Motherhood Matters Study Guide

Motherhood Matters by Dorothy Pilarski is a beautiful book that contains reflections of a mother for mothers. 21st century mothering has become one where mothers are expected to work a double, sometimes triple shift: in the workplace,  still carrying most of the load of housework while often caring for their own parents or in laws.  In a culture that has run amuck, Motherhood Matters is a healthy reminder that motherhood is a vocation, a call from God.  It is a sacred gift – one that unfortunately many women have been forced into treating it like just a role or a series of tasks. For some unfortunately it’s treated like an afterthought.  Pilarski illustrates through these writings that truly ‘Motherhood Matters.’

PilarskiCover_Sm

 

Hot off the presses is the new Motherhood Matters Study Guide. I helped to edit this book as well as writing some of the reflections. Each study includes a story from Motherhood Matters, questions for discussion, a saint, a recommended book and activities. It’s extremely well done, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to do a year-long study of motherhood.

photo

An Open Book – June #openbook

An Open Book 800W

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

 

Susan Tassone Book

 

Jesus Speaks to Faustina and You by Susan Tassone

Amazon Synopsis:  In her celebrated 700-page spiritual Diary, St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) tells of her many visions of Jesus and her conversations with Him. For years now, best-selling and award-winning author Susan Tassone has lived in the thrall of that spiritual classic, recently drawing forth from its rich mystical depths 365 meditations.

Each meditation features Jesus’ words to Faustina, to which Tassone has added a short original reflection and a prayer to help you hear and live by Jesus’ words as if they had been spoken directly to you. From these pages, you’ll discover the mercy, love, and compassion of the Lord that’s available for you – day by day, each day of the year.

My review: Another beautiful book by Susan Tassone that is ideal for someone who likes daily reflections.  Highly recommend!

 

Remembering Mom front only

Remembering Mom 

My new book!

Amazon Synopsis: In Remembering Mom, author Ellen Gable shares memories of her beloved mother, an unconventional woman who was often thrust into situations by necessity. She endured having to watch her first husband spiral into psychosis and schizophrenia, then have him be committed to a psychiatric hospital on the same day she was in labor with their fourth child. She worked from home typing back in the day when women didn’t have jobs other than homemaking. Her humor was quirky, and she had some strange sayings. She could swear like a sailor, but loved her Catholic faith. She wasn’t a perfect Catholic, nor was she a perfect mother, but she was devoted to her five children. After the death of her first husband, she remained strong for her young adult children, then eventually found love again and another opportunity for motherhood.

Thunderstruck

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

Amazon Synopsis: In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men—Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication—whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

Set in Edwardian London and on the stormy coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Thunderstruck evokes the dynamism of those years when great shipping companies competed to build the biggest, fastest ocean liners; scientific advances dazzled the public with visions of a world transformed; and the rich outdid one another with ostentatious displays of wealth. Against this background, Marconi races against incredible odds and relentless skepticism to perfect his invention: the wireless, a prime catalyst for the emergence of the world we know today. Meanwhile, Crippen, “the kindest of men,” nearly commits the perfect murder.

With his unparalleled narrative skills, Erik Larson guides us through a relentlessly suspenseful chase over the waters of the North Atlantic. Along the way, he tells of a sad and tragic love affair that was described on the front pages of newspapers around the world, a chief inspector who found himself strangely sympathetic to the killer and his lover, and a driven and compelling inventor who transformed the way we communicate.

My review: The two true stories here are compelling enough (Marconi’s development of the wireless and Dr. Hawley Crippen’s life leading up to him being accused, found guilty and hung for murder.)  I enjoyed how both stories converged at the end. However, the Marconi sections were quite technical and hard to follow so I scanned those.  Still a compelling story, but so far, my least favorite of Larson’s books.  Three stars out of five.

 

Violet

Violet (I Am Girl #2) by Renee Lichtenhan

Amazon Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Violet Windsor is obsessed with the rush and thrill of skateboarding through a dangerous, gang-ridden part of New York City. Certain that her high-society parents wouldn’t approve of the rough-and-tumble sport or the sketchy neighborhood, she and her best friend, Sloane, hide her secret adventures in a thick veil of lies.

