Open Book – May 2019 #openbook #prolife

An Open Book 800W

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



Unplanned by Abby Johnson

Amazon Synopsis: Unplanned is a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation that speaks hope and compassion into the political controversy that surrounds this issue. Telling Abby’s story from both sides of the abortion clinic property line, this book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the life versus rights debate and helping women who face crisis pregnancies.

My review: Wonderful, but heart-wrenching, book to read. I wanted to read it before I saw the movie (it still isn’t available in Canada).  I’ve spoken to one of the writers/directors and he assured me they’re doing everything they can to bring the movie to Canada and worldwide. I’m praying that this book and movie will change hearts and lives.  Highly recommend!

Foot of the Cross

The Foot of the Cross by Fr. Frederick Faber

Amazon Synopsis: This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

My review: I read this book during Holy Week. It’s a wonderful book (written in the mid-1850’s by Fr. Frederick Faber) that highlights the Sorrows of Mary being intimately connected to the Sorrows of Our Lord.  I cannot recommend this one highly enough!


The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book

by Vince Waldron with Dick Van Dyke

Amazon Synopsis: The most acclaimed comedy of TV’s golden age, The Dick Van Dyke Show comes to life in this fun-filled and impeccably researched book, the first and only authorized biography of television’s most influential comedy. Readers are afforded full backstage access at the making of one of America’s most beloved comedies in a book that’s packed with exclusive behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the show’s entire cast and crew, including Carl Reiner, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, and, of course, Dick Van Dyke himself.  Illustrated with more than 150 rare photos–many of them never before published–this indispensable companion to The Dick Van Dyke Show also features the first and only complete viewer’s guide to all 158 episodes of the show, including Carl Reiner’s Head of the Family, the pilot film that started it all.  Written in an engaging style by the Emmy-winning writer and journalist Vince Waldron, The Official Dick Van Dyke Show really is the definitive book on television’s definitive comedy show.

My review: This is one of my favorite classic TV shows (tied only with “I Love Lucy”). I’ve had this book for a few years, but when Amazon Prime added the Dick Van Dyke Show to Prime, I decided to re-read it along with watching all these old episodes. Highly recommend this to all fans of the Dick Van Dyke Show.  It’s a show that the entire family can watch and enjoy.


Tortured Soul by Theresa Linden

To be published May, 2019. Goodreads Synopsis: A single woman evicted from her family home. A terrifying specter that only she sees. A dark connection between his past and hers…   After her father’s tragic death and her mother’s recent passing, loss leaves an emptiness Jeannie Lyons can’t fill. Now she must leave her family home, the one place where her parents’ memory still lives.

An old house on the edge of town becomes Jeannie’s new home, one too big for her and her three-legged cat, but she soon gets the impression she’s not alone. Her brother blames her overactive imagination. Her sister-in-law suggests counseling. Her would-be boyfriend is the only one who believes her, but can she trust him? With nowhere to turn, Jeannie must face her inner demons and confront this soul from beyond the grave.

Set in modern times, this supernatural thriller is loosely based on the apparitions to Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929).

My review: Like the author’s other books, I was enthralled with Tortured Soul, a supernatural thriller. As usual, I was completely caught up in the story and characters.  Read it in two sittings. Highly recommend. 5/5.

The Lion Audible

The Lion by Nelson DeMille (John Corey)

Amazon Synopsis: John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective and special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, is back on the trail of Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist known as ‘The Lion’. Corey and his partner, agent Kate Mayfield, tracked Khalil across the US after his threats to wipe out the US in a horrific wave of terrorism. But after methodically eliminating his victims one by one, Khalil disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, Khalil has returned to America to take care of unfinished business. ‘The Lion’ is a killing machine on a mission of revenge, and John Corey will not stop until he rids the earth of this tyrant once and for all.

My review: I read this book years ago, but I downloaded it the Audible book so that my husband and I can listen to it when we go on hour-long road trips (which is just about every time we drive!)  We’ve listened to about one-third of it and we are both enjoying it immensely.  DeMille is a remarkable writer and his characterization of John Corey is brilliant, believable and likable (even though he would be considered racist by today’s standards.) Highly recommend. 5/5.


When the Wood is Dry: Call of the Innocent by Joseph Cillo, Jr.

Amazon Synopsis: “Sometimes we must suffer if we are to save souls.” Jesus’ words echo in a recurring dream to Lali Russo, a seventeen-year-old Catholic school girl.  Lali wakes and asks, “Why that dream again?”

Two thousand years ago, the scourged and bloody form of a man who claimed to be God carried the wood on which he would be crucified.  Coming upon some distraught women, He says, “Women of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves and your children.  For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

When the Wood Is Dry is published in three parts: I. Call of the InnocentII. Crucifixion, and III. Resurrection.  In I. Call of the Innocent, Lali is called to walk a path of suffering that she struggles to understand.  Praying at an abortion clinic, she encounters the pregnant girlfriend of a notorious gang leader.  She confronts the girl’s boyfriend, the ruthless Ralo as he sharpens his machete.  “Go away, little girl, this is no’ ju beesness.”

As the subtitle, An Edgy Catholic Thriller suggests, When the Wood Is Dry is Edgy – Intended only for mature audiences, Catholic – includes overtly Catholic religious imagery and perspectives, and Thrilling– “full of twists and turns, action and heart-wrenching moments,” as one reader commented.

Some readers who may love the first and third parts may find the second part too intense, so we are recommending that such readers read I. Call of the Innocent, then skip the second part and read the synopsis included in III. Resurrection. More daring readers can journey with Lali in II. Crucifixion.

My review: I helped to copy-edit this series and the story is compelling and the characters, for the most part, well-developed.  The entire series is available in print here. The first book in the series is FREE on Kindle here.



Sunday Snippets – January 19

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets where we share our posts from the previous week and answer a weekly question.

This week, RAnn asked if we got a “Patron Saint of the Year” from the saints’ generator. My answer: Yes, my 2014 patron saint is St. John of Kanty. You can find out more about him here. He’s the patron saint of workers who have been unjustly fired. Another saint I’ve been praying to daily is St. Agnes, who is my novel’s patron saint. She is the patron saint of rape victims, among other things.

My one and only post this week was 7 Quick Takes:

7 Quick Takes Friday – Birthdays, Anniversaries Etc

Copyright 2014 Ellen Gable Hrkach