Book Club Review: The Tenth Girl

The Tenth Girl is a beautiful ghost story weaving time and space.

When Mavi finds refuge in a unique and special school for girls, she brushes away the ideas of ghosts and curses that seem to permeate it. But it doesn’t help that the staff seem to have things they aren’t talking including the missing tenth girl. Mavi soon finds herself over her head both in teaching these girls and navigating the history of the school itself.

the tenth girl-MECH.inddSara Faring creates a beautiful world making the school a character all its own. The same level of attention is paid to the characters giving them an impish tint with deeper layers. The author envelopes you into this world while weaving several narrators into a seamless telling. Switching narrators adds something special from each respective building up to a new layer of the story. Each perspective is vital to the overall tale.

This starts as a beautiful Goth horror and seamlessly changes genres without upsetting the reader. This twist was amazing. There were hints along the way but I was so absorbed into the world that I seconded guessed myself and continued with the story. The ending was satisfying for the reader but the story continued exactly one chapter too long.

The book is ripe for the discussion about human consciousness and identity. Book club members will enjoy the mystery but will truly want to discuss the ethics of the final twist.  The Tenth Girl will delight all members of your club.

Running For Our Lives

I truly enjoyed reading Robb Ryerse’s tale of running for the House of Representatives. Ryerse is a progressive Republican who saw how his district in Arkansas could benefit from gun safety and health care. When his wife suggests he run as part of Brand New Congress, an effort to take out career politicians by bringing in everyday people who 9780664266219_p0_v1_s1200x630 (1)understand what the laws do on a practical level. Ryerse, a co-pastor a local church, knew this would be a hard competition but also knew this was something he had to do.
Ryerse walks you through running for office and how hard it for normal everyday people. The setup of campaign finances is cost-prohibitive to many and the way money is used from special interest keeps career politicians in power. He also discusses other issues that come up during campaigning and how it’s not as easy as the TV makes it look.
The best part though is that Ryerse uses his faith to guide him and he speaks out against the Religious Right that blindly follows the current administration. He details his interactions with members of this subsection of Christianity and explains that these people are often one-issue voters. Reyrse tries to explain during his campaign, as well as in this book, why Christian faith is about people. That we have to take care of our neighbor and these “progressive” views are doing just that. While he was met positively by most people for not being a career politician it never seemed to overcome the ideas he shared with the progressive left.
I would recommend Running for Our Lives, A Story of Faith, Politics, and the Common Good  to anyone who wants to see politics from the inside; how things really work; to see Republicans as progressive allied; to see that the Evangelicals aren’t always looking after the common good. This book will challenge many preconceived notion of those all along the spectrum.

 

Publication Date: February 18

I received an ARC through NetGalley; all opinions are my own.

Stronger Than Death

cover162744-mediumStronger than Death is the harrowing story of what real missionary work should be. There is more than just religion; there is action combined with care and love of the poor. Reading this book shows me this world has people who are truly good.
Annalena treated TB in places like Kenya and Somalia. She faces down violence every day but never stops caring for those in need. She knew that religion called for care and love for the needy. Unlike many of the biggest “missionary/pastors”, Annalena doesn’t live in opulence. She lives in the same poverty as those she assists pouring all her money into the saving of those with TB. If I say more, I’ll tell you the whole story.

Even though Annalena would never like the publication of this book, I agree with the author that this book should be written, her story must be told. By reaching just one person through this book, Annalena’s work continues.

The book itself is well written and researched. The background of the countries and wars are included in the tale are explored. The author spoke with as many people involved as she could giving many first account stories. There is just one negative here: the author inserts herself. These are odd moments that, instead of bolstering Annalena, make the author seem like she just wants to be connected to Annalena so she can feel better about herself. There is no need: Rachel Pieh Jones shares this story with dedication, love, and respect with a connection that never dies.

I would encourage everyone to read this book. To think about their calling. To challenge the idea of Christianity. I am blessed to have read this story.

