New Fantasy Series: The Aletheian Journeys

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The Aletheian Journeys

Last summer I discovered The Arrow Bringer, the first in a new Christian allegorical fantasy series by Lisa Mayer.

ARROW BRINGERfrontThe Arrow Bringer tells the story of Evangeline Lewis, who has just been diagnosed with leukemia at the age of sixteen. Before she can catch her breath, a mysterious being called the Arrow Bringer offers her a choice: spend her last days in peace with her family, or save another world called Aletheia from a great evil. She chooses to stay. But then she learns Shawn Lawrence—the closest thing she has to a friend—has gone in her place. His life now hangs in the balance. Now it is up to Evangeline to save Shawn and race to fix her mistake as a shadow falls over Aletheia and the new friends she finds there. Even as her disease consumes her body, a new enemy and more imminent perils pursue her. And she must endure all and save Aletheia while keeping her darkest secret: that all of it is her fault. Hers is a story of Salvation.

Lisa Mayer’s writing style and fantastic character development drew me in immediately. Filled with betrayal, repentance, and forgiveness, this fantasy story has well-developed and interesting characters, beautiful setting details, and fantastic chapter endings that force you to turn the page.

This story is action-packed with battles, conflict, and mystery. The Christian allegory and symbolism appeals to me, the same way as in the Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. I liked reading actual Scripture verses in the story. It is so well done!

“Filled with emotional, moving scenes, this story brings out the beauty of true sacrificial love, sacrificing one’s self for others. And it gives a vivid reminder that God is ever by your side, despite the trials you are going through, and He loves you intensely, even when you fall.” ~Theresa Linden


The second book in this series, Jairo’s Battle,  tells the story of a reformed traitor king Jairo'sBattleFrontCoverwho wishes to prove to everyone, especially himself, that he is no longer a murderer. But that will be hard to do when his past of serving Kotu, the greatest threat to ever overshadow Aletheia, haunts him at every turn. Before he can even try to gain his bearings, a mysterious dark magic user called Stassia banishes him and his friends to the Other-World. Now, Jairo has little time to discern not only how Evie and Shawn’s families fit into all this, but also Stassia’s impossible connection to Shawn. Most troubling of all is Stassia’s certainty that she will corrupt him, and he will ultimately lose the battle within himself. His is a story of Redemption.

“Why does God allow suffering? Why has He given us free will? And how can He possibly forgive a person who has fallen so far? We’ve all grappled with those questions, but nothing compares to watching those ideas materialize through the pages of a gripping story. Great character development, surprising twists, and high tension make this book a page-turner. The powerful messages will resonate with everyone who’s questioned the struggles and sufferings of life and keep reader’s thinking long after the story ends.” ~Theresa Linden


Helper'sBladeFrontCoverThe third book, The Helper’s Blade tells the story of Shawn Lawrence, who once thought he was nothing more than a regular guy. But that all changed when he learned the truth about his past, and that the invisible rapier around his waist isn’t the only secret his father kept from him. But simply saving his father’s legacy is not enough for him—he wants to save his life. It seems impossible, until he discovers that dark magic will allow him to travel back in time. With the help of Kata, a dark magic user, he journeys into the past, determined to kill Stassia before it’s too late. Now, Shawn will have to race against time, despite the fact that doing so will require him descending into the darkness he is sworn to prevent. His is a story of Conversion.

I haven’t read this story but I will soon!


The author was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about her writing. Please enjoy this author interview of Lisa Mayer:

What inspired the Aletheian series?

The Aletheian Journeys was inspired by Narnia. I had always known about Narnia, but didn’t get into them until 2005 when I saw the movie. I now own the books and love C.S. Lewis’ writings and consider myself a Narnian. I thought it would be cool to write an allegory series based on Narnia, which is why I wrote The Aletheian Journeys. I wrote it in honor of Narnia but I also gave it a modern twist so it would appeal to today’s youth.

Why did you write an allegory?

A lot of readers connect with an allegorical story. We all long to know the love of Jesus, even if we don’t know it. Allegories can be meaningful but also exciting. While the books are Catholic-Christian allegories at heart, they also have age-appropriate romance, fantasy, adventure, mystery, suspense, friendship and faith, hope and love. It’s meant to be enjoyable even if you don’t like allegory. It’s meant to help the reader have a deeper relationship with God, but also find themselves in the characters.

