4 Books You Want to Read

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Toward the end of last year and the beginning of this, I’ve read some books that I highly recommend. You might want to check out these books yourself… for the love of puppies, special needs children, human life, and your soul!

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If you read this book, you will know….Miranda Gargasz has a heart for all living things, but especially the at-risk doggies!

I purchased a copy of this book as soon as it came out! My children thumbed through to see all the cute dog pictures, but then I finally got the book back, and I found a wealth of information inside. Author Miranda Gargasz did a ton of research!

She provides the sad statistics about the numbers of dogs that enter animal shelters every year, and the numbers that never make it out. She explains what goes on behind the scenes in dog kennels and gives examples of the incredible efforts of the Lorain County Dog Kennel (LCDK) workers and volunteers. This book includes several heart-wrenching and heartwarming interviews of these workers and volunteers.

It also spotlights specific LCDK dogs that have been through great difficulties–abandonment, abuse, neglect, accidents–but have been given a second chance. Miranda tells the stories of her own two dogs (both from LCDK), the trials and victories, and the treasure her family has found in them.

And Miranda also provides concrete advice and ways you can help. This book is valuable for its content, but you might also want to get your copy to help the dogs. MORE THAN A VILLAGE: making a difference in the lives of homeless pets—all the proceeds go to the Lorain County Dog Kennel!


9781910806074 (002)I finally read the first book in the I AM MARGARET series! I read all the other books in the series already. Don’t ask me how I ended up reading the first book last.

Anyway, I absolutely loved this book and all the books in the series and will definitely re-read them. Turner presents a dark futuristic society where not all people are considered equal. Those with imperfections, no matter how insignificant, are kept around only so that they can provide “parts” for other people.

Filled with moments of pain, compassion, courage, and hope, this story is tense and fast-paced with twists and surprises, but more-importantly it is thought provoking. The Catholic perspective gives even more depth to this dystopian (compared to other popular dystopians). It really delves into the meaning and value of all human life, regardless of a person’s ability to contribute to society.

Note to parents: this book contains violence, gore, rough language, and sexual innuendos (no sex or anything like that—it’s a very clean book). It is suitable for mature teens and adults, and is sure to deepen a person’s faith, perseverance, and admiration of the martyrs. Check out I AM MARGARET! Great reading material for the #MarchForLife bus trip!


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START HERE! With BROTHERS: A Prequel Novella 

This novella is a great introduction to the I AM MARGARET series, or consider it a bonus for those who have already read the series.

Corinna truly knows how to create solid characters, a sense of urgency, and a well-developed dystopian world. In this story, I enjoyed meeting a new character and following one that I got to know through the I AM MARGARET series. I love how Catholic elements are weaved into the plot because any true change in a person or society must affect not only the physical but the spiritual, the complete person. This story rings with beautiful messages of faith, forgiveness, and trust, and powerfully demonstrates that we, as members of the Body of Christ, belong to one spiritual family.


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I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this children’s story, REBECCA & HEART, as much as I did. But I must confess this story really touched my heart, and I would love for everyone to read it. Rebecca, the main character, has autism. We also have a son with autism, and he is such a treasure to us. While most children with autism struggle with social interactions and are overwhelmed with sensory input of one kind or another, every child is unique. Some have special abilities like Rebecca, but most don’t. Still, every child, no matter their gifts or challenges, brings something wonderful to the people around them, if people know how to look for it and appreciate it.

Told from a fly’s perspective, this story has humor but also insight and depth. As Rebecca’s adoptive parents, and the others in her new home, try to understand Rebecca’s unique way of relating to others and the world around her, every one of them grows in compassion and sensitivity, not only toward Rebecca but toward each other. It is a great story for children and adults alike to help develop empathy for people who experience the world differently. This story would be perfect for schools and families. I highly recommend REBECCA & HEART.


What books have you read lately? Please post in the comments and share what you enjoyed about them!

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Book Review: The Grace Crasher

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516arGS316L._SX331_BO1204203200_It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed so much while reading a book. This story has so many hysterical parts! I absolutely loved it!

The Grace Crasher opens with Julia and her best friend Robin in a Christian store, shopping for things that can help Julia look like she’s evangelical. She desperately wants to get an apartment but the landlady is a born-again Christian.

At one point, Julia tries on a shirt and turns her backside to Robin.

“Does this Jesus shirt make my butt look big?”

“Not big, just …trapezoidal.”

Then they move to the Bibles. Julia grabs the plain one that simply said Holy Bible because it seemed like the most Bible-ish one.

