Books that Touch on Life Issues: by Carolyn Astfalk

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Guest Post by Carolyn Astfalk, Inspirational Romance Author

Because fiction excels at creating empathy, books that involve deeply personal, emotionally-intense issues help readers consider situations in a whole new light. Over the years, I’ve read many books that touch on life issues – both at its beginning and end. These books are ones that touch on abortion and related life issues.

The reviews may not even mention abortion, as these aren’t “message” books but rather novels that skillfully weave life issues into the plot. Beneath the reviews are several other books that merit being included, but for which I did not post a review. (There was actually a time when I didn’t review almost everything I read! I also haven’t reviewed my own book, for obvious reasons.)

And finally, there are four dystopian series listed, which were also included in the end-of-life post. I hope you’ll click through and read more about these exceptional books!


9780997674743.mainAnyone But Him by Theresa Linden

Anyone But Him is brimming with delicious romance, keep-you-guessing mystery, and a dose of humor. Wonderfully written with well-developed characters, and a solid plot – all hallmarks of Theresa Linden’s books. With her first novel aimed at the new adult market, I hope many, many more readers are introduced to her writing. It’s a joy to read novels both well written and underpinned by the Catholic faith and the values Catholics hold dear. [Learn more about Anyone But Him.]


shadowsShadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels

Shadows of Hope is a book-length exercise in dramatic irony that kept me engrossed until all was revealed, in dramatic fashion.

From the first pages – or from the book description alone – the reader knows that Marissa counsels Kaitlyn throughout her unplanned pregnancy and that, unbeknownst to both women, Marissa’s husband Colin is the father.

Tension builds as various conflicts unfold and layers of the characters are revealed: infertility, the absence of a father, infidelity, insecurity, and more bring great depth to Marissa, Kaitlyn, and even Colin.

The reader gets to examine the situation from each of the three characters’ points of view – closest with Marissa (1st person), but also Kaitlyn and Colin (3rd person).

Georgiana Daniels resists an easy resolution, instead delivering a true-to-life examination of the shared heartache, joy, and, eventually, hope, of three imperfect people bound by an unborn child.

Fans of women’s fiction will especially enjoy this well-written, thoughtful story. I look forward to reading more from this author.


discoveryDiscovery by Karina Fabian

If your mental picture of religious sisters is dour, old women with wimple habits and ankle-length skirts, then scrub that image before opening Discovery. The sisters in the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue are post-modern, brave pioneers with habits suited to work in zero gravity.

The challenges to their present mission on the alien craft Discovery are best summed up by Sister Rita’s exclamation of “Codists and Wiccans and evangelists, oh, my.” Sister Rita, along with stalwart pilot Sister Thomas and “spacey” but brilliant Sister Ann, have all sorts of conflicting interests to contend with: the brainy researchers, the working-class rockjacks, and, oh yeah, that alien ship.

Interwoven amongst the crew’s scientific discoveries are their personal discoveries, brought to light within the desolate alien craft. Karina Fabian does a good job of managing what could be an unwieldy cast of characters, two romances, devious intrigue, and a guilty conscience.

In the end, the most profound discovery isn’t an alien life form, but a relationship with God, whose love knows no boundaries, whose mercy overflows, and who calls us each for a unique purpose.

Just enough bread crumbs are dropped to keep the reader intrigued by the various interpersonal relationships and cryptic messages of Sister Ann, mounting to page-turning suspense in the final chapters.

Discovery is a journey worth taking.


23440072Unfailing Love by Julie Lessman

I awaited Isle of Hope for months, eager to read Julie Lessman’s voice in a contemporary novel. She did not disappoint.

The characters have depth, are well-drawn, and inhabit their modern coastal Georgia isle so naturally they made me long for a beach vacation.

The dramatic plot turns in Isle of Hope call to mind a soap opera (as they often do in Julie Lessman’s historical novels), which is less a criticism and more a testament to the author’s savvy given the enduring popularity of soaps (and perhaps a nod to her well-known love of Gone With the Wind). The novel includes perhaps the best one-sentence chapter-ending cliffhanger I’ve ever read.

The faith element is organic to the story, but is more extensive than in most inspirational romances or women’s fiction as multiple characters’ arcs echo the themes of forgiveness, (re)conversion, and redemption. I highlighted several passages that struck a chord – something I typically don’t do. By showing the natural consequences of selfish actions, the narrative deftly demonstrates how no sin is truly private, and its repercussions affect many people besides the perpetrator.

