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Showing posts with label KatyHuthJones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KatyHuthJones. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens - Catholic Teen Books

Gifts: Visible & Invisible 
8 Christmas Stories for Teens 
From Catholic Teen Books
ISBN 9780997971859


Wow! What an amazing collection of Christmas stories! I know not everyone likes short stories, but I love them, and this collection is amazing! Short stories are a different art form than novels. For a short story to be good, the writing needs to be tighter and crisper. And each of the 8 in this collection are very well written. One of the things I normally love about reading anthologies is discovering new authors. But that was not the case this time. I have read books by all of the contributors and had high expectations for this collection. I loved the anthology Secrets Visible & Invisible from the authors at Catholic Teen Books.

Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette
Katy Huth Jones
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl

In this collection we have one Christmas short story from each of the contributors. Some contain characters you may encounter in novels by the authors, and one has characters in a forthcoming novel. I have read this anthology once and I have listened to it a second time. It is one of the best anthologies I have ever encountered for Catholic or Christian fiction!

The Outlaws’ Friend - Susan Peek
In The Steps Of A Saint - Katy Huth Jones
A Perfect Christmas - Carolyn Astfalk
Operation Gift Drop - Theresa Linden
Christmas Angel - Leslea Wahl
Signs Of Christmas - Cynthia T. Toney
Just Jesus - T. M. Gaouette
A Very Jurassic Christmas Eve - Corinna Turner

As I have mentioned, this is a great collection of short stories. I really could not pick a favorite or least favorite. Each story is well written. And I thoroughly enjoyed them all. In the collection, we encounter 2 Historical stories, 2 Dystopian, and 4 Contemporary. Though I might argue that the last is Science Fiction and not Dystopian, but that would just be my classification of the tale. And here is a summary of each story.

The Outlaws’ Friend

This story took me completely by surprise. It is truly a gem. Susan Peek specializes in writing historical fiction around the lives of the saints, and the subject of this story, the most current hero of the faith she’s written about, is on his way to being canonized. It is a story that starts in a snowstorm just before Christmas and tells of a life of service.

In The Steps Of A Saint

Katy Huth Jones has written about the good King Wenceslas in her novel Treachery and Truth. But this is the story of a young man named Andrew who figures out the meaning of the song and starts to live it out. And because of his passion, his new youth group and parish are doing something more to be good and kind. I love that the story is written around the carol, the meaning of the song, and the life that inspired it.

A Perfect Christmas

Christmas expectations unmet? How many of us have not been here before? But this year, it seems like everything that can go wrong does. Dad is away and Mom is dealing with a newborn—on top of the other kids. But fifteen-year-old Marigold had so many plans for this Christmas and they all seem to be falling short. However, after a first-time Christmas Eve visit to the neighbours, she has a new perspective on things. The characters are great. And if we are lucky, they will appear in a new novel from the author in 2021.

Operation Gift Drop

This is a new story set in the world of the Chasing Liberty novels. There are 3 novels and several short stories set in this near future dystopian world. Liberty does not make an appearance in this story but one of the main characters, Dedrick, did. If you are not familiar with the stories, this is a great introduction. And if you are, it adds to a world I am sure you know and love. This is a great story!  ... I was hoping for a West Brothers story, oh well maybe in the next anthology.

Christmas Angel

This story is about experiencing Christ in Christmas. It is also about sacrifices and giving. Read and discover how Meg put Christ in Christmas and how her own actions start to inspire others. It is a wonderful tale of growth. We do not always get to see the results of our charity, but in this story, we get a glimpse.

Signs Of Christmas

Christmas 1925 and it’s the first that 14-year-old Antonina will spend apart from her best friend Salvatore. But while missing her old friend, she makes a new one, and she’s a friend in need. As Antonina listens for God to guide her to help where she can, she gets a surprising answer to a Christmas prayer. This story is set after the events of The Other Side of Freedom. It was great to revisit the characters. And Toney has crafted a moving Christmas tale. 

Just Jesus 

The theme in this story is around a class of students and their expectations of what is needed for Christmas. It is a mix of experiences and expectations. This is an excellent little story. But to be honest it really left me wanting more. I want to know more of Luke's story, both before and after this event. I also wish to know more about Vanessa. I love the story and the message. It makes me want to get carved baby Jesus for my three kids and to read the story with them.

A Very Jurassic Christmas Eve

I have read the three novels in the unSPARKed world. I love the world Turner has built. And this Christmas story gives us another glimpse into it. The sentence that really got me was:

“What was it like in the old days, before the crazy scientists and their arrogant assumption that they could contain the creatures they’d bred? Hard to imagine, and I don’t waste time trying. So what if the world outside the fenced cities is harsher and more dangerous than it once was? It’s my home, and I like it as it is.”

It is a story about the gift of time. And the gift of compassion. And an allosaur and her brood. In this story we encounter again Darryl and Joshua. And it is all wrapped up like Christmas with family, faith, and friends.

For fans of the authors in this collection, you need to pick this book up to read their contribution. For readers who love remarkable stories, this collection is also for you. If you want some great reads that are clean Catholic\Christian fiction focused around the holidays, this is the book for you.

This anthology is amazing! And I can only hope the Catholic Teen Books releases another collection soon. I cannot imagine what they would come up with in a collection focused on Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. If you love great short stories you owe it to yourself to give this collection a try! 

