Recommendations

Sabbath Rest Book Talk/Open Book [July 2018]

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

an-open-book

The aforementioned Carolyn also joins me every month for Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

JULY’S THEME: INTEGRITY

It’s a two-parter this month. Ain’t no technichal challenge we can’t rise above!

Special Guest Liz Lantigua of Good News Book Fairs on Sabbath Rest Book Talk live video book clubSpecial Guest: Liz Lantigua of GOOD NEWS BOOK FAIRS and GOOD NEWS BOOK SHOP

Lizette M. Lantigua is a published author, and writes for young adults. She is also a frequent contributor to the Florida Catholic newspaper and Columbia Magazine. Previously, she worked for Channel 23 Univision, The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald, and Channel 51 Telemundo in South Florida. She is also known for her unique Hispanic themed stationery and social announcement designs under the Lantigua Designs brand created in 2004. Combining her knowledge for retail, journalism experience, and passion to inspire others to read, she created Good News! Book Fair. Its goal is to bring inspiring, fun, and entertaining Christian books, movies, and gifts to students, parents, teachers, and organizations.

Join us this month as we discuss:

Theme: Integrity

Discuss INTEGRITY in THE GRACE CRASHER by Mara Faro on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubThe Grace Crasher by Mara Faro

Armed with a Jesus fish that might be swimming in the wrong direction, Julia must pretend to be “born again” for her Christian housemates—cute EMT Mark and his church-lady mom. Their place is within walking distance (cough, stalking distance) of Dylan, her latest musician crush. Mark knows she’s faking her faith. But he needs someone like her to crash his dull routine. So he protects her secret and brings her to his Evangelical church. Hiding her Catholic past, she bumbles her way through hand-raising worship. Other times she sneaks into Mass. Meanwhile, Mark explains how to be “saved.” (Sure, she needs saving—from her alcoholic dad, her copier-jamming job, and Mark’s suspicious mom.) But does he just want to save her? Or date her? Then Dylan sings her a song at open mic. Suddenly she’s torn between two guys, flubbing her way through three different churches, and completely confused about life. Will it all crash down around her, or will she crash straight into grace?

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Discuss CONSCIENCE in FRECKLES by Gene Stratton Porter on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubFreckles by Gene Stratton Porter

Freckles is a young man who has been raised since infancy in a Chicago orphanage. His one dream is to find a job, a place to belong and people who accept him despite his youth and the disability of having only one hand. He finds this place in the Limberlost Swamp, as Mr. McLean’s Limberlost guard of precious timber.  In the process, he discovers a love for the wilderness and animals he encounters every day on his rounds and a burning desire to learn about all the new birds and plants he sees on his rounds every day. He also finds and falls in love with a girl he calls the “Swamp Angel.” This is the story of his plucky courage in sticking to his job in the swamp, and his adventures in learning about the natural world he finds himself in every day. He is befriended by the “Bird Woman” and with her help learns to love the Limberlost he has been hired to guard.

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Discuss INTEGRITY in 7 RIDDLE TO NOWHERE by Amy Cattapan on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubSeven Riddles to Nowhere by Amy Cattapan

Because of a tragic event that took place when he was five-years-old, seventh grader Kameron Boyd can’t make himself speak to adults when he steps outside his home. Kam’s mom hopes his new school will cure his talking issues, but just as he starts to feel comfortable, financial problems threaten the school’s existence. Then a letter arrives with the opportunity to change everything. Kam learns that he and several others have been selected as potential heirs to a fortune. He just has to solve a series of seven riddles to find the treasure before the other students. If he succeeds, he’ll become heir to a fortune that could save his school. The riddles send Kam on a scavenger hunt through the churches of Chicago. But solving them won’t be easy. With the school’s bully as one of the other potential heirs, Kam and his friends must decipher the hidden meanings in artwork and avoid the mysterious men following them in a quest to not only keep the school open, but keep Kam’s hopes for recovering his voice alive.

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Sign up here to get monthly reminders to tune in to Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Check out the reading list for all of 2018.

For notifications that each month’s SRBT is available for viewing/listening, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Plus, click here to check out our NEW GOODREADS FEATURE!  It’s a list! On Goodreads! Vote for books we’ve already featured and add any books you think we should discuss in the future!

Fiction is Good for you! Watch Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and never feel guilty for reading fiction again!

