Bringing books to the beach? I packed (and loved!) me a little Linden, Peek, and Walsh this trip.
Call me backwards, but I’d already had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Theresa Linden’s Battle for his Soul, the third installment in her profoundly popular West Brothers’ Series, a while back. So now I’m going catching up and here to tell you about book one in said series, the tale behind the youngest West brother, Roland.
Wow, wow, wow! But then again, Linden never disappoints.
Even though we are a household of girls here at Egolf U and the main characters of this series are teenaged boys, we are all huge fans. Full of adventure AND emotion, this story has the power to deepen the faith of even the most skeptical of teenaged hearts, I’m sure. To boot, you may even learn about the life of a new saint! (There is one very awesome female character named Caitlyn that lends a beautiful little touch of the feminine to these stories.)
RW,L was the second-place winner of the 2016 Catholic Press Association Book Awards in the Teen & YA Fiction. It’s the first in a series about Jarret and Keith, 16-year-old twins, and Roland, the younger brother by 2 years. . They’ve always been homeschooled (yay!) because their sorta-cowboy father is a sorta-archeologist. (I’m trying not to spoil too much, but, suffice it to say, exactly WHAT Mr. West does for a living is part of the suspense woven throughout the series. Mother died when boys were younger, sorry if that is a slight spoiler.) This year they are put in school. It’s a social heaven for the outgoing older brothers, but for shy, serious, (mysterious?) Roland, it’s a nightmare. And being a “loner” isn’t even the main conflict this kid faces.
Full of lovable and relatable teen and adult characters, Roland West, Loner is one part Indiana-Jones-meets-the-Goonies, one part Steinbeck’s East of Eden, and one part miraculous.
Theresa Linden is one fabulous story-teller, folks. I actually got to meet her in person at this year’s Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, (couple pics below) where I made certain to scoop up more of her works. I’m already halfway through book two in the West Brothers’ Series, and I can’t wait to finish it and report back here at MMPH.
Again, I’m apparently working backwards. Having loved Susan Peek’s The King’s Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland, I thought I was delving into one of her later novels; Magnus was actually her first. What a way to make a debut! This book has been very popular in Catholic teen reading circles for years, and I’m glad it made his way into my shopping cart AND my suitcase this trip. Continuing on the brotherly conflict theme, although Peek tells of Magnus from a teen boy’s perspective with plenty of action and gore, my teen daughter loved it as well.
I didn’t really know anything about Saint Magnus before reading this, and it’s a great book to incorporate into your Charlotte-Mason-style homeschooling as far as learning more about the Vikings and other world history of the first century. I really appreciate such well-written, exciting, (NOT dry) teen, tween, and YA historical fiction, not only for my students, but also for my own continuing education. Theologically, the book is marked with the Catholic Writers’ Guild Seal of Approval, so it’s been thoroughly screened. With loads of forgiveness and “offering up” themes, Peek dares to bravely go places most Christian authors seem to avoid these days. God bless her for leading us back to a time when people still recognized that our eternal souls are more important than our fickle flesh. I’m a better person for reading this book.
So, the hubs likes to tease me about my little habit of collecting books, especially when I buy a book about other books. But I REALLY want to share this one! And so now after all this teen-boys talk, here’s something just for us moms!
You may recognize the name Tiffany Walsh of Life of a Catholic Librarian if you subscribe to CatholicMom.com or enjoyed Ave Maria Press’ 2017 The Catholic Hipster Handbook. I had the honor of meeting both her and and another author (more below) involved in the Stay Connected! Journals for Catholic Women series, also at CCWC 2019. Now, I’m going to admit, I’m not a big “journaler,” but I really, REALLY like this one and here’s why:
Are you like me and have a sort of nebulous bucket list of books to read that includes the greats in Catholic writing? Walsh’s Exploring the Catholic Classics has provided us with a mini “easy button” this Lent, my friends! Sample and study, side-by-side with relevant Scripture and well-written reflections, selected passages from the writings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Pope St. John Paul II, St. Francis de Sales, Thomas á Kempis, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and St. Teresa of Avila. It’s a spiritual goldmine of a collection in this pretty purple package, I’m actually finding it FUN to pull out a pencil and fill in the beautifully decorated journal pages. It’s a great Lenten reflection tool, one that I didn’t even think I needed until I delved into Walsh’s work.