How many books do you plan to write in this series?

I plan to write seven books all together. Three are currently available. Readers can contact me at thearrowbringer@gmail.com for a free PDF copy of the first book: The Arrow Bringer. The Arrow Bringer, along with Jairo’s Battle and The Helper’s Blade are on Amazon as well.

What authors inspired you to write fantasy?

 I’m inspired by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, John White and his Archives of Anthropos series, as well as J.K. Rowling. I’m also a huge nerd and I love other world stories and movies, superheroes, sci-fi and fantasy.


15589960_706039216220005_8956142513724993667_n (002)Author Bio:

When not writing, I enjoy hanging out with my husband Rich and our dog Scooby. I spend time with family and friends, work on puzzles, bike-ride, read, watch my favorite shows, and jam out to loud music in the car. I’m a huge fan of superheroes and am proud to be a nerd.

Visit Lisa Mayer’s website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/TheArrowBringer/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lisa_Mayer2015

Website: https://lisamayer0125.wixsite.com/thealetheianjourneys/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-mayer-216a05150/

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New YA book: Playing by Heart

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New Young Adult Historical Fiction

Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the “second sister” means she’ll likely be sent to a convent instead. Emilia’s only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father’s quest for nobility. First, though, she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. Too late, Emilia realizes that her success could threaten not only her dreams for her future but her sister’s very life.

Playing by Heart is inspired by two amazing sisters who were far ahead of their time—one a mathematician and the other a composer. At its core, the novel is the story of two teens struggling to follow their true calling, even when it conflicts with their father’s goals. It’s a clean historical romance suitable for ages 12 and up.


I am so happy that author, Carmela Martino was willing to share a bit about her new release. Please enjoy this author interview:

I love the amazing setting details in Playing by Heart. Did you go to Milan to do your research? If not, how did you create such realistic and lovely details?

I have been to Milan only once in my life, long before I decided to write Playing by Heart. As a result, the research for this story almost did me in! I’m a stickler for detail and if I couldn’t verify some aspect of the story, I wouldn’t include it. Even though it’s a work of fiction, I wanted the details to be true to the time and place.

For the events of the story, I relied heavily on the research materials I found about the two Milanese women who were my inspiration: Maria Gaetana Agnesi, a child language prodigy who later wrote an acclaimed math textbook, and her younger sister, Maria Teresa Agnesi, who was one of the first Italian women to compose a serious opera. But the biographical information I found gave me few setting details.

So, I looked for primary documents describing what life was like in Milan during the early 1700s. One of my greatest research finds was an account by someone who had witnessed Archduchess Maria Theresa’s visit to Milan in 1739. The document had been scanned into the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. I was able to download and print the pertinent pages. The document gave me wonderful details that I incorporated into my novel, such as the description of the crowds that lined the streets waiting to greet the archduchess and how she participated in the Ritual of the Holy Nail.


Can you tell us more about the Ritual of the Holy Nail? Is it still performed in Milan?

While researching Milan’s history, I learned that the Cathedral of Milan houses a holy relic purported to be one of the nails used to crucify Christ. I’d had no idea the relic even existed. It’s housed inside a crystal case set in the center of an enormous gold cross that’s suspended high inside the cathedral’s dome. The cross can only be reached by means of a mechanical, cloud-shaped lift called the Nivola, which was supposedly designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself.

Yes, the ritual of removing the Holy Nail from its place high within the dome is still performed annually in Milan. The tradition began in 1576, when Saint Charles Borromeo, then archbishop of Milan, carried the relic in procession during an outbreak of the plague. Originally, the ritual was conducted on May third, the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross in the old liturgical calendar. At some point, the date was changed to September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. There are numerous videos on YouTube depicting the event—they were a huge help to my research. Click here to watch a brief one narrated in English. And click here for one that is a bit longer, but narrated in Italian.


You mention in the Author’s Note to Playing by Heart that you couldn’t find any book-length biographies of composer Maria Teresa Agnesi, only ones about her older sister. How then did you research her life?

