Gifts Visible and Invisible

by | Nov 30, 2020 | Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

 

By Susan Peek, Katy Huth Jones, Carolyn Astfalk, Theresa Linden, Leslea Wahl, Cynthia T. Toney, T.M. Gaouette, and Corinna Turner

Reviewed by A.R.K. Watson

  • Author’s worldview: Catholic
  • Genre: YA, fantasy, Middle-grade, historical, science fiction, Short stories
  • Year published: 2019
  • Audience: 7th grade and up
  • Themes: Keeping Christ in Christmas, Christmas, Family, Motherhood, Fatherhood, Growing Up, Parents and Children, Responsibility, Charity, Generosity, Compassion, Saints

I had never participated in Christmas in July before reading this book, and I was surprised how effectively this collection of short stories left me feeling cozy and cheerful in the midst of the hot and humid monsoon season of my region.

Though the settings and genres of these stories vary wildly, they are appropriate for teens and young adults, but honestly, I think readers of any age will find something to love in this collection. The settings vary from the contemporary and slice-of-life to a dark 1984ish dystopian Christmas, a 1920s American Christmas, and even an alternate history involving Christmas on a dinosaur farm, all written by some of the Catholic Writers Guild’s most talented members. If you’ve been living under a rock, or are just discovering some of the Church’s hidden talent, this collection will make for a good introduction. Each story ends with a footnote about each author and their greater body of work.

Buy the eBook for $2.99

Buy the Paperback for $13.99

OR

Subscribe to Catholic Reads & get the scoop on Catholic eBooks for as little as $1 to FREE

Full disclosure—this is a collection of Christmas stories, so there is a healthy amount of cheese and camp present, but then some of that is welcome if you are in the mood for yuletide fun.  The amount of said cheese varies from story to story, so it’s unlikely that a reader will enjoy ALL of these, but that isn’t the point of a collection like this. The point is to provide a wide selection of stories so that you can find something that fits your particular tastes and discover a new favorite author. If you find yourself reading one of the stories and not liking it, just skip to the next one and don’t sweat it.

My personal favorite was Corinna Turner’s story, set on Christmas Eve on a dinosaur-infested land. It’s actually two parallel stories. One of them follows a girl name Darryl on a mission to rescue the visiting priest from a raptor attack. The other follows a boy named Joshua, whose Christmas Eve traditions get interrupted by a Mama Allosaur. Fans of Jurassic Park will definitely love this fun story. The action-packed dino hunt surprised me with some very real emotional depth, as Joshua’s encounter with the mother Allosaur fills him with as much hope as it does terror. Abandoned by his own mother, seeing how hard this scary mama dinosaur fights for her babies. The experience fills him- and the reader- with a surprising amount of Christmas spirit.

Subscribe to Catholic Reads & get the scoop on Catholic eBooks for as little as $1 to FREE

Another of my top favorites was T. M. Gaouette’s “Just Jesus.” It had a pithy “Keep Christ in Christmas” message but delivered in a way that left me feeling genuinely contrite and humbled. Carolyn Astfalk’s story of a family struggling to celebrate Christmas while dealing with loud toddlers, a messy home, and a father’s stressful job was also quite beautiful. If you are looking for a cozy quick read, this collection is a solid answer.

Shadow in the Dark by Antony Barone Kolenc

An immersive mystery and an amateur sleuth set in the walls of a 12th century English monastery

How the Dragon Awards Could Uplift Catholic Fiction

If you don’t like current state of mainstream publishing and wish there were more widely available alternatives, this is your chance to help make that a reality.

Saint Magnus: The Last Viking by Susan Peek

A young Viking Prince evades a warlord while finding his own harrowing path to sainthood.

City of Shadows by Declan Finn

St. Tommy uncovers a group of elites using an ancient artifact to destroy London.

Celtic Crossing by Len Mattano

Relic lost, and faith found.

The Fisherman’s Bride by Catherine Magia

The wife of Peter takes up her pen to tell her side of the story, and forces us to examine our ideas of perfection and holiness.

Introducing Our New Historical Fiction Editor: Ruby Shao

 Ruby Shao Passionate about helping people transform into the most virtuous and therefore happiest versions of themselves, Ruby loves delving into theology, philosophy, literature, and the arts. Raised as a non-denominational Christian by a Protestant mother and...

Big in Heaven by Fr. Stephen Siniari

In this inner-city Orthodox parish, there are no easy answers—only the transformative power of God’s love.

Discovery by Karina Fabian

What happens when a team of sisters join a treasure hunt for the first alien ship? Oddly enough, a lot of hilarity.

The Poppy and The Rose by Ashlee Cowles

While abroad in England, Taylor discovers a mystery linking her to an heiress and passenger aboard The Titanic.

Live and Let Bite Review by Declan Finn

The battle with the demons of San Francisco left Marco broken and now Amanda isn’t answering his messages.

Soul Cycle books I – IV: by Brian Niemeier

In a evil universe a band of space pirates begin a journey of revenge that instead takes them in search of the true, the good and the beautiful.

Sydney and Calvin Have a Baby by Adrienne Thorn

Sydney writes romances but living her own romance will require more courage than anything yet required of her.

The Fisherman’s Tomb; The Story of the Vatican’s Secret Search by John O’Neill

The untold true story of the greatest treasure hunt of the century, all done under the noses of the Nazi invasion.

Defend the Tabernacle by Deacon Patrick Augustin Jones

Catherine and Bernard get whisked away to do battle on the Soulscape, where the true nature of things is revealed.

Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers Jeannie Ewing and Eileen Benthal

If you’re a care-giver for a chronically sick family member or friend, this book is for you and your healing.

The Pre Persons by Phillip K. Dick

The pro-life Phillip K. Dick story so prophetic it was buried.

King of the Shattered Glass by Susan Joy Bellavance

An orphan maid braves the wrath of the King when she breaks his precious glassware but realizes true beauty of forgiveness and broken glass.

Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

When a Muslim man asks God to show him who he is, he is unprepared for the answer.

Freeing Tanner Rose by T.M. Gaouette

Hollywood Starlet meets Kung Fu Country boy with a God obsession.

Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles

A young girl goes pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago on behalf of her brother and finds her place in the world.