New Historical Romance: Charlotte’s Honor

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I am honored to be part of the Virtual Book Tour for Ellen Gable’s new historical romance. In this blog post you will find the book description, early reviews, an excerpt from the story, and an author interview!

Charlotte’s Honor (Great War Great Love #2) by Ellen Gable

Charlotte's Honour Front Cover sm After receiving news that her brother – and only relative – has been killed in action during the Great War, 21-year-old Charlotte Zielinski enlists as a medical volunteer. She eventually begins working in the death ward of the field hospital near Soissons, France, holding dying men’s hands and singing them into eternity.

Dr. Paul Kilgallen is a Canadian surgeon working at the field hospital. During a siege by the enemy, everyone evacuates except for Paul and Charlotte, who volunteer to remain in the basement of the chateau to care for the critically ill soldiers.

During those three days, Charlotte sees a side of Paul that very few have seen and finds herself falling in love with him. Before Paul leaves for the front, he abruptly tells her that he cannot love her, and it would be best to “forget him.”

Just when the war is coming to a close, Charlotte is surprised by two events that are destined to change her life forever.

You can learn more about the book here.

Get a copy of the book here:  Amazon Kindle

Print:  Coming Soon

Book 1 of the Series: Julia’s Gifts: Available on Amazon


Advanced Reviews:

Charlotte Zielinski, to whom we were first introduced in Julia’s Gifts, is a strongly positive role model for our daughters. She endures trials throughout this story that most of us cannot imagine facing today, yet the genuine manner in which the characters react and respond rings true for all time. I would add Charlotte’s Honor to the must-read list for any historical fiction, mother-daughter generational, or virtue-based book club. Of course, Gable’s tales are perfectly delectable as a personal poolside treat as well!”   ~ Jean Egolf, author, the Molly McBride series

“Charlotte’s Honor includes a little bit of everything: WWI history, sweet romance, and a little mystery/suspense. This page-turning love story (it’s a fast read!) is built on a foundation of faith and above all, the dignity of human life. Charlotte devotes herself to the care of dying soldiers. It is through this calling that Charlotte meets and falls in love with Paul, a skilled surgeon who has closed his heart to the possibility of romance. Expect a little humor amidst the backdrop of wartime brutality and a couple of surprises along the way. Charlotte’s Honor is not only a pleasant romantic escape but edifying as well.” ~ Carolyn Astfalk, author, Ornamental Graces

“Set toward the end of the Great War, Charlotte’s Honor allows readers to glimpse ugliness and death, blossoming relationships, and the most challenging experiences a person could face, juxtaposing the brutality of war with the beauty of sacrificial love.” ~ Theresa Linden, award-winning author of Catholic Fiction


EXCERPT

May 1918

Vauxbuin Field Hospital

Near Soissons, France

The air was thick with the mineral stench of blood. Inside the canvas tent that served as Barrack Number 48, Charlotte searched for a place in the unconscious soldier’s body to insert the hypodermic.  The poor gentleman had burns and wounds everywhere, but she managed to find a one-inch diameter spot on his thigh in which to plunge the needle.  The man didn’t flinch, and Charlotte suspected that his injuries were too grave for him to survive.  She recited a silent prayer for this man’s soul, then moved onto the next soldier.

The large canvas tents that were part of the field hospital covered the lawn in front of the chateau. Most volunteers referred to it as a chateau because it looked the part with its high ceilings, plentiful rooms and marble floors. However, it wasn’t a castle. It was a 19th century country manor.

A tendril of dark brown hair slipped from her headscarf, and she tucked it back in. Charlotte Patricia Zielinski didn’t care much whether her unruly hair was tame, but she did care about keeping healthy. She wasn’t a large girl, nor was she small.  However, roughhousing with her brother Ian for so many years made her strong.

After preparing another soldier for the operating theater, she took a short break and sat on a bench near the tent.

She glanced up at the dark sky, enjoying the quiet. After the sunrise, she’d hear the distant booming that came with being ten miles from the front.

After her bout with influenza last month, she’d felt fatigued for weeks.  In the past few days, she had enough energy to move a mountain.

Sister Betty, the medical volunteers’ middle-aged supervisor, called to her from the barrack beside her, Number 49.  She was a big-boned woman who seemed taller because she always stood so straight.  Charlotte wasn’t sure whether it was because she was British or because she was a big woman, but she also had a booming personality and a loud voice.

Charlotte stood up to speak with Sister.

“How many more men have to be prepared for the O.R., Miss Zielinski?”

“Four, Sister.”

“Maybe you’d be of more use in this barrack.” She pointed toward Number 49.

