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.

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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

 

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!

Back to School Giveaway at Shower of Roses!

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Have you ever visited Shower of Roses blogspot?

This site is packed with tons of fun for Catholic families!

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Book Lists
  • Feasts & Seasons
  • Home School
  • Lap Books
  • Little Flowers Girls’ Club
  • Party Time
  • And More!

To celebrate the upcoming school year, Shower of Roses is hosting a giveaway each Friday for the rest of August, featuring educational products and books.

This week’s Back to School Giveaway is sponsored by Catholic Teen Books. Two winners will win six books each! Stop by and enter to win!

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Fatima – Extremely Relevant Today

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All the violence, hate, and sin in the world is getting me down: the global and bloody persecution of Christians, human trafficking, the killing of the innocent, racial division, and violence perpetrated to suppress freedom of speech.

I want to offer hope with this post, to recommend a most powerful spiritual weapon, suggest a book for our times, and share new Rosary meditations.

padrepioPadre Pio once said that the Rosary is the weapon for these times. It is, after all, a meditation on the mysteries of our salvation: the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord. St. Pope John Paul the Great, and many other saints, encouraged us to pray the Rosary every day. Our Blessed Mother said that we can do more in one day of intense prayer than in years of discussion.

Remember the victory in the battle of Lepanto in October of 1571? Greatly outnumbered, the Christian defenders held off Turkish invasion through the power of the Rosary.

And what about this victory: On the anniversary of Fatima, in Austria, May 13th, 1955, 700,000 prayed the Rosary and the Soviets mysteriously left their country.

Visit Signs & Wonders if you want to see other amazing victories related to praying the fatima-book-coverRosary. Get inspired! We need to take up this powerful spiritual weapon today.

Here is the book I recommend for our times:

Catholic author Jean M. Heimann recently released Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World

You might know something about the dramatic events that took place in Fatima 100 years ago. But in this book you’ll learn more. It not only recounts the apparitions and introduces you to the Fatima children, it contains over fifty beautiful illustrations and a timeline, setting the visions in context with historical events.

This 5-star book is available as an ebook or hardcover. I’ll be getting my copy soon.


I want to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Our Lady’s appearances at Fatima. And I want to encourage others to pray the Rosary. So I present these meditations which weave the messages given at Fatima with the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. We need to heed Our Lady’s messages now more than ever.

The Annunciation

In the fullness of time, the Angel of the Lord appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary and announced that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary consented to God’s will and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

In 1917, in a small village of Portugal called Fatima, the Angel of Peace visited three shepherd children: seven-year-old Jacinta Marto, her nine-year-old brother Francisco, and their cousin ten-year-old Lucia Dos Santos.

The Angel prepared the children to receive the Blessed Virgin Mary and taught them how we should all pray: with fervor, attentiveness, and by showing reverence to God.

“Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.”

As the Blessed Virgin said “yes” to the Angel of the Lord—and Christ came into the world, so let us say “yes” to Our Lady and let the peace of Christ spread through the world.


The Visitation

In this mystery, we think of our Blessed Mother’s love for others as she went out of her way to help her cousin Elizabeth in her time of need. Our Blessed Mother continues to go out of her way for others. At Fatima, she delivered a message in our time of need to help and guide the world to peace and salvation.

Our Lady appeared six times between May 13 and October 13. At a time when war and violence had torn civilization asunder, God sent His Mother with a message for every man, woman, and child living in our century.

“If My requests are granted,” Mary said, “there will be peace.”

In imitation of her selfless love, let us fulfill her requests for prayer, reparation, and consecration so that sinners may be converted and peace may come into our world.


The Blessed Nativity

Our Lord was not born in a palace. He did not come into the world in glory and grandeur for all the world to see. He came into the world secretly, first in the heart of Mary. Then he was born in a manger and only the shepherds and three Wise Men knew.

While the Messages from Heaven are for the world, the world does not welcome them. So Heaven confided Our Lady’s message to the three children of Fatima.

“Men must amend their lives, and ask pardon for their sins.” Our Lady insisted, “They must no longer offend Our Lord, Who is already so much offended.”

The world does not welcome the messages of Our Lady any more than it welcomed Christ at his birth. But you are here today because you have heard and welcomed the messages at Fatima. Let us do all we can to answer Our Lady’s call.


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Faithful to their duties, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the temple to offer him to God, according to the Jewish law.

Sr. Lucia once explained that many people think penance implies great austerities, so they become discouraged and continue in lukewarmness and sin. Then she said Our Lord explained to her:

“The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require.”

Let us imitate St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother by faithfully attending to the duties of the Christian life: loving our families and helping others in need, especially the most vulnerable, the children in the womb.


The Finding in the Temple

Jesus was only twelve years old when he remained behind in Jerusalem. Not knowing where he was, Mary and Joseph experienced great anxiety. After three days, their sorrow turned to joy when they found him in the temple. Our Blessed Mother did not understand but she humbly accepted the will of God.

No matter the trial or how dark the world becomes, let us imitate the love, humility, and trust of Our Lady by helping others and by heeding her messages. She repeatedly emphasized the necessity of praying the Rosary daily, of wearing the Brown Scapular, and of performing acts of reparation and sacrifice, including the first Saturday devotions.

Our Lady let the children know that “Jesus wishes to establish throughout the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

Please pray the Rosary. And feel free to share these meditations. If you feel inspired to create Fatima Rosary meditations for the Luminous, Sorrowful, or Glorious mysteries, please share them with me!

 

Jane Eyre Lives!

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I loved this unique dystopian trilogy, and I am certain you will love it too! For a limited time, all three books in the The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan are on sale for only 99 cents each.

I love the old classics but I also love futuristic stories. “Unclaimed: The Memoirs of Jane E.” combines both elements in a fun-to-read, hard-to-put-down book. With imagination and a great writing style, Erin McCole Cupp has created a powerful futuristic story that is a real thought-provoker. Science fiction readers will love the creative futuristic elements. At times humorous and other times heart-wrenching, this story delves into issues worth considering as society advances. Having developed a strong connection to Jane E, I found myself incredibly moved by a climactic scene where faith plays out in a natural but powerful way. I can’t wait to read more of Jane E.!

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You can read an amazing review of the book on Catholic Reads.  If you haven’t heard of Catholic Reads, here’s what I found out about them on their website:

“We are a resource for Catholic readers hungry for fiction that explores their faith through creativity and fosters Catholic writers by promoting good books.”            ~excerpt from Catholic Reads mission statement

Kindle links:

Unclaimed (Book 1)

Nameless (Book 2)

Vanished (Book 3)

These book are also available in other formats:

Unclaimed on Nook, iBooks, Scribd, 24Symbols, Kobo, Inktera, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori

Nameless on Nook, iBooks, Scribd, 24Symbols, Kobo, Inktera, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori

Vanished on Nook, iBooks, Scribd, 24Symbols, Kobo, Inktera, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori

Summer & Books: Someday

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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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Another dystopian by Corinna Turner. Someday is the prequel to the Yesterday & Tomorrow series. All proceeds from the sale of SOMEDAY go to “Aid to the Church in Need.”

“I hope that reading SOMEDAY will help people living in a different culture, in a security most Christians, and indeed Muslims, in north-eastern Nigeria can scarcely imagine, to better understand what people are suffering here.” ~Ignatius A. Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria.

About the Book:

A retelling of the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria.

“IF YOU WANT TO DIE, SIT DOWN HERE.
WE WILL KILL YOU.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DIE, YOU WILL ENTER THE TRUCK.”

Ruth and Gemma have a Physics exam in the morning.
Becky and Alleluia are revising for college entrance tests. So it’s an absolute nightmare to be woken by the fire alarm in dead of the night.

But for them, and for 272 other girls from Chisbrook Hall girls boarding school, the real nightmare is just beginning.

Because ‘al-Qabda’ are taking them all away.
Whether they want to go or not.

Author Corinna Turner shares a bit about what went into writing Someday.

I did very little research for this book about anything other than the actual events concerning the real kidnapping of the Chibok girls, which I follow extremely closely. No research no doubt sounds like a very strange, even lazy, thing for an author to say, but it was a very deliberate decision. Anything ‘non-real life’ to do with the seizure or transportation of the girls, I made up 100%. I wanted it to sound plausible as one read it, but in no way be accurate.

In other words, I had no wish to write a ‘How to Kidnap Schoolgirls’ guide.

That is totally understandable, Corinna! And I am sure this was a hard book to write.

Amazon reviews:

“I love Corinna’s style of writing. Her novel about (fictional) abducted Christian girls by Muslim terrorists is based on real situations. She has me praying for real-life abducted Christian girls and looking forward to more in this series.

Cannot recommend this book enough. Read it aloud to my teens. Life changing.”

“This was not an easy book to read. It was not a fun book to read. But it was a very important book to read! It takes the events from the news of the Boko Haram Chibok school girls’ kidnappings and recasts it set in England.”

While this is a very relevant and important read, please note that the disturbing nature of what happened to these girls makes this a story that is not for the faint at heart.

This book has the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.
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Learn more about Corinna Turner and her books:

Website: http://www.IAmMargaret.co.uk

Review Blog: https://faithfullfilms.wordpress.com/

Face Book Author Page

Amazon.co.uk Author Page

Amazon.com Author Page

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CorinnaTAuthor

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