Published: Oct 1

I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

What’s Next

In What’s Next: Your Dream Job, God’s Call and A Life That Sets you Free, Daniel Ryan Day walks you through figuring on what steps you should take in your life to heed God’s call. While the goal is to help you find what the next step in your career, it’s not really a book about careers or a dream job; instead the book focuses on the idea of God’s calling.
This approach makes sense in the fact that Day is trying to dispel the idea that God’s calling exclusively refers to your occupation. He walks you through a variety of biblical figures whose calling aren’t considering jobs as well as looks into the New Testament ideas of what we are called to be. We are called by God to be a specific kind of person, not just a laborer.
42046635._SX318_But fear not; the final chapter gives you ideas to help you figure out what you want to do next occupation-wise. The author provides readers with ideas of how to apply Biblical concepts of calling to find your dream job.
The book is well written and Ryan has a voice that is straightforward to the average reader. He doesn’t get too bogged down in scholarly material or wording letting the book flow from one pint to the next. The fact that he makes these ideas accessible to a broader audience is the best part of the book and shows that the author understands his audience.
For me, I had decided a long time ago my calling was’ necessarily my job. Personally, this book wasn’t helpful for me, and I wasn’t as invested as some might be. But I do believe it can be helpful for others. If you still think that your calling only refers to your occupation, then this is a book you need. God is calling you for so much more than a paycheck.
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Is There Still Sex in the City?

Is There Still Sex in the City is the story of one writer’s midlife crisis.
Candace Bushnell finds herself in middle age, divorced and worried about money. 42360872.jpgThings truly come apart when her dog dies and she moves out to Village. Bushnell chronicles the experience of Tinder “dating”, having younger boyfriends and the suicide of one her close friends.
This is one of the saddest books I have read in a long time. Bushnell refuses to accept she is in a middle life crisis and gives it a cute name and acronym. This is sad in and of itself. She refuses to truly accept her life. And then writes this book in order to make money from it.
It was hard to identify with her and her friends. Unlike her previous essays, there is no fantasy of being in the thrilling world of New York. I rolled my eyes when she complained living in the Upper East Side (if you can’t afford it don’t live there. Damn.). I despised her desperateness at thinking she would get something real from Tinder. And don’t get me started on her “not mom but acting like mom” chapter.
Maybe this something people her ages (late fifties/early sixties) would enjoy. But I don’t see many of normal people being able to empathize with a life that is still better than their because of economic status. Plus, many of the topics have been covered before in more entertaining and engaging ways (specifically The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode about the older woman/younger guy dynamic).
In her book, she mentioned she wrote several novels no one would publish. After reading this one, which has been chosen for publication, I have to wonder how bad those are.

Publication Date: August 6
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

 

The Badass Girl’s Guide

C.J. Scarlet turns trauma from her past, throws way the “victim” label and helps women keep themselves safe. While attacks are the fault of the attacker, women, none the less, need to know how to keep themselves safe in this less than perfect world. Scarlet gives you tip on how to not become a victim as well as what to do if you do become one.

Scarlet walks you through failing the predator interview, the myths of rape and how to put aside preconceived notion of femininity that are putting you in danger. The chapters aren’t long and are written plainly which make it easy to understand and hold your attention.  The most important information is bulleted and easily digestible.  This isn’t just theo37561534ry and statistics (even though there are some important stats included); this is practical and valuable information.

I loved that the author includes what to do if you are attacked. As the author says, no method is one hundred percent successful in evading predators, so it is important to know what to do if you are attacked.  Personally, I feel that hearing this from someone who has been there is even more reassuring. She has been there and knows how uncomfortable the whole situation is. Hearing from someone who has been there and become a strong woman is highly motivating and hopeful.

My favorite part of the book, though, isn’t the advice on how to thwart an attacker or the practical safety tips. Scarlet bears her soul in “Escape from the Terrible Garden.” This prose piece puts words to the feelings trapped inside her. It is both moving and enlightening. I think anyone who has been abused in some way as well as family and friends should read it to truly understand what it feels like.

The Badass Girl’s Guide helps women empower themselves and help them (and others) stay safe in an imperfect world. After reading this book, I will be donating to my local Free Little Library; this information needs to be read and passed on.

 

 

 

I received a complementary copy for review; all opinions are my own.