“Certainly.”  She turned to alert her co-worker in 48, when Sister yelled, “Wait.”

Charlotte stopped. “Yes?”

“Perhaps you’d better stay where you are. If there are only four left to prepare, finish that duty, then report to this barrack.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

It took a bit of getting used to, but here in Europe, nurses were referred to as sisters.  And all sisters – and most medical volunteers – wore headscarves that looked like habits.

She approached a soldier on a cot, noticing the maple leaf on his collar. Canadians tended to be an agreeable bunch.  He pursed his lips as she stripped his clothes, wincing as bits of skin came off with his pants.  The poor fellow tensed, but Charlotte could only offer, “I’m so sorry.  I am doing my best not to hurt you.”

The dark-haired man attempted a smile. 

An ear-piercing explosion caused the world around Charlotte to vanish, and she reflexively collapsed on the cot, falling across the soldier lying in front of her. Ears ringing, she remained still for what seemed like an hour but was likely a few minutes. Blinking, she opened her eyes and stared at the metal side of the cot in front of her and felt the soldier moving underneath her.

As she lifted herself up, not one but three large drops of blood splattered the white sheet below her. Her head seared in a flash of pain. 

When the Canadian soldier took hold of her hand, he said something she couldn’t hear. 

His warbling soon became words. “Are you all right, Miss?”

Her mouth was open, but she couldn’t speak.  Nodding, she raised her hand to her headscarf.  When she pulled her hand to her face, it was covered in blood.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

“Are…you all right, sir?”  Charlotte asked the man.

“Yes, no worse than I was.  Thanks to you, Miss.  You shielded my body with yours.” He paused. “You have a bad shrapnel wound on your head.”

“Y…yes.”  Charlotte winced but forced a smile. She turned and picked up a bandage from the side of the overturned cart. She pressed it to her head.

By this time, the entire ward was awake and bustling with moaning soldiers. 

Standing up, her surroundings seemed to shift and sway, so she reached for the soldier’s hand. “I’m so sorry.”

“Think nothing of it.  I’m happy to reciprocate.”

Glancing just above the soldier’s head, she spotted five or six holes the size of watermelons blown through the side of the barrack’s canvas wall and hundreds dotting the rest of the walls. Following the holes from the side wall to the ceiling, she stared upwards at the roof of the tent, now shredded in many places.

A few soldiers near the wall had sustained minor injuries, but no one appeared to be mortally wounded.

Panicked and fearing the worst, Charlotte rushed outside, the bandage still to her head. As she turned toward the adjacent barrack, she stopped and gasped. The influenza ward was no longer there.  Body parts, blood, torn-apart furniture, and bits and pieces of the barrack were all that remained.  The realization that she had escaped death made her knees buckle.

She blessed herself and lowered her head. “Requiescants in pace.”  Her hearing had not yet fully returned, but she could hear someone call her name. 


Author Biography:  Ellen Gable is an award-winning author of nine books, editor, self-publishing book coach, speaker, publisher, NFP teacher, book reviewer and instructor in the Theology of the Body for Teens. Her books have been downloaded nearly 700,000 times on Kindle and some of her books have been translated into Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and French. The mother of five adult sons, Ellen (originally from New Jersey) now lives with her husband of 36 years, James Hrkach, in Pakenham, Ontario, Canada.

Find Ellen at:

Blog: Plot Line and Sinker

Full Quiver Publishing 

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

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Goodreads

Pinterest

Linked In

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Author Interview: 

What was the inspiration for Charlotte’s Honor?

Since one of the themes of Charlotte’s Honor is preparing and being with soldiers who are close to death, the inspiration came from being with two close people in my life in the hours before their deaths. These experiences served as inspiration for Charlotte’s Honor.

Eleven years ago, when my mother was close to death, my sister called me in Canada and urged me to come right away (to New Jersey, my home state), that Mom didn’t have much time left.  I arrived before she passed, but by the time I got there, she was unconscious.  My sister and I prayed the Litany of the Saints (which she requested) as well as the Divine Mercy Chaplet. In the middle of the night, I got up to sit with her. I held her hand and prayed for her, talked to her and told her she was loved, and that it was okay to go.  When she did pass away, I was grateful and honored that I was present at the moment of her passing. And an interesting experience happened. My stepdad, siblings, and I were all sitting by my mom’s bedside and all of a sudden, I felt like my mom was on the ceiling staring down.  I lifted my head to look up, but at that point, my brother patted my arm and said, “Hey, El, I have this strange feeling that Mom is on the ceiling looking down at us.”  I believe that we were given a great grace at that moment.

