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Showing posts with label EllenGable. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EllenGable. Show all posts

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Fourth Quarter 2019

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Fourth Quarter 2019

This quarter I have read 95 books, and a total of 392 this year. I am reading at the pace of about a book and a quarter a day.  Of those a total of 49 books received 5/5 stars and 45 are first time reads and are therefor eligible for this quarters top ten list. That left me to choose from 22 non-fiction and 23 fiction.

Here is my top ten fiction and non-fiction books of the fourth quarter of 2019.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
1. Memento Mori: Prayers on the Last Things - Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP
2. Learning to Love: Journeys Through Life with the Rosary - Father Nigel Woollen
3. How to Make Great Decisions - Fr. Mike Schmitz
4. Reclaiming Catholic History Series
5. 12 Life Lessons from St. Thomas Aquinas: Timeless Spiritual Wisdom for Our Turbulent Times - Kevin Vost
6. 20 Answers Conversion - Shaun McAfee - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers 
7. Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory A Powerful Devotion for the Holy Souls - Seven Swords Publications and Susan Peek
8. Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI talks to Children on Their First Holy Communion - Pope Benedict XVI, Amy Welborne and Ann Engelhart
9. Inseparable: Five Perspectives on Sex, Life, and Love in Defense of Humanae Vitae - Edited by Todd Aglialoro and Stephen
10. Whatever Happened to Friendship? - Henry Menzies

Bonus:
In Conversation with God - Francis Fernandez
Be Strong in the Lord: Spirituality for Men - Harold Burke-Sivers
Saint Maximillian Kolbe Martyr of Charity - James E. McCurry

Top Ten Fiction Books:
1. From Afar - Roger Thomas
2. Father William's Daughter - Fiorella De Maria
3. The Last Ugly Person: And Other Stories - Roger Thomas
4. Ungifted - Gordon Korman
5. All in Good Time - Carolyn Astfalk 
6. The Watchful Sky Series by Roger Thomas
7. The Attic Saint - Tim Drake and Theodore Schluenderfritz
8. Ella's Promise - Ellen Gable - Great War Great Love Book 3
9. The Advent of Christmas - Matt Maher and Merce Tous
10. Blue Moon - Lee Child - Jack Reacher 24

Bonus:
Hunt for Jack Reacher Books by Dian Capri

My reading has been up over each of the last few years. I attribute part of it to Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now, removing all games but 1 brain game from my devices. And I now commute to work on a bus and read on the bus every day. Last quarter was an almost 2/3rds fiction and non-fiction, this quarter it was split almost equal.

Note: I do not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists, they are in the bonus section. It was no easy task making this quarter. But if you want more options check out my favorite books year by year list


Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2019
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2020
... 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

392 - 2019
359 - 2018
380 - 2017 
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996




Monday, 4 November 2019

Ella's Promise - Ellen Gable - Great War Great Love Book 3

Ella's Promise
Great War Great Love #3
Ellen Gable
Full Quiver Publishing

ISBN 9781987970050
ASIN B07Z5G6GT6 


I have read all three books in this series. I know I am not the intended audience. But I absolutely loved this book and the whole series. They are Christian Historical Romance, but there is so much of the historical that I read it, and was captivated by the history, the way story, and the relationship though a centerpiece was so well written I could not put the book down. Over the last several years I have read a number of non-fiction books about Military Chaplains, and this book is not about a chaplain but about the same times and circumstances. All three in this series are excellent reads. When I heard that this book was forthcoming, it was immediately added to my to be read list. And it did not disappoint, in fact it might be the best in the series. 

In my review of the first book in this series I stated: “I must admit as a middle-aged man this book would not be my normal reading. I do read a lot of YA, but hardly any romance. And this book is really so much more than that.” I am a father of daughters. And I often read books before recommending them to my girls or before rereading them with them. I picked up the first book in this series thinking about my oldest who is now a teen. And I loved that first book so much that I eagerly anticipated books 2 and 3. I am planning on reading this book with my oldest this year and will read it again in a few years with my youngest. 

