Summer & Books: Seven Riddles to Nowhere

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Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.

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Have you ever heard of “selective mutism”? The main character of this story has it, which makes this story interesting in and of itself. But the mysteries and hunt make this story fun too. A great summer read for pre-teen and teen, Amy Cattapan‘s Seven Riddles to Nowhere.

About the Book:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Because of a tragic event that took place when he was five-years-old, seventh grader Kameron Boyd can’t make himself speak to adults when he steps outside his home. Kam’s mom hopes his new school will cure his talking issues, but just as he starts to feel comfortable, financial problems threaten the school’s existence.

Then a letter arrives with the opportunity to change everything. Kam learns that he and several others have been selected as potential heirs to a fortune. He just has to solve a series of seven riddles to find the treasure before the other students. If he succeeds, he’ll become heir to a fortune that could save his school.The riddles send Kam on a scavenger hunt through the churches of Chicago.

But solving them won’t be easy. With the school’s bully as one of the other potential heirs, Kam and his friends must decipher the hidden meanings in artwork and avoid the mysterious men following them in a quest to not only keep the school open, but keep Kam’s hopes for recovering his voice alive.


Author A. J. Cattapan shared some “behind the scenes” with me about this book.

If you remember from my post about Angelhood, this is actually the book she planned on writing during NaNo 2011, but the plot wasn’t working out.

In her own words:

“The story was inspired by the Catholic school I used to teach in that was closed due to financial issues caused by low enrollment.

All of the churches connected to the riddles are real churches in Chicago.

CatholicChurchTours.com does organized tours that take students (and adults) on a tour of the churches in the book (the woman in church of this organization brought me on my research tours and she’s read Seven Riddles)!

The main character suffers from selective mutism and can’t speak to adults outside his home. As a teacher, I’ve had several students with some form of selective mutism who won’t speak above a whisper in school.”

My Review:

Seven Riddles to Nowhere is a blast! The characters are each unique and the writing style is crisp and fun. This story takes the reader on an exciting tour of Chicago streets and churches, while the characters gain insight into mysteries and symbols of our faith as they struggle to solve riddles. The tension and suspense mount right up to the very end!


I feel fortunate to have received an advanced copy of this book. Even though this is a middle-grade novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend this as a fun and fulling read!”

Connect with A.J. Cattapan:

Website: www.ajcattapan.com

Instagram: A.J.CattapanTwitter: @AJCattapan

Facebook: A.J. CattapanPinterest: A.J. Cattapan

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.

CathTeenBooks

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Summer & Books: Angelhood

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Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.

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Are you concerned that the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why might be detrimental to teens? Here is a novel for teens that deals with suicide in a life-affirming manner: Amy Cattapan‘s Angelhood.

About the Book:

Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her.

Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life.

But Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. She’s going to find peace in the afterlife…as soon as she can convince Vera that living is what life is all about.


Author A. J. Cattapan shared some “behind the scenes” with me about this book.

While she planned on writing Seven Riddles during NaNo 2011, the plot wasn’t working out and she ended up writing Angelhood!

“I was so frustrated and depressed that my writing career was over before it had begun, that three days before NaNo started I got an idea for a story about a girl who believes her acting career is over before it’s begun. In 3 days, I had all the characters mapped out and the story outlined, so that become my NaNo project instead of Seven Riddles.”

Many of the plays mentioned in the book are plays that A.J. Cattapan performed in high school or after college. And the basilica where the guardian angels meet, Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, is a real church in Chicago that she visited while doing research for Seven Riddles to Nowhere.

I’ve heard many good things about this book, and I love Cattapan’s writing style (I read Seven Riddles to Nowhere), so Angelhood is on my “to read” list. But since I haven’t read it yet, I’ll share a review from Amazon.

Review:

“This is a YA novel but it will appeal to adults as well. Parents, this YA novel is completely safe to share with your kids in middle school and up. It’s a powerful and compassionate look at suicide as seen through the eyes of a teenager who does the unthinkable. In this story, “purgatory” means that a person becomes the guardian angel for someone else contemplating the same fate. Purgatory ends when the ultimate choice for life or death is made.
A.J. Cattapan has written a great story with terrific characters. I was carried away by Nanette’s battle to keep her charge from giving in to the darkness and evil that tried to surround her.
This is a difficult and dark subject but the author has written a story based on hope, not darkness.” ~Barb Szyszkiewicz

Connect with A.J. Cattapan:

Website: www.ajcattapan.com

Instagram: A.J.CattapanTwitter: @AJCattapan

Facebook: A.J. CattapanPinterest: A.J. Cattapan

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.

CathTeenBooks

A Bit About Angels

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Look around you. How many are in the room with you? I propose that the actual number is more than double.

We all believe in things we can’t see: air, wind, electricity, gravity. But invisible spiritual realities surround us too. Each of us has a guardian angel. Take the number of people with you now and double it for a good guess as to how many beings are with you at this moment.

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By Nheyob – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36041219

I studied angels for a book I wrote (Battle for His Soul) and I’d like to share what I’ve learned. Most of my information came from St. Thomas Aquinas. Do you know who he is? He was a philosopher and theologian, now considered a Doctor of the Church.

 

In grade school, we all learn that there are 3 kinds of substances: animal, vegetable, and mineral. These are all physical substances, but we know that humans are so much more. We are made of both body and soul. So Aquinas believed that to round out the order of things there must be something that is purely spiritual with no body. We call pure spirits angels.

There are also far more angels than any other material thing.

We classify and sort all material things. Since angels have no matter in them, they can’t be sorted in the same way. While angels share the same spiritual nature (so they are of the same genus) each angel is the only one of its kind. Each angel is a species that is essentially different from every other angel.

Each angel is unique. Each represents the goodness of God in a unique way. I like this detail because it allowed me to give a different personality to each of the guardian angels in my story.

angel-595033While I portrayed angels with bodies, wings, and cool weapons in my story, angels actually have no bodies or physical matter. So they can’t die, decay, or change.

Do angels ever assume bodies? We know from Holy Scripture that they do. Angels appeared in bodily form to Adam and Eve (when they were kicked out of the garden) to Abraham, Tobias, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the shepherds, to name a few. You or I may have seen our guardian angel.

Aquinas believed angels can move quickly. Our guardian angels are in the world with us, so they move in time. They can’t be in two places at once. But they can move at the speed of thought.

Angels are highly intelligent, more so than any person, and they can grow in knowledge but they have no need to learn. They were given their knowledge the moment they were created. Angels do not all have the same intelligence either. There are higher and lower angels. Each one has the knowledge they need for their particular status and the work they will do.

Just as we have free will, so do angels. They exercise it more perfectly than us partly because they don’t have the temptations of the flesh.

Angels love. Love is something a person chooses to do freely. Angels have free will, therefore they have love. In fact, while it involves choice, love is a natural tendency for angels. They love themselves, each other, and God most of all.

Angels were not created before the physical world, but at the same time. They were created in heaven, but they did not originally possess God in the beatific vision. That requires grace. This explains how some became fallen angels. Each angel had the choice to love God or to put themselves first. Those who chose God merited the beatific vision.

It’s different for humans. We take steps and move through stages, growing in holiness. We can fall and get back up. We sin, repent, and are forgiven over and over. But they had one choice. The choice of a pure spirit is final and unchanging. Those who chose God, the beatified angels, cannot sin.

Before beatification, they could sin. And some did. Those are the fallen angels, or demons. Demons try to lead people to commit every kind of sin, but they have no bodies so they can only commit two kinds of sin: pride and envy. Lucifer, now called Satan, wished to be equal to God though he knew that it was impossible for a creature to be equal to the creator. He wanted to create by his own power, to achieve beatitude without God’s help, and to have command over others in a way proper to God alone.

Sin is contrary to the natural order, so it occurs less frequently. Therefore, there are fewer fallen angels than faithful angels.

Fallen angels did not lose their knowledge or intellect. They also have sorrow. Not the sorrow of repentance but sorrow of knowing that they will never attain beatitude and that, despite their efforts, we might still get to heaven. That’s why they are so busy battling against our salvation.

Back to the good angels…. Each of us was given a guardian angel from the first moment of our existence, so at conception.

What can angels do for us? They can enlighten us by strengthening our understanding or making us aware of something. Angels can deliver messages from God to us or from us to God. Angels can guard us.

They cannot act upon our human will. God alone can do that. But they can influence us by stirring up images in our imagination. They can also work upon the human senses, as is the case when one assumes visible form.

Have you recognized the actions of your guardian angel in your life?

I’ve been in several terrible car accidents and never came to harm, including when I crashed my Nova. The steering wheel was up against the driver seat but somehow I got out of the car without even a tear in my pantyhose.

I lived on the tiny island of Guam when typhoon Pamela hit. The island sustained an incredible amount of damage but only one person died.

I don’t know specifically how my guardian angel has helped me. But I know he has. And I am thankful to God for him and for all the angels. And I truly enjoyed researching for and writing about them in Battle for His Soul.

Blogging From #AtoZChallenge 2017: Angels in Fiction

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2017 BadgeWhat do I think I’m doing? I don’t know.

I’m not a very regular blogger so it’s nuts for me to even attempt this. But every now and then, I rise to the challenge. I am going to attempt the “Blogging from A to Z April Challenge”!

