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Offerings by Christine Sunderland is a wonderfully entertaining novel which includes an interesting and engaging story as well as rich historical and descriptive passages.
Madeleine and Jack have been together for many years and have endured many trials. The novel begins with a flashback of Jack’s father dying, an event from which Jack has never truly recovered. The first chapter takes place at Madeleine’s son’s wedding where Jack collapses. Madeleine finds out that he has cancer and has months to live. The doctor convinces Madeleine not to share with Jack how serious his condition is. Her husband’s life could be extended, the doctor tells Madeleine, if he undergoes a risky procedure. However, the physician who has perfected this risky procedure has gone “on vacation” and is not available to do the surgery.
Madeleine and Jack travel to Europe to search for the elusive Dr. Rachelle DuPres. Rachelle is not “on vacation,” but is trying to discern the meaning of life and questioning her vocation to be a doctor after one of her patients dies. The story goes back and forth between Madeleine and Jack’s story and Rachelle’s compelling spiritual journey.
Sunderland’s beautiful writing, descriptions and history were so real that I felt like I was accompanying Madeleine, Jack and Rachelle on their respective travels through Europe. Although I was familiar with some of the history she included, I thoroughly enjoyed the historical background of the different European cathedrals, the Crusades and the Miraculous Medal.
I highly recommend this beautifully written book to anyone who enjoys a great story with well-developed characters and the occasional history lesson.
I can certainly understand why this novel won the Bronze Medal in Religious Fiction at the 2010 IPPY Awards (the same year my novel, In Name Only, won the Gold Medal.)
Offerings is available through Amazon.
Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach
I was introduced to Nancy Carabio Belanger last year through the Catholic Writers Guild and Catholic Fiction.net. I was asked to review her first book, “Olivia and the Little Way,” (my review here), then later her second novel, “Olivia’s Gift” (review here). These beautiful books are ideal for pre-teens and teens, although adults would also enjoy them. Enjoy this excerpt below from Olivia’s Gift, Chapter 20.
Olivia’s heart started to beat wildly. This wasn’t right. They weren’t supposed to be doing this. She thought back to Danny’s book. The Loggerhead turtle eggs were supposed to stay covered until they were ready to hatch, right? They shouldn’t be disturbing them in this way.
“Okay, you found the eggs!” she pleaded, desperate. “Now cover them back up and let’s go!”
The boys said nothing as Brandon picked up one of the eggs and held it in his hand. “Looks like a ping-pong ball,” he said with a grin. “It’s squishy. Wanna hold one?”
Olivia stared at him in the moonlight. “No way. Put it back.”
Brandon stood up. “Come on; it won’t bite. Here.” He gently placed it in Olivia’s palm. She stared down at it in shock, her eyes wide. She breathed heavily. This felt totally wrong, yet, after reading Danny’s book, she was curious. Was there really a baby turtle in there? She lifted her hand and peered at the tiny egg for a closer look. It was leathery and soft.
Okay. I looked at it. Time to put it back. She started to lower her hand and give it back to Brandon, but something stopped her.
Olivia’s heart skipped a beat as she watched the tiny egg tremble back and forth in her hand. It rolled around a couple of times, then stopped.
The baby turtle was inside and it was moving!
Oh Lord, she cried inwardly. What have I just done?
Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…her mind raced. She suddenly thought of Mrs. Duggan and her baby moving and kicking inside her belly.
Doing somersaults. Alive.
“I don’t want this! Put it back. It moved! Put it back and cover them back up!” she demanded frantically. She gave it back to Brandon, trusting that he would do the right thing once he knew the truth: that there was a live baby turtle inside.
Next to her, Hayley gasped. “She told you it moved! Brandon, they’re alive! Put them back NOW!” cried Hayley.
Brandon held up the egg with a sinister look on his face. This was not about to happen. This was not…Olivia’s face grew white with horror.
Nancy’s iCatholic profile: http://icatholic.catholictv.com/profile/NancyCarabioBelanger
Nancy’s My Catholic Blog interview:
Thank you, Nancy, for allowing me to post an excerpt from your wonderful book!
My latest review at Amazing Catechists is for a fabulous new book designed to assist families in growing in virtue:
Are you looking for a book which will help your family increase in virtue? Catholic Family Bootcamp is an ideal resource for assisting your family not only in reinforcing the spiritual virtues, but also in strengthening emotional bonds with your closest family members.
“I have only one goal in providing you with this devotional book: to help your families increase in virtue,” says author Mary Lou Rosien at the beginning of this terrific new book, Catholic Family Bootcamp, a 30-day devotional workout for families. The boot camp, in this case, is a training camp in the virtues: hope, love, justice, temperance, fortitude, prudence, faith.
The author shares with readers that her son is in the military and that when he went to boot camp, he came back physically and mentally stronger and prepared to fight the enemy.
So too are American families “fighting an enemy. It is a strong, fierce enemy that attacks us through the media, in our schools on the playgrounds, and even sometimes in areas of worship. It seeks to destroy families.”
This wonderful book is filled with Scripture, Catechism and saint’s quotes, true stories, activities and refreshingly honest admissions from the author that even as adults, parents have areas which need improvement.
The best thing about this book is that all the work has been done for you…it’s easy to follow and very user-friendly.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book are: “Observation is the biggest part of learning,” “When you love someone you become an expert in them,” “When someone acts unlovable, that is when they need love the most.”
I absolutely loved Catholic Family Bootcamp and I highly recommend this wonderful, easy-to-follow resource to everyone who wishes to increase in virtue and grow in holiness.
You can purchase it at the book’s website. Right now until June 1st, if you leave a comment and include your email address, you’ll be automatically entered to win a free copy of Catholic Family Bootcamp.
To pre-order the book on Amazon:
Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Coping with infertility is challenging, especially in this day and age when new reproductive procedures are making it easier to give birth to a biological child. However, it is important that a couple ensures that whatever assistance they receive be in accord with Catholic Church teaching.
For the past 26 years, in our capacity as NFP teachers, my husband and I have counseled many infertile couples. They often come to us after actively seeking a pregnancy for many months. In some of the cases, teaching them NFP and helping them to determine the most fertile time (as well as giving them ways to increase their fertility) eventually results in a much-desired pregnancy. However, there were some who, despite those tips, did not become pregnant.
Here are some pointers which may help couples to cope with infertility and to increase the likelihood of pregnancy:
Pray. While this might seem like an unimportant part of the process, it is probably the most essential. Pray for God’s will. Ask others to pray for you. In our own case, when my third son was a year old, I became pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy and nearly hemorrhaged to death. Afterwards, we were told to avoid pregnancy for at least one year (although our doctors strongly advised against ever getting pregnant again). When the year was over, with much thought and prayer, we decided to actively seek another pregnancy. More than a year went by, 17 cycles. No pregnancy. We were praying for God’s will. I really wanted another child, but I was open and began to sell all my baby furniture and clothes. I stopped charting and all of a sudden, I realized that I hadn’t gotten my period when I thought. Because I hadn’t been keeping accurate charts, I bought a pregnancy test and was shocked to discover that it was positive! Never underestimate the power of prayer.
Take accurate basal body temperatures and mucus readings to determine whether the wife is actually ovulating.
Pay attention to nutrition. For more information on this, I highly recommend Marilyn Shannon’s excellent book, Fertility Cycles and Nutrition.
See a fertility specialist NaPro Technology has helped many women become pregnant. For more information on Natural Procreative Technology http://www.naprotechnology.com/
Do not consent to immoral practices for semen analysis. Use moral procedures to enhance the marital act; not replace it. For semen analysis, a couple can use the Sims-Huhner method of semen collection (which involves the couple engaging in normal marital sex and using a condom with a hole to preserve the procreative aspect of the marital act, but still collecting the semen for analysis).
Fertility drugs are acceptable, as long as the couple does not consent to selective abortion if multiples are conceived.
Artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization are not morally acceptable (see CCC 2376-2377) because they omit the unitive aspect from the marital act.
Consider adoption: At 2379, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.”
Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Excellent article by Trevin Wax over at LifeSiteNews: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/five-signs-the-pro-life-cause-is-winning?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=958e5d1560-LifeSiteNews_com_Canada_Headlines05_20_2011&utm_medium=email
The pro-life cause is winning. In state legislatures, in the media, and in grassroots efforts to reduce the number of abortions, pro-life activists have put abortion rights advocates on defense. The pro-life movement certainly has hurdles to overcome before the United States can become a place where all human life is legally protected. Yet the eventual outcome is certain. Here are five reasons I believe we have reached a tipping point in favor of the pro-life cause.
Click the link above to read the rest of this article.
My new book, Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship, will be released on June 15th. The book’s website has been updated with a new book trailer as well as some advanced reviews. Many thanks to my son, Ben, and my husband, James, for helping with the book trailer.
Also, if you are on Facebook, please feel free to “like” the Come My Beloved Facebook page: