An Open Book – September 2018 #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.  With the recent allegations about Bishop McCarrick, the PA Grand Jury and the Vigano letter, I’ve been reading a lot to escape the news! Here’s what I’ve been reading this past month:


  The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl

Amazon Synopsis: Fresh off a championship medal, Jake Taylor’s parents have dragged him to a middle-of-nowhere town in Colorado, far from where he wants to be. Smart and savvy, Sophie has spent the summer before her junior year of high school avidly following Jake Taylor in every article she can find, but now she sees the “truth” behind the story — he’s really just a jerk. When the only thing they can see is each other’s flaws, how can Jake and Sophie work together to figure out what’s really been happening at the abandoned silver mine? Follow Sophie and Jake into secret tunnels as they unravel the mystery and challenge each other to become who God wants them to be.

My review: This is one of the books I received at the most recent Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show and Catholic Writers Conference. The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl is a delightful story about Jake, an Olympic silver medalist in snowboarding, and Sophie, the only girl in town who’s not impressed with Jake’s celebrity. Add a mystery about the town’s mines and a little romance and you get a delightful and entertaining book for the entire family. Highly recommend!

Mary and TOB

The Virgin Mary and the Theology of the Body by Fr. Donald Calloway

Amazon Synopsis: The Church’s Marian beliefs have constantly shed light on other teachings, and the Theology of the Body is no exception. In this compilation of essays, some of the world’s most foremost Mariologists and experts on the Theology of the Body share their insights on how Mary illuminates the message of the Theology of the Body in a profound way.

My review:  This is another one of the books I received at CMN and CWCL.  It’s a moving collection of essays from TOB experts on how Our Blessed Mother brings forth TOB in a beautiful and deep way.  It’s easy to read one or two essays per day.  It can be a bit dry, but the message is profound.


From Islam to Christ:

One Women’s Path Through the Riddles of God by Derya Little

Amazon Synopsis: Born and raised in Muslim Turkey, Derya Little wandered far and wide in search of her true home. After her parents’ divorce, she rejected her family’s Islamic faith and became an atheist. During her stormy adolescence, she tried to convince a Christian missionary that there is no God but was converted to Christ instead.

Derya’s story provides a window into both Islam and modernity. It shows that the grace and the mercy of God know no bounds.  Rather, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ reaches souls in the most unlikely places.

My review:  This was well written and quite interesting.  I didn’t know too much about the Muslim religion so it was educational.  I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in one woman’s conversion from Islam to Christianity.


Sons of Cain by Val Bianco

Amazon Synopsis: An ancient group of twelve unspeakably powerful men are prepared to implement mass medical suicide in the United States. Already in control of the Congress and the Presidency, all that they lack is the Supreme Court. The only thing standing between these SONS OF CAIN and the lives of the Court is a small group of dedicated warriors.

Wealthy ex SEAL, Nick Rieper and his dozen “Knights of Longinus” have pledged their lives and fortunes to battle international Satanism. Battle is joined as they engage the Cainites and their demon leader, Namon, in mortal combat.

My review: I’ve already read this book a few times, but always enjoy going back to it and reading it again.  Powerful story, given the current crisis in the Church. Highly recommend.

Forgiving Mother

Forgiving Mother:

A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Fenelon

Amazon Synopsis: Do you want to be well? Believe it or not, our answer to that question is often no. We want to be vindicated, excused, hidden, and even at times patronized for the wounds we’ve suffered. Our complex elationships with parents can be especially difficult to resolve. Marge Fenelon uses her own experience with her mother to guide us to desire authentic healing.

Mary is the answer to our need for healing. She cares about the pain we bear because of the way we’ve been treated and hurt by our mothers. She cares not only about the fact that the pain is there, but also about how to help us heal from it.

My review: Coming soon


From Across the Pond by Linda Goodlin

Amazon Synopsis: When Joseph Millward loses his job in Wales, he decides to join his brother in America. Joseph and his wife, Anna, make the long journey “from across the pond” to begin a new life in the coal patch town of Rocktown, Pennsylvania where Polish, German, Slovak, Irish, Italian, and Welch immigrants assert their indomitable spirit. A mine explosion has dubious consequences; is it an accident or murder?

My review: Coming soon

Sons of Cain by Val Bianco

Sons of Cain by Val Bianco begins with a prologue describing Pope Leo’s horrifying vision of Hell, the vision that prompted him to write his famous “St. Michael Prayer.”

Misery loves company. One need only look at the present state of the world to see that Satan is hard at work trying to gain souls to keep him company for all eternity. Those who do not believe in the devil will think twice after reading this compelling and frighteningly realistic novel.

The cover is eye-catching and enticing. I was easily swept up in the story. The setting is well done. Characters are well-developed and believable; I especially enjoyed Fr. Picora (and I guessed early on who this character is supposed to be). Bianco’s writing style is solid and easy to read. Although the author uses a lot of back story (which I normally don’t like), I understand why he did. Extensive background is needed to understand the plot. The “good” characters are well-developed (although not perfect). The evil characters are evil. There’s no sugar coating or watering down objective truth. Catholic teaching is inherent in the story without being preachy.

My favorite quote from this book is “The completion of a life well-lived, no matter how untimely the death, is the beginning of eternal bliss.” I also liked the term “Christ-like masculinity” to describe the main character, Nick Rieper, and his fellow Knights of Longinus, who have pledged their lives, their fortunes and their honor to battle international Satanism. Too often in our secular society females are attracted to womanizers who can’t say no to sex (i.e. Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind; James Bond, to name a few).

True masculinity, “Christ-like” masculinity, is embodied in Nick Rieper, a handsome, muscular, strong, Mass attending, rosary carrying ex-Navy Seal who embraces the virtues.

One minor criticism: a few times, a chapter would take place in one setting, then the next chapter takes place in a different setting the day before. I found this confusing and it made me stop for a moment to figure out what was going on.

The bottom line, however, is that this is an incredibly good read. I especially encourage readers to check out the “What’s Real” section on the author’s website. Fascinating information! Sons of Cain is available in Kindle or print from Amazon.

Highly recommend!

(With thanks to the author, who provided me with a free Kindle copy of his book.)

Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach