The Founding of Christendom by Warren H. Carroll – The first volume in a series of six, this detailed text covers the span from the creation of the world to the year 324 A.D. This is the first history book I've ever read that starts with God! The prologue, entitled “In the Beginning,” quotes Genesis 1:1-4 and then proceeds, “God is; and God is love. Only God, of all beings, must necessarily be. It is only God Whose Name can be, and must be, I AM.” Carroll continues to focus on God's authorship of human history throughout the book, carefully and clearly explaining the background and events of salvation history. His scholarly apparatus, including copious notes and an annotated bibliography, offers further details about archeological discoveries, language issues, and scholarly controversies as well as hundreds of suggestions for further reading. Granted, this book is a long read, but it is accessible to readers willing to put in some effort to truly understand the history behind the Bible.
United States Catholic Catechism for Adults – Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this regional catechism offers a good review the basics of the Catholic faith. I find it a bit too simplistic in style and lacking in doctrinal depth, but it does offer some interesting stories about American saints and applies Catholic doctrine to U.S. cultural issues. Reflection questions, prayers, and meditations help readers make the material their own.
Mansfield Park – Another wonderful classic by Jane Austen! I have to admit this is not a novel for action lovers, but if you like a story that focuses on characterization and relationships, Mansfield Park is for you. Fanny Price, the poor cousin of the Bertram family, is taken by her uncle Sir Thomas Bertram. The family, except for cousin Edmund, treats her as an inferior for years until she receives a proposal no one expects. Fanny's romantic attentions, however, are focused elsewhere.
Scripture Matters by Scott Hahn – This book is subtitled “Essays on Reading the Scriptures from the Heart of the Church.” As always, Dr. Hahn offers a solid presentation of salvation history, covenantal theology, Biblical typology, the senses of the Scriptures, and the Scriptures as the Word of God. Dr. Hahn also provides interesting essays on St. Thomas Aquinas' and St. Josemaria's interpretations of Scripture, a new reading of the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery, a theological reflection on the Eucharist as parousia, and much more.
Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King – This twelfth volume in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes saga is a fine addition to the series. Set during the Rif Revolt in Morocco in the closing months of 1924, the story offers King's usual excellent characterization, detailed descriptions, historical accuracy, psychological tension, and twists and turns in the plotline. As always Russell and Holmes take center stage, but fans of the series will be pleased to meet once more two supporting characters whom they have grown to love and perhaps fear just a little bit.
Millville by Nancy Van Doren James – This book is a fine contribution to the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing. With high-quality writing, fascinating historical photographs, and enjoyable storytelling, this is a book readers can enjoy over and over again.
Baptizing Harry Potter: A Christian Reading of J.K. Rowling by Luke Bell – Luke Bell is a Benedictine monk and Harry Potter fan who presents an excellent discussion of the Christian elements in the Harry Potter series. Ten chapters explore the series' structure, wonder, good versus evil, life and death, power and weakness, love and sacrifice, freedom and determination, the hidden life, the struggle for truth, and purity of heart. With strong, convincing arguments and solid evidence from the Harry Potter books, this well-written volume is a must-read for all Christian Harry Potter fans.
Liturgy and Empire: Faith in Exile and Political Theology – As the fifth volume in the Letter & Spirit series of journals, this book features scholarly articles from the likes of Scott Hahn, John Bergsma, Jeremy Driscoll, Brant Pitre, and Matthew Levering as well as shorter pieces from Robert Barron and David Fagerberg and classic writings from St. Thomas Aquinas, Louis Bouyer, and Pope Benedict XVI. Each selection focuses on some aspect of the relationship between faith and political theology. This book is not easy reading but definitely worth the effort.