All posts by Beth Ruggiero

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’

Building a True Domestic Church: A Review of ‘Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Children’

“Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to grow in faith.”–Pope Francis

Review and Comments

This is the second book I have read by Greg and Lisa Popcak and I am once again in love!  After spending so much time reading parenting advice from every online article and opinion piece someone writes on their blog, I have found something I can get behind and learn from.

The Popcaks begin with a lot of statistics and research that indicate the difference between parenting and “Catholic” parenting to help lay the foundation for why we should listen to their advice.   They explain the difference between punishment and discipline and the effect that can have on children (and there is a difference!).  It provides numerous examples of children who were raised through “punishment” and how, as adults, they became great rule-followers, but not empathetic caring people.  These people often followed the rules to their own detriment and the detriment of others.  After reading this intro, though it was very long, I was convinced that they had done their research and were going to give some great advice.  Continue reading Building a True Domestic Church: A Review of ‘Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Children’

Redemption Through Suffering: A Review of ‘Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy’

“Our body is a cenacle, a monstrance: through its crystal the world should see God.”–St. Gianna Molla

Reading Level:

Grade 11+

Review and Comments:

I’ve always been fascinated by the lives of the saints.  Their ability to see God through suffering, their bravery in evangelization, their relationship to Jesus and His mother, and their willingness to face death and persecution for Him are awe=inspiring.  As a cradle Catholic, I have read many of their stories and wished to be closer to them and learn more about them.  They have been the celebrities I have looked up to, and though my favorite saint has changed with my season of life, I have found that often I feel as though their stories are unrealistic in this day and age.  I can’t see myself being like them and I feel that their virtue is unattainable.

It is for this reason I enjoy reading about more modern people who may not be saints (yet) but nevertheless they have lived holy and virtuous lives.  A few years ago I read about Immaculee Ilibagiza and her suffering through the Rwandan genocide.  Her joy and faith  amidst terrible suffering have been a beautiful witness of God’s forgiveness and love for those involved.  She became someone I aspired to be for a long time, but her suffering was extreme, and often times I could not fully relate.  (You can read more about her here.)  

My newest role model is Chiara Corbella Petrillo. I saw Chiara’s story make the rounds in the Catholic blogosphere a year or so ago.  I read a bit about her and thought it was a sad story, but moved on as people do when they read something online.  Then her book popped up as a recommendation for me.  I couldn’t put it down. Continue reading Redemption Through Suffering: A Review of ‘Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy’

An Interview with Catholic Author, Leslea Wahl

I’m so excited to get to share my interview with Leslea Wahl with you all today!  I am a little star struck, I have to admit, whenever I get talk to someone I really admire.  Ms. Wahl is one of those people!  Not only is she a great young adult author, but she tells her story and shares her faith with such entertainment!  Her books are great adventures and mysteries and I, for one, am so glad she has decided to start writing.

We are so blessed to have her books entering the Catholic fiction genre.  Check out my interview…I think you will love her as much as I do!

Can you tell us a bit about you and your family?

I live in beautiful Colorado with my husband and three children. Although “children” doesn’t really describe our kids anymore. Our oldest just graduated college, our middle child is currently in college and our “baby” will be a senior in high school. As a family, we love to travel and try new adventures like zip-lining, jet skiing and scuba diving.

What made you decide to start writing and why did you chose to write for a young adult audience?

I’ve always been creative but never thought about writing a novel, especially for teens. But when  my older children were preteens and began searching for YA books to read, I was having a really hard time finding books that they wanted to read that also reflected our values. I wondered why no one was writing these kinds of books. Then one day I woke up and the story of my first novel, The Perfect Blindside, just came to me. The characters and scenes kept flooding my mind until I finally started to write them down. I definitely felt God called me to write that book. Since then my passion has been to write Young Adult fiction and to encourage teens in their faith. Continue reading An Interview with Catholic Author, Leslea Wahl

A Beautiful Adventure: A Review of ‘An Unexpected Role’

“The most beautiful and stirring adventure that can happen to you is the personal meeting with Jesus, who is the only one who gives meaning to our lives.”–St. John Paul II

Reading Level

Grades 7-12

Review and Comments

Sixteen-year old-Josie has left her family to spend the summer with her Aunt Lily after some embarrassment and bullying at her high school.  Since, in her mind, her mother has caused the bullying, Josie is happy to get away.

Josie loves the small island where her aunt lives and she is able to quickly make friends with people while there including an incredibly handsome and exotic guy  named Niko. Unfortunately, someone from her high school is also there, Ryan McNaulty.  She is afraid he is there to continue the bullying begun by his friends at school, and is shocked to find that he wants to be her friend. Continue reading A Beautiful Adventure: A Review of ‘An Unexpected Role’

Hold on Tight: A Review of ‘The Night Gardener’

“The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.”–Thomas Merton

Reading Level

Grades 5-8

Review and Comments

The story of The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is one of darkness and mystery.  Set in VIctorian England, Molly and Kip have set out looking for work and are accepted by the Windsor family.  The new job is brings on a terror that the two children were not expecting.

