Princess Academy (the first book in the series) is a middle grade Newbury Award winning book from 10 years ago. I found it faced out at the library laPrincess Academy (the first book in the series) is a middle grade Newbury Award winning book from 10 years ago. I found it faced out at the library last summer, read it, and then picked up the sequel. This book is the final in the series, and it's no less delightful or engaging than the other two. It has high adventure and fun characters, humor and seriousness, good dialogue and good plotting. It's the kind of book I have no qualms recommending, rereading, and sharing with pretty much everyone in my life.
Though this is the last book in the series, it could be read alone without really losing anything in the story. (Granted, it's more a book for girls than for boys.) Highly recommended....more
This novella leaves you wanting more, as much for its delightful writing as for the story it weaves. Picturing Mary as a REAL PERSON, one who struggleThis novella leaves you wanting more, as much for its delightful writing as for the story it weaves. Picturing Mary as a REAL PERSON, one who struggles with some of the same things we do (like work, for example) is something we just don't often do. And while this book helps us do that, it does it by using storytelling as craft. You won't be able to put it down, and once you finish, you'll wish there was more. Highly recommended!...more
This book intrigued me for a few reasons. First, I love the idea of focusing on Advent through Mary's eyes. Second, it's NOT written by a Catholic, anThis book intrigued me for a few reasons. First, I love the idea of focusing on Advent through Mary's eyes. Second, it's NOT written by a Catholic, and I haven't seen a lot of focus on Mary in non-Catholic sectors.
I am a Catholic, and a bit of a "Mary geek," so I was a little leery of this book, but what I found was that it is, in a word, awesome. Hamilton takes an approach that's different than what you would expect: instead of focusing on Christmas, he starts with the Crucifixion and goes back in time with each chapter.
You could read this book for an Advent devotional, you could read it for a Christmas devotional, you could read it just to educate yourself and grow in devotion. Hamilton is in no way preachy and he stays true to both scripture AND tradition (which is no small thing).
Highly recommended. I'll be rereading it and sharing it!...more
Meet one of the hardest books I've been asked to read and one of the most important books I've read and one that should be a must-read for everyone toMeet one of the hardest books I've been asked to read and one of the most important books I've read and one that should be a must-read for everyone today.
Being gay isn't just a hot topic, it's a hard topic. I mean, who am I to speak of it? But then again, who am I to keep quiet?
This topic affects us all: it impacts those who face same-sex attraction, whether they're the ones struggling with it or the people on the sidelines watching and (hopefully) supporting.
Tushnet has, in just over 200 pages, given us a glimpse that's raw and challenging. It's not easy to read, in part because, wow, she's not so different from me, is she? It's honest and raw and it will make you examine assumptions you might not have even known you were carrying.
While the title may lead you to think that this book only applies to your reading list if you are gay, know someone who's gay, or have an interest in the topic, let me toss you this: I gained as much insight about my own vocation as a married woman as I did about Tushnet's vocation as a celibate gay. There was a relational quality in her writing, one that acknowledged the others in her life. Her self-awareness extends and invites us in, forcing us to consider who we are.
This book is not light reading, but I couldn't put it down. It's a book you deserve to read....more
Overall, an OK book. It struck me as violent, but that is one of the themes of the book (overcoming a natural tendency to violence). I read it becauseOverall, an OK book. It struck me as violent, but that is one of the themes of the book (overcoming a natural tendency to violence). I read it because my 9yo wanted it and I thought I'd read it first...I'm glad I did, because there are a few items I'll discuss with her as she reads it. Though the characters are all pegasi, they are very human in many ways, and this book could be an opportunity for discussion about bullying, growing up, war and fighting, and even group dynamics.
I was hooked, and the writing is good. I don't know that I would let very young readers read this without some guidance or at least previewing it....more
Marriage is a hot topic right now, as well it should be. And this is a book that’s just what this whole conversation needs. It's a take on the issue oMarriage is a hot topic right now, as well it should be. And this is a book that’s just what this whole conversation needs. It's a take on the issue of love that not only got my attention, but that also kept me smiling.
Here’s the set-up: Scott and Megan are friends, each in separate same-sex relationships. Megan and her lover decide to have a baby, and it’s natural to Megan that Scott be the donor. As it happens, Megan gets pregnant and her lover abandons her after some abusive acts. Scott, ever the problem-solver, comes up with a plan that involves Megan moving in and being his housekeeper.
