#OpenBook: September 2017 Reads

The first Wednesday of each month, Carolyn Astfalk hosts #OpenBook, where bloggers link posts about books they’ve read recently. Here’s a taste of what I’ve been reading:

Fiction

in the light of the gardenIn the Light of the Garden by Heather Burch. Set on an island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, family secrets come to the fore when Charity Baxter inherits her grandfather’s estate and moves to the island to continue his work making custom pottery. Her return to the island reawakens a twenty-year-old burden of guilt about the death of her grandmother. Charity’s neighbor Dalton battles heartbreak of his own, and the meaning of family and the destructive power of long-held secrets are revealed. An excellent story.

dancing with firefliesDancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter. I couldn’t even tell this book was the second in a series — it’s that well done. Pregnant after date rape, Jade returns to the hometown she’d hoped to leave behind, but she doesn’t feel she can trust her family or neighbors with her secret. Complicating matters is the town’s mayor, a young man who always had a crush on Jade, and whose love she doesn’t feel she’s worthy of.

loves vowLove’s Vow by Melissa Storm. This novella concludes the story of Summer and Ben’s whirlwind romance. When all the little things and some of the big things go wrong as their wedding day approaches, Summer and Ben will need the help of the whole town if they want to get married. I enjoyed reading more about the characters in the “First Street Church” series, including the Kindle Worlds series written by other authors about the same small town.

something like familySomething Like Family by Heather Burch. Abandoned as a teenager by his drug-addicted mother, Rave finds himself entangled with an adrift single mom because he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to her son. When he’s notified that the grandfather he thought was dead is very much alive and wants to meet him, Rave returns to his mother’s home town to seek the family ties he never had — but that little boy is never far from his thoughts. A beautiful story of family, community and devotion.

black narcissusBlack Narcissus by Rumer Godden. When an order of Sisters is given an estate on a mountain in the Himalayas in order to build a school and medical clinic, they must battle temptations of all kinds as they struggle to survive in a new culture and climate. This was a really disturbing story, but that didn’t come without warning. It was noted right at the beginning the the location would be enough to unsettle anyone.

Children’s/YA

PlayingbyHeart coverPlaying by Heart by Carmela Martino. Set in 18th-century Milan, Playing by Heart is a symphony of romance and faith with an undercurrent of social commentary. Will Maria and Emilia’s father sacrifice their futures on the altar of his own ambitions to join the noble class? Carmela Martino’s new novel for teen readers explores family ties, vocations, and discernment of the best ways to use God-given gifts. Cue up some Vivaldi or Pachelbel and settle in for an intriguing tale. Read my full review. (ARC provided by author)

standing strongStanding Strong by Theresa Linden. Continuing the series she began with Roland West, Loner and continued with two more novels, Linden’s next novel about the West brothers centers on Roland’s two older brothers, who are twins but as opposite as can be. While Jarret works to figure out how to move forward after a life-changing experience (described in Battle for His Soul, which you really need to read before you read this), his twin has a struggle of his own as he discerns whether to join the Franciscan brothers. It’s not easy to reinvent yourself while you’re still in high school, as Jarret West discovers as he seeks a way to turn his life around after an intense spiritual experience. His twin brother couldn’t be more different: Keefe contemplates joining the Franciscan friars. Theresa Linden recounts twin spiritual quests in her newest novel. (ARC provided by author)

Nonfiction

super girls and halosSuper Girls and Halos by Maria Morera Johnson (Ave Maria Press). I love that Maria Morera Johnson began her new book, Super Girls and Halos (Ave Maria Press, 2017), with a quote from the only superhero movie I ever liked: The Incredibles. Mrs. Incredible is probably the first “supergirl” I could relate to. She’s a mom. She worries about her family. She’s the most real superhero I’ve encountered. Maria found a way to show the human side of superheros and saints without diluting their extraordinary virtues. Read my interview with the author. (ARC provided by publisher)

igniteIgnite: Read the Bible like Never Before by Sonja Corbitt and Deacon Harold Burke-Silvers (Servant Books). This book challenges both individuals and groups to try reading the Bible. Acknowledging that many faithful people try reading the Bible but are daunted by dry and difficult readings and commentaries, Sonja and Deacon Harold share some strategies that work for them, setting up a Lectio-Divina-based study structure that can include technological resources such as Bible apps, online daily readings, and print or audio resources. Read my full review. (ARC provided by publisher)

st faustina book conversionTwo Saint Faustina prayer books: Susan Tassone’s “St. Faustina Prayer Book” series focuses the power of intercessory prayer on two great needs: the Holy Souls in Purgatory and the conversion of sinners. The St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners and The Saint Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls in Purgatory contain more than prayers. st faustina book holy soulsYou’ll also find essays on conversion, sin, penance, Purgatory and the spirituality of St. Faustina Kowalska. Organized by theme, the books lead the reader through learning and devotions. Read my full review. (ARC provided by publisher)

Links to books in this post are Amazon affiliate links. Your purchases made through these links support Franciscanmom.com. Thank you!

Follow my Goodreads reviews for the full list of what I’ve read recently (even the duds!)

Visit today’s #OpenBook post to join the linkup or just get some great ideas about what to read! You’ll find it at Carolyn Astfalk’s A Scribbler’s Heart and at CatholicMom.com!

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Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

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On Barb’s Bookshelf: Ignite

Barb's Book shelf blog titleSubtitled “Read the Bible like never before,” Sonja Corbitt and Deacon Harold Burke-Silvers’ book Ignite (Servant Books, 2017) challenges both individuals and groups to try a reading the Bible.

Acknowledging that many faithful people try reading the Bible but are daunted by dry and difficult readings and commentaries, Sonja and Deacon Harold share some strategies that work for them, setting up a Lectio-Divina-based study structure that can include technological resources such as Bible apps, online daily readings, and print or audio resources. They specifically suggest that readers begin with the Gospel reading for the day, which is always available at USCCB.org (simply use the calendar in the right sidebar to navigate to that day’s readings).

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After describing the process of Lectio Divina, address the who, what, where, when, how, and why of the Bible, in separate chapters that go into detail about how the events of the Bible speak to us today.

In encountering God in the Scriptures, we can then consider that the whole Bible is about this same gradual, increasing self-disclosure to a particular race of people just like me: the revelation of a person to persons, like ourselves, who also actually lived in a certain place at a certain time. (18-19)

The last two chapters, “Which Voice is His?” and “The Word is a Person” sum up how reading the Bible will bring us into closer communion with God, addressing both the issue of authority and the need to “read and study the Bible with the heart and mind of the Church” (193).

“The Word of God is a person, not a book,” the authors note (192). Scripture and Tradition, they affirm, go hand in hand.

Both are directed at the life of the Church. Together sacred Scripture and Tradition convey the Word of God. Apart from the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, we are easily led into serious mistakes and error … (196)

Each chapter ends with a “God Prompt” that invites the reader into a guided exercise of Lectio Divina on a selected passage.

Let Ignite help you dive more deeply into the Word of God.


Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz
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.

Monday Recap: January 2, 2017

 

 

It’s the first Monday of the month, so I’ve gathered up links to the work I’ve done in other spaces.

At CatholicMom.com

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I Played My Best for Him: A meditation on my favorite Christmas song. It’s not a traditional carol, but it sums up what we need to do every day.

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2016 Nativity Scene Linkup: Our Celebration of the Creche: Join our Nativity scene linkup! Share a photo of your family’s Nativity scene on your blog, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Don’t forget the hashtag: #CMnativity. Open through January 8!

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Book Notes for Teen Readers: Romance and Mystery by Cynthia T. Toney: Cynthia T. Toney writes novels for teens that combine Catholic characters, compelling mysteries and a touch of romance. I introduce readers to the “Bird Face” series, which would make great gifts for girls in middle school and up.

Book Notes: “What Pope Francis Really Said” by Tom Hoopes: Tom Hoopes’ book “What Pope Francis Really Said” unpacks the truth behind the media’s rush to judgment. I recommend the book to all Catholics committed to defending and living out their faith.

Book Notes: 4 Books for Young Readers from Pauline Books & Media: A new book is always a welcome Christmas gift. I reviewed 4 inspiring reads for children from Pauline Books & Media.

Book Notes: “Fearless” by Sonja Corbitt: I reviewed a new book by CatholicMom.com contributor Sonja Corbitt. “Fearless” invites the reader to take up spiritual warfare against fear, stress and anxiety.

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Praise Moments: “Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad: I spotlighted “Winter,” a new EP by Catholic musician Audrey Assad.

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Meatless Friday: Mexican Omelet: Try this Jersey-diner favorite for your Meatless Friday breakfast, lunch or dinner!

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Tech Talk: 10-Minute Advent Retreat from Catholic Relief Services: For those who don’t think they have time to make an Advent retreat, Catholic Relief Services packs a powerful spiritual experience in a 10-minute online retreat. Here are my impressions of “Holy Family, Refugee Family.”

At Cook and Count

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Cod with Caper-Mustard Sauce

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Mexican Omelet

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Lamb Stew with Roasted Vegetables

At Dynamic Women of Faith

Book Review: Who Does He Say You Are? A review of Colleen C. Mitchell’s spiritual work on women in the Gospel.

 

Monday recap 2016 edition

On Barb’s Bookshelf: “Fearless” by Sonja Corbitt

Sonja Corbitt’s Fearless puts fear and anxiety into a different perspective, framing them as spiritual attacks and providing tools with which to vanquish them. In short, Fearless is all about spiritual warfare.

Before reading Sonja’s book, I thought of spiritual warfare as something that was undertaken by the clergy or exorcists or very holy people. Fearless brings home the point that we are all subject to attack. “At its deepest root,” Sonja explains, “fear is a spiritual battle with a spiritual enemy.” (6)

Fear comes from the enemy: my enemy, your enemy, and God’s enemy. In affirming the spiritual basis of my fear I am not blaming myself for struggling with it; I am simply acknowledging that I am somehow being manipulated. As St. Anthony [of Padua] said, ‘Fear not. ‘Tis but an artifice of the Evil One to distract you.'” (7; emphasis mine)

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A mix of personal testimony, quotes from Scripture and the saints and plenty of wise counsel round out this book, which begs to be read (and reread) slowly and with pen and journal close by. Each chapter of the book is divided into sections that are a good length for personal meditation or group discussion. At the end of each chapter, you’ll find a review, an invitation to further action, and a God Prompt, followed by group-discussion questions.

Sonja Corbitt challenges readers to use love as a weapon against destructive fear. Advent is the perfect time to read a book like Fearless: to take up the challenge of fighting the enemy behind the fear and embracing life with confidence.

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 by the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

On Barb’s Bookshelf: Unleashed by Sonja Corbitt

Barb's Book shelf blog title

I don’t usually write in books. But when I started reading Unleashed: How to Receive Everything the Holy Spirit Wants to Give You by Sonja Corbitt, I found myself grabbing a pen. In nearly every chapter, I was scribbling notes, underlining sentences, and bracketing whole paragraphs. If I’d had a highlighter handy, almost the whole book would have been colored in.

unleashedThis is a powerful book. When it came up in a discussion on Facebook one day, I mentioned that it ought to come with a warning label. I stand by that assessment; looking back at the journal entries I wrote as I was reading this, I see the words, “this book is a challenge.” And I wasn’t talking about vocabulary words here.

Sonja Corbitt is as honest in the book as she asks her readers to be. Drawing on Scripture and the wisdom of the saints, she urges readers to come to know the Holy Spirit as Helper, Advocate, Counselor and Comforter. In the introduction, she states that this “conveys the idea of coming alongside, to surround, advise, guard, protect and aid. Because it is part of our feminine genius, women do this for others as a reflection of the Holy Spirit who humbly does it for us all.” (p. xv)

Each chapter of the book contains a meditation or reflection, followed by a short review, an initation to apply the Scriptures and the chapter to our own lives, and a “God prompt”–specific ways to get personally and directly in touch with God. Sonja addresses her readers as friends; “Dear One” is found frequently in the book. She does not talk down to readers but instead invites them into her own vulnerability as a way to move forward toward strength.

Unleashed warning label graphic for Bible Study with my blurbI read this book, a chapter a week, at Adoration, and it was a true gift to be able to spend those hours diving into the wisdom I found here.

You will find my reflection on Chapter One, which centers on hospitality, at CatholicMom.com.

Unleashed: How to Receive Everything the Holy Spirit Wants to Give You is published by Ave Maria Press.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book, consider stopping in at your local Catholic bookstore first. It’s also available online, and if you use my Amazon link, Franciscanmom.com gets a small percentage of the sales.

Monday Recap: June 15, 2015

Monday Recap-What I've been writingThere’s still some Monday left in today. It’s been a busy day around here, what with school getting out tomorrow and all…

There’s nothing new on the recipe front, but just wait until Friday when I’ve got something really special over at Cook and Count!

At CatholicMom.com:

Weather app logo collegeTech Talk: Whatever the Weather. How long until that thunderstorm comes your way? My favorite weather apps will keep you up-to-date on all those summer storms. Also, you’ll find out where Hubs, AKA The Meteorologist, gets his weather info (hint: it’s not an app!)

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Unleashed Book Club: Chapter 1. At CatholicMom.com, we’re reading Sonja Corbitt’s Unleashed. Various authors host the book club discussions each week. I discuss the connection between hospitality and fear.

 

CM Sunday Brunch 3Sunday Brunch. Here’s a big bunch of the week’s best articles at CatholicMom.com. I curate this weekly feature.