Thursday, January 3, 2019

Katie Reads {14} Books from the Second Half of 2018

Only good way to start 2019 is to recap the books I read in the second half of 2018.  I got a little behind with recommendations, so this is a longer post, but I hope that you are able to find some new titles for your family!  The first half of the post has books for grownups and the second half for kids of various ages.

-This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
-Some of the books were sent to me for consideration by the publisher or author, as denoted below. I only recommend things I use and love and want to share with you. All opinions are my own. :)

  • I picked up this book while visiting the Fr. Kapaun museum at his hometown parish in Kansas.  With one brother-in-law serving in the Army and another brother-in-law who chose Fr. Kapaun as his Confirmation Saint, I was excited to get to know him a little better and ask for his patronage over my family.  It was powerful to walk where he walked, and pray in the church where he grew up and then served as a priest.  This book was an inspiring look into Servant of God Kapaun's life, but also the influence he had on his fellow soldiers and the miraculous stories attributed to his intercession in recent years.  American, farm kid, priest, soldier, prisoner of war, Medal of Honor recipient, and Servant of God- there is much to be learned from Fr. Kapaun's love for the Lord and his fellow man. 

Wisdom from Pope Paul VI, by Mary Leonora Wilson FSP
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • With his recent Canonization, Pope St. Paul VI is getting a little more attention, and rightly so.  His teachings on family and sexuality during his papacy 40 years ago are proving prophetic and are needed more than ever.  This book was a perfect introduction to get to know him better, and I thoroughly enjoyed and learned from it.  The book includes a brief biography at the beginning and then breaks into themed chapters where excerpts of his writing on various topics have been assembled in readable lengths.  The selections are from various homilies, addresses, and writings and cover topics like Mary, suffering, and the Eucharist.  I think that it would be a great book to pick up for inspiration from a wise and influential leader, and would be easy to use as a springboard for prayer.

Give Peace to My Soul: Discover Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity's Secret of Prayer, but Jean Lafrance
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • When this book arrived, I knew next to nothing about St. Elizabeth of the Trinity besides the fact she was canonized just a few years ago.  This little book is just over 100 pages long and gives not only a biography of her life, but more so a glimpse into the importance of her life of contemplative prayer.  The author weaves into his own commentary excerpts from her own writing, that of great Carmelites like St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as well as other contemporary writers on the topic of prayer. I was inspired by St. Elizabeth's insights into this deep and profound prayer, and walked away with a desire to dive more into the interior quiet and rest she so recommended through the gift of contemplation.  I'd like to read more of her own writing and will have to add her autobiography to my book list.
Lay Siege to Heaven: A Novel about St. Catherine of Siena, by Louis deWohl
  • I'll be honest right now and say that I haven't actually finished this book yet- but it is quite long!  After my sister gave me The Spear to read (which I'm saving for Lent) I became intrigued by the author and decided to order this novel on St. Catherine of Siena, my Confirmation Saint.  deWohl writes in a fictionalized biography style, drawing on facts but adding characters, dialogue, etc. to carry the story.  I used to be a little reluctant of reading this format, but now just take it as the unique genre that it is.  I am enjoying this retelling quite a bit, and while it includes tons of other characters and references (hence the lack of speed in my reading) I certainly am learning a lot about the time, politics, and state of the Church during Catherine's lifetime, as well as details of her remarkable influence.  I look forward to finishing it and reading more of Louis deWohl's work.

Into His Likeness:Be Transformed as a Disciple of Christ, by Edward Sri
  • What is discipleship?  We are all called to it, to follow Christ radically, but how do we live as a disciple.  I really liked this new book from Dr. Sri and found it both easy to read but also a thought provoking look at being a Christian.  With a look back to Biblical times, it helps give a format to modern discipleship with practical tips. I think this would be a great book for group study, especially during a time of challenge and growth, like the new year or during Lent.
  • Kendra's blog Catholic All Year is the go-to for all things Liturgical Living.  Her new book is an essential handbook for bringing the rhythm of the Church year into your home or classroom.  Walking through the Seasons, it includes ideas for prayer, song, food, decor, and activities to magnify the beauty and tradition of being Catholic.  I love that it is written with the characteristic intelligent humor that you get from Kendra on her blog and other social media, making it both informative and entertaining to read. I think any Catholic (or interested non-Catholic) could pick this up and find a wealth of ideas to add into the cadence of everyday life to enhance their prayer and practice of the faith. 

