Summer & Books: 6 Dates to Disaster

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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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About the Book:

When Wendy’s family faces financial hardship, she must find a way to see Mrs. V and Sam again—but will she lose David forever in the process?

For her mom’s birthday, Wendy finds an old jewelry box at a flea market—the perfect gift for someone who loves salvaged junk. But inside the box is a cryptic note that appears to have been written recently. Wendy’s curiosity leads her on a search with boyfriend David at her side, eager to help. Who wrote the note, and did the intended recipient ever see it? But when Wendy’s stepfather loses his job, she needs more personal and urgent help—the financial kind.

The family’s plan to visit Alaska on vacation is headed down the sewer like a hard Louisiana rain. How will Wendy ever see Mrs. V or Sam again? An opportunity arrives in the form of tutoring Melissa, one of the Sticks, and Wendy’s money problems appear to be solved. Until the arrangement takes a turn that gets Wendy into trouble like never before. In the final months of ninth grade, she might lose everything she counted on for the future.


In addition to the fun story line and getting to hang with characters that I’ve come to know and love, this book gave me a lot to think about. Wendy has a lot of opportunities and moral choices to make in this story. I like to know how authors come up with story ideas and themes, so I asked Cynthia Toney a question.

Have you ever risked everything (or almost everything) like Wendy does to see someone you miss or to get what you want?

Today I’m not as impulsive as I was as a girl or young woman, but yes, I’ve taken risks in attempting to get what I want. There’s a saying: “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Often, I’d become frustrated because of a setback or because something wasn’t happening as quickly as I’d like. I’d leave a situation for what seemed a better one and then regret not giving the first one a little more time to develop into what I needed. Or I’d act out of desperation and later realize how undignified I appeared. Like Wendy, I found my integrity slipping away when I didn’t think my decisions through before making them.

~Cynthia T. Toney

My review:

Cynthia Toney has written another fun story in her “Bird Face” series. Many of the characters you’ve come to love in the first two books are back, even if only through email. Main character Wendy Robichaud and her family face new struggles. And Wendy stumbles upon a new mystery, a cryptic note she finds in an old jewelry box that she bought as a present for her mother. Wendy makes some choices she doesn’t quite think through and they lead her into a ton of trouble.

A great book for young teens that gives the reader a lot to think about: family responsibilities; giving tough advice to a friend; making mistakes, owning up to it, and paying the price.  I enjoyed the Cajun touches like this one, “My stomach flipped like a crab cake on a spatula.” I recommend this book for any teen, especially if they’ve enjoyed the first two books in this series.

Visit Cynthia T. Toney:

Website:  http://www.cynthiattoney.com

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest: Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

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: 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

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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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Book 2 in the Bird Face series. “The story goes beyond its catchy title to tackle serious issues relevant to teens, such as forming healthy relationships, living in a blended family, and coping with an elderly loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease.” ~ Kirkus Review

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia T. Toney

About the Book:

“Without knowing or caring where I’d wind up, I sneaked out of the house and took off running.”

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants in high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade–until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble.

She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s cute hearing-impaired grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why.  Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?


My favorite character in this story was Sam, Mrs. V’s hearing-impaired grandson. I learned to sign the alphabet as a girl. And I’ve always admired people who can communicate with sign language. Perhaps one day I will learn more. In any case, I enjoy meeting and reading about people with unique struggles, who rise above them and become beautiful and interesting people….like Sam!

Why did you decide to create a character who is deaf and how did you develop Sam? 

In elementary school, I met a deaf girl and was fascinated by her ability to speak even though she was deaf. If I recall, someone told me that she had learned to speak as a small child before she lost her hearing. As an adult, I worked at a newspaper with several deaf individuals, some who could speak and some who relied solely on American Sign Language (ASL). I began to teach myself ASL, and I continue to enjoy and appreciate it as a language and as an art. I think it’s beautiful. I’d noticed very few books for teens that had a deaf character, and I wanted to develop one. I thought it would be interesting for my main character, Wendy, to meet such a boy for the first time in her life and to find that they have a lot in common. So I created Sam.

~Cynthia T. Toney

My Review:

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia T. Toney is a sweet story of Wendy Robichaud, a freshman in high school. Wendy seems to have everything together. She knows exactly what she wants and all the steps it will take to get it. But she’s in for a few surprises that throw her off her game. When neighbor lady Mrs. V, who Wendy loves dearly as if she were her own grandmother, begins to show signs of trouble, everything changes. Wendy’s attention is divided several ways. She still wants to achieve girlfriend status, but now she wants to look after Mrs. V, and Mrs. V has just hinted there may be a scandalous mystery from the past. Additionally, her mother has just remarried and her best friend has become her sister, adding struggles she hadn’t foreseen into the mix.

I loved the humor, fun writing style, and character development in this story, just as I did in the first book in this series, 8 Notes to a Nobody. The characters do not fit neatly into any stereotypes, often seeming to surprise Wendy with their behavior. My favorite character was Sam, the deaf grandson of Mrs. V. Too often we jump to conclusions about people with special needs or challenges, but Wendy soon discovers this character faces his own fears, goals, challenges, and needs, just like any teen. I hope that Sam will be in the next book in this series!

While I particularly enjoyed watching the mystery of the scandal from the past unfold, I was able to relate to the challenges of fitting in and finding yourself in high school. I remember how starting a new school threw everything in my life out of whack, and I often felt like a fish out of water. This story shows the importance of deciding what type of person you want to be. Wendy and all the characters grow in this story of friendship and forgiveness, a story teen and preteens are sure to enjoy.