We soon learn more about Julia, her family, and her interests. She has a crush on Dylan Heath, the lead singer of a local indie band, but when she sees cute Mark, the store’s manager, she decides it’s a good idea to have a backup crush.

I must admit: it was Carolyn Astfalk’s review of The Grace Crasher that compelled me to get a copy for myself. Her book reviews are thorough and reliable, and I think we have similar tastes.

I cracked this book open (actually I read an ebook, so that phrase doesn’t really work) expecting to find a light, humorous, enjoyable story that I could read a little at a time before bed, and I was not disappointed. Author Mara Faro pokes fun at both Evangelical and Catholic Christians, but not in a mean way. It was all gut-busting fun! But as the story developed I also found surprising depth of character and story-line. The main character faces trials many can identify with and goes through a beautiful transformation.

Well-developed and realistic characters, along with the continuous humor, and the deeper spiritual insights made this a fantastic story that I highly recommend.

Other Reviews:

“A great take on infatuation vs. love, speaking the truth in love, and being true to yourself.” ~

“Julia’s path is a relatable one, and in her flaws and the flaws of the characters around her, we see ourselves and our own brokenness with delightful clarity.” ~

“Loved it! Fun, inspiring, quirky,…I had lots of laughs reading this!” ~Amazon review

Funny, insightful, and brilliant!” ~Vera A. Velk

A hilarious, poignant story that sets the broken love among families, friends, lovers, and fellow believers against the backdrop of God’s unfailing, patient, perfect love.” ~

You can learn more about the author Mara Faro at her website.

You can get the book on Amazon in both paperback or ebook format.

Contemporary Catholic Teen Fiction

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The Goodreads GIVEAWAY for my contemporary Catholic teen fiction Standing 3DStandingStrongCoverStrong ends soon. If you haven’t had a chance to check out my books, here is an opportunity to get one for free. This is the fourth book in the West Brothers series. Many of the same characters are in each book, and they take place chronologically, but you can still enjoy them out of order.

“Another chapter in Theresa Linden’s masterfully-developed series for teens that will resonate with everyone who has struggled to find his place in the world, been tempted to take the easy way out, or doubted the work of God s hand in his life.”    ~Carolyn Astfalk, author of Rightfully Ours

“After reading STANDING STRONG your own spiritual life cannot but be strengthened, making you also want to stand strong for God.” ~Susan Peek, author of The King’s Prey

“This is an excellent book by an incredible author so check it out. Her handling of faith in her fiction is masterful. ~Steven McEvoy, reader extraordinaire

You’ll have another opportunity to win this book and much more on November 17th (which happens to be my birthday!). Along with 5 other authors from www.CatholicTeenBooks.com, I will be hosting a Pre-Christmas Virtual Facebook Party.

Check out the video invitation for a bit of inspiration! The party will be from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. It will be packed with games, prizes, and wonderful gift ideas.

We’ll have a winner every ten minutes and an amazing Grand Prize. Follow the FB page for details. Beginning November 1st we will post prize images and other fun details. Here are the prizes I’ll be contributing:

Standing Strong is available as a paperback and eBook. You can learn more about it and my other books on my website.

Book Trailers!

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I love book trailers! As a reader, I enjoy watching them. They can give me a feel for the genre, tone, and theme of a book. Really good book trailers can hook me, just like the first page or back cover blurb of a well-written story.

As an author, I love making them. Authors are always thinking of creative ways to find their readers. We create promotional images to post all over social media. We write blogs–like this one–and have contests or give talks. And some of us make book trailers too!

When I make a book trailer, I begin by pulling out important elements and symbols from my story. Then I search for images and music and brainstorm phrases that can best convey mood and theme. To put it all together, sometimes I use Animoto because they have premade styles. You simply add your pictures and text. But I would also like to have more control over my video. I haven’t found the perfect video maker yet.

If you make book trailers, please share in the comments what program you use. And tell me why you like it.

Several books at Catholic Teen Books have book trailers, including mine. You can check them all out by clicking on the links below. Enjoy!


Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

8 Notes to a Nobody by Cynthia Toney

Treachery and Truth by Katy Huth Jones

I am Margaret by Corina Turner


Books by Amy Cattapan


Books by Leslea Wahl


Books by Theresa Linden

I hope to soon have a book trailer for my next book, Standing Strong. If you want to be one of the first to see it, make sure you are signed up for my author newsletter!

STANDING STRONG

 

 

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