Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post.  Click here to sign up.

We've started a Question of the Week portion of this link-up and this week's question is:  Share a family sacramental memory--the cute thing the kid said, the cake at the party, your in your wedding dress, the family gathered around the baby--anything is fair game as long as it at least sort of involved a sacrament

My Dad and Me 1989
The veil was my Mom's (1958)

What did I write about this week?  I reviewed a book about women today and two Christmas romances:  Call Me Mrs. Miracle, A Seaside Christmas .  I also read a book of marital advice dressed up like a novel.    Finally, I participated in Seven Quick Takes.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Seven Quick Takes

My dad had "minor" surgery last week.  Unfortunately, it knocked him for a loop and now he is in rehab to rebuild his strength.  At this point I'm not sure what the results of the surgery mean, but what I do know is that he is 84, has congestive heart failure and that the condition they did the surgery for is one that could kill him one day.  In short, I am more and more reminded of his mortality daily.  My nine year old asked me if he was going to die, and I told her we never know, but chances were her Grandpa wasn't going to live a whole lot longer.  She complained that he is the only grandparent she as left.  Here he is with the grandkids last Christmas.
As I've been enjoying the pleasures of doing homework with my daughter, I've been following the debate about Common Core.  I don't see anything wrong, in general, with the standards.  I don't like the data gathering and all the money for computers for testing.  However, I had to raise my eyebrows at some of the math problems she has had.  For example, can anyone tell me why in the world anyone would solve the problem 9X7 by saying 5x7 + 4x7= 35+28=63
Speaking of homework, how much is normal?  I'm getting so sick of having my evenings consumed by it, and it isn't even October yet.
I reviewed an interesting book about women into today's world.  I know the 7QT group is more SAHMs than working moms but I'd be interested to know what folks think.
Our Catholic school is looking for fundraisers.  Does your school do anything that makes a lot of money for a little work, or more importantly as far as I'm concerned, gets a lot of outside money?  Have your kids ever gone someplace that didn't see stuff or have fundraisers other than stating a need and asking for donations?
I'm running out of things to say, and out of time before work.
God bless all of you and thanks for stopping by.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Book Blogger Hop

Question of the week:  What memes do you follow on a weekly basis?
I consider myself to be a Catholic Book Blogger so I do memes aimed at Book Bloggers and those aimed at Catholic Bloggers.

I usually do Mailbox Monday and/or It's Monday, What Are You Reading, which are book blogger memes.  I do Book Blogger Hop (obviously).

On the Catholic side, I've started doing Seven Quick Takes on Fridays and on Sundays I host Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  I also participate in a monthly Catholic link-up, New Evangelists Monthly.  

Check out the host post at Coffee Addicted Writer to see what other folks have to say.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: The XX Factor

About the Book:
The gender gap is closing. Today, for the first time in history, tens of millions of women are spending more time at the boardroom table than the kitchen table. These professional women are highly ambitious and highly educated, enjoying the same lifestyle prerogatives as their male counterparts. They are working longer and marrying later—if they marry at all. They are heading Fortune 500 companies and appearing on the covers of Forbes and Businessweek. They represent a special type of working woman—the kind who doesn’t just punch a clock for a paycheck, but derives self-worth and pleasure from wielding professional power.

At the same time that the gender gap is narrowing, the gulf is widening among women themselves. While blockbuster books such as Lean In focus only on women in high pressure jobs, in reality there are four women in traditionally female roles for every Sheryl Sandberg. In this revealing and deeply intelligent book, Alison Wolf examines why more educated women work longer hours, why having children early is a good idea, and how feminism created a less equal world. Her ideas are sure to provoke and surprise, as she challenges much of what the liberal and conservative media consider to be women’s best interests.

My Comments:
I haven't finished this book, and I probably won't; however it is a book with some interesting ideas that I think bear discussion.  In short, Alison Wolf postulates that today's young professional women, those at the top of their fields, have more in common with their male counterparts than they do with their sisters who are in more traditionally female roles.  These top women, she says, earn the same as men, work as much as men,  marry late, if at all, and have pretty much the same  type of sex life as their male counterparts.

I don't know how high up the food chain Ms. Wolf goes to put women in the "high" category.  She speaks of college graduates, but most women I know and know of, even if college graduates, have made career decisions that include making more time for children--and they've paid a career price for it.  Ms. Wolf says that lower income women move in and out of the workforce, taking time off to raise children, working jobs picked for flexibility or otherwise acting differently than men do vis-a-vis work, whereas the high-prestige, high-education women do not.  I have to ask whether these women of whom she speaks got where they are because they are different than other women, or whether they are different because of where they are.  In other words, if you look at a bunch of 18 year old college freshman (so you've already eliminated many of the less intelligent, less educated, less motivated women) and follow them, are you going to find today's women so different from those of twenty years ago?  Everything else I've read (and my personal experience) is that most women with kids want to spend time with them; they don't want jobs that require significant travel, or long hours.  If they can afford it, many want extended time away from work when their kids are young, or they want to work part-time.  While stay at home dads may be more common now than they once were, they still aren't common.  Yes, today's young women are marrying later than my generation, and no, I don't know any lawyers who are single moms, but I know of many female lawyers, both my age and those who are having babies now, who have cut back after becoming moms--and who have paid an economic price for that choice.

In short, an interesting but somewhat long book, and one with which I do not agree.  Grade:  B

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Call Me Mrs. Miracle

About the Book:
This Christmas, Emily Merkle (just call her Mrs. Miracle) is working in the toy department of Finley's, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than Jake Finley, the owner's son. 

For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family gatherings were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means only one thing to him—and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat. 

Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly's widowed brother is in the army and won't be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley's, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to pay for it… 

Fortunately, it's Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others—and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking! 

This Christmas will be different. For all of them. 

My Comments:
For those familiar with the sub-genre, all I have to say is that this is a typical Debbie Macomber Christmas story.  For those not familiar with that particular sub-genre, let me just say, think of syrup--it is sweet and fine in small doses but who really wants to drink a bottle of it?  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Seaside Christmas: My Review

About the Book:
As the only child of a single mom, Jenny Collins wanted nothing more than to be part of a large, rambunctious family like the O'Briens. Ironically, though, when her mother married into that family, Jenny found herself feeling more like an outsider than ever. 

Now, after years in Nashville as an established songwriter, Jenny's drawn back to Chesapeake Shores to collaborate on a Christmas production…and to make peace with the past. As if that's not challenging enough, Caleb Green, the singer who broke her heart, has followed her to town, determined to win her back. 

With the help of a little O'Brien holiday magic, will Jenny and Caleb find a way to make sweet music forever?  

My Comments:
Maybe I'm just O'Briened out but I didn't particularly enjoy this book.  I didn't like Jenny at all.  She was a teen or young adult when her mom married a nice guy and she got her nose out of joint about it, especially when her mom got pregnant.  She hasn't been home in four years, she's never met her half brother who worships the ground she walks on and she avoids her mother.  Yes, it all works out in the end (come on, it's a Christmas romance, you didn't expect anything else did you?) but as far as I'm concerned Jenny never really redeemed herself.

Caleb on the other hand...He had lived the life country singers sing about.  He drank, lost his job, lost his girl, went to rehab and now he wants her back. Yes, he makes mistakes but he loves her and acts like it.  

The other O'Briens are all there and we see that the newest generation is growing and we hear bits and pieces of folks backstory but none of it means much if you haven't read the other books.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  C+

Review: The Promise

About the Book:
For the last five months, Tom Anderson has been without a job, a fact he's been hiding from his wife Jean--and everyone else. He leaves each morning, pretending nothing has changed, and spends his disheartening day rotating through two coffee shops and the library, using their wi-fi to search for a job on the internet. The stress of keeping this secret is beginning to put serious strain on his marriage and it looks like the legacy that began with his father is still at work, slowly destroying the bond between Tom and Jean. Can their mutual trust--and love--be restored?

Combining the literary talents of Dan Walsh and the relationship expertise of Gary Smalley, The Restoration Series pulls back the curtain of a family that has laid their foundation on shifting sand, but is slowly rediscovering genuine love and the power of forgiveness.

My Comments:
In this book readers get to see the contrast in two marriage (actually more than that); Tom and Jean are a young couple with kids; Jim and Marilyn are his parents.  While Tom and Jean are both keeping big secrets from each other, Jim and Marilyn are enjoying a second honeymoon, not only on vacation but in life in general.  Evidently they went through marital problems in the first book in the series and are now at the happiest, most loving, most wonderful part of their marriage ever.  They keep mentioning the things they learned in counselling and how they've put it to work in their marriage; which of course is a contrast to the troubled marriage of Tom and Jean.  Personally, I found it a bit too didactic and in-your-face, but the characters were sympathetic at times, though I really wanted to tell Tom and Jean to talk to and trust their spouses.  

I'd like to thank Revell for sending me a review copy.  I'd like to apologize for not getting it done on time.  Grade:  B-.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post.  Click here to sign up.

We've started a Question of the Week portion of this link-up and this week's question is:  Tell us what you like best about your parish.  My Answer?  At this point, I'd say my history with it--my parish is where I married my husband and baptized my babies.  It is where my kids made their First Communion and where two have been confirmed.  It is home.  

What did I write about this week?  Well, I reviewed a few romance novels and I wrote about what Pope Francis had to say this week.  How about you?

Pope Francis: Is He Going To Give Us Whiplash?

File:Pope Francis in March 2013.jpg

Well, Pope Francis certainly got everyone's attention this week.  First, he said 

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."  
Then, what does he say the next day?
“Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world,” 
and the press called this "an olive branch" to conservative Catholics.

So, what do I think the Pope is calling us to do?  Well, this is just my opinion, and I don't have a direct line to discuss it with him (though, Your Holiness, if you are reading this, feel free to clarify in the comment box), but I think he is saying there is more to being Catholic than refraining from abortion, birth control and homosexual activity.  Here is part of the interview that has gotten less airtime:

“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up.
“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds
I don't read anything there saying that the Church is going to change its rules about the unholy trinity of abortion, contraception and illicit sexual activity.  What I do read is an attitude of meeting each person where she or he is, and striving to help that person grow, not be ignoring the reality of his or her sin (whether one of the aforementioned or another) but loving the person for who she or he is and helping remove the barriers to a fuller life in Christ. 

When Jesus described the final judgment, the condemned weren't told "I wanted more babies in church and you killed yours, I wanted bigger families and  you used birth control, I wanted strong marriages and you fornicated".  Those sent off to eternal torment were sent, not for what they did, but for what they failed to do.  It is easy to look at my life and say "I've never had an abortion, I'm faithful to my husband and I don't use birth control, I must be ok."  I think the Pope is calling us to go beyond that, to care for each other.
“The image of the church I like is that of the holy, faithful people of God. This is the definition I often use, and then there is that image from the Second Vatican Council’s ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’ (No. 12). Belonging to a people has a strong theological value. In the history of salvation, God has saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships.
“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. And the church is Mother; the church is fruitful. It must be. You see, when I perceive negative behavior in ministers of the church or in consecrated men or women, the first thing that comes to mind is: ‘Here’s an unfruitful bachelor’ or ‘Here’s a spinster.’ They are neither fathers nor mothers, in the sense that they have not been able to give spiritual life. Instead, for example, when I read the life of the Salesian missionaries who went to Patagonia, I read a story of the fullness of life, of fruitfulness.
The thing about bearing fruit is that it is something the plant, in this case us, works at all growing season and once it is accomplished this year, it is time to start working on next year.  It's not like checking the box saying "I don't ____"; we have to keep on doing.  That's tough.  

For the complete text of the interview, See America 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: Butterfly Cove

About the Book:
Girl's gone bad…for the town's new golden boy 

Maybe opposites don't always attract. If they did, architect Olivia Sullivan would have run away with bad boy Rafe Russo when they were teenagers. Instead, Olivia has spent ten years dreaming up designs for a life that hasn't gone the way she planned. Still reeling from her career's implosion and her father's death, Olivia thanks her lucky stars for the support of her three lifelong friends. But this good girl is through sitting on the sidelines. When Rafe returns to the beautiful Oregon coast where they grew up, her former flame ignites a new desire. Now Olivia must take a walk on the wild side to show the new deputy that in matters of love…being bad can feel very good. 

Freshly back from Afghanistan, rugged ex-Marine and new deputy Rafe is done breaking laws and hearts. He's always regretted leaving Olivia behind, but now she's after adventure and he'd better proceed with caution. Because wanting her again might be easy, but fighting for a future together will be his biggest risk yet.

My Comments:
I stayed up late last night reading this through in one evening/night, so it definitely kept me engaged.  However, in the end, it fell flat.  I liked both Olivia and Rafe.  Olivia has always tried to make everyone happy, especially her emotionally distant father.  Of course that hasn't made her happy, but rather has given her anxiety attacks.  Rafe grew up on the wrong side of town but fell in love with the mayor's daughter.  Then suddenly one day he was gone, and she never heard from him again.  Now they are both back in town.  Now they both finally know what separated them.  Guess what it was?  Not that I read romance novels for original plot lines but...

The book includes a bit of mystery. Olivia's father has always been relatively well-off.  Now, it seems his money has all disappeared.  One night the power is cut to the house and mysterious noises are heard.  Something strange is found.  What does it all mean?  It's like there was this build-up and then just deflates--that's the answer to the mystery?

There are a couple of steamy scenes though they are as flowery as descriptive.

If you are a fan of the other Summer Island Books:  The Accidental Bride, A Home by the Sea and The Knitting Diaries (links are to my reviews)  you'll enjoy catching up with old friends.  Otherwise, I'd pass on this one.  Grade C+

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  

Book Blogger Hop

Question of the week:  What is your favorite genre? List two of your favorite books in that genre.  

That's a tough question.  If you look at what I read the most of, you'd say that romance is clearly my favorite genre.  However, if you look at the books I rate highly, you'd say that women's fiction is.  I read far too many books to say which are my favorite; however, recent books classified as women's fiction that I've really enjoyed are Looking for Me (my review) and Between Luck and Trust (my review).

Check out the host post at Coffee Addicted Writer to see what other folks have to say.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Merry Christmas, Cowboy: My Review

About the Book:
On the Denver streets, Officer Paula Lewis is as tough as she needs to be. But away from skyscrapers and suspects, Paula gives back to the community she loves. This holiday season she's moonlighting at the Christmas House, a turn-of-the-century mansion transformed into a festive wonderland to delight local children thanks to volunteers like Paula - and Zach Bennett. Zach left his family's Colorado ranch to sign on as a carpenter at the Christmas House. Freewheeling Zach hopes to make this holiday the merriest yet-from coaxing Paula onto the bunny slopes to filling in as a last-minute Santa. And as she and Zach are drawn together to keep one young boy out of harm's way, Paula realizes that the best gifts are second chances, happy endings, and the kind of love that makes every day warm and bright...

My Comments:
This is a feel-good Christmas romance that, as far as I can remember, had nothing to do with riding a horse in the snow while carrying a Christmas tree.  I've felt a lot more like reading lately than like writing reviews, so I may have forgotten something, but if memory serves me, the preferred method of transport in this book was a truck and the setting was in the city of Denver.  Also, if memory serves, there were a couple of scenes with passionate kissing but no intercourse.  It was the typical Christmas romance--set during the holidays, sweet and not only did the couple end up together, they managed to do a good deed along the way.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kindle Freebie Review: Homecoming: A Wisconsin Reunion Romance

About the Book:
Cory Wells-Richards left her cheating husband behind and headed straight back to tiny Faythe, Wisconsin, eager to create a future for herself. First order of business, keep her promise to a dear friend and finish the renovation on the Victorian for dearly departed Tillie and find homes for her nine cats. How tough could that be? But when Tille's great-nephew shows up to help, it's all she can do not to fall right back into his arms. She's been down that heartbreak road with him before, and coming off her recent divorce she's determined to guard her heart, no matter how sexy he looks with a hammer in his hand and his shirt off.

Jake is caught between a rock and a hard place. Well, between his party-hearty, successful big city life in Chicago and the sleepy hometown he was glad to see in his rear-view mirror at the tender age of 18. He plans to fulfill his promise to Tillie and help restore her house to get it ready to sell, then return to his comfortable life in Chicago. But how is he supposed to get any work done with pretty little Cory around doing her best to drive him crazy? Being in Faythe rekindles all those long forgotten memories, some bad and some good--including his desire for Cory, the one girl he couldn't have.

As the sexual tension between Cory and Jake heightens and their emotional connection strengthens, will they let down their barriers long enough to find true love, or will the pain of the past keep them apart forever?

Published by Grantitude Press, where 10% of the author's royalties are given to a designated charity for each ebook. For HOMECOMING, the charity is FreeKibbleKat.

My Comments:
I download far more Kindle freebies than you see reviewed here.  Most are worth what I paid for them.  Those that are worth more are often backlist books from authors about to release a new book.  This book is an exception to those rules.  It is an ebook only by an indie author and it really is a good read.  I don't read with a red pen but while many Kindle freebies make me want one, this one did not.  In short, I could easily see this book being published by a print publisher.

It is a romance novel, and like many romance novels, the premise is a little unbelievable.  Aunt Tillie left the house to both Cory and Jake, but with the proviso that they live in it together for three months and fix it  up for sale. Want to guess what happens?  Turns out they were high school sweethearts.  Turns out that each still sort of carries a flame for the other.  Turns out that what separated them wasn't quite what they thought it was.  Turns out that...  

There is one very steamy scene but other than that, the physical references are more flowery than anatomic.  
Grade:  B- which is about the best I give these short romances.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post.  Click here to sign up.

We have started a question of the week feature.  I'm hoping this week's question will give us a few new blogs to read.  Name and link to two Catholic blogs you really enjoy. If the bloggers don't participate in Sunday Snippets, invite them to join us! 

 I'm going to link to one Sunday Snippets regular and one that isn't.  I really enjoy reading about Kathleen Basi's family and something about her writing style just clicks with me.  I don't mean that as a criticism of anyone else out there; only that there are a lot of mommy blogs and despite the fact that I have a nine year old, I really feel past most of that in my life.  Somehow though, she manages to hold my interest.  Another Catholic blog I really like is one you'll see in my sidebar: Kitchen Table Chats with a Domestic Matriarch.  Denise  blogs about her family but also about medical and religious ethics but manages to do so without sounding like a philosophy professor.  

Now, for my snippets this week:  I reviewed The 50 Fridays Marriage Challenge which is a discussion book for couples.  Women's Intuition is a novel I loved.  I also participated in 7 Quick Takes this week.  

Review: The 50 Fridays Marriage Challange

About the Book:
Transform your marriage with this revitalizing relationship guide that challenges couples to answer important questions together and grow in mutual understanding.
In our modern, fast-paced society, it is easy for couples to drift apart and suddenly find their marriages in need of serious help. If this sounds familiar, then Pastor Jeff Helton and his wife Lora have a challenge for you: sit down once a week with your spouse to answer a question together. It could be something as simple as “What makes you laugh out loud?” or as deep and challenging as “If you had one day left on earth, what would you say to your spouse?” or “Are you satisfied with our level of physical intimacy?”

The 50 Fridays Marriage Challenge is a fun book specifically designed to spark open and honest conversation between partners at any stage of married life. Each short chapter includes an engaging question, a brief message, an encouraging quote, a Bible scripture, and a prayer. The short messages bring hope to rocky marriages by providing a safe, gentle space for discussing important matters, such as communication, conflict, in-laws, finances, children, sex, and much more.

By taking the 50 Fridays Marriage Challenge, husbands and wives will find that their Friday evening talks—whether they laugh together, delve deep into the topic at hand, or plan and dream for the future—may be the only time they spend in close conversation that doesn’t involve the kids, the checking account, or who took out the trash. Spend a few precious moments together once a week with this book, and you will ultimately see your marriage transformed.

My Comments:
I've enjoyed reading this book and I'm going to share it with my husband.  Just about anything you read about marriage says that communication is the key to being happy together and remaining part of the same team.  This book gives you a framework for almost a year of discussions, some serious, some fun, some spiritual and some sexy.  Each chapter begins with a question.That is followed by a short discussion that includes scripture quotes.  Some of the questions are:
  • What hobbies or activities do you enjoy in your marriage?  What other things would you like to do together?
  • What specific changes would you like to see that could help grow a more intimate, pleasurable and satisfying sex life?
  • What things scare you?  When you look ahead to the next few months, what things are you afraid of or concerned about?
  • Where do you see God's faithfulness and mercy in your life and in your marriage?  What things are you thankful for this season?
I definitely consider this a worthwhile book and thank the publisher for providing both hard copy and Net Galley review copies.  Grade B+.

Book Review: Women's Intuition

About the Book:
Lark Summerville’s life has few surprises–and that’s just how she likes it. All she wants is to live out her angst-riddled life in her blue-collar Baltimore neighborhood, punctuated by weekly trips to her local parish, where Lark is organist, and telephone conversations with desperate souls who dial her hotline at 1-777-IPRAY4U. 

Then one night, Lark’s home is destroyed by a fire, forcing her out of her comfortable nest and back to the childhood home she has avoided for years. At Stoneleigh House, Lark is surrounded by three very different women: her grown daughter, Flannery; her barely tolerable socialite mother, Leslie; and Prisma Percy, housekeeper and family confidante, all of whom believe Lark was widowed years before. 

In this circle of women, Lark’s carefully constructed existence begins to unravel, even as the promise of a new one unfolds. But when her contrite ex-husband shows up, longing to assume his role as Flannery’s father, twenty years after his desertion, Lark finds that she must face her own lies–and her past–before a new life can unfold.

My Comments:
This is one that has been sitting in my garage for three years, at least that's what Amazon told me when I went to get the image for this post.  None of my review books were calling my name so I headed to the toppling tower of tbr and picked this one.

Lisa Samson is a favorite author, and if you search my archives, you'll find many of her books.  She was raised at least nominally Catholic, became an Evangelical Protestant, and within the past few years, has reverted to Catholicism.  She writes Christian fiction but often has Catholic elements.  

Lark in this book suffers from depression, anxiety and is growing toward agoraphobia.  She has allowed her world to shrink more and more each day and by the beginning of this book she no longer drove, she worked by playing the organ at a local Catholic church (though she was not Catholic) and she rarely left her house if she could help it.  Her daughter Flannery has just returned home from college, when, as noted above, a fire destroys Lark's home, forcing her to move in with her wealthy (and estranged) mother and her mother's housekeeper.

The daughter and the housekeeper are the two strong characters.  Both are open to the working of God in their lives, and both encourage the Lark and her mother to grow, to be open to God and to people.  The book is Christian fiction and it truly is about the working of God in these women's lives.  It isn't a story with a little religion pasted on top.  

I love Samson's writing, I love her stories and I enjoy her characters who are anything but stock.  My only complaints about this book deal with Catholicism and I'm not sure whether she was ignorant or using creative license.  Samson referred to the inside of the church as the sanctuary, while Catholics refer only to the area near the altar as the sanctuary.  Also, she had a Catholic wedding taking place outside a church and within a week of contacting priest.  Because of those flaws, I'm giving this book an A- rather than an A.  

According to Amazon, I bought this book so I can say whatever I want about it.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 231)


My middle child turned 18 yesterday.  She's my easy child, the one who always had friends, who made good grades without effort, who even got through the teen years without eyerolls (well, there were one or two, but she had a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye at the same time). 

Said middle child is now part of the Louisiana Scholars' College.  Here are the books I had to buy for her first semester
How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country's Top StudentsThe Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts Complete in One VolumeWestern CivilizationPlato: RepublicReconstructing Gender: A Multicultural AnthologyOn the Nature of the Universe (Penguin Classics)The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991The Aeneid (Vintage Classics)The Gendered Society ReaderParis 1919: Six Months That Changed the WorldThe Gendered SocietyConcerning the Spiritual in ArtHippocratic Writings (Penguin Classics)1848: Year of RevolutionThe Iliad (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)Greek Lyrics (Phoenix Books)The Epic of Gilgamesh: An English Verison with an IntroductionAeschylus I: Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides (The Complete Greek Tragedies) (Vol 1)

She also needed a Bible, but I had one of those already


My youngest isn't her sister.  Did I ever tell you how much I hate homework?  I've been helping kids with homework now for 15 years and I've really had enough.  Unfortunately, my youngest still needs a lot of supervision with homework.  I need to figure out how to get her to be more independent with studying--she's can complete the written assignments without (too much) supervision, it's the studying that doesn't get done without Mom right there and the amount of studying necessary jumped big time this year (fourth grade).


I'm back to trying to lose weight. I'm the classic yo-yo dieter.  I go on a diet, I lose weight without much trouble until I hit the dreaded plateau, or until something happens to interrupt my routine, or until I just plain get tired of it.  Then the weight creeps back on.  I know I'm supposed to permanently change habits, not just diet for a while but the reality is that if I preferred salads and exercise to desserts and reading/web surfing I wouldn't have a weight problem.


I wish my son could find a job.  He is 21 and autistic.  He graduated from high school and while there took almost a college-prep curriculum, but he doesn't want to continue in school.  We've been working with various agencies to find him a job but so far, no dice.  He's been in a job training program for over a year now but still no offers of a real paying job.


So far, no hurricane scares this year.  Please pray it stays that way.


I'd like to invite all Catholic bloggers to join us for Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  This is a weekly link-up hosted by yours truly.  A few years ago there was a Catholic blog carnival to which bloggers would submit posts and the host of the week would tie them all together with some sort of theme and link to the blog posts.  When the person running it quit and no one else picked it up, I picked it up as a link-up.  Basically, you do a weekly post highlighting and linking to your other posts and then link up to the host post, which is usually up by Saturday afternoon.  I've also added  a question of the week.   The most recent version is here, but we'll have a new one tomorrow.  Please join us.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Glory Glory and Snowbound with the Bodyguard

About the Book:
For Glory Parsons, "home for the holidays" wasn't exactly the stuff of sing-a-longs and sleigh rides. In fact, she dreaded it. Dreaded having to face the things she'd lost—her brother, a casualty of war; and Jesse Bainbridge, a casualty of her own weakness. She'd never been able to tell Jesse the reason she'd left him abruptly ten years ago, after she'd promised to love him forever. And he certainly didn't seem open to talking about it now. 

Jesse had too much on his plate to get involved with Glory Parsons. He was the sheriff of Pearl Lake and responsible for his orphaned niece. So why couldn't he stay away from the woman? She drew him, just as she always had. But there would be no kisses under the mistletoe for them until he knew the truth. If he was strong enough to face it.

My Comments:
This is an older story repackaged for this holiday season.  There are details, mostly dealing with phones that make that clear.  Still, it isn't so old as to be out of date with modern times.  

This is one of those stories of two old lovers who are reunited years later.  We quickly learn that their baby was the reason she left town, but of course neither knew the whole story until they get back together.  Of course he is angry; of course she thought she was doing the best thing, and since it is a LLM novel, of course there is a steamy scene or two.  It is a Christmas romance, short, sweet, charming and heartwarming, even if it isn't completely realistic.  

This edition is also package with another oldie but goodie--Carla Cassidy's Snowbound with a Bodyguard:  
She'd been stranded by a snowstorm with nowhere to turn. But when all seemed lost, mom-on-the-run Janette Black saw the sign for Wild West Protective Services--and found Dalton West.

The loner of the West clan had no time for love and family. But protecting was in Dalton's blood--and he knew when a woman carried secrets. He would take Janette and her baby into his home to wait out the storm, and bar the door from any danger. And when Janette's demons tracked her down, Dalton would take on hell itself to keep her safe from harm.

My Comments:
This is even more unrealistic than Glory Glory but it too had the requisite happy ending.   In short, if you are looking for a quick Christmas read you could do worse than this volume; hopefully you could also do better.  Grade:  C+

Monday, September 09, 2013

Review: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

About the Book:
’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author. 

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

My Comments:
I didn't have any expectations of a sophisticated novel with deeply layered characterizations when I picked this up.  I figured on a quick heart-warming read, that while perhaps a little overly sweet, would make me smile.  I was disappointed.  I've read 47 of 142 pages (yes, it's that short) and I don't like either him or her and find the whole set-up silly.  When I saw that Amazon wanted $9.99 for the Kindle edition, well...let's say there are better freebies out there.  DNF.

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via Edelwiess.  

ADDENDUM:  While the price was $9.99 when I first wrote this  post, as of 10/30/13, it is $7.99

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