9 Aug 2017
Dying for Compassion, by Barbara Golder is sure to be a hit! As with Golder’s first book, Dying for Revenge, familiar characters return for more mysteries to solve. Once again, we meet our Lady Doc, Jane Wallace, the lead character. She is a strong, feminine role model carrying the titles of forensic pathologist, medical examiner, AND lawyer – quite an accomplished woman! In Dying for Compassion, Jane is faced with several deaths occurring in her town; unexplained poisonings and a possible case of euthanasia. As the intentions behind these deaths stump Jane, she is thrown off-kilter in her personal life.
The storyline from Dying for Revenge carries through to Dying for Compassion. In Dying for Revenge, Jane processed grief from the loss of her husband, John. She meets author, Eoin Connor, who helps her through her grief and the two develop a romantic relationship. Fast forward to Dying for Compassion, and Eoin Connor becomes a central character.
Everything is going swimmingly between Jane and Eoin, until one night... Read more...
4 Aug 2017
26 Jul 2017
I must admit that I had never heard of Saint Magnus, until I read Saint Magnus: The Last Viking, by Susan Peek. With this action-packed novel, set around 1,000 A.D., we find a dual hierarchy established on the deathbed of the monarch Thorfinn. Rather than leaving his throne to his eldest son, he creates a dual hierarchy, where both of his sons, Erland and Paal, are to rule over the Orkney homeland together. Tensions rise as the brother’s descendants seethe in animosity for each other. Hakon, the son of Paal is a troublemaker; whereas Aerling, the son of Erland, is hot-tempered. Hakon and Aerling are competitive, and do not wish to rule jointly, as their fathers successfully did. However, before that can happen, circumstances come to pass that make Hakon vow revenge.
From this point, early within the book, the story becomes mesmerizing. What will Hakon do to get revenge? How will Aerling respond? And what role will Magnus play, given that Magnus becomes the protagonist of this novel?
19 Jul 2017
Chasing Liberty, by Theresa Linden, is the first in a dystopian trilogy of books centered around a young woman. Liberty resides in futuristic Aldonia; a city where authentic freedom, familial love and objective truth have been squashed by government forces aimed at controlling the population. Without the freedom to grow up in a family with a mother and father, Liberty tries to make her own way in a society that allows little choice.
As Liberty approaches adulthood, she is told by the government what her vocation will be: that of breeder. Apparently, she has exquisite genes and intelligence; so great, that the government decided that she would spend her fertile years giving birth to as many children as possible, via in vitro fertilization. She would never know if the children she carried were her own. In addition, she would be the nanny for groups of them for the first five years of their lives. Once the children reach the age of five, they relocate to another facility (like orphans) for further training.
Something within Liberty tells her that this is just plain wrong. Read more...
28 Jun 2017
Love Letters from God, Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart, by Glenys Nellist is endearing, wonderful, chocked filled with virtue, and beautifully illustrated. Nellist shares with us fourteen stories from the Bible, centered on heroic females, highlighting their good traits. She takes us from the Old Testament, through to the New Testament; giving us a different story about each protagonist, salient Bible quotes, and most importantly, personalized letters from God, addressed to your child (with lift the flap notes).
Love Letters from God Make for Sweet Dreams!
Each of the fourteen tales make for excellent bedtime stories to read to your child; sending them into slumber with heroic females to dream about. Nellist starts with... Read more...
26 Jun 2017
In My Brother’s Keeper, by Bill Kassel, we read a great piece of Catholic fiction. Now, right off the bat, let me explain the definition of the genre, “Catholic Fiction,” using Kassel’s own words to describe his effort:
This book is a work of speculative fiction, based on incidents in the New Testament, reimagined and elaborated on extensively. I have not attempted to create a ‘fifth Gospel.’ Rather, I’ve tried to fill in some gaps between facts given in Scripture with inventive suppositions about how things might have been (p. 574).
James: My Brother’s Keeper
My Brother’s Keeper, centers on the character of James, the youngest child of Saint Joseph and his deceased wife, Escha; who died shortly after giving birth to James. Kassel spends a good portion of the book setting the stage, by telling us about life in Nazareth, with Saint Joseph, his family and especially James’ upbringing. James does very well in studying the Torah. He is ultimately sent... Read more...
