Category Archives: Uncategorized

Product Review – Sunny D’s Beautiful and Unique Catholic Jewelry

If you’re looking for a beautiful and unique piece of Christian or Catholic jewelry for someone special this Christmas, I highly recommend checking out Sunny D’s Market.

img_6245I had the pleasure of meeting Sunny when I was at a trade show over the summer, and I instantly fell in love with the unique simplicity of her designs. From necklaces, to bracelets, to earrings, Sunny puts together creations that are fabulous yet functional – things that work for everyday or for dressing up in your Sunday best. Her designs range from the secular, to the Christian, to the Catholic, meaning that she makes something for just about everyone on your Christmas list – at least those of the female persuasion.

As a girl who loves to wear a Miraculous Medal at all times, but who get’s a little tired of the standard cheap ones that are generally available, I especially love the high-quality, antiqued medals that Sunny uses in her designs. She offered to custom design a necklace for me, and I chose one with laborodite crystals and a silver miraculous medal. It beautifully complements the grays and blacks that consume 97% of my closet, so I wear it nearly every day.

Having duly fallen in love, I purchased this gorgeous necklace with img_5485the Sacred Heart medal for the  young woman I sponsored for Confirmation, and perhaps this is turning into an addiction because I just ordered the earrings below for a gift exchange I’m taking part in next week.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-11-42-29-amShe’s quick to ship – I’ve gotten all of my orders within a few days – she’ll customize anything to your specifications, and the prices are extremely reasonable, ranging from $14 to $54. Honestly, I think she’s undercharging, so I’d order soon, before she figures that out! (wink, wink!) For now, at least, there’s something for every budget, and you can feel great knowing that you’ve supported a small business.

Disclaimer – While Sunny D has been kind enough to provide a discount on one of the products I’ve purchased in exchange for a review, I would have bought it anyways, even at full price. 🙂 I will not receive any compensation if you order from her, but please let her know where you heard about her shop, so she’ll know whether this is a good marketing tool!

 

Awaken to the Best Talk Postponed

Hi, friends! I just wanted to dash off a quick post that today’s Awaken to the Best talk has been postponed due to a  large funeral at the church. I’ll be speaking on Dec. 14th, instead.

Please pray for the soul of the young man whose Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated today, as well as for his family and community. Thank you!

The Ted Bundy Rosary Miracle

Today, October 7, marks the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. In its honor, I’d like to share a miracle of the Rosary which I recently read in the book, Champions of the Rosary, by Fr. Donald Calloway. I call it the “Ted Bundy Rosary Miracle.”

Huh?

Yep. There’s a Rosary miracle associated with Ted Bundy, the notorious serial rapist and murderer of the 1970’s.

rosary-1244875-1598x1062One night in January, 1978, Ted Bundy broke into a sorority house at Florida State University. After brutally raping and killing two sorority sisters, and seriously injuring two others, Bundy opened the door to another room. The young woman saw him open the door, and was sure he was going to kill her. Oddly, though, Bundy stopped, dropped his weapon, and fled.

When police arrived on the scene, they found this young woman in a near catatonic state. She refused to speak to anyone but a priest, so local priest Monsignor William Kerr was called to the scene. Upon his arrival, she recounted what had happened, and informed Monsignor Kerr that, when she went away to college, she had promised her mother that she would pray the Rosary every night before bed for protection. That night, she had fallen asleep while praying, and still held her rosary in her hand when Bundy opened the door to her room.

Years later, Bundy asked for spiritual guidance from the same priest who had met with that young woman, Monsignor Kerr. When asked about that incident in that Florida State sorority house, Bundy said that, when he’d opened the door to that young woman’s room, he had every intention of killing her. However, when he tried to step through the doorway, a mysterious force prevented him from doing so.  He dropped his weapon and ran away!

Through the intercession of Our Lady, the Rosary saved this young woman’s life. Imagine what it can do for our families, our country, and our world!

If you aren’t praying the Rosary regularly, what’s holding you back?

Are you afraid you’re not doing it right? Here’s a website to teach you how.

Is it hard to find the time? Here is a blog post I wrote, sharing how Iscreen-shot-2016-10-07-at-2-15-02-pm
find time.

Do you find it boring? Give it an honest chance. This is one devotion that I believe gets better the more you do it!

The Rosary is “the gospel on a string,” “the weapon that wins all battles” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina), and a prayer that “can bring families through all dangers and evils” (Servant of God Patrick Peyton).

