On Barb’s Bookshelf: I Believe You plus GIVEAWAY!

David Majek and his sons are still finding their way 6 months after his wife was killed by a hit-and-run driver who was never apprehended for the crime. Then strange things start happening: a man in a fedora is watching the house, David’s bank account is drained of funds overnight, and as David struggles to maintain his household, run the family business and untangle these mysteries, details come to light that threaten to tear the family apart.

I don’t usually read suspense novels, preferring fare that is more character-driven. But I found that David Majek’s character was quite well-developed in Jeanne Grunert’s novel I Believe You, and it didn’t take long for me to get drawn into the story. The various mysteries come to be connected in a plausible way, and the pacing was not so fast that you couldn’t get acquainted with the characters.

David runs an investment firm, aided by his more-volatile younger brother Constantine. Irregularities at the company  prove to be a concern, and while some detail was given, there wasn’t too much financial “inside baseball” that would distract from the story.

More than just a thriller, this novel deals with complicated family relationships. David’s youngest son, Eddie, is deaf, and nuances of communication become a problem, especially when it becomes evident that Eddie is hiding something.

It may take some help from beyond the grave to solve the mysteries in this story. Chopin’s Polonaise in F# minor figures prominently in the plot, and the music sets the tone for the novel.

 

Enter to win a copy of I Believe You to read for yourself. The prize is a paperback first edition of the novel. There are errors in the first-edition copies, but they don’t impact the plot, so enjoy the book and consider it a collector’s item.

HOW TO WIN: Leave a comment on this post.

i-believe-you-by-jeanne-grunert

 

Giveaway closes at 11:59 PM on Monday, October 31, and one winner will be chosen by random drawing on Tuesday, November 1. Winner will be contacted via email (so please make sure you check the email you use to comment here!) Winner will have 48 hours to reply to email notification before an alternate winner is chosen.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Barb's Book shelf blog title

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This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.
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Giveaway: Spring Card Pack from PioPrints

I’m not a huge fan of the greeting-card offerings at my local supermarket, Hallmark store and drugstore. None of them say exactly what I want them to say. Many of them have glitter and spangles and art that tends toward the gaudy. And all of them are way too expensive. Most cards run about $4–and some are even pricier than that!

A few weeks ago I ordered some cards from pioprints.com as a way of thanking them for their sponsorship of CatholicMom. I’m really impressed with their products for these reasons:

  • ample selection
  • excellent prices (most cards are $3)
  • quality paper
  • Catholic messages
  • subtle, minimalist art
  • plenty of room for adding your own sentiments to the inside of the card
  • speedy FREE shipping
  • made in the USA
Image courtesy of pioprints.com. All rights reserved.
Image courtesy of pioprints.com. All rights reserved.

Would you like to see all the things to like about pioprints.com? They’ve generously offered a “Welcome to Spring” card package that includes cards for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, First Communion, wedding, Confirmation, graduation, friendship and birthday. Some of these are pictured above.

Here’s how to win this 8-card package:

  • Visit pioprints.com
  • Explore the site and find your favorite card
  • Come back here and tell me which is your favorite

This contest will close at 6 AM Monday, May 2. Winner will be chosen via random number generator and notified via email. (USA only, please!)

Image courtesy of pioprints.com. All rights reserved.
Image courtesy of pioprints.com. All rights reserved.

On Barb’s Bookshelf: The Sweetest Rain Review and Giveaway!

Barb's Book shelf blog title

On my bookshelf today: a sweet Catholic romance novel that takes place in Depression-era Arkansas. As historical fiction goes, this is one of my favorite time periods to read about; I think this is because characters are too busy surviving to do much navel-gazing.

ofu5Nt5bAI1EOJeG-oPAco0tPN9Tk6LCDMtIAp0NsxAMyra Johnson’s novel, The Sweetest Rain, finds a tenant farmer’s responsible oldest granddaughter in search of a way to supplement the near-nonexistent farm income during a drought season. Boldly approaching the plantation owner, she lands a housekeeping job in his grand home and upsets the status quo by getting involved in “upstairs, downstairs” politics–and falling in love with the owner’s son.

I enjoyed the portrayal of the two very different worlds that Bryony, the heroine, walked between, and the strength and grit she showed in helping her family survive. In some ways, she reminded me of George Bailey, doing what had to be done for her family, even at the expense of her own dreams. How this plays out as the story goes on–well, I don’t want to give any spoilers here. But I will say this: if you like Downton Abbey, you’ll like this novel!

Since this book is from the genre known as “sweet romance,” it’s appropriate for teens as well as adults.