Last year, my mother-in-law passed away. She had both dementia and cancer.  She was surrounded by those she loved and, although unconscious, we prayed the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and other prayers for her in the last few days of her life.  It was a good death, a holy death. It’s the kind of death I hope to have: others praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet for me as I’m close to death.

Why World War 1?

I’ve always been interested in history and I knew very little about this war.  I decided to focus the bulk of my research on the last year of the War (after the United States entered).  Because I am American, and my husband is Canadian, the female protagonists in this series are American and the male protagonists are Canadian. So for Charlotte’s Honor, Charlotte is American, and Paul is Canadian.

Why is the name of the series Great War Great Love?

I owe my gratitude to the son of a friend of mine, Ian, for coming up with the title. The reason for the title is that World War 1 was called the “Great War” by the Allies before the USA entered the war, and is still often called the “Great War,” by the British, Canadians and Australians. And Great Love because there are many examples of how couples met and fell in love during times of war.

Can you tell us about the first book in the series and next book of the series, Ella’s Promise?

Julia’s Gifts (Book #1 Great War Great Love) As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her “beloved.” Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Disheartened by the realities of war, will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? Will Julia’s naïve ‘gift scheme’ distract her from recognizing her true “Great Love?” From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.  Julia’s Gifts is now available in Italian and French and will soon be available in Portuguese and Spanish.

Ella’s Promise (Book #3 Great War Great Love) The daughter of German immigrants, Ella is an American nurse who, because of the time period, was discouraged from continuing her studies to become a doctor.  During the Great War, she travels to Le Treport, France, to work at the American-run hospital. She meets her own “Great Love” in the last place she would expect to meet him.  Ella’s Promise will be released in mid-2019.

This is very different from some of your other books in that it is a very clean romance and can be read by young teens to elderly women to middle-aged men.  Was that a conscious choice?

Yes, it is very different and no, it wasn’t a conscious choice at first.  When I came up with the story and as I was gradually developing the characters and plotlines, it made the most sense to keep this a “sweet” and “clean” love story that anyone can enjoy.  It is, however, a war novel, so there are descriptions of war injuries.

Are you working on any other writing projects?

I’m in the process of writing Ella’s Promise, which is book 3 in the Great War Great Love series.

I’m outlining another novel, tentatively entitled Where Angels Pass, based on my father’s life and experience as a clerical abuse survivor. Since he never saw justice in his lifetime, I’d like to create a story where there is justice for him, even if fictional.

I’m also working on a non-fiction project that will offer guidance in coping with loss (I’m still in the outline stages of that project). 

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite Catholic author is Dena Hunt (author of Treason and The Lion’s Heart), but I also enjoy reading Willa Cather’s books (Death Comes For the Archbishop, One of Ours).  Dena’s books are incredibly well-written and moving.  Cather’s books are well-written and rich in imagery and meaning.

And while this may seem biased, I enjoy reading books by all the Full Quiver Authors.  I also enjoy the books of the authors who are fellow members of the Catholic Writers Guild

One of my favorite secular authors is Nelson DeMille (author of the John Corey series).   I also enjoy reading Kathleen Morgan’s Christian historical novels.

 

Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links

October 22      Plot Line and Sinker

October 23       A.K. Frailey

October 24      Book Reviews and More,   Patrice MacArthur

October 25      Amanda Lauer

October 26     Franciscan Mom

October 29     Carolyn Astfalk

October 30     Catholic Mom

November 1    Plot Line and Sinker

November 2    Michael Seagriff

November 5   Virginia Lieto

November 6  Leslea Wahl

November 7   Theresa Linden

November 8   Sarah Reinhard

November 9   Erin McCole Cupp

November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post

November 12  Mary Lou Rosien

November 13  Therese Heckenkamp

November 14  E.M. Vidal

November 15 Leticia Velasquez

 

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Catholic Children

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Books by Susan Peek,

author of fast-paced saint stories

ChristmasFrontCoverMeet Saint Anastasia, one of the greatest Christmas saints and the Patroness of Martyrs. Take her hand and let her lead you to the Crib! For centuries, this humble and unassuming martyr has remained hidden in the shadows of the stable. Yet of all the saints in Heaven, she is the only one whose feast day falls on Christmas itself! It’s about time she stepped forward and made some new friends! Join Saint Anastasia and her best friend, Saint Theodota, as they bravely prove their love for God and neighbor, even unto the sacrifice of their own lives.