The three stories in this series have a bit of overlap, specifically in characters. But this book ties the three stories together and the ending was wonderfully written. But let’s get back to this specific story. Ella Neumann is serving the war effort, but as a nurse who had studied at surgical school, and wants to be a doctor after the war, she does not distinguish between Allie or axis soldiers if the person is in need, she wants to provide care. Even if it means defying direct orders. She is the oldest daughter of German immigrants, and she is fluent in German, and had become very passable in French. She saves the life of a German officer a POW and he promise that if he can ever do anything for her he will. She falls in love with a Canadian soldier. But that soldier has secrets and soon her feelings are in conflict. She has gone under cover behind enemy lines but refused to spy on the POW’s in her care. The Great war has complicated her life, but also opened to her new opportunities. During the closing days of the war she must risk it all to save the man she has fallen in love with, just as he has risked all on a desperate mission that might help the war to end much sooner.

But to find out how it all works out you will need to read this excellent novel. If you give this book or the whole series a try, I am certain you will not be disappointed. I have not yet read a book from Full Quiver Publishing or Ellen, that I did not really enjoy. The tag line for Full Quiver on their website is "Theology of the Body Fiction”. And I am following both the author Ellen Gable and all Full Quiver publications closely. Another great read by Ellen Gable and from FQ publishing. A great read for all ages! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!


Books by Ellen Gable:
O'Donovan Family Series:

On Name Only
A Subtle Grace

...

Great War Great Love Series:
Julia's Gifts
Charlotte's Honor

Ella's Promise


Other Books:
Emily's Hope
Stealing Jenny

...

Contributed to:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

...




Monday, 31 December 2018

Top Ten Fiction Books 2018

Top Ten Fiction Books of 2018

My total books this year is down a bit from last year, but my page count is actually up. Just variations in the length of material read. And I am finishing the year at just under a book a day with 359 books read over the year, down a bit from the 380 last year. The year by the numbers:

359 books read
215 received 5/5 stars
35 of those had been read before
137 were non-Fiction
78 were fiction

So here is my top ten fiction books of 2018. 

Top Ten Fiction Books of 2018 are:

1. Lives of the Early Christians in Rome Trilogy - Father Michael E. Giesler
  Junia - Marcus - Grain of Wheat
2. West Brothers Books - Theresa Linden
  Battle for His Soul
  Life-Changing Love 
  Roland West Outcast
  Anyone But Him
3. Down Time - Barry Lyga - An I Hunt Killers Prequel
4. Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body - Edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable
5. Thanos Titan Consumed - Barry Lyga - MARVEL's Avengers
6. Outwalkers - Fiona Shaw  
7. Secrets Visible & Invisible - Catholic Teen Books Anthology
8. The Absence of War - Amy Welborn
9. We Are All Jacob's Children: A Tale of Hope, Wisdom, and Faith - Noah benShea
10. Kayan Kronicles - Derya Little 
       Lost
       Found

There were so many great reads this year it was really hard to narrow it down to just 10. 

Note: I did not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists, they were in the bonus section. As stated it was no easy task making this quarter. But if you want more options check out my favorite books year by year list. This post is going up early because of the end of the quarter falling during holy week.


Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2019 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

359 - 2018
380 - 2017 
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996




Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Charlotte's Honor - Ellen Gable - Great War Great Love Book 2

Charlotte's Honor
Great War Great Love #2
Ellen Gable
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9781987970043
ASIN B07HYJD3RV



Over the last few years I have read a number of non-fiction books about Military Chaplains, and this book is not about a chaplain but about the same times and circumstances. This historical fiction book, and the other available in the series are both excellent reads. Once I heard that this book was coming out, it was immediately added to my to be read list. And it did not disappoint.

I stated in my review of book one of this series: “I must admit as a middle-aged man this book would not be my normal reading. I do read a lot of YA, but hardly any romance. And this book is really so much more than that.” But as a father of daughters who is trying to install a life long reading habit in them I find I read a lot of books with my kids that I would not pick up for myself. But as much as I look forward to reading this book with my girls when they are a little older, I was eager to read this book because of how much I enjoyed book one.

This story overlaps a little with book one and has a few cross over characters. But it can be read on its own. It is a complete story and what a story at that. The main characters in this novel are Charlotte Zielinski, a medical volunteer. She enlisted for service after her father had passed away and she received notice that he brother had been killed in the war. She had no family left and wishes to server helping other men like her brother. She has a special skill with men who are dying, and she ends up volunteering to serve in the death ward. Spending most of her time reading to, singing for, and just being present for those who are terminal. The other is Dr. Paul Kilgallen, a Canadian surgeon serving in the field hospital. Paul who has experienced loss, is determined not to be mired in a relationship. But after the two remain behind with the critically wounded, when the rest of the hospital is evacuated. The three days allows each to see the other in a new light. But in love and in war things do not always go as planned and as hoped. 

