4 Dec 2017
A Shepherd’s Song, by Janice Lane Palko, is a wonderful Christmas romance, set in snowy Pittsburgh, PA, on the campus of Three Rivers University. The lead character, Tom Shepherd, a declared atheist, finds more than romance, with Gloria Davidson, in this Christmas tale. Gloria, a devout Catholic, shines the light of true Christmas spirit directly into Tom Shepherd’s heart. What awaits him, is all that he ever desired: to love and to be loved. In the end, isn’t that what we all look for in this life: to love and be loved?
What we learn at the start of the book is that Tom and his college roommate are... Read more...
29 Nov 2017
As we bravely embark on completing all the “tasks” needed to make Christmas merry, we sometimes fail to forget the real reason for the Christmas season. You purchase gifts for everyone on your list. Let me share with you a gift that you will want to purchase for yourself, today! Time to Get Ready, An Advent, Christmas Reader to Wake Your Soul, by Mark A. Villano is a treasure that you will cherish for years to come! Amid the holiday hustle and bustle, Villano gives us a daily retreat that takes only two to three minutes to read each day’s offering. It will spark the imagination and provide food for spiritual thought. Each day’s offering is filled with golden nuggets, helping us to make Advent more spiritual; less commercial.
By interspersing Scripture with his own reflections on the biblical passages, Villano offers insight and encouragement. One of my favorite “golden nuggets” was:
When we come to see how far God will go to save us, when we come to know how God sees us, how much God wants our safety and healing, we can face anything (p.23).
20 Nov 2017
In Julia ‘s Gifts, Ellen Gable whisks us away to war-torn France, circa 1917-1918. The setting: World War I. The main character: Miss Julia Murphy. In this tightly woven love story, we see Julia Murphy exhibit many virtuous qualities; generosity of spirit, compassion, and most importantly, self-giving love. This tale sends us on a romantic adventure in search of Julia Murphy’s beloved; only Julia has no idea who her beloved might be!
At the age of 17, she began setting aside Christmas presents for her future beloved, with the hopes of one day gifting these presents to him. At the age of 21, the war in Europe was waging, and the American Red Cross was looking for volunteers. Julia and her friend, Ann, thought it a great idea to volunteer and go overseas to give aid and comfort to injured soldiers. As Julia prepared to embark for the journey to Europe, she brought very few personal possessions with her. She did, however, bring the box of four precious gifts she had amassed over the past four years, with the hope of possibly finding her beloved.
The story then takes some twists and turns, with... Read more...
2 Oct 2017
Spokes, by Deanna Klingel, a fast paced, easy to read novel, sends Kelsey Merritt and Brendon Cohen on an adventure to solve a mystery. Kelsey, a home-schooled teen, is a triathlon athlete. While cycling one afternoon with her mom, in preparation for an upcoming triathlon event, tragedy strikes. This tragedy sends Kelsey on a mission; to determine who is responsible for a hit and run accident. In her pursuit, she teams up with fellow triathlon athlete and home-school student, Brendon Cohen.
Together, these two teens, take us on a wild ride through the hills of North Carolina. We come across some unsavory characters. But, we also come across some rather funny, and down-to-earth Franciscan Friars. These Friars add a comical, yet heartwarming dimension to this wonderful story.
As I raced through this book (a real page turner), I kept asking myself... Read more...
4 Sep 2017
Molly McBride and the Purple Habit, by Jean Schoonover-Egolf is the first in a series of charming books about a five-year-old girl, named Molly McBride. Molly loves imitating the Children of Mary Sisters, by wearing their purple habit, specially crafted, for her, by her mom. She loves it so much, that she wants to wear it to her big sister’s First Communion! Why can’t she, when the Children of Mary Sisters will be there, and they will be wearing their purple habits. Oh, can you imagine the havoc that would ensue in dealing with that on such a busy morning? You’ll need to read the story to see whether Molly gets her way.
Molly McBride – the Character
The character of Molly is strong in her faith in Jesus. At five years-old, Molly is well aware of who Jesus is, and what type of relationship she wants to have with Him throughout her life. I love this character, who comes across the page, filled with conviction! Molly McBride is a great role model for any child learning to grow in faith. Read more...
9 Aug 2017
Dying for Compassion, by Barbara Golder is sure to be a hit! As with Golder’s first book, Dying for Revenge, familiar characters return for more mysteries to solve. Once again, we meet our Lady Doc, Jane Wallace, the lead character. She is a strong, feminine role model carrying the titles of forensic pathologist, medical examiner, AND lawyer – quite an accomplished woman! In Dying for Compassion, Jane is faced with several deaths occurring in her town; unexplained poisonings and a possible case of euthanasia. As the intentions behind these deaths stump Jane, she is thrown off-kilter in her personal life.
The storyline from Dying for Revenge carries through to Dying for Compassion. In Dying for Revenge, Jane processed grief from the loss of her husband, John. She meets author, Eoin Connor, who helps her through her grief and the two develop a romantic relationship. Fast forward to Dying for Compassion, and Eoin Connor becomes a central character.
Everything is going swimmingly between Jane and Eoin, until one night... Read more...
4 Aug 2017
26 Jul 2017
I must admit that I had never heard of Saint Magnus, until I read Saint Magnus: The Last Viking, by Susan Peek. With this action-packed novel, set around 1,000 A.D., we find a dual hierarchy established on the deathbed of the monarch Thorfinn. Rather than leaving his throne to his eldest son, he creates a dual hierarchy, where both of his sons, Erland and Paal, are to rule over the Orkney homeland together. Tensions rise as the brother’s descendants seethe in animosity for each other. Hakon, the son of Paal is a troublemaker; whereas Aerling, the son of Erland, is hot-tempered. Hakon and Aerling are competitive, and do not wish to rule jointly, as their fathers successfully did. However, before that can happen, circumstances come to pass that make Hakon vow revenge.
From this point, early within the book, the story becomes mesmerizing. What will Hakon do to get revenge? How will Aerling respond? And what role will Magnus play, given that Magnus becomes the protagonist of this novel?
19 Jul 2017
Chasing Liberty, by Theresa Linden, is the first in a dystopian trilogy of books centered around a young woman. Liberty resides in futuristic Aldonia; a city where authentic freedom, familial love and objective truth have been squashed by government forces aimed at controlling the population. Without the freedom to grow up in a family with a mother and father, Liberty tries to make her own way in a society that allows little choice.
As Liberty approaches adulthood, she is told by the government what her vocation will be: that of breeder. Apparently, she has exquisite genes and intelligence; so great, that the government decided that she would spend her fertile years giving birth to as many children as possible, via in vitro fertilization. She would never know if the children she carried were her own. In addition, she would be the nanny for groups of them for the first five years of their lives. Once the children reach the age of five, they relocate to another facility (like orphans) for further training.
Something within Liberty tells her that this is just plain wrong. Read more...
28 Jun 2017
Love Letters from God, Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart, by Glenys Nellist is endearing, wonderful, chocked filled with virtue, and beautifully illustrated. Nellist shares with us fourteen stories from the Bible, centered on heroic females, highlighting their good traits. She takes us from the Old Testament, through to the New Testament; giving us a different story about each protagonist, salient Bible quotes, and most importantly, personalized letters from God, addressed to your child (with lift the flap notes).
Love Letters from God Make for Sweet Dreams!
Each of the fourteen tales make for excellent bedtime stories to read to your child; sending them into slumber with heroic females to dream about. Nellist starts with... Read more...
26 Jun 2017
In My Brother’s Keeper, by Bill Kassel, we read a great piece of Catholic fiction. Now, right off the bat, let me explain the definition of the genre, “Catholic Fiction,” using Kassel’s own words to describe his effort:
This book is a work of speculative fiction, based on incidents in the New Testament, reimagined and elaborated on extensively. I have not attempted to create a ‘fifth Gospel.’ Rather, I’ve tried to fill in some gaps between facts given in Scripture with inventive suppositions about how things might have been (p. 574).
James: My Brother’s Keeper
My Brother’s Keeper, centers on the character of James, the youngest child of Saint Joseph and his deceased wife, Escha; who died shortly after giving birth to James. Kassel spends a good portion of the book setting the stage, by telling us about life in Nazareth, with Saint Joseph, his family and especially James’ upbringing. James does very well in studying the Torah. He is ultimately sent... Read more...
19 Jun 2017
True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life, by Lisa Mladinich, was an enjoyable read! I approached 60 this year. So, I thought this book might offer me some insight in how I might grow old gracefully. As I opened the book and began to read, I quickly learned that Mladinich had other designs. She wants us to know that regardless of our age,
The second half of life is a time of building on the past, growing in virtue, and deepening our connection with God, the source and summit of all beauty. Our beauty is not fading; it’s getting more powerful. It’s having more impact. It’s becoming what it was meant to be from the beginning (p. 135).
31 May 2017
Gifts of the Visitation – Nine Spiritual Encounters with Mary and Elizabeth, by Denise Bossert, is filled with virtue! I thoroughly enjoyed how Bossert took Luke’s accounting of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and highlighted all the virtue contained within it (Luke 1: 39-80). Bossert devotes nine chapters to discuss nine virtues; so beautifully brought to life in her book. She brings a whole new, refreshing outlook to this passage. From Mary’s spontaneous yes, to her courage needed to fulfill God’s word, to the thanksgiving Mary expresses to God for entrusting her with such an important honor, we traverse with Mary to visit Elizabeth.
As a mother herself, Denise Bossert, correlates stories from her own life with Luke’s Gospel passage. She peppers her life’s stories; intertwined with the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. The reality of Denise Bossert’s life makes the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth that much more enchanting and meaningful.
25 May 2017
22 May 2017
I was long overdue, but recently, I finally sat down and read the classic, Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. Once I opened the book, and read the first chapter, I questioned what took me so long to get to this masterpiece, centered on man’s reaction to moral concepts and what it truly means to be Christian. C.S. Lewis begins with a discussion on Natural Law:
Whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently (p. 8)?
3 May 2017
Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World, by Jean M. Heimann, is a wonderful book that chronicles the Fatima apparitions of the Blessed Mother, including beautiful glossy pictures of the town, people and churches of the area. Multiple apparitions occurred at Fatima, Portugal between May 13, 1917 and October 13, 1917, visible to three young Portuguese children from that town.
Most Catholics have heard the story of Fatima, possessing a vague idea of what occurred. In this book, Jean Heimann gives you an in-depth understanding of Mary’s purpose for the apparitions and the implication of her visit to the three chosen children. The story is riveting! I read the entire book in one afternoon!
My takeaway from reading Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World, is that... Read more...
27 Apr 2017
In Back to Virtue, Peter Kreeft takes you into the classroom of moral theology, where you will learn why we need virtue to preserve human existence. For starters, Kreeft clearly defines the differentiation between virtue and vice. He discusses the cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude, as well as the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Then, using the Beatitudes, he teaches us about each virtue that counters each of the seven deadly sins of anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth and the root of all evil, pride.
His words of wisdom percolate throughout this book. Here’s just one example:
If we can conquer everything except ourselves, the result is that we do not hold the power. 1
3 Apr 2017
Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk, rightfully belongs on your “Want to Read” list! In Astfalk’s third Christian fiction novel, she introduces us to two teenagers: Rachel Mueller and Paul Porter. At the beginning of the book, when Rachel and Paul meet, they are only 14 and 16, respectively. Throughout the story, we see a deep friendship blossom between the two characters. As they get to know each other, we see that friendship grow into love, young love.
Rightfully Ours deals with the virtue of chastity head on; yet in a manner that would make any teen want to be like Rachel and Paul. These two characters serve as excellent role models for teenagers coming to grips with burgeoning love and sexual desire, contrasted against all that they have been taught concerning morals and virtue.
I found Rightfully Ours... Read more...
27 Mar 2017
The Virtue Driven Life, by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., offers insightful information about the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance, along with scriptural passages, simple prayers, and citations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This gem of a book offers the basic information on these virtues in part I. He saves the best for last, though, when in part II, we learn some in-depth information on the Theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Part II also provides scriptural passages, prayers and citations from the Catechism, in relation to the Theological virtues.
I was most impressed with Fr. Groeschel’s insight into the... Read more...
14 Mar 2017
...The Gift of Receptivity...
...Personally, my receptivity feelers do not fire on all cylinders. Sure, I’m open to whatever God has for me as long as it is good, healthy, and includes very little discomfort. Unlike Jesus entering into Jerusalem ready to fulfill God’s Will, I spend far too much time avoiding God and his Will. Perhaps I am hoping that if I am really quiet and well-behaved, I will avoid whatever cross is lurking in my day. Ironically, my cross has become my fear of the cross. My focus is far too much on this false fear of the possible tragedy lurking around the corner, and in turn I lose sight the good things God has in store for me—in any situation....
...Holy Thursday Blessings...
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017Reflection part of the WINE Lenten Book Club #LentenWalk
Saint Lucy was born in 283 A.D. in Syracuse, Italy, what we refer to today as Sicily. Little is known about this Saint, except that she d...