4 Books You Want to Read

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Toward the end of last year and the beginning of this, I’ve read some books that I highly recommend. You might want to check out these books yourself… for the love of puppies, special needs children, human life, and your soul!

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If you read this book, you will know….Miranda Gargasz has a heart for all living things, but especially the at-risk doggies!

I purchased a copy of this book as soon as it came out! My children thumbed through to see all the cute dog pictures, but then I finally got the book back, and I found a wealth of information inside. Author Miranda Gargasz did a ton of research!

She provides the sad statistics about the numbers of dogs that enter animal shelters every year, and the numbers that never make it out. She explains what goes on behind the scenes in dog kennels and gives examples of the incredible efforts of the Lorain County Dog Kennel (LCDK) workers and volunteers. This book includes several heart-wrenching and heartwarming interviews of these workers and volunteers.

It also spotlights specific LCDK dogs that have been through great difficulties–abandonment, abuse, neglect, accidents–but have been given a second chance. Miranda tells the stories of her own two dogs (both from LCDK), the trials and victories, and the treasure her family has found in them.

And Miranda also provides concrete advice and ways you can help. This book is valuable for its content, but you might also want to get your copy to help the dogs. MORE THAN A VILLAGE: making a difference in the lives of homeless pets—all the proceeds go to the Lorain County Dog Kennel!


9781910806074 (002)I finally read the first book in the I AM MARGARET series! I read all the other books in the series already. Don’t ask me how I ended up reading the first book last.

Anyway, I absolutely loved this book and all the books in the series and will definitely re-read them. Turner presents a dark futuristic society where not all people are considered equal. Those with imperfections, no matter how insignificant, are kept around only so that they can provide “parts” for other people.

Filled with moments of pain, compassion, courage, and hope, this story is tense and fast-paced with twists and surprises, but more-importantly it is thought provoking. The Catholic perspective gives even more depth to this dystopian (compared to other popular dystopians). It really delves into the meaning and value of all human life, regardless of a person’s ability to contribute to society.

Note to parents: this book contains violence, gore, rough language, and sexual innuendos (no sex or anything like that—it’s a very clean book). It is suitable for mature teens and adults, and is sure to deepen a person’s faith, perseverance, and admiration of the martyrs. Check out I AM MARGARET! Great reading material for the #MarchForLife bus trip!


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START HERE! With BROTHERS: A Prequel Novella 

This novella is a great introduction to the I AM MARGARET series, or consider it a bonus for those who have already read the series.

Corinna truly knows how to create solid characters, a sense of urgency, and a well-developed dystopian world. In this story, I enjoyed meeting a new character and following one that I got to know through the I AM MARGARET series. I love how Catholic elements are weaved into the plot because any true change in a person or society must affect not only the physical but the spiritual, the complete person. This story rings with beautiful messages of faith, forgiveness, and trust, and powerfully demonstrates that we, as members of the Body of Christ, belong to one spiritual family.


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I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this children’s story, REBECCA & HEART, as much as I did. But I must confess this story really touched my heart, and I would love for everyone to read it. Rebecca, the main character, has autism. We also have a son with autism, and he is such a treasure to us. While most children with autism struggle with social interactions and are overwhelmed with sensory input of one kind or another, every child is unique. Some have special abilities like Rebecca, but most don’t. Still, every child, no matter their gifts or challenges, brings something wonderful to the people around them, if people know how to look for it and appreciate it.

Told from a fly’s perspective, this story has humor but also insight and depth. As Rebecca’s adoptive parents, and the others in her new home, try to understand Rebecca’s unique way of relating to others and the world around her, every one of them grows in compassion and sensitivity, not only toward Rebecca but toward each other. It is a great story for children and adults alike to help develop empathy for people who experience the world differently. This story would be perfect for schools and families. I highly recommend REBECCA & HEART.


What books have you read lately? Please post in the comments and share what you enjoyed about them!

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Book Clubs, Book Talks, Book Blogs

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I am a strong believer in the power of good fiction to transform lives.

After all, Jesus used fiction to teach and to reach the hearts of his listeners. Non-fiction can provide information and facts and appeal to our intellect and reason. But a well-written fictional story has the potential to create empathy and to reach hearts.

Prodigal_Son_CHS_cathedralConsider the story of “The Prodigal Son.” When Jesus wanted to teach the Pharisees and scribes the powerful message of hope and salvation for the sinner, he could have simply spelled it out in non-fictional words: God desires salvation for everyone, including the sinner. All are invited to the table of the Lord. So chill, brothers, while I eat with these tax collectors and sinners.

But Jesus wanted to speak to their hearts, so he chose to tell them a story. And his story had the dual purpose of reaching the tax collectors and sinners as well.

Jesus created characters that each of his listeners could identify with, he made those characters closely related (a father and his two sons), and he told a story that would touch hearts and produce empathy.

Fiction is good for us! Especially when we thoughtfully consider the story line, character growth, and themes…when we seek to learn something from what we’ve read.

Would you like to dive deeper into fiction and grow from what you’ve read? I encourage you to participate in the monthly YouTube Live Event Sabbath Rest Book Talks with hosts Erin McCole Cupp, Carolyn Astfalk, and Rebecca Willen.

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Check out Sabbath Rest Book Talks Reading Selections for 2018. If you’d like to participate, read the books for the month and comment during the live event. This month one of my books is being featured, so I am offering a chance to win a signed copy of Standing Strong. Comment during February’s SRBT for your chance to win.

The other books featured on Sabbath Rest Book Talks in February are All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (this is a Pulitzer Prize winner) and Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day by Carol Benoist and Cathy Gilmore, the founder of Virtue Works Media.

open bookOther ways to dive deeper into fiction: check out the book reviews by Carolyn Astfalk and link up your own reviews of the books you’ve read. Carolyn posts An Open Book every month, giving short reviews of books she and members of her family have read. I have found many new books that I’ve absolutely loved, just from following her blog.

Another book reviewer to follow: Steven McEvoy and his blog “Book Reviews and More.” Steven McEvoy is a prolific reader and reviewer. Check out the list of books he’s read and reviewed over the last couple of years and prepare to be amazed. His reviews are thorough and insightful. I’ve added many books to my “must read” list by following his blog.

TFG-Trademark-Logo-300x215In addition to reading more, consider starting a book club. If you have teenage girls, you will want to check out “TOTALLY feminine GENIUS GENERATIONS BOOK CLUB,” which is a book club for teen girls, their moms, aunts, grandmothers, etc. It is such a fun and effortless way for women to mentor the teen girls in their lives. From the site: ” It’s far more powerful to SHOW rather than tell the kind of wonderful women God designed our girls to be.”

With the hope of helping readers gain more from my books (and as an aid to homeschooling parents and teachers) I am currently writing study guides for each of my books. These study guides will be available free on my website on the “Book Clubs” page. The guide for Roland West, Loner is complete and ready for download.

These are just a few of the many ways you can enrich your life through fiction. Please share your own ideas in the comments!