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Sabbath Rest Book Talk/Open Book [June 2018]

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

an-open-book

The aforementioned Carolyn also joins me every month for Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

JUNE’S THEME: FORTITUDE

Sunday, June 3 at 7pm Eastern

Theme: Fortitude

hcfm_hendey_headshotSpecial Guest: Lisa Hendey, author of CHIME TRAVELERS

Lisa Hendey is the founder of http://www.CatholicMom.com and the author of several books including A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, The Grace of Yes and the Chime Travelers children’s fictions series. Lisa hosts two podcasts and is a frequent radio and television guests. She speaks and writes internationally and resides in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

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Join us this month as we discuss:

Theme: Fortitude

Discuss FORTITUDE in DYING FOR COMPASSION by Barbara Golder on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubDying for Compassion (The Lady Doc Murders Book 2) by Dr. Barbara Golder

GIVEAWAY: COMMENT ON JUNE’S SRBT by June 30 and be entered to win a paperback copy of DYING FOR COMPASSION (North American mailing addresses only)

What happens to a new love when an old one appears to claim first rights to a man and a marriage?  Just as Telluride Medical Examiner Jane Wallace and Irish writer Eoin Conner take their first steps toward romance, Eoin’s beautiful wife Fiona arrives to resume her long-abandoned life with Eoin. When Eoin discovers that Fiona was responsible for the denial of their annulment, he returns to Ireland to find the proof to free him to marry Jane. After Fiona is found dead in her hotel room, Eoin is indicted for her murder.  Unwilling to leave the matter solely in the hands of Irish authorities, Jane goes to Ireland to follow the evidence wherever it leads. She leaves behind a tangle of problems in Telluride, where it is left to her trusted friend Father Matt to unravel the mysteries at home, unaware that they hold the key to Jane’s mystery abroad.

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Discuss FORTITUDE in SHANE by Jack Schaeffer on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubShane by Jack Schaefer

In this true Western classic Jack Schaefer tells the story of a mysterious stranger who finds himself in the Wyoming Territory joining local homesteaders in their fight to keep their land and avoid the intimidating tactics of cattle driver Luke Fletcher. While trying to leave his gunslinging days behind him, the mysterious stranger, Shane, is tested by Fletcher and his men. In Shane, Schaefer executes a perfect Western narrative while exploring the overarching themes of virtue, the human condition, and a man’s search for self.

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Discuss FORTITUDE in THE SISTERS OF THE LAST STRAW by Karen Kelly Boyce on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubSisters of the Last Straw 1: The Case of the Haunted Chapel by Karen Kelly Boyce

GIVEAWAY: COMMENT ON JUNE’S SRBT by June 30 and be entered to win a paperback copy of SISTERS OF THE LAST STRAW #1 (US mailing addresses only)

The Sisters of the Last Straw and the Case of the Haunted Chapel is the first in a series of children’s books that convey the fun-filled story of a group of misfit nuns. These sisters and their madcap adventures teach the importance of tolerance and forgiveness. Each book focuses on the virtues of Gospel living and the frailties of human nature. While children delight in the humor and fast-paced exploits of this special group of nuns, they learn the need to be forgiving of the faults of others and to look for the good in all people. Children are enchanted and entertained with the humorous escapades of the characters while learning the importance of basic Christian values, growth, and love.A1PlaceHolder

Sign up here to get monthly reminders to tune in to Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Check out the reading list for all of 2018.

For notifications that each month’s SRBT is available for viewing/listening, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Plus, click here to check out our NEW GOODREADS FEATURE!  It’s a list! On Goodreads! Vote for books we’ve already featured and add any books you think we should discuss in the future!

Fiction is Good for you! Watch Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and never feel guilty for reading fiction again!

Sabbath Rest Book Talk/Open Book [May 2018]

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

an-open-book

The aforementioned Carolyn also joins me and Rebecca Willen every month for Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

MAY’S THEME: CONSCIENCE

Sunday, May 6 at 7pm Eastern

Theme: Conscience

Discuss CONSCIENCE with Allison Gingras of Reconciled  to You on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubSpecial Guest: Allison Gingras of Reconciled to You

Allison Gingras is a Catholic blogger, author, social media evangelist, retreat leader, inspirational speaker and podcaster with a unique, practical, and humorous way of sharing a life with Christ!

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Join us this month as we discuss:

Discuss CONSCIENCE in A SUBTLE GRACE by Ellen Gable on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubA Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

FINALIST: 2015 IAN Book of the Year, Historical and Romance  1896, Philadelphia. In this stand alone sequel to “In Name Only” (2009, FQP), “A Subtle Grace” continues the story of the wealthy and unconventional O’Donovan Family as they approach the dawn of a new century. At 19, Kathleen (oldest daughter) is unmarried with no prospects. Fearing the lonely fate of an old maid, her impatience leads to an infatuation with the first man who shows interest. The suave, handsome son of the local police chief seems a perfect match. But will her impulsive manner prevent her from recognizing her true love? A disturbing turn of events brings a dark shadow that threatens the life-long happiness she desires.

