book review: Redefining Girly

Blog - Redefining GirlyTitle: Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween

Author: Melissa Atkins Wardy

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Complimentary copy provided via NetGalley

Grade: A+


 “Sexualization affects all races, economic classes, and geographies. It robs children of their right o childhood and to reach psychological developmental milestones fairly, and it affects their self-esteem, body image, and performance in school. Sexualization interferes with kids’ right to develop a healthy sexuality and understanding of intimacy. It can rush them into sexual experimentation and cause problems in future relationships. It causes girls to seek validation from external sources, largely based on their sex appeal and measuring up to a narrowly defined version of beauty known as “the beauty myth.”

“I’m not anti-pink. I’m not anti-princess (although I really do not dig the Disney version). I’m not anti-girly. I’M ANTI-LIMITATION. I want my daughter to be bold. I want her to be unafraid to be intelligent. I want her to be respected for her accomplishments. She will not be raised to think that the world belongs only to boys and that she is merely a pretty thing in it.”

Publisher’s Description

Containing practical, specific parenting advice; strategies for effecting change with educators, store managers, corporations, and more; and tips for challenging and changing the media, this essential guide gives parents the tools they need to fight back against the modern stereotyping and sexualization of young girls. Activist Melissa Wardy shares tangible advice for getting young girls to start thinking critically about sexed-up toys and clothes while also talking to girls about body image issues. She provides tips for creating a home full of diverse, inspiring toys and media free of gender stereotypes, using consumer power to fight companies that make such major missteps, and taking the reins to limit, challenge, and change the harmful media and products bombarding girls. Redefining Girly provides specific parenting strategies, templates, and sample conversations and includes letters from some of the leading experts in education, psychology, child development, and girls’ advocacy.

My Thoughts:

All praise resounds from this reviewer of Redefining Girly with a hearty, “Right on!” Spend any amount of time with me and you realize my passion for combating stereotypes, advancing gender equality, and addressing human trafficking. Like the sticky radials of a spider’s web, the issues are interrelated; education, engagement, and activism of one travels the continuum affecting the others.

What we find in Ms. Wardy’s work Redefining Girly is a well crafted reference guide to navigate the cultural, social, and commercial pressures thrust upon girls today, shaping them to conform to hyper-sexualized roles.

Incorporating compelling scientific research and supporting evidence from many leading industry experts in education, marketing, counseling, etc., Ms. Wardy builds a strong foundation for respectfully challenging gender norms, providing simple avenues of advocacy based on critical thinking and conviction. A notable strength in the author’s delivery is the underlying emphasis on respect, honesty, rationality, and dialogue in the roles of advocacy and engagement.

Offering a systematic exploration of culturally dominant gender-based stereotypes and the negative impact on girls in particular, Redefining Girly walks the reader through the process of:

  • Examining the underlying messages projected in the “Pinkification” and “Princess Culture” marketing campaigns and the impact on gender identity, age compression, early internal sexualization, and body image
  • Discussing gender neutral decisions with family and friends
  • Dialoguing with children using open-ended questions to develop age-appropriate critical thinking skills
  • Challenging gender stereotypes and the commercial sexualization of girls through direct communication with marketers, corporations, and the media
  • Understanding the role of a consumer and the power to produce change through consumer-based advocacy

A secondary strength of Refining Girly is the emphasis on directing the reader to engage in simple, tangible forms of activism. Each chapter includes a list of “Action Steps” to help parents explore the topic, initiate age-appropriate dialogue with children, and engage the larger systems in society perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

It’s not very often I encourage this action, but I believe Refining Girly is a “must read” for anyone working with children: parents, educators, child care workers, pastors/youth leaders, and youth mentors in particular.

About the Author

Author - Redefining GirlyMelissa Atkins Wardy is the founder of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that sells empowering and inspirational children’s apparel and products, and Redefine Girly, a blog focused on the issue of the sexualization of girls. She is the cofounder of The Brave Girls Alliance, a gender equality think tank and advocacy group dedicated to communicating with and influencing media, corporations, and retailers. She has appeared on CNN, FOX News, BlogHer, and in Ms. Magazine. She lives in Janesville, Wisconsin. Jennifer Siebel Newsom is the writer and director of the documentary film Miss Representation and the founder of, a call-to-action movement that provides women and girls the tools to realize their full potential.

To learn more please visit

(I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)


book review: Once Upon a Prince

Blog - Once Upon A PrinceTitle: Once Upon A Prince

Author: Rachel Hauck

Publisher: Zondervan

Complimentary Copy Provided by: NetGalley

Grade: B-


Publisher’s Description:

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by best-selling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale. Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess—just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life. The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simons Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love. Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation. It’s the ultimate choice: His kingdom or her heart? God’s will or their own? ‘This is classic romance at its very best.’ —DEBBIE MACOMBER ‘[A] surprisingly believable royal-meets-commoner love story. With only a subtle nod to Cinderella, this modern and engaging tale follows the budding relationship of an American Southern girl and a pseudo-Brit prince . . . Hauck fans will find a gem of a tale.’ —Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW for Once Upon a Prince.

My Thoughts:

One of the reasons I started to “blog for books” was to branch outside my world of non-fiction, gaining exposure to a range of genres and authors outside of the human trafficking/poverty/ justice related readings I tend to gravitate toward. For the most part the experience of blogging for books has been rewarding and has put some good reads in my lap that I would have ignored were it not for receive a copy for free.

And then, there are times that I just don’t connect with a read. Sadly, this was the case with Once Upon A Prince. I just didn’t connect with the characters or storyline in a way that I felt drawn into their world or circumstances.

I think the primary reason I felt disconnected from the arc of this novel is because I am not a fan of insta-love. I recognize this theme is central to many young adult and contemporary novels, but I think it’s harmful. I think insta-love is damaging to a healthy perception of relationships. I think insta-love undermines the amount of work required to maintain a long-term relationship rooted in commitment and sacrifice. And, I think insta-love sets unrealistic expectations for the psychological, emotional, and social development of trust in relationships.

Now, having said that, once I was able to remove the “insta-love-dislike” cap I was able to finish the novel and find value in the author’s intent. I think Once Upon a Prince was well written, presenting many important themes such as loyalty, social expectations, family roles and responsibility, finding one’s way according to personal passion and interest verse outside pressure … all issues that a reader can relate to in one way or another.

So, while this particular novel may not have been my cup of tea, I think Rachel Hauck to be a gifted writer and am interested in picking up some her other works outside the Royal Wedding/A Year of Weddings series.

(I received a complimentary copy from Zondervan Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Author’s Bio:

My first novel wRachel Hauck - Bestselling Christian Authoras published in 2004, and since then my books have won awards, been bestsellers and I believe have given readers the chance to escape into worlds where they can breathe in the fragrance of Jesus’s love. My hope is my novels take what is true in heaven and make it real on earth in our every day lives.

My prayer is that you will know true JOY and the pleasure of your dreams coming to life! And if my stories can ease your heart for just a moment from what ever load life is laying on you, then I am honored and blessed.

My Favorite Things

• Exercise. Watching the Buckeyes and college football. It’s a “season” in our house.
• Worship/Singing (I’m the worship leader at our church)
• Movies (like Remember The Titans, The Proposal, Notting Hill, It’s a Wonderful Life)
• Love stories (real and made up!)
• Photography
• A good prayer meeting!
• Family and friends – the spice of life.

Your Turn

I think people are fascinating. Which means I think you are fascinating. I loved hearing personal stories of romance, tragedy and triumph, hope, and doubt, sorrows and joys. So I’d love to hear your story if you care to write. You can reach me here


book review: Fun Loving You

Blog - Fun Loving YouTitle: Fun Loving You

Author: Ted Cunningham

Publisher: David C. Cook Publishers

Complimentary Copy Provided via NetGalley

Rating: A

 “Ted Cunningham gets it. Starting with his very first paragraph he shows you how to have

a vibrant, fun-filled marriage. And what I love the most is that he and his wife Amy live

in the real world and know how to relate to our lives.”

Dan Seaborn, speaker, author and founder of Winning at Home

Publisher’s Description:

For a Good Time, Call Home! Ted Cunningham has a surprising definition of marriage: a man and a woman enjoying life together. In fact, God created marriage to be a blast—even when it feels like the rest of life is going to explode. This refreshing book will help you:

  • Laugh together again (it’s easier than you think)
  • Make sex even more exciting than on your honeymoon
  • Discover how to make doing dishes together a party
  • Fight as teammates, not opponents
  • Figure out how to break the routine without breaking the bank
  • Remember why your spouse is the most likeable person you know

Fun Loving You puts laughter, fun, and even spin-the-bottle back into marriage.

My Thoughts:

What a delightful read. If you are married I suggest adding a copy of Fun Loving You to your “Marriage & Relationship” home library shelf. Author Pastor Ted Cunningham’s passion for helping couples live healthy, thriving marriages oozes off every page. With a passion for helping “people develop and maintain loving and honoring marriages,” every chapter of Fun Loving You is filled with encouraging stories, honest advice, practical activities for strengthening communication, and thoughtful reflection questions to engage solo or with your spouse.

While Fun Loving You is written for couples who have been together for some time, as a means to help overcome the routine and complacency that tends to settle into relationships with time, the context will speak to, and benefit, any season of marriage

Author - Ted CunninghamAuthor Bio: Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. A graduate of Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary, Cunningham is the author or co-author of numerous books, including Trophy Child and Young and in Love. He and his wife have two children.