Carolyn Astfalk inspired me. She will be blogging about her new coming-of-age story, Rightfully Ours. I will be blogging about writing and books…and keeping my posts super short. Here I go…

Angels in Fiction

Angelhood2 1400x2100-1 (003)I have not read Anglehood yet but I’ve been wanting to. I know that people can’t really become angels after they die, but this is fiction and the story idea reminds me of It’s a Wonderful Life.

It addresses the serious issue of suicide in a way that has the potential to reach troubled souls. “It is a powerful story and a vivid reminder of the spiritual battle going on all around us…” ~quote from a review on Amazon

I also wanted to show the spiritual battle in fiction, which is why I wrote Battle for battle-for-his-soul-frontHis Soul with a guardian angel’s view. This book is packed full of angel and demon battles and shows in a deep and personal way the spiritual battle that we all face.

While angels don’t have bodies or fight with cool weapons like in my story, I did want to get my angels right. So I read a lot of St. Thomas Aquinas on angels.

Here’s a review from Amazon: “…this book fosters devotion to the angels more than any other book I have read!”

Both of these books have been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild seal of approval. logo color CWG SOA (002)

 

 

New Release: Path of Angels

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PoAKindle (002).jpgIt is year 63 of the New Era.
Nacerma has rid itself of societies ills, homelessness, hunger, suffering and religious differences, becoming a country of peace.
Seventeen-year-old, Aadi, seeks something deeper than the life Nacerma offers. When her former lover, turned  priests, asks her to risk her life for her faith, she accepts.
Mischa Truin is wanted by the Guard and needs to get out of town for awhile. When he’s asked to keep his best friend, Aadi, safe, he jumps at the chance.
Together, their faith and friendship are tested as they face thieves, highwaymen, the Red Guard and their own inner demons as they grow closer. Will their friendship survive? Will they?
Available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Path-Angels-Underground-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01N4W4X3W
Author website: http://dawnwitzke.com
Dawn Witzke is the author of  100 Best Free Online Learning Links: For Teachers, Parents & Students and several magazine articles. She is also a cover designer who has designed a ton of amazing covers that you can check out here.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…

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…but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12)

 

Yipes! Spiritual warfare goes on all around us. Can you imagine what that looks like? Angels and demons are pure spirits with no bodies so we can’t see this. Would it help you in your spiritual journey to see these battles going on? Or would it terrify you? Would it do both?

Come on a journey with Roland, Keefe and Jarret West and the other teens from award-winning Roland West, Loner and from Life-Changing Love in this brand new YA release. This story has a twist: part of the story is told by Jarret’s guardian angel. So you’ll get to see firsthand the spiritual challenges, battles, failures, and victories in all of their glorious and terrifying grandeur! Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. But I loved researching for and writing this story, and I think you will love it too.

 

PRAISE FOR BATTLE FOR HIS SOUL

“This book will get you thinking about the spiritual battle waging all around us, and your guardian angel that fights for you. I have recognized my guardian angel more in my life since reading Battle for His Soul.”   ~Lisa Mayer, author of The Arrow Bringer

“Teens, maybe more than the rest of us, focus on the here and now. That’s why Battle for His Soul is a must read. It’ll widen your ideas about temptation, prayer, mercy, and God’s call in your life.”    ~Carolyn Astfalk, Christian romance writer and author of Ornamental Graces and Stay With Me

“After encountering this novel, you will never again think of angels as being far away! Another page-turner by an author at the top of her craft.”    ~Susan Peek, author of St. Magnus, The Last Viking and many other saint stories for teens and children

battle-for-his-soul-frontSynopsis:

Jarret West, a rich teenage boy, has been accustomed to having control over others and getting his way. When his life begins to fall apart, his guardian angel Ellechial hopes now is the time for his conversion. Jarret must be freed from the deep clutches of Deth-kye, the demon bent on seeing him in hell. The fate of several others depends upon Jarret’s conversion.

While Jarret gets ensnared in Deth-kye’s traps, Ellechial can provide little help since Jarret doesn’t pray, doesn’t believe, and hasn’t listened to him in years. Ellechial hopes Jarret’s twin brother, who has recently found God, will be able to influence him. But Jarret goes on vacation with his father and younger brother where temptations only increase. Meanwhile, Jarret’s twin and other teens form a prayer group and begin to pray before the Blessed Sacrament unaware of the power they provide the angels. Though Ellechial gains strength, Deth-kye wins victory after victory. His weapons: emotion, vice, and memories. Who will win the battle for Jarret’s soul?

Battle for His Soul is available as a paperback and eBook through Ingram Books, Amazon, and by request at your favorite bookstore, and in various eBook formats through Smashwords.