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Discuss CONSCIENCE in TOM SAWYER on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubTom Sawyer by Mark Twain

This coming-of-age story captures a vanished world of outdoor action and introduces Mark Twain’s two most enduring literary characters, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. In a novel that Twain termed a “hymn to boyhood,” Tom and Huck fish and swim in the Mississippi River, search for buried treasure, and hide in a haunted house. Tom Sawyer falls for pretty Becky Thatcher, tricks his pals into painting a fence for him, and stages an elaborate prank on the schoolmaster. Around the edges of this idyllic boy-life, however, loom dangerous events in the fictional village of St. Petersburg: Tom and Huck witness a midnight murder in a graveyard, the killer escapes from the courtroom while Tom is testifying, Tom and Becky become lost in a labyrinthine cave, and two sinister villains plot robbery and revenge against a wealthy widow.

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Discuss CONSCIENCE in Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubPinocchio by Carlo Collodi

Pinocchio, in Carlo Collodi’s original version, is an adventure-filled, menacing fairy tale with a moral. Made by the woodcarver Geppetto, the puppet Pinocchio dreams of becoming a real child. But his unrestrained curiosity, dishonesty, and selfishness put him in constant peril. As he journeys from the deceptive “Field of Miracles,” where he plants gold coins to make them grow, to the land where lazy boys turn into donkeys, Pinocchio’s path is paved with mistakes, willfulness, and danger. And all the while his nose keeps growing bigger and bigger and bigger every time he tells a fib, so all the world can see what a liar he is . . .
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Check out the reading list for all of 2018.

For notifications that each month’s SRBT is available for viewing/listening, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Plus, click here to check out our NEW GOODREADS FEATURE!  It’s a list! On Goodreads! Vote for books we’ve already featured and add any books you think we should discuss in the future!

Fiction is Good for you! Watch Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and never feel guilty for reading fiction again!

Sabbath Rest Book Talk/Open Book [Apr 2018]

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

an-open-book

The aforementioned Carolyn also joins me and Rebecca Willen every month for Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

APRIL’S THEME: FORGIVENESS

We’ll be pre-recording this month’s episode.  Look for it here starting at 7pmEDT on Sunday, April 8, 2018.

 

Joseph Pearce, author of RACE WITH THE DEVIL, host of EWTN's TOLKIEN'S THE LORD OF THE RINGS - FACES OF FANTASYFeaturing Special Guest Joseph Pearce. A native of England, Joseph Pearce is senior editor at the Augustine Institute; the editor of the St. Austin Review, an international review of Catholic culture; series editor of the Ignatius Critical Edition; and executive director of Catholic Courses.

Joseph has hosted two 13-part television series about Shakespeare on EWTN, and has also written and presented documentaries on EWTN on the Catholicism of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. He has participated and lectured at a wide variety of international and literary events at major colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Europe, Africa and South America. He is also a regular guest on national television and radio programs, and has served as consultant for film documentaries on J.R.R. Tolkien, Francis Thompson and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

 

 

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Discuss FORGIVENESS in THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubThe Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy

The Scarlet Pimpernel narrates the story of a rich English baronet who rescues French aristocrats facing the guillotine. He also taunted his enemies after each rescue by leaving behind a card that has a small flower on it – the scarlet pimpernel. It is a brilliant adventure story set at the time of the French Revolution. The plot is fantastic and rarely lets the readers pause for breath as it oscillates between London society and the dark night in Coastal France.

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Discuss FORGIVENESS in THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubThe Tempest by William Shakespeare

This bewitching play, Shakespeare’s final work, articulates a wealth of the playwright’s mature reflections on life and contains some of his most familiar and oft-quoted lines. The story concerns Miranda, a lovely young maiden, and Prospero, her philosophical old magician father, who dwell on an enchanted island, alone except for their servants — Ariel, an invisible sprite, and Caliban, a monstrous witch’s son. Into their idyllic but isolated lives comes a shipwrecked party that includes the enemies who usurped Prospero’s dukedom years before, and set him and his daughter adrift on the ocean. Also among the castaways is a handsome prince, the first young man Miranda has ever seen. Comedy, romance, and reconciliation ensue, in a masterly drama that begins with a storm at sea and concludes in joyous harmony.

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Discuss FORGIVENESS in KING OF THE SHATTERED GLASS by Susan Joy Bellavance #live #video #bookclubKing of the Shattered Glass by Susan J. Bellavance

Beautifully illustrated in color for young elementary school readers, King of the Shattered Glass is a gentle parable about asking for forgiveness and receiving God’s mercy!

GIVEAWAY! Comment on the video by April 30 and be entered to win your own copy of King of the Shattered Glass! 

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Check out the reading list for all of 2018.

For notifications that each month’s SRBT is available for viewing/listening, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Plus, click here to check out our NEW GOODREADS FEATURE!  It’s a list! On Goodreads! Vote for books we’ve already featured and add any books you think we should discuss in the future!

Fiction is Good for you! Watch Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and never feel guilty for reading fiction again!

Sabbath Rest Book Talk/Open Book [Mar 2018]

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

an-open-book

The aforementioned Carolyn also joins me and Rebecca Willen every month for Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

MARCH’S THEME: HEROISM

Discuss HEROISM with Sr. Maria Grace Datenno of THE GOSPEL TIME TREKKERS SERIES on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubThis month’s episode features special guest Sr. Maria Grace Dateno, FSP, author of The Gospel Time Trekkers Series.

Sister was able to join us for the whole episode!

Joseph Pearce, author of RACE WITH THE DEVIL, host of EWTN's TOLKIEN'S THE LORD OF THE RINGS - FACES OF FANTASY

What’s going on for April? We’ll be hosting special guest Joseph Pearce of EWTN fame, discussing our theme of Forgiveness.  Get next month’s reads here.

A1PlaceHolderSign up here to get monthly reminders to tune in to Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Check out the reading list for all of 2018.

For notifications that each month’s SRBT is available for viewing/listening, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Plus, click here to check out our NEW GOODREADS FEATURE!  It’s a list! On Goodreads! Vote for books we’ve already featured and add any books you think we should discuss in the future!

Fiction is Good for you! Watch Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and never feel guilty for reading fiction again!

An Open Book/Sabbath Rest Book Talk: TRUST [Feb 2018]

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

an-open-book

The aforementioned Carolyn also joins me and Rebecca Willen every month for Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

February’s Theme: TRUST

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Special Guest: Connie Rossini, Trusting God with St. Therese

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Reading Selections

Sabbath Rest Book Talk discusses the human themes in this book. #live #videoAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE  From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

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Sabbath Rest Book Talk discusses the human dimensions of this book. #live #videoStanding Strong: A West Brothers Story by Theresa Linden

COMMENT DURING FEBRUARY’S SRBT FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK (signed paperback to US Mailing Address, ebook to international addresses)

Having just confessed his sins to his priest–more sins than a kid his age should have–Jarret jumps in his Chrysler 300 and races to the outskirts of town. Emotion overwhelming him, he pulls off the road and flings himself face down behind an outcropping of rocks. Ever since that life-changing night in the canyon, Jarret has felt the presence of the Lord in his soul. Now that presence is fading. Is it his fault? How will he remain faithful without it when he still struggles against the same temptations?  ​Meanwhile his twin brother, Keefe, questions whether he has a calling to religious life. He’s gone along with Jarret’s bad schemes for years. Is he worthy of such a calling? What would he have to give up to pursue a vocation? Keefe reads everything he can about St. Francis and the Franciscans, but he’s afraid to talk to his father about the Franciscans’ upcoming discernment retreat because his father seems closed to faith. Is he ready to go all in?  Follow the West brothers in this contemporary teen fiction as they struggle through temptations and trials down paths they can barely see, toward goals they desire in the depths of their hearts.

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Sabbath Rest Book Talk discusses the human themes in this book. #live #videoEaster Bunny’s Amazing Day by Carol Benoist and Cathy Gilmore

Meet the Risen Jesus with an amazing bunny—and his amazing tale—in this beautifully illustrated hardcover children’s book. Children will learn about Jesus’ friendship and comfort through the eyes of a timid bunny rabbit who experiences firsthand the love and joy Jesus brings. Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day is sure to be a family favorite every Easter.

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Sign up here to get monthly reminders to tune in to Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Check out next month’s reading list and the reading list for all of 2018.

For notifications that each month’s SRBT is available for viewing/listening, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Plus, click here to check out our NEW GOODREADS FEATURE!  It’s a list! On Goodreads! Vote for books we’ve already featured and add any books you think we should discuss in the future!

And, now for the video…

What’s your #OpenBook?

Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!

Fiction is Good for you! Watch Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and never feel guilty for reading fiction again!

