The Cross and the Godless Review

First the summary: 1979—Terror reigns in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas have seized power. Julian Mendero, leader of the Christian opposition, is arrested for stealing a national treasure—the Valdivieso Cross. But not before his son, Pedro, flees to the Sanctuary underground and begins an arduous journey to the US border.

Months later, FBI Agent Steve Rodriguez enters the murky world of the border killings, a series of inexplicable murders. When evidence points to a foreign death squad he enlists the help of Carol Shannon, a Sanctuary activist searching for Pedro. But Carol is reluctant to help. Trauma of a recent sexual assault has left her fearful and suffering nightmares. Yet Steve’s compassion—and Carol’s commitment to end the killing and find Pedro—gradually builds trust, while mutual attraction soon gives way to passionate desire.

Mysteries unfold when Steve consults notorious ex-patriot Hector Rone. He learns Rone’s lover, Claudia Haas—antiquities expert, thief, and femme du monde—has joined two militant priests in their search for Pedro and the Valdivieso Cross. Tensions rise when Steve learns the death squad leader may be the father of Carol’s unborn child. Time is short. Steve must find a way to stop the death squad, find Pedro and the precious Valdivieso Cross, and save the woman he loves from making a terrible mistake.

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this work of fiction from Joseph Mauck. The story is compelling and the characters are well-developed and believable. It’s a difficult read because there’s a sexual assault, murders and the nature of the antagonists in this story, but it’s well worth it. It’s for mature readers so it’s not for the fainthearted, nor for children. Highly recommend!

Buy The Cross and the Godless here on Amazon.

The Cross and the Godless by Joseph Mauck – Now Available

1979—Terror reigns in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas have seized power. Julian Mendero, leader of the Christian opposition, is arrested for stealing a national treasure—the Valdivieso Cross. But not before his son, Pedro, flees to the Sanctuary underground and begins an arduous journey to the US border.

Months later, FBI Agent Steve Rodriguez enters the murky world of the border killings, a series of inexplicable murders. When evidence points to a foreign death squad he enlists the help of Carol Shannon, a Sanctuary activist searching for Pedro. But Carol is reluctant to help. Trauma of a recent sexual assault has left her fearful and suffering nightmares. Yet Steve’s compassion—and Carol’s commitment to end the killing and find Pedro—gradually builds trust, while mutual attraction soon gives way to passionate desire.

Mysteries unfold when Steve consults notorious ex-patriot Hector Rone. He learns Rone’s lover, Claudia Haas—antiquities expert, thief, and femme du monde—has joined two militant priests in their search for Pedro and the Valdivieso Cross. Tensions rise when Steve learns the death squad leader may be the father of Carol’s unborn child. Time is short. Steve must find a way to stop the death squad, find Pedro and the precious Valdivieso Cross, and save the woman he loves from making a terrible mistake.

The Cross and the Godless is available at this link.

An Open Book – July #openbook

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading and/or working on!

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

Amazon Synopsis: To the outside world, they seem to have it all. Cassie Barrett, a renowned anthropologist, and Alex Rivers, one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, met on the set of a motion picture in Africa. They shared childhood tales, toasted the future, and declared their love in a fairy-tale wedding. But when they return to California, something alters the picture of their perfect marriage. A frightening pattern is taking shape—a cycle of hurt, denial, and promises, thinly veiled by glamour. Torn between fear and something that resembles love, Cassie wrestles with questions she never dreamed she would face: How can she leave? Then again, how can she stay?

My review: Jodi Picoult tackles a tough topic with this book: spousal abuse. This is one of those books that I read every few years because Picoult expertly creates and develops her characters. When the abuser is pleading with his wife to allow them to reconcile, part of me was saying, “Tell him yes!” That’s a great author who can have the reader cheering for the abuser. That being said, since this is one of her early books, I noticed a few writing errors and typos that wouldn’t normally be in her later books. Regardless, I have enjoyed every Picoult book until about ten years ago when she became politically correct (the Christians in one of her more recent novels are seen as the villains). But this particular book is excellent. 5/5.

Victoria’s War by Catherine Hamilton

Amazon Synopsis: In Victoria’s War, Hamilton gives voice to the courageous Polish women who were kidnapped into the real-life Nazi slave labor operation during WWII. Inspired by true stories, this lost chapter of history won’t soon be forgotten.

