Book Talk with Advent Wreaths and Christmas Shopping


CatholicMom-booknotes-logoOne of the tips I always share when I give Advent talks is one that transformed my Advent a few years ago: finish your shopping before Advent. Yeah, it’s crazy. And it’s awesome. This year, I have failed in that goal.

So now I have to take my other advice: be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself and get up.

And, if you’re me, read. 🙂

Because instead of taking advantage of deals I don’t really care about over the weekend, that’s what I did. I turned off my computer and curled up with various books. And FINISHED some of them! It was grand!

Recent Reads


When Faith Feels Fragile: Help for the Wary, Weary, and Wandering, by R. Scott Hurd

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Here’s my “gift to you” advice: ask for this book. Or buy it with the gift card you may get for Christmas. It is a book with short chapters that are packed with practical wisdom.

Want a sample? I wrote a column about it yesterday over at Integrated Catholic Life.


Ceremony of Innocence: A Novel, by Dorothy Cummings McLean (Ignatius Press, 2013)

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

This is a novel that is what I have come to expect from Ignatius: an excellent read. It’s well-written and well-edited, the plot is tight and even a bit challenging, and there is nothing shoved down your throat.

The fact that a Catholic publisher is releasing books like this gives me hope, actually. As an avid reader and reviewer, I’ve seen my fair share of good (and, ahem, NOT so good) fiction in the last few years. This fits squarely in the good pile.

It has hints of romance, bits of mystery, and at least three bombings by my count. It’s more than just a good cover: this is a book to share with your book club, pass along to that lady down the road who keeps the library in business, and even buy for a Christmas present.

We have a copy in this week’s giveaway, as a matter of fact, and I posted the press release info last week. I’ll have a more lengthy review…sometime. 🙂 (Pardon me for being swamped in books to share. It’s the problem I’ve always dreamed of having!)

Current Reads

Prayer and You: Wit and Wisdom from a Crabby Mystic, by Mary Lea Hill, FSP (advance copy, Pauline Books & Media, expected publication 2014)

I can’t give you a link yet, because I’m reading an advance copy to endorse it, but I can tell you this: my endorsement shall be GLOWING. The first chapter proved that I would love it: “Can Swearing Be Prayer?” Ah, but the answer is not only expert, it challenged me in a way that usually only my priest can. It’s packed with tidbits of joy, wisdom that’s hilarious, and short copy that will stick with you. Highly recommended so far!


Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus through Mary with Blessed John Paul II, by Fr. Brian McMaster (Our Sunday Visitor, 2013)

One more week in my journey to Total Consecration using this book. It’s a keeper and I’ve written my name in the cover. Who knew that I’d become a Total Consecration junkie? I sure didn’t…but it’s like a novena on steroids, with chocolate on the side and coffee on top. (OK, so maybe I just project my favorite things onto anything I like. Bear with me.)

Up Next


Yes, God!: What Ordinary Families Can Learn about Parenting from Today’s Vocation Stories, by Susie Lloyd (Ave Maria Press, 2013)

While I doubt that this book will make me laugh so hard I’ll cry as Lloyd’s previous books have, I’m still barely restraining myself from it. Her writing is among my favorite and I’m all for learning about parenting from someone who can keep it real and make me snort my coffee.

Here’s the official blurb:

In a culture that is often dark and discouraging, where can parents look for help in raising their children? By profiling ten men and women on their journeys to the priesthood and the convent, award-winning author Susie Lloyd discovered lessons that can be used by any parents who want to raise faithful children. Here are the heartwarming stories of five priests, five nuns, and the parents who raised them to be open to God’s call. Lloyd relates some of their joys and setbacks, reveals their guiding principles and rallying cries, and passes along tips from the “master” parents. The mother of seven, Lloyd also shares some of her own (often humorous) parenting tales, and she helps readers understand the various dynamics of Catholic family life and the diverse factors that influence a child’s decision to say “yes” to God.

What have YOU been reading lately?

*Are you on Goodreads? I’ll see you there!

Curious about what my ratings mean? Here’s an explanation of what the stars mean to me.

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2013, Sarah Reinhard


About Author

When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Three Shots and follow her writing at Snoring Scholar.


  1. I love the idea of shopping before Advent. I also know, not happening. But it’s a great idea, like making a menu to plan out the week’s meals. It always works, yet I fail to do it. So the be kind to yourself, also works. 🙂

  2. I finished mine in October…mwhahaha….It is a great goal to finish before Advent! Currently reading “Journey to the Kingdom” an Orthodox book, which the priest who wrote it contacted me and asked me to review. “Yes, God” is next on my list too…can never start too early encouraging vocations, even with 8 month olds. right? 🙂

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