Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mailbox Monday

The Lumby LinesThe Lumby Lines was the first book I got this week.  Thanks to the folks at FSB Media.

Saint Patrick (Christian Encounters Series)Saint Patrick (Christian Encounters Series) came to me via Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program.  It will be interesting to see how this Protestant publisher handles a book about a Catholic saint.

To see what the mail brought others, check out the host post at The Printed Page.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

I'd like to welcome you to this week's edition of Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. This is a chance for Catholic bloggers to share their best with other Catholic bloggers. How do you participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival? Go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--a Catholic Carnival and in it, highlight one or more of your posts from this week, with links to the posts. Then come back here and leave a direct link to that post on Mr. Linky. Then go visit the other participants. If you don't post often, you can leave a direct link to a post on Mr. Linky, but your blog should have a link back to this post. Sunday Snippets is a two-way link-up. The idea is to share readers.

If you'd like to sign up to get a weekly reminder to post, subscribe to our yahoogroup.

It has been a slow blogging week for me; my autism posts were pre-scheduled. I've been working on a new blog for my Alumnae Association I did recognize several Catholic bloggers on my Link Love post; and I invite you to try them.

What about you? Leave your links below.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Link Love

I'm still working my way through my list of followers.  Who is up this week?

Colleen is a prolific Catholic blogger and regular Sunday Snippets participant.  She writes Thoughts on Grace, Simple Reflections, Blueberry Muffins, Surviving by Grace, and Lenten Journal.

Sarah and Bill have a blog about Natural Family Planning

Cym Lowell hosts a weekly book review blog party.  I really need to start participating again.

Loci is a Catholic blogger.

Mary is another Catholic author of many blogs:  Two Hearts Entwined, The Mystical Rose, The Beautiful Gate, Out of Babylon, and Abba's Way

Kathy of Kittling Books is a great book blogger.

That's all for this week.  Hope you find some new favorites.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Plain Jayne: My Review

Plain Jayne (Plain and Simple)Plain Jayne (Plain and Simple) is a little different take on an Amish romance.  Jayne is a newspaper reporter who goes to an Amish community looking for a story.  She meets Levi, a man who was raised Amish but has left the church.  He arranges for her to live with his family for a while.  She gets to know them as people, learns something about their lives and makes friends.  She sees something in their life that she likes.  He however, has chosen to leave the church.

The book is Christian fiction.  Jayne comes back to her faith in the book, and she explains to another character that all you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart and you are saved...

In some ways the book hinted at a depth that wasn't there.  Jayne was estranged from her family, yet we hear very little about why.  Her mother has changed, for the better--but again it is a detail that is dropped and then not developed. The author, Hillary Manton Lodge, makes sure we know that Jayne often takes sleeping pills, but this isn't developed.  Why does she need the pills?  Is she guilty?  Hurting?  Sick?

This book is the first in a series; the second deals with Levi's sister who is probably the third most important character in this book.  I'd love to read a book about Levi's grandmother--she sounds like a lady with real spunk!

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary review copy from Rebecca Seitz at Glass Road Public Relations.  The links above are to and if you purchase after clicking on them, I get a small commission.

Final Grade:  B-

Autism Week: Books About Autism

Books be a source of information, putting out facts we need to learn or they can help us by showing that we aren't the only ones who feel the way we do or experience what we do.  What I'd like to talk about today are books about autism or persons on the autism spectrum.  Have you read any?  You can leave an answer in a comment or use Mr. Linky to link us to one or more book reviews.  

I've reviewed two books about Autism on this blog.  Of course Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story is one.  The other is Temple Grandin's Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behaviour which I reviewed here.  What about you?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Autism Week: Vaccines

To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question. Whether tis better to vaccinate your child against the panoply of diseases we can now prevent them from getting, or to avoid the needle for fear of autism or other ills?