Some beautiful, tender, heart-melting moments of grief and sorrow are interwoven with the painful longing and simmering passion you’d expect.

A little tightening to reduce thematic repetition and some of the analogies would only make this good novel even better. As it is, it’s an engaging story of love, forgiveness, healing, and rebirth that left me looking forward to the next book in the series.


9780996816861.MAINLife-Changing Love by Theresa Linden

Not only is Life-Changing love an entertaining read, but it’s a great tool for launching conversations between teens and parents about their expectations for dating and relationships.

Caitlyn Summers is in love with being in love. She yearns for her first boyfriend and her first kiss. And she knows just the boy to make those dreams come true: Roland West. Only Roland, despite the mixed signals he sends, is not interested in having a girlfriend.

By contrast, Caitlyn’s gorgeous best friend Zoe has gone from zero to well beyond the speed limit in mere days with Roland’s dangerous older brother Jarret.

When Jarret’s twin Keefe returns from a trip to Italy with his father, he’s changed -unwilling to allow Jarret to manipulate him, introspective, pious, and intrigued by Caitlyn.

The lives of the West brothers and Caitlyn and Zoe turn topsy-turvy as they struggle to navigate obedience to their parents, the longings of their hearts, and the predicament Jarret and Zoe have created for themselves.

Theresa Linden does an outstanding job of capturing the tension of the teenage years. The result is a moving story that shows the consequences of premature sexual relationships and the value of pursuing friendships that honor God and respect the dignity of each person.


22293276The Truth and Nothing But Lies by Cheri Vause

The Truth and Nothing But Lies is an engaging tale that could be ripped from the headlines if only the media delved so deeply. Its intricate plot and suspense hold attention and draw the reader to the end. Its greatest value, however, lies in its plain demonstration of the dire consequences of all-too-familiar actions cloaked in euphemisms of sexual liberation and freedom to choose.


17786919Rapunzel Let Down: A Fairy Tale Retold by Regina Doman

“Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” – Rom 5:20 In this modern adaption of the classic tale of Rapunzel, Regina Doman brings us the story of Hermes, a conservative senator’s son, who falls in love with Raphaella, the adopted daughter of a radical feminist. Hermes impregnates the innocent Raphaella and from there, sin begets sin and suffering. Fans of Doman’s fairytale novels and new readers alike will enjoy this adaption that brings to life both the dire consequences of sin and the graces borne of virtue. The contemporary setting meshes wonderfully with the timeless fairytale sprinkled liberally with a Catholic worldview. Reminiscent of Doman’s other novels, the heroic ending will have you on the edge of your seat.


tob-coverImage and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body edited by Erin McCole Cupp

Even if you’ve read St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body from start to finish and a half-dozen nonfiction books about it on the side, I guarantee this collection of shorts will uncover the teachings in ways you hadn’t considered. It will challenge you in unexpected ways. One or two (or more) of the stories may make you uncomfortable. While the writing is polished, the varnish coating the darkness of our lives is stripped, laying bare the truths written on our heart and the lies we tell with our bodies.


Recommended for reading, reflection, discussion, and even entertainment. A gritty but beautiful introduction not only to the Theology of the Body as it is lived (or rejected), but also to the breadth and promise of Catholic fiction being written by contemporary authors. These shorts are accessible to any careful reader, whether familiar with the Theology of the Body or not.

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Red Rose Bouquet by Jennifer Rodewald

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

Emily’s Hope by Ellen Gable


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The Gifting Series by K.E. Ganshert

The Liberty Series by Theresa Linden

I Am Margaret Series by Corinna Turner

The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan by Erin McCole Cupp


carolyn

Carolyn Astfalk is a wife, mother, and author of contemporary inspy romances Stay With Me, Ornamental Graces, and Rightfully Ours. She formerly worked as a communications director and now works just to keep her head above water. Find her books on Amazon and her other words scattered around the blogosphere and social media.

Follow her blog “My Scribblers Heart”.

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New Adult Mystery Romance: Giveaway

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My new adult Christian mystery romance ANYONE BUT HIM came out this month. And you have two chances to win a free copy!

  1. Stop by Sarah Damm’s blog for her book review and a giveaway!
  2. Stop by CatholicMom.com to check out an excerpt and the book trailer and then enter a second giveaway!

Click here to check out the entire Virtual Book Tour. You’ll find more reviews of Anyone But Him, a cooking video and printable recipe taken from a scene in the story, and an author interview!