19 Jun 2017
True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life, by Lisa Mladinich, was an enjoyable read! I approached 60 this year. So, I thought this book might offer me some insight in how I might grow old gracefully. As I opened the book and began to read, I quickly learned that Mladinich had other designs. She wants us to know that regardless of our age,
The second half of life is a time of building on the past, growing in virtue, and deepening our connection with God, the source and summit of all beauty. Our beauty is not fading; it’s getting more powerful. It’s having more impact. It’s becoming what it was meant to be from the beginning (p. 135).
31 May 2017
Gifts of the Visitation – Nine Spiritual Encounters with Mary and Elizabeth, by Denise Bossert, is filled with virtue! I thoroughly enjoyed how Bossert took Luke’s accounting of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and highlighted all the virtue contained within it (Luke 1: 39-80). Bossert devotes nine chapters to discuss nine virtues; so beautifully brought to life in her book. She brings a whole new, refreshing outlook to this passage. From Mary’s spontaneous yes, to her courage needed to fulfill God’s word, to the thanksgiving Mary expresses to God for entrusting her with such an important honor, we traverse with Mary to visit Elizabeth.
As a mother herself, Denise Bossert, correlates stories from her own life with Luke’s Gospel passage. She peppers her life’s stories; intertwined with the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. The reality of Denise Bossert’s life makes the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth that much more enchanting and meaningful.
25 May 2017
22 May 2017
I was long overdue, but recently, I finally sat down and read the classic, Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. Once I opened the book, and read the first chapter, I questioned what took me so long to get to this masterpiece, centered on man’s reaction to moral concepts and what it truly means to be Christian. C.S. Lewis begins with a discussion on Natural Law:
Whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently (p. 8)?
3 May 2017
Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World, by Jean M. Heimann, is a wonderful book that chronicles the Fatima apparitions of the Blessed Mother, including beautiful glossy pictures of the town, people and churches of the area. Multiple apparitions occurred at Fatima, Portugal between May 13, 1917 and October 13, 1917, visible to three young Portuguese children from that town.
Most Catholics have heard the story of Fatima, possessing a vague idea of what occurred. In this book, Jean Heimann gives you an in-depth understanding of Mary’s purpose for the apparitions and the implication of her visit to the three chosen children. The story is riveting! I read the entire book in one afternoon!
My takeaway from reading Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World, is that... Read more...
27 Apr 2017
In Back to Virtue, Peter Kreeft takes you into the classroom of moral theology, where you will learn why we need virtue to preserve human existence. For starters, Kreeft clearly defines the differentiation between virtue and vice. He discusses the cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude, as well as the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Then, using the Beatitudes, he teaches us about each virtue that counters each of the seven deadly sins of anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth and the root of all evil, pride.
His words of wisdom percolate throughout this book. Here’s just one example:
If we can conquer everything except ourselves, the result is that we do not hold the power. 1
3 Apr 2017
Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk, rightfully belongs on your “Want to Read” list! In Astfalk’s third Christian fiction novel, she introduces us to two teenagers: Rachel Mueller and Paul Porter. At the beginning of the book, when Rachel and Paul meet, they are only 14 and 16, respectively. Throughout the story, we see a deep friendship blossom between the two characters. As they get to know each other, we see that friendship grow into love, young love.
Rightfully Ours deals with the virtue of chastity head on; yet in a manner that would make any teen want to be like Rachel and Paul. These two characters serve as excellent role models for teenagers coming to grips with burgeoning love and sexual desire, contrasted against all that they have been taught concerning morals and virtue.
I found Rightfully Ours... Read more...
27 Mar 2017
The Virtue Driven Life, by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., offers insightful information about the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance, along with scriptural passages, simple prayers, and citations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This gem of a book offers the basic information on these virtues in part I. He saves the best for last, though, when in part II, we learn some in-depth information on the Theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Part II also provides scriptural passages, prayers and citations from the Catechism, in relation to the Theological virtues.
I was most impressed with Fr. Groeschel’s insight into the... Read more...
14 Mar 2017
...The Gift of Receptivity...