To find out what happens to these two you will need to read the book. Give it a try I am sure you will not be disappointed. I have yet to read a book from Full Quiver Publishing, that I did not really enjoy. The tag line for Full Quiver on their website is "Theology of the Body Fiction”. And I am following this author and all Full Quiver publications closely. Another great read by Ellen Gable and from FQ publishing. A great book for readers of all ages!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!


Books by Ellen Gable:
O'Donovan Family Series:

On Name Only
A Subtle Grace

...

Great War Great Love Series:
Julia's Gifts
Charlotte's Honor

Ella's Promise


Other Books:
Emily's Hope
Stealing Jenny

...

Contributed to:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

...




Friday, 9 March 2018

Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body - Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable

Image and Likeness
Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Erin McCole Cupp (Editor)
Ellen Gable (Editor)
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780987915351
ASIN B01MF5C5YP



I am a big fan of anthologies. First I find they are a great way to meet new authors. Second I find the skill needed for shorter prose is greater. Third it is a great change of pace from non-fiction, and fiction. And this one was excellent on many levels. I had read 4 books by Full Quiver authors over the last year and decided this Anthology might be a great way to be exposed to some other authors to explore. Now to be honest I was familiar with a number of the authors and had read books by three of the seventeen. 

The contributors are:

Michelle Buckman  
AnnMarie Creedon  
Karina Fabian 
Anne Faye 
Ellen Gable (Hrkach) 
Barbara Hosbach 
Dena Hunt 
Katy Huth Jones 
Antony Barone Kolenc 
Theresa Linden 
Leslie Lynch 
Erin McCole Cupp 
John D. McNichol
Damon Owens 
Arthur Powers
Gerard D. Webster 
R. Elaine Westphal 

And the contributions are:

Foreword by Damon Owens
Venus if You Do by Arthur Powers
Thou by Gerard Webster
No Turning Back by Leslie Lynch
Purple Hearts by Tony Kolenc
Cries of the Innocents by Karina Fabian
Victorious by Katy Huth Jones
Movements by Michelle Buckman
Full Reversal by Theresa Linden
In the Death of Winter  by Arthur Powers
Guess Who's Coming to Sunday Brunch by Erin McCole Cupp
Nice by Gerard Webster 
My Pot of Gold by R Elaine Westphal
Claudio by Arthur Powers
This is My Body by AnnMarie Creedon
Good For Her by Erin McCole Cupp
Pear Trees by Dena Hunt
The Walk by Anne Faye
Two Kinds of People by John McNichol
Hard Choices by Barbara Hosbach
MS by Arthur Powers
Made For Love by Theresa Linden
The Death of Me, The Life of Us by Ellen Gable

But this is more than just a collection of stories with a theme, or unifying thread running throughout them. As Damon Owens in the introduction states: 
"The power of stories on people is a fascinating phenomenon. A poem, anecdote, short story, biography or novel can engage our imagination, intellect, emotions, and memory in transformative ways. We truly are "hard-wired" for story. As a Catholic speaker and evangelist for over twenty years, I have witnessed how a well-told story can build rapport, engender trust, and influence even the most reluctant listener."
C.S. Lewis in On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature stated: "It is very rarely that a middle-aged man finds an author who gives him, what he knew so often in his teens and twenties, the sense of having opened a new door." But this book did that. This book is not just a great collection of stories and it is that. Because the theme central to the stories is The Theology of the Body, the stories have incredible impact. I have already started reading through this a second time, taking a slower pace, and just one story every other night. I also have plans to read books by a number of the contributors, the ones I was already familiar with and some new authors to check out.

This book has punch, from the first story by Arthur Powers, which literally has a fist fight. And it is the not the only story to see actual punches thrown. These stories included unexpected pregnancies, the military's don't ask don't tell, vigils at abortion clinics, cancer. There are stories about living in a fallen world, but also stories about a redeemer, and the church that holds his banner high. I especially appreciated Theresa Linden's first contribution Full Reversal, which continues, sometime after her Chasing Liberty trilogy. And Ellen Gable's The Death of Me, the Life of Us is an incredibly moving piece dealing with guilt. And the poem MS by Arthur Powers simply masterful. 

