Monthly Archives: March 2014

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A Broken Kind of Beautiful

Today I have something a little different and non-food-related to share! You know that I am a huge book lover and last week I discovered a great website called Blogging for Books where you can discover brand new releases and get a free copy to review. This is basically perfect for me because I rarely get the chance to tell you all about the newest (not cookbook) books I’ve read. This way I can! So without further ado, I present…

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What is the book about?

A Broken Kind of Beautiful is a sweet story about the journey of Ivy Clark, a high fashion model in New York City. After attending her father’s funeral in the southern town of Greenbrier, most would except her to stick around and grieve with her family. Even while her father was alive though, Ivy never felt like she belonged down there. Born as the result of an affair, Ivy has really not felt at home anywhere. Instead she drowns herself in modelling work and focuses all of her attention on the goal of becoming a supermodel immortalized in time.

With her 25th birthday just around the corner though, Ivy is no longer the young and fresh model desired by the industry. In a last desperate attempt at regaining her traction in the modelling world, she hesitantly agrees to be the new face of her stepmother’s wedding dress boutique line. In what started as just a few short weeks in Greenbrier quickly turns into a much larger project than Ivy had planned to take on. During the whole time Ivy tries her best to put on an uncaring exterior, but those around her have larger plans.

A highly talented photographer should care nothing more than to make sure that she poses well for his pictures. And the photographer’s younger sister, tragically blinded year’s previous, has no reason to feel for the gorgeous model that is just trying to make trouble for her brother. Yet all three continuously surprise Ivy with their constant faith in her abilities. They see through her pretty exterior to what really lies beneath. They believe that Ivy can still be redeemed and if she were to just open her heart. God is what she needed all along.

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What is the author’s background?

Before becoming a full-time writer, Kate Ganshert graduated from the University of Wisconsin and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years. She currently lives in the midwest with her husband, son, and their black lab, Bubba. Her previous books Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows, are both Christian romance novels and very popular with book clubs. You can learn more about Kate on her press page, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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What did I like?

Having read very few Christian fiction novels before this one, I’ll admit to starting A Broken Kind of Beautiful with a slight bias. Most Christian novels that I have read previously were kind of dry and lacked any serious difficulties aside from the main character slacking on their prayers. While that is a reasonable struggle in life, it is not necessarily one that I want to read about for an entire book. A Broken Kind of Beautiful’s main character, Ivy Clark is the kind of character that you cannot help but feel for. Also, despite her completely different social circle and life goals than me, I found myself compelled to hear about the difficulties that she had experienced, and hope with all of my heart that she would have the strength to overcome them.

Often a main character is so wrought with wrongdoings and feeling sorry for themselves that it is hard to see them as anything else. From the first glimpse of Ivy at her father’s funeral however, there were slight slivers of the truth, rippling beneath the surface, waiting to break free. And with the help of Ivy’s love interest in the story, Davis, break free they did. While Ivy played the perfect strong female lead, Davis was a great, if not entirely unconventional, counterpart. Most lesser male characters would have given up on Ivy. Davis not only stuck with her to the end, but he actually prayed to God for the strength to continue. Actually, several of the main characters would just pray to God right in the middle of their monologues. Explaining it offhand in a review may make it sound like an annoying thing; however, to me it was genuine. Prayer does not, and should not happen only at night before you go to bed. If I’m in a particularly rough spot during the day or need extra strength to get through something, I shoot up a quick one sentence prayer, just like these characters, asking God for help.

While the story-line was smooth and satisfying, my favorite piece had nothing to do with the plot. In every book where humans are involved, they are introduced with a physical description. While Kate Ganshert gave sufficient descriptions to help me picture the characters, she did so in a non-offensive way. First think about this- we are taught from a young age that you shouldn’t judge someone by appearances. It’s unfair and the comparison, while it may make us feel good initially, is just superficial and harmful. Why I ever thought that character descriptions in a book should be any different is beyond me. I loved that Kate Ganshert did not describe the particularly unpleasant actors as ugly, fat, hideous, gross, grimy, pitiful, or creepy. With just a little starting detail we should be able to quickly determine a character’s true outline by their actions and words. This, along with a lack of explicit sexual activity, really marked this as a true pleasure (non-guilty) read.

What did I not like?

I have very few complaints about this novel. Only one really. While I loved the climax and conclusion of A Broken Kind of Beautiful, I was not a fan of the epilogue. The writing style seemed to disconnect from the rest of the novel and could have been left out. There wasn’t any essential additions to the story and although I usually love to have a story tied up neatly in a little bow with all of the details explained, there is something to be said to leave things a little messy. Just enough to leave you thinking, if that makes sense. Still, that was less than 1% of the book and otherwise it was pretty perfect.