If you look at the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, there is a huge jump starting with kids about my 17 year old son's age.  My son's age cohort was one of the first to get the HepB vaccine and  the HIB had only been out a couple years when he was born.  Prior to that, the "baby shots" had been the same for a generation.  It is no wonder that parents started to question whether all these new shots were having an effect on their children.  First, there were those who said that they symptoms of autism were similar to those of mercury poisoning, and that many of the shots contained thimerisol, a preservative made with mercury.  Though never a an accepted standard care, some doctors used chelation treatments on autistic children, and many parents felt they got good results.  Due to public outcry (and probably the threat of litigation) thimerisol was removed from most vaccines, yet the autism rate did not decrease.

Several years ago a study was published in a prestigious medical journal linking autism and the MMR shot.  Though the study was discredited rather quickly, and finally, this year, withdrawn, it has had the effect of markedly decreasing the number of children who receive the MMR vaccine.

The number of vaccines continues to climb, as does parental concern about injecting all that stuff into such a small baby.  Maybe, some have postulated, there is nothing wrong with the (fill in the blank) vaccine; the problem is giving them all at once overloads the immune system and causes autism, or auto-immune disease or....

My youngest is twelve years younger than my oldest.  With my two big kids, I showed up at the doctor as scheduled, signed the shot papers after a quick glance (it wasn't like I really had a choice about shots, was it?) and got them what they were supposed to have more or less when they were supposed to get it.  By the time my youngest showed up, my son had already been diagnosed and I had already spent lots of hours researching autism, including reading about the shots.  Needless to say, I wasn't near as enthusiastic about vaccines as I had been years before.  I refused to sign for the HepB (or was it C) in the hospital.  I checked all the shot papers for mention of thimerisol, always wrote "NO THIMERISOL" on them before signing.  I delayed shots, but given the lack of evidence in the mainstream press for vaccines causing autism, I didn't refuse them completely.  We'll never know if my attitude toward shots was a factor in my baby not being autistic, but the fact of the matter is, she's not, and that's a good thing.

So, my question for you today is whether the stories relating autism and vaccines have had any effect on the medical choices you make for your children.  Why or why not?


I started blogging almost five years ago, and have done it seriously for about three years now.  I just got my 100th follower!  I'm excited, and I'd like to thank all of you who take time out of your busy days to read what I have to say.

Review: Beneath a Southern Sky

Beneath a Southern SkyBeneath a Southern Sky is the story of Daria, Nate and Cole.  Daria and Nate are missionaries to Columbia.  Nate, a doctor, heads into the wilderness to aid some natives, and doesn't return.  His party returns without him, and tells her he died in a fire.  Heartbroken and pregnant, she returns to the US.  Over a year later she dates and later marries Cole, and shortly thereafter conceives another child.  All seems right with world, until one day she gets a telegram telling her that Nate was found alive, and is flying home soon.

What a premise for a book.  What a story of emotional angst.  What a chance to really explore what marriage really means.  Unfortunately, this book never lived up to its potential.  I like happy feel-good reads tied up in a bow as much as anyone, but this one was just too neat.  For one thing, it wasn't until page 200/311 that Daria learns Nate is still alive.  The wrap-up started on page 285.  What that means, to me, is that the part of the book that offered the most possibility for conflict, emotion, and pain for three basically good people got only 85 pages.  The happy ending didn't cost all of the characters, only one, and he really came across as super-human.  What was going on in Daria's mind?  Cole's?  Nate's?  We know they are in pain, but we really don't get inside them, the answers are all just too pat.

This wasn't a bad book, it was just a book that didn't live up to the potential of the story line.  It's a book that lends credence to the allegation that Christian fiction is saccharine and more intent on making its spiritual point than in telling a real story.  Grade C+

I'd like to thank Liz at WaterBrook Mutlnomah for my review copy.  You can view the publisher's webpage here.

