An Open Book – June 2019 #openbook

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I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.  Here’s what I’ve been reading:


Martyrs: Brave Hearts #2

Kathryn Griffin Swegart

Amazon Synopsis: Just released. Father Sebastian Rale was a little-known Jesuit missionary who lived among the Wabanaki people from 1689-1724. In this riveting story, readers travel into the Maine wilderness and witness the heart of a true martyr for the Faith. Like St. Isaac Jogues, Father Sebastian Rale was a heroic missionary to the New World. Martyrs is an unforgettable story of courage, faith, and enduring friendship. This piece of historical fiction for readers 10-14 is an inspiring book for young and old alike. Kathryn Griffin Swegart is an Amazon-bestselling author in Children’s Christian Historical Fiction.

My review: I helped to edit and format this book.  Wonderful but challenging story to read. Highly recommend!

Unlikely Witness

Unlikely Witness

Leslea Wahl

Amazon Synopsis: When four friends vacation together in the Colorado Rockies, they expect a week of hiking, biking, and rafting – not being interrogated by the FBI.

Unlikely Witnesses combines the characters of Leslea Wahl’s award-winning YA mysteries, The Perfect Blindside and An Unexpected Role, in an all-new adventure.

Jake is a silver-medal-winning snowboarder. His famous face makes it hard to go anywhere unnoticed. Sophie, his devoted girlfriend, is an aspiring journalist whose camera is never far from her side.

Sophie’s cousin Ryan, a high school baseball star, enjoys an ongoing prank war with his cousin. His girlfriend Josie adds excitement to all situations with her uncanny flair for the dramatic.

Between Josie’s mishaps, Jake’s celebrity status, and Sophie and Ryan’s friendly feud their peaceful family vacation turns into a comedic adventure. But, when these four teens stumble upon a mystery, things become downright dangerous.

The fun and intrigue of this short story is paired with a reminder that if we live our lives as Christians, we never know when we might be a witness for Christ.

My review: On my to-read shelf.

Hope Series Book One

Flight 258 by Staci Stallings (Hope Series #1)

Amazon Synopsis: Life has not been fair to Jenna Davis. After losing everything she considered her world three years ago, her only hope has been holding on and trying to survive. When she finally decides she must find a way to go on with life, she boards a plane destined to visit a friend across the country. But she hadn’t counted on meeting a handsome stranger and his young son on the flight, nor could she have prepared herself for what life would throw at her next. Can Jenna find love again after tragedy strikes or is she destined to go from one tragedy to another forever?

Scott Browning was devastated when his marriage broke up. With his young son, Lane, he is learning to pick up the pieces and go on with life. On his way home from a visit to his parents, Scott meets a young woman who will change everything, just before his own life is thrown into question. Most couples think about love at first sight. Could this one be love at first death?

My Review: I’m a sucker for airplane crash stories and romances, so when I saw this on sale for .99, I bought it on Kindle.  I’m enjoying the story and the crash is extremely well done.  My only criticism is the occasional obvious typo or grammatical error.

This Daring Journey (heart of the mountains 4)

This Daring Journey (Heart of the Mountains #6)

by Misty Beller

Amazon Synopsis:  The only hope to keep her newborn baby alive is to reach the safety of her Indian people… This mountain man is the last person she should trust to get her there.

As a half-Indian raised among her Peigan tribe, Moriah Clark knows better than to trust white people. The tragedy that resulted in her birth is proof enough. But when her trusted grandfather marries her to a white man, she has no choice but to obey and hope this new life isn’t her downfall. Her white husband turns out to be a decent sort, but his unexpected death left her to birth a newborn baby among hostile mountain men. She wants nothing more than to retreat to the safe haven of her tribal upbringing. When a mysterious frontiersman arrives on her doorstep seeking her deceased husband, his offer to escort her and the babe to her people seems like the opportunity she’s been praying to find. But can she trust him?

Samuel Grant has been sent to retrieve Henry Clark for his sister’s wedding, but the sight that greets him at the little cabin in the woods is not what he expected. Not only has the man died, but Henry’s wife is fighting off an aggressive gang of men at gunpoint—while trying to conceal a newborn. He can’t leave the pair unattended, so helping her travel into the mountain country to reach her family seems like the only option. If he can win her trust, that is.

Such a grueling journey with a three-week-old baby will be risky, but the challenges that arise test them far more than either expected. When a devastating surprise increases the danger ten-fold, Moriah focuses all her efforts on keeping her newborn daughter alive. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t realize how much of her heart belongs to the mountain man—until it’s too late.

My review: Downloaded this for free on Kindle.  On my To-Read shelf.

Rock Hudson

All that Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson by Mark Griffin

Amazon synopsis: The icon worshipped by moviegoers and beloved by his colleagues appeared to have it all. Yet beneath the suave and commanding star persona, there was an insecure, deeply conflicted, and all too vulnerable human being. Growing up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, Hudson was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother.

Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, the young hopeful was transformed from a clumsy, tongue-tied truck driver into Universal Studio’s resident Adonis. In a more conservative era, Hudson’s wholesome, straight arrow screen image was at odds with his closeted homosexuality.

As a result of his gay relationships and clandestine affairs, Hudson was continually threatened with public exposure, not only by scandal sheets like Confidential but by a number of his own partners. For years, Hudson dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. The disclosure that such a revered public figure had contracted the illness focused worldwide attention on the epidemic.

Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, All That Heaven Allows finally delivers a complete and nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating stars in cinema history.

Author Mark Griffin provides new details concerning Hudson’s troubled relationships with wife Phyllis Gates and boyfriend Marc Christian. And here, for the first time, is an in-depth exploration of Hudson’s classic films, including Written on the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, and the cult favorite Seconds. With unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, Griffin pays homage to the idol whose life and death had a lasting impact on American culture.

My review: I’m a long-time fan of Rock Hudson’s and have seen most of his movies and TV appearances.  When in 1985 the news came out that he was dying of AIDS, I was shocked, but nevertheless prayed for him and for his soul.  I’ve read other biographies, but this one is an extremely well-written book in which the author does an excellent job of not judging Hudson, but just stating the facts.  Yes, there were some shocking revelations, but at the core of Rock Hudson’s being was a kindness and an unpretentiousness that, despite his closeted “secret” life, everyone who met him was drawn to him and say they came away a better person.  I was especially happy to hear that his companion, knowing that Rock was baptized Catholic, sent for a priest who gave Rock the “Last Rites.” After the priest left, Rock allegedly told his companion, “Thank you for that.” Highly recommend for fans of Rock Hudson. Though it alludes to his gay lifestyle, it isn’t graphic.


Win a Free Audio-book of Stealing Jenny

Would you like to win a free audio-book of Stealing Jenny?  Just leave a comment below to receive a code for your free book.  The first ten to comment will receive a free audio-book. This is not a contest. All you need to do is leave a comment and I’ll send you a code.

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After a difficult pregnancy, Jenny and Tom are days away from having their sixth child. But when Jenny is kidnapped by a deranged woman, the family must summon all of their faith as Jenny fights for her life.

Stealing Jenny will keep you on the edge of your seat and probably destroy your sleep pattern as you stay up to find out what happens.” Sarah Reinhard, author, blogger

Tortured Soul – VBT

Today, I’m participating in Theresa Linden’s virtual book tour for her new book, Tortured Soul:


A single woman evicted from her family home. A terrifying specter that only she sees. A dark connection between his past and hers…

After her father’s tragic death and her mother’s recent passing, loss leaves an emptiness Jeannie Lyons can’t fill. Now she must leave her family home, the one place where her parents’ memory still lives.

An old house on the edge of town becomes Jeannie’s new home, one too big for her and her three-legged cat, but she soon gets the impression she’s not alone. Her brother blames her overactive imagination. Her sister-in-law suggests counseling. Her would-be boyfriend is the only one who believes her, but can she trust him? With nowhere to turn, Jeannie must face her inner demons and confront this soul from beyond the grave.

Set in modern times, this supernatural thriller is inspired by the apparitions from souls in purgatory to Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929). 




My review: Like the author’s other books, I was completely enthralled with Tortured Soul, a supernatural thriller. The characters are believable and well-developed and the story rings true. Read it in two sittings. Highly recommend. 5/5.


Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction that weaves the natural with the supernatural. She has several published novels, including a dystopian trilogy, a contemporary young adult series, two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body, and a short story in Secrets: Visible & Invisible. She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild. Her books can be found on, Catholic Reads, FORMED and Virtue Works Media. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.

Open Book – May 2019 #openbook #prolife

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I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for Open Book!  Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month!



Unplanned by Abby Johnson

Amazon Synopsis: Unplanned is a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation that speaks hope and compassion into the political controversy that surrounds this issue. Telling Abby’s story from both sides of the abortion clinic property line, this book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the life versus rights debate and helping women who face crisis pregnancies.

My review: Wonderful, but heart-wrenching, book to read. I wanted to read it before I saw the movie (it still isn’t available in Canada).  I’ve spoken to one of the writers/directors and he assured me they’re doing everything they can to bring the movie to Canada and worldwide. I’m praying that this book and movie will change hearts and lives.  Highly recommend!

Foot of the Cross

The Foot of the Cross by Fr. Frederick Faber

Amazon Synopsis: This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

My review: I read this book during Holy Week. It’s a wonderful book (written in the mid-1850’s by Fr. Frederick Faber) that highlights the Sorrows of Mary being intimately connected to the Sorrows of Our Lord.  I cannot recommend this one highly enough!


The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book

by Vince Waldron with Dick Van Dyke

Amazon Synopsis: The most acclaimed comedy of TV’s golden age, The Dick Van Dyke Show comes to life in this fun-filled and impeccably researched book, the first and only authorized biography of television’s most influential comedy. Readers are afforded full backstage access at the making of one of America’s most beloved comedies in a book that’s packed with exclusive behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the show’s entire cast and crew, including Carl Reiner, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, and, of course, Dick Van Dyke himself.  Illustrated with more than 150 rare photos–many of them never before published–this indispensable companion to The Dick Van Dyke Show also features the first and only complete viewer’s guide to all 158 episodes of the show, including Carl Reiner’s Head of the Family, the pilot film that started it all.  Written in an engaging style by the Emmy-winning writer and journalist Vince Waldron, The Official Dick Van Dyke Show really is the definitive book on television’s definitive comedy show.

My review: This is one of my favorite classic TV shows (tied only with “I Love Lucy”). I’ve had this book for a few years, but when Amazon Prime added the Dick Van Dyke Show to Prime, I decided to re-read it along with watching all these old episodes. Highly recommend this to all fans of the Dick Van Dyke Show.  It’s a show that the entire family can watch and enjoy.


Tortured Soul by Theresa Linden

To be published May, 2019. Goodreads Synopsis: A single woman evicted from her family home. A terrifying specter that only she sees. A dark connection between his past and hers…   After her father’s tragic death and her mother’s recent passing, loss leaves an emptiness Jeannie Lyons can’t fill. Now she must leave her family home, the one place where her parents’ memory still lives.

An old house on the edge of town becomes Jeannie’s new home, one too big for her and her three-legged cat, but she soon gets the impression she’s not alone. Her brother blames her overactive imagination. Her sister-in-law suggests counseling. Her would-be boyfriend is the only one who believes her, but can she trust him? With nowhere to turn, Jeannie must face her inner demons and confront this soul from beyond the grave.

Set in modern times, this supernatural thriller is loosely based on the apparitions to Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929).

My review: Like the author’s other books, I was enthralled with Tortured Soul, a supernatural thriller. As usual, I was completely caught up in the story and characters.  Read it in two sittings. Highly recommend. 5/5.

The Lion Audible

The Lion by Nelson DeMille (John Corey)

Amazon Synopsis: John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective and special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, is back on the trail of Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist known as ‘The Lion’. Corey and his partner, agent Kate Mayfield, tracked Khalil across the US after his threats to wipe out the US in a horrific wave of terrorism. But after methodically eliminating his victims one by one, Khalil disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, Khalil has returned to America to take care of unfinished business. ‘The Lion’ is a killing machine on a mission of revenge, and John Corey will not stop until he rids the earth of this tyrant once and for all.

My review: I read this book years ago, but I downloaded it the Audible book so that my husband and I can listen to it when we go on hour-long road trips (which is just about every time we drive!)  We’ve listened to about one-third of it and we are both enjoying it immensely.  DeMille is a remarkable writer and his characterization of John Corey is brilliant, believable and likable (even though he would be considered racist by today’s standards.) Highly recommend. 5/5.


When the Wood is Dry: Call of the Innocent by Joseph Cillo, Jr.

Amazon Synopsis: “Sometimes we must suffer if we are to save souls.” Jesus’ words echo in a recurring dream to Lali Russo, a seventeen-year-old Catholic school girl.  Lali wakes and asks, “Why that dream again?”

Two thousand years ago, the scourged and bloody form of a man who claimed to be God carried the wood on which he would be crucified.  Coming upon some distraught women, He says, “Women of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves and your children.  For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

When the Wood Is Dry is published in three parts: I. Call of the InnocentII. Crucifixion, and III. Resurrection.  In I. Call of the Innocent, Lali is called to walk a path of suffering that she struggles to understand.  Praying at an abortion clinic, she encounters the pregnant girlfriend of a notorious gang leader.  She confronts the girl’s boyfriend, the ruthless Ralo as he sharpens his machete.  “Go away, little girl, this is no’ ju beesness.”

As the subtitle, An Edgy Catholic Thriller suggests, When the Wood Is Dry is Edgy – Intended only for mature audiences, Catholic – includes overtly Catholic religious imagery and perspectives, and Thrilling– “full of twists and turns, action and heart-wrenching moments,” as one reader commented.

Some readers who may love the first and third parts may find the second part too intense, so we are recommending that such readers read I. Call of the Innocent, then skip the second part and read the synopsis included in III. Resurrection. More daring readers can journey with Lali in II. Crucifixion.

My review: I helped to copy-edit this series and the story is compelling and the characters, for the most part, well-developed.  The entire series is available in print here. The first book in the series is FREE on Kindle here.



Susan Tassone, Day by Day with Saint Faustina: 365 Reflections

Wonderful interview of Susan Tassone, the” Purgatory Lady,” on Bookmark!

EWTN Bookmark Brief

Would you like a guide to St. Faustina’s Diary? Day by Day with Saint Faustina: 365 Reflections “… is a comprehensive introduction on  how to apply the Diary,  teaching us secrets of sanctity given her by Our Lord,” author Susan Tassone tells Doug Keck on EWTN Bookmark.Day by Day has 365 daily reflections by St. Faustina on growing closer to God and Our Lady, doing God’s Will, and offering our prayers and sufferings up for loved ones and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  The Appendix includes, Tassone adds, the Promises from Jesus to St. Faustina for all those who would pray, promote, and trust in Divine Mercy, and to those who pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

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