Showing posts with the label Books

Christian Books


An Excellent Read-Aloud:: Matilda

I still remember reading Matilda by Roald Dahl when I was in elementary school, and as I put it back on the shelf, I sighed and stared at the spine lovingly.  I loved the character Matilda most of all,  It was surely one of my favorite books when I was about my daughter Madeleine's age.

So it has not been easier to pick something at the library to read out loud with her than when I spotted Matilda.  I am going to make an argument that it is -seriously- his best book.  I love some of his others, notably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but James and the Giant Peach let me down, and I have only seen the movie The BFG, but I'm hoping to read this book out loud soon (I seriously can't wait.)

But Matilda is downright stellar. Let me tell you why. I realize it might sound antiquated to praise a book I read as a child. It was published in 1988.  Imagine if your parents read a book (to you) from their childhood, when Harry Potter had first come out... anti-climactic, to say the…

Christian Books


Peering Into a Catholic Motherhood's Toolbox

Madeleine's pet gecko!
To motherhood belongs the distinguished commodity: our own special toolbox of learned skills, the intelligent planning, and the intuitive wisdom gained and increased with each passing year of motherhood tucked under our belt.  With this process of mother-becoming, an old self is shed like the skin of my daughter Madeleine's gecko.  The old skin (in my own sad case) is, sadly, the selfish hoarder (granted, who was but a young girl), ultimately a person in denial about her own self-worth, and she casts that insecurity onto her friends and spouse and other family members like a crystal reflecting a prism.  When the child bursts upon the scene, her heart explodes with a wild-animal kind of love.  The passive aggressive, the petty, the thief of joy-- her selfish insecure moth-like insect transforms.  A mother is like a gecko with a fresh new skin, or in my case, a mother butterfly with her own little swarm of caterpillars.

Every mother has her own biggest va…

Thoughts on Dismantling the Biggest Lie

Dismantling the Biggest Lie could take a lifetime. Matthew Kelly has published another excellent thought-provoking book. I had the privilege of reading his latest book before it was available to the general public. (Being a Dynamic Catholic Ambassador provided me with that privilege).
A Lot of Quote-Worthy Material This book is chock-full of quotes you'll want to remember, so make sure you have your highlighter with you each time you pick it up. There is a lot of information in this book, so you'll want to make sure you have time to really stew on it.

Something for you to read


What Christians Can Learn From Malcolm X

I have been reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and I am very impressed with the man. I was interested in reading it after someone mentioned how reading changed his life (I am all about promoting literacy and education.) I learned a lot about how things were during his life and also how things got to be the way they are now. It seems to me that a lot has improved since his time, but a lot is still very much the same. His message to his black brothers was for them to love and respect themselves, do for themselves, and demand justice for themselves–this is hard for me to disagree with. Malcolm is still thought of today as a divisive and angry figure, unlike the inclusive and inspiring Martin Luther King, but there are many things we can learn from the life of Malcolm X. 1. Through self-discipline, Malcolm found freedom. While in prison, his family was trying to get him to follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad–they started by telling him to give up pork and cigarettes and that they…



On Mother Teresa's Feast Day: a Film, a Book

As I celebrate the feast day of St. Teresa of Calcutta, I'm reminded of a film about her from a couple of years ago. I enjoyed The Letters when it came out, but the best thing about the film was the way it inspired me to pick up the book on which it was based. The film is about her. The actual letters, cited extensively in the book, are by her.

Read the rest of the post at Leaven for the Loaf.

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #20): An Erin's Ring Giveaway!

The Grace-filled Tuesdays Book Club met today over at my flagship blog, String of Pearls. We talked about my second YA Catholic novel, Erin's Ring, recipient of two book awards from the Catholic Press Association.
If you haven't read Erin's Ring yet and would like to do so, you might be interested to know that I'm hosting a giveaway.

I'm giving away five free promo copies of Erin's Ring, with the winners to be announced on Nov. 1.
If you'd like to find out how to enter, head on over to String of Pearls for more information.

Public Speaking/Book Signings

In early January of this year, I had the privilege of speaking to four different classrooms of students (5th through 8th grade), at two different schools, about my two Catholic YA novels, Finding Grace and Erin's Ring.  I traveled down to Tampa to be a Confirmation sponsor for two of my nieces, and while there, my sister-in-law arranged for me to visit the Catholic school that her 8th grade triplets attend and also the one where she is a 5th grade teacher.

This was the second time I've been given the opportunity to speak to students in a classroom setting.  In May of 2015, I visited my niece's 4th grade class in Chicago, to talk to her students about Erin's Ring after they'd read the book together.  (I blogged about the experience here and here, if you'd like to read those posts.)
I can't believe I'm about to say this (gulp!)...but if you would be interested in having me come to speak and/or do a book signing at your school or parish, please leave me a …

Finding life and light in the midst of January doldrums

The prospect of a long winter ahead is daunting especially with memories of the epic snowfall amounts of last year still haunting many of us. I once anticipated January with dread. Winter can be dark, oppressive and confining: the arctic air and biting winds… the deep snows burying the landscape … ice covering the streets and sidewalks … darkness that greets us when we rise and meets us at the end of each work day.

January is a quiet month. Birds don’t come to the feeder; their songs no longer greet me in the morning. Crickets and locusts have gone silent at night.

January was a month without life.

Then I read Henry Beston’s classic, The Outermost House and it changed my perception of winter forever ...

Click here to continue reading ...

