I’m joining Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month.
Christmas Joy With Grandma
by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Synopsis: Take an Advent journey with Joseph, Anne-Marie, and Grandmother! Together, you’ll discover the story of Christmas and get ready to welcome Jesus into your own heart and home. Beautifully illustrated, this gentle, loving introduction to the true meaning of Christmas by celebrated author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle will become a beloved book for every family and revisited each holiday season.
My review: Christmas Joy with Grandma is a lovely new children’s Christmas book by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.
The cast of characters in this book includes Grandma, seven-year-old Joseph, his sister, five-year-old Anne-Marie, and Grandma’s kitty, Marmalade. The children have just moved into the house next to their grandmother and are delighted as they make their way from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Before Thanksgiving, Joseph and Anne-Marie have seen Christmas decorations in the stores and other families’ houses and ask Grandma why she doesn’t have her decorations up. Grandma says, “It’s just that I don’t like to rush things. That’s why I have not started decorating for Christmas.”
She explains: “I want to wait patiently for Baby Jesus, you know, like Mary and St. Joseph did.”
Her way of decorating includes using a Nativity scene (but leaving the Baby Jesus figurine out until Christmas Day) and lighting an Advent wreath. A few weeks into Advent, Grandma, and the kids make Advent cookies, and Grandma gradually begins decorating her home until they’re closer to Christmas.
On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Grandma reads the Christmas story from the Bible to her grandchildren. Christmas morning finally arrives, and Grandma, Joseph, Anne-Marie, and their parents exchange presents at the children’s house next door. Once all the gifts are opened, Grandma tells her grandchildren that it’s time to do something important. She takes them back to her house and brings out the Baby Jesus figure. Joseph and Anne-Marie put the Baby Jesus into the Nativity scene.
All in all, as a grandmother (my grandchildren call me Grammy), I thought this was a wonderful book. It’s the author’s first venture into writing fiction. It’s written at an appropriate level for children ages four and up.
I liked the fact that the author talks about not rushing and waiting patiently for Baby Jesus. Our society is one where many (if not most) people tend to put up Christmas decorations even before Advent begins. It’s refreshing to read how Grandma doesn’t just do things because other people do them, but because “Grandma made her own decisions based on what she believed was best.”
The Adventures at Lily Creek, Book One:
A Hermitage of Her Own by Kimberly Cook
Synopsis: A Hermitage of Her Own is the first book in The Adventures at Lily Creek series, an exciting historical fiction for middle-grade readers set in Shenandoah, Virginia. The beloved main character, Gemma Porter, is imaginative, strong-willed, and constantly searching for adventure beyond her sleepy rural town. She relies deeply on her Catholic faith and her conscience to guide her through the mischief she often finds herself in. A Hermitage of Her Own tells the tale of Gemma and her friend Clare, along with two unsuspecting boys who find more than they could ever have imagined.
Available from Full Quiver Publishing!
Prodigal Daughters by Donna Steichen
Amazon Synopsis: In this memorable book, seventeen women of the Baby Boom generation tell their poignant personal stories of apostasy and repentance. Each left the Catholic Church to seek autonomy and fulfillment on the major cultural battlegrounds of this era. Each eventually turned homeward to find, like her prodigal brother in the best-loved of Christ’s parables, that her Heavenly Father had been calling her throughout her absence, watching and yearning for her return.
Feminists in the bureaucratic networks of Catholic dissent continually predict that women will abandon the Church en masse unless they are soon admitted to the hierarchy. The women who recount their experiences in this timely and important book prove the dissenters wrong. They are representative of a growing stream of “reverts” who have recognized and repented of their errors when they rediscovered the living heart of Christ at the center of the Church.
Today, when virtually all faithful Catholics wait and pray for the return of some family member or friend who has strayed from the Church, these accounts of faith reborn offer hope and direction to lift the heart of every reader.
My review: I rediscovered this book when we cleaned off our extensive bookshelves. This is an excellent read about seventeen women leaving the Church and eventually returning home. Highly recommend.
Ashes: Visible & Invisible by Catholic Teen Books Authors
Synopsis: Coming Soon from Catholic Teen Books Authors Theresa Linden, Marie Keiser, Cynthia Toney, Ellen Gable, Antony Kolenc, Amanda Lauer, Carolyn Astfalk, Leslea Wahl, T.M. Gaouette, and Corinna Turner.
- When Liz’s faith journey hits a roadblock, will an unexpected detour and chance encounter set her back on track?
- A teen’s future was all set—before his tragic loss. But his friend’s secret past just might save it.
- Justin’s religion is outlawed. When an unbeliever asks him about the meaning of life, what can he say?
- Could God be asking Paul to sacrifice a piece of himself for Lent—literally?
- A modern American teen discovers what faith, life and love are like in seventeenth-century Scotland.
- Asher’s desire to prepare for the Messiah intensifies after he’s robbed by bandits but would fighting alongside the Zealots be the best way?
- Lexie learns more than a lesson in sacrifice when her pregnant mother asks her to help care for her siblings while her mom is on bed rest.
- When a risky Ash Wednesday mission to sterilize T. rex eggs goes wrong, fasting is the least of Joshua, Darryl, and Harry’s worries.
- A medieval girl stranded on a forsaken path confronts threats from without and turmoil from within.
- Struggling with loss, hunger, and temptation, Ethan finds himself walking in the steps of Jesus.
And now for a few of my favorite Advent books!
Synopsis: Discover how Christians celebrated Christmas before the days of television, shopping malls, and the Internet. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most expectant of holiday seasons is an ideal Advent book to be used every year.
My review: My favorite Advent book and one that I read every year at this time is a book called Donkey Bells. I enjoy reading this inspiring book curled up in a comfortable chair by the wood stove, a hot chocolate or apple cider beside me, Advent and Christmas music playing quietly in the background.
I especially appreciate the heartwarming stories (such as Donkey Bells) as Catherine Doherty was a captivating storyteller. Also included in this book are customs and traditions like celebrating St. Nicholas Day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, The O’Antiphons, the blessing of the Christmas tree and Advent wreath, the Feast of the Holy Family, and the Feast of the Epiphany. Meditations including The Gurgle of a Baby and Looking into the Child’s Eyes are extraordinary and beautifully written.
This book provides an inspirational way for children, teens, and adults to prepare their hearts for Christmas. Available on Kindle and in paperback.
Synopsis: Beginning with the first day of Advent and continuing through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, these selections from the immortal pen of Fulton J. Sheen encourage readers to explore the essence and promise of the season.
My review: This is a beautiful Advent devotional that focuses on quotes from Archbishop Fulton Sheen that are taken from his many published books. Editor Judy Bauer includes many quotes that will inspire the reader to grow in his/her prayer life, to embrace Advent, and to become more prepared to celebrate the arrival of the Savior. Each day contains a Scripture passage relating to the daily readings, a short paragraph from one of Sheen’s books, and a prayer written by Bauer. It only takes a few