POLAND, 1939: Nineteen-year-old Victoria Darski is eager to move away to college: her bags are packed and her train ticket is in hand. But instead of boarding a train to the University of Warsaw, she finds her world turned upside down when World War II breaks out. Victoria’s father is sent to a raging battlefront, and the Darski women face the cruelty of the invaders alone. After the unthinkable happens, Victoria is ordered to work in a Nazi sewing factory. When she decides to go to a resistance meeting with her best friend, Sylvia, they are captured by human traffickers targeting Polish teenagers. Sylvia is singled out and sent to work in brothels, and Victoria is transported in a cattle car to Berlin, where she is auctioned off as a slave.

GERMANY, 1941: Twenty-year-old Etta Tod is at Mercy Hospital, where she’s about to undergo involuntary sterilization because of the Fuhrer’s mandate to eliminate hereditary deafness. Etta, an artist, silently critiques the propaganda poster on the waiting room wall while her mother tries to convince her she should be glad to get rid of her monthlies. Etta is the daughter of the German shopkeepers who buy Victoria at auction in Berlin. The stories of Victoria and Etta intertwine in the bakery’s attic where Victoria is held the same place where Etta has hidden her anti-Nazi paintings. The two women form a quick and enduring bond. But when they’re caught stealing bread from the bakery and smuggling it to a nearby work camp, everything changes.

My review: On my “To Read” shelf.

The Lacemaker by Anne Faye

Amazon Synopsis: St. Zélie Martin (1831-1877) is best known as the mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the most-loved saints of modern times, but she is also a saint in her own right. In this work of historical fiction based largely on St. Zélie’s letters, a compelling portrait of a working mother who always put God first comes to life.

St. Zélie is a saint many women can relate to. She suffered from anxiety, struggled with work-life balance, grieved the loss of children, cared for aging parents, had a child with special needs, and dealt with personal illness. Above all, she loved God and her family and had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother.

In this intimate portrayal, you will come to know a complex woman who achieved holiness while living in the world and dealing with the stress of modern life.

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful book based on St. Zelie Martin’s life. It’s written in a journal format and easy to follow along with the events, joys and challenges of a woman in the 19th century. Highly recommend.

A Song for the Road by Kathleen Basi

Amazon Synopsis: It’s one year after the death of her husband and twin teenagers, and Miriam Tedesco has lost faith in humanity and herself. When a bouquet of flowers that her husband always sends on their anniversary shows up at her workplace, she completely unravels. With the help of her best friend, she realizes that it’s time to pick up the pieces and begin to move on. Step one is not even cleaning out her family’s possessions, but just taking inventory starting with her daughter’s room. But when she opens her daughter’s computer, she stumbles across a program her daughter has created detailing an automated cross-country road trip, for her and her husband to take as soon-to-be empty nesters.

Seeing and hearing the video clips of her kids embedded in the program, Miriam is determined to take this trip for her children. Armed with her husband’s guitar, her daughter’s cello, and her son’s unfinished piano sonata, she embarks on a musical pilgrimage to grieve the family she fears she never loved enough. Along the way she meets a young, pregnant hitchhiker named Dicey, whose boisterous and spunky attitude reminds Miriam of her own daughter.

Tornadoes, impromptu concerts, and an unlikely friendship…whether she’s prepared for it or not, Miriam’s world is coming back to life. But as she struggles to keep her focus on the reason she set out on this journey, she has to confront the possibility that the best way to honor her family may be to accept the truths she never wanted to face.

Hopeful, honest, and tender, A Song for the Road is about courage, vulnerability, and forgiveness, even of yourself, when it really matters.

My review: I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book that on the surface seemed like it might be depressing. But I was pleasantly surprised. This is a beautifully written journey of grief but one that ultimately becomes a journey of joy and discovery. Rich, well-developed and believable characters make this a book that you won’t forget. Highly recommend. 5/5

The Handy Little Guide to Prayer by Barb Szyszkiewicz

Amazon Synopsis: God knows what’s on our minds and in our hearts, but we still need to verbalize our innermost thoughts, feelings, and intentions. That’s prayer.

In this easy-to-read, down-to-earth introduction to conversation with God, you’ll discover, or rediscover, what you need to be able to “pray without ceasing.”

In this brief booklet, author, mom, wife, and Secular Franciscan Barb Szyszkiewicz helps you strengthen your connection to God through prayer. You’ll learn:

  • How to pray alone and establish an intimate connection with God
  • How to pray with the whole Church
  • What the saints teach us about prayer
  • When to pray, including formal and informal times for prayer
  • Different styles and methods of prayer, including the prayers of the Church, adoration, meditation, music, art, and journaling

Your connection to God in prayer can happen anywhere, at any time. No special equipment is needed, and no dress code, no reservation, no admission fee. All you need is an open heart and a willingness to engage with our Creator.

My review: As a short person, I was always told “Good things come in small packages.” This wonderful little prayer book is also an example of that saying. It’s small enough to carry in your purse or to have on your nightstand. It’s also ideal for taking to Adoration. It’s short and to the point. Highly recommend. 5/5.

If Today You Hear His Voice by Irene Lynch

Amazon Synopsis: Throughout our rich and inspiring Catholic history, many saints have proclaimed to have had a conversation with Christ or the Blessed Mother. I believe that everyone can hear the voice of God! He is as alive and involved in our lives today as He was when He walked the earth over two thousand years ago! God wants a loving relationship with each one of us. I believe that through the Holy Spirit, God prompted me to write this book. My complete trust in His endless love and mercy has given me blessings beyond my greatest dreams. My prayer is for you to seek God in all things, walk with Him in your life journey, and listen to His voice. Come walk with me and let me show you how!!

My review: I enjoyed this lovely book. It’s self-published so the writing is not as polished as it can be, but I can definitely feel the author’s joy through her journey. Recommend. 4/5.

Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby by Bonnie Way and Anna Eastland

Amazon Synopsis: Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is a friendly, conversational book about pregnancy, birth, and your first three months as a new mom. With respect and honesty, authors Bonnie Way (mom of 5) and Anna Eastland (mom of 9) share their experiences, walking expectant moms through some of the questions and concerns they may experience from conception to colic. This book includes tips on dealing with first trimester exhaustion, dressing your baby bump without breaking the bank, choosing the best care provider for your pregnancy, whether or not to write a birth plan, dealing with pain during labour, and taking care of yourself and baby after birth.

My review: On my “To Read” shelf.

Julia’s Gifts #FREE on #Kindle Through Saturday

Julia’s Gifts (Great War Great Love #1) is now #FREE on #Kindle through Saturday.

As an added bonus, the other two books in the series are only .99 each until Friday.

Charlotte’s Honor on Kindle

Ella’s Promise on Kindle

Interview with Joan Kelly, author of A Thread of Evidence

  1. I love the title! What was the inspiration for A Thread of Evidence? Where did you come up with the idea?

When I decided to write cozy mysteries, I knew that the setting would have something to do with sewing.  Besides making an outline for my story, I wrote down a list of sewing terms: needles, threads, notions, etc., and used them to develop titles.  With any mystery, there needs to be clues and evidence to solve the crime.  So, why not make a simple piece of thread a clue–a piece of evidence?

2. You’ve written young adult fiction before, but this is your first venture into adult fiction. What drew you to writing adult fiction?

When I wrote the inspirational adventure stories for YA (Wow! That was a few years ago.), I had just given up my position as a teacher.  Writing for younger people made me still feel close to them.  It was my way of still teaching without being in the classroom.

Now, I’ve been retired for several years and have the time and desire to start writing again. So, I decided to write something that would draw on my life experiences–sewing, home remodeling, trying new recipes, etc.  My bookshelves are filled with a plethora of different genres, but one of my favorites is mysteries.  I enjoy the cozy mystery because it brings adventure from the viewpoint of the average citizen. 

3. Mibs is an amateur sleuth who happens to be an expert seamstress.  Are you or someone in your extended family an expert seamstress?

I had been a professional seamstress.  While raising my five daughters and taking classes part-time to earn my teaching degree, I ran a small craft and sewing business.  I made everything from children’s clothing to wedding dresses.   I also made the clothing for the mannequins in the fabric section of the local Wal-Mart store. 

I learned to sew at an early age with guidance from my mother and my aunt.  My grandmother taught me how to embroidery and make lace with a tatting shuttle. Then, when I was older, I took sewing and quilting lessons.  Now, I only make quilts for myself and my family–sew on a button or mend an item if one of my grandkids asks me for help. 