What do you need to know?

Whether or not you like Christian books I think you will still like A Broken Kind of Beautiful. If you enjoy books about heroines who overcome obstacles to succeed, or even just sweet love stories, get this book. The only thing I will say though is do not get this book if you are not comfortable in reading a book that mentions God. To get a better taste if this is the next book for you, the publisher has released two full chapter excerpts.

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If you want to find out even more about Kate Ganshert and her new book, she has a great website and blog that you should definitely check out. I loved having the opportunity to read A Broken Kind of Beautiful and really like being able to hear words from the author herself as well. 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review, but all opinions are completely my own. If you think this sounds like a book that you would love, I encourage you to check it out on Amazon or Barnes and Noble now! I literally finished this book in two sittings (split in two only because I finally decided that at 2:00am that morning I should finally get to bed!).

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Questions for you:

What was the last book you read?

Will you read A Broken Kind of Beautiful now?

Do you ever read Christian-based novels?

Inspiring Change: Women’s Equality

Happy International Women’s Day!

This year theme is Inspiring Change.

Women’s equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.

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I wanted to take a kind of different approach to my post for International Women’s Day. Originally I was going to share my thoughts on inspiring change, but just minutes ago a documentary came onto our public television station about this worldwide holiday. The stories are so moving I feel that instead of sharing my tips for inspiring change, it would be more impactful to tell you about a few women who have inspired others to make a change.

Jane Austen

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What did she do?

Today we know Jane Austen as one of the greatest writers of classic literature. In her time though, it was not common for women to be published authors. Through Jane Austen’s books, not only did she provide us with a wide array of strong female characters (also uncommon to the time), she set the stage and opened the door for the male-dominated literature field to be more accepting of women writers.

What did she say?

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”

Susan B. Anthony

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What did she do?

Susan B. Anthony is famous in the United States for helping in the suffrage movement for women. She ended up being arrested and taken to court for her work, but afterward continued to fight until the day she died. Although Susan B. Anthony was never able to vote herself, her almost 50 years of dedication to the movement did eventually lead to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment,  which prevents voters from being discriminated against on the basis of gender.

What did she say?

“I have encountered riotous mobs and have been hung in effigy, but my motto is: Men’s rights are nothing more. Women’s rights are nothing less.”

Amelia Earhart

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What did she do?

Amelia Earhart is probably most well-known for her disappearance in 1937 during her circumnavigational flight around the world. While she was never found, her accomplishments as a pilot before her disappearance did a lot to encourage other females to pursue paths in the male-dominated field of aviation. Amelia Earhart also had a somewhat unconventional marriage for the early 1930s, where she not only perceived both the wife and husband to be equal partners, but in which she kept her maiden name (something unheard of then).

What did she say?

“Women must pay for everything. They do get more glory than men for comparable feats. But, they also get more notoriety when they crash.”

Ellen Degeneres

Ellen DeGeneres

What did she do?

This talk show host may not be the first person that comes to mind when you think of activists for women’s rights, but that’s what makes Ellen Degeneres so perfect for the job- she’s so subtle about it. One of the most recent examples can be seen in her shaming of Abercrombie and Fitch’s sizing declaration. While she made the news story into a joke and had everyone laughing as she shared her opinion on the matter, it still impacted women everywhere. She shared publically on television that Abercrombie and Fitch’s discriminatory policy against plus-sized women was not okay.

What did she say?

“Beauty is not between a size 0 and a size 8. It is not a number at all.”

Malala Yousafazi 

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What did she do?

The most recent in a long line of influential women, Malala Yousafazi who first became well known for her blog with the BBC in 2009 (which originally was anonymous) and then a documentary later which showcased her beliefs on the needs for educational rights for women. She has received numerous death threats for her beliefs and was shot in her school by the Taliban in 2012. After being on the brink of death, she miracuously recovered and has since continued her fight, writing a book and inspiring a backlash in her home country of Pakistan. Currently Malala is heading an education movement that spans worldwide.

What did she say?

“There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights, but this time we will do it by ourselves.”

I hope that hearing the stories of these women were as inspiring to you as they were to me. While there has been much progress towards change thanks to not only these five, but countless more, there is still a long way to go towards seeing men and women as equals in the world. 

Thank you to Jan at Sprouts and Squats for creating a link-up where fellow bloggers can share their posts on International Women’s Day, and also for making me aware of this wonderful even- something that I am happy to be a part of.

“For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.” – Elizabeth Blackwell (the first female U.S. Physician)