Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent for Families with Children

As noted in the sticky post at the top of my blog, I'm participating the the Catholic New Media Advent Wreath project put together by Catholic Roundup. If you aren't familiar with Catholic Roundup, it is a site devoted to linking Catholics to the best of what the internet offers on Catholicism, be that podcasts, videos, websites, blogs....

Children love to celebrate and love to make things. To make Advent a family celebration and to give the kids preparation for Christmas beyond buying and wrapping gifts, check out these links. If you have favorite Advent sites for kids which are not listed, leave them in the comments section.

Many of the publishers of religion texts have websites with further activities. Catechetical Resources, put out by the publishers of the Faith and Life religion books, has activities for all grade levels, including instructions for making Advent Wreaths, coloring sheets and study guides.

Sadlier, publisher of the We Believe religion series has Advent activities for all ages. has art projects, coloring sheets, games and even some recipes. They have more under lesson plans. Catholic Advent is an old site and most of the links are bad, so skip them, but try the activities. This site, filled with preschool activities, gives instructions for an Advent Wreath craft and lesson. Here is another Advent Wreath craft, with prayers, and here are different directions for a traditional Advent Wreath.

Most kids love to help in the kitchen and the Catholic Cuisine blog has recipes that carry you through the liturgical year. See what they are cooking up for Advent.

Part of a large site by a Passionist, here are Advent prayers for children.

Sign up for Holy Heros and your kids can get daily emails of Advent activities.

Creighton University reminds parents that the most important thing to do to prepare children for Advent is for parents to prepare themselves. However, they provide several family Advent activities.

Here is the Jesse Tree my family and I are using. We got if via the Advent Calendar featured at the top of my blog.

There is no way anyone could have time to try all the ideas on Catholic Culture. A blog called Nettacow gives a bunch of links. Elena at My Domestic Church also has a long link list.

Of course the most necessary part of celebrating Advent is celebrating Sunday mass with the community. The web gives us lots of resources to help children understand the weekly readings. The publishers of the Faith First religion texts have weekly summaries, discussion topics and activities based on the readings. Sadlier has a similar site. Catholic has coloring pages, worksheets, lesson plans, and more for each week. Open Wednesday has a variety of activities as well.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Supreme Courtship

Have you ever bought or otherwise acquired a book that looked good; a book that was getting rave reviews, and then let it sit in your TBR stack, and sit, and sit....and everytime you thought you'd pick it up, it just didn't appeal to you at all, so you put it back in the stack and grabbed the next one that did appeal to you? Well, that's what happened to me with Supreme Courtship I can't even tell you that I didn't like it, that it really wasn't as good as everyone said it was. I can't tell you what is or isn't wrong with the book because I haven't read it and right now, I don't want to read it--so how's that for an attitude problem, especially since the folks at Hachette were nice enough to send me a free review copy. The least I could do is review it, right? Frankly, it has been quite some time since my student days, but I'm sure I could spin some sort of book review based on what I've read on other blogs, and no one would be the wiser, but I'd rather be honest with you.

In deference to the folks at Hachette, I will link you to several reviews of Supreme Courtship and I suggest you use them to decide whether this is the book for you. Mostly Fiction Book Reviews. Lucky Rosies The Bookshelf Pudgy Penguin Perusals Hodgepodgespv Running Away Jeanne's Ramblings

Question: If you are a blogger, what do you do when you get a book for review that, after you have it, you just don't want to read?

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of bloggers who gather once each week to share out best posts. We are all Catholic and blog at least somewhat about Catholic things; some do so exclusively, others only periodically. All are welcome to participate here.

To join in the fun, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In that post describe and link to any posts you want to share with the rest of us. Also put in a link to this post. Then come back here, and sign Mr. Linky and give us a link to your post. Finally, go visit other people's posts, and leave comments! Some folks who don't post often have asked if they could, rather than creating a special "Sunday Snippets" post, just link their original post to Mr. Linky. That's ok, if your original post includes a link back here; since the idea is to share our posts and readers with each other. Encourage your readers to join us too.

If you want a weekly reminder to post, please subscribe to our yahoogroup.

This week I've been busy with the holiday so I haven't blogged much. I posted an article on taking good photos for holiday cards. I reviewed two books by Lisa Samson. Lisa was baptized Catholic, and attended mass as a child, but later became Protestant. Lately she reverted to the Catholic faith. The Living End is about a woman whose husband died, and who plans to commit suicide after she completes his list of things he wants to do while alive. Church Ladies is the story of a minister's wife who carries with her the guilt from a serious sin.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please share your posts with us, just remember if you leave a link to your blog here, your blog should have a link back here.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival Participants
1. Mary333
2. Jackie Briere
3. Moonshadow
4. Colleen
5. Luuk Dominiek OP @
6. John Boyd
7. Barb Schoeneberger
8. The Blog from the Core
9. Elena @My Domestic church
10. Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
11. TaDa Ministries

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Photography Time!

Today I was fortunate to receive this lovely book about digital photography from Julie at FSB Media. I haven't had time to do much more than thumb through it, but since this week starts what we've come to call the "holiday season", I thought I'd pass on some articles by the authors of this book (yes, I have permission to do so, as a matter of fact, I'm encouraged to do so by the publicist who so kindly provided me with a free copy of the book).

Ten Tips for Making Great Photo Greeting Cards for the Holidays
By Tom Grimm and Michele Grimm,
Authors of The Basic Book of Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Enhance, and Share Your Digital Pictures

If you want your family's photo greeting card to impress your friends this holiday season, here are 10 helpful suggestions from professional photographers Michele and Tom Grimm, authors of a brand new handbook, The Basic Book of Digital Photography.

1. Plan Ahead. Eye-catching photos take some thought, so envision the card you want to send before you take any pictures. Pick a setting with an uncluttered background. Decide what type of clothes to wear (causal or dress-up?) and what colors might be appropriate (red and green will enhance a Christmas theme). If you want to shoot outdoors, consider the weather and the time of day for the best light. Cloudy or overcast days are perfect for portraits without shadows; avoid bright sunlight that causes people to squint.

2. Get Your Camera Ready. Be sure to install new or freshly-charged batteries so the camera won't stop working in the middle of your shooting session. Also check that there is room on the memory card to hold plenty of new exposures. And remember to carefully clean the camera lens of dust and fingerprints; use a microfiber lens cloth. For pictures of the best technical quality, adjust the camera's "image quality" and "image resolution" to their highest settings. Finally, make certain the "date/time" setting is turned off so those numbers won't appear on the front of your family and ruin every picture.

3. Move in Close. Remember that friends mostly enjoy seeing the faces of your family and pets. Get close to them by moving the camera physically closer or adjusting the zoom lens to fill the viewfinder or LCD monitor with their faces. Aim the camera's autofocus target on the eyes; be careful it isn't pointed between the heads of people because the background will be in focus instead of the family's faces. Also, make sure there are no windows or mirrors in the background that are distracting or cause reflections, especially if you are shooting with flash.

4. Forget About Red-eye. If the sun is causing shadows on the faces of your family, or you are shooting indoors in dim light, we recommend using the camera's built-in flash or an external flash unit to provide "fill" light that illuminates your subjects more evenly. Avoid the "red-eye reduction" flash setting, if your camera offers it, because this makes a series of pre-flashes or a steady light that causes some people to blink or shut their eyes. "Red-eye," an annoying bright red spot occasionally seen in the pupils of the eyes, is easily eliminated later with your computer's image-editing software.

5. Use a Tripod, and a Friend. Put your camera on a tripod so it will remain in the same position after you compose the family picture. Recruit a friend to trip the shutter release instead of using a remote control or the self-timer to fire the camera yourself. Remind everyone to keep looking toward the camera and not glance away to see if the baby or dog is behaving; depend on your friend to snap the shutter when everybody looks their best.

6. Keep On Shooting. Someone in the family group is certain to blink, yawn, scratch or look away just as a picture is taken, so shoot again and again. One of the joys of digital photography is that it costs nothing extra to make a dozen or so exposures rather than just one or two. A warning: Your subjects will quickly get restless, so don't spend time between shots checking images on the camera's LCD monitor to see how they turned out. Pick the best image later when you view all the shots at full size on your computer.

7. Create a Collage When Family Members are Absent. Can't get everyone in your family together for a holiday card photo? A solution is to get and assemble individual photos of each family member into a collage or montage that becomes a single image. Many image-editing software programs -- probably including the one that came with your camera -- have a feature for easily merging photos. First choose a template from various designs that hold different numbers and sizes of images, then arrange your family's photos as you like.

8. Dress Up Your Holiday Photos with Borders and Type. Your computer's image-editing software also enables you to add borders and to type captions that become part of the family's holiday photo. Pick a border with a design and colors appropriate for the season. You can select different typefaces, sizes and colors, and position the text wherever you wish in the picture. Also, local and online photo centers offer holiday-themed templates for greeting cards that are easy to fill in with your own photos and text.

9. Print Your Own Holiday Photo Cards. Remember to design your photo card so it can be printed on standard sizes of photo paper and will fit in standard-size envelopes. To save money, select a "Picture Package" in your image-editing software to make several prints on one piece of photo paper -- such as two 5 x 7-inch or four 4 x 5-inch prints on a single 8-½ x 11-inch sheet -- and cut them apart. Also consider HP Holiday Photo Card packs with 20 sheets of 5 x 7-inch glossy photo paper and matching envelopes for $9.99.

10. An Easier Option: Order Your Cards at a Photo Center. If your mailing list is large, it usually is more convenient and economical to have your holiday photo cards printed at a local or online photo center. Many allow you to upload the photo image file online to a selection of card templates that you can personalize with family names and greetings. The cards and envelopes can be picked up a few hours later, or will be mailed to you. Search online for "photo greeting cards" to find a wide choice of photo-finishing companies, including,, and

©2009 Tom Grimm and Michele Grimm, authors of The Basic Book of Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Enhance, and Share Your Digital Pictures

Author Bios
Tom Grimm and Michele Grimm, authors of The Basic Book of Digital Photography: How to Shoot, Enhance, and Share Your Digital Pictures,are a husband-and-wife photojournalism team who have spent nearly four decades traveling the globe; the couple has visited every continent and more than 130 countries in search of the perfect photographic image. Their photographs and articles have been published worldwide in magazines and newspapers and on the Internet. The Grimms are authors and illustrators of thirteen adult and children's books.

For more information, please visit

Friday, November 27, 2009

Book Review: The Living End

I'm fortunate that I've never experienced heart-rendering grief, the kind that the books say make you feel like you've been torn in two. I grieved when I lost my mother, and to a lesser extent when I lost my grandparents, but the reality is that we know it is likely we'll lose those people; I wasn't living with them or seeing them daily when they died, and the fact of the matter is, my life is little changed by their death. I'm sure that losing my husband will be a different story. The Living End is the story of a woman who lost her husband.

Pearly Laurel was a college student, who planned on being a photo-journalist, when she met Joey, a graduate student. It was the 1960's and he was a "Jesus Freak" participating in some outdoor activity, playing his guitar. She photographed him, he noticed her, and three months later they were married. She never became a photo-journalist, putting aside her dreams to work at a State Farm office to put him through graduate school. He got a doctorate and became headmaster of a school for poor children who needed a leg up. They were never able to have children, and never chose to adopt; rather they focused their life on the school. Then one day Joey had a stroke and, a few days later, was dead. Right before his stroke, Joey showed Pearly a list of things he wanted to do while he was still alive. She sets out to do them, with the idea that when she finishes, there will be no reason to continue living, so she will commit suicide.

We follow Pearly as she learns to play the guitar, watches whales, visits South America and more, but this isn't a travelogue; rather it is the story of a grief that is too strong, and, eventually the story of a conversion to God. You see, though Joey loved Jesus, and she loved Joey--so much that she gave up most of her own goals and activities to be part of his--she refused to accept his faith. After his death she reads his journals, which are very much reflections of his faith, and though them and through people who come into her life, she comes to know Christ and believe.

Through most of the book I'd say I loved it. I've told you before that I love Samson's writing style, and this book reinforced that. However, I found the ending unrealistic, almost forced. Samson might say that she was trying to show that the grace of God can save us, but I found the situation to be improbable and the resolution to be as well. Pearly makes a very bad decision and then is saved from the consequences of it because of an unexpected event.

The book is Christian fiction. While you don't have to share Samson's beliefs to enjoy the book, by the end of the book it has clearly become a conversion story rather than a story of grief. Joey's journal entries, which are read frequently throughout the book, are about his faith, his reflections on Scripture, as well as his love for her and dismay that she doesn't share his faith. Pearly's conversion isn't an "aha!" moment but a slow awakening to the love of God in her life.

I wish Samson had come up with a different ending, but in general I enjoyed the book and recommend it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Review: The Church Ladies

So, what's a woman supposed to do when she has a stack of review books, several stacks of mooched books, swapped books or books from the giveaway box at work? Why, go to the library and get more books, of course. (Honest, the only reason I was at the library is that the weather was bad and my little one wanted to go somewhere)... I enjoyed Lisa Samson's The Passion of Mary Margaret, so I decided to try some of her other books. I'm glad I did.

The Church Ladies is the story of Penelope (Poppy) Fraser. Poppy is the mom of two college-aged kids and an almost seven year old. He husband had a mid-life crisis and quit his high-powered high-paying job to attend the seminary and become a Presbyterian minister. They move from the Baltimore area to a small town where her cousin (who is married to her best friend) is pastor of another church. Poppy has a major sin in her not-to-distant past and hasn't forgiven herself. She also doesn't think she wants to stay married, and thinks about when she can leave, and how.

An older woman, the widow of a minister, befriends her and the two begin to pray together. They gather other minister's wives into their group and they pray for and support each other. There is a tragedy. Church people act in un-Christian manners, Poppy learns to accept the love of God and to give that love to others.

I enjoyed this book, and if you like well-written books with religious themes, I think you'll like this one too. Samson uses flashbacks to the time of sin, but they are in italics which makes them easy to follow. I wouldn't call the book preachy,but rather I'd say it is the story of someone's faith journey. Poppy realizes she needs God's grace, that she can't do it on her own, and also realizes that that Grace is given abundantly, even in tragedy. If there is anything trite about the book it is that out of tragedy, something really good came; however I didn't even think about it in those terms until I was writing this, so I'd say it doesn't exactly hit you over the head. Poppy is a real woman with real faults, real doubts and real love.

I like Samson's writing style and use of language. That's something I rarely say--most decent writing, to me, fades into the background, it is a medium, nothing more. A few authors impress me with the way they use language, and Samson is one.

In short, if you are a fan of faith-based fiction, I think you'll like this one.

To order from Amazon: The Church Ladies

Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Wildcard: Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie Montana

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Love Finds You In Lonesome Prairie, Montana

Summerside Press (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Amy Lathrop of LitFUSE Publicity Group for sending me a review copy.***


Tricia Goyer was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Her book Night Song won Book of the Year from ACFW in the Long Historical Fiction category. Her book Life Interrupted: The Scoop On Being a Young Mom was a Gold Medallion Finalist. Tricia has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction and non-fiction books.

Visit the author's website.

Ocieanna Fleissis a published writer and has edited six of Tricia Goyer's historical novels. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. Connect with Ocieanna on Facebook!

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Summerside Press (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935416294
ISBN-13: 978-1935416296


The sound of little girls’ voices and the sight of the sun streaming through the tall, second-story window of the Open Door Home for Destitute Girls, a privately owned orphanage on upper Manhattan, told nineteen-year-old Julia Cavanaugh that the day had started without her. Julia, an orphan herself, now running the place for the owner, brushed a strand of dark hair from her eyes. She submitted to a second yawn as a twelve-year-old girl hopped onto her bed.

“He’s gonna ask her to marry him, don’t you think, Miss Cavanaugh?”

“Oh, Shelby.” Julia wiped the sleep from her eyes and smiled into the freckled face staring eagerly at her. “Give me a moment to wake before you go asking such things.” Julia stroked the girl’s cheek, her heart seeming to double within her chest with love for the youngster.

The embroidery sampler she’d fallen asleep working on still lay at the end of her bed. She picked it up and eyed the image of a small house she’d copied from Godey’s Lady’s Book. Above the house, she’d stitched the words Home Sweet Home in fancy script. Gazing around the broad room lined with small metal cots and bustling with little-girl chatter, Julia noted the embroidered pillowslips, carefully pressed—albeit dingy—curtains, and dandelions smiling from scavenged jam-jar vases. She’d done her best to make the room pleasant for the girls—and herself. She glanced at their faces and smiled, gladly embracing her role as caretaker.

A less-than-subtle “ahem” from Shelby reminded Julia she’d been asked a question. She glanced at her young charge, still perched on the end of her bed. “What did you ask?”

“Finally.” Shelby eyed her with mock frustration. “I said, do you think they will get married—Mrs. Hamlin and Mr. Gaffin? Haven’t you noticed the way they look at each other?” Shelby’s cheeks hinted of red. Her golden hair was already fixed in a proper bun, her hands and face washed, and her simple dress clean and pressed despite its patches and stray threads.

“Shelby Bruce.” Julia shook her head, as Shelby’s two-year-old sister Beatrice wiggled onto Julia’s lap with a squeal. Julia planted a firm kiss on the top of Bea’s head.

“Married? I don’t think so,” Julia continued. “Mrs. Hamlin would’ve told us—told me—if she was being courted. Mr. Gaffin’s just an old family friend.” Julia wondered where on earth the girl got the notion that their headmistress wished to marry.

Although they have been spending a lot of time together. Julia pushed the thought out of her mind as little Bea shuffled to a stand, planting her pint-sized feet on Julia’s thighs. “Fammy fend!” She pointed a chubby finger at her older sister, Shelby.

“All right, Bea.” Julia plopped the toddler on the floor and swiveled her toward the small bed she shared with Shelby. “Time to straighten your bed.” Then Julia eyed the twins. “Charity, Grace, would you two virtuous girls fetch fresh water for the basin?”