4. What do you hope the reader will take away from A Thread of Evidence?

First, I hope the reader will enjoy the story and spend a few hours getting lost in the town of Havendale with Mibs, Jace, and Aunt Bernie.  As far as what I hope the reader will take away from A Thread of Evidence and all the books in the series, is the feeling that the ‘good person’ can win!  They can face the criminal, solve the crime, and meet any challenge thrown at them while still keeping their faith and moral bearing.  Even when life’s problems pull them to a dark and challenging place, they can find God’s love, strength, and forgiveness to light their way.  Hopefully, even Jace (Detective Sergeant Jace Trueblood), who’s buried his faith under a cloud of pain and anger, will eventually kneel down and ask God for grace to face life’s challenges.

I want to write stories that are not ‘preachy’ but let the characters’ faith be an everyday part of their lives.

5. You’re working on additional books for the Mibs Monahan Mysteries.  Please tell us a bit about Books 2 and 3 (and 4, if you have it!)

The second book in the series is called Notions of Murder.  Monahan Sewing Shop has been open for a while, and business is increasing.  Mibs is happy with the growing relationship between her and Jace. But, when at the local community theater working on costumes for an upcoming play, Mibs becomes the only witness who can identify an assassin who’d killed one man and wounded another.  Now, the shooter wants to silence the seamstress.  

The third book, Stitch in the Ditch, includes forgery and murder.  A continuing question throughout the series has been about Mibs’ true identity.   Information about her past has the usually self-assured and determined young woman conflicted.

The fourth book is still in the outline stage.  So, I’ll save the previews on that one until later. 

6. Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I grew up before the internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc., so books were my soul food.  My childhood home was filled with authors that would not necessarily be recognized today– James Fenimore Cooper, Gene Stratton Porter,  Essie Summers, Louis L’Amour, Jules Verne, Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie, and Arthur Conan Doyle–to mention a few.  I loved them all.

Moving to more current authors, I would list some of my favorites as Mary Higgins Clark, Debbie Macomber, David Baldacci, and James Patterson.  These are on my list because I love mystery stories, and these authors do the genre justice with their writing. 

I also enjoy good Christian adventure authors.  They bring the story, mystery, adventure, drama, romance to life and at the same time are not afraid to let the reader know that their characters have God as the center of their lives.  Some of my favorites are Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series,  Barbara Golder’s Lady Doc Mysteries, Ann Lewis’s Watson Chronicles, and Ellen Gable’s Great War series.

A Thread of Evidence is available here on Amazon!

An Open Book June #openbook

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

Now available from FQP!

Amazon Synopsis: Twenty-two years after Mibs Monahan was adopted by her great-aunt Bernie, it became apparent that the woman who had raised her was suffering the frailties of old age. Mibs did not hesitate to set aside her dream of becoming a clothing designer to take care of her aunt.

Mibs hadn’t realized that opening a sewing shop would also open the door to experiencing the loss of two friends, Jennifer Morris and her sister, Jasmine Hornsby. At first, the death of Jennifer appeared to be an accidental poisoning. A short time later, the death of Jasmine was declared a suicide. When authorities claimed that grief over the loss of her sister drove Jasmine to take her own life, Mibs confronted the staunch, self-assured Detective Jace Trueblood and told him that was not possible. Even when the detective’s alluring blue eyes and disarming smile were changing her first impression of annoyance to undeniable attraction, she still insisted that following the thread of evidence would lead to the hidden truth.

Balancing the challenges of opening and running a new business and contemplating the tragic deaths of two sisters has Mibs wondering what tomorrow will bring. Being brought up on love, kindness, and sacrifice gave Mibs Monahan a kind heart, but it also gave her determination and a desire for justice.

A Thread of Evidence is available at this link.

Amazon Synopsis: Cheryl Strayed’s Wild meets Katherine Center’s How to Walk Away in Kathleen Basi’s debut novel about an unconventional road trip and what it means to honor the ones we love.

It’s one year after the death of her husband and twin teenagers, and Miriam Tedesco has lost faith in humanity and herself. When a bouquet of flowers that her husband always sends on their anniversary shows up at her workplace, she completely unravels. With the help of her best friend, she realizes that it’s time to pick up the pieces and begin to move on. Step one is not even cleaning out her family’s possessions, but just taking inventory starting with her daughter’s room. But when she opens her daughter’s computer, she stumbles across a program her daughter has created detailing an automated cross-country road trip, for her and her husband to take as soon-to-be empty nesters.

Seeing and hearing the video clips of her kids embedded in the program, Miriam is determined to take this trip for her children. Armed with her husband’s guitar, her daughter’s cello, and her son’s unfinished piano sonata, she embarks on a musical pilgrimage to grieve the family she fears she never loved enough. Along the way she meets a young, pregnant hitchhiker named Dicey, whose boisterous and spunky attitude reminds Miriam of her own daughter.

Tornadoes, impromptu concerts, and an unlikely friendship…whether she’s prepared for it or not, Miriam’s world is coming back to life. But as she struggles to keep her focus on the reason she set out on this journey, she has to confront the possibility that the best way to honor her family may be to accept the truths she never wanted to face.

Hopeful, honest, and tender, A Song for the Road is about courage, vulnerability, and forgiveness, even of yourself, when it really matters.

My review: On my “to read” shelf.

Amazon Synopsis: Marita Mercer has no intention of losing custody of her daughter to Jim and his perfect little wife. So what if Charli’s father is successful, established and respected now? Does that make up for the fact that he never wanted their daughter in the first place? But in the battle of Marita the single mother vs. Jim and his perfect little church-going wife, Marita is almost certain she will lose. Angel Alessio’s life with her husband is missing only one thing – the very thing Marita has already given him. And although Angel loves her stepdaughter, that love does nothing to ease her longing for a baby of her own. Both women are determined to keep their families together…but at what cost?

My review: I enjoyed this novel that centers around a custody battle between a single mother (who had her twelve-year-old daughter at sixteen), the father of the twelve-year-old who for most of the child’s life has not been in the picture, and the father’s new wife, who is a practicing Christian, who wants to please her husband but does not agree with him that they should seek full custody. A lot of dialogue and the character of the father could’ve been developed a bit more realistically, but an overall pleasant read. 4/5.

The Cross and the Godless by Joseph Mauck

1979—Terror reigns in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas have seized power. Julian Mendero, leader of the Christian opposition, is arrested for stealing a national treasure—the Valdivieso Cross. But not before his son, Pedro, flees to the Sanctuary underground and begins an arduous journey to the US border.

Months later, FBI Agent Steve Rodriguez enters the murky world of the border killings, a series of inexplicable murders. When evidence points to a foreign death squad he enlists the help of Carol Shannon, a Sanctuary activist searching for Pedro. But Carol is reluctant to help. Trauma of a recent sexual assault has left her fearful and suffering nightmares. Yet Steve’s compassion—and Carol’s commitment to end the killing and find Pedro—gradually builds trust, while mutual attraction soon gives way to passionate desire.

Mysteries unfold when Steve consults notorious ex-patriot Hector Rone. He learns Rone’s lover, Claudia Haas—antiquities expert, thief, and femme du monde—has joined two militant priests in their search for Pedro and the Valdivieso Cross. Tensions rise when Steve learns the death squad leader may be the father of Carol’s unborn child. Time is short. Steve must find a way to stop the death squad, find Pedro and the precious Valdivieso Cross, and save the woman he loves from making a terrible mistake.

The Cross and the Godless will be available soon on Amazon and other booksellers.

My review: I’ll be helping this author with his promotion so my review is coming!

#Prolife Grandparenthood

child’s hand in adult’s hand © Pavelvasenkov Dreamstime.com

My latest post at Catholic Mom: “Human life is precious, because it is a gift from God whose love is infinite, and when God gives life, it is forever.”  Saint John Paul II

Our grandson was born nearly two years ago.  I don’t remember ever being that excited for an impending birth (except for those of our children, but I was preoccupied during their births!) When we held our grandson – our baby’s baby – there was overwhelming joy and thanksgiving to God.

Still, none of us are perfect and we can struggle with our attitudes towards children and grandchildren. From an unplanned baby to a disabled child, to finding out the unborn child is the “wrong” sex,  to conflicting philosophies on how to raise children, parenting – and grandparenting  –  can present its share of suffering.  We can use Saint John Paul II’s prolife message to remember that each and every human being is an unrepeatable gift from God, whether he/she is planned or not, whether he/she is healthy or disabled and whether he/she is a boy or girl.

A few years ago, in speaking about her daughter who got pregnant at sixteen, a pro-choice celebrity spoke about how she tried to get her daughter to have an abortion (the daughter went on to have her baby). I know one grandmother who responded to the impending birth of her fourth grandchild in this way: “When are you going to stop having kids?”  More than a few grandmothers have said, “Don’t expect me to babysit. I already raised my own kids. I’m not raising yours.” 

These examples sound negative and perhaps our first instinct is to criticize. But all of us have anxieties about our children and grandchildren. We know a grandmother who said to her adult son with many children, “Every time you have a child, it just gives me one more thing to worry about.” Because of the way she was raised, this attitude was something that she could not control initially. As time went on, thankfully, she joyously loved each and every one of her grandchildren anyway, despite her initial comments.

My husband James and I are still newbies at grandparenthood, but we’ve discovered that there are things we can do to help us (and all grandparents) to focus our/their attitudes toward the truth that every human being from conception to natural death is an unrepeatable and unique eternal gift from God.

  1. Be supportive!

Even if our adult children are prolife, that doesn’t mean they will never need our support with regard to parenting and decision making. I know a young couple with many children whose in-laws continually criticize them for having such a big family. Conversely, another young couple has two children, but one of the grandparents is pressuring them to have more.  Keep in mind that the decision to have a child is between husband, wife, and God.  Grandparents, technically, do not have a say, and should always be supportive, despite parenting disagreements. Our adult children need to discern their parenting style/decisions like we did in the previous generation.2.Generosity in Service

Admittedly, we like when we are called upon to babysit our grandson. We may have had something else planned, but we always try to be available if we are needed. Even so, it can be challenging trying to keep up with this energetic miniature human being, especially when we, as his caregivers, have had little sleep. .

2. Theology of the Body

St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a beautiful way to teach your adult children, in-laws and grandchildren about the beauty of human life.  Through the Theology of the Body – the study of God through our bodies – we can help our grandchildren understand that everyone is a gift, and that God made us to love. Recommended reading: TOB for Tots from Ascension Press, Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman, and Before You Were Born by Jennifer Davis and Laura Cornell.

3. Have Fun and Play

If you’re able, don’t be afraid to get down on the floor and play with your grandchildren! Some of the best moments come from being on their level and playing with their toys.

When we were babysitting one day, the power went out.  Our grandson’s parents were on a mission to help him gain weight, and sometimes he would only eat if his favorite toddler show was on TV.  With the electricity gone, we had to be creative.  I sang nursery rhymes from my own childhood. James joined in and our grandson finally returned to eating his meal.  Even now, when we start singing, he dances and sings with us.

4. Remind Them (Out Loud) They Are Loved

There was one particular night that our grandson (around 16 months old) would not go down to sleep.  So after he fussed, I picked him up and rocked him in the rocking chair.  I sang to him, told him how blessed he was. I told him I love him. Then I listed all the people who love him (not a small list if you count all the grandparents, the aunts, uncles and cousins). At one moment, he sat up, put his hands on both sides of my face and kissed me.  Then he lay down against my chest and he finally fell asleep. 

5. Pray  

It’s not easy to be ‘fully’ prolife with the culture of death surrounding us on all sides. Pray for yourselves, that you can always have a prolife attitude. Pray for your children and grandchildren that they will realize the blessing of life as it truly is: an unrepeatable, unique and eternal gift from God.

Copyright 2021 Ellen Gable Hrkach

An Open Book – May #openbook

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

Here’s what I’ve been working on or reading.

Synopsis: Through grit and grace, Carolyn Fandel survives being raped by someone she knows and trusts. She will not accept defeat—even when confronted by her rapist a second time. Instead, she uses her tragedy to help hundreds of others, some of whom she will never meet. Set in the era of the Vietnam War and the new feminism, this book will have you crying and cheering for Carolyn as she navigates the challenges of life after sexual assault.

Reviews:

Close to the Soul is a beautifully written novel that weaves the story of redemption through every character on every page.  Edith Schafer once wrote that our lives are a tapestry, we are looking at the backside which is often messy and confusing, but God sees the beautiful work of art, each thread precisely woven together.  I have spent my life grappling with the questions this novel boldly addresses. Pam Stenzel, M.A. Enlighten Communications

This is a moving and powerful story set in the 1950’s. Life was different, and society was very different. But the story is of great value for readers today. I mentioned at the beginning that the book landed on my desk at a critical time. I had just found out I have a 25-year-old daughter I did not know about. Reading this, I could not help but think about this daughter and her mother. This is an amazing read. And an incredible debut novel. Christian fiction at its best. Excellent Catholic literatureSteven McEvoy, Book Reviews and More

Synopsis: Parkland (originally titled Four Days in November) is the exciting and definitive narrative of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The film—starring Paul Giamatti, Zac Efron, Jacki Weaver, and Billy Bob Thornton—follows a group of individuals making split-second decisions after this incomprehensible event: the doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital, the chief of the Dallas Secret Service, the cameraman who captured what has become the most examined film in history, the FBI agents who had gunman Lee Harvey Oswald within their grasp, and Vice President Lyndon Johnson who had to take control of the country at a moment’s notice. 

My review: This was on sale on Kindle, so I downloaded it. I needed something to read (our internet wasn’t working and we only have live streaming television.) Bugliosi can write compelling narrative (he’s the author of my favorite crime novel, Helter Skelter). I know most of what went on during those four days in November of 1963, but I didn’t know much about the murder by Oswald of Officer J.D. Tippitt. Like many, I don’t believe Oswald did it alone. However, I don’t believe Oswald was “just a patsy.” I believe Oswald murdered the police officer and fired some of the shots at President Kennedy. Highly recommend. 4/5.

The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau

Synopsis: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1965, The Keepers of the House is Shirley Ann Grau’s masterwork, a many-layered indictment of racism and rage that is as terrifying as it is wise.

Entrenched on the same land since the early 1800s, the Howlands have, for seven generations, been pillars of their Southern community. Extraordinary family lore has been passed down to Abigail Howland, but not all of it. When shocking facts come to light about her late grandfather William’s relationship with Margaret Carmichael, a black housekeeper, the community is outraged, and quickly gathers to vent its fury on Abigail. Alone in the house the Howlands built, she is at once shaken by those who have betrayed her, and determined to punish the town that has persecuted her and her kin.

Morally intricate, graceful and suspenseful, The Keepers of the House has become a modern classic.

My Review: I downloaded this for sale on Kindle a few weeks ago and just started reading it. Review coming.

Synopsis: Have you ever wondered who you are? Or how you became who you are? Or what is it that defines you as a person and, more specifically, what were some of those defining moments in your life?

Forever Thirteen documents a Sunday morning newspaper headline that read, “Boy Scout Camper, 13, Drowns as Raft Sinks.” This is the true story of a family tragedy as recounted by the nearly twelve-year-old brother who writes this story some years later. It is a story of a mother’s nervous breakdown and a father’s inability to provide comfort to his children at this critical period. It is a firsthand account of unintentional abandonment, suffering, sadness, detachment, guilt, and recovery.

As a youth, the author struggled through this experience, maintaining his faith in God and continuing to hope and pray for the rebuilding of his family, while maintaining love for those who were letting him down.

This is a story that can help others in their personal journeys through those tragedies that we all eventually face.

My review: FQP just published the Kindle edition of this book. It’s a heart-wrenching memoire of the author’s experience of the tragic death of his thirteen-year-old brother. Beautifully written and only .99 on Kindle.

Synopsis: Coming next month from FQP! Twenty-two years after Mibs Monahan was adopted by her great-aunt Bernie, it became apparent that the woman who had raised her was suffering the frailties of old age.  Mibs set aside her dream of becoming a clothing designer to take care of her great-aunt.

Mibs had not realized that opening a sewing shop would also open the door to experiencing the loss of two new friends, Jennifer Morris and her sister, Jasmine Hornsby.  At first, Jennifer’s death appeared to be an accidental poisoning.  A short time later, Jasmine’s death was declared a suicide.  When authorities claimed that grief drove Jasmine to take her own life, Mibs confronted the staunch, self-assured Detective Jace Trueblood and told him that was not possible.  Even when Mibs realized that the detective’s alluring blue eyes and disarming smile were changing her first impression of annoyance to undeniable attraction, she still insisted that following the thread of evidence would lead to the hidden truth.

Balancing the challenges of opening and running a new business and contemplating the tragic deaths of two sisters has Mibs wondering what tomorrow will bring.  Being brought up on love, kindness, and sacrifice gave Mibs Monahan a kind heart, but it also gave her determination and a desire for justice.