Book Blast: Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

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rightfully oursRightfully Ours: This young adult romance by inspirational fiction author Carolyn Astfalk bears a Nihil Obstat and is a CWG Seal of Approval winner!

A coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.

Summary:

Sixteen-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?

Excerpt:

An unexpected detour left them lost in the dark. Paul had been certain they were heading the right way, but the two-lane country roads they had traveled the last half hour had few markers, and his older brother questioned whether they had missed a junction sign. Paul’s grip tightened on the clumsily-folded map as he peered out the window. Maybe Sean should drag his knuckles out of the Stone Age and get a GPS.

 Paul had been anxious about this move more than the others, even though it would only be temporary. The claw-like limbs of the barren trees whizzing by his window made the whole ordeal seem even more foreboding. He’d never been through North Central Pennsylvania, but in the daylight, the mountains would probably be beautiful, if a little desolate.

It’s only for a few months. By spring, Dad would be home, and things would go back to normal. Normal for them anyway. Besides, maybe he’d like it here.

Website:  http://www.carolynastfalk.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/CarolynMAstfalk

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CMAstfalk

Instagram:  https://instagram.com/cmastfalk/

My Review:

Well-written and enjoyable, this story takes an honest look at the physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of teens in a serious relationship. As Paul’s and Rachel’s feelings for each other grow, they confront new emotions and urges that they don’t always know how to deal with. Like every child raised Christian, they know what they are “supposed” to do but in some moments, they don’t understand “why.” Sometimes they are confused and make poor choices, but through all the temptations, challenges, and even failures, they both develop an understanding of the value of chastity. By the end of the story, they have a clear, solid, and mature grasp of its worth.

Rightfully Ours provides a thoughtful analysis of intimacy from a teen’s point of view, making it a great book especially for teens who struggle with sexual temptation and for parents who want a deeper consideration of the trials teens in love face. (check out my full review on Goodreads!)

 


Author Bio:   carolynCarolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the inspirational

 

romances Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters and a CatholicMom.com contributor. Formerly, she served as the communications direct of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affair agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea.

Buy Link: http://a.co/9BT0frl

Tweet:

A coming-of-age story of friendship, love & doing the right thing – even when it’s tough. Rightfully Ours @cmastfalk #YA #CatholicTeenBooks

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Blog Tour ~ Last of Her Kind

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Science fiction is one of those genres that lets the reader’s imagination take off. Through science fiction we get to explore new worlds or alien races, or our own world in the future. We get to consider the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals. And through some books, like A. K. Frailey’s, we get to look deeply at our own human nature.

I am happy to take part in the blog tour for A. K. Frailey’s science fiction Last of Her Kind.  And I look forward to the release of the next in her Newearth series, Justine Awakens.


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Anne Smith faces the end of one human era and the beginning of an alien alliance—united but unique in Last of Her Kind. A new future unfolds as Oldearth passes into obscurity, but the seeds of Newearth are planted. The human family faces a new horizon….

As a prelude to the Newearth series, Last of Her Kind sets the stage for an inter-alien alliance, which must learn to value human beings as more than throwaway tools. Cerulean’s admiration for Anne evolves into an extraterrestrial high road—offering the universe true humanity.

“This is a creative, thought-provoking, and visual science fiction. All the characters are well-developed with unique personalities, but my favorite is Cerulean, the “casual but dignified” guardian-alien, who develops strong feelings for humanity and for his charge, Anne. I love how the story unfolds and delves into human nature, exploring the possibilities of where humanity could end up, shown both through human characters and the eyes of Luxonian aliens.”                  ~Theresa Linden

More Reviews

With her latest journey, Last of Her Kind, I’m reminded of why I love her style. It’s fresh and new. I like the direction she takes in this new SciFi universe.”  ~Josh Beckman

Last of Her Kind is an inspiring triumph of faith and perseverance in the shadow of the impending apocalypse. Frailey’s emotionally captivating writing reminds the reader what it means to be human.”  ~TheNickofTime


Prologue…

In silence, Earth turned on its axis, a sharp contrast to the bustling reality on the surface. A hidden mind slipped past the blue and white sphere. His interest focused on Lux, a world of light beings, luminous in the reflection of their own glory.

Story Quote…

“It’s like Sunday night. Remember, when you were a child and vacation ended? School on Monday was staring you straight in the face, and you had to get to bed. You wondered, ‘Did I waste it? Did I waste my chance?’ But nothing you did could keep Monday from coming.”

Coming Soon…

Newearth: Justine Awakensa world where deception rules but truth prevails.


New Release: Molly McBride and the Party Invitation

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I found a series your children will love!

As a writer, mother, and homeschooler, it has been important to me to instill a love of reading in my children. Although my boys are teens now, I still love to check out great books for all ages. I particularly love stories that are fun but also have a moral message. Just the other day, I found a series that your children will love: the Molly McBride series by Jean Schoonover-Egolf, who is both author and illustrator.Molly-McBride-and-the-Party-Invitation-cover-1-19

Earlier this month, Jean Egolf released the third book in this series: Molly McBride and the Party Invitation: A Story About the Virtue of Charity

Story summary:
Molly McBride is turning six, and her momma is planning a BIG party. Everyone in Molly’s class is supposed to get an invitation. But should a certain class bully be invited, too? Or would it be better if his were “lost”? Join Molly and friends as they learn that doing acts of charity, while always a good thing, isn’t always a party.

My review:  “Jean Schoonover-Egolf has captured the excitement and struggles of young children in the pages of this sweet story! Molly McBride and the Party Invitation brings Jesus’s lesson of loving one’s enemy to life through the eyes of soon-to-be six-year-old Molly. I love how themes from the Gospel are shown through this story and how the children, especially Molly, take these themes to heart. This is a wonderful story for children about finding happiness in doing the right thing and true charity when faced with unkind people. And the illustrations on every page are amazing!”     ~Theresa Linden

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written and Illustrated : “Paperback Beautifully written and illustrated, Molly McBride and the Party Invitation is the third in a series of books about Molly, a little girl who enjoys dressing in a purple habit. This one is about Molly’s sixth birthday party. Her mom insists on inviting every student in Molly’s class, but Molly doesn’t want to invite the bully in the class because “he is mean.” This is a wonderful book that illustrates the virtues of charity and love of neighbor. Highly recommend!”  

~Ellen Gable Hrkach, February 16, 2018

The first two books in this series:

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Volume 1: Molly McBride wants to be a nun, just like her friends, the Children of Mary Sisters. That’s why she hasn’t taken off her purple nun’s habit ever since her mom made it for her. But now, everyone is saying she needs to wear a scratchy new dress for her older sister Terry’s Big Event. Will Molly and her wolf-pet, Francis, find a way to keep wearing her purple habit?Join Molly and Francis as they learn all about nuns, habits, and being close to Jesus.

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Volume 2: Molly McBride is back and she is as stubborn as ever about her purple habit. She will wear nothing else! She’s managed to keep it on for her sister’s Big Day, but now the faith-filled five-year-old has a whole new wardrobe worry: kindergarten! Join the McBride family and the kindergarten class at Holy Trinity School as Molly and her loyal wolf-pet, Francis, discover that what we wear isn’t as important as what God sees inside of us.

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About the Author
Jeanie Egolf is a retired physician-turned-homeschooling-mom/artist/author who resides in Central Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her awesome hubby Jay Scott Egolf, MD, two amazing daughters, and one rescued “Huskador” puppy. Dr. Jeanie’s art is available for purchase throughout galleries in Ohio and Florida and online at www.zazzle.com/quirky_filly.
Social Media Links:

JPII Unfolds the Mystery of Love

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menThe mystery of love? Whether it’s Valentines Day, Christmas, your birthday, or any day of the week…who doesn’t want to unwrap that mystery?