AOGfrontCoverChildren’s Stories of Animals Who Encountered Saints . . . Told from the Animals’ Points of View! Three delightful stories for young Catholics, beautifully illustrated with black and white drawings. Includes Bonus Reproducible Coloring Book in the back! Stories in Volume One: “The Little Lamb’s Wish”  “The Hungry Gray Mule” and “The Loyal Friend”

AOGV2cover final front cover animals of god volume two (2)Two more stories of animals that encountered saints…told by the animals’ points of view! Stories include: “The Lion Who Lost His Appetite” Rex the Lion has it made. A delightful tale of a saint’s unwavering trust and God’s infinite power, told from the lion’s point of view! “Cuthbert for Breakfast” An endearing story of brotherly love and God’s unfailing mercy, told by the little goose’s point of view!

SmallFrontCoverGOD and learned to love Him enormously! Being different from others is never easy. Saint John the Dwarf, of all people, could tell you that! Forever standing on chairs to reach things, unable to play games with other children because of his size, and being teased by the village bullies were all hard things to bear, and could have made John bitter and full of self-pity. But John discovered a secret – a great BIG secret – which changed his life and turned him into a giant of a saint. Join Little John on his adventures – from his home to a desert cave, to the altar and beyond – and let him teach you his secret of holiness too!

WilliamFrontCoverMeet Saint William, a young French nobleman who could have had it all . . . and gave it all up!Riches, fame, knighthood, an easy life in a grand castle. These were the things that rightly belonged to William by his noble birth. Instead he chose to leave it all behind and give himself completely to God. Building a hut in the quiet woods, he planned to live out his days there in prayer and solitude. But God had other plans for William . . . plans that ensured his suitcase would never stay unpacked!Join William as God sends him one surprise after another, until William finally receives the biggest surprise of all!

MY REVIEW

Whether she is writing teen fiction or children’s stories, Susan Peek knows how to bring characters to life and send them on exciting adventures.

Every book has detailed, beautiful artwork that allows children to visualize scenes. The simple vocabulary makes her stories easy to understand and enjoy. The setting details and imagery Susan Peek uses will draw young readers deeper into the story, speak to their imagination, and stir their little hearts.

Peek’s stories definitely entertain, but they also encourage virtue. The message of each story will appeal to a child’s sense of awe and have them appreciating the Blessed Mother, the saints, holiness, and the Blessed Sacrament in deeper ways.

Visit Susan Peek’s website. Find all of Susan Peek’s books on Amazon or through your favorite bookseller.


Little Runty Trilogy by Martina Parnelli

RuntyBook1FrontCoverA fresh telling – based on actual events! – of the trip taken by the donkey that went to Bethlehem, and all the wondrous things that he saw on the way and there at the cave. Full color illustrations bring to life more vividly this charming account of the classic Christmas story.

 

RuntyFrontCoverIn this exciting adventure, we join the donkey that was present at the crib of Bethlehem. Follow him as he accompanies the Holy Family through the events that occurred on their way to their new home in Egypt. Wondrous miracles, joyful happenings, visits from angels, or great hardships, Little Runty was there and saw it all!

 

Runty Book 3 frontAngels, miracles and adventures await Little Runty in this last of the Little Runty trilogy. The little donkey who went to Bethlehem and Egypt with the Holy family now rejoins them for the trip home. The trek is full of surprises and hardships and at its end there is the question of Runty’s return to the farmer from whom he was borrowed. Follow Runty through his journey and its happy conclusion in this last of the Little Runty series.

MY REVIEW

Author and artist Martina Parneli has created a delightful trilogy that will not only entertain but edify its readers. Parneli’s sweet and engaging writing style is sure to connect with children. Detailed and beautiful artwork fill these books, giving young ones a lot to look at while being read to. Inspired by Venerable Maria D’Agreda’s book The Mystical City of God these stories provide unique insights into the Christmas story and beyond. All three stories convey beautiful messages like trusting God even with your imperfections, knowing that He has a plan for you, making the best of a situation, working hard, and holding onto hope. Through these stories, readers will also grow in a deeper understanding of the trials and sacrifices the Holy Family likely experienced during Jesus’s early years.

Visit Martina Parnelli’s website. Her books are available on Amazon or through your favorite bookseller.


This month I am linking up with Carolyn Astfalk’s “An Open Book” and CatholicMom.com. What have you been reading lately? Feel free to link up your blog post too! You can find the details here.

Sweet Romances for Sweetest Day

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Sweetest Day ~ Saturday, October 20th

Are you ready?

I just discovered that Sweetest Day is mostly celebrated in the Midwest. Well, that makes sense, because I also discovered that it started in Cleveland, Ohio!

