An Open Book – July Edition #openbook

Open Book

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

Joan of the Everglades by David Athey

Amazon synopsis:  Joan Dior is an edgy teen artist who finds a corpse in a Florida lagoon, vows to find the killer, and becomes the target of a billionaire and his death cult who believe they have regrown the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  Joan and her best friend, Mia, along with their two guy friends, Dontey and Rico, get drawn into the middle of the Everglades and must battle not only the cult but also giant pythons, alligators, and a Komodo dragon . . . during a killer storm . . . while methane gas bursts into hellish flames all around them. Good times. Everyone will probably die. Unless . . .

My review: I’m still reading this, but enjoying it immensely.  David Athey is an excellent writer and never disappoints.  His characters are quirky but real and I find myself laughing out loud many times at his little notes to the “Reader.”

I loved Athey’s first book, Danny Gospel.

Fire of Love by Cassandra Poppe

Amazon Synopsis: Part conversion story, part tragedy-to-triumph, Fire of Love is a story that begins with the horrific moment when Cassandra Poppe’s 4-year-old son Fulton was severely burned in a homestead accident. Faced with the possibility of losing him forever, the weeks and months that followed offered her many opportunities to reflect on how her earlier years leading up to, and after, her conversion of faith prepared her for the moment in time where her faith would be tested to its limit. And how embracing the crosses that came her way, and surrendering all suffering to God, she was able to sift through the ashes to uncover the love and joy He intends for us all to discover through our suffering.

Fire of Love shows you:
There is always hope for the sinner.
There is always room to grow.
Our Lady, through the rosary, can bring you through any trials that come your way.
Practicing discerning God’s will in the little things can better prepare you for future sufferings.
No matter how intense the pain, how exhausting the moment, or how alone you may feel, there will always be One who remains close by.
And that suffering with love can truly bring a peace beyond all understanding.

My review:  I’m looking forward to reading this book.  I attended a presentation given by the author at a conference and her story was very compelling and uplifting.

Turning in Circles by Michelle Buckman

Amazon Synospis: Savannah and Charleston, two sisters living in a small Southern town, have always been close. They’ve shared everything with one another…until Dillon, the one boy in school who’s bad news, sets his sights on Charleston. As she’s drawn down his dark, destructive path, Savannah panics, knowing this isn’t a relationship destined for anything but trouble.

She turns to her lifelong best friend, Ellerbe, for help, but there’s a shift in their relationship. The connection they’ve shared is taking a turn toward something more, something deeper. And Savannah isn’t sure she’s ready for a romance while trying to save her sister.

As Savannah’s foundation begins to crumble, every decision becomes an unchangeable step toward an outcome that could have tragic repercussions.

My review: This has been on my “To Read” list for a while.  Looking forward to reading it within the next month!

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An Open Book – May 2017 #openbook

Open Book

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

St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners by Susan Tassone

Amazon Synopsis: “Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.” — Jesus to St. Faustina.    Throughout her Diary, St. Faustina speaks of Jesus’ call for the conversion of souls. Through prayer and sacrifice, the Lord calls us all to strive for our own conversion, and for the conversion of the whole world. Perhaps you’ve tried everything to draw your friend or family member back to faith in God. In St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, best-selling author Susan Tassone shows you how to place the lives of all you love into God’s merciful hands. Known worldwide as leading the “purgatory movement,” Susan invites you to learn how to live the message of conversion daily, to avoid purgatory, and to become more faithful in praying for others.

My review: Excellent book, as are all of Susan Tassone’s books.  “The Purgatory Lady,” as Susan is known, has written many books about the Holy Souls in Purgatory and the conversion of sinners. This book gives us ways not only to pray for our loved ones who are away from the faith, but it also helps us to grow in faith and to glimpse the mercy of God in action.  Highly recommend!

Heads Bowed by Lisa Mladinich

Amazon Synopsis: Catechetical thought leader Lisa Mladinich offers nearly 300 original prayers that will resonate with every Catholic teacher, principal, DRE, or catechist who has ever uttered the words, ‘Class, let’s bow our heads…’ Every teacher, catechist, or homeschooling parent appreciates a new collection of prayers to start the year. This book enables faith formation and prayer in a way that is easy to integrate into a busy class day. Mladinich provides prayers for the needs of both teachers and students, as well as Scripture verses and suggestions for use. Read these prayers in your classroom, by yourself before the start of the school day, in your religious education class, or in department and faculty meetings.

My review:  Beautifully written and powerful book of prayers.  This is ideal for teachers, homeschooling parents or religious education teachers.  Highly recommend!

 

Fatima: The Apparition that Changed the World by Jean Heimann

Amazon Synopsis: Fatima. Few place-names in the Christian world conjure up such powerful images and associations as that of this humble town in Portugal. For it was there that Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children beginning in 1917 apparitions that are intimately linked to pious Catholic practices such as devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the five first Saturdays, daily recitation of the Rosary with the Fatima prayer, as well as miracles attested to even by non-believers, such as the day the sun danced. The Virgin s message, as it always is, was penance. But she also predicted world historical events such as the rise and fall of communism, the second world war, and the attempted assassination of Pope St. John Paul II. She promised refuge in her Immaculate Heart to all who approach her a promise extended, and urgently needed, today.

My review: This is a wonderful book about the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, just in time for the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance to the three shepherd children at Cova da Iria.  It is well-researched, well-written and filled with beautiful color photos and images.  In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima predicted many world events. After appearing monthly to the three children, devotion to her Immaculate Heart, the recitation of the Holy Rosary along with the new Fatima prayer, and the first five Saturdays were spread throughout the Church and continues to spread throughout the Church even in the 21st century.  Although it’s been 100 years, Our Lady’s message continues to be urgently needed today.  Highly recommend!

 

An Open Book – March 2017 #openbook

Open Book

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

 

midwife

A Midwife’s Tale by Delia Parr

From Amazon: Martha Cade comes from a long line of midwives who have served the families of Trinity, Pennsylvania, for generations. A widow with two grown children, she’s hopeful that her daughter will follow in her footsteps, but when Victoria runs off, Martha’s world is shattered.  Worse, a new doctor has arrived in town, threatening her job, and she can’t remember a time when her faith has been tested more. Still determined to do the work she knows God intended for her, Martha is unprepared for all that waits ahead. Whether it’s trying to stop a town scandal, mending broken relationships, or feeling the first whispers of an unexpected romance, she faces every trial and every opportunity with hope and faith.

My review: Forthcoming

canadian-soldier

The Lost Memoirs of a Canadian Soldier

From Amazon: This book is a compilation of letters and diary entries from Len Willans regarding his time in World War 1.

My review: I initially bought this for research for my WW1 novels.  It’s heart-wrenching and at the same time, fascinating to read this soldier’s diary from 100 years ago.

making-faces

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

From Amazon: Ambrose Young was beautiful. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore. Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

My review: This was an entertaining read, although it had more sexual tension than I’m used to in a Christian novel.  Also, there were a fair number of typos. Overall a good read, though.

 

wedding-dress

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

From Amazon: Four brides. One Dress. A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim? Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new—shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.” Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

My review: I enjoyed this book very much. It was pure entertainment, not too deep, somewhat predictable.

marriage

Marriage: A Fountain of Grace by Rosalie McPhee and Catherine Doherty

From Amazon: Love, love, love: never counting the cost. The timeless wisdom of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and Catherine Doherty, foundress of Madonna House, is featured prominently in this new series of books. The theme of Catherine’s Little Mandate–a beautiful distillation of the Gospel of Jesus–weaves throughout and serves as an important foundation. Each book also gives an abundance of brief and profound quotations from Holy Scripture, and quotations from some of the great Catholic saints. These books are small enough to carry anywhere–and their wisdom is arranged in bite-size segments that you can read on the run, whenever you can spare time.

My review:  This is one of my favorite little books and I even have a personally autographed copy by Rosie McPhee Douthwright!  This is a perfect gift for a wedding shower, but it’s also an excellent book to give to engaged couples.  Highly recommend.

An Open Book – November #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading this month:

in-the-footsteps-of-st-thereseIn the Footsteps of St. Therese  by Terri Ong

Full disclosure: I helped to edit this book by fellow CWG member Terri Ong.  It’s a wonderful story!  It’s available here on Amazon in paperback only.

one-of-oursOne of Ours by Willa Cather

This is one of my favorite Willa Cather novels and I usually reread it every year around Veterans’ Day.  She captures well the innocence of young adulthood and the ravages of war.  From the Amazon blurb: One of Ours tells the story of a Nebraska farm boy who struggles to find meaning in his life. It is the story of a young man born after the American frontier has vanished, yet whose quintessentially American restlessness seeks redemption on a frontier far bloodier and more distant than that which his forefathers had already tamed. Before the war, Claude comes close to finding value in the world when his parents allow him to attend the University of Nebraska. Living in Lincoln he befriends the Ehrlich family, who expose him to a life of art, ideas, and culture. Later, when forced to return to his father’s farm, Claude seeks to find meaning in the form of human companionship. His attempt to find individual affirmation in the form of marriage fails, however, and the loneliness Claude encounters from his unaffectionate wife Enid compels him to volunteer in the overseas conflict. Claude’s violent death on the battlefield – portrayed as sacrificial and glorious by Cather in the mind of Claude’s mother – appealed to millions of Americans and probably played a role in the decision to award Cather the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours a year after it was published in 1922.  One of Ours is available on Amazon.

place-called-saturdayA Place Called Saturday by Mary Astor (actress)

From Goodreads: In 1968, when abortion was still a matter of controversy, Mary Astor wrote this heartwarming story of Cora, who was brutally raped by a young, unknown assailant and becomes pregnant. Cora faces the obstacles that will affect her life, her husband’s, and that of her unborn child.

I was surprised to find out that legendary screen actress Mary Astor was also a novelist.  As well, she converted to Catholicism.  I’ve only just started reading this, but it looks like it will be an excellent read.   It’s available on Amazon.

Image and Likeness: Short Reads Reflecting the Theology of the Body, with a foreword by Damon OwensImage and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

Edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable

Last, but certainly not least, Full Quiver Publishing’s latest book has been released! 

If St. John Paul II ever summarized his Theology of the Body, it may have been when he said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” But how does this sincere gift look when lived out by human beings with all their failings? What happens to our humanity when we withhold that sincere gift? What does life require of us when we give most deeply?

Full Quiver Publishing brings you this moving collection of poetry and prose, featuring some of today’s brightest Catholic literary voices, including award-winning authors Dena Hunt, Arthur Powers, Michelle Buckman, Leslie Lynch, Theresa Linden, and many more. By turns edgy and sweet, gritty and deft, but always courageous and honest, the works contained in Image and Likeness explore countless facets of human love—and human failure. Readers of Image and Likeness will experience in a variety of ways how humanity, in flesh as well as spirit, lives out the image and likeness of a God who created human intimacy to bring forth both our future and to illustrate our ultimate meaning as human persons.

With a Foreword by international Theology of the Body voice Damon Owens, Image and Likeness puts life and breath into St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in ways that readers won’t soon forget.

Warning: mature themes, content and language.

That’s it for this month!  Check out the other participants’ posts here.

 

An Open Book – July 6

Open Book

 

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

Unclaimed Cover

Unclaimed by Erin McCole Cupp

Unclaimed by Erin McCole Cupp is an futuristic retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  It’s extremely well written with well-developed characters and I highly recommend it.  Book 2 (Nameless) will be released in October.  More about Unclaimed on Saturday, July 9th because I will be participating on the Unclaimed Virtual Book Tour.  For more information, check Erin’s website here.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers in a Hurricane by Anne Faye

I thoroughly enjoyed Anne Faye’s new book, “Sunflowers in a Hurricane.” Single mother Cheryl and her young teen daughter Ruth move next door to elderly widower George Ferguson. George and Ruth forge an unusual bond as all three are forced to confront the past. The writing is polished, the characters are true to life and the story is compelling. This makes an ideal beach read that you won’t want to put down until you’ve reached the last page.  You can purchase it here.

 

Check out the other posts at Carolyn Astfalk’s website at this link.

 

An Open Book #openbook

Open BookI’m joining with both Carolyn Astfalk and CatholicMom.com for “An Open Book”

Dying for Revenge Final Front

Dying for Revenge by Dr. Barbara Golder

I am currently reading through the proof copy of this book, which will be released by Full Quiver Publishing on Kindle May 20th and on Amazon June 1, 2016. (And that’s my son and his fiancee on the cover!)

Someone is killing the rich and famous residents of Telluride, Colorado, and the medical investigator, Dr. Jane Wallace, is on a collision course with the murderer. Compelled by profound loss and injustice, Jane will risk her own life to protect others from vengeful death, even as she exacts a high price from those who have destroyed her world. DYING FOR REVENGE is a story of love, obsession and forgiveness, seen through the eyes of a passionate, beautiful woman trying to live her life — imperfectly but vibrantly — even if she won’t survive.

“Barbara Golder joins the ranks of Chesterton’s bloodthirsty heirs as she spins a tale that will delight mystery fans. With Dying for Revenge in hand, your beach experience is now complete!” Mark P. Shea, Author of Mercy Works

Because of the Rain

Because of the Rain by Deborah Raney

ANNA’S LIFE CHANGES FOREVER ON ONE HORRIFIC NIGHT
WHEN SHE IS ASSAULTED AND LEFT FOR DEAD.

Anna Marquette has everything to live for. Her daughters are in college and, with the support of Paul, her loving husband, she is pursuing her dream of a career in counseling. Then one night, while on a trip to Orlando, the unimaginable happens. She takes a “short cut” to an evening out with Paul and is brutally assaulted.

When Anna suspects the attack has left her pregnant, her faith is put to the test. As Anna and her family confront the heart-wrenching decisions that lie ahead, Anna gradually comes to realize that God has a plan for her and that she must trust Him. But will her family accept the choice she makes? Will her husband’s love for her prevail? And will her marriage survive this ultimate test?
After the Thaw

After the Thaw by Therese Heckenkamp (Frozen Footprints #2)

Some wounds heal. Others leave scars.

Four years ago, Charlene Perigard survived a brutal kidnapping. Now at twenty-two, she’s put that trauma behind her for a promising future with handsome firefighter Ben Jorgensen. But when new trauma strikes, a new nightmare begins.

Sinister threats, a midnight attack, and a deathbed promise drive Charlene to the little town of Creekside, where she encounters a man from her past whom she has long struggled to forget: Clay Morrow–ex-convict and brother of her kidnapper. He’s also the man who once helped save her life.

Despite the odds, Charlene and Clay forge a tentative friendship, unaware of a brooding, mounting danger that seeks to destroy them both. Charlene’s wounded heart must choose between her fiancé and the man whose past is more scarred than her own. But in choosing, she may just lose everything.

My review: When Charlene’s carefully pieced-together life splinters apart, she seeks refuge in a little town. Here she must make the ultimate choice between her fiancé and a man whose dark and disturbing past overshadows her own. Compelling reading, complex and realistic characters, unpredictable plot and solid writing make this a welcome addition to anyone’s Catholic fiction collection. Highly recommend.

Twilight Zone Companion

The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree

A must for every fan of Twilight Zone! Includes information on every episode and background information about the show. This was one of my father’s favorite shows and one of mine too.  I grew up with this show and watched reruns for many years.  Rod Serling (who scared the pants out of me when I was younger) and his team were outstanding writers.  My favorite episodes: The New Exhibit, The Obsolete Man and Eye of the Beholder.