An Open Book – August #openbook

An Open Book 800W

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom on An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading over the past month.

Though War Be Waged

Though War Be Waged Upon Me:

A Saint Michael Treasury of Prayer and Reflection

by Carol Puschaver

Blurb: Make no mistake. Satan is very much alive — and hellbent on revenge. He is waging war against humanity, and indeed against all creation, with the reckless abandon of one who has nothing more to lose. Cast out of heaven; crushed at the foot of the Cross, he is multiplying evil and outrage and scandal to unprecedented effect as he “strikes at [the] heel” (Gen 3.15) of “fallen mankind” (St. Joseph Edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition, 9).Without question we are living in a time of increasingly brazen evil. That is to say, a time of extraordinary and abundant grace also. Christ has already won the final victory over Satan. By His grace, we stand strong against the forces of evil. By that same ineffable grace, we stand in the company of holy angels — most especially the glorious Warrior Archangel Saint Michael.And the high ground belongs to us!

My review: This is a beautiful booklet dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.  If you thought the only St. Michael prayer was the one we sometimes say at the end of Mass, then this book will be an eye opener for you.  Included is a history of the St. Michael prayers as well as a chaplet and reflections. Highly recommend.

Unspeakable Beauty

Unspeakable Beauty by Joshua Elzner

Blurb: When Adam awakes without a past, he is impelled to ask the question, “Who am I?” and yet this question itself is already cradled in the awe of first discovery, in which his heart is stirred to childlike wonder and playfulness at his contact with a beautiful world that he had almost lost forever. But whenever his memory comes flooding back in, and his whole being is shaken by the trauma of a painful life, will he be able to retain his childlike wonder, and will he be able to answer this question, both for himself and for others?

His only hope lies in letting himself be buoyed up by what has gone before him, carries him now, and will always remain—a mystery greater than himself and yet enfolding him in his uniqueness, a mystery knitting his life together with the lives of so many others in a tapestry that, while composed of light and darkness, of joy and sorrow, of profound hope and inexpressible anguish, is nonetheless a masterpiece of unspeakable beauty.

My review: The author can write well and the story is engaging.  My only criticism is that it’s very, very long.  For those who can handle lengthy books, this is a good read.

Jazz

Jazz and Other Stories by Dena Hunt

Blurb: Like jazz music, these singular life stories play out in an improvisational current of tragedy, comedy, drama, and discovery. A little girl in rural Georgia, a young woman in Germany, a Floridian priest, a history professor in New Orleans, and others all contribute verses of experience—some with joy, some with sorrow, and some with shock, or even violence. Written over a period of many years by an award-winning author, these stories and their characters make up a varied collection of life’s jazz-like rhythm, its recurrent refrain of surprise, its terrible and beautiful crashes against the cymbals. Not one of the stories is about love, but they are all, in their different ways, love stories.

My review: This is a new book by my favorite author, Dena Hunt.  I’ve read some of the stories and they’re wonderful.  I can’t wait to read the rest of the book!

Peace Among Brambles Front Cover for Kindle

Peace Among Brambles by May Akonobi

Blurb:  Mma loves children. Preoccupied by this love and the desire to have her own children, she rushes into marriage with Joey, throwing overboard her mother’s wise counsel to pray and seek God’s will. The honeymoon is a dream come true for Mma and her new husband. But when they return home, Mma finds that Joey’s mother and sister have moved in. What follows is a challenging time for Mma. How will she face her new situation? Will she ever realize her dream of having her own children?

My review: This is a beautiful story of a young Nigerian woman, who yearns for children. She  marries quickly without praying to God for guidance. What follows is a series of life lessons for Mma, who eventually learns to trust in God.

NFP Awareness Week! #NFP

This is the end of NFP Awareness Week but better late than never!

National NFP Awareness Week – JULY 19 – JULY 25, 2020

Live the truth and beauty of
God’s plan for married love!

Natural Family Planning
It’s about love. It’s about life. It’s about freedom. It’s about gift.

“Celebrate and reverence God’s vision of human sexuality.”