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: HEROISM [Mar 2018]

Join us for our next SABBATH REST BOOK TALK!Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

Sunday, March 4 @ 7pm Eastern

Theme: Heroism

Discuss HEROISM with Sr. Maria Grace Datenno of THE GOSPEL TIME TREKKERS SERIES on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video #bookclubFeaturing Special Guest Sr. Maria Grace Dateno, FSP, author of The Gospel Time Trekkers Series

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Discuss HEROISM in FULL CYCLE on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #videoFull Cycle  by Christopher Blunt

Full Cycle – winner of Best Inspirational Fiction in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards – tells the story of eleven-year-old Alex Peterson, whose physical disability makes him one of the least-athletic boys in his school. Still, Alex dreams of doing something unimaginable: the 200-mile, one-day Seattle to Portland bicycle ride.

COMMENT LIVE TO WIN YOUR COPY OF FULL CYCLE! (One winner will be selected at random from live commenters during the show;  a signed hard copy to a US mailing address OR eBook to non-US address). 

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Discuss HEROISM in A WRINKLE IN TIME on Sabbath Rest Book Talk #live #video A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

A 2018 major motion picture, in A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle introduced the world to the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe. When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil—a journey that threatens their lives and our universe. A Newbery Award winner, A Wrinkle in Time is an iconic novel that continues to inspire millions of fans around the world.

A1PlaceHolderDiscuss HEROISM in THE CASTLE IN THE ATTIC on Sabbath Rest Book TalkThe Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

Ten-year-old William receives a wooden model of a medieval castle as a gift. It has everything he could possibly want, right down to a miniature drawbridge, a portcullis and a silver knight. In this enthralling story that weaves the everyday problems of growing up with magic and fantasy, the castle introduces William to an adventure involving magic, a ferocious dragon, a wicked wizard, and his own personal quest, where courage will finally triumph over fear.

Sign up here to get monthly reminders to tune in to Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Check out the reading list for all of 2018.

For notifications that each month’s SRBT is available for viewing/listening, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Plus, click here to check out our NEW GOODREADS FEATURE!  It’s a list! On Goodreads! Vote for books we’ve already featured and add any books you think we should discuss in the future!

Fiction is Good for you! Watch Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and never feel guilty for reading fiction again!

Sabbath Rest Book Talk [Feb 2018]

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

an-open-book

The aforementioned Carolyn also joins me and Rebecca Willen every month for Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

Sunday, February 4 @7pm Eastern

Theme: TRUST

ConnieRossiniHeadshot

Special Guest: Connie Rossini, Trusting God with St. Therese

Comment during the show for a chance to win giveaways!

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Sabbath Rest Book Talk discusses the human themes in this book. #live #videoAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

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Sabbath Rest Book Talk discusses the human dimensions of this book. #live #videoStanding Strong: A West Brothers Story by Theresa Linden

COMMENT DURING FEBRUARY’S SRBT FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK (signed paperback to US Mailing Address, ebook to international addresses)

Having just confessed his sins to his priest–more sins than a kid his age should have–Jarret jumps in his Chrysler 300 and races to the outskirts of town. Emotion overwhelming him, he pulls off the road and flings himself face down behind an outcropping of rocks. Ever since that life-changing night in the canyon, Jarret has felt the presence of the Lord in his soul. Now that presence is fading. Is it his fault? How will he remain faithful without it when he still struggles against the same temptations? Meanwhile his twin brother, Keefe, questions whether he has a calling to religious life. He’s gone along with Jarret’s bad schemes for years. Is he worthy of such a calling? What would he have to give up to pursue a vocation? Keefe reads everything he can about St. Francis and the Franciscans, but he’s afraid to talk to his father about the Franciscans’ upcoming discernment retreat because his father seems closed to faith. Is he ready to go all in? Follow the West brothers in this contemporary teen fiction as they struggle through temptations and trials down paths they can barely see, toward goals they desire in the depths of their hearts.

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Sabbath Rest Book Talk discusses the human themes in this book. #live #videoEaster Bunny’s Amazing Day by Carol Benoist and Cathy Gilmore

Meet the Risen Jesus with an amazing bunny—and his amazing tale—in this beautifully illustrated hardcover children’s book. Children will learn about Jesus’ friendship and comfort through the eyes of a timid bunny rabbit who experiences firsthand the love and joy Jesus brings. Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day is sure to be a family favorite every Easter.

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Sign up here to get monthly reminders to tune in to Sabbath Rest Book Talk.

What’s your #OpenBook?

Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: Where Fiction is Good for You! Join us for a monthly video exchange on how fiction makes us more human.

What I’ve Been Reading [Open Book December 2017]

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

an-open-book

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

The aforementioned Carolyn also joins me and Rebecca Willen every month for Sabbath Rest Book Talk, which will return Sunday, February 4, 2018!