Review: Faithful Heart

Faithful Heart (Angel of Mercy Series)

About the Book: (from Amazon)  Dottie Harper fears for her children's safety. Her husband, Jerrod, is struggling with dementia brought on by shell shock during the Civil War. It's as though there are two Jerrods locked inside him: the tender and loving Christian man she married, and a harsh man given to unpredictable fits of violent rage. Dottie loves her husband with all her heart, and with God's help, she'd determined to remain steadfast. 

Dottie's sister, Breanna Baylor, is a certified medical nurse. She's headed west with a wagon train, planning to visit Dottie in California and meet her family for the first time. Along the way, Breanna meets up with wounded soldiers, contagious townspeople, and injured outlaws. Compassionate and highly skilled, she tends to their physical hurts and shares the gospel whenever she can. Litlle does she know that a life-or-death meeting awaits with her own brother-in-law.

Come alongside these two remarkable sisters, and rejoice in how God takes care of those with faithful hearts.

My Review:  This book had a basically good storyline and characters with real potential.  However,  it is one of those Christian romances that mentions prayer, God, Jesus, or salvation on almost every page.  It got to be too much for me.  DNF p 82  Grade D (If you like really religious romances, this is probably not a bad book for you).

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a review copy of this book.  You can see their product page here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Autism Week: Diagnosis

Once upon a time, I left the hospital with a normal, healthy baby boy, or so I thought.  He was a fussy, clingy baby who loved routine.  He cried when the vacuum cleaner ran, or if the door was open when the grass was being cut.  He met his physical milestones, but not the verbal ones.  Maybe if he hadn't been our first, we would have realized it sooner, but there was definitely something wrong, language wise.  Yet, there were also lots of signs of definite intelligence.  He started receiving speech therapy at 2 1/2 and a special ed preschool teacher came to his daycare a couple of days a week to work with him when he was three and four.  After a rough start, he thrived in an inclusion kindergarten class in a wonderful public school, and his teacher told me he was the best reader she'd seen in the ten years she'd taught kindergarten.  He was diagnosed with ADHD and continued to receive some special ed services in first and second grade, but he also made the honor roll.  Then came third grade, changing classes and more structured work--and behavior problems.  I took him to another pediatrician for advice/consultation and after speaking to my son for a few minutes, told me he had Asperger's syndrome, that it was the diagnosis of the week, and that all they could do was treat the symptoms.  I went home, looked it up and saw the A word, Autism.  I knew autistic kids, he was in school with them and played with them, and I had to admit, had some things in common with them--but those kids couldn't do what he could, those kids had been diagnosed years before, and my son hadn't.  Was the pediatrician right?

After a full work-up by a center known for treating autistic kids, it was determined that his proper diagnosis was PDD-NOS, since he had language issues as well as social ones.  However, one thing the pediatrician said proved to be true--we've treated the symptoms to the best of our ability, but there is no miracle medication or therapy that makes it go away.

Do you have an autistic child?  Tell us about your diagnosis experience.  Either do it in a comment here, or by a post on your blog.  Link your post (even if it is an old one, already written) to Mr. Linky below.  Do you know an autistic child, or the parents of an autistic child?  What did you think when you heard about the child's diagnosis?  How did the parents react?

Winner! The Cougar Club

The Cougar Club: A Novel

Congratulations to Lauren who just won an autographed copy of The Cougar Club: A Novel .  I hope you enjoy it and I'd like to thank Susan McBride for providing me with an ARC and for providing Lauren with an autographed copy of the book.  I enjoyed featuring her book last week and plan to do more series of posts inspired by books I read.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Welcome to Autism Week

I hope you enjoyed my review of  Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story as much as I enjoyed reading the book.  Of course, I'm a little biased, you see, I too have a son whose disability is classified as "high-functioning" autism.  Autism is getting a lot of press these days.  I have a Google Alert set for "Autism".  When I first set it years ago, I used to get an email once or twice a week, with one article link.  Now, I'm emailed daily, and each email gives me links to several stories--stories that range from the latest attempts to get health insurance to cover ABA, to a community's autism walk to treatments that someone thinks may be "the" answer.  It is said that as many as 1% of children today will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.  These kids are everywhere, in our churches, in our classrooms, in our families.  This week we are going to talk about them, and I invite you to join the discussion.

A Kiss for Cade vs. The Courtship of Cade Colby

A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series) versusThe Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure)

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I enjoy romance novels; and unlike some other readers, I enjoy both the Christian and mass-market versions.  In general, if I have a problem with a Christian romance novel it is that it is too preachy or strongly pushes a theology with which I disagree, or that the characters are just too good to be true.  In general, if I dislike a mass-market romance it is because the characters seem to be in lust more than in love, they have no morals or the language seems unnecessarily crude.  Often if asked to give a quick way to determine if a romance is the Christian type or the mass-market type, I'd say that in the Christian type the characters go to church; in the mass-market type, they go to bed.  

When Rebecca at Glass Roads offered me a review copy of A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series) one thing that piqued my interest was that it was noted that the book had previously been published as The Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure) and had been re-worked for the Christian market.  I was curious to see what that meant so I headed to Amazon and purchased a copy of The Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure) and waited for my review copy of A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series).  I thought it would be fun to compare the two.

First of all, let me say that I enjoyed both books.  The story was basically the same in both versions.  On her deathbed, Abby asks Zoe, her best friend, to write to Cade, her brother and Zoe's first love, to ask him to take care of her children.  Cade is a bounty hunter who promised to return for Zoe, but who never did.  Cade returns to town, planning to arrange a home for the kids and leave quickly, before the bad guys realized he was there.  Of course things don't go as planned, he has to spend a lot of time with Zoe, and sure enough....  As mass-market romances go, The Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure) is on the mild side; there is no pre-marital sex (though some had happened in the past and was regretted) and the characters are faithful to each other.  They aren't using sex as a substitute for love.  A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series) is on the mild side for a Christian romance--no one gets "saved" and religion isn't a primary subject of discussion.  I think a die-hard non-Christian would only roll his/her eyes once or twice during the whole book.  

So, what the difference in the two books?  The mass-market version is much more physical.  Cade and Zoe touch much more and get physical reactions to that touching.  We are in the bedroom with them when they consummate their relationship, whereas in the Christian version, we don't get to watch more than the first kiss.  Of course the Christian version has more religion in it--but even the mass-market version had the kids praying over their food and showed the family going to church.  

Which book should you read?  If you want a clean romance, try A Kiss for Cade (The Western Sky Series) even if you don't generally like Christian romances.  If you like all those physical descriptions, you'll like The Courtship of Cade Kolby (Avon Romantic Treasure).  Both books were fun to read and I enjoyed this little comparison exercise. 

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

I'd like to welcome you to this week's edition of Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. This is a chance for Catholic bloggers to share their best with other Catholic bloggers. How do you participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival? Go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--a Catholic Carnival and in it, highlight one or more of your posts from this week, with links to the posts. Then come back here and leave a direct link to that post on Mr. Linky. Then go visit the other participants. If you don't post often, you can leave a direct link to a post on Mr. Linky, but your blog should have a link back to this post. Sunday Snippets is a two-way link-up. The idea is to share readers.

If you'd like to sign up to get a weekly reminder to post, subscribe to our yahoogroup.

This week one of the books I read and reviewed prompted me to do a week-long series on women in the world today.  One of those posts was on Women in the Church, but I invite you to take the time to read all of them.  Next week I'm doing a series on autism, so I invite you back to discuss that topic.

I gave out some Link Love to a couple of Sunday Snippets participants.

I started my Lenten Link-up series.  I invite you to join me.  

I read Embrace Me, a Christian novel with very positive treatment of Catholicism.

Thanks for joining us.

Cowboy & Wills: A Charming Memoir

Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story

Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story is a delightful memoir about a boy and his dog.  What makes it special is that the boy in this story, Wills, is autistic.  Cowboy comes into his life when he is in kindergarten and helps him become so much more independent.  With Cowboy as a companion, he became more open to new people, places and things.  