...Personally, my receptivity feelers do not fire on all cylinders. Sure, I’m open to whatever God has for me as long as it is good, healthy, and includes very little discomfort. Unlike Jesus entering into Jerusalem ready to fulfill God’s Will, I spend far too much time avoiding God and his Will. Perhaps I am hoping that if I am really quiet and well-behaved, I will avoid whatever cross is lurking in my day. Ironically, my cross has become my fear of the cross. My focus is far too much on this false fear of the possible tragedy lurking around the corner, and in turn I lose sight the good things God has in store for me—in any situation....
...Holy Thursday Blessings...
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017Reflection part of the WINE Lenten Book Club #LentenWalk
27 Feb 2017
I cannot thank my brother Ed, enough, for gifting me with Resisting Happiness, by Matthew Kelly. This book was a real eye-opener for me! As human beings, we naturally resist happiness, and when we do so, we resist God, the source of all happiness. “Why do we resist God? Because deep down we don’t trust Him…deep down we think that God is trying to limit our freedom” (p. 214). Kelly tells us throughout the book that we need to become “the best version of ourselves.” How do we do that: by stopping the resistance.
Throughout the book, Matthew Kelly shows us how we can find happiness by tackling our urge to be resistant. Let me share with you just two golden nuggets, gleaned from reading this wonderful book, that I believe will make me happier – just a couple of things I can do to fight the resistance to be happy.
Idea #1: Prioritize Your Life in Accordance with God’s Plan
Matthew Kelly comments in the book that when he conducts his various speaking engagements, he comes across people he has met in the past. Since Mr. Kelly always brings up the concept of setting aside 10 minutes a day in prayer with the Lord, he always asks “How many days last week did you spend ten minutes in quiet conversation with God” (p. 53)? Read more...
20 Feb 2017
Cristina Trinidad visits A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras on BreadboxMedia.com.
We discuss a fabulous new book that I was sent to review
and fell in love with How to Read Your Way to Heaven
by Vicki Burbach (Sophia Institute Press)
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017
30 Jan 2017
Hold onto your knickers, because you are about to be taken on one heck of a ride with Hijacked, by Leslie Lynch. Ben Martin, undercover DEA agent, finds himself between a rock and a hard place after a drug bust goes bad, leaving him with a bullet wound in his shoulder and a need to escape – quickly! He sees no other outlet than a small plane going through pre-flight checks at a small airfield. The lone pilot should be easy to overtake, thought Ben – and away we go!
As Ben hijacks the plane, he learns the pilot is a woman, one Lannis Parker. As Lannis is forced to fly Ben out of harm’s way (by the barrel of Ben’s gun), the adventure begins; so too, a relationship, of sorts, between captive and captor. You see, the actual hijacking is only one-half of the story. Once the plane lands, Ben must keep Lannis captive for several days, so that she will be safe from the people after Ben. What follows is an examination of the human soul in relationship, one to another.
This story is filled with pain, as Lannis deals with her past, present and future, both during and after the hijack escapade. Yet, this story is also filled with... Read more...
18 Jan 2017
If you are looking for a way to bring virtue to the workplace, without coming across as a “Holy Roller,” then Virtuous Leadership, by Alexandre Havard is the book for you! Right from the book’s introduction you learn that “leadership is character” (Introduction xi). Havard tells us that people obtain good character as a the result of perseverance toward personal excellence. So, how do we achieve personal excellence? We do so through the practice of virtue. Havard is a man after my own heart! He speaks my language; the language of virtue.
We perceive and interpret things through the lens of character. By strengthening our character – i.e., by growing in virtue – we improve our ability to deliberate in the light of reason (p. 70).
19 Dec 2016
Most Highly Favored Daughter, by Janice Lane Palko is salacious, intriguing and an all-around winner! If you are looking for a good book to read on a cold winter’s day, look no further than Most Highly Favored Daughter, set in Pittsburgh, PA during Super Bowl weekend.
Janice Lane Palko creates compelling, deeply fraught characters who lure you in from page one. Cara Hawthorne Wells, the socialite elite of the Pittsburgh area, finds herself in a real pickle early on in the book. Yet, Janice Lane Palko shows us that Cara is much more than a former debutante. Cara, a seeker of truth, demonstrates courage and integrity when faced with a sordid adversity. Cara’s sister, Sophia, originally comes across as the flighty, irresponsible sister. Yet, when adversity strikes, Sophia... Read more...
We live in a big world. We've known that for a long time, and have been impressed. "How great are your works, LORD! How profoun...