Since I’m enjoying this edition of the Stay Connected! Journals for Catholic Women so much, I’m curious to explore more of them. Pretty in pastels, wouldn’t these be as lovely as colored eggs in Momma’s Easter Basket (@hubs @kids)?
Ok, so I mentioned another author. I first met the dynamic social media evangelist/author/blogger/speaker Allison Gingras of Reconciled to You in Lancaster, PA whilst attending the Catholic Writers’ Guild annual conference (which is held in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network’s annual conference.) Been to anything Catholic lately? You’ve probably caught a glimpse of Gingras, too. My girl is ev-er-y-where, friends! And, yes, I caught up with her at CCWC19, and yes, she has authored one of these beautiful journals, the turquoise one, entitled 7 Ways that Jesus Invites You to a Life of Grace. Talk about the perfect Lenten or Easter gift for a mom, older daughter, or bestie! And don’t forget Invite the Holy Spirit Into Your Life (pictured gracefully in green, above) by Deanna G. Bartalini: this one makes a great confirmation gift as well.
The best part of today’s blog is this: all the books featured here are but a sampling of what these great authors and/or publishers have available. I love that cozy feeling of knowing, as I’m nearing the end of a good book, that there are plenty “more where that came from” just waiting for me to sweep them up and add them to the stack on my nightstand. How about you?
I wonder, how many others might begin reading this book and think it will be another Marian theology study? While Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace is an extremely well-written Marian theological resource, it is much more. Yes, Steinhage-Fenelon explores the role of Mary in our personal lives for the purpose of teaching us about charity and forgiveness. Yes, she offers plenty of solid, supporting content, both biblical and Church doctrinal, to illustrate each of her ideas. Yes, she provides us with a beautiful Marian novena to pray as a part of the enlightenment brought forth by her thesis statement.
What I didn’t realize is that the title is missing an “A.”
This book isn’t about how Mary, Mother of God, is a forgiving mother. This book, while remaining a beautiful treatise on Mary’s forgiving nature, is the tale of how the author came to forgive her mother. It is a sort of self-help book for anyone who has suffered abuse, of any kind, at the hand of someone who was supposed to be a provider of love and instiller of trust. While there is a lot of literature out there about surviving child or partner abuse, I know of no other source as powerful as this one, because Steinhage-Fenelon has meticulously provided very practical, step-by-step advice, along with the logic of Marian theology and the power of prayer, to bring her readers to begin the process of healing. I would venture to say that Forgiving Mother can even serve as a source of healing for the repentant abuser, as well.
Forgiving is hard. Even forgiving little stuff is hard if you don’t know how. We none of us can accrue enough tools to help us get better at forgiveness. I highly recommend Forgiving Mother not only for people who are looking for help working through past trauma, but for EVERYONE, because we can all use some help learning how to truly “forgive those who trespass against us.”
What are you reading? You can share your favorite books by tagging your social media posts with #OpenBook and linking up with us at Carolyn Astfalk’s “My Scribbler’s Heart” blog as well as CatholicMom.
Weird stuff is rumored to be going down in FB-land in 2018, so Molly is getting a bit nervous: she wants to keep all the good friends she’s made these last few years! Therefore, she asked “Momma” (that’s me) to make her Page into a Group. Please share all her posts, especially her book updates, with all your other Molly-mates! Invite them to the party, too. To enter, just kindly click here. You’ll see something like this:
Then “Join.” Momma’ll do her best to keep you all in the loop, ’cause good things are happening in 2018! There will be giveaways, blog tours, the new addition to the family of Molly McBride books, and even a Plaid Party Goods line!
