Theresa Linden, author of Anyone But Him, Interview #VBT

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Theresa Linden is the author of the New Christian Mystery, Anyone But Him.  Check out my previous blog post for my review and more information about this wonderful book!

Anyone but Him is told entirely from Caitlyn Summer’s perspective. What is Caitlyn like?

Caitlyn is one of the characters in my West Brothers young adult series, but she is all grown up in this new adult story. She is a faithful Christian who loves her life and her family, and she’s always been full of bubbly hope. She doesn’t swear, never did drugs, and she had always intended to save herself for marriage.

In this story, she wakes up in a nightmare situation, and she just can’t come to terms with it. She is miles from home and she is married to a boy she never even liked in high school. He’s vain and egocentric. And he’s always had drastically lower standards than her. And because she’s always romanticized her future, knowing what kind of man she would one day marry, she can’t believe this is her life.

Action scenes takes place in woods that seem unfamiliar to Caitlyn. And another scene takes place on the beach. What made you choose North Carolina for the location in this story?

For the story to work, I needed a location that was far away from where Caitlyn grew up, in South Dakota. As a young woman, I spent one summer in North Carolina with friends. I loved the beauty and diversity of the landscape, with forests and beaches and orange dirt. And I enjoyed the relaxed pace and listening to the southern accents. So North Carolina seemed like a perfect fit for this story!

What makes this mystery romance different?

Well, at first it doesn’t seem like this story will have a detective, but it does. And while all mysteries have elements which remain unknown or unexplained until the end, this story has more than a few elements. For one, Caitlyn wakes with amnesia. She has no idea what caused the amnesia and no one else seems to know either. The even bigger problem for her is this man she wakes up next to. He claims to be her husband, but she can’t imagine how she would’ve married a man like him. The stakes are raised when her husband’s younger brother arrives on the scene. She remembers being in love with him. Why hadn’t she married him? Throughout this story, while trying to solve these mysteries, Caitlyn finds herself evaluating her faith and her understanding of what marriage truly is.

While trying to understand how she ended up married to him, Caitlyn’s most important question becomes “Who changed?” Has she discarded the values she cherished or has her husband become the kind of man she dreamed of? What lesson is there for all of us in how we see each other, particularly those we’ve known a long time?

Sometimes it is easier to overlook faults in a stranger than in one who is close to us. It can be easier to offer kindness and mercy to a stranger as well. We see our loved ones’ strengths and weaknesses day after day. We expect them to act a certain way in various situations. So it can be difficult to recognize when someone we think we know so well has changed for the better. We too often jump to conclusions based on a person’s past behavior. I suppose this is because we have a vested interest in our family members. We feel responsible for them and want to help them become better people. But it’s important that we recognize the work of God in their lives as well.

What do you most want readers to take away from Anyone But Him?

We’ve all made mistakes and sometimes very big ones, but God is bigger than our mistakes and He can lift us up and set us on a new and beautiful path. I hope this story offers readers hope and encouragement that stays with them for a while.

You’ve written discussion guides for your other books. What extras do you have planned for this one?

This book will also have a book club discussion guide and discounts for bulk purchases. Visit my website for details. I also plan to share the recipes of the food that characters prepare throughout the story, including Chicken Florentine, apple crepes, and authentic Mexican tamales. I’ll share these recipes on my blog and website. Oh, and readers will finally get to find out what Jarret put in the eggs, as mentioned in chapter 3.

What is coming up next for you?

I am currently writing the next two books in the West Brothers series. The first one, Roland West, Outcast, is about a shy teen who fears speaking up, but when his best friend begs him to look into the vandalism of an outcast’s house, his detective skills may be the only way to find answers. The second one is a Confirmation story. I don’t have a working title or story blurb for that one yet, but I want it to really bring the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation to life through the West brothers.

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Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

Do you have a young teen who devours fiction?  Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk is the ideal book for them!

Title: Rightfully Ours

Author: Carolyn Astfalk

Publisher: Full Quiver Publishing

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

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/3hapfaRNItA

Blurb: 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 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.