May we as lovers of Christ and His Mother, Mary, pray this prayer
faithfully, with reverence and devotion, and may it bring peace to our families, our country, and our world.

 

 

 

The Crucifix: Inspiration for Repentance and Love

Growing up, the crucifix always struck me as–well, gross, graphic, and unnecessary. It simply didn’t make any sense. Why did Catholics insist on displaying such gruesomeness? Wasn’t it better to look at the clean and less offensive empty cross, and remember that Christ rose from the dead?

estatua_de_la_crucifixion-_cristo_crucificado

However, upon my conversion, I quickly gained a deep appreciation for the crucifix. There is “no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends,”  and Christ loved me so much that he died for me in this terrible and incredibly painful way. To see it so clearly depicted before me served as a constant reminder of just how great his love was for me, a sinner, and for all sinners.

When I read and understood Numbers 21:4-9 for the first time, my love for the crucifix grew as the beauty of scripture filled me with awe. Once again, we see how the New Testament is contained in the Old, and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New. The Israelites complained against God, even as they should have thanked him for  freeing them from slavery in Egypt. God sent serpents among them, and many Israelites perished. Moses prayed for the people, and, upon God’s instruction, made a bronze serpent and mounted it upon a pole.  Whoever was bitten by a snake had only to gaze upon that serpent atop that pole, to receive healing.

Likewise, we who experience the bite of sin can look upon the likeness of Christ, mounted upon the cross, to begin the process of healing. That image, which calls to mind his death and love for us, will drive us to true contrition and sorrow for our sins, and a desire to be worthy of such sacrifice. It will lead us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we are blessed to hear those most beautiful words of absolution.

words-of-absolution

Thus cleansed of our sin, we find ourselves gazing more lovingly upon our Lord, emptied and broken, longing to love him as he loves us. The desire to be close to him, to be concealed within his wounds, leads us to ever closer union with him as we seek to love him through loving our fellow man.

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, may the crucifix and its reminder of Christ’s sacrifice serve as our strength, inspiration, and reassurance of Christ’s love for us.and-just-as-moses-lifted-up-the-serpent-in-the-desertso-must-the-son-of-man-be-lifted-up-so-that-everyone-who-believes-in-him-may-have-eternal-life-john-3_14-15

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

Answering God’s Call, Even When It Doesn’t “Make Sense”

The Unexpected Blessing of Being Open to Life

A Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Small Success Thursday – My First!

Trying out another new linkup today and I must say that I LOVE the idea of this particular linkup! All of us have small successes to celebrate, if we will only open our eyes to look beyond the failures. Here are three of mine from this week.

Small Success #1 – I’ve Been Praying More

I’ll admit. It’s been a little hit or miss lately. Regular readers will understand why. But, the fact of the matter is that prayer saved my life (figuratively) and, I believe, my husband’s (literally). Therefore, the importance of returning to that solid prayer foundation, even while we’re still in a  little bit of crisis-mode, has been weighing heavily on my mind.

Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of war.-3The conference I went to at the end of July convicted me on one thing. We must pray the Rosary. Every day. By ourselves, in community, with our families. However, whenever. We must do it. And yet we don’t do it. Even this “Rosary girl” had fallen into a bad habit of going to bed at night even if I hadn’t prayed my daily Rosary. My greatest small success of the last two weeks, therefore, is that I’ve prayed at least five decades every day, sometimes with Ray, sometimes with the kids, sometimes by myself at midnight because I refuse to go to bed if I haven’t done it. It’s amazing how that practice helps to bring peace into my home and my life.

Probably as an outgrowth of my renewed Rosary habit, I made it to Adoration last week, I went to Reconciliation, and I’ve gotten up early every day to read the daily Mass readings, pray, journal, and otherwise spend quality time with my Beloved. The hardest part is tearing myself away.

While I’m still woefully imperfect, these practices make me a much better wife and mama.

Small Success #2 – Of the Professional Sort

It’s been a good week professionally, too. I learned that my proposalScreen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.36.12 PM
to speak at the National Catholic Educational Association’s (NCEA) annual conference next April was accepted. They apparently receive a lot of proposals, so I’m pretty geeked that mine made the cut. My topic will be “The Power of Fiction to Change Hearts and Minds.” Please let me know in the comments if there’s a fiction I should read as I prepare, especially (but not limited to) any Catholic fiction.

I also spent three glorious hours Wednesday night, staying up until 1:30 in the morning, working on character development and the plot outline for my next book. I think I’m on to something, and that feeling is pretty amazing.

