Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Princess Onyx" by Clarissa and Illustrated by Jason Brooks

This is a short children's book about the struggles of young African-American women.  Written for her granddaughter, the author writes a story that has real-life family connections.  In the story, the grandmother (Tata) consoles her granddaughter (Jaydah).  Jaydah thinks she is ugly and cries because the other kids in school are being mean to her.   So, Tata tells Jaydah a story where Jaydah is a princess.  The princess goes out to play with the common people, which includes white people.  Jaydah realizes how mean people can be when the common people push aside another black girl so the princess--also black--can play with them.  It is at this point that Jaydah understands segregation.  At the end of the story, Jaydah understands that she should be nice to people even when they are mean.  I wish there was a friendly white person in the book who was nice to Jaydah, but--overall--the story is nice.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Get Lost" by Dannah Gresh

 I thought this book would be like all the others I've reviewed that are on the topic of true love from a Christian perspective.  However, this one was unique.  It did not give a lot of what we'd call "practical tips" for abstinence and remaining pure.  Rather, it focused on getting lost in the Creator.  Part II of the book is a ten-part series that brings girls through steps to understanding what the Creator's love really is.  There are music suggestions, prayers, Scripture verses, and even space for prompted journaling.  The pages were pretty too, with some cool black-and-white graphic designs.  I like this book because it addresses the root cause of many girl problems.  The issue is not merely physical--the bigger issue at hand is girls looking for love and wanting to be wanted.  This book addresses the root cause tactfully.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It was a fun read and held my attention.  It also delved a little into the Hebrew language as it dissected Bible passages, which was nice.  My only complaint was a chapter in Part III of the book that seem to insinuate that all Christian women should be stay-at-home homemakers.  That aside, this was a fine book.  I received an advance reading copy.  Aside from one typo I found, the grammar was excellent.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Be Still My Soul" by Joanne Bischof

This book really drew me in.  The story line is creative and unlike any book I've been presented before.  A woman (Lonnie) in the early twentieth century is forced into a "shot gun wedding" by her father after he suspects her purity has been tainted.  The twist is that Lonnie isn't some whore.  She is a young girl (17) who was nearly raped by a smooth-talking mandolin player (Gideon).  When her father catches Gideon all over Lonnie, he runs to get his shotgun.  Yet her father does not see when Lonnie pushes Gideon away.  Convinced that Lonnie and Gideon have been stealing kisses together and even intercourse, Lonnie's father pushes his daughter into a marriage.

Fearful of the man she is marrying, Lonnie has twisted emotions.  Matters become worse as Gideon--a ladies' man--is bitter than he is now tied down to one woman.  In his bitterness, he even becomes abusive towards Lonnie and plays with her emotions.  This book is so gripping, and it will pull you in.  It even made me cry at times, which is unusual for me.  The drama is intense yet plausible.  In other words, the reader doesn't often feel the story is "scripted" or that "this would never happen in real life." The story comes to life as the reader gets transplanted to a time long ago where two souls dance a dark dance of marriage.

What I also liked was how the book sometimes changed perspective.  In other words, sometimes we'd read from Lonnie's perspective, and other times we'd read from Gideon's perspective.  As the characters morph over time and pages, we see their characters morphing and their psychology progressing.  You literally feel like you are inside their heads, which is not an easy feat for an author to do.  Full of twists and turns, readers will not find this book predictable.  For those that think this book may be too depressing, I will mention that the book ends happily.  However, the suspense is clear as the happy ending is not revealed quite literally until the last few pages of the book.  I won't ruin the story for you by telling you all the details, but rest assured this is a book you don't want to pass up.  

Also, I wanted to quickly mention that I had an advanced reading copy to review.  I found no grammatical errors.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"You're Made for a God-Sized Dream" by Halley Gerth

This book is pretty self explanatory.  It's kind of a Christian self-help book for people who are pursuing dreams.  While anyone can read this book and be encouraged, I kind of got the impression that the book was geared towards women.   Some aspects of the book were very girly, and most of the examples of God-sized dreams given were from women.  This book is nice in that it has space to write in, little exercises here and there to get readers motivated, and little letters in chapters to make readers smile.  Some Bible stories / characters are mentioned, and some Bible verses are quoted.  However, this book is mostly a self-help book.  It is a nice read, and it is very encouraging.  It's good that this book reminds readers to have dreams that are reasonable, realistic, and aligned with Scripture.  For instance, a dream to rob a bank may not be from God, and it wouldn't be worth pursuing.  However, a dream of being a kinder person or donating food to homeless shelters would be worth pursuing.  That's another thing I like about this book.  It puts what we'd consider "small things" on the level as "God-sized dreams."  And, it's true.  You don't have to achieve world peace or become a CEO to fulfill your dream.  Big or small, you can go into the world and make a difference.

*Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.