Yes, that was a difficult challenge. Maria Teresa is mentioned briefly in the biographies of her sister, but that wasn’t much to go on. While investigating possible sources, I found an analysis of one of her compositions in a book of essays on Italian music of the 17th and 18th century. The article’s author, Professor Robert L. Kendrick, had also co-written an entry about Maria Teresa in an encyclopedia of music. With a little digging, I learned that he was a professor of music at the University of Chicago. He was kind enough to answer many of my questions about what Maria Theresa’s life had been like and to also point me in the direction of additional research resources.


Even though there are book-length biographies of the older sister, Maria Gaetana, you say in your Author’s Note that there are still many myths surrounding her and her family. Can you elaborate?

Gladly! First, some background. Playing by Heart grew out of my research for a nonfiction biography of mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi for young readers; The only published biographies about her are for adults. I first came across Agnesi’s name in an article about little-known women of note. Even though I have an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, I’d never heard of her before. But when I started to research her, I kept finding conflicting information, both in books and online. For example, some references said that Agnesi wasn’t allowed to enter the convent as she wished because after her mother died she was left in charge of the household and the care of her twenty siblings. In actuality, Agnesi was 13 when her mother died and she had only six siblings at the time. Maria Gaetana may have helped out with those siblings for a while, until her father remarried less than two years later. The reasons for her not entering a convent had nothing to do with her mother’s death. Interestingly, it is true that she was the eldest of 21 children—her father married a third time after his second wife died. But many of her siblings died young.

I encountered so many myths about the Agnesi family that I created a website to dispel some of them. You can read more at www.mgagnesi.com .


How did writing Playing by Heart compare to working on your first novel, Rosa, Sola?

The process for the two novels couldn’t have been more different. My middle-grade novel, Rosa, Sola, began as a short story I wrote as an exercise while I was working on my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. The exercise was to write a story based on an event from my own childhood that still evoked strong emotion in me. The emotion I wrote about was the fear I felt at age ten when I thought my mother might die. I called the short story “Rosa’s Prayer.” The feedback I received from classmates and instructors encouraged me to expand that short story into a novel that was eventually published by Candlewick Press.

I have to say, it was much easier to write a novel set during my own lifetime than one set two centuries earlier. For Rosa, Sola, I still had to research some of the setting details, such as the popular songs of the time, to make sure I got them right. That was easy compared to the extensive research I had to do for Playing by Heart. Still, it was an amazing experience. I’m thrilled to see all my work finally come to fruition.


As you can read in my review, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. And I am glad that you shared this fascinating background information with us. Thank you!

Thanks so much for hosting this interview, Theresa. I hope your readers will visit the other stops on the Playing by Heart Blog Tour. I invite them to go to my website for the complete list of tour links and enter for a chance to win a copy of the novel:

http://www.carmelamartino.com/blog/posts/2406

I’ll also be hosting a Facebook Launch Party on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7-9 p.m. Central Time, where readers can win not only copies of Playing by Heart but other great books and prizes.

www.facebook.com/events/1926037200756000


My review:

Filled with beautiful scenes and heart-wrenching moments, PLAYING BY HEART by Carmela Martino is an absorbing story of perseverance, the pursuit of excellence, and of sacrificial love.

This story shows the dreams and trials of two talented sisters. Emilia excels in music. But her father’s and the maestro’s attitudes lead her to feel inadequate. So she finds herself envious of the praise and attention given to her older sister. Maria, the older sister, is humble and faith-filled. And while she loves studying languages and philosophy, she longs to enter religious life and serve the poor. But this is an age where the father chooses the vocation of his children. Emilia and Maria’s father, driven to gain the title and status of a nobleman, makes choices that move him closer to his goals but farther from theirs.

The characters were inspired by two historical sisters who lived in the eighteenth century, so I appreciate the author’s faithfulness to research and time-period details. The engaging prose brings the scenes to life in full color! I especially loved how the descriptions took me into the heart and mind of Emilia, a talented young musician who “heard music everywhere—in the whispering of the wind and the rustling of the trees.” I also appreciated the way faith is weaved into the story.

For more early response to Playing by Heart, click here.

Click here for the Amazon buy link!

