Since converting to the Catholic faith, I’ve found myself splitting my reading time between entertainment and faith-based books. I find it’s a good balance between growing in my faith but also allowing myself time to relax and indulge in my favorite pastime. Lately I can’t seem to get enough apologetics! Catholic Answers and Dynamic Catholic are at the top of my list. I do have some fiction reads coming soon, including another new picture book. But today, I’d like to talk about a new faith-based favorite of mine, a book I think everyone should read: Why We’re Catholic, Our reasons for faith, hope, and love by Trent Horn.
I’ve been enjoying a variety of new books lately covering everything from children’s picture books to teen and YA to Catholic apologetics. I spent most of August checking out new releases in the YA genre. Some were hits, others were misses. But overall, summer YA releases were strong in my opinion. I loved Parachutes by Kelly Yang. It’s Ms. Yang’s debut YA novel, and I only hope she writes more. On the other hand, My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong fell way short for me. I couldn’t connect with the main character or get into the story. It actually ended up being the rare DNF (did not finish) for me.
Fortunately, I finished the month strong with Girl, Unframed by Deb Caletti. This was my first read from Caletti, but I’m excited to see that she has many more books available. Girl, Unframed was a typical yet unique YA novel. All the elements were there – teens, first loves, relationships, drama. But the setting and the dynamic of the parent/ child relationship is different from most, which created an intriguing background for the story.
In June, I highlighted a phenomenal new picture book, Taste Your Words. It was the debut picture book from author Bonnie Clark. This month I am thrilled to recommend her new picture book, Catching Thoughts.
Catching Thoughts is an equally touching story about a young girl who learns an important lesson in self-care. Mental health and well-being is crucial, especially now as we all deal with the stresses and anxieties of this pandemic. Catching Thoughts is ideal for any kiddos who struggle with anxiety. I honestly think this book could help anxious youth and adults as well.
I’ve been on quite the spiritual journey for the last two years as I’ve studied the Christian faith. My studies led me to Catholicism, and I’ve been doing a deep dive into the faith and its teachings. This includes reading tons of books like the writings of the early Church Fathers, apologetics, and conversion stories. In addition to reading, I’ve discovered the awesomeness that is Catholic YouTube. Priests like Father Mike Schmitz and groups like Catholic Answers have answered so many questions I’ve had about the Catholic faith.
Not long ago, I discovered a YouTube video of a talk given by a man named Keith Nester. Keith was a Protestant pastor who had recently converted to the Catholic faith in 2017. In doing so, he left behind his church, his job, his livelihood, and even friends. If someone was willing to give up that much to convert to the Catholic faith, I figured his story must be worth listening to. It was!
I could relate to much of what Keith was saying. I started to search for more of his videos and, to my delight, discovered that he has his own YouTube channel! Not only does Keith offer incredible videos, but he recently published his first book, The Convert’s Guide to Roman Catholicism: Your First Year in the Church.
I will be sharing a few picture book reviews in the coming weeks as I have been fortunate enough to receive early copies of two upcoming releases, Catching Thoughts by Bonnie Clark and The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore. Both books deal with anxieties that kiddos face, a very important topic, especially given the current global pandemic.
I’ve been thinking about kiddos a lot lately and how difficult all of this must be for them to understand and to cope with. They had to end their school year early, they’ve had to be secluded from friends and relatives for weeks or months at a time, they are still restricted from some normal summer activities, and there is no definite answer about schools opening in the fall.
Now that bookstores and libraries are reopening, parents and kids have an exciting opportunity to get out of the house and explore some new stories. It’s also an exciting time for authors who’ve been waiting months to share their new stories with the world. Today, I’ll be highlighting Grown-ups Never Do That by Davide Cali, a timely tale with a much needed lesson for kids and a good reminder for adults too.
Like most people, my activities the last three months have consisted of working from home, weekly trips to the grocery store, and watching the news for signs of re-opening here in New York. I was beyond thrilled to finally get a haircut a couple of weeks ago and to see us moving into Phase 3 of re-opening this week, at least in my neck of the woods. The best part of Phase 3? Both my local library branch and my nearest Barnes and Noble have reopened!
There are some indie bookstores downtown that haven’t reopened yet, but I’ll take what I can get! While it was exciting to finally be in familiar and comforting surroundings, it was definitely a surreal experience. Today, I will share my experiences of visiting the library and bookstore in a post-pandemic world. If your local branches or bookstores haven’t reopened yet, you can probably get a good idea of what to expect based on what I observed at mine.
I feel for so many different groups of people who are being affected by this pandemic in different ways. I feel so badly for the kiddos who didn’t get to say goodbye to their friends or teachers for the year. My heart breaks for graduating seniors who got no prom, no commencement ceremony, and missed out on half of their senior year. I can’t imagine how difficult this time has been for those who live alone and can only interact with others virtually. While that helps, it’s just not the same.
I also feel so badly for authors, especially debut authors, who were to be published during this time and had to have their pub dates pushed back. Or to authors whose books did publish on schedule but were unable to promote their books with signings, school visits, etc. This will undoubtedly impact book sales, and it just doesn’t seem fair.
So for today’s blog, I’d like to highlight Taste Your Words, the debut picture book from author Bonnie Clark, which released in April.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I’m not just a reader, I’m a writer. I love writing! I’ve authored several books for young readers with subjects ranging from biographies to world cultures to social media trends. Back in March, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Rhys Keller for his writing website, rhyskeller.com.
I love books set in the ‘40s-60s. I prefer Hollywood for the setting, but I’m not too picky. I just love stories set in that era. I lucked out with Brooke Lea Foster’s debut novel, Summer Darlings. It takes place during the summer of ’62 on Martha’s Vineyard. Summer Darlings offers a peek into the lifestyles of the wealthy who summer on the island through the eyes of one wealthy family’s babysitter, Heddy.
Heddy has certain goals for herself and for the summer – mainly to figure out how to pay for college in the fall and how to incorporate herself into this glamorous world by finding a husband. But we all know how the old saying goes about the best laid plans. Heddy soon finds herself thrust into a world of wealth, privilege, movie stars, gossip, love, lust, backstabbing, and scandal.
Real life scandals can provide some of the best inspiration for novels. Admission by Julie Buxbaum draws from the real-life college admissions scandal in which several wealthy celebrities paid to have their kids’ SAT scores changed and fabricated a web of lies to gain entry into top colleges. Admission was intriguing because we’ve all heard about this scandal and can’t help wondering, “What were they thinking?” Well, Buxbaum attempts to reveal what they might have been thinking as she takes a peek behind the curtain of privilege to examine the lives of the rich and famous.