An Open Book – December 2018 #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 for the past month!

 

Heavenly Hosts

Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids by Kathryn Swegart

Amazon Synopsis: Your children likely know all about the Eucharist, that central ritual beloved by Catholics worldwide. But do they know that God’s presence in the Eucharist is miraculous?

Heavenly Hosts presents documented Eucharistic miracles in story form to bring middle-grade readers to a better understanding of the Real Presence. One story details a fourth-century priest in the Sahara Desert who loses his faith until the Christ Child appears in the Host; this miraculous sighting causes the priest to return to God. In another tale, Antonio, a ninth-century altar boy, stands firm in a test of faith and is rewarded for his fidelity. And in one memorable story in Italy, a thirteenth-century debate over the true nature of the Eucharist is settled when a donkey falls to its knees before a monstrance containing the consecrated Host.

My review: I have been working with the author on the second edition of this lovely book.  Compelling stories about Eucharistic miracles, along with beautiful illustrations makes this a perfect Communion or Confirmation gift. Highly recommend.

RWOutcast front cover

Roland West Outcast (A West Brothers Story) by Theresa Linden

Amazon Synopsis: He’s searching for the truth but is he ready to proclaim it?

For shy Roland West, speech class is synonymous with humiliation. The last thing he wants is more attention from the gossips and troublemakers of River Run High School. But when an outcast’s house is viciously vandalized, Roland needs to find the perpetrators–before they strike again. Yet nothing is as straightforward as it seems. Suspected by the police and ridiculed for his beliefs, Roland draws closer to the sinister truth. When the perpetrators threaten a good friend, can Roland overcome his fear of speaking out and expose them?

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the West Brothers Series. Linden creates characters that are real, believable and three-dimensional.  And the story is so compelling, I just wanted to keep reading and was disappointed when it ended.  Highly recommend (and not just for young adults!)

love and responsibility

Love and Responsibility by St. John Paul II

Amazon Synopsis: Drawing from his own pastoral experience as a priest and bishop before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla has produced a remarkably eloquent and resourceful defense of Catholic tradition in the sphere of family life and sexual morality. He writes in the conviction that science–biology, psychology, sociology–can provide valuable information on particular aspects of relations between the sexes, but that a full understanding can be obtained only by study of the human person as a whole. Central to his argument is the contrast between the personalistic and the utilitarian views of marriage and of sexual relations. The former views marriage as an interpersonal relationship, in which the well-being and self-realization of each partner are of overriding importance to the other. It is only within this framework that the full purpose of marriage can be realized. The alternative, utilitarian view, according to which a sexual partner is an object for use, holds no possibility of fulfillment and happiness. Wojtyla argues that divorce, artificial methods of birth control, adultery (pre-marital sex), and sexual perversions are all in various ways incompatible with the personalistic view of the sexual self-realization of the human person. Perhaps the most striking feature of the book is that Wojtyla appeals throughout to ordinary, human experience, logically examined. He draws support for his views on the proper gratification of sexual needs, on birth control, and on other matters, from the findings of physiologists and psychologists. His conclusions coincide with the traditional teachings of the Church, which invoke scriptural authority. His approach ensures that non-Christians also can consider his arguments on their own merits.

My review: I’ve read this book so many times, it’s starting to look ragged!  This is one of my favorite JP II books. It’s hard for me to believe that when I was a young mother, I delayed reading this book for many years because A) I had small children and B) I thought it would be too academic for me.  However, once I did read it, I couldn’t stop.  JP II was a brilliant man and explain clearly why marriage is the proper place for sexual relations and why birth control is contrary to basic vows of a marriage. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

Donkey Bells

Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas by Catherine Doherty

Synopsis: Catherine Doherty is well known for reviving many holy Christian traditions. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most ‘expectant’ of holiday seasons, you’ll receive wonderful gifts:

Meaningful and heartwarming stories, the telling of which will surely become a family Christmas tradition. Including: The Little Christmas Angel O’Ryan, How Pride Became Humble, The Christmas Gift, Christmas in Harlem, The Bruised Reed, and others.

Customs which you can adopt into your own Christmas celebration, such as: The Advent Wreath, The ‘O’ Antiphons, Baking Christmas Foods and Decorating, and The Blessing of The Christmas Tree. Traditions surrounding important Advent and Christmas feast days are presented, including: St. Nicholas, The Immaculate Conception, Feast of the Holy Family, New Year’s Eve, Epiphany, and more.

Earthy and inspiring meditations to prepare the entire family for Christ’s coming, including:A Candle in Our Hearts, Little Things, The Gurgle of a Baby, Where Love Is God Is, Looking into the Child’s Eyes, Advent: A Modern Bethlehem, A Short Season—A Long Journey, and many more.

My review: This is my favorite Advent and Christmas book. This is another book I’ve read numerous times. I enjoy reading this on a comfy chair by a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate or tea.  So many beautiful stories and traditions. Highly recommend!

Boston Marathon

A Catholic’s Road to the Boston Marathon by Teresa Hurst

Amazon Synopsis: This book is not about running. While it’s set around training and marathons, ultimately it’s not about that. Instead, this book is about crosses. It’s about overcoming the ordinary fear and suffering that plagues each human soul in this race through life. It focuses on the tremendous value of the cross – with reflections on the Passion of Christ and how we can each relate in our own way. This book reiterates the fact that running is hugely spiritual. As in life, it is setting a goal and pushing yourself to reach it despite pain, fear, or the normal setbacks involved with the spiritual battles we are all called to fight.

My review: This is on my to-read list!  It’s written by a dear friend of mine!

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An Open Book – November 2018 #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  these past few weeks:

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Charlotte’s Honor (Great War Great Love #2)

I’ve spent the last month or so getting my new book ready for publication! We’re currently in the middle of a Virtual Book Tour!

Amazon synopsis: After receiving notification that her brother –and only relative — is killed in action during the Great War, 21-year-old Charlotte Zielinski enlists as a medical volunteer. She eventually begins working in the death ward of the field hospital near Soissons, France, holding dying men’s hands and singing them into eternity.

Dr. Paul Kilgallen is a Canadian surgeon working at the field hospital. During a siege by the enemy, everyone evacuates except for Paul and Charlotte, who volunteer to remain in the basement of the chateau to care for the critically ill soldiers.

During those three days, Charlotte sees a side of Paul that very few have seen and finds herself falling in love with him. Before Paul leaves for the front, he abruptly tells her that he cannot love her, and it would be best to “forget him.”

Just when the war is coming to a close, Charlotte is surprised by two events that are destined to change her life forever.

Foreven Thirteen

Forever Thirteen: A Family Tragedy and a

Young Man’s Struggle to Recover (Faith Hope & Love) by Douglas Shumard

Amazon Synopsis:  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: I edited and formatted this book, and it’s a heart-wrenching read.  The author takes us through those difficult days of his older brother’s accidental death in 1954 when his brother was 13 and the author was almost 12.  Highly recommend.

 

Praying

Praying With Mother Teresa by Susan Conroy

Amazon Synopsis: Praying with Mother Teresa brings us into the heart of Mother Teresa’s prayer life! Author Susan Conroy, a personal friend of Mother Teresa, gives us a meditative look at Mother Teresa’s insights on suffering, joy, peace, humility, and poverty, and brings us right into the prayer life of one of the most beloved women of our time, Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Each prayer has been carefully, and prayerfully, selected for use in daily prayer. Mother Teresa gave Susan her blessing and approval to share these words and prayers with others “to bring them peace and joy too.”

My review: On my To Read Shelf!

Gosnell

Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer

by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer

Amazon Synopsis: He is America’s most prolific serial killer. And yet Kermit Gosnell was no obvious criminal.

Through desperate attempts to cover up the truth, the mainstream media revealed exactly how important Kermit Gosnell’s story is. National best seller Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer is a book that rocked America – and now it is a major motion picture!

Masquerading as a doctor and an advocate for women’s reproductive health, Kermit Gosnell was purposefully ignored for years.  Gosnell reveals that inside his filthy clinic, Gosnell murdered born-alive infants, butchered women, and made a chilling collection of baby feet. Meanwhile, pro-choice politicians kept health inspectors far away. Only when tenacious undercover detective Jim Wood followed a narcotics investigation straight into the clinic did Gosnell’s reign of horror finally come to an end…and the fight for justice begin.

Written by investigative journalists Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, this gripping story premiers October 12 as a major motion picture, starring Dean Cain as Detective Wood. Fans of the movie – and every pro-life American – should dive into this nationally bestselling book for a closer look into the shocking and gruesome crime of the century.

My review: Reading this now.  Difficult book to read. I decided to order this book when the movie was released a few weeks ago (I always like to read the book before the movie!)  It hasn’t been available yet up here in Canada, but it looks like a compelling story.  Review to come.

 

Hall of Fame Induction

A few months ago, I was thrilled to find out that my Alma Mater (Triton Regional High School, Runnemede, New Jersey) was planning to induct me (and ten other alumni) into their Alumni Hall of Fame.  The ceremony was on October 7, 2018.

