December’s SRBT & Open Book

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup! To which I’m arriving typically late, but what of that?


In the interests of being as efficient with my time as I possibly can, I’m killing two birds with one stone, I link up my video Sabbath Rest Book Talk with Carolyn’s 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

This month’s focus was compassion, and our featured fiction is…

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

Inspirational Romance that brings the reader the joys of Christmas all year long: ORNAMENTAL GRACES by Carolyn Astfalk

Christmas Hope by Leslie Lynch

Sabbath Rest Book Talk for December 2017 with Erin McCole Cupp

The Strangers at the Manger (Chime Travelers #5) by Lisa Hendey


and as-yet-unread shoutout to Unearthing Christmas by Anthea Piscarik

Sabbath Rest Book Talk for December 2017 with Erin McCole Cupp

See the video here or click on the thumbnail below.

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

Are you in? #showusyourlist


“[…E]ven in situations where culture and the Church are far apart, art remains a kind of bridge to religious experience. In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.”  —St. John Paul II, “Letter to Artists”

Here’s a follow-up to Friday’s post, “50 Shades of Me, Angry at Catholics.”  Apparently, that post inspired Barb, Franciscan Mom, to make her own list in her post “Read This Instead:  50 WAY Better Novels.”  Christine at Domestic Vocation made a list of things to do besides enjoy the glorification of sexual assault.  And, it seems, the three of us are not the only ones sick of trash entertainment taking center stage while faithful fun gets ignored—by the faithful themselves.

Are you tired of Catholic media telling you what not to watch or read but not giving any suggestions of what is worth reading?  Have you had it with struggling to find entertainment that doesn’t downright soil your mind, heart and soul?  Do you wish that Catholic media would spend less time complaining about the popular and scandalous and more time celebrating positive entertainment?

Then #showusyourlist. 

Are you in?  Here’s how it works:

  1. Make your list.  Blog a list of at least three works of quality fiction that illustrate truth, beauty and goodness.  These can be books, movies, podcasts, whatever, but they MUST BE ENTERTAINING and they MAY NOT BE NON-FICTION.  Seriously, people, non-fiction already gets plenty of help from Catholic media.
  2. Include some version of the following:  “I challenge anyone who complained about 50 shades of anything to now spend some time and energy promoting entertainment that is true, beautiful and good.”
  3. Also, kindly include a link back to this post just for clarification as to where this whole cockamamie idea originated.  Blame me, people.  And feel free to use the logo at the top of this page.
  4. Pick at least three people who work in Catholic media and find their Twitter handles.  Go for the big names.  Don’t be afraid.  The worst they can do is ignore you.
  5. On Tuesday, February 17, 2015, Mardi Gras, a day originally designed to be a festival of joyful entertainment, Tweet the link to your blog post to those Catholic media folks, using the hashtag #showusyourlist.
  6. Note:  Say that hashtag out loud.  Sounds like something said on Mardi Gras for illicit purposes, doesn’t it?  And that’s the point.  We have the power to turn the bad to God’s service.  It’s high time we did so.

Anyway, this will not work if it’s just me doing this.  One whacko tagging with a lone hashtag will be dismissed, and rightfully so, as just that:  a whacko.  If you want the faithful to have entertainment options, YOPP it up, people! Demand more than complaints over the scandalous!  Promote the celebration of the good, beautiful and true!

My list is back here, but there’s another one here, and you can even get another version by clicking here.

Saint John Paul II, pope and poet, pray for us.


Last week’s free Kindle promotion of Don’t You Forget About Me  was exhausting… but, I believe, productive!


It would have been even more exhausting and far less productive if I hadn’t received the generous help of many, many folks online.  Here is a non-exhaustive list of those people.

If I’ve forgotten you, comment below, remonstrating me for my rude ignorance and including the link to how you helped a writer out.  I’ll gladly make amends.

WWRW: End of the Road and The House

WWRWbuttonHey, Tomato Pie fans!  I’m finally getting my ample fanny in gear and linking up with What We’re Reading Wednesday, hosted by the lovely and talented Jessica at Housewifespice.

I just finished reading End of the Road by Amy M. Bennett.  What a rip-roaring good time that was!  What’s it about?

Corrie Black, owner of the Black Horse Campground, hopes for a successful start to her summer season but the discovery of Marvin Landry, a long-time guest, shot dead in his own RV, along with $50,000 in cash missing, does not herald a good beginning… especially since the victim’s handicapped wife and angry stepson seem to have little interest in discovering who murdered him. Was Marvin’s murder planned or just convenient? And is the appearance of a mysterious biker with a shadowy past that includes a recently deceased wife merely a coincidence? Despite opposition from former flame, Sheriff Rick Sutton, Corrie is determined to find out who murdered her guest. But will she find out who is friend or foe before the murderer decides it’s the end of the road for Corrie?

Want to know what I thought?

It has been a LONG time since I read a book that made me literally laugh out loud! In Amy Bennett’s End of the Road, we have a cast of characters that that manages to be hilariously familiar yet fully dimensional. The plot of this cozy mystery kept me guessing up until the very end, kept me cheering for the heroine and the charming heroes who flanked her, and had me tearing through the fast-paced pages to find out what would happen next. All characters had clear motivations and believable flaws, and I got a clear sense of setting with just a few masterfully placed words, even though I’ve not been to New Mexico since I was a wee kid. With Amy Bennett’s End of the Road, reading is FUN again–lots of it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

All of you who’ve written me and told me that my book left you wanting tomato pie and other assorted Italian food?  End of the Road had me baking blueberry muffins on a Sunday and wanting to try piñon coffee (revenge, it seems, is sweet when it’s literary and food-related).  Guns ‘n’ Hoses.  The WESTLAKES?!?!?!  Hair the color of Kool-Aid.  I’m not exaggerating:  it was LOL funny and EOYS (edge of your seat–that’s a thing, right?) suspenseful.

You want to buy yourself a copy now, don’t you?  I also see that the second book in the series, No Lifeguard on Duty, just came out.  I just may edge some things around on my dance card to read that one next.  EOTR was just that good.

 Another one we’re reading:



The House by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Roberto Innocenti is a Charlotte Mason dream come true.  In this lovely book we watch the rise and fall of the 20th century through the eyes of a house in the Italian countryside.   Lewis’s quatrains both tantalize and humanize the memories of our book learning, but they also give children even as young as my four year old a jumping-off point to ask questions about the century they have yet to meet through study.  The illustrations are rich with nature study, history, anthropology, family life, and much, much more.  Here’s another book I wish Amazon would let me give six stars.  Highly recommended for all ages.

Cyber Monday Book Recommendations

Attention Web-mart shoppers!  Today is commonly called “Cyber Monday,” the sequel to Black Friday.  In other words, people are shopping–today, mostly online.  If you’re looking to get the reader in your life a little sumpin-sumpin, take a look at the following recommendations below.  If they’re helpful, go on over to author Declan Finn’s page, because sharing this kind of list was totally his very brilliant idea.

Forgive me for getting myself out of the way first, but for the mystery lover in your life, there’s always Don’t You Forget About Me.  Then there’s Jane_E, Friendless Orphan:  A Memoir for the science fiction adventurer on your list.

Then for the kiddos I recommend:

  • Dear God, I Don’t Get It by Patti Maguire Armstrong.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • The King’s Gambit by John McNichol.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • The Shubert the Firefly series by Dr. Becky A. Bailey, illustrated by James Hrkach.  My review is here.  Buy the books on Amazon here.
  • Stout Hearts and Whizzing Biscuits:  A Patria Novel by Daniel McInerney.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.

Non-fiction for the grown-ups in your life:

  • Strange Gods by Elizabeth Scalia.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here
  • Fleeting Glimpses of the Silly, Sentimental and Sublime by Michael Seagriff.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • God’s Bucket List by Teresa Tomeo.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Cultivating God’s Garden Through Lent by Margaret Rose Realy.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Race with the Devil by Joseph Pearce.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Classroom Management for Catechists by Jennifer Fitz.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Dog in the Gap by Lisa Delay and Doug Jackson.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.

Last but not least of my personal recs, here’s some fiction, a.k.a. “brain candy”:

  • Death Panels by Michelle Buckman.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Bleeder and Viper by John Desjarlais.  My reviews are here (BleederViper).  Buy the books on Amazon here.  
  • Treason by Dena Hunt.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Ann Margaret Lewis.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Sons of Cain by Val Bianco.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Angela’s Song by AnnMarie Creedon.  Buy the book (and find my review) on Amazon here.  

Now for some other books I’ve not read yet but which are getting heavy buzz on the Catholic Writers Guild Facebook page:

Happy shopping, my Advent-agious peoples!