The story begins before Cowboy enters their lives.  Written by Wills' mom, the story takes us through the process of selecting a kindergarten and trying to arrange things so as to cause her son the smallest amount of distress possible.  We read about rejection letters and parental fears.  We read of hope and an understanding schools.  We follow Wills as he masters what are, for him, big steps like using the boys bathroom, and enjoying a bath.  We smile when Cowboy joins the family, and cry when we learn that she is ill.  

As the mother of an autistic son, I could relate to much of what the author, Monica Holloway, shared about her son--he didn't like jeans, couldn't stand tags and hated loud noises.  As any mother of an autistic child can tell you, autistic kids each have their own strengths, weaknesses and eccentricities.  In some ways a group of autistic kids probably don't share many more characteristics than a group of neuro-typical kids do--some are smart and do well in school; others don't.  Some are verbal, others aren't.  In other ways, yes, I can relate to what she said about Wills because I have been there and done that.   I'd love to read an update to this book ten years from now when Wills is ready to graduate from high school.  I'm looking at that next year, and I'm both hopeful and scared.  I think my son feels the same way.

I'd like to thank the author, Monica Holloway for sending me an autographed copy of Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story .  I won it on Bookin with Bingo.

Grade:  A

Women's Week: Women in the Church

What is the proper role of women in the Church?  It is a topic that got a lot more press ten years ago than it does now-at least in Catholic circles.  Protestants, except for conservative Evangelicals, seem to have decided in favor of women in the clergy.  Evangelicals seem, to this outsider, to decide on a congregation by congregation basis so that if a woman wants to be a pastor, she can probably find a church that will accept her.  The official word of the Catholic Church is that the Church does not and never will have the authority to ordain women, case closed. However, if you look at the Church from a historical perspective, despite the fact that women have never been ordained, they have held positions of influence and authority--more influence and authority than was common for women of their time in the secular world.

So my readers, since we are discussing women this week, what do you see as the proper role of women in the church (or other faith community)?  Why?

 If your religious congregation has a female pastor, how was she accepted when she first arrived?  Did it cause division in your community?  One completely non-doctrinal fear I've had about women pastors is that having one would make church seem too much a female place for men to feel comfortable.  Has your experience validated my concerns, or not?  In other words, has having a woman in the pulpit changed the male/female make-up of your congregation?  How did you come to have a female pastor?  In other words, was she assigned by some higher-up, or did your congregation choose to hire her?

In my experience, while Catholic parishes are generally run by male priests, the paid staff under them, and the volunteers who take the most time-consuming jobs are generally women.  Is this your experience as well?  Is that a good thing, and if not, what can be done about it?

Remember, if you have left your email address in a comment on the giveaway post, substantive comments to this post earn you entries to win an autographed copy of The Cougar Club: A Novel
The Cougar Club: A Novel

Friday, February 19, 2010

Link Love

To whom am I giving Link Love today? More of my followers of course:

Angela writes The Suburban Jungle which is a basic mommy blog with money-saving tips and product reviews.

Bahama Catholic by Kevin has some Lenten ideas, if you are in the Bahamas.

Writergal has a book blog (The Complete Booker), and an entertainment blog (Steele on Entertainment).

Booklogged writes A Reader's Journal.

Chris is a Catholic man and a Sunday Snippets regular.  He writes The Working Man's Thoughts.

Why not show some Link Love to those who read your blog?

Women's Week: Fill in the Blanks

We've been talking about women all week, so now I invite you to post a comment filling in the blanks.

The best thing that has happened to/for women in the last thirty years has been ____________.
The worst thing that has happened to/for women in the last thirty years has been ____________.
One change I hope to see soon that should have a big effect on women is ______________.

Feel free to expound on your answers.

Like the other Women's Week posts, substantive comments on this post will gain you entries to win an autographed copy of The Cougar Club: A Novel
The Cougar Club: A Novel

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