All posts by Beth Ruggiero

Not the Only One: A Review of ‘Raymie Nightingale’

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
‘What? You, too? I thought I was the only one.'”–CS Lewis

Reading Level

Grades 4-8

Review and Comments

Raymie Clarke’s father has left her family for a dental hygienist, but she has a plan to bring him home. She will win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, he will see her picture in the paper, and he will come home. All she has to do is learn how to twirl a baton.

It is in her incredibly awkward baton twirling class that Raymie meets her two greatest friends, Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski. Though each girl has different motives for wanting to learn to twirl a baton and join the contest, they realize that they all care about each other very much, and their very different personalities don’t stop them from having a few adventures together.

Continue reading Not the Only One: A Review of ‘Raymie Nightingale’

What is Love?: A Review of ‘Believe in Love: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis’

“God is love. And we move toward the light to find the love of God. But is God’s love within us, even in the dark moments? Is the love of God there, hidden away? Yes, always! The love of God never leaves us. It is always with us. Do we trust in this love?”–Pope Francis, Address to Children 2014

Review and Thoughts

All of us need a little inspiration or daily reminders about the wonderful love of God. It’s easy to put Him on the back burner with the daily comings and goings of our lives, but Pope Francis encourages us to keep Him at the forefront in this lovely compilation of quotes.

The book is divided into six “chapters” with each being focused on a different aspect of love. Some of the titles include “I believe in love, and I want to love a lot” and “I believe in God’s patience, as good and welcoming as a summer’s night.” Each chapter then gives us many beautiful quotes by Pope Francis. The individual quotes are given their own pages with the date and time of the quote listed underneath.

I love quote books and this book is perfect for meditation at the beginning or end of each day. It serves as a wonderful daily reminder for each of us Catholics striving for sainthood. I personally think it would serve as a wonderful gift for anyone who loves to ponder and ruminate on the teachings of the pope and the love of God.

Continue reading What is Love?: A Review of ‘Believe in Love: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis’

Following His Holy Will: A Review of ‘Where You Lead’

“There are times when He Himself allows terrible sufferings, and then again there are times when He does not let me suffer and removes everything that might afflict my soul. These are His ways, unfathomable and incomprehensible to us. It is for us to submit ourselves completely to His holy will. There are mysteries that the human mind will never fathom here on earth; eternity will reveal them. (1656)” – Saint Faustina

Reading Level

7-12+

Review and Contents

Three cheers for Leslea Wahl! Her young adult stories for the Catholic audience are fun, adventurous, and pure entertainment so I was so happy when she asked me to review her third book. Where You Lead is probably my favorite of her novels so far.

The story begins with Eve having visions of a boy named Nick. She can clearly see his face and she sees that they are friends, but she has never met this boy before. She realizes that her visions are more than a dream and she begins to pray asking God what it could all mean. Slowly God’s plan begins to unfold for her and her family moves across the country to Washington DC.

Continue reading Following His Holy Will: A Review of ‘Where You Lead’

THe Strength of Young People: A Review of ‘Secrets: Visible and Invisible’

” We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theater. We need saints that are open sociable normal happy companions. we need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.” –Saint Pope John Paul II

Reading Level

Grades 7-12+

Review and Contents

I was so excited when this book first came out. First of all, I am a HUGE fan of the short story genre. It was my favorite thing to read in school and my favorite to teach to my freshmen in high school. Truly great writers can tell such a good story with only a few pages.

It’s also no secret that I’m a fan of Catholic fiction for young readers. Most YA literature is full of vices of the modern world. Sex, drugs, violence….the list goes on and on. It feels so safe to have Catholic writers compile good stories for teens to read.

Continue reading THe Strength of Young People: A Review of ‘Secrets: Visible and Invisible’

40 Books for the Forty Days of Lent

Lent is not my favorite season. There. I said it out loud. It’s a rough one for me, but I’m making a serious effort NOT to pass my ‘bad attitude’ towards this holy time down to my children.

I’ve looked for ways to teach my young kids about their relationship with God and helping others and making sacrifices during the Lenten season. Each year I work to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t. (Let’s be real, there’s been a lot that hasn’t worked!) Last year we did the Jesus Tree from Nancy over at Catholic Sprouts. My kids LOVED it! (You can buy it here.) So we are planning to do it again this year. And I have a few new ideas up my sleeve. (Backyard stations of the cross? We shall see!)

But as you all know, I love books. There’s no better way to teach kids than by curling up with them to read a book. Most holidays and seasons are FULL of book lists, but Lent is one that doesn’t have quite so many options.

This is why I’ve put this list together! Consider it my Lenten offering to you. I’ve tried to give as many options as possible. One for each day of Lent if necessary! This list is full of prayer books, reflection books, beautiful picture books, religious stories retold, Catholic fiction stories, stories of sacrifice, and stories of giving to others.

So, this Lent, find some books that might work for you and your family and have blessed, beautiful, and holy Lent!

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Books of Prayer/Reflection for Children

Continue reading 40 Books for the Forty Days of Lent

A Review of ‘Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple

“The Lord cannot be at work in me if I am only allowing him the time I spend doing pious or prayerful things.  I must open the whole of my life to Christ and intentionally make him a vital part of everything I do.”–Father Gary Caster

Reading Level

Grades 11+

Review and Comments

I’ll be honest, after having kids I have found prayer difficult.  I find little time to myself and am constantly interrupted.  I even have trouble making it through a rosary without falling asleep!  Then, as an attempt to make up for my distraction/frustration/exhaustion, I try to find a new devotion/method/motivation to kick myself back in gear.  Slowly I see myself becoming a Martha and less of a Mary and the downward spiral continues.

Enter Father Gary Caster’s book, Prayer Everywhere (which was obviously sent to me by the Holy Spirit).  Through his simple suggestions and wonderfully entertaining anecdotes, I was reminded about the simplicity of prayer which I’d forgotten.  Devotions aside, prayer is ultimately about our relationship with Jesus and it need not be complicated. Continue reading A Review of ‘Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple

A Complicated War: A Review of ‘A Long Walk to Water’

“I didn’t understand this complicated war, how it mortally devoured the land and left it so full of skeletons.”– Benson Deng, They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky 

Reading Levels

Interest Level: 6-9

Reading Level: 3-8

Review and Comments

When I was teaching high school, I taught the book They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky.  This was my first real introduction to the Lost Boys and the war in Sudan.  I’d heard mention of it on the news and in conversation, but had no real personal connection.  You see, I live half-way around the world, and at the time it had  no real significance to my day-to-day life.  But this is the beauty of what books can do.  When I read They Poured Fire… I was given a personal, first-hand account of the absolute horrors of the war that occurred and the devastation of the people (mostly young boys) who were left behind.  The book gave me insight, connection, and a desire to help, to know more, and to be more aware…more prayerful…for the people suffering every day in other parts of the world.  Books can make that happen, they connect history and news to our hearts and help us see the pain and suffering of others. Continue reading A Complicated War: A Review of ‘A Long Walk to Water’

Peace for a Mother’s Mind: A Review of ‘Good Enough is Good Enough: Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom’

“If Jesus didn’t expect perfection from His people and if he accepted them for who they were, warts and all, perhaps I should dial down my own expectations for my family. Jesus chose to hang out with the likes of Peter and Judas on the evening before He saved the world from sin. He invited them to be part of his salvific plan, so why do I worry so much about my own family’s idiosyncrasies? Jesus handpicked a handful of very imperfect people who messed up a lot, just like I do and just like my family does.”–Colleen Duggan

Review and Comments

What a blessing this book was!  I have to tell you, it was perfect timing for this mom filled with all kinds of emotions in this season of my life.  I seem to constantly stress over a constantly messy house and piles of laundry.  I worry about my first child who is entering kindergarten next year and thus begins to spend more time away from my protective grasp. I continually look at the divisiveness of the world and wonder where my children will end up as adults.  Luckily, Colleen Duggan has offered me so much consolation in her book and reminded me of what is really important when raising children: that I do my best to bring them to God, and allow Him to do the rest. Continue reading Peace for a Mother’s Mind: A Review of ‘Good Enough is Good Enough: Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom’

Oh, life….

Have you ever just sat there overwhelmed with everything going on?!  Well, that’s been me the last few months.

New surprises.

Lots of illness.

Catching up on things I’ve procrastinated on.

Just…life.

Needless to say there haven’t been many reviews and there’s been little action on our Facebook page.  BUT things are falling back in place (for the time being) and so I hope to be able to get things going on the blog once again.

New reviews.

New books.

Happy kids and parents reading books.

Hopefully you’ll stick with us as we pick it back up again!  Thanks for supporting us!

Pray and Hope: A Review of ‘Padre Pio: Saint Pius of Pietrelcina’

“Pray and hope.  God is merciful and He will hear your prayer.”–Padre Pio

Reading Level:

To be read with children at 5 years old.  To be read independently at 8 years and up.

Review and Comments:

As All Saint’s Day approaches, we are reminded of the great opportunity to learn about all of the holy men and women who have modeled their lives after Christ and show us the amazing possibilities in store when we do the same.  The really amazing part is that there are all different kinds of saints.  Saints who lived quietly, saints who were martyred, and saints who fought in wars are all with Jesus.  They simply listened to His call.

My hope is that my young children will find friends in the saints as I did growing up.  This is why I am so glad to have found the CTS Children’s Book series on saints for kids. Continue reading Pray and Hope: A Review of ‘Padre Pio: Saint Pius of Pietrelcina’