Shelby pushed away from the bed, wrinkled her brow, and thrust her hand behind her as if to support her back—a perfect imitation of their middle-aged headmistress. “Now where did I put my spectacles?” Shelby clucked her tongue as she waddled forward.

Laughter spilled from the lips of the girls around the room. Encouraged, Shelby scratched her head. She plopped down on her bed then hopped up again as if surprised, pulling imaginary spectacles from under her rump. “Oh!” she squealed. “There they are.”

The laughter grew louder, and Julia pursed her lips together to smother the impulse to laugh along with them. She planted her fists on her hips. “That’s enough. All of you know what must be done before breakfast.” The girls’ laughter quieted to soft giggles hidden behind cupped palms as they scattered to do their chores.

Shelby lingered behind, her form now straight and her eyes pensive. “Maybe she forgot to tell you, Miss Cavanaugh.” The young girl gazed up at her. “The way they look at each other—it’s like my ma and pa used to, that’s all.”

Julia folded a stray sandy blond curl behind the girl’s ear. “Don’t worry, my sweet. If Mrs. Hamlin was getting married, we’d be the first to know.”

Julia hoped her own gaze didn’t reflect the sinking disquiet that draped her. Mr. Gaffin was a rich world traveler. If there was any truth to Shelby’s suspicion, Julia couldn’t imagine he’d let Mrs. Hamlin continue to work with orphans. Perhaps they’d get a new headmistress.

Or maybe the girls would be separated, moved to new homes…

If Mrs. Hamlin got married, all their lives would be radically changed. And if Julia had to leave the orphanage, she had no idea what she would do. Julia swept that painful thought away and steadied her gaze at Shelby. She couldn’t hide her true feelings from this girl. Julia took Shelby’s hand and answered as honestly as she could.

“I don’t think she’ll get married, but if she does, God will take care of us, like He always has.” Julia lifted her chin in a smile. “And really, Mrs. Hamlin may be forgetful, but no one could forget that. I sure wouldn’t.”

Ardy, a shy Swedish girl, removed her dirty sheets from a small bed and then approached, taking Julia’s hand. “Don’t ya think you’ll ever be gettin’ married?”

“Actually, there is something I’ve been wanting to tell you all….” Julia leaned forward, resting her hands on her knees.

The two girls eyed each other in surprise, and Shelby’s brow furrowed.

“Come closer.” Julia curled a finger, bidding them.

“What is it?” Shelby asked, her eyes glued to Julia.

The girls leaned in. “I’d like to tell you…that there’s a wonderful man who’s asked me to marry him!”

The squeals of two girls erupted, followed by the cheers of nearly three dozen others who’d been quietly listening from the stairwell.

“There is?” Shelby reached forward and squeezed Julia’s hand.

Julia let out a hefty sigh and giggled. “No, you sillies. Well, at least not yet. Someday. Maybe.”

Shelby pouted “But you said… ”

“I said I’d like to tell you I had a man. I’d sure like to, but of course since I don’t, I’m happy to stay here with all of you.”

The girls moaned.

The squeak of the front door down on the first floor of the Revolutionary War–era home-turned-orphanage drew their attention. They waited as Mrs. Hamlin’s familiar chortle filled the air, along with a bash and clang of items—hopefully food and supplies that she’d picked up.

“Julia!” Mrs. Hamlin yelped. “Julia, dear, where are you?”

“Coming.” Julia hurried down the stairs to help the older woman.

Julia neared the bottom of the steps and paused, trying to stifle a laugh at the sight of the twinkly-eyed woman sprawled flat on her back. Scattered boxes and bags covered the donated rug.

“Mrs. Hamlin! What on earth? Why didn’t you get a steward to help you?”

“Oh, I didn’t want to be a bother.” She cheerfully picked herself up. “I was in such a hurry to show you all what I’d bought. And to tell you my surprise. Such a wonderful surprise.” Julia eyed the boxes and noted they were from R.H. Macy & Co. More than a dozen boxes waited to be opened, and she couldn’t imagine the cost.

“I found just what the girls need, and on sale!” the headmistress exclaimed.

What they need is more food—vitamin drops, too—and maybe a few new schoolbooks. But Julia didn’t dare say it. And somehow God’s hand of providence always provided.

“New clothes, I gather. That is a surprise.”

“But only half of it, dear.” Mrs. Hamlin rubbed her palms expectantly. “I also must tell you my news. The best news an old widow could hope for.”

Julia followed Mrs. Hamlin’s gaze toward the idle youngsters who’d gathered on the staircase to watch. Her eyes locked with Shelby’s, then she quickly looked away. “News?” The muscles in Julia’s stomach tightened.

“Girls,” Julia shooed them away with a wave of her hand, “you know better than to eavesdrop. Off to chores with you. We’ll have breakfast soon.”

The girls started to scurry off, but Mrs. Hamlin halted them with her words.

“No, no,” her high-pitched voice hailed. “Come back. This news is for all of you.” They circled around her, and she tenderly patted their bobbing heads.

“What is it?” Julia wasn’t sure she’d ever seen Mrs. Hamlin’s cheeks so rosy or her eyes so bright.

“I’m getting married!”

Here is where I wrote about this book.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of bloggers who gather once each week to share out best posts. We are all Catholic and blog at least somewhat about Catholic things; some do so exclusively, others only periodically. All are welcome to participate here.

To join in the fun, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In that post describe and link to any posts you want to share with the rest of us. Also put in a link to this post. Then come back here, and sign Mr. Linky and give us a link to your post. Finally, go visit other people's posts, and leave comments! Some folks who don't post often have asked if they could, rather than creating a special "Sunday Snippets" post, just link their original post to Mr. Linky. That's ok, if your original post includes a link back here; since the idea is to share our posts and readers with each other. Encourage your readers to join us too.

If you want a weekly reminder to post, please subscribe to our yahoogroup.

I've cut back on my blogging and reading, well, because life has been too busy. However, I took part in the Faith n Fiction Saturday meme where we discussed recommending Christian fiction to those who aren't Christian, or who don't read Christian fiction. I read and reviewed a romance novel, It Happened One Night, and I'm giving away five copies of it. I showed off my cute kid in a finger-puppet review. I also did a review of a memoir of a man born and raised in Pakistan.

What did you write about this week? Leave us a link, and don't forget, you should have a link to this post in the post that links here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Children of Dust: My Review

Have you ever accused your kids of having eyes bigger than their stomachs? Have you heard of biting off more than you can chew? Well, I have to confess, I'm guilty as charged. I love to read and I love that review copies are offered to bloggers. However, its not like a bookstore where if you pass on it today, it will still be there next week-generally speaking when a book is offered, grab it or you'll have to get a copy in a more conventional manner. This summer my obligations were few and I had a lot of time to read. I managed to plow through a LOT of books and got in the habit of requesting anything that looked interesting. Unfortunately I didn't break that habit soon enough and found myself with a review stack that was just too large. Today I got a second reminder from the nice folks at FSB Media asking when I was going to feature Children of Dust. Since they were winding up their campaign they wanted to know if I needed anything from them. It was a nice email, but did have the desired effect.

Since I got the email today, I'll be honest and tell you I have not read the entire book. However, I did read the Table of Contents that gives a general description of the five parts of the book, the first 65 pages, the last of the five books and bits and pieces in the middle. I found it fascinating. The author, Ali Eteraz, was born in Pakistan to Muslim parents. Before he was born, his father promised Allah that if the child was a boy,he would dedicate his life to Islam. We learn about his early family life, as well as about the stories of faith told by Muslims. I had no idea they had so many stories about angels, demons and the like.

We follow Ali off to school, where the primary lessons were on memorizing the Quran. We see a culture far different from our own, one where polygamy is practiced and where rape victims are seen as sinners. We also see a land where poverty is rampant, and learn that one explanation given for that is that their version of the Devil has convinced the Christians and Jews to follow him, for which they will receive abundant blessings in this world--and hell in the next.

Eventually Ali ends up in the US, attending college in Atlanta where he becomes president of the Muslim Student Association. That made him the spiritual leader on campus and also made him a local spokesperson for Islam. However, he was not totally virutous. He tells of chasing women (including Muslim ones), and writing erotica. Also, while at college he studies under atheists and learns about postmodernism which sees life not as spiritually based but rather as a constant struggle for power. He also becomes active on AOL/internet forums regarding Islam.

Finally, at the end of the book he ends up in Kuwait trying to spread moderate Islam. It is his belief that support for a more tolerant free society can be found in the Quran and that if Muslim countries adopted his ideas all would be better. His friend suggests that he has made Islam the idol, rather than Allah the god.

I found the book to be very readable and I enjoyed his perspective on Islam. Much of what I've read on Islam in the past was by those who have converted to Christianity, and are more conversion stories than stories of Islam as it is lived. Eteraz doesn't come out and tell you exactly what his religious beliefs are today; only that at the end, he refers to God, not to Allah.

Thanks again to Julie at FSB for my review copy of the book. See their page on this book.

To purchase from Children of Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mailbox Monday

I've been making a deliberate choice to slow down the book arrivals here. My reading time has become much more limited now that school and extra-curricular activities have begun. I'm also getting tired of reading books other people want me to read, rather than those I want to read. That being said, I got two books this week and have managed to blog about both of them.

It Happened One Night is a contemporary romance which I received from Hachette. My review post is up, along with a giveaway. If you are a romance reader, I think you'll enjoy it. For a First Wildcard tour I got Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie. I blogged about it as part of Amy's Faith n Fiction Saturday meme.

Thanks to Marcia at the Printed Page for Hosting. Stop by to see what others got this week!

Mama Buzz: Five Star Publication--Finger Puppet Set

I joined Mama Buzz, a new review group, and received these cute finger puppets for my five year old.

Product Description:

Five Star Finger Puppets are manufactured in the United States and made by hand of soft, durable, hand-washable yarn. They are child safe with no removable parts and come in packages of five that include owl, snake, child, dog and cat characters. Retail price is $12.95, and they are available online at, at the Jerome Gallery's Five Star Book Nook at 240 Hull St. in Jerome, Ariz., and will soon be available in other bookstores and gift shops around the country.

What I Did With Them:

I gave them to my five year old, of course. Here is what SHE did with them:

My Thoughts:

My daughter enjoyed playing with these and I found them well made. The characters are specific enough to give her a starting place for her imaginary play without having the whole character laid out for her (unlike say a commercial cartoon figure). The only real problem I saw is kind of unavoidable with finger puppets--they are small and easily lost or eaten by the vacuum cleaner.

I'd like to thank Linda at Five Star Publications for the opportunity to review this product. You can view the finger puppets at their website.

Stop by the Mama Buzz site and check Mr. Linky for more reviews of these finger puppets.

My Review: It Happened One Night--With Giveaway

I've said before that it can be hard to find a "middle ground" romance novel. You can read the bodice-busters with their vivid sex scenes or you can read Christian romances where everything is squeaky clean, and probably preachy to boot; what about something in between--something about real people who make real mistakes and yet which doesn't find the need to describe every nuance of every sexual encounter. It Happened One Night is an enjoyable read that really did find that middle ground.

It is the story of Lana and Eli. They have been best friends forever. They had sex once years ago, but she got spooked--childhood issues--and made it clear that friendship was all she wanted from him. They've both dated lots of people through the years, but not seriously. Now he is tired of pretending that friendship is all he wants. One complication is that she is pregnant, but doesn't know how to contact the father. Another complication is that her sister, who means more to her than anyone, is suffering from infertility.

Lana's relationship with her sister Karin and her father Calvert is also explored in this book, making it more than a straight romance novel. Those relationships are a large part of the reason she acts as she does with Eli.

This is mass-market romance with premarital sex. There is one scene in which we get a pretty vivid picture of them undressing each other and laying on the bed, but then it fades to the pillowtalk, we don't get the blow-by-blow of who did what to whom.