Their friendship grows, but their life sort of falls apart in the background. In the midst of this, something happens, changes, deepens.
Thomas explores love and marriage in this book, in part by turning so many things upside down. Throughout the story, Scott and Megan never “change” from their same-sex attraction. They are united because of mutual need and they each have to sacrifice for the other. Their friendship makes this possible in the beginning.
Unlike most modern romances, these characters aren’t out to change each other: There’s no “girl-redeeming-boy” or “man-saving-woman” motif going on. Instead, these real-life people (or that’s how they seemed as I was reading it) are stepping up and doing what needs done. Scott responds nobly. He comes up against hard times, which prompts Megan’s creativity.
The two make quite a pair, and it’s not at all easy. For one thing, there’s a kid involved. For another thing, there’s the issue of same-sex attraction.
Which, as it turns out, isn’t really an issue.
If this book does nothing else, it should remind us all that we are all human. There are no monsters here. All too often, in comboxes and in snide little corners, I see defensiveness and nasty snark happening when the conversation turns to same-sex attraction. There’s nothing redeeming about that response, and there’s nothing Christ-like on either side of the fence.
What Thomas has done — in addition to putting together some scenarios that made me laugh out loud — is humanize the face of same-sex attraction. He hasn’t said it’s okay; if anything, this book proves the opposite without being nasty about it. He has kept the dignity of the person, painted the delight of the experience of realization, and crafted a story that’s more than enjoyable.
We’re not left with things tied up in a neat little box. Scott and Megan are flawed at the end, though they have an awareness of that at the end they lacked at the beginning. Their flaws don’t just stem from their sexuality, either. Thomas makes that clear, without ever condoning the action.
This book is light years away from the preachy attitude, the “better than you” approach, the “me right, you wrong” heavy-handedness that the Church is so often characterized as taking. There is nothing being shoved down your throat as you read this book. Instead, there is the offer of perspective based in real humanity.
Do yourself a favor and read this book. It’s masterfully and powerfully written. It’s a journey from cover to cover that will leave you smiling and probably also pondering....more
I really did enjoy this book, though at first I wasn't sure I would. I spent about half the book thinking, "I'm just NOT the target market," but then,I really did enjoy this book, though at first I wasn't sure I would. I spent about half the book thinking, "I'm just NOT the target market," but then, as I was sharing about it with a good friend, I realized that, in fact, I AM. Because though this book would be perfect for young women to read (from about 8th grade up, I'd say), it's also a book that moms and aunts and women with young women in their life can and should read.
The premise of the book is taking faith lessons from the three major Disney princesses: Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. I must say, I didn't see all the connections coming (A for creativity and cleverness for the author).
Overall, an enjoyable read. I recommend it....more
Trusting God is easier said that done, at least for me. I always seem to think I know better. Or that I can do it myself, which puts me at about the sTrusting God is easier said that done, at least for me. I always seem to think I know better. Or that I can do it myself, which puts me at about the same level as my three-year-old. Over the years, I’ve become quite a St. Therese fangirl, though I will admit that I struggle sometimes. Her Little Way doesn’t seem little in terms of effort or difficulty. Her philosophy trumps me. And yet I keep coming back to her.
So I was intrigued by Connie Rossini’s new book Trusting God with St. Therese (Four Waters Press). Rossini seems to be a highly practical person, so I didn’t expect a lot of flowery advice that I won’t be able to follow anyway.
Rossini manages to make St. Therese, the great Doctor of the Church, into someone accessible, and she does it in part by sharing her own story in conjunction with Therese’s. Suddenly the Little Flower becomes not just a saint who either bordered on whiny or who was so perfect I stand no chance of being inspired, but someone who I can turn to in prayer and maybe even hear speaking to me as I read about her.
At the end of each of the 13 chapters, there are reflection questions that would be ideal if you were using the book for a study group or even for journaling inspiration. Rossini has also included at least two, and sometimes as many as four, practical suggestions at the end of each chapter, too.