Visit Cynthia T. Toney:

Website:  http://www.cynthiattoney.com

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest: Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

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: 8 Notes to a Nobody

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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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Looking for a series for the summer? The school year is over, but this story will have you wanting to go back! At least with the characters in this meaningful middle-school story.

About the Book:

“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.

When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?


8 Notes to a Nobody took me back to my school years, all the awkwardness, cliques, and labels. But also to the fun and mystery of those years!  I asked author Cynthia T. Toney to share her thoughts on the various labels kids give each other, the good and the bad in it.

There are the Sticks and Brianiacs in Wendy’s school. What are your thoughts about the labels kids give each other in school?

“Kids certainly learn this practice from other kids, sometimes older siblings, but also from adults. Think about names that adults use for other adults in front of their children. They use unflattering nicknames or labels for their work supervisors or department heads, extended family members, neighbors, and even their spouses and children. Kids learn by example. Some labels aren’t as bad as others. “Brainiac” would not have offended me as a kid, but often a sneer and ugly tone of voice accompany name-calling.” ~Cynthia T. Toney

This book has the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.

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My Review:

This is a well-written story with realistic characters and situations. The subject matter is relevant to the struggles teens face today. I was drawn in by the voice of the main character and the humor—I even laughed out loud! But the story also pulled at my heartstrings, and many moments rang so true they brought me back to my teenage years.

The main character, almost fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud, has so much to offer but she just can’t see it. She sees others as having what she lacks and has to remind herself, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s life!” As the story unfolds, with the help of notes from an anonymous friend, she begins to realize the truth. And the truth can be hard at times. She hadn’t known the struggles other kids in school faced.

I wish I’d read this book as a teen or pre-teen. If offers perspective and solutions for the struggles teens face. It’s natural to be introspective in the pre-teen and teenage years, but the more we can look outside and really see others, the more we can realize we’re all in this together. And everyone is carrying their own cross. Perhaps with that frame of mind, young people can see themselves and others in a new a light.

Visit Cynthia T. Toney:

Website:  http://www.cynthiattoney.com

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest: Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

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: Coming this June!

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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. Stop by every day to learn about a different book!

www.CatholicTeenBooks.com provides teen readers, parents, catechists, homeschool co-ops, youth ministers, teachers, and others with direct links to exciting, well-crafted books that raise the heart and mind to God and reflect the fullness and beauty of the Catholic faith.

The site is organized by genre and includes a wide range of books in the following categories:

  • contemporary
  • historical
  • mystery
  • speculative
  • saints
  • dystopian

Among those, you’ll find suspense, romance, coming of age stories, and lives of the saints with age-appropriate themes including the power of intercessory prayer, the communion of saints, the Rosary, virtue, Theology of the Body, and respect for life at all ages and stages.

“Today more than ever, teens need to know they are beautiful and valuable creations of God,” said author of the contemporary Bird Face series Cynthia T. Toney. “Catholic fiction and nonfiction can show them.”

Rather than stuffy, dry stories of saccharine piety, readers will find lively stories that appeal to the modern reader addressing difficult issues such as suicide, abortion, grief, family relationships, disabilities, and dating, all informed by the light of faith.

“A growing number of Catholic authors are producing high quality fiction, as well as riveting non-fiction or fictionalized versions of historical people and events,” according to Stephanie Engelman, author of A Single Bead. “The goal of these authors is to teach as Christ taught – through stories. They take ordinary people, with ordinary lives and challenges, and write extraordinary stories meant to change hearts while teaching minds. While avoiding being preachy or didactic, these authors impart wisdom and support Catholic moral and social teaching.”

Many of the books included have been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild’s Seal of Approval. Several have also received awards from the Catholic Press Association as well as secular organizations. Some books are currently used in schools throughout the United States. All are available in both paperback and electronic format through Amazon.com and other retailers.

“An incredible amount of excitement surrounds this new website,” said Theresa Linden, author of the award-winning Roland West, Loner. “We hope to see it grow into something wonderful for God, helping young readers find books they will thoroughly enjoy and that support, rather than tear down their faith. And also, helping authors of Catholic teen fiction reach their audiences.”

CathTeenBooks

Blogging From #AtoZChallenge 2017: Angels in Fiction

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2017 BadgeWhat do I think I’m doing? I don’t know.

I’m not a very regular blogger so it’s nuts for me to even attempt this. But every now and then, I rise to the challenge. I am going to attempt the “Blogging from A to Z April Challenge”!

Carolyn Astfalk inspired me. She will be blogging about her new coming-of-age story, Rightfully Ours. I will be blogging about writing and books…and keeping my posts super short. Here I go…

Angels in Fiction

Angelhood2 1400x2100-1 (003)I have not read Anglehood yet but I’ve been wanting to. I know that people can’t really become angels after they die, but this is fiction and the story idea reminds me of It’s a Wonderful Life.

It addresses the serious issue of suicide in a way that has the potential to reach troubled souls. “It is a powerful story and a vivid reminder of the spiritual battle going on all around us…” ~quote from a review on Amazon

I also wanted to show the spiritual battle in fiction, which is why I wrote Battle for battle-for-his-soul-frontHis Soul with a guardian angel’s view. This book is packed full of angel and demon battles and shows in a deep and personal way the spiritual battle that we all face.

While angels don’t have bodies or fight with cool weapons like in my story, I did want to get my angels right. So I read a lot of St. Thomas Aquinas on angels.

Here’s a review from Amazon: “…this book fosters devotion to the angels more than any other book I have read!”

Both of these books have been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild seal of approval. logo color CWG SOA (002)