Keep an eye out here for the reading selections for next year, and if you want quarterly reminders of what we’re reading, please subscribe to my newsletter.  That free book on Dominican prayer is coming.  I promise.  For notifications that each month’s SRBT is available for viewing/listening, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Plus, click here to check out our NEW GOODREADS FEATURE! It’s a list! On Goodreads! Vote for books we’ve already featured and add any books you think we should discuss in the future!

Okay, finally, all that’s done.  Here’s what I’ve been reading (or hearing).  It’s a lot, so don’t expect lengthy descriptions.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Online Bookseller Blurb:

An Open Book: Book Reviews through December 2017 at Erin McCole Cupp's blogThe Three Musketeers tells the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman, D’Artagnan and his three friends from the regiment of the King’s Musketeers – Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honour of the regiment against the guards of Cardinal Richelieu, and the honour of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of seventeenth century France are vividly played out in the background. But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal’s spy, Milady, one of literature’s most memorable female villains, and Dumas employs all his fast-paced narrative skills to bring this enthralling novel to a breathtakingly gripping and dramatic conclusion.

Got this from the library as a summer road trip listen. Loved it.  Humor.  Adventure. Romance.  Tragedy.  Justice.  What’s not to love? Warning: our heroes are not exactly saints. Everybody’s got a mistress. Revenge sullies justice.  And so and so.  4.5/5

Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition, translated by Seamus Heaney

Online Bookseller Blurb:

An Open Book: Book Reviews through December 2017 at Erin McCole Cupp's blogComposed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf ?is the elegiac narrative of the Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel’s mother. Drawn to what he has called the “four-squareness of the utterance” in ?Beowulf ?and its immense emotional credibility Seamus Heaney gives the great epic convincing reality

But how to visualize the poet’s story has always been a challenge for modern-day readers. In Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition, John D. Niles, a specialist in Old English literature, provides visual counterparts to Heaney’s remarkable translation. More than one hundred full-page illustrations―Viking warships, chain mail, lyres, spearheads, even a reconstruction of the Great Hall―make visible Beowulf’s world and the elemental themes of his story: death, divine power, horror, heroism, disgrace, devotion, and fame. This mysterious world is now transformed into one of material splendor as readers view its elegant goblets, dragon images, and finely crafted gold jewelry against the backdrop of the Danish landscape of its origins.

Our homeschool is doing Story of Civilization, Volume 2: The Medieval World this year, so for literary study, I’m keeping us in that era.  Because I was a lazy teen, I could have taken AP English but opted instead for Track 1, so I wouldn’t have to read stuff like Beowulf.  Well, Teen Erin, that was a stupid choice.  Middle Aged Erin is love, love, loving Beowulf.  This illustrated edition is especially delightful; it’s like an archaeology magazine with a freaky storybook inside. Let it be known, however, that I’m the weird sort who prefers the Silmarilion to The Lord of the Rings, so take my feedback in that context.

What’s more is my 7 year-old struggling reader is digging Beowulf, too.  We got the audiobook out of the library (a little gruesome, of course, but she survived), we did the Rosemary Sutcliff version for readaloud, and she took this graphic novel out of the library at least two times and read it independently.  5/5.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, narrated by Stephen Crossly

Online Bookseller Blurb:

An Open Book: Book Reviews through December 2017 at Erin McCole Cupp's blogBy 1792, the idealism of the French Revolution has degenerated into a Reign of Terror. Ruthless mobs rule the streets of Paris, and each day, hundreds of royalists are sacrificed to the guillotine, with hundreds more condemned to follow. Their only hope lies in rescue by the Scarlet Pimpernel, the daring leader of an English faction that spirits aristocrats across the Channel to safety. This historical adventure tale first appeared in 1905, but its irresistible blend of romance, intrigue, and suspense renders it timeless. Readers thrill to the gallantry of the Pimpernel, whose nom de guerre derives from the wildflower he employs as a calling card. A scourge to the French authorities, the Pimpernel is the darling of the people — particularly Marguerite Blakeney, who scorns her foppish husband, Sir Percy, as ardently as she admires the Pimpernel. The basis of a classic film, this ever-popular story has recently been adapted as a musical, to the delight of Broadway audiences.

We’ll be reading this one for SRBT next year, so I wanted to get a jump on it.  I am so glad I did. Listen to November’s SRBT and you’ll find out why Marguerite SanJust and her adventure to save her beloved Scarlet Pimpernel were the reason we had to postpone that ‘cast for a week and why I had to spend 20 minutes pushing a grocery cart around a dark parking lot in the pouring rain.  If Amazon/Goodreads had a 6th star, TSP would get it.  6/5

Julia’s Gifts by Ellen Gable

Online Bookseller Blurb:

Julia's Gifts by Ellen Gable (WWI Clean Romance--Great War, Great Love)As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her “beloved.” Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Disheartened by the realities of war, will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? Will Julia’s naïve ‘gift scheme’ distract her from recognizing her true “Great Love?” From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.

