book report - summer 2018

I'm praying more now, and reading more too, now that we know all that we know. Both help.

1. A Postcard from the Volcano
Lucy Beckett
Oh, man. A friend told me she was a mess when she finished this one, and yeah, that's about right. I finished it and cried on and off for two hours. Beckett's brilliant work is filled with deep historical and geopolitical analysis of the roots of both WWI and WWII, but even more than that, its characters ask the questions of life. What makes things beautiful? What makes people good or bad? What has God created us for? In brief, Volcano follows a boy through his aristocratic Prussian upbringing, his schoolboy years, and then to his young adulthood in pre-war Germany--and the growing foreboding and panic at what lies ahead once Nazis gain control of the country. Even though I felt like many scenes almost read like a play, in which two or more characters are placed in a scene to debate or dialogue on an idea; those very characters are written with nuance, tenderness and deep love. Heartily recommend.

2. An Immovable Feast
Tyler Blanski
Alert: READ! THIS! BOOK! I'd never read a true conversion story before, and was so glad that Blanski's was my first. Good gravy, there is material in here for everyone: the atheist hipster, the spiritual-but-not-religious 20-something, the dyed in the wool Anglican, and the lukewarm Catholic. Don't be fooled by the softly scenic cover: this is a doozy of a story. I interviewed Tyler for episode 17 of Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary, and he was a lot of fun to talk to. Planning on grabbing this as Christmas presents for both the Catholics and non-Catholics on my list. It's that good.

3. Boundaries
Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
I felt like the only human who has picked up Boundaries and not immediately loved nor identified with it, and multiple times felt like just dropping it for another book on my stack. But then I read a passage about God's boundaries--and it stopped me. God has boundaries? Yes. His boundary is my free will. I can choose to accept Him, to seek to do His will, to follow His commandments. And if God has such respect for boundaries, well, then, I thought, I better finish the darn book and get a better handle on them, too.

4. The SleepEasy Solution
I got this book because I'm such a pro at this mom thing by now, I read baby sleep books just for fun. HAHAHHAHAHAHA. No. I got it because sweet little Stevie was still waking up 3-4 times a night. I was on the brink, and he needed to learn how to cut that crap out, pronto. This book isn't filled with magic, but it is filled with the kind of encouraging confidence that I needed to gut through some crying and get him sleeping better. It helped, a lot. 

5. One Question
Ken Coleman
Sean sweetly grabbed a copy of this once he heard it mentioned in a Dave Ramsey podcast. Each of Coleman's chapters feature a big-name personality or business leader he's interviewed, plus an emotion or challenge: fear, perseverance, failure, character. I picked up some great interviewing tips and strategies for getting great answers out of interviewees. Which reminds me: if YOU (whoever you are) just read a book or have a Catholic author or subject you think would be great on the radio or Coffee & Donuts (or just a great book in general), please shoot me an email or PM!
domesticapologist at gmail dot com
maryh at materdeiradio dot com
IG: @domestic_apologist

Full disclosure: I read two beach reads this summer. It's junk, ok? I know!  They're not in my book stack pic above because they were (mercifully) library books. I like my junk to be free junk.

6. The Identicals
Elin Hilderbrand
I read one Hilderbrand book every summer. They're ALL the same: beach, romance, East Coast snobbery, beautiful clothes, love triangles. They're not terribly raunchy but they are more raunchy than anything I should be reading. But every July, I grab one from the library, read it in 36 hours, and utterly disregard everyone in my family. Then I go back to the pre-WWI Nazi uprising novels.

7. Island Girls
Nancy Thayer
I read somewhere that Nancy Thayer novels are just like Hilderbrand books, so I grabbed one. I think this is akin to grabbing a pack of Starbursts when you're already buying Skittles. This one reads like a shallow treatise on why divorce is awful and why women are ridiculous. Lesson learned: don't get Starbursts when you're already getting Skittles.


  1. Postcard from the Volcano sounds amazing! Have you read Michael O'Brien's books? I wonder if they have a similar flavour, as his books (Island of the World in particular) also have those engaging philosophical discourses.

    1. Ah yes that's a great comparison! If you *don't* like Michael O'Brien, you might not like Postcard/Volcano. I've read Father Elijah of course and I think my hubby's read a few more of his.