Its 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.

“We just passed it,” Sean said over the acid rock music blaring from the speakers. “I thought you were watching for signs. Some navigator you are.” Sean scowled and jerked the wheel to the right, causing the truck to careen onto the berm and Paul to slam into the door.

Paul rubbed his shoulder where it had smacked the door and sat upright. “I’m sorry, okay? I guess my mind wandered.” He’d swear “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” had been playing for the last half hour. He hoped to God at least one other radio station had a signal strong enough to carry over the mountain they’d crossed.

“Yeah, you’ll be sorry when we run out of gas and have to sleep in this truck.” Sean sat hunched over the wheel, his strong arms gripping the ten and two-o’clock positions. His left leg, forever encased in worn denim, bounced erratically in a rhythm out of sync with the booming bass rattling the speakers.

He pulled into a narrow gravel drive and backed the car out onto the main road, completing his three-point turn. The high beams caught a pair of glowing eyes sinking into the underbrush on the opposite side of the road.

“We’ll get there, okay? Maybe if you’d get a GPS or something—”

“You want to pay for it, by all means, do like the commercial says and give a Garmin. Otherwise, maybe you should go back to grade school and learn to read a freakin’ map.”

Paul suddenly felt ten years younger than Sean instead of the four that separated them.

“There it is, on the right.” Paul pointed to a road sign obscured by an overgrown sumac tree.

Sean turned right, and in the space of a mile, the road went from desolate rural to brightly-lit business district.

He swung the truck into the hotel parking lot, rolling over a speed bump with a jolt that made Paul glance out the rear window to see if the pickup had lost any critical parts.

The parking lot islands were filled with mounds of clay and not a living thing grew around the building, which looked as if it had been assembled and dropped into place like a giant LEGO creation.

“Well, if it’s new, at least the mattresses should be good.” Sean killed the engine and shoved his keys in his pocket.

Apparently Sean had chosen to look for the silver lining, like he had when he first told Paul about this move.

“Hey, it’ll be cool.” Sean had waved a couple of employment and tourism brochures at him. “Just us. A new job for me, and when I’m off work, we can hang out. Maybe do some hiking, hunting, backpacking. Maybe meet some new people.”

What he meant, Paul thought, was that he might meet a girl—the girl—something that, despite his good looks, he hadn’t had any luck with at home in Maryland.

Paul recognized he didn’t have a choice in the matter and settled for making the best of the situation. Still, he felt uneasy about the whole thing. There was a finality about it. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he sensed that this move wasn’t going to be what either of them expected.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34597236-rightfully-ours

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Rightfully-Ours-Carolyn-Astfalk-ebook/dp/B06XTCC1X3/

About the author:

Carolyn 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 director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs 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. You can find her online at www.carolynastfalk.com.

Newearth: Justine Awakens

JustineNewearth: Justine Awakens
 
Found guilty of war crimes, Justine Santana, a Human-Android hybrid is shut down. Taug, an alien from Crestar, must eliminate his father’s mistake—a Human-Cresta crossbreed named Derik. When Taug awakens Justine and charges her with the assignment to kill Derik, he never suspects that she might discover the meaning of love and her intrinsic humanity.
 
Cerulean from Last of Her Kind  (currently free on Kindle) aides Newearth in her first tottering steps toward freedom…
 
Now, after the last war crimes trial, Cerulean would finally be free to help humanity resettle on Newearth.  But this trial must come first. After all, Justine is human too….
 
Taug, an alien from Crestar, becomes entangled in inter-alien politics and is amazed by human decency.
 
His tentacles released the delicate equipment; Mitholie looked Taug in the eye. “The High Tribunal simply wishes you to…purge your father’s unfortunate experiment. That done, I’m sure this messy business can be consigned to the dark waters.”
 
Meet Bala and his wife Kendra, a couple joined by heaven who must endure the pains of hell—but despite every adversity—intend to make Newearth a better world for everyone.
 
