All posts by Beth Ruggiero

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’

9 Books for Kids to Love During Lent

Lent is almost here and since it is such an important time of year for Catholics, we wanted to make sure you had some of these amazing books in your collection!  Each book shares a wonderful story meant to help kids understand Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.

Happy Lent!

Click on the picture for affiliate link.

In The Legend of the Sand Dollar Kerry visits her cousin Jack and she learns that God’s creations hold extraordinary lessons.  Jack shows her a simple sand dollar and uses its unique designs to tell her Jesus’ story from his birth to Pentecost.  Kerry is enthralled with what she has learned and knows that God is constantly reminding us all that He is close.  (Ages 3-7)

God Gave Us Easter is a great story for sharing the reason for Easter in simple terms.  It shows ‘new life’ found where things are seemingly dead and it reiterates the story of Jesus and the promise that he would come to take care of our sins. (Ages 3-7)

 

Easter is a time to celebrate and Bella and Pablo are excited to experience every aspect of the day in God’s Easter Gifts.  After Mass they go on an very special and memorable Easter egg hunt.  Each egg they find holds a story about a gift from God.  The children learn that Easter is definitely about celebrating God’s gifts, especially Jesus.  (Ages 4-7)

Humphrey’s First Palm Sunday is a sequel to Humphrey’s story as a young camel when he first met Jesus when he was just a baby.  Now he is much older and wiser and is present during Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  The pictures are beautiful and the camel’s goofy nature brings fun to the story.  This story stays true to the story of Palm Sunday and is great for kids.  (Ages 4-8)

Three trees each discuss their hopes and dreams for the future in The Three Trees.  Each one hopes for something different and grand but is met with a much more humble fate.  As they find out, their destiny is much more important to the mission of Jesus.  This is a beautiful story that reminds us of the power of the cross.  (Ages 5-9)

The Donkey That No One Could Ride is a simple story about a young, scared donkey.  He meets a man who asks him to carry him on an important ride.  The little donkey does not feel he is worthy, but the man gives him courage.  He agrees to the job and as he carries the man through Jerusalem and people call him a prophet, the donkey feels special.  (Ages 3-7)   For a full review of this book and other Anthony DeStefano books, read our blog post here

The Parable of the Lily tells the story of a farmer’s young daughter who receives a bulb as a gift.  She is disappointed and the gift is forgotten and eventually thrown into the garden.  She is surprised when she wakes up on Easter morning to find a Lily blooming in its place.  Part of a series of parables for little children, this story shares the message of forgiveness and new life.  (Ages 3-8)

The First Easter Bunny is simple story that shares the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection told through the eyes of a rabbit.  Perfect for an Easter gift!  (Ages 4-8)

 

 

 

Perfect for early readers, The Easter Cave goes through many of the details of the Easter story while using rhyme and rhythm.  Beautiful illustrations and repetition make it a wonderful book to keep in your home.  (Ages 4-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading 9 Books for Kids to Love During Lent

Finding Greatness: A Review of ‘Wonder’

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” –from Wonder

Grade Level:

Grades 5-8

Review and Thoughts

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is one of those great middle elementary books that teaches everyone the struggles and beauties of life and how sometimes they become entwined and we can’t have one without the other.

The story begins with our introduction to August Pullman who has been born with a terrible facial deformity.  In fact, when he is first born, he tells us that the nurses took him away so that his mother couldn’t see him.  He goes on to explain how everyone is so shocked and flustered in the hospital, but when his mother sees him, she notices how beautiful his eyes are and loves him the way any mother would.  And so the book begins with that combination of struggle and beauty and continues throughout. Continue reading Finding Greatness: A Review of ‘Wonder’

Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’

“A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.”—Alan Perlis

Reading Level

Grades 5-8

Review

The draw of The Wild Robot is definitely its premise.  We’ve all read stories of characters trying to survive in the wilderness in books like Hatchet and Robinson Crusoe.  We’ve also read futuristic stories of robots who have evolved to act more and more like humans.  Rarely, however, are the two instances put together as they are in this novel. Peter Brown brings us this intriguing situation and, I admit, this is what drew me to the book. Continue reading Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’