Author biography:

Carmela_martino-smallCarmela Martino is an author, speaker, and writing teacher. She wrote the middle-grade novel, Rosa, Sola (Candlewick Press), while working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. The novel was a Booklist “Top Ten First Novel for Youth” and received a Catholic Press Association Book Award in the “Children’s Books” category. Her second novel, the young adult historical romance Playing by Heart, will be released by Vinspire Publishing September 30, 2017. The novel took first place in the Young Adult category of the 2013 Windy City RWA Four Seasons Romance Writing Contest. Carmela’s credits for teens and tweens also include short stories and poems in magazines and anthologies. Her articles for adults have appeared in such publications as the Chicago Tribune, Catholic Parent, and multiple editions of the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. Carmela has taught writing workshops for children and adults since 1998, and she blogs about teaching and writing at TeachingAuthors.com.

New Release: Catholic teen fiction and St. Francis!

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STANDING STRONG, the fourth book in the Catholic teen fiction West Brothers series, came out October 4th, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. I chose this for the release date because of a strong Franciscan theme. In this blog post, I’ll tell you a bit about seventeen-year-old Keefe West and the Franciscan Brothers.

Standing Strong follows the seventeen-year-old West twins, Jarret and Keefe. While Jarret struggles to remain faithful to God when faced with old temptations, Keefe tries to discern whether he has a calling to religious life.

Roland Front Cover with Award NoteKeefe West has come a long way since readers first met him in Roland West, Loner. He was once under the thumb of his controlling twin brother, Jarret. Sometimes he tried to talk his brother out of bad ideas, but more often he went along with Jarret’s schemes, even when he knew they were wrong.

While Keefe has always cared about his brothers—not wanting them unhappy or in trouble—he had a distorted view of true compassion.

The word “compassion” means to “suffer with” someone. However, true compassion cannot “suffer with” someone when sin is the cause of the suffering. True compassion considers the real needs of the other, including moral and spiritual. And sometimes the compassionate choice is to speak the hard truth.

In Life-Changing Love, on a trip to Italy, Keefe experienced a life-changing event. LCLFrontCover(Spoilers: he visited the Basilica of St. Mary in Bagno di Romagna, where he witnessed a Eucharistic miracle.) As he knelt before the Lord, the transforming fire of Christ’s love touched his heart. Upon returning home, he experienced the true measure of his transformation. He had to finally show true compassion to his twin by refusing to condone Jarret’s poor choices.

Keefe’s transformation created a rift between himself and Jarret, but it opened the door of Keefe’s heart to Christ. In Standing Strong, the latest book of the West Brothers series, Keefe feels drawn to a religious vocation, but he must first fight a few inner battles.

Battle Front Cover with awardIn Battle for His Soul, a group of Franciscan Brothers passed through Keefe’s town. To ensure accuracy, I researched Franciscan communities and happened upon a group of Brothers who I’ve been following ever since: the Franciscan Brothers of Peace in Minnesota. The Brothers in my story are loosely based on the Brothers of Peace.

These Brothers know all about true compassion. From their website: they are a “Pro-Life Religious Brotherhood dedicated to giving (their) lives for love of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.” Faithful to the teachings of the Church, these men are committed to serving and defending the most vulnerable members of society: the pre-born child, the severely disabled, survivors of torture, the poor and the homeless.

I was incredibly touched by the story of their founder, Brother Michael, and by the other Brothers’ loving care of him. At age thirty-two, he suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest and was left with brain injury and a severe disability. The Brothers remained by his side at the hospital and later at an extended care facility, where he spent seven months. Then they brought him home to provide round-the-clock care. They did not see caring for him as a burden.

“Brother Michael became the loving heart of our home and of our Brotherhood. In the mystery of God’s plan for Brother Michael and for us, the Lord Jesus Christ manifested Himself in Michael and through his brokenness, and brought about a spiritual formation that we could not possibly have experienced in any other way.” 

I encourage all to pray for vocations and to visit the Franciscan Brothers of Peace website to learn more about the Brotherhood. Read about their history and “The Roots of Brotherhood.”

Like the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, I too have been deeply moved by the story of St. saint-francis-of-assisi-300x300Francis, especially by the way he took the words of Christ literally.

“If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow Me.”      ~Matthew 19:21

I wrote a blog post about this called “All In with St. Francis.” Thousands of men and women hear this call today and choose to follow Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis. And the Franciscan Brothers of Peace are beautiful testimony to that.


Standing Strong is available in paperback or ebook.


Follow the blog tour now!

