It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed books here, so I thought I’d offer some recommendations today. Whether you’re planning a vacation or looking for an entertaining distraction to take your mind off this arctic cold, here are some great reads to consider:
MEMOIR: Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood by Leah Vincent
Official Description: Leah Vincent was born into the Yeshivish community, a fundamentalist sect of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. As the daughter of an influential rabbi, Leah and her ten siblings were raised to worship two things: God and the men who ruled their world. But the tradition-bound future Leah envisioned for herself was cut short when, at sixteen, she was caught exchanging letters with a male friend, a violation of religious law that forbids contact between members of the opposite sex. Leah’s parents were unforgiving. Afraid, in part, that her behavior would affect the marriage prospects of their other children, they put her on a plane and cut off ties. Cast out in New York City, without a father or husband tethering her to the Orthodox community, Leah was unprepared to navigate the freedoms of secular life. She spent the next few years using her sexuality as a way of attracting the male approval she had been conditioned to seek out as a child, while becoming increasingly unfaithful to the religious dogma of her past. Fast-paced, mesmerizing, and brutally honest, Cut Me Loose tells the story of one woman’s harrowing struggle to define herself as an individual. Through Leah’s eyes, we confront not only the oppressive world of religious fundamentalism, but also the broader issues that face even the most secular young women as they grapple with sexuality and identity.
Review: I really enjoyed this memoir. It’s a deeply personal narrative about the heartbreak that happens when your community cuts you off, and the author writes with a raw, honest style that makes you feel like you’re right there with her, even in this world that is so foreign. I was inspired by her resilience and courage. I wish she hadn’t wrapped up the book so quickly at the end, but this is more a case of the author leaving readers wanting more than a defect in the book.
NOVEL: Bread and Butter by Michelle Wildgen
Official Description: Britt and Leo have spent ten years running Winesap, the best restaurant in their small Pennsylvania town. They cater to their loyal customers; they don’t sleep with the staff; and business is good, even if their temperamental pastry chef is bored with making the same chocolate cake night after night. But when their younger brother, Harry, opens his own restaurant—a hip little joint serving an aggressive lamb neck dish—Britt and Leo find their own restaurant thrown off-kilter. Britt becomes fascinated by a customer who arrives night after night, each time with a different dinner companion. Their pastry chef, Hector, quits, only to reappear at Harry’s restaurant. And Leo finds himself falling for his executive chef-tempted to break the cardinal rule of restaurant ownership. Filled with hilarious insider detail—the one-upmanship of staff meals before the shift begins, the rivalry between bartender and hostess, the seedy bar where waitstaff and chefs go to drink off their workday—Bread and Butter is both an incisive novel of family and a gleeful romp through the inner workings of restaurant kitchens.
Review: SUCH a fun & entertaining novel. I appreciated the charged dynamic between the three brothers, and the behind-the-scenes details of running a restaurant were so well written and interesting. The author found a great balance between keeping the plot going and creating a vibrant, real world. I would have appreciated more information about the family that produced these three brothers. I’d definitely read more by this author.
INSPIRATION: God is Whispering to You: How You Can Hear God’s Quiet Voice Above the Noise by Christy Pierce
Official Description: How would things change in your life if you prayed and actually heard God speaking back to you in a way that you knew it was the Spirit of God? In this noisy world of iPhones, text messages, e-mails, Tweets, and all kinds of other voices screaming for your attention, it is hard to tune into God’s quiet, whispering one. And yet, God is talking to you all the time!
Using personal, inspirational, and often comical stories Christy Pierce inspires her readers in a step-by-step approach to experience God whispering for themselves. Practical exercises at the end of each chapter are designed to facilitate hearing God’s voice as an individual or in a small group setting. You can hear God for yourself. You really can. May this book be the beginning of a new chapter in your spiritual life, a holy adventure, where you learn to hear God’s voice in ways you never dreamed possible.
Review: I received this book as a gift from friends of ours who know the author. “She’s one of our favorites,” they said. Reading these pages, I can see why. The writing is down-to-earth, relatable, and yet infused with a sense of awe about how God works in our lives. If you’re curious about hearing from God (or need a reminder that it’s possible) this is a great book to explore.
Happy Reading, all! Hope you have a great weekend :)