Summer & Books: Testing Liberty

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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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I never meant for Chasing Liberty to be a trilogy. I wrote it as a stand-alone that was meant to get readers thinking. But my readers wanted to know what happens next, and the characters began to tell me. The second and third books in this trilogy came together rather quickly.

Check out the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win the entire trilogy.

About the Book:

Hidden no more. Imprisoned by the all-controlling government. Slated for Re-Education. Liberty must escape from a high-security facility to rescue the colonists who lost their freedom. Their capture is her fault.

Set in the not-so-distant future, where the government controls society through indoctrination, population control, and the eradication of the family, Liberty bides her time in Aldonia’s Re-Education facility. If she fails to escape and rescue the others, the children, teens and adults of the Maxwell Colony will be integrated into society, facing sterilization and indoctrination. She is not alone in the desire to rescue the colonists. An underground, anti-government group has been rescuing people from Aldonia for years, but never have they attempted to rescue so many at one time. To do so would risk exposing, even ending, their operation. Dedrick, one of the top rescuers, grieves for his family members who are now residents of government’s facilities. He wants Liberty free, but he is opposed to working with her.

Racing through the wild, the underground and sordid inner-city slums, Testing Liberty follows Liberty from one trial to another, to her final sacrifice.


Check out the book trailer here. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will share a few images that tell some of the story from Testing Liberty.

Here are a couple of review snippets from Amazon.

A great sequel to Chasing Liberty. It takes up from the first story and carries it forward. You meet more characters, also thoughtfully drawn. It is full of action and surprises, as well as thought provoking ideas. It is totally believable, as our society heads the way of the Regimen thinking today. I like how Dedrick and Liberty draw closer, although she has to atone for what she caused to happen in book one. I can’t wait for the wrap-up in the last book. I hope they overthrow the Regimen and return America to its roots.

“Chasing Liberty and Testing Liberty have made me a fan of dystopian fiction. Smart, suspenseful, and well-written, these gems will have you eagerly awaiting the final book in the series!”

Want to learn more about Theresa Linden and her books?

website: www.theresalinden.com

blog: Things Visible & Invisible

Facebook author page

Twitter: @LindenTheresa

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.

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Summer & Books: Saving Faith

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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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If you are looking for a character-driven series that promotes virtue, you might want to check out T.M. Gaouette’s Faith & Kung Fu series. Yesterday, I blogged about the first book in this series, Freeing Tanner Rose, and today I’ll share a bit about Saving Faith.

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About the Book:

Saving Faith is the second of four books in the Faith & Kung Fu series.

With Tanner Rose gone, Gabriel is left to settle back into the God-devoted life he’d become so accustomed to. Except that his best friend’s sister, Faith, has decided that a life for the Lord is just way too confining. In an attempt to live a little, Faith focuses her interests on a handsome, but worldly, boy from her school, who has major self-control issues in and out of the kung fu arena. When things get too deep for Faith, she looks to Gabriel for help. Can Gabriel save Faith from self-created destruction or is he just too lost in his own worldly struggles to lend a hand?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Author T.M. Gaouette does a bit of research for each of her books. For this one she researched Scripture and the Catholic faith on various points, including pursuing the vocation of priesthood and attending seminaries. 

She also shared with me a bit about Gabriel, the main character of the Faith & Kung Fu series:

My character Gabriel is the center of Saving Faith and this four book series. He is a teen girl’s dreamboat. He’s exceedingly handsome, physically attractive, smart, and an expert in kung fu. But there’s a surprising twist. Gabriel is extremely devoted to God, and is unashamed about that commitment. He wears his godliness confidently, but with humility. Basically, he’s cool and he makes adoring God attractive and cool too. Gabriel is not perfect. He struggles also. But he always looks to the Lord and he never gives up on Him.

Gabriel’s faith is his life. He adores God. He talks to Him, defends Him, and leads people to Him constantly, but he’s not preachy or pushy. It’s just instilled within him so that it’s delivered and received naturally. Scripture plays a huge role in this series, and is usually a part of Gabriel’s everyday external and internal dialogue.

I’ve read and enjoyed the first book in this series and I look forward to checking out book two!

A few Amazon Reviews:

“Gaouette does an excellent job fleshing out her characters. They are real, and very well written. Also the plot, there are likely very few of us who have not known someone who drifted away from the faith, or someone who struggles or struggled with anger issues. Or have friend impacted by divorce and its effect on the whole family. Gaouette captures so many deep issues and yet deals with them with sensitivity and from her faith based perspective.”