Small Success #3 – I’m Finally Getting Organized

Having Ray home has given organization a new urgency, since brain injury survivors thrive with routine and a schedule. For the last few weeks, I’ve been relatively successful at providing a daily schedule, and sticking to it. This week, I’ve used my old-fashioned Franklin Planner to keep track of important tasks and appointments. Far fewer things are falling through the cracks, and I feel much less overwhelmed. Last weekend, this extended to my pantry, when I finally broke down and organized it (and found tiny bugs eating the dog food. Lovely).

It feels SO GOOD to open that door and be able to see the floor. It feels even better to know that I’ve killed all those slimy nasty little insects.

These are just a few of my #smallsuccesses of the past week. Please share yours in the comments! And, for more small successes from other great bloggers, visit CatholicMom.com!

Homecoming!

Ray’s Home!

After eight weeks in Grand Rapids in neurological rehab, Ray has finally come home. Here’s a how it went down…

welcome home dad
Yes, one of these kids is not my own. 😉
We Had a Week that Could Have Been from that Fiery Place Below

First off, I’ve been suffering from a terrible cold that has only affected me (worn down as I am), and has made most of my nights sleepless due to uncontrollable coughing. I tried everything, but for two weeks straight I was lucky to get four hours of sleep each night.

I drove my sleepless self to Grand Rapids Sunday, so that I could
learn Ray’s routine and get the recommendations for his ongoing therapy. I returned home  Tuesday evening, and woke up Wednesday morning to two sick kids. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease didn’t strike Boo too badly but it left Little Man beside himself.  My sweet little baby wouldn’t stop screeching, and wanted to be held constantly. He didn’t want to eat or drink. Nothing made him happy.

Wednesday night, a tree fell on the power line running to the house, and we had a partial electrical outage. No A/C. No oven. No big deal.

No well pump. Ergo, no running water.

No toilets.

No way.

Electrical Outages Can Actually Be A Blessing

kids in hottubWhen you are a single mom with five kids, two of whom are sick, a lack of electricity running you out of your house and into the arms of your loving mom and dad who happen to have a pool is actually a blessing.

Mom and I took turns attempting to keep Little Man happy, while the other kids swam and played. It made for a far better day Thursday than the one I had planned, which was filled with work and cleaning.

The Big Day

Friday, still sleep-deprived, I left early to make the four hour drive upray at going away party to Grand Rapids. Again. There was a farewell party for Ray, a few last minute details to cover, and his room to pack up. Then, I turned around and drove the four hours home, arriving in time for the steak dinner Ray’s mom had waiting for us.

Of course, Little Man wouldn’t stop screeching. I had to remove him from the house so Ray could enjoy his welcome home dinner. Brain injury and screeching babies do not agree with one another. But, my trip to Walgreens to get Epsom salts was rewarded with a half hour long happy bath time (overseen by Bonita while I ate my dinner), and a happy baby at the end of it all.

Praise God.

God is Good

If you recall, just before Ray went to Michigan, I was about to lose it. I have a few things on my plate these days, and helping Ray with his at-home therapy had fallen off the plate and landed – SPLAT! – on the floor. His time in Michigan was a much needed opportunity for him to get the services he needed, while giving me a break from the stress of my inadequacies. (I say that with total healthy self-love. None of us are perfect.) It was also a time for me to prepare mentally and spiritually for his homecoming, and to get used to the idea of living by a schedule… something I’ve always known the value of, and which is vital to the well-being of a brain injury survivor, but that I – quite frankly – totally suck at.

I prayed a novena of total surrender to Jesus, finishing on the day Ray came home. Undoubtedly the best thing I could have done, and I’m grateful that it appeared when it did, an answer to a prayer.

Two Days of Life on a Schedule

I can’t say we’re sticking to it 100%, but we’ve done pretty well. The most important part is keeping Ray active, and we’ve definitely done that. He would love to take a three to four hour nap every day, but the schedule “simply doesn’t allow it.”

Proof that Big Families are a Blessing

ray and z on bike rideHaving five kids and a brain injured husband can be difficult to navigate. Very. To begin with, brain injury does not get along well with noise, chaos, and craziness. Add to that the myriad of kids’ activities, competing wants and needs, and trying to meet them all as a “single parent,” and a big family could quickly be seen as a curse.