Reading about Rossini’s experiences through the lens of St. Therese was inspiring, true. Beyond that, though, it also motivated me to consider how my own experiences can be viewed in light of the saints who impact and inspire me. ...more
I didn't read this book all in one stretch, but I could have. Heidland's writing is compelling and raw in a way that, like so many other people, you jI didn't read this book all in one stretch, but I could have. Heidland's writing is compelling and raw in a way that, like so many other people, you just don't expect from a religious sister. Dude, she could be ME in so many ways!
Sister Miriam shares her conversion, yes, but she also points out many of the errors in society's reasoning. She weaves in Church teaching and shows the efficacy of them: none of this is preachy. In fact, it's a fast-paced read, one that will make you smile and maybe even tear up.
I've heard Sister Miriam speak, and I was so glad I had: I could hear her voice in my head as I read her words. This is a powerful testimony and a compelling read. Highly recommended....more
Lisa Hendey’s new book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living (Ave Maria Press), is one you won’t want to miss. I don’t say that becauseLisa Hendey’s new book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living (Ave Maria Press), is one you won’t want to miss. I don’t say that because I know Hendey personally and am friends with her (though both are true). I say it because it was nothing like I expected.
I’m not sure what I expected in The Grace of Yes: maybe a textbook approach to the Blessed Mother, a look at virtues, and something that I could safely assume would NOT be good bedtime reading.
What I found, though, was that I had to rein myself in and keep myself from just whipping through this book. It’s not that it’s an easy read; it’s that it’s compelling and wrenching and it keeps your attention. What Hendey has done is craft a book that taps into everything I love most about her writing.
This book took courage to write, and it takes a measure of grit to do more than just read it like it’s an enjoyable read (which it is). I’m well-acquainted with Hendey’s writing: she’s written three other books and she’s a well-known blogger, writer, speaker, and new media personality. I follow her closely. I listen to what she has to say. Whether I agree with her or not, I do always take note, because her sincerity, humility, and wisdom always shine through the deep faith she nurtures.
In the body of work Hendey has produced, I rank this as the best of her writing. I found a lot of grace in reading it, and I expect that, upon rereading it, I’ll find myself struck again by Hendey’s wisdom and insight. The prayers that close each chapter, along with the questions, are carefully considered and deeply provoking.
The Grace of Yes book is nothing short of amazing. This is a book that will get you thinking and make you want to talk and discuss or, at the very least, ponder and reflect....more
You don’t have to turn far to see a discussion of same sex attraction. It’s everywhere, and it’s heated wherever you turn. People who seem to be otherYou don’t have to turn far to see a discussion of same sex attraction. It’s everywhere, and it’s heated wherever you turn. People who seem to be otherwise calm and orderly suddenly sprout extra appendages and the ability to use words you’ve never heard.
So I was interested to see a small publisher release a book early this summer tackling this topic. In 200 pages, The Lion’s Heart, by Dena Hunt, combined masterful storytelling with uncomfortable topic matter.
The story: Paul’s a gay guy, and it turns out that so is Max, though he doesn’t know it until he meets Paul. Wrench: Max is happily married. Another wrench: Paul is friends with the family.
Don’t roll your eyes yet, because I’ve not only oversimplified, I’ve also left out the excellent writing. This could be a terrible story (all the elements are there), but it’s truly one that was crafted. The reader isn’t just carried along, but has to do some thinking and concluding.
The premise of the book is the love affair between two men, but it’s about more than just what I think we’ve all come to expect. Instead of focusing exclusively on what’s wrong with these two men, Hunt explores the impact their adultery—because that’s what it is—has on their families and the people around them. She takes a theory that many of us have heard—that what we do matters to more than just ourselves—and weaves it into a reality that’s hard to deny.
This book grapples a topic that’s not only hot but that gets people hot. You’re probably not going to let your teen read it, but you should. This is an honest, candid, painful look at the humanity behind the terms that are tossed around. These characters are people, not numbers. They have depth and believability. They have problems that most of us are only spitting distance from having ourselves.
Hunt does what few authors are able to do, and even less do well, she leaves well enough alone and she leaves the reader alone to make some important decisions and conclusions.
This book is one of the most honest books I’ve read, and that’s what makes it one that I’ll share. It’s not pretty, it’s not easy, and it’s not lying. There’s no shying away from the pain for any of the characters, but there’s also a glimpse at what the beauty of love can really yield. And I don’t think it will make you roll your eyes....more