Monday, May 12, 2014

Three Gifts of Therese of Lisieux: A Book Review

So there's this girl. She lived in a tiny little village in France. Became a nun in her teens. Died in her early twenties of tuberculosis. Nobody famous at the time.

Yet she's known around the world today.

Therese of Lisieux. 

Small but mighty. Quietly humble in a way that's loud and clear. Though I learned about her as a child, it has only been in the past few years that I've come to develop a deeper admiration for her...a friendship with her. In her own words, she is truly "my sister and my friend."

In January, I had the incredible experience to visit the obscure town of Lisieux, France. When I bought my train ticket in Paris, they didn't even know the town. (Of course, that could have been due to my hopelessly American accent!) It was a crazy adventure all by myself, but full of grace and power and lasting memory. When I arrived home and was perusing books to review, I was delighted to find Three Gifts of Therese of Lisieux, by Patrick Ahern. How perfect!

Little did I know how appropriate this book would be for me. By the time it arrived in the mail, I was picking up the pieces of my broken heart and desperately holding onto hope for the future. Who better to keep me company than Therese, the woman who became holy by living one day at a time with complete trust in and absolute surrender to a loving Father? I liked this book because I saw sides of Therese I hadn't seen before-- her strength, her struggle, her commitment to choosing trust in God. I also appreciated the author, Bishop Patrick Ahern, as he explained and related Therese's example and writings to our lives today.

Ready for some pearls?

"Most of us experience fervent feelings at least occasionally, and some of us do so often. The point Therese makes is that holy feelings do not make us holy. What makes us holy is clinging to God's Will even when the lights go off, persevering in prayer even when prayer is dry and distracted."

"Therese never taught us to seek suffering. What she taught us to do was simply to love life the way it is and ourselves the way we are, to love what she called our 'littleness.'"

" [when dying of tuberculosis] 'If I did not suffer minute by minute it would be impossible, but I see only the present moment. I forget the past and take good care not to anticipate the future.' She had long ago learned that the present moment is the only place where peace and strength are found."

Want more info about the book, including author bio, chapter 1, and more? Check out Image Catholic Books.

 [Thank you, Blogging for Books, for allowing me to review this book at no cost. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Barefoot Summer: A Book Review

Barefoot Summer is a novel unfolding the story of Madison, a young woman who decides to enter a sailboat regatta-- despite her intense fear of water-- because winning the regatta was the one wish of her late twin brother. The subplot digs deeper into Madison's fears, past, family life, and her deep-set (although based on false information) prejudice of Beckett, her handsome sailing coach.

I chose this book to read and review because the title sounded fun, refreshing, and adventurous. Though the book has some positive points, it didn't meet my personal expectations. It's written well with beautiful descriptions and depth, but I felt the story was slow and drawn out. Rather than a large cast of characters, much time was spent on just a few characters and I struggled to stay engaged. I love strong female characters in fiction, but I couldn't connect to Madison for some reason.

Final thoughts? Well written book, but not my personal style or expectations for fiction.

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for the chance to read and review this novel at no cost. The words in this review are my original and honest thoughts.]