Around the Year with the von Trapp Family, by Maria Augusta von Trapp 
  • This book- I've been waiting to find a copy for years! The original has been out of print and used copies are quite pricey.  I have a sister who grew up loving The Sound of Music (and I do too!) and there are lots of family jokes about wanting to be Maria von Trapp.  Now that sister is a wife and mom, so getting her a copy of Maria's own book on Liturgical Living seemed like the perfect gift.  Sophia Press released a new edition of the book, and I got her a copy for Christmas... and one for myself ;)
  • This printing is a lovely heavy hardback book with glossy pages and little original illustrations.  Maria narrates how her family lived out the liturgical year, keeping traditions that reflected their Catholic faith, as well as Austrian customs and family celebrations.  She shares ideas for decorating, teaching, and prayer for all the holidays and holy days.  Each section also has recipes and music.  And my favorite section, called "Our Life- A Feast," details how the family celebrated the unique and "ordinary" events of life- birthdays, Sacraments, graduations, etc.  It gives a lovely little glimpse into their lives and is inspires me to build and hold traditions and the collective memory of a family.
  • Just like Kendra's book, no matter your age or family situation there is something to be learned from and enjoyed in this book.  So much of the faith can be woven into our daily life, from the way we decorate to the food we eat, those actions tell the story of what we  believe and pass it on to a new generation.
  • I've always kept a prayer journal, but its purpose has changed tons over the years.  In high school and college, they looked more like letters to God, peppered with favorite Bible verses.  Now they are much more of study journals, filled with notes from talks or podcasts and details from Bible Study.  There is no wrong way to prayer journal, whether it is in a notebook, in a journaling Bible, our on post its in your planner, but if you are looking for some practical tips about how to use journaling to grow your prayer life, this book it great.  It packs in lots of ideas for getting started or looking at journaling in different ways.  It was a quick read and I enjoyed the readable, friendly style.
Just a Minute: Meditations for Deep Trust, by Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP
Just a Minute: Meditations for Inner Peace, by Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • These cute little pocket sized books are perfect for weaving short little moments of prayer throughout the day.  Each book features 50 themed meditations, all centered around a Scripture passage, and include a reflection and a short prayer.  The simple design could be flipped through and used in any order.  I think they would be perfect to tuck in a purse or desk to pull out when you need a little inspiration. They also would make a great gift to pass onto to someone going through a hard time, giving them a tool to have at their fingertips to encourage prayer.

Books for Kids and Families:

Side by Side: A Catholic Mother-Daughter Journal, by Lori and Ava Ubowski
*Ave Maria Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • Journals and devotionals for made for Catholic kids can be a great tool to help them internalize their faith and apply it to real life.  Finding just the right interactive journal to be the best fit for age and interest can be tough, but worth it.  I love this new option created by a mother-daughter author pair just for moms and girls to use together.  
  • It is colorful, illustrated, and has relevant topics to write about that are both fun and lighthearted as well as more serious and deep.  The side by side format is set up that mom and daughter could each use the journal together, or write in it separately and then talk about it.  Or it even lends itself to encourage just writing back and forth to one another- which might be a great communication outlet during the beautiful but challenging pre-teen/teen years.
  • I think this journal would best fit middle school girls, but certainly could start being used a little younger.  The relationship building and open communication this journal means to encourage is exactly what young ladies need during the growing up years.

I Pray the Mass, by Patricia Jablonski and Mary Tebo
I Pray Every Day, by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • These sweet books are perfect companions for preschoolers and early elementary aged kids who are really learning more about prayer and the Mass.  Each book has cute illustrations, kid friendly explanations, and prayers.
  • The illustrations are colorful and feature kids in various environments as they pray.  The kiddos represent many different ethnicities as well as kids of varied physical abilities, which I think is a good way for the readers to both see themselves as well as the universality of the Church.  
  • The book is broken up to have a child friendly explanation on the left page and then a short companion prayer on the right.  This format would make it easy to read any amount of the book in any particular order as you are looking to highlight a particular kind of prayer or part of the Mass.
Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Graphic Novel, by Natalie Muglie and Sam Estrada
  • I reviewed the first book in this series, Our Lady of Fatima, in this post and loved it so much I also backed their second book on Kickstarter.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Graphic Novel, is a vibrant retelling of the powerful apparition of Mary in Mexico in 1531.  Its bright pictures, captions, and speech bubbles use the popular graphic novel format that kids of all ages love.  Graphic novels are a hot commodity in my classroom, and are a great way to get even reluctant readers to pick up a book they might not normally gravitate towards.  
  • Like the first book, the narrator of the story adds an interesting twist.  At the opening of the plot, we find ourselves in 20th Century Mexico with a young boy and his mom talking about St. Juan Diego and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  At the end of the story, it is revealed that the boy is actually St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, teaching the reader about yet another Mexican Saint and layer of North American history.  There also is a solid pro-life theme woven throughout the entire book, which is a great takeaway message for any reader.
  • The book closed with extra informational pages about Saint Jose, amazing facts about the miraculous tilma, and more.  Those pages add to the educational value as they transfer the narrative story into a more non fiction format.  
Pope Francis: Builder of Bridges, by Emma Otheguy and Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez
*Bloomsbury provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Who Was Junipero Serra?, by Christian Clifford
(part of #saintbooktrek, a group of Catholic teacher and librarians sending books to Catholic schools, sharing with our students, and then sending on to a new school)
  • This Pope Francis book has creative and colorful illustrations that make it a unique biography  to share with kids.  The vibrant pictures add depth to the story, tracking Jorge Bergolio from his childhood through being named Pope.  Best for lower elementary age kids, I think that this book would be well used in sharing how the leaders of our church, while called in a special way by God to be priests, bishops, and pope, also grew up like regular kids, went through hard things, and had to make continuous decisions to keep growing in their faith. In the midst of a difficult time in the Church, it is important to help kids find the true and the good.  I think that this book would be useful to read with kids as a reminder of the humanity of the Pope, the need to pray for the Pope, and the respect for the seat of the Pope.  The book does emphasize the "builder of bridges" theme, and could be used with older kids to discuss the importance of outreach and love for those that are different from us, but also the solid truth that is unchanging in the Catholic Church.  Intuitive kids will pick up on that ambiguity and might connect with the opinions of secular media about Pope Francis.  At a time such as this, it is so important to pray for the leadership of the Church, and I hope that this book facilitates that response. 
  • Who Was Junipero Serra tells the story of the recently canonized Saint who was a great missionary to the Southwest. This book would be best for older elementary or middle schoolers.  Written by a Californian author, I think kids will enjoy learning about this American priest and advocate.  I liked the simple black and white line drawing illustrations, which remind me of some of the student Saint biography sets published in the 40's and 50's which are so timeless.

