Thursday, October 23, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Respect Life Edition

October is named Respect Life Month by the bishops.  Of course the first thought that comes to mind is abortion, but the whole respect life thing goes so much further--and can be a real challenge to even those of us who consider ourselves pro-life.

I saw a headline today that Pope Francis is calling us to oppose the death penalty (no news there) AND life imprisonment without parole.  Does respecting life mean locking the bad guys up forever, or does it mean respecting them as people who may change, and risking letting them out?  I saw an article recently on a ten year old who killed an old woman. They were going to charge him as adult because children can't be charged with manslaughter.  Is it respectful of the life of that old woman to make the one who killed her pay; or is charging that child as an adult disrespectful of his life?  There is a reason we have separate juvenile and adult justice systems, namely that, in general, we don't consider children to be legally responsible for their actions.  We don't let them vote or sign contracts.  Was that boy's behavior acceptable?  Of course not.  Should he be held responsible and kept out of society if he is not able to conform to societal norms?  Yes. Does that necessarily mean saddling him with a criminal record for life?  I'd hope not.
Politically, I'm conservative.  I think that as a general rule, the less government, the better.  However, when someone who loudly spouts the anti-abortion viewpoint equally loudly talks about eliminating aid to the poor or requiring birth control as a condition for aid, I think they are encouraging women to "take care of the problem" before it becomes public knowledge.
Unfortunately one set of people whose lives are respected the least are the handicapped.  It is routine for pregnant women to be offered a battery of tests to see if the fetus is defective so that it can be terminated early.  Of course in some cultures the main defect some of these fetuses show is XX chromosomes.
While killing a fetus is clearly against Catholic moral teaching, what is  your opinion about the morality and/or advisability of a pill that would cause the death of defective gametes (eggs and sperm) pre-conception?  In other words the pills would be able to detect one or more genetic problems in the eggs or sperm and cause them to die before fertilization/conception.  Such a pill is at the center of the story The Things Lily Knew, which is a Catholic novel about how the life of a woman with Down's Syndrome effected her family, through several generations.

In honor of Respect Life Month, Catholic Word is allowing me to give away a set of the Lily books.  
I really enjoyed them and they challenge readers to consider a lot of life issues and for the most part manage to do so without getting preachy.  Please stop by and enter the giveaway--a simple leave a comment, not a 20 things to do Rafflecopter deal.  

Our Catholic schools are on the front lines of the pro-life movement.  Besides teaching kids that they don't have to jump in bed with the first person who makes sweet eyes at them, our Catholic schools teach that abortion is wrong and pray for those involved in it.  Unfortunately the Catholic school my son attended, one that was willing to take him despite his autism, is closing.  Too few kids, too many costs.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

No Excessive Realism Here: The Heart of Christmas

The Heart of Christmas (Whiskey Creek Book 7)

About the Book:
Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn't have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that's what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining. 

Eve's worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There's no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve's definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve's happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she's counting on the best Christmas of her life!

My Comments:
A couple of years after I moved to New Orleans I got involved in a church singles group.  Most of the members were like me--college graduates in their mid 20's.  One common theme you heard over and over was that people's friends had gotten married and they felt like third wheels or like they just didn't fit anymore.  While older than I was at the time, Eve is in much the same place.  She is close with a bunch of people she has known since childhood but many have paired off,either with other members of the group, or with outsiders.  She wants a child and a husband and is beginning to wonder if she needs to leave this small town to find them.  Then the stranger shows up.  The attraction is instant.  She knows he is lying to her (or at least not telling her the truth she wants to know) but does she dump him?  Of course not.  

As noted in the title of this post, the climax to this story is about as unrealistic as they come.  Honestly,other than hormones and seasonal depression, I don't see what a sensible woman like Eve is doing with a guy like him; it just doesn't fit.  Oh well, it's a Christmas romance, so you know the ending.  

The book is clearly part of a series and while those who haven't read the other books will wonder about some of the side stories, the basic plot is,well, basic.  

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October: Respect Life Month

In honor of Respect Life Month, I've been offered the opportunity by Catholic Word  to give away a set of the Lily books, written by Sherry Boas.  These books tell the story of the effect a woman with Downs Syndrome had on her family.

Catholic Word, the group sponsoring this giveaway, describes itself as " a one-stop resource for leading programs and religious titles from over 35 top Catholic publishers. For over 15 years, Catholic Word has built a reputation based on quality, personal relationships and a devotion to excellence in service."  The mission they espouse is "to build up the Church one soul at a time through top quality Catholic materials and resources. Wherever a person is on their faith journey, we offer real help to taking the next step closer to God. Our motto is to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason."  They claim to be "100% faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium".