Damon Owens in the introduction also stated: 
"I am indebted to the authors and poets of Image and Likeness for their gifted storytelling of real life "ugly." This book isn't afraid to hold our gaze into the darkness of sin, doubt, and brokenness before the resolution of redemption. Some of these stories are heartbreaking to read precisely because I know this is true. Some of them I will never forget because of their unexpected turn to redemption. Through and through, this is an artistic instruction in TOB that shows us the wounds needing the balm, the balm applied, and the health and wholeness of men and women healed. And, like every well-told story, its penetrating TOB truths will influence even the most reluctant reader."
And I completely agree. And I hope that the editors are considering adding a second volume. This is an incredible collection that I know everyone who gives it a try will be blessed, and likely a little challenged. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Friday, 26 January 2018

Stealing Jenny - Ellen Gable

Stealing Jenny
Ellen Gable
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780973673623

ASIN B005M4K4S2


This is the second book by Ellen Gable that I have read in the last year it is also the fourth by Full Quiver Publishing. Full Quiver Publishing has a tag line of their website of "Theology of the Body Fiction", and after reading these four books published by them I greatly appreciate that goal. This book was definitely a page turner. I could hardly put this book down. This may have only been the second book by Ellen that I have read but it will not be the last!

I am having a hard time classifying this novel. It is part crime fiction and police procedural. It is part Christian fiction as it revolves around a family of great faith going through a very hard time. I would put it in the genre of realistic fiction. Much Like Madeleine L'Engle's Austin Family chronicles. In fact, this book could be a sort of next generation for some of those books. It sort of feels like reading about Vicki Austin's children or grandchildren. 

As a husband, as a father it was hard to read this story. The description of the book is: "After three heartbreaking miscarriages, Tom and Jenny Callahan are happily anticipating the birth of their sixth child. A neighbor, however, is secretly hatching a sinister plot which will find Jenny and her unborn baby fighting for their lives.". It is a very intense read. The story is told from the perspective of a number of characters. Jenny Callagan a young mother expecting her 6th child, and very excited after three miscarriages. Her husband, Tom. Denise Kramer a divorcee who cannot conceive a child on her own. Sargent Romano of the Ontario provincial police. But the story is not linear, each of the main characters remembers back, to earlier times in their lives. To some of the events and situations that have brought them to this time. Some of those memories are good, and some not so good. Each of the characters have made mistakes, and most have learned from them. 

As can be guessed by the title and description Jenny is kidnapped just days before a planned C-section because of complications in her pregnancy. The play moves at a quick pace, and even with the 'flash back' moments the story proceeds well. The main story takes place over a few days. But the flashbacks encompass almost two decades of time. The main story is set just outside Ottawa, and some of the flashbacks are to Tom's time in Kingston, while at Queen's University. Having grown up in Kingston, and spent a lot of time in Ottawa playing sports, it was so easy to picture the settings and places in this story. But that also made the story hard thinking about my family, my friends, or my own mistakes when I was younger.

The story has a decidedly Christian feel, and Tom and Jenny are Catholic and faith is very important to them. The parish priest makes a few appearances, and there is mention of mass and continual adoration taking place until Jenny is found. There are memories of bullying in high school. And there is also premarital sex, talk about abortion, and for one character an actual abortion. There is a lot in this book that would make for great discussion material with older teens and young adults. Or it can be read as a crime thriller by just about anyone who enjoys the genre.    


This book was an excellent read. It was hard to put down. It draws attention to many real life issues. And it places them in a frame work that will make you think. I am glad I gave this book a read and think you will be if you give it a go! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Ellen Gable:

O'Donovan Family Series:
On Name Only
A Subtle Grace

...

Great War Great Love Series:
Julia's Gifts
Charlotte's Honor

Ella's Promise


Other Books:
Emily's Hope
Stealing Jenny

...

Contributed to:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

...

Reviews of other books from Full Quiver Publishing:
Dying for Compassion - Barbara Golder
Dying for Revenge - Barbara Golder

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Julia's Gifts - Ellen Gable - Great War Great Love Book 1

Julia's Gifts
Great War Great Love #1
Ellen Gable
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780987915306
ASIN B076Q8TQQ7



I must admit as a middle-aged man this book would not be my normal reading. I do read a lot of YA, but hardly any romance. And this book is really so much more than that. As a father of daughters this is a book I look forward to rereading with my girls in a few years when they are a little older. Full Quiver Publishing has a tag line of their website of "Theology of the Body Fiction", and after reading this book I understand that goal better. And will likely read other titles by both the author and publisher.