A friend of mine recently gave me a copy of Edward Sri’s Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love. I admit I prefer fiction to non-fiction, but I am enjoying this book so much that I want to tell everyone all about it!

Easy to read, this book provides practical insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility. It has discussion questions at the end of each of fourteen chapters, making it ideal for a book club or for digging deeper into what you’ve just read. The topics are ones we all can relate to, but it contains many eye-openers that will likely change the way you think about love and relationships.

It is one I will read over and over so I can more fully grasp the messages and so I can grow in my relationships—especially my relationship with my husband. Honestly, as a writer, I’ll also use it as a resource for relationships in my stories!

The book covers real-life relationship issues:

  • What makes a true friendship and how can this kind of friendship lay the foundation for love?
  • What are the two main ways men and women are attracted to each other?
  • How can these attractions lead to either friendship and selfless love or to a relationship where someone is being used?
  • How do I know if I am in a relationship of authentic love or just another relationship that is doomed to failure?
  • What ingredients are necessary for true love?
  • The differences between men and women and the particular needs of a man and a woman in marriage.
  • Two aspects of love and knowing the difference is crucial for any relationship with the opposite sex.
  • The difference between feeling “I’m in love” and love itself.
  • Why should people wait for marriage to have sex?
  • The problem of pornography.
  • How can I be a better spouse?
  • How can I grow in self-giving love?
  • How to win the fight for purity in our relationships and in our hearts.

There is a lot more about friendship, attraction, relationships, emotions, love, sexuality, marriage, and chastity in the book too.

“Friendship… consists in a full commitment of the will to another person with a view to that person’s good.”    ~John Paul II, Love and Responsibility


While I find this non-fiction book indispensable, I believe fiction is another great way to grow in our understanding of these themes and to unfold the mystery of love.

Full Quiver Publishing is a great place to find fiction that celebrates the Church’s teachings on sexuality and marriage. Check out their website for books in a variety of genres.


carolyn saleAuthor Carolyn Astfalk writes contemporary Catholic romances, sometimes also referred to as Theology of the Body fiction. Her book Ornamental Graces is #FREE on Valentine’s Day!

After 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.


marchmeme.pngA young adult fiction, faithful to Catholic truth, that unfolds the mystery of love:

The ebook version of my contemporary young adult fiction Life-Changing Love is on sale for 99cents through the month of November.

With interesting characters and a fun story-line, this story addresses themes such as courtship vs. current dating practices, struggling with purity, obedience, finding the beauty within, Eucharistic miracles, supporting a friend faced with a crisis pregnancy, abortion vs. adoption, speaking the truth when it’s hard.


CathTeenBooks

For young adult fiction, in a variety of genres, that unfolds one mystery or another of faith and/or love, check out CatholicTeenBooks.com

Check out Carolyn Astfalk’s #OpenBook blog on My Scribbler’s Heart and CatholicMom.com

4 Books You Want to Read

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Toward the end of last year and the beginning of this, I’ve read some books that I highly recommend. You might want to check out these books yourself… for the love of puppies, special needs children, human life, and your soul!

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If you read this book, you will know….Miranda Gargasz has a heart for all living things, but especially the at-risk doggies!

I purchased a copy of this book as soon as it came out! My children thumbed through to see all the cute dog pictures, but then I finally got the book back, and I found a wealth of information inside. Author Miranda Gargasz did a ton of research!

She provides the sad statistics about the numbers of dogs that enter animal shelters every year, and the numbers that never make it out. She explains what goes on behind the scenes in dog kennels and gives examples of the incredible efforts of the Lorain County Dog Kennel (LCDK) workers and volunteers. This book includes several heart-wrenching and heartwarming interviews of these workers and volunteers.

It also spotlights specific LCDK dogs that have been through great difficulties–abandonment, abuse, neglect, accidents–but have been given a second chance. Miranda tells the stories of her own two dogs (both from LCDK), the trials and victories, and the treasure her family has found in them.

And Miranda also provides concrete advice and ways you can help. This book is valuable for its content, but you might also want to get your copy to help the dogs. MORE THAN A VILLAGE: making a difference in the lives of homeless pets—all the proceeds go to the Lorain County Dog Kennel!


9781910806074 (002)I finally read the first book in the I AM MARGARET series! I read all the other books in the series already. Don’t ask me how I ended up reading the first book last.

Anyway, I absolutely loved this book and all the books in the series and will definitely re-read them. Turner presents a dark futuristic society where not all people are considered equal. Those with imperfections, no matter how insignificant, are kept around only so that they can provide “parts” for other people.

Filled with moments of pain, compassion, courage, and hope, this story is tense and fast-paced with twists and surprises, but more-importantly it is thought provoking. The Catholic perspective gives even more depth to this dystopian (compared to other popular dystopians). It really delves into the meaning and value of all human life, regardless of a person’s ability to contribute to society.

Note to parents: this book contains violence, gore, rough language, and sexual innuendos (no sex or anything like that—it’s a very clean book). It is suitable for mature teens and adults, and is sure to deepen a person’s faith, perseverance, and admiration of the martyrs. Check out I AM MARGARET! Great reading material for the #MarchForLife bus trip!


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START HERE! With BROTHERS: A Prequel Novella 

This novella is a great introduction to the I AM MARGARET series, or consider it a bonus for those who have already read the series.

Corinna truly knows how to create solid characters, a sense of urgency, and a well-developed dystopian world. In this story, I enjoyed meeting a new character and following one that I got to know through the I AM MARGARET series. I love how Catholic elements are weaved into the plot because any true change in a person or society must affect not only the physical but the spiritual, the complete person. This story rings with beautiful messages of faith, forgiveness, and trust, and powerfully demonstrates that we, as members of the Body of Christ, belong to one spiritual family.


rebecca

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this children’s story, REBECCA & HEART, as much as I did. But I must confess this story really touched my heart, and I would love for everyone to read it. Rebecca, the main character, has autism. We also have a son with autism, and he is such a treasure to us. While most children with autism struggle with social interactions and are overwhelmed with sensory input of one kind or another, every child is unique. Some have special abilities like Rebecca, but most don’t. Still, every child, no matter their gifts or challenges, brings something wonderful to the people around them, if people know how to look for it and appreciate it.

Told from a fly’s perspective, this story has humor but also insight and depth. As Rebecca’s adoptive parents, and the others in her new home, try to understand Rebecca’s unique way of relating to others and the world around her, every one of them grows in compassion and sensitivity, not only toward Rebecca but toward each other. It is a great story for children and adults alike to help develop empathy for people who experience the world differently. This story would be perfect for schools and families. I highly recommend REBECCA & HEART.


What books have you read lately? Please post in the comments and share what you enjoyed about them!

Book Clubs, Book Talks, Book Blogs

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I am a strong believer in the power of good fiction to transform lives.

After all, Jesus used fiction to teach and to reach the hearts of his listeners. Non-fiction can provide information and facts and appeal to our intellect and reason. But a well-written fictional story has the potential to create empathy and to reach hearts.

Prodigal_Son_CHS_cathedralConsider the story of “The Prodigal Son.” When Jesus wanted to teach the Pharisees and scribes the powerful message of hope and salvation for the sinner, he could have simply spelled it out in non-fictional words: God desires salvation for everyone, including the sinner. All are invited to the table of the Lord. So chill, brothers, while I eat with these tax collectors and sinners.

But Jesus wanted to speak to their hearts, so he chose to tell them a story. And his story had the dual purpose of reaching the tax collectors and sinners as well.

Jesus created characters that each of his listeners could identify with, he made those characters closely related (a father and his two sons), and he told a story that would touch hearts and produce empathy.

Fiction is good for us! Especially when we thoughtfully consider the story line, character growth, and themes…when we seek to learn something from what we’ve read.

Would you like to dive deeper into fiction and grow from what you’ve read? I encourage you to participate in the monthly YouTube Live Event Sabbath Rest Book Talks with hosts Erin McCole Cupp, Carolyn Astfalk, and Rebecca Willen.