In 1921, Herbert Birch Kingston, an employee at a candy company, wanted to make the less fortunate happy, so he passed out candy to the homeless and orphans around Cleveland.

A year later, it became an official holiday!

So Sweetest Day is not just for couples. You can do something sweet for anyone! And while candy is nice, I think books are better!

This Sweetest Day, I would like to recommend a few sweet inspirational romances that will deepen your understanding of and longing for true love.

I’ve also interviewed the author, Carolyn Astfalk, so you can see what makes her books unique.


41MmpqQbnbLWith her sister Abby’s encouragement, Rebecca has moved out of their overbearing father’s home. When a chance encounter with Chris ends with an invitation, Rebecca says yes. The authentic way Chris lives his life attracts Rebecca and garners her affection. Chris loves Rebecca and her innocence, but he’s confounded by the emotional scars she bears from her parents and an attempted assault. Her father’s disdain for Chris’s faith and career only make matters worse. With the counsel of their friend Father John, can Rebecca and Chris overcome every obstacle and bridge the deepening gulf between them and her dad? Or will a crucial lapse in judgment and its repercussion end their relationship?

Click here for reviews.  Click on the book covers to reach the Amazon links.


OG-Front-Cover-FINALAfter his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend. Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her. Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there?

An inspirational Christmas romance that spans every season.

Check out the book trailer here.


rightfully oursSixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure. Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake? Themes include premarital chastity and overcoming temptation.

This young adult Christian fiction is always listed high on Amazon’s “Values & Virtues” category.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.


Author Interview: Carolyn Astfalk

I’ve read all three of your published books. I found them all to be well-written and enjoyable with characters that remained with me even to this day. Stay With Meand Ornamental Graces are both adult romance and Rightfully Ours is young adult. Why do you write romance?

I didn’t set out to write romances. In fact, before I wrote the first draft of Rightfully Ours, which was my first attempt at fiction writing, I read very few romances. Somehow, as words spilled onto the page, what I imagined as a teen adventure morphed into a romance. And that’s what I’ve been writing ever since.

I’ve come to love clean, inspirational, and Christian romances. And I continue to read and write them because that spark of romance is not only fun, but provides opportunities for reflecting on the role of romantic love, which gives us a glimpse of the loving fervor with which God pursues each of us and helps us love as He loves.

Romance stories revolve around a central love story that ends in an optimistic ending. Christian romances are typically sweet (no explicit content) and they contain an element of faith woven into the plot. What makes your romance stories different from other Christian romance stories?

What sets my romances apart from other Christian romances is my Catholic worldview. Only a small minority of Christian romances include Catholic characters and themes.

I read heavily in the non-Catholic Christian genres and enjoy those novels very much. But there’s something to be said for seeing your own experience reflected in novels from time-to-time. So, when my characters pray, they’re more likely to bring out the rosary beads. If they’re practicing their faith, they’re at Mass on Sunday. They have the benefit of the sacraments and the grace that they offer. They’re more likely to be open to large families.

And, less significant, but contrary to what some Christian booksellers and publishers would condone, my characters enjoy a good beer, a glass of wine, or use a rare, well-placed mild curse word.

I also treat sexuality in a frank but non-explicit manner. I don’t gloss over the temptations we all face in remaining chaste, no matter our state in life. I try to communicate the joys and challenges of married sexuality lived in accordance with God’s plan.

I understand that themes in your stories reflect ideas found in Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. What is TOB and how do these ideas influence your writing?

When my husband and I were newlyweds, Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body was becoming more widely known thanks to people like Christopher West, Janet Smith, and George Weigel. Simply put, the Theology of the Body, presented in a series of Wednesday audiences between 1979 and 1984, is a reflection on the body’s capacity for making visible an invisible reality manifested in our creation as male and female. It is an integrated look at the human person, made to love and be loved.

At the time, we volunteered for Catholic Engaged Encounter in our diocese and saw first-hand the extra challenges faced by couples who rejected the Church’s teaching on sexuality. As a consequence, I really delved into that aspect of theology and developed an affinity for it and a real love for Pope St. John Paul II.

While I never set out to write about the Theology of the Body, that holistic view of the meaning of our bodies always seems to find its way into my stories because it is integral to the intimacy between men and women and ultimately discovering our happily ever after.

How can a romance novel combat the false notions about love and sex that permeate our culture?

There’s a real dichotomy between the way love is often portrayed in modern media, often self-serving and fickle, and the kind of self-donative love we’re called to live.