When Violet’s neurodiverse brother, Oliver, begins drawing pictures that reveal a mysterious knowledge of her secrets, Violet is rattled to the core. Intrigued by clues in Oliver’s drawings, she follows them down a reckless path toward redemption and truth.

My review: New teen Violet Windsor secretly visits a dangerous part of New York City to pursue her passion for skateboarding. Her wealthy parents wouldn’t approve so she and her best friend, Sloane, keep her skateboarding adventures secret. Meanwhile, Violet’s autistic brother, Oliver, shows her drawings that indicate not only that he knows her secrets but that he has been gifted with artistic ability that might be supernatural in origin.

I thoroughly enjoyed this middle-grade novel that includes all kinds of relevant, present-day issues. The writing quality is excellent. The characters are well-developed and believable, and the setting made me feel I was in the midst of New York City. Highly recommend for anyone who enjoys a great story and characters!

Clint Hill

Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill

Amazon Synopsis: The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.

In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.

Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.

Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.

Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It really laid a firm foundation for what happened on November 22, 1963.  It showed me a side of Jackie Kennedy that I had never seen before.  I learned that Patrick Kennedy (the baby she lost while in the White House and just a few months before the assassination) was born at the same gestation (five weeks early) that I had been born and weighed the same as me (four pounds 11 ounces).  It’s hard to understand why I survived and he didn’t.  Recommend.

New Book: Remembering Mom

Remembering Mom front only

It’s taken me thirteen years and a pandemic to write, but this book about my mother is finally available!

Synopsis: In Remembering Mom, author Ellen Gable shares memories of her beloved mother, an unconventional woman who was often thrust into situations by necessity. She endured having to watch her first husband spiral into psychosis and schizophrenia, then have him be committed to a psychiatric hospital on the same day she was in labor with their fourth child. She worked from home typing back in the day when women didn’t have jobs other than homemaking. Her humor was quirky, and she had some strange sayings. She could swear like a sailor, but loved her Catholic faith. She wasn’t a perfect Catholic, nor was she a perfect mother, but she was devoted to her five children. After the death of her first husband, she remained strong for her young adult children, then eventually found love again and another opportunity for motherhood.

                  Kindle edition is available for pre-order and will be published on May 22, 2020.                       Print edition is available now!

Kindle Edition

Print Edition

An Open Book – May #openbook #socialdistancing

 

An Open Book 800W

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

Larson

The Splendid and the Vile

by Erik Larson

Amazon Synopsis:  Published February 25, 2020. In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.

My review: Outstanding book. As usual with Larson’s books, I not only learned a great deal of the story behind the scenes of that historic first year Churchill was Prime Minister, I also enjoyed a compelling piece of history.  It makes me grateful to Churchill for not giving in to Hitler’s demands for “peace.”  It might’ve been a different world if not for the tenacity of Churchill and the British people. Highly recommend.

Moonchild front JPG

Moonchild Rising: (Shadows of the Sun #1) by Mina Ambrose

New from Full Quiver Publishing!

Synopsis:  Mara the Huntress resides in the sunny little town of Archangel, California, the location of the Gate of the Underworld—a fact unknown to the general populace. Most people don’t even know that vampires exist. As Huntress, Mara does know, and it is her job to kill those that dare venture forth to the Upperworld to prey on the humans living there. She is well-suited to this purpose, gifted with skills and talents far surpassing those of ordinary mortals. Though some vampires manage to evade her, she has so far managed to prevent the unleashing of a full-scale infestation. She has been at this job for a good portion of her not-quite twenty years, and it seems she has everything in hand. Then one day she gets a chill of foreboding, a feeling that things are about to change…

For she stands in the way of the master vampire’s plan for world domination, and, he fears, may be a key player in the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy foretelling his destruction. One dark night he sends the mighty Prince (his second in command) to put an end to this Huntress, this bane of vampires, once and for all. Mara confidently goes out to face him, but finds she has met her match at last. Just as all hope seems lost, this powerful vampire turns from the “dark side” to become Mara’s ally in the battle against his own kind.

