Book Review: Erin’s Ring

Erin’s Ring by Laura H. Pearl is an unforgettably heartfelt and soul-stirring story of faith and love. It hooked me in the first chapter when 13-year-old Molly, new to the town of Dover, discovers an old Claddagh ring in the dirt around St. Mary’s Church. How did the ring get there? Whose ring is it?

Together with her new friend Theresa, who is struggling with a deep sorrow, Molly searches for answers by delving into the history of the town and the Irish immigrants, particularly the mill girls who worked long, hard hours for money to send home to their loved ones.

19-year-old Ann’s story begins in 1827, with her boarding a ship bound for America, with hopes of joining the mill girls. Resourceful and determined, she works hard, sends money and letters home, and clings to her Catholic faith. Meanwhile, a budding romance fills her with hopes and dreams for the future. The multilayered story is rich with Catholic traditions and Irish heritage.

Erin’s Ring is a splendid tale, with meaningful yet entertaining content, easily enjoyed by adults and teens alike. The pull to keep reading was irresistible; I was continually trying to squeeze reading time into my busy day. The plot always entices and is driven by the characters, their lives, loves, and sufferings. The young women of the past and present struggle with hardships as their lives are shaped by faith in God.

I’m thoroughly impressed with Pearl’s ability to create this beautiful tapestry of love, hope, and courage. She has such a talent for writing wholesome yet real stories. I’m also very in awe of the fact that she wrote Erin’s Ring in a matter of months. That can only be done with extreme dedication and a true passion for the story. Like Pearl’s debut novel (Finding Grace), Erin’s Ring is another keeper for my bookshelf to pass on to my daughters!

Erin’s Ring is available in paperback.

Book Review: Underlake

Underlake by Kia Heavey is an incredible coming-of-age story
that is rich with elements of love, mystery, suspense, even a touch of fantasy that you wouldn’t think could work–but WOW!–does it ever!!

This unpredictable story is packed with clever twists and turns, and superbly written. The prologue grabs you by the heart, and then we meet Katie, a teen who is very miffed to be separated from her trendy city friends and deposited in a boring hick town for the summer. But it turns out to be the opposite of boring. Charmed with life here, Katie doesn’t want to leave at summer’s end. She particularly doesn’t want to leave behind John, the impulsive, endearing young man who is so different from anyone she’s ever met. Little does she know, he’s concealing a deep, ancient secret that will change both their lives forever.

When I had to set this book down, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. In fact, I admit I let my kids watch too much TV so I could keep reading. I read with particular anticipation for the other-worldly aspect that is tantalizingly hinted at. The story takes a fantastical turn, yet the author makes it completely credible and so intriguing.

This is a modern, fast-paced story that teens (and their mothers!) will certainly enjoy, but besides being highly entertaining, it has moral value as well. Katie is a teen trying to find her place in the world, but she comes to realize that the mainstream “answers to happiness” that are pushed at her, won’t make her truly happy. She’s a smart young woman, and as she sees the consequences of bad choices (drinking, drugs, premarital sex) playing out around her, she is no longer fooled by the lure of “all things popular.”

Katie and her mother stopped going to church after her father died, but through the course of the story, Katie finds her way (believably) back to the Catholic Faith. The religious content is a credible, influential part of the story, and is never forced or out-of-place.

Underlake has the most magical, satisfying, heart-tugging ending. I loved how the final pages take you further down the road of the main characters’ lives than you would expect. You want to know the details of how their lives turn out because you care that much about them.

Underlake is one of those rare books that has the power to leave you with a lasting and meaningful impression. You close the book, but you continue to marvel over a story that has become so very real and dear to you.

Underlake is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.

Newly Released: Erin’s Ring

Just in time for Christmas, the latest novel by Catholic author Laura H. Pearl is now available! Perfect for readers 13 and up.

Erin’s Ring by Laura H. Pearl

What story might this ring tell, if only it could talk?

When thirteen-year-old Molly McCormick, who has recently moved from the Midwest to Dover, New Hampshire, finds an old Irish Claddagh ring poking up out of the dirt in a garden outside her local parish church, she is immediately intrigued. The ring’s inscription, “To Erin–Love, Michael”, fills her head with romantic possibilities. She teams up with her new friend, Theresa Grant, to uncover the story behind the lost ring. With the help of the head librarian at the public library, the two girls become immersed in the rich history of the Irish immigrants who came to Dover in droves during the 19th century, to escape famine and poverty in their homeland and make better lives for their children and grandchildren.

Molly and Theresa learn about the courage, tenacity, and deep faith that were the hallmarks of the Irish immigrants–people with names like Ann and Seamus, Cara and Finn, and of course, Erin and Michael. The young girls eagerly delve into old records tucked away in the dark corners of the library and learn how instrumental Dover’s Irish-Catholics were in getting the first Catholic church built in their New England town.

Molly and Theresa set out to discover the origins of the mysterious ring, but they unearth a story that is far stranger and infinitely more touching than anything they could have ever imagined.

Erin’s Ring is available in paperback.