The kind of romances I write are sometimes witty and flirty—at least I hope so! But, they also delve deeper. While the rush of attraction has an important role to play, I force my characters to move beyond those feelings to deal with what sustains love over the long term. So, that means they’ll wrangle with temptation, sin, forgiveness, mercy, and self-sacrifice.

Ultimately, that kind of love, self-sacrificial love, is more satisfying and fulfilling.

New Teen Fiction: 3 Things to Forget

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I am excited to share award-winning author Cynthia T. Toney’s newest release! This is the final book in the Bird Face series! To celebrate, the publisher has made book one FREE on Amazon on release day only:  October 16th! And the new release, 3 Things to Forget, is only 99 cents today too!


3 Things to ForgetNew People
New Challenges
And a whole new Altitude

In Alaska, Wendy thinks she’s left behind the problems resulting from her mistakes in Louisiana, at least for a while. But starting the summer at her friend Sam’s house and volunteering with Alaska Wildlife Conservation bring not only strange surroundings but also strangers into her life. And those strangers have a secret involving a troubled girl who threatens Wendy’s friendship with Sam.

As Wendy struggles to understand the Alaskans she meets and gets to know, will she be able to forget what she hopes to, or will her new challenges teach her the importance of remembering the past?


I was happy to have received an advanced copy of this book and so I’d like to share my review!

My Review

Cynthia Toney has written another strong story about friendship and the complicated issues that many teens face, this one with the beautiful messages of encouraging teens to share their troubles with their parents and offering kindness even to the unkind.

Wendy is such an admirable character in the way she longs to bring comfort and joy to her elderly friend who has Alzheimer’s. She is a three-dimensional character with interests in writing, sign language, and cute little wolf pups, but she also has room to grow. The more she tries to help her friends in this story, the more of a mess she makes! This is especially true of her relationship with Dev—a girl with many secrets. Wendy becomes so suspicious of Dev’s motives that she even starts to lose faith in her best friend, Sam. Her stepsister gives her great advice that we can all benefit from: “There’s always more to a person’s story than you think when you first meet them.”

With a beautiful Alaskan setting, mystery, and drama, teen readers are sure to love this fourth book in The Bird Face Series. If they’ve read the first three books, like I have, they will also enjoy revisiting favorite characters. Ever since reading 6 Dates to Disaster, I’ve been looking forward to finding out more about Sam, and this story does not disappoint.

Click here to get your copy!

Visit Cynthia T. Toney’s website to learn more about the author and the series.

 

Turning in Circles – Book Review

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Southern fiction at its best!

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Story summary: Savannah and Charleston, two sisters living in a small Southern town, have always been close. They’ve shared everything with one another…until Dillon, the one boy in school who’s bad news, sets his sights on Charleston. As she’s drawn down his dark, destructive path, Savannah panics, knowing this isn’t a relationship destined for anything but trouble.

She turns to her lifelong best friend, Ellerbe, for help, but there’s a shift in their relationship. The connection they’ve shared is taking a turn toward something more, something deeper. And Savannah isn’t sure she’s ready for a romance while trying to save her sister.

As Savannah’s foundation begins to crumble, every decision becomes an unchangeable step toward an outcome that could have tragic repercussions.

Get your copy here: Amazon link


I’ve seen Michelle Buckman’s titles and I’ve been wanting to check out her books for some time. I am so glad that I finally did. Please stop by her website to learn more about her and her books.

Michelle Buckman’s author page


My Review:

I really enjoyed this Southern fiction! Michelle Buckman has a beautiful and engaging writing style that pulls readers deep into the story and doesn’t let them go. The story begins at a leisurely Southern pace, introducing Savannah and her sister Charleston, but always hinting at trouble to come. The setting details and tone are captivating and give incredible dimension to the story. And while it’s set in modern times, the life of the people in this small farming community reminds me of simpler days when everyone knew everyone else and neighbors sat around drinking iced tea on front porches and took leisurely strolls through lovely streets and trails. But there is always something lurking beneath the surface, a hint of trouble, of mistakes that change lives, and of danger.  

As the story developed, this book became almost impossible to set down. And I came away with a bit of introspection. Savannah faces the same problem many of us do: watching a loved one go down the wrong path (in this case, a potentially dangerous one) and feeling powerless to do anything about it. She wrestles with how to respond to this, sometimes making things worse and other times not doing enough. So many moments in this story resonated with me and I’m sure they will with everyone who reads this story of family, friendship, and the challenges we all face with those we care about.

This is the first book by Michelle Buckman that I’ve read, and I look forward to reading more by her.

This month I am linking up with Carolyn Astfalk’s “An Open Book” and CatholicMom.com. What have you been reading lately? Feel free to link up your blog post too! You can find the details here.