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Check out Sabbath Rest Book Talks Reading Selections for 2018. If you’d like to participate, read the books for the month and comment during the live event. This month one of my books is being featured, so I am offering a chance to win a signed copy of Standing Strong. Comment during February’s SRBT for your chance to win.

The other books featured on Sabbath Rest Book Talks in February are All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (this is a Pulitzer Prize winner) and Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day by Carol Benoist and Cathy Gilmore, the founder of Virtue Works Media.

open bookOther ways to dive deeper into fiction: check out the book reviews by Carolyn Astfalk and link up your own reviews of the books you’ve read. Carolyn posts An Open Book every month, giving short reviews of books she and members of her family have read. I have found many new books that I’ve absolutely loved, just from following her blog.

Another book reviewer to follow: Steven McEvoy and his blog “Book Reviews and More.” Steven McEvoy is a prolific reader and reviewer. Check out the list of books he’s read and reviewed over the last couple of years and prepare to be amazed. His reviews are thorough and insightful. I’ve added many books to my “must read” list by following his blog.

TFG-Trademark-Logo-300x215In addition to reading more, consider starting a book club. If you have teenage girls, you will want to check out “TOTALLY feminine GENIUS GENERATIONS BOOK CLUB,” which is a book club for teen girls, their moms, aunts, grandmothers, etc. It is such a fun and effortless way for women to mentor the teen girls in their lives. From the site: ” It’s far more powerful to SHOW rather than tell the kind of wonderful women God designed our girls to be.”

With the hope of helping readers gain more from my books (and as an aid to homeschooling parents and teachers) I am currently writing study guides for each of my books. These study guides will be available free on my website on the “Book Clubs” page. The guide for Roland West, Loner is complete and ready for download.

These are just a few of the many ways you can enrich your life through fiction. Please share your own ideas in the comments!

Book-giving Guides

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Christmas shopping can be overwhelming. You want to show someone that you care about them, that they are important to you. And you want to give them something they will enjoy and even treasure for years to come. But as you’re scrolling through gift items on-line or wandering through yet another store, questions pop into your mind:

  • Will he like this?
  • Does she already have that?
  • If I spend all this money on this, will it be worth it?
  • Will they stop playing with it in a month or two?
  • What size does she wear?
  • What does he really like to do?
  • Do they already have something like this?

Lately, I’ve stumbled across a few great gift-giving lists. These are not your ordinary top-ten-toys lists. These are lists of books! Book-giving guides!

Books make fantastic gifts because they cost so little and give so much. Books can transport readers into different times and places. They allow you to leave your own life for a while and step inside someone else’s life. And if the book is Christian fiction, it gives the reader even more! Christian fiction can provide gems of value that can transform lives, jump-start faith, and delve into new and deeper insight.

I’ll share links to some of those book-giving guides here:

The first two lists are compiled by author Carolyn Astfalk. In addition to writing Christian romance, Carolyn is a full-time mom to four children and an avid reader. She posts a monthly “Open Book” blog that anyone can link to if they want to share what books they’ve been reading. I am always discovering new titles of interest on her blog.

I found another super-awesome book list on Jeannie Egolf’s Peanut Butter & Grace blog. This blog is worth following too. Previous posts give other “Shop Catholic” gift ideas, Advent reflections, video suggestions, and so much more!

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Shop Catholic This Christmas

Virtue Ink is another not-to-be missed website. Cathy Gilmore, the founder of Virtue Works Media, is dedicated to helping parents, grandparents, and teachers become effective spiritual mentors to the children and teens they love. You can learn about the TOTALLY Feminine GENIUS Generations Book Club on her website too. But be sure to check out the reading & entertainment list:

For the Catholic teen in your life, stop by CatholicTeenBooks.com for books in a variety of genres and many award-winning titles.

I will update this blog post if I discover more!

And I invite you to check out the new Christmas video that showcases my books!

Happy Advent!