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

Links to other reviews of books by the contributors:
Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette

Katy Huth Jones
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl

Anthologies from the Catholic Teen Books Authors:
Secrets Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories 
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens

Friday, 28 December 2018

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Fourth Quarter 2018

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Fourth Quarter 2018

My total books this quarter is down a bit from last quarter, 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 Quarter by the numbers: 

78 books read
49 received 5/5 stars
8 of those had been read before
25 were non-Fiction
24 were fiction

So here is my top ten fiction and non-fiction books of the fourth quarter 2018. 

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:

1. Inspiration from the Saints - Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh
2. Father Damien's Letters - Joseph Damien De Veuster
3. Finding Our Way Home: A family's story of life, love, and loss - J Damon Dagnone
4. Footprints of the Northern Saints - Basil Cardinal Hume
5. Love In Action - Fernando Ocáriz
6. Overcoming Lukewarmness: Healing Your Soul's Sadness - Francis Fernandez-Carvajal
7. Wisdom from Pope Paul VI - Pope Paul VI and Mary Leonora Wilson FSP
8. Call Him Father: How to Experience the Fatherhood of God - Fr. Edward Maritany
9. To Raise the Fallen: A Selection of the War Letters, Prayers, and Spiritual Writings of Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J. - Edited by Patrick Kenny
10. Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Beliefs Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church - Peter Kreeft 

Top Ten Fiction Books:

1. Lives of the Early Christians in Rome Trilogy - Father Michael E. Giesler
Junia - Marcus - Grain of Wheat
2. Thanos Titan Consumed - Barry Lyga - MARVEL's Avengers
3. The Absence of War - Amy Welborn
4. Siege of Reginald Hill - Corinna Turner 
5. Treachery and Truth - Katy Huth Jones 
6. Ornamental Graces - Carolyn Astfalk
7. Charlotte's Honor - Ellen Gable - Great War Great Love Book 2
8. Guarding Aaron - T.M. Gaouette - Faith & Kung Fu Book 3
9. David Vining Short Stories Collections:
A Boy and His Satellite
Shoes for Two Soldier Sons
10. Death by Airship - Arthur Slade - Orca Currents

If you give some of these a try I am sure they will be with the read! 

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, 19 December 2018

Treachery and Truth - Katy Huth Jones - A Story of Good King Wenceslas

Treachery and Truth
Katy Huth Jones
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819875358
eISBN 9780819875389


I had this book on my Kindle for a little over a year. It kept popping up in recommendations from friends, fellow reviewers and authors. And every time I moved it towards the top of my reading list, it was quickly bumped down and forgotten until I was reminded about it again. This last time I was reminded about it, I immediately started reading the book. And what an excellent read it is. I had a hard time putting this book down; and ended up devouring it in three sessions over two days. Over the last few years I have read several Christian, Catholic historical fiction novels. Based on a life of a saint, that gives us a glimpse of the life of a saint. And this book does an incredible job of just that.

This is a story filled with history, betrayal, faith, and following God. Most people are aware of the Christmas carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’. This is a story of that man’s life. Saint Wenceslaus, or Vaclav in the Bohemian or Czech as is used in the story. The story is told through the eyes of a servant a young man named Poidevin. Many of the characters are real historical figures, as is the main story. Liberties have been taken to write it into a compelling novel. Set in the ‘dark ages’ around the year 930 A.D. The story takes place between the years 920 and 929 approximately. It is a time of clashes between Pagan religions and the growing Christian Catholic influence. After the death of his father, his mother acting as regent returns to the pagan ways. While Vaclav is faithful to the Catholic church, as was his father and his paternal grandmother. The conflict grows until Vaclav must seize the throne that is rightfully his from his own mother. But his own Christian beliefs prevent him from taking the life of his mother and brother, and it eventually has dire consequences for the king, his family and the whole kingdom.

At one point in the story Poidevin reflects:

“I turned and watched the candle’s flame in the dark room. I’d never noticed before how much light a single candle could produce, how much darkness it dispelled. In that moment, a thought came to me. My master was like a flame burning brightly in the darkness of Bohemia, the darkness of selfishness, greed, ignorance, and an insatiable hunger for power. It was heartening to know how much goodwill one man could spread to others.”

And in many ways that is what this boo does for us 1100 years after the events of the story. Wenceslaus or Vaclav depending on what name you prefer for his was by all accounts a good man, a devote man, and an honest man. He was canonized lest than 70 years after his death.

This story is a great read for young men, it will captivate their interest, and show them a man living his faith well. It was written with a Young Adult audience in mind, and yet I believe it can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. It is wonderfully written. The characters are well written, and the plot, written around the facts we know about this saint’s life. A great read that I can give a solid 5/5 stars.

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

Books by Katy Huth Jones:
Leandra's Enchanted Flute
Treachery and Truth
Carpe Diem
Stuck in the Muck
Return to Finian Jahndra
Battling the Beast: Growing in Faith through Cancer
Bug Feet: An Introduction to Rhythm in Poetry

He Who Finds Mercy Series:
Mercy's Prince
Mercy’s Gift
Mercy’s Battle
Mercy’s Joy

Contributed to:
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

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!