20-010-nfp-week-poster

NFP Articles:

Rebuilding a Culture of Life 

NFP and Resolutions for the New Year

Humanae Vitae and the Benefits of NFP

Responsible Parenthood and NFP

My Last Period FB

Copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Fertile Time Small

Image copyright 2013 James and Ellen Hrkach (Please do not use without permission)

Here's to 20 yearssm

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Lesscostsmall

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do NOT use without permission.

 

Interview with Carol Puschaver

Here is my interview with Carol Puschaver, author of Though War Be Waged Upon Me: A St. Michael Treasury of Prayer and Reflection, which can be purchased at this link.

Though War Be Waged

EG: Please tell us a bit about yourself.

CP: I need to say first of all that I tend to be playful and am intensely curious — about everything!

What does this mean?  How does that work? (And why?) Where will this road take me?

There.  That said, I am the youngest of five, raised in a traditional Catholic family.  I grew up in the Deep South of Alabama and attended a small Catholic grade school as the tumultuous late 60’s and early 70’s unfolded with a series of quite extraordinary events:  Vatican II, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, Apollo moon landing, Watergate scandal; the shootings at Kent State University in Ohio.

Eight years after those shootings killed four students and wounded nine others, I enrolled as a freshman at Kent State and earned Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in English.  My studies made me hungry to go and explore the places where history was made, sometimes on a truly epic scale across a world stage over centuries.  For some thirty years, I have been blessed with travels throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and the Holy Land.  Each trip seemed naturally to take on a sense of pilgrimage, whether recalling the missionary journeys of St. Paul while sailing among the Greek Islands, contemplating Jesus calling His first disciples as I waded in the shallows of the Sea of Galilee, or feeling oh so close to heaven while sitting quietly in the cathedral nave of Notre-Dame de Paris*, with its unmistakable sense of the sacred and witness to centuries.

Eventually, I turned to the health care field, became a Registered Nurse and worked in casualty claims for the better part of twenty years.  My career came to an abrupt end when I was forced to retire due to Bipolar Disorder.  At age 51, I was told I would likely never work again.

*I last visited Paris in 2016, the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, well before fire consumed the cathedral’s ceiling and roof in 2019.  With hotel accommodations in the nearby Latin Quarter, I was easily able to walk the short distance to Notre-Dame and attend daily Mass throughout my stay.

EG: There is so much more to St. Michael than the Prayer to St. Michael composed by Pope Leo XIII. Please tell us about St. Michael and your book, Though War be Waged Upon Me …

CP: By the grace of God, St. Michael the Archangel has always been, and will be,  a towering figure throughout history, from the expulsion of rebel spirits out of heaven in early times to the final overthrow of Satan at the Last Judgment.  Scripture references to St. Michael in both the Old and New Testaments have led the Church to ascribe 4 principal offices to him, the foremost being to fight against Satan.

This background established early in the book leads naturally to a discussion of the vision and mystical experience of Pope Leo XIII.  While this took place in 1884, I am convinced it speaks to the events we are witnessing today both within the Catholic Church and the world at large.  The Holy Father’s vision showed St. Michael coming to the aid of the Church in extremis and his experience led him to write the Prayer to St. Michael.  The book launches into a collection of prayers, including the St. Michael Chaplet (see question four) and Litany, Novena and Consecration prayers.

There follows the section, “An Archangel’s Beauty:  Insights from the Treasury of Western Christian Art.”  Innumerable works of art portraying St. Michael over the centuries offer an inestimably rich and visual perspective of the Warrior Archangel.  Sacred art has much to teach and inspire us; its worthy contemplation often leads to greater devotion.

Living this devotion becomes the focus of the next section, with a discussion of “Ways to Love and Honor St. Michael.”  Pick and choose from among nearly thirty possibilities such as

– recite the prayer to St. Michael – often

– ask his protection for priests and the Holy Father

–  radiate the truth always

Before the Concluding Prayer to the Archangels, as a nod to my playful and questioning self, I have included a “Did You Know . . .?” section.  Here discerning readers can learn

–  how to tell St. Michael from St. George

– what St. Francis de Sales had to say about St. Michael

–  which are some of the 21 professions having St. Michael as their patron saint

EG: You have a deep devotion to St. Michael. How did that strong devotion develop?

CP: My sudden retirement, which I had not foreseen or planned for especially (see answer to question one) sent me reeling.  In one of the darkest chapters of my life, I seemed to feel myself falling down a rabbit hole – and who could say how dark and deep?

So I prayed – or more like “nagged” – Jesus to please lead me.  Since I no longer had to be at work at 7 in the morning, I started going to daily Mass.  All I can day is that gradually, inexplicably, I began to have an awareness of angels, particularly guardian angels, including my own.  I have never seen as angel as we tend to think of them, but I clearly sensed their presence.  It was an incredibly sweet consolation to realize all the angels in the grocery store check-out line, at singing rehearsal; during Mass – as many people, so were there as many dear angels.

After a time, this ongoing awareness led me to focus on St. Michael the Archangel.  I did not know much about him, other than the prayer we used to say at the end of Mass and his being the patron of military and law enforcement individuals.  I was curious to learn more.

It did not take long to discover the vision of Pope Leo XIII and his account of the “horrible picture [he had] been permitted to see . . . a vision of the activities of the evil spirits and their efforts against the Church.  But in the midst of the horror, the Archangel Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell” (Though War Be Waged Upon Me, 17).  This took place just after His Holiness had celebrated Mass at the Vatican.  The date was October 13, 1884, that is, 33 years to the day before the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima.

The words quickly sank in, and as I was sitting reading, my head snapped up sharply as though I had just been hit by something.  I came straightway to the conviction that we are living – here and now — the vision.*  That was it.  I was so thoroughly impressed by our urgent need for St. Michael’s help that I resolved then and there to do all in my power to actively promote and encourage devotion to him.

*The clergy sex abuse scandal in the Church was again making headlines.

EG: Tell us a bit about the St. Michael Chaplet and why you believe it is so powerful.

CP: I first came across a St. Michael Chaplet unexpectedly while signing in for my usual Eucharistic Adoration hour.  Someone had left as a “takeaway” the odd multi-colored jumble of beads that somewhat resembled a Rosary, but lacked a crucifix, and had nine sections of three beads instead of the familiar five decades with ten Hail Mary beads. It did not help that it was broken and I remember thinking, “What the heck is that?!”  Luckily knowing about someone who made and repaired Rosaries, I took it with me to have it mended.  Several weeks later I received it back with word that it was a St. Michael Chaplet.  “A what?”  Clearly, I had more learning to do.

St. Michael himself revealed the Chaplet to a Carmelite religious in the 18th century.  The Prince of the Heavenly Host asked that it be prayed in his honor and that of the nine heavenly choirs of angels – all for the greater honor and glory of God.  He made three remarkable promises to those who recite the Chaplet, “particularly in such time as the Catholic Church should experience some special trial” (Though War Be Waged Upon Me, p. 20):

     Those who pray the Chaplet before receiving Holy Communion will have an escort

     of nine angels, one from each of the nine Choirs of angels, and

     Those who pray the Chaplet daily will enjoy the continual assistance of St. Michael

     and that of all the holy angels during this life, and

     He, St. Michael, will obtain deliverance from purgatory for all who pray the Chaplet

     And for their relations.                                           

Consider that is it none other than the Nine Choirs of Angels whose powerful intercession we are seeking as we pray the Chaplet.  These countless, ineffable angel hosts have always preserved their God-given innocence and intellect even when Lucifer rebelled together with so many of their fellows.    In everything they conform perfectly to the will of God, “for Whom nothing is impossible” (Lk 1.37).

As spiritual, incorporeal beings, the holy angels are not bound by the physical limitations of space and time.  Consequently, we implore the help of heavenly beings for whom, by the grace, granting, and will of God

– no whisper is too faint, or light too dim,

–  hunger, infirmity, fatigue, the cold of winter and heat of summer have no effect,

–  nothing is too heavy or overwhelming; there is no mountain too high, ocean too

deep, current too swift, or journey too far;

–  no language is foreign, human plan secret, treasure hidden or dilemma  insurmountable.

Consider just a small number of ways the angels are lively, marvelously at work in Scripture as they

–  guard us in all our ways  (Ps. 91.11)

minister by countless thousands to the Ancient of Days (Cf. Dan. 7.9-10)

–  prepare Isaiah for his prophetic mission (Cf. Isa. 6.6)

–  announce the wonder of the Incarnation: “you will conceive . . . and bear a Son” (Lk. 1.31)

–  make the heavens resound with exultant praise:  “Glory to God in the highest” (Lk. 2.14)

–  comfort Jesus in the Garden (Cf. Lk. 22.43)

–  witness to the Resurrection (Cf. Lk. 24.6);

 seal the foreheads of the servants of God (Cf. Rev. 8.3)

With the Chaplet we implore the intercession of these wondrous angel citizens of heaven and, as St. Michael taught us, petition them for a treasure trove of spiritual gifts:  perfect charity, true and sincere humility, a spirit of obedience, deliverance, perseverance . . .  The Chaplet ends with a plea to St. Michael to deliver us from evil “especially at the hour of our death” and bring us safely into the “august presence of [God’s] Divine Majesty.” (Though War Be Waged Upon Me, p. 24).

Finally, adding to the Chaplet’s power is the approval and indulgence granted by Blessed Pope Pius in 1851.

EG: Our world is in turmoil with an obvious battle raging between good and evil.  How can St. Michael give us hope and faith that good will triumph?

CP: Consider that St. Michael accomplishes everything by the power, design and permission of Almighty God.  Let that sink in for a minute. . . .  The divinely-appointed Warrior Archangel

– acts out of love for God and in perfect obedience and loyalty to God’s holy will,

– is animated with a most lively trust in God, even in the midst of the greatest danger,

– fights the archenemy and his legions without trace of fear, hesitation or reserve,

– cannot be taken by surprise, outwitted, outmaneuvered, overcome or defeated, and

– is perfectly invincible and one might say, necessarily victorious, for “the battle belongs to the Lord” (1 Sam. 17. 47).

I often think of St. Michael along the lines of a military general, albeit one having a singular God-given ability to fight and prevail against the forces of evil.  As Satan spends himself  “with the reckless abandon of one who has nothing more to lose” (Though War Be Waged Upon Me, back cover), St. Michael remains firmly in command of the situation.  In our own present time especially, when evil seems to be winning, he stands out as a magnificent example of St. Paul’s teaching:

         . . . where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Rom. 5.20).

Our world is in trouble, and I earnestly believe things are going to get worse as the “birth pangs” (Matt. 24.8) intensify and become more frequent.  We do well to call on St. Michael sincerely and often.*

Even as generals sometimes deliver a rousing message to their soldiers about to go into harm’s way, so I think St. Michael might have some words for us.  Maybe something like:

      Have courage and fight with the ability God gives.  Above all, live always in the

      love of God, “Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Cor. 15.57)

*As previously mentioned in the question two above,  a brief and very powerful prayer (Only 59 words, including “Amen”!) is that written by Pope Leo XIII:

                   Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle.  Be our defense against the

                   wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him we humbly

                   pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God,

                   cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl around the world seeking

                   the ruin of souls.  Amen. 

 Please, make a habit of saying this prayer from your heart — often.

EG: You also have a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  How are these two devotions interconnected?  How are they similar and how are they different?

CP: Oh goodness.  Well . . .

One point I need make in no uncertain terms is a cornerstone of our faith:

God alone is almighty and sovereign, with an “everlasting dominion” (Dan. 7.14) over all things.  No matter how much we may love or revere the angels and saints, and even our Blessed Mother –

             IT IS GOD ALONE, FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT, WHOM WE ADORE.

Looking back, I think my devotion to the Sacred Heart began when I was 14 and living in Alabama, although I did not realize it at the time.  I got something in the mail (a miracle in itself!) – from the Sacred Heart Auto League.  “But I’m not even old enough to drive,” I remember thinking.  Inside was a small laminated Sacred Heart “badge.”  Somehow that dear badge stayed with me over many years, through high school, college, work and travel.  It even survived a run-in with the washing machine!  The Sacred Heart, it seems, was determined to stay with me.  The same is true of a beautiful vintage picture of the Sacred Heart that has been in my family since before I can remember.  Somehow, it has stayed with me too.

For me, Sacred Heart devotion and Eucharistic Adoration just go together naturally.  Even perfectly and seamlessly.  By the grace of God, I have gone to Adoration almost every week for 22 years, starting in 1998.  (Unfortunately, COVID-19 resulted in an unavoidable four-month suspension of this special devotion, from March to July, 2020).   In the course of our regular one-on-one visits over the years, I believe our Eucharistic King Jesus deepened my faith in the mystery of His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, and with accounts of Eucharistic Miracles such as Lanciano, brought me to understand that the consecrated Host is, in reality, the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  That was, and remains an unspeakably profound treasure of faith..

My devotion to St. Michael developed much later in life, about 3-4 years after I retired at 51.

A growing awareness of angels (see question three) led naturally to a focus on St. Michael, and with it, the study of the mystical vision of Pope Leo XIII.  The account of the revelation granted to the Holy Father catapulted a nascent devotion into compelling fervor and lively, irrepressible resolve to act.  I experienced, if you will, nothing short of an urgent call to heavenly arms, and I “signed up” at once.

Only in retrospect did it occur to me that devotion to the Sacred Heart and devotion to St. Michael have unfolded together as though in a sweet complementarity.  By turns, one seems to advance the other, always centering on and bringing me in closer union with the Eucharist – with Jesus Himself.

Love for an angel or saint leads ultimately to love for God Who creates them and raises them to be models of peerless sanctity for the Universal Church.  In union with them, following their example, we are called without ceasing to give “Glory to God in the highest . . .” (Lk 2.14).

St. Michael, defend us in battle!

 Author’s responses copyright Carol Puschaver 2020

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Though War Be Waged Upon Me: A St. Michael Treasury of Prayer and Reflection

Though War Be Waged

Since that most dire moment when “war broke out in heaven” as Lucifer rebelled against God, the war between good and evil has always raged, and our present time is no exception.  To the contrary, the forces of good and evil are locked in a battle that appears to be escalating, growing more ominous by the day.   And it hardly seems any exaggeration to feel that evil has the upper hand – and Satan is not about to pull any punches.

So what is the average layperson to do?

Though War Be Waged Upon Me:  A Saint Michael Treasury of Prayer and Reflection is a book written by Carol Puschaver as one answer to this pressing question.  The reader can draw hope and remember that grace is at work as he/she appeals to St. Michael, starting with the Prayer to St. Michael that was composed by Pope Leo XIII.  As the book makes clear, however, there is much more not only to the Warrior Archangel, but also the many other prayers, including the especially powerful St. Michael Chaplet.

Also in this book:

St. Michael in Salvation History
The Vision of Pope Leo and the Original Prayer to St. Michael
St. Michael Chaplet
Prayer Treasury
Ways to Love and Honor St. Michael

The blurb: Make no mistake. Satan is very much alive — and hellbent on revenge. He is waging war against humanity, and indeed against all creation, with the reckless abandon of one who has nothing more to lose. Cast out of heaven; crushed at the foot of the Cross, he is multiplying evil and outrage and scandal to unprecedented effect as he “strikes at [the] heel” (Gen 3.15) of “fallen mankind” (St. Joseph Edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition, 9).Without question we are living in a time of increasingly brazen evil. That is to say, a time of extraordinary and abundant grace also. Christ has already won the final victory over Satan. By His grace, we stand strong against the forces of evil. By that same ineffable grace, we stand in the company of holy angels — most especially the glorious Warrior Archangel Saint Michael. And the high ground belongs to us!

