Author Archive

Summer Reading for You and Your Teen


Okay, okay. Lately, life has been busy enough that a major catalyst is required to get me to publish a blog post. The last post – over a month ago – was instigated by my appearance on “At Home with Jim and Joy” on EWTN television. In true “Stephanie” style, this post is the product of a similar event – namely, an appearance on “The Jen Fulwiler Show” on SiriusXM’s Channel 129. (I’d say “Eek!!!!” but I’m much too cool, calm and collected for that. Plus, I said it for about an hour after I received the request to appear.)

 

Anyways… My last post promised upcoming reviews of a few of the great Catholic YA Novels I’ve read lately, all of which are on the website, Catholic Teen Books. The site helps parents, educators, and teens find great, well-written fiction that promises to uphold and support Catholic, Christian values. Perhaps a day (or 30) late, but hopefully not a dollar short, here are those reviews. Your kids will love these books – and so will you – so please keep reading and order them from your favorite purveyor of literature!

Rosa Sola, by Carmela Martino – Ages 11+

The summary:

Rosa Bernardi, an only child living with her Italian immigrant parents in 1960s Chicago, often feels alone, or SOLA, as her parents would say. But after she holds her best friend AnnaMaria’s baby brother for the first time, Rosa is sure that if she prays hard enough, God will send her a brother of her own. When Rosa’s prayers for a sibling are answered, she is overjoyed—until tragedy strikes. Rosa is left feeling more SOLA than ever, and wondering if her broken family will ever be whole again.

My two cents:

I absolutely loved this book. It deals with a heavy subject – the loss of a newborn child – but it does so with hope and faith. I confess that I had to set the book down at one point because I became so wrapped up in the emotions of the young protagonist, who had longed for a baby brother or sister and was heart broken by the loss. But, that’s the mark of a great story, right? I highly recommend this book for girls age 11 and up, and for 5th through 8th grade classrooms.

Treachery and Truth by Katy Huth Jones – Ages 13+

The summary:

Immersed in the historical background of the tenth century, this true tale of Good King Wenceslaus, as told by his faithful servant Poidevin, brings the reader into the Dark Ages. Fear grips the land of Bohemia as the faithful face betrayal and persecution under the reign of the pagan Duchess Dragomira. As she struggles for power with the rightful heir, Prince Vaclav, her foes forge alliances in secret despite the risk of discovery. Who will survive?

My two cents:

Another wonderful book from Pauline Books and Media (no, I’m not biased!). The best thing about this particular book, though, is its audience – BOYS!!!! If you’re looking for an excellent read for a young man in your life, this is it. Well written, great story line, violence, intrigue, betrayal. Everything a boy loves. Plus the amazing faith of the much sung about saint of whom very little is really known – St. Wenceslaus. It would be an excellent addition to any 7th or 8th grade classroom.

P.S. I’m a girl, and I loved this book, so I think your daughter will too!

Angelhood by Amy Cattapan – Ages 15+

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did–taking her own life.

Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. She’s going to find peace in the afterlife…as soon as she can convince Vera that living is what life is all about.

My two cents:

I purchased this and read it well over a year ago, but remember it as if I’d read it last month. The story is well written, the plot moves quickly, the characters are well developed. I’d highly recommend this for the highschool-aged teen in your life, especially if their lives have been touched by suicide, or if they’ve been traumatized by the show “13 Reasons Why.” In fact, I’d call this book the antidote to that mindset – a, “13 Reasons Why Not,” if you will. I’d also suggest reading it with your teen, as it will provide abundant opportunities for discussion that, sadly, is much needed in our day.

If Only I Had the Time…

Sadly, my reading time is ridiculously limited – even nonexistent – these days. I’d love to read and review all of the book on Catholic Teen Books, but – alas, I’m a long ways off. I did do reviews of Amy Cattapan’s 7 Riddles to Nowhere and Leslea Wahl’s The Perfect Blindside last year, so be sure to read those if you haven’t already. And of course, check out Catholic Teen Books for a wide variety of books that will appeal to all age groups and interests!

I’m linking up to Carolyn Astfalk’s “An Open Book” blog link up, on CatholicMom.com. Check it out to learn what other Catholic blogger moms are reading this summer!

Note: The books reviewed above were all given to me by the authors or their publisher, not in exchange for a review, but so that I could share them with teachers at the NCEA Conference. I’m pleased and honored to review great Catholic fiction!

Also note: Book links are affiliate links. If you click on them, and add anything to your shopping cart, I’ll get a tiny but much-appreciated kick-back – but you’ll pay the same price! Thanks for your support!

Great Catholic Teen Fiction for Your Kids’ Summer Reading List

It’s summer time. If your kids are anything like mine, they can barely pull their noses out of their books, and you’ve already had to make three trips to the library to keep them in reading materials.

 

Ha! Just kidding. Let’s try this again:

 

If your kids are anything like mine, they can barely keep their noses out of their devices, and you’ve gone hoarse telling them to turn those infernal things off and go do something  – anything! – that does not involve YouTube, MineCraft, Instagram or the like!

 

What’s a parent to do? Well, I for one am requiring that my kids read everyday before they’re allowed to turn anything electronic on. And… I’m bribing rewarding them with a monetary reward for the child who reads the most over the next ten weeks.

 

Knowing how difficult it can be to find high quality fiction in the midst of the madness of our culture, I’m pleased to tell you about a new website that will help you find great books, all while sneaking a dose of faith into that summer reading. It’s called: www.CatholicTeenBooks.com.

 

 

This site includes many award-winning authors, and a variety of genres that will appeal to every child in your household. Find books by genre or author, and even access resources for teachers if you’d like to take summer reading a step further.

 

Finding great books is hard! I hope this resource will be of great help to you and your family this summer and beyond!

 

P.S. To help you out further, I’ll be posting reviews of a few that I’ve read in the coming days. Also check out Theresa Linden’s blog, as she’s doing a series of reviews of Catholic teen fiction this month!

 

A Single Bead Won the Excellence in Publishing Award!

It’s true! A Single Bead recently received the Association of Catholic Publisher’s Excellence in Publishing award.

 

Okay, okay. Technically it took second place in the “Children’s Books” category. But, since the first place winner was written by THE POPE, I’m perfectly happy with second place. In fact, I’d have been slightly horrified if it had taken first place over a book written by Christ’s right hand man!

 

So, I’m celebrating second place as if it were first place!

 

In a year and a half that has felt distinctly like a roller coaster ride, I am so very grateful for the many, many blessings that God has given me, most of which I’ll never even find the time to write down. One of those great blessings, though, has been the success of this book, the knowledge that it’s changing lives, and that lives of prayer – particularly prayer of the Rosary – are being strengthened. Winning this award is icing on an already fabulous cake.

 

God is good!

Wasteland Prevention (and so much more): My True Feelings About Confession

  I’m joining up with the CWBN blog hop’s topic this month – “My True Feelings about Confession.” As it happens, this is a favorite topic of mine. So, grab your coffee and settle in, because I’ve got a story to go along with my outpouring of emotion over this particular sacrament! Here goes… When…

Forgiving the Unforgivable, Loving the Unlovable

“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44).  Christ gave the command, and greeting Saul in Acts 9, Ananias provided the example, calling his persecutor his brother. Saul – soon to be Paul – had encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, and was blinded after seeing the bright light of Christ.  As Saul…

Reality Through the Lens of Christ (Why I Blog)

Just over four years ago, a friend of mine complained over coffee that the Catholic blogosphere seemed to be filled with perfect women – women who somehow managed to have immaculate homes, awesome Pinterest pages, ideal marriages, and near-perfect lives of faith, all while dressing their ten children in beautiful homemade clothes and homeschooling those same children in…

#WorthRevisit – Savor the Silence

I get it honestly.  Walk into my parents’ home, and you are guaranteed to find the TV in the kitchen blaring with either Fox News or HGTV.  Though she rarely sits down to watch it, my mom just enjoys the background noise. With four young children running around the house, I hardly need a television for…

Walk in Her Sandals Book Review

A good Bible study makes me giddy, while a good novel sends me deep into the throws of whatever emotions the heroine happens to experience. Combine a great Bible study with a great novel, and you’ve got me hooked, balanced between the knowledge of the Bible story’s happy ending, the heroines’ uncertainty of such, and the…

#WorthRevisit – Stepping Out of Safety

As Jesus walked to Golgotha, bearing the stripes of our sins and the weight of our follies, one woman stood watching. Her heart ached to see this man, who only days before had been welcomed into Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna!”, now beaten down and trudging toward his terrible death. The story doesn’t tell us…

Surviving and Thriving in 2016

Looking back at 2016, my initial thought was, “Phew. We survived.” However, that by no means does the year justice. Yes, we certainly had our struggles, as Ray continued to recover and we – as a family – attempted to adapt to a “new normal” that is actually ever-changing and anything but “normal.” Here’s what I…

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