WWI has the best fashions.  Right, not the noblest though I could’ve voiced about The Great War.  Anyway, Ellen Gable has a new series of sweet romances set in this era, and Julia’s Gifts is the first.  If you’re looking for a clean read with a darling, heartlifting ending, this would be for you.  Look for more installments in this series coming through, each a standalone but of the same period and flavor of romance.  I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.  4/5

The Grace Crasher by Mara Faro

Online Bookseller Blurb:

An Open Book: Book Reviews through December 2017 at Erin McCole Cupp's blogArmed with a floral-print Bible cover, Julia must pretend to be “born again” for her Christian housemates–cute EMT Mark and his church-lady mom. Their place is walking distance (cough, stalking distance) from Dylan, her latest musician crush.
Mark knows she’s faking her faith. But he needs someone like her to crash his dull routine. So he protects her secret and brings her to his Evangelical church. Hiding her Catholic past, she bumbles her way through hand-raising worship. Other times she sneaks into Mass. Meanwhile, Mark explains how to be “saved.” (Sure, she needs saving–from her alcoholic dad, her copier-jamming job, and Mark’s suspicious mom.) But does he just want to save her? Or date her?
Then Dylan sings her a song at open mic. Suddenly she’s torn between two guys, flubbing her way through three different churches, and completely confused about life. Will it all crash down around her, or will she crash straight into grace?

Would you like to pick up what looks like a big bag of pink cotton candy only to have that fluffy confection plunge a knife into your heart and twist it around multiple times, leaving you wrung out on all the best, deepest, most bittersweet emotions? If you’re anything like me, then your answer is, “Yes!” In that case, The Grace Crasher will be your kind of novel. In this debut, Faro delivers unexpected depth and heartrending drama. Julia’s path is a relatable one, and in her flaws and the flaws of the characters around her, we see ourselves and our own brokenness with delightful clarity. This is at its heart a story of the lies we tell ourselves and each other–and of the Truth that pursues us in spite of it all. I’m a believer in The Grace Crasher! 6/5

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Online Bookseller Blurb:

An Open Book: Book Reviews through December 2017 at Erin McCole Cupp's blogIt’s the year 2045, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

A rip-roaring adventure that reminded me of plowing through Snow Crash and Neuromancer while riding the train to work back-in-the-day and getting ticked off when the train had to pull into the station and I had to stop reading.  To call this one a page turner would be a gross understatement.  Be warned: this book is not for the reader without a well-formed conscience; there’s a bit too much secular preaching for my taste, not the least being the main character’s treatise on how much technological progress must needs rely on the rich value of masturbation.  But if you already know that our bodies mean something–which, funny enough, is what Ready Player One starts showing and proving on its very last page, for those who have eyes to see–you’ll be okay with this book.  I got my copy from the library (which made the world’s best librarian ask, “You haven’t read this yet?!?!”) 4.5/5

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Online Bookseller Blurb:

An Open Book: Book Reviews through December 2017 at Erin McCole Cupp's blogIn DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.
A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories-from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air-and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. DEEP WORK is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

A convincing manual for why and how you should reduce distractions in your life (ahem, social media addiction) in order to pursue a more peaceful, fruitful, productive life.  I borrowed a copy from the library and then asked for (and received) a copy for my birthday, I loved it that much and know I’ll need to return to it regularly. 5/5

Caveats:

  • The testimonies and lives are overwhelmingly those of men or, infrequently, of women who are not working from home with the children (and their incessant interruptions) present, awake, and in need of tending through the majority of the day.  Those of us who are in the Deep [House]Work category will need to take his suggestions and modify them to be reasonable for our current state in life.
  • While Newport does bring in psychology and even some very even-handed, secular-friendly spirituality (including a mention of The Intellectual Life by Fr. Sertillanges, OP), the perspective is slanted towards making your life more productive in a secular sense.  Proceed accordingly.  Don’t turn this into a bible for the worship of Productivity.

The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher

From Online Bookseller’s Blurb:

Benedict Option…Rod Dreher argues that the way forward is actu­ally the way back—all the way to St. Benedict of Nur­sia. This sixth-century monk, horrified by the moral chaos following Rome’s fall, retreated to the forest and created a new way of life for Christians. He built enduring communities based on principles of order, hospitality, stability, and prayer. His spiritual centers of hope were strongholds of light throughout the Dark Ages, and saved not just Christianity but Western civilization.

