Today I’m joining Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month!
St John Paul the Great, His Five Loves by Jason Evert
A French novelist once wrote, “Tell me what you love, and I will tell you who you are.” Although there are countless ways to study Saint John Paul the Great, the most direct route is by entering the man’s heart.
Discover the five greatest loves of Saint John Paul II, through remarkable unpublished stories about him from bishops, priests who organized his papal pilgrimages, his students in Poland, Swiss Guards, and others. Mining through a mountain of papal resources, Jason Evert has uncovered the gems and now presents the Church a treasure chest brimming with the jewels of the saint’s life.
Rekindle your own faith by learning what (and who) captivated the heart of this great saint.
My review: I’m in the middle of reading this wonderful book that showcased JP II’s “Five Loves.” So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying it!
Code Name Edelweiss by Stephanie Landsem
“What I am looking for―what I desperately need, Mrs. Weiss―is a spy.”
Adolf Hitler is still a distant rumble on the horizon, but a Jewish spymaster and his courageous spies uncover a storm of Nazi terror in their own backyard.
In the summer of 1933, a man named Adolf Hitler is the new and powerful anti-Semitic chancellor of Germany. But in Los Angeles, no-nonsense secretary Liesl Weiss has concerns much closer to home. The Great Depression is tightening its grip and Liesl is the sole supporter of two children, an opinionated mother and a troubled brother.
Leon Lewis is a Jewish lawyer who has watched Adolf Hitler’s rise to power―and the increase in anti-Semitism in America―with growing alarm. He believes Nazi agents are working to seize control of Hollywood, the greatest propaganda machine the world has ever known. The trouble is, authorities scoff at his dire warnings.
When Liesl loses her job at MGM, her only choice is to work with Leon Lewis and the mysterious Agent Thirteen to spy on her friends and neighbors in her German American community. What Leon Lewis and his spies find is more chilling―and more dangerous―than any of them suspected.
Code Name Edelweiss is based on a true story, unknown until recent years: How a lone Jewish lawyer and a handful of amateur spies discovered and foiled Adolf Hitler’s plan to take over Hollywood.
My review: This was an absolutely riveting novel, and I enjoyed it immensely. If you like Film Noir, you’ll love this book. I laughed out loud at the line, “The speakeasy was dark and smelled of late nights and bad decisions. Cigarette smoke hung in a thick fog along the low ceiling, and a sorry-looking three-piece band plucked out an off-key rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue.” I could almost hear Edward G. Robinson in the background. Highly recommend.
Dial M: The Murder of Carol Thompson
At 9:00 on the morning of March 6, 1963, in the quiet St. Paul neighborhood of Highland Park, Mrs. Fritz Pearson glanced out her window and saw something almost unimaginable: slumped on the front steps of the home across the street was a woman, partially clothed in a blue bathrobe and bloodied beyond recognition. The woman, Mrs. Pearson would come to learn, was her beloved neighbor Carol Thompson, wife and mother of four.
Earlier that morning, T. Eugene Thompson, known to friends as “Cotton,” dropped his son off at school and headed to the office, where he worked as a criminal attorney. At 8:25 am, he phoned home, later telling police that he did so to confirm evening plans with Carol. Mr. Thompson lied.
Through police records, court transcripts, family papers, and extensive interviews, William Swanson has re-created Middle America’s “crime of the century,” the deadly plot by a husband that made headlines around the world. But Dial M: The Murder of Carol Thompson also tracks the lives of the Thompsons’ children. Their journey from disbelief to acceptance culminates in a private family trial where they decide whether their father truly was responsible for the violent act that crushed their childhood and forever altered their views of the world.
My review: This was a riveting true-crime thriller that I would highly recommend. Four children lost their mother on the day of the murder in 1963, and not long after, their father was arrested for the crime. He served nearly 20 years and then was released on parole. What makes this book so unique is that the author shares what it was like for the children as they grew up without their mother and coming to grips with the fact that their father killed their mother. This is one I’ll likely read again.
Hidden Book 2: Secrets: The Truth Will Out by Verity Lucia
Perfect looks. Perfect boyfriend. Perfect image. High schooler, Elise Thames, has it all under control until one late night and two little pink lines change everything.
After fleeing to Chicago to erase the life growing inside her, Elise begins hearing voices and seeing visions that thrust her into the minds of others. Her newfound telepathy draws out grim insecurities buried within, and Elise’s identity as one of the most popular girls at Jefferson High shatters. When news of her pregnancy spreads, Elise must face the truth about who she is—and make a choice.
SECRETS: The Truth Will Out
- A desperate girl.
- A supernatural bracelet.
- And a choice that will change everything
My review: Although this book is geared to teens, I found it a compelling read. It’s unapologetically pro-life, but it also illustrates well the rationalization from the pro-abortion camp as the pregnant girl in question keeps hearing she should just have an abortion and “things will be back to the way they were.” Highly recommend for teens and adults.
Synopsis: Holy Smokes – Saint Jerk is Amazing!
Funny. Edgy. Uplifting. Catholic.
Jack knew what was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier to face. As the new school year started at St. Mary’s, his eighth-grade class was assigned to complete twenty hours of community service by the end of the semester. Bungling his way from one adventure to the next, Jack hilariously tells the tales of his deeds gone heroically right and horrifically wrong. Along the way, he learns unexpected lessons about his faith and its meaning in his life. Most importantly, he’ll realize that the person he becomes is determined by the choices he makes. And boy, does he make some bad ones…
As provocative as it is hysterical, Saint Jerk is a powerful response to a broken culture, a story that both entertains and arms young Christians with confidence in the truth of their faith in the face of a secular society. It’s an invitation to readers of all ages to consider the most important questions that have ever been posed by mankind, to recognize that the answers have already been provided, and to reflect on the consequences of that truth in their lives.
My review: I really enjoyed this teen book and would recommend it to any teen or adult. I’m not sure I’d call it provocative or hysterical, but it was a great story with some humor, and I felt I knew the main character. He’s not unlike many teen boys facing temptations, peer pressure, and trying to fit in. Recommend.
Forever Thirteen: A Family Tragedy and a Young Man’s Struggle to Recover by Doug Shumard
Have you ever wondered who you are? Or how you became who you are? Or what is it that defines you as a person and, more specifically, what were some of those defining moments in your life?
Forever Thirteen documents a Sunday morning newspaper headline that read, “Boy Scout Camper, 13, Drowns as Raft Sinks.” This is the true story of a family tragedy as recounted by the nearly twelve-year-old brother who writes this story some years later. It is a story of a mother’s nervous breakdown and a father’s inability to provide comfort to his children at this critical period. It is a firsthand account of unintentional abandonment, suffering, sadness, detachment, guilt, and recovery.
As a youth, the author struggled through this experience, maintaining his faith in God and continuing to hope and pray for the rebuilding of his family, while maintaining love for those who were letting him down.
This is a story that can help others in their personal journeys through those tragedies that we all eventually face.
My review: This is a tragic story of a boy who loses his older brother in a drowning accident and his struggle to recover. It’s a compelling tale that I’d highly recommend. It’s written by Douglas Shumard (we helped him publish this book). He recently passed away and has been reunited with his beloved brother.
Pete the Cat Big Easter Adventure by Kimberly and James Dean
Author and artist James Dean brings us along for a hippity-hoppity Easter adventure with the coolest cat around: Pete!
When Pete wakes up Easter morning, ready to check out his basket of goodies, he discovers the Easter Bunny needs a little extra help. Our favorite groovy blue cat puts on his bunny ears and finds a way to collect, paint, and hide the eggs all in time for Easter.
Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure will be a welcome gift in an Easter basket or anytime!
My review: We bought this book for our grandson for Easter. Pete the Cat has a very wry sense of humor, and I can understand why my grandson enjoys his books. Even the adults will chuckle. Recommend.