“The author does a great job taking us on her emotional journey leading up to the moment where she must decide if she’s going to stay true to who she is or succumb to the overwhelming pressure placed on her by her peers. There is a firm foundation of Biblical truths woven through the story. The author has a pleasant writing style and this book nicely ties in with the previous book in the series.”

Connect with T.M. Gaouette and learn more about the author and her books:
Website: https://tmgaouette.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TMGaouette

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037114.T_M_Gaouette

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.

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Summer & Books: Freeing Tanner Rose

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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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Ever wonder what faith and kung fu have in common? This summer, dive into the first in T.M. Gaouette’s Faith & Kung Fu series, Freeing Tanner Rose, and find out!

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About the Book:

Freeing Tanner Rose is the first of four books in the Faith & Kung Fu series.

For Gabriel, Tanner Rose is just a superficial starlet, addicted to Hollywood. For Tanner, Gabriel is just a boring, kung fu-loving, Christian boy, who’s living a lackluster life in the middle of no-where. So, what happens when she’s forced to live in his world? It doesn’t take long before Tanner Rose craves a taste of her old life, even if it means upsetting a few people along the way. She thrives in the spotlight, after-all! Will Gabriel’s faith encourage Tanner to change her partying ways, or will her wild undertakings and addicting vices tempt him to do things he’d never considered before?

“There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” ~1 Corinthians 10:13

My boys love play fighting in the backyard or wielding walking sticks (or even yard tools). The other day I was watching my youngest (a 13-year-old) spinning two sticks at one time, one over his head and the other out in front. And I thought to myself, “Wow, that boys has skills!” He would probably benefit from martial arts training of one sort or another. In addition to health and fitness benefits, I believe that such training would provide discipline that would benefit a person in every area of their life.

I asked Author T.M. Gaouette why Faith & Kung Fu was the title of her fiction series and here is her answer:

I’ve been told that it’s a fascinating affiliation. But I’ve never been asked why I chose it. And my reasons go far beyond the fact that both myself and the main character, Gabriel, are devoted to our faith and love kung fu – he is far more superior in both than I am, however.

What Gabriel gets out of kung fu, he puts into his faith, such as physical and emotional strength, discipline, modesty, and balance. Kung fu is also an external manifestation of his internal devotion. Finally, kung fu provides Gabriel with the forum for intense meditative prayer and connection with God.

Modesty plays a huge role in this novel. The author recently posted “Teaching Virtues Through Fiction Series: Modesty” on her blog. Be sure to check it out!

A few Amazon Reviews:

“Principled and religious without being pious or cloying, this is a fun, refreshing story about something other than fashion and romance.”

“This book is great! Helps one realize that faith can get you through difficult situations and that you don’t need to know how to “do” religion in order to believe. The characters are easily imagined in looks and personality. Wonderfully engaging.”

Connect with T.M. Gaouette and learn more about the author and her books:

Website: https://tmgaouette.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TMGaouette

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037114.T_M_Gaouette

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.

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Summer & Books: Rosa, Sola

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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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“It’s easy to forget, or overlook, the impact that the death of an unborn or newborn sibling can have on other children in a family. Rosa, Sola explores all the raw emotions that go along with a family tragedy–in a manner that is merciful, not gratuitous.” –taken from a book review by on Catholic Mom

About the Book:

Rosa Bernardi, an only child living with her Italian immigrant parents in 1960s Chicago, often feels alone, or SOLA, as her parents would say. But after she holds her best friend AnnaMaria’s baby brother for the first time, Rosa is sure that if she prays hard enough, God will send her a brother of her own. When Rosa’s prayers for a sibling are answered, she is overjoyed—until tragedy strikes. Rosa is left feeling more SOLA than ever, and wondering if her broken family will ever be whole again.


In addition to a review of the book by , you will also find a character interview on Catholic Mom!
Author Carmela A. Martino shares how this book came to be:

The novel began as a short story called “Rosa’s Prayer,” which I wrote while working on my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. I had originally enrolled at Vermont to complete a YA novel, but after a few months in the program I realized that I didn’t yet have all the writing skills I needed to make that particular story work. Instead, I began a middle grade novel about a 12-year-old boy whose friends kept moving away. When my advisor, Marion Dane Bauer, critiqued the opening chapters of the novel, she said it lacked “emotional core.” I was devastated. I knew what my character was feeling, but apparently those feelings weren’t coming across on the page. Marion suggested a writing assignment: she asked me to write a short story about an event from my childhood that still aroused emotion in me. I chose to write about fear—the fear I’d felt at age ten, after my mother nearly died in childbirth.

“Rosa’s Prayer” went through several revisions. By the end of the semester, Marion approved the story for inclusion in my creative thesis. However, she said I could also submit it for my next residency workshop, which I did. My workshop group provided terrific feedback and encouraged me to turn “Rosa’s Prayer” into a novel. I spent most of my time in the Vermont Program working on the manuscript. The original short story spanned only a few weeks, ending on the day Rosa’s mother comes home from the hospital. The novel encompasses a year in Rosa’s life, and focuses not on Rosa’s fear as much as on her family’s struggle to heal from their loss. Interestingly, the most common feedback I’ve heard from readers is that the novel made them cry. For me, that’s a great compliment. I think Marion would be proud.

Since I haven’t read the book yet, though it is on my “to read” list, I have snagged a review from Amazon:

“School Library Journal called this a “gentle and moving story,” and I have to agree. Rosa is a good Catholic girl who desperately prays the rosary every night for God to send her a little brother. I don’t want to give the story away, but as the Amazon summary states, tragedy strikes the family. You can’t help but feel for Rosa and her family. Carmela Martino’s descriptions of love and loss are dead-on. Make sure you’ve got a hankie nearby when you reach the mid-point of this book. Still, the story is told with such compassion and care for the characters that you can’t help but love them. This would be a wonderful book to share with a child who might be coping with loss.”

Connect with Carmela A. Martino:

Website: www.carmelamartino.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/carmelamartinoauthor/

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/carmelamartino/

Twitter: @carmelamartino

Instagram: @cmartinoauthor

​Carmela is available for in-person and virtual visits and workshops. For details see: www.carmelamartino.com/bio.htm

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.

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Summer & Books: The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch

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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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This summer, expand your horizons and step into the heart of the world of foster children. Author T.M. Gaouette provides an inside look of the trials and joys in her book The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch.

About the Book:

Ten-year-old Benedict has been moved from one foster home to another, and he’s hated every one. When he arrives at Sunshine Ranch, he doesn’t bother unpacking. What’s the point? But his new foster parents and siblings are different from what he’s become used to. David and Martha Credence strive to instill love and Christian values in their family, and it inspires hope in each child.

Benedict is not into “religion,” but Sunshine Ranch is the home he’s secretly been yearning for. Still, he fears it’s all just a little too good to be true, and his sentiments are validated when he learns that they may lose Sunshine Ranch. Can the Credence children help save the Ranch? Will faith keep them together? Or will Benedict’s dream be shattered?

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is a story about a family devoted to God. It relays the personal journeys of all the Credence foster children and their struggles to overcome past and present pain and adversity. In this novel, the confidence of the devoted is challenged, but an even deeper understanding of God and His love are revealed.

“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:12-13I


I love to learn how authors come up with their story ideas. Some of my ideas come from the news, others come from real life experience. And still others come directly from my imagination or from contemplating an idea or a “what if?” I asked author T.M. Gaouette how she came up with the story idea for The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch.

Author T.M. Gaouette’s answer:

I’m not sure how other authors come up with stories, but for me a novel can begin with a single moment in a scene. My moment was the main protagonist Benedict walking past a beautifully decorated living room with a large burning hearth. Another child, around his age, walks in and says, “It’s like a scene in a movie, right?”

I was inspired by the idea of a child who knew only the dark side of foster care, entering the light of those many other homes that offer love and compassion and patience. Martha and David’s foster care home was like a scene in a movie. And this was one of the reasons why Benedict struggled to feel at home. He was afraid that one day the movie would end. By the way, I never did use that scene in the final version of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. But the concept remained.

Amazon Reviews:

“From page one I was pulled into this extremely moving novel about a young boy in the foster care system, unwanted and hurting, and how God draws him to Himself by incredible and quite surprising events.”

“I am finding it difficult to put into words my thoughts about this book, because the story speaks directly to the heart, and there are no words sufficient for how my heart was touched by this book. From the first page to the last, I found myself drawn compellingly into the love, suffering and grace of a large family of foster children drawn together from diverse circumstances and cultures. Once I started reading this book I could not put it down! This is the best read I have had in a very long time!”

Connect with T.M. Gaouette and learn more about the author and her books:

Website: https://tmgaouette.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TMGaouette

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037114.T_M_Gaouette

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.