*Loyola Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • I gave a thorough review of this on Instagram quite a while ago, but realized that I never posted about it on the blog- and that needed remedied, because this is a great resource!
  • The Loyola Kids Book of Catholic Signs and Symbols has great illustrations and detailed explanations great for intermediate and middle school aged kids (And honestly, interesting and relevant for adults wanting to learn more too!).  With almost 200 pages of information on Catholic images ranging from Sacramentals to Marian titles, items used in Mass to Liturgical Season, this book will surely help Catholic kids recognize the beautiful and meaningful symbols that surround us in our Churches.  Art has always been a tool for evangelization and catechesis, and the illustrations and explanations in this text provide a great resource for making the most of the Catholic signs and symbols we see in stained glass windows, statues, and paintings.  This is a solid and well done resource for any home or classroom.
Little Prayers for Little Ones, by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • This super cute board book is a fun new edition to the Pauline Kids selection.  Board books are so nice for babies all the way through preschoolers and make a great addition to Mass bags or nursery book baskets.  Little Prayers for Little Ones features five different styles of prayer (like praise, petition, etc.) with five different "characters" sharing the circumstances for the prayer.
  • The illustrations are really cute, and feature kids of various ethnicities, abilities, and with different family members (moms, dads, grandparents, friends, etc.)  As I mentioned above, I think that it is a great opportunity for kids to see themselves reflected in the pages as they learn to pray.
Saintly Rhymes for Modern Times, by Megan Bausch
  • This sweet picture book has been on my wish list for months, but I finally picked it up at my local Catholic bookstore.  It certainly did not disappoint with it's decoupage style illustrations, cute but informative rhyming poems, and modern Saint selection.  I love the unique style of storytelling the lives of the Saints, and think that it could hold the attention of early elementary age kiddos, but also be a fun read aloud for older kids.
  • While I already wanted to add this book to my classroom library, but also had several people recommend it to me because Fulton Sheen makes an appearance!  See an example of his page below:
  • I also think that this book would be a great inspiration for a poetry writing unit.  Use the book as a mentor text, have the students choose a Saint, and then write their own poem and/or create their own paper cut artwork.  
  • Hopefully there are more to come like this! Wouldn't a series be great!?

The Sword and the Cape: A Tale of Saint Martin of Tours, by Pamela Love
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • A vibrantly illustrated short story book about St. Martin of Tours tells the legend of this noble and generous soldier. Best for early elementary kids, the tale shares the famous story of St. Martin sharing half his cloak with a beggar who is actually Jesus in disguise.  The book also includes a historical section and a prayer to St. Martin.  It would be a great story to read to remind kids about the importance of kindness and considering the needs of others, especially through the Corporal Works of Mercy.

So, what's on your to-read list for 2019?


  1. Katie,
    Thank you!!!!! What a gift to see Maria von Trapp's book reprinted, and you were the bearer of the good tidings!!! I have been trying to locate a copy of this book for over 25 years. Praying God will bless you extra.

    1. Eva! That is amazing! I hope it was worth the wait (I think it will be- I'm loving it!)