Isn’t it great when you make a new friend?
The other day I realized that the author of one of my youngest’s (yep, the “Molly” prototype) favorite new picture books is a Seal-mate! I got to chatting with Ginny Lieto, fellow Catholic Writers’ Guild member and winner of the Guild’s Seal of Approval for her children’s picture book Finding Patience.
“For children, it is difficult to wait for anything! Wouldn’t it be nice if your child or grandchild exhibited a little patience? Help is on the way! Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity–Finding Patience is a book for children ages 4-8; an age when patience seems non-existent! This book offers parents and educators a practical, yet entertaining way of introducing and reinforcing patience through the power of prayer. It is through prayer that Faith, learns how God works within her, in His time, to help her grow in patience.”
Like my Plaid Jumper, Finding Patience has a back-to-school setting (and uniforms!). It is a great read-aloud to kids ages 3-4 and up, and I think most 8-9 year-olds would even enjoy reading it on their own. This engaging story has darling illustrations by Carole Hahn Panzer and comes complete with every kid’s favorite thing: puppies!
I do have to say, there was a part that really grabbed me emotionally. Barely moved into a new house in a new town, the main character Faith had a hard first day at her new school. Due to her shyness she sat alone in the cafeteria during lunch. This is the scene when she gets home that first day;
“Faith sobbed, ‘Nobody likes me!’
‘No, no,’ replied Mama. ‘They just don’t know you yet.’
‘I want to go home,’ cried Faith, ‘to be with my friends.'”
The first day I showed up for cafeteria duty at the real “Molly’s” new school, I realized she’d been sitting there eating alone almost daily. That really hurts a Mama’s heart! But things got better for both “Molly” and Faith. It’s hard to not leak a spoiler, but trust me when I say that the end of Ginny’s super-sweet book is very clever! WTG, GF!!!
Ginny is such an interesting woman. (I’ve met a ton of amazing folks in the Catholic Writers’ Guild!) Like my hubs, she hails from the Garden State. She left New Jersey for North Carolina, and now, besides writing, blogging and public speaking, she teaches theology online at Saint Joseph’s College in Maine. Like mine, Ginny’s life has taken some wild career turns. In a former life she was an accountant. “I believe that God’s plan for me is far better than anything for which I could conceive,” she writes in her blog. Like a lot of great writers, she draws upon a rich, sometimes unpredictable, source of life experiences that includes career changes and big moves. But her leaving NJ was difficult. Blessedly, she has great faith and a strong support system. Ginny recalls the words of her husband Nick fondly, “I’ll go anywhere as long as I am with you.”
Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity–Finding Patience is an absolutely wonderful debut children’s picture book by my new friend, the very talented Virginia Lieto. Seriously, that woman could write the phonebook and make it interesting! Follow her blog, FB page, twitter, everywhere you can find Ginny’s wisdom.
And definitely buy this book. Then share it with a good friend, just like my “Molly.”
Ways to follow Virginia Lieto:
Link to book: http://amzn.to/2s5uR3Z
Social media links:
Calling all homeschoolers! Here’s an AWESOME unit study for the kids. God Bless Writer/Teacher/Catholic-Mom-Blogger Ginny Kochis of Not So Formulaic and her two junior staff writers (6.5-year-old B and 10.5-year-old G) for not only reviewing Plaid Jumper, but putting together this incredibly creative and FREE unit study.
To quote just a few words of the abundant wisdom in Ginny’s post:
“The second installment in the Jean Schoonover-Egolf’s Molly McBride series, Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper follows the titular heroine as she discovers there’s more to a person’s vocation than the clothes she wears. Discussions with her family, friends, and a trusted Pastor help Molly understand an important truth: God has designed each of us in a unique, unrepeatable way. That is the truth of our vocation, and what we wear on the outside can’t change that. My girls fell in love with Molly’s spirit, immediately identifying with her costume habit (pun intended).”
Be sure to leave a “thank you” to the Kochis Club in Miss Ginny’s comments.