My review: This is a beautiful booklet dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.  If you thought the only St. Michael prayer was the one we sometimes say at the end of Mass, then this book will be an eye opener for you.  Included is a history of the St. Michael prayers as well as a chaplet and reflections. Highly recommend.

About the Author: Carol Puschaver earned her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in English from Kent State University, Ohio, and lives in Upstate New York. A lifelong scholar, amateur historian and world traveler, she has a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Michael the Archangel.

To purchase the Kindle edition at only 1.99, click here.

To purchase the Paperback edition at only 5.99, click here.

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.’

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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.

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Virtual Book Tour: Moonchild Rising Interview with Mina Ambrose

Moonchild Front JPG Final

As part of the Moonchild Rising Virtual Book Tour, here is my interview with the author, Mina Ambrose:

EG: What was your inspiration for Moonchild Rising (and in fact, all the upcoming books of the series Shadows of the Sun)?

MA: I’d always loved writing, eventually collecting a whole file-box of notes and story beginnings—none of which, incidentally, had anything to do with vampires—that never went anywhere, due to other interests pushing them to the back burner. Even after I “discovered” vampires (read a few books, saw a few movies, though I wasn’t really a fan of the horror genre) I soon grew tired of the gore and ugliness and lack of real story or interesting characters, though there was the odd exception.

Then along came Buffy the Vampire Slayer, sticking more or less to traditional vampire lore, but with certain intriguing innovations: its young female heroine, small and delicate—the very image of innocence, vulnerability and weakness, as the “slayer”—unusual at the time (not a learned doctor like Van Helsing, or a tough-guy vigilante type, or a whole crew of them); a vampire that regains its soul (I was skeptical at first, then it occurred to me that nothing is impossible with God); the “reformed” vampire joins her in her work and the two of them fall in love (possible in this case, I decided, because the restoration of the vampire’s soul allows him to choose good over evil). They were a cute couple and the show was entertaining, except, as usual, Hollywood kept getting off track. For example, to them, falling in love means falling into bed. And the heroine was typical—supposedly “good,” but actually not. It seemed to me the slayer must actually be above reproach or demons would just laugh at her; and she wouldn’t be in the business of killing vampires for very long. Neither is the vampire’s soul likely to be restored by evil means (supposedly a gypsy’s curse).

“No, that’s not right, it ought to be this way!” I’d say to myself in frustration each time. And finally, “If I was writing it…” And that’s how it started. It was not intended to be a retelling of someone else’s story, but merely to put things in their “right order,” from the Catholic perspective. With God as present as He is in the real world; the use of holy water and crucifixes as blessed objects with power against evil—not just superstition like some sort of lucky charm.

From the beginning my actual hero was meant to be the child that resulted from this unlikely marriage (for marriage it had to be). This was to be his story, ultimately, though the first book only hints at his presence on the last page.

author photoEG: How long did it take you to write the entire series?

MA: About twenty years, more or less.

EG: What intrigues you about vampires?

MA: The “outsider” has always held a certain fascination, and a vampire is the quintessential outsider. Once human but now soulless, it is cut off from all it once had forever, not alive or dead, just undead, doomed to walk the night craving human blood. Though a horror, it is at the same time a pathetic creature. It is interesting to consider not only what must be done to protect the innocent (enter “the slayer”), but also to imagine the vampire’s point of view. At some point in its history the vampire seems to have taken on a romantic image, unlike most other monsters, and I suppose that’s part of the attraction (unlike zombies, which are ugly and disgusting and not romantic at all). Of course, that’s my opinion. Apparently they are pretty popular nowadays, for some unaccountable reason.

EG: Before the Prince became a vampire, he lived several centuries ago as a human. How did you go about creating a character who lived so long ago?

MA: Just as with any other character, but in addition, it is something like creating a historical novel, I suppose. I had to research the era and locale, by reading histories and looking at artwork depicting how people lived and worked and dressed in that time and place. Always keeping in mind that he must have a different worldview than someone born in our own time, but as a vampire the Prince would have been affected by his many experiences over the centuries, so there is a lot of leeway. For example, his “ambiguous accent” that Mara’s father couldn’t quite place.