When this book was recommended to me I looked it up. A few authors I respect had given it rave reviews, so I thought I would give it a try. The description of the book is:

"Religious Fiction. As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her "beloved." Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Disheartened by the realities of war, will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer."
Once I started reading this story I was immersed in the world at war. I could hardly put the book down and I read it in three sittings in one day. This book got me thinking about a lot of things. I have heard of other parents that started praying for their children's spouses as soon as the children were born. I also while in university had a list of things I was praying for in a spouse. And in this book Julia took it one step further, not only was she praying for her future husband, she bought him a Christmas gift each year. When she volunteered to go to Europe and serve with the Red Cross as a medical aid worker. When packing she packs the small box with all the gifts that she has purchased 'just in case'.

The story is not a typical courtship or romance novel. It is a story of faith. It is a story of answered prayer, often in unexpected ways. It is a wonderful read. I really appreciated the realism in this story. It captured the essence of war, and the reality of serving at an aid station. There are some very hard parts of the story to read, parts about injured and dying soldiers. The cramped conditions in the medical tents. A suicide. And other elements of war make this book a mature read. Because of that I would recommend this book for older teens, or very mature younger teens.
This is a book that completely took me by surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I made me think back on my grandparents who met during the war, and both grandfathers who had served in the European theatre. It also made me thing of my paternal grandmother who was a war bride and came to Canada after the war. It made me reflect on the future for my own three children, and start praying again for their possible future spouses. It is a fiction book that made me thing and inspired me to pray more and in new ways. As such I can only say this is an excellent read, I am very thankful I took the chance, and gave it a try and I recommend you do the same.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Ellen Gable:

O'Donovan Family Series:
On Name Only
A Subtle Grace

...

Great War Great Love Series:
Julia's Gifts
Charlotte's Honor

Ella's Promise


Other Books:
Emily's Hope
Stealing Jenny

...

Contributed to:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body



Reviews of other books from Full Quiver Publishing:
Dying for Compassion - Barbara Golder
Dying for Revenge - Barbara Golder



Saturday, 31 October 2015

Word by Word - Sarah A. Reinhard - Slowing Down with the Hail Mary

Word by Word:
Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Sarah A. Reinhard
Ave Maria Press
ISBN 978-594716409
AISN B0153PXGRU


I received an email asking me if I would be interested in reviewing this book. Knowing Sarah I jumped at the opportunity without even asking any questions. Once I got the book I realized it was an anthology of sorts. This amazing books takes the prayer of the Hail Mary and breaks it down word by word. I must say it was an amazing journey and one I plan on taking again. I know I will reread this book likely a number of times!

There are 42 contributors to this project, some I knew about before and had read their words and was greatly excited to read their contributions. A few I had heard of but had yet to read and some I had never heard of. I can say I have already got books by three of the contributors just from how powerful their pieces in this volume were. The contributors in the order they appear are:

Fr. Patrick Toner
Deacon Tom Fox
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe
Carol Ann Chybowski
Kate Wicker
Mary C. Gildersleeve
Brandon Vogt
Mark Szewczak
Nancy Carpentier Brown
Jeff Young
Maria Morera Johnson
Fr. James Tucker
Julie Davis
Jeffrey Miller
Jennifer Fitz
Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Michelle Reitemeyer
Christine Johnson
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe
Pat Gohn
Lisa M. Hendey
Dorian Speed
Kevin Lowry
Walt Staples
Karina Fabian
Barb Szyszkiewicz
Michelle Buckman
Val J. Bianco
Arwen Mosher
Miriel Thomas Reneau
Lisa Mladinich
Sarah Vabulas
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle
Ellen Gable Hrkach
Peggy Bowes
Daria Sockey
Susie Lloyd
Karen Edmisten
Shelly Henley Kelly
Cat Hodge
Paula Huston
Fr. Patrick Toner
and an amazing Appendix Titles for Mary by Deacon Tom Fox

The contributions are an amazing mix, from clergy, laity, men and women, married, single with and without children. As I was reading numerous times I took quotes and emailed them to friends thinking how perfect the quote would be for a person at that point in time. I highlighted almost 50 passages during my first read through and will use some of those in the rest of this review to highlight how excellent this book really is.

Sarah in the introduction states: "You might say it's become my blankie prayer. Just as my children cling to their worn-soft, faded blankies, so I cling to my Blessed Mother's skirt through this prayer. When my heart aches, I cry out a Hail Mary. When I need to be held in my sorrow, it's a Hail Mary that comes out. When I'm worried or troubled, the words I can't find on my own shape up as a Hail Mary." This echoes with me so much. She goes on to say "I pray it unconsciously, the way my children grab my hand without even knowing it when we're walking side by side. It's a comfort to me, and I'm so blessed to have it. When I don't have words for the desires of my heart, I always have the Hail Mary. When I'm lonely or sad or just at odds with the world, I have the Hail Mary. In the Hail Mary, I find so very many spiritual delights, not the least of which is how it leads me, irrevocably, closer to Mary's Son." I find that I am the same way, it is my default prayer, my first in the morning and my last at night. Next Sarah exclaims: "Of course, I couldn't resist considering my favorite prayer in light of this word-by-word approach. What would it be like to pray the Hail Mary deliberately, carefully weighing the importance and significance of every one of the forty-two words?"

I have found from the time I have read the introduction to this book my prayers especially The Hail Mary and The Our Father my prayers have slowed down. Sometimes even pausing with every word. I have also slowed down my three children as they pray their nightly prayers. Sarah says: "There's a new message for me each time I approach the Hail Mary slowly. A calmness is cultivated that forces me to live in the present moment in a way so few things in my modern life of gadgets and responsibilities require." I am finding this also as I slow my prayers down, and this book has been a great tool for that. Finally She states: "We'll take a journey together through the Hail Mary, word by word. The prayer will expand as we work our way from Hail to Amen. You may find yourself uncomfortable, inspired, confused, or even overwhelmed. Embrace that experience and let Mary guide you to her Son through it." So come along see what else really hit me from the book and hopefully from these samples you will find that deeper connection to Mary and through her to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Carol Ann Chybowski in the first chapter on 'of' asks us to reflect on these questions: "As you pray, ask yourself: What am I of? Where do I come from? And to whom do I belong?" Do you relflect upon these questions.

Jennifer Fitz in her chapter on 'women' stated "And if some of us women are called to biological motherhood-the business of bringing forth newly created bodies and souls-all of us are called to spiritual motherhood. Grandmother, aunt, sister, daughter, colleague-whatever our title, we have a lifelong mission. An eternal mission, as the intercession of the saintly women in heaven attests." To me this was one of the most powerful passages in the book. I have shared it with a few friends and family and all the women I shared it with were touched.

Later in the book it says "As Catholics, we have been raised to understand Mary in that endearing way. We embrace her not only because of the important role she played but also because we know she can sympathize with our family problems." Michelle Buckman in penning these words might know how many mothers and fathers these words will impact but they have greatly impacted me.

Recalling a story Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle says this "Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom I knew personally for about ten years, had a very close relationship with Mary and taught me a simple yet profound prayer that I pray often: "Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a Mother to me now." Mother Teresa stressed that Mother Mary wants to mother us sinners and wants us to call upon her often. She wants to be our Mother. Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a Mother to me now!" This chapter on 'sinners' was amazing and what I really needed to read that day.

"The Hail Mary is a beautiful and powerful prayer. In the first part, we recite the words of the archangel Gabriel and then those of Elizabeth. In the second part, we ask Mary to pray for us. And to pray for us now." Ellen Gable Hrkach in her chapter on 'now' pens these words. How many of us pray in the now, or even live in the now. This was one of my favorite chapters in the book. (Not that there was a bad one, but some impacted me more now than others.) Ellen goes on and later says "Now is a good time to take stock in our spiritual life. Now is a good time to take care of our bodies, our minds, and, most importantly, our souls." Will you do so?

Susie Lloyd in her chapters on the last 'the' uses a number of examples from Winnie the Pooh I am looking forward to reading her chapter with my children  and seeing if they get it. It is a splendid little chapter.

Fr. Patrick Toner writing on 'amen' says: "The Church teaches lex orandi lex credendi, or "what you pray is what you believe." The Amen at the end of any prayer is like signing your name to the Declaration of Independence: you've put your life on the line. Live all of your Amens." What do you believe, what do you pray, how do you pray?

This book was wonderful. Unlike most books I read it slowly over a few weeks and have already gone back and started it again. It is an excellent read and I highly recommend it!


Books by Sarah A. Reinhard:
Welcome Baby Jesus
Welcome Risen Jesus
A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy
Catholic Family Fun
Word by Word

Do I Really Have to Give Something Up for Lent?
An Examination of Conscience for Teens: Grades 6 and Up


Author Profile and interview  with Sarah A. Reinhard