If you know someone who might enjoy this book, please spread the word!

Anyone But Him is brimming with delicious romance, keep-you-guessing mystery, and a dose of humor. Wonderfully written with well-developed characters, and a solid plot.” ~An Open Book Family

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

Countdown to release ANYONE BUT HIM, New Adult Christian Mystery

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In two days, my debut Christian mystery romance comes out! So today I am sharing the “Press Release.”


 

Press Release: Award-Winning Novelist Pens Pro-Life Mystery Romance

Redemptive Message Converts Hearts and Minds

Pro-life mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM by Theresa Linden, is slated for release this April 5, 2018. Theresa writes Catholic fiction in a variety of genres, including dystopian, supernatural, and contemporary. She has eight published young adult and new adult novels. Two of her short stories appear in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body. Her books won awards from the Catholic Press Association two years in a row. Theresa’s passion is to create stories that weave together the natural and supernatural, bringing spiritual realities to her readers’ imaginations and showing the power of faith and grace.

Her emotionally-charged mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, follows a young woman suffering from amnesia. She finds herself clear across the country from her childhood home and married to a man who pushed her best friend in high school to have an abortion. Unable to remember the past three years, she struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage to this man who had never shared her values. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions about marriage. The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?

Early Review:

“I sped through chapters trying to guess who could be trusted, who had changed, and how an investigation into an abortion clinic’s deceptive practices could be the key to Caitlyn regaining her memory.”  ~Carolyn Astfalk, author of contemporary inspirational romances, including Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces

 

ANYONE BUT HIM by Theresa Linden

6 x 9 300 pages ISBN-13: 978-0-9976747-4-3 LCCN:  2017918741

$13.99 in USA Publication Date: April 5, 2018

Hardback Paperback eBook

Christian Mystery Romance

 

Stay tuned for the “Virtual Book Tour” blog stops & dates! The book tour will include early reviews, a recipe from the story, book trailer, author interview, and a giveaway!

 

 

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

~Blog Tour~ New Historical Fiction: Julia’s Gifts

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Final Julia's Gifts Front rev (002)Julia’s Gifts (Great War Great Love #1) by Ellen Gable

Blurb:   As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her “beloved.” Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Disheartened by the realities of war, will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? Will her naïve ‘gift scheme’ distract her from recognizing her true “Great Love?” From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.

Buy Links:  Amazon Kindle and Amazon Print

Excerpt:

December 17, 1917

The bustling streets of Center City Philadelphia shimmered with electric lights, heralding that Christmas was near. Julia Marie Murphy lifted her head and gazed upward. The night sky was filled with snow clouds, the air brisk. She pulled on her gloves and buttoned the top of her coat. Her thoughts turned to her future husband. Dear God in heaven, please protect my beloved. 

Tens of thousands of American men had already enlisted to fight in this “Great War.” The gentlemen that Julia knew seemed anxious to join, and Julia thanked God that her three brothers were too young to fight.

In a few short weeks, it would be 1918.  All of her father’s friends and acquaintances expected the war to end soon, hopefully before the middle of the year.  But 1918 held far more significance for Julia.  This would be the year that she would turn 21. 

She approached Lit Brothers department store, admiring the display windows that were outlined with colored electric lights. Julia was thankful that it was Monday. If it were Thursday, the ban on electric lights (in support of the war effort) would mean the windows would be dark.

Julia stared, transfixed, through the window at the tall display. Shimmery red fabric hung from a back wall, a beautiful sterling silver pocket watch lay on top of a cylindrical pedestal.  Her eyes widened when she saw the price tag: $12.25, almost 20 percent of her annual salary. But it was beautiful and every man needed one. The price notwithstanding, this would be a perfect gift for her beloved. Yes, it was extravagant, especially during wartime. Yes, there were less expensive items she could purchase. It didn’t matter. This was the ideal gift.

After purchasing it, she took it to the engraving department on the second floor. Behind the counter, the tall, lanky middle-aged man with a handlebar mustache smiled. “What would you like engraved on this?”

“To my beloved, next line, all my love, Julia.”

His eyebrows lifted.  “I’m certain the gentleman would prefer to have his Christian name engraved on this lovely timepiece.  Don’t you agree?”

“Well, yes, I imagine he would.  But I don’t really know his name or who he is yet.”

The man’s mouth fell open and he stuttered.  “I’m..I’m…s…sorry, Miss. I…I don’t understand.  You’ve bought an expensive pocket watch for someone you don’t know?”

Julia sighed.  She shouldn’t have said anything. 

“Please just use the words I gave you.”

The man nodded and regarded Julia with an expression of suspicious curiosity, a look one might give a person in an asylum.

“How long will it take?”

“For the engraving?  Ten days.  Sorry, Miss, but you won’t have it in time for Christmas.”

“That’s all right.” Julia turned and walked a few steps and heard the salesman mumble, “Now there’s an odd girl.  Buying a gift for someone she doesn’t know. Tsk tsk.”

Sighing, she checked her own wristwatch and hurried out of the store to begin the three-block walk to her trolley stop.  If she didn’t get there in time for the five p.m. streetcar, she would be waiting half an hour.

This year Julia was determined that she would meet her beloved, the man for whom she had been praying these past four years. Why hadn’t she met him yet?  Some of her friends were already married. Her beloved was out there and she would find him.  Yes, 1918 would also be the year that she would meet her beloved.

Each December, Julia wondered what she would buy her beloved for Christmas. Last year, she searched different stores but found nothing special. She finally discovered — and bought — a brown leather pocket journal at a specialty store at Broad and Bigler Streets. She didn’t know whether her beloved would be the sort to write in one, but it seemed like an appropriate gift, especially since it had a delicate leaf embossed on the cover. The year before, she had bought a sterling silver Miraculous Medal because her beloved would be Catholic.

That first year, her mother suggested that she begin praying for her future husband.  After a few weeks of doing so, Julia felt inspired to do more. It had been the week before Christmas, so she decided that she would buy or make him a Christmas gift each year until they met.  With no job and no money that year, Julia knit him two pairs of socks, one blue-green and one green-brown, with finely-made yarn that her mother had given her.

The fact that she had made or bought gifts, and had spent hard-earned money for her future husband, had not pleased her father as he thought it too impractical and sentimental. Her mother, however, had declared that it was a beautiful gesture. Of course, if Mother knew how much she had spent on the most recent gift, she was pretty certain her mother wouldn’t be happy.

Ellen Gable is an award-winning author, Marketing Director for Live the Fast, self-publishing book coach, speaker, publisher, NFP teacher, book reviewer and instructor in the Theology of the Body for Teens. However, the roles she loves the most are being wife to her husband and mother to their five sons, ages 18-30. Originally from New Jersey, Ellen lives with her husband of 35 years, James Hrkach, in Pakenham, Ontario Canada.

Find Ellen at her Blog: Plot Line and Sinker, Full Quiver Publishing, Amazon Author Page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Pinterest, Linked In, and Google+


Author Interview: Ellen Gable

What was the inspiration for Julia’s Gifts?

When I was a teenager, I yearned to meet my future spouse.  It was difficult because most of my friends (and all of my siblings) had boyfriends.  Since I looked very young, boys weren’t    interested in me. I felt lonely, especially on Friday nights when all my siblings and friends were on dates, and I was home watching the Donny and Marie Show.

I began praying that God would “send me a man.”  Until then, I prayed for my future husband.  While I never actually bought a gift for him, I did write letters to him. 

A few years ago, it occurred to me that it would be a beautiful gesture for a young woman to buy Christmas gifts for her future spouse.  From that small seed, Julia’s Gifts was born.


Why World War 1?

I’ve always been interested in history and I knew very little about this war.  I decided to focus the bulk of my research on the last year of the War (after the United States entered).  Because I am American and my husband is Canadian, Julia is American and her future spouse (Peter) is Canadian. I read and studied many books and researched online for three years before actually sitting down to write the novel.  


Why is the name of the series Great War Great Love?

I owe my gratitude to the son of a friend of mine, Ian, for coming up with the title. The reason for the title is that World War 1 was called the “Great War” by the Allies before the USA entered the war, and is still often called the “Great War,” by British, Canadians and Australians. And Great Love because there are many examples of how couples met and fell in love during times of war.


The sonnets/poems in this story are beautifully written.  Tell us a bit about them.

Well, I’m not a poet, but my husband has written songs and poems. So I asked him if he would be willing to write sonnets for my book.  I explained in detail what I needed the sonnet to express and he took it from there.  The sonnets are a beautiful addition to this novel, especially because my husband wrote them. 


Can you tell us about the next two books of the series?

Yes. Charlotte’s Honor is Book #2 and takes place at approximately the same time as Julia’s Gifts, but focuses on a different female protagonist, Charlotte, who finds her purpose in live when she begins working in the death ward and holding men’s hands as they die.  She is attracted to Canadian Dr. Paul Kilgallen. During an advance by the enemy, everyone at the field hospital evacuates, except for Charlotte and Dr. K.  They remain hidden in the basement of the chateau to take care of the terminally ill men and those soldiers who can’t be moved. Charlotte becomes convinced that Paul is her own “beloved.” But when she loses contact with Paul, she fears not only for his safety, but begins to doubt his love for her.  Charlotte’s Honor will be released in late 2018.

Ella’s Promise is Book #3 in the series. It is about the daughter of German immigrants, Ella, an American nurse who (because of the time period) was discouraged from continuing on in her studies to be a doctor.  She works as a nurse for three years in Philadelphia but reads medical books every opportunity she gets. During the Great War, she travels to Le Treport, France to work at the American-run hospital. She meets her own beloved in the last place she would expect to meet him.  Ella’s Promise will be released in mid-2019.


This is very different from your other books in that it is a very clean romance and can be read by young teens to elderly women to middle-aged men.  Was that a conscious choice?

Yes, it is very different and no, it wasn’t a conscious choice, at first.  When I came up with the story and as I was gradually developing the characters and plotlines, it made the most sense to keep this a “sweet” and “clean” love story that anyone can enjoy.  It is, however, a war novel, so there are descriptions of war injuries.


How do you find time to write?

The question really is: when do I feel inspired to write?  I work for a non-profit organization, and I run a micro-press publishing company.  I also write articles for various websites.  Some authors can force themselves to write a short novel (say, during November, national novel writing month).  However, for me, I need to be inspired.  For some strange reason, January is always a rich writing month for me.  When I’m inspired, writing comes easily.


Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite Catholic author is Dena Hunt (author of Treason and The Lion’s Heart), but I also enjoy reading Willa Cather’s books (Death Comes For the Archbishop).  Dena’s books are incredibly well-written and moving.  Cather’s books are well-written and rich in meaning.

And while this may seem biased, I enjoy reading books by all the Full Quiver Authors.  I also enjoy the books of the authors who are fellow members of the Catholic Writers Guild

One of my favorite secular authors is Nelson DeMille (author of the John Corey series).   I also enjoy reading Kathleen Morgan’s Christian historical novels.


 Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links

November 1  (Open Book)   Plot Line and Sinker

November 2   Mary Lou Rosien, Dynamic Women of Faith

November 3   Therese Heckenkemp and Catholic-Fiction.com

November 4  Karen Kelly Boyce

November 5  Christopher Blunt

November 6 Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

November 7  Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire

November 8  A.K. Frailey   Sarah Reinhard

November 9  Allison Gingras, Reconciled to You

November 10  Barb Szyszkiewicz, Franciscan Mom

November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post

November 12  Spiritual Woman   Patrice Fagnant MacArthur

November 13  Mike Seagriff, Harvesting the Fruits of Comtemplation

November 14 Lisa Mladinich, Amazing Catechists

November 15 Theresa Linden

November 16  Barbara Hosbach

November 17  Barb Szyszkiewicz    Catholic Mom

November 18 Cathy Gilmore, Virtue Works Media

November 19 Erin McCole Cupp

November 20 Virginia Lieto

November 21 Elena Maria Vidal  Tea at Trianon

November 22  Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold Miller

Prints of Grace, Trisha Niermeyer Potter


Advanced Reviews:

Can beauty and life survive destruction and death? Vivid writing transports readers to the past, where young love is forged and tested amidst the devastation of war-torn France. Graced with soulful sonnets and life-and-death situations, this is no simple romance. It’s a strong and tender Catholic historical novel about growing in maturity and fortitude while discovering the power of hope, self-sacrifice, and prayer. I read Julia’s Gifts within two days, but this touching story of faith and devotion is sure to leave a lasting impression!”    ~Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author of Frozen Footprints and After the Thaw


“Award-winning author Ellen Gable has created a stunning love story set amidst the backdrop of World War I. Filled with adventure, romance, and intrigue, this gripping tale will keep you on the edge of your seat.  There is so much to treasure in this beautifully-written book: miracles of faith, the power of prayer, the strength of true love, and the grace in using one’s God-given gifts to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles make this an outstanding and unforgettable book.” Jean M. Heimann, author of Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World