Nothing is mentioned about Lana's faith, or lack thereof. Karin however, is a Catholic. The story mentions that she and her husband abstained from sex until two months before their wedding, and that the priest chuckled when she confessed. The story also notes that she used various methods of Natural Family Planning (though it isn't clear if they had used them instead of birth control, or only after they decided to try to conceive). Karin is shown praying in the church several times and takes her marriage vows seriously. She and her husband state that if God doesn't send them a baby naturally, then they aren't going to use artificial methods to conceive.

I liked this book and will look for more from the author, Lisa Dale.

Because I liked the book, I'm happy to be able to tell you that Anna at Hachette books is allowing me to give away five copies of it. Here is what you need to do to enter.
1. Leave a comment with your email address.
2. Find up to three other romance novels I've read. Comment on those posts, saying why you would or wouldn't like to read them. Come back here, leave one comment per book saying which book you commented on. Up to three entries available.
3. Blog about this giveaway, and leave a comment with a link
4. Find up to three other Hachette books I've promoted. Leave comments on those posts saying why you would or wouldn't like to read the book. Then leave one comment here, per book saying which book you commented on. Up to three entries available.

Good luck!

Note: This review is part of Book Review Wednesday

Faith n Fiction Saturday

I haven't participated in this meme lately, but I liked this week's question, so...

Amy asked:
Do you recommend or lend your Christian fiction books to people who don't share your faith? If you do, do you tell them in advance that the book is Christian fiction? Why do you or don't you tell them?

I don't lend very many books--I just give them away. If someone asks about it, I do generally say, and I do mention the religious content when I review books, rather than just saying something is "Christian". I just read Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana and it was the epitome of what people hate about Christian fiction. It is a love story set in Montana in the 1800's. The heroine is an orphan from New York City who accompanies the residents of an orphanage on an orphan train out west. When she gets to the end of the line she discovers that she herself was sent out as a mail order bride. Her "intended" is Horace, an older man, and a prospector. She doesn't want to marry him, but finds herself attracted to the local circuit riding preacher. He however, has vowed never to marry because of a sad incident in his past. He has never been tempted to go back on that vow, until now. He just loves discussing scripture with her. The characters (except one bad guy) are all so very good and seeking to do God's will. There are a couple of small swipes at Catholicism (it is made clear that remaining celibate is not God's will for men, even circuit riding preachers, and in one scene a nun is shown in a less than flattering role). The main conflicts are internal as the characters seek to do God's will. In the end, all live happily ever after except the bad guy (even Horace).

Now, if you are Christian and you want a story that strongly affirms Christian beliefs and encourages you to seek God's will in your life, you'll probably like this book, but there is nothing about this book that would make me recommend it to someone who didn't fit that profile. It would be like recommending a trashy romance novel to someone who didn't like vivid sex scenes. Some very good books have vivid sex scenes, and I'd recommend them even to people who didn't really like sex scenes in books, with a warning that the sex scenes were there; however trashy romances, fun as they may be for some folks, aren't in that category.

So, in short, I usually try to describe the level of religious content in a book in my reviews and I try to indicate whether I think someone who doesn't care for religion could enjoy the book.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of bloggers who gather once each week to share out best posts. We are all Catholic and blog at least somewhat about Catholic things; some do so exclusively, others only periodically. All are welcome to participate here.

To join in the fun, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In that post describe and link to any posts you want to share with the rest of us. Also put in a link to this post. Then come back here, and sign Mr. Linky and give us a link to your post. Finally, go visit other people's posts, and leave comments! Some folks who don't post often have asked if they could, rather than creating a special "Sunday Snippets" post, just link their original post to Mr. Linky. That's ok, if your original post includes a link back here; since the idea is to share our posts and readers with each other. Encourage your readers to join us too.

If you want a weekly reminder to post, please subscribe to our yahoogroup.

From My Reader

I haven't done this for a while, and my reader has lots of posts, so let's see what catches my eye tonight:

MakeUseOf has an article about CosmoLearning, a website devoted to online learning, developed by a couple of teenagers with content for students and educators alike.

Catholic Mom has an article about having a spiritual Advent.

Eating out wit kids can be expensive, or it can be free (at least the kids' food). MakeUseOf tells you how.

Tonite is a MakeUseOf night. They also have an article about teaching object oriented computer programming to kids. My son who wants to design video games will be sent this link.

Do you like Starbucks apple cider? Here is how to make your own.

Are Christmas romances your thing? Enter Bingo's contest for a free book of three of them.

Our lives are recorded by newspapers, so they are an interesting historical source. Resource Shelf tells us where to find them.

If there is a cook on your Christmas list, Taste Of Home Cookbooks are only $5.00 (usually about $25.00)

I like homemade bread and rolls, but the rising time get me. These buns can be on the table in an hour.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sanctuary: My Review

I like romance novels, but I've had some readers express dismay when I promote books with half-naked people on the cover, so in general, I don't review many mass-market romances on this blog. When offered the opportunity to review Sanctuary, I saw that the cover did not have anyone with a heaving bodice or washboard abs, so I thought maybe it would be a relatively clean romance. It is not.

Sanctuary is the story of Ed Russell, an Army major in his late 30s who is commander of group in Serbia. While manning a border checkpoint he meets Lea, a 19 year old former college student who is now a refugee. Lea is recovering from pneumonia and is planning to head south to find her family, who left without her. He convinces her that to do so would be suicidal and offers her the chance to stay with him, if she will be his mistress--basically trading sex for food and shelter. She agrees. She gives him use of her body, but guards her heart. Eventually he asks her to marry him and return to the US with him. She agrees, not because she loves him (she is the first to admit that due to her disfunctional family she doesn't know what love is) but because he is kind and needs her.

They return to the US where Lea learns to be an officer's wife. They end up parenting his son from his first marriage and Lea discovers her talent for art. Its a romance novel, so I doubt you think it ends in divorce court.