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Summer & Books: Rightfully Ours

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

Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

About the Book:

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?


I love how, in addition to having descriptive scenes that appeal to all five senses, author Carolyn Astfalk often mentions songs in her books. She has created playlists for all of her stories. You can check out the playlist for Rightfully Ours by clicking here. And you will want to check out the book trailer too!

I asked Carolyn a few questions about music and her writing:

Do you listen to music while you write?

I don’t often listen to music while I write these days, mainly due to where and when I write. There’s already so much noise around me, that it would only further distract me. However, I wrote Rightfully Ours under different conditions, and I did listen to a lot of music. I still find that when I’m stuck, music helps me to capture the mood of a scene or a character’s feelings.

Do all of your books mention songs? 

Yes, all of the published novels do. It’s generally a passing reference, a title, or a word or two. My early drafts included small passages of lyrics, but I replaced all of those with original lyrics in later drafts to avoid any copyright issues.

What elements do you think music adds to a story?

I think it helps set a mood for a scene. The type of music the characters are hearing can help establish the scene in a reader’s mind. For example, a restaurant playing country music has a completely different ambience than one playing classical music or jazz. If it’s a song that’s universally known or a cultural touchstone, it creates a sort of shorthand between the writer and the reader. Whether it’s a Christmas carol, an old hymn, or a patriotic song, music is so tied to memories that it can immediately help the reader draw significant associations.


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.

While all the characters are realistic, Paul was my favorite. Rachel is fourteen when the story begins, and Paul is sixteen. He lost his mother as a child and has a father in the military. The story line surrounding this aspect had me considering what it must be like for the children of military men and women on active duty, and for those that have lost one or both parents. I found myself understanding more deeply and truly appreciating the sacrifice our service men and women make for our country.

I enjoyed watching Paul and Rachel’s friendship develop. At times, they misunderstand each other and jump to conclusions or wistfully wonder if the other feels the same way. They support each other and grow together while facing challenges and while embarking upon a “treasure hunt” in the flower garden. It all felt so real.

Mostly, I like the message of developing a strong conviction about waiting for marriage, rather than allowing oneself the temporary thrill of partaking in something that isn’t “rightfully ours.” I also like how the story tackles the real temptations and challenges a teen in a relationship could face, the behaviors that increase the trials, and those that safeguard from falling. This story has so much to offer.

Visit author Carolyn Astfalk and learn more about her and her books:

Website: www.carolynastfalk.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CMAstfalk

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/castfalk/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3428010-carolyn

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

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

Summer & Books: A Single Bead

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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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I am happy to blog about A Single Bead by Stephanie Engelman today. This book just won an “Excellence in Publishing” award from the Association of Catholic Publishers! These awards recognize the best in Catholic publishing. A Single Bead is the #2 winner in the Children’s Books category.

About the Book:

On the anniversary of the plane crash that took the life of her beloved grandmother and threw her own mother into a deep depression, 16-year-old Katelyn Marie Roberts discovers a single bead from her grandmother’s rosary–a rosary lost in the crash. A chance encounter with a stranger, who tells Katelyn that a similar bead saved her friend’s life, launches Katelyn and her family on a quest to find the other missing beads.

Their mysterious journey, filled with glimmers of hope, mystical events, and unexplained graces takes them further into the unknown. Katelyn turns to the Rosary for answers and soon finds that family, prayer, and the help of others may be the key to restoring what was lost.

I can’t wait to read this book for myself. One review I read said this story is “real, relevant, and, in spots, riveting.”

Reviews:

 A Single Bead is one of the best books I have ever read. I bought it for my twelve year old son after reading the summary of this book. To get him started with a new book, I usually read the first chapter to him and then he will read the rest by himself. With this book, however, I insisted on reading it to him because right from the beginning, I was captivated and wanted to know what was going to happen. Although this is geared toward teenagers, I feel it is a book for everyone. I loved it so much that I purchased copies of the book and am giving them to family and friends as gifts along with a pair of rosary beads. Stephanie Engelman has a real talent for writing, and I cannot wait for her next book.”

“Wow! What a beautiful story!! While the story is of a Catholic nature, I think it would be a great faith renewing read for anyone. Character development is one of my favorite characteristics of a good book. Stephanie did an excellent job of giving the reader enough information and description about the characters and relationships without dragging it out.”

Learn more about Stephanie Engelman and her book:

website:  http://afewbeadsshort.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/s.engelman.author/

Please contact her for all public speaking, press and publicity inquiries.

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