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.

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Book Review: The Things We Knew

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I just finished reading a book that is on the Sabbath Rest Book Talk reading list. With a bit of romance and a lot of mystery, this is a beautiful and emotional story of faith, family, forgiveness, and facing the truth. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to read more from this author.

The Things We Knew by Catherine West

51eGLI0vfBLThis story takes place on the little island of Nantucket. Lynette lives at home, struggling to care for her father, who has memory issues that are not yet diagnosed, and their enormous family home, which is falling apart faster than she can fix it. She is one of five siblings. Her mother died when she was a teen. She can’t remember the specifics about that day and no one ever talks about it, but it’s obviously had a profound effect on every member of the family and even on the neighbors. Their family was once very close, but the relationships are now strained.

They were also close to the neighbor’s son, Nick Cooper, who is another main character in this story. He’s around the siblings ages and spent his childhood and teen years at the Carlisle’s home. You get the impression early on that he knows more about the Carlisle family than he wants to admit. He also cares deeply about this family, and about Lynette, in particular. And Lynette had a crush on him when they were teens.

As the siblings become aware of the bleak financial situation back home, and of their father’s failing health, they each return home to see what they can do. Once home, they find themselves facing the past, their own problems today, and strained relationships with one another, but they’ve got to work together for the sake of their father and their family home. The easy answer is to sell their large estate, and Nick’s father is all to eager for them to do this. In fact, all the siblings except for Lynette seem to like this easy answer. But Lynette loves her family home and wants their father to be able to spend his last years there. As the youngest, she hasn’t been accustomed to insisting on her way, but this is very important to her, so that’s about to change.

I really enjoyed this story and was sad for it to end. The writing is beautiful. The author develops characters and setting details that you can see, smell, and touch in your mind. With a bit of romance and a lot of mystery, this is a beautiful and emotional story of faith, forgiveness, and facing the truth. It is a heart wrenching story about a family in crisis who has lost so much and stands to lose so much more, but who also has much to gain.


You can watch Sabbath Rest Book Talk on Youtube. Check out any of the past episodes or catch this September’s episode. The theme will be aging.

Release Day for the Liberty Trilogy!

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In two weeks her vocation begins.

She must find a way out.

Liberty 554-062466-84 of Aldonia grew up knowing that one day she, along with every member of society, must contribute to the greater good. She’s been measured, tested, and examined all her life, and now they’ve matched her to a vocation. They want her attributes—intelligence, beauty, health—to pass on to the next generation.

Life begins in the laboratory, making the family obsolete. Using top specimens, scientists create and implant only the best into the fittest women. Every girl in Aldonia wishes she had this vocation because of the alleged bonuses and privileges that come with it. But Liberty does not want to be a Breeder.

As the day draws near, Liberty is attacked. She’s about to lose consciousness when someone rescues her. She wakes in an underground facility, discovering a secret group that watches over Aldonia. Before they return her to society, she witnesses the rescue of a man scheduled for government re-education. They rescued him. They can rescue her.

Set in the not-so-distant future, the Liberty trilogy is a young adult story about a woman who wants to direct her own life, instead of having it controlled by the government. This novel explores the loss the individual faces when government is allowed to grow too big and reach too far. The traditional family is nonexistent. Human life loses value. The earth is elevated above man.

The books are available now as paperback or ebook on Amazon or through your favorite bookseller.

Chasing Liberty

Testing Liberty

Fight for Liberty

Bound to Find Freedom ~FREE short story connected to the trilogy

Congratulations to Michelle! She won a complete set of the Liberty trilogy!


Author Happiness!

Dear readers, you are my inspiration! I didn’t realize how much fun the contest was going to be for me as the author. But I have so enjoyed reading all the comments. I’ll share some of them here:

“I have read this series and I couldn’t put it down! I describe it to my friends as a Catholic version of the “Divergent” series. Dedrick is definitely swoon-worthy! LOVE the new book covers!” ~Cathy

“I love this series! So exciting that they’ll be re-released with such awesome new covers!” ~Susan

“I know my daughter would love this series!” ~Heather

“I love reading your books! I’ve just started Anyone But Him. I have been timid to read the trilogy because I wondered if it would be too depressing but after reading your blog, I’m ready to expand my horizons” ~Andy

“I enjoyed reading this trilogy so much! (I am so glad you decided to write a trilogy and didn’t stop with the first book! I so needed the next two in the series, especially the third!!!) I know I will reread the series again, as I miss reading about characters like Dedrick and Liberty. What better way to reread the trilogy than with the new covers?!” ~Anna

“I love the new covers. I adore a good Catholic dystopian. I want these for myself and look forward to sharing them with my 3 children.” ~Jillian

“This trilogy sounds so good! I am definitely putting it on my to-read list and adding to our homeschool book list for this year for my 9th and 11th graders! We are going to be working on American History and government over the next 12 months so I feel like this could be interesting to add to the topics in our discussions.” ~OurRominCatholicLife

“I love Dystopian fiction. Adding faith into the mix makes it even better.” ~Nicole

“This Tirlogy not only capivated my teen but also me. Your wording in this article is everything I have been trying to exclaim to others about dystopian but fail for lack of words. You have a very eloquent way with them. I long for great dystopian fiction and you hit the nail on the head, evoking emotions and feelings like none other, creating in me a desire to seek out truth and become the person God intends me to be. I pray you will be writing for years to come!” ~Danielle

“I have to admit your 5 points persuaded me to take a look at your books for my daughter.” ~Margaret


book signingAbout the author:

Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Battle for His Soul and Roland West, Loner (Catholic Press Association Book Awards, 2016 & 2017). Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She has eight published novels, including a fast-paced dystopian trilogy that tackles tough moral questions of our day, and two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Full Quiver Publishing). She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Society. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.

CWG Book Blast: Finding Patience by Virginia Lieto

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It is wonderful to stumble upon books for children that have fun stories and promote virtue. I am happy to share this wonderful book written by fellow Catholic Writers Guild author Virginia Lieto!

FHC-2017-Cover-copy-233x300Book Summary:

Eight-year-old, Faith Livingstone, just moved to town and is about to enter a new school. She wants to make new friends fast; to feel like she belongs in her new surroundings. It can’t happen fast enough for Faith! Watch how God shows her the way to new friends and new virtue!

 


Excerpt:

After school, Faith ran up to her room.

Mama rushed up the stairs and knocked on the door. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

Faith sobbed, “Nobody likes me!”

“No, no,” replied Mama. “They just don’t know you yet.”

“I want to go home,” cried Faith, “to be with my friends!”

Mama took Faith in her arms and said, “Faith, this is our home.  Daddy’s job is here and we all need to be together as a family.”


My  Review:

I enjoyed this thoughtful story by Virginia Lieto. I would’ve loved to read it to my kids when they were younger. Children will love the colorful illustrations, the characters, and a story they can relate to. I think this would be a great book especially for children who are transitioning to a new school or have moved. My father was in the Coast Guard and we moved often. Finding a friend in school was always so important but didn’t happen overnight. The message of practicing patience is so important for children at this age and this story presents it beautifully!


Get the book here: https://amzn.to/2rAhzup

Tell your friends about the book too! Tweet:

Looking for a way to teach your child patience, without coming across as “preachy?” Let Finding Patience show you the way. https://amzn.to/2rAhzup


Author Biography:

Virginia Lieto is an adjunct professor of Theology at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, where she also obtained her Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Theology. In addition to teaching, and speaking publicly on the Catholic faith, she is the author of the children’s book “Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity – Finding Patience,” a Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of Approval recipient. She contributes to Catechist Magazine, Catholicmom.com, and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s Theology Blog. In addition, Virginia freelances for such internet companies as Biblezon, providing Catholic content for children. She also maintains her own blog, at virginialieto.com, focused on virtue and morality.

Website: http://virginialieto.com

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

Twitter: @virginialieto

Virtual Book Tour ~ Christian Mystery ANYONE BUT HIM

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Blog Tour for Anyone But Him

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Thank you to all the bloggers who are taking part in this Virtual Book Tour! And thank you to everyone who visits the blog stops!

