7 Quick Takes Friday – #1 on Amazon & VBT Links!

7_quick_takes_sm1Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday!

My virtual book tour continues this week and ends on Monday!!

1. A Subtle Grace #1!!
A Subtle Grace has been #1 in Religious Drama for five days now!! Woo hoo! This book holds the record for my fastest book to make it to #1!! asg bestseller

2. Miss Alexandrina
Miss Alexandrina hosted me on Sunday with some great interview questions! Thank you!!

3. Kathleen Basi
Thank you, Kathleen Basi, blogger at So Much to Say, So Little Time, who hosted me on Tuesday!

4. Don Mulcare
Don Mulcare posted this wonderful review on his blog on Tuesday as well. Thank you, Don!

5. Mrs. Mackerelsnapper
Erin McCole Cupp hosted me on Wednesday and she even included a delightfully scrumptious sounding recipe for Victorian Fish Curry!! Thank you, Erin!

6. Carol @ Simply Catholic
Carol hosted me on Thursday. Thank you, Carol!!

7. In Name Only Also #1
While A Subtle Grace was at the #1 position of PAID Kindle Books, In Name Only spent most of the week at #1 in both Religious Drama AND Victorian Romance in FREE books!! (It is no longer FREE, alas…)INO # 1 cropped

Thanks again to all those bloggers who have hosted me during my VBT for A Subtle Grace!

Favorite Advent Books

Advent is almost here and I’m over at the Amazing Catechists website with a list of my favorite Advent books:

Welcome Baby Jesus by Sarah Reinhard
Sarah Reinhard’s new book, Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families, takes a refreshing, unique approach to Advent.

There are many children’s Advent/Christmas books out there, but this delightful book includes activities and reflections for the entire family.

From the author: “Advent is a season that’s almost forgotten by the secular world. You’ll find Advent calendars, to be sure, but they are really an adornment for the “Christmas season,” which begins sometime after Halloween and ends on Christmas Day.”

Each section encompasses three different activities: Think, Pray and Act. Each Sunday has its own theme. The First Sunday of Advent and the week following is “Get Ready.” The Second Sunday and following week is “Repent.” The Third Sunday’s theme is “Love,” and the fourth Sunday, “Anticipate.” The Christmas season has its own theme:” Rejoice.” There are also stories and activities for the Feast of the Epiphany.

What sets this apart from other Advent preparation books is that it has reflections and activities for the entire family (parents included) so that both parent and child can prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Sarah Reinhard’s beautifully-designed book is an ideal gift for those families who wish to embrace the true meaning of Christmas and to grow closer to Christ. I highly recommend this wonderful book to everyone!

I also reviewed Joy to the World by Kathleen Basi last year on Amazing Catechists. Great book for the entire family!

My all-time favorite Advent book is called “Donkey Bells” by Catherine Doherty, foundress of Madonna House. This gem of a book is filled with stories, traditions, meditations and customs. I highly recommend it!

Do you have a favorite Advent book? Feel free to comment…

Fiction Friday – Heartbreak by Kathleen Basi

Special thanks to Kathleen Basi, who posted this excerpt last week on her blog and has given me permission to share it with my readers:

As Carlo strode down the gravel walkway toward the winery grounds proper, Alison stood in the living room, listening to her little boy crying. The pain within her seemed oddly familiar. She was accustomed to feeling her child’s pain, but this…this was different. It seemed to expand without limit; she had no idea there was room enough inside her for so much hurt.

In her mind’s eye, she saw a golden-haired boy in a letter sweater, standing with his back to her in the warm sunlight of a day much like this one. She saw herself as she had been then, an awkward girl in a pink cardigan softened by too much wear, a strand of dime store pearls at her throat, pulling the chapel veil off her head after Sunday Mass. Her parents chatted while her little brothers played tag, weaving in and out of the adults’ legs with an uncanny knack for avoiding restraint.

Over by the flower-crowned statue of the Blessed Mother stood Jerry. Jerry, with his hands shoved in his pockets, scuffing the sidewalk with soft leather soles as he talked to a group of kids from school. It was a beautiful day, but he was the most beautiful part by far.

To read the rest, click here.

Copyright Kathleen Basi

Joy to the World by Kathleen Basi

After posting about “Living the Catholic Faith During Advent,” I received a comment from the author of a wonderful book called “Joy to the World: Advent Activities for your Family.” I asked the author to send me a copy for review.

Joy to the World
by Kathleen Basi
published 2010 by Liguori Publications

In the first few pages of Joy to the World, author Kathleen Basi writes, “In this atmosphere filled with distractions, the idea of Advent as a season in its own right has been overwhelmed.” This is a wonderful and informative Advent preparation book.

Back in the 1960’s when I was a small child in New Jersey, it was unheard of for anyone to even consider putting up Christmas lights before Thanksgiving. My parents decorated the tree when my siblings and I went to bed on Christmas Eve and the tree stayed up until the Feast of the Epiphany.

Our society has such an impatience for the arrival of Christmas that many stores and families begin celebrating in mid-November. By the time Christmas actually arrives, they are tired of celebrating and the tree and decorations are often taken down the day after Christmas. Kathleen Basi suggests that we need to “reclaim Advent” and use it as a time of preparation for Christmas as Advent was meant to do: “…that season of holy hush, of waiting, of light and anticipation, that season that helps make Christmas so special…”

The first chapter is entitled “The Case for Advent.” Basi contends that Advent gives us a chance to meditate on Hope, Expectation, Preparation and Light.

In the second chapter, “The Advent Reclamation Project,” she suggests that there are three parts to the Advent Reclamation: morning ritual (Advent calendar); evening with an Advent wreath and Jesse tree and the “Good deeds manger” for any time. The motto for Advent should be: “Be ready; be present; be waiting.”

The next three chapters explain how to implement these three areas: including one of the four areas of activity each day in the Advent calendar: service; spiritual growth; homebody; pure fun. She also gives a brief explanation and description of the Advent Calendar, Jesse Tree and “Good deeds manger.”

I love the idea of a Good Deeds Manger. Basi suggests that a family obtains a box and some straw, chopped paper or Easter grass. When a good deed or something kind is done by the children, straw is added. When something mean is done, it is taken away. The idea is to have lots of straw for the baby Jesus.

In the final chapters and appendix, Basi includes other possibilities for Advent preparation: fasting, daily mini retreats and weekday Mass. The appendix also contains information on the Feast days of December saints, as well as scripture readings and symbols for the Jesse Tree.

Each chapter has some form of meditation for children, either a scripture reflection or another age-appropriate reflection.

Basi admits that “none of the ideas in this book are new…what is new is the way we combine the traditions into a single month long liturgy of preparation.”

While it’s important to begin these traditions in early childhood, it’s never too late to implement many of the activities Basi suggests.

I highly recommend this wonderful book which is ideal for preparing both children and adults during Advent.

To purchase from the publisher: http://www.liguori.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=11656.

To purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Joy-World-Advent-Activities-Family/dp/0764819372

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach