Open Book – June 2018

Open Book

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

Here’s what I’ve been reading during the past month!

 

Mercy

The Name of God is Mercy – Pope Francis

Synopsis: This book is a conversation between Pope Francis and a Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli about mercy and forgiveness.

My review:  I enjoyed this book very much. Although Pope Francis has said some things off the cuff over the years that I have not necessarily agreed with, this book (which he had the opportunity to review before publication) is a beautiful book on the mercy and forgiveness of Our Creator.

Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

Amazon Synopsis:  Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—“Scout”—returns home to Maycomb, Alabama from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of the late Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.

My review: Like most of the other reviewers, I was disappointed in the writing and the characters.  Without giving too much away, the writing is clearly not as polished as To Kill a Mockingbird.  It definitely reads like a first novel, although I found it interesting how Jean Louise interacts with her father and beau, who do not seem to be on the same page as her regarding important life issues.  I got this on the Bargain shelf of my local bookstore and couldn’t resist buying the hardcover for $8. I recommend it for those who are interested in finding out what sort of person Jean Louise grows up to be.

Bess Armstrong

The Shattered Tree: A Bess Armstrong Mystery by Charles Todd

Amazon Synopsis:  World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford goes to dangerous lengths to investigate a wounded soldier’s background—and uncover his true loyalties—in this thrilling and atmospheric entry in the bestselling “vivid period mystery series” (New York Times Book Review).

At the foot of a tree shattered by shelling and gunfire, stretcher-bearers find an exhausted officer, shivering with cold and a loss of blood from several wounds. The soldier is brought to battlefield nurse Bess Crawford’s aid station, where she stabilizes him and treats his injuries before he is sent to a rear hospital. The odd thing is, the officer isn’t British—he’s French. But in a moment of anger and stress, he shouts at Bess in German.

When the French officer disappears in Paris, it’s up to Bess—a soldier’s daughter as well as a nurse—to find out why, even at the risk of her own life.

My review: I’m currently reading this book, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I’ve read most of the Bess Armstrong Mysteries by Charles Todd and his mother, Caroline.  They’re an excellent, polished writing team and usually come up with some intriguing plot lines. And for me, the cover is absolutely stunning!

Face of the Earth

The Face of the Earth by Deborah Raney

Amazon Synopsis: When Mitchell Brannon’s beloved wife sets off for home after a conference, he has no idea that his life is about to change forever. Mitch returns from work early that evening, surprised that Jill’s car isn’t in the garage. But her voice on the answering machine makes him smile. “Hey, babe, I’m just now checking out of the hotel, but I’ll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you.” Hours later, Jill still hasn’t returned, and Mitch’s irritation turns to dread.

When the police come up empty, Mitch enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill’s best friend, Shelley, to help search. As hours turn into days and days into weeks, Mitch and Shelley’s friendship grows ever closer—and decidedly more complicated. Every lead seems to be a dead end, and Mitch wonders how he can honor the vows he made to a woman who has seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth.

My review: On my To-Read shelf.

 

 

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When You Fast by Andrew LaVallee #VBT

8X5-WHEN_YOU_FAST-frontI’m taking part in a Virtual Blog Tour for Andy LaVallee’s new book, When You Fast: Jesus Has Provided the Solution.

Available from Live the Fast (11.99 includes shipping)

Paperback on Amazon (9.99)

Kindle Edition  (2.99)

Synopsis:  Published on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe December 12, 2017

There are many references to fasting in Scripture. In Saint Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 5, Jesus puts the solution in front of us when he says, “When you fast.” He doesn’t say “If you fast,” but “When you fast.” As Christians, we’re supposed to imitate Jesus. Jesus fasted before every major event in His life.

Jesus also tells us that “nothing is impossible for us.”

Fasting was so important that Jesus taught it to His disciples to be used as a special deterrent against evil. These are the same evils that plague our world today: the attack on life, the attack on the family, the attack on our religious freedoms, and the attack on Christianity as a whole. It’s especially important to recognize that our actions and our participation can change all of this evil. This is why we are being told by Jesus that “nothing is impossible for us.”

In this short booklet, you’ll learn how fasting is a spiritual weapon. You’ll also learn the basics of fasting, what saints, prophets and popes have had to say about fasting, and testimonials of people whose lives have been changed through fasting.

Reviews:

“The power of fasting with prayer is biblical (Matthew 17:20 from the St. Joseph Bible, New Edition). Jesus said that there are certain demons that cannot be cast out but through prayer and fasting. The two are a powerful team and Andy LaVallee, through his book, provides us with means to accomplish this goal.” Kerri and Jim Caviezel

When You Fast isn’t just one of the best and most thorough books on fasting. In a word, it’s inspiring. Author Andrew LaVallee shares both the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting, from calming our own anxieties to bringing peace to our troubled world. From healing family rifts to opening another’s heart, mind, and soul to the idea of conversion. When You Fast can be a key—can be your key—to a closer relationship with God.”    Susan Tassone, Author of St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners

“Andy LaVallee has provided the method, the motive and the means for the spiritual discipline of fasting. His book explains why fasting is important and encourages many to take part in this vital aspect of spiritual warfare in the world today.”
Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Pastor, Speaker, Blogger and Author of Mystery of the Magi: the Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men

Andy’s First Book:  From the Hub to the Heart

Andy’s Bio: Since 1969, Andy LaVallee, has been working in the bakery industry and in 1977, he started LaVallee’s Bakery Distributors. LaVallee’s is New England’s premier provider of artisan breads and other bakery offerings to clients such as the InterContinental Boston, the Four Seasons, Boston College, and the Chateau Restaurants.

LaVallee’s is known by their customers and colleagues for their excellent product mix, legendary customer service and business model based on servant leadership. With Live the fast Breads, Andy brings his knowledge of top-end; highly-nutritious artisan breads and applies them to the ancient practice of prayer and fasting. We have selected multigrain rolls for this endeavor. These breads are made with no GMO, unbleached and untreated flour, with no additives and preservatives and with flavorful, nourishing ingredients that will help one maintain and finish a bread and water fast. He and his team desire to spread this practice — so beneficial on a number of levels — to greater New England and across the United States.

In recent years, during trips to Medjugorje, Andy grew to a deeper understanding of the practice of prayer and fasting, a practice that is common in this small village. He realized that he had a unique role, perhaps even a duty, to provide high quality breads to those in America who were interested in prayer and fasting. Andy has consulted with Sister Emmanuel Maillard who wrote “Freed and Healed by Fasting,” Fr. Charles Murphy author of “The Spirituality of Fasting” and others knowledgeable about the practices of a healthy fast and the ingredients of fasting breads. He has also steeped himself in the teachings of the late Father Slavko Barbaric, who integrated into his many noble works, was his role as a humble practitioner and educator of prayer and fasting.

Along with our educational resources and opportunities to build community, we are excited to invite you to Live the Fast!

On the Soul of a Vampire by Krisi Keley

This is not a typical “vampire” book. It’s beautifully written and contains theological truths. The following is my review of this extraordinary novel on Catholic Fiction.net:

“Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all.” This beautiful quote by G.K. Chesterton sets the tone for “On the Soul of a Vampire,” which begins in Philadelphia in 1997. Much of the novel is told in the first person: Valery, an 800-year-old vampire, sees the beautiful Angelina and is immediately enthralled to the point of obsession. He begins to “stalk” her but in vampire-like fashion, remains “in the shadows” at first. Valery eventually discovers that Angelina knows more about him than any other human.

A vampire’s lust is expressed through the desire to consume and feed off the blood of others. For most of the book, Valery is expressing his love for Angelina and, at the same time, trying to control his own desire to do to her what he knows he must not. Instead, he uses/kills others (and he rationalizes that most of his victims are not “innocent.”)

Although the writing is extraordinary, what I enjoyed most about this book were the theological truths: the truth of sacrificial love, good versus evil, free will, temptation, mercy, forgiveness. The ending is very powerful. This is not a light “happily ever after” read, but one which challenges the reader intellectually as well as spiritually.”

To read the review in its entirety:

http://www.catholicfiction.net/2010/11/06/on-the-soul-of-a-vampire-by-krisi-keley/

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Two great reviews for In Name Only

Within the space of 24 hours, my second novel, In Name Only, has received two wonderful and positive reviews.

http://elizabeth-kathryn-gerold-miller.blogspot.com/2009/10/in-name-only-by-ellen-gable.html

“… a very enjoyable read, neither predictable nor formulaic. The ending is both uplifting and realistic.”
Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller, Divine Gift of Motherhood

http://catholicfire.blogspot.com/2009/10/book-review-in-name-only.html

“Gable has skillfully crafted this intriguing novel, introducing many turns and twists in the plot, which will keep her reader’s eyes glued to the page, eager to learn the outcome of her tale. As the reader proceeds, he/she discovers the true depth of the novel – which conveys the beautiful Catholic teachings on conjugal love, and shares both a pro-life story and a conversion story.”
Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire