Archive For The “Book Reviews” Category

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!

 

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…

Book Review: 7 Riddles to Nowhere

In her latest novel, 7 Riddles to Nowhere, author AJ Cattapan takes the reader on an intriguing and inspiring journey through the streets and churches of Chicago, as the young protagonist and his friends seek to win a fortune and save their school. Most seventh graders would have other plans for the money. (Mine would…

Book Review: The Perfect Blindside

If you’re sad to see the end of the summer Olympics, The Perfect Blindside, a young adult novel by Leslea Wahl, is a great way to recapture some of the excitement, while also preparing for the winter Olympics, coming in just two short years. This sweet fictional romance features Olympic silver medalist Jake, who has recently moved…

The Story Behind the Story

Today’s the big day… I finally get to share the cover of my book, A Single Bead, with my friends and readers! I hope you love it! Most of all, I hope you’ll read it, and tell your friends about it! At the bottom of this post, you’ll find the link to go to my…

Something Other Than God – A Book Review

Thanks for stopping by to read my first ever book review!  I’m so excited to share my thoughts on this great book.  Enjoy the review… and grab a copy of the book for yourself when you’re done! 🙂 The review does include affiliate links.  Thanks for your support! You may be familiar with Jennifer Fulwiler’s blog, Conversion…

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