When Molly first arrives at the home of the Windsors, she immediately notices how dirty it is and how it looks as though it hasn’t been taken care of in ages.  Slowly, she realizes that something is amiss.  The old pictures of the family show them as younger looking, healthy and vibrant.  Now they look pale, sickly, and their eyes look lifeless. Continue reading Hold on Tight: A Review of ‘The Night Gardener’

10 Books for Dads This Father’s Day

Dads, I know what you’re thinking…I’m super busy.  I don’t have time to read.  Believe me, my husband has said it time and again.  But what if I told you that these books were filled with great prayers, lessons, opportunities, and hope to aid you in your tremendous vocation?!  They don’t have to be read in one sitting, they can be aids to your prayer life.  Chapters at a time with periods of reflection are often better than taking it all in at once.

Check out this list.  There are some books here that could change your outlook, give you a boost, and bring you closer to your own heavenly Father.  Father Lawrence Lovasik reminds all dads that “Fatherhood is a vocation in God’s service, to not be held lightly or frivolously, but with the serious determination of serious men.” (Click on the pictures for affiliate link.)

The Original Fathers’ Manual is the first Father’s Day gift I gave to my husband.  I had received The Original Mother’s Manual as a gift from my mother and loved it.  The Father’s Manual is much the same.  There are prayers for every possible need for one’s children, marriage, and vocation.  The end lists the responsibilities of fathers for reflection.  It’s a powerful book and my husband uses it often.

In Be DADitudes: 8 Ways to be an Awesome Dad, Greg Popcak takes each beatitude and explains how fathers can use these points to become amazing fathers and husbands.  Greg Popcak is a counselor and presents the information in a simple way.  This is one of those books that would be great for short periods of reading.

Continue reading 10 Books for Dads This Father’s Day

15 Books for Moms this Mother’s Day

Being a mother is hard.  The list of things that need to be taken care of is endless.  The concern for our children is constantly on our minds and our love for them consumes every bit of us.  So, I know what you are thinking when you see this list.  WHO HAS TIME TO READ?!

The books I’ve collected for this list are practical for moms, short daily readings, resource books, small reflections, and calls to action in our homes.  Even the busiest moms can take a few minutes each day with some of these books.  We have been entrusted with such an important vocation. Let these books bring you closer to Jesus, his mother, and help lead our children to Him as we grow.

God Bless You, Mothers!

(You can click on the pictures to for the affiliate link.)

Prayer Books and Devotionals 

The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections is a wonderful prayer book for daily reflection.  Each day provides a short reflection and prayer.  It ends with something to reflect on or provides one simple act for moms to try to complete during the day.  The lovely thing about this book is that each reflection speaks to the vocation of motherhood and I often find much comfort in similar feelings and situations shared in the book.

The Original Mother’s Manual  was a gift to me from my mother and she received it from her mother-in-law.  It is by far my favorite prayer book.  There is a prayer for everything in here.  Prayers for marriage, childbirth, nursing, child’s companions, child’s studies, and sick children just to name a few.  Each prayer is beautiful and offers me comfort each time I open it.  It is my constant companion. Continue reading 15 Books for Moms this Mother’s Day

25 Picture Books to Encourage a Love of Nature

“God wrote “I love you”—He  wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea.  He wrote his message everywhere!  Because God created everything in the world to reflect Him like a mirror—to show us what He is like, to help us to know Him, to make our hearts sing.”— Sally Lloyd-Jones, from The Jesus Storybook Bible

 This month we celebrate Easter and new life seems to be all around. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing trees blossom and birds build nests.  What is dormant is now vibrant and full of life!  It’s such a lovely time for us all to look around at nature since it is neither too hot nor too cold to be outside.  Children love this time of year and they are so observant, aren’t they?!  It is for this reason I’ve put together this list of books in which we can praise our Lord who has given us such beautiful gifts in the world around us, encourage our children to look carefully at the intricacies of what He has made, learn about people who have aided in His creative powers, and become inspired by what could happen when we make the tiniest effort to take care of His gifts for us.  Loving our planet and all that it holds means nothing if we forget who gave it to us.

I’ve divided the list into sub-sections to help break it up a bit.  Click on the picture of the book for our affiliate link!

In Praise of Nature and God’s Wonderful Creations

St. Francis sings of God’s love and all of the surrounding nature join him.  Beautifully illustrated and poetic, Tomie de Paola never disappoints.

Using text from the Old Testament, Tomie dePaola praises all of God’s creations from the sky to the earth to under the water.  It’s a celebration of nature. Continue reading 25 Picture Books to Encourage a Love of Nature

Fight Courageously: A Review of ‘The Shadow of His Wings: A Graphic Biography of Fr. Gereon Goldmann’

And of what should we be afraid? Our captain on this battlefield is Christ Jesus. We have discovered what we have to do. Christ has bound our enemies for us and weakened them that they cannot overcome us unless we so choose to let them. So we must fight courageously and mark ourselves with the sign of the most Holy Cross.”–Saint Catherine of Sienna

Interest Level

Grades 7+

Review and Comments

If there was ever a story of courage, faith, and commitment, it is the story of Father Gereon Goldmann.  His story begins with him being drafted into the loathsome SS during WWII.  As a strong German Catholic who had been in the seminary, this is a great struggle.  Father Goldmann is strong, however, and remains committed to our Lord through it all and because of this, he is able to minister to so many. Continue reading Fight Courageously: A Review of ‘The Shadow of His Wings: A Graphic Biography of Fr. Gereon Goldmann’