EG: What sort of research, if any, did you do to write this book (series)?

MA: I’ve always been a bookworm, so my research mainly involved books on relevant topics: vampires, history, geography, astronomy, angels and art, for example. I resorted to the Internet when necessary, and asked for input from others, for instance the fight scenes; several of my children involved in martial arts provided helpful feedback.

EG: You have quite a few adult children. Did any of them read early copies of your manuscript?

MA: Yes, my three daughters and a daughter-in-law loved the manuscript—two of them read it several times during its various stages of development. I was pleased (and relieved) when they assured me that my characters are my own and not those of the TV series. Their input was greatly appreciated. Several of the boys (not big readers) read the first few chapters at one point. Their encouraging comments helped me to persevere during the dark times when I felt like chucking the whole thing.

EG: Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

MA: There are so many I don’t know where to start. Michael O’Brien has to be at the top of the list for novels, ranging from historical to apocalyptic (even prophetic) to science fiction with characters sympathetic and interesting, people you can relate to. J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and of course George MacDonald with their classics. Josephine Tey’s mysteries, and Canon Sheehan’s accounts of Catholic Irish life set in the nineteenth century are a few of the older authors I admire. Joseph Pearce is top-notch in non-fiction and literary criticism, as well as poetry; I admire his sharp mind and common sense, and in particular his poetic way with words even when writing prose. A lot like G. K. Chesterton, another favorite. A few of the more recent authors are Robert Ovies, Roger Thomas, Gail Caress with a satisfying mix of adventure, romance, mystery, suspense—sometimes even horror and tragedy—but always the “right order of things.” Recently I have enjoyed a number of authors from FQP as well.

EG: Thank you, Mina, for the wonderful interview!

To purchase Moonchild Rising, click here for the Kindle edition and here for the paperback edition.

Virtual Book Tour: Moonchild Rising by Mina Ambrose

Beginning on Monday and for a week, my blog and other blogs will be hosting author Mina Ambrose for a Virtual Book Tour:

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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.

Keywords:    Religious inspirational,  vampire fiction, clean historical, Catholic fiction fantasy, Vampire conversion

Info Link:   https://www.fullquiverpublishing.com/our-publications/shadows-of-the-sun-series-by-mina-ambrose/

Buy Link Kindle:    https://www.amazon.com/Moonchild-Rising-Shadows-Sun-Book-ebook/dp/B087JY8X4C/

Buy Link Print:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/1987970152/

Categories:   Fantasy Fiction, Vampire Romance, Religious Inspirational Fiction, Catholic Romance Vampires, Supernatural

Goodreads link:   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53398004-moonchild-rising

 

Virtual Book Tour Stops

June 8   Patrice MacArthur

June 9  Steven McEvoy  Book Reviews and More

June 10  Ellen Gable  Plot Line and Sinker

June 11   Carolyn Astfalk My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

June 12  Karina Fabian

June 13   Theresa Linden

June 15  Sarah Reinhard, Snoring Scholar

 

Advanced Reviews:

A fast-paced, engaging book that draws clear lines between Good and Evil, leading the reader on a great adventure through the darkness we cannot see. I loved the story—and I’m not even a fan of vampires!”  Michelle Buckman, award-winning author, Rachel’s Contrition and Turning in Circles

“Can a vampire’s soul be saved? With beautiful imagery, Moonchild Rising pairs a redeemed vampire and a skilled huntress battling both the undead and the desires of their hearts.” Carolyn Astfalk, author, Come Back to Me and All in Good Time

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.

Remembering Mom: A Life of Endurance

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Mom and Me, May 22, 1982 Photo by Sassano Photographers copyright 1982

“Nothing great is ever achieved without enduring much.” St. Catherine of Siena

If the struggles my mother endured are any indication of her achievements in life, then what she achieved here on earth can be considered great, indeed.

My mother (Betti) was born in 1934 and died in 2007, but her influence in my life and in the lives of my children, nieces, nephews, and siblings has continued.

On the one hand, she was generous to a fault, often going into debt when we were young so that my siblings and I could have plentiful presents under the Christmas tree. She loved coming up to Canada and especially enjoyed surprising my boys with unexpected trips (and she never missed a Baptism or a First Communion or musical performance until she became terminally ill).  She had a unique, wry sense of humor and was laugh-out-loud funny sometimes.  Even today, she still makes me laugh when I think of one of her funny sayings.

On the other hand, she chain-smoked most of her life (she quit when she was 61), could swear like a sailor, and wasn’t always faithful with church attendance.

But as a young mother with three small children and nine months pregnant with another, my mother watched her husband (my father) spiral into a full-blown psychotic breakdown and watch as he was committed to a psychiatric hospital. That same day, she went into labor with my youngest brother. With the help of extended family, she endured, and Dad finally came home.

Mom survived a critical illness when she was 33 years old and was not expected to live. I was only seven at the time, but I remember how thin she was. She weighed eighty pounds and at five feet, six inches tall, she was a walking skeleton.  She beat the odds, though, and lived a fairly healthy life until her sixties when chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caught up with her.

She became a widow at age 44 when my father died suddenly.

Mom later married remarried, got pregnant at the age of 47 and was thrilled. When her doctor suggested she have an abortion (because it was too risky and the baby might be deformed), she refused. When he demanded she have an abortion, Mom swore at him. Then he then told her to find another doctor because he wouldn’t be delivering the baby. I’m thankful that she and my stepfather were open to life. Again, Mom beat the odds, had an uneventful pregnancy, and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl (my youngest sister, now 38).

A lifetime of smoking caught up with her in early 2004, when she contracted a particular virulent strain of pneumonia, was on a ventilator and in a coma (and supposedly “brain dead.”)  Once more, she beat the odds and eventually woke up and endured eight months in rehab and lived an additional three years (which she never took for granted).

I had never known Mom to be anything but determined and tenacious. And she always tried to find the humor in everything. Just before she died, she called me up to tell me that she had just watched a TV program on the Little People of America. “Did you know you could join them, if you wanted?”

“Um, okay.”

“Yes, the maximum height is four feet, ten inches.  You’re four-nine.”

“Why would I want to join them?”

“So you could go to conventions and feel like the tallest person in the room!” Then she burst out laughing.

People were always surprised when they met Mom because she was tall (five feet, six inches) and I’m so short (four feet, nine inches).  If we were doing dishes together, she would look down at me and say, “El, are you standing in a hole?”

In the months before she died, we had many wonderful conversations.  We talked about her life, her memories, her faith.  We talked about Jesus and heaven and how exciting it would be to meet Jesus.

When she was within hours of death, my youngest sister called me, and I made the trip to New Jersey from Canada.  After a two-hour wait at the border, we arrived in Cortland, New York, so I called to let her know I was halfway there.  My sister answered the phone and told Mom that I was in Cortland. I could hear her say, “She’s only in Cortland?  Tell her I love her and to be careful.”

Shortly after that, she went into a coma. I arrived that evening. She was still alive but unconscious.  She had asked my sister and I to recite the Litany of the Saints and the Divine Mercy Chaplet when her time was close, so we did that and then I went to bed. The next morning when I checked on her, her breathing had slowed and she was cool, but she still had a weak pulse.  I whispered in her ear, “It’s okay if you need to go, Mom.  We’ll be all right.  I love you.”

An hour or so later, my other siblings had assembled around her bedside.  I was sitting next to my brother and all of a sudden, I felt as if Mom were on the ceiling looking down at us.  I was about to nudge my brother on the shoulder and tell him when he said, “Hey, El, I feel like Mom is on the ceiling looking down at us.”

Mom entered into eternal life on the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8, 2007 and was buried on the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, August 14th.   It’s been thirteen years since she died, and her influence and humor is still being felt by our family.  If Mom’s endurance and tenacity are any indication, great things were definitely achieved with her life.

I just finished writing a book about Mom, entitled, Remembering Mom. It’s available on Kindle and in print.

Copyright 2020 Ellen Gable Hrkach