But, thanks be to God, this weekend we have seen the blessing of theray and ike doing legos big family. The kids have – unbeknownst to them – become Ray’s therapists. Dude took a bike ride with me and Daddy Saturday morning. Bear did Legos with him in the afternoon. Ray played Battleship with Bonita, and played games of pool with Dude and Bear at my parents later in the day. All excellent forms of physical, occupational,ray playing pool or cognitive therapy for Ray, and a great way to keep the kids busy, thinking, and off their devices.

Here’s praying that we can continue this into the week!

Rehab, Radio Shows, and Book Signings… Oh My!

While I’d love to fill you in on all of the blessings of the past month, the kids will be awake and needing attention far too soon for me to do it all justice. Instead, I have a few urgent (but happy) things of which I ought to make everyone aware!

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t let everyone know that we have been incredibly blessed to be able to send Ray to a neurological treatment program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is something we’d been working on since January, and the approval from the insurance company finally came the very day after I wrote my “This is Not a Hot Mess Pity Party” post. Yes, God showed me that I needed to cling to Him, but – once again – he also showed me that He provides. Ray needed more attention, and I couldn’t give it to him. The battery of therapists and doctors at Hope Network can!

I would be even more remiss if I didn’t include this photo of the cuteness that just woke up
to bless me with his presence:

hair

IMG_2836

And people say we shouldn’t have had five kids. Geesh. What would the world be without this sunny little guy?

One exciting bit of news is that I’ll be appearing on not one, but two, radio shows tomorrow (Thursday, June 9th). The first is at 10 a.m., with Allison Gingras of “A Seeking Heart” on Breadbox Media. I was on Allison’s show in February (you can listen to it here), and I guess you could say that I’ll be “back by popular demand!” Allison and I will be discussing the latest happenings in the Engelman family, faith-filled summer activities for kids, and God’s awesome Providence. I’ve been wanting to write a blog post on that topic – how God has provided for us so beautifully through these last six months – and, since I haven’t found the time to finish that post, I feel blessed to get to share it on radio instead! You can listen live from your computer, or via the Breadbox Media app, which is by far the most convenient way to listen to radio ever! You can also listen to the podcast at any time after the show.

The second radio show is “Faith in Action” with M.J. Krauter, a local Indianapolis show on Catholic Radio Indy. M.J. and I will be discussing A Single Bead, the story of how I came to write it, and how the foundational principle of prayer helped me through our family’s recent difficulties. You can listen to it live at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon on FM 89.1 or 90.1, depending on where you are in the Indianapolis area. Or, you can listen live via your computer here, listen to the podcast here, or via a radio app on your phone like TuneIn Radio.

Finally, I’m very excited that I’ll be a part of the author panel at the Teen Book Fest at the Barnes and Noble at Jefferson Pointe in Fort Wayne this Sun Saturday! I don’t know the times yet, but will update this post as soon as I do. I do know that I’ll be there chatting with readers and signing copies of A Single Bead, and I hope that many of my Fort Wayne friends will stop by to say “hello”!

As you can see, I’m keeping busy! All in God’s Providence… but you’ll have to listen to “A Seeking Heart” to get the full story! 🙂

UPDATE: The event at Barnes and Noble will actually take place on SATURDAY, not Sunday! I’ll be there at 3:00, giving a short talk and then answering questions and signing books. It’s a part of their Teen Book Fest, which is going on all weekend!

 

This is Not a Hot Mess Pity Party

So this was supposed to be the post that I had half-written last week, when I was writing the update on Ray’s recovery. But it’s funny how, in the blink of an eye, everything can change and the “I’m doing okay but dang this is a lonely business” post changes to an “I’m a hot mess and I can’t stop crying and there’s no way I can possibly do everything I’m supposed to do and I am having a hard time seeing the good things in life right now” pity party.

Let me start by saying that I think I’m past the hot mess pity party, or else I probably wouldn’t be writing this post. I hate whiners and, while I might whine to close friends and family, I do try to keep it off the internet for the world to read. So, while this might start out negative, I do promise to end on a positive.

IMG_9986.JPGSo here’s how it goes. Last Thursday, I’m coasting along, having had a remarkably good day on Wednesday. In fact, Wednesday night I posted on Facebook, reflecting that I had actually achieved all of my critical “to-do’s” for the day. Of course, when I realized that I had only slept 3.5 hours the night before, and I’d hired help for four hours, I joked that I could stay on top of my work load if I never slept and each day was a half hour longer. Anyways, it was Thursday and life seemed pretty good. Until Ray and I met with the neuropsychologist who coordinates his rehabilitative therapy.

