Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are backed up by the pattern of your own life. Your children will never believe you are in earnest, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your actions contradict your counsel. Archbishop Tillotson made a wise remark when he said, 'To give children good instruction, and a bad example, is but beckoning to them with the head to show them the way to heaven, while we take them by the hand and lead them in the way to hell.'

J. C. Ryle

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Beguiled (Thomas Cullinan) - Book Review

The BeguiledThe Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At first I didn't like the many different POVs because I struggled to keep everybody straight. (Martha, Harriet, Mattie, Alice, Emily, Amelia, Edwina, and Marie all share their perspectives! Whew!) But eventually when I had everyone figured out, I really enjoyed getting to see everything through everyone's eyes. This book was insanely witty and I laughed out loud several times. I can't say enough about how well-written this was. Just brilliant.

However, even though nothing was graphically portrayed or actually described in detail for the reader, this story was more trashy than I expected, even with incest in one of the character's past. That along with some language brings this down to 3 stars from me.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

I Will Always Write Back (Caitlin Alifirenka) - Book Review

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two LivesI Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even for someone such as myself who reads a ridiculous amount of books a year, it is rare to read one that changes your life, but this book did just that. I am looking at everything through different eyes because of this true story.

Caitlin and Martin were put together as pen pals as a school assignment, and ended up being the only kids to continue to faithfully write each other. Martin's promise to always write back was harder to keep than anyone knew, because his family was so poor that even postage for his next letter had to be worked for for weeks. Once Caitlin discovered just how poor Martin and his family were, it started her on a journey to make a difference in the lives of her best friend, his family, and his village.

What absolutely blew me away here was the stark contrast between Martin's simple life of poverty (and yet contentment!) and Caitlin's life of American wealth, so easily taken for granted. (I couldn't help but compare it to my own.) Many, many times while reading this I was moved to tears of shame when I remember how often I complain about so many things, and long for so many better things, when I should be on my knees thanking God for the abundance of riches I enjoy every single day. I have never missed a meal. I have never slept on a wet, muddy floor. I have never worried about not getting the education I need to succeed in life. I have never not had dressers and a closet overflowing with clothes I hardy ever wear. The list goes on.

This book was like the missions trip I never had. It opened my eyes so much and has gotten me back into the "1000 Gifts" mentality. All is grace. Give thanks always. We are blessed with so much and need to be looking for opportunities to share the wealth we are given with others.

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Pleasing People (Lou Priolo) - Book Review

Pleasing People: How not to be an Pleasing People: How not to be an "approval junkie" by Lou Priolo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was all over the place with this book. The first half was drier than dry. Everything he was saying was scriptural, but it felt super long and textbookish. But the second half I absolutely loved, and got a few memorable gems out of, so I'm leaving this one with 3 stars.

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Paper Hearts (Meg Wiviott) - Book Review

Paper HeartsPaper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Written entirely in various poetic forms, this book details life in Auschwitz from two teenage girls' points of view. The vocabulary is quite simple. Nothing graphic is mentioned at all. But the horror is still completely palpable. The courage and desperation just come off the page. The way Meg wrote this made it so easy (maybe too easy?) to picture it as if I were there.

I loved how clear the personalities were. Fania was softer, the "good girl," more prone to quietly obey not just with her body but in her mind. Zlatka was always simmering, always scheming, keeping her thoughts in constant rebellion so as to stay alive. The friendship between the two very opposite girls proved to be an essential one. The one helped the other stay safe, stay hoping, and to stay alive.

To make it all better, this is based on a true occurrence, so that makes this one of my favorite Holocaust novels to date.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Lamplighter (Maria Susanna Cummins) - Book Review

The Lamplighter (Rare Collector's Series)The Lamplighter by Maria Susanna Cummins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Usually I have already decided how many stars I'm going to give a novel by the time I'm halfway through it. This earned a solid 3 stars in my head, because even though it was kind of going nowhere, I liked the characters and especially loved the old English.

But then I reached the last 10 chapters or so, and...PLOT TWIST. And then ANOTHER TWIST. And TWIST SOME MORE! Until finally I finished the book and was left with a feeling of awe, as well as something resembling how I feel after riding Raging Bull at Great America. I was also smiling and stroking the cover; something that I catch myself doing after an especially satisfying read.

So, yes. This was one of the very first books I ever added to my to-read shelf here on Goodreads, and the 3 stars turned into 5 stars because of the marvelous, masterfully-sculpted ending. Read it!

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Monday, August 28, 2017

the martial view

"It has become, in my view, a bit too trendy to regard the acceptance of death as something tantamount to intrinsic dignity. Of course I agree with he preacher of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to love and a time to die - and when my skein runs out I hope to face the end calmly and in my own way. For most situations, however, I prefer the more martial view that death is the ultimate enemy - and I find nothing reproachable in those who rage mightily against the dying of the light."

- Stephen Jay Gould