“Kendra, Max would like to know why we had so many.” With a sweep of his hand over the children, he clarified his point.
Kendra’s nearly frantic chewing slowed to glacial speed as one eyebrow rose. “Well, you see, it’s our pleasure. We enjoy bringing new life into the world and training them to become wonderful citizens of Newearth.”
Bala stared at Kendra, his eyes rounding into orbs. “The truth? You told him the truth!”
 
Newearth: Justine Awakens
 
For more information about other science fiction novels by A. K. Frailey, visit her website.
 
Or check out her full line of novels, short stories, scripts, children’s book, and inspirational works.
My review: I enjoyed this book very much.  Frailey’s characters are well-defined and the continuing story in the Newearth world is compelling.  Highly recommend the entire series!

Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden VBT

9780997674743-main.jpgA New Adult Mystery Romance

Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?

​Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.  ​

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?

My review:  I absolutely loved this book!  It pulled me in immediately and kept me enthralled until I finished it (yes, in one sitting!)  Caitlyn is a character that has been prominent in some of Linden’s other books.  In Anyone But Him, she wakes up with amnesia and discovers she is several years older and married to a man who, in high school, got her best friend pregnant, then pressured her to abort.

The characters are believable and well-developed, the story engaging, and the setting visually made me feel like I was experiencing the story.  As with Linden’s other books, the writing is high quality.

I only figured out the mystery of how Caitlyn was injured a few pages before it was revealed.  I especially appreciated the author’s illustration of how the husband and wife fell in love through letters, flashbacks and memories. The truth is, anyone (even a callous, selfish, lustful man) can begin life anew in Jesus and become a saint-in-making.

Anyone But Him is exactly what Catholic Fiction should be: enthralling, entertaining, believable and with a beautiful pro-life message. Highly recommend!

Links:

The book is available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle:

https://www.amazon.com/Anyone-But-Him-Theresa-Linden/dp/0997674741

Author website: www.theresalinden.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/theresalindenauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindenTheresa

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7537721.Theresa_Linden

Book trailer: https://youtu.be/A-R_7IagmV0

Author Bio:

Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction. Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She has six published novels, and two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Full Quiver Publishing). She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Society. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.

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An Open Book – April 2018

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.

Here’s what I’ve been reading during the past month!

9780997674743.main

Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden

Synopsis: A New Adult Mystery Romance   Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?

Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.

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?

My review:  I absolutely loved this book!  It pulled me in immediately and kept me enthralled until I finished it (yes, in one sitting!)  Anyone But Him is exactly what Catholic Fiction should be: enthralling, entertaining, believable and with a beautiful pro-life message. Highly recommend!  (Longer review coming soon!)

Eugenios

Eugenios by Julian Bauer

Synopsis: Eugenios is a novel for those interested in early Christianity and the environment in which it began. Most interesting is a tale of Christ’s burial shroud, how it came to be weaved and how it came to be used. The importance of this shroud is pointed out in the book’s epilogue: “The largest extant piece of textile that has come down to us from antiquity is the shroud of Turin, a linen cloth displaying a negative image of a crucified man bearing all the wounds corresponding in every respect with the gospel’s account of Christ’s wounds. Virtually no one believes that a Middle-Ages forger could have conceived of, much less designed and produced, such an image. It is a mystery. Is this evidence of His resurrection?”

My review:  I enjoyed this book, although it is very thick historically, with numerous historical facts and backstory.  However, it is written well and I learned a lot. 4 out of 5 stars. Recommend for those who enjoy historical/biblical fiction.

Paul's Prayers

Paul’s Prayers by Susan Anderson

Synopsis: Paul’s Prayers is the story of a moderately autistic young man navigating life with a spiritual intelligence that runs further than most people can walk. Written by Paul’s mother, this insightful memoir gives readers a unique look at the challenges and joys of raising her autistic son in a large Catholic family.

The first of six children, Paul’s early years were an exciting and confusing time for his parents. At the time, very little information on autism and its early signs was available, and the fact that the disorder is a spectrum ranging from mild to severe was not widely known.