First stop, April 5th: Steven R. McEvoy’s blog Book Reviews and More
Steven R. McEvoy is a prolific reader and reviewer. Last year he read 380 books! He also creates “Top Ten” lists and posts author interviews with 20 Questions. Click here for my interview on his site. He also plans to share an early review of Anyone But Him.

Second stop, April 6th – Larry Peterson’s blog Cradling Catholic   
Larry Peterson is the author of The Demons of Abadon, a supernatural thriller pitting Good against Evil, and several other books. His blog made the list of the Top 100 Catholic Blogs!

Third stop, April 9th – Carolyn Astfalk’s blog My Scribblers Heart
Carolyn Astfalk is the author of three inspirational Christian romances, including her debut young adult romance, Rightfully Ours. She is also a prolific reader, reviewer, and blogger. You can learn more about the books she’s read from her monthly An Open Book blog post. For the blog tour, she will be posting a recipe from a meal prepared in Anyone But Him!

Fourth stop, April 10th – Ellen Gable Hrkach’s blog Plot Line and Sinker
Ellen Hrkach is the author of several bestsellers, including the award-winner In Name Only. She is also the founder of Full Quiver Publishing, a publisher that seeks to make fiction available that celebrates the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality and marriage.

Fifth stop, April 16th – Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur’s blog Spiritual Woman   
Patrice MacArthur is a homeschooling mom, writer, editor, artist, and the author of The Catholic Baby Name Book and Letters from Mary to a Young Mother.

Sixth stop, April 18th – Ellen Gable Hrkach’s blog Plot Line and Sinker
Ellen will be posting her review of Anyone But Him one day, and she will post an author interview on the other! Please stop by her blog both days to check them both out!

Seventh stop, April 19th – A. K. Frailey’s blog The Writings of A. K. FraileyA. K. Frailey is a novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. She has nine published books and several articles in national magazines. She recently released the second book in her science fiction series, Newearth: Justine Awakens. If you are a science fiction fan, please check that out on her blog too!

Eighth stop, April 23rd – Sarah Damm’s blog      
Sarah Damm’s faith shines through on every page of her blog. She writes at CatholicMom.com and WINE: Women in the New Evangelization. She is also one of the contributors of The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections.


Ninth stop, also on April 23rd – CatholicMom.com  

Created in 2000, this website is all about Faith, Family, and Fun from a Catholic perspective. It is a rich resource for all Catholics seeking spiritual enrichment for their families. I am happy that this will be one of the blog stops for Anyone But Him! They will be hosting a giveaway of the book!

Last stop on the blog tour, April 27th – Barb Szyszkiewicz’s blog Franciscan Mom  
Barb Szyszkiewicz is another prolific reader and reviewer. She is also an editor at CatholicMom.com and a contributing writer for Today’s Catholic Teacher.

Please come along on the virtual blog tour!

Those Difficult Cases in the Pro-Life Debate

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I attended the Bringing America Back to Life Convention in Independence, Ohio, for the second year in a row. Both times I’ve been amazed, stunned, shocked, grieved, and motivated by the talks, and I’ve come to realize that the pro-life issue is much bigger than I ever imagined. We have not faced an issue as widespread and devastating as this at any time in recorded human history.

And, as Obianuju Ekeocha, founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, said last year, “One day history will judge our generation.”

The life issue affects women, men, children, the old, and the unborn, doctors, nurses, health care facilities, science, marriages, relationships, families, societies, countries, and all of humanity. The damage runs deep. Perhaps because our culture has lost the sense of the sacred, it struggles to recognize the sanctity of human life.

But this is our culture and our generation. This is our battle. Please watch the short video I created, inspired by this amazing conference.

Some people are against abortion except for that 1 exception: cases of rape. I am pro-life without exception. And one of the speakers who touched me the most was Jennifer Christie, a blogger and pro-life speaker for Save the 1.  Save the 1 protects, supports, and empowers women who become pregnant by rape and their children conceived in rape. Save the 1 speakers represent the so-called “hard cases” in the abortion debate. Tired of people using their cases to keep abortion legal, these women speak up for the babies of the 1 exception.