To enter this giveway, please go to Catholic Word's website, find a book that you would like to read that has not been previously mentioned in the comments, and leave a comment with the name of the book.  Good luck!  Winner will be drawn on the Feast of All Saints.  

Review: The Stolen Girl

The Stolen Girl

About the Book:
‘Your mother has been arrested. She stole you.’ 
For as long as thirteen-year-old Diya can remember, it’s always been just her and her mum, Vani. Despite never staying in one place long enough to call it home, with her mother by her side, Diya has never needed anything else. 

Then, in an instant, Diya’s fragile world is shattered. Her mother is arrested, accused of abducting Diya when she was a baby… 

Vani has spent a lifetime looking over her shoulder, determined to make the best possible life for her daughter. Now she must fight for her child, re-opening the door to her own childhood in India and the woman who was once as close to her as a sister. 

Told through the eyes of Diya, Vani and Aarti, this is a heart-breaking story of friendship and betrayal, love and motherhood, which asks the question; how far would you go to protect your only child? 

My Comments:
The story opens with Diya and Vani in England.  Diya is a 13 year old schoolgirl; Vani works in Indian restaurants.  I say restaurants because she never stays long in one place.  One day when told to get ready to move again, Diya storms out; she had just made her first friend ever and she doesn't want to leave this place.  When she comes back, she sees the authorities arresting her mother for stealing her from her real mother. Her real mother, she is told, is waiting for her at a hotel.  She can either go there or to foster care.  Diya chooses foster care and is furious at the woman who tried to separate her from her mum.  The story is a combination of the events of the present day, told mostly by Diya, and the events of the past, told through the recollections of Vani and Aarti.  We meet a girl who had nothing--but at least knew she had been loved and another girl who had everything but love.  We see how power and influence can be used for good and for bad.  We see love prevail.  

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

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.

Question of the Week:Have you ever tried the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office)? Why or why not, and, if so, is it something you pray regularly? 

My Answer:  Yes, I've tried it.  I even have the app on my Kindle Fire.  Do I say it regularly?  No.  Is it on my list of things to do more often?  Yes.

Only one post this week--a book review of a book that wasn't all that good.  The Mason Jar.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Litfuse Book Tour: The Mason Jar

About the Book:
What if your old college roommate called, raving about a book someone sent her, calling it the most beautiful book she's ever read? "But," she said, "it's about you." The author is your college ex.

In The Mason Jar, Clayton Fincannon is a Tennessee farm boy raised at the feet of his grandfather. He and his grandfather leave letters for each other in a Mason jar on his grandfather's desk; letters of counsel and affirmation. When Clayton attends college in Southern California, he meets and falls in love with a dark haired debutante from Colorado. However, when an unmentioned past resurrects in her life and she leaves, Clayton is left with unanswered questions.

Clayton goes on to serve as a missionary in Africa, while he and his grandfather continue their tradition of writing letters. When Clayton returns home five years later to bury his grandfather, he searches for answers pertaining to the loss of the young woman he once loved. Little does Clayton know, the answers await him in the broken Mason jar.

A story about a girl who vanished, a former love who wrote a book about her, and a reunion they never imagined.

Written for the bruised and broken, The Mason Jar is an inspirational epic, romance, tragedy which brings hope to people who have experienced disappointment in life due to separation from loved ones. With a redemptive ending and written in the fresh, romantic tones of Nicholas Sparks, The Mason Jar interweaves the imagery of Thoreau with the adventures and climatic family struggles common to Dances with Wolves, A River Runs Through It, and Legends of the Fall.

Note: In September 2014, a new version of The Mason Jar (distinguishable by the blue title box on the front cover) was released with a redemptive ending. Used versions sold may be the old edition.

Follow James Russell at

James Russell Lingerfelt's debut novel, The Mason Jar, is hot-off-the-press and causing quite the buzz. It's even been optioned for a feature film and is in pre-production.

My Comments:
I thought the writing was top-notch as far as the use of language went but really thought that Clayton pined far too long and far too much over a short relationship with a woman who was obviously holding something back from him at the time.  Frankly, even if I was the woman he with whom he was enamored, I'd run in the opposite direction.
The copy above says this is a new version, which may explain a few things in the book that I found confusing.  
I'd like to thank the folks at Litfuse for providing a complimentary review copy.  

Catch the spark by entering James' Kindle Fire giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

A Kindle Fire

The Mason Jar by James Russell Lingerfelt 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 19th. Winner will be announced October 20th at James Russell's blog, Love Story from the Male Perspective.


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