How phlegmatics can be saints

Below is an excerpt from chapter 4 of my newest bookA Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Phlegmatic Child.Read how Queen Esther serves as a biblical model, portraying the strengths and weaknesses of the phlegmatic temperament. Temperament studies are not just for kids!

Phlegmatic women tend to be supporters of leaders of other temperaments. They express their temperament quietly, often at home. Few become famous. Esther would probably never have been known to history, except for the special circumstances she found herself in. She shows how one phlegmatic person can make a huge impact for God by following his will.
A phlegmatic replacement for a defiant, choleric queen Esther’s story is found in the biblical book named after her. King Ahaserus (also known as Xerxes) is married to a beautiful woman named Vashti. When the king holds a banquet, he calls his wife to come show off her beauty to his guests. The choleric Vashti refuses. Ahaserus responds by deposing the queen and seeking another …

Kids Love PB & J; They'll Love PB & G, Too!

I was recently contacted by a new Catholic micropublisher called Peanut Butter & Grace.  The kind folks at PB & G very generously offered to send me some of their children's books in exchange for an honest review on my blog.

One of the titles I received was The Little Flower, A Parable of Saint Therese of Lisieux.  This sweet picture book combines so many things that I love and am drawn to: the story of Saint Therese (one of my favorite heavenly friends), and her childhood aspiration to become a saint; an explanation for why she is often called "The Little Flower"; an introduction to the "Little Way" of which she spoke, a way to sanctity that even the smallest and humblest among us can follow; and some gorgeous watercolor artwork to go along with the lovingly rendered prose.
If you'd like to read more about this inspirational book that's perfect for kids of ALL ages, as well as some others offered by this wonderful Catholic company, head on over…

Thoughts on The Screwtape Letters

Recently, while reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, I came across this quote, and it stopped me dead in my tracks:

“We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear.”
And I thought: Imagine if C.S. Lewis— one of the most influential Christian thinkers of his day (and of all time, perhaps?)— listened to the naysayers- and was choked up, grabbed and threatened, and crippled from writing, because of fear? This book suggests that certainly, that would have been a sinful temptation.  To not hold out, to not radiate truth in spite of- or rather, because of- the spirit of negativity? That would be giving in, and not holding out. It might even mean giving up, defeated because of a feeling.

There are all kinds of dryness. And truly daily, I feel crippled by a thousand things.  Spiritual dryness. Selfishness.

{Read the rest at Picture a Skyline}
Working with Your Child's Temperament from Four Waters Pres It’s release day for A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child!
Enjoy the slide show on the temperaments I put together for the upcoming Minnesota Home Education and Curriculum Conference. I included lots of photos of my kids to make you smile. Have you ordered your copy? If you pre-ordered the ebook, you can access it now. The ebook is $3.99 on Amazon. The paperback is available for $12.95 at Amazon. You can also buy the paperback at CreateSpace.
As always, if you buy five paperbacks directly from me, I’ll sign them all and give you a sixth free–with no shipping cost. Email me at crossini4774 at comcast dot net if you are interested.
See the book blog tour schedule at  Contemplative Homeschool.

Celebrating "Celebrate Teen Literature Day"!

Posted two days ago at String of Pearls:It's still National Library Week, and I'm still running a giveaway here at the blog.  Leave me a comment anytime before midnight on April 18, and you could win one of two prizes: a signed copy of my first novel, Finding Grace, or a signed copy of my second novel, Erin's Ring. This is a good day to talk about these two books, because today has actually been dubbed "Celebrate Teen Literature Day," and both of my novels fall into the teen/young adult (YA) category.  (Although don't let the YA tag deter you from reading them if you're a full-blown adult; I tried to write these stories in such a way that they could be enjoyed by readers from middle school to middle age.)

When I set out to write Finding Grace, I wasn't even sure it would ever be officially published as a book, with a glossy cover and professionally printed pages.  I thought that when I finished, I might run off copies for my boys, so that when they h…

Erin's Ring Giveaway

I was so thrilled to receive this photo recently, via text message, from my niece.  She's a 5th grade teacher at a Catholic school out in the Midwest, and she's having her students read Erin's Ring--my second YA novel, published by Bezalel Books in November of 2014.
I'd love to see Erin's Ring, a story about "the legacy of love and the power of faith," get into the hands of more kids like the ones pictured here (and their parents, too--it's a book for all ages).  Therefore, I'm hosting a giveaway on my blog.  In honor of National Library Week, which is April 12-18, I'm giving away one copy of Erin's Ring, along with one copy of my first Bezalel novel, Finding GraceHead on over to String of Pearls to find out how you can enter to win.

Christian Books


Small Victories: A Good Way to Celebrate Epiphany

I began reading essayist Anne Lamott's new book, Small Victories,  after  hearing her speak in November  at the Free Library of Philadelphia. My friend Shannon, an author and a  jail chaplain in Tacoma, suggested this would be a great book to read for Advent.

Well, even though it's under 300 pages, I just completed it today. Lamott's  is an authentic voice, one that does not sugar coat reality but which helps me find God in the smallest moments. Finishing the book is a good way to celebrate the Epiphany, that time when Jesus revealed himself to the world beyond his circumstances.

Lamott is a writer  we writers are supposed to love and one whose work I have not taken the time to read fully. While I have read bits and pieces of her illuminating work, this is the first full book of hers I have read from start to finish. She labels herself a "left wing" Christian and I suppose she is, but the label, as any political label does, reduces the value of her insights.