does a fantastic job bringing the characters to life using accents and inflections in all the right places. A must read for fans of historical fiction, Jane Austen, and Downton Abbey. Erin Cataldi, Franklin College, Franklin, IN

Rose Under Fire

EPIC READ! For fans of historical fiction, young adult novels, World War II dramas, or the book "Code Name Verity" this book is for you!! I hardly know where to begin. This book was amazing, it was thought provoking, intelligent, heartbreaking, and humorous. It kept your attention from page to page.

The story follows a young female American pilot who transports aircraft from site to site. Strictly speaking she had a pretty safe, civilian job, that is until she gets caught by two German pilots who escort her behind enemy lines. Once there she thrown into Ravensbruck, a female concentration camp and she experiences horrors beyond her wildest imagination. She befriends the "rabbits" a group of girls who were medically experimented on and now have deformed legs. Together they try to beat the system and stay alive. It's the story of women overcoming horrible odds and tragedies by sticking together, friendship and hope are powerful things.

Something else great about this book is all the poetry dispersed throughout it. Rose stays sane in the camp by making poems about the gruesome and grotesque things she sees on a daily basis. The characters in this book may have been made up but Ravensbruck was real and so were the Rabbits and the horrors within. "Tell the world" Rose said. Read this book and pass it on.