Book Review · Books

Pull It Off

The cover is colorful. Julianna Zobrist loves color. Her picture on the front of her book makes me think of Lady GaGa due to the creative outfit she’s wearing. Her memoir Pull It Off is a short book filled with how we view our identity shapes us and our confidence.

She is not preachy, but Julianna shows through Biblical scripture our identity is in Christ. Julianna doesn’t harp on us being perfect, but on learning to accept our imperfections and allowing God to work through that. She provides stories from her life and what it’s like to be married to her professional baseball player husband.

This memoir was light hearted with nuggets of Biblical truth sprinkled in. Julianna is not your typical Christian living genre type author. She thinks and expresses herself outside the box. The chapter where Julianna describes how her home is decorated made me sit in awe. Think of Candy Land throwing up decorations all over her home. Yes, it’s that colorful and fun. The allegory about the dandelion at the end was emotionally powerful.

I received a complementary copy of Pull It Off by Julianna Zobrist from Faith Words. Opinions expressed in this review are my own. If you love Christian books that are helpful, but not bossy in tone then you may enjoy this book. I hope Julianna will write more books.

Book Review · Books

Let Me Be Like Water

Holly looses her boyfriend to a freak accident. To try and restart her life she moves from London to Brighton. One day on a walk on the beach she first encounters Frank, a retired gay magician whose magic flair for life attracts Holly. Through Frank, Holly gets to meet Frank’s group of lonely misfits who gather for a book club every month.

Holly starts to attend the book club and befriend Frank’s friends. Each member of the book club reaches out to Holly in her grief, her first year grieving her boyfriend’s death. Holly learns each of them have their own complicated pasts. Their unconditional support help Holly learn to live a little.

This novel is short, but packs a powerful punch in how it reveals the process of grieving. S.K. Perry’s debut novel is poetic, gripping, heartbreaking, yet filled with hope. If you have lost a loved one or lover this book will be a cool balm. It’s raw in how Holly’s grief process is fleshed out in words. Nothing is sugarcoated. I love how the ocean is a metaphor for this book. The ocean can be calm and yet angry and turbulent in a split second. Loving someone deeply is the same thing. It’s risky, but worth it.

This review is for an early copy of Let Me Be Like Water by S.K. Perry and is my own unbiased, honest opinion. I received my copy for free from TLC Book Tours, care of Melville House Publishing. If you are interested in grabbing a copy of this powerful little gem click here to get off of Amazon and here to find out more about S.K. Perry.

Book Review · Books

Shameless: A Sexual Reformation

If you love edgy, outside the box Christian then you’ll love any book by pastor Nadia Boltz-Weber. When I saw Shameless, as an option to possibly get to review I had to request it since I loved reading her book, Pastrix.

Shameless is a book about how the church and Christianity has made sex and sexuality something to be ashamed of if it doesn’t fit in the white conservative Christian picket fence family dynamics. Pastor Nadia shares some stories from a few of her parishioners that are gut wrenching and disturbing. She also, shared stories from her own life in how the way the church talked about sex was seen as dirty unless you were married. Pastor Nadia also, talks about the gender stereotypes kids are shaped into by their church and family. If you aren’t straight you can be viewed as sinful, off the straight and narrow and needing to be reigned in.

If you were a Christian teen in the 90’s you may recall the True Love Waits Movement that swept Christendom up in its hype. Did this movement prepare young Christian couples for intimacy in marriage? I’d wager no. Hearing your whole life you have to wait till marriage doesn’t exactly prepare you for the wedding night part. I get waiting for sex till you’ve found your forever partner, but just being told no without any directions on what to expect once there’s a green light is the blind leading the blind.

Sadly Christian schools and some Christian families are against sex education in schools. If Mom and Dad won’t have any in-depth talk then all those kids being pulled out of Sex Ed are oblivious to potential dangers when they slip up and go too, far when their sex drive awakens and I’m not meaning the potential pregnancy scenario.

This book was a really personal read for me being raised in a Christian home. I did survive public school Sex Education class. All I recall is there being a fill in the blanks body part test in fifth grade. I recall my parents helping me study for that. Only main thing I was told was not to wind up pregnant like so and so. Ah, how could I forget the book for preteens my parents gave me to read. I’ve always been a bookworm, but something’s are more personal when talked out vs being given a manual of sorts. I know talking about literal private things can be awkward for a parent, but I’d rather hear from my own parents on what to expect. I can relate in more ways than that with this book, but that could be a separate blog post.

This book gives me hope for Christendom. I have so many evolved views on sexuality, marriage, education and more. This one is a keeper and I can’t wait for it to come out so I can have a physical copy to highlight and notate to death.

This review is for a digital ARC of Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Boltz-Weber from NetGalley and is my own unbiased opinion. I loved this book. I adore how wise and snarky Pastor Nadia is with such an important topic. If you need someone who understands and has been through a similar upbringing then you’ll want to preorder a copy of Shameless. If you need someone to talk to or vent to feel free to contact me.

Book Review · Books

The Solace Of Water

Two women. One black. One Amish. Both need a friend, but their worlds aren’t supposed to mingle when it’s during the 1950’s. Delilah just has to moved to a new town to start over fresh with her family after her son has died in a sudden accident. Emma is an Amish wife with secrets of her own. Both women are lonely and need a friend. One day Delilah’s son, George gets stung by a few bees and Emma discovers him in her woods. Delilah finds this white woman holding her son to shield him from the bees. She’s so grateful that Emma ends up hugging them both. Delilah’s daughter, Sparrow is a catalyst that helps bring these two friends potential friends together in The Solace Of Water.

This novel alternates between Delilah’s point of view and Emma’s, as well as Sparrow’s. This story is gripping, gut wrenching, humbling and jaw dropping. Each character is unique and both ladies stories deal with topics that are as relevant today as they were back in the fifties: death, alcoholism, family, friendship, marriage, romance, pregnancy and many others. I like how the author, Elizabeth Baker Younts included Dutch into the dialogue with Emma and her family.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through TLC Book Tours. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This novel is a masterpiece in storytelling. I am definitely going to be looking for other titles by this author.

Book Review · Books

Auschwitz Lullaby

Ever since I was lent a copy of Escape From Warsaw in the fourth grade I fell in love with the country of Poland. I am not Polish, but for some reason the Polish language sounds like music to me. This book for younger children set me on my interest of WWII. I’ve read countless memoirs and historical fiction on this awful war. A few stand out as excellent. Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar is one of the gems that is a must read.

This WWII historical fiction novel tells the story of real life German mother, Helene Hannemann who follows her five children to Auschwitz though she herself is not a Gypsy and required to go there. Sadly, they are separated from her husband and left to survive in the camp on their own.

Helene was seen as partly privileged since she was German and Dr. Mengele chose her to help operate a nursery school at the camp. Helene did her best to give the gypsy children of Auschwitz a glimmer of normalcy with the supplies Dr. Mengele is able to get for the school. Even though the school is just a smoke and mirrors of the truth of the camp it gives Helene, her children, other children and the ladies who assist with the school some routine that gives comfort.

This novel was hard to put down. The writing was beautiful, some of the sentences were like music in the depth of their power. The true horrors of this war aren’t sugarcoated in this novel, but it is a lovely tribute to Helene’s life and the power of love you have for your family, no matter the cost.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. If you enjoy historical fiction then keep an eye out for the release of this book. I know I want to grab a copy. I am thankful I got the privilege to read this ARC. Thank you!

Book Review · Books

The Death & Life Of Eleanor Parker

Eleanor Parker wakes up one day to find herself soaked on the side of the local river. She doesn’t recall how she got there. When Eleanor goes home she can’t get warm and she can’t fall asleep either. Not recalling the night before doesn’t help.

A year earlier her brother’s girlfriend is found dead in the same river. Eleanor’s brother has been the lead suspect, though she’s sure he’s innocent. When a mutual classmate goes missing and the witch hunt starts again Eleanor is not sure who to believe. Why can’t she seem to sleep and food alludes her? Did someone try to murder Eleanor? Follow Eleanor on her journey to uncover the truth.

This novel is fast paced with twists and turns. If you love puzzles then this one is for you. This story deals with the topics of death, friendship, family, small town life and what it means to truly live again.

I received my free digital ARC copy of The Death & Life Of Eleanor Parker by Kerry Wilkinson care of NetGalley from Bookouture in exchange for my honest feedback. If you love YA mysteries and stories set in the U.K. then I recommend this novel. I couldn’t put it down. For some reason I gravitate toward first person novels. It does remind me a lot of the novel 13 Minutes, which is one of my favorites from last year.

Book Review · Books

Caroline

Growing up I was a big fan of “Little House On The Prairie.” I watched the show religiously M-F at 5pm sharp. I liked Laura, but found her sister, Mary stuffy. When I was asked if I wanted to review this historical novel, Caroline, I couldn’t resist.

Caroline is the viewpoint of Laura Ingall’s family’s move from WI to KS, but told from Laura’s mother’s stance. This novel is so detailed you feel as though you are traveling right alongside Caroline with Charles, Mary and Laura. The author, Sarah Miller’s research is detailed. One scene was so detailed regarding prepping hides to be tanned I almost got ill reading about brains being mushed to coat the hides.

I enjoyed reading this novel. The only challenge is I felt it was a tad too, long. The detail is excellent, but for that long of a book I’d almost want to read a biography on the subject. The realism of venturing out on the prairie is very vivid. The author took great care in explaining the little details of pioneer life. It makes me sit in awe how people could survive with such basic provisions and in modern times we are spoiled with an over abundance.

I received my free copy of Caroline by Sarah Miller care of TLC Book Tours from William Morrow in exchange for my honest feedback. If you would like purchase this title go grab a copy from HarperCollins and to read more about the author check out her website.