Some goodies, indeed! Between being offline and just allowing myself some unrestricted reading time through the day, I had a great time.

My reading included a friend’s manuscript and an advance copy of a novel that’s not out yet, so I think, with these four, I set some sort of personal best, at least for my one-a-week-if-I’m-lucky trend of the last few years.

Mind Over Mind, by Karina Fabian

A friend, whose taste I highly respect, predicted that Mind Over Mind would be Karina Fabian’s breakout novel.

After savoring it, rushing through it, and all but writing the author to demand the sequel, I have to agree.

It has all the elements of a good story, a bit of romance, a mind-tickling plot, and characters who are fun to spend time with. Oh, and there are regular names for the characters.*

As a thumbnail review, I know this lacks a lot, but I so hate ruining a story for other people. This earned all five of the stars I gave it at Goodreads, and I’m waiting impatiently for the next installment.

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson

I keep an eye on YA, in large part because of the younger readers in my life. I also agree with a friend who once said that, with good YA you get a good story minus some of the adult material that you don’t really need in mainstream fiction (explicit sex scenes, etc.). Two of these younger readers have been raving about the Maximum Ride series, and I was really looking forward to joining the discussion.

Wow, was I ever disappointed.

Not only is this book poorly written, but it presents an unreal picture of the young people I know. For one thing, they don’t talk that way. Maybe the young people I know aren’t representative of the ones this book is marketed to, but it smacked of “adult trying to write for teens” to me.

Though I was curious about some of the outcomes that will surely be revealed in future books, I was so disgusted with the writing that I won’t be reading them. I can live without knowing.

I don’t know that I have any real objections to the books aside from the fact that I am always annoyed to spend time reading something that’s not good.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

In fourth grade, Little Women was the one book my mom would let me buy from one of those book flyers. I was so disgusted and disappointed that I sulked and pouted like a champ.

And then I proceeded to read the book until the cover came off. I think I clocked at least four readings before sixth grade.

I wanted to revisit my old friends, the Marches, after having a conversation with one of the young people in my life that went something like this.

“Oh! Little Women! Have you read it?”

“I saw the movie.”

“But…but…it’s a great book. You should READ it!”

“Yeah. Hey, have you read Maximum Ride yet?”

I started this about midway through my tour through the first Maximum Ride novel and it was probably the only reason I was able to plow through that book.

It was delightful and just as wonderful as I remembered it being. The March family held all its appeal, I still sided completely with Jo and wanted to be her, wondered at the curious femininity of Meg and Amy, and loved Beth, though I shook my head at her.

I paid more attention, this time around, to the role Mrs. March played, and since I’m also the mother of girls, couldn’t help but take a few pointers from her. My girls won’t be playing Pilgrim’s Progress, mind you, because I threw the book across the room more than once early last year when I tried to read it. Then again, the idea of it doesn’t demand reading the book…

I want to reread Jo’s Boys and Little Men sometime this year too. And did you know Louisa May Alcott has a whole host of other books? (I didn’t…but now I do!)

All in all, as fantastic a reading as could be had.

Women, Sex, and the Church: A Case for Catholic Teaching, edited by Erika Bachiochi

Now here’s a book that needs its own post, and it will get that sometime soon. It’s a compilation of essays by highly-qualified contributors about the Catholic Church’s teaching about issues related to women, including abortion, contraception, sex, infertility treatments, and even balancing work and family. There were two chapters that were so good I marked them and asked my husband to read them. On the back cover, Kimberly Hahn calls it a “tour de force” and that nails it. A great read and it gets my highest recommendation.

*I find myself sensitive to character names of late. Forgive me, ye of the SFF bend, but why can’t people just have names like Henry and Maude? Remembering that Lacklehivey is a girl and that she’s married to Hineyhovey is, well, hard. I’m going to need many years to get over my initial annoyance.