FM_Color_LogoTo help me introduce this book to more readers, publisher Franciscan Media is offering a copy of The Sweetest Rain to one lucky reader! To put your name in the hat for a FREE copy of this novel, simply answer this question in the comment box:

What’s your favorite time period to read about in historical fiction?

This contest ends Tuesday, October 13 at noon Eastern. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.

Want more chances to win? Visit the other blogs on the book tour and enter your name in their giveaways!

Myra Johnson 2014About author Myra Johnson:

Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, but she now enjoys living amidst the scenic beauty of North Carolina. Myra’s debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, was a September 2009 release from Abingdon Press. She has also written six novels for the Heartsong Presents line. Most recently she has completed a three-book historical romance series, “Till We Meet Again,” for Abingdon Press. Myra and her husband, Jack, have two married daughters and seven grandchildren.

 

Review and Giveaway: Catholic Through the Year Planner

CTTYblogtourgraphic

What’s the best part about the start of a new school year? New crayons, new pencils, fresh pink erasers, and (for moms) a brand-new calendar all ready to be filled with school schedules, sports schedules, play rehearsals, parties and dinner menus.

I use Google calendar (and various apps that support it) on my computer, phone and tablet, but a lot of my best thinking, planning and dreaming is done with pencil in hand, so for me, a paper planner is a must. I’m picky about my planner too–I like to have a Catholic planner with daily readings and the saint of the day listed. That way I don’t have to go somewhere else to get that information.

Planner.weekly.rightThe Catholic Through the Year Planner from Catholic Sistas covers all the bases. In the sample page at left (half of a 2-page weekly spread) you’ll see that the top box for each day is dedicated to the Catholic part of the planner: daily readings, saints/feasts of the day, and even the daily mysteries of the Rosary. Fridays have a little fish icon to remind you to plan a meatless meal (here’s my opportunity for a shameless plug for my pet project, the Meatless Friday feature at CatholicMom.com!) Three boxes per day below that allow you to customize your planning to your own family’s needs. Then there’s a handy checklist along the side and an area for other notes at the bottom–with a quote from a saint each week.

Customization is the name of the game with this planner. You can choose a calendar, homeschool planner, blog planner and household planner–or any combination of these. Want it all? Grab the Whole Enchilada. Everything is on sale through the end of today (7/31), and the prices can’t be beat!

My favorite items from the household planner are definitely the monthly menu calendar and the reusable to-do list and daily, weekly and monthly cleaning lists, which can be placed in sheet protectors or laminated.

If you don’t have your new calendar for this school year yet, there’s good news–your new planner is as close as your printer. Print it out and get it bound at an office-supply store, or punch holes in the pages and slip them into a binder. (For some of the household pages, I use a clipboard.)

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

Catholic Sistas is generously offering a planner for one Franciscanmom reader. For your chance to win, name your favorite feature from this planner–check the list below for ALL that’s inside. The winner will be chosen at random from all comments made before August 7, 2015 at noon Eastern and will be notified by email.

Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win it! Leave a comment to enter!

 

I’m sharing the full table of contents below from the Catholic Sistas page, so you can get an idea of what’s inside.

Here’s what’s in it:

CALENDAR details

  • 154 8.5″x11″downloadable pages to print using your own home printer or take to a printer to have it professionally printed – your choice! {you can also adjust your printer to print it in booklet size, making it perfect for tossing in your purse}
  • print in COLOR or B&W — your choice
  • beautiful cover sheet
  • 2015/2016 academic and 2015 traditional calendar available
  • this liturgical planner was created using the standard guidelines of the Church calendar, both the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 used in the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite {the Novus Ordo} and the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope St. Pius V and reissued by Pope St. John XXIII in 1962 used in the Extraordinary Form {the Traditional Latin Mass – TLM}
  • year at a glance
  • 12 month at-a-glance pages {two-page spread per month for maximum use}
  • weekly planners for each month, giving you plenty of customizable space to meet your family’s needs
  • includes a personal information page,
  • contact sheet for friends, family, & acquaintances,
  • multiple pages for note taking {or doodling, if that’s what you like to do!},
  • and a meaty section on prayer, including verses from Sacred Scripture, quotes from saints, & references pulled from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as a truncated list of common prayers.

HOMESCHOOL details

o   beautiful cover sheet
o   48 pages total
o   36 pages of blank lesson plans waiting for you to get ready for the school year! Verses from Sacred Scripture, quotes from saints, and snippets from the Catechism of the Catholic Church laced throughout.
o   grade sheet printable to print as many times as needed
o   an evaluation sheet to monitor your kiddo/s’ work habits, as well as yourself!
o   and a report card printable for you to print on card stock, making your homeschool reporting look professional!

menu plan
Here’s how that monthly menu page looks after I get my hands on it! As you can see, I’ve used this planner before–this is a 2014 menu, but the format is still the same. This is a page that lives on my clipboard for quick reference.

HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT details

  • beautiful cover sheet
  • 40 pages
  • a re-usable to-do list to keep track of what needs to get done throughout the day {lamination recommended}
  • 12 month of meals calendars, August 2015-July 2016
  • weekly meal planner printable to print as many times as you will use it through the year
  • daily cleaning list {lamination recommended}
  • weekly & monthly cleaning lists {lamination recommended}
  • fall & spring cleaning lists {lamination recommended}
  • 23 day organizing challenge which outlines different tasks to tackle
  • household tips sheet with some cool tidbits of information to make your life easier
  • around the house master project list
  • budget list for finances for all months of the year
  • birthday & anniversary list, by month
  • AND a gift list, with a breakdown to designate Christmas, birthday, or anniversary

CATHOLIC BLOGGER details

  • beautiful cover sheet
  • 53 pages
  • additional cover sheets for each blogging month
  • goals sheet for each month
  • daily maintenance sheet to keep track of your posts and what you’ve done with social media, did you pray?, etc.
  • brainstorm sheet with room to spread out and jot down ideas, tags, categories, SEO, where to promote, time and supplies needed, and any offshoot post ideas
  • guest post sheet to keep track of details for those who wish to write on your blog
  • sponsor sheet to keep track of ads, $$ coming in, and start/end date for the ads
  • AND a month of posts sheet to jot down all the post titles for the month, as well as recording numbers for all your social media

Copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS.
Planner image and header photo copyright 2015 Martina Kreitzer. All rights reserved.
Menu planner photo copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS. All rights reserved.

Book Review and Giveaway: Seven Saints for Seven Virtues

Hot off the presses from Franciscan Media’s Servant Books, here’s Catholic blogger Jean Heimann’s Seven Saints for Seven Virtues! And you can WIN a copy right here!

7 saints 7 virtues bookI’ve followed Jean’s blog, Catholic Fire, for years; the same careful scholarship and fervent faith she shows in the blog is revealed in this book.

What it’s all about:  This book examines seven saints of the Church in association with a virtue for which each one is known.

  • Charity:  Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
  • Chastity:  Saint Agnes
  • Diligence:  Saint Pope John Paul II
  • Humility:  Saint Joseph
  • Kindness:  Saint Catherine of Siena
  • Patience:  Saint Monica
  • Temperence:  Saint Augustine

What’s inside:  A thoughtful foreword by Lisa Hendey of CatholicMom.com, Jean’s own introduction to the book, and a short bio of each saint, supplemented by a discussion of that saint’s particular virtue, quotes by or about the saint, information from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Jean’s reflection on the model of each virtue in her own life, suggestions for practicing each virtue, and a prayer at the end of every chapter. There’s also a generous Recommended Reading list in case you want to learn more.

Author Jean Heimann
Author Jean Heimann

Why I love it:  Saints are often depicted as if they’re so holy, they’re almost not human. That’s not the case with this book. Jean brings out each saint’s special virtue and starts the reader on the path toward living that particular virtue.

How to read it:  I’ll admit that after reading the foreword and the introduction, I skipped straight to Saint Monica’s chapter, because patience is one of those virtues that I really have trouble displaying. This book gave me a new perspective on what patience actually involves (hint:  it’s more than just being peaceful about waiting in line). You don’t have to read this book in a straight line from start to finish. Choose the saint whose virtues you need the most right now. Start there, and you won’t want to stop reading about the other saints whose virtues Jean highlights!

Try this:  Take this book to Eucharistic Adoration. In the space of one Holy Hour, you can read, pray and reflect on a saint and a virtue. Bring along your journal and resolve to work toward developing that virtue in your own life.

How to win a book:  Just leave a comment with a valid email address answering this question:  who’s your go-to saint?

The winner will be chosen at random from all entries at the conclusion of Jean’s book tour on Thursday, October 23. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond and claim the prize or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Follow along with the tour.  Here are the other stops on the Seven Saints for Seven Virtues Book Tour. Many of these are offering giveaways of the book as well!

Monday, Oct. 13Plot Line and Sinker Ellen Gable

Tuesday, Oct. 14 Contemplative Homeschool Connie Rossini

Thursday, Oct. 16Can we Cana? Karee Santos

Friday, Oct. 17Bergers Book Reviews Alice Berger

Saturday, Oct. 18Seven Angels Four Kids One Family Jane Lebak

Sunday, Oct. 19Spiritual Woman Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Monday, Oct. 20Cause of our Joy Leticia Velasquez

Tuesday, Oct. 21 View from the Domestic Church Donna-Marie Cooper-O’Boyle

Wednesday, Oct. 22Entering into the Mystery Janet Moore

Seven Saints for Seven Virtues is available on Amazon as a paperback or ebook (my advice:  get the paperback! You’ll want to write in the margins and highlight the parts that speak most to you.) Your purchase of this book through my Amazon affiliate link helps defray the cost of this website!