Catholic and Funda

Catholicism And Fundamentalismby Karl Keating

Amazon Synopsis: Karl Keating defends Catholicism from fundamentalist attacks and explains why fundamentalism has been so successful in converting “Romanists”. After showing the origins of fundamentalism, he examines representative anti-Catholic groups and presents their arguments in their own words. His rebuttals are clear, detailed, and charitable. Special emphasis is given to the scriptural basis for Catholic doctrines and beliefs.

My review: This is about my tenth time reading this book and it’s as good as it was the first time. If you have relatives who have fallen away from the fullness of the Catholic faith, this is a great book to help you “defend” the fullness of the Catholic faith. Topics include: Marian Beliefs, The Eucharist, Confession, Purgatory etc.  Highly recommend.

Book 1 Sister A

Sister Aloysius Comes to Mercyville

by Linda Etchison

and Denise Plumlee-Tadlock, illustrator

Amazon Synopsis: Join Sister Aloysius, an energetic, joyful young sister, as she steps off the bus and begins her walk to Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Mercyville on a hot July afternoon. In Sister Aloysius Comes to Mercyvillelearn how Sister Aloysius happily makes use of her suffering in the heat of the summer day by uniting her discomfort to the agony of Christ on the cross. Along the way she meets a young boy Pio who will be in her second-grade class. Pio helps her with her bag and the two have a very interesting talk about St. Aloysius and patron saints as well as about St. Peter, the first pope. Sister Aloysius Comes to Mercyville is the first of the Sister Aloysius booksThis series offers a large child-friendly 8.5 x 11 format and is illustrated in full color to capture the interest of young readers and pre-readers.

My review: This is the first in a wonderful children’s book series that introduces an enthusiastic religious sister, Sister Aloysius, who moves to a new town, ready to begin teaching. In this story, we are also introduced to little Pio, one of the students at the local school. We learn about St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Peter, our first pope — who denied Jesus three times and was crucified upside down — and St. Paul. The story is engaging for both parents and children and offers teachings about the Catholic faith within the story. Highly recommend!

Book 2 Sister A

Sister Aloysius Arrives at Our Lady of Sorrows

by Linda Etchison and Denise Plumlee-Tadlock, illustrator

Amazon Synopsis: Sister Aloysius Arrives at Our Lady of Sorrows is the second book in the new Catholic children’s Sister Aloysius series about a joyful, young sister who is beginning her first teaching assignment. This second book in the series focuses on a discussion about the Seven Sorrows of Mary between Sister Aloysius and Pio, a young boy who will be in sister’s second grade class. Sister and Pio discuss how sorrowful Mary must have been as she shared the sufferings of Jesus throughout his life. This book is a great choice for parents and educators who want to instill in their children and students a love for and closeness to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 8.5 x 11 inch format is perfect for engaging pre-school and primary grade children. T

My review: In the second book of this series, Sister Aloysius and her new little friend, Pio, arrive at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. Readers learn about the Seven Sorrows of Mary and how to pray this special devotion. Beautifully illustrated. Highly recommend.

Book 3 Sister A

Sister Aloysius Gets Ready for the First Day of School

by Linda Etchison and Denise Plumlee-Tadlock

Amazon Synopsis: Sister Aloysius Gets Ready for the First Day of School follows the continuing story of Sister Aloysius as she prepares for her first teaching assignment. This book, the third in the Sister Aloysius series, has Sister Aloysius making an early morning visit to the Blessed Sacrament before preparing her classroom for the beginning of school. Sister Aloysius has help from Pio, a second-grade student whom Sister Aloysius met upon arriving in Mercyville, and his sister Catherine. Sister, Pio, and Catherine discuss the 3:00 Hour of Mercy and the importance of appealing to Our Lord’s mercy during this time. Also, in this series, the reader will see Sister Aloysius pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the quiet of the church and use Holy Water to bless herself as she leaves.