I started reading the book figuring that a woman must have written it--after all, its a romance novel. Several chapters into it, I turned to the back cover, to confirm my suspecians that it was a man, but no, it was a woman. Why did I think it was a man? Basically because of all the crude sexual references and potty language. Look, I know the book is set around Army life, and I know those guy's language isn't always the nicest, but there is just so much in this book that wasn't necessary to the story. Lea tells Ed's orderly (kind of all purpose servant, but a soldier) that she heard he lost a c.j. competition last week. She didn't know what kind of competition that was; turns out it has to do with masturbation. It added nothing to the story, it was just another opportunity to bring in sexual content in a crude way. In another scene, when they are back in the States, they put their coats in the CO's bedroom, which they see is decorated with Japanese erotic art featuring men with large erect.....again TMI, added nothing to the story...

We are constantly told that Ed and Lea have sex, and we get a few descriptions of the bedroom scenes but these aren't the sweet, passionate encounters one usually reads in bodice-busters. They all sound pretty "slam bam thank you ma'am", but later Lea talks about learning to enjoy sex so he couldn't have been all bad.

These two learn to love each other, but we really don't get to see why or how. Ed's character doesn't make sense in so many ways. He is said to be a born-again Christian and is dismayed when Lea won't go to church with him--but he is the one who took her as a mistress. He asked her why prostitutes did what they did, and didn't seem to see the irony.

When I started reading this book, I almost put it down after a couple of chapters as I didn't care for the crude language or his treatment of her, but I decided to keep going, and did finish the book. The basic storyline is good, but I would have preferred a lot less sexual content and better character development.

I'd like to thank the author, N.E. Julian for sending me a review copy of the book. If you check her website you can read excerpts from the book and learn about her.

To purchase from Amazon: Sanctuary

Blog Tour and Review: White Picket Fences

About the Book:

When her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece Tally. The girl is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands– in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm–and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she, her husband Neil, and their two teenagers can offer the girl stability and a shot at a “normal” life, even though their own storybook lives are about to crumble.

Seventeen-year-old Chase Janvier hasn’t seen his cousin in years, and other than a vague curiosity about her strange life, he doesn’t expect her arrival will affect him much–or interfere with his growing, disturbing interest in a long-ago house fire that plagues his dreams unbeknownst to anyone else.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Will Tally’s presence blow apart their carefully-constructed world, knocking down the illusion of the white picket fence and reveal a hidden past that could destroy them all–or can she help them find the truth without losing each other?

About the Author:
Susan Meissner was born and raised in San Diego, California, the second of three daughters. She married a man who served in the US Air Force. They moved to rural Minnesota in 1993 after seven years in the Air Force — five of them spent in Europe — and she became aware of a gnawing desire to write a novel. She ignored it while her children were young, choosing to try writing articles for magazines but nothing ever got published.

In 1995, she was offered a job as a part-time reporter for her county newspaper. The publisher gave her her own weekly column, In 1998, she was named editor of the Mountain Lake/Butterfield Observer Advocate, the town's weekly paper, after the county newspaper purchased it. She won several awards over the years, including was having her paper named the Best Weekly Newspaper in Minnesota by the Minnesota Newspaper Association in 2002.

In 2002, she suddenly had an incredible urge to write a book; a novel so she resigned as editor of the newspape and set out to write Why the Sky is Blue. It took four months to write and ten months to be accepted by a publisher and she has been writing novels ever since

When she's not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo or teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, as well as spending time with family, listening to or making music, reading great books, and traveling.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. As noted above, it dealt with family secrets and how even those kept with the best of intentions can cause a fence between people. It also showed how even good people can be tempted to sin--and that they are capable of saying "no". The book is classified as Christian fiction, but Jesus is never mentioned. The family goes to church, but if you didn't know what a church was, you'd figure it was a social club, based strictly on the information in this book. They pray and the main Christian theme of new life and redemption is there, but not as explictly as in most Christian fiction. I'd say this is a book that even non-Christians could enjoy.

Meissner is a gifted writer who is able to tie together WWII Poland and modern California; a ne're do well drifter and financial planner; a well-ordered family and painful secrets. I definitely recommend this one.

Thanks to Staci Carmichael at Random House for providing a review copy of this book.

Purchase on Amazon: White Picket Fences: A Novel

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Recipe Club: Book Review

The Recipe Club is the story of two friends, Valerie and Lilly. Valerie is the daughter of an agoraphobic (afraid to leave the house) and a high school science teacher/inventor. Lilly is the daughter of a psychiatrist (who happens to be making house calls to treat Val's mother) and a singer/actress. Lilly's dad seems far more fond of Val than he does of Lilly, who, like her mother, is a singer. Valerie ends up as a doctor.

Starting when they are in sixth grade in 1964, the girls exchange letters, and with the letters, recipes. Most of the story is told in those letters. We follow the girls through teenaged angst, first boyfriends, losing their virginity, college, an abortion, a lesbian relationship, marriage and motherhood. We watch them learn their parents' secrets and finally get their lives in order (or so it seems). We see them go from girlhood chums to betrayal and hatred followed by a mature relationship.

I enjoyed the book but think I would have liked it more if I liked any of the characters. However, I didn't find any of them likable. Valerie and Lilly seemed to be Exhibit "A" in the "How to parent so as to produce messed up kids" book. The recipes in the book looked good, and I'll have to try some.

I'd like to thank the folks at FSB Media for providing a review copy of this book. At their website you can read other reviews and and excerpt from the book, including a recipe.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of bloggers who gather once each week to share out best posts. We are all Catholic and blog at least somewhat about Catholic things; some do so exclusively, others only periodically. All are welcome to participate here.

To join in the fun, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In that post describe and link to any posts you want to share with the rest of us. Also put in a link to this post. Then come back here, and sign Mr. Linky and give us a link to your post. Finally, go visit other people's posts, and leave comments! Some folks who don't post often have asked if they could, rather than creating a special "Sunday Snippets" post, just link their original post to Mr. Linky. That's ok, if your original post includes a link back here; since the idea is to share our posts and readers with each other. Encourage your readers to join us too.

I have a Catholic book to review, but it is a Bible study and is taking me a long time, so no real Catholic posts this week from me, but have a look at some of my book reviews while you are here, and I have a couple of giveaways.

If you want a weekly reminder to post, please subscribe to our yahoogroup.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Chocolate: A Love Story (and a giveaway)

About the Book:
With gigantic vats of churning chocolate, desserts like their famous chocolate pizza, and 12 varieties of hot chocolate served in custom mugs, Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man has turned their line of hip, colorful themed restaurants into an international sensation.. Chocolate: A Love Story is a vibrant new cookbook that includes 65 original recipes narrated in the quirky, captivating voice of Max Brenner, the restaurant's visionary founder and "bald man." Bold original illustrations inspired by Art Deco poster graphics, full-color photographs, easy-to-follow, delicious recipes, and a serving of Max's unique vision for spreading "chocolate culture" around the world make this book a must for every chocolate lover.
About the Author:
Max Brenner is a confectioner, businessman, and above all, a passionate lover of chocolate. He began his career as an apprentice throughout Europe, where he worked in the best kitchens alongside renowned pastry chefs. It was in Europe that his love for chocolate evolved into passion, leading him to open a small chocolate workshop in his homeland of Israel. Many years later, Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man is now a thriving international brand, committed to spreading Max's vision of Chocolate Culture to the world.
My Thoughts:
What's not to like about a book full of chocolate recipes? There are tried and trues like chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, sacher torte, and chocolate chip cookies (but these cookies are spiced iwth cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and have both milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips). There are also some that are new, at least to me--like spaghetti with chocolate sauce, topped with strawberries and toasted nuts. Once all the Halloween candy is gone, I'll have to pick a couple of these recipes and give us all a chocolate fix.
However, there are things not to like about the book. The first is that several of the recipes call for raw eggs, and there are no notes telling you to use powdered egg whites or to pasturize the yolks. Secondly,I didn't care for the artwork and general tone of the book. There were few pictures of the food, and lots of 1960's pop-art style drawings. The names of the food had a '60's revolutionary sound to them: "Alternative mild chocolate mousse, Revolutionary rice pudding, Meaningless sweet spaghetti, Contentious chocolate chip cookies". I guess that style of art is one of those things you either love or hate, and I don't love it.
The recipes themselves are a bit more complicated than those found in the average church cookbook; however you can make them without committing days and every dish in the kitchen to the effort.
The nice folks at Hatchette sent me an extra copy, so I'm passing it on to a reader. To enter, leave me a comment with a favorite chocolate recipe. If you copy if from somewhere on the web, leave a link to the source, but I want recipes, not just links. If you copy it from a book or food package, make sure to credit your source. Make sure your comment has your email address in it. I'll give you up to three entries for three recipes. I'll give you another entry if you blog about this contest and leave me a link to your post. US only--this book is heavy, media mail is a must!
Max Brenner's Homepage (has chocolate for sale)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thirsty: My Review

About the Book:

It is 1883, and all of Klara Bozic’s girlish dreams have come crashing down as she arrives in Thirsty, a gritty steel town carved into the slopes above the Monongahela River just outside of Pittsburgh. She has made a heartbreaking discovery. Her new husband, Drago, is as abusive as the father she left behind in Croatia.

In Kristin
Bair O’Keeffe’s debut novel, Klara’s life unfolds over forty years as she struggles to find her place in a new country where her survival depends on the friends who nurture her: gutsy, funny Katherine Zupanovic, who isn’t afraid of Drago’s fist; BenJo, the only black man in Thirsty to have his own shop; and strangely enough, Old Man Rupert, the town drunk.

Thirsty follows a chain of unlikely events that keep Klara’s spirit aloft: a flock of angelic butterflies descends on Thirsty; Klara gives birth to her first child in Old Man Rupert’s pumpkin patch; and
BenJo gives her a talking bird. When Klara’s daughter marries a man even more brutal than Drago, Klara is forced to act. If she doesn’t finally break the cycle of violence in her family, her granddaughters will one day walk the same road, broken and bruised. As the threads that hold her family together fray and come undone, Klara must decide whether she has the courage to carve out a peaceful spot in the world for herself and her girls.

About the Author:

Kristin Bair O’Keeffe grew up in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Her maternal grandfather, a Croatian immigrant, worked as a steelworker in U.S. Steel’s Clairton Works all his life. Nearly every weekend as a kid, Kristin visited her grandparents’ home in Clairton on a bluff overlooking the Monongahela River. As she played tag with her sisters, the smokestacks filled the sky with their gaseous utterances and the barges toted their haul down the river.

Kristin’s articles and essays have been published in Poets & Writers Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Baltimore Review, San Diego Family Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. Her column—The Fiction Writing Workshop—appears monthly in the popular ezine Writers on the Rise. In 2008, her work was translated into Chinese and published in China’s most popular weekly news magazine, Oriental Outlook Weekly, and she is featured in the Bylines 2009 Writers’ Desk Calendar.

With a B.A. in English and journalism from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago, Kristin has always combined her love of writing with teaching. She is a passionate writing instructor with fifteen years of workshop experience at U.S. colleges and universities, including Boston College, Endicott College, Montserrat College of Art, University of New Hampshire, and Columbia College Chicago.

My Thoughts:

O'Keeffe is a gifted writer, one who knows how to use words to paint pictures and draw out emotions in people. Thirsty is a novel about pain--the pain of domestic abuse, the pain of working in a steel mill, the pain of losing loved ones, the pain of racial prejudice and the pain of alcohol. It certainly wasn't a fun light read, but the ending was hopeful.

The main characters are Catholic Croatian immigrants. Early in the book a large number of butterflies come to Thirsty, a mill town near Pittsburgh. It is locally seen as a miracle and it draws people back to the Church. However, O'Keeffe notes that the priest "threw away the collection of Latin prayers he had compiled over the years and recycled every few Sundays without the parishioners even noticing the repetition. Instead, he opened his Bible to the most poignant passages and spoke to the people from his heart in their common language--English". Since this supposedly happened in 1884, I'll have to point out that the mass was said in Latin at that time, and no priest would have changed it to English. However, even the Latin mass had a vernacular homily on the readings of the day.

I found the ending happy, but not realistic.


Purchase from Amazon:Thirsty: A Novel

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