Book Review: I Thirst

I Thirst is a poetic, unique first novel by Gina Marinello-Sweeney.
The writing is fresh, lyrical, and literary. The novel is definitely more character-driven than plot-driven. Twenty-year-old Rebecca meets an interesting young man and they instantly connect. They share a love of writing and embark on a writing project together, through which a deep friendship grows.

While the story moves with it’s own flow, I found it a bit disjointed in places and somewhat random. As I read, I kept hoping for more story tension. Symbolic and poetic as it was, some parts were a tad too abstract for me. The story didn’t always hold my interest, particularly the play within the play.

This is just my honest opinion, and tastes differ. From the raving reviews I’ve seen, there are certainly others who love this book. You might be one of them! I suggest reading the first several pages in Amazon’s “Look Inside” the book feature to see if I Thirst draws you in.

Catholic readers will appreciate the Catholic aspects, which are tastefully included and not overdone.

Marinello-Sweeney has quite a way with words and is certainly a gifted writer. I enjoyed her use of the first person voice and the writing is lively, descriptive, and contains zany touches of humor. The author did an excellent job fully fleshing out the characters and making some of them off-beat and eccentric. I also enjoyed her depiction of the true passion of a writer. The author’s own passion shines through in I Thirst, and I’m sure we will be seeing more of her work in the future.

I Thirst is available in paperback.

Book Review: Finding Grace

Laura H. Pearl’s first novel, Finding Grace, was a pure delight to read. The story is absorbing on so many levels.

The main character, Grace, is thirteen at the beginning of the book, but her story spans the years of 1972-1980 as she becomes a young woman in a world fraught with challenges. She strives to live as a good Catholic so that she may one day become a saint; but goodness doesn’t come easily, and as she struggles to live her faith, she encounters life in all its many facets of good and evil, joy and disappointments. Add to this the pain of falling deeply in love with a young man who sees her only as a friend, and I had to keep turning pages, staying up late, to find out how everything turns out.

The characters are fully developed, easy to relate to, and real. Grace’s relationships with her parents, her many brothers, and her friends, are genuine. Readers will become invested in Grace’s fate, and yearn for her to win her true love in the end. While this book is a wonderful coming-of-age story for teens, it is also great for adults looking for a romantic story that is deep and meaningful. Not a shallow romance, Finding Grace has all the hallmarks readers could want: romance, conflict, humor, life, love, laughter, and tears.

Parents can feel confident in buying this for their teens. Finding Grace is a moral read, without being bland or boring. The importance of family and faith is highlighted. Yes, there are lessons to be learned, but readers will be highly entertained along the way.

I laughed out loud. I shared in the heartaches as Grace learned who she is, and who she can be, with the grace of God. I really do miss the characters and I’m sad to be done with the novel, even though it has a beautiful ending! This is a book that I will definitely recommend to my own daughter someday.

Finding Grace is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.

A New YA Novel: “Finding Grace” is pleased to spread the word about Finding Grace, a new Catholic novel for teen readers.

Learn more about Finding Grace, the themes, synopsis, and inspiration behind the novel by reading the author’s own words below.

Catholic author Laura Pearl writes:

I am a Catholic author who has just had my first novel (aimed at young adult readers) released in August by Bezalel Books, a Catholic publishing house. My book is called “Finding Grace,” and it is is set in a small town in the 1970′s. It is filled with Catholic characters and is a pro-family, pro-chastity, pro-life, coming of age love story. It promotes Catholic themes throughout, but with compassion and humor and without being too preachy.

Here is a short synopsis, which appears on the back cover of the book: At the age of thirteen, Grace Kelly (who has been saddled with the name of a world-renowned beauty, but is far from one herself) is inspired by an offhand comment from her father to become a saint. But coming of age and falling deeply in love for the first time in the early 1970′s–in the wake of the 60′s “sexual revolution” and the historic Roe v. Wade decision–presents true challenges for young people who are trying to live chastely. Grace realizes that without the help of God, the Blessed Mother, and all the saints in Heaven, navigating the thorny path to sainthood would be an almost insurmountable task.

I decided to write “Finding Grace” with my future grandchildren in mind (and then my first two–identical twin girls–were born while I was still in the process of writing it!), worried about the kind of books that will be targeted at them by the time they become teenage readers. I wanted to write something that would combat the damaging secular messages that bombard our young people daily–in books, on T.V., in movies, and even in school.

My book is available on in both paperback and Kindle form.

Thank you, Laura Pearl, for taking the time to write us about your novel. It sounds like a great idea for a Christmas gift!

Win a Catholic Suspense Novel!

Frozen Footprints, a new Catholic suspense thriller by Therese Heckenkamp, is tentatively scheduled to be released in November 2012 by Tumblar House.

“Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.” 

When a wealthy young man disappears and a ransom note shows up, his twin sister’s world is shattered. Fearing the worst, Charlene determines to find her brother before it’s too late. Her quest hurls her into a twisted, frigid world of icy terror. The twins struggle for survival while enduring fierce trials of mind, body, and spirit. Devoid of all worldly comfort and consolation, will faith and hope be enough to get them through this chilling nightmare?

Interested in reading this exciting new Catholic novel?

Enter here to win a FREE signed copy once the book is released.

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