My review: This book continues the story of Sister Aloysius. In this book, we are introduced to Pio’s sister, Catherine, who help Sister prepare her classroom for the start of the new school year.  Readers also learn about the Hour of Mercy (3:00) and Saint Faustina. Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina and talked to her about His Divine Mercy and the “Hour of Mercy.”  Highly recommend.

 

Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood: A Life by Gavin Lambert

Amazon Synopsis: She spent her life in the movies. Her childhood is still there to see in Miracle on 34th Street. Her adolescence in Rebel Without a Cause. Her coming of age? Still playing in Splendor in the Grass and West Side Story and countless other hit movies. From the moment Natalie Wood made her debut in 1946, playing Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles’s ward in Tomorrow Is Forever at the age of seven, to her shocking, untimely death in 1981, the decades of her life are marked by movies that–for their moments–summed up America’s dreams.

Now the acclaimed novelist, biographer, critic and screenwriter Gavin Lambert, whose twenty-year friendship with Natalie Wood began when she wanted to star in the movie adaptation of his novel Inside Daisy Clover, tells her extraordinary story. He writes about her parents, uncovering secrets that Natalie either didn’t know or kept hidden from those closest to her. Here is the young Natalie, from her years as a child actress at the mercy of a driven, controlling stage mother (“Make Mr. Pichel love you,” she whispered to the five-year-old Natalie before depositing her unexpectedly on the director’s lap), to her awkward adolescence when, suddenly too old for kiddie roles, she was shunted aside, just another freshman at Van Nuys High. Lambert shows us the glamorous movie star in her twenties—All the Fine Young Cannibals, Gypsy and Love with the Proper Stranger. He writes about her marriages, her divorces, her love affairs, her suicide attempt at twenty-six, the birth of her children, her friendships, her struggles as an actress and her tragic death by drowning (she was always terrified of water) at forty-three.

Review: I enjoyed this book very much, although enjoy might be the wrong word.  Natalie Wood was an incredibly beautiful actress who died far too soon.  Reading about her life behind the scenes was moving and sad and disturbing at times. Her mother was the epitome of a stage mother and could be quite cruel.  Recommend.

Belroy

To Be or Not To Be: Murdered by Basia Kent Belroy

Amazon Synopsis: WHY IS FULTON HIGH SCHOOL HAVING A RASH OF COPYCAT SUICIDES?
While covering the stories for her school paper, 17-year-old Peyton Simons begins to doubt they are suicides. Along with crushing on Justin, her Hamlet co-star in the school play, and trying to break up with her current boyfriend, Tyler, Peyton is intent on figuring out the mystery with the help of her great aunt’s new boyfriend, a retired detective. She’s awfully close to the truth! Will she survive the answer?

My review: Fun, young adult mystery told from the point of view of a teenage girl, Peyton. There are a rash of suicides at Fulton High School.  Peyton, however, doesn’t believe the most recent death was, in fact, a suicide.  Her investigation turns up information about a similar suicide that took place at Fulton twenty years previous. When she gets too close to the truth, she finds herself in danger. Fun, clean read with well-developed characters. Recommend for young teens and up.

Interview with Linda Etchison, author of Sister Aloysius books

Today I’m interviewing the author of the Sister Aloysius books, Linda Etchison.

Linda's Photo

What inspired you to write the Sr. Aloysius series?

After my father passed away, the idea came to me to create a character in a children’s book and name her Sister Aloysius in honor of my dad, Aloysius John Winka.  I cannot remember anything other than the idea popped into my head, and I knew my dad would like it.  I guess I just let the idea rest in the back of my mind, pondering it for a few years as other ideas began to come along.

What do you love most about writing these stories for children?

As I write them, I like thinking of parents reading them to and with their children.  I like to think that the stories will help people love Jesus, his Blessed Mother, and the wonderful Church that he has left us. As I write, in a small way I am able to share my own faith through the character of Sister Aloysius.

Where do you get your inspiration for the Sr. Aloysius stories?