They want to “…end the discrimination of the ‘least of these’ and to go into the world to change hearts and minds by putting faces to the issue…” ~from http://www.savethe1.com/

At this conference, Jennifer shared her story. She was brutally raped while on a business trip. The emotional damage took its toll and her body had only begun to heal when she discovered she was pregnant.

As I listened to Jennifer’s story, I confess that I fought back tears. I cried for what she went through. No woman should ever have to experience that. But I cried even more because of her love. And because of her husband’s love. While many urged her to abort, she and her husband welcomed this new life, this precious baby that came on the wake of a horrible nightmare.

Jenn and baby

“This child had nothing to do with the attack on my body or the scars on my soul. He had everything to do with my healing – giving me a reason to hope. I did not save my son. He saved me.” ~Jennifer

I encourage you to read her story at Save the 1.

Jennifer now speaks out for the unborn whose lives are threatened in those difficult situations where many want to make an exception. She recognizes that God can use the nightmare she’s endured to save babies and women. And so she blogs and she gives talks.

Sometime during the conference, I spoke with Jennifer. And I found myself on the verge of crying again. This time because I recognized a powerful, transformational love in her. Honestly, this woman radiates love, faith, and courage. And Jennifer not only blogs and gives talks, but she reaches out to women who have been hurt through rape, women whose lives have been turned upside down through this violent act. She reaches out to them even when they direct their anger at her because she chose life. And her love touches their hearts too, allowing them to finally heal.

Women who have been through violence do not need abortion. Aborting a child conceived in rape does nothing to diminish the memory of that violent event. It does not allow a woman to “get on with her life.” It causes great damage to the woman who has been hurt enough already.

“My son is a reminder every day that as women we can rise above our circumstances. My son is a reminder that love is always stronger than hate. And that who we are as human beings is not determined by how we were conceived.” ~Jennifer

For the love of women, for the love of the unborn, we must end abortion now. No exceptions.

Friends of mine who have learned about Jennifer have been “binge reading” her blog posts. Here is one you simply must read: When People Said We Shouldn’t Have You, We Loved You Louder

I will end with something else that Jennifer shared this with us during the conference. As she spoke these words, I couldn’t stop crying–but neither could anyone else in the room.

Jennifer was once told, “But if it’s RAPE…think about it from the woman’s point of view!”

“Okay. Yes, let’s think about it from the woman’s point of view.

The day after she is raped, she’s shocked to find out the sun still rises because everything in her world has changed. She feels different. Wrong. Inexplicably ashamed.

She’s certain that strangers can look at her and know that she is damaged. She walks around thinking “I am a woman who has been raped,” and knows her life has now been split in half.

Before she became a statistic. After. In the silence, she hears things he said to her. Things she knows she’ll never repeat. When she closes her eyes, she sees him looming over her. She can’t eat…the taste of her own blood lingers on her tongue…the dank earthiness of the ground as he held her head down.

She speaks with other survivors, with friends, with her lover who is trying desperately to comfort her, but she is terribly, terribly alone.

When a faint second line blossoms on the pregnancy test, for a moment, she feels as though the wind is knocked out of her. Instinctively, her hands drift to her flat belly as she tries to slow her breath. She knows what she should feel. Resentment. Anger, maybe.

But…somehow, for the first time since crossing over into the ‘after’ she doesn’t feel adrift. For the first time since crossing over into the after, she has a reason to go on.

She feels a ferocious need to safeguard this delicate new life. She might not have been able to protect herself, but she can protect her baby. Her baby. Deep breath. It’s okay, she whispers to nobody and everybody. I’m going to take care of you.

But they take care of each other. And in little arms, and big eyes, and the purest of all love, she begins to heal.” ~Jennifer Christie

Perhaps it is even more powerful listening to Jennifer speak these words: Is abortion in a case of rape “compassion” to the woman?

Follow Jennifer and other 100% pro-life bloggers and speakers at https://savethe1.blogspot.com

Learn about Unbroken, a support and advocacy group for those impacted by pregnancy from rape.

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.
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