And she told me I wasn’t doing enough.

Okay, okay, she didn’t use those words, exactly. She was very nice, really. But the bottom line is this: Even as I thought Ray was making such remarkable progress (and had just posted a blog post about it, for the love of all that’s good!), the therapists felt that he wasn’t making enough progress, and that it was because we haven’t been doing enough therapy at home.

Exit happy, “I’ve got this” Stephanie. Enter “You’ve got to be kidding me, how can I possibly do one more thing” hot mess disaster Stephanie.

I made it through the meeting. But for the next several hours the words kept playing through my head. I’m not doing enough.

I lost it when I was telling my sister about it. At Dude’s rugby game. For all the world (or at least all those rugby parents) to see.

I lost it again the next day when I called my mom and told her what had happened.

And I lost it again as I watched what seemed to be a pint of blood go down the drain because Ray had sliced his fingers while cutting steak (blood thinners really work).

Reality struck. I had everything under control in the way that a cartoon character carrying a giant stack of dishes has control of those plates. Add one tiny tea cup, a spoon, or – heck! – even just a napkin, and the illusion of control is destroyed.

I’ve told friends that my life right now isn’t much different from that of a single mother with five young children with lots of doctor’s appointments and mountain of long-term-disability/social-security paperwork and medical bills to wade through.

But, seriously? What woman can handle all of that?

Well. Here’s the answer. Not a one. At least, certainly not this one. The reality is that things are going to remain undone and priorities have to be set, and that when that mom is trying to do everything, she’s going to make herself – and most likely everyone around her – miserable.

But here’s where the hot mess pity party ends, and light streams through the clouds.

On Sunday morning, my daily devotional was all about the foundational importance of IMG_9989.JPGhumility. Without humility, we can not continue to grow in the faith. We will always hit a stopping point.

I’ve written before about my need for this virtue, and the opportunity for growth remains. Humility is the knowledge that, without God I can do nothing. When I try to do too much and fail, I come back to the knowledge that I’m trying to do these things on my own. Yes, I can do all things. But I must not forget the last part of the verse. Through Christ, who strengthens me.

And so my hot mess pity party of last weekend was a blessing in disguise. It got me back down on my knees in prayer where I belong. It helped me to refocus and reignite.

I can’t say that I won’t fall apart again, but, with God’s Grace, I will find the courage and strength to acknowledge my weakness, cling to Him, and allow Him to put me back together again.

A Long Overdue Update – Ray’s Recovery from Brain Injury

The crickets have been chirping over here at A Few Beads Short, which probably has many of you wondering how Ray is doing following his heart attack and brain injury (injuries, actually).

So here goes… Ray’s doing well. Like, really, miraculously, incredibly well. I have to remind myself of that IMG_2836every day, and look back at where he was on December 8th, when he first went to the rehab hospital and couldn’t even hold a tooth brush, or on his first day home when he didn’t know how to use his walker in the small confines of our home and preferred to navigate by literally bouncing off of the walls and furniture to keep himself from falling. Or, the days when he’d start confabulating (yes, that’s a word) long, drawn out stories that you knew were absolute B.S. from the moment they started but it was nearly impossible to stop him until he’d gone on and on and on for five minutes or more… without pause.

His balance is still a bit off which means his gait’s a little wide, but all in all he’s walking beautifully. The video below was taken when we were walking into some very fierce wind at the beach during spring break (yes, thank you God – and one sweet, generous friend – we got to go on spring break!).

He brushes his own teeth – without me even reminding him! – and takes his own shower without a shower seat, and without me needing to stand nearby constantly at the ready lest he lose his balance and fall. In fact, he’s quite self-sufficient in all personal care tasks. He just takes a lot longer to do them than he used to. He still confabulates occasionally, but the stories are becoming increasingly fewer and farther between, and – thank God – they’re getting shorter, or maybe I’m just becoming better at politely redirecting the conversation.

Ray’s generally been pretty upbeat and seemingly unbothered by his brain injury. Claudia L. Osborn shares her story of recovering from a brain injury in the book Over My Head, and describes herself as having a “goofy contentment.” I’d say that’s a very accurate summary. However, I think Ray’s beginning to evolve beyond contentment, and reality is setting in. As you can probably imagine, this is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, “goofy contentment” is clearly not normal or healthy. On the other hand, it’s made for a pretty happy-go-lucky Ray when it came to therapy, homework, and dealing with his new lifestyle. The absence of contentment may usher in a whole host of new challenges.