Throughout this intimate memoir, every day is a challenge to be met with creative thinking, patience, and faith. Paul finds comfort in contemplative prayer and the support of his family when the world around him becomes too chaotic. As her son grows up, Susan Anderson learns how to cope with autism and embrace the importance of faith in the things unseen. Her family’s experience is a beacon of light for those who find themselves on a similar path.

My review: I enjoyed this sometimes heart-wrenching memoir of a mother with a son who has autism.  Some sections were enjoyable and others were difficult to read. Overall,  it is an interesting account of what it’s like to raise an autistic child.  Recommend.

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Taking Care of Your Family’s Health and Well-being, Saints to Turn to and the Catholic Faith by Cascia Talber

Synopsis: Combining healthy living and the Catholic faith in a book has never been done before until now.

Using diet recommendations for your age group, learning how to spot mental health issues, exercising your brain and body and praying to the saint or saints who are patrons for your health issue, can bring peace and possibly healing.

We are all on a journey to sainthood. We can use the examples of the saints to teach us how to better understand how to have a healthy mind, get proper nutrition, and get enough physical activity. They are also our friends and will intercede for us when we are troubled, in times of need or struggling with a health issue. This book introduces readers to special saints that can help us on our journey towards healthy living, happiness and eternal life in heaven.

My review: I enjoyed this book, which is more like a “How To” book on health and well being.  It is filled with recipes, exercises, saints’ stories and other helpful information on how to take care of yourself and your family.  Four out of five stars.

Justine

Newearth: Justine Awakens by A.K. Frailey

Synopsis: Found guilty of war crimes, Justine Santana, a Human-Android hybrid is shut down. Taug, an alien from Crestar, must eliminate his father’s mistake—a Human-Cresta crossbreed named Derik. When Taug awakens Justine and charges her with the assignment to kill Derik, he never suspects that she might discover the meaning of love and her intrinsic humanity. Her freedom hangs in the balance. Is she a woman—or a weapon?

My review:  In Justine Awakens, (Newearth #2), Cerulean, a character from Book 1, Last of Her Kind, aides Newearth in her first tottering steps toward freedom. The human android hybrid, Justine, is a multi-layered character. I enjoyed this book very much.  Frailey’s characters are well-defined and the continuing story in the Newearth world is a fascinating one.  Highly recommend both books in the series.

A Life Such as Heaven Intended Now Available

A Life Such As FrontA Life Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer is now available on Kindle!  Print edition will be available in a few days!

The Civil War rages around her, yet Brigid McGinnis has her life planned out. That was, until she stumbles across an unconscious Confederate soldier on her father’s property.

A blow to the head stole Dominic Warner’s memory. The beautiful fraulein who nurses him back to health steals something even more important — his heart.

For political and societal reasons, Brigid and Dominic must go their separate ways. They each get caught up in the war and put their lives on the line to remain true to the values and faith they share. Follow Brigid and Dominic from the battlefields surrounding Atlanta, along slave escape routes, to Little Rock, and eventually to the plains of Eastern Texas, as they learn to trust, forgive, love, and surrender to a plan greater than their own.

“A civil war romance that blends heroic choices with faithful love.”
A.K. Frailey, Author, Last of Her Kind.

A moving love story set during the Civil War… Lauer brings to life different perspectives, fears, and hopes of people on both sides of this terrible war. Faith plays a beautiful part in this story, as the protagonists face trials, choices, and self-evaluation. I highly recommend ‘A Life Such as Heaven Intended’ for lovers of historical American fiction.”
Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Battle for His Soul

 

Dynamic Women of Faith Conference

I was excited to be a vendor at the Dynamic Women of Faith Conference at the John Paul II Polish Cultural Center in Mississauga this past weekend!   It’s hard to believe that we started with one book 13 years ago and now we have over 20 books in our catalog. #catholicfiction #ToBTalk #ToBFiction

Ellen at DWF Conference 2018