Book Review /// A Call To Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve by Mother Teresa

About A Call To Mercy

Published to coincide with Pope Francis's Year of Mercy and the Vatican's canonization of Mother Teresa, this new book of unpublished material by a humble yet remarkable woman of faith whose influence is felt as deeply today as it was when she was alive, offers Mother Teresa’s profound yet accessible wisdom on how we can show mercy and compassion in our day-to-day lives.
For millions of people from all walks of life, Mother Teresa's canonization is providentially taking place during Pope Francis's Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. This is entirely fitting since she is seen both inside and outside of the Church as an icon of God's mercy to those in need. 
Compiled and edited by Brian Kolodiejckuk, M.C., the postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause for sainthood, A Call to Mercy presents deep yet accessible wisdom on how we can show compassion in our everyday lives. In her own words, Mother Teresa discusses such topics 
        the need for us to visit the sick and the imprisoned
        the importance of honoring the dead and informing the ignorant
        the necessity to bear our burdens patiently and forgive willingly
        the purpose to feed the poor and pray for all
        the greatness of creating a “civilization of love” through personal service to others
Featuring never before published testimonials by people close to Mother Teresa as well as prayers and suggestions for putting these ideas into practice, A Call to Mercy is not only a lovely keepsake, but a living testament to the teachings of a saint whose ideas are important, relevant and very necessary in the 21st century.

My Thoughts On A Call To Mercy

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit how long it has taken me to read through A Call To Mercy (ahem, let's just say a couple months and leave it at that, 'kay!?), as I've been going through a few incredibly rough life challenges + changes that required compassion and mercy, yes, even for myself. That said, this book was just what I needed to pick up and read off and on for the last few months -- there is hope and love and compassion and mercy to be found in these pages; stories full of hope and humanity and suffering and redemption and grief and horror and sacrificial love and what it looks like to show compassion in everyday life. It was an amazing read about an amazing woman and an amazing God. And, yeah, it was a hard read, especially for those like myself who are empaths (super-feelers), but it was such an amazing, moving -- life and faith altering, truly -- and challenging read, nonetheless. This is a book I will be keeping on my bookshelf, and pulling out for when I need to intimately become reacquainted with hope and suffering and faith and mercy towards others, and myself, again and again and again.

My Favorite Lines from A Call To Mercy (so far...)

"The pain of hunger is terrible and that is where you and I must come and give until it hurts. I want you to give until it hurts. And this giving is love of God in action. Hunger is not only for bread, hunger is for love." [pg. 4]

"Let us not use bombs and guns to overcome the world but let us radiate the peace of God and extinguish all hatred and love of power in the world and in the hearts of men." [pg.14]

"Give whatever you can, and if you have nothing, do not worry; give your hands to serve and hearts to love. By helping others, you will be rewarded with peace and joy." [pg. 22]

Stars In The Vast Sea of Books!? FIVE WHOLE STARS! *****

  About the Author

MOTHER TERESA was born in Skopje (present-day Macedonia) in 1910, and joined the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin in 1928.  She left the Loreto order in 1948 to begin the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.  Her service to the poorest of the poor became her life’s work.  She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She died in 1997 and was beatified in 2003. 

FATHER BRIAN KOLODIEJCHUK, M.C. the editor of the New York Times bestseller, Come Be My Light met Mother Teresa in 1977 and was associated with her until her death in 1997.  He is postulator of the cause of the beatification and canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Director of the Mother Teresa Center.

Big shout out to Blogging for Books, as I received this book from them for this review.

Good Religion Gone Bad || Spiritual Sobriety by Elizabeth Esther || A Book Review

About Spiritual Sobriety

It’s easy to get high on God in America.
But is this good religion?

In a compelling follow-up to her memoir, Girl at the End of the World, Elizabeth Esther explores how religious fervor can become religious addiction.

The evidence is everywhere. In families who inexplicably choose to harm their children in order to abide by cultic church doctrine. But in ordinary believers too who use God the same way addicts use drugs or alcohol—to numb pain, alter their mood, or simply to escape the realities of this messy, unpredictable thing called life.

If you’ve ever wondered how a religion that preaches freedom and love can produce judgmental and unkind followers; if you’ve ever felt captive to the demanding God of your own childhood; if you’ve struggled to find contentment without needing another emotional hit from a “life-changing” conference or “mountain-top” experience, then Spiritual Sobriety is for you. The author, who grew up in a hyper-controlling church cult, will help you find hope and rebirth in the ruins of disillusioned faith.

Filled with stories and warm, practical advice, Spiritual Sobriety offers a gentle path out of the desperate cycles of craving-euphoria-hangover and into a freer, clean-and-sober faith practice.

My Thoughts On Spiritual Sobriety

Good faith gone bad? Twisted beliefs? Searching for God? Developing a sober thought life? The genius of moderation? Relapse? True religion? The language of shame? Righteous rhetoric? 

And one of the BIGGER questions we are asked in Spiritual Sobriety is this: "Can a person have a persistent, compulsive dependence on religion?" And the answer, of course, is a resounding "Yes".


^ It's all in the book. And I gotta say, while there are a TON of questions to consider and ponder over, well, I kinda loved thinking through them all -- and let's just say I had a lot of AHA Moments hit me throughout the reading of this book. Basically this book isn't done with me yet, and I can tell. 

Reader, if you are searching for answers, or are questioning the crazy highs-and-lows of your faith -- if you are ready to ditch bad religion and shame and fear and replace it instead with Real Spiritual Living and setting healthy faith-boundaries for yourself, then Spiritual Sobriety needs to be in your hands, or on the very top of the TBR pile on your nightstand. 

Overall? This book is a breath of fresh air after being encased by suffocating bad religion. And I'm daring you right now to ask the tough questions, to step away, and to seek to find again a renewing faith in these pages -- because it's hidden in there somewhere for you to uncover. 

Photo by Jennifer Imus


Elizabeth Esther is the author of Girl at The End of the World: my escape from fundamentalism in search of faith with a future. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their five children.

Want to read my review of Elizabeth Esther's first book 'Girl At The End of the World?' Click here

Big shout out to Blogging for Books, as I received this book from them for this review.

Cats In Paris: A Magical Coloring Book by Won-Sun Jang

My Thoughts: I am definitely a fan of the new adult coloring book fad, because being an adult with a coloring book stash is now socially acceptable again. I'm so glad I got to add not only another beautiful + fun adult coloring book to my private stash, but one that is full of Korean artist Won-Sun Jang's absolutely beautiful feline-inspired artwork. 

And my precious feline bebe, Becket, approves -- he loved watching me color in Cats In Paris and helped me pick out my colored pencils by rolling them around on the bed for me. 

If you love adult coloring books, gorgeous + unique artwork, Paris, travel, or felines, this one is for you, friends. 

Full Synopsis: This gorgeously illustrated adult coloring book draws readers into the secret world of cats in Paris as they explore the city's most famous (and feline-friendly) spots.

Say bonjour to the cats of Paris as they slink through its fabled streets and alleyways, from Montmartre to the Shakespeare and Company bookshop and into a feline-filled land of playful imagination. Featuring intricate pen-and-ink drawings of tabbies, Persians, Siamese, and more, this evocative coloring book’s frisky kitties lie in wait for your colorful stylings.

Photo: © Ten Speed Press
About The Author: Won-Sun Jang is an award-winning Korean illustrator whose work has appeared in Vogue KoreaElle KoreaBazaar Korea, and InStyle Korea, and clients include MAC Cosmetics and Clinique. Winner of the Children’s Books Illustration Award from Kemongsa Publishers, she currently works as a package designer in Seoul, Korea. Since meeting Eva the Norwegian Forest Cat fourteen years ago, she has fallen in love with cats and the inspiration they bring to her art.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Sound of Silver /// Cover Reveal

Back Cover Blurb

The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One is fighting for faith, the other for honor…

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?

About The Author

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote The Sound of Silver the summer after her junior year of college.

Release Date: October 15th, 2015

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Want to be in on every bit of info before it goes live, such as future cover reveals, and blog tours? Join The Steadfast Love Series Launch Team Facebook group:! All book-lovers welcome!

Book Review /// Hot Body Year Round by Cassey Ho


Cassey Ho, internationally renowned fitness instructor, is known for her irresistibly popular workout videos which have been shared millions of times online. She runs the #1 women’s fitness channel on YouTube, Blogilates. Her unique format, POP Pilates© is a fusion of ab-chiseling, butt lifting, total body sculpting exercises that are performed using only your bodyweight. Cassey’s personality is bubbly, inspiring, and infectious. But don’t let the smile fool you – her workouts will leave you sweating and sore for days. By following Ho’s super effective workout plans and clean-eating recipes, you will transform your body towards a stronger, sleeker, and happier version of you.
Hot Body Year Round is your ULTIMATE exercise and nutrition guide to living a fit, happy, and healthy life while sculpting your HOTTEST body.
Cassey will show you how to stay motivated throughout the year, no matter what the challenges are. You will get:

- 120 of Cassey’s BEST total body transforming exercises
- The complete POP Pilates exercise library – fully photographed and easy to follow
- 20 full length workouts
- 40 brand new, ridiculously delicious & nutritious recipes
- Foods for beautiful hair, skin, and nails
- 4 complete clean eating meal plans & grocery lists that complement each season
- Cassey’s personal daily meal plan
- Motivational tips to stay inspired year-round
- 256 pages of full color, glossy inspiration


I'm SO excited about this book! I've been doing Cassey's workouts for the last couple of years, and I highly recommend you check out her Youtube Channel + her POP Pilates Total Body Workout DVD. In Hot Body Year Round you'll get an insight into Cassey's life story, Pilates history, learn how to eat cleaner, get slim, and live your happiest life now through every waking season. 

Obviously I haven't done every single workout yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to continuing working (and clean eating) my way through Cassey's Hot Body Year Round.

Also worthy of noting, the photography, typography, and general overall layout of this book is fresh and exciting and fabulous! And have I mentioned . . . beautiful!? Because this book is beautiful, and challenging, and chock full of POPster Greatness.  

Whether you're new to the Pilates game, or you're a well-seasoned POPster, you'll love working out and clean eating your way through this gorgeously laid out and well written book. And if you're not familiar with Cassey Ho, well, shame on you for not knowing about her -- but I promise you that this book will be a glorious intro!

                                                                                    *** I received this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review ***


Cassey Ho is an internationally renowned, award-winning fitness instructor and online personality. She is the creator of Blogilates, the #1 female fitness channel on Youtube with over 200 million video views and 2 million subscribers. In a revolutionary partnership, Cassey’s unique format, POP Pilates© which launched on Youtube in 2009, is now being turned into a live class that can be taken at 24 Hour Fitness gyms nationally beginning in 2015. She’s also the star of her own top selling POP Pilates DVDs at Target stores. Cassey is the designer of an activewear collection, BODYPOP Active which launched in Fall 2014. Her designs feminine silhouettes and colorful palettes have proven to be extremely popular.

Cassey’s blog,, was named the top healthy living blog by Fitness Magazine in 2012 and, recently, she took home the Streamy Award for Best Health and Wellness Channel for 2014. Greatist named her one of the Top 25 Most Influential People in the world in Health and Fitness for 2015. She has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Extra, The Steve Harvey Show, The Wendy Williams Show and in Shape, Fitness, Cosmopolitan, and Seventeen magazines, among many others.

The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea | Novel Review + Book Birthday Celebration


Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates.

With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. But when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle's castle. She doesn't dare to trust him...and yet doesn't dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent.

Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her but what is he to do when those goals clash?

The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope...or be overcome.

My Review

Confession? Inspirational Fiction and Christian Romance are usually nowhere to be seen on my reading list or genre radar, however,  I love history, and my dearest friend, Rachelle Rea, is this debut novel's author. So, I just had to give this (inspy) genre another go, to support my best friend and the story of her heart. And I'm so glad I did. Because what I got was a brilliant schooling on the 1500's Low Countries, The Iconoclastic Fury, The Reformation Era, and how sometimes life must drag us from places of Hatred to Hope to Healing before we can truly see God's plan for our lives - His redemption and grace at work for us, us who are often blind, but wish to truly see unhindered. 

Rachelle is an incredibly skilled storyteller, weaving together smooth dialogue, a well paced story, gritty blind faith, two leading alternating protagonists, and an excellently researched history in this, the very first installment of her Steadfast Love Series published by WhiteFireI'm very much so looking forward to seeing what happens to Dirk (my favorite character) and Gwyn (the girl who started to grow on me), and their story of steadfast love, in the following two installments of The Steadfast Love Series, The Sound of Silver (October 2015) and The Sound of Emeralds (2016.)

Abduction. Blind Faith. Hope. Healing. Love. Honor. Mystery.
These are the places The Sound of Diamonds will surely lead you through.

If you love authors MaryLu Tyndall, Melanie DickersonDeeanne GistRachel Heffington, and Meghan Gorecki, you will be sure to love The Sound of Diamonds by debut inspy author Rachelle Rea

Author Bio

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote The Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

Author Links


The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm, M.D.

Synopsis: Every mother wants the best for her unborn child, from the baby’s conception to birth. What’s more, every mother wants clear, straightforward information delivered in a calm empowering voice from someone who knows the facts. Enter Dr. Aviva Jill Romm, an expert in natural childbirth with more than twenty years of experience both alternative and allopathic medicine. In this newly revised third edition, Dr. Romm takes a holistic approach, emphasizing natural remedies wherever possible and providing up-to-date advice on herbs that promote wellness during pregnancy, and alleviate such familiar concerns as anxiety, fatigue, morning sickness, and stretch marks. With tips for a nutritious diet, exercise and posture, and information on the emotional and physical changes that childbearing brings, The Natural Pregnancy Book is your comprehensive guide to a safe, healthy pregnancy, as nature intended it.

My Review: As someone who is interested in herbs, holistic health, and in want of naturally birthing my own babies someday (hopefully in the not-so-distant future) I really enjoyed reading through the multitude of wonderful information in the newly revised edition of The Natural Pregnancy Book. Pregnancy topics covered are: a history of birthing practices, learning how to pay attention to your own body, emotional and physical changes, diet and exercise, looks into each trimester, and herbs and their uses to help you throughout your entire natural pregnancy. All of the material covered here is invaluable to those “wannabe crunchy mamas” who are actively pursuing the chance to have an all-natural pregnancy, and want to live out and promote a healthier lifestyle for themselves, their babies and their family.

I will be keeping my copy of this book on the shelf in wait of that glorious day when I can announce “I’m pregnant!” and then I’ll boldly go about pursuing my own path towards an all-natural pregnancy of my own.

About The Author:

Aviva Jill Romm, MD, is a physician and highly respected expert in botanical medicine, childbirth, women’s health, and pediatrics. She practiced as a homebirth midwife and herbalist for more than twenty years, becoming one of the first certified professional midwives (CPM) in the United States, and graduated from Yale School of Medicine, where she was instrumental in creating  the school’s first integrative medicine curriculum. Visit for more information.

*I received a copy of this book for free from the Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea // Cover Reveal

Not only do I get to reveal a gorgeous novel cover today, but I also get to share The Daring Girl's biggest dream come true with all of you too! I'm so beyond excited for you, and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of this, the story of your heart, Rachelle Rea! Congratulations, beautiful!

Back Cover Blurb

In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption. 

An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth's only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her. 

But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope...or be overcome? When Dirk s plan fails, could all be lost?

About The Author

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote The Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

Release Date: June 15th, 2015

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Want to be in on updates before they go live, such as future cover reveals and blog tours? Join The Steadfast Love Series Launch Team Facebook group here:! All book-lovers welcome!

Portals of Water & Wine by R.L. Haas // Book Review

A faerie tale with dazzling descriptions and an array of abundantly charming characters . . .

What I Loved /// 
R.L. Haas had my mouth watering at sumptuous lasagna, Each Uisce, and a Dreadlocked Faerie King. The strongest weapon in her arsenal by far are her breath-taking proseful descriptions, from showing us ugliness in the human world (Derrick, anyone?) to battling iron clawed Fae armies of old, to the sensuous breaking of bread between a woman and a Fae King, which to myself seemingly paralleled a woman and her lord coming into an intimate sacred communion with one another. I loved every morsel of adventure, truly. I also found it exceedingly easy to leave the real world behind in favor of joining the Alonthielien realm, alongside Naya - a young woman who lives in utter chaos after the death of her mother - and an equally charming cast of four-factioned fae characters. M'lad Harris has an exceedingly special place in my Irish and fae-loving heart, too, as he is an insanely loving, jovial, and charming individual with a flare for fashion, and oddity, that would rival Alice In Wonderland's the Mad Hatter, if I dare to say so. Watching Naya release the chains of her past that had bound her for so long throughout the novel, in favor of boldly staking claim of her own freedom and the fire within her, was a thing of beauty to behold. Irena is the fae-princess best friend that everybody wants in their life, and Tian - strong, valient, quiet, poetic, Fae King Tian. Sigh. As you can see my love for these characters runs deep. 

And that ending. I'll zip my lips, but I'll confess that I nearly screamed.

What I Didn't Love /// 
*Trigger Abuse Warning* There are a few scenes in the first half of the book that honestly made me squirm a bit due to the abuse that Naya experiences. There is cursing throughout this faerie tale, as well, which may prove to be a turn off for some readers, however, I was not offended by the cursing. I did notice a few grammatical and punctuation errors as I read through the book - not enough to make me stop reading it, but they were distracting on occasion. 

My Overall Thoughts? 4.5 stars! I absolutely loved the fae world that R.L. Haas has created in Portals, as it is one where you start to see the characters slowly start to break their mundane molds, in favor of finding the fire within themselves to face off against the rising malevolent force, which shall remain nameless. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment in the Portals Trilogy! If you love books by Maggie Stiefvater and Cassandra Clare and Madeleine L'Engle then you'll fall for this book!

R. L. Haas is one of the wild ones, writing Faerie stories from her little self-declared cottage surrounded by Midwestern cornfields and never enough coffee. Her non-fiction work has appeared in such online publications as SheLoves Magazine and Literary Orphans. She lives with her beloved husband and equally wild daughter, along with their oversized Great Dane. They are ruled over by two fluffy cats. She blogs about her faith, her heart, and her ever-growing literary obsessions at

venturing bravely into wider seas

At The Shore Of A Wider Sea by Mark Reep  I just discovered this brilliant artist today. Bless his skill with coin and words of gratitude, will you, if you can do so?
Disturb us, O Lord, when we are too well-pleased with ourselves when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, O Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the water of life when, having fallen in love with time, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim. Stir us, O Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas where storms show Thy mastery, where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes and invited the brave to follow. Amen - Sir Francis Drake

/ / / / / 
This. This is the very invitation I've been waiting for all week. My invitation to be disturbed and daring and brave; to walk farther, to dream bigger, to be bolder; to drink living waters that will quench this desert heart of mine. Am I at fault? Having fallen in love with the comfortable secure, and gladly watching time and my dreams stand still in vain. I have been graciously invited to follow the Eternal One into this greater unknown in search of a more beautiful heaven-seeking and dream-seeking life every day. Today I am overwhelmed and undone. Have I just been waiting for new horizons to appear? Too afraid to jump; chest pounding with the knowing of this new path to be forged, to be fought for. So, with rippled breaths and quaking bones, I step off of this comfortable shaded cliff and venture out into the dim uncomfortable blinding light in search of these hopefully-non-mythic wider seas where the storms show His mastery. I stagger and stumble amid these uncertain waves. And though I may clasp onto my lifeless lungs in human fear, I feel the Spirit as it envelops me in my rawness - breathing into me deeply, providing every ounce of life-breath and faith that I need to make this called upon journey. I seek to become unafraid, unafraid of losing this sight of land, in favor of glimpsing the blessed unknown up ahead. And we cannot forget the stars.

Why, yes, everything will be okay. I am made brave-heart.