  • CatholicMom.com posted the Press Release: “Catholic teen fiction can turn the tide of young adults leaving the faith.” You can also read an excerpt from Standing Strong!
  • T.M. Gauoette – writer, blogger, and author of Catholic fiction and non-fiction. Author T.M.G. has been kind enough to host my guest post “Why We Need Catholic Teen Fiction”
  • Leslea Wahl, author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction has read an advanced copy and posted her review, along with several other early reviews of the book.
  • Cynthia Toney, author of the Bird Face series, has posted my article about the inspiration for Standing Strong. It has to do with a nun and her teenage student who doesn’t like to read.
  • Carolyn Astfalk, author of coming-of-age romance Rightfully Ours, has posted the book trailer and her review of the book.
  • And finally, please check out my blog post about the Top Ten reasons you need a copy of Standing Strong!

 

Top Ten Reasons: Standing Strong

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Okay, so I’m excited about the next book in the West Brothers series. And I want you to be excited about it too! So I brainstormed a list of reason why you might be interested in this book. Here they are:

Top Ten Reasons Why You Need a Copy of New Release, Standing Strong

Reason #10: It’s fun to jump into someone else’s life for a while, especially when it’s the West castle-1290637_1920brothers, who live in a castle-like house, own horses, have a genuine suit of armor in the house…

Reason #9: The West twins are not too good to be true. They’ve got flaws like we all do. Jarret finds temptation around every corner and Keefe is afraid to take the next step.

Reason #8: The West twins are not too bad to be true either… not anymore. Yes, Jarret, I’m referring to you.

Reason #7: You get to find out Jarret’s reaction to Peter’s prank (remember the limburger cheese?)limburger-cheese-3516

Reason #6: It will remind you that you’re not the only one who faces temptation.mary-33541

Reason #5: It will also remind you that the Blessed Mother has got your back.

Reason #4: It shows the power of several unique aspects of your faith, like the sacraments and sacramentals.

Reason #3: It’ll get you thinking about things that really matter, like how God has a plan for you.

Reason #2: You can share the book with family, friends, a youth group, your teens, your friends’ teens, your teens’ friends . . .

And last but not least, the #1 reason you need a copy of Standing Strong: Saint Francis makes a guest appearance!saint-francis-of-assisi-300x300

The Blog Tour has begun! Check out the following sites for two chances to win a free copy of the book, to read my guest post, and to check out early reviews! There will be a few more stops with different reviews, articles, and contests, too. I’ll keep you posted!

  • CatholicMom.com posted the Press Release: “Catholic teen fiction can turn the tide of young adults leaving the faith.” You can also read an excerpt from STANDING STRONG and enter a GIVEAWAY!
  • T.M. Gauoette – writer, blogger, and author of Catholic fiction and non-fiction. Author T.M.G. has been kind enough to announce a GIVEAWAY of STANDING STRONG and to host my guest post “Why We Need Catholic Teen Fiction”
  • Leslea Wahl, author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction has read an advanced copy and posted her review, along with several other early reviews of the book.

Pre-order is available now for the  paperback and soon for the eBook. October 4th is the official release date.

If you know of anyone who might enjoy Standing Strong, please send the link to this post! Thank you for your support!

Theresa Linden

 

CWG Book Blast: 7 Riddles to Nowhere!

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I am a member of the Catholic Writers’ Guild, and this month, the CWG is touring Amy Cattapan’s book, “7 Riddles to Nowhere.”  It is a CWG Seal of Approval winner and a totally fun story! Seventh grader Kameron Boyd must be the first to solve seven riddles involving churches in Chicago in order to inherit a fortune and save his school from closing.

Summary:

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.

Excerpt:

Kameron Boyd hadn’t spoken a word in school for seven years. This, however, did not stop his teacher from asking him to stick around after class.

“Mr. Boyd.” Mrs. Harris eyed him over the rim of her tortoise-shell glasses. “You’ll need to see me after school again today.”

Again? Kam’s heart sank as he lowered his eyes to his desk. He knew exactly how this after-school meeting would go. The same as all the other ones. Mrs. Harris would talk, and Kam would stand there dumbly, shaking and nodding his head at the appropriate times. When a small movement of the head wasn’t enough, he’d scribble a brief note on his whiteboard.

