Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Katie Reads {8}

Time to chat about what I've been reading!  I've got a stack of various genres for you today, with books for both kids and adults.  

(FYI- the links for the books are Amazon Affiliate links.  That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)

Since I would rather be reading than writing long book reviews, I'll give you a grade and a quick run down- totally just my opinion based on what I enjoy.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books or suggestions of what I should read next in the comments! 

Jesus Speaks to You: A Coloring Book for Prayer and Meditation, by Veruschka Guerra, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of Jesus Speaks to You in exchange for an honest review.
  • Adult coloring books might be all the rage, but they are not all made equally.  There also are many religious/Biblical/inspirational coloring books on the market, but I haven't been impressed by most of them I have picked up.  My expectations were greatly exceeded by this book for coloring and prayer called Jesus Speaks to You, full of beautiful images of Christ and themes from Scripture. 
  • Part of a series of Sacred Art coloring books, this addition joins Our Lady's Garden, Windows into Christ, and Scripture Illuminated all from Pauline Books & Media.  
  • Not only is the art beautiful and varied on each page, but the heavy weight paper and large page size (11x11") makes it enjoyable to get creative with all kinds of media- crayons, colored pencils, pens, and markers. I really like how the art is cohesive throughout the book, creating themes and patterns that build on one another.  Each page is lovely and unique.
  • Each two page spread has a quote of Jesus' words from one of the Gospels, but there are also many spots with enough blank space that you could use it for your own journaling, reflection, or lettering.
  • To see a sample of the art, you can download a free page from Our Lady's Garden here.  You might not consider yourself an artist, but I think there can be many benefits to slowing down, practicing your God-given creativity, and using art like this to help you pray.  After all, the Church has been using stained glass windows, statues, mosaics, and more to educate Her people and help them meditate upon truths of the faith- why can't images like these do the same?

John Paul II: A Life of Grace, Renzo Allegri, {A}

  • This was a happy church-rummage-sale find!  Who can turn down a biography of John Paul II? (The answer is not I.)  This look into the life of JP2 was originally published in Italian by a journalist known for other Catholic biographies.  It was completed shortly before the Pope's death, which lends a different perspective than many biographies looking back on his life and impact. 
  • This book shared details about the events and tragedies of John Paul childhood and youth, as well as how they formed his faith and character.  It also outlined his unlikely rise to the papacy and his profound impact on the world.  
  • If you are looking for a short biography on the life of St. John Paul II, I would highly recommend Jason Evert's John Paul the Great: His Five Loves.  It remains my favorite book about JP2, but I am happy to add Allegri's book to my collection as well.

 The Green Book, Jill Paton Walsh, {B}

  • Over the summer, I was having a discussion with my siblings about books we read as kids that stuck with us.  Out of nowhere, I thought about a book I read in 4th or 5th grade that was short and simple, but had a thought provoking story I could still remember many details about.  After a little searching, I ordered myself a fresh copy of The Green Book and reread it to see how my memories aligned with the plot.
  • In this short (80 pages) novel, Earth is a dying and a spaceship of people set off for a distant planet that may or may not be habitable.  The group includes a father and his two young daughters.  The survivors must pack provisions and supplies for their journey, leaving very little room for anything personal or sentimental.  Each person can bring only one book, and young Pattie's choice becomes an important part of the plot.
  • While this book is not classic literature, it is an interesting story.  I think that it would make a phenomenal read aloud for 4th-5th graders, especially when coupled with discussion on the choices and actions of the characters.  It would work well as an introduction to Science Fiction and maybe peak a child's curiosity for other great books from the genre like A Wrinkle in Time or The Giver.

The Wedding Shop, Rachel Hauck, {A}

  • I reread this book one weekend at the end of the summer, and was reminded of what a wonderful storyteller author Rachel Hauck is.  Her books fall into the category of Christian Romance, but the depth of her plots and character development set them apart from many other novels you would find in that section of the bookstore.
  • The Wedding Shop is part of a loosely connected series of books that stand well on their own, including the Wedding Dress and the Wedding Chapel.  There is some character crossover, so reading all of them gives you little glimmers of connections, but you can pick up any of the books and start reading there.
  • What I love most about these novels is the detailed weaving together of stories.  Each book has several important characters that span over generations.  While their lives are interesting stories by themselves, the beauty is found when it is revealed how they are all connected.  The Wedding Shop brings together modern day retired Air Force Captain Haley and 1930's Wedding Shop Owner Cora, who though remarkably different have similar dreams.  All of the books in this series are a sweet reminder that God isn't ever done with our stories.