Special thanks to Melissa Shepard, Ed Stahl, Tom Dorsey, and the entire TRHS Alumni Hall of Fame Committee. It was a wonderful celebration and a great opportunity to reconnect with some of my fellow classmates.

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On the Stool

Photo by James Hrkach (used with permission)

Pixie Stitch photos of family

Photos by James Hrkach (used with permission) Photos of my family and dear friend and fellow Class of ’77 classmate, Marilyn!

The Distant Podium

Photo by James Hrkach (used with permission)

Yearbook Picture

Photo by James Hrkach (used with permission)

Here is a portion of the bio that was read aloud by Tom Dorsey, a member of the Alumni Committee:

Publishing under the name Ellen Gable, she is the author of nine books, hundreds of print and web articles and contributor to ten additional books. She is also an editor, book coach, publisher and ghostwriter. She served as the president of the Catholic Writers Guild from 2012 to 2015.

Ms. Gable’s second book won the IPPY Gold Medal in 2010 and her third book was an Amazon Kindle bestseller in Religious Suspense. Amazon reviewers identify Ms. Gable as a “talented author” and “masterful storyteller,” who has the “ability to writer beautiful Catholic fiction in any genre.”

Charlotte’s Honor Virtual Book Tour Links!

CH Book Tour Promo 100 (1)

Charlotte’s Honor Virtual Book Tour takes place beginning next week!

October 22      Plot Line and Sinker

October 23      Jean Heimann     A.K. Frailey

October 24      Book Reviews and More,   Patrice MacArthur

October 25      Amanda Lauer

October 26     Franciscan Mom

October 29     Carolyn Astfalk

October 30     Catholic Mom

November 1    Plot Line and Sinker

November 2    Michael Seagriff

November 5   Virginia Lieto

November 6  Leslea Wahl

November 7   Catholic Books Blog – Theresa Linden

November 8   Sarah Reinhard

November 9   Erin McCole Cupp

November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post

November 12  Mary Lou Rosien

November 13  Therese Heckenkamp

November 14  E.M. Vidal

November 15 Leticia Velasquez

Where You Lead VBT

WhereverYouLead 500x750I’m happy to take part of the Virtual Book Tour for Leslea Wahl’s new book, Where You Lead.

A lonely girl with a vision of an unknown boy.

A son convinced his father must run for elected office.

Join Nick and Eve on the adventure of a lifetime when their faith to answer God’s call, leads them on a mission full of deception, mysterious clues and missing confederate gold.

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this story about a senator’s son and a professor’s daughter who embark on a mission to solve a mystery regarding a Civil War treasure. I’ve only been to Washington DC twice and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting through this wonderful story.  Believable characters, an interesting story and rich imagery and setting. It’s targeted to teens but is a great read for readers of every age. Highly recommend!

Author Bio

Leslea Wahl lives in beautiful Colorado with her family. She strives to write Young Adult novels that will encourage teens to grow in their faith through fun, adventurous mysteries.

The inspiration for Where You Lead began over 25 years ago with a brief moment in a restaurant when a fleeting thought felt like an intriguing beginning of a book. Two decades later, that tiny spark of an idea turned into this novel about having the courage to say “yes” to God’s calling.author head shot

Leslea Wahl is the author of two other teen novels, The Perfect Blindside and An Unexpected Role. For more information on her award winning Young Adult mysteries please visit her website, http://www.LesleaWahl.com

Reviews

Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl is a mix of mystery, danger, and a “treasure hunt” adventure with a hint of romance. The plot thickens with every page, the mystery and danger increasing. Plunged into the heart of Washington DC, faith-filled characters Eve and Nick believe they are on a mission from God. I enjoyed the Civil War trivia and seeing the museums and monuments of our nation’s capital through the eyes of these characters. Even more, I loved the beautiful message that spoke through the pages: we all need the courage to say “yes” to God’s will, whether in big, life-changing moments or the little ways of every-day life. This story is sure to entertain teens and young adults.

Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Roland West, Loner 

Few authors are as talented in the genre of young adult fiction as Leslea Wahl. Two things especially amaze me about Wahl’s books. First of all is her delightful ability to get into the heads and hearts of today’s teenagers, delving straight into the way teenagers think and act. Reading her stories brings me back to high school and make me feel the pain and the joys and the uncertainties and the struggles of being young again. The other thing I especially admire is the author’s facility to blend the Catholic faith with her mystery plots. Wahl never preaches, but rather tosses her characters into exciting situations which make them grow unexpectedly in the love of God and neighbor. The world needs more books like this for today’s Catholic teens!