Website: http://www.ajcattapan.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/acattapan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJCattapan
Instagram: https://instagram.com/a.j.cattapan/

From my review: “Seven Riddles to Nowhere is a blast, taking the reader on an exciting tour of Chicago streets and churches, while 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.” ~Theresa Linden

Author Bio:

Amy (A.J.) Cattapan is an award-winning author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her young adult novel, Angelhood, has been an Amazon bestseller in Christian teen fiction and won multiple awards, including the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, a Readers’ Favorite Book Award, and the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. Her second novel, a middle grade mystery titled Seven Riddles to Nowhere has won an award from the Catholic Press Association and the Catholic Writers Guild seal of Approval. She’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 Girls.During her precious spare time, she can often be found baking or traveling, usually to Rome. You can follow her writing and travel adventures at www.ajcattapan.com

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/7-Riddles-Nowhere-J-Cattapan/dp/0997173254

Tweet:

Can a 7th grade boy solve the riddles & win the fortune that could save his #CatholicSchool from closing? #amreading http://tinyurl.com/y7d9fvme

New Release by Cynthia T. Toney

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1920s Historical Novel coming soon!

Write Integrity Press continues author Cynthia T. Toney’s commitment to providing meaningful fiction for young people with publication of The Other Side of Freedom, a coming-of-age historical novel set in 1920s America.

In a southern farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? 

Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

Inspiration for Ms. Toney’s novel came from her own ancestry.

“Possibly orphaned but definitely impoverished, one of my great-grandfathers journeyed from Sicily to America as a young boy with a family not his own, and he grew up with their children. He established the strawberry farm that inspired the setting for this novel.”

Written for ages 10 to 17, but with appeal for adult readers, The Other Side of Freedom lends itself to discussions on immigration, segregation, Prohibition, and numerous other topics. The book includes thought-provoking questions for classrooms and book clubs.

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I was able to read an advanced copy of this book, which comes out this October. The eBook is available for pre-order now!

My Review:

As a fan of historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney. This story, set in the 1920s, has so many historical and time-period details, from the 1924 Ford Model T Tudor to the mention of Al Capone and the first black man elected to the US Senate. The tension begins in the first scene when Sal finds well-dressed strangers at the door. And the tension mounts from there with an attempted bank robbery, a death, sneaking and spying, and a lot of tough choices and obstacles for thirteen-year-old Sal. Toney’s attention to descriptive and sensory details makes this story even stronger.

This coming-of-age story about Sal, who belongs to a tight-knit Italian family, helps readers to understand the difficulties of farm life during this time period, the ugliness of segregation, and the courage of the immigrant. It also brings out a strong message of courage and self-sacrifice. I highly recommend this book.

Cynthia T. Toney is also the author of the Bird Face series for teens, which began with 8 Notes to a Nobody. She lives in the Houston area and can be reached through her website www.CynthiaTToney.com.

She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild. Her books are available on Amazon, your favorite bookseller, and they are listed on Catholic Teen Books website. Her other books include the Bird Face series:

Care to share? Tweet about this book!

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Book Trailers!

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I love book trailers! As a reader, I enjoy watching them. They can give me a feel for the genre, tone, and theme of a book. Really good book trailers can hook me, just like the first page or back cover blurb of a well-written story.

As an author, I love making them. Authors are always thinking of creative ways to find their readers. We create promotional images to post all over social media. We write blogs–like this one–and have contests or give talks. And some of us make book trailers too!

When I make a book trailer, I begin by pulling out important elements and symbols from my story. Then I search for images and music and brainstorm phrases that can best convey mood and theme. To put it all together, sometimes I use Animoto because they have premade styles. You simply add your pictures and text. But I would also like to have more control over my video. I haven’t found the perfect video maker yet.

If you make book trailers, please share in the comments what program you use. And tell me why you like it.

Several books at Catholic Teen Books have book trailers, including mine. You can check them all out by clicking on the links below. Enjoy!


Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

8 Notes to a Nobody by Cynthia Toney

Treachery and Truth by Katy Huth Jones

I am Margaret by Corina Turner


Books by Amy Cattapan


Books by Leslea Wahl


Books by Theresa Linden

I hope to soon have a book trailer for my next book, Standing Strong. If you want to be one of the first to see it, make sure you are signed up for my author newsletter!

STANDING STRONG