The Lost Wife, Alyson Richman, {B+}

  • This was another rummage sale find.  I had seen it on book lists from other readers that enjoy WW2/Holocaust fiction, so I thought I'd give it a try.
  • Loosely basic on a real event, this novel tells the story of a young couple in Prague who marry quickly before inevitably being separated due to events of the war.  Another major plot point is the underground art community run during the war, even in Auschwitz, and how the desire for sharing beauty transcends the worst of circumstances.  
  • I watched the movies Remembrance and Woman in Gold around the same time that I read this book, so all of those stories are woven together in my mind.   (Both are on Netflix if you are looking for something to watch- I'd love to know what you thought of them!)
  • While this book wasn't bad, it just doesn't stand out to me in the genre compared to books like All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and others.  Definitely worth it for quarter I paid for it, but not my favorite.

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, {A+}
(Link above it to a compilation copy of all seven novels, but this boxed set is so lovely!)

  • Ahhhhhh, Narnia.  It does my heart good just to think about the Pevensies and Aslan.  I actually never read the Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, but after discovering what I was missing, I now pick up my giant compilation about once a year and read/reread one or two books in the series.  As I was prepping for the beginning of school and exhausted, I went back and revisited The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as well as Prince Caspian.
  • C.S. Lewis does what few others can- tell a compelling and interesting story, use vivid and lovely language and description, and share faith-filled themes perfect for reflection and connections.  I think that Narnia lends itself perfectly to a read aloud for younger children (or older as well), a chapter book for middle readers, or a tool for discussion for older students or even adults.  It's never too late to visit Narnia. :)

 Pocket Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, available through the USCCB, {A+}

  • This isn't the typical kind of book that I share in Katie Reads, but after finishing my read-the-Bible-in-almost-a-year and posting about it (here and here), I have received a lot of questions about Bible journaling and study.  If you are looking for a way to try out some of the great study and journaling tips that are out there, this little pocket Gospel might be a great fit!
  • I actually ordered a set of these Bibles, which have the four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, as part of the back to school gifts for my catechists.  Our CCD theme is about valuing and learning Scripture, so I gave them one packet Gospel to keep and one to give away to someone.
  • This pocket Gospel is offered from the USCCB.  It has the same cover art that was on a pocket Gospel that was passed out at the Vatican by Pope Francis.  It is a great size and the text is plenty big enough to underline/highlight/etc.   If you are looking for a Bible to give to your study group/mom's group/volunteers/coworkers/etc. or if you would like to try a Bible highlighting or study system but don't want to commit to the whole Bible, this might be a great fit! 

Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage, Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of Forever in exchange for an honest review.

  • This might seem like a strange book for me (a single gal) to review, but as someone who desires this vocation and is surrounded by those living out the Sacrament of marriage, it makes sense to read and study and know about more than just my own life experience.  
  • This brand new devotional was written by speaker Jackie Francois Angel and her husband Bobby Angel compiles six weeks of reflections, quotes, prayer, and practicals for any couple at any stage of a relationship.  More than just a relationship book, this is a little power-packed collection of wisdom about Theology of the Body shared one snippet at a time.  It would perfectly set the stage to start a dialog that could only make any marriage stronger.  
  • I read through the all the devotions before passing it on to my sister and her husband, and I was impressed with how the Angels wrote with warmth, humor, and real life context as they presented material rich with the principles of TOB.  I know I'll be keeping this in mind as a shower/wedding gift and will hopefully get to borrow it back from my sister someday for myself. ;)

The Beatitudes Explained, Antonio Vincenti, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of The Beatitude Explained in exchange for an honest review.

  • This little book on the Beatitudes is part of Pauline Books & Media's Explained series (with books also on The Ten Commandments, The Creed, and The Works of Mercy).  I hadn't seen any of them before, and I am impressed- I might need to pick up the rest of the series!  
  • The Beatitudes Explained contains 64 full color pages outlining Christ's teaching at the Sermon on the Mount.  Usable for intermediate or middle schoolers, the text is rich but attainable and is well organized to either use as a resource book or to read from cover to cover.  If you are looking to move away from your traditional text for a unit on the Beatitudes, a class set of these would be awesome.
  • Containing detailed explanations of each of the Beatitudes and their practical implications in the lives of kids, there are also discussion/reflection questions, Saint quotes, and tie in stories from Scripture.  It is graphically interesting with illustrations as well as pop in boxes with connecting info. I'm glad to add this resource to my classroom faith library and think it would make a nice addition to your home as well!

Which of these books would you most like to read?  What is on your To-Be-Read Stack?

You might like these other Katie Reads posts:
Katie Reads {1} 
Katie Reads {2}  
Katie Reads {3} 
Katie Reads {4}
Katie Reads {5}
Katie Reads {6}
Katie Reads {7}


  1. Ooooh definitely ordering the Beatitudes one!

    1. It's a great resource! I'm adding the others in the series to my personal "need-for-my-classroom" list! ;)

    2. The pocket gospels will be perfect for our CCD teachers this year since we've picked up the Pflaum curriculum. Always enjoy your blog and book reviews. God Bless you and thank you for sharing!

    3. Hi Susan! Yes, the Pocket Gospels will be a perfect gift for them. Thanks for stopping by!