Weird things have changed. His sense of smell has been severely impacted, which is a huge blessing when I’m gassy but very sad when there are flowers to smell. Along with that, his sense of taste has changed entirely. We used to love to eat sushi together, and now he could take it or leave it. In fact, he’d probably rather leave it since chop sticks pose a serious challenge. He used to hate almond milk but now prefers it to cow’s milk. He used to be a stickler for praying before family meals but these days sits down and starts eating the moment the plate hits the table. He’s forgotten some basic table manners and social niceties. One moment, I can almost forget that anything’s changed. The next, he double dips his breadstick and I’m reminded how very different he’s become.

All in all, we’re still early stages, and his recovery is nothing short of miraculous. But, we have a very long way to go. Years and years, in fact. We’ve been told that he won’t work in 2016, and possibly not in 2017, either. He can’t drive, has periodic tunnel vision, appears to have forgotten our lives together, and really has little to no voluntary recall of memories beyond the very recent past.

I hope to write within the next few days about how I’m doing, but bear with me. To say that life is crazy right now doesn’t quite do it justice. For now, I’ll summarize it by saying that I try to remind myself constantly that his recovery is a miracle, and a gift from God. I know that God can and will use all things for his glory, and when I look back at the last six months, I can see how he has done that already, although I believe our story is far from over. But busy-ness detracts from Godliness, and the entire Engelman family could really use your prayers.

If this is your first time visiting the blog, and you’re wondering what on earth is going on, here are a few posts that will catch you up:

Ray had a heart attack and suffered a serious brain injury as a result. Here’s what I wrote the night after it all began.

Here’s how God blessed me (and us) abundantly with his presence, comfort and peace.

Oh yeah, I wrote this book and it was released in the midst of all this.

After nearly three months in the hospital, here’s how we wound up bringing Ray home when we thought we were taking him to a subacute rehab facility.

And it went like this.

Here’s how the baby that no one thought we should have saved his daddy’s life.

 

Seven Riddles to Nowhere Cover Reveal

Author A.J. Cattapan revealed the cover to her new book, Seven Riddles to Nowhere, last week, and I get to share it with all of you, too! Actually, I was supposed to share it on Wednesday but I was busy having a wee bit of a breakdown over time-consuming medical bills, paperwork, and mountains of unfolded laundry so I’m just now finally getting this out.

Seven Riddles to Nowhere won’t be released until August, but I have already been blessed to read it. This is one great bonus to being an author, I’m learning – getting to read great books before they’re even published. Or, at least I’m hoping they’ll all be as great as Seven Riddles to Nowhere, because it would be extremely awkward if they weren’t.

Here’s the book blurb so you know what it’s all about:

7 riddles. 1 fortune. Way too many competitors.

All seventh grader Kameron Boyd wants to do is keep his little Catholic school from closing. It’s the only school where they’ve made life as a selective mute somewhat bearable. As the school faces financial distress, Kam learns he is one of many potential heirs to a fortune large enough to keep his school open.

With the school’s bully as one of the other potential heirs, Kam and his friends race to solve the riddles first. Their journey takes them through the churches of Chicago to decipher the hidden meanings in artwork all while avoiding the mysterious men following them. But creepy men in trench coats won’t stop them! They’re on a quest–not only to keep the school open, but to help Kam recover his voice.

So, without further ado, here’s the beautiful cover to Seven Riddles to Nowhere (drum roll, please!)

7RiddlestoNowhere2 500x750 (1)
I love this cover because it so beautifully highlights the city of Chicago, and gives a real glimpse at the churches the kids visit during their adventure. If you have a fourth through eighth grader, this will be a great late summer read. I’ll keep you posted on it’s release so you can add it to your “want to read” list!
(P.S. I’m reading A.J. Cattapan’s Angelhood right now! I’ll write a review soon but I can already tell you it should be in your teenager’s summer reading pile!)
A.J. Cattapan is a bestselling author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her debut young adult novel Angelhood won a Gold Medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction—Religion/Spirituality and an Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite Book AwardsShe’s also been a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and had numerous short stories and articles published in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights, Pockets, and Hopscotch for GirlsHer next novel, a middle grade mystery titled Seven Riddles to Nowhere, releases in August. You can follow her writing and travel adventures at www.ajcattapan.com.
 
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Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/ajcattapan