“A sweet romance set amidst the carnage of World War I France, Julia’s Gifts is filled with fascinating historical detail and a reminder that love never fails and that miracles – great and small – happen all around us.”   Carolyn Astfalk, author, Stay With Me


“Julia’s Gifts is a sweet and touching love story laced with beautiful messages. Well-researched, the dialog and details make the story feel genuine, taking readers back to the WWI era where people shop at Lit Brothers department store, ride on trolley cars, and frequent the Horn and Hardart’s Automat. Following Julia as she works overseas as a volunteer medical aid opened my eyes to the hardships of war and especially the great trials and sacrifices of the nurses and volunteers. This story touched my heart in many ways, but the poems written by the character Major Peter Winslow are simply amazing.”    Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction


“In the new Great War Great Love series by Ellen Gable, Julia’s Gifts took me on a poignant journey into the midst of terrible suffering and enduring hope. A young woman volunteers to serve in a war-time hospital in France and encounters, up close and personal, the horrors of war. The descriptions of war-torn France felt very authentic and really helped me to envision actual environment. Julia’s dreams for her future husband face unexpected and ingenious twists and turns. Julia’s Gifts is a romantic drama that unfolds far from home—but takes us to the heart of home along the way.”  A.K. Frailey, author

 

Book Review of A Paralyzing Redemption

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Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the books that I’ve been reading for the past month, but today I am sharing a Guest Post by Susan Peek.

Book Review of A Paralyzing Redemption by Brian Ziegler

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“A Paralyzing Redemption” by Brian Ziegler is an incredibly inspiring Christian memoir that is difficult to put down and cannot leave its readers unmoved and unchanged. Brian tells with raw honesty and gripping emotion of his journey to God in an account which is nothing less than a true-life story of the Prodigal Son. At the beginning of the book, Brian was not much different from scores of young men in any college across the country: twenty-one years old, handsome, a promising future playing basketball–the sport he loved–plenty of buddies, girlfriends, and a loving family. He led a life of partying, goofing around, experimenting with alcohol and nightclubs, and having a rollicking good time with no interest whatsoever in God or saving his immortal soul. One horrific evening changed everything for Brian. Forever.

After waking up in a hospital following an harrowing accident, Brian learned he was paralyzed from the neck down. One instant was all it had taken to shatter his life. But God’s masterpieces are often sculptured from broken pieces. Christ had a plan for Brian.

Of course, Brian didn’t know this. Even if he had, he was nowhere ready to embrace God’s designs in those early agonizing days and weeks and months in the hospital. It would take a lot of suffering and blows to convince him of God’s love. Thus the reader follows him (or rather, holds his hand and joins him) on his incredible and pain-filled path to God.

As if being a quadriplegic at twenty-one years old isn’t bad enough, Brian’s life continues to plunge from one disaster to another. EVERYTHING seems to go wrong for him and I found myself cringing, and crying for much of the story. It was difficult to put the book down, and my own daily problems shrank to minuscule proportions while reading it.

To say the story had an impact on me is an understatement. But I did have a couple issues with it. Firstly, the book is riddled with typos, wrong words, formatting mistakes, misspellings, and other editing issues that kept jerking me out of the story and making me wish Crosslink Publishing had edited it properly. While Brian certainly has an amazing story to tell, his publisher should’ve caught the glaring errors and polished the content professionally. Some paragraphs were so unclear in meaning that I had to read them several times to figure out where the scene took place, what people were present, and what on earth was going on. Many times towards the end, I was unsure if I was meant to picture Brian in a wheelchair or on his feet with a walking aid. He would use terms like “I walked through the door”, and since he did regain some use of his legs eventually, I didn’t know if he meant it literally or not. It really broke the flow and totally threw me. Other times, characters would speak or do something in a scene when I had no idea they were even there. I had to reread whole chunks to get the new image in my mind. It was very frustrating and marred my reading experience. There’s nothing worse than being deeply connected with a heartbreaking scene, crying my eyes out, then suddenly being smacked in the face with a huge glaring editorial error. So if this kind of thing bothers you as a reader, be cautioned. Hopefully the publisher will someday fix these things and release a new edition.

My second problem with the book (and it’s a personal, one as a Catholic) is that while this is a beautiful, heroic and inspiring story, Brian embraced a Protestant belief system. So, again, be cautioned if you are a Catholic picking up this book. However there is no doubt that Brian deeply loves Our Lord, and I recommend this book to anyone who is suffering or searching for answers to the sorrows in their own lives.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program., which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.