Blog Tour: Where You Lead

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I am excited to be part of the Virtual Book Tour for Leslea Wahl’s newest Christian young adult mystery, Where You Lead! Please check out my post so you can not only learn about the book but find out about a treasure hunt and discover author Leslea Wahl’s favorite Washington DC sites. Note: these sites are also mentioned in this story!


where you leadTeen Eve Donahue’s lonely existence changes in an instant when visions of a mysterious stranger haunt her. Certain God is calling her for a mission, she bravely says yes and begins her quest to meet this young man. Thousands of miles away, Nick Hammond has been dealing with his own unusual experience, an unwavering certainty to convince his father to run for political office. When these two unlikely teens finally meet, their belief that God has called them to work together sets them on a journey of faith to untangle a web of deception involving international trade agreements, lost confederate gold, and a blossoming romance. As they follow century old clues, they realize God can call us all in big and small ways. We just need to listen.

Available in Kindle and paperback. Buy the book here.


Wahl is one of my favorite authors of young adult fiction. But she is also the favorite of a lot of readers! I want to congratulate her on the Gold Medal The Perfect Blindside recently won from Readers Choice! This book was also the 1st-place winner of the 2016 Catholic Press Association book awards, in the teen fiction category. Another one of her books, An Unexpected Role, was a Gold Medalist in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Her books have also received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. You can check out other awards her books have won here. Or on her website. And if you ask me, Where You Lead is another winner!

My review:

This is an incredibly fun mystery with a great combination of action and adventure and tension that builds throughout the story. The main characters, Nick and Eve, are well-developed and likeable. She’s romantic, talkative, and has a style all her own: Eve doesn’t try to be like everyone else; she’s comfortable just being herself. Nick is level-headed, resourceful, and charming. Plus, he comes from a big and very interesting family.

I enjoyed the attraction and interactions between these characters and following along as they tried to solve this unique mystery. As a history lover, I enjoyed the tidbits about the Civil War and the “virtual tour” of Washington D.C., visiting museums, monuments, cemeteries, and other historical places with the characters.

Several wonderful messages are weaved through this story, too, like trusting in God even when we can’t understand His plan and realizing that the smaller missions from God are just as important as the bigger missions. With her sharp writing style, ability to develop a riveting mystery, and the way she weaves faith into her stories, Leslea Wahl has become one of my favorite authors.

I highly recommend this story for teens and adults. In addition to the bits of history and positive role models, this book is just plain fun!


Leslea Wahl’s 10 Favorite DC Sites

“As a reader, I’ve always enjoyed books where the setting of a story comes alive through the eyes of the characters. I certainly hope I that I was able to accomplish that feat in my new novel, Where You Lead. This adventurous mystery is set in a city that is near and dear to my heart. A place that I lived for four years, right after I was married – Washington DC. I loved every moment of our time there and had so much fun including some of my favorite spots in this story. Here are 10 of my favorite DC sites that are part of this book’s adventure.”  ~Leslea Wahl

1. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

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2 – Embassy Row

 

3 – Georgetown

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4 – The Smithsonian

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5 – The National Cathedral

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6 – The Tidal Basin and cherry blossoms

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7 – The Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument

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8 – The C&O Canal

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9 – Oak Park Cemetery

10- Arlington Cemetery

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treasure huntClick here for the treasure hunt!


bookLeslea Wahl is a Colorado native who loves to travel with her family. She considers herself blessed to have found a way to intertwine her two passions by creating adventurous stories with positive Christian messages for today’s youth. She hopes to inspire others to find their gifts as well. Her first book, The Perfect Blindside, was awarded a 2016 Illumination Christian Book Award silver medal and was a first place winner at the 2016 Catholic Press Association Book Awards.

Available in Kindle and paperback. Buy Where You Lead here.

Contact Leslea Wahl:​

Secrets 99-cent Back-to-School eBook Sale

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Now’s the time to grab a copy of Secrets:Visible & Invisible for yourself or send one as a gift! (Sale runs through September 16, 2018.)

 

This post originally appeared on author Carolyn Astfalk’s blog, but I wanted to share it with my audience so she gave me permission!

BUY NOW FOR 99 CENTS

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Grab Secrets: Visible & Invisible for a limited time for only 99 cents on ebook! #CatholicTeenFiction #99cents Click To Tweet

Secrets: Visible & Invisible

by Corinna Turner, Cynthia T. Toney, Theresa Linden, Susan Peek, T.M. Gaouette, Carolyn Astfalk, and Leslea Wahl

A collection of short stories by seven CatholicTeenBooks.com authors. As described by Mark Hart of Life Teen International, who provides the foreword, “Each story reveals something different about the human heart and our constant (though, often veiled) desire for truth and virtue.”

Secret (n.) – something kept hidden from knowledge or view; a mystery.

  • In a dystopian future, an innocent picnic turns deadly!
  • Elijah knows nothing of an elderly stranger’s secret past—until her disappearance changes everything.
  • A mysterious, ever-changing painting alarms a group of teens.
  • A cannonball took Dario’s legs . . . Will he lose his soul too?
  • The arrival of a mysterious girl challenges everything about Jason’s life.
  • An unlicensed driver. His dad’s truck. What could possibly go wrong?
  • An old tale of murder and forbidden love leads to a modern-day treasure hunt.

“For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17 RSV-CE)

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Praise for Secrets

“There is a little something for everyone in Secrets, a short-story anthology for Catholic teens. Seven authors cover an array of genres, including dystopian, historical fiction, and romance, while masterfully developing interesting characters and meaningful storylines. Faith is thoughtfully woven into the plots that also creatively incorporate mystery, intrigue, and heart-felt emotion. Fans of these Catholic teen authors will appreciate reading new stories about familiar characters. And first-time readers will be eager to read more in the full-length novels by their new favorite authors.”

Sarah Damm, mom of 6 and writer at sarahdamm.com

“This anthology of short stories for Catholic teenagers is a true literary treasure. It provides genres for every type of reader, each so well written that the reader is invited to fully escape into many different worlds and places. The short stories will take its readers to dystopian Europe, high school hallways, a city block in summer, and a soldier’s medical ward in 16th-century Italy, just to name a few. The characters are diverse, exciting, relatable; their adventures are accessible, mysterious and enthralling. But within these different settings, there is one uniting comfort: God is always there, whether revealed in a desperate prayer to a guardian angel, through pure romantic love, the presence of Christian charity, men and women religious, or within the sacraments. The hope that comes through Catholicism and Jesus prevails in each vignette, and yet there are still heavy doses of drama, suspense and tactful violence. So if your teens seem totally spaced out and properly engrossed, take courage knowing their love of reading and their love of the faith is being fed through these beautiful stories.”

Regina Lordan for Catholic News Service

“This anthology of Catholic fiction for teens will introduce readers to seven diverse authors. Many of these stories, in a variety of genres but linked by a common theme, offer a peek at characters from full-length novels. Readers already acquainted with these authors will enjoy new perspectives on favorite characters. Kudos to CatholicTeenBooks.com and these seven authors for dreaming up this excellent collection.”

Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS, Editor, CatholicMom.com and Managing Editor, Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine

“Featuring seven fabulous stories from top authors in Catholic teen fiction, Secrets is as entertaining as it is relevant and thought-provoking. It’s sure to capture your imagination, move your emotions, and stir your soul. Teens and adults alike are sure to enjoy the variety of tales, which are cleverly united by themes of secrets and faith. Packed with powerful, meaningful, memorable stories, this anthology is so good, you won’t be able to keep Secrets to yourself!”

Therese Heckenkamp, Christian suspense author of bestseller Frozen Footprints

​“Seven Amazing Secrets . . . At a time when so much entertainment and fiction for teens is saturated with envy, lust, pride and other moral toxins, the book Secrets: Visible and Invisible is a powerful, and FUN-to-read, virtue-rich alternative. The talented team of authors behind CatholicTeenBooks.com has created the perfect way for readers to enjoy a taste of fresh new fiction that satisfies a deep hunger in the teen soul. Teens . . . you need to get your Catholic parents, grandparents, or teachers to get this book for you. Really. You’ll be glad you did.”

Cathy Gilmore, Founder/Executive Director of VirtueWorksMedia.com

“I knew I was in for some great reading when I picked up this collection. What I was not prepared for was how exceptional this collection was. . . . Every story was a remarkable story. Some of the stories were so good, I immediately went back and reread just that story. And then when I finished the book, I reread the whole thing again a few days later. I have a great deal of respect for the seven authors who contributed to this series. And even more so after reading their pieces in this collection.”

Steven R. McEvoy, blogger at Book Reviews & More

“Know a teen reader looking for a book filled with the unexpected? Look no further than Secrets: Visible & Invisible an anthology of 7 short stories from CatholicTeenBooks.com. From tales of bicycles to cars and even a saint standing on the threshold of the “dark side”, there’s plenty here for teen readers to sink their teeth into.”

Pete Socks, The Catholic Book Blogger