I have to say that my inspiration must come from the Holy Spirit.  I look back on the stories and reread them and think to myself, how did I think of that?? I have to give God the credit.  Most ideas pop into my head when my mind during adoration.  Many of the little things in the stories come from my own life.  I attended a Catholic school in my early grade school years before it closed.  It was staffed with sisters from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.  My first-grade teacher was a wonderful woman named Sister Benedict who remained a family friend until she died.  She loved everyone and was full of joy and cheer.  Later, I was also a teacher in the public schools for 18 years, so I have my own teaching experience to use.  My dad was a wonderful inspiration as well.  He never missed an opportunity to talk about his faith and the Catholic Church to anyone in the coffee shop or on the job.  He loved it and spent many evenings sitting on the couch, studying and reading, trying to learn all that he could about the Church.  He had many stories of faith to share with us. He prayed as he worked.

Have you always loved stories and reading?

From the time I could ride my bike, I would ride to the public library and check out books to read.  I didn’t always enjoy reading things that were assigned in school though until I was older.  My first job was actually working in the public library.  I loved working there. I started working part time after my sophomore year in high school and worked there until I finished junior college.  My love of books carried through to my studies.  I chose junior high education with fields of English and library science as my major.  After college I taught junior high and high school English coupled with being a school librarian. After 18 years working in public schools, I became a homeschooling mother. Reading was a big part of the Seton Home Study Program that we used.  Using the Seton program gave me an opportunity to read many wonderful books that I hadn’t had the chance to read before.  I have to admit that through the years I have collected many books, though, that I haven’t yet found the time to read.

What message do you hope the children and parents who read your books will bring away after reading these books?

Sister Aloysius wants everyone to love Jesus as a best friend.  I think that my hope is that everyone will come to know Jesus and realize that he is the very best friend anyone could have.  For many years as a PSR catechist, I have watched children pass through class seeming engaged and learning the material only to have them leave the Church once they were confirmed.  It breaks my heart.  My hope with these books is that children and parents will all come to know Jesus as their very best friend and come to love the wonderful Church that he left to help us get to heaven.

How can families explore the themes in the Sr. Aloysius books?

Included on the parent pages in the books are references to the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The stories are a great way to launch into Bible study.  Other bits of information are also included that can be used to help parents jump-start a discussion.  My hope is to have stories that parents enjoy reading along with their children, stories that help parents share their own faith, and stories that parents and children can possibly learn from together.

Who are some of your favorite children’s authors and books?

Narrowing down to favorites is nearly impossible.  I could go on and on. There are so many great books that I’ve enjoyed.  There were books that I read as a child, though, which I definitely made of point of having so that I could read them to my children.  They were fun stories to read aloud.  Some of them are The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins, A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer, Dr. Seuss books, and the Berenstain Bears books by Stan and Jan Berenstain.  Also, favorites that I used with my own children were the St. Joseph Picture Books by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik.  My children and I both loved reading the Magic Tree House chapter books by Mary Pope Osborne. Two favorite sets of books from Neumann Press I discovered while homeschooling were Catholic Stories for Boys and Girls: Stories written and compiled in days long past by Catholic nuns in America and dedicated to Mary the Mother of God our dear lady of the Miraculous Medal (Volumes I-IV), and Angel Food for Boys and Girls: Little Talks to Young Folks (Volumes I-IV) by Father Gerald T. Brennan.  I guess my all-time favorite book as a child would have to be Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.  I say that because it was the only book I read and reread multiple times.

Which is your favorite Sr. Aloysius book and why?

That is a hard question to answer, but when I read the question, the second book, Sister Aloysius Arrives at Our Lady of Sorrows, flashed into my mind.  I think it’s a very important book because I think that the world desperately needs Mary now.  I don’t think that she is loved and appreciated as much as Our Lord wants her to be.  She is the Queen of Heaven and our Mother as well.  She cares so much for all of us and has willingly suffered for us along with her Son.  She is the dispenser of graces.  She has appeared over and over again throughout time to warn us and try to draw us to her son.  It’s her Immaculate Heart to which we need to turn in order to save the world and the many lost souls in it.

Purchase links for the Sister Aloysius books: they’re available in hardcover or paperback:

Sister Aloysius Comes to Mercyville

Sister Aloysius Arrives at Our Lady of Sorrows

Sister Aloysius Gets Ready for School

Unique Books Teach Children About the #Catholic #Faith

When author Linda Etchison’s father passed away, an interesting idea popped into her head.  She wanted to create a character in a children’s story and name her Sister Aloysius in honor of her father, Aloysius John Winka. “He never missed an opportunity to talk about his faith and the Catholic Church to anyone in the coffee shop or on the job.”  It took a few years for the ideas to percolate before she actually started writing.  Etchison’s experience teaching in the public schools, then homeschooling her children, gave her the expertise to write a children’s book from the point of view of the teacher.  Although she’s not a religious sister, she remembers what the religious sisters who taught in her grade school were like: happy and full of joy.  Sister Aloysius is just that: happy and full of joy.

There are three Sister Aloysius books, with a fourth coming very soon.

Though they are written for children, the author hopes that parents will read the story with their children.  In fact, there is a parent guide at the back of each book. The author says, “Sister Aloysius wants everyone to love Jesus as a best friend…my hope is that everyone will come to know Jesus and realize that he is the very best friend anyone could have.  For many years as a PSR catechist, I have watched children pass through class seeming engaged and learning the material only to have them leave the Church once they were confirmed.  It breaks my heart.  My hope with these books is that children and parents will all come to know Jesus as their very best friend and come to love the wonderful Church that he left to help us get to heaven.”

Book 1 Sister A

Sister Aloysius Comes to Mercyville is the first in the Sister Aloysius series.  In this book, readers will learn how Sister Aloysius happily makes use of her suffering in the heat of the summer day by uniting her discomfort to the agony of Christ on the cross. Along the way she meets a young boy Pio who will be in her second-grade class. Pio helps her with her bag and the two have a very interesting talk about St. Aloysius and patron saints as well as about St. Peter, the first pope.

 

Book 2 Sister A

Sister Aloysius Arrives at Our Lady of Sorrows

This second book in the series focuses on a discussion about the Seven Sorrows of Mary between Sister Aloysius and Pio, a young boy who will be in sister’s second grade class. Sister and Pio discuss how sorrowful Mary must have been as she shared the sufferings of Jesus throughout his life.

 

Book 3 Sister ASister Aloysius Gets Ready for the First Day of School

The third in the Sister Aloysius series, has Sister Aloysius making an early morning visit to the Blessed Sacrament before preparing her classroom for the beginning of school. Sister Aloysius has help from Pio, a second-grade student whom Sister Aloysius met upon arriving in Mercyville, and his sister Catherine. Sister, Pio, and Catherine discuss the 3:00 Hour of Mercy and the importance of appealing to Our Lord’s mercy during this time.

 

 

Interview with the Hollywood Times

Interview with Hollywood Times photoI was recently interviewed for the Hollywood Times.  Special thanks to Jules Lavalle! Here is a short excerpt:

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 4/4/20-  When she joins the war effort during the Great War, American nurse Ella Neumann doesn’t see allies or enemies. The daughter of German immigrants, all soldiers — Allies or Axis — are human beings in need of care. A promise to herself and a promise made to her by an enemy officer become the catalyst for the life she plans to lead after the war. But a handsome Canadian soldier may complicate her plans. In this third installment of the Great War – Great Love series, join Ella in a tale of promises, betrayal and unconditional love.- Ella’s Promise (Great War Great Love Book 3)

Did you always want to be an author?

English, Creative Writing and Spelling were the subjects I loved most in High School and college. As a small child, I enjoyed telling stories and making up stories. When I was a young woman, I married my husband, James, and raised five sons. For me, that was a vocation in itself.

It never occurred to me to be an Author, however, until my husband suggested the idea twenty years ago after I found out some disturbing information about my great-grandmother. “You should write a novel and base it on the stories of yourself and your great-grandmother.” So that’s what I did.

There are several recurring themes in your books. One theme is that every human being is unique and irreplaceable and should be treated with charity and kindness. What are the other themes?

St. John Paul II said, “ Human life is precious because it is the gift of a God whose love is infinite; and when God gives life, it is forever.” Human beings from the moment of conception to natural death are eternal gifts, and that is another theme that flows through my novels.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Intense love does not measure; it just gives.” My faith and love for Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother are important to me, so self-sacrifice is also a theme in most of my books.

St. John Paul II also said: “Love that leads to marriage is a gift from God and a great act of faith toward other human beings.”

Another recurring theme is that husband and wife are called to love as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. This is why all of my publishing company’s books are called “Theology-of-the-Body Fiction.”

To read the entire interview, click here.

 

Open Book – April 2020 #openbook

Today, I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about social distancing and being home all the time is the extra time I’ve had to read. I usually work from home anyway, but James and I take part in several ministries for the diocese so I don’t usually have that much time to read. Now that all of our out-of-home activities have been canceled, I’ve been able to get through many of the books on my “To Read” Pile!

Devil in White City

The Devil in White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

Synopsis: Come for the Killer, Stay For the Fair. Anonymous death came early and often. Each of the thousand trains that entered and left the city did so at grade level. You could step from a curb and be killed by the Chicago Limited. Every day on average two people were destroyed at the city’s rail crossings. Their injuries were grotesque. Pedestrians retrieved severed heads. There were other hazards. Streetcars fell from drawbridges. Horses bolted and dragged carriages into crowds. Fires took a dozen lives a day. In describing the fire dead, the term the newspapers most liked to use was “roasted.” There was diphtheria, typhus, cholera, influenza. And there was murder. In the time of the fair the rate at which men and women killed each other rose sharply throughout the nation but especially in Chicago, where police found themselves without the manpower or expertise to manage the volume.

But things were changing. Everywhere one looked the boundary between the moral and the wicked seemed to be degrading. Elizabeth Cady Stanton argued in favor of divorce. Clarence Darrow advocated free love. A young woman named Lizzie Borden killed her parents.

And in Chicago a young handsome doctor stepped from a train, his surgical valise in hand. He entered a world of clamor, smoke, and steam, refulgent with the scents of murdered cattle and pigs. He found it to his liking.

The letters came later, from the Cigrands, Williamses, Smythes, and untold others, addressed to that strange gloomy castle at Sixty-third and Wallace, pleading for the whereabouts of daughters and daughters’ children.

It was so easy to disappear, so easy to deny knowledge, so very easy in the smoke and din to mask that something dark had taken root.

This was Chicago, on the eve of the greatest fair in history.

My review: So far, this has been my favorite of the three Larson books I’ve read. I could not put this book down.  Larson weaves the story of H.H. Holmes, one of America’s first serial killers and the story of how the Chicago Fair was organized.  Outstanding read and I learned so much as well.  Highly recommend.

Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and

An American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Synopsis: The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.

But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming–yet wholly sinister–Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror

My review: This was also another compelling read, and again, I learned a lot, especially about the early days of the Nazis when they were in control of the country.  Dodds, the American ambassador, tries to warn others about the diabolical Hitler, his SS and the Nazis in general.  He saw firsthand the persecution of the Jews and other unspeakable acts even before others outside Germany.  Highly recommend.

112263

11-22-63 by Stephen King

Amazon Synopsis: ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

My review: I absolutely loved this book.  It has something for everyone: time travel, great characters, someone trying to stop the Kennedy Assassination, a love story, interesting plot.  It’s a LONG read (900 pages), but after I finished the book, I immediately ordered the DVD of the 2016 mini-series with James Franco.  Highly recommend both the novel and the DVD!

Such Good Girls

 

Such Good Girls: The Journey of the Holocaust’s Hidden Survivors by R. D. Rosen

Synopsis: Edgar Award-winning mystery novelist R. D. Rosen tells the story of the hidden children who survived the Holocaust through the lives of three girls hidden in three different countriesamong the less than 10 percent of Jewish children in Europe to survive World War IIwho went on to lead remarkable lives in New York City.

Only one in ten Jewish children in Europe survived the Holocaust, many in hiding. In Such Good Girls, R. D. Rosen tells the story of these survivors through the true experiences of three girls.

Sophie Turner-Zaretsky, who spent the war years believing she was an anti-Semitic Catholic schoolgirl, eventually became an esteemed radiation oncologist. Flora Hogman, protected by a succession of Christians, emerged from the war a lonely, lost orphan, but became a psychologist who pioneered the study of hidden child survivors. Unlike Anne Frank, Carla Lessing made it through the war concealed with her family in the home of Dutch strangers before becoming a psychotherapist and key player in the creation of an international organization of hidden child survivors.

In braiding the stories of three women who defied death by learning to be “such good girls,” Rosen examines a silent and silenced generation—the last living cohort of Holocaust survivors. He provides rich, memorable portraits of a handful of hunted children who, as adults, were determined to deny Hitler any more victories, and he recreates the extraordinary event that lured so many hidden child survivors out of their grown-up “hiding places” and finally brought them together.

My review: I just downloaded this for .99 so this is in my “To Be Read” pile.

 

Rome Sweet Home

Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism by Scott and Kimberly Hahn

Amazon Synopsis: The well-known and very popular Catholic couple, Scott and Kimberly Hahn, have been constantly travelling and speaking all over North America for the last few years about their conversion to the Catholic Church. Now these two outstanding Catholic apologists tell in their own words about the incredible spiritual journey that led them to embrace Catholicism.

Scott Hahn was a Presbyterian minister, the top student in his seminary class, a brilliant Scripture scholar, and militantly anti-Catholic … until he reluctantly began to discover that his “enemy” had all the right answers. Kimberly, also a top-notch theology student in the seminary, is the daughter of a well-known Protestant minister, and went through a tremendous “dark night of the soul” after Scott converted to Catholicism.

Their conversion story and love for the Church has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of lukewarm Catholics and brought them back into an active participation in the Church. They have also influenced countless conversions to Catholicism among their friends and others who have heard their powerful testimony.

My review: I’ve read the original of this book three times in the past and enjoyed it tremendously.  I picked it up again the other day and still found it as compelling as the first time I read it. Highly recommend.

 

FQP Sale – Books for 1.99 #socialisolation

On this Feast of the Annunciation,

here are the FQP books that are on sale for 1.99 until March 30th.

INO series Promo

O’Donovan Family Series by Ellen Gable

In Name Only (Gold Medal winner, 2010 IPPY Awards)

A Subtle Grace (Finalist 2015 IAN Historical, Romance)

each regularly priced 4.99

Father's Son Promo

The Father’s Son by Jim Sano

regularly priced 5.99

Lady Doc Promo

The Lady Doc Murders by Barbara Golder

Dying for Revenge

Dying for Compassion

Each regularly priced 4.99

Discovery Promo

Discovery by Karina Fabian

Regularly priced: 4.99

Huge #Sale of FQP Books on #Kindle #socialisolation

Looking for some cheap but quality reading during this time of social isolation?

FQP has reduced all its books for this one week sale to take place today through Monday March 30 at 11:45 p.m.

The following books are on sale for .99

(Tomorrow’s post will list the books on sale for 1.99)

99 cent promo FQP

A Channel of Your Peace by Veronica Smallhorn

Angela’s Song by AnnMarie Creedon

Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

Growing Up in God’s Image by Carolyn Smith

Don’t You Forget About Me by Erin McCole Cupp

Emily’s Hope by Ellen Gable (2006 IPPY Awards, Honorable Mention)

    The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt (CALA Winner)

Great War Promo

Great War Great Love Series by Ellen Gable

Julia’s Gifts

Charlotte’s Honor

Ella’s Promise

Heaven Intended Promo

Heaven Intended Series by Amanda Lauer

A World Such as Heaven Intended (CALA Winner)

A Life Such as Heaven Intended

A Love Such as Heaven Intended

Astfalk Promo

Stay With Me Series by Carolyn Astfalk

Come Back to Me

(Come Back to Me will be on sale for .99 early tomorrow morning)

Stay With Me  (IAN finalist)