Take a Small Step

small steps blog tour banner

Let’s begin by taking a page from Small Steps for Catholic Moms:

Think:

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

– St. Padre Pio

Pray:

Sweet Jesus, help me to replace the fearful conversation I have inside my head with constant prayer. Whenever I fall into my old habit of worrying interiorly, nudge me. Remind me to put it all in your hands instead.

Act:

Copy the quote above and put it in an obvious place where it will remind you not to let worry run around inside your head. Pray! Pray! Pray instead!

This is an excerpt from April, which has a theme of “Courage.”

small steps

That’s a whole page–right there. It truly only takes a minute or two to read and pray–and then resolve to act. And that’s what I love about Small Steps. It’s written by moms for moms; the two moms who wrote this book know what it’s like to be so snowed under by the little things of daily life, so they’ve figured out a way to make a spiritual jump-start possible for every mom, every day.

I am privileged to participate in the Small Steps Blog Tour through CatholicMom.com. I was over the moon when I was “randomly” assigned this date–October 4, the feast of St. Francis. And Padre Pio was a Franciscan. How perfect is it that I get to celebrate this feast day by kicking off a giveaway? Details on how to enter are at the bottom of this post. (We’re almost there! I promise!)

But first, I’ve got to say that it very nearly killed me when I read the “randomly” assigned page that I was given to use. I think that out of this whole book–and I’ve read a good chunk of it already–this page is the one that speaks to me most right now. Shivers down the spine, friends! I am a pro at worrying and had never considered that worry is really based in fear. I could chew on this idea for much more than the single day that’s devoted to it…and I hope that by coming to terms with my tendency to worry, I can learn to put it aside and take my fears to prayer, laying them at the feet of the Lord instead of letting them weigh heavy on my soul and my family.

Check out all the other stops on the tour–we’ve all got giveaways of this excellent book of daily prayer prompts.

And don’t miss the Five Minutes Alone contest, hosted at CatholicMom.com! You could win signed copies of ALL SIX CatholicMom.com books:

And now…for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…(thanks for your patience, friends): it’s GIVEAWAY TIME! Here’s how to enter to win a copy of Small Steps for your very own, or to give away to a friend. My favorite part about this book is the quotes from many saints–from the well-known to the new-to-me. Leave a comment telling me which saint you hope to find among the pages of Small Steps!

This giveaway will run through Friday, October 11 at 11:59 PM EDT. A winner will be chosen at random from all entries received prior to that time. You may enter ONCE PER DAY through Friday. Winner will be notified Monday, October 14 via email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen, so be sure the email address you use to leave a comment is one you’ll actually check!

Pax et bonum!

small steps tour

Book Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the giveaway of a (gently-used) copy of Life-Giving Love is Bean! Please email me and I’ll get the book in the mail.

BIG thanks to all who commented with suggestions for decluttering and donating my extra books. I’ve got 3 big stacks of books “on their way out” of here–so far. And I already checked with our school to see if the PTA will be hosting another used-book sale. Unfortunately, there is none planned at this time. So I’ll probably be dividing my books among Paperback Swap (I’m already a member!) and the local library’s book donation program. And I might see if I can find a used bookstore around and work something out that way.

NOT including the 3 piles of books, I have already gotten 8 bags of stuff out of here–or designated to go at a certain donation date. Not bad progress so far!

Book Giveaway!

I’m preparing to take part in the “40 Bags in 40 Days” Lenten challenge, and one of the areas that needs (perpetual) decluttering is my bookshelf.

My clutter is your gain, though. I’ve got a book here that I know someone will benefit from: Life-Giving Love by Kimberly Hahn. While the book is used, it’s still in excellent shape. One random commenter will receive this book.

Any commenter who leaves me a tip on decluttering my many, many books will get a bonus entry.

I will leave this giveaway open until 8 AM Eastern on Sunday, February 21.

And the winner is…

True Random Number Generator Min:1 Max:16 Result: 7 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Commenter #7 is the winner of the Michael Dubriel book! That means it’s Marianne! Drop me an email with your mailing address to claim your prize!

Congratulations to the winner and thank you to all who entered! I encourage all those who did not win the book to go out and purchase one. My copy (and the winner’s copy) arrived here yesterday and let me tell you, this book is PACKED full of information. This is going to be my Lenten reading for this year.