Susan Peek, bestselling author of God’s Forgotten Friends: Lives of Little Known Saints series

I was immediately drawn into this page-turner. A professor’s daughter and senator’s son find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving lost Civil War treasure — one that may have international implications in the present. It’s refreshing to read about teens who openly pray and who try to find out what God wants them to do; characters, dialogue, and humor are well-done.

Barb Szyszkiewicz CatholicMom.com

Amazon link:    https://www.amazon.com/Where-You-Lead-Leslea-Wahl/dp/1732134863

Link to the author’s online treasure hunt   http://lesleawahl.com/treasure/

 

An Open Book – October 2018

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I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.

Here’s what I’ve been reading during the past month:

Harry Brady

A New Lens on Life: Jesus Was My Ophthalmologist

by Harry Brady

Publisher synopsis: Growing up on the Northside of Pittsburgh with an alcoholic father and rats in the basement, Harry R. Brady developed an Irish wit that glows throughout A New Lens on Life—Jesus was My Ophthalmologist.

The “scrawny little kid with glasses” peppered his childhood with classroom misbehavior, sandlot exploits, misadventures with fireworks, and practical jokes, and tempered it with endearing innocence and compassion for others.

Then, as the lone survivor of a tractor-trailer accident that killed three college classmates, Harry lost his Faith and challenged God. “Why did You save me?”

Still mourning his friends’ deaths while sitting next to classmate Antonin Scalia at graduation from Georgetown, Harry questioned God’s very existence.

Inspired by the love of his life, he finished medical school, started a family, and wound up in the Army. During his M.A.S.H.-like service as a Captain and surgeon in Korea during the  Vietnam War, Harry’s mischievous and creative stunts shocked his superiors as he served those in need.

Later, he performed sight-restoring and sight-saving surgeries for the blind and the vision-impaired in Haiti.  His Brady Clinic for the Homeless at Saint Louis University has provided free service to more than 11,000 medically disenfranchised people. In this rollicking and deeply inspiring autobiography filled with twists and turns, Harry discovers that after living 64 years with his own spiritual vision impairment, that Faith and Reason are two compatible expressions of one universal truth.

My review: I had the absolute pleasure of working with Harry by editing his book.  Dr. Brady is one of most entertaining and inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.  Highly recommend this wonderful book.

 

 

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Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl

Amazon Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Eve Donahue’s lonely existence changes in an instant when visions of a mysterious stranger haunt her. Certain God is calling her for a mission, she bravely says yes and begins her quest to meet this young man.

Thousands of miles away, Nick Hammond has been dealing with his own unusual experience, an unwavering certainness to convince his father to run for political office.

When these two unlikely teens finally meet, their belief that God has called them to work together sets them on a journey of faith to untangle a web of deception involving international trade agreements, lost confederate gold, and a blossoming romance. As they follow century old clues, they realize God can call us all in big and small ways. We just need to listen and say “Yes Lord, I will go where You lead.”

My review: Thoroughly enjoyed this book!  More detailed review to come!

Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy by Carrie Sue Barnes

Amazon Synopsis: A young American woman departs for France, leaving behind her family and fiancé, to serve as a nurse during World War I. Her unpredictable experiences and choices will reshape not only her, but the generations to come after her, as well. Your legacy is built one decision at a time. Forsaking the comforts of home at the height of World War I, Annie Walcott serves as a nurse at a French estate turned war hospital. In the face of daily hardships and losses, she shutters her heart against the emotional toll of her work. When Kyle, the brother of a patient, arrives at the hospital, his and Annie’s unforeseen connection threatens to dismantle her protective walls. New possibilities and former loyalties clash. Will Annie have the courage to become the woman of unrivaled strength and faith she longs to be? Can she embrace the sacrifices necessary to step forward in love? Eighty years later, in a tiny Midwest town where Annie has led a quiet, contented life, she finally confides her untold memories to her great-granddaughter Laurel. The heritage of secrets casts a startling new light on Laurel’s family, faith, and identity. In Annie’s final days, can Laurel allow truth to heal the past and fortify her for the future?

My review: The Hidden Legacy is a beautiful story of Annie Walcott who served as a WW 1 nurse in France. The book goes back and forth between young Annie’s perspective and 100-year-old Annie’s perspective as she tells her great-granddaughter Laurel what it was like to serve as a nurse so long ago. Annie describes events and people who changed the course of her life and, consequently, Laurel’s. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Bella Dodd

School of Darkness by Bella Dodd

Amazon synopsis:  Dodd’s re-entrance into the Catholic Church—which as a communist she had so bitterly attacked—was a natural result of her new state of mind. In the early 1950s, she provided detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church, reporting that “in the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within, [and that] right now they are in the highest places in the Church.” From such positions they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. She said further that these changes would be so drastic that “you will not recognize the Catholic Church.”

Bella Dodd’s story is a human document of immense importance to Americans today. Here are the inner workings of the Communist Party in the United States in the early to mid-20th century as seen from the secret counsels and strategy meetings of the National Committee, to which she belonged for a crucial span of years. The climax of the book is a snowy Christmas Eve when Bella finds the reaffirmation of her faith, and is able to say, “I have learned from bitter experience that you cannot serve man unless you first serve God in sincerity and truth.” Not being able to secure her baptismal certificate from Italy after inquiry, she was baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.

My review:  I ordered this after hearing Fr. Altier’s homily on the Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church. Although the synopsis indicates it tells about how Communism infiltrated the Catholic Church, it doesn’t.  It goes into the detailed story of how she became a Communist and how she was expelled from the party and eventually became Catholic.  Still, I’d recommend it.  It illustrates just how devious Communism is in its brainwashing. Four of five stars.

Saints

Lives of the Saints by Michael Ruszalia

Amazon Synopsis: This book, written from a Catholic perspective, provides an overview to the lives of the saints celebrated from January to March on the Roman calendar. It is the first in a series, which will cover the whole Church year. It makes for inspirational spiritual reading any time of the year, providing an introduction to the patron saints for many walks of life. Included are the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, Apostles like St. Peter and St. Paul, early martyrs like St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, early evangelizers like St. Patrick, medieval giants such as St. Thomas Aquinas, American saints such as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann, and many others.

My review: I got this during a free promo on Kindle.  It’s a beautiful book and I’m enjoying it very much.

Picoult

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

Amazon Synopsis: For career-driven assistant district attorney Nina Frost, the question inspires pangs of guilt familiar to all parents torn by the demands of home and office. But whereas most parents lie awake at night vividly conjuring the worst scenarios that could befall their children in their absence, Nina lives the reality of such crises — and it’s her job to do something about them. Nina Frost prosecutes child molesters — and in the course of her everyday work, she has endured the frustration of seeing too many criminals slip through the system and walk free.
But even the strongest walls cannot guard Nina from the shattering discovery that her own beloved son has been sexually abused.
Five-year-old Nathaniel is the only one who knows the identity of his assailant — but in the initial fallout of his trauma, he’s been left mute, unable to speak a single word. Knowing the futility of trusting the courts to exact justice for Nathaniel, and ripped apart by a maddening sense of helplessness, Nina finds herself in a grip of rage she can’t deny — no matter the consequence, whatever the sacrifice. What does it take to be a good mother? How far can a person go…and still live with herself? What happens if one’s absolute truths and convictions are turned upside down?

My review: With the current crisis within the Church, I wanted to re-read this novel  that I had read years ago.  It packs a powerful punch.  Picoult dives head first into the topic of clerical abuse. This is one of Picoult’s best books, in my opinion, because she does an excellent job of keeping the reader turning the pages and at the same time eliciting fear, relief, joy, and sadness.  Highly recommend (NB: although studies show that the high percentage of young men abused by priests are post-pubescent, the child in the book is only five years old.)

Bound

Bound by Vigaya Bodach

Amazon Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Joshi, an adopted girl from India, burn survivor, and primary caretaker of her intellectually disabled sister, Joy, has one dream–to be a physician. Her traditional Indian father relies upon Rebecca to care for Joy while he buries himself in work to drown his grief over his wife’s death. Leaving home is the only way Rebecca can envision reaching her goal. She helps Joy develop greater independence, and is devastated when Joy becomes pregnant. Rebecca tussles–with her father and with herself–over who is responsible for Joy and her baby. When Rebecca discovers the truth of what happened the day she was burned, she struggles to hold onto her dream while wrestling with questions of life, love, and responsibility.

My review:  Powerful debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story.  The characters are very well-defined, three-dimensional and real, the setting full of sensory details and the plot exceptional.  Highly recommend!

Julia’s Gifts (French) and Stealing Jenny (Italian) coming soon!

Special thanks to Marie Duval, translator, for the French edition of Julia’s Gifts and Daniela Mastropasqua, translator, and Adelia Marino, editor, for the Italian edition of Stealing Jenny!