Today, a new form of barbarism reigns. Many believers are blind to it, and their churches are too weak to resist. Politics offers little help in this spiritual crisis. What is needed is the Benedict Option, a strategy that draws on the authority of Scripture and the wisdom of the ancient church. The goal: to embrace exile from mainstream culture and construct a resilient counterculture.

The Benedict Option is both manifesto and rallying cry for Christians who, if they are not to be conquered, must learn how to fight on culture war battlefields like none the West has seen for fifteen hundred years. It’s for all mere Chris­tians—Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox—who can read the signs of the times. Neither false optimism nor fatalistic despair will do. Only faith, hope, and love, embodied in a renewed church, can sustain believers in the dark age that has overtaken us. These are the days for building strong arks for the long journey across a sea of night.

Yes, the widely celebrated instruction manual on how to build an ark for you and your children to face the coming tsunami that will wipe out Christian culture in the so-called West.  Yes, the tsunami is coming, but this manual will build you an ark full of holes.  What do you actually do with your children once you’ve holed them in up in your small, rural manufacturing community where prices are low and somehow magically going to stay that way?  Benedict Option claims to take the long view, but it rings more like a short-to-mid-range view that has called upon limited resources: can we learn nothing from our African and Asian siblings in the faith who’ve maintained their churches in the face of far deeper persecution than we’ve faced of late?  There’s gotta be a better way.  I borrowed this book from the library.  3/5

Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

Online Bookseller Blurb:

FunnyInFarsiFunny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas’s wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches on Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas, and later lost his job during the Iranian revolution; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (nor cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an army of miraculous American weight-loss gadgets; and Firoozeh herself, who as a girl changed her name to Julie, and who encountered a second wave of culture shock when she met and married a Frenchman, becoming part of a one-couple melting pot.

In a series of deftly drawn scenes, we watch the family grapple with American English (hot dogs and hush puppies?—a complete mystery), American traditions (Thanksgiving turkey?—an even greater mystery, since it tastes like nothing), and American culture (Firoozeh’s parents laugh uproariously at Bob Hope on television, although they don’t get the jokes even when she translates them into Farsi).

Above all, this is an unforgettable story of identity, discovery, and the power of family love. It is a book that will leave us all laughing—without an accent.

A memoir made up of a series of essays on growing up in America as an Iranian immigrant.  Full of giggles and tender sentiment by turns.  Balances a wry eye with a compassionate view–always the best kind of balance, if you ask me.  I’d feel comfortable letting junior highers and up read this.  Borrowed from the library.  5/5

Finding Patience: The Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity by Virginia Lieto

Online Bookseller Blurb:

An Open Book: Book Reviews through December 2017 at Erin McCole Cupp's blogFor children, waiting for anything seems endless! Faith Livingstone would agree, having just moved to a new town and about to enter a new school. Faith wants so badly to make new friends. She wants to feel like she belongs in her new surroundings. It all can’t happen fast enough for Faith! Journey with Faith as she struggles to make new friends; yet, learns the value of the virtue of patience in the process.

Sweet little story book for the child in your life who may be facing a new situation and having to make new friends…and learning patience in the process.  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  4/5

Cinder Alia by Karen Ullo

Online Bookseller Blurb:

CINDER ALLIA by Karen Ullo: Cinder Allia has spent eight years living under her stepmother’s brutal thumb, wrongly punished for having caused her mother’s death. She lives for the day when the prince will grant her justice; but her fairy godmother shatters her hope with the news that the prince has died in battle...Cinder Allia has spent eight years living under her stepmother’s brutal thumb, wrongly punished for having caused her mother’s death. She lives for the day when the prince will grant her justice; but her fairy godmother shatters her hope with the news that the prince has died in battle. Allia escapes in search of her own happy ending, but her journey draws her into the turbulent waters of war and politics in a kingdom where the prince’s death has left chaos and division.

Cinder Allia turns a traditional fairy tale upside down and weaves it into an epic filled with espionage, treason, magic, and romance. What happens when the damsel in distress must save not only herself, but her kingdom? What price is she willing to pay for justice? And can a woman who has lost her prince ever find true love?

Surrounded by a cast that includes gallant knights, turncoat revolutionaries, a crippled prince who lives in hiding, a priest who is also a spy, and the man whose love Allia longs for most—her father—Cinder Allia is an unforgettable story about hope, courage, and the healing power of pain.

The fairy tale retold in a way you’ve never imagined, with more medieval zombies than fairy dust, more angst than froth. Nonstop action, rich